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Kerry: ‘It was easier’ During the Cold War

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Easier to get things wrong, I guess, whines the secretary of state.

Secretary of State John Kerry attested Tuesday to the massively complex challenges Washington faces in Ukraine, Russia, Iran and the Middle East, declaring “it was easier” during the Cold War.

In a candid moment during a State Department speech, the top US diplomat said changing global power dynamics made a quaint memory of the early East-West stalemate, when American children would “crouch under our desks at school and practice” safety steps for a possible nuclear attack.

“During the Cold War… it was easier than it is today — simpler is maybe a way to put it,” Kerry told aid and development experts.

“The choices were less varied, less complicated, more stark, more clear: Communism, democracy, West, East, the Iron Curtain.”

If it was so much easier during the Cold War, why did Kerry, Ted Kennedy and so many other Democrats get so much wrong? Kerry supported the 1980s  nuclear freeze movement, which was Soviet-funded in the West and aimed to disarm the free world of our nuclear deterrent. Ted Kennedy was working with the Soviets behind Reagan’s back, according to his KGB files. Numerous Democrats actually believed that Ronald Reagan was more of a threat to the world than any Soviet premier.

For his part, Kerry even got the war he fought in wrong. Vietnam was about containing international communism. He made it about smearing his fellow soldiers, with all that “Jenghis Ghan” stuff. When America abandoned Vietnam, as Kerry wanted, the communists went on a rampage and killed hundreds of thousands over the next several years.

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Caption Contest Winner: Hillary’s New Book Needs A Title (and now it has one!)

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Myra Adams
Credit: Drudge Report

Credit: Drudge Report

The only word I can use to describe our latest contest is AMAHZING!

Thanks to all who made this contest one of the best in the glorious history of PJM Photo Caption Contests.  Our judges had a very difficult time selecting the winners and the criteria they used was, “Does it sound like a book title?” That is important to note because there were so many fabulous entries.

Our grand prize winner (of a future IRS investigation if SHE wins in 2016) goes to Booger2.0 for this gem:

I Slept With Bill Clinton and All I Got Was This Lousy Pantsuit

Booger2.0 also had an honorable mention for: It Takes an Intern

Our second grand prize winner is Fail Burton with:

The Beverly BillHillaries.  

FromNJ was our third grand prize winner with: 

Am I President Yet?

Here are all the honorable mentions:

David77:  Stand by Your Man – How Hillary Clinton Failed as a Feminist

WWM: Hillary: The Difference She Doesn’t Make

SoIncredulous:  It’s All President Obama’s Fault

Allan Crowson: It Fakes a Village (with apologies to Potemkin)

JRSWINE: How to Succeed in Politics without Doing Anything (Honest)

RockThisTown had four great entries: The Feminist’s Guide to Dodging Sniper Fire

How I Learned to Forgive Bill . . . & Monica, & Paula, & Gennifer, & Elizabeth, & the vast right-wing conspiracy. Wait . . . scratch those last 5.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling . . . One Bimbo Eruption at a time

Clinton Impeachment: The Sequel

Anna Beatriz: “Better than the Previous Occupant” 

loveamerica: Smoke and Mirrors- How to tell lies and make people believe it

ISOaPBR: I’ll Get You, My Pretty (and Your Little Dog, Too)

Physics Geek had two clever titles: What To Expect When You’re Ruling and

The Liar, the Witch and the War Room

Kuce: Vast Right Wing Conspiracies for Dummies

Gbone: If You Fly Around A Lot, People Will Think You Are Doing Something

Fail Burton: Please Leave An Alibi At the Sound of the Beep

cfbleachers (The Great and Powerful) had these hilarious titles: I Don’t Bake Cookies, But I Helped Cook The Books

and   It Takes A Villain To Raze A Country

Now speaking of the Clintons:

Below is “contest worthy” photo in need of a caption (but this is NOT an official contest.) The photo was from an article on a liberal-leaning website with the title and subtitle: “Send in General Bubba” and “Send In Bill Clinton to Save the Democrat Midterm Campaign.”  

Credit: The Daily Beast

Credit: The Daily Beast

One can only imagine from his grave the real General Patton is swinging his famous pistols in disgust.

General Patton and some other notables

General Patton and his revolver chatting with some other notables.

Finally, the above photo prompted me to tell you this worthless tibbit:  In 1977 I had the opportunity to shake the hand of one of the men in this photo. Can you figure out which one?  See you all next time a photo is worthy of a PJM photo caption contest and Happy Easter everyone!

 

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The Real Meaning of Soviet Agitprop in Jay Carney’s Kitchen

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Oleg Atbashian

As soon as the photograph of Soviet propaganda posters in Jay Carney’s kitchen hit the Internet, right-wing pundits began to draw conclusions about White House Press Secretary’s ideology, morals, and political leanings. It was as if things that a man merely places on his walls and looks at day after day can be any indication of his life choices.

If that were so, the meals in Carney’s kitchen would also probably match the menu of the place and time of the posters. His family would be living on a diet of beets, gruel, occasional rat, and thinly sliced boiled jackboots, which is what many Soviets ate at the time these posters were produced.

One poster was made in 1918, calling men to join the Red Army in the civil war against the anti-communist opposition, while the country lay in ruins due to the economic mismanagement as much as due to  intense fighting. The other poster was made during WWII, calling women to replace men at the factories, as the country lay in ruins, once again, due to intense fighting as much as due to the economic mismanagement.

The diet of the Carney family, however, does not include any of the food that the impoverished and starving Soviet people ate during the above wars. They eat more like the members of the Soviet Politburo and even better than that. They feast on fresh organic produce, succulent meat, delicious seafood, and tropical fruit delivered to the United States from all over the world. And as they enjoy the abundance of the American way of life in their kitchen, the Carneys like to stare at the two propaganda posters made for starving people. It never fails to improve their feeling of self-worth and digestion.

It is beyond imagination that anyone could misconstrue the Soviet agitprop in Jay Carney’s kitchen as an indication that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and his wife somehow share the same ideas as the perpetrators of a brutal regime that starved its own citizens while the political elites lived in luxury, abused power, prosecuted the opposition, and ruled the country by means of executive orders.

Next, they would claim that that a neat stack of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Books in Valery Jarrett’s bathroom is not there merely to serve as an elegant accent to complement the shower curtains;  or that the Black Panther Party insignia on Michelle Obama’s pajamas isn’t merely a bold decorative pattern; or that the black flag of holy Jihad in Huma Abedin’s bedroom is somehow indicative of her sympathies towards the Muslim Brotherhood.

Following such flawed right-wing logic, one might even speculate that Saul Alinsky’s books on Hillary Clinton’s living room mean anything other than an effort to disguise an obscure dried spot that had mysteriously appeared on the coffee table in the last year of her husband’s presidency.

We invite our readers to take virtual tours of America’s other prominent political and cultural leaders and see what potentially “compromising” items they may have in their houses, so that we can pre-emptively debunk any accusations and witch hunts, such as the one to which the unfortunate White House Press Secretary is exposed today.

Carney_Posters_Obama_Double

 

Obama_RedArmy

 

Poster_Carney_Michelle_Obama

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Dems Tell Two Completely Different Tales Of Race At Civil Rights Summit

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

It has long been recognized that “liberal” and “progressive” are misnomers when it comes to describing American leftists in the 21st Century. They may fancy themselves as forward-thinking but they go back eighty or so years whenever it’s time to craft economic policy and their racial politics gaze backward a half century.

Most of the time.

At the Civil Rights Summit in Austin this week, there were some prominent Democrats who surveyed the landscape and admitted that things are, in fact, much different now than they were in the early 1960s.

Things have changed.

That was the message delivered during a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act on Wednesday.

Rep. John Lewis, a prominent figure in the civil rights struggle, said there is probably no greater symbol of that change than the fact that he was introducing Barack Obama, the country’s first black president.

The president himself mostly used the occasion of his speech to make a case for the Executive Branch doing whatever it wants. As he is surrounded by nothing but yes-men, no one bothered to point out that he was making the case for unilateral executive action by praising LBJ’s skills as a legislator, but that’s for another post.

Getting back to the subject at hand, this was President Obama’s assessment:

However flawed our leaders, however flawed our politics, Obama said, “the story of America is the story of progress.”

Yeah, it can be a hot mess much of the time, but we make it work. It’s never perfect but it’s always better than the alternatives offered elsewhere around the globe.

An African-American civil rights legend praised the progress we have made as he introduced an African-American president who did the same.

Contrast that with a white ex-POTUS at the same event a day earlier.

Restrictions on voting rights in conservative states endanger the core of the U.S. civil rights movement and force Americans to recreate “a yesterday we’re better off done with,” former President Bill Clinton said on Wednesday.

Speaking to a crowd of students and activists in Austin, Texas, Clinton slammed new voting laws that require photo IDs, make voting harder for students, or otherwise tighten up access to the polls.

“We all know what this is about,” Clinton said at a gathering called the Civil Rights Summit at the Lyndon Baines Johnson presidential library. “This is a way of restricting the franchise after 50 years of expanding it.”

The complaints about the Supreme Court decision from last year make sense only if you believe that we have made no progress whatsoever on race in the last fifty years and that only the strong arm of the law, rather than a monumental shift in attitudes, enabled Barack Obama to ascend to the Oval Office.

In Bubba’s version of the story, America is a festering bed of racism that is only being saved from 24/7 Klan rides by some fragile legislation. If there are any changes to that legislation then-POOF!-a time machine instantly transports you to 1964.

It’s sheer insanity. And it is a lie.

Bill Clinton is an elder of the Democratic establishment so he doesn’t see people, he sees voting blocs labeled by race and ethnicity that need to be frightened in order to be properly manipulated for electoral purposes. It’s his job to tell the faceless demographic blocs he sees that the Republicans are just one election away from rolling back the history of everything. It’s a story so riddled with logical inconsistencies that one wonders how anybody with an IQ over 7 would believe it.

The Democrats, however, have gotten so good at storytelling the past twenty five years or so that they can hold an entire summit to celebrate something and feature a beloved ex-president telling them it’s all an illusion.

