Saturday, October 05, 2013

Today's Tune: Jason Isbell - Flying Over Water (Live)

Surreal and Suicidal: Modern Western Histories of Islam

October 4, 2013

U.S. Marines Capture the Barbary pirate fortress at Derna, Tripoli, 27th April 1805 - C.H. Waterhouse

"U.S. Marines Capture the Barbary pirate fortress at Derna, Tripoli, 27th April 1805" by C.H. Waterhouse

Rereading some early history books concerning the centuries-long jihad on Europe, it recently occurred to me how ignorant the modern West is of its own past.  The historical narrative being disseminated today bears very little resemblance to reality.

Consider some facts for a moment:

A mere decade after the birth of Islam in the 7th century, the jihad burst out of Arabia.  Leaving aside all the thousands of miles of ancient lands and civilizations that were permanently conquered, today casually called the “Islamic world”—including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and parts of India and China—much of Europe was also, at one time or another, conquered by the sword of Islam.

Among other nations and territories that were attacked and/or came under Muslim domination are (to give them their modern names in no particular order): Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Sicily, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Belarus, Malta, Sardinia, Moldova, Slovakia, and Montenegro.

In 846 Rome was sacked and the Vatican defiled by Muslim Arab raiders; some 700 years later, in 1453, Christendom’s other great basilica, Holy Wisdom (or Hagia Sophia) was conquered by Muslim Turks, permanently.

The few European regions that escaped direct Islamic occupation due to their northwest remoteness include Great Britain, Scandinavia, and Germany.  That, of course, does not mean that they were not attacked by Islam. Indeed, in the furthest northwest of Europe, in Iceland, Christians used to pray that God save them from the “terror of the Turk.” These fears were not unfounded since as late as 1627 Muslim corsairs raided the Christian island seizing four hundred captives, selling them in the slave markets of Algiers.

Nor did America escape.  A few years after the formation of the United States, in 1800, American trading ships in the Mediterranean were plundered and their sailors enslaved by Muslim corsairs.  The ambassador of Tripoli explained to Thomas Jefferson that it was a Muslim’s “right and duty to make war upon them [non-Muslims] wherever they could be found, and to enslave as many as they could take as prisoners.”

In short, for roughly one millennium—punctuated by a Crusader-rebuttal that the modern West is obsessed with demonizing—Islam daily posed an existential threat to Christian Europe and by extension Western civilization.

And therein lies the rub: Today, whether as taught in high school or graduate school, whether as portrayed by Hollywood or the news media, the predominant historic narrative is that Muslims are the historic “victims” of “intolerant” Western Christians.  That’s exactly what a TV personality recently told me live on Fox News.

So here we are, paying the price of being an ahistorical society: A few years after the Islamic strikes of 9/11—merely the latest in the centuries-long, continents-wide jihad on the West—Americans elected a man with a Muslim name and heritage for president, who openly empowers the same ideology that their ancestors lived in mortal fear of, even as they sit by and watch to their future detriment.

Surely the United States’ European forebears—who at one time or another either fought off or were conquered by Islam—must be turning in their graves.

But all this is history, you say? Why rehash it?  Why not let it be and move on, begin a new chapter of mutual tolerance and respect, even if history must be “touched up” a bit?
This would be a somewhat plausible position—if not for the fact that, all around the globe, Muslims are still exhibiting the same imperial impulse and intolerant supremacism that their conquering forbears did.  The only difference is that the Muslim world is currently incapable of defeating the West through a conventional war.

Yet this may not even be necessary.  Thanks to the West’s ignorance of history, Muslims are flooding Europe under the guise of “immigration,” refusing to assimilate, and forming enclaves which in modern parlance are called “enclaves” or “ghettoes” but in Islamic terminology are the ribat—frontier posts where the jihad is waged on the infidel, one way or the other.

All this leads to another, perhaps even more important point: If the true history of the West and Islam is being turned upside its head, what other historical “orthodoxies” being peddled around as truth are also false?

Were the Dark Ages truly benighted because of the “suffocating” forces of Christianity?  Or were these dark ages—which “coincidentally” occurred during the same centuries when jihad was constantly harrying Europe—a product of another suffocating religion?  Was the Spanish Inquisition a reflection of Christian barbarism or was it a reflection of Christian desperation vis-à-vis the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who, while claiming to have converted to Christianity, were practicing taqiyya and living as moles trying to subvert the Christian nation back to Islam?

Don’t expect to get true answers to these and other questions from the makers, guardians, and disseminators of the West’s fabricated epistemology.

