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The Most Merciful Way to Wage Warfare

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Michael Walsh
Um... stinkburger, er... meanwich

Um… stinkburger, er… meanwich

Now we know why our Punahou-educated president feels so comfortable in a kindergarten classroom:

President Obama compared the Republican budget plan to a “stinkburger” or “meanwich” during a speech here Wednesday, using a series of zingers in an attempt to strike a contrast with the GOP on economic issues in an election year.

In a speech to an enthusiastic crowd of 1,400 at the University of Michigan, Obama repeatedly mocked Republican ideas about how to improve the economy, as he touted his own proposal to raise the minimum wage.

Obama, who visited the local Zingerman’s deli before the speech, said that Republican proposals to cut taxes for wealthier Americans and federal investments in education, as well as replace his federal health-care program, would harm the economy.

The GOP has proposed the same ideas so many times, Obama said, “It’s like that movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ except it’s not funny. If they tried to sell this sandwich at Zingerman’s, they’d have to call it the stinkburger or the meanwich.”

Hard to know where to begin with one. The uncritical use by the reporter of the term “federal investments”? A “crowd” of 1,400? A “series of zingers” from the Commander in Chief? “Mockery” from the bully pulpit? Can it be that Obama really doesn’t listen to himself, weigh his words, or respect what, pre-Clinton, we used to laughingly call the “dignity of the office”? Surely somebody wrote those lines for him; this is, after all, a man whose forays off-prompter often end in disaster:

More likely, he simply doesn’t care. His glide path to the presidency has been marked by one thing in particular: no one has ever said “no” to him about anything. He went to one of the most exclusive (and, if you’re into racial bean-counting, whitest) private prep school in Hawaii, then skated through Occidental, Columbia and Harvard while leaving nary a mark or a memory. More than five long years into the Obama presidency, it’s clear that his sense of the job is entirely confined to its ceremonial aspects — parties, vacations, junkets — and to campaigning, which is the only thing he’s any good at.

And yet, to this we’ve come: a country in which style trumps substance, to the cheers of the media. And does Obama ever have style: from the moment he delivered his famous speech at the 2004 Democrat convention as an obscure state senator running for the U.S. Senate, I knew he would be the party’s next nominee, and that he would probably win. The only thing that might have blocked his ascension was Sarah Palin, and once the media recovered from the shock of her nomination and acceptance speech, their knives bloodied her badly — with John McCain, of course, doing nothing to defend her. Indeed, I parodied the reaction in my viral NRO piece, “I Hate You, Sarah Palin“:

But she’s not a Democrat, which despite her va-va-va-voom appearance, means she’s not really a woman, which is one of the reasons we’ve spent the past four days since McCain unveiled her trying to tear her limb from limb. Just because she’s the governor of a state sandwiched between two obscure and unimportant countries, Canada and Russia, and spent more time in her first five minutes visiting American troops in Iraq than Evita Barry did during his entire Rainbow Tour, what could she possibly know about foreign policy? It’s not like she’s John Edwards or something.

So that’s why we’re having our Wellstone Funeral Moment at the moment. We mean well; we promised ourselves we wouldn’t go over the top with our outright loathing of the Neanderthals who preach “Christian” values while practicing Wiccanism and child sacrifice and who hate black people and gay people and want to destroy the environment just because they can, and want to amass more money than even John Kerry or Jon Corzine or Herb Kohl or Jay Rockefeller or Dianne Feinstein — the five richest senators — or Ted Kennedy or John Edwards or Nancy Pelosi have. That, usually, is the Kos Kidz’s job. Along with speculating exactly how Bush got from My Pet Goat to planting the depth charges that blew up the levees in New Orleans.

But sometimes the mask slips and you can see — whoops! — how much we hate you. Normally we’re against hate in all its forms, and embrace tolerance as one of our defining moral attributes. But when it comes to you conservatives, well, with the best will in the world, we just can’t tolerate you. You’re elitist, you’re judgmental, you’re hypocritical, and we know that deep down you hate us even more than we hate you. Therefore, by any means necessary, we will defeat you this fall. Voter fraud, “walking around” money, legions of lawyers, as many recounts as it takes — bring it on!

So why we should be surprised at “stinkburger”? As Lucianne.com drily noted on its post this morning, What next? Republicans are “poopyheads”?

For a look at what a real president looks like, please turn the page.

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Noah: A Good Jewish Boy’s Cinematic Drash

Monday, March 31st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Darren Aronofsky’s take on the classic tale of Noah is the Jewish guy’s Bible movie. The narrative, which does remain true to the textual account of Genesis, is crafted in the style akin to a scholarly drash. In another lifetime you might imagine this story to have been generated by a minyan of Talmud scholars poring over the story in their classes. Perhaps that is why the Christian audience has reacted so poorly to the film; it is not, in the words of Walter Hudson, told “from a Christian theological standpoint.” The audience is treated to a wrestling, not recounting, of the text for two very good reasons: A four-chapter story would make for a very short film and Aronofsky, for however religious he may or may not be at the moment, is most definitely 100% a Jew.

Aronofsky’s Noah remains, first and foremost, a story of redemption as it was interpreted thousands of years ago when paired with Haftarah portions in Isaiah (42-43 and 54-55) for the weekly Torah reading. Like the patriarch Jacob, Noah wrestles with God: the battle is a question of original sin and free will. Redemption, Aronofsky illustrates, is a choice entered into by covenant with God. It is not simply a no-strings-attached gift granted to perfectly bad people by a perfectly good looking guy who tests well with focus groups.

Contrary to most Bible epics, a faceless, voiceless God communicates His redemptive plan to Noah through the Biblically prophetic device of a metaphoric dream. “You must trust that He speaks to you in a way you understand,” Noah’s grandfather Methuselah advises. Reminiscent of the Tanakh prophecy “your old men will see visions, your young men will dream dreams,” Aronofsky engages Noah with his aged, wise grandfather, who advises him of Enoch’s prophecy that God would, one day, annihilate the world by fire.

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How Did Benjamin Franklin Organize His Day?

Monday, March 31st, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

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Click here to see more. Hat Tip David Kahane.

How does your day look in comparison? What’s the best way to get organized?

 

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The End of the Dowager Democrat Disinformation Era

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The hypocrisy of the intellectual elite is finally being called onto the cultural carpet. This past Tuesday, Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post observed: “There has been so much political turmoil among Republicans that it is easy to lose sight of the intellectual disarray on the left.” PJM’s Ed Driscoll quoted The Daily Beast‘s Lloyd Grove speaking of modern liberals: ”…Think aesthetics as politics, and academic credentials as peerage. Think of a latter-day Americanized version of Downton Abbey—where everyone knows his or her place, and our betters look best.”

It is amazing to see how quickly the liberal/socialist/Marxist wing of the political spectrum has imploded. Only one generation ago they donned tie-dye and preached “Damn The Man.” Today, their Gen-X children (Barack and Michelle included) have embodied The Man to their own damnation and that of the middle class, the working poor, and all those for whom they claim to care so much (at least during election season).

Driscoll cited Grove’s observation that contemporary liberals are living

…a world away from job-craving America, and light years from the mid-twentieth century Democratic Party.

Indeed, this gap gives added credence to Professor Fred Siegel’s critique that “today’s liberal gentry see the untamed middle classes as the true enemy,” …It’s not that the Democrats don’t know that they have a problem with the non-government employee middle class, but it’s just that they really are not bothered by it.   As the New York Times framed the issue, “many in the party pay so little attention to white working-class men that it suggests they have effectively given up on converting them.”

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Glenn Beck, The Church & the Real Secret to Disney’s Success

Monday, March 24th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Last week, alternative media mogul Glenn Beck announced that he was going to focus on “taking back” American culture through the power of nostalgia:

In the future, Glenn Beck’s focus is going to be more on influencing culture and less on politics and news. After all, news is only “what the culture allows,” he said in a recent interview with National Review’s Eliana Johnson.

…“Beck is nostalgic for an America of decades past, and his cultural projects will aim to resurrect and revive it,” Johnson writes. “It’s an America where duty trumped desire and Americans were bound together by a sort of civic religion created by that sense of duty. ‘I want to impact the culture in the way that people see good again,’ [Glenn] says.”

Beck’s goal is admirable, to a fault. The period he seeks to resurrect was one in which concepts like “good” and “duty” were defined by a Biblical religion, not a civic one. Any history student will tell you that Marx had his own take on the American Revolution; you can show someone Frank Capra movies until you’re blue in the face and they’re still going to see Mr. Smith as the ultimate community organizer if that’s their moral outlook.

As Amy Kenyon notes, there are pitfalls to what passes for nostalgia these days:

…the historical meanings and usages associated with nostalgia were finally mangled beyond recognition until its chief purpose became the performance of sentimentalism, the parceling out of discount memory via television, advertising, heritage theme parks, and souvenir markets, all aspects of what we might call the “nostalgia industry.” As such, nostalgia became kitsch, trivial and reactionary: hardly the stuff of a meaningful engagement with the past or the workings of memory.

Simply put: Glenn Beck needs to do more than embrace the facade of America, circa 1940. Beck needs to dig deeper, to America’s Biblical heritage, to understand what re-taking the culture truly means.

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VIDEO: What Does ‘Social Justice’ Mean?

Monday, March 24th, 2014 - by Prager University

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The Latest Outbreak of Golden Calf Syndrome

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

goldencalf

There’s this great story in the Torah that goes a little something like this. The leaders of Israel went up on a mountain for a private conference with God, per His request. With the bosses away, the Israelites decided to throw a party. Grateful to their God for freeing them from slavery, they shaped a golden calf to symbolize Him, worshipped the calf as God, and partied on. When the leaders came back down from the mountain, they were less than pleased. Tablets were smashed, God rained justice, there were a lot of irreversible layoffs. The common understanding of the tale says that God destroyed the Israelites because they worshipped the calf as a god. In reality, their sin was creating an image of God that suited their own liking, then worshipping Him as they wished.

Hollywood, and American culture in general, suffers from Golden Calf Syndrome. Whether you blame it on the instant gratification of social media or simple human impatience, God doesn’t communicate every 5 seconds in 140 characters or less. That’s not enough for us as a culture, so we’ve made a nasty habit out of satiating our need for the Almighty by forcing Him into a box of our own liking. Habit has become trend to the point that we don’t even realize when we’re trying to force God into our mold.

Take, for instance, the conservative Christian idol-worship of Matthew McConaughey for “daring” to use the name “God” in a sentence at the Oscars. Upon remarking on the huge stretch of the imagination performed by Christians (and some Jews, I’m sure) in thinking that McConaughey’s use of the G-word somehow referenced the God of scripture, the common, rather lackluster response I received was best phrased as, “Take it where you can get it.”

One comment, however, caught my eye.

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Latest Shroud of Turin News with an Exclusive Message from A Renowned Scientist

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Myra Adams

Professor Giulio Fanti, famous Shroud of Turin scientist and research author

In the next few weeks leading up to Easter Sunday you can expect to hear more news about the Shroud of Turin — a mysterious piece of linen that millions of Catholics and other Christians believe is the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

It was during Holy Week last year when the Shroud of Turin generated headlines around the globe. That was a result of Italian scientist and renowned Shroud researcher Giulio Fanti releasing his book, The Mystery of the Shroud.

Fanti is an Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Padua in Italy. His 2013 research book scientifically debunked the infamous and controversial 1988 carbon-14 dating that supposedly “proved” the cloth only dated back to the Middle Ages — more specifically between the years 1260 and 1390.

Headlines such as: “Shroud of Turin is not a medieval forgery” were typical of what appeared across all media platforms especially on Good Friday, 2013.

Now in 2014, Professor Fanti has a new book (only in Italian at this moment) and the title translates into English as, Turin Shroud: First Century A.D.

According to the book’s press release, “The new dating methods are published in prestigious international journals and no one has yet pointed out methodological errors.”

This Shroud dating research project costing $75,000 (54,000 Euro) was funded by Padua University. The funding made it possible to “develop alternative methods of dating the Shroud based on mechanical and opto-chemical analyses after obvious calibration.”

Here is a more simple explanation of the dating methods if you are not a scientist.

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5 Ways Democrats Mythologize JFK

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in November of 2013 as “5 Liberal Myths About JFK.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

jfk

As the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy approaches, JFK remains a mythical figure for left-liberals. But they’re wrong to call him the standard bearer of their principles, because though Kennedy had some liberal characteristics he would hardly recognize the Democratic Party as it is currently constructed. Here are five liberal myths about the 35th president.

1) JFK was a Ted Kennedy clone.

Liberals today are understood to stand for the opposite of everything Republicans stand for, but the labels were more fluid in the JFK era, when some Republicans were liberal and some Democrats were conservative. In 1953, shortly after being elected to the Senate, Kennedy said, “I’d be very happy to tell them I’m not a liberal….I’m not comfortable with those people.” In the 1960 “I’m a liberal speech” Democrats often cite, Kennedy sounded more like a compassionate conservative:

If, by “liberal,” [our opponents] mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrates that we are not that kind of “liberal.” But if, by a “liberal,” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people….if that is what they mean by a “liberal,” then I’m proud to say that I’m a “liberal.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the L-word.

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Goodbye Winter! Disney’s Playful Pan Emerges to Call In Spring

Friday, March 21st, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

November 5, 1930:

December 28, 1930:

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Americans Play Monopoly, Russians Chess

Friday, March 21st, 2014 - by David P. Goldman

The essay below appeared six years ago in Asia Times Online.

During 1992-1993, I advised the Russian Finance Ministry on currency stabilization and sovereign debt issuance–a fruitless exercise, given that the Yeltsin government presided over a general free-for-all. At the time I was chief economist at Jude Wanniski’s firm Polyconomics. Our most prominent client was private equity investor Theodore Forstmann, a friend of America’s ambassador to the Russian Federation, Robert Strauss. Ambassador Strauss secured my appointment as an external advisor to Finance Minister Yegor Gaidar, including one with then Bear Stearns chief economist Larry Kudlow. Our efforts came to nought, to be sure, but I got something of an education.

 

Americans play Monopoly, Russians chess
By Spengler

August 19, 2008

On the night of November 22, 2004, then-Russian president – now premier – Vladimir Putin watched the television news in his dacha near Moscow. People who were with Putin that night report his anger and disbelief at the unfolding “Orange” revolution in Ukraine. “They lied to me,” Putin said bitterly of the United States. “I’ll never trust them again.” The Russians still can’t fathom why the West threw over a potential strategic alliance for Ukraine. They underestimate the stupidity of the West.

American hardliners are the first to say that they feel stupid next to Putin. Victor Davis Hanson wrote on August 12 [1] of Moscow’s “sheer diabolic brilliance” in Georgia, while Colonel Ralph Peters, a columnist and television commentator, marveled on August 14 [2], “The Russians are alcohol-sodden barbarians, but now and then they vomit up a genius … the empire of the czars hasn’t produced such a frightening genius since [Joseph] Stalin.” The superlatives recall an old observation about why the plots of American comic books need clever super-villains and stupid super-heroes to even the playing field. Evidently the same thing applies to superpowers.

The fact is that all Russian politicians are clever. The stupid ones are all dead. By contrast, America in its complacency promotes dullards. A deadly miscommunication arises from this asymmetry. The Russians cannot believe that the Americans are as stupid as they look, and conclude that Washington wants to destroy them. That is what the informed Russian public believes, judging from last week’s postings on web forums, including this writer’s own.

These perceptions are dangerous because they do not stem from propaganda, but from a difference in existential vantage point. Russia is fighting for its survival, against a catastrophic decline in population and the likelihood of a Muslim majority by mid-century. The Russian Federation’s scarcest resource is people. It cannot ignore the 22 million Russians stranded outside its borders after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, nor, for that matter, small but loyal ethnicities such as the Ossetians. Strategic encirclement, in Russian eyes, prefigures the ethnic disintegration of Russia, which was a political and cultural entity, not an ethnic state, from its first origins.

The Russians know (as every newspaper reader does) that Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili is not a model democrat, but a nasty piece of work who deployed riot police against protesters and shut down opposition media when it suited him – in short, a politician in Putin’s mold. America’s interest in Georgia, the Russians believe, has nothing more to do with promoting democracy than its support for the gangsters to whom it handed the Serbian province of Kosovo in February.

Again, the Russians misjudge American stupidity. Former president Ronald Reagan used to say that if there was a pile of manure, it must mean there was a pony around somewhere. His epigones have trouble distinguishing the pony from the manure pile. The ideological reflex for promoting democracy dominates the George W Bush administration to the point that some of its senior people hold their noses and pretend that Kosovo, Ukraine and Georgia are the genuine article.

Think of it this way: Russia is playing chess, while the Americans are playing Monopoly. What Americans understand by “war games” is exactly what occurs on the board of the Parker Brothers’ pastime. The board game Monopoly is won by placing as many hotels as possible on squares of the playing board. Substitute military bases, and you have the sum of American strategic thinking.

America’s idea of winning a strategic game is to accumulate the most chips on the board: bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, a pipeline in Georgia, a “moderate Muslim” government with a big North Atlantic Treaty Organization base in Kosovo, missile installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, and so forth. But this is not a strategy; it is only a game score.

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What Role Did the Crusades and the Church Play in the Spread of Prostitution?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

What role did the Crusades and the Church play in the spread of prostitution? Surprises... Page 145 of Dr. Richard Lewinshown's A History of Sexual Customs, published 1958. #war #crusade #christianity #history #church #prostitution

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the Irish Way: Get Drunk!

Monday, March 17th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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Saint Patrick’s Day is an outrageous celebration of my Irish heritage. On that day adult Americans of all ethnic backgrounds feel free to wear green derby hats and shamrock necklaces, pack into bars and pubs to drink green beer and, if they’re really serious about celebrating the Irish way, end the day by vomiting and passing out in the gutter.

I’m offended by this, and it has to stop! Okay, just kidding. I don’t care a bit. The Irish are a fully integrated ethnic minority in America and St. Patrick’s Day is proof. You know your heritage is not an issue when you can poke fun at yourself.

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I don’t know how to make the Martin Luther King holiday as genuinely warm, funny, and celebratory as St. Patrick’s Day, but I’d like to try. Just last month a school system had to apologize for serving a lunch of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon on Martin Luther King Day. How sad that the African-American holiday commemorating such a great man is about grievances and not praise. Why shouldn’t we all celebrate Martin Luther King day with soul food, vibrant African designs and colors in our decorations and celebrations, and a sense of fun and gratitude?

I fear that instead of moving towards celebrating Martin Luther King Day as a positive affirmation of African-American heritage, we’re moving in the other direction. Columbus Day has come under such attack that this brave Italian hero and explorer is accused of genocide and celebrations in his honor are protested. The very word “Christmas” has been banned in some schools. How long before someone wants to ban St. Patrick’s Day?

May this never happen. Long may the green beer flow in the pubs of America on St. Patrick’s Day. May the green derby hats continue to be perched on the heads of all, may the Leprechaun decorations continue to be ridiculous and offensive, and may you always feel free to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

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images courtesy Shutterstock: Patryk Kosmider

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Purim: The Cure for Vashti Feminists

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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There are a lot of great lines in the megillah of Esther. The one most often quoted comes from Mordecai: “Who knows whether you didn’t come into your royal position for such a time as this.” It smacks of drama and makes for an excellent movie poster catchphrase. But, it wouldn’t hold half its meaning without the point-blank observation of evil Haman’s wife, Zeresh.

Upon listening to his frustration over Mordecai’s refusal to bow to him, Zeresh tells her husband to hang Mordecai. But, when she finds out Mordecai is a Jew, she does a complete 180 and admits:

If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is a Jew, you will not get the better of him; on the contrary, your downfall before him is certain.

And this is before Esther convinced the King not to massacre the Jews. It’s refreshing to know our reputation precedes us. But it isn’t a reputation we Jews are always glad to have; we aren’t exactly in it for the fame. In fact, like Esther, our first instinct is to keep our heads down and fit in with the rest of the crowd.

Speaking of “the crowd”, modern feminists have managed to twist the humble Jewess into the villain of the tale, instead opting to celebrate the Persian Queen Vashti for her refusal to appear before the King at his whim. Think: Her body, her self, Persian style. Docile, compliant Esther, meanwhile, is a mere pawn whose beauty comes in handy to persuade the patriarchy to let her live another day. This simplistic interpretation, totally ignorant of the promise and perspective of God, relies on the feminist myth that a woman’s worth is in her ability to manipulate her body to her advantage. Esther could never be considered a hero to these women, because she was inspired by a sense of purpose that outweighed the importance of her own skin.

“Don’t suppose that merely because you happen to be in the royal palace you will escape any more than the other Jews. For if you fail to speak up now, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from a different direction; but you and your father’s family will perish,” Mordecai warns before adding, “Who knows whether you didn’t come into your royal position precisely for such a time as this.”

Vashti Feminists like to think the story is about Esther using her body to pursue the King’s favor. In reality, Esther pursues God’s purpose for her life and the life of her nation, Israel. She didn’t choose to sacrifice her body to the Persian King’s whims. On the contrary, Esther chose to devote herself, body, mind and spirit, to the living promises of God. The King, the death decree, even evil Haman, all of them were nothing more than plot devices in the ongoing love story between God and Israel. Esther, Queen of the Shadchans (Matchmakers) arrived on the scene as a reminder that “relief and deliverance will come”.

Esther was just a regular Jewish girl, redirecting her focus away from herself and onto the bigger picture of God’s plan for humanity. Crowned with the desire and humility to walk in faith, she is remembered as a Queen among her people. Vashti-feminists are oblivious to this plan and the honor it bestows, because their focus remains on the image in the mirror, not the person within, let alone the others who may be around.

Thank God, Esther decided that fitting in with the crowd was a bad idea. Had Esther followed feminist mantra, she would have dismissed Mordecai’s warning and followed the example of Queen Vashti, only to wind up exiled or dead. Instead, she trusted that God’s plan involved every part of her, including her beauty, and used all of her gifts to that end. Typical feminists favor Vashti because they worship tragic beauty; Biblical feminists admire Esther because she plays to win.

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If World War I Was a Bar Fight

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

WWI bar fightBack in 2012, the blog Face in the Blue published the excellent post, “In a Mass Knife Fight Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why? I commented at the time that this would be a valuable history teaching tool, especially for young boys trapped in girl centered education. (And I did hear from my middle school history teacher who was sorry he never thought of such a lesson plan.)

Now there is another. From The Meta Picture comes “If WWI was a bar fight. It starts:

Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of a pub when Serbia bumps into Austria and spills Austria’s pint. Austria demands that Serbia buy it a whole new suit because of the new beer stains on its trouser leg. Germany expresses its support for Austria’s point of view. Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit…

As we know, no one calmed down. The post continues and, just like the knife fight post, prompts some good history discussion in the comments as well as a few comments consistent with national stereotypes. I found it when one of my girlfriends, now a college history professor, posted a version of the picture captioned “The teacher who made this is a genius. This is by far the best way to learn about anything.” I wouldn’t go as far as best, but it certainly is a good way to learn. Read it all.

Note: the original text appeared a few months ago at imgur.com, but the discussion at The Meta Picture is more substantive, so I used that version. Imgur also has “If Facebook existed during WWII“, another post I recommend.

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Image via The Meta Picture. 

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Obama, Disinformation Czar: In Amerika, We Have No Enemies

Saturday, March 8th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Good and evil do exist, just not in the realm of political conversation — in America, that is.

Thursday, Crimean parliament member Refat Chubarov posted his outrage over the vote of 78 out of 100 of his fellow parliamentarians to secede from Ukraine and reunify with Russia. Even the failures of Google Translate can’t bungle the shocking truth out of his statement:

Those of my colleagues – Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of the ARC who voted just crazy!
clear that they do the will of others …
Mind left them!

Only an expert intelligence agent, like Vladimir Putin, could have staged such a successful political takeover. First, he sends in armed, masked gunmen, then follows them with Russian troops who supposedly arrive to save the day. As a result, “Crimean lawmakers unseated the provincial government Feb. 28 under the eye of armed Russian soldiers and appointed pro-Russian politician Sergei Aksyonov, whose party got four percent of the vote at the last election in 2010, prime minister.”

True to his KGB roots, Putin’s disinformation campaign is well underfoot on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to Kremlin-backed Russian news media. Too bad for the dictator, not all of his subjects are loyal. In a bold move that took the Internet by storm, Russia Today news anchor Liz Wahl submitted her resignation from the state-controlled news show live on air, stating: ”I am proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth and that is why after this newscast I’m resigning.”

The best the American president can do, however, is paint a picture of moral equivalency while calling on the UN to mediate Putin’s illegal land grab. In a statement that included an acknowledgement of Russia retaining its “basing rights in Crimea,” President Obama placed the new Ukranian government on the same level as Putin’s Russia, urging, “Let international monitors into all of Ukraine, including Crimea, to ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are being respected, including ethnic Russians.”

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What Are Your Favorite Classic Hollywood Movies?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

A photo from PJ Lifestyle contributor Chris Yogerst’s Facebook, along with the comment, “Here is my glamorous view of dissertation research!!”

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Chris writes on film and media for PJ Lifestyle and teaches at Concordia University in Wisconsin. These books are from his dissertation research for his Ph.D.

 

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The Connection Between Gun Control and the Holocaust

Monday, February 24th, 2014 - by Clayton E. Cramer

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Over the last twenty years, I have watched Stephen P. Halbrook’s scholarly work on gun control become more polished, more nuanced, and more methodical. His latest book, Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State” is an astonishing piece of scholarship: complete; careful; thoughtful.

For a very long time, Americans opposed to gun control have used the example of Nazi Germany’s gun control laws as a warning of what might happen here.  Regrettably, not everyone has been careful enough. There is a quote purportedly from Hitler about gun control that starts out “1935 will go down in history” that used to float around the Internet.  It does not appear so often anymore because a number of people, including me, demonstrated its falsity.

Part of what allowed bogus quotes like this to survive was that few historians have bothered to research the real history of the Nazis and gun control.  Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership did a nice job of obtaining and translating the 1928 and 1931 Weimar Republic gun control laws, and the 1938 Nazi gun control law some years ago, but as useful as these were, they simply do not compare to what Halbrook has done with this new book.

Halbrook traces the development of German gun control law from the collapse of the Kaiser’s government in 1918, through the post-war chaos, the Weimar Republic’s efforts to prevent the violence of the Nazis and the Communists in the 1920s and early 1930s, and then the ways in which the Nazis used those laws to disarm anyone who they regarded as “enemies of the state” (which of course included all Jews).  In doing so, Halbrook makes use of an astonishing set of sources.  His secondary sources are impressive: scholarly histories of the period, such as The Berlin Police Force in the Weimar Republic, and specialized works that you might not even expect to exist, such as Der Weg des Sports in die nationalsozialistische Diktatur (The Way of Sport in the National Socialist Dictatorship).  Halbrook goes far beyond that, however, with an impressive collection of primary sources, including diaries by people who lived through the time, surviving police records, internal government memos, and court decisions.  Part of what makes a book like this possible is part of what made it so easy to convict Nazis war criminals: the German penchant for documenting everything – and the difficulty in making those documents disappear, when it became apparent that the war was lost. 

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Noah Flooded with Potential for Interfaith Battle

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

All week I’ve been seeing anti-Noah posts popping up on Facebook from Christian friends who are convinced that the not-yet-released Darren Aronofsky epic must be a liberal, secularist perversion of the biblical story, morphing Noah into a drunk and spouting an anti-human, pro-environmentalist message. Where’d the controversy come from? According to Jordan Hoffman at the Times of Israel, entertainment trade mag Variety needed to drum up readership on a slow news day:

A strange agenda group for “faith driven consumers” sent out a push-poll asking if people who hadn’t yet seen the film if they were “satisfied with a biblically themed film… which replaces the Bible’s core message with one created by Hollywood?”

In other words, a bunch of opt-in Christians were asked if they were ready to see what some scarf-wearing artiste from Jew York City had cooked up with his liberal and probably homosexual friends when, you know, they weren’t drinking blood and hoarding gold. Some 98% of respondents said that, no, they were not satisfied.

It would have been a nothing story had the press release not been picked up by Variety (one of the main entertainment trade publications) on a particularly slow news day. The Internet ran with headlines that basically read “98% of Christian audiences are enraged by ‘Noah!’” forcing Paramount, which has already had plenty of tsuris with this film, to issue an explanatory press release of their own.

The stereotypes Hoffman plays with in his commentary entertainingly highlight the unspoken rift between Jews and Christians when it comes to biblical epics. We, for the most part, stand back while Christians re-interpret our history, our people, our nation, and our sacred text in light of their own slightly Aryan (why are ancient Israelis consistently blue-eyed Brits?) Sunday School memories. This time, however, a Jewish writer/director has paired with a Jewish writer to bring a Torah story to the silver screen. That interpretation has caused Christian uproar, something the filmmakers prepared for when they sought out production partner Rob Moore, who is both a vice chair at Paramount and a devout Christian who supports the film.

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George Clooney Didn’t ‘Save Puppies from Nazis’ In Monuments Men

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

In spite of the fact that the new WWII flick The Monuments Men is peppered with Hollywood royalty like George Clooney, Bill Murray and Matt Damon, its idealism and patriotic tone has induced mental vomiting among the cultural elite.

Case in point is Philip Kennicott’s scathing criticism of the film in the Washington Post titledGeorge Clooney saves Puppies from Nazis.“ Ironically, Kennicott misses the point of the movie and then uses the same point to argue his case against it.

In yet another twist of fate, our new series exploring the works of Ernest Becker beginning with The Birth and Death of Meaning sheds a different light on the movie, Kennicott, the Allied Forces and Hitler.

Let’s start with Kennicott, who writes:

“If you care about art, you are obliged to loathe the film “The Monuments Men,” a star-studded history drama that purports to tell the story of American efforts to rescue and repatriate art stolen by the Nazis in World War II…“Monuments Men” is so bad I will save you the trouble and expense of seeing it with the following summary. To make the film a bit more coherent, I’ve substituted the word “puppies” for art.

Over in Europe, the Second World War is raging, and Clooney is very worried about the puppies. He takes this concern directly to Franklin Delano Roosevelt… He explains to the President of the United States the basics of the allied invasion of Germany. He uses a big map with arrows on it, with the Russians coming in from the east, and the allies moving in from France and Italy. Caught in the middle of these armies are a whole lot of puppies. Clooney says he doesn’t want to live in a world without puppies.

Roosevelt tells Clooney to go save the puppies and there ensue several derivative scenes in which Clooney rounds up a rag-tag gang of misfit puppy lovers who all agree to help him return the puppies to their rightful owners.”

His opening with, “If you love art you are obligated to loathe the film” should give you your first whiff of a fermented ideology. The basis of his argument begins by informing us of our obligation to accept his emotions and condescension as the standard of righteousness, and our allegiance to art. Then Kennicott proceeds to obscure the gravity of the facts by replacing it with warm fuzzies–then ridiculing the absurdity.

Like a fresh gulp of air in a stale room of smoke and mirrors, this film is based on American history not yet rewritten–even in Hollywood.

And that alone makes it worth a closer look.

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Those Silly, Savage Homophobes

Monday, February 17th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

northernliberalelites

Bethany Mandel’s article on the irony of permitted homophobia in the African-American rap community rightly highlighted the Left’s patronizing racism towards both African and Hispanic Americans. She smartly pointed out pop culture’s double standard when it comes to reacting to anti-gay statements from Christian whites versus blacks or Hispanics. But the argument needs to be pushed further, lest we fall into the Progressive Left’s divisive Minority trap.

The underlying racism of the Progressive Left is the kind of upper-class willful ignorance rooted in eugenic supremacist theory that’s currently being swept under the rug of “progressivism,” a fanciful term for 21st century Marxism. No one could possibly believe that the same people who promote marriage equality, affirmative action, and amnesty are subconsciously racist. Unless, of course, they looked at the philosophy underlying those seemingly righteous political beliefs.

One need look no further than the Grammys for proof. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, white boys with bad rapping skills being lathered up with awards by an audience righteously congratulating themselves for marrying gays on stage to the tune of Same Love. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, the white messiahs saving rap from its inherent anti-gay nature with cornball lyrics referring to his beloved genre as “a culture founded from oppression.” What next? Rapping about the ironies of 40 acres and a mule with a prop carpetbag?

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The Monuments Men: Is Art Ever Worth a Human Life?

Saturday, February 15th, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

Babysitters acquired, my husband and I went on a double date with his brother and our sister-in-law last weekend. We all wanted to see The Monuments Men. With a promising ensemble cast and a great story to tell—the Allied soldiers who rescued masterwork art from the Nazis at the end of World War II—it was our unanimous choice. In hindsight, we should have gone to the The Lego Movie.

I didn’t find The Monuments Men quite as disappointing as The Times of London review, but I agree with the specific complaints: the cast wasn’t challenged by the script and the story was off for tone and accuracy.

For me, the problem became clear when George Clooney’s character wrestled for the second, or perhaps third, time with the question of whether art was worth a life when they lost their first member in defense of Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges.

Clooney is not a talented enough actor to cause me to forget I’m watching George Clooney. Listening to him give a fundamentally conservative speech about preserving the knowledge of the past jarred me out of the story. It is also why I instantly picked out a detail. The dialogue referred to the artists, that if we didn’t preserve their works it would be as if the artist never existed.

But great artworks aren’t about the artist. Masterpieces grant to us knowledge or an example of master craftsmanship that inspires us to greater achievement ourselves. The masterworks are worth defending not because they tell us the master existed but because, as a whole, they represent history and knowledge that we could not replicate.

Given most of the stuff Hollywood churns out, it didn’t surprise me that they couldn’t see the distinction.

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Fifth Beatle Brian Epstein’s Unsung Revolution

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Gay at a time when homosexuality was a felony and Jewish in an era of “polite” antisemitism, one Liverpool lad broke into entertainment management at a time when the Anglo Lords in London ruled the biz. 50 years later the music world is only beginning to acknowledge that there’d be no Beatles without their manager, Brian Epstein.

This past weekend, Vivek Tiwary, the Gen-X producer that brought Green Day’s American Idiot to Broadway, spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at The Fest for Beatles Fans about his mission to bring Epstein’s little known story to life via a critically acclaimed graphic novel, The Fifth Beatlereleased by Dark Horse Comics.

What I unearthed after much difficult research (there is a paltry amount of information readily available on Brian, which is part of why I want to bring his story to the world) was not just an inspirational business story and a blueprint for what I wanted to accomplish with my career, but also a very human story, as summarized above. It’s a story I could relate to—and wanted to relate to—on so many levels. Brian became my “historical mentor”, if you will. A person from whose history I’ve tried to learn from—both what to do and what NOT to do. Brian was certainly a flawed and imperfect hero, but a hero all the same.

Tiwary has drawn inspiration from Epstein’s trailblazing ingenuity, citing that without Epstein’s persistence, Ed Sullivan never would have brought The Beatles to America. “People scoffed when I brought Sean Combs to Broadway in A Raisin in the Sun because they didn’t believe that Broadway attracted a black audience. I told them that was ridiculous; if we gave them a product they wanted, they would come.” Like Epstein decades before, Tiwary’s was a winning gamble.

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A Day in the Life of the Fest for Beatles Fans 2014

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Beatles-themed sensory overload: That is how to describe The Fest for Beatles Fans in New York City, held from February 7-9 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. What’s it like roaming a Fest that fills four floors of a New York hotel with musicians, historians, artists, authors, yogis, meditators, the famous and well over 8,000 fans from 40-odd states and five continents? Take a look at a day in the life of The Fest.

Awesome Beatles historian Bruce Spizer and the moron at Capitol who kept turning down The Fab Four's early hits. "Harmonica-Americans don't listen to harmonica." #NYCFEST14

Beatles author and historian Bruce Spizer opened Saturday with a presentation on how the Beatles conquered America, no thanks to Dave Dexter, Jr., the Capitol Records guy who rejected hits like ”Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me” because they had “too much harmonica.”

Dear Prudence Farrow talks India, the Maharishi and TM #NYCFEST14

Dear Prudence Farrow spoke about her spiritual journey in India with the Maharishi and the Beatles before leading an introductory transcendental meditation session. The room, dubbed the Ashram for the occasion, was so packed that more chairs had to be brought in for the standing room only crowd.

The line to see Good Ol'Freda #nycfest14

Good Ol’Freda Kelly, secretary to Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles, and president of the original Beatles fan club, is signing autographs! Quick, get in line!

Good Ol'Freda! #NYCFEST14

Still down to earth after all these years, Freda hates being the center of attention but enjoys being with the fans. Her grandson, a toddler, was happily drawing next to her. “Would you like Nile’s autograph?” she casually asked, to which I happily agreed. Good Ol’Freda is the Queen of Beatles Fans: regal, royal, lovely. Her documentary Good Ol’ Freda is a must-watch.

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