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4 Washington D.C. Sunrises Through the Cherry Blossoms

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine

From Andrew N: “I took these a few years back, getting up at about 4:30am to catch the sunrise (without cherry crowds!).

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Cherry17

 

Cherry18

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Since December of 2013 PJ Lifestyle has been collecting sunrise and sunset photos from contributors, readers, and Instagram. Now we’re going to begin an effort to organize the ongoing collection. New goals:

1. Collect a sunrise from every state in the union.

2. Collect a sunset from as many countries around the world as possible.

3. After getting all 50 states’ sunrises then switch to collecting their sunsets and begin the global sunrises collection.

Updated April 2014: 4. The extraordinary submissions of Mark Baird have inspired a new collection of photographs devoted specifically to our nation’s capital. We’re going to try and organize fantastic sunrise and sunset photos from all the different monuments and scenic views.

A Capitol Dome Sunrise 

Sunrise Reflected In the Tidal Basin

Paddling to Sunrise On the Potomac

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By Request: Benny Moré, ‘Maracaibo Oriental’

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Music at Midnight

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Mark Mazer has shared a great request. Here’s “Maracaibo Oriental” by Benny More.

YouTube Preview Image

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How I Doubled My Freelance Income in Two Years (Part 2)

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Yes-Were-Open
Yesterday, I talked about making more money last year as a freelance writer than ever before.

In fact, my income doubled in about 24 months.

I promised I’d try to explain how I accomplished this over the course of this week, so here’s my first “tip”:

1.  Always Say “Yes” (Except Sometimes).

At this juncture in my freelance writing career, clients and publishers approach me, not the other way around.

(Here’s how I got to that point.)

Today, one of my biggest challenges is knowing when to accept assignments and when to turn them down.

Mostly, I say “yes,” even if I’m (secretly) afraid to squeeze one more gig into my 14-hour a day, seven day a week schedule because my calendar already looks like a clown car, and I’d love to just veg out with a Criminal Minds marathon.

(Nope, The 4-Hour Workweek this ain’t. I don’t buy that gimmicky formula and neither does Timothy Feriss or he wouldn’t be Timothy Feriss…)

I’m able to say “yes” as often as I do now because a few years ago, I screwed up the courage to sometimes say “no.”

That’s when I’d first noticed a strange pattern:

The less someone pays you, the more work they demand from you — usually for free.

These “I need it yesterday!” types want multiple revisions and last minute changes, but they sure freak out when you add them to their bill.

Whereas my “high end” clients who are paying full freight are easier to work with.

They’re more satisfied with my efforts, and they pay faster, too.

So two years ago, I politely “fired” some long time clients who were still enjoying my old, low “just starting out”/”I’m afraid to charge too much” rate.

I also stopped writing for publications that weren’t paying me enough. (No, I never write for free.)

This left me more time and energy to devote to newer, better paying (and more enjoyable) clients and publishers.

Yes, I still work long hours, but now those hours are now less frustrating and more lucrative.

(Stay tuned for Part 3…)

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I Am Become Death, The Destroyer of Spam

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

I have thrown down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountainside.

They have seen my strength for themselves, have watched me rise from the darkness of war, dripping with my enemies’blood.

I swam in the blackness of night, hunting monsters, out of the ocean, and killing them one by one; death was my errand and the fate they had earned.

The Spam War is over and I have emerged victorious.

I have slain the “aunt who earned $6571 a month from her home using only her computer.” I have vanquished “Earn up to $100/day. And whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my family.”

These spam are no more! They have ceased to be! They’ve expired and gone to meet their maker! They’re stiff! Bereft of life, they’re resting in peace! Their metabolic processes are now history! They’re off the twig! They’ve kicked the bucket, shuffled off their mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible! THESE ARE EX-SPAM!

About 7 years — or perhaps it was months — ago, Prince Aaron of Hanscom charged me with the sacred duty of seeking out and destroying the insidious invaders of our fair website who were bedeviling residents and visitors alike. As I rode off to combat this menace, the look on the faces of the court told me they did not expect me to triumph. There were whispers of the near invincibility of my foe — their resilience, their skill in battle, and most of all, their relentless constitution — a mindless, Zombie-like instinct to survive. To fight, to lose, to come back and fight again…and again — this is what I faced.

At first, I felt nearly helpless. The daily deluge was overwhelming. I would smite 100 only to have 200 take their place. The enemy was laughing at me, toying with me. After laboring all day, finally winning the battle, I would fall exhausted into a fitful sleep — only to awake early the next morning to discover that these apparitions from hell didn’t need sleep, didn’t need rest (or they were based somewhere in Europe or Asia). Peppering the many sites of PJM were 80-100 more of these demons, and the early morning combat — on an empty stomach, mind you — drained my strength, and sapped my will.

Eventually, it dawned on me that I, too, must develop a war strategy. I must maximize my strengths and limit my weaknesses. Only then could I meet the enemy on equal ground. Only then would the tide turn in my favor and I become master of the Spam universe.