In the future (whatever one there may be) the histories written about our times will likely stress how our era, ironically called the “information age,” was not an age when people were so well informed, but rather an age when disinformation was so widespread and unquestioned that generations of people lived in bubbles of alternate realities—till they were finally popped.
Don’t miss Jamie Glazov’s video interview with Raymond Ibrahim about Islam’s new war on Christians:

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Shutdown Simulacrum

Just because it’s a phony crisis doesn’t mean it can’t be made even phonier. 

A National Park Service employee secures a barrier at the World War II memorial after a group of veterans broke through so they could visit the site. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Way back in January, when it emerged that Beyoncé had treated us to the first ever lip-synched national anthem at a presidential inauguration, I suggested in this space that this strange pseudo-performance embodied the decay of America’s political institutions from the real thing into mere simulacrum. But that applies to government “crises,” too — such as the Obamacare “rollout,” the debt “ceiling,” and the federal “shutdown,” to name only the three current railroad tracks to which the virtuous damsel of Big Government has been simultaneously tied by evil mustache-twirling Republicans.

This week’s “shutdown” of government, for example, suffers (at least for those of us curious to see it reduced to Somali levels) from the awkward fact that the overwhelming majority of the government is not shut down at all. Indeed, much of it cannot be shut down. Which is the real problem facing America. “Mandatory spending” (Social Security, Medicare, et al.) is authorized in perpetuity — or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congress’s so-called federal budget process. That’s why you’re reading government “shutdown” stories about the PandaCam at the Washington Zoo and the First Lady’s ghost-Tweeters being furloughed.

Nevertheless, just because it’s a phony crisis doesn’t mean it can’t be made even phonier. The perfect symbol of the shutdown-simulacrum so far has been the World War II Memorial. This is an open-air facility on the National Mall — that’s to say, an area of grass with a monument at the center. By comparison with, say, the IRS, the National Parks Service is not usually one of the more controversial government agencies. But, come “shutdown,” they’re reborn as the shock troops of the punitive bureaucracy. Thus, they decided to close down an unfenced open-air site — which oddly enough requires more personnel to shut than it would to keep it open.

So the Parks Service dispatched their own vast army to the World War II Memorial to ring it with barricades and yellow “Police Line — Do Not Cross” tape strung out like the world’s longest “We Support Our Troops” ribbon. For good measure, they issued a warning that anybody crossing the yellow line would be liable to arrest — or presumably, in extreme circumstances, the same multi-bullet ventilation that that mentally ill woman from Connecticut wound up getting from the coppers. In a heartening sign that the American spirit is not entirely dead, at least among a small percentage of nonagenarians, a visiting party of veterans pushed through the barricades and went to honor their fallen comrades, mordantly noting for reporters that, after all, when they’d shown up on the beach at Normandy it too had not been officially open.

One would not be altogether surprised to find the feds stringing yellow police tape along the Rio Grande, the 49th parallel, and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, if only to keep Americans in rather than anybody else out. Still, I would like to have been privy to the high-level discussions at which the government took the decision to install its Barrycades on open parkland. For anyone with a modicum of self-respect, it’s difficult to imagine how even the twerpiest of twerp bureaucrats would consent to stand at a crowd barrier and tell a group of elderly soldiers who’ve flown in from across the country that they’re forbidden to walk across a piece of grass and pay their respects. Yet, if any National Parks Service employee retained enough sense of his own humanity to balk at these instructions or other spiteful, petty closures of semi-wilderness fishing holes and the like, we’ve yet to hear about it.

The World War II Memorial exists thanks to some $200 million in private donations — plus $15 million or so from Washington: In other words, the feds paid for the grass. But the thug usurpers of the bureaucracy want to send a message: In today’s America, everything is the gift of the government, and exists only at the government’s pleasure, whether it’s your health insurance, your religious liberty, or the monument to your fallen comrades. The Barrycades are such a perfect embodiment of what James Piereson calls “punitive liberalism” they should be tied round Obama’s neck forever, in the way that “ketchup is a vegetable” got hung around Reagan-era Republicans. Alas, the court eunuchs of the Obama media cannot rouse themselves even on behalf of the nation’s elderly warriors.

Meanwhile, Republicans offered a bill to prevent the shutdown affecting experimental cancer trials for children. The Democrats rejected it. “But if you can help one child who has cancer,” CNN’s Dana Bash asked Harry Reid, “why wouldn’t you do it?”

