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Portlandia: Lefty Teacher Whines Fireworks ‘Too Much Like Pretend War’

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For  The Daily CallerEric Owens writes: Just in time for Independence Day, an old lefty teacher has trotted out a bunch of tired canards about the American Revolutionary War.

Writing for a website called The Zinn Education Project, the teacher, Bill Bigelow, also manages to criticize American firework displays on the Fourth of July because “the United States is waging war with real fireworks around the world.”

“…Bigelow then gets to the real reason for his rant, which is to criticize American middle-school and high-school history and social studies curricula for not being sufficiently leftist or revisionist”

Bigelow claims that “U.S. drone attacks have killed at least 2,600 people in five countries, including as many as 247 children” since 2001. He also charges that the Iraq War began in 2003 with “shock and awe” – which is a lot like fireworks, sort of – and has created “seemingly endless internecine fighting.”

For Bigelow, it somehow follows, in the very same paragraph even, that “[t]he pretend war of celebratory fireworks thus becomes part of a propaganda campaign that inures us – especially the children among us – to current and future wars half a world away.”

While stopping short of telling a bunch of damn kids to get off his lawn, the obscure Portland, Ore. teacher further bellyaches that fireworks create too much noise, cause injuries, start fires and can even lead to lung inflammation. Read the rest of this entry »

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[BOOKS] F.H. Buckley: ‘The Presidency Has Turned Into an Elective Monarchy’

“Presidentialism is significantly and strongly correlated with less political freedom.”

The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in Americabuckleybook by F.H. Buckley, Encounter Books, 2014, 319 pages, $27.99.

For Reason writes: Try making sense out of what Americans tell pollsters. According to the Pew Research Centerfewer than one in five of us trusts the federal government. Gallup says that nearly three quarters of us consider it “the biggest threat to the country in the future.”

[Check out Buckley's book "The Once and Future King" at Amazon.com]

Yet by equally overwhelming margins, Gallup shows Americans agreeing that “the United States has a unique character because of its history and Constitution that sets it apart from other nations as the greatest in the world.”

[Also see Juan Linz's 1990 article "The Perils of Presidentialism"]

Apparently, we’re disgusted and frightened by our government as it actually operates. And yet we’re convinced that we’ve got the best system ever devised by the mind of man.

On both counts, no one’s more convinced than American conservatives. Few goquite as far toward constitutional idolatry as former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, who earlier this year proclaimed that God “wrote the Constitution.” But the superiority of our national charter, with its separation of powers and independently elected national executive, is an article of faith for conservatives.

It’s about time for some constitutional impiety on the right, and F.H. Buckley answers the call in his bracing and important new book, The Once and Future King. Buckley, a professor of law at George Mason University and a senior editor at The American Spectator, is unmistakably conservative. But that doesn’t stop him from pointing out that America’s not so all-fired exceptional—or from arguing that our Constitution has made key contributions to our national decline. Read the rest of this entry »


In NSA-Intercepted Data, Those Not targeted Far Outnumber the Foreigners Who Are

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This is one of those big WaPo investigations that few traditional newspapers have the resources to do anymore. I recommend it, read the whole thing here.

For The Washington PostBarton GellmanJulie Tate, and Ashkan Soltani report:

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

[Also see: History lesson: The crucial differences between Bush and Obama's NSA phone surveillance programs]

Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

The Post reviewed roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.

Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

The material spans President Obama’s first term, from 2009 to 2012, a period of exponential growth for the NSA’s domestic collection.

The surveillance files highlight a policy dilemma that has been aired only abstractly in public. There are discoveries of considerable intelligence value in the intercepted messages — and collateral harm to privacy on a scale that the Obama administration has not been willing to address.

Among the most valuable contents — which The Post will not describe in detail, to avoid interfering with ongoing operations — are fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks. Read the rest of this entry »


All Your Children Belong to Us

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RJ-Glenn CookFor the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Glenn Cook writes: Is any freedom more important, more sacred than the right to raise a family without government intrusion?

It’s a good question to ask this Independence Day weekend, as Americans reflect on the birth of a nation dedicated to the preservation of individual liberties: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

“Don’t pretend to be shocked by this development. This is not a radical, new idea…”

But as government grows bigger and more powerful, as politicians, bureaucrats and busybodies increasingly think they know best, American families constantly must fight interference in their most personal decisions and judgments.free-range-kids

[Check out Lenore Skenazy's book "Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children" at Amazon.com]

Of all the threats to our freedoms — warrantless snooping, government secrecy, expanded police powers — none worries me more than the relentless march of the Nanny State, which not only assumes that all parents are unfit to raise children, but that parents themselves must be treated like children.

It’s not a stretch to say that this movement considers all children the property of the state. As proof, look at what’s happening in Scotland.

[Also see: Every Child in Scotland to Be Supervised by State-Appointed Busybody - reason.com]

The Scottish government for years has pursued what amounts to state-sponsored surveillance of families. By August 2016 — unless a court or public pressure can stop it — the country will appoint an official state guardian for every child in Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »


White House: ‘We’re not the ‘perfect example’ on pay equity’

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                                                                                                                                                    Tish Wells — McClatchy

For McClatchy, Lesley Clark writes: President Barack Obama frequently hammers Republicans for not supporting measures that he says would ensure equal pay for men and women, calling it an “embarrassment” that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.

But White House salaries aren’t equal by that standard either, according to new salary figures published this week on the White House website. A McClatchy review earlier this year found that when the same calculations that produced the 77 cents is applied to the White House, women overall at the White House make 91 cents for every dollar men make.

Pressed repeatedly on the matter, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the White House was paying “appreciably better than the country is more broadly, but we still have more work to do.”

The White House has countered that men and women at the White House in the same jobs, make the same salaries. But that’s not the argument it makes in pressing for the legislation. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Carly Fiorina Unloads: ‘The War on Women Is Shameless, Baseless Propaganda’

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Carly Fiorina dismissed claims of a “War on Women” Sunday, saying the concept was an unsubstantiated political ploy and even drawing on ancient Chinese wisdom to scold contemporary Democrats.

Fiorina then pulled out a fortune she said she’d received recently in a fortune cookie.

“‘Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause,’” Fiorina read. “And that’s exactly right. The War on Women is shameless, baseless propaganda. There’s no fact to it. But it’s worked because it’s scared women to death. Enough.” (read more)

National Review Online


The Supreme Court’s Biggest Loser

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For Breitbart.com, Charles Hurt writes a caustically funny, deadly accurate takedown of failing Law-sSudent-in Chief, in the wake of the Obama Administration’s epic court losses. Read the whole thing here. In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt:

Summer is hot upon us, another Supreme Court term is ending, and now it is time to evaluate America’s most tutored — and tortured — constitutional law student.

“Indeed, this is no ordinary student. This is a very special student with very special needs. Nine patient teachers. Limitless free school supplies. And a class size of one.”

It is unusual for a pupil of the Constitution to have such exhaustive continuing education courses, with such arduous nine-on-one tutoring from the foremost experts in the entire world. It is especially unusual since the pupil in question has actually had a constitutional law degree conferred upon him by an esteemed Ivy League institution and lectured on constitutional law at an equally esteemed institution of higher learning.

Indeed, this is no ordinary student. This is a very special student with very special needs. Nine patient teachers. Limitless free school supplies. And a class size of one.

Yet still, he cannot seem to grasp the most elementary concepts of constitutional law. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Mel Blanc & Bugs Bunny

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The Legendary Mel Blanc with Bugs Bunny


New Measure of Literary Unpopularity: ‘The Picketty Index’

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“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty 

Yes, it came out just three months ago. But the contest isn’t even close. Mr. Piketty’s book is almost 700 pages long, and the last of the top five popular highlights appears on page 26. Stephen Hawking is off the hook; from now on, this measure should be known as the Piketty Index.

So take it easy on yourself, readers, if you don’t finish whatever edifying tome you picked out for vacation. You’re far from alone…

(read moreWSJ


Central Asia’s Energy Rush

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Image Credit: REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

For The Diplomat, Michał Romanowski writes: Central Asia is rapidly emerging as the key playing field in the contest to access energy resources and the leverage they offer. The new Great Game is played out once again in the region, only this time it is not over political or territorial influence, but over the vast raw material deposits that are in the possession of the former Soviet Union republics, especially those situated by the Caspian Sea. The Caspian’s share of oil and gas global exports is set to rise to 9 and 11 percent, respectively, in the coming 20 years. Much is at stake.

The region’s major powers compete to control energy sources

Russia, although not a direct producer, was and still is – given the developed pipeline network – supervising much of an energy transit from Central Asia. The Central Asia-Center gas pipeline system, the first line of which was completed in 1960, makes for a good case study. It allows both Uzbek and Turkmen gas to be delivered to Russia, which then resells it at a profit to energy-hungry Europe or uses it for domestic purposes. Moscow exercises its influence over the region and as a consequence gains both politically and economically.

“China in fact controls around 20 percent of Kazakhstan’s oil production and is its key trade partner. Bilateral trade should reach $40 billion next year.”

In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central Asian states sought to loosen Russia’s firm grip. An independent complex pipeline system was a priority for transporting the resources outward. Given that the Caspian Sea is landlocked, gas and oil need to cross several borders before reaching an end customer. This requires a very substantial investment, yet energy diversification in Central Asia is moving steadily ahead. Read the rest of this entry »


Tuna Robot! Navy Tests UUV

Tuna-Robot-Navy

The Future of Underwater Surveillance?

For Defense TechKris Osborn reports: The Navy is testing a stealthy, 4 foot-long fish-shaped autonomous underwater vehicle designed to blend in with undersea life and perform combat sensor functions, service officials explained.

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The so-called “bio-memetic” undersea vehicle is currently being developed as part of the Chief of Naval Operations Rapid Innovation Cell,  or CRIC – a special unit set up by CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert in 2012 to explore the feasibility of rapidly turning around commercially available technologies for Naval military use.

“You could have a sub with a fish-like UUV tethered onto a cable, giving real time feedback as opposed to current ones that come back for a download…”

– Capt. Jim Loper, Navy Warfare Development Command

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“It mimics a fish. It looks like a fish. We call it robo-tuna, affectionately, but it is a UUV (unmanned undersea vehicle).  It does not have a propeller or a jet. It actually swims by flipping its tail around,” said Capt. Jim Loper, concepts and innovation department head, Navy Warfare Development Command, Norfolk. Read the rest of this entry »


The ‘Weather App’ Agent: Germany Demands Full Explanation from U.S. on Arrested Spy

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Investigators found an encrypted communication application hidden on his computer

BERLIN – For the TelegraphJustin Huggler reports: A suspected double agent under arrest in Germany has been spying for the CIA for two years, German intelligence officials investigating the case now believe.

“All the evidence suggests that he was working for the Americans,” an unnamed senior security official has told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

The country’s top security official has demanded a full American response to German investigations. “I expect everyone now to assist quickly in clearing up the accusations – and quick and clear statements, from the USA too,” Thomas de Maiziere, the Interior minister said.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry summoned the America ambassador on Friday but German authorities have confirmed only that a 31-year-old man is under arrest.

The first indications that investigators believe a confession by the arrested man is true. If the suspicions against him are confirmed, the case could cause grave damage to US-German relations.

Read the rest of this entry »


Polling Data and Dem Think-Tank Messaging Tells Obama ‘Class Warfare’ Rhetoric Needs to be Replaced With ‘Gender Gap’ Rhetoric

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All Politics All The Time

From Today’s Washington Post:

“…The shift also underscores the ongoing dispute between the Democratic Party’s liberal and moderate wings over how to address inequality issues. Whereas the left takes a more combative tone, seeking to focus on the income gap and what it views as the harmful influence of big business and Wall Street, more centrist forces in the party favor an emphasis on less-divisive issues.

White House officials say the change in the president’s rhetoric was driven by a desire to focus not just on the problem — economic inequality — but also on solutions that could address it. Others close to the White House contend that the move is at least partly driven by Democratic polling that found that talking about income inequality does not register strongly with the American public and risks accusations of class warfare.

“It was clear in 2013 that income inequality was the top narrative for the White House, but they abruptly switched away from it. Income inequality seems like it’s on the back burner now — at least in terms of their rhetoric.”

–  Jim Kessler, senior vice president for policy at Third Way, a Democratic think tank

The shift hints at a broader repositioning of Democratic messaging ahead of the midterm elections and, perhaps, the 2016 presidential race….”

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Zachary A. Goldfarb –  The Washington Post


Complicity: Deportation Data Won’t Dispel Rumors Drawing Migrant Minors to U.S.

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Organized crime groups in Central America have exploited the slow U.S. legal process and the compassion shown to children in apparent crisis

For the Los Angeles Times, Brian Bennett reports: President Obama and his aides have repeatedly sought to dispel the rumors driving thousands of children and teens from Central America to cross the U.S. border each month with the expectation they will be given a permiso and allowed to stay.

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“The cartels have figured out where the hole is.”

–  Immigration attorney David Leopold

But under the Obama administration, those reports have proved increasingly true.

The number of immigrants under 18 who were deported or turned away at ports of entry fell from 8,143 in 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, to 1,669 last year, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data released under a Freedom of Information Act request.

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Similarly, about 600 minors were ordered deported each year from nonborder states a decade ago. Ninety-five were deported last year, records show, even as a flood of unaccompanied minors from Central America — five times more than two years earlier — began pouring across the Southwest border.

[Also see: Border Meltdown: Obama Delivers 290,000 Illegals To U.S. Homes]

The previously unavailable deportation data are likely to fuel the political debate over whether Obama administration policies are partly responsible for the 52,000 children and teens who have surrendered to or been caught by Border Patrol agents since last October, spurring fresh concerns about U.S. border security and immigration law.

Read the rest of this entry »


‘On the matter of illegal immigration, we are effectively governed by criminals’

Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times Protester Jessica Davis shouts at counter-demonstrators in front of the U.S. Border Patrol office in Murrieta.

Protester Jessica Davis shouts at counter-demonstrators in front of the U.S. Border Patrol office in Murrieta.Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

For National Review OnlineKevin D. Williamson reports:

kevin-williamsonConsidering the sundry enthusiasms upon which government at all level spends our money — Harry Reid’s bovine literary interests, helping out those poor struggling people who own Boeing — it is remarkable that the job of apprehending a known felon, once deported from the United States and illegally present in Texas, fell to volunteers in Brooks County, near the Mexican border.

Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Protests in Murrieta – Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Brooks County, like many other border areas, is overrun with illegal immigrants, and the cost of burying those illegals who die in transit, which can run into the six figures annually, has forced the county to cut back on regular law enforcement. And thus we have the volunteer deputies who brought in the felon, who after he injured his ankle had been been abandoned by the coyotes — professional human traffickers — who had brought him across the border.

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The volunteers were in the process of working a 26-hour shift — that’s 26 hours, not a typo. Consider for a moment that the cost of illegals’ breaking the law is so high that enforcing the law has been handed over to unpaid volunteers.

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Similar scenes are playing out across the border. Nearby Duval County, Texas, was the scene of a dramatic car chase when a truckload of illegals was spotted by police, who determined that the vehicle was outfitted with a fraudulent license plate.dependency

[The Dependency Agenda - Kevin D. Williamson (Encounter Broadsides)]

Two were killed and a dozen injured in the pursuit. (Many years ago, Duval County enjoyed the services of an elected Democratic sheriff whose grandson is a familiar figure here at National Review.) Nearly 200,000 illegals have crossed into Texas’s Rio Grande Valley this year, and the cartels that oversee the coyote operations have the local landowners terrorized into compliance.

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Read the rest of this entry »


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