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VIDEO: What’s More Sexist, Meghan Trainor Singing to Her Future Husband, or JCPenney’s Butt-Firming Jeans for Teens?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

You have to admit the retro stylings of YouTube star Meghan Trainor make for some catchy little tunes. But in her latest video, Dear Future Husband, the siren dons pinup-wear while scrubbing the floor of a 50′s kitchen and warning her husband he’d better compliment her every day and buy her jewelry. Contemporary feminists are in an uproar over the classic imagery, but does Trainor have a better grip on the inherent power of her sexuality than the teenage girls who feel the need to buy “butt-enhancing jeans” at JCPenney?

The national department store catalog includes:

The “YMI Wanna Betta Butt Skinny Jeggings” boasts: “With a slight lift and shift and contouring seams, our wanna betta butt skinny jeggings hug you in just the right places to give you a firmer, more flattering look.”

Rewind Smoothie Super Stretch Booty Buddy Skinny Jeans” features “rear-end-enhancing structure” designed to “augment your jean collection — and your backside” and comes in an acid wash finish.

Penney’s isn’t alone. Several online stores including Modaxpress, Hourglass Angel, and even Amazon offer butt enhancing denim to a teenage crowd. Where’s the feminist outrage over a wardrobe enhancement specifically targeted to those vulnerable teen girls suffering all those dreaded body-image issues? Perhaps they’re too busy in Trainor’s kitchen arguing over who gets to make the pie.

 

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Men Who Don’t Pay

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Ying Ma

We live in a society where lots of men do not pay. Not only do they fail to pay for the women with whom they go on a date, they increasingly do not even pay for themselves.

The men afflicted with this syndrome tend to be young, and are usually under the age of forty. Those who suffer most severely tend to be products of the nation’s top universities or respectable urban workplaces—where political correctness and leftwing ideology regularly trample over concepts such as chivalry and honor. At these institutions, the worst thing that could happen is to be perceived as racist, sexist or homophobic. Being a weasel that does not pay is not considered a source of embarrassment.

The occurrences of such male wussiness in modern society are too numerous to detail, but just a few examples can shed light on the nature and extent of this trend.

Example 1. A Stanford Law student in his mid-twenties declined to take his date to dinner, claiming that he had been “eating too much lately.” Just the evening before, he met her at a dinner party at her apartment, where he was not at all deterred from eating the food that was available in abundance for free. He does not hail from a poor family, but on his date, he shelled out only $2.50 for an ice cream cone for the lady and then quickly got to the point: to secure what young men usually want from women.

Example 2. A 35-year-old captain in the Air Force met his date for happy hour at a sports bar. His date ordered a beer at the bar before they sat down at a nearby table. Later in the evening, when the waitress presented the check, he studied it intently and asked his date if she had already paid for her own drink. She said no, and reached for her wallet. He insisted, “I got it.” As it turned out, her beer, which cost no more than $5, was not even included on the check. He was a graduate of Columbia University who eagerly defended President Barack Obama and compared his nine years of service in the Air Force to indentured servitude.

Example 3. A man in his late thirties met a lady for a drink at a crowded establishment in New York’s Nolita district. She arrived early and bought a drink at the bar. When the man arrived, he, too, ordered a drink, and suggested relocating to the restaurant’s outdoor patio. The lady suggested he settle his tab first. He shrugged, said, “[the staff] will find us,” and walked outside. The busy bartenders did not notice that their customer had left and never bothered to look for him outside, and the man never paid. At the time, he served in a senior position at the Department of Commerce.

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VIDEO: Feminism Needs This Disney Princess Power

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Lily James and Kenneth Branagh provided truly thoughtful, eloquent answers to the question of how Disney’s newest Cinderella embodies the reinvention of the princess in a 21st century feminist light.

Contrary to popular culture’s interpretation of sex as power through the crowning of figures like Queen Bey, the star and director of Cinderella each proffer the concept of a feminism that draws its power from a woman’s spirit rather than her body. It is Cinderella’s graceful attitude and her desire to treat others with goodness that is the source of both her beauty and ultimately her power as a woman.

The real question is, in a world full of Dunhams and Kardashians, is feminism ready to go spiritual to find the purpose it so desperately needs?

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Why Israel Is Ground Zero In the War Between Good and Evil

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

We Jews squabble enough when it comes to religion, but when it comes to Israel the gloves are off. Nothing is a greater testament to this than the vehement rhetoric coming from the Jewish Left in the wake of Netanyahu and the Right’s landslide victory in this past week’s elections in Israel. Whether it was Peter Beinart calling on the Obama Administration to “punish – yes, punish – the Israeli government” the virulent musings of Max Blumenthal, the anti-Israel Jewish Left came out in full condemnation, not just of Netanyahu, but of Israel at large.

The Forward jumped on the “Bibi is racist” bandwagon, reprinting Jeffrey Goldberg’s Tweet-condemnation of the slanderous tale embraced by Obama and his minions. If you are Jewish and have friends on the Left, I guarantee it didn’t take you longer than 10 minutes after Bibi claimed victory to get at least one Facebook post or Tweet claiming “he stole the election like Bush.” My PJ colleague Ron Radosh wisely diagnosed both the Obama Administration and the mainstream media as having Bibi Derangement Syndrome (BDS). And unfortunately, we Jews are not immune.

This BDS, with all its sound and fury, has not brought the diaspora one ounce closer to understanding or relating to their Israeli counterparts. In fact, with the Obama Administration trumpeting the effort to turn Israel into another Ferguson, the dual loyalty accusations will be held over Jewish American heads, both Left and Right, now more than ever. But we Jews don’t see that. All we see is Obama versus Bibi, Left versus Right, “hope and change” versus “despair” and whatever other hot air blown into an otherwise lifeless, meaningless campaign. From the comforts of a “two legs good, four legs better” America we don’t have to force ourselves to look behind V15′s green curtain, let alone consider that Israeli Jews may have very good reasons for having opinions that differ from our own.