“Why would we want to do that?” replied the Senate majority leader, denouncing Miss Bash’s question as “irresponsible.” For Democrats, the budget is all or nothing. 
Republican bills to fund this or that individual program have to be rejected out of hand as an affront to the apparent constitutional inviolability of the “continuing resolution.” 
In fact, government by “continuing resolution” is a sleazy racket: The legislative branch is supposed to legislate. Instead, they’re presented with a yea-or-nay vote on a single all-or-nothing multi-trillion-dollar band-aid stitched together behind closed doors to hold the federal leviathan together while it belches its way through to the next budget cycle. As Professor Angelo Codevilla of Boston University put it, “This turns democracy into a choice between tyranny and anarchy.” It’s certainly a perversion of responsible government: Congress has less say over specific federal expenditures than the citizens of my New Hampshire backwater do at Town Meeting over the budget for a new fence at the town dump.Pace Senator Reid, Republican proposals to allocate spending through targeted, mere multi-billion-dollar appropriations are not only not “irresponsible” but, in fact, a vast improvement over the “continuing resolution”: To modify Lord Acton, power corrupts, but continuing power corrupts continually.   

America has no budget process. That’s why it’s the brokest nation in history. So a budgeting process that can’t control the budget in a legislature that can’t legislate leads to a government shutdown that shuts down open areas of grassland and the unmanned boat launch on the Bighorn River in Montana. Up next: the debt-ceiling showdown, in which we argue over everything except the debt. The conventional wisdom of the U.S. media is that Republicans are being grossly irresponsible not just to wave through another couple trillion or so on Washington’s overdraft facility. Really? Other countries are actually reducing debt: New Zealand, for example, has a real budget that diminishes net debt from 26 percent of GDP to 17 percent by 2020. By comparison, America’s net debt is currently about 88 percent, and we’re debating only whether to increase it automatically or with a few ineffectual strings attached.

My favorite book of the moment is The Liberty Amendments, the new bestseller by Mark Levin — not because I agree with all his proposed constitutional amendments, and certainly not because I think they represent the views of a majority of Americans, but because he’s fighting on the right battleground. A century of remorseless expansion by the “federal” government has tortured the constitutional order beyond meaning. America was never intended to be an homogenized one-size-fits-all nation of 300 million people run by a government as centralized as France’s. It’s no surprise that when it tries to be one it doesn’t work terribly well. 

 Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2013 Mark Steyn

Friday, October 04, 2013

Bruce Springsteen - 60 Minutes Australia - 18/08/2013

Who shut down Yellowstone?


October 3, 2013

Political Cartoons by Glenn Foden

The Obamacare/shutdown battle has spawned myriad myths. The most egregious concern the substance of the fight, the identity of the perpetrators and the origins of the current eruption.
(1) Substance
President Obama indignantly insists thatGOP attempts to abolish or amend Obama­care are unseemly because it is “settled” law, having passed both houses of Congress, obtained his signature and passed muster with the Supreme Court.
Yes, settledness makes for a strong argument — except from a president whose administration has unilaterally changed Obama­care five times after its passage, including, most brazenly, a year-long suspension of the employer mandate.
Article I of the Constitution grants the legislative power entirely to Congress. Under what constitutional principle has Obama unilaterally amended the law? Yet when the House of Representatives undertakes a constitutionally correct, i.e., legislative, procedure for suspending the other mandate— the individual mandate — this is portrayed as some extra-constitutional sabotage of the rule of law. Why is tying that amendment to a generalized spending bill an outrage, while unilateral amendment by the executive (with a Valerie Jarrett blog item for spin) is perfectly fine?
(2) Perpetrators
The mainstream media have been fairly unanimous in blaming the government shutdown on the GOP. Accordingly, House Republicans presented three bills to restore funding to national parks, veterans and the District of Columbia government. Democrats voted down all three. (For procedural reasons, the measures required a two-thirds majority.)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won’t even consider these refunding measures. And the White House has promised a presidential veto.
The reason is obvious: to prolong the pain and thus add to the political advantage gained from a shutdown blamed on the GOP. They are confident the media will do a “GOP makes little Johnny weep at the closed gates of Yellowstone, film at 11” despite Republicans having just offered legislation to open them.
And besides, whence comes the sanctity of the “clean CR,” the single bill (continuing resolution) that funds all of government? The Democrats have declared it inviolable — and piecemeal funding, as proposed by the Republicans, unacceptable on principle. On what grounds? After all, the regular appropriations process consists of 12 separate appropriation bills. The insistence on the “clