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[VIDEO] Tucker Carlson vs Baltimore Lawmaker Who Called Feds ‘Nazis’ 

14-year-old Md. girl is gang-raped by two older teens, one of whom is an illegal immigrant, while Baltimore reels from 10 recent homicides. Tucker takes on a Baltimore councilman who wants to make law enforcement kinder and gentler during troubled times.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Trump Administration Warns Against Iran Travel

Iran seeking revenge for Trump’s halt on immigration

 reports: The Trump administration is emphasizing warnings against travel to Iran by U.S. citizens in light of the Islamic Republic‘s latest effort to implement a travel ban on Americans, which comes in response to the White House’s new immigration order temporarily halting all immigration from Iran and several other Muslim-majority nations designated as terrorism hotspots, according to U.S. officials.

Iranian officials announced this week that they are poised to implement their own travel ban on U.S. individuals and entities they described as aiding “terrorist groups or [helping] regional dictatorial rulers crack down on their nations,” according to comments carried in the country’s state-controlled media.

Iran said the effort is part of a package of reprisals against the United States for the Trump administration’s latest immigration order, which stops Iranian citizens and others from entering the United States for several months as American authorities seek to strengthen vetting procedures.

When questioned about Iran’s potential travel ban on Monday, a State Department official confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon that the Trump administration is aware of the effort and emphasized current warnings against travel to Iran by U.S. citizens. Read the rest of this entry »


NYTimes: Wiretapped Data Used In Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates

NYTimes Stealth-edits Jan 20 2017 Headline: Before and After.

FISA-gate: The Times Revises History in Real Time: For four months, media wanted us to think that Obama was investigating Trump; Now they don’t.

Andrew C. McCarthy writes: Now that the media-Democrat complex has been caught in its own web, there is some serious skullduggery underway. It’s revisionist history, Soviet style. You know, the kind where the bad stuff gets “disappeared.” The New York Times is disappearing its claim that Obama investigated Trump.

For four months, the mainstream press was very content to have Americans believe — indeed, they encouraged Americans to believe — that a vigorous national-security investigation of the Trump presidential campaign was ongoing. “A counterintelligence investigation,” the New York Times called it.

 

… As I contended in a column this weekend, it was essential for the media and Democrats to promote the perception of an investigation because the scandalous narrative they were peddling — namely, that Trump-campaign operatives conspired with the Putin regime to “hack the election” — required it.

Russia obviously did not hack the election. Russian intelligence services may have hacked e-mail accounts of prominent Democrats, although even that has not been proved. And there is even less evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign in that effort — as one would expect, in light of the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the Russians sought to hack accounts of both major parties.

[Read the full text of Andrew C. McCarthy‘s article here, at National Review]

So, for this fatally flawed storyline to pass the laugh test, the Left needed the FBI. Even if the election-hacking conspiracy story sounded far-fetched, the public might be induced to believe there must be something to it if the Bureau was investigating it.

But when the election-hacking narrative went on too long without proof, the risk the Democrats were running became clear. If the FBI had been investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded in purported “Russian hacking of the election,” that meant the incumbent Obama administration must have been investigating the campaign of the opposition party’s presidential candidate.

Moreover, if such an investigation had involved national-security wiretaps under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), that would suggest that the Obama Justice Department had alleged, in court, that Trump associates had acted as “agents of a foreign power” — in this case, Russia. Read the rest of this entry »


Florist Who Declined Gay Wedding Request Loses Her Case, Promises Appeal to the Supreme Court

stutzman

‘This case is about crushing dissent. In a free America, people with differing beliefs must have room to coexist’ 

Kelsey Harkness reports: An appellate court unanimously ruled against Barronelle Stutzman, the Washington florist who declined to make flower arrangements for a same-sex couple’s wedding because of her religious beliefs.

“It’s wrong for the state to force any citizen to support a particular view about marriage or anything else against their will. Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority; they are constitutional guarantees.”

— Kristen Waggoner, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement.

Lawyers for Stutzman told The Daily Signal they plan to appeal the Washington state Supreme Court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

At National Review, David French writes:

…But this is the sexual revolution we’re talking about, so it’s necessary for the court to make a statement declaring the government’s allegiances. Indeed, late in the opinion its author gave the game away. Picking up on the absurd and historically ignorant comparison of the modern gay-rights movement with the civil-rights movement in the segregationist South, the judge wrote, “This case is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases in the 1960s were about access to sandwiches.”

“That’s it right there: the state religion. It reserves for itself the exclusive ability to name, define, and eradicate “social evils,” and heaven help the individual citizen who disagrees. There is no need to show a traditional, legally recognized harm.”

What are they talking about? The federal government took the extraordinary step of passing the civil-rights acts to give black Americans access not just to sandwiches but to hotel rooms, jobs, voting rights, and all the other things they were systematically denied as southern states and communities continually and oppressively imposed the “badges and incidents of slavery” on them. In the pre-civil-rights South, black citizens often had trouble finding places to eat or sleep. They couldn’t vote. They couldn’t get justice in state courts. Civil rights was about access, at its most elementary and necessary level.

But that’s not the case any longer. The gay couple in this case had no trouble finding flowers. Stutzman even recommended other florists who would have been happy to help them celebrate their wedding. So, given the absence of any real harm, the court said that the state had a compelling state interest in punishing the “independent social evil” of discrimination toward a “broader societal purpose: eradicating barriers to equal treatment of all citizens in the commercial marketplace.”

That’s it right there: the state religion. It reserves for itself the exclusive ability to name, define, and eradicate “social evils,” and heaven help the individual citizen who disagrees. There is no need to show a traditional, legally recognized harm. There is no need to prove lack of access to alternative artistic expressions. There is only the need to show that the business owner won’t use her unique talents to help celebrate the sexual revolution.

Finally, if you doubt the court’s malice, look only to its last ruling — that Stutzman can be held personally liable for her allegedly discriminatory act. In other words, the court is willing to pierce the corporate veil to impose individual liability even in the absence of the traditional justifications for that drastic step. Stutzman didn’t commit fraud. She didn’t commingle her personal and corporate funds. She kept her private and professional affairs separate. But she still faces personal financial ruin.

Social-justice warriors will no doubt celebrate the breaking of another egg for their cultural omelet. … (read more)

[Read the full text of David French’s essay here: ‘Washington’s Supreme Court Imposes Its Progressive Faith on a Christian Florist‘]

The ruling, issued on Thursday by Washington’s nine Supreme Court justices, stated that in refusing to provide services for the same-sex couple’s wedding, Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.

[Read the full story here, at dailysignal.com]

“The state of Washington bars discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. Discrimination based on same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” the ruling reads.

barronnelle-stutzman

Prior to the incident, Stutzman enjoyed a close relationship with Ingersoll, serving him for many years.

“We therefore hold that the conduct for which Stutzman was cited and fined in this case—refusing her commercially marketed wedding floral services to [Robert] Ingersoll and [Curt] Freed because theirs would be a same-sex wedding—constitutes sexual orientation discrimination under the [Washington Law Against Discrimination].” Read the rest of this entry »


Our Cult-Like Education System: Stella Morabito on the Ideological Cold War

trumpprotests

Riot-Prone Mobs Are A Product Of America’s Cult-Like Education System

‘If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.’

— Thomas Jefferson

 writes

…Those who are pushing for sustained street resistance seem to be banking on two things. First they are betting that mainstream Americans won’t realize until it’s too late that we are in the midst of a virtual civil war that could turn violent. Dennis Prager recently wrote of this Second Civil War, warning Americans to wake up to it. Second, agitators are also wagering that Americans will not have the stomach for the prolonged fight they intend to bring to the streets, a point noted by psychologist Tim Daughtry in his book “Waking the Sleeping Giant.”

“What brought us to this place where the losing side has so utterly and violently rejected the peaceful transfer of power from one president to another, and previously agreed-upon electoral process and rules?”

So is this some kind of a joke? Revolution in the streets of America that overturns the election results? So far it all sounds so goofy, at least where it doesn’t get violent. We can watch in wonder as a shrieking NYU professor verbally assaults numerous police officers with the sort of impunity only afforded to the far-left. We can assure ourselves that there aren’t that many irrational people. Even if true, however, that’s beside the point. Too many citizens are at sea in understanding what freedom even means.

“Let’s face it. Today’s street theater is the culmination of decades of radical education revision. The radical Left’s systematic attack on the study of Western Civilization has essentially been an attack against the study of any and all civil societies. It is an attack on the features that make a society civil and free.”

We need to ask ourselves: What brought us to this place where the losing side has so utterly and violently rejected the peaceful transfer of power from one president to another, and previously agreed-upon electoral process and rules? It’s past time to ponder the quote from Thomas Jefferson: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

captives-reeducation

Destroying Our Education System Got Us Here

Let’s face it. Today’s street theater is the culmination of decades of radical education revision. The radical Left’s systematic attack on the study of Western Civilization has essentially been an attack against the study of any and all civil societies. It is an attack on the features that make a society civil and free. Those features include freedom of expression, civil discourse, the Socratic method of figuring out truth, value of the individual, and a common knowledge of the classics of history and literature that help us understand what’s universal in the human experience. All of that had to go.

[Read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

Now, as we see students marching to demonize as “fascists” proponents of free speech, their ignorance is in full view. This is really a full frontal attack on the rule of law, the Constitution, and a system of checks and balances that guards against the consolidation of centralized power.

That’s the whole point of the education these students have been fed. In fact, a lot of 1960s agitators, including domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, decided to place their bets on radical education revision. For at least 40 years, Ayers has been devoted to transforming schools from places of actual education to places of coercive thought reform. As Andrew McCarthy recently pointed out in National Review: “It was a comfy fit for him and many of his confederates, once it dawned on them that indoctrination inside the schoolhouse was more effective than blowing up the schoolhouse.”

If you review the history of radical education reform, it’s clear these agitators have been committing mind arson on the children, undermining their ability to think independently and clearly. (For more on this, read Robin Eubanks’ book “Credentialed to Destroy.”)

Demotivated students sitting in a lecture hall with one girl napping in college

How to Short-Circuit a Child’s Thinking

Radical education reformers have made a point of removing context from children’s education, and to squash their natural curiosity, undermining their capacity to think. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Rand Paul’s ‘Audit the Fed’ Bill May Have Friend in New Administration 

Picture illustration of people silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the picture of various currencies of money

Kentucky senator explains controversial proposed legislation that would subject Federal Reserve‘s monetary policy powers to outside scrutiny as it gets new life under a new administration – and may stand its best chance at becoming law.


[BOOKS] On Howard Stern, Actress Lena Dunham Credits President Trump for Her Weight Loss Success, Debuts New Diet Book

dunham-book

Rachel DeSantis reports: Most people turn to diets and exercise to lose extra pounds, but Girls star Lena Dunham is sharing a new weight-loss trick you may not want to try at home.

“Donald Trump became president and I stopped being able to eat food.”

— Actress and diet book author Lena Dunham

Dunham stopped by Howard Stern’s SiriusXM radio show Monday morning and revealed that she has none other than Donald Trump to thank for her slim figure.

“Everyone’s been asking like, ‘What have you been doing?’ And I’m like, ‘Try soul-crushing pain and devastation and hopelessness and you, too, will lose weight.’”

“Donald Trump became president and I stopped being able to eat food,” she told Stern after he complimented her look. “Everyone’s been asking like, ‘What have you been doing?’ And I’m like, ‘Try soul-crushing pain and devastation and hopelessness and you, too, will lose weight.’”

The actress, who was on hand to promote the upcoming sixth and final season of Girls, has not been shy about her dislike for the President, and apparently, the feeling is mutual. Read the rest of this entry »


Jonah Goldberg: Why Does Trump Insist on Such Absurd Moral Equivalency?

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Once again, President Trump has come to Russian President Vladimir Putin ’s defense by throwing America under the bus.

Jonah Goldberg writes: In a pre-taped interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, aired on Super Bowl Sunday, Trump was asked to explain his respect for Putin.

From Our Partners: Asked About Russia Sanctions, Donald Trump Says ‘We Ough…

“He is the leader of his country,” Trump said, adding the usual boilerplate about wanting to have good relations and help fighting Islamic State.

O’Reilly interjected, “Putin’s a killer.” And a vexed Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country is so innocent?”

putin-wax-statue

Wax statue of Vladimir Putin, Madame Tussauds

This was no gaffe. A similar conversation played out between MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Trump in December 2015. Scarborough asked about Trump’s bromance with Putin and Trump responded, “When people call you brilliant, it’s always good. Especially when the person heads up Russia.”

Putin “kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries,” objected Scarborough. “Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?”

[Read more here, at the LA Times]

“He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, you know, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said, referring to then-President Obama.

“But, again, he kills journalists that don’t agree with him,” protested Scarborough.

“Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe,” Trump said.

chez-madame-tussauds-trump-deja-remplace-obama

Wax statue of Donald Trump, Madame Tussauds

In July, Trump said something similar in response to questions from the New York Times about the bloody repressions and mass arrests by Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.”

One might expect to hear that kind of logic from a dorm room full of Marxists. And if Obama had ever suggested the same, conservatives would have pounced. Of course America isn’t without sin. But ethically speaking, America has towered above Russia – including Russia under Putin. Read the rest of this entry »


Democrats are Becoming the Party of Secession

secession_cartoon

Michael Goodwin writes: Let’s agree that President Trump’s travel ban on visitors from seven nations was a sensible idea hobbled by flaws, especially regarding green card holders and dual citizens. Let’s also agree we haven’t seen a rollout this clumsy since the debut of ObamaCare, which was far more serious because it penalized millions of Americans while Trump’s order inconvenienced hundreds of foreign nationals.

Still, we can assume, based on past performance, that Trump will learn from the mistakes. His fierce determination to be a successful president cannot co-exist with rookie blunders.

secession-hero-1-h

But what about the other players in the drama? Can we say the media will now correct its excess of bile and cover Trump as a legitimate president and not as an invasive species?

No, no, no. On the contrary, we must say that Trump aide Steve Bannon was on target when he called the Washington media “the opposition party.”

c3morbovyam8bz_

Don’t take his word for it. Stick a toe into the toxic sludge that passes for straight-news coverage in the Washington Post, the New York Times and others.

[Read the full story here, at New York Post]

Look for the use of tell words like “Muslim ban” to describe an executive order that is no such thing. Look for hero worship of protesters, immigrants, refugees, lawyers rushing to the barricades and congressional critics.

Look, too, at the Twitter feeds of editors and reporters from those papers and the major networks. You’ll see their embrace of everything anti-Trump, further evidence they are part of a movement to obstruct the president, not cover him.

dem-racist

Consider, too, their rediscovered love for Republican Sen. John McCain, a man they ignored during the eight-year reign of their savior, Barack Obama. McCain is again the good maverick because he is bucking the media’s permanent enemy, Republicans.

Yet if the media is the opposition party, what is the Democratic Party? It’s supposed to be the loyal opposition, using checks and balances to restrain the president and the excess of one-party rule.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Protesters pass through a tunnel as the march in reaction to the upset election of Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the race for President of the United States on November 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California, United States. Hundreds of Angelenos have been arrested in recent days and some have vandalized property but the vast majority of the thousands of protesters have remain peaceful. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the Dems are following a dangerously different path. Starting with a wide boycott of the inauguration and including their boycott of committee votes on Trump’s cabinet and their pledge to filibuster any Supreme Court nominee, Democrats resemble a party fomenting a secession movement.

Some call it Trump Derangement Syndrome, but that’s too kind. It’s not a temporarily insane reaction, it’s a calculated plan to wreck the presidency, whatever the cost to the country.

Things never seen in the modern era are now rapidly becoming common. Impeachment talk already is rumbling in the party’s hothouses, and Trump was met with a lawsuit the minute he took the oath.

Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the top Dems in Congress, led a raucous demonstration Monday night, as if they are community organizers. And Obama couldn’t bear the irrelevance after eight days out of office and felt compelled to encourage disruptions.

This is Third World behavior and it’s now the M.O. of one of America’s two political parties. Read the rest of this entry »


The Left Goes All In On Open Borders

airport-protest

‘No borders. No nations. F**k deportations!’ sends a clear message to America.

greerScott Greer writes: That was the rallying cry of protesters demonstrating at San Francisco International Airport Saturday against President Donald Trump restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations.

All across America, protests have erupted at airports — already notorious centers for human misery — to show disgust for Trump’s executive order, which has earned the false title of a Muslim ban. Whether 516wwnq6xcl-_sl250_in New York or in Chicago, demonstrators made it clear that they thought Trump’s move to temporarily block migration from these nations went against American principles and laws.

[Order Scott Greer’s book “No Campus for White Men: The Transformation of Higher Education into Hateful Indoctrination” from Amazon.com]

According to these demonstrators, preventing anyone from coming to this country based on their nation of origin or their religion was prohibited by both the Constitution and “our American values.”

Obviously, there are issues that arise with Trump’s order. Travelers with citizenship in one of the seven banned nations but permanent green cards in the U.S. were detained, which was one of the reasons a New York judge halted the president’s action. That measure may be beyond the original intent of the executive order and the White House has already indicated that they are changing course on stopping green card holders from entering the country.

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Caller]

There’s also the perception that the law unfairly targets an entire religion and bans its adherents from America. However, the order only affects — temporarily to boot — a small percentage of the world’s Muslims and is based on national origin, not religion. In many ways, it’s only an expansion of Barack Obama’s 2011 executive order banning Iraqi refugees from the U.S. for six months over terror concerns.

(RELATED: Majority Of World’s Muslims Untouched By Trump Visa Ban)

Shockingly, there were no hysterical airport protests then.

While concerns over green card holders and targeting a religion were aired amid the demonstrations, the San Francisco protesters took it a step further by explicitly calling for open borders, the eradication of the nation-state and, needless to say, the total non-enforcement of immigration law. (On Sunday, they had toned down “fuck deportations” to “stop the deportations.”)

It seems that the West Coast demonstrators were more blunt in expressing the moral thrust of those gathering at America’s transportation hubs. Rather than a squabble over the semantics of immigration law, the guiding principles of the protest apparently see open borders as morally desirable and that no person should be refused entry to the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »


Nervous in Japan: Book Buyers Snatching up Variety of Books About Trump

Books related to U.S. President Donald Trump have increased in popularity as the new leader takes office.

Signs at Yaesu Book Center’s flagship branch in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, read, “Trump inaugurated as president” and “How will the world change?” with portraits of the former businessman displayed near the entrance of the shop.

The special section features about 20 Trump-related books, including collections of his speeches and forecasts on the impact of his presidency on the Japanese economy. Read the rest of this entry »


Gun Owners Welcome Donald J. Trump as President of the United States

gun-babe

Gun owners across the nation breathed a sigh of relief as Donald J. Trump was sworn in Friday morning as the 45th president of the United States.

Trump’s election was the result of a sweeping grassroots movement to upend the Washington status quo and restore the concept of popular sovereignty in America. As Trump said in his speech:

Today’s ceremony … has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington DC and giving it back to you, the people.

* * *

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

GIRL-GUN

And that, after all, is the essence of the Second Amendment, the principle that in a government of laws, and not of men, ultimate power and authority reside with the people.  And that includes the power of self-defense, so that no person is left to depend solely on the state’s good graces for his or her very life.

Your NRA was among Trump’s earliest and most faithful backers during a campaign in which conventional wisdom gave him no chance of winning. As a concealed carry permit holder, Second Amendment advocate, and father to two enthusiastic hunters and shooters, Trump may well be the most pro-gun president to date.

1-katherine-mystik-gunn-122000-from-3-tournaments

Trump’s swearing in also ends the imperious reign of Barack Obama, who has repeatedly said on the record that failure to see federal gun control legislation enacted was the biggest frustration of a tenure also marked by slow economic growth, terrorism, and unrest and division in the homeland.

The NRA, its members, and the pro-gun Congress you elected, thwarted Obama’s designs for new federal gun laws, but Obama aggressively used executive authority to curb Second Amendment rights wherever possible. As we note elsewhere in this Alert, Obama continued these tactics through his last hours in office, as the Fish and Wildlife Service late on Thursday announced plans to seek a ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle in areas under its control. 

"Legitimate self defense has absolutely nothing to do with the criminal misuse of guns." —Gerald Vernon, veteran firearms instructor

Yet as President Trump said while addressing the nation and the world, “[T]hat is the past. And now we are looking to the future.” Read the rest of this entry »


Washington Post Catalogues the Biggest Lies Obama Ever Told

Barack Obama

 reports: The Washington Post marked the end of the Obama administration with a list Thursday that likely didn’t please the outgoing president’s supporters.

For the last five years, the Post has made its political Fact Checker a staple of the publication. Ranked by “Pinocchios,” contenders receive one Pinocchio for a little lie and can earn up to four Pinocchios for the most outrageous of fibs.

Though the Post ran its trademark Fact Checker during President Barack Obama’s first campaign, it wasn’t until 2011 that it became a fixture there, so admittedly the publication missed some blatant dishonesty.

But the newspaper has fact-checked more than 250 statements made by the current president. On his last full day in office, the Post published a catalogue of Obama’s 10 biggest lies.

[Read the full story here, at TheBlaze]

Included on the list, unsurprisingly, was Obama’s statement to the American public while rallying for Congress to pass his signature health-care legislation, Obamacare: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

“If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it”
This memorable promise by Obama backfired on him in 2013 when the Affordable Care Act went into effect and at least 2 million Americans started receiving cancellation notices. As we explained, part of the reason for so many cancellations is because of an unusually early (March 23, 2010) cutoff date for grandfathering plans — and because of tight regulations written by the administration. So the uproar could be pinned directly on the administration’s own actions.

obama-podium

Another whopper was Obama’s claim that all but 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to former President George W. Bush’s policies. Pushing back against criticisms of running up the deficit at an unparalleled rate with stimulus packages and bailouts, Obama made this claim during his 2012 campaign.

“90 percent of the budget deficit is due to George W. Bush’s policies”
During the 2012 campaign, Obama repeatedly reminded voters that he became president during a grim economic crisis. But he went too far when he claimed that only 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to his own policies. About half of the deficit stemmed from the recession and forecasting errors, but a large chunk (44 percent in 2011) were the result of Obama’s actions. At another point, Obama also falsely suggested that the Bush tax cuts led to the Great Recession.

President Obama and his successors in the Oval Office are not obligated to make public the names of individuals visiting the White House, according to a decision of the federal Circuit Court for the District of Columbia made public Friday. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

And throughout Obama’s two terms in office, he has been quick to dismiss clear acts of terrorism — using phrases like “workplace violence” or blaming a YouTube video for an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The Post also included his categorization of the Benghazi attack as “an act of terror” and his reference to ISIS as a “JV team.”

“The day after Benghazi happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism”
Obama did refer to an “act of terror” in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, but in vague terms, wrapped in a patriotic fervor. He never affirmatively stated that the American ambassador died because of an “act of terror.” Then, over a period of two weeks, given three opportunities in interviews to affirmatively agree that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack, the president obfuscated or ducked the question. So this was a case of taking revisionist history too far for political reasons. Read the rest of this entry »


Liberals Will Canonize Obama, but History Will Likely Take a Dimmer View

Obama’s frequent appeals to history’s judgment reflect his confidence that history will be kind to him. In the short run, it will: liberals will canonize Obama. Like the faithful Catholics chanting “santo subito” after the death of Pope John Paul II, Obama’s liberal boosters will turn him into Saint Barack, savior of health care and  slayer of bin Laden. You might see hints of this already in your liberal friends’ wistful Facebook posts: “I’m really going to miss this guy.” If liberals are calling the shots, Obama’s name will shortly be inscribed on statues and state buildings, and his face will someday appear on coins and currency, while the divisions he sowed and exploited in pursuit of personal glory will be papered over. Generations of schoolchildren will learn about the beloved, barrier-shattering college professor with the megawatt smile who could tell a joke and make a jump shot—not the ambitious, polarizing ideologue whose disdain for half the country was palpable. No mention will be made of his habit of insulting supposedly lazy, ignorant Americans who cling bitterly to their religion, guns, and “antipathy toward people who aren’t like them,” and who fall prey to “anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Intel Hacks Blame Putin for Intel Hacks

Putin-Breaking-Bad

Reports of Russian interference in the already divisive election have roiled Washington, even as the U.S. Congress on Friday certified Trump’s victory in the Electoral College.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to help Republican Donald Trump’s electoral chances by discrediting Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, U.S. intelligence agencies said in an assessment on Friday.

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” the report said. “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

Russia’s objectives were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate former Secretary of State Clinton, make it harder for her to win and harm her presidency if she did, an unclassified report released by the top U.S. intelligence agency said.

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[ALSO SEE – Four Key Truths of the Wikileaks Mess by David French]

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” the report said. “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

The report, although it omitted classified details, was the U.S. government’s starkest public description of what it says was an unprecedented Russian campaign to manipulate the American body politic.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, foreground right center, says goodbye to Dr. Darrell Scott, foreground left center, the senior pastor of New Spirit Revival Ministries in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in the middle of a media crush in the Trump Tower lobby in New York, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. Trump met with a coalition of 100 African-American evangelical pastors and religious leaders in a private meeting at Trump Tower. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Reports of Russian interference in the already divisive election have roiled Washington, even as the U.S. Congress on Friday certified Trump’s victory in the Electoral College. Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

“The report neither assessed ‘the impact Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election’ nor did it provide details on the evidence underpinning its conclusions, a fact likely to keep alive the controversy over what Moscow may have done.”

The report’s conclusions, though lacking details of how the Russians may have relayed the material to WikiLeaks and others, will give ammunition to Democrats and Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress who want tougher action against Russia, setting the scene for a potential showdown with Trump.

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“The report’s conclusions, though lacking details of how the Russians may have relayed the material to WikiLeaks and others, will give ammunition to Democrats and Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress who want tougher action against Russia, setting the scene for a potential showdown with Trump.”

It could also give a boost to members of Congress seeking an independent, bipartisan investigation of Russian hacking.
Read the rest of this entry »


Lame Duck Quacks, Moves to Flatter Democrats, Isolate Incoming U.S. President

quackresetDonald Trumpmitt-foreign-policy

 


Katie Hopkins’ Savage Takedown: ‘Lena Dunham Just Loves Being a Victim’

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‘You cannot be a credible young person these days without being a victim.’

Katie Hopkins writes: You cannot be a credible young person these days without being a victim. Or even better a persecuted minority. Or the gold standard – discriminated against.

Even if you blatantly have to misappropriate a cause because the most challenging thing you’ve fought is genital warts.

The Clinton campaign was a perfect example. She was one big ol’ bitch in a pant suit, barking to any American who felt like the underdog; female, gay or Hispanic. Preferably all three.

Lena Dunham Keynote And Greenroom Photo Op - 2014 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival

“No it is not you daft trout. Your life is devoted to trying to position yourself as chief cheerleader for every man-hating opportunity there is.”

She believed she could win on the victim ticket alone. Sod policy! If you were angry at the hand your were dealt at birth, she was the unlikely champion of your cause. A posh white woman who was the WAG in the White House now obliging her supporters to hold posters saying ‘I’m with her’ – when, as it turns out, she was never going anywhere. Except down.

“Posing for pictures. Then calling out the guy on photo-shop for trying to make the images a little less frightening. Being overweight and trying to celebrate it, like diabetes type II is the new feminist frontier.”

I discovered exactly the same types when I went to the Jungle at Calais to assess the migrant situation there.

“I expect she wakes up every day wishing she was black, so she could truly own that cause too.”

By far the most heavily represented group (after angry single men from Somalia) were rich white kids enjoying a bit of charity tourism so they could stick it on their CV. Kids without a struggle, misappropriating the migrant one, so they could pretend to be Bob Geldof.

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Writing on Instagram, Lena Dunham apologized and said she had made a ‘sizeable’ donation to an abortion charity

Now Lena Dunham – one of Hillary’s biggest and (since the result) freaked-out celebrity fangirls has had her very own posh white woman moment. Wanting to be front and centre in the fight for abortion rights, she bemoaned, ‘I have never had one, but I wish I had’.

Perpetually outraged types took this vital opportunity to be outraged once more.

‘I can’t even imagine how offensive Lena Dunham’s comments are for women who have actually has to go through with an abortion’, tweeted one man, playing to the offended crowd.

Actually son, not that offensive because we are too busy trying to have sex with our husbands more than once a month, getting smear tests and trying not to pee when we sneeze to notice.

It’s why half of us only find out we are pregnant when we can’t fit into our jeans and our boobs start leaking unexpectedly.

But I don’t need Lena Dunham to see abortion as a cause. And I certainly don’t need her on womb patrol any day of the week.

‘My life is and always will be devoted to reproductive justice and freedom,’ said Lena.

(Comments start at 13:36 mark)

No it is not you daft trout. Your life is devoted to trying to position yourself as chief cheerleader for every man-hating opportunity there is.

Posing for pictures. Then calling out the guy on photo-shop for trying to make the images a little less frightening. Being overweight and trying to celebrate it, like diabetes type II is the new feminist frontier.

I expect she wakes up every day wishing she was black, so she could truly own that cause too. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Highlights From the Anti-Trump Electoral College Tantrums 

You can almost taste the delicious liberal tears.

Donald Trump won the electoral college on Election Night, which means he is going to be the next president. That’s because the electoral college—not the popular vote — is the only thing that matters in our presidential elections.

The electoral college participants formally cast their votes on Monday. Some liberals had hoped enough of the electors would change their votes to deny Trump the presidency. That didn’t happen. Read the rest of this entry »


Trump Secures Victory in Electoral College, as Bid to Flip Electors Flops 

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President-elect Donald Trump won more than enough votes in the Electoral College on Monday to secure his White House victory, as the latest – and perhaps last – stop-Trump movement failed to gain traction in state capitals.

A fervent push by anti-Trump forces to persuade electors to defect had turned the normally mundane civic procedure into high drama.

But the representatives designated to cast ballots in accordance with their states’ Nov. 8 decision mostly adhered to the results of the election. With several states still voting, Trump had 304 votes and Hillary Clinton had 169.

It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency. Texas put Trump over the top, despite two Republican electors casting protest votes.

Elector antics were few and far between, with most the disruptions occurring on the Democratic side. A Democratic elector in Maine tried to vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders, but switched to Clinton after it was ruled improper. Another who tried to vote for Sanders in Minnesota was replaced; a Colorado elector who tried to back Ohio Gov. John Kasich likewise was replaced. One of the biggest deviations was in Washington state, where three electors voted for Colin Powell and one voted for “Faith Spotted Eagle;” the remaining eight went to Clinton, the state’s winner.

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It marked the first time in four decades the state’s electors broke from the popular vote. Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman vowed to work with the state attorney general and charge the four unfaithful electors with a violation of Washington state civil law. Such violations carry a fine up to $1,000.

With Trump’s win now secured, a joint session of Congress is scheduled for Jan. 6 to certify the results.

Trump’s undisputed Electoral College victory could serve to deter any further last-ditch efforts to effectively nullify his November win and prevent his inauguration, though the battle could shift next to his Cabinet picks.

Few expected the “faithless elector” push to imperil Trump’s victory on Monday. Only one Republican elector – Texas’ Chris Suprun – publicly stated he would vote for an alternative candidate. More than three dozen would have had to abandon him to complicate his path to the presidency.

But GOP electors still faced immense pressure — with some even receiving threats — from Trump foes in the run-up to Monday’s Electoral College vote. Those urging disorder in state capitals often cited Clinton’s popular-vote win, by roughly 2.6 million votes, over Trump in November.

Celebrities made public appeals to electors to use the arcane process to upend Trump’s victory, as some Democratic electors tried to persuade their Republican counterparts to defect. Reports that U.S. intelligence officials determined Russia interfered in the election to boost Trump – findings disputed by Trump himself – only fueled efforts to wield the Electoral College vote as a political circuit-breaker. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND: Thomas Sowell on ‘Black Redneck’ Culture 

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Is culture holding Black Americans back? The American economist and social theorist, Dr. Thomas Sowell, argues that the achievement gap seen by some blacks in America is caused by numerous factors – a significant one being the “black redneck” culture and what it glorifies.


It’s Official: Clinton’s Popular Vote Win Came Entirely From California

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Outside California, Hillary Clinton lost the popular vote by 1.4 million to Donald Trump.

John Merline reports: Democrats who are having trouble getting out of the first stage of grief — denial — aren’t being helped by the fact that, now that all the votes are counted, Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote has topped 2.8 million, giving her a 48% share of the vote compared with Trumps 46%.

To those unschooled in how the United States selects presidents, this seems totally unfair. But look more closely at the numbers and you see that Clinton’s advantage all but disappears.

As we noted in this space earlier, while Clinton’s overall margin looks large and impressive, it is due to Clinton’s huge margin of victory in one state — California — where she got a whopping 4.3 million more votes than Trump.

California is the only state, in fact, where Clinton’s margin of victory was bigger than President Obama’s in 2012 — 61.5% vs. Obama’s 60%.

But California is the exception that proves the true genius of the Electoral College — which was designed to prevent regional candidates from dominating national elections.

In recent years, California has been turning into what amounts to a one-party state. Between 2008 and 2016, the number of Californian’s who registered as Democrats climbed by 1.1 million, while the number of registered Republicans dropped by almost 400,000.

What’s more, many Republicans in the state had nobody to vote for in November. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Miss Sloane’ Has One of the Worst Opening Weekends Ever

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Seventy-ninth worst opening of the past 35 years

— Brendan Kelly, press secretary for the Brady Campaign

The movie pulled in $1,167 on average at the 1,648 theaters across the country it was shown in. It made $1,922,300, meaning it was the 11th-highest grossing movie in the country. It is number 79 on Box Office Mojo’s list of Worst Opening Weekend by Per-Theater Average since 1982.

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“Gun owners always knew the movie was—pardon the pun—a dud.”

— Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundationmsloane-poster

That means Miss Sloane earned less money per theater than Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesShaun the Sheep MovieLawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, and Gigli.

“Unless Jessica Chastain ends up with a Golden Globe nomination and/or an Oscar nomination in a robustly crowded ‘Best Actress’ field, this one is finished.”

— Scott Mendelson, at Forbes

Industry observers criticized the movie’s performance on Monday. Time said the movie “fizzled in its wide expansion.” Fortune described it as struggling. The Los Angeles Times said Miss Sloane failed to meet “an already lackluster” projection of $5 million for the weekend.

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EuropaCorp expanded the terrific Jessica Chastain vehicle Miss Sloane into 1,648 theaters over the weekend, with just tragic results,” Scott Mendelson wrote at Forbes. “Unless Jessica Chastain ends up with a Golden Globe nomination and/or an Oscar nomination in a robustly crowded ‘Best Actress’ field, this one is finished.” Read the rest of this entry »


Deranged by Trump Victory, Orange Coast College Professor Olga Perez Stable Cox Captured on Video Going Cuckoo Bananas

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An Orange Coast College professor is under scrutiny for post-election classroom comments disparaging Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

Peter Holley reports: The Orange Coast College Republicans in Costa Mesa, Calif., are filing a complaint against human sexuality professor Olga Perez Stable Cox after video shows her criticizing the outcome of the election.

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Like many Americans, Olga Perez Stable Cox has strong feelings about the outcome of this year’s presidential election.

“It’s alarming. It’s scaremongering. It’s irrational. It’s a rant. And it doesn’t belong in the classroom.”

Unlike many Americans, her job offers the convenience of a captive audience with whom she can share those feelings.

Cox, a professor at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., did exactly that days after the election while standing in front of her students in a class — unleashing a multi-minute, hyperbole-filled harangue in which she called Donald Trump’s election an “act of terrorism,” referred to the president-elect as a “white supremacist” and said “we have been assaulted.”

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“This is a place that prides itself on being a diverse student college, and her comments go against all of that. You’re dealing with a diverse population, and when she states that ‘we are the majority,’ she’s not taking into account that there may be Republican students in he class of over 200 students — she’s not being inclusive.”

Cox — a psychology professor who teaches a class on human sexuality — referred to Vice President-elect Mike Pence as “one of the most anti-gay humans in the country.” She also told her students that the nation is as divided now as it was “in Civil War times.”

Steele sent the following letter to Harkins, the school president:

“First of all, we are the majority; more of us voted to not have that kind of leadership, and we didn’t win because of the way our electoral college is set up, but we are the majority, and that’s helping me to feel better,” she said. “I’m relieved that we live in California. It is one of the best states and I love that and I love living here, but I’m especially proud of our legislature who did put out a message.”

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Cox’s comments were recorded by a conservative student in her class who found her statements offensive and decided to share the video with the Orange Coast College Republicans, according Joshua Recalde-Martinez, a political science major and president of the campus Republicans group.

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

Recalde-Martinez said his group decided to publicize the video this week after OCC President Dennis Harkins failed to address Cox’s behavior or respond to the group’s complaint “in a timely manner.” Recalde-Martinez said a handful of conservative students were present for Cox’s comments and many felt ostracized by her words and afraid that their grades might be affected by freely speaking their minds.

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The student who filmed the video has asked to remain anonymous for fear of facing retribution in Cox’s classroom, Recalde-Martinez said.

The Orange Coast College Republicans plan to file a formal complaint with the school and have hired an attorney, Shawn Steele, who is a past chairman of the California Republican Party. Read the rest of this entry »


Unpacking the New CIA Leak: Don’t Ignore the Aluminum Tube Footnote 

This post will unpack the leak from the CIA published in the WaPo tonight.

 writes: Before I start with the substance of the story, consider this background. First, if Trump comes into office on the current trajectory, the US will let Russia help Bashar al-Assad stay in power, thwarting a 4-year effort on the part of the Saudis to remove him from power. It will also restructure the hierarchy of horrible human rights abusing allies the US has, with the Saudis losing out to other human rights abusers, potentially up to and including that other petrostate, Russia. It will also install a ton of people with ties to the US oil industry in the cabinet, meaning the US will effectively subsidize oil production in this country, which will have the perhaps inadvertent result of ensuring the US remains oil-independent even though the market can’t justify fracking right now.

The CIA is institutionally quite close with the Saudis right now, and has been in charge of their covert war against Assad.

This story came 24 days after the White House released an anonymous statement asserting, among other things, “the Federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day,” suggesting that the Russians may have been deterred.

[Read the full text here, at emptywheel]

This story was leaked within hours of the time the White House announced it was calling for an all-intelligence community review of the Russia intelligence, offered without much detail. Indeed, this story was leaked and published as an update to that story.

Which is to say, the CIA and/or people in Congress (this story seems primarily to come from Democratic Senators) leaked this, apparently in response to President Obama’s not terribly urgent call to have all intelligence agencies weigh in on the subject of Russian influence, after weeks of Democrats pressuring him to release more information. It was designed to both make the White House-ordered review more urgent and influence the outcome.

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So here’s what that story says.

In September, the spooks briefed “congressional leaders” (which for a variety of reasons I wildarseguess is either a Gang of Four briefing including Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and Harry Reid or a briefing to SSCI plus McConnell, Reid, Jack Reed, and John McCain). Apparently, the substance of the briefing was that Russia’s intent in hacking Democratic entities was not to increase distrust of institutions, but instead to elect Trump.

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

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[Read more at The Washington Examiner]

The difference between this story and other public assessments is that it seems to identify the people — who sound like people with ties to the Russian government but not necessarily part of it — who funneled documents from Russia’s GRU to Wikileaks.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

[snip]

[I]ntelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were “one step” removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees.

NSA headquarters. Image: Wikimedia Commons

[Read the full analysis here, at emptywheel]

This is the part that has always been missing in the past: how the documents got from GRU, which hacked the DNC and John Podesta, to Wikileaks, which released them. It appears that CIA now thinks they know the answer: some people one step removed from the Russian government, funneling the documents from GRU hackers (presumably) to Wikileaks to be leaked, with the intent of electing Trump.

Not everyone buys this story. Mitch McConnell doesn’t buy the intelligence. Read the rest of this entry »


President Barack Obama, Supporters Push Policies and Appointments Before Trump Takes Over 

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President Barack Obama is trying to put the people and policies in place that he wants to outlast his presidency in the final weeks before Donald Trump takes over. But his supporters want more, way more.

Since Election Day, President Barack Obama has appointed 56 people to boards, commissions and offices in the hopes that they remain in those posts for years to come.

He has reduced the prison sentences of 79 federal inmates. He has handed out the nation’s highest civilian honor to 21 people who he said personally made an impact on his life.

[21 recipients honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom]

President Obama honored 21 recipients during his last Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House Tuesday. “Everybody on this stage has touched me in a very powerful, very personal way,” Obama said. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elouise Cobell, Ellen

Obama Swoops Into Afghanistan On Bin Laden Death Anniversary

And he has churned out rules, regulations and policies several times a week.

Obama is trying to put the people and policies in place that he wants to outlast his presidency in the final weeks before Donald Trump takes over. And his supporters want more, way more.

[Read more here, at McClatchy DC]

Every president tries to push through last-minute policies before their time in office comes to a close. But this year has a more frantic feel as special interest groups push Obama to do more, not just because the president-elect is of a different party but because few people know what he will do.

“People are, as you can imagine, they are getting quite desperate,” said Rena Steinzor, a member of the Center for Progressive Reform, a liberal advocacy group, who is pressing Obama to act. “Filling boards and doing whatever he can to establish protections that Trump would have to unwind is a good strategy.”

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With six weeks remaining, their to-do list for Obama is long:

They want him to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political donations. They want him to pardon immigrants in the country illegally and direct federal employees to quickly process applications for immigrants who came into the United States illegally as children. And they want him to make good on his campaign pledge to close the prison for suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay.

[Read the full story here, at McClatchy DC]

Time is running out for President Obama to fulfill his promise to close Guantánamo. He now has less than 50 days to finish the job and close the door or he risks opening the floodgates for President-elect Trump. Amnesty International USA’s Security & Human Rights Program Senior Campaigner Elizabeth Beavers

No one disputes that Obama has the authority to do what he is doing, but Trump supporters don’t think he should be doing them anyway. Read the rest of this entry »


Carlos Eire: Requiem for a Despot

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Slavery is what Fidel’s revolution was about. Brooking no dissent, he enslaved a nation in the name of eternal class warfare, creating a new elite dedicated to suppressing their neighbors’ rights.

Carlos Eire writes: Dead at last, dead at last. Fidel Castro has shuffled off this mortal coil, at the age of ninety. Unfortunately, his death comes a bit too late—about sixty years too late. Millions of his people had been awaiting this moment for well over half a century. And as we Cubans rejoice, we weep. Our losses over the past six decades have been far too great, and so our glee is far from unbridled.

“Fidel justified his repressive policies by insisting that the Cuban people were incapable of achieving social justice by any other means.”

Slavery is what Fidel’s revolution was about. Brooking no dissent, he enslaved a nation in the name of eternal class warfare, creating a new elite dedicated to suppressing their neighbors’ rights. He pitted Cubans against one another, replacing all civil discourse with invective and intimidation.

“Likewise, many of Fidel’s First-World admirers view Cubans as postmodern equivalents of Rousseau’s noble savage—as primitives who are uncorrupted by civilization and incapable of comprehending Enlightenment notions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—or perhaps as swarthier versions of Mussolini’s unruly Italians, that is, hot-blooded Latin rustics in need of a strong leader who can make their trains run on time.”

Fidel boasted that he was loved by the Cuban people and spoke for us, that he was our very embodiment. But these were some of the boldest of his many big lies. The Cuban people he spoke for were but a monstrous abstraction, a figment that he projected onto the world stage. Flesh-and-blood Cubans had to be forced to attend his interminable speeches, or, as now, his funeral.

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“Fidel portrayed those who fled his dystopia as selfish troglodytes. These nonconformists were vilified not just by Fidel but by all those around the world who believed his lies, including many eminent intellectuals, artists, and journalists in free, affluent nations.”

Dissenters were demonized. If you objected to his self-anointing as Maximum Leader or disdained his dystopian vision, two painful choices were open to you. Just two.

You could oppose him. But if you dared, even by murmuring in the dark, you faced imprisonment, torture, or death. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans were brave enough to suffer these consequences, but the world beyond the island’s shores ignored them, even denied their existence.

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“Why does the First World display so little indignation over Fidel’s labor camps and prisons, his torture chambers, and the summary executions with which he purchased his shamefully inadequate healthcare and indoctrination programs?” 

The other option was to beg for the privilege of banishment. Nearly two million Cubans chose that route, but millions more never got the chance. No one knows how many have died trying to escape by sea without his magnanimous permission.

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“Why do so many well-heeled tourists flock to the ruin Cuba has become? Why are so few of them offended by Cuba’s endemic racism, or the apartheid laws that deny ordinary Cubans access to the finest beaches and hotels in their own homeland?”

Fidel portrayed those who fled his dystopia as selfish troglodytes. These nonconformists were vilified not just by Fidel but by all those around the world who believed his lies, including many eminent intellectuals, artists, and journalists in free, affluent nations. Lately, the tyrant even seemed to gain approval from His Holiness, Pope Francis, who paid him a very cordial visit.

[Read the full story here, at First Things]

For the millions of Cubans who remained in Fidel’s kingdom, the losses were even more profound. As they waved tiny Cuban flags at mass rallies and waited in line for necessities with their ration books in hand, as they listened to Fidel’s promises of a very distant glorious future, these Cubans watched others leave by the hundreds of thousands. When nearly two million refugees flee from a small island nation, everyone who remains is touched by loss. The exodus is all the more galling when those who have fled prosper in exile and those who remain become ever more destitute. Read the rest of this entry »


Hollywood’s Views of Capitalism

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The free enterprise system is not inherently corrupt.

Oliver Stone’s Wall Street leads the movie-goer to believe that the securities industry is a rigged game, and that capitalism is inherently corrupt. Hard work as a means to success in the financial community is debunked, only to be supplanted by corruption and law breaking, as securities trading is seen as a game with little or no productive value. Stone presents a harsh judgment on an economic system he fundamentally misunderstands.

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Wall Street has come to be the historical revisionists’ cinematic representation of the 1980s—the so-called “decade of greed.” It, unfortunately, offers a view prevailing not only in the film industry, but in academia and the media as well. In many ways, Wall Street perpetuates a class warfare myth, with contrasts being drawn between so-called haves and have nots, or the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

The movie’s antagonist is Gordon Gekko, a corporate raider. Gekko’s speech at the stockholders meeting of Telder Paper, his takeover target, is meant by Stone to reflect the corrupt nature of capitalism. In fact, Stone managed—knowingly or not—to provide a glimpse of why corporate raiders provide a positive service in a free market economy. Gekko states:

Telder Paper has 33 different vice presidents, each making over $200,000 a year . . . . Our paper company lost $110,000,000 last year, and I’ll bet half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these vice presidents. The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the unfittest. . . . I am not a destroyer of companies; I am a liberator of them. The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed for a lack of a better word—is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed—you mark my words—will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the United States of America.

Greed or Self-Interest?

The word “greed” in such a speech is Stone’s carrier of corruption. It is his word of choice designed to elicit a specific response from the movie-going audience. After all, how could one view greed favorably? In fact, “self-interest” would have been a more apt term, which was understood over two centuries ago by Adam Smith, the father of capitalism. Smith wrote in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” Self-interest removes the judgmental nature of Stone’s presentation, while encompassing not only greed, but also industry, charity, self-improvement, and altruism, i.e., any human motivation.

[Read the full story here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

Gekko’s later statements lend greater clarity to Stone’s view of the world. In reference to a Gekko plan to liquidate the holdings of an airline company, Budd Fox (the movie’s symbol of redemption as he in the end rejects the greed Gekko represents) asks, “Why do you need to wreck this company?” Gekko’s answer: “Because it’s wreckable!” Stone views the breakup of a firm as pure destruction. He is unable to understand what Joseph Schumpeter termed “creative destruction.” That is the notion that resources might be more efficiently used if freed from less profitable ventures and reinvested elsewhere. This is the dynamic aspect of capitalism that allows for renewal and growth.

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But the essence of Stone’s limited vision is captured in Gekko’s definition of capitalism: “It’s a zero sum game. Somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made, it’s simply transferred from one person to another—like magic. This painting here, I bought it ten years ago for $60,000. I could sell it today for $600,000. The illusion has become real, and the more real it becomes, the more desperate they want it. Capitalism at its finest . . . . I create nothing. I own . . . . You’re not naive enough to think that we live in a democracy, are you, Buddy? It’s the free market.” Stone does not understand that wealth can be created, not merely shifted around, and that the free market provides the incentives for individuals to create, innovate, and take risks. He sees a rise in the price of a painting as the pinnacle of capitalism. In fact, it is in those nations that have rejected free enterprise where the only source of value is to be found in a painting, for little else is created.

Wall Street presents a view of capitalism as being controlled by the few at the expense of the many—democracy versus the free market in Gekko’s words. Stone does not understand the nature of an exchange economy, missing a fundamental point that in a free enterprise system, one must first supply a service or good in order to demand; i.e., even the most greedy individuals must supply something that fulfills the needs or wants of another individual in order to participate in an exchange economy. Individuals vote with their dollars, if you will. The phrase “democratic capitalism” seems quite natural, for example, while “democratic socialism” seems oxymoronic. Read the rest of this entry »


More Guns Were Sold in 2016 Than Any Year in History

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Trump election does not slow gun sales

So far this year, the FBI has processed24,767,514 checks through its National Instant Criminal Background Check System, known as NICS, which puts 2016 more than 160,000 checks above the yearly record set in 2015. The record comes after November 2016 set its own monthly record with 2,561,281 checks, nearly 320,000 more than the previous record set last November. This gun sales spike has lasted for over a year and resulted in monthly records for 19 straight months.

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November’s record comes as the firearms industry is beginning its seasonal upswing with millions of Americans purchasing firearms in the lead up to the holiday season. That upswing is likely to add to 2016’s record because December has traditionally seen the highest number of NICS checks for the year.

“Reports of the industry’s demise were greatly exaggerated by the liberal anti-gun media,” Larry Keane, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s senior vice president, said of the new record.

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The number of checks processed through the FBI’s system is generally considered one of the strongest indicators of gun sales in the United States because nearly all sales made through federally licensed firearms dealers require a NICS check. However, the number of NICS checks made in a given period of time is not a perfect representation of the number of guns actually sold in that same period of time for a number of reasons. Read the rest of this entry »


The Great Recession Enabled ObamaCare. Now the Law’s Failure Makes Reform Possible

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The Four Legs of a New Health-Care System

James C. Carpetta and Scott Gottlieb write: Donald Trump announced this week that he had chosen Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.), a leader in the efforts to replace ObamaCare, to be his secretary of Health and Human Services. This is a consequential choice. Mr. Trump’s election, and the political realignment it represents, offers a generational opportunity to pursue a new direction for American health care. Mr. Price will now be leading the charge.

The new system should be fully consumer driven, empowering individuals to be the surveyors and purchasers of their care. Past reforms in this direction became stilted and ultimately incomplete, but the current moment offers a chance to truly rebuild from the ground up. If Messrs. Trump and Price want to make the most of this short window, they should keep four central reforms in mind.

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1. Provide a path to catastrophic health insurance for all Americans. There’s ample evidence that enrollment in insurance doesn’t always lead to improvements in health—but access to health insurance is important nonetheless. A 2012 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found higher insurance enrollment from reforms in Massachusetts led to better results in several measures of physical and mental health.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Health insurance is also important for financial security. The ObamaCare replacement should make it possible for all people to get health insurance that provides coverage for basic prevention, like vaccines, and expensive medical care that exceeds, perhaps, $5,000 for individuals.

Those Americans who don’t get health insurance through employers, or Medicare and Medicaid, should be eligible for a refundable tax credit that can be used to enroll in a health-insurance plan. The credit would be set at a level comparable to the tax benefits available to individuals with employer-sponsored insurance plans. The subsidy would be enough to make a basic level of catastrophic coverage easily affordable for all Americans.

2. Accommodate people with pre-existing health conditions. The price of insurance naturally reflects added risk. That’s why beach houses cost more to insure than a typical suburban home. Yet there is a reasonable social consensus that people should not be penalized financially for health problems that are largely outside of their control.

So as long as someone remains insured, he should be allowed to move from employer coverage to the individual market without facing exclusions or higher premiums based on his health status. If someone chooses voluntarily not to get coverage, state regulation could allow for an assessment of the risk when the person returns to the market. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Thomas Sowell Brings the World into Focus through an Economics Lens

In this episode of Uncommon Knowledge, Peter Robinson interviews Hoover fellow and author Thomas Sowell, on 31daawos9cl-_sl250_his 5th edition of Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy.

[Order Thomas Sowell’s book “Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy” from Amazon.com]

In this interview, Sowell brings the world into clearer focus through a basic understanding of the fundamental economic principles and how they explain our lives. Sowell draws on lively examples from around the world and from centuries of history.

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Ohio State Suspect Abdul Razak Ali Artan Left Cryptic Facebook Message Before Attack

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Abdul Razak Ali Artan was killed by a police officer after the car-and-knife ambush.

—  Abdul Razak Ali Artan, on Facebook

Abdul Razak Ali Artan, 18, wrote on what appears to be his Facebook page that he had reached a “boiling point,” made a reference to “lone wolf attacks” and cited radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

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“America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially Muslim Ummah [community]. We are not weak. We are not weak, remember that,” the post said.

Two hours before that, a cryptic post on the page said: “Forgive and forget. Love.”

Officials cautioned that they have not determined a motive for the ambush, which sent 11 people to the hospital Monday morning. A senior law enforcement official told NBC News that investigators are trying to determine whether Artan had personal problems or something else that might have pushed him over the edge.

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A photo of Abdul Razak Ali Artan that accompanied an interview in the OSU publication The Lantern. Kevin Stankiewicz / The Lantern

“He told a campus publication that on his first day at OSU, he was ‘kind of scared’ to pray in public.”

A police officer was on the scene within a minute and killed the assailant, likely saving lives, university officials said. “He engaged the suspect and eliminated the threat,” OSU Police Chief Craig Stone said.

Law enforcement officials told NBC News that Artan was a Somali refugee who left his homeland with his family in 2007, lived in Pakistan and then came to the United States in 2014 as a legal permanent resident.

[Read the full story here, at NBC News]

He lived briefly in a temporary shelter in Dallas before settling in Ohio, according to records maintained by Catholic Charities.

Artan attended Columbus State Community College for two years, graduating cum laude with an associate’s degree before moving on to Ohio State to continue his studies. He told a campus publication that on his first day at OSU, he was “kind of scared” to pray in public.

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“If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen.”

“If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen,” Artan was quoted as saying in the Lantern.

The violence unfolded just before 10 a.m. ET Monday near an academic hall on the Columbus, Ohio, campus, where 60,000 students are enrolled.

Officials said Artan drove onto campus by himself and rammed the car past the curb and into a crowd on the sidewalk. Read the rest of this entry »


New Pew Research Poll: 38% Give the Press a Big Fat ‘F’ for Campaign Coverage

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Evidence keeps piling up that the American people have a very low opinion of how the media reports on our elections. The latest Pew Research Center opinion survey revealed “Just 22% give the press a grade of an A or B, while 38% give it a failing grade” – an F. The approval of the media has been declining for years. After the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush, 33 percent of voters gave the press an A or a B, compared to just 16 percent picking “F.” Read the rest of this entry »


New York Post: Donald Trump’s Media Summit was a ‘F—ing Firing Squad’

“It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.

“Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said.

“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.

A second source confirmed the fireworks.

“The meeting took place in a big board room and there were about 30 or 40 people, including the big news anchors from all the networks,” the other source said.

Wolf Blitzer Photo: Getty Images

Wolf Blitzer Photo: Getty Images

“Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful dishonest media who got it all wrong.’ He addressed everyone in the room calling the media dishonest, deceitful liars. He called out Jeff Zucker by name and said everyone at CNN was a liar, and CNN was [a] network of liars,” the source said.

[Read the full story here, at New York Post]

“Trump didn’t say [NBC reporter] Katy Tur by name, but talked about an NBC female correspondent who got it wrong, then he referred to a horrible network correspondent who cried when Hillary lost who hosted a debate – which was Martha Raddatz who was also in the room.” Read the rest of this entry »