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.
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The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.
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.
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.
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 »
How many deaths is too many? VOC’s #CommunismKills campaign begins with the premise that each individual life taken by communism is one too many. Communism has killed over 100,000,000 people over the last 100 years and continues to do so in the countries of China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and Laos. This staggering number represents more than just an aggregate; it represents one hundred million individuals, each with his or her own history, dignity, and humanity.
In the last 100 years, since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, over 100 million people have been killed by communism. Many were executed directly by communist revolutionaries and functionaries who justified this murder as one more step toward an imagined communist utopia. Others were caught in the crossfire of civil wars, revolutions, and invasions as communist forces tried to expand their dominion by military force.
“21st century communist countries do not kill people by the millions anymore. But every year, communist countries disappear dissidents, silence journalists, and imprison innocent people. 100,000,000 deaths in 100 years is an astounding tally.”
Most, however, died as a result of massive famines caused by communist economic policies. In the Soviet Union and China, where most of communism’s victims lie, the famines were not incidental or accidental. Stalin directly targeted ethnic Ukrainians by seizing their property and food in the name of common ownership. Mao Zedong, upon hearing that his people were starving due to his communist economic policies, famously said, “Educate peasants to eat less.”
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States Congress worried that the “heroic sacrifices of the victims of communism may be forgotten as international communism and its imperial bases continue to collapse and crumble.”
[i] Stéphane Courtois et al., The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, translated by Jonathan Murphy and Mark Kramer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).
In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed Public Law 103-199, establishing the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and reminding the world that “Congress finds that, since 1917, the rulers of empires and international communism led by Vladimir I. Lenin and Mao Tse-tung have been responsible for the deaths of over 100,000,000 victims.”
The 100,000,000 number is made all the more upsetting by the fact that it’s inexact and growing. Unlike the Nazis, communists did not keep accurate records of the amount of people they killed. In places like China and Ukraine, government archives have only opened in the last decade, revealing that there are tragically more and more victims to be discovered, counted, and memorialized. Over the course of the past decades, many scholars have attempted to establish solid numbers for communism’s victims, some of which can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »
The top 10: Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Jordan, Ireland, Canada, with the United Kingdom and Chile tied at 10.
“The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 16th in the world after being as high as second in 2000.”
Paul Bedard reports: The United States, ranked second in worldwide economic freedom as recently as 2000, has plummeted to 16th, according to a new report of world economies.
“A weakened rule of law, the so-called wars on terrorism and drugs, and a confused regulatory environment have helped erode economic freedom in the United States, which remains behind Canada and other more economically free countries such as Qatar, Jordan and the U.A.E.”
— Fred McMahon, Fraser Institute
The Fraser Institute’s annual report, Economic Freedom of the World, showed that the country’s drop started in 2010, the second year of the Obama administration.
“Economic freedom breeds prosperity and economically free countries like Canada offer the highest quality of life while the lowest-ranked countries are usually burdened by oppressive regimes that limit the freedom and opportunity of their citizens.”
— Fred McMahon, Fraser Institute
The world-recognized report showed that the U.S. fell in several areas, including legal and property rights and regulation.
“The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 16th in the world after being as high as second in 2000,” said the report issued Monday morning. Read the rest of this entry »
Watch this representative from gun-control group “Everytown for Gun Safety” explain on C-SPAN why he won’t debate anybody who disagrees with him:
Here’s transcript of the relevant part of his answer:
Everytown is committed to an evidence-based approach. We speak with criminologists, legislators across the country and we welcome debate. In fact, we’re thrilled that there is an increased amount of research in this area, and an increased amount of conversation about what laws are effective to keeping guns out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers. So, when there’s a credible scientist — somebody who wants to have a real constructive conversation about this — we’re going to be there. But folks who seek to minimize the grave issue of gun violence in this country – or to draw attention away from the real issues to themselves – that’s not a conversation I think it’s productive to be a part of.
[Check out Charles C. W. Cooke‘s new book: “The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future” at Amazon.com]
Obviously, the speaker is doing little more than begging the question. “Sure we’ll talk to people who disagree” he appears to be saying, “but only if they agree. Because to disagree with the claims that we are making is to take attention away from the claims that we are making, which are true by virtue of their having been made.”
Oddly enough, this is also exactly how critics of, say, Christina Hoff Sommerstend to explain away their unwillingness to engage. Read the rest of this entry »
Terrorists You Can Trust
“Far scarier than Khamenei’s words are Iran’s actions. Its long record of support for Islamic terrorism demonstrates why it cannot be trusted to comply with anything its leaders endorse.”
With U.S.-Iranian atomic-bomb talks in full swing, Khamenei’s crack was not exactly what diplomats call a confidence-building measure. Of course, Khamenei offered no olive branch. Realizing that Obama is desperate for any deal to burnish his leaden legacy — even one so flimsy that White House chief of staff Dennis McDonough admits it’s “a non-binding agreement” — Khamenei can say whatever he wants.
Obama will keep begging the mullahs to sign a piece of paper that he will probably slip past Congress and send to the United Nations for approval — the Constitution be damned.
Far scarier than Khamenei’s words are Iran’s actions. Its long record of support for Islamic terrorism demonstrates why it cannot be trusted to comply with anything its leaders endorse. Read the rest of this entry »
A charismatic leader derives authority from himself; from an astounding life story, from attributes possessed by no other man.
Richard Fernandez writes: One of the minor casualties of the Obama administration has been the reputation of genuine “community organizers”. Before going any further, might the reader please try this test. Please name one other “community organizer” besides Barack Obama.
“The Obama phenomenon is founded so completely on his legend that to attack the legend is to undermine the very foundations of the tower on which he stands.”
Most people will not be able to name a single one and for good reason. The overarching ethos of a “community organizer”, especially one trained in the Alinsky method, is to plant ideas in people’s minds, let them run with it and fade away. But as the New York Times recalled, the young Obama did not want to toil in obscurity and finish up like all those community organizers whose names you can’t remember — the kind who live out their old age with a cupful of money and barrel full of war stories. He wanted fame; position, to be on center stage.
Mr. Obama had risen to executive director of the Developing Communities group, but the demanding hours, small victories and low pay took a toll on him, and he decided to leave.
“‘We are not making large-scale change, and I want to be involved in doing that,’ ” Mr. Kellman said Mr. Obama had told him. … Mr. Obama had mused to friends in Chicago about one day working for unions or becoming a preacher, a journalist or even a fiction writer. While there, he wrote short stories based on people he had encountered. “The stories were beautifully crafted and evocative,” said Mr. Kruglik.
But Mr. Obama decided on law school instead. Shortly before Mr. Obama left for Harvard, about 60 people attended a farewell reception for him at Altgeld Gardens. He told associates that he intended to return to Chicago once he earned his law degree to pursue a career “in public life.”
This was the moment of clear departure from the community organizing road. But let us pause for a moment and fix in our mind the existence of these beautiful, evocative short stories which Kellman describes for we will return to it later. The purpose of this digression into Obama’s “community organizing” past is to identify the leadership model he chose which was the complete the opposite of the anonymous behind the scenes community organizer. Obama’s chosen model for greatness was to become a charismatic leader.
“Obama’s vulnerability is America’s vulnerability…American credibility — and that of its cultural elite — now rests on a single point of failure: the narrative life history of the least vetted person in recent presidential politics. No republic, especially one as great as the United States, should ever be based on the such a fragile thing as the biography of a single man.”
A charismatic leader derives authority from himself; from an astounding life story, from attributes possessed by no other man. The approach has become common and we know the sort; the Native American who became a law professor and then Senator; the single mother who wanted to be a governor. The life-story is now standard, but Obama was clearly special. From the very beginning of his career Obama argued that his unique biography — his bi-racial parentage, foreign upbringing, his literary skills etc — made him a special person. By virtue of these gifts he could heal racial divisions; reach out to the Muslim world; bridge the gap between rich and poor and serve as a link between the generations.
“What Giuliani had done was undermine Obama’s legitimacy. Because so much of Obama’s “power” comes from his special-ness that to question his patriotism is to strike at the basis for his governance. It was, as in a monarchy, tantamount to rebellion.”
By contrast most American presidents derived their greatness from the position, many simply political hacks who we remember today simply because they occupied the Oval Office. Obama marks the first time in recent memory when the office is deemed uplifted by the man and not the other way round.
Charismatic leadership has its advantages, which is why it occurs repeatedly in history. It permits the charismatic person to “be bigger than the job” and do great things. Men with this attribute, like Alexander, Caesar or Napoleon seem to rise above the rules and constraints that bind mere human beings. It’s natural that Obama would prefer to be a ‘special’ president rather than an ordinary one.
“Disrespect America, even attack it if you want, and you will not receive a tenth such voltage as did Netanyahu. The torrent of hostility poured upon Netanyahu was so out of proportion to any conceivable offense, that he probably felt obliged to persist in coming, reasoning that he must be on to something.”
Yet as someone said to a student who aspired to drop out of college “like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs”, you have to first be sure you can walk that walk before casting your academic career to the winds. Because charismatic leadership has some drawbacks. The most obvious being that since power flows from the person himself then when Rudy Giuliani publicly questioned Obama’s patriotism he was attacking the wellsprings of the administration.
When Giuliani told an audience ”I do not believe – and I know this is a horrible thing to say – but I do not believe that the President loves America,” he was inadvertently doing more than criticizing a president; he was in a manner of speaking, committing treason. The unprecedented firestorm of opprobrium that greeted Giuliani suggested that he had somehow hit a switch. It was like pushing an ordinary button in the wall and watching the skyscrapers out the window suddenly crumble in dust down into the ground.
What Giuliani had done was undermine Obama’s legitimacy. Because so much of Obama’s “power” comes from his special-ness that to question his patriotism is to strike at the basis for his governance. It was, as in a monarchy, tantamount to rebellion. The reason that similar remarks by Obama about George Bush’s patriotism evoked simple shrugs was because Bush was just an ordinary president, the latest in a line of politicians to occupy the office since George Washington. Read the rest of this entry »
Like many movie goers I prefer to avoiding reading detailed reviews of movies before I see them, then enjoy reading a series of them right after. With the controversy surrounding American Sniper, it’s almost impossible to avoid exposure to what’s being said and written (and we’ve covered plenty of that controversy in the last few weeks) so it made even more of a challenge to stay away from reviews until I had an opportunity to see it myself.
A few hours ago, I finally saw American Sniper. I’ve only read a few reviews so far–and I plan add some of our own commentary soon–but this New Yorker review immediately struck me, because I prejudged the source. Admittedly unfair, but I don’t see the island of Manhattan as a place to expect anything but veiled score for Clint Eastwood, dislike of war films in general, and snarling distaste for this movie in particular. I’m happy to be completely wrong. Though it’s a short capsule double-movie review, given second-billing to Selma, all due credit to New Yorker film critic David Denby, for a positive, respectful, and insightful review of American Sniper.
Denby‘s first sentence nails it:
“Clint Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper‘ is both a devastating war movie and a devastating antiwar movie, a subdued celebration of a warrior’s skill and a sorrowful lament over his alienation and misery.”
The following comment is one of the most admiring things a critic can say about a filmmaker:
“Eastwood’s command of this material makes most directors look like beginners. As Kyle and his men ride through rubble-strewn Iraqi cities, smash down doors, and race up and down stairways, the camera records what it needs to fully dramatize a given event, and nothing more.”
And this characterization of Eastwood’s skill and talent as a director is perfectly summarized:
“There’s no waste, never a moment’s loss of concentration, definition, or speed. The general atmosphere of the cities, and the scattered life of the streets, gets packed into the action…” Read the rest of this entry »
“Is there no tyrant or anti-American center in the world that Obama will not appease for nothing in return? If you get something in return I’d be willing to listen. I haven’t seen anything.”