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Obama’s America: Abortion Deserts Across the Country

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast reports:

There is a nearly 1,200-mile-wide desert of abortion providers stretching from the western border of Idaho to the eastern borders of North and South Dakota. Across this five-state expanse, the total number of cities that offer any form of abortion access can be counted on just two hands. Montana used to be an oasis in that abortion desert, with four clinics in four different cities offering both surgical and medication abortion options, but not anymore.

Montana has gone from four surgical abortion centers in the last year to two in the wake of dedicated abortion provider Dr. Susan Wicklund’s recent retirement.

Even more troubling to the Daily Beast:

Between 2010 and 2013, one in 10 clinics closed across the country—and that was before Texas’s HB 2 began to go into effect, which will close another 20.

Emily Likins, communications director at the Blue Mountain Clinic in Billings, Montana (one of the state’s two remaining abortion providers) said, “We are busy here, and so overbooked. We are short on equipment, short on space, short on providers and short on nurses.”

Well that sounds really safe, doesn’t it? Are the butcheries having that much difficulty finding people to work for them?

She said they have to tell women, ‘We’re sorry, but we can’t get you in this week, and you’re only 9 weeks so we can wait until you are 10.’ We hate doing that,” Likins said. “We don’t want to force people to walk around pregnant when they don’t want to be.”

Not for one extra minute!  (But really, what difference does it make? They can charge more for the late-term jobs.)

The article notes that more than 100 bills limiting access to abortion have passed in multiple states since 2011. Many of these laws have been aimed at increasing the safety of abortion clinics in the wake of the horrific conditions discovered at Kermit Gosnell’s clinic in Philadelphia.

Despite the legislative victories for those who support the sanctity of life, the Daily Beast warns that they may be short-lived. “For states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Wisconsin, the only thing standing between losing most or all of their clinics are court orders blocking bills from being enforced.”

Because finding a sympathetic judge is way easier than winning legislative battles.

If that fails, maybe Michelle Obama can make adopting abortion deserts her new project for President Obama’s second term. Roadside stands anyone?

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The Danger of Utopia

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Sunday’s murderous shootings in Kansas City have been labelled hate crimes. What makes an offense a hate crime? Should government seek to end racism by prosecuting it?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(16:04 minutes long; 15.42 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Chummy Photo Spread Reveals: Obama Hangs with Yuppies

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney recently had his home featured in Washington Mom. The typical chummy photo spread revealed what we already knew: Carney is a yuppie.

Considering Obama’s Marxist roots, hippie leanings, and wife’s penchant for designer everything, the revelation that he works with yuppies should come as no surprise. After all, he is the king of the yuppies – er – President, at least.

Soviet propaganda-turned-art isn’t hard to find for sale on the Internet. Hipsters, the love children of Yuppies, have been equally delighted by the graphic design and amused by the slogans for years. It’s far easier to appreciate Soviet art than to tackle the monster of socialist ideology that stifled the Russian intelligentsia for nearly 8 decades.

In a related story, Russia’s hipsters are fearing for their own modicum of intellectual freedom. The Daily Beast reports that as a result of the potential conflict with Ukraine:

The authorities already have closed media outlets, attacked pro-Western theaters and cinemas and adopted laws aimed against any alternative opinions. Invading the rest of Ukraine would turn Russia into a real fortress under siege. That would mean more of [one hipster's] friends fleeing the country or jumping into what’s called “inner immigration,” the life inside a small circle of people keeping distant from the country’s political flow; remaining liberals but keeping their opinion quiet.

…Every day, the free media sphere shrinks, leaving those who two years ago rallied in freezing wind on Moscow’s squares without any information, today, that they can trust. According to a law adopted last week, repeated arrests at protests that haven’t been given permits are punishable by a jail term now, not just a fine.

“On seeing activists sentenced to jail terms, many decided they were not ready to pay that high a price for fighting Putin,” Fedoseyev admitted. Russia without any free media or the right to protest is definitely going to be a more depressing place, but most hipsters speak foreign languages, and they can still read world news on the Web. They are beginning to make do. And the authorities are trying to make life fun for them.

“Fun” includes “beautifully designed” parks and clubs. If there’s one thing Carney’s photo shoot reminds us, it’s that socialist Russian oppression sure looks good. Heck, it can really tie a room – and a country – together.

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The First Technicolor Cartoon: Disney’s Still-Amazing ‘Flowers and Trees’

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

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Look at Lana

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

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The first thing I thought when I saw this announcement of Lana Del Rey’s new single “West Coast” off her upcoming album Ultraviolence, was, “Oh, wow, she’s brunette now. I wonder where she’s going to go with that.”

I’ve written before about the importance of Lana Del Rey’s image in her music, and how that image has also inspired waves of internet hate. “Lana Del Rey appeals to good girls because she’s the quintessential romantic bad girl: sultry, pouty, with thin white tee shirts and tiny denim shorts, the kind of girl who’d be leaning up against her boyfriend’s hot rod in the school parking lot,” I wrote about her first album.

Why is Lady Gaga praised for her careful cultivation of an image, while Lana Del Rey is consistently derided for it? A few reasons. Gaga has proven herself a masterful performer, bringing her image to life. Del Rey’s live performances are frequently described by those who have attended as low-energy, somewhat awkward and unpolished. That creates the impression that her image is just that — an image, not a living force. Lana Del Rey’s persona exists in a photograph; Lady Gaga’s exists on a stage, in a taxi cab, on the street, on the catwalk.

I think there could be another factor at play, though. Lady Gaga’s image is built on high fashion, decadence, sophistication.  Lana Del Rey claims a trailer trash origin story and a blue collar aesthetic. She infuses romance into seedy, rundown places and unlike Taylor Swift (another carefully cultivated pop-image with a blue collar, small town origin story — despite being the daughter of a banker), Del Rey doesn’t make them cute. In Swift’s high school fairytale, the tomboy falls in love with the football star and pines for him from the bleachers while he hangs out with his cheerleader girlfriend. In Del Rey’s fantasy high school, the heroine is getting pregnant under those bleachers, and the football player still doesn’t love her.

Maybe some people just prefer the glamour of a Lady Gaga (or the tamer glamour of a Taylor Swift) over Lana Del Rey’s trashy bad-girl image. Maybe some people resent that she claims a hard-knock reputation that she didn’t really “earn.”  But maybe there’s another factor at play: Del Rey is singing about things people like to sweep under the rug. No, not in a big social-change way; it’s probably hardly intentional. But look at her early videos, which frequently starred tattooed model Bradley Soileau — he looks like the kind of guy you’d see in a parking lot, who’d make you want to get to your car a little faster. And then there’s the rumors (and derision) surrounding Del Rey’s supposed plastic surgery — sometimes I wonder if she wants people to wonder. Her songs are so often about the things women do to seem attractive and desirable in a world that expects flawless beauty. Del Rey would be far from the first singer to get plastic surgery to fit a popular image — but she would be one of the first mainstream artists who used it to make people feel uncomfortable about beauty standards.

I have to admit, “West Coast” doesn’t have me excited for the new album — it’s very repetitive, and it doesn’t have the drama of “Blue Jeans” or “Born to Die,” or the sweet sadness of “Video Games.” But I’m excited for the collaborations with The Black Keys’s Dan Auerbach, and I’m interested in where Del Rey is going next.

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A Pulp Writer Disguised as a Lawyer Embedded in the People’s Republic of Portland

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the thirteenth in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The first eleven can be read in this collection here and the twelfth from yesterday is here. Find out more about Liberty Island’s new writing contest here, running through the end of April. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Ken Lizzi is an attorney and the author of an assortment of published short stories. When not traveling AC/a,!aEUoe and he’d rather be traveling AC/a,!aEUoe he lives in Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife Isa. He enjoys reading, homebrewing, exercise, and visiting new places. He loathes writing about himself in the third person.

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

The writers Bernard Cornwell, Glen Cook, and George MacDonald Fraser are major influences, as well as numerous Twentieth Century pulp writers.

Lizzi,-Ken

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

Mostly resigned, sitting on the porch grumbling as I watch the kids ruin the neighborhood.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

P.J. O’Rourke, Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes.”)

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

Embedded in the People’s Republic of Portland.

5. What are your writing goals?

I hope to one day attain the status of the new Robin Masters and allow a slacker PI to inhabit the guest house of my Hawaiian estate.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

www.kenlizzi.net

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

Homebrewing.

An Excerpt from “Sacred Cows” by Ken Lizzi:

Scott and Dennis and a core group of friends had remained in touch after college, their social lives a continuation of their Portland State revelries. Scott nearly married one of the group, Allison–blonde, gregarious, earthy. A little too earthy for Scott’s tastes which ran more to khakis and mutual funds than Birkenstocks and saving the flat-footed grebe. So the romance ended but the friendship remained.

 

To the general amusement of the old gang, Allison over the years had introduced a series of increasingly eccentric boyfriends as her enthusiasms meandered from eastern medicine to preserving the Amazon to vegan cooking. The last had coincided with the introduction of a painfully thin, bearded fellow the group quickly dubbed Ashram Anton, as much for his fiercely-spiced vegetarian curries as his appetite for recreational drugs.

 

Anton ran a vegetarian restaurant on Hawthorne Boulevard. The Sacred Cow was a narrow cavern of a joint wedged between a non-profit women’s interest bookstore and a used-CD shop. A cramped cluster of tables overlooked by hemp wall hangings and yellowed Robert Crumb posters fronted a lengthy kitchen, hidden behind a beaded curtain, where Anton concocted his leafy delights. Allison browbeat members of the group to stop in occasionally. Most of the old gang grudgingly admitted to enjoying a dish or two, with the noted exception of Scott who professed an unreasoning and unchangeable opposition to all things meatless.

 

One evening in January Dennis agreed to meet Allison at The Sacred Cow. They’d remained tolerably good friends, based largely on the amiable Dennis’ ability to reduce the friction between her and Scott during gatherings. On the appointed day Allison rang up Dennis at his office.

 

“Dennis? Allison. Look, can we meet at another restaurant? It doesn’t matter. You decide.”

 

That night at the Bridgeport Ale House, Allison unburdened herself while picking strips of ham and turkey out of her chef salad.

 

“Something is wrong with Anton.” She raised her fork threateningly before Dennis could respond. “No wisecracks. I’m serious.”

 

“OK. I’m sorry. What’s bothering you?”

 

“Anton started serving hamburgers at The Sacred Cow.”

 

“What!” Dennis exclaimed, a forgotten forkful of baked potato raised halfway to his mouth. “Ashram Anton eating meat?”

 

“I didn’t say he was eating it. He’s serving it. Hamburgers anyway.”

 

Dennis resumed eating. He was a hard man to put off his feed. “So? Maybe he wants to expand his customer base.”

 

“I don’t think so. The timing is really weird.”

 

“How so?”

 

“Well, two weeks ago the cattleman’s association held a convention here in Portland. Anton and I joined a protest outside the convention center. Somehow things got out of hand. The anti-fur activists showed up, then the medical research opponents, and then some real fringe elements. Shut up Dennis, it’s not funny. Anyway, the protest escalated until the police showed up. A little pushing and shoving, a couple of rocks and bottles and suddenly it’s the ’68 Democratic National Convention. I get Anton into the Subaru. He took a face-full of pepper spray but other than that he was okay. We drive away, and Anton’s staring through his tears, fixed on the cattlemen standing outside the convention center, grinning and smoking cigars. Next week he’s slapping burgers on the grill.”

 

Dennis had to agree that was a little odd. But as he’d no constructive advice for her, he simply suggested she keep an eye on Anton and keep him informed.

 

A few weeks later, at a housewarming thrown to introduce the gang to Scott’s new riverfront condominium unit, Allison mentioned the case of Mack Sheridan, a wealthy rancher of some local repute (or infamy, depending on one’s view of the chain of ‘gentlemen’s’ clubs he owned), who had mysteriously disappeared. No one had a clear idea when, as Sheridan frequently drifted off on private jaunts without leaving word of his departure. No ransom demands arrived, and not a trace of the man could be found.

 

Dennis found that interesting but hardly conclusive. Then Allison offered the more recent case of Pauline Delacroix, an “edgy” clothing designer from LA who had arrived in the city but apparently did not leave it. Her fall line of knee-length otter-hide skirts had garnered a certain degree of notoriety. Such people are difficult to misplace in a metropolis, but there you have it. Vanished.

Continue reading at Liberty Island…

****

image via Liberty Island / Mary Madigan (C) 2014

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Take This Sign and Shove It

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Michael Walsh

Take this sign and shove it

I have little to add to John Hinderaker’s analysis of the Bundy ranch standoff, except this: if the Bureau of Land Management, a federal agency, thinks it can establish “First Amendment Areas” while it goes about its business, it and the rest of the federal bureaucracy need to think again. First, the moral case for Bundy (who, as Hinderaker correctly notes, doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on):

Over the last two or three decades, the Bureau has squeezed the ranchers in southern Nevada by limiting the acres on which their cattle can graze, reducing the number of cattle that can be on federal land, and charging grazing fees for the ever-diminishing privilege. The effect of these restrictions has been to drive the ranchers out of business. Formerly, there were dozens of ranches in the area where Bundy operates. Now, his ranch is the only one. When Bundy refused to pay grazing fees beginning in around 1993, he said something to the effect of, they are supposed to be charging me a fee for managing the land and all they are doing is trying to manage me out of business. Why should I pay them for that..?

So let’s have some sympathy for Cliven Bundy and his family. They don’t have a chance on the law, because under the Endangered Species Act and many other federal statutes, the agencies are always in the right. And their way of life is one that, frankly, is on the outs. They don’t develop apps. They don’t ask for food stamps. It probably has never occurred to them to bribe a politician. They don’t subsist by virtue of government subsidies or regulations that hamstring competitors. They aren’t illegal immigrants. They have never even gone to law school. So what possible place is there for the Bundys in the Age of Obama?

Well, this is what you get with gangster government. But, just as in the 1930s, when corrupt big-city machines like Tammany Hall worked hand-in-glove with both politicians and criminals — but I repeat myself — it’s going to take the public to rise up and destroy the rackets. Where is the Tom Dewey of our time, the two-fisted racket buster who sent legions of crooks to the slammer? We’re still waiting.

But a “First Amendment Area“? That’s something every American needs to denounce, as loudly as possible. No federal agency has the right to do this, and in a decent administration, the bureaucrat who thought up the idea and ordered the signs posted would be publicly defenestrated pour encourage les autres. There is, however, no accountability in the Obama administration and its corrupt enablers in Congress, for whom everything is a racket — either a source of personal enrichment or an opportunity to mete out some punishment to the regime’s ideological enemies.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The BLM’s stunt violated every one of the amendment’s proscriptions except the “establishment” and “free exercise” clauses, and Obamacare is working hard on those. For the record, here’s the official spokesdroid’s explanation for the zones:

While anybody can express their free speech any time on open public lands in accordance with the codes and ordinances that exist, there are temporary closures of some of the public lands related to this impound operation and those are in place for public safety. So we identified two areas where the public could safely and conveniently express their opinions without having to go through the codes and ordinance process and apply for permits.

So this is the country we live in at the moment: militarized local cops and weaponized federal agencies, whose bureaucratic whims are enforced at gunpoint. It’s not the country I grew up in, nor one in which any right-thinking American would want to live.

On the other hand, not everything is a plot against the Republic:

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Happy Tax Day!

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Megan Fox
bicentennial baby

That’s me in 1976 (I’m the littlest one) in front of the obligatory bicentennial flag that I think was a requirement for all babies born that year.

I was born on Tax Day, April 15, 1976. It was the bicentennial, the 200th anniversary of our country’s founding and all babies born that year had their photo taken in front of a flag. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to those of us born in 1976 (granted, it only has about 26 likes so I guess no one really cares about the bicentennial anymore.) As a child, nothing out of the ordinary struck me about my birthday, aside from my dislike of the month of April in Illinois which is usually rainy and very cold (this year it’s actually snowing.) I do remember that my Dad never forgot my birthday and he seemed to find that funny. He used to laugh and call me “Daddy’s little tax deduction,” which, of course meant nothing to me as a care-free child. As I got older, that all changed and as I became politically aware (and very conservative) the irony of my birthday began to sink in.

My birthday took on a whole new significance on April 15, 2009 when I attended my first Tea Party in Chicago inspired by Rick Santelli’s epic rant on the trading floor of the Mercantile Exchange. It was bitterly cold (as usual during April in Chicago) but hundreds of people showed up and walked for hours protesting the unreasonable ever-growing federal power over our lives. At the time the bailouts of corporations and the corruption of Fannie and Freddie were hot topics. The middle class was suffering under huge tax burdens and the government was growing bigger every day. (Nothing has changed.) The Tea Party as it exists now did not exist that day. It was just the beginning.

I’ve always believed God has a sense of humor, and my birthday is proof. Every year I’m forced to snicker at the irony that I was born on what would become the symbol of all that’s wrong with America, and in the very year that celebrated our independence from tyranny. Prophetic? Most definitely, considering I would end up spending my adult life exposing government idiocy, tax waste and fraud and fighting against our ever-growing government.

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Tax Day: What If You Didn’t Have to Pay?

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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As the father of a young family, I have taken a fanatical interest in my household finances. Curious whether I could squeeze more juice out of our budgetary lemon, I took a look at our monthly expenses as a percentage of our take-home income.

To my astonishment, I found that 84% of our take-home income goes to essential expenses. By “essential,” I mean items which cannot be cancelled or reduced. These are things like rent, fuel, insurance, and groceries. We already minimize these expenses as much as possible.

To my further astonishment, I found that all of the elective expenses in our monthly budget, things like Netflix, hosting my websites, and maintaining a subscription to Star Wars: The Old Republic, total up to a mere 3% of my take-home income. If I really cut to the bone and went without my entertainments and hobbies, I would hardly save enough to speak of. This proves problematic, because I have outstanding liabilities which must eventually be met, not to mention things which I would like to save for – including stuff like retirement.

I hold down three jobs. My wife has two. So we’re not exactly slacking. Be that as it may, I figure we need to conjure up a way to bring home a certain amount more per month in order to advance beyond treading water to actually getting somewhere.

As it turns out, I already earn more than I figure I need. The only problem is that I don’t get to keep it. It gets confiscated before I ever see it and sent to state and federal government.

If I could actually use what I rightfully earned last year, I would be able to pay off every outstanding bill. I would be able to replace my aging laptop with a decent machine that could get me through the next five years. And I would have enough left over to put a serious dent in my auto or student loans.

How about you? What could you do with the money you lost to government last year? What happiness could you pursue? What values could you secure? Leave a comment below.

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Paddling to Sunrise On the Potomac

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another fantastic photo taken and submitted by Mark Baird.

Since December of 2013 PJ Lifestyle has been collecting sunrise and sunset photos from contributors, readers, and Instagram. Now we’re going to begin an effort to organize the ongoing collection. New goals:

1. Collect a sunrise from every state in the union.

2. Collect a sunset from as many countries around the world as possible.

3. After getting all 50 states’ sunrises then switch to collecting their sunsets and begin the global sunrises collection.

Updated April 2014: 4. The extraordinary submissions of Mark Baird have inspired a new collection of photographs devoted specifically to our nation’s capital. We’re going to try and organize fantastic sunrise and sunset photos from all the different monuments and scenic views.

A Capitol Dome Sunrise 

Sunrise Reflected In the Tidal Basin

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By Request: Elmore James, ‘It Hurts Me Too’

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Music at Midnight

Elmore-HiLo

Here’s a request from Adrian Reilly. Enjoy Elmore James’ “It Hurts Me Too.”

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A Hopeful Sunset on Mars

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine
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Via the Mars Curiosity Rover Page, hat tip Charlie Martin.

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How’s That New Replay System Working Out For Ya, Major League Baseball?

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

As a conservative, a traditionalist, and a baseball fan for 55 years, I can say that I hate instant replay. I used to hate the designated hitter but eventually, grudgingly, accepted it so chances are pretty good about 30 years from now, I’ll get used to the game being taken out of the hands of flawed, mistake-prone umpires and placed in the hands of technology.

I always saw mistakes made by the umps as simply the “rub-o-the-green” — thems the breaks, boys and over 162 games, the bad calls tend to even themselves out. But the powers that be in baseball didn’t quite see it like that, so they built a huge “war room” in New York — the Replay Operations Center — with dozens of TV feeds for league officials to view a play and make the right call.

I am probably a little more gleeful than I should be when I report that the plot to destroy baseball via replay is not going according to plan. In fact, at this rate, the fans will be screaming for the wires to be ripped out of the ROC and by mid-season, the league go back to relying on human beings to make the right call.

Fox Sports:

I can tolerate the growing pains of expanded replay, the flaws in the challenge system, the awkward delays as managers decide whether to seek reviews, the debates over what constitutes a proper transfer, a proper catch.

But no one should tolerate calls that are blatantly incorrect after review — not now, not with a system that supposedly was designed to help baseball avoid egregious mistakes.

Something is terribly wrong when television viewers are getting better access to conclusive angles than the umpires at the $30 million Replay Operations Center in New York. And it happened twice Saturday, first in a game between the Yankees and Red Sox, then in one between the Braves and Nationals.

If it’s any consolation to Red Sox manager John Farrell, I spent Sunday trying to get a better explanation for Anna-gate from Major League Baseball, and none was forthcoming.

Farrell became the first manager to receive an automatic ejection for arguing a replay decision later that night, contending that the out call on the Yankees’ Francisco Cervelli at first base should not have been overturned because the replays were inconclusive.

The essence of Farrell’s argument is that the ball needed simply to enter first baseman Mike Napoli’s glove, not hit the back of it. The confusion alone over what qualifies as an out is embarrassing to baseball, but Farrell would not have been nearly as hot if not for the shenanigans of the day before.

Clearly, Farrell was still seething over the missed call Saturday — the one in which replay conclusively showed the Yankees’ Dean Anna had his foot off second base when he was tagged by Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts with one out in the eighth inning.

At least, the replay on FOX Sports 1 and other networks broadcasting the game conclusively showed that. No one is quite sure what the umpires at the Replay Operations Center were quite watching, but evidently their 12 feeds were not good enough.

The promise of this expanded replay was that it would be quick (90 seconds or less), and the calls would finally be correct. But, like football replay which came in making the same promises, the reality is quite different. What we found with replays in football was that even multiple angles and several minutes of examining tape, there were many inconclusive outcomes. The standard of “incontrovertible proof” necessary to overturn a call is, after all, arbitrary, and you end up adding a human element anyway.

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How I Doubled My Freelance Income in Two Years (Part 1)

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

bullion-coins-stacked_303x259No one needs a reminder that it’s tax time.

We Canadians don’t have to file until April 30, but that doesn’t lessen the sting for those of us who actually work for a living — especially if, like me, you run your own business.

My accountant just gave me the “good news, bad news”:

The bad news is, I owe a low five-figure amount to the taxman right now. I’ll also have to cough up quarterly payments this year on top of that — something I normally don’t have to do.

That’s because — and this is where the good news comes in — as a freelance writer, I earned more in 2013 than I ever did before, even when I was working at a “normal” cubicle job.

In fact, last year’s revenues were almost double what I earned as a freelancer in 2011.

Throughout this week, I’ll try to explain (to you and myself) how I went from making an average to an above-average income.

Believe me, none of these “lessons” will be terribly earth-shattering.

I certainly can’t promise that they’re universally applicable, either, or will even still work for me in six weeks or six years.

That said, they may still provide some food for thought at a time of year when we’re all forced to review our own individual bottom lines.

So stay tuned…

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Updated: Click here for Part 2

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Making Racism Impotent

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel, appearing with Candy Crowley on CNN, says significant elements of the Republican base “are animated by racism.” Rather than argue which party proves more racist, let’s consider which policies lend racism its power.

A just society punishes actions which violate individual rights, like Sunday’s ghastly shootings at Jewish community centers in Kansas City. An unjust society allows, endorses, or even perpetrates violations of rights, as Nazi Germany did. Rather than a world without racism, a utopian ideal futilely sought after through the police of thought, we should seek public policy which condemns any action which violates rights, regardless of its motivation.

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(10:02 minutes long; 9.64 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Disney and the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Part 5: ‘It Says Something Very Nice’

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Welcome to Part 5 of our series on Walt Disney’s contributions to the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City. If you need to catch up on the rest of the series, here’s where to look:

Part 1: ‘The Kind Of Service We Can Offer’
Part 2: ‘Something No One Has Seen Or Done Before’
Part 3: ‘I Won’t Open The Fair Without That Exhibit!’
Part 4: ‘At The Intersection Of Commerce And Progress’

This week we’re looking at an attraction that made its debut at the World’s Fair and is still beloved today – It’s A Small World. It’s one of the attractions that appears at every Disney resort, on three continents. Because of its ubiquity all over the world, according to Disney, the title song “is always playing somewhere around the world.” During the course of a 16 hour day in any one of the parks, the song plays 1,200 times. Love it or hate it, It’s A Small World is one of the quintessential Disney attractions, but it almost didn’t make it off the drawing board.

A scant nine months before the Fair, Pepsi approached the Disney Studios requesting that the Imagineers develop an attraction that the company would sponsor to benefit UNICEF. Bob Thomas picks up the story in Walt Disney: An American Original:

A Disney executive, believing that three projects were more than enough to occupy WED, sent the Pepsi-Cola people to an engineering firm that specialized in children’s playgrounds. Walt was angry when he heard about it. “I’m the one who makes those decisions!” he declared. “Tell Pepsi I’ll do it!”

Walt detailed to stunned Imagineers his plan for “a little boat ride” in which guests would see simple, childlike figures representing the cultures all over the globe. He enlisted some of his most trusted artists to design the attraction. Mary Blair, whom Walt called his “favorite artist,” imprinted her unique stamp on the look of the ride. Marc Davis oversaw the animatronics, while his wife Alice and Joyce Carlson designed the costumes for the dolls. Claude Coats engineered the layout of what Walt would call “the happiest cruise that ever sailed.”

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A Dog Jail Break at the Pound!

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

 

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Do Homeschoolers ‘Rob’ Public Schools of Tax Dollars?

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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Marcia Clemmitt recently published an extensive report on homeschooling at CQ Researcher. In “Homeschooling: Do Parents Give Their Children a Good Education?,” Clemmitt, a “social policy researcher” and former high school teacher attempts to explain the economic impact of homeschooling in the United States:

Since public schools are allotted government dollars based on the number of pupils they enroll, districts where home schooling’s growth is greatest inevitably lose cash. Arizona’s Maricopa County school district, for example, had lost $34 million by the year 2000 because 7,526 students were being home-schooled.

While I do not doubt for a minute the propensity of government schools to “lose cash,” homeschooling is not to blame.

A report from The Heritage Foundation in 2009 found that just the opposite is true — homeschooling eases the burden on local public schools, saving them billions:

An additional benefit of homeschooling comes in the form of savings to taxpayers and school systems. Analysts have estimated that homeschooled students save American taxpayers and public schools between $4.4 billion and $9.9 billion annually. Other estimates are as high as $16 billion.

The argument that homeschoolers deprive public schools of tax money is based on the premise that each child represents a sum of money to which the school has an inherent right. When parents choose to educate their children outside the public school system, opponents of homeschooling say, those students are “robbing” districts of money to which they are entitled by virtue of the fact that the child happens to live in their district.

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Turncoat Feminists

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
The real problems facing American feminists today.

The real problems facing American feminists today.

Commentary has printed some brilliant feminist insights by Jonathan S. Tobin on Brandeis University’s refusal to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

We have heard a great deal in the last couple of years from liberals about a “war on women” that was supposedly being waged by American conservatives. That meme played a crucial part in President Obama’s reelection and Democrats hope to repeat that success in this year’s midterms. Liberals have tried to mobilize American women to go to the polls to register outrage over the debate about forcing employers to pay for free contraception, a Paycheck Fairness Act that is more of a gift to trial lawyers than women, and attempts to limit abortions after 20 weeks. These are issues on which reasonable people may disagree, but what most liberals seem to have missed is the fact that there is a real war on women that is being waged elsewhere around the globe where Islamist forces are brutalizing and oppressing women in ways that make these Democratic talking points look trivial. It is that point that Hirsi Ali is trying to make in her public appearances.

But instead of rising in support of Hirsi Ali’s efforts to draw attention to these outrages, leading American feminists are silent. The only voices we’re hearing from the left are from men who are determined to justify Brandeis.

I recently commented on the nastiness that occurs when political passion jumps the shark into idol-worshiping territory. One need look no further for evidence as to how ugly and narrow-minded political idol worshipers can get than the quotes Tobin pulls from left-wing sources hellbent on defending Brandeis’s decision. A search of both Jezebel  and Bitch Magazine websites turned up zip on the controversy, once again proving the theory that feminism really is all about white, upper class “rich” chicks and their pop culture fanaticism.

Hirsi Ali wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

I stand before you as someone who is fighting for women’s and girls’ basic rights globally. And I stand before you as someone who is not afraid to ask difficult questions about the role of religion in that fight.

The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored. We do no favors to students, faculty, nonbelievers and people of faith when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect.

The fact that the mainstream feminist movement has no use for Hirsi Ali’s brave fight for women’s rights should come as no surprise. Her global campaign against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and abuse of women within radical Islam is so far out of the realm of #FirstWorldProblem Feminism that it doesn’t even ping on their radar. Which is precisely why feminism is a joke and women continue to be the laughingstock whipping boys of Democrat men who keep them well oiled and distracted during election season before shoving them back under Oval Office desks where they belong. What can I say except submission sells.

Perhaps Muslim women aren’t the only ones who are being targeted and abused because of their gender after all.

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‘I Spell ‘Magicks’ With a ‘K’ to Both Confound Proofreaders and to Signify It’s Not a White-Bunny-Being-Pulled-Out-of-The-Hat Kind of Magic.’

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the twelfth in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The first eleven can be read in this collection here. Find out more about Liberty Island’s new writing contest here running through the end of April. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Aaron Smith is a family law attorney living in San Diego with his lovely girlfriend and two pit bulls. Aaron spends his time trying to get clients out of their own messes and figuring out how to put his fictional characters in messes of their own. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Aaron is confident that he is one of the few students who saw the utter squalor of liberal rule and came out a confirmed conservative with libertarian leanings.

Smith, Aaron

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

Books: Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Jonathan Maberry’s works. I love how they’ve crafted intricate worlds. Non-fiction wise, I enjoy history and current affairs. I like David McCullough’s works, as well as Ron Chernow.

Also, check out Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld and Andy Levy. They tend more cosmotarian than conservative but are pretty dang funny.

Current events wise, I like Drudge and Instapundit. I’m disappointed that the Volokh Conspiracy went to the Washington Post and will likely disappear behind a paywall. And I’m partial to the Right Coast as an alum of the University of San Diego.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

A conservative who takes federalism seriously. I think that’s the bridge between libertarianism and conservatism. Conservatives need to take the principle seriously and end the federalization of the drug war or medical malpractice caps. Libertarians need to quit thinking that the Supreme Court can impose their policy preferences nationally using magic decoder rings to find rights that the Drafters would be amazed are in the Constitution.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

You have to love Ann Coulter for having bigger balls than most of the GOP establishment. The fact that she could admit being wrong on Chris Christie is a good thing too.

Then there are the classics, Friedman and Hayek. I started out as a socialist – easy when you’re a candy ass suburban kid who didn’t have to work for things – but became conservative at U.C. Berkeley. I also read Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and have yet to be convinced he’s wrong. Ditto for his follow up, Who Are We. I think it’s pretty obvious we haven’t seen the “end of history” yet.

For Constitutional theory, Raoul Burger called out the tyranny of our judiciary pretty well.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

I’m originally from Chicago and am convinced that the pizza pie was perfected there. Did you know that three large Lou Malnatti’s pizzas fit perfectly in the overhead compartment of a Southwest plane?

I’ve lived in San Diego for most of my life though. Seeing as how we have perfect weather and proper pizza can be airlifted here, I consider it paradise.

5. What are your writing goals?

I am currently developing a set of intertwined series all set in a universe much like ours, except for the fact that monsters and magicks are real. See, I spell “magicks” with a “k” to both confound proofreaders and to signify it’s not a white-bunny-being-pulled-out-of-the-hat kind of magic. The heroes of each series fight evil in their own ways, leading to Armageddon and its aftermath. I am now working on a novel set in this universe and fleshing out its rules.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

My Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/aaronsmithauthor?ref=hl

I also tweet and can be followed at @aaroncsmith1

Last but not least I opine at http://aaronsjustsaying.blogspot.com/

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

Now if I told you that, it would be an admission against interests.

An excerpt from Aaron Smith’s “Tyler”

“Tyler, get away from the window!” Connor ordered. Tension made the command sharper and louder than he intended. Luckily Tyler was engrossed with his reading.

 

But if a drone saw him with the book…

 

Damn the Test.

 

“Dad, the light’s best here,” Tyler complained. Connor recognized his son’s stubborn expression. Looking at the towheaded boy sometimes felt like looking in a mirror.

 

“The light’s plenty good on the couch,” he countered. He’d had thirty years more practice on the stubborn front. “The blackout’s scheduled to be over in a few hours.”

 

“Dad–” Tyler’s plaintive cry hung in the air.

 

“Now!”

 

Tyler pushed himself from the floor, shoulders slumped. He took half steps towards the couch, as if hoping his father might change his mind.

 

As Tyler settled onto the couch, Connor reached over and ran a beefy hand through the 5-year-old’s hair.

 

“You know what we talked about, right?”

 

“Yeah. The Test’s coming.”

 

“And?”

 

“And I can’t let people know I’m reading.”

 

“That’s right.”

 

“Why, Dad?”

 

Connor paused. How to explain a concept like slavery? Even if he could put it into terms his young mind could understand, the child’s basic innocence could lead to a slip.

 

“The bad guys, Tyler,”

 

Tyler nodded.

 

“The bad guys. And you can’t ever talk about this with anyone. You don’t ever know–”

 

“Who’s Eyes.”

 

“That’s right. You never know who’s an Eyes.”

 

Connor walked over to the kitchen space, a cramped square about two steps away from the couch. The soles of his feet almost scraped the concrete beneath the worn carpet.

 

He reached into the pantry and pulled out a chocolate NutriBar. The vitamin-fortified candy was popular because it didn’t require effort or refrigeration. Without steady power, refrigerators were extinct–at least for the likes of them.

 

He turned to toss Tyler the chocolate and saw a glittering in the distance outside the window.

 

A skyscaper from the Crystal City.

 

“Hey that was hard.”

 

Connor mumbled an apology. He hadn’t meant to throw the candy, certainly not that hard.

 

He shook his head. Losing control wasn’t going to help.

 

“I have to go out, Tyler. You stay away from the window…”

 

“And don’t answer the door.”

 

Connor smiled with paternal pride.

 

The boy was whip-smart.

 

That was the problem.

 

Connor picked up the walking stick by the door and headed out to the world.

Continue reading at Liberty Island…

*****

image courtesy shutterstock / Andrea Danti

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