When I had the wonderful opportunity to march in New York City’s Israel Day Parade a few years back, I did so under the banner of an openly progressive Labor Zionist summer camp. My husband, a third generation member, had worked his way up from camper, to counselor, to business manager. Now as an alum he was excited to show me, his then-girlfriend, what he loved about his summers and give me the chance to revel in my Zionist pride. He’d worked the camp too long not to see past the politics, but had too many fond memories to be jaded by a lack of logic. In the end we were there to celebrate Israel, celebrate our freedom, and have fun with friends.

Or so I thought, until more than one angry parade-goer spat at me. “You are evil! You anti-Zionist pig! You’re killing us! You Leftists are killing Israel!” How were a group of teens and twenty-somethings, most of whom had been to Israel, many of whom were either pursuing or had obtained citizenship, and some of whom had or were serving in the IDF possibly killing Israel? These kids weren’t doing anything more than holding a contrary political opinion, yet that was enough to accuse them of being murderers. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “isn’t that what the Left is always accusing us of doing?”

I smiled at the crowd and wished them love through their gritted teeth and rage. Only two days earlier I’d been called a “conservative pig” by another camp alum who would later growl at me repeatedly, “You need to change your politics.” I came wanting to celebrate Israel. I wound up embroiled in a hot, angry mess.

Israel awakens our passions as Jews because Israel is a reminder of our responsibilities to God and to one another. If Israel fails, Holocaust awaits. No one but a Jew could understand the weight of that burden. Yet, instead of recognizing that we, Left and Right, are motivated by these same concerns and fears we allow the real haters of Israel to craft our opinions about one another. Suddenly everyone is an Obama, a Beinart, a Blumenthal. Anger morphs into rage and crafts summer camp teens into the next generation of hardened, bigoted, miserable adults, some of whom will then be motivated to become the next Beinart or Blumenthal in our midst.

King David writes in the Psalms, “be angry, but do not sin. Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still.”

We’ve never lost Israel to an outside force before first disparaging each other to the point of destruction. I walked away from that parade choosing to shed my ideas of Left and Right and see the political battle for what it truly is: A fight between good and evil. My job, then, is to focus on what God commands me to do: act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him without fear. I’m here to help sustain a great nation, not destroy it. It is time my fellow Zionists, Left and Right, see past the propaganda and agree to do the same.

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The Real Problem with American Coffee Isn’t the Beans, but the Culture

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

I’m far more of a wine connoisseur than a coffee drinker. Years ago I cut back to half decaf in order to cut back on migraines and stomach trouble. The hi-test sludge my editor prefers could never cross my lips for fear of bodily damage. The one thing I associate with brutal American coffee is brutal American stress: the need to meet a deadline, please a boss, do more, say more, be more with vim and vigor. Just as any alcoholic uses cheap trash, downing brutally burnt beans has become a lousy, albeit necessary way to get a much-needed fix. And that’s where we get coffee wrong in America.

Tel Aviv is littered with cafes and kiosks serving Euro-style coffee. I never got the hang of what to order to balance out my pathetically minimum caffeine requirement, but at Cafe Nachmani I not only learned how to order the right tasting brew, I learned how to enjoy it. I’ve never seen a windowsill in Starbucks lined with art magazines. Not Cosmo or People, literal professional art magazines you’d see in big city galleries and be afraid to touch. The Barnes & Noble cafes are filled with geeks on their laptops, chugging down brew in order to use the free WiFi. At Cafe Nachmani, patrons sipped on cappuccinos and the Israeli favorite, espresso, while lingering over literary mags heavier than half the books lining our chain’s clearance aisle.

Tel Avivans work like mad in a city that never sleeps. They’ve just learned how to enjoy a frenetic pace better than we ever could. It’s amazing how much more you enjoy life when you view it as a pleasure to be lived instead of an obligation to be fueled through.To better answer the question of what you’re drinking, you need to start with why you’re drinking it.

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This Traditional Turkish Coffee Beats The Heck Out Of Some Weak Italian Cappuccino Everytime

Saturday, March 21st, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

No Dave, Italian coffee definitely isn’t the best coffee in the world. That cappuccino you show looks like the same one you can get anywhere in Europe. There’s nothing even remotely special about it.

Want to see what real coffee is supposed to look like? Well, just take a look at this wonderful Turkish coffee I drank earlier today. Now that’s the kind of boost you need in the morning.

No Dave, THIS is what real coffee looks like

A photo posted by Michael van der Galien (@michaelvandergalien) on

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Editor’s Note: Tweet or Instagram pics of your morning beverages to @DaveSwindle on Twitter or @DaveSwindlePJM on Instagram to be featured as we continue the search for the ultimate caffeinated wake-up.

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VIDEO: Track Your #RaceTogether Status with iNotRacist

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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VIDEO: Lena Dunham Shows the Late Night Audience How Ignorant Girls Really Are

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Want to see Girls in a PG-13 nutshell? Check out last night’s sketch from Late Night With Seth Meyers in which Lena Dunham portrays her on-screen alter-ego Hannah Horvath working a pitch meeting in the writer’s room of the late night talk/sketch show. She essentially mocks the standard tropes of Girls, horrifying her fellow writers with her weird concepts of sexual humor and turning everything into a form of feminist victimization. Think Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm only not funny. Which is probably why the best line came from a fellow female writer who requested, ”Please do not group my pitch with yours.”

The award for most obnoxious line goes to: ”Aren’t you predominately Jewish male comedy writers supposed to be stuffing your gross faces with bagels constantly?”

While the award for most ignorant observation goes to: ”Seth lets a woman or person of color host a late night talk show for the first time ever, because that’s never happened and that’s f’d up!” Tell it to Joan Rivers or Arsenio Hall. Although this line proved the most instructive of how small Dunham’s bubble truly is.

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VIDEO: Camille Paglia Dubs Contemporary Feminists ‘Stalinists, Fascists’

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Camille Paglia sits with Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie to discuss the failings of contemporary feminism, specifically in relation to the contemporary feminist obsession with gender politics which Paglia dubs “gender myopia.” Tagging the culture’s current obsession with viewing the world through the lenses of “race, class and gender” (what Gillespie titles “the holy trinity”) as a “distortion of the 1960s,” Paglia, a self-described atheist, explains that “Marxism is not sufficient as a metaphysical system for explaining the cosmos.”

The powerful dialogue should be required viewing for all college freshmen and women, of course. A general in the culture wars, Paglia continues to be the only academic unafraid to conquer Marxist ideology and its subsequent theoretical fields on its own turf.

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VIDEO: Would You Get ‘Married at First Sight’?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A&E’s “docuseries” Married at First Sight had its second season premiere last night. The theory: arranged marriage cultures have a radically lower divorce rate than non-arranged marriage cultures. Therefore, a group of four experts (a psychologist, a sexologist, a sociologist and a spiritual advisor) conduct thorough testing to match up couples who will literally meet each other at the altar.

With a 66% success rate in its first season, the matchmaking panel appears to have a lower divorce rate than America at large. In the era of Tinder-generated fruitless casual sex, is trusting your romantic future to a pre-arranged scenario a logical alternative to a series of dead-end one night stands?

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Can Conservatives & Libertarians Unify? A Review of The Conservatarian Manifesto

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

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Both conservatism and libertarianism carry a certain reputation for adherence to core principles, and while both philosophies share a few common ideals, there are certain sticking points — like immigration, the war on drugs, and abortion– that tend to separate the two philosophies. Conventional wisdom holds that conservatism and libertarianism sit in different areas on the right side of the spectrum, and never the twain shall meet.

But is such generalization really the case? There appears to be a growing movement among the right of people who find themselves somewhere between conservatism and libertarianism. Over the last couple of years I’ve found myself falling somewhere in between the two distinct philosophies. That’s why I became excited when I heard about The Conservatarian Manifesto.

National Review‘s Charles C. W. Cooke has created a unique document that seeks “to remind the American Right that ours is an iconoclastic movement.” He reaches out to the people who find themselves firmly on the right but don’t feel like they firmly identify as conservative or libertarian.

Some among this group have become sufficiently frustrated with their brothers-in-arms to have established new and discrete groups, even abandoning or amending the “conservative” and “libertarian” labels traditionally used to describe the two strongest building blocks of the Right’s coalition. These are the “conservatarians” referred to in the title of this book, and they have an important to make.

Boy, do they (or should I say, “we”), and with Cooke as spokesman, the conservatarian movement may help unify the right.

Cooke begins his journey by picking apart both the positive aspects and negative assumptions of the conservative and libertarian movements. He also looks at what he sees wrong with the conservative movement, examining in particular the big-government conservatism that existed under George W. Bush.

During the Bush administration’s turbulent eight years, the Republican Party steadily ruined its reputation, damaging the public conception of conservatism in the process… Most of all, the Republican Party lost its reputation for fiscal restraint, constitutional propriety, and mastery of foreign affairs.

The author concludes his chapter on the problems that exist on the Right by noting that “Republicans must reestablish themselves as the party of liberty, demonstrating to a skeptical but interested electorate that they are committed to laissez-faire.” Interestingly enough, Cooke does not advocate a wholesale adherence to libertarian ideology, but he does acknowledge that conservatism and libertarianism can, and should, coexist.

One of the key tenets that conservatarianism must adopt, according to Cooke, is a devotion to federalism. He writes that the right should advocate that “as few decisions as possible are made from Washington, D.C.” and that lovers of freedom should “render the American framework of government as free as possible and…decentralize power.”

Cooke then takes a look at institutions like the media and the educational system. The right has done well to establish some alternatives to the traditional, left-leaning media outlets, but conservatives and libertarians alike have their work cut out for them when it comes to reforming the educational system. He then steals a glimpse into the importance of the Constitution to the right and why that attachment remains crucial to a nation that values freedom.

After his march through America’s institutions, Cooke tackles specific political issues and delves into what a conservatarian position could or should be on many of them. He starts with gun control, citing stats that prove the inefficacy of gun-control attempts, as well as information that demonstrates the growing popularity of the protection of gun rights. Cooke then points out why it is important for the right to nevertheless acknowledge that guns can be dangerous, no matter how free our society is.

Next, Cooke contrasts the success of the pro-gun movement with what he calls the failures of the war on drugs. Citing incarceration statistics, he points out how he believes that federal efforts to deter drug use are not working. But he notes that

…this is not to say that conservatives should be “pro-drug.” Indeed, the beauty of opposing federal involvement is that it affords us a free hand elsewhere. Conservatives can quite happily agitate for federal withdrawal and continue to argue against the wisdom of using drugs and leave the legal questions to the states and localities.

At this point, Cooke offers a few suggestions like leaving drug enforcement to the states and relying on churches and non-profits as well as supporting the demilitarization of the police.

Cooke then goes on to tackle a host of other issues. He makes one of the most eloquent and sensible arguments for the pro-life cause that I’ve heard and dismantles the follies of the advocates of abortion on demand. He delves into what he sees as the inevitability of same-sex marriage, preparing the right to get used to it, while at the same time advocating for the protection of those who do not agree with it.

Looking at foreign policy, Cooke acknowledges the fatigue that many Americans have toward the interventionist tack that the country seems to have undertaken, but he doesn’t necessarily call for a neutralist or isolationist stance. Instead, he argues for a continued strong defense because of the United States’ lone superpower status. Cooke notes that American primacy lends stability to much of the world order, but he notes that “[it] is entirely feasible for America to lead without needing to rush to the scene of every fire in every corner of the world.” He likens the hegemony of the United States to an insurance policy against problems in many areas of the globe.

Lastly, Cooke argues against the demography-is-destiny mindset that seems to plague both parties these days. He advocates for an immigration policy that is fair and does not become a welfare program.

Cooke sees the future as a golden opportunity for freedom-loving people on the right end of the political spectrum. His conclusion is for conservatives and libertarians to band together to ensure that freedom is a positive message that appeals to everyone. Some of the ideas in The Conservatarian Manifesto won’t appeal to everyone — I certainly had issues with a couple of the solutions in the book — but the book does put forth some encouraging strategies for what could be a united right, one we sorely need if we’re going to win in 2016 and beyond.

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Do Fairy Tales & Scary Stories Hide Secrets For Defeating Evil?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Dave Swindle

I can’t wait to read Andrew Klavan’s new novel Werewolf Cop. #fiction #Culture #crime

A video posted by David Swindle (@daveswindlepjm) on

 

Dear Andrew,

I’m excited about your new novel Werewolf Cop. It looks like just the catalyst needed to start a new discussion about fantasy books and fairy tale culture. As I mentioned last week, The Wife and I have grown obsessed with the TV show Grimm on Amazon Prime. We’re almost done binge-streaming through the third season and will probably plunk down and pay for the fourth. (Amazon realizes that by providing all of a show’s first seasons for free they can addict the viewer such that we will regard it as an entirely reasonable deal to pay for a whole season’s worth of new episodes.)

 

Is anybody else as into the #Grimm TV show as @aprilbey_ & me lately?

A video posted by David Swindle (@daveswindlepjm) on

 

The show’s premise grows richer as the seasons progress: it’s a detective program except in each episode part of the mystery involves figuring out which supernatural, fairy tale creature has appeared in a real world version. The trick for doing this requires trips back to the hero’s aunt’s old trailer to begin rifling through the giant collection of antique journals written by previous generations of “Grimm” monster hunters in the centuries since the Crusades. (In the show’s mythos the original Grimms were Knights Templar…)

I guess the main reason I’ve come to like the show so much is that one can understand it in kind of a *literal* context too — that the Grimm fairy tales and folklore in general actually aren’t diversions, but instead they have ideas about culture and human nature and evil encoded in them. And that’s why they’re such powerful root stories that get remade again and again.

In the past I’ve often attacked “pop culture polytheism” — the way that many in our culture today choose to make TV and movie figures a kind of substitute pantheon of gods for them to worship. But there’s a positive side to this also — for shows like Grimm to really work they have to draw on real, historical evil and reinvent them in the show’s fantasy context. It’s hard to count the number of times in Grimm when the myth of child sacrifice has been redone in some fashion…

So as I start studying the original Grimm tales more, I’m also going to consider other “grimoires” of strange stories that might have more practical, real world application. I’ve been longing to get a handle on Alice in Wonderland for awhile, so for my fantasy-inspired video blogging, I’m going to start trying to make sense of them too:

Could this be a #secret to understand #AliceInWonderland Better?

A video posted by David Swindle (@daveswindlepjm) on

 

So in looking at the fantasy genre, I’m going to think about it in both past and present. On the one hand I’ll weigh the many stories of Grimm and Lewis Carroll and their hidden archetypal meanings. On the other, I’ll look at your novel Werewolf Cop, and also a very different, more female-centric fantasy, Hannah’s novel Bulfinch:

 

How can #fantasy and folklore stories be tools for victory in everyday life!

A video posted by David Swindle (@daveswindlepjm) on

 

And I’ll tap several writers I have in mind to start exploring these fantasy themes with me.

(If anybody wants to join in then send me an email to DaveSwindlePJM AT Gmail.com, tweet your ideas to @DaveSwindle, or tag me in an Instagram video @DaveSwindlePJM.)

Oh, and I found your book on the doorstep yesterday after we arrived home from the art studio:

 

Andrew Klavan’s new novel Werewolf Cop arrived yesterday! #SiberianHusky #fantasy

A video posted by Thoth, Ma’at & Husky Familiar (@thothandmaatmarried) on

 

Best wishes and thanks for all your inspiration,
David

*****

Please join the discussion on Twitter. The Instragram video-letter above is the twenty-fourth in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. Want to contribute? Check out the articles below, reach out, and lets brainstorm: @DaveSwindle

Volume II

  1. Frank J. Fleming on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek 
  2. Aaron C. Smith on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Superheroes? Why They Need To Start Killing Super-Villains
  3. Mark Ellis on February 26, 2016: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?
  4. David S. Bernstein on February 26, 2015: What is the Future of Fiction? You’ll Be Shocked Who’s Fighting the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  5. Aaron C. Smith on March 2, 2015: The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints
  6. Michael Walsh on March 2: What the Left Doesn’t Get About Robert A. Heinlein
  7. Frank J. Fleming on March 3: 8 Frank Rules For How Not to Tweet
  8. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 4: 7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV
  9. Frank J. Fleming on March 5: What Is the Future of Religion?
  10. Aaron C. Smith on March 5: The Future of Religion: Why Judeo-Christian Values Are More Important Than Science
  11. Spencer Klavan on March 5: Not Religion’s Future: ISIS and the Art of Destruction
  12. Chris Queen on March 7: 5 Reasons Why Big Hero 6 Belongs Among The Pantheon Of Disney Classics
  13. Jon Bishop on March 8: Why I Am Catholic
  14. Frank J. Fleming on March 11: 6 Frank Tips For Being Funny On the Internet
  15. Becky Graebner on March 11: 5 Things I Learned In My First 6 Months As a Small Business Owner
  16. Frank J. Fleming on March 12: This Is Today’s Question: What Does It Mean To Be ‘Civilized’?
  17. Mark Ellis on March 12: The Future of Civilized Society: One World
  18. Aaron C. Smith on March 12: Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies
  19. David S. Bernstein on March 12: Nihilism & Feminism for Girls: Has Judd Apatow Let Lena Dunham Self-Destruct Intentionally?
  20. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 15: Why I Am Jewish
  21. Chris Queen on March 15: Why I Am Non-Denominational Christian
  22. Allston on March 16: Counter-Culture Wars, Part 1: Why the Fellow Travelers Hijacked Folk Music
  23. Ronald R. Cherry on March 17: How To Untangle Orwellian Doublethink: 4 Secrets To Help You Spot BS

See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:

2014 – Starting the Discussion…

January 2015 – Volume I

February 2015

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VIDEO: How Feminism Becomes a Religion on College Campuses

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Melissa McGrath, an undergraduate student at Ohio State University, was invited to participate in her college’s TEDx Talk, because, although not in possession of a doctorate, McGrath has  “a valid story to tell, and (she thinks) that will shine through.” Her thesis: Feminism proffers salvation.

Her “valid story” plays like a tent-revival testimonial about how feminist theory, reinforced by college professors, informed her that it was not her fault that she was sexually assaulted on campus. Avoiding the details of her assault, McGrath instead focuses on feminist liturgy as a method for teaching “intersectionality” that is, how the human race is tied together in a Marxist state of oppressor and oppressed.

Pulling all the approved contemporary feminist buzzwords from “white privilege” to “rape culture” McGrath weaves the kind of soap box narrative trademarked by the best faith-based snake oil salesmen (and women) of the 20th century. Her’s is a speech proving that feminism isn’t just ideology, but idolatry; a religion whose places of worship are in university classrooms, whose holy texts are available at your nearest bookstore, and whose icons live on “Pinterest boards” and social media outlets.

Cover image “Female Jesus” by Juno.

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VIDEO: What Lena Dunham Doesn’t Want to Know About Sex

Monday, March 16th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In last night’s episode of HBO’s Girls, Hannah’s father came out of the closet.

Blah, blah, blah, right? At least until the end of the episode when Hannah confronts her father and says, gay or straight, she doesn’t want to know about his sex life.

Wait a minute? Is there something slightly traditionalist about Ms. Dunham after all?

No kid in her right mind wants to consider that her parents have sex. Yet for Ms. Dunham, who grew up around a considerable amount of father-generated sexual art, scripting a character who makes such a pedestrian proclamation is actually out of the ordinary.

Where is the line drawn in the progressive mind when it comes to loved ones and their sexual exploits? Could it be that the Queen of Sharing doesn’t want to share so much after all? Or is it more like others aren’t allowed to share as much as she does?

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Why I Am Non-Denominational Christian

Sunday, March 15th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

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Dear Ana Marie Cox,

Like countless others, I read your essay “Why I’m Coming Out as a Christian” with mixed emotions. At times you encouraged me, baffled me, and infuriated me, but at the end, I walked away satisfied, knowing that, even though you and I may not agree on everything (or much at all, maybe?), you and I are on the same side of the ultimate decision of all: the decision to follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

You impressed me most with some of your elegant descriptions of faith:

In my personal life, my faith is not something I struggle with or something I take particular pride in. It is just part of who I am. [...] I try, every day, to give my will and my life over to God. I try to be like Christ. I get down on my knees and pray. [...] Here is why I believe I am a Christian: I believe I have a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior. I believe in the grace offered by the Resurrection. I believe that whatever spiritual rewards I may reap come directly from trying to live the example set by Christ. Whether or not I succeed in living up to that example is primarily between Him and me. My understanding of Christianity is that it doesn’t require me to prove my faith to anyone on this plane of existence. It is about a direct relationship with the divine and freely offered salvation.

A perfect world would greet your essay with the same fanfare it greets people who make all sorts of declarations about their personal life, but as believers in Jesus you and I both know that the world we live in is far from perfect.

Like my colleague, Jon Bishop, I thought that sharing my experiences might add to the conversation. I grew up in the church — there has never been a time in my life when my family wasn’t actively involved in church. The church we attended from the time I was a child until my 11th grade year was a Christian Church. Though they claim not to be a denomination, and there is no hierarchy like a denomination, there’s a doctrinal hegemony within much of the Christian Church, and the congregations share common educational institutions and mission organizations.

In the church where I grew up, I often heard the saying, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love.” Yet this congregation didn’t practice much unity — in fact, every three years or so a big blow-up would take place which would set the church back in many ways.

(It may be worth nothing here that such schisms dot the timeline of the Restoration Movement, which began during the Second Great Awakening in the 19th century and produced the Christian Church, as well as the more liberal Christian Church [Disciples of Christ], the Church of Christ [both the congregations who use musical instruments and those who don't], and the Evangelical Christian Church in Canada. Disputes over organization, worship style, and theological liberalism have led to splits within the movement over many years.)

During one of those blow-ups at my home church when I was 16, my family along with about half a dozen other families set out to start a new congregation, one that was truly independent. We saw a need that was lacking in our community and sought to meet it by providing a casual, contemporary worship experience in a theologically conservative setting.

We maintained the loosest of ties with the Christian Church, largely because our pastors and earliest members came from that tradition, but also for the sake of camps for children and students, as well as missionaries. We’ve also kept a few of the Christian Church’s traditions — taking the Lord’s Supper every Sunday and an emphasis on baptism by immersion (though, while the Christian Church considers baptism essential to salvation, we don’t believe that baptism saves an individual — we do consider it a requirement for church membership and an important sacrament for a new believer to undertake).

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After 25 years, give or take a few months, Eastridge Community Church has refined its mission — the mission God gave us — to make disciples who love God, love people, and reach the world. We have served our community in countless ways and sent members on mission trips to Mexico, China, India, Honduras, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. We’ve become a multi-site church with a second campus in the southern area of our home county, and we sponsor churches in India.

One of the most remarkable features of our history is that, other than one change in leadership, we’ve remained largely unified with no splits (save an exodus of some members surrounding that leadership change). It’s the kind of unity that can only come from a congregation that is committed to following God above any other agenda.

How has Eastridge shaped me? It’s where I learned how to serve selflessly, where I developed many of my creative talents and leadership skills. The church has taken me to Mexico to build houses — twice. I’ve been discipled and I’ve discipled others. I love Eastridge so much that I spend six years on staff and recently came back on staff!

Without the involvement in and support from an independent, non-denominational church for a little over 25 years, I wouldn’t be the man of God that I am. I truly believe that, and I’m grateful that He’s allowed me and the rest of my family to experience these years at Eastridge.

Sincerely,

Chris Queen

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Please join the discussion with us on Twitter. The essay above is the twenty-first in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. Want to contribute? Check out the articles below, reach out, and lets brainstorm: @DaveSwindle

The essay is the third in a series of inter-faith dialogues on Sundays, see the first from Jon Bishop on March 8, “Why I Am Catholic,” and the second by Susan L.M. Goldberg published earlier today, “Why I Am Jewish.”

Volume II

  1. Frank J. Fleming on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek 
  2. Aaron C. Smith on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Superheroes? Why They Need To Start Killing Super-Villains
  3. Mark Ellis on February 26, 2016: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?
  4. David S. Bernstein on February 26, 2015: What is the Future of Fiction? You’ll Be Shocked Who’s Fighting the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  5. Aaron C. Smith on March 2, 2015: The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints
  6. Michael Walsh on March 2: What the Left Doesn’t Get About Robert A. Heinlein
  7. Frank J. Fleming on March 3: 8 Frank Rules For How Not to Tweet
  8. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 4: 7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV
  9. Frank J. Fleming on March 5: What Is the Future of Religion?
  10. Aaron C. Smith on March 5: The Future of Religion: Why Judeo-Christian Values Are More Important Than Science
  11. Spencer Klavan on March 5: Not Religion’s Future: ISIS and the Art of Destruction
  12. Chris Queen on March 7: 5 Reasons Why Big Hero 6 Belongs Among The Pantheon Of Disney Classics
  13. Jon Bishop on March 8: Why I Am Catholic
  14. Frank J. Fleming on March 11: 6 Frank Tips For Being Funny On the Internet
  15. Becky Graebner on March 11: 5 Things I Learned In My First 6 Months As a Small Business Owner
  16. Frank J. Fleming on March 12: This Is Today’s Question: What Does It Mean To Be ‘Civilized’?
  17. Mark Ellis on March 12: The Future of Civilized Society: One World
  18. Aaron C. Smith on March 12: Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies
  19. David S. Bernstein on March 12: Nihilism & Feminism for Girls: Has Judd Apatow Let Lena Dunham Self-Destruct Intentionally?
  20. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 15: Why I Am Jewish

See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:

2014 – Starting the Discussion…

January 2015 – Volume I

February 2015

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Why I Am Jewish

Sunday, March 15th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The essay is the second in a series of inter-faith dialogues, see the first from Jon Bishop on March 8, “Why I Am Catholic.”

Despite the multiple accusations I have received from my own brothers and sisters any time I’ve dared to make a critical observation about our people, I very proudly declare myself to be a Jew. This is not because I feel an obligation to my ancestors, my community, or my tradition although I respect them and their roles in the formation of my identity.

Rather, I choose to be a Jew just as Abraham did, because I choose to be free.

I missed out on the social conformity gene. Never have I managed to fit into any particular social group. At times I was hated for it, but contrary to popular opinion of what being a Jew means, it was thanks to being Jewish that I learned to love being a stand-out in the crowd. At 15 I told my teachers I was legally changing my name to Shoshana, and because of that brash declaration I became one of the coolest kids in school. Why Shoshana? Because that’s what Susans in Israel are called and Israel is the culmination and fulfillment of being a Jew. We don’t just get our own houses of worship, we get an entire nation to call our own. Land is freedom.

And when you are so different and so unique, that spatial freedom is essential to your survival. Whether prophets, cowboys, American patriots, or Zionists, the experiences that speak to me echo the Word of God:

Trust the Lord with all your heart, do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will level your path.

It felt good to stand apart from the crowd precisely because human thinking never made very much sense to me. God makes sense. And what I still do not understand remains the most intriguing mystery in all the universe to comprehend. “I want to know God’s thoughts,” Einstein said, “the rest are just details.” Ben Carson told me to “think big.” You can’t get any bigger than God. “I have broken the bars of your yoke so that you can walk upright,” God reveals to the wandering Jews. God is freedom.

God’s freedom is eternal.

Torah is a guidebook, a covenant that when undertaken agrees that we “choose life so that we may live.” Ezekiel’s dry bones rose from their graves and breathed new life in 1948. While the rest of the world amuses itself with the walking dead, we trust in the words of Isaiah:

Your dead will live, my corpses will rise: awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust; for your dew like the morning dew, and the earth will bring the ghosts to life.

I do not need to wage war or rage in desperation, wear black spikes or combat gear, raise my fist in defiance, align myself with a cause, or fence myself into the opinions of others in order to be free. I simply need to live as God intended in covenant with Him. God spoke creation into being and the word of the Lord breathed life into the dead. Tanakh is freedom.

“How did you find it in you to survive?” I asked my cantor who lived through the Warsaw Ghetto and the Auschwitz death march.

He replied, “I saw the skull and crossbones on the Nazi soldier’s belt along with the words ‘soldier of God’. They were lying. ‘This is not God,’ I thought. And that gave me the will to survive.”

I am a Jew, and I choose to be a Jew, because despite what the world may lead you to believe, being a Jew means dwelling in eternal freedom.

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Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 - by Aaron C. Smith

See Frank J. Fleming opening the discussion: “ And Mark Ellis: “The Future of Civilized Society: One World

Most people use the word “civilization” as a sign of progress, something to which we should aspire. We’ve slowly worked our way out of the muck, pulling ourselves towards enlightenment. Someday, we will all be shiny and happy. History will end.

That’s bunk.

The dirty little secret that people don’t want to admit is that hard men and women built our society. The soft could not conquer the New World or rise in the industrial revolution. The great conflicts of the twentieth century – two hot wars and a half-century of cold war – required men and women with steel in their bones and ice in their blood to fight.

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We’ve tried to polish off those sharp edges and call it improvement.

And in doing so, we allow bullies to flourish.

Cruel prey upon the weak.

We act civilized. We pass rules, tell kids to talk to adults. I got bullied as a kid. And let me tell you something. Adults are useless. Rules are crap. The most well-meaning adults trying to enforce rules can’t be everywhere.

And when you fight back, zero-tolerance policies punish prey the same as predator. And it goes on. More rules get passed. “Civilization” isn’t the answer.

Violently making sure everyone on the playground knows you will not be a victim is the answer. Celebrating your son or daughter when they come home with a bloody nose and split lip is the answer.

Think back a couple centuries ago. People used to duel over slights to their honor.

Has “civilization” and departing from this tradition changed anything? Are our kids any safer with “zero-tolerance” rules that treat the predator and prey the same?

Can we honestly call that civilization?

We know it’s wrong. Our television shows, the windows into our cultural subconscious, prove that we hate how rules bind the good and empower the vicious.

My parents grew up in a “less civilized age,” when society possessed less formal rules but ran on unwritten consensus and understanding. They understood the system and watched Dragnet and The FBI, stories about hardworking men in gray suits working within the system to enforce the law.

Today, with all of our rules and regulations, we cheer for the anti-heroes.

I just watched Bosch this weekend. Aside from being a great adaptation of Michael Connelly’s series, LAPD detective Harry Bosch gives us a great example of a good man trying to find justice in a civilized world.

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Inside the Millennial Mind: How Wikipedia Users View the World

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Image illustration via Shutterstock /

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Check Out This Amazing Live Bald Eagle Nest Cam

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 - by Carlos Perez

Live Bald Eagle Nest Cam   HDOnTap.com

If you’ve ever wondered what a bald eagle nest looks like from the inside, or how a bald eagle cares for her eggs, then check out this live bald eagle cam. Set up in partnership with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the cam can give you a rare glimpse into the lives of two majestic bald eagles during their breeding season.

According to the PA Gaming Commission, “The bald eagle’s history in Pennsylvania is a precarious one. Only 30 years ago, we had a mere three nests left in our entire state. With the help of the Canadian government, several agencies including the Pennsylvania Game Commission brought bald eagle chicks back to their states to reintroduce bald eagles to the Northeast. Today, Pennsylvania boasts more than 250 nests.”

If you’re looking for a great way to distract yourself for a few minutes, or just want to share a view of a beautiful bird with your children, follow the link and see what the bald eagles are up to now. You might even be lucky enough to be tuned in when a little eaglet hatches.

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Are Parents to Blame for Their Narcissistic Children?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 - by Carlos Perez

New research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at the “Origins of narcissism in children” and finds that “narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others.”

But wait, what if my child really is the smartest at math in his class, or the best soccer player on her team, or the fastest fourth grader in the school? Is this study of narcissism in children suggesting that I hold back from praising my child’s skills, or areas in which he or she is genuinely exceptional? Well, based on the study, it seems that part of the answer is in the difference between narcissism and self-esteem. According to The Ohio State University communication and psychology professor Brad Bushman, who co-authored the study, “People with high self-esteem think they’re as good as others, whereas narcissists think they’re better than others.”  In other words, yes, by all means, we should praise and love our children, but we should be cautious when it comes to “overvaluing” our children and telling them things that make them believe they are “more special than other children” or that they “deserve something extra in life.”

This study was based on surveys of 565 Dutch children (aged 7-11 when the study began) and their parents. As one might expect, the study found that when parents overvalued their children, they would often claim that their child knew more than a child possibly could — even about fabricated information.  I wonder if that’s because these parents felt that if they claimed their children knew more than other children, that would mean that they are also superior examples of parents.  What better way to sustain one’s own impulse toward overvaluation than by elevating the intellectual stature of our progeny — it’s like narcissism by proxy.

But let’s get back to that key distinction between narcissism and healthy self-esteem. It turns out that even in children with a natural predilection toward narcissism (it isn’t all nurture, after all), if parents show them more warmth and affection rather than overvaluation, it can help curtail that tendency toward narcissism.  Perhaps if this study gains enough attention, and more children get warmth and affection along with positive encouragement,  we’ll see fewer teenagers (and adults) walking in beautiful places taking selfies instead of appreciating what’s in front of them.

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VIDEO: Is Social Media Turning Girls into Drag Queens?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Wayne Goss is a 37-year old makeup artist with 15 years of experience and nearly a million YouTube followers. Lately he’s been receiving a lot of requests from female clients to make them up drag queen style, in large part due to the popularity of the drag queen look on television and social media. As Goss illustrates, drag queens use makeup to create the feminine look already inherent in female faces. Essentially, he’s been asked to mask natural femininity with a false face, leading him to question how we interpret the female look and concepts of natural female beauty.

What have shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race done to redefine the feminine mystique? How has gender feminism contributed to a world where being feminine ironically means wearing a man-made mask?

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Anatomy of a Murder: How Feminism Defends Sex-Selective Abortion

Monday, March 9th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Last year the UK police refused to respond to video footage of doctors agreeing to perform sex-selective abortions that target female babies, claiming that prosecution would “not be in the public interest.” In response to law enforcement’s blind eye, MK Fiona Bruce presented an amendment before Parliament that would ban gendercide in the UK. Originally received with an overwhelmingly positive response, the amendment failed to become law this past week ironically thanks to the seemingly pro-feminist protests of the Labour Party and Trade Union Congress. The language and nature of their protests against this amendment act as yet another illustration of how contemporary feminist ethos, in this case motivated by demented multiculturalism, is actively working against the cause of women’s equality across the globe.

Breitbart London reports that the protest against the amendment was spearheaded by Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, who referenced the language of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in a letter to Labour party representatives. In the letter she claims that banning sex-selective abortions would lead to “troubling consequences” such as a limitation on abortions for “gender specific abnormalities.” She also opposed the amendment’s use of the term “unborn child” as “children” are granted more legal protection in the UK than “foetuses.”

Her pro-choice defense was so stereotypical it garnered criticisms dubbing it “at best ludicrous misinformation, and at worse pernicious scare mongering.” As to the “gender specific abnormalities” claim, the law contained a caveat permitting abortions for medical reasons, regardless of gender. For advocates of the amendment, Cooper’s preferential treatment of the word “foetus” over “unborn child” turned her argument into a pro-choice one, plain and simple. If only it were that easy.

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The real perniciousness came in documents circulated by the TUC regarding the gendercide amendment that stated:

“The amendment does not attempt to address the root causes of deeply entrenched gender discrimination but rather has divided communities.” It also said that banning sex selective abortions might leave women vulnerable to domestic abuse.

Sex-selective abortion is rooted in specific cultural beliefs. That’s right: Stop everything and sound the multiculturalist alarm bells, lest we step on anyone’s toes, child, foetus or otherwise. In a 2012 report titled “Why do feminists ignore gendercide,” the Heritage Foundation details:

“Son preference is a symptom of deeply rooted social biases and stereotypes about gender,” a representative of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum said in congressional testimony. “Gender inequity cannot be solved by banning abortion.”

Jonathan V. Last, who writes about cultural and political issues, begs to differ. The choice is clear, he argued last summer in the Wall Street Journal. “Restrict abortion,” Last wrote, “or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls and the calamities that are likely to come with it.”

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Does Being Jewish Mean Going to Temple, or Going to Israel?

Sunday, March 8th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Last week I expounded upon why my husband and I have chosen not to join a synagogue. The backlash I received, oddly enough primarily from Christian readers, essentially boiled down to accusations of selfishness on my part and an unwillingness to contribute to a community. My question in response is simple: What exactly defines “community” in terms of being Jewish? A reader by the name of Larry in Tel Aviv wrote:

I agree wholeheartedly with every one of your points and you could add a few more! Such as one wouldn’t know the first thing about anti-Semitism in the world today, the nature of the threats Israel faces and related, from the rabbis and synagogue politicos. In fact you wouldn’t know anything important about anything that matters, not from synagogue, not much from Hebrew School neither (even Hebrew is largely poorly taught, with exceptions).

Which prompted me to ask myself: Do Jews in America know how to be Jewish without institutional backing?

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Based on some of the comments I received from Christian readers, it would seem that religion in America requires some kind of institutional affiliation in order to be legitimized. Whether it’s a church, temple, or yoga studio religious folks of all stripes need a facility through which to connect to one another in order to establish and reinforce their religious identity. Historically speaking, Mordecai Kaplan emulated this concept when he reconstructed the idea of synagogue as community, the physical center of Jewish life in Diaspora America. Why don’t Jews necessarily need this institutional bond today? The answer is simple: We have Israel.

As I mentioned in my last article, one of the reasons why my husband and I have elected not to join a synagogue is that we’d rather spend the money going to Israel. Some of those reasons include the reality expounded on by Larry in Tel Aviv. If you want a solid geographical, cultural, historical connection to being Jewish, you find it in Israel. If you want to understand that being Jewish is both secular and religious at the same time, you learn that in Israel. If you want to know how to establish a lasting Jewish identity, you figure it out in Israel. We were not a group of popes and monks called upon to cordon ourselves off behind incensed walls in medieval monasteries. We were and are a nation and a national identity requires more than just a religious makeup in order to thrive.

Everything is more honest in Israel. The rabbinate openly functions as a political entity and the population treats it as such. As many Jewish Israelis that don’t attend synagogue do profess faith in God. When they talk about religious freedom it has nothing to do with the Almighty and everything to do with the almighty rabbinical overlords who abusively claim heavenly authority to determine who is and isn’t Jewish, who can and can’t marry and divorce, and who should and shouldn’t serve in the military.

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Clint Eastwood’s 10 Greatest Acting Performances

Friday, March 6th, 2015 - by Kyle Smith

Clint Eastwood’s unexpected career renaissance this winter with American Sniper has reaffirmed his position as one of the most respected and formidable filmmakers. But what were his best performances as an actor?

10. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Like Gary Cooper turned ruthless, Eastwood made under-acting his byword as he and Italian director Sergio Leone created the mysterious, almost wordless “Blondie,” aka the Man with No Name, who finds himself partnered with a clownish criminal (Eli Wallach) in a race with the bloodthirsty Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) to find a stash of gold. Eastwood perfected the terrifying squint but in his performance (and Leone’s direction) there’s a hint of witty self-mockery also.

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9. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

Clint plays a bank robber whose habit of breaking into safes with a cannon earned him the nickname “Thunderbolt.” His buddy-movie chatter with a manic young driver (Jeff Bridges) showed off Eastwood’s gruff-but-dry sense of humor as the two hook up for a major heist. Eastwood even gets to play a minister and a cop along the way.

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8. In the Line of Fire (1993)

Eastwood isn’t the first guy you’d think of to play tortured, but he did fine work as a Secret Service agent forever haunted by his failure to stop the Kennedy assassination in Dallas. Beaten-up but still a pro, he gets another chance to redeem himself when a lunatic former CIA operative (John Malkovich) plots another presidential assassin. Eastwood used his age to great effect, making his character unusually damaged and vulnerable.

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7. Gran Torino (2008)

A victim of changing economic and cultural times, Clint’s Walt Kowalski clings to his notion of an Archie Bunker-era America the same way he keeps his 1972 Ford in primo condition, as a monument to manufacturing greatness when he used to work at the Detroit plant. It’s a measure of Eastwood’s deep appeal that he could make an embittered racist so strangely sympathetic, and Eastwood slyly modulates the character’s attitudes without dropping the snarls.

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