Not Cool, the New York Times Bestselling writer’s latest tome, calls out the merchants of cool for being anything but hip. It’s alternately blistering and riotous, a full-on assault against those who embrace values that are the antithesis of cool.
[Order Greg’s book “Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You” from Amazon]
Gutfeld slashes moral relativism writ large and stands tall for virtues which should be considered Fonzie-level cool but sadly aren’t. Every page has at least one gut buster, lines so ripe you’ll want to recycle them at the next cocktail party. Just be wary who you tell. The recipient might be the sort of faux cool merchant Gutfeld has in his sights.
The Red Eye standout begins his journey, where else, in the fifth grade. It was there he got his first lesson about both cool and the purposes of summoning it in public.
“Fifth grade had just discovered the velvet rope. And it was held by lowbrow illiterates with snot on their sleeves,” he writes. The stakes were low then. Not any more. Read the rest of this entry »
Chants of ‘Death to America’ have been part of Iranian public life for almost 35 years. But the new wave of politicians in Tehran is trying to change that, write Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat
Damien McElroy, and Ahmad Vahdat report: An attempt by Iran‘s reformist president Hassan Rouhani to abolish the chant “Death to America” as part of his diplomatic drive to improve relations with the US and the West, has spurred an angry backlash among his country’s hardline establishment.
The slogan – “Marg bar Amrika” in Farsi – has rung out on official occasions in Tehran ever since the country’s Islamic revolution in 1979, born during the seizure by students of the US embassy and the 444-day hostage crisis that followed.
Beloved by hardliners, it became one of the unifying political messages of the regime and would be broadcast every Friday on national television and be echoed at many mosques after Friday prayers. Read the rest of this entry »
“We will be back in court today fighting for our unalienable first amendment rights under the law and pushing back against the encroaching blasphemy laws do not criticize Islam under the sharia. This is the key battle in the stealth jihad being waged across this country and all free nations.”
D.C. Federal Court to Hear ADFI’s Challenge to Transit Authority’s Restriction on Anti-Jihad Advertisement Today, Robert Muise, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of the American Freedom Law Center AFLC, will present oral argument in federal court in Washington, D.C. in AFLC’s request for an injunction to halt the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority WMATA’s censorship of a pro-Israel/anti-jihad bus advertisement. The hearing is before District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, and it is scheduled to take place at 2:00 p.m. EDT in Courtroom 8 at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia located at 333 Constitution Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C. The hearing is open to the media and the general public. At issue in the lawsuit is the WMATA’s decision to delay running a pro-Israel/anti-jihad advertisement on its Metro system until some “future date” due to alleged concerns about “the situations happening around the world,” “world events,” and the “security and safety” of its passengers. The WMATA’s decision was based in response to the ongoing violence in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere in an alleged protest of free speech in the United States that is critical of Islam. As a result of the WMATA’s censorship, AFLC filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the advertisements sponsors, the Freedom Defense Initiative FDI and its executive directors, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. The lawsuit challenges the WMATA’s unconstitutional restriction on FDI’s right to engage in protected speech in a public forum.
The US state department believes American journalist Austin Tice, who disappeared in Syria in August, is in the custody of the Bashar al-Assad regime. This video, which emerged on Monday, purports to show a blindfolded Tice being led up a rocky pathway. The state department cannot confirm the authenticity of the video.
via >> guardian.co.uk
On Nov. 9, 1938, thousands of German storm troopers, acting under direct orders, launched the Jewish pogrom known as Kristallnacht. The attacks left approximately 100 Jews dead and 7,500 Jewish businesses damaged. Hundreds of homes and synagogues were vandalized.
The mastermind of the pogrom, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, explained it to the world as a “spontaneous” reaction to the murder of German diplomat by Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Jew. Goebbels said the pogrom showed the “healthy instincts” of the German people.
Some Jewish organizations, while strongly condemning German actions, expressed concern about the pogrom’s alleged cause. The World Jewish Congress stated that it “deplored the fatal shooting of an official of the German Embassy by a young Polish Jew.” These displays of contrition did not help. Kristallnacht was soon followed by the Holocaust, in which more than six million European Jews died.
What can we learn from that tragic history? First, atrocities on such a scale are rarely “spontaneous.” They require preparation and organization. Equally important is the lesson that accepting enemy propaganda makes us look weak and shortsighted. Any appreciation of the pretexts for such atrocities makes their perpetrators bolder and more aggressive.
Unfortunately, these lessons have not been learned. America’s ambassador to Libya is dead, U.S. embassies in Egypt and other Muslim countries are under siege, the American flag is being burned, and the Obama administration and media have blamed a video clip instead of denouncing the perpetrators.
“…accepting enemy propaganda makes us look weak and shortsighted…”
The lack of realism is stunning. “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” said President Barack Obama—not about the murder of Americans or the persecution of Christians and Jews in Muslim countries, but about an amateur film on YouTube. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the film is “disgusting and reprehensible.” These sentiments were echoed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., and a multitude of pundits.
Yet all evidence indicates that events of Sept. 11, 2012, were not a “spontaneous reaction” to the 14-minute trailer, but were pre-organized—not only in Benghazi but in Cairo as well. The film, “Innocence of Muslims,” was available on YouTube for a long time without attracting any attention. Two days before the riots, the film was broadcast in Arabic on the Salafi Egyptian television channel Al-Nas. Several popular preachers on other conservative Islamic satellite channels called upon people to turn out Tuesday at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. If this was not organization, what was it?
Still, America’s leaders have effectively accepted that the main blame for the embassy attacks should be put on the producers of video clip, rather than on the organizers and participants of the violence. America’s leaders did not stand up for freedom of speech. Instead, they practically apologized for the lack of censorship in the U.S….
Mr. Yarim-Agaev is a scientist and human-rights activist who was a leading dissident in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. He is currently a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.
There is no alternative to the First Amendment
‘No One Murdered Because Of This Image.”
That was a recent headline from the Onion, the often hilarious parody newspaper.
The image in question is really not appropriate to describe with any specificity in a family newspaper. It’s quite simply disgusting. And, suffice it to say, it leaves nothing to the imagination.
Four of “the most cherished figures from multiple religious faiths were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity,” according to the Onion, and yet “no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened, sources reported Thursday.”
“Though some members of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths were reportedly offended by the image, sources confirmed that upon seeing it, they simply shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and continued on with their day.”
There was one conspicuous no-show for the celestial orgy: the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.
The Onion’s point should be obvious. Amidst all of the talk of religious tolerance and the hand-wringing over free speech in recent days, one salient fact is often lost or glossed over: What we face are not broad questions about the limits of free
speech or the importance of religious tolerance, but rather a very specific question about the limits of Muslim tolerance and the unimportance of free speech to much of the Muslim world.
It’s really quite amazing. In Pakistan, Egypt, and the Palestinian territories, Christians are being harassed, brutalized, and even murdered, often with state support, or at least state indulgence. And let’s not even talk about the warm reception Jews receive in much of the Muslim world.
And yet, it seems you can’t turn on National Public Radio or open a newspaper or a highbrow magazine without finding some oh-so-thoughtful meditation on how anti-Islamic speech should be considered the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a movie theater.
It’s an interesting comparison. First, the prohibition on yelling “fire” in a theater only applies to instances where there is no fire. A person who yells “fire” when there is, in fact, a fire is quite likely a hero…
Andrew McCarthy‘s new book, Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy is out …
tip via The Greenroom.
“…it came under planned attack. That is in direct contradiction to the administration’s account of the incident.”
“What’s clear,” the CBS reporter concludes, “is that the public won’t get a detailed account of what happened until after the election.”