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Caption Contest Winners: The First Lady Went to China and Did Not Bring Home This T-shirt

Friday, March 28th, 2014 - by Myra Adams
mao

2009 File Photo Daily Mail – REUTERS/David Gray

Thanks to everyone who entered our latest contest. We had enough great quotations to fill our own “little red book” and forever banish Chairman Mao from the book writing business.

Not surprising, our own “Chairman” Cfbleachers provided us with much old Chinese and new Democrat wisdom.  Here is a sample:

“Political work is the life-blood of all economic work.”
Obamacare shows that doing it this way causes clogged economic arteries.

“To read too many books is harmful.”
Ergo, reading a single security briefing could prove fatal.

“Let a hundred scandals bloom.”
As long as you own the media, it will be impossible to gain a whiff of their “fragrance.”

Kuce is awarded a Chairman Mao “workers cap” for these quotations:

 “A dog on the plate is worth two in the bush”
- recipes from Chairman Mao, with forward by B.H. Obama

“It is necessary to investigate both the facts and the history of a problem in order to study and understand it.” Mao
“… it is just wonderful to be back in Oregon, and over the last 15 months we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in fifty …. seven states? I think one left to go.” BHO

RockThisTown provided us with this wisdom:

 Mao: To read too many books is harmful.
Obama: To write too many books is harmful.

Gblumel gave us an idea for some commie-style economic stimulus: (Hey George, you should sell these at your country club.)

Get the whole series: Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Che, Stalin, et al.

Now for the grand prize winners — who win nothing but grey moth-eaten Mao jackets.

JRSWINE is runner up for suggesting two new book titles:

The Quotations of Chairman Mao, by Mousie Dung.
The Quotations of Chairman Me-O, by BHO.

First place goes to RockThisTown for this Mao/Nixonian wisdom:

Nixon and Mao

Mao: “Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution.”

Obama: “Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the IRS.”

Thanks again to everyone who submitted their version of wisdom and see you next time a photo is worthy of a Tatler photo caption contest.

Oh wait…. this photo from March 27  is almost worthy but not quite up to our high standards for its own contest.  However, I am confident that you will have some fun imagining what Pope Francis is thinking.

Photo Credit: AP

Photo Credit: AP

Seriously, have you ever seen such a cast of characters in one PJ Tatler post?  Nixon, Mao, Obama, Kerry and the Pope — there has got to be a joke in there SOMEWHERE.

 

 

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New Caption Contest: The First Lady Went to China and Did Not Bring Home This T-shirt.

Monday, March 24th, 2014 - by Myra Adams
A

2009 File Photo Daily Mail – REUTERS/David Gray

 

I may be dating myself, but I remember a children’s T-shirt that used to be popular in tourist areas that read: “My (mom, dad, whomever) when to (wherever) and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”

The phrase came to mind after seeing this headline today in BizPac Review:

Popular ”Obama as Mao” shirts pulled from shops for Michelle’s China visit.

As it turns out, the piece originated in the Weekly Standard:

According to the Weekly Standard, a pool reporter commented on a tip about merchants at t-shirt stalls being told to “temporarily suspend sales of t-shirts that show President Obama in a Mao hat.”  The pool reporter added:

That tip turned out to be true. Several merchants denied carrying such items, but one merchant quietly took this correspondent to the back of her tent and showed off a whole box of the popular, normally seen t-shirts. As we were negotiating prices – she wanted 360 Yuan, or roughly $60, an outrageous starting price – other merchants came by, and in Chinese, told her to be careful. The merchant became visibly rattled and put the t-shirts away.

One of the commenters in the BizPac Review piece wrote that the shirts are available on ebay, so click on the link if you need to complete your spring wardrobe.

Another commenter mentioned, “If they sold the shirts here they would not make any money because today’s youth don’t know who Mao was.”

Just in case you too are a victim of public schools, here is a brief Wikipedia summary of that lovable character known as Mao Zedong.

A controversial figure, Mao is regarded as one of the most important individuals in modern world history. Mao is officially held in high regard in the People’s Republic of China. Supporters regard him as a great leader and credit him with numerous accomplishments including modernizing China and building it into a world power, promoting the status of women, improving education and health care, providing universal housing, and increasing life expectancy as China’s population grew from around 550 to over 900 million during the period of his leadership.Maoists furthermore promote his role as theorist, statesman, poet, and visionary. In contrast, critics and historians have characterized him as a dictator who oversaw systematic human rights abuses and whose rule is estimated to have contributed to the deaths of 40–70 million people through starvation, forced labor and executions, ranking his tenure as the top incidence of genocide in human history.   (I added the bold.)

After being responsible for the deaths of 40 – 70 million people, perhaps comparing Obama to Mao is a stretch. However the t-shirt being pulled from the streets for Michelle’s visit is still a newsworthy story. However, I can not figure out if the Chinese are dishonoring Obama or honoring him since Mao is still very popular in China. Maybe someone can translate what is written on the shirt?  (Hey Mike P. in DC your services are needed.)

Since I was a victim of public schools, what I remember most about Mao was his “Little Red Book” called Quotations from Chairman Mao.

Over the years I have occasionally co-opted that title as “Quotations from Chairwoman My My” when bestowing wisdom (??) on friends or business associates.

So for this contest please keep “Quotations from” in mind when submitting your entries.

Here is the book cover to jog your memory and you may also submit a new title or caption as part of the contest.

mao

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Afghanistan’s Karzai Splits with US, Sides with Russia

Monday, March 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Last week, Taliban militants stormed into the Serena Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing nine including children. The Serena was one of most heavily secured buildings in Kabul. The attack there follows many Taliban attacks on Afghan civilians and US forces, as well as Afghan forces attacks on American troops there.

But today, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai insists that “foreign intelligence agencies” are responsible for the Serena attack.

The Afghan government held foreign agencies of intelligence responsible for an attack against a luxury hotel in this city that left nine fatalities and various injured.

President Hamid Karzai’s management denied that groups of the political, social and military movement Taliban and Haqqani network were behind the attack.

Governmental sources said that the modus operandi did not match that of Afghanistan’s main groups of armed opposition.

“Foreign intelligence agencies” points to one of two likely targets — either Pakistan’s ISI or the US CIA. In January, Karzai aired his suspicions that the US was secretly instigating terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. He even published a list of a dozen attacks that he blamed on the US, while everyone else suspects the Taliban.

In what may be his final break with the US, Karzai is also siding with Russia over its seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.

Afghanistan this weekend joined Syria and Venezuela and became the newest member of a select club of nations: those that have publicly backed the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Citing “the free will of the Crimean people,” the office of President Hamid Karzai said, “we respect the decision the people of Crimea took through a recent referendum that considers Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.”

The New York Times points out that Afghanistan maintains a historic claim to a swath of Pakistan, and that may be motivating Karzai to side with Russia. If that is Karzai’s motivation, it’s ominous, suggesting that Afghanistan is ready to side with Russia should a regional war break out, if it gets Moscow’s backing to re-take that contested region of Pakistan.

Karzai’s government was installed by the US after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, to depose its Taliban regime because it harbored al Qaeda. Karzai has enjoyed the benefits of American defense ever since. According to a review by ABC News, 2,176 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan since the war began.

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Fresh from Crimea Victory, Putin Aims to Cause Trouble Elsewhere Including Iran

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

First, Bosnia. Russia was never happy with how that war ended. Now Putin is stoking separatism.

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has long resisted any efforts to centralize power in Sarajevo, predicting instead the country’s eventual demise.

He met Russia’s ambassador to Bosnia, Aleksandar Bocan-Harcenko, on Tuesday and said the Serb Republic backed Sunday’s referendum in Crimea on joining Russia as “legitimate and democratic”, in accordance with international law and the U.N.-guaranteed right to self-determination, Bosnia’s Fena news agency reported.

As the Crimea crisis neared its climax last week, Dodik visited Moscow, where he was rewarded by Russian Patriarch Kirill for his efforts “to consolidate the unity of Orthodox nations”.

Ashdown noted an offer by Russia of a loan to Bosnia’s Serb Republic to compensate for a freeze in funding to both of Bosnia’s entities by the International Monetary Fund over stalled economic measures.

Russia stepped in to help Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president, Viktor Yanukovich, with billions of dollars in aid after he spurned a deal on closer ties with the European Union in late November. Yanukovich was toppled by mass protests in February, precipitating Crimea’s secession by referendum on Sunday.

“The actions of offering an alternative loan … to one of the (Bosnian) entities, the action of withdrawing support for a project to join Europe, it cannot have any other outcome but to encourage those who wish to see secessionism,” Ashdown told reporters.

“Is this just a coincidence? Ask the Russian ambassador.”

It’s no more or less a coincidence than Ed Snowden dropping leaks on U.S. intel capabilities from wherever he now lives in Russia. And it’s no more or less a coincidence than Russia going public with this now:

Interfax: Russian diplomat says Moscow considering changing stance in Iranian nuclear talks.

What does this mean? Russia has traditionally regarded Iran as a non-threat to itself, and has traditionally played its influence with Iran against U.S. interests. Iran’s nuclear program is built on Russian technology. While Russia does not want a radical Islamic state armed with nuclear weapons, Russia here is signalling that it will fight any U.S.-led effort to slow down Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Couple that with Obama’s own Hamlet-esque dithering, and the bottom line is that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons. Iran has previously threatened to obliterate Israel. Russia and Iran have an understanding about who their real enemy is.

The American celebrity and media culture that elevated Barack Obama to the presidency is going to have a lot of reality to come to grips with. Presidents have to know more than just college basketball stats and the odd hard-left ideological trope. Their skills must go beyond those of the average insult comic. They have to be more than glib and photogenic. The Russia-China-Iran axis, with junior partners in Pyongyang and Karachi, may be about to make some very consequential moves.

Putin looks set to start too many fires for Obama and his pitiful national security team to deal with. His immediate prize remains, in my view, Ukraine and its energy production. He’ll start one fire over here, another over there, and while those conflagrations get going, he gets what he wants, consolidates, and moves on to his next real target. So far, Putin is overmatching Obama. Badly.

And that’s supposing that Obama really wants to keep Putin in check. That’s not a given.

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Obama, Putin Release their March Madness Brackets

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

In keeping with his annual tradition, President Barack Obama has gone on ESPN and released his 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket. The president has released his bracket, which he has clearly spent a great deal of time personally formulating, every year since 2009. That year he predicted the North Carolina Tarheels to win it all, and that remains the only year in which he has called the winner correctly.

This year, Obama is predicting Michigan State to win the final.

“Tom Izzo is a great tournament coach,” Obama said. “I’ve got Michigan State going all the way. … He know how to motivate folks and he knows how to coach. My pick: Michigan State. Bring it home for me. It’s been a while since I’ve won my pool.”

Besides the fourth-seeded Spartans and Cardinals, President Obama also selected No. 1 overall seed Florida and top seed Arizona to reach the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.

“I know these are not imaginative picks, but I think they’re the right ones,” Obama said of his Final Four picks.

In a first, Russian President Vladimir Putin has also released his take on March Madness. Putin stuck to the friendlier confines of state-run Russian media rather than ESPN for his announcement. Putin says that as a man who wrestles bears shirtless, his pick is similar to Tom Izzo in that he also knows how to motivate folks, but that’s where the similarities end. He is expecting this motivated team to win it all. Take a look at Vladimir Putin’s bracket on the next page.

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NASA Goes from ‘Muslim Outreach’ to Leftwing Activism

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

NASA is one of the few government agencies that’s worth keeping around, but as an “air” and “space” agency it is poorly equipped to study the history of the rise and fall of past empires. So…

Few think Western civilization is on the brink of collapse—but it’s also doubtful the Romans and Mesopotamians saw their own demise coming either.

If we’re to avoid their fate, we’ll need policies to reduce economic inequality and preserve natural resources, according to a NASA-funded study that looked at the collapses of previous societies.

“Two important features seem to appear across societies that have collapsed,” reads the study. “The stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity and the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses.”

In unequal societies, researchers said, “collapse is difficult to avoid…. Elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.”

As limited resources plague the working class, the wealthy, insulated from the problem, “continue consuming unequally” and exacerbate the issue, the study said.

Meanwhile, resources continue to be used up, even by the technologies designed to preserve them. For instance, “an increase in vehicle fuel efficiency technology tends to enable increased per capita vehicle miles driven, heavier cars, and higher average speeds, which then negate the gains from the increased fuel-efficiency,” the study said.

The researchers used what they termed a Human And Nature DYnamical (HANDY) formula to reach their conclusions. The formula uses factors such as birth rates, resources, and income classes to create a mathematical equation to project outcomes.

What’s “handy” is that this government-funded study just happens to line up with what the rigidly ideological president and his party keep saying. Shocking!

It seems clear that now that NASA has been taken out of the manned space flight game, and now that its role in national security and hard-edged exploration is being reduced, it just has too much time on its hands.

Do you want to know a fairly crazy fact about history? We don’t really know why many past civilizations collapsed. Of those whose collapses we do understand, few were simple. Very very few collapsed for one or two reasons, and few collapsed quickly. Some didn’t collapse — they failed to defend themselves and were destroyed. That’s not quite the same thing as a collapse. Some collapsed because of freak natural disasters, and thanks to our present level of technology, such collapses are largely things of the past. Rome collapsed over the course of several centuries, and was split and overrun by enemies, and was betrayed from within. Easter Island’s collapse was pretty quick and fairly easy to explain, but it was also not an empire and was not spread over much territory. But there are many past civilizations that we know little about, how they flourished, and how they died, and how they built what they built while they were still alive (cue the Ancient Aliens guys). It isn’t so much the case that there are gaps in our history. It’s that there is some known history between all the gaps.

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Allah’s Sword of Terror

Monday, March 17th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

The first time I heard about Khalid bin al-Walid—the 7th century Muslim jihadi affectionately known in Islamic history as “The Sword of Allah”—was when I was in college researching for my MA thesis on the Battle of Yarmuk, when the Muslims, under Khalid’s generalship, defeated the Byzantines in 636, opening the way for the historic Islamic conquests.

Nearly a decade and a half later, Khalid, that jihadi par excellence, has come to personify a dichotomy for me—how the jihad is understood in the West and how it really is: officially, Western academia, media, and politicians portray it as defensive war to protect Muslim honor and territory; in reality, however, jihad is all too often little more than a byword to justify the most primitive and barbaric passions of its potential recruits and practitioners.

Based on the English language sources I perused in college, Khalid was a heroic, no-nonsense kind of jihadi—fierce but fair, stern but just.  He was the champion of the Apostasy Wars, when he slaughtered countless Arabs for trying to leave Islam after the death of Muhammad.

Modern day Muslims writing about Khalid—see for example Pakistani army lieutenant-general A.I Akram’s The Sword of Allah—had naught but praise for him, the scourge of infidels and apostates.

But as years went by, I came across more arcane and Arabic sources telling of the “darker side” of The Sword—a depraved and sadistic side.

For example, only recently I came across a video of a modern-day Egyptian Salafi explaining how Khalid raped Layla, the wife of Malik bin Nuwayra—but only after he severed her husband’s head, lit it on fire, and cooked his dinner on it.

Khalid was recalled and questioned by the caliph—not because he killed and dined on an apostate’s head and “married” his wife, but because some believed that Malik was still Muslim, not an apostate to be treated so, and that Khalid killed him on the accusation of apostasy only as a pretext to take possession of his wife, whose beauty was renowned.

In the words of Ibn Kathir’s authoritative historical tome, The Beginning and the End (al-bidaya we al-nihaya), “And he [Khalid] ordered his [Malik’s] head and he combined it with two stones and cooked a pot over them.  And Khalid ate from it that night to terrify the apostate Arab tribes and others.  And it was said that Malik’s hair created such a blaze that the meat was so thoroughly cooked.”

More eye-opening is the way the videotaped Egyptian cleric recounts this whole narrative with awe and admiration…  Keep reading

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Obama Calls Florida Strip Club Owner With Medal of Honor News, and a White House Invitation

Monday, March 17th, 2014 - by Myra Adams
joe

Joe Rodriguez, Cheetah Club owner
Credit: Joe Rodriguez Charities

 

As reported in Sunday’s Miami Herald, President Obama made a very important phone call recently to Joe Rodriguez, a successful South Florida business owner who stimulates the economy by creating  jobs for attractive young women who then use their assets to generate income.

Rodriguez received the President’s call while working at one of his three Cheetah Gentlemen’s Clubs.  These clubs, as reported in the Miami Herald, offer “the hottest dancers, full nudity, full friction and a full liquor bar.

President Obama’s call was of historic significance as explained by the Herald’s news headline:

South Florida man to accept overdue Medal of Honor for his late uncle’s valor in Korea

Rodriguez’s uncle, U.S. Army Pvt. Miguel Vera, is among 24 men who served in conflicts spanning World War II to Vietnam. Their heroism was overlooked, and they are now being retroactively awarded America’s highest award for valor.

On Tuesday, March 18, at a White House ceremony President Obama will present the Medal of Honor to Rodriguez on behalf of his uncle, who Rodriguez says, “was my hero always.” Vera died from his wounds in 1952 during a bloody battle in Korea.  Previously, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and is now posthumously receiving an upgrade.

U.S. Army Pvt. Vera who died in Korea in 1952

U.S. Army Pvt. Vera who died in Korea in 1952

 

The reason for Pvt. Vera belatedly receiving the Medal of Honor along with 23 others is an attempt to recognize that possible prejudice occurred at the time, as the Herald reports:

Most of those two dozen recipients are Hispanic, and only three are alive. Tuesday’s ceremony is the culmination of a decade-long review of the military files of hundreds of Jewish and Hispanic veterans mandated by Congress “to ensure those deserving the Medal of Honor were not denied because of prejudice,” according to a White House statement.

Rodriguez recognized the potential public relations problem his three strip clubs might cause the White House and was honest with the Army liaison who made the initial call informing him about Tuesday’s ceremony.  “You do know what I do for a living?” he said he told her. “I have strip clubs.”

The Herald reports that the Army said “It has nothing to do with the award.”

Although not the typical CEO who usually frequents the White House, Joe Rodriguez, age 73 is himself a rags-to-riches story. As a boy he loved his uncle and from his club worked on the research that will culminate in the White House Medal of Honor ceremony.

Rodriguez is also a proud former Marine who served at Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis. As a show of pride, annually on November 10, Rodriguez honors the founding of the Marines by hosting a celebration at his three Cheetah clubs and the girls stop dancing for 30 minutes.

In addition to his military service and patriotism, Rodriguez is also a philanthropist who says he has donated over $1 million to various charities such as hospitals, schools, breast cancer research and the Marines, annual Toys for Tots project. (Although a quick Google search revealed that sometimes schools are not supportive of Rodriguez’s line of business and debate whether to return his donations. Then, there is old news about the clubs that should make the White House a tad bit uncomfortable having Rodriguez as a guest.)

So watch on Tuesday, March 18 for there may be some news headlines that include the phrases “strip club owner,” White House and President Obama, but it is really about honoring the Korean War bravery of Pvt. Miguel Vera and his nephew’s determination to see that his uncle is finally given the recognition he deserved.

Hopefully, at the White House ceremony the President will not ask Mr. Rodriguez if his young, healthy, female employees are properly covered. (With Obamacare, that is.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Report: Putin Claims that the Dissolution of the USSR was Illegal

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

This might be a signal that Vladimir Putin intends to take all of Ukraine by force. Before moving on to reconstitute the Soviet empire.

In a call with Mustafa Dzhemilev, the former head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tarter people, Putin reportedly dismissed his concern that a referendum scheduled to be held this weekend in Crimea, which would decide whether the territory should be annexed to Russia, would violate the terms of a 1994 treaty with Western nations guaranteeing Ukraine’s sovereignty.

According to Dzhemilev, Putin also said that it was debatable as to whether Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union, acquired in 1991, was even legal.

The world could be moving into extremely dangerous times. Suppose that the claim above is true and Putin said what is reported. Prior to its dissolution in 1991, the USSR included a number of countries which have since become independent.

Soviet_Union_Administrative_Divisions_1989

Those include Ukraine and the Baltic States — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — among others. Ukraine suffered massively under Soviet rule; Stalin intentionally starved millions of them during the 1932-33 famine. Ethnic Ukrainians mostly want nothing to do with Russia now. After the USSR’s fall, the Baltics joined NATO to enjoy protection from post-Soviet Russia as quickly as they could, and they are NATO members now. NATO has also included several countries that were forced into the Warsaw Pact, including Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. NATO’s expansion has moved the West’s borders right up through what was the old Soviet Union’s borderlands up to Russia itself, a fact that Putin openly bristles at. Russian foreign policy over the last 300-odd years, Soviet era and otherwise, can be boiled down to obtaining warm-water ports and keeping a buffer between itself and Europe’s central, more powerful states and the United Kingdom. Ukraine, the Baltics and the Warsaw Pact satellite states in eastern Europe were that buffer during the Soviet era. The Soviets effectively moved Russia’s frontier all the way to Berlin; the post-Soviet era has erased that buffer and moved the border back to Russia’s own frontier. NATO is a defensive alliance, but KGB man Putin has never seen it that way.

Putin was not in power when the Soviet Union fell apart, and is not a signatory to the documents by which it was dissolved and the Commonwealth of Independent States was formed. Mikhail Gorbachev was in power as the USSR’s general secretary, and Boris Yeltsin took power as president of Russia after the USSR’s death. Putin may therefore see that entire sequence of events as illegal, mainly because he wasn’t there, and something to be overturned.

Putin has already said that the USSR’s fall was a geopolitical catastrophe. He has already taken strides to create the Moscow-centric Eurasian Union, which comes into full in 2015. If Putin truly believes that the dissolution of the USSR itself was illegal, he is implying that all of Ukraine and the Baltics, as well as several other currently independent countries, belong to Russia and/or a reconstituted Soviet Union, and that he would be within his rights to invade and conquer them. Every independent nation that borders Russia and/or was once incorporated in the Soviet Union should greet this with great alarm.

Ukraine is not a NATO member, and the West would not be directly obligated to defend it should Russia move to seize all of it. But the West is not completely off the hook: The 1994 Budapest Memo calls for respecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and Putin has already violated it by seizing Crimea. The US and UK signed that document to reassure Ukraine. What should our allies make of Obama’s ineffective response and the UK’s obvious cravenness?

Let’s look at things from Putin’s point of view. The United States currently has an inexperienced president, is war-weary and debt-ridden and often fails to see eye to eye with its allies in Europe and Asia. Its Congress is currently bitterly divided, but that may change in November — but that Congress will be unified under the Republicans, so the American government will remain divided. Its military has been slashed and faces more force reductions. Its economy is stagnant. Its heavy industry has been whittled away for decades as jobs in that sector have been shipped overseas. Europe has not taken military matters seriously for decades, preferring to live under America’s protection. The UK is far from the global power it once was, and neither is Germany. On the Asian wing, South Korea remains preoccupied by North Korea and while Japan possesses one of the best funded self-defense forces in the world, its military lacks reach. For Vladimir Putin, who has already gotten the best of Barack Obama and seen to it that Obama’s red lines fade quickly, there may be no better time than this one to undo the catastrophe of the Soviet Union’s fall, if that’s what he is inclined to do.

h/t Ace

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Ukraine: On Second Thought, Maybe We Shouldn’t Have Given Up Our Nuclear Weapons

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

If Bill Clinton’s was the Animal House presidency, then Ukraine is realizing that it made the mistake of trusting Clinton, and by extension America.

Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994 on the promise that the U.S., UK and Russia would respect its territorial integrity. Ukraine didn’t sign on to the Budapest Memorandum because it feared a British invasion. Based on its history with its neighbor, it feared a Russian invasion. It wanted backup for giving up the one serious deterrent that it had for preventing such an invasion.

Now the Russians have taken Crimea, and Ukraine still doesn’t have its nukes.

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine may have to arm itself with nuclear weapons if the United States and other world powers refuse to enforce a security pact that obligates them to reverse the Moscow-backed takeover of Crimea, a member of the Ukraine parliament told USA TODAY.

The United States, Great Britain and Russia agreed in a pact “to assure Ukraine’s territorial integrity” in return for Ukraine giving up a nuclear arsenal it inherited from the Soviet Union after declaring independence in 1991, said Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament.

“We gave up nuclear weapons because of this agreement,” said Rizanenko, a member of the Udar Party headed by Vitali Klitschko, a candidate for president. “Now there’s a strong sentiment in Ukraine that we made a big mistake.”

His statements come as Russia raised the possibility it may send its troops beyond the Crimean peninsula on the Black Sea into the eastern half of Ukraine.

The price of inaction now may well be much larger action later.

The communist dictatorship that was the Soviet Union had based nuclear missiles in republics it held captive along its border with Europe, and Ukraine had thousands. World powers urged Ukraine to give up the arsenal but its leaders balked, expressing fear they needed the weapons to deter Russia from trying to reverse Ukraine’s independence.

To reassure the Ukrainians, the United States and leaders of the United Kingdom and Russia signed in 1994 the “Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances” in which the signatories promised that none of them would threaten or use force to alter the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.

Russia didn’t “threaten” to use force against Ukraine. It just invaded without making any threats at all. With Putin, there aren’t any red lines to state and then erase.

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Why There Could Be a War Over Ukraine

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Forget the Budapest Memorandum, and definitely forget President Obama’s latest, and very forgettable, comments on Ukraine. Russia is not standing on the “wrong side of history.” That doesn’t mean anything at the moment, it’s just more fanciful thinking from our celebrity president.

Before Obama declares which side of history is “right” or “wrong,” he would be wise to make sure to be on the winning side. Thus far, he has done very little to ensure that.

The West needs to look at events from Putin’s perspective, just to understand what Putin may be thinking and determine what he may do next. What are his aims? What goal may he be pursuing by seizing Crimea?

NATO has been expanding east ever since the end of the Cold War. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Europe’s former East Bloc and Soviet satellite states have mostly sought to distance themselves from Moscow and align with Washington and NATO. Poland and the Baltic States, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are all nations that suffered Soviet domination and have since aligned with the West. They’re all NATO and EU members now.

The EU is primarily an economic union. NATO was formed as a defensive alliance to counter the Soviet Union’s expansionism after the end of World War II. The US and 11 European allies formed the defensive North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949; the USSR created the Warsaw Pact as a rival alliance in 1955. Those two alliances dominated Europe for the next 45 years until the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact.

But post-Soviet Russia, and in particular, Vladimir Putin, does not see NATO as defensive at all. He sees NATO as an expansionist alliance, dominated by Washington, built to destroy the USSR and now maintained to pin Russia back to limit its influence. Putin also sees the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th Century. He has sought to build the Eurasian Union as a Moscow-centered alliance to counter NATO. It is set to come into fullness in 2015. Its full purpose may be to resurrect the Warsaw Pact.

Putin’s opinion that NATO survives to pin Russia back is not entirely inaccurate. NATO’s purpose is defensive. But its main purpose continues to be to defend Europe from Russia. That’s why the freed East Bloc countries have mostly joined NATO, Belarus and Ukraine being among the exceptions. As the freed Warsaw Pact countries have joined NATO, NATO’s “borders” have moved east — toward Russia.

Ukraine’s majority has signaled its desire to join both NATO and the EU. For Putin, Ukraine and Belarus are two countries on its border that it does not want to see join what it regards as an offensive alliance aimed at Moscow. Belarus is a fairly reliable Russian ally, but Ukraine is not. Putin appears to find potential Ukraine membership in NATO and the EU totally unacceptable.

Ukraine’s history with the Soviet Union is bitter. Stalin intentionally starved millions of Ukrainians to death in the 1930s famine. The Soviets were hostile to Ukrainian language, history and culture. A Ukrainian rebellion fought against both the Nazis and the Soviets during World War II. Ethnic Ukrainians want nothing to do with Russia, but Ukraine is not a singular ethnic polity. Its ethnic Ukrainian majority dominates in the western part of the country, and it has a sizable Russian minority. In the east and Crimea, ethnic Russians make up a majority, and they still identify with Russia.

Now, in the context of Russian paranoia about NATO’s expansion, how should we expect Putin to have received news that US Ambassador Victoria Nuland turned up in Ukraine handing out treats to Ukrainian anti-Russian protesters at the beginning of the Maidan protests in December 2013?

Should we be surprised that Russia is treating the protests as if they were orchestrated by Washington to topple a Russia-aligned Ukrainian government and replace it with one that would look west again? Or at least, that Russia is pushing that storyline as part of its propaganda?

Should we be surprised that Russia bugged Nuland’s phone and released a recording that could have pushed the US and the EU apart?

Should we be surprised that Russia used the Sochi Olympics to present its softer side, but once the games were over, Putin was back to his old KGB self?

Given Russia’s history of subjugating Ukraine and using it as a buffer against Europe, and given Putin’s aim to build a Eurasian Union as another counter to NATO, and given Russia’s historic paranoia toward the West, should we be confident that Putin merely wants Crimea, and not all of Ukraine, and after that, the Baltic States north of Belarus too?

The Baltic States are NATO allies with the US. An attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all of them, according to the treaty. Knowing this, Putin is measuring Obama, NATO, the EU — all of his adversaries — via his invasion of Crimea. What is he learning?

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Obama Finds a Country to Threaten. Too Bad It’s Israel.

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Much has already been written about Jeffrey Goldberg’s amazing interview with President Obama. The interview took place Thursday, the day before Russia captured Crimea from Ukraine.

The salient segment:

On the subject of Middle East peace, Obama told me that the U.S.’s friendship with Israel is undying, but he also issued what I took to be a veiled threat: The U.S., though willing to defend an isolated Israel at the United Nations and in other international bodies, might soon be unable to do so effectively.

“If you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction — and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time,” Obama said. “If Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited.”

It’s less a veiled threat than a plain old threat. The United States could make the case for Israel if it chose to. Obama is telling the world that he no longer intends to make that case.

The case for Israel, and against its closest enemies, is simple. The Palestinians elected Hamas to lead them (which “complicated peace efforts,” according to the Washington Post at the time); Hamas openly wants to destroy Israel. The majority of the Palestinian people openly reject any peace deal that includes Israel’s existence. Those facts haven’t changed just because Barack Obama wants them to or pretends that they are not facts. That fact that the Palestinians teach their children to hate Jews, and celebrate acts of terrorism against Israel, hasn’t changed either.

Maybe after Obama’s unfairness and weakness result in another terrible Middle East war, the Washington Post can stir itself to describe Obama’s Israel policy as “fantasy.”

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New Caption Contest: Official White House Photo – Obama Rocks Jeans While Putin Moves Tanks

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by Myra Adams
obamaputinphone

Official White House photo

 

There is nothing more glorious than an official White House photo as a subject for our “world famous” caption contest.

This photo of President Obama speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin was released on Saturday, March 1 at 6 p.m. EST.

So while Putin has moved tanks into Crimea and is contemplating invading Ukraine (which might cause Obama to miss a few rounds of golf) at least we could all take comfort in knowing that our Commander-in-Chief looked AWESOME in his Saturday jeans.

Was Obama channeling Ronald Reagan’s “evil empire – tough guy” look?  Will some intern please find an axe?

Reagan wearing jeans

Did Obama think that wearing tight jeans in the Oval Office would help intimidate this guy?

Putin newslheadline

Here are more serious questions for our contest writers to address:

Whom should occupy the three empty chairs shown in the photo?  (People either dead or alive)

What was Obama REALLY saying to Putin?

Is Obama about to “blink first” in this photo?  (Google if you are confused.)

What was Putin wearing or NOT wearing when this photo was taken?

True or False: Obama asked Michelle — Does this stance make me look more like John Wayne or General Patton?

What would FDR do?

What would Jimmy Carter do?

What would Jesus do?

Is Hillary hiding in the desk  (John-John style) after measuring the drapes in the Oval Office?

John john

Can you determine if Obama is wearing boxers or briefs?

Is Obama on hold trying to order a large pepperoni with double cheese or a small gluten-free veggie?

Who the heck is in charge of official White House photos? Did they really think that this photo was going to help bolster Obama’s image as a strong leader?

Oh no, I just got a call from the security guard in the lobby of our building said he said that the IRS and the NSA are on their way upstairs.

Quick, write your entries NOW, so I can read them on the train to Camp Obama.

 

 

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WaPo: Obama’s Foreign Policy Is Based on ‘Fantasy’

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

In an editorial today, the Washington Post catches up to Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. Both Republicans warned that Russia would become a major foreign policy difficulty for the United States. Obama dismissed both. The media for the most part joined in and mocked them too.

Oops.

The White House often responds by accusing critics of being warmongers who want American “boots on the ground” all over the world and have yet to learn the lessons of Iraq. So let’s stipulate: We don’t want U.S. troops in Syria, and we don’t want U.S. troops in Crimea. A great power can become overextended, and if its economy falters, so will its ability to lead. None of this is simple.

But it’s also true that, as long as some leaders play by what Mr. Kerry dismisses as 19th-century rules, the United States can’t pretend that the only game is in another arena altogether. Military strength, trustworthiness as an ally, staying power in difficult corners of the world such as Afghanistan — these still matter, much as we might wish they did not. While the United States has been retrenching, the tide of democracy in the world, which once seemed inexorable, has been receding. In the long run, that’s harmful to U.S. national security, too.

As Mr. Putin ponders whether to advance further — into eastern Ukraine, say — he will measure the seriousness of U.S. and allied actions, not their statements. China, pondering its next steps in the East China Sea, will do the same. Sadly, that’s the nature of the century we’re living in.

The Post published its editorial before China made its position known. No one should be surprised that China is siding with Russia. China has interests in Asia and off the coasts that it wants to advance, but the United States and our alliances stand in the way. China is paying close attention to Barack Obama’s actions on Ukraine, or lack thereof.

For all the talk of a “new economy,” nations still need fuel, raw materials, access to ports, and the ability to impose their will on occasion. Obama either still doesn’t understand, or he does but doesn’t deem America’s interests as worth advancing.

More fantasy: Kerry says Putin is acting out of “weakness” and “desperation.”

“That’s not the act of somebody who’s strong, “ Kerry added, saying Putin is acting out of “weakness” and “desperation.”

On ABC’s “This Week,” Kerry called Putin’s move a “brazen act of aggression” and raised the possibility that allied nations would move to kick Russia out of the Group of 8 in addition to boycotting the G8 summit in Sochi this summer.

“It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century that really puts into question Russia’s capacity to be in the G8,” Kerry said.

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Ukraine: From Terrible to Even Worse

Saturday, March 1st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The unrest in Ukraine had been building for months. That unrest threatened the pro-Russian president of Ukraine, and therefore Russia’s fragile hold on power over its strategic neighbor. Russian President Vladimir Putin was extremely unlikely to make any overt moves either before or during the Sochi Olympics, but once the Olympics were over, all bets were off. Or, they should have been.

But just a day before Russian troops entered Crimea, U.S. intelligence saw no reason to believe that Putin would invade.

There was good reason to think Putin wouldn’t do it. Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov told Secretary of State John Kerry that Russia respected the territorial integrity of the Ukraine. U.S. intelligence assessments concluded that the 150,000-man Russian military exercises announced by Putin on Wednesday were not preparations for an invasion of Ukraine because no medical unitsaccompanied the troops. And Russian and U.S. diplomats were still working on Iran and Syrian diplomacy. All of this followed a successful Winter Olympic games for Putin’s Russia.

None of that is good reason to think much of anything. It’s clear now that Lavrov was buying time; Kerry should never have been so credulous. Russia’s sole warm-water naval port is in Sevastopol, Crimea. Russia’s quest for warm-water navy ports has driven quite a bit of grim history over the past 300-odd years. Once Ukraine ousted its pro-Russian president, that port was at risk. If Russia lost it, it could not project naval power in the Mediterranean and the rest of its bases are iced over. For strategic reasons alone, Russia was likely to act in Crimea. Factor in the ethnic makeup of Crimea — it’s heavily majority Russian — and the fact that Putin does not want Ukraine tilting west, and it doesn’t take a multi-billion dollar intelligence community to see that Putin had motivations to act.

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Why Are Christians the World’s Most Persecuted Group?

Friday, February 28th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

Why are Christians, as a new Pew report documents, the most persecuted religious group in the world?  And why is their persecution occurring primarily throughout the Islamic world?  (In the category on “Countries with Very High Government Restrictions on Religion,” Pew lists 24 countries—20 of which are Islamic and precisely where the overwhelming majority of “the world’s” Christians are actually being persecuted.)

The reason for this ubiquitous phenomenon of Muslim persecution of  Christians is threefold:

Christianity is the largest religion in the world.  There are Christians practically everywhere around the globe, including in much of the Muslim world.  Moreover, because much of the land that Islam seized was originally Christian—including the Middle East and North Africa, the region that is today known as the “Arab world”—Muslims everywhere are still confronted with vestiges of Christianity, for example, in Syria, where many ancient churches and monasteries are currently being destroyed by al-Qaeda linked, U.S. supported “freedom fighters.”  Similarly, in Egypt, where Alexandria was a major center of ancient Christianity before the 7th century Islamic invasions, there still remain at least 10 million Coptic Christians (though some put the number at much higher). Due to sheer numbers alone, then, indigenous Christians are much more visible and exposed to attack by Muslims than other religious groups throughout the Arab world.   Yet as CNS News puts it, “President Obama expressed hope that the ‘Arab Spring’ would give rise to greater religious freedom in North Africa and the Middle East, which has had the world’s highest level of hostility towards religion in every year since 2007, when Pew first began measuring it. However, the study finds that these regions actually experienced the largest increase in religious hostilities in 2012.”… Click for the other two reasons

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Contest Winner: 3 Potential 2016 Candidates and CPAC Speakers in One Photo? More Surprises Too!

Thursday, February 27th, 2014 - by Myra Adams
trump

Photo Credit: Myra Adams

Thanks to all who entered our latest caption contest and special thanks that my “threat” was taken seriously.

Our grand prize winner was “rbj” with this entry:

Trump thought balloon: “So that’s what it looks like to stick to your principles.”

Our second grand prize winner was Chris Henderson (our reigning Caption King) with these two entries:

Three Presidential Candidates? More like three IRS targets.

How can they be Presidential Candidates when there aren’t any Teleprompters around?

Chris Henderson also had another winning caption for the photo of “yours truly” with Senator Ted Cruz.

In 2016 President Cruz appoints the new Secretary of Captioning

 RockThisTown wins an honorable mention for the same photo with this entry:

“Myra, I only have a few minutes – don’t filibuster the photo!”

RockThisTown had two hilarious captions for the photo of  ”eyes only” with “The Donald” in the background:

Huge photo faux pas – Trump is to never be in the background! That photographer is so fired! 

Blonded by the right.

Now the reason I am not re-posting the two aforementioned photos is because of all the snarky personal emails I received from friends and family.

“Hair” is a sample:

How do you keep birds from nesting in that hair?

Didn’t I see you in that dress six years ago at so and so’s wedding? Your dress lasted longer than the marriage!

How could you even think of having your picture taken with that crazy man?

And the reason why a good friend dared not enter the official caption contest: Too much hair for me to respond.

Boy, I am glad that contest is over!

Finally, a darling family member who proudly works for the company that has achieved total world domination — sent me the photo shown below.

It is of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taken during a meeting in Jerusalem last week.

My immediate response was that it HAD to have been photoshopped — until I saw it on the Washington Post with the caption, “The most uncomfortable photo in the world.”

And yes, for once I agree with the Washington Post, so no photo caption contest for this one.

Merkle Hintler

Credit: Yoav Lemmer for Agence France-Presse made available by Getty Images

See you all next time a photo is worthy of a PJM Tatler caption contest that does not happen to be “the most uncomfortable photo in the world.”
 

 

 

 

 

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Religious Freedom Thought of the Day: Aliens and Strangers

Thursday, February 27th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Reacting to this Ron Fournier piece on the demise of Arizona’s SB 1062, a piece typical of someone whose politics have not yet left the 1960s, Bill Hobbs writes on Facebook:

Fournier uses an interesting phrase: “the right to worship freely.” The Left often couches the First Amendment’s freedom of religion as “freedom of worship” and it is intentional – “worship” is that thing that people do in a church building on Sunday morning for an hour or two. The Left is fine with Christians keeping their Christianity inside that box. Freedom of religion is a much broader thing – it’s the freedom to live one’s life as one sees fit based on one’s faith, 24/7/365, at home, at work, and in public as well as private. Fournier gives away the game at the end when he writes “In this great and diverse country, we are capable of protecting people’s right to worship freely without tramping others’ rights to LIVE freely.” He sees Christianity through the Left’s preferred lens: It’s an activity that people DO in a church building on Sunday, and not something people LIVE daily.

For nearly as long as I’ve been attending evangelical churches, which is all of my life, I’ve heard pastors and leaders teach that Christians are not to be Christians merely whenever we are inside the church building. As an occasional (and poor) teacher I’ve taught the same thing. God “wants more than Sundays and Wednesday nights,” Keith Green sang in the 1980s, meaning, being a Christian is not about going to church. It’s about living. None of us ever gets it perfectly. But Christian culture is infused with instruction to be more than just a Sunday morning Christian. Christian pastors, teachers and singers didn’t just make that up out of nothing.

Being a Christian has never been about conforming to the world’s views or going along with them; it has always been about so much more, and it often puts one in direct conflict with the mores and beliefs that dominate society at large. It often puts us in conflict with people we respect and love. It’s a relationship that is full of tension. If it’s not, you’re probably doing it wrong. Too many Christians forget that, not just in our time, but throughout time. We’re not called to be popular or endorse the world’s ways. We’re in conflict with those ways when they conflict with what God wants. We answer to Him, not the latest Gallup poll or focus group.

That direct conflict was part of the deal all along. Christians engaging the culture have always been aware of it, or should’ve been. Reaching back to 1980s evangelical Christian culture once again, since that’s the culture I grew up in, Petra sang that “Jesus told us men would hate us, but we must be of good cheer.” The song “Not Of This World” paraphrases Matthew 10. Based on that text, it accurately describes Christians as “aliens and strangers” to the culture around us. Christians would be hated because of Christ. I keep referring to old Christian music to point out that for those of us who grew up evangelical, being not of this cultural world is not a new thing. It is not novel. It is no surprise. It is also not an occasion for surrender. The culture of the New Testament era was, if anything, far worse and more dangerous than today’s culture. Slavery was rampant. Pagan practices included ritual sacrifice and sex. Christians faced violently hostile governments with unlimited power, that demanded public worship of the current honcho in charge. The threat of persecution, imprisonment and even execution was real and always imminent. Should the early Christians have given in?

So the current conflict is not unexpected. It has always been there. The freedom to worship in America has not been limited yet, though the freedom to teach what the Bible actually says about sin (and grace) may soon be. Pastors in Canada have run into problems. Churches are likely to be sued over participation in same-sex weddings, leading in my opinion to evangelical churches leaving weddings altogether in order to avoid costly and time-wasting litigation. That will represent a small but significant retreat from the culture.

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Are We ‘Pharisees’ Now?

Monday, February 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

I won’t presume that this tweet is about me or today’s earlier piece on Kirsten Powers’ selective use of Scripture and Jim Crow as weapons against her fellow Christians. I’m not prominent enough to merit a direct response.

 

She says in another tweet that she isn’t quitting the church, and I say that it would be an awful thing if she did. She is where she is for a reason, though at times like these it’s not obvious what that reason is. It’s not always obvious to me why I’m still breathing and writing, for whatever that’s worth. We all have our off-pitch verse to sing in humanity’s song.

It would be an awful thing if Powers’ politics end up pushing the church into the corner in which it is now being forced, by Powers’ political allies, to retreat. Powers has deployed serious rhetorical weapons against the church. This is no small thing. If her side wins and Christians get no legal protection on matters of conscience, Powers’ own rhetorical devices and tactics will have contributed some measure to the marginalization of Christianity in America. That will have grave consequences far beyond the First Amendment and the debate about who can marry whom.

To highlight but one, Powers rightly speaks out on the persecution of Christians around the world. This truth cannot be told enough. I am glad to see that it concerns her. She blames some of the wrong people, as I noted earlier. She blamed Christian leaders for a good bill on persecution dying in the Senate — which the Democrats control. Republicans, given control of the House by evangelicals and others, had passed that bill. How is the Senate scuttling that bill the fault of anyone but the Democrats who control the Senate? How is it the fault of the evangelical church leaders Powers calls out? The Democrats don’t listen to evangelicals and haven’t for about 30 years or more. They accuse us of being horrible people, waging “war on women” and the like. That’s why most of us vote the other way. We haven’t been pushed out of the GOP, yet. Some moderates would like to change that. My cynical side expects that they’ll succeed at some point, which will hand the Democrats unchallenged power for a while.

I’ve brought up Powers’ take on persecution twice now, for a reason. Her take is not fair to the Christians she criticizes. It absolves the wrong people and blames the wrong people, in both cases revealing that politics trump the truth. This suggests that she is doing the same in the marriage debate. My cynical side wonders whether she isn’t pushing things so hard now because her party is poised to lose big this fall.

A fair take on speaking out against persecution would highlight the fact that Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, and CBN’s courageous terrorism reporter Erick Stakelbeck, speak out on persecution all the time. So does Catholic EWTN. They don’t belong to a politically correct news outlet, though, and Pat Robertson often earns criticism, which might account for the lack of any mention of them by Powers (and many others), and the lack of Pulitzers on Stakelbeck’s wall. It’s fair to doubt whether an article praising CBN would ever get published at the Daily Beast.

Setting that aside, if Powers and her allies succeed in knocking the church into a defensive crouch here in the United States, how effective will the church be in helping those facing much more serious persecution abroad? How many missions will go unstaffed, and souls unreached (setting Calvin aside for now)? The simple fact of the matter is that for probably 150 years or so, Christians from the United States have done more to evangelize the world than Christians from other countries. I’m not being rah-rah ‘Murica jingoistic here, but it’s simply a fact that religious freedom here strengthens the church and allows it to project people and resources abroad. Christianity in America, I believe, is stronger because it is not part of the state and is also not subject to the state. It’s a fact that our economic dominance creates more disposable wealth, some of which will be used to advance missions and assist the persecuted. It’s also a fact that with prosperity come temptation and decadence. If the church is under assault and facing expensive, time-wasting litigation here, though — as a few of its members are and churches themselves soon will be over the issue of same-sex marriage — how likely is it to continue projecting people and resources abroad? The missionary call will not go away, but if the funding dries up, fewer will be sent into the fields to harvest. If our politics and culture further marginalize the church, this will not end well. Fewer will have the time and resources to fight persecution of our brothers and sisters overseas. Some will be stuck in court, and/or under attack in the culture and from politicians and pundits, and their faith might crack in ways that Powers and Rice probably haven’t taken into account. Once Christians get the message that the First Amendment no longer protects us, and the culture actively despises us, how many will go underground or leave faith altogether? How many already have?

I suppose one response to that would be, why not just go ahead and give in then? If only it were that easy. The political cause of the day tends to crack up against the Gospel. As it should.

Was the title of my first post on this inflammatory? Was it cutting? You bet. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t true or that it’s unfair. It’s unfair to caricature the difficult decisions that Christians are facing now in a debate over an issue that was not even on the radar a few years ago, and on which the culture has been pushed so swiftly. It’s unfair to demand surrender on a serious, fundamental issue without even bothering to give people an idea where this will all end up. We’re not talking here about lunch counters and buses, the iconic moments of the civil rights era and the deserved justice of overturning Jim Crow. We are talking about fundamentally redefining marriage and the family.

Taking a wider view, I’m not endorsing either the Kansas or Arizona proposals. For one thing, I don’t think either will defend Christians’ right of conscience. If any state passes a law on this that the administration does not like, that state can expect to be sued and demonized and turned into a campaign issue. The federal government in its current guise will not pass a federal law, President Obama won’t sign one, and even if he did, he would simply choose to ignore it. No law matters much to a lawless government.

Having already politicized life, we are now politicizing the definition of the family. Those who demand tolerance most loudly are not practicing it and have no intention of practicing it. It’s clearly dividing Christians. This won’t end well.

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Young Idealist: ‘I shall never retreat or surrender’

Monday, February 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Today, February 24, is the 178th anniversary of one of the most heroic letters ever written. On February 24, 1836, Lt. Col. William Barret Travis and just 188 fellow freedom-fighters were holed up in a mission in San Antonio, Texas. The mission was originally called Mission San Antonio De Valero, but by 1836 had long been known as the Alamo.

On February 24, Travis commanded the small group of Texians inside the mission turned fortress. Four days earlier Texas had declared its independence from Mexico, reacting to Santa Anna’s despotism. Surrounded by a hostile army far outnumbering his own forces, Travis wrote the following letter.

Commandancy of the The Alamo
Bejar, Feby. 24th. 1836

To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World—
Fellow Citizens & compatriots—

     I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat.  Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days.  If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country — Victory or Death.

William Barrett Travis.
Lt.  Col. comdt.

P. S.  The Lord is on our side — When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn — We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.

Travis

The Alamo fell on March 6, 1836. Relief for the Texians within the Alamo never arrived, but Travis’ letter was key to bringing in more troops and support to fight for Texas. The 13-day siege gave Gen. Sam Houston time to gather forces to attack and defeat Santa Anna at San Jacinto on April 21. The Republic of Texas won its independence.

Lt. Col. William Barret Travis died in the Battle of the Alamo. He was just 26 years old.

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Kirsten Powers Persecutes Christians, Accusing Us of Establishing a New Form of ‘Jim Crow’

Monday, February 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Kirsten Powers believes that Christians who are defending their right of conscience to object to performing services for same-sex marriages are enacting a new Jim Crow. She writes her thoughts on the matter down for the Daily Beast.

Let’s destroy that analogy before moving forward, in the hope that it never rears its idiotic head again.

Jim Crow laws, which were perpetrated on black Americans by Powers’ very own and beloved Democratic Party, were designed to oppress an entire race of people. They were not in any sense a reaction to an offense. They were not in any sense based on any Christian biblical principle. They were not in any sense about freedom of conscience. The Democratic Party’s Jim Crow regime was designed for purposes of pure racism. Its “separate but equal” regime was done by powerful people to oppress those who had no power — powerful Democrats oppressing powerless black Americans.

A pair of states have considered passing laws concerning same-sex marriage. Kansas and Arizona are considering laws that would allow a Christian who owns a business to opt out, for reasons of religious conscience, of performing services for same-sex marriages. Nothing in these laws would deny services of the government to same-sex marriages or force the state’s hand should disputes over services arise. The purpose of these laws would be to prevent Christians from facing expensive, time-consuming lawsuits if they refuse service to same-sex couples in wedding contexts. Such lawsuits have already happened, and the Christians have lost them. In one case that it still ongoing, a Mennonite couple in Iowa face a civil rights lawsuit because they refused to host a same-sex wedding reception in their art gallery. Their gallery is open to all most of the time, but they do rent it for receptions. As Christians, they do not believe in anything but the traditional definition of marriage. For this, they are being sued. They counter that their refusal is based on their own civil rights — the right of religious conscience to decline participation in events and ceremonies that they believe are against God, based on beliefs that long pre-date the state. This case follows the Colorado case of a wedding cake bakery that was sued for declining a same-sex wedding, and a photographer in New Mexico who similarly declined a same-sex wedding. Losing those lawsuits threatens the Christians’ right to make a living free of harassment, and may deprive them of their private property, while they have their names dragged through the mud thanks to a media that is very much hostile to traditional Christians in this country. Unfortunately, that hostile media includes the likes of Kirsten Powers.

In all of these cases, the Christians were literally minding their own businesses when the question of same-sex marriage hit them. They were not going out of their way to oppress anyone. They were not in control of the mechanisms of the state to exact any form of oppression. None of these cases resemble the Democrats’ Jim Crow regime at all. Jim Crow was government-enforced, top-down oppression based on race. Powers’ use of Jim Crow exhibits shallow, ill-informed and frankly illogical thinking. If there were licenses required for punditry, hers would be open to revocation on grounds of malpractice.

Powers may lack the critical thinking skills to understand why her use of Jim Crow is so far off the mark, but she is very intelligent and politically she knows exactly what she is doing. Invoking Jim Crow is intended to bully and coerce those of us who disagree with her, to silence us into submission, while at the same time it rallies forces on her side to go on the attack. Given the pieces and layout on this particular chess board, it’s not too much to say that Powers is using her position in media to persecute Christians. I won’t accuse Powers of engaging in Jim Crow oppression herself, as that analogy does not hold up. But she can perhaps be likened to Saul, the sincere first century scholar who sincerely set about attacking the early Church because he thought it was the morally right and politically correct thing to do. People can be and often are sincerely wrong.

Powers, we should keep in mind, sets about attacking Christians not just on same-sex marriage. She has written accusing America’s churches of “staying silent” in the face of growing persecution of Christians around the world. I won’t presume to speak for Powers’ church, but America’s evangelical churches are far from silent on the matter. We here at PJ Media are far from silent on the matter. Conservatives in general are far from silent on the matter. Ray Ibrahim, Brigitte Gabriel, Robert Spencer, myself, talk show hosts like Laura Ingraham, National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez and many many others write regularly on the persecution of the church abroad. Churches actively support missionary efforts to build Christian communities in the most dangerous places on earth, and highlight when governments go on the offensive against Christians. We take the oppressed in whenever possible.

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A Primer on Ukraine

Friday, February 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

I’m not an expert on Ukraine, but neither is Barack Obama. Unfortunately, he’s the president, and he doesn’t like to learn new things.

Let’s flash back to see His Smugness dismiss Mitt Romney’s concerns about Ukraine during the 2012 presidential debate. Obama mocked Romney, playing the part of the schoolyard bully who knows far less about the world than he will ever admit.

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Obama declares in the clip that “the Cold War has been over for 20 years.” That’s true, but Romney wasn’t talking about the Cold War. Romney was talking about what Russia is up to now and where it intends to be in a few years.

Russia is setting up an alternative to the European Union, called the Eurasian Union. As Timothy Snyder explains in the March 20 New York Review, the Eurasian Union is a key part of the ongoing Ukraine unrest.

The course of the protest has very much been influenced by the presence of a rival project, based in Moscow, called the Eurasian Union. This is an international commercial and political union that does not yet exist but that is to come into being in January 2015. The Eurasian Union, unlike the European Union, is not based on the principles of the equality and democracy of member states, the rule of law, or human rights.

On the contrary, it is a hierarchical organization, which by its nature seems unlikely to admit any members that are democracies with the rule of law and human rights. Any democracy within the Eurasian Union would pose a threat to Putin’s rule in Russia. Putin wants Ukraine in his Eurasian Union, which means that Ukraine must be authoritarian, which means that the Maidan must be crushed.

The dictatorship laws of January 16 were obviously based on Russian models, and were proposed by Ukrainian legislators with close ties to Moscow. They seem to have been Russia’s condition for financial support of the Yanukovych regime. Before they were announced, Putin offered Ukraine a large loan and promised reductions in the price of Russian natural gas. But in January the result was not a capitulation to Russia. The people of the Maidan defended themselves, and the protests continue. Where this will lead is anyone’s guess; only the Kremlin expresses certainty about what it all means.

Snyder’s article is long but worth a read. Suffice it to say that it’s not a Cold War unrest that we are witnessing in Ukraine. The Cold War is over, and Putin is doing his best to put that defeat behind Russia as he seeks to forge a new union of socialist republics from the shards of the old union of socialist republics that lost the Cold War.

It’s also not a Cold War unrest that is engulfing Venezuela. That Communist state may be collapsing.

While the Ukraine and Venezuela unrest unfolds, leading no one knows where, Obama’s top diplomat is not evidently engaged in the matters at all. Instead, John Kerry is off giving speeches in which he declares that global warming is the new weapon of mass destruction. It’s as if all of Obama’s cabinet would rather run the EPA than advance America’s interests abroad.

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The Human Spirit Vs Communism

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Great story, especially with all of the violence in Kiev and Venezuela right now.

I was raised in Romania in the 1980s, under a Communist regime that, among countless repressions, reduced television to two hours a day of dull propaganda, traditional music, patriotic poems and censored films. One day when I was 6, my parents found a way to borrow a VCR. They invited their friends, and all night they watched grainy VHS tapes of Hollywood B-movies. I remember the films, but more so I remember how I felt when I stepped into the living room — like walking into a secret, magical and free world.

All the dialogue on these movies was dubbed into Romanian in a husky, high-pitched woman’s voice. Throughout my childhood, these films provided a glimpse into the forbidden West, resplendent with blue jeans, Coke and skyscrapers. As Hollywood movies became ubiquitous through the black market, this voice became one of the most recognizable in Romania. Yet no one knew who she was.

After the 1989 revolution I learned the true story, which I present here in this Op-Doc video. In 1985, Irina Margareta Nistor, a young translator at the national television station, met a mysterious entrepreneur. He was smuggling, copying and distributing movies on VHS tapes. This was the beginning of a working relationship that lasted more than a decade. In all, Ms. Nistor says she dubbed more than 3,000 different films. Thanks to her, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bruce Lee became popular heroes in Romania.

In a time when the Romanian state controlled every aspect of its citizens’ lives — including food, heat, transportation and information — people found a way to escape and resist the state’s far-reaching hand, through the power of movies.

There’s a more in-depth video at the link. All of it a good reminder of just how much we take for granted here.

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The Heroic Valentine

Friday, February 14th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Today we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day (well, other than Matt Lewis, a Valentine’s Day skeptic who also doesn’t want anyone to laugh at Bob Costas’ Olympic pink eye problems). The rest of us will celebrate with cards, hearts, flowers, candy, romance, and other weapons of romance. Or hope for the day that we have someone special to celebrate with.

It’s a good day to remember why we celebrate love, not just romantic love but selfless love. The love Christ noted as the deepest — when someone lays down his life for his friends.

We know very little about the man who is called Saint Valentine. We celebrate him on this day because February 14 is the day that his deep love cost him his life.

Valentine lived in the early Christian era, that much is certain. He may have been a young Roman who helped Christians who were under persecution from the Roman empire. One story says that he was imprisoned for aiding Christians, and while in prison became a Christian himself. He knew that execution was imminent, so he wrote letters to his friends that ended, “Remember your Valentine.”

The most popular story is that Valentine was a Roman priest who fought an unjust imperial law.

Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.

To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.

When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.

Legend also has it that while in jail, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine.”

For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death.

Like most holidays in our times, Valentine’s Day has become more about commercialism than about its origins. Which is too bad. Christians face a plague of persecution around the world and increasingly here in the United States, the one nation with the power to defend the freedom to practice faith, or not, as an individual sees fit.

Today is a good day to remember being a Valentine entails quite a bit more than a bouquet or a box of candy. It’s a matter of life and death, faith, freedom and sacrifice.

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A Love Letter to Americans

Friday, February 14th, 2014 - by Noelle Nguyen

I came to this country in the mid-eighties as a political refugee. My father fought communist forces in Vietnam for the South Vietnamese military alongside U.S. armed forces. Following the fall of Saigon, our family fled the country by boat and spent nearly three years in refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines. We were consequently sponsored to the U.S. by a church and our family eventually settled in California.

When our family first arrived in the U.S., in an effort to help us assimilate, a man whom we all called “Dad” drove his van around town every Friday to take newly settled immigrants on a shopping trip to K-Mart. His wife would then make us dinner and we’d all watch a movie before he’d drop us back at our homes by the end of the evening, marking some most indelible footprints in my heart. I further benefitted from charitable Americans in the form of welfare, Medicaid, federal student aid, and a host of other entitlement programs I’d likely forgotten, which were made available to us to help us get on our feet by hardworking, taxpaying Americans. I became a naturalized American citizen and attended both public and private schools, and subsequently went on to achieve some career highs (and lows) in the private sector, all of which richly contributed to my road to achieving the American dream.

By virtue of being an American, I had achieved the American dream.

