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Rick Moran

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.
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The Kids are Back in Charge in Greece

Sunday, January 25th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The logic of the Greek voter escapes me. Their economy and debt spun out of control because of their reliance on runaway socialism. So, in order to fix it, they elect a party that promises…runaway socialism.

The radical socialist party Syriza has won a decisive victory in Greece today. They ran on a platform promising to end responsible spending, renege on their debt, and give all citizens the “dignity” of a free ride once again.

The adults have been overthrown and the children have been put back in charge.

Free ice cream for everyone!

Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza brushed aside Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s party to record a decisive victory in Greece’s elections, after riding a public backlash against years of budget cuts demanded by international creditors.

Tsipras’s Coalition of the Radical Left, known by its Greek acronym, took 36.5 percent compared with 27.7 percent for Samaras’s New Democracy in Sunday’s election, according to official projections. The far-right Golden Dawn placed third with 6.3 percent followed by To Potami, a potential Syriza coalition partner, with 5.9 percent.

While the projected victory was by a wider margin than polls predicted, it remains unclear whether Syriza will be able to govern alone. Even with a razor-thin majority or in a fragile coalition, the result still hands Tsipras, 40, a clear mandate to confront Greece’s program of austerity imposed in return for pledges of 240 billion euros ($269 billion) in aid since May 2010. The challenge for him now is to strike a balance between keeping his election pledges including a writedown of Greek debt and avoiding what Samaras repeatedly warned was the risk of an accidental exit from the euro.

“The Greek people punished New Democracy for governing in the petty manner of the old regime’s political parties,” Aristides Hatzis, an associate professor of law and economics at the University of Athens, said by phone. “Most Greeks voting Syriza don’t expect a spectacular change but a marginal one. A marginal one would be significant for them.”

European policy makers including German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his Dutch counterpart, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, warned Greece against diverting from its agreed bailout program. Finance ministers from the 19 countries that share the euro are due to discuss Greece when they meet in Brussels on Monday. Germany’s Finance Ministry said in a statement that Schaeuble’s position was unchanged after the result and “the agreements reached with Greece remain valid.”

How badly does the rest of Europe want Greece to remain in the eurozone? Not as much as 4 years ago when dire predictions of Armageddon were made if Greece defaulted. This time, the dominoes aren’t lined up so neatly. Spain, Portugal, and Ireland are doing better, and Italy is also on sounder fiscal footing.

The problem for Greece and her EU creditors is that any alteration through negotiations in the terms of the bailout will draw instant whines from Ireland, Spain, and Portugal for a similar restructuring. No doubt there would be a willingness to alter the bailout terms at the margins, but wholesale changes would be out of the question.

This is what Samaras meant when he spoke of an “accidental” exit from the EU for Greece. Tsipras’s actions may initiate another financial crisis that would see bond holders flee and ordinary Greeks running for the banks.

The markets assume that the risk of Greece exiting the euro is small, but officials close to the situation are not complacent. Some fear that the compromises required on both sides may prove too difficult.

These people believe that debt relief for Greece is now a political necessity. They argue that the eurozone can’t demand that Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras abandon his campaign promises and respect Greece’s existing commitments without offering something in return.

Indeed, some officials fear that the eurozone poses the bigger risk to a deal. It is not just rich Northern European countries such as Germany and Finland that are opposed to debt relief for Greece; so too are Eastern countries such as Slovakia and Estonia, whose citizens are less well off than those of Greece, and the governments of crisis countries such as Spain, Portugal and Ireland, whose leaders are paying a high political price for complying with the terms of their bailout programs.

There are risks whatever the eurozone does. Policy makers are privately in little doubt that failure to agree a deal with Greece would catastrophically destabilize the eurozone, playing into the hands of anti-EU fringe parties. But a deal that delivers Mr. Tsipras a big dividend for his years of opposition to reform and fiscal discipline in Greece risks sowing the seeds for future instability by undermining support for pro-reform governments.

Syriza’s victory is a warning for the rest of the EU. It is painfully obvious that the free citizens of Europe, when given the choice of doing what is right, but at a painful cost, and doing what is easy by listening to politicians who play on their emotions, will choose easy every time. It’s always more fun to be an irresponsible teenager than a responsible adult and the adolescents who will be running Greece will now be able to deliver their “radical” reform — a return to the good old days when no one cared about the budget deficit or how much debt they were piling up.

Always appearing on the verge of breaking up, the idea of a United Europe has survived every attempt to kill it over the last few decades. The next few months will show just how bulletproof the EU really is.

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Doomsday Clock Ticks Two Minutes Closer to Midnight

Sunday, January 25th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved its Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to the end of the world.

The clock now stands at three minutes to midnight — the closest it’s been to doomsday since 1984.

“Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity. And world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe,” said Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in a news release. “These failures of leadership endanger every person on Earth.”

The Bulletin’s Science and Security Board looks at global issues on a regular basis and decides whether to move the minute hand of the clock, with particular stress on the status of nuclear arms and reaction to climate issues.

In recent years, the clock has moved the wrong direction for humanity. After standing at 17 minutes to midnight in 1991 — the furthest it’s ever been from the end of the world — it’s gotten closer each time it’s been changed since, with the exception of 2010, when it was pushed back by one minute to 11:54 p.m.

The last time the clock was moved was in 2012, when it was moved up one minute to 11:55.

The scientists expressed disappointment at the latest developments.

Noting that nuclear trends are moving backwards, the Science and Security Board’s Sharon Squassoni pointed out that weapons modernization programs and disarmament have “ground to a halt.”

And action on climate change? “Efforts at reducing global emissions of heat-trapping gases have so far been entirely insufficient to prevent unacceptable climate disruption,” said the Bulletin’s Richard Somerville. “We all need to respond now, while there is still time.”

The Doomsday Clock was first put out in 1947. The closest the clock has been to midnight was in 1953, when it was set at 11:58 p.m.

Left unmentioned by the scientists is that the leadership of the United States is in the hands of a weak, bumbling, naive president whose policies over the last six years have led to a more dangerous, more unstable world. That might be worth a minute closer to doomsday alone.

In fact, smart, patient, and consistent leadership is far more important to the safety of the world than superficial agreements to cut nuclear arsenals. Few could argue that Vladimir Putin or any European leaders, much less President Obama, fits that profile of a steady, capable leader.

And climate change? Human civilization could end in an hour if there’s a significant nuclear exchange. But it will be a hundred years before global warming is at its peak, if you accept the modeling. The idea that we have to drastically alter our economy and civilization now in order to save ourselves is a guess and shouldn’t have any bearing on where the hands of the Doomsday Clock are positioned.

But what fun is that — especially when the competition for non-profit dollars is intense. Including global warming in calculations for the Doomsday Clock is political, not scientific.

But then, the scientists have always been political. In 1984, they made this assessment of the relationship between the U.S. and Soviet Union:

In 1984, as the United States began a major defense build-up that included the pursuit of a potentially destabilizing ballistic missile defense system, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union reached an icy nadir. “Every channel of communications has been constricted or shut down; every form of contact has been attenuated or cut off. And arms control negotiations have been reduced to a species of propaganda,” the Bulletin wrote then, in explaining why the hands of the Doomsday Clock had been moved to three minutes to midnight, the closest they had been to catastrophe since the early days of above-ground hydrogen bomb testing.

The U.S. did not “begin” a defense buildup in 1984. By that time, it was well underway, having begun under Jimmy Carter in FY 1978.

And the reason arms-control negotiations were going nowhere was because the Soviet Union walked out of SALT talks because the U.S. would not agree to shelve its plans to deploy Pershing missiles in Europe. All the “propaganda” was coming from the Soviets.

The Doomsday Clock has always been a useful tool for the left to hit Republican administrations with. It shouldn’t surprise us, then, today with the clock sitting at the closest to midnight in 30 years, that there wouldn’t be a whisper of criticism directed at President Obama.

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ISIS Demands Prisoner Exchange to Spare the Life of Second Japanese Hostage

Sunday, January 25th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Islamic State has apparently executed one of the Japanese hostages the terror group was holding, according to a video posted online showing the second hostage holding a picture of the other prisoner’s severed head.

ISIS is now demanding an exchange of prisoners for the other hostages life — a Jordanian woman who was convicted of assisting in a terrorist attack against several hotels in 2005.

CNN:

The static image, shown in a video file posted by a known ISIS supporter, shows surviving Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, alone, in handcuffs and dressed in orange, holding a photo of what appears to be beheaded compatriot Haruna Yukawa.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday that the video is “highly credible.” U.S. authorities said they had no reason to doubt its authenticity.

Abe told Japanese broadcaster NHK that the killing was “abominable” and “unforgivable,” demanding the immediate release of Goto.

NHK also reported comments from Yukawa’s father.

“I still don’t want to believe it,” Shoichi Yukawa said, his face not shown in the report. “If I can see him again, I’d like to hold him in my arms.”

Saturday’s posting, came four days after an ISIS video demanded that the Japanese government pay $200 million within 72 hours for the two hostages’ release.

In the video released Saturday, the voice of a person claiming to be Goto says in English that Abe is to blame for Yukawa’s death.

“You were given a deadline,” he says.

The voice then relays the apparent new demand from ISIS — the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman arrested in Jordan in 2005 on suspicion of trying to take part in an attack in which others killed dozens at Jordanian hotels.

“They no longer want money, so you don’t need to worry about funding terrorists,” the voice says. “They are just demanding the release of their imprisoned sister Sajida al-Rishawi.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Abe talked by phone on Saturday, according Jordanian state news agency Petra.

The news agency did not detail what the two discussed beyond saying they “reviewed the latest developments in the Middle East.”

Will Abdullah help? It appears that ISIS carefully chose the subject for its prisoner swap. Sajida al-Rishaw is a failed suicide bomber who took part in a horrific series of attacks on 3 major hotels in Amman, Jordan in 2005. Her husband was one of the attackers killed when his explosives belt blew up.

Most significantly, according to Jordanian authorities, she is also thought to be a sister of a close aide to the deceased leader of the forerunner to ISIS, Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed during the war but many of his aides survived to create Islamic State.

The 2005 attacks in Amman killed 60 people, so it’s doubtful King Abdullah would let such a dangerous person go. There was no deadline set in this latest message, but if Abdullah, as expected, denies the request of ISIS for the swap, Mr. Goto’s days will be numbered.

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VIDEO: Bill Maher Refers to Chris Kyle as ‘Psychopath Patriot’

Saturday, January 24th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Mediaite has an account of a segment on Bill Maher’s Real Time where the film American Sniper was discussed. Maher complained of a lack of nuance in the film:

The controversy over American Sniper made its way into tonight’s Real Time, where Bill Maher took issue mainly with the real Chris Kyle being framed as some kind of “psychopath patriot” that everyone can easily get behind. Maher brought up Kyle’s quote about killing “savages” over in Iraq and getting a kick out of it, and Maher couldn’t help but ask why a decent Christian person would speak of anyone in that way.

Maher felt American Sniper painted a very easy black-and-white picture of good versus evil instead of presenting a more complex story. Bret Stephens shot back that Maher missed the point of the film, which was about what soldiers and veterans go through, and that the “savages” line was not about all Iraqis, but about the horrid, murderous ones.

Comedian Bill Burr also told Maher, “You can’t sum up a man by one quote taken out of context.”

Maher still thought the lack of subtlety and the very obvious “we’re good, they’re bad” message was troubling. He did admit, though, there is slightly more ambiguity in the movie than there was in Kyle’s book.

Note that Howard Dean actually believes that the only people seeing the film are Tea Party members. And I felt sorry for Bret Stephens, the Wall Street Journal columnist and author of the book America in Retreat. He kept trying to shed some light on the subtlety of the film, an effort that fell on deaf ears for the most part.

It’s clear that the film has touched something deep within the American psyche and that this scares the hell out of liberals. Tapping into a wellspring of patriotism and American exceptionalism threatens the left like no other cultural or political phenomena has in recent memory. It cancels most of their narrative that belittles America and taints anyone who demonstrates any outward manifestation of patriotism.

Because, of course — you have to be a psychopath to be a patriot.

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Palin’s Trial Balloon

Saturday, January 24th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has fueled speculation that she is seriously considering a run for the GOP nomination in 2016.

Palin told the Washington Post, “You can absolutely say that I am seriously interested” in running for president. She also told ABC News earlier in the week, “Yeah, I mean, of course, when you have a servant’s heart, when you know that there is opportunity to do all you can to put yourself forward in the name of offering service, anybody would be interested.”

When asked about the familiar names already popping up in the potential GOP primary, including Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, neither of whom will attend the Iowa Freedom Summit, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee quipped, “I can’t wait for new energy.” She added there had “better be a competition and not a coronation,” making it clear she thinks that’s the only way Republicans can beat Hillary Clinton, if the former first lady and secretary of state emerges as the Democratic nominee.

“Big competition, and that competition in the GOP … will surface that candidate who can take on Hillary, be ready for Hillary and show the nation what it is going to take to get the country back on the right track — because we can’t afford status quo, because status quo lately has been Latin for, ‘We are getting screwed,’ and status quo has got to go,” she said.

As for who she wants to see as that “right candidate,” she described the person as someone who will “turn things around, someone who will, in some respects, I don’t know, maybe be considered a bit avant garde, to the establishment anyway, because this next person has got to realize this is war, this is war for our hunters’ future.

“I want to help find that candidate that realizes that [their standing in the next election is] not what matters, that’s not what is at stake,” Palin said. “What’s at stake is our children and our grandchildren’s future.”

Palin sounds like a candidate to me. And she’s teeing off on Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, implying that their establishmentarianism is no better than the status quo — a potent theme that will resonate with the conservative base.

She also implies that Bush/Romney aren’t strong enough to get in the trenches with Hillary and the Clinton machine to duke it out. She certainly describes herself when she says she thinks the GOP candidate should be “considered a bit avante garde.” In fact, the way she describes the ideal candidate is like she’s looking in a mirror.

There is no GOP candidate with a more enthusiastic, loyal base of supporters. But there is also no GOP candidate whose numbers are more underwater and who carries as much baggage as Sarah Palin.

A recent CBS Poll told the story. Even Chris Christie’s numbers are better.

Only 29 percent say they’d like to see Christie launch a bid, while 44 percent say otherwise. (Only former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s numbers are more underwater: 30 percent of Republicans say they’d like to see her run, but 59 percent disagree.)

Allahpundit recently penned an interesting post at Hot Air regarding the path to the nomination open for Marco Rubio. He suggested the odds favoring Rubio are long and there didn’t appear to be a viable road that the Florida senator could take to win the GOP nomination.

The same might be said of Palin. Enthusiastic as her supporters may be, there simply aren’t enough of them. She has improved her standing within the Republican Party thanks to her high-profile support of several successful candidates, but her numbers are still lousy with independents. And while a wide open field suggests someone with support in the low to high teens may be able to compete for the nomination for a while, once the field is winnowed out, it’s hard to see where Palin would get additional support.

But Palin may have other reasons for running, including denying Romney and Bush a cakewalk to the nomination. Her favorability ratings may be a liability, but her name recognition is far better than any other conservative candidate. Her entrance in the race would be a wild card that could peel off support from both establishment and conservative candidates alike.

If Palin was floating a trial balloon to gauge reaction to her possible candidacy, it was certainly a success with her supporters. However, motivating her base is the easy part. Lining up donors, creating an organization, and fielding a staff is the hard part. And that has yet to come.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness

Saturday, January 24th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

I went to college 40 years too early.

If you peruse the syllabi of many college courses today, you could easily load up on classes where you were guaranteed an “A” as long as you showed up fairly often and had the proper “attitude” toward the white, male “patriarchy.”

In other words, if you are even halfway creative at trashing white people — white males in particular — your chances of acing a course are excellent.

If they offered some of these courses when I was in college, I’d have graduated summa cum laude.

Today’s outrageous violation of common sense and high educational standards comes to us via Campus Reform, which discovered a course on the “problem of whiteness” at Arizona State University.

At Arizona State University (ASU), students can now learn about the “problem of whiteness” in America.

The public university is offering an English class to its students this semester called “Studies in American Literature/Culture: U.S. Race Theory & the Problem of Whiteness.”

According to the class description on ASU’s website, students will be reading The Possessive Investment in Whiteness, Critical Race Theory, Everyday Language of White Racism, Playing in the Dark, and The Alchemy of Race and Rights.

At time of publication, 18 students were enrolled in the course offered at ASU’s Tempe campus. Students can receive three credits for successfully completing the course.

The class syllabus is not available online.

“I think it shows the significant double standard of higher education institutions,” James Malone, a junior economics major, told Campus Reform. “They would never allow a class talking about the problem of ‘blackness.’ And if they did, there would be an uproar about it. But you can certainly harass people for their apparent whiteness.”

The course, first reported by the Pundit Press, is taught by Lee Bebout, an assistant professor of English at ASU. According to his faculty page, critical race theory is one of his research interests.

Bebout, who is white, has previously taught classes titled “Transborder Chicano Literature,” “Adv Studies Theory/Criticism,” and “American Ethnic Literature,” among others.

I would recommend, if you were to take this course, not to bring your critical thinking skills into the classroom with you. Your head might explode from all the contradictions.

I will note that Arizona State is not known for its academic achievement or list of scholars. It is, however, known as one of the top ten party schools in America.

So, before you start knocking back those Jagermeister jello shots, just remember to check your whiteness at the door. How can you have a good time unless you realize the “problem” with your whiteness? You might also leave your gonads with someone you trust. Wouldn’t want to accidentally be accused of sexual harassment — or worse — by asking some comely lass where she got that lovely sweater. Not only would you be hauled into court for your insensitivity to members of the female persuasion, but your whiteness would no doubt be thrown in your face as your conduct identifies you as a member of the white patriarchy, for which you should be sentenced to a million hours of community service — and no jello shots.

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You Won’t Believe Why Martin Scorsese Is Abandoning His Documentary About Bill Clinton

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Legendary film director Martin Scorsese is a big Bill Clinton fan. In a 2012 statement announcing his intention to film a documentary on the 42nd president, Scorsese gushed that the film would “provide greater insight into this transcendent figure.”

Two years ago, he started to follow Clinton’s globetrotting, filming the ex-president in Africa and elsewhere doing good works, and representing the Clinton Foundation.

But after two years of work, Scorsese has shelved the project because of some outrageous demands by Bill Clinton. It seems that Clinton wanted to be able to approve interview questions in advance as well as have some control over the final cut of the film. This was too much even for a Clinton worshiper like Scorsese, who not only turned Clinton down, but has shut down production for the time being.

The New York Times explains why Clinton wanted so much control:

Clearly, the film carried the risk that an unflattering camera angle, unwelcome question or even an obvious omission by Mr. Scorsese would become a blemish to Mr. Clinton’s legacy or provide fodder for Clinton critics as the 2016 campaign approaches. Apparently to avoid such problems, people close to Mr. Clinton sought to approve questions he would be asked in the film, and went so far as to demand final cut, a privilege generally reserved for directors of Mr. Scorsese’s stature.

Mr. Scorsese’s camp rejected those suggestions and the project was shelved. The film now appears to be years away from completion.

Chelsea Clinton, who left her lucrative NBC News job in August and works closely with her father, was expected to figure in the documentary in some way, and some in the Clinton circle had speculated that she would be credited as a producer. But a spokesman for Ms. Clinton said any notion that she had sought to join the production was “categorically false.”

In recent months, Mr. Clinton’s team has shown increased discipline in keeping the former president on message ahead of his wife’s likely 2016 presidential campaign. Mrs. Clinton is expected to declare her candidacy sometime this spring.

The former president is often a strong asset for his wife, but Mr. Clinton also proved to be a liability during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary when he made comments about then-Senator Barack Obama that many interpreted as racially insensitive.

Other entertainment projects with the Clinton’s as subject matter are also mostly hung up or canceled:

While “Clinton the Musical,” a stage satire focused on Clinton administration scandals, is now set for an Off Broadway run beginning in March, other Clinton-themed entertainment projects have faltered.

In the fall of 2013, CNN scrapped a documentary about Mrs. Clinton in the face of pushback from Clinton aides and the Republican National Committee; NBC dropped a planned mini-series in which Diane Lane would have portrayed her.

Also, “Rodham,” a planned feature film about the romance between a young Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham, has been struggling through Hollywood’s development process since Lionsgate acquired rights to it in 2013.

The Clintons are not shy about exercising power, as the effort to release to video the TV mini-series The Path to 9/11 illustrates.  The controversial film is still not available for public viewing either via streaming or on DVD. The Walt Disney Company, parent of  ABC, refuses to release the film and has never shown it since its original airing more than eight years ago.

That kind of power is not to be tampered with, as Scorsese no doubt realizes. So rather than compromise his integrity, Scorsese decided to cut his losses and shelve the film.

Even a revered director like Martin Scorsese must kneel and pay homage to the Clinton gang. Adoring them is not enough; you are required to sell your soul for them if asked.

Scorsese passed on the Faustian bargain and is a lot wiser for the effort.

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Breaking: Saudi King Abdullah Dead at 90

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

King Abdullah ibn Abdilazīz of Saudi Arabia, known in the kingdom as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, died early Friday morning according to Saudi state TV. No cause of death was immediately given.

Associated Press reports:

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, the powerful U.S. ally who joined Washington’s fight against al-Qaida and sought to modernize the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom with incremental but significant reforms, including nudging open greater opportunities for women, has died, according to Saudi state TV. He was 90.

More than his guarded and hidebound predecessors, Abdullah assertively threw his oil-rich nation’s weight behind trying to shape the Middle East. His priority was to counter the influence of rival, mainly Shiite Iran wherever it tried to make advances. He and fellow Sunni Arab monarchs also staunchly opposed the Middle East’s wave of pro-democracy uprisings, seeing them as a threat to stability and their own rule.

He backed Sunni Muslim factions against Tehran’s allies in several countries, but in Lebanon for example, the policy failed to stop Iranian-backed Hezbollah from gaining the upper hand. And Tehran and Riyadh’s colliding ambitions stoked proxy conflicts around the region that enflamed Sunni-Shiite hatreds — most horrifically in Syria’s civil war, where the two countries backed opposing sides. Those conflicts in turn hiked Sunni militancy that returned to threaten Saudi Arabia.

And while the king maintained the historically close alliance with Washington, there were frictions as he sought to put those relations on Saudi Arabia’s terms. He was constantly frustrated by Washington’s failure to broker a settlement to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. He also pushed the Obama administration to take a tougher stand against Iran and to more strongly back the mainly Sunni rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Abdullah’s successor is 78 year old Crown Prince Salman, who is said to be in poor health himself.

King Salman has been part of the ruling clique of princes for decades and is thought likely to continue the main thrusts of Saudi strategic policy, including maintaining the alliance with the United States and working towards energy market stability.

During his five decades as Riyadh governor he was reputedly adept at managing the delicate balance of clerical, tribal and princely interests that determine Saudi policy, while maintaining good relations with the West.

Very little is known of Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. He gradated from Great Britain’s RAF college with a degree in aeronautics and also went to General Staff school in the US. He served as the Kingdom’s intelligence agency director for 7 years, beginning in 2005.

Abdullah was a strong US ally and a decent ruler. His experience will be missed in the Middle East as the challenges facing the Kingdom continue to grow. Some considered him a “reformer,” but this is surely an overstatement. The radical conservative Wahhabi clerics are a powerful influence in the country, and as long as they wield that influence, any “reforms” will be close to meaningless.

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Do You Believe Bill Belichick on Deflategate?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick strongly denied he had anything to do with deflating game balls used during the AFC Championship contest last Sunday with the Indianapolis Colts.

The Patriots won the game 45-7, and after an investigation by the league following the game, the NFL determined that 11 of 12 game balls used by the Patriots were well under the psi specifications for inflation.

A deflated ball theoretically gives the quarterback and receivers an advantage in the kind of wet, cold weather conditions under which the game was played on Sunday. The ball is easier to both catch and throw.

At a press conference, Belichick said he had no explanation for the deflated balls and said he had never given the rules governing the inflation of balls a thought in 40 years of coaching.

Belichick: I’ll start out by addressing the football issue here. When I came in Monday morning, I was shocked to learn of the news reports about the footballs. I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until Monday morning. I would say I’ve learned a lot more about this process in the last three days than I knew or have talked about it in the last 40 years that I have coached in this league. I had no knowledge of the various steps involved in the game balls and the process that happened between when they were prepared and went to the officials and went to the game. So, I’ve learned a lot about that. I obviously understand that each team has the opportunity to prepare the balls the way they want, give them to the officials and the game officials either approve or disapprove the balls. That really was the end of it for me until I learned a little bit more about this the last couple days.

Belichick claims that he goes out of his way to make the balls used in practice as difficult to handle as possible:

Let me just say that my personal coaching philosophy, my mentality has always been to make things as difficult as possible for players in practice. So with regard to footballs, I’m sure that any current or past player of mine would tell you that the balls we practice with are as bad as they can be: wet, sticky, cold, slippery. However bad we can make them, I make them. Any time that players complain about the quality of the footballs, I make them worse and that stops the complaining. We never use the condition of the footballs as an excuse. We play with whatever or kick with whatever we have to use and that’s the way it is. That has never been a priority for me and I want the players to deal with a harder situation in practice than they’ll ever have to deal with in the game. Maybe that’s part of our ball security philosophy.

I’m trying to coach the team and that’s what I want to do. I think we all know that quarterbacks, kickers, specialists have certain preferences on footballs. They know a lot more about it than I do. They’re a lot more sensitive to it than I am. I hear them comment on it from time to time, but I can tell you and they will tell you that there is never any sympathy whatsoever from me on that subject. Zero. Tom’s [Brady] personal preferences on his footballs are something he can take about in much better detail and information than I could possibly provide. I could tell you that in my entire coaching career I have never talked to any player, staff member about football air pressure. That is not a subject that I have ever brought up. To me the footballs are approved by the league and game officials pregame and we play with what’s out there. That’s the only way that I have ever thought about that.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady also denied any involvement in deflating game balls, saying “I didn’t alter the balls in any way.”

NBC News reported that Brady addressed the issue with his teammates Thursday, saying in a closed-door meeting that he likes footballs “a certain way” and that they should stay focused on the Super Bowl.

In his news conference, Brady said there’s a usual process he goes through in getting used to using game day footballs, explaining it’s like any other piece of equipment for him. However, the quarterback repeatedly professed his innocence in doctoring any of the footballs.

“I feel like I have always played within the rules. I would never break the rules.”

Brady also echoed the earlier sentiment of his coach, Bill Belichick, in saying he was stunned by the news of the illegal footballs.

“I was as surprised as anybody when I heard Monday morning what was happening,” Brady said.

Sources told Fox Sports that the Baltimore Ravens, who played the Patriots the previous week, tipped off the Colts about the deflated ball issue. During the game, a ball was actually taken out of play to be examined by officials. It’s possible that examination led to the investigation by the NFL that began after the game was over.

The NFL is being tightlipped about what they’ve discovered, but says the investigation should be concluded by the weekend. The question then becomes, how to punish the Patriots?

In 2007, the Pats were fined and lost a first round draft choice due to their violation of league rules in videotaping the defensive signals of an opponent during the game. But stealing signals is one thing. Actually breaking the rules to gain a competitive advantage is another.

The ever-image-conscious NFL will probably not hit the Patriots with significant penalties. The league had a tough offseason as several high-profile domestic abuse cases and the arrest for murder of former Patriots player Aaron Hernandez caused the NFL to reexamine policies and procedures governing off-field behavior.

But calls for forcing the Pats to forfeit the game and send Indianapolis to the Super Bowl are absurd, as are calls to limit the Patriots’ ability to sign free agents or make trades.

The most likely outcome would be hefty fines and perhaps the loss of a draft choice. Meanwhile, the reputation of Belichick — already in tatters — took another hit. It is a supreme irony that a man who may go down as the greatest coach in NFL history would be remembered for his hand in cheating scandals as much as his Super Bowl wins.

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These Are the Top 5 Foreign Policy Issues Obama Never Bothered to Mention in the SOTU

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The president of the United States gave a 6,000-word State of the Union address to the American people and, despite the fact the planet is blowing up with crises, conflicts, and misery, he might have devoted 600 words of it to foreign policy.

Of course, that may be because he has failed to deal with these problems adequately. Or even competently. Since SOTU is a speech for the president to toot his own horn, it’s hard to blow when his foreign policies blow.

With a dearth of foreign policy statements, there were several serious issues the president didn’t even bother to mention.

Here are a few, suggested by Josh Rogin writing in Bloomberg:

Yemen

Mideast Yemen

Yemen is the crisis du jour and it’s not surprising the president sorta forgot to mention it. Just a few months ago, Obama held Yemen up as an example of success of his counterterrorism policy. “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years,” Obama said on September 10.

Today, Houthi tribesmen allied with Iran have taken over the capital city Saana, overrun the presidential residence, and are demanding virtual control of the government. Authority of the government is collapsing and things are so bad, the U.S. Navy has moved a couple of ships offshore to evacuate State Department personnel if it becomes necessary.

Failing to mention a failing state is perfectly understandable.

Boko Haram

France Boko Haram

One of the most horrific terrorist attacks since 9/11 occurred in Baga, Nigeria, on January 3-5 when the terrorist group Boko Haram massacred 2,000 innocents in a bloodletting that was shocking even for them.

Boko Haram also recently attacked Cameroon, where they kidnapped nearly 100 civilians and murdered dozens more. They boast of the caliphate they are forming and vow to attack the west.

“What? Me worry?” (Alfred E. Neuman)

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Arab Spring

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There was no mention of the “Arab Spring” in the State of the Union message because it doesn’t exist anymore. One might question whether it existed at all except in the minds of addle-headed western liberals who thought a leopard could change its spots, a tiger could change its stripes, and Arab Muslims could change their minds about democracy.

Why should Obama remind us that he backed the wrong horse in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and a host of other Arab countries? Arab Spring — out of sight, out of mind.

Libya

Mideast Libya

“Responsibility to protect” was the ostensible reason we went into Libya to help overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. He was killing civilians — something that shocked, shocked, I say, the preening moralists in the State Department led by Samantha Power. Now a bloody civil war is occurring that’s as confusing as it is tragic. No one’s in charge and the country is collapsing like a house of cards. Do we care who wins? If we could identify who’s fighting, that might be a start. But a myriad of warlords, militias, and jihadists fight among the ruins.

There are 200,000 dead in Syria at the hands of President Bashar Assad, so I guess “responsibility to protect” was thrown under the bus long ago.

Al-Qaeda

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Is this the first State of the Union address since…forever there was no mention of the granddaddy of all terrorist groups? But of course, al-Qaeda is smashed, its leadership is vernichten, its networks are destroyed.

Except AQ in the Arabian Peninsula just took credit for the terrorist attacks in Paris, AQ in the Maghreb is giving France and Algeria all they can handle, and ISIS, an offshoot of the old al-Zarqawi AQ group in Iraq, holds territory the size of Belgium and continues to expand despite the president saying last night:

In Iraq and Syria, American leadership — including our military power — is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.

“Degrade” and “destroy” may be pushing the point. Hell, it’s busting the envelope. There was every reason for the president to avoid mentioning al-Qaeda when its franchises around the world are thriving.

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Israel Strikes Hezbollah Terror Cell in Syria

Sunday, January 18th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

There are those who might complain about Israel firing missiles in Syria in order to kill their genocidal enemies. If so, it’s obvious you’ve never paid any attention to what the terrorist group Hezbollah has to say about Israel and what they want to do to Israeli civilians:

“[O]ur struggle will end only when this entity [Israel] is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no ceasefire, and no peace agreements.” Secretary-General Nasrallah has stated, “Israel is an illegal usurper entity, which is based on falsehood, massacres, and illusions,” and considers that the elimination of Israel will bring peace in the Middle East: “There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel.” In an interview with The Washington Post, Nasrallah said, “I am against any reconciliation with Israel. I do not even recognize the presence of a state that is called ‘Israel.’ I consider its presence both unjust and unlawful. That is why if Lebanon concludes a peace agreement with Israel and brings that accord to the Parliament our deputies will reject it; Hezbollah refuses any conciliation with Israel in principle….”

That’s why Israel sent a deadly fusillade of missiles aimed at a building housing Hezbollah leadership and killed several terrorists, including the son of a former Hezbollah leader.

Jerusalem Post:

Israel Air Force helicopters fired missiles at a target in the Syrian Golan on Sunday, killing six Hezbollah members, Lebanese media reports said. The IDF said it would not comment on foreign media reports, and would neither confirm nor deny the strike occurred.

Five to six members of Hezbollah, including Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of former Hezbollah operations chief Imad Mughniyeh, were killed in the strike, according to the reports. According to Western intelligence sources, Jihad Mughniyeh headed a large-scale terrorist cell that enjoyed direct Iranian sponsorship and a direct link to Hezbollah. The cell had already targeted Israel in the past, launching attacks on the Golan Heights.

Mughniyeh was believed to have been in the planning stages of additional deadly terrorist attacks against Israel in the Golan Heights, which would have included rockets, cross-border infiltrations, border bombings, and anti-tank fire, designed to kill IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians who live in the Golan.

Imad Mughniyeh was killed in 2008 in a car-bombing widely attributed to Israel in the foreign media.

AFP cited an Israeli security source saying the strike had targeted purported terrorists planning an attack.

There are those who insist Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization because it takes part in the political life of Lebanon. The terrorists have limited representation in government — just 14 out of 128 seats. But they have outsize influence because they have the guns and their militia is far better trained and more effective than the weak, disorganized Lebanese army. When Israel invaded in 2006, the Lebanese army remained in their barracks, allowing Hezbollah to do all the fighting.

Killing the leadership of your enemy is a perfectly legitimate, legal means of self defense. Congratulations to the IDF for a job well done.

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Catfight! Miss Lebanon in Trouble Over Selfie with Miss Israel

Sunday, January 18th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

War has broken out in the Middle East — between two Miss Universe contestants.

It seems that Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, objected to Doron Matalon, Miss Israel, jumping in uninvited when Greige was in the process of taking a selfie with Miss Japan and Miss Slovenia.

Sensible woman — she didn’t want to go home and face the wrath of the crazies.

Too late. Matalon posted the photo to her Instagram account which precipitated an uproar on social media at home. Lebanese television station Al Jadeed joked that, since one of her hobbies is reading, she should have read that Lebanon and Israel are enemies. (The two countries fought a war in 2006.)

But Greige is now accusing Miss Israel of virtually stalking her throughout the competition (begun last week in Miami with the finals on 1/25), trying to get in a photo with her.

Here’s the shot of the BFF’s. From the looks of them, you’d hardly guess they are still technically at war:

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Greige sounds a little piqued here:

“Since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss Universe, I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel ([who] tried several times to have a photo with me),” this year’s Miss Lebanon Saly Greige, who​ is set to compete in ​the Miss Universe contest​ in Miami​ on Jan. 25, wrote on her Facebook.

The green-eyed brunette begged fans back home for their continued support in spite of a photo that Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, posted online that showed the two beauties of warring nations smiling side-by-side.

Most of her followers posted positive comments after the apology, but her government may not be as forgiving.

In 1993, the country stripped its Miss Lebanon, Ghada al-Turk, of her title after Agence France Press distributed a photo of her smiling arm-in-arm with her Israeli contender.

This time around, the Lebanese government has vowed to “launch an investigation” and will decide this week whether the offensive photo will get her crown snapped, too.

That’s exactly what Miss Israel was shooting for, said Miss Lebanon’s delusional agent, who likened the beauty to a stealthy saboteur, stalking his client with her camera drawn before she “photo-bombed” Greige standing with Miss Japan and Miss Slovenia, according to Lebanese media.

But Miss Israel said quit the kvetching.

“It doesn’t surprise me, but it still makes me sad,” wrote Matalon, in her own Facebook response.

“Too bad you cannot put the hostility out of the game, only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighboring country.”

What would a Middle East story be without a conspiracy theory?

In case you’re wondering who would win in a knock-down, dragged-out catfight, Miss Israel served two years in the IDF.

But given the “merits” of both women in question, does it really matter?

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Anyone Can Run for President. Just Ask Lindsey Graham

Sunday, January 18th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Some little kids dream of growing up to be firemen or policemen. Some dream of being astronauts or sports stars.

But after he confirmed on Meet the Press that he had formed an exploratory committee to “test the waters” for a 2016 presidential nomination run, you have to wonder if there isn’t a lot of little boy in South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

Politico:

Sen. Lindsey Graham acknowledged on Sunday he’s seriously exploring a bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if he had started polling voters about his chances in 2016, Graham said he is not polling, “but we set up a testing-the-waters committee under the IRS code that will allow me to look beyond South Carolina as to whether or not a guy like Lindsey Graham has a viable path.”

“I don’t know where this will go, but I’m definitely going to look at it,” said Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said last week he was strongly encouraging Graham to run for president.

Graham, 60, is not seen by, well, anyone in the Republican Party as presidential material — except his fellow “maverick” John McCain. And I think McCain is just being nice. After all, he called Graham his “illegitimate son.” How much nicer can you get?

Still, there must be some compelling, overwhelming reason why someone would want to put themselves through the presidential grind. This is what Graham told Hugh Hewitt:

LG: If I do it, I’ll be on all the ballots. I’m not doing it to make a statement. I’m doing it to change the country and offer what I have to offer to the American people, and to my party. And I think I’m uniquely qualified to deal with the threats we’re talking about. So when I hear a United States Senator trying to rationalize that Iraq created the problems in France, and when I hear some libertarians on my side of the aisle associated with the Republican Party say that it is our interventionist policy that has brought people down on us, they don’t know what they’re talking about. When I hear the president of the United States and his chief spokesperson failing to admit that we’re in a religious war, it really bothers me. And I want to be somebody who can talk about the world as it really is…

LG: I think in the next few months. I’ve got to look and see. I know I do well in South Carolina. I should, because that’s where I’m from. But you can’t be president of South Carolina. So I’m going to have to look and see. Is there a lane for a guy who really does understand the threats we face regarding our national security, understands the consequences of sequestration’s ability to defend ourselves? Is there a lane for a guy like me who will say you’ve got to reform immigration, not just secure the border, but rationally deal with the 11 million? At the end of the day, I don’t know until I look.

There may be a “lane” alright, but it’s not in the Republican Party. Graham has never seen a country he didn’t think we should invade, or bomb, or something. With him president, we may end up threatening France. He would carry the distinction of being the most interventionist candidate on the ballot.

He supported comprehensive immigration reform, tax increases, and climate change legislation. And if there were four strikes in baseball, no doubt his opponents could find something else against him.

Graham is unmarried, which has caused all sorts of gum flapping about his sexual orientation. One of his primary opponents called him “ambiguously gay.” I don’t know or care if Graham is gay, if he’s a closet case, or if he even has sex at all. There are just some images I don’t want floating around in my head.

Graham is plenty conservative enough for me, but what do I know? I’m a RINO. It’s the rest of the party that he has to worry about. And if he were smart, he’s save himself the time and aggravation and fold up that “exploratory committee” pronto.

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Obama Will Propose to Close Tax ‘Loopholes’ Worth $320 Billion

Sunday, January 18th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

President Obama, looking to fund a host of new spending schemes, will propose in his State of the Union speech to close tax “loopholes” on the rich that will generate $320 billion over the next decade.

One loophole the president wants to target is the lack of capital gains taxes on assets passed down to heirs via trust funds. The president wants those assets taxed at 28%, which is the rate the president is proposing to increase the capital gains tax and tax on dividends.

Also, big banks with assets over $50 billion would be hit with “fee” on their liabilities, theoretically discouraging them from gambling on borrowed money.

In addition to the much ballyhooed “free” community college goodie the president is proposing, he also wants to increase the tax credit for families with two working parents, and triple the child care credit to $3,000.

Reuters:

In a conference call with reporters to preview the taxation aspect of Obama’s address, one official said some of the ideas the president is outlining already have “clear congressional bipartisan support or are ideas that are actually bipartisan in their nature.”

Obama’s proposals call for reforming tax rules on trust funds, which the administration called “the single largest capital gains tax loophole” because it allows assets to be passed down untaxed to heirs of the richest Americans.

They also would raise the capital gains and dividends rates to 28 percent, the level during the 1980s Republican presidency of Ronald Reagan.

As a way of managing financial risk that could threaten the U.S. economy, Obama also wants to impose a fee of seven basis points on the liabilities of U.S. financial firms with assets of more than $50 billion, making it more costly for them to borrow heavily.

The changes on trust funds and capital gains, along with the fee on financial firms, would generate about $320 billion over 10 years, which would more than pay for benefits Obama wants to provide for the middle class, the official said.

The benefits mentioned on Saturday would include a $500 credit for families with two working spouses, tripling the tax credit for child care to $3,000 per child, consolidating education tax incentives and making it easier for workers to save automatically for retirement if their employer does not offer a plan.

The price tag on those benefits, plus a plan for free tuition at community colleges that Obama announced last week, would be about $235 billion, the official said. Specifics on the figures will be included in the budget Obama will send to Congress on Feb. 2.

“We’re proposing more than enough to offset the new incremental costs of our proposals without increasing the deficit,” the administration official said.

It should be noted that the majority of trust funds are formed by small business owners and entrepreneurs who work their entire lives to build security for their families after they’re gone. And now, Obama is proposing that the Feds swoop down and carve out more than a quarter of that lifetime effort. Reliable information on trust funds is hard to come by, but the most recent survey shows that half of trust funds (median) are worth below $285,000.

Of course, it’s not the amount, it’s the concept. Punishing people for wanting to give their children a decent life when they’re gone is morally repugnant — but perfectly in keeping with the president’s class warrior view of himself. Some people, in his view, just have too much money — even if they don’t — and deserve to have their wealth trimmed.

As for charging fees to big banks to ostensibly prevent them from borrowing too heavily, it’s a good concept — if the federal government wasn’t responsible for implementing policies that encourage reckless loans in the first place.

The benefits are largely uncontroversial. Throw out the community college giveaway and you have very popular proposals to increase the tax credit for working families with both parents employed and a tripling of the child care credit, which would be of great help to single moms.

But how do you pay for it? The president is insulting the intelligence of the American people if he says that the only alternative to funding these benefits is to raise taxes. Is he honestly saying that in a $4 trillion budget, he can’t find $32 billion a year in savings? Only 4 year olds and liberals believe that.

We are still running a $400 billion+ federal deficit. What good is a “revenue neutral” increase in spending when the deficit is at such an unacceptable level?

If every dollar appropriated by the Congress is necessary and prudent for the function of the federal government, we are in huge trouble. Taxes should not be raised until every dime of waste, unnecessary, bizarre, and fraudulent spending is excised from the budget.

That’s a no-brainer — which is why it would never fly in Congress.

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‘Hero’ Cat Masha Saves Abandoned Infant

Saturday, January 17th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

This story is a couple of days old — and if you’re a cat lover, you’ve probably already seen it. But it’s Saturday, a notoriously slow news day, and how many times can you write that Obama is a poopie head without it getting old and stale?

A cat from the Kaluga region of Russia has become an internet sensation by supposedly saving the life of an abandoned infant.

The story being told by residents is that the fat and happy Masha, a cat taken care of by an entire neighborhood, came across a cardboard box left in an entranceway to an apartment building. The cat heroically jumped inside, her mothering instincts taking over, and kept the baby alive until health arrived.

Washington Post:

One of the building’s residents heard the cat and the baby’s cries. At first, Nadezhda Makhovikova just thought she was hearing Masha in some sort of distress. “When I went down, I saw it was a baby crying,” Makhovikova told REN TV earlier this week.

Reports said the baby had been left with a pacifier, bottle and diapers, and was dressed warmly, wearing a little hat, as residents described him – though he likely would have had difficulty staying warm enough to survive a whole night in the sub-freezing temperatures in the area.

Residents called an ambulance, which whisked the baby away to a local hospital – but not before Masha would try to accompany the baby on the way.

“She was so worried about where we were taking the baby,” Vera Ivanina, a paramedic who responded, told REN TV. “She ran right behind us, meowing. She seemed quite intelligent.”

Doctors determined that the child was about 2 ½ months old, and was well-fed, clean and clothed, showing no signs of abuse or neglect – save, of course, that he had been left out in the cold to be found by a concerned cat. The child is staying at the hospital while police search for the baby’s parents.

But the humans in the story are crediting the cat for likely having kept the baby alive during the crucial hours it spent in the cold.

I have been kept by cats for more than 40 years and can tell you that this is one smart feline. The ability of Masha to manage her environment — including the people within it — is incredible. Take a look at this picture of Masha, a cat without a home:

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Masha is by far and away the best-fed stray I’ve ever seen. This is a cat whose survival instincts are so finely honed that her ability to tap into the human heart and manipulate each and every individual she comes in contact with may be without equal. Cats are expert at this, of course, which is why the smart human realizes the extremely subtle ways in which cats seek to get their way. A certain lilt in the meow (different meows for different people), the uncanny ability to read human body language and know when to press their advantage and when to back off. This is part instinctive but mostly learned behavior.

I suspect that Masha heard the baby, looked inside the box, and correctly sized up the situation. This is Russia, it’s winter, it’s cold as hell, and this little human probably won’t mind if I snuggle real close to keep warm. This was the extent of Masha’s “heroism.” Not very romantic, but a lot closer to the truth than a human baby bringing out the cat’s “mothering instincts.”

We can’t help but anthropomorphize the behavior of our pets. My father used to say that someday our golden retriever would start talking to him, she was that smart. But the reality is a little more mundane. After tens of thousands of years of dog domestication and probably not more than 5,000 years of cat domestication, these wonderful animals have bonded to humans in mysterious and unknowable ways. Part of it is certainly their unreal ability to manipulate our feelings to their advantage. Those animals with this innate ability were able to survive and pass on their genes to the next generation. After a thousand generations, the technique of being able to tug at the human heart has been perfected as much as the stalking ability of lions, or the speed of the cheetah.

And Masha? Perhaps some day she will settle down and become the companion of some loving little Russian girl, whom Masha will no doubt find to be a pushover when it comes to getting her way.

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Dear Mitt: We Don’t Need a Prophet. We Need a Leader

Saturday, January 17th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Mitt Romney is making loud noises about running for president again, and some of us are wondering why.

What is his rationale? It appears that some Romney supporters are touting the notion that because Romney correctly analyzed a couple of foreign policy issues,  his “vision” is reason enough to run.

In other words, we should elect Mitt the Prophet because he guessed right a couple of times.

But only the deliberately self-deluded would not have seen Russian President Vladimir Putin as a growing threat to American interests. And how brain dead did you have to be not to see the continuing expansion of Islamism — especially when all through 2012 al-Qaeda was a growing presence in Syria?

Mitt’s third big prediction — that Iraq would be at risk unless American troops remained — was another no-brainer, although most of us saw a disintegration rather than a threat like ISIS.

Only President Obama and the liberals were stupid enough, naive enough, to believe otherwise on any of those three issues. So Mitt wants us to elect him based on the fact that he’s not as dumb as liberals and Obama?

Politico:

Back in 2012, President Barack Obama was less charitable. “You haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy,” Obama told Romney in an October debate. “But every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong.”

More than two years later, however, hindsight suggests that’s not true. Romney offered warnings on several major issues that now appear prescient.

On Iraq, for instance, Romney told an audience in November 2011 that America’s withdrawal from the country the prior year was “an enormous mistake,” one that “puts at risk many of the victories that were hard-won by the men and women who have served there.” Obama later scoffed at his rival’s claim that the U.S. should have maintained a long-term troop presence in Iraq. Two years later, Obama has ordered thousands of troops back there to prevent the country’s collapse.

Putin’s annexation of Crimea and his intervention in eastern Ukraine dominated much of last year for Obama. But as early as December 2011 Romney called Putin ”a real threat to the stability and peace of the world,” noting that the Russian president’s rhetoric had been growing sharper.

After Romney later called Russia America’s top “geopolitical foe,” blocking U.S. interests at the United Nations and elsewhere, Obama openly ridiculed him: “The 1980s are calling to ask for their foreign policy back,” the president told Romney in an October 2012 debate. “You know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Romney also cast repeated doubt on Obama’s claim that, after Osama bin Laden’s killing, al Qaeda was “on the run.” He warned about the spread of radical Islam in the Middle East and North Africa. “This is a group that is now involved in 10 or 12 countries, and it presents an enormous threat … and we must have a comprehensive strategy to help reject this kind of extremism,” Romney said. That characterization of the Islamist threat seems more apt as extremist violence surges around the world.

Obama supporters point out that the president hasn’t said the terrorist threat has been eliminated. This is true, but it’s also true he has consistently downplayed the notion that terrorism is a major threat. A Romney aide recently bragged that if Romney had been president, ISIS would not have become powerful. As with the rest of Mitt’s prophecies, you run into the problem of playing alternate history games by making that claim. “What if?” counterfactuals like this are impossible to quantify in electoral terms, unless you want to demagogue your so-called prescience.  To use it as a rationale to run for president simply won’t cut it.

In the end, America doesn’t need a prophet. We need a leader. And we’re still waiting for Mitt Romney to show us he’s up to that challenge.

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Tony Blair Wows Republicans at Hershey Retreat

Saturday, January 17th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

House and Senate Republicans, who are meeting in Hershey, Pennsylvania, this weekend to plot strategy for the coming session of Congress, were treated to a rousing presentation by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on how to fight Islamic extremism.

Blair’s speech featured three standing ovations by lawmakers and selected staff. Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole called the speech “Churchillian.”

Although the speech was closed to the press and public, several lawmakers gave their impressions of Blair’s talk afterwards.

Roll Call:

Blair’s speech, which was closed to the public and the media, included a call for America to lead on the world stage rather than to try to be loved there, according to a person in attendance. Rep. Tom Cole said Blair focused on the importance of fighting against extremism around the world at an event said to be well attended by members and staffers alike.

“Tony Blair just gave one of the most masterful presentations on the spread of Islamic terrorism,” the Oklahoma Republican said, calling it “Churchillian.”

Another person in the room told CQ Roll Call a “handful” of questions from lawmakers followed the formal remarks about the Middle East, including about Blair’s views on President Barack Obama’s performance in world affairs and addressing threats from radicals.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Blair gave an “excellent” presentation about fighting terrorism.

“He contends that … countries throughout the world, freedom-loving countries, are going to have to work together. There is going to have to be a sustained effort, it’s going to take time. There is both a military aspect to it, you have to stand up to Islamic extremism and terrorism where it occurs,” Hoeven said. “And you also have to have the aspect where you reach out and connect with people in the Middle East on the idea of freedom and liberty and human rights.”

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn was live-tweeting snippets of Blair’s remarks, including a comment about the humanitarian crisis caused by the myriad challenges in Syria. According to Cornyn, Blair said half of the country’s population has left as Syria has been torn by torn by fighting between rebel groups; the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The speech came just hours before current British Prime Minister David Cameron held a meeting with President Obama and top U.S. officials about the terror threat and how to combat it. Unlike President Obama, Blair holds no illusions about whom and what we are fighting.

According to the witness, Blair said radical Islam was a perverted ideology that justified the use of force against those of other religions or Muslims who interpreted their faith differently. It was hostile to “us and our values”, he claimed, and though some want to negotiate with it or ignore it, neither of those approaches would work and it had to be confronted.

The former prime minister also talked about the lessons of the post-9/11 era. He reportedly argued that the US and UK had learned that if you topple dictators, you release other forces that have to be dealt with. However, the Arab Spring demonstrated that many of those dictatorships would be swept away in any event.

It was hard to be successful “unless you had allies within Islam itself”, he reportedly said, adding that the Middle East would continue to evolve away from what it is and that unless extremism was fought it would continue to grow. He was said to be “extremely concerned” about the emergence of the Islamic State (Isis) in Syria and Iraq.
Nonetheless, the former prime minister was said be hopeful about the prospect of building further alliances in the Middle East, arguing that many Islamic leaders in recent years had come to understand that they too were the targets of radical Islam. He even thought that over time there could be an alliance of sorts between Israel and the Arab states against radical Islam.

But he concluded that America would have to play a leading role in what he thought would be a “generational” struggle and urged the Republicans present not to disengage and to rise to the task and recognise it was “our problem as well as theirs”.

Like the rest of us, lawmakers yearn for clarity from our leaders regarding the threat we face. It is telling that after his talk with Prime Minister Cameron, the British leader said that we were at war with Islamist extremists” while the president insisted that we fight “violent extremism.”

It’s too bad President Obama can’t follow the examples of Cameron and Blair in identifying the enemy. His failure in this regard only serves to highlight his stubborn adherence to political correctness when everyone else on the planet knows the truth.

He makes the United States look ridiculous.

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NASA/NOAA Say 2014 Warmest on Record…Unless it Isn’t…Until it is

Friday, January 16th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Fun with global temperatures. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration issued a statement saying that 2014 will go down in the history of record keeping (1850) as the warmest ever.

Sort of. They’re kind of vague on the details, like how much warmer and is the difference between last year and other years statistically significant.

And then there’s the question of the temperature in the lower atmosphere vs. the upper atmosphere and how those numbers rank compared to previous years.

In short, there are a lot of ways to measure temperatures on a global scale. Climate etc. points us to this rather technical discussion of the matter.

Climate etc. gives us the bottom line from that well known bastion of climate denialism…Berkeley Earth:

Berkeley Earth sums it up well with this statement:

That is, of course, an indication that the Earth’s average temperature for the last decade has changed very little.

The key issue remains the growing discrepancy between the climate model projections and the observations: 2014 just made the discrepancy larger.

Speculation about ‘warmest year’ and end of ‘pause’ implies a near term prediction of surface temperatures – that they will be warmer. I’ve made my projection – global surface temperatures will remain mostly flat for at least another decade. However, I’m not willing to place much $$ on that bet, since I suspect that Mother Nature will manage to surprise us. (I will be particularly surprised if the rate of warming in the next decade is at the levels expected by the IPCC.)

Here’s a summary of Berkeley Earth’s main findings of the NASA report:

1. The global surface temperature average for 2014 was nominally the warmest since the global instrumental record began in 1850; however, within the margin of’error, it’s tied with 2005 and 2010 and so we can’t be certain it set a new record.

2. For the land, 2014 was nominally the 4th warmest year since 1753

3. For the sea, 2014 was the warmest year on record since 1850

4. For the contiguous United States, 2014 ranked nominally as the 38th warmest year on record since 1850.

A little something for both sides of the debate. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that figures like these are going to be manipulated, twisted, folded, spindled, and mutilated to have them say exactly what one side or the other intends them to say. It is the price we pay for politicizing science.

What NASA and other global warming advocates never talk about is the huge difference between what the climate models relied on by the IPCC and governments to formulate policy are saying about the rise in temperatures and the actual temperature readings reported every year. The massive disconnect between prediction and reality should make a powerful argument for prudent leaders and scientists to slow down the rush to destroy industrialized civilization in the name of saving the planet.

But prudence left the building 2 decades ago and shows no sign of returning. Meanwhile, the president and his EPA will forge ahead with wrong headed policies that won’t lower the temperature of planet earth by even a smidgeon but will cripple the US economy and destroy jobs.

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‘Anti-Charlie’ Violence Erupts Across the Muslim World

Friday, January 16th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

A reporter for Agence France-Presse was shot and three people were injured in a riot against the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in Karachi.

Protests also erupted in Algeria and Jordan, with thousands flocking into the streets following Friday prayers. In Niger, anti-Charlie protestors attacked the French consulate and several churches. Four people were killed, including one policeman.

BBC:

“Some of the protesters were armed with bows and arrows as well as clubs. The clashes were very violent in some places,” the source added.

Agence France-Presse quoted a minister as saying dozens of people had been injured.

Local residents told Reuters that demonstrators had set fire to churches and raided shops that were run by Christians.

“The protesters are crying out in local Hausa language: Charlie is Satan – let hell engulf those supporting Charlie,” a local shopkeeper said by telephone.

The French cultural centre there also came under attack.

The centre’s director, Kaoumi Bawa, said an angry crowd of around 50 people had smashed the building’s door and set fire to the cafeteria, library and offices.

It was Pakistan were the most intense protests took place:

Clashes erupted in Karachi when protesters started heading toward the French consulate, throwing stones at police, who pushed them back with water cannons and tear gas.

Photographer Asif Hassan was shot and wounded, said AFP news director Michele Leridon, although “his life does not seem in danger.” AFP said it was trying to find out whether Hassan was targeted or shot accidentally.

Police officer Naseer Tanoly said some of the protesters were armed and opened fire on the police, who shot into the air to disperse the crowd. The protesters were mostly students affiliated with the Jamaat-e-Islami political party.

Umair Saeed, an official with the party’s student wing in Karachi, denied the students had weapons and said the police had opened fire.

Three other people, including two journalists and one police officer, were treated for minor injuries and released from Jinnah Hospital, said Dr. Seemi Jamali.

About 1,000 people gathered in Islamabad to condemn the French publication. The demonstrators carried signs that read “Shame on Charlie Hebdo,” and “If you are Charlie, then I am Kouachi” — referring to the brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, who were killed after carrying out the attack on the newspaper office. They had claimed to be sent by al-Qaida in Yemen.

A second day of protests in Lahore drew about 800 people.

On Thursday, Pakistani lawmakers passed a resolution against cartoons of the prophet and marched outside parliament to protest Charlie Hebdo’s latest cover.

The demonstrations overshadowed smaller rallies in Islamabad and elsewhere to commemorate the Peshawar school attack one month ago by Taliban gunmen that killed 150 people, many of them children. Those attending the rallies urged the government to do more to curb support for militancy and extremism, which many say have flourished at mosques and religious schools.

Not much of a chance of that happening — especially since the extremists were largely created by the government and do the government’s bidding.

We’ve seen this pattern many times before. The clerics of the Religion of Perpetual Outrage find something to become outraged about, whip their flocks into a frothing frenzy at Friday prayers, and then let them loose in the streets to create murder and mayhem.

It’s hard to imagine these holy men preaching peace and tolerance from the pulpit, and then 10 minutes later the crowd is in the streets screaming bloody murder. This blatant incitement to riot happens all across the Muslim world. Whether it be Mohammed cartoons or a nearly invisible film about the life of the prophet, it hardly matters.

And then the western press absolves the imams of fomenting the violence by failing to mention their major role in influencing their worshipers, and blames the riots on the victims.

As long as Muslim mobs prove useful to those in power, these “spontaneous” riots will continue.

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Was the Drunken Melee Following Ohio State’s Win a ‘White Riot’?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

If you don’t think very hard — or intelligently — about the alcohol-fueled “celebration” in the streets of Columbus, Ohio, last night following the Buckeyes’ national championship victory, you might conclude that there was no difference between white people starting dumpster fires and running around aimlessly and the Ferguson protestors.

Freak Out Nation blog is referring to the disturbance as a white riot.

Police did not deploy military tanks, or open fire on a bunch of white people began rioting last night after Ohio State’s national title win over the Oregon Ducks. Property was destroyed, fires were started all over town.

Columbus Police Department spokeswoman Denise Alex-Bouzounis told NBC that about 8,000 students forced their way into The Horseshoe stadium and tore down a goal post.

She described the crowds as being “intense” after the game.

She did not call them vandals, thugs or rioters. Arrests were made apparently without beating the white rioters to a bloody pulp.

It’s a good thing they weren’t holding a sign reading ‘Black Lives Matter’ because then, they could have been in danger. But the brave white rioters stood up for a noble cause while tearing the town to pieces: football.

We totally understand why they were ‘celebrating’ that town to death. Because something about Ducks.

Time magazine called the crowd ‘rowdy’ after a dozen fires were started and 8,000 people descended on the goal post.

Just noting the hypocrisy here. I’m fairly certain that these ‘rowdy’ white people are probably some of the same people that called Ferguson protesters ‘thugs’. It’s not that I’m profiling them or anything. That would be wrong.

The brain-dead writer of this article — aptly called “anomaly” — relies on massive exaggeration of what went on last night in Columbus and massive minimization of what happened in Ferguson.

“Celebrating the town to death”? “Tearing the town to pieces”? Are you kidding? According to police reports, the “rioters” set fires to dumpsters, trash cans, and, in three cases, couches (a college tradition at many universities going back to the 1920s after a big football victory.). The local TV station reported:

The 89 fires reported to the Columbus Fire Department involved trash bins, Dumpsters and couches, according to spokeswoman Battalion Chief Tracy Smith. The agency also said it responded to five reports of people with injuries.

That’s exactly the same as “Burn this bitch down,” right?

Sheesh.

Setting fire to dumpsters and trash bins is not the same as setting fire to businesses and buildings. There were no reports of looting by the white “rioters,” and police were not threatened. There is light years of difference between the bloodthirsty mood of protestors in Ferguson and the happy, drunken college kids in Columbus.

Contrast the moods of the crowds in the two videos on the next page.

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Golf Clap for this Illinois Obamacare Commercial

Sunday, January 11th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Sometimes, the opposition bests your side and all you can do is put a forced smile on your face and give them a reluctant golf clap.

And in the case of this commercial for Get Covered Illinois, the Obamacare website run by the state, you’re allowed to laugh out loud too.

The ad features a fictitious health care plan: “The Luck Plan” — with the tag line “You’ll be OK…probably.”

It’s been out a couple of months but they just updated the copy and released a new version of the commercial.

The ads, which show young people cavorting around Chicago in cardboard splints and other homemade remedies, promote a fictitious “Luck Plan.” The 30-second spots aired on network television in Illinois this week, the first week of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. The campaign targets millennials, whose participation in insurance is important to the health law’s success but who have been more reluctant than others to sign up.

The ads, developed by Downtown Partners Chicago, are based on recent research, said Jose Munoz, chief marketing officer for Get Covered Illinois, the state’s enrollment arm.

“To get people’s attention you have to do one of two things — you have to be extremely funny or extremely offensive,” Munoz said. “We went with funny.”

The campaign is part of a $12 million advertising budget to spread the “get covered” message through television, print, radio and social media outlets, along with ads on public transportation and billboards, state spokesman Mike Claffey said in an email. The $12 million, funded through a federal grant, also covers ads targeting African-Americans and Hispanics, two other groups that proved hard to reach last year.

State officials have said Illinois was successful reaching young adults last year, signing up 72,696 people under age 35. Young adults are important for the law because they generally use fewer health care services than older members, which helps keeps rates lower. Last year’s outreach to young adults included humorous commercials and a partnership with The Onion, a Chicago-based online satirical news source that produced creative content for the state. The partnership with The Onion will continue this year, Munoz said.

In keeping with the idea that the campaign targets millenials, they created a spoof website. They even list the various Luck Plans that are available:

Select your plan!

LUCK Plan
LUCK Plan Plus
LUCK Plan Plus Minus
LUCK Plan Divided
LUCK Plan Carry The One

0000000.0

000000

Conservatives can take some heart by remembering that it will take a lot more than a couple of funny ads to get millenials to sign up for health insurance. But for sheer creativity, this particular ad campaign is a winner.

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GOP’s De-Funding Gambit for DHS in Jeopardy Due to Paris Attacks

Sunday, January 11th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The attacks in Paris last week have Republican leaders rethinking their strategy to shut down the Department of Homeland Security if they can’t defund the president’s immigration executive orders.

In reality, the attacks make it impossible.

The Hill:

While Republicans are unified in their desire to reverse the executive order Obama issued after Election Day shielding an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation, some are warning Tea Party colleagues such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) not to take the fight too far.

“Defunding that part of the bill that deals with enforcing the executive order makes sense but we can’t go too far here because look what happened in Paris. The Department of Homeland Security needs to be up and running,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Former Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Friday called it “absolutely essential” that counterterrorism be funded given the spate of attacks around the world.

A Senate GOP aide warned that Democrats would pounce on a departmental shutdown to accuse Republicans of prioritizing the desires of their conservative base over national security.

“There’s no question that if the DHS shuts down in some way, Democrats will do everything to take full advantage of the situation,” the aide said.

A senior Senate Democratic aide said Republicans would lose the public relations battle over homeland security, especially after the deadly attacks on the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

“Republican efforts to play politics with Department of Homeland Security, which is actively engaged against the threat posed by ISIS, is a dangerous and risky move that can backfire,” the aide said, making reference to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“The House proposal is an attempt to throw a hunk of red meat to the right at a time when the nation is at risk for attack,” the aide added.

House Republicans held a closed-door meeting Friday to discuss using the Homeland Security funding bill to fight Obama’s immigration policies, just as authorities in Paris were in two separate standoffs with suspected terrorists.

Leaders “kept emphasizing” the House package would be narrowly tailored toward stopping Obama’s executive actions and would not jeopardize funding for things like border security and counterterrorism measures, said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.).

They plan to move legislation next week that would fund the department through the end of the fiscal year along with amendments to block Obama’s unilateral action on immigration, fulfilling a promise many Republicans campaigned on in the fall.

Even if DHS goes dark, the president’s executive orders would probably continue to be implemented. National Journal looked at the scenario of a Homeland Security Department shutdown:

It’s likely that the majority of DHS employees would still go to work. And the main agency tasked with overseeing the program in question, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is funded through fees rather than appropriations legislation.

It’s not clear that GOP leaders will have much leverage. Aside from the potential political fallout if the department runs out of cash, it turns out that a DHS “shutdown” might be one in name only, and Obama’s executive order might well proceed as planned.

No matter how carefully tailored the amendments to defund the executive orders are, the fact is, the Senate won’t even consider it. Republicans need 5 votes in the upper chamber to avoid a filibuster and they’re coming up short. So, in order for the DHS funding bill to reach the floor, Senate Republicans are going to have to agree to remove the defunding amendments.

Democrats will demagogue the issue for all it’s worth, accusing the Republicans of putting the country at risk to satisfy their conservative base. That’s a very hard narrative to counter with the Paris terrorist attacks fresh in everyone’s mind.

There’s a chance that with the clock ticking toward the end of February when the shortterm DHS funding runs out, that another continuing resolution funding the department for a few weeks longer could be passed. But this would be delaying the inevitable. Eventually, Mitch McConnell and a majority of Republican senators will relent and allow the DHS funding bill to come to the floor minus the defunding amendments. Practically speaking, they won’t have a choice.

And the House? Speaker Boehner will make sure the full funding bill without the defunding amendments makes it through and is sent to the president’s desk.

Some conservatives will scream bloody murder. But even without the Paris attacks occurring, the defunding gambit was a risky endeavor. From what we’ve seen of this administration, the discretionary decisions to shut down some programs and fund others will no doubt be maximized for PR value. And the administration will make sure the country knows who has put America at risk.

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40 World Leaders — Including PLO Chair Abbas — Attend Anti-Terror Rally in Paris

Sunday, January 11th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Forty world leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, marched with more than 700,000 Frenchman to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks on the newspaper Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish grocery store and “rise up” against Islamic extremism.

Incredibly, included in this list of august personages is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who serves as chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization — one of the most notorious terrorist groups in the world.

I thought it was a sick joke until I watched coverage of the march and there he was, grinning like a cat, marching in the first row.

Chanting “Charlie! Charlie!” in memory of the journalists gunned down at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine on Wednesday, the crowd was was expected to exceed a million people.

British prime minister David Cameron, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu are among more than 40 world leaders who linked arms as they led the march to loud applause from the massive crowd.

Speaking at the march, Mr Cameron said extremist violence would remain a threat for many years to come.

“We in Britain face a very similar threat, a threat of fanatical extremism,” he said.

“It’s a threat that has been with us for many years.”

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi vowed that Europe would “win the challenge against terrorism”, as he left the French presidents residence in Paris to join the march.

“We are all French today,” he said.

In a statement, French president Francois Hollande said: “Paris is today the capital of the world. Our entire country will rise up and show its best side.”

Seventeen people, including journalists and policemen, lost their lives in three days of violence that began with a shooting attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday and ended with a hostage-taking at a kosher supermarket on Friday. The three gunmen were also killed.

The silent march through the centre of Paris, in honour of the victims of the worst terror attacks in the city for 50 years, was arranged shortly after the attacks. Senate president Stephen Parry will represent Australia at the march.

“Paris will be the world capital of resistance against terrorism and of the defence of freedom, it will really be the world march for freedom,” French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on television on Sunday.

French prime minister Manuel Valls encouraged Parisians to attend the march.

“It will be an unprecedented manifestation that will be written in the history books,” he said.

“It must show the power and dignity of the French people, who will cry out their love of liberty and tolerance.”

Those who cry out for “liberty and tolerance” in times like these are probably going to end up with neither. Harder measures than feel-good rallies will be necessary to defeat the terrorists and protect civilians from their outrages.

The presence of Abbas, as well as other heads of state from repressive governments who marched while the crowd chanted “Charlie! Charlie!” in support of free speech, showed a massive hypocrisy. An anti-terror rally with Abbas an invited guest? An anti-Islamic extremist rally with the Qatari Sheikh Mohamed Ben Hamad Ben Khalifa Al Thani, whose government funds terrorists in Syria? A march to support free speech that included Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, whose government cracked down on the media following a 2013 coup?

And specifically, what measures are these governments going to take? At least the French aren’t shy about calling the terrorism, that must be fought, by its name: Islamic extremism. It would be a good start if all western leaders would adopt a similar posture — including our president, who found himself too busy to attend the rally.

It does no good to condemn terrorism and in the same breath hastily add that not all Muslims are terrorists. We know that. It’s a superfluous utterance that only serves to soften the rhetoric. Those who hate Islam are not going to be convinced otherwise by using weasel words when describing the war we are fighting. Far better to accurately identify and call out the terrorists and other radicals who support them.

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Are You Ready for Y2K Part Deux?

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

It’s time to panic again. Not about terrorism, or global warming, or Katy Perry performing during halftime of the Super Bowl.

Panic will grip America on June 30 when we add an extra second to our clocks. This will no doubt confuse our computers, shut down the electrical grid, cause planes to drop from the sky, and all that other stuff that happened when the calendar rolled over on January 1, 2000.

Oh, wait…

Actually, the concerns — some of them — are justified. This isn’t the first time we’ve added a second so that atomic clocks can be in sync with the earth’s rotation. When it happened in 2012, parts of the internet crashed and several prominent websites went down.

Are we any better prepared this time?

Gizmodo explains the computer problems: “It mostly has to do with NTP, or the Network Time Protocol computers use to sync with atomic clocks. If a computer sees the same second twice in a row, it logically thinks something went very wrong. There are fixes to this, but they’ve obviously not been implemented across the board.”

There are fears it might happen again this year.

That’s part of the reason why there’s been lobbying, especially from officials in the U.S., to do away with the extra second. The New York Times reports: “Britain, along with Canada and China, would like to keep the current keeping system, arguing that, in the 40 years that leap seconds have been gracefully inserted in our midst … there have been no problems to speak of, and the worriers have greatly exaggerated the potential for havoc. Remember Y2K?”

The Times article, though, was written in January of 2012, when delegates were meeting that year to decide whether to keep the extra second. This was months before it caused parts of the Internet to crash.

So yeah, we have to deal with Earth’s rotation slowing down – but that’s better than having the Earth stop rotating entirely for a second.

“Yeah, that would be disastrous. … If you stopped Earth and you weren’t seat belt-buckled to the Earth, you would fall over and roll 800 mph due east. It would kill everyone on Earth,” astrophysicist and science commentator Neil deGrasse Tyson said on CNN.

The computer problem with the leap second is actually getting worse. USA Today explains:

The reset has happened 25 times since they were introduced in 1972, but the computer problems are getting more serious as increasing numbers of computers sync up with atomic clocks. Those computers and servers are then shown the same second twice in a row — throwing them into a panic.

If a computer is told to do an operation at the time that is repeated, for instance, the computer is unsure what to do. Or if an e-mail is received in that moment, it could find its way in the wrong bit of the server.

Last time, Google anticipated the problem and built a smart update, which it called “leap smear”. It modified its servers so that they would add a little bit of extra time every time they were updated, so that by the time of the leap second they were already caught up with the new time. It said when it laid out the plan in 2011 that it would use the same technique in the future, when new leap seconds are announced.

Leap seconds were initially added at least once a year, but have slowed since 1979. The U.S. wants to get rid of them entirely, arguing that they cause too much disruption, but others have opposed the change.

So, no, planes won’t be crashing all over the world, nor will the electrical grid melt down. At worse, you may lose an email or two. With my luck, my Word program will go haywire and I’ll lose an article I would be working on.

Everyone has their own computer hell to avoid. Here’s hoping you ride through the Leap Second with minimal damage.

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Will the Last Jew Leaving France Please Turn Out the Lights?

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

A tipping point for French Jews appears to have been reached with the attack on a Jewish grocery store and subsequent taking of hostages by al-Qaeda terrorists. Already feeling alone and under siege, Jews in France have been leaving the country for several years by the thousands. But the attacks, the murders, the kidnappings, the bombing of synagogues, and the threats have convinced French Jews that they can no longer be safe in their own country due to the rise of antisemitism.

France is the most antisemitic country in Europe. Jews were the target of 40% of racist crimes in 2013 despite making up only 1% of the population. This has precipitated a mass exodus of Jews that has accelerated this year.

It’s believed that more than 100,000 French Jews have left the country in the last few years. At the start of the decade, there were 500,000 Jews in France — the most in the EU. How many will be in France by the end of the decade?

Stephen Pollard writes:

From being the largest Jewish community in the EU at the start of this decade, with a population of around 500,000, it is expected by Jewish community leaders to have fallen to 400,000 within a few years. That figure is thought by some to be too optimistic. Anecdotally, every French Jew I know has either already left or is working out how to leave.

Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet refusenik who is now chair of the Jewish Agency Chairman, said last year that 2,254 French Jews moved to Israel during the first five months of 2014, against only 580 in all of 2013. That is a staggering 289 per cent increase, but in recent months the figure is thought to have increased exponentially.

The number expected to leave this year for Israel was estimated at over 10,000 – and that was before today’s events. And that is just to Israel. Many are coming to Britain as part of the wider French exodus under President Hollande.

David Tibi, the then leader of Paris’s main Jewish umbrella group, left last July. As he told the Jewish Chronicle: “There is an atmosphere of anti-Semitism in the streets. My daughter was attacked in the tramway, so was my son. The aggressors made anti-semitic comments and pushed them around. We no longer have a place in France.”

The Jewish school shooting in Toulouse in 2012, in which four people were murdered at point blank range by a French-born jihadist trained in the Middle East; the growing support for Marine Le Pen’s National Front; and the mass popularity of anti-Semitic public figures such as comedian Dieudonné, are all part of the undercurrent of anti-Semitism that frames French life. And more recently synagogues have firebombed and Jewish areas attacked by mobs.

Almost of all these attacks have been carried out by Muslims.

Pollard, publisher of The Jewish Chronicle,, also said, “It is the largest emigration of Jews anywhere since the war. That’s a simple fact.”

Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia confirmed the mass exodus to Israel, Britain, and North America:

Mr Korsia said this was a ‘warning signal’ for France.

He said: ‘Jews have been killed and there were the shootings in Toulouse and in Brussels. In general, Jews feel vulnerable in our society.

‘The Jews who were murdered were targeted specifically because they were Jewish.

‘This means France hasn’t found the words and actions necessary to reassure them.’

Joel Mergui, lay chairman of the National Union of French Synagogues, added: ‘At some synagogues, whole benches are suddenly empty.’

Strasbourg-born banker Myriam Amsellem left France for London because the UK is ‘safer and freer’ than her home country, where she claims Jewish traditions were stopped.

She told the Jewish Chronicle last year: ‘We feel a lot more comfortable here. I look at France now and I know I would not want to be there.’

Today police across Britain were stepping up security in Jewish areas after the terror outrage in France, a community body said.

The Community Security Trust (CST), which provides security advice to Britain’s estimated 260,000 Jews, said police in London and Manchester in northern England had agreed to increase patrols at synagogues and other venues over the next days.

‘There is currently no known link to the UK, but CST is in continuing contact with police and government, and there will be increased policing in Jewish neighbourhoods for this weekend’s Sabbath,’ the trust said on its website.

How did things get so bad in France compared to Great Britain and other European countries?

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Cuban Government Releases 38 Dissidents While Threatening to Re-Arrest Them

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

After three weeks of delay, the Cuban government has released 38 dissidents from prison as part of a deal reached with the US to restore relations.

An activist group in Havana confirmed the release of 29 of their members to Reuters. But the question remains how many of the released prisoners of conscience were on a list given to the Cuban government by the Obama administration.

And the release may be only temporary. The Cuban government told the former prisoners that they must report on a regular basis to authorities and warned them that they would be subject to re-arrest if they protested against the government.

“Our freed prisoners are committed to continue fighting for the democratic Cuba which we all want,” UNPACU’s leader Jose Daniel Ferrer said in a statement.

“The UNPACU activists have left prison with more energy, force and motivation than they had when they were jailed.”

Cuba’s commitment to free 53 prisoners was a key part of the historic deal announced on Dec. 17 under which the Cuban and U.S. governments agreed to renew diplomatic relations after more than 50 years of hostilities.

Almost all of those freed so far appear on an informal list of more than 100 political prisoners drawn up several months ago by dissidents, but it is not known if they were all on the list of 53 that the United States negotiated with Cuba.

Details about who will be freed have been withheld by both governments, providing ammunition for U.S. opponents of the detente, who have complained that President Barack Obama has not pushed Cuba hard enough on human rights and that the government in Havana was not living up to its side of the bargain.

The White House hailed the “substantial and ongoing” releases. “So good to see people reunited with their families,” senior White House official Ben Rhodes said on Twitter.

Elizardo Sanchez, founder of the dissident Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which monitors detentions, said the releases to date were “very good news,” but that activists remained concerned about those still behind bars.

“We don’t know what the future holds for those former Cuban government officials and senior ex-military people, as well the Cuban-Americans who are still in prison,” Sanchez told Reuters.

Several Cuban exiles from Miami are also in Cuban prisons serving sentences of up to 30 years on terrorism-related charges after they attempted to infiltrate the island with weapons.

It is not clear if Washington argued for their release, or for the freedom of Cubans jailed for passing secrets to the United States.

If any Cuban-Americans are released, they will probably be kicked out of the country. But it’s clear the releases so far have been of non-violent passive resisters with few prominent names among them.

Senator Marco Rubio is not impressed:

Opposition groups say most of those released over the last couple of days were set free on the condition that they report regularly to the authorities.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a leading critic of Obama’s new Cuba policy, said those terms did not amount to freedom.

“The administration must answer if these conditional, potentially short-lived releases are, in fact, what it agreed to with the regime and why it took so long for them to be released,” Rubio said in a statement.

It seems possible that by the time the Castro regime gets around to releasing all 53 prisoners they agreed to, at least some of them will be re-arrested and thrown in jail. Again, the administration negotiating strategy in this matter should be criticized for its shortsightedness. Previous US policy in holding normalization talks with Cuba hinged on the regime releasing all political prisoners and promising to allow free and fair elections.

These events make the strong point that abandoning that policy was foolhardy.

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Iowahawk: ‘Another Reminder that Sonny Was the Smart One’

Friday, January 9th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

“Sonny and Cher’ were a big success in the mid to late 1960s. Alas, for all their comity on stage, they were at each other’s throats in the wings. The couple divorced in 1974. Cher went on to even bigger things in a solo career that’s still going, while Sonny took a step down and won a seat in Congress.

Sonny Bono died in 1998 following a skiing accident. By that time, Cher had established herself as a first-class entertainer — and a monumental putz when it came to politics.

Has everyone lost their f—ing minds? Doesn’t anybody remember the illustrious Reagan-Bush years when people had no money and no jobs? What has happened to people’s memories? It’s like they have Alzheimer’s or something.

All the drugs she did in the 1970s must have affected her memory if she forgets the Carter years.

Here she is commenting on the 2000 election:

“I don’t like Bush,” she said of George W. “I don’t trust him. I don’t like his record. He’s stupid. He’s lazy. Some woman said to me she was voting for him because she liked his dad, and I said, ‘Good, because that’s what you’re getting.’ If somebody’s claim to fame is that they signed a law so that you can carry a gun to church — oh, give me a break.”…

“If you’re black in this country, if you’re a woman in this country, if you are any minority in this country at all, what could possibly possess you to vote Republican? If you think the president is an ass, fine — after four years you can vote him out. But the Supreme Court — that’s 30 years! The Jerry Falwells of this world will be right in your back pocket. You won’t have one f—ing right left.”

She confessed her ignorance in a 2009 interview:

“I try to be charitable and there are some really good Republicans, but I just don’t understand how anyone would want to be a Republican. I just can’t figure it. I don’t understand,” the Oscar-, Grammy- and Emmy-award winning entertainer told a reporter. “If you’re poor, if you’re any kind of minority –- gay, black, Latino, anything. If you’re not a rich –- I don’t know. If you’re not a rich, born-again Christian, I don’t get it.”

Poor perplexed child. She doesn’t understand politics. Maybe she’s smart about international affairs — specifically terrorism.

Uh…guess not:

 

I guess the French police were fresh out of darts — at least the armor-piercing variety. The terrorists were wearing bulletproof vests.

There have been a lot of stupid tweets and comments during the terror crisis that gripped France for three days. This one by Cher has to rank near the top of the list.

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Ex VA Governor McDonnell Gets Two Year Prison Sentence

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was sentenced to two years in federal prison following his conviction in September on 11 counts of corruption.

McDonnell thanked the judge for showing “mercy.”

USA Today:

“I want to thank the court and Judge Spencer for the mercy he dispensed to me today,” McDonnell said shortly after the sentencing. “I am a fallen human being. I have made mistakes in my life. … But I have never, ever betrayed my sacred oath of office in any way while I served this great commonwealth.”

He will have to report to prison by Feb. 9.

Spencer, who presided over a six-week trial in late summer, earlier determined that federal sentencing guidelines called for a sentence of 78 to 97 months — 6½ to a little more than 8 years — saying an obstruction-of-justice enhancement shouldn’t count if McDonnell gave testimony that the jury did not believe. The judge listened to almost four hours of testimony asking for leniency for McDonnell.

“It breaks my heart, but I have a duty I can’t avoid,” Spencer said in handing down the prison term. Spencer did not have to adhere to federal guidelines in determining McDonnell’s sentence, but federal judges use them most of the time.

Outside of court, McDonnell said he would appeal immediately.

On Monday, the day before the sentencing, McDonnell’s lawyers filed a motion asking Spencer to allow the former governor to remain out of prison on bond pending the outcome of his appeal. Instead, Spencer told McDonnell the date he should report to prison, but the judge can reconsider or the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can decide to delay McDonnell’s incarceration.

“Any time an elected official is sent to prison, it sends a message,” said the FBI’s lead agent in the investigation, Adam Lee. “There’s no victory lap. There’s no celebration.”

McDonnell is the first Virginia governor, and the 12th nationally, convicted of corruption, federal officials said.

During the trial, McDonnell’s defense sought to shift blame to his wife Maureen for the gifts and thinly disguised bribes for which he was convicted. Apparently, this was partly true, but there was enough documentation to prove McDonnell had his own schemes to enrich himself.

One juror thought the sentence inappropriate:

“Good people can do bad things,” Robin Trujillo said. “We talked, we went through documents about the testimony and looked at all the evidence.

“It was just overwhelming. It was also just staring us in the face,” Trujillo said.

She has been disturbed by all the letters seeking leniency.

“It was not just some small little thing. It was major, and it went on for a very long time,” Trujillo said. “It’s never been about how nice you are. It’s what you did, what you allowed to happen.”

McDonnell threw away a promising career because of his greed and avarice. He may not deserve the lenient sentence, but the orchestrated effort to have the judge go easy on him worked to perfection.

In that sense, the former governor succeeded in his last campaign.

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Where in the World are the 53 Cuban Dissidents the Regime Promised to Release?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Next time I buy a car, I’m going to ask President Obama to sell it to me. If he negotiates with me the way he apparently negotiated with Cuba, I will probably end up getting the car for free.

Incredibly, nearly 3 weeks after it was announced that the Castro regime would release 53 political prisoners as part of a deal for the return of 3 of their spies, no one knows for sure if any have been released, or who they are. Meanwhile, the three spies released from an American prison have returned home to a hero’s welcome.

Yesterday, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki couldn’t state publicly how many, or if any, Cuban dissidents had been released. Today, Psaki said that “some” had been released but refused to supply a number or reveal their identities.

This lack of transparency (what new?) from the administration has Cuban human rights leaders worried:

“We are very concerned,” Francisco Hernandez, co-founder and president of the Cuban American National Foundation, told FoxNews.com. “The problem with the agreement [between Cuba and the U.S.] is that there is no agreement. There are no guarantees. This has been a tremendous victory for the Cuban government.”

Hernandez’s Miami-based organization has contacted the White House and pressed officials to publicly identify the dissidents scheduled for release. He hasn’t had much luck and says the push for transparency has been widely ignored and in turn is fueling suspicion over Cuba’s intentions. He and others question whether the Cubans supposedly set for release are even political prisoners.

“We wonder why there has not been any indication – especially on the part of the White House – who is on the list,” Hernandez said. “We want to confirm that those on the list are political prisoners and not common criminals, but we have not been able to.”

Good point. Mary O’Grady, writing in the Wall Street Journal, gave the White House explanation:

I asked the State Department this last week. State referred me to the White House. White House officials declined to provide the list of names citing “concern that publicizing it would make it more difficult to ensure that Cuba follows through, and continues with further steps in the future.”

Bottom line: The U.S. government cannot confirm that they have been released and is not certain they’re going to be released, even though the three Cuban spies have already been returned.

A government official told me that keeping the names of the 53 quiet will give Cuba the opportunity to release them as a sovereign measure, rather than at the behest of the U.S., and that this could allow for additional releases.

In other words, the Castros are sensitive boys who throw despotic tantrums when their absolute power is questioned. Asking them to keep their word is apparently a trigger.

Again, incredible. And bizarre, inexcusable, and extraordinarily naive. Why in the name of all that is good and holy would the Cuban government go beyond the release of 53 dissidents when they haven’t honored their original promise?

O’Grady points to 3 different concessions we made to Cuba:

The U.S. president hasn’t gone to Havana, not yet anyway. But he did use the prisoner swap to announce that he plans to unconditionally open diplomatic relations with the military dictatorship, something that the Castros have long demanded. Count that as concession one.

He said he would ease restrictions on American travel to the island and make it legal to use U.S. credit cards and debit cards in Cuba, thereby boosting revenues for the military-owned tourism industry. That’s concession two.

His promise to review Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terror sounded like he had already made up his mind. “At a time when we are focused on threats from al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction,” Mr. Obama said.

That would complete the concession trifecta. Cuba still supports the FARC, the Colombian terrorist group, it got caught in 2013 trying to smuggle weapons through the Panama Canal to North Korea, and credible intelligence analysts say Cuba has provided Venezuela the technology it needs to falsify identities for Middle East terrorists.

While it’s true that US AID worker Alan Gross was released at the same time the spies were let go, the fact is, Gross should have been considered a hostage, not a prisoner. He was an innocent American, arrested in 2009 at the Havana airport and a year later, charged with “Acts against the Independence and Territorial Integrity of the State — trumped up charges, to be sure. In truth, Cuba held him as a bargaining chip to get their spies back. He should have been released long ago, with no strings.

I am beginning to suspect that the White House did not give the Castro government a list of names of Cuban dissidents to be released, which is why they’re stonewalling now. The unilateral concessions we gave Cuba might have convinced Castro that he could put one over on us by releasing prisoners in jail for petty crimes. That’s the fear in the dissident community and it seems well placed to me.

Senator Marco Rubio wants the US to cancel a planned high level meeting scheduled for later this month unless the Cuban government tells us which dissidents have been released:

Rubio said Roberta Jacobson, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, should cancel a trip to Havana later this month to discuss normalizing relations at least until the 53 are released.

“Almost three weeks after your Cuba announcement, there is absolutely no reason why any of these individuals should be in prison or the targets of repression – or for their identities, conditions and whereabouts to remain such closely held secrets,” Rubio said in a letter to Obama dated Jan. 6.

As poorly as this deal was negotiated, can you imagine what a final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program might look like?

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Former PJ Media Editor Bryan Preston Takes Post with Texas General Land Office

Monday, January 5th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Former Editor-at-Large and Tatler Editor for PJ Media Bryan Preston has accepted the position of digital media director for George P. Bush and the Texas General Land Office.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush today announced Bryan Preston will serve as the Digital Media Director for the Texas General Land Office. Preston’s varied professional experience includes radio news production, the U.S. Armed Forces and blogging for major news commentary websites. Preston’s extensive career in a variety of media including Web development and online publishing will be instrumental in leading the agency’s digital outreach efforts.

“Bryan Preston’s professional experience is broad and far reaching, from serving in the military to innovation in news media,” said Commissioner Bush. “I am honored Bryan is bringing his passion for policy promotion and talent for innovative digital strategies to help me serve the people of Texas.”

“I am honored to be asked by George P. Bush to execute his vision for digital strategies at the GLO,” Preston said. “As a fellow veteran, I understand his passion for helping those who served in our nation’s military to transition to life following active duty. We are also both fathers and as such I share his dedication to leveraging responsible energy development to increase the Permanent School Fund for our children’s education. I am excited to join him in serving the people of Texas.”

Bryan spent four productive years at PJ Media, not only launching the Tatler but also ramrodding PJ Media’s election portal, The Grid. He was a prolific writer while here whose output was astonishing.

We, his friends and former colleagues, wish him all the best in his new job.

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Attkisson Sues Justice Department for Hacking Her Computers

Monday, January 5th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson is suing the Department of Justice for illegal surveillance. Attkissons computers were hacked while she was investigating several of the Obama administration scandals.

Fox News:

In a series of legal filings that seek $35 million in damages, Attkisson alleges that three separate computer forensic exams showed that hackers used sophisticated methods to surreptitiously monitor her work between 2011 and 2013.

“I just think it’s important to send a message that people shouldn’t be victimized and throw up their hands and think there’s nothing they can do and they’re powerless,” Attkisson said in an interview.

The department has steadfastly denied any involvement in the hacking, saying in a 2013 statement: “To our knowledge, the Justice Department has never compromised Ms. Attkisson’s computers, or otherwise sought any information from or concerning any telephone, computer, or other media device she may own or use.”

In the lawsuit and related claims against the Postal Service, filed in Washington, Attkisson says the intruders installed and periodically refreshed software to steal data and obtain passwords on her home and work computers. She also charges that the hackers monitored her audio using a Skype account.

The award-winning reporter says she and her attorneys have “pretty good evidence” that these efforts were “connected” to the Justice Department. She said she was caught in a “Catch-22,” forcing her to use the lawsuit and an administrative complaint to discover more about the surveillance through the discovery process and to learn the identities of the “John Does” named in the complaints.

“The Justice Department has not been very forthcoming with questions,” she said. “The question is, will anybody ever be held responsible?”

The multimillion-dollar damage figure relates to her loss of privacy and that of her husband and family, she said.

Attkisson learned through a Freedom of Information request that the FBI opened an investigation of the hacking case in May 2013, but says the bureau never interviewed her or even notified her of the probe.

The reporter detailed some of the hacking in her book, Stonewalled:

In her book, Stonewalled, Attkisson alleged that a “government-related entity” had planted classified documents on her computer in order to go after her for her reporting that was critical of the Obama Administration. To back up that accusation, in October, she released a disturbing video showing an unknown entity scrolling through her documents and deleting large segments of it. And in emails released last November, a DoJ press aide called Attkisson “out of control.”

There is a surreal quality to the hacking that makes your skin crawl. Double checking a map…yes, this is the United States of America and although getting worn and tattered, the First Amendment hasn’t been repealed that I’ve heard.

But then, it is apparent that, for this administration, the First Amendment only applies to those who are not “out of control” and not freely reporting the facts no matter where they lead. Such rebels should be intimidated and punished for not toeing the line.

Trying to wrest information from this crew during discovery is going to be difficult, if not impossible. The possibility that the FBI itself initiated the hacks cannot be dismissed, which means that any information about the hacks will be behind a national security firewall. Attkisson better hope she gets a bulldog of a judge who won’t stop until the truth is revealed. Otherwise, the probability is whoever violated her First Amendment rights will get away with it.

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Anti-Cop Protestors Disrupt Senator Wyden Townhall

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

About a hundred protestors shouting “hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” disrupted a townhall meeting in Portland of Senator Ron Wyden, where 100 year old Dario Raschio was to receive medals he earned during World War II.

Raschio — who looks about 70, not 100 — was chagrined by the interruption, but recovered quickly.

The Oregonian:

Shortly after Wyden began speaking, though, protesters erupted in the back of the room, shouting “hands-up, don’t shoot!” More than 100 pushed through the doors, banged on the windows from outside and hoisted signs.

Raschio and his daughter, Pam Brown of Portland, had a front-row seat to the spectacle. Raschio’s smile faded.

Demonstrators across the country have used “don’t shoot” and “hands up” as rallying cries following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last fall. “I can’t breathe” references the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in July following a chokehold by a New York City police officer.

The medal presentation was to be the first event at a Wyden town hall, one of several the senator, D-Oregon, is holding around the state this week. After 15 minutes of shouting, Wyden persuaded the group to stop and let him proceed with the medal presentation.

Raschio’s smile returned as Wyden presented him with a frame filled with medals. He was awarded the U.S. Naval Aviator Badge, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the “Ruptured Duck” award and the U.S. Navy Honorable discharge pin.

He was also given a flag flown over the U.S Capitol.

“It is never too later for Oregon and America to remember one of our heroes,” Wyden said.

Indeed, Raschio joined the Navy at age 27 and piloted observational planes. He was once shot down in the Pacific and rescued by the timely arrival of a destroyer.

But Raschio had a message for the protestors:

As he grabbed the mic to speak, more shouts came from the back of the room, demanding the military exit from Iraq.

The feisty centenarian quickly responded, “Give me a chance” which brought chuckles from the audience. He further chastised the shouters, saying “Let’s show a little respect for this occasion,” to which the crowd applauded.

He accepted the medals on behalf of those who died in WWII and ended his short speech by saying, “God bless America. And you people that are here for a cause, whatever it might be—show respect to Sen. Wyden.”

Wyden took back the mic, and followed up, “One of the reasons that we can come here today and be heard and express our views is because of veterans like Dario.”

But before Raschio could even sit down the unrest resumed. A protester at the front of the room announced that “for 4.5 minutes we are going to take time to pay respect to everybody who has been killed by police in this nation.”

With that, the chanting began again. At 3:15, after waiting 45 minutes for the meeting to begin, organizers called it off.

I could go on a rant and chastise the protestors for ruining the special day of a 100 year old veteran, but the anti-cop agitator’s actions speak louder and clearer than any commentary I could add.

I will say this: If the protestors don’t realize that, with their actions in Portland, they damaged their cause with the ordinary people they should be counting on to support them to reform the police and the criminal justice system, then they prove themselves to be little better than ignorant hot heads — ill-mannered and boorish.

A few more incidents like this and the public will be demanding that the protestors leave the stage and never come back.

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Al Sharpton’s Shakedown Operation

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

You have to ask what’s more nauseating? Al Sharpton’s threats to cry “racism” at corporations who don’t ante up or the corporations themselves who meekly acquiesce to the Reverend’s bullying tactics?

Sharpton has a lot of pull with New York state and local government officials and he has traded that influence for large sums of cash from companies who seek to avoid being labeled “racist.”

The mafia couldn’t run a shakedown operation this efficiently.

New York Post:

Want to influence a casino bid? Polish your corporate image? Not be labeled a racist?

Then you need to pay Al Sharpton.

For more than a decade, corporations have shelled out thousands of dollars in donations and consulting fees to Sharpton’s National Action Network. What they get in return is the reverend’s supposed sway in the black community or, more often, his silence.

Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal met with the activist preacher after leaked e-mails showed her making racially charged comments about President Obama. Pascal was under siege after a suspected North Korean cyber attack pressured the studio to cancel its release of “The Interview,” which depicts the assassination of dictator Kim Jong-un.

Pascal and her team were said to be “shaking in their boots” and “afraid of the Rev,” The Post reported.

No payments to NAN have been announced, but Sharpton and Pascal agreed to form a “working group” to focus on racial bias in Hollywood.

The National Action Network can organize boycotts or protests that present a PR nightmare for any corporation. It’s an extremely efficient method of extracting protection money. Like the mafia guy who tells a store owner it would be a shame if his business went up in flames, NAN’s threats of “community action” against companies keeps them paying for Sharpton’s restraint.

Tell me this doesn’t sound like a criminal enterprise:

“Al Sharpton has enriched himself and NAN for years by threatening companies with bad publicity if they didn’t come to terms with him. Put simply, Sharpton specializes in shakedowns,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal & Policy Center, a Virginia-based watchdog group that has produced a book on Sharpton.

And Sharpton, who now boasts a close relationship with Obama and Mayor de Blasio, is in a stronger negotiating position than ever.

“Once Sharpton’s on board, he plays the race card all the way through,” said a source who has worked with the Harlem preacher. “He just keeps asking for more and more money.”

And the amount of money flowing into NAN and finding its way into his and nis crony’s pockets is staggering:

In 2008, Plainfield Asset Management, a Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund, made a $500,000 contribution to New York nonprofit Education Reform Now. That money was immediately funneled to the National Action Network.

The donation raised eyebrows. Although the money was ostensibly to support NAN’s efforts to bring “educational equality,” it also came at a time that Plainfield was trying to get a lucrative gambling deal in New York.

Plainfield had a $250 million stake in Capital Play, a group trying to secure a license to run the coming racino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Capital Play employed a lobbyist named Charlie King, who also was the acting executive director of NAN.

Sharpton has said that most of the Plainfield contribution went to pay King’s salary.

King’s company, the Movement Group, was paid $243,586 by NAN in 2008, tax records show.

NAN itself is corrupt, being caught by the IRS for not paying more than a million dollars in payroll taxes, and being accused of keeping shoddy records.

With companies terrified of him and government officials in league with him, Sharpton is often called the most powerful African American in the country. A frequent White House visitor and with many friends in Washington, it’s not likely that any serious investigation into his or his organization’s activities will be forthcoming.

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Longtime ESPN Sportscaster Stuart Scott Dead at 49

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

ESPN personality Stuart Scott lost his courageous battle against cancer on Sunday, dying at the age of 49.

His was a distinct personality and voice in the often cliche-ridden world of sportscasting and many enjoyed his singular vocabulary when analyzing replays:

1. “Like gravy on a biscuit, it’s all good!”

Scott accompanies this quote with a player having a career day or when a player makes a smart play.

2. “And the Lord said you’ve got to rise up!”

Bryce Harper hits a homerun as a rookie, giving the Washington Nationals the lead after trailing the Atlanta Braves at home.

3. “See, what had happened was…”

This is amongst Stuart Scott’s popular references. During the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals between the Pistons and Pacers, he teased Rasheed Wallace after throwing up an air ball from the 3 point line.

4. “Vlade Daddi, he likes to party, he don’t cause trouble, he don’t bother nobody.”

From Slick Rick’s “Lodi Dodi” covered by Snoop Dogg from the Doggystyle album. Pertaining to any Vlade Divac play, it gave the Sacramento Kings Center some much needed respect as he was rearing towards the descent into basketball irrelevancy.

5. “You ain’t got to go home, but you got to get the heck up outta here.”

No shade, Stuart Scott just wants to let you know you either struck out, or you messed up for getting ejected from a game.

6. “He treats him like a dog. Sit. Stay.”

After Allen Iverson broke a defender’s ankles, Scott dropped this one on the poor guy.

7. “Just call him butter cuz he’s on a roll.”

My personal favorite Stuart Scottism: “He must be the bus driver cuz he was takin’ him to school.”

ESPN president John Skipper released an emotional statement on Scott’s death:

ESPN and everyone in the sports world have lost a true friend and a uniquely inspirational figure in Stuart Scott,” said ESPN president John Skipper. “Who engages in mixed martial arts training in the midst of chemotherapy treatments? Who leaves a hospital procedure to return to the set?

“His energetic and unwavering devotion to his family and to his work while fighting the battle of his life left us in awe, and he leaves a void that can never be replaced.”

ESPN hired Scott in 1993 for the launch of ESPN 2, hoping to attract a younger audience to the network. Scott didn’t disappoint his bosses as the 18-29 crowd flocked to his late-night SportsCenter show. The combination of a cool personality and his hip-hop lite references made him the most popular personality on the network.

Last July, he accepted the “Jimmy V Award,” for courage in sports, given in honor of former North Carolina State basketball coach Jimmy Valvano whose own battle with cancer was memorialized in an emotional speech given at the first ESPY Awards in 1993. Scott referenced Valvano’s fight in his acceptance speech:

During Scott’s acceptance speech, he thanked loved ones and colleagues for supporting his efforts, then showed his modest side, noting that he never thought he belonged in the same category as people who had received past Jimmy V awards.

“At my gut level, I really didn’t think that I belonged with those great people,” Scott said. “But I listened to what Jim Valvano said 21 years ago, the most poignant seven words ever uttered in any speech anywhere: ‘Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.’ Those great people didn’t. Coach Valvano didn’t. So to be honored with this, I now have a responsibility to also not ever give up. I’m not special. I just listened to what the man said.”

Scott also talked about how difficult it is to suffer with a disease like cancer. In fact, prior to the show, he underwent four surgeries in the span of seven days. Scott wasn’t even sure if he was going to survive. But with the help of his medical staff, his family, his friends and his fans, he made it to the awards ceremony. And that’s when he realized the whole battle is “not a solo venture.”

“When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you lived, why you lived and in the manner in which you lived,” Scott said. “So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.”

After every chemotherapy session, Scott would head to the gym and train in mixed martial arts. His reasoning?

“I can take this,” he said at the time. “Deal with it easier than some people I see. So I think for the ones who can’t punch a heavy bag, can’t spar, who can’t do any of that. I’ll do it for you.”

Scott is survived by his two daughters, Taelor, 19,and Sydni, 14. Of fatherhood, Scott said, “The best thing I have ever done, the best thing I will ever do is be a dad to Taelor and Sydni.”

Stuart Scott — as cool as the other side of the pillow.

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Outrage! Sarah Palin Posts Facebook Photo of Her Son Standing on Dog

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Sarah Palin had to know before she posted this photo that the left would go ballistic. Her New Year’s Facebook post is lighting up Twitter and causing a collective clucking of tongues because, along with the sentiments, she posted a photo of her son Trig standing on top of the family dog to reach the counter.

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As you can imagine, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had a figurative and proverbial cow:

PETA assailed Palin Friday, calling her a “bizarrely callous woman.”

“It’s odd that anyone—let alone a mother—would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo,” PETA said in a statement on its website Friday.

“Then again, PETA, along with everyone else, is used to the hard-hearted, seeming obliviousness of this bizarrely callous woman, who actually thought it appropriate to be filmed while turkeys were being slaughtered right behind her in full view of the camera,” the activist group added referring to a 2008 interview at Triple D Farm in Palmer, Alaska.

Palin, who was at the farm to pardon a turkey in the week before Thanksgiving, did a lengthy TV interview while live turkeys were being fed head first into a machine behind her.

Palin’s New Year’s post was still up Friday night. Though some Facebook commenters supported Palin, calling the picutures “cute,” others expressed concern for Trig’s safety and the dog.

“Not only the dog, but is she not worried the boy will fall and bust his head on the counter???? Nope. Keep snapping pictures,” one commenter wrote.

Oh dear.

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