I developed an unwavering appreciation for Americans and an allegiance to the country I’ve called home for nearly three decades—the U.S. It’s an appreciation that one who’s never lived beyond the boundaries, safety, and charity of this country perhaps couldn’t possibly fathom. To have been given so much—opportunity, life, and liberty—by a country I cherish, and to subsequently witness its withering growth trajectory during the formative Great Recession years, pained me. The anguish of watching my mother ingest her own wedding band at sea during our escape so as to avoid confiscation by pirates, though compelling, was no match for the desolation I later felt as I watched the country enter what I believed to be an era of not only economic but also cultural decline. Watching segments of misguided and ideologically imbued Americans paint the country I love as the world’s enemy further compounded my need to stand up for well-meaning Americans.

In 2012, after witnessing the gradual decimation of the manufacturing sector and the country’s deteriorating economic fortunes, I founded American Love Affair, an online retailer of only made-in-the-USA products, as a means of aggregating, promoting, and selling consumer products manufactured on American soil. These talented producers, largely SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), managed to survive, thrive, and, in some cases, dominate in the face of increasing global competition.

For underserved consumers who desire American-made products, both domestic and abroad, American Love Affair is not just an online retail destination, but also a symbol of American resilience, diversity, productivity, and fighting spirit. It is the American dream.

The American system is one that leverages the free human spirit to achieve greatness, and, warts and all, the truth remains that the U.S.A. is the most vigilant and successful defender of freedom and capitalism the world has ever known. Americans remain the most just, well-meaning, and vigorous champions of human rights and human capital the world has ever known.

Indeed, American Love Affair stands for my love affair with America. It is my homage to you, my beloved fellow Americans. On this Valentine’s Day, to you, I dedicate this love letter.

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Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Convicted for Using His Office to Turn ‘Chocolate City’ Into Gold

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Ray Nagin is headed to jail.

A federal jury has convicted former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on charges that he accepted bribes, free trips and other gratuities from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work while he was in office.

The jury on Wednesday convicted Nagin of 20 of 21 counts against him.

Nagin was indicted in January 2013 on charges he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and truckloads of free granite for his family business in exchange for promoting the interests of a local businessman.

Nagin infamously yelled “Where are the (federal government’s) buses?” during Hurricane Katrina, when his city government owned dozens of buses that should have been used to move New Orleans residents out of harm’s way.

Now he will be bused to a federal penitentiary.

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Blair Papers Reveal that Hillary Clinton is Into Revenge Fantasies

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

CNN reports that Hillary Clinton likes to keep notes so she can circle back to people for personal vengeance.

Fayetteville, Arkansas (CNN) - Shortly before Hillary Clinton’s effort to pass health care reform died in the summer of 1994, the first lady asked a close friend and confidant for advice on “how best to preserve her general memories of the administration and of health care in particular.”

When asked why, according to the friend’s June 20, 1994, diary entry, Clinton said, “Revenge.”

What did she have against Christopher Stevens? Hillary only left her “close friend” unguarded, having denied his requests for more security, in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. And then lied about how he died. And hasn’t done a thing to make sure that those who killed him ever face justice.

The above is included in the papers of Diane Blair, Clinton’s close friend for decades. Blair also kept notes about Clinton’s attitude toward the media — which have, by and large, created the myth that Hillary is so smart and so amazing. The media love Hillary Clinton. It’s an asymmetrical relationship.

On Thanksgiving Day 1996, Blair wrote that Clinton thought the press were “complete hypocrites.”

“Say they want the truth, want power to be transparent, but in fact they prefer the backstage manipulation of B. Bush, N. Reagan, B. Truman, R. Carter,” Blair wrote, listing several former first ladies. “On her death bed, wants to be able to say she was true to herself and is not going to do phoney makeovers to please others.”

MSNBC has characterized the Blair papers — written, again, by Clinton’s close friend, as an “anti-Clinton” attack. They are the notes kept by Hillary Clinton’s close friend, at Hillary’s request.

So far, we’ve learned from the Blair papers that Hillary hates the media, that she is Bill Clinton’s scandal and sexual predator enabler, that she is ruthless in pursuing her own ends in a way that she clearly is not ruthless in pursuing America’s interests, and that she was willing to sacrifice other women for the sake of Bob Packwood’s vote on her 1990s health care plan. Hillary Clinton is hardly worthy of her feminist icon status. She remains the most overrated person in America.

Time’s Joe Klein wants you to not find any of that interesting. Clinton must have something on Klein, too.

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Which Product was More Dishonestly Marketed: Amazing Live Sea Monkeys, or Barack Obama?

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Kids of a certain age remember ads for Amazing Live Sea Monkeys. They ran in the backs of comic books. The ads promised that Amazing Live Sea Monkeys would hatch, grow, and become your friends.

sea-monkeys

 

Amazing Live Sea Monkeys were supposed to be so amazing that they even had their own Saturday morning show.

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And a video game.

Amazing-Virtual-Sea-Monkeys-PlayStation-_

When Barack Obama burst into American politics, he promised to be a different kind of politician. He promised Hope. And Change.

obama-noddin

The media were smitten.

3-loki-tom-hiddleston

 

Hollywood couldn’t get enough of him.

Jean-Luc-Picard-Sings-And-Dances

 

Despite their skepticism of the young, inexperienced senator, many Americans fell in love too.

like-the-way-i-feel

Miracle-on-34th-Natalie-Wood-I-believe-animated-gif

blonde-bride-wars-gif-kate-hudson-movie-Favim.com-374640

 

And he was elected President of the United States. Twice.

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Take a Look at One of the Most Disturbing Moments from the Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony

Friday, February 7th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

This photo came across Twitter today, thanks to Jonah Goldberg. It’s from the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Sochi, Russia.

 

The best thing this could be is an acknowledgement that Communism is a major part of Russia’s history. That’s still bad, of course, unless it’s accompanied with facts about the old USSR’s brutality (not likely). It could also be a hint at where Putin wants to take Russia again.

Update: But wait, there’s more.

 

Update: And more. Look who’s applauding. (See the following update.)

Update: The third photo is a fake. My apologies.

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Joe Biden: Infrastructure, Not Personal Freedom, is Behind America’s Economic Dominance

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

VP Joe Biden spoke on infrastructure in Pennsylvania today, and said a couple of startling things. In the first, Biden said that LaGuardia Airport in New York is “like a Third World country.”

Given Bidens’s history of racial incidents, this comment could be seen as insensitive, but as he was speaking on infrastructure, he gets a pass here.

LaGuardia’s newest terminal was built in 1992, by the way.

Biden also had this to say on the subject of why America has the world’s largest economy.

“No, I’m not joking!” he added. “Why did we lead the world economically for so long? We had the most modern infrastructure in the world.”

Biden implies that we no longer lead the world economically, which isn’t true. It’s not even close to true. The US economy is still the world’s largest by far, nearly double the size of China’s economy and more than three times third-place Japan’s. Several US states, including California, Texas and New York, would rank above most national economies on their own.

The US remains the big dog, but some other countries are catching up. The question is why?

The period Biden is probably referencing is the decades following World War II, roughly 1945 to 1969 or so. The US enjoyed a period of massive economic expansion relative to the rest of the world, and the US outproduced the rest of the world combined, by far, for many of those years. That was largely due to the fact that economies across Europe and Asia had been shattered during the war and took time to rebuild. They had to recover and some had to adapt to democracy. The United States generally financed that rebuilding. What statists and fascists had destroyed, America would restore and set free.

America’s post-war dominance could not last forever, nor should it have. As other countries recovered, they could be expected to become more productive and more competitive.

The only way America’s dominance could be chalked up to infrastructure is if you consider the fact that, for years, many of our competitors had no infrastructure. America was rebuilding their infrastructure. America was also intent on freeing those who had lived under repressive regimes.

Why could we do that, though? Because we had won the war, and because we had the most free economy in the world. Why did we do that? US policy was to restore our allies and defeated enemies, and install democracy and individual freedom. That was not the only approach available. Our fellow victor in the war, the Soviet Union, was devastated after World War II and lacked the human rights and freedom necessary to sustain a vibrant national economy. The Soviets installed puppet Communist regimes wherever they could, which essentially froze its territories and their economies. The Soviets and their allies were agents of repression. The Soviet bloc fell behind economically. The US surged ahead, stayed ahead, and eventually defeated the Soviets in the war of ideas, and by outspending them on defense. The Communists eventually had to tear down the Berlin Wall and admit defeat.

While the US once had the world’s most free economy, thanks largely to policies that Biden supports and endorses, we no longer do. The United States currently ranks around 12th to 15th on the global economic freedom index. The main reason that we keep sliding down the economic freedom scale is that our government cannot help itself and cannot stop confiscating and spending more and more of our wealth. Our legal system, regulatory environment and property rights are all growing worse, sending us down the economic freedom scale.

Biden and his Democratic party are the party of trial lawyers, the party of heavy-handed regulators, and the party that favors government over private property ownership. So to the extent that we have economic problems, Biden is part of them, not part of any solutions to them.

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Why Is the U.S. Postal Service Buying Ammunition?

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

This posting by the U.S. Postal Service is certainly eye-catching. On January 31, 2014, the USPS posted this solicitation for purchasing small arms ammunition. Contrary to some reports, the posting does not specify a quantity or type, other than specifying “assorted small arms.” It closes on February 10, 2014.

:
Added: Jan 31, 2014 4:54 pm

The United States Postal Service intends to solicit proposals for assorted small arms ammunition.If your organization wishes to participate, you must pre-register at https://uspsesourcing.emptoris.com, the Postal Service’s eSourcing tool. From the login page, click on the “Register Supplier Organization” hyperlink and provide all required information. Organizations are encouraged to have each participating representative registered individually. When registering, include 332992 as one of your NAICS selections.

It may seem odd for the USPS to be in the business of buying ammunition, but actually it has had armed officers for centuries. Chances are, this buy is for the US Postal Inspection Service. The USPIS employs about 1,600 special agents who investigate mail fraud and related crimes. Some of these investigating agents pack firearms, usually a Beretta semi-auto 9 mm pistol.

The USPIS is not new nor is its having armed agents new. The inspection service has been around since the days of Ben Franklin, who created the post of “surveyor” when he was postmaster general. Surveyor eventually evolved into the present-day special agent, which is a detective or investigator. Think of them as similar to arson investigators, who typically work for a fire department but carry firearms, investigate crimes, and have some police powers. USPS has periodically purchased guns and ammunition for longer than the United States has been a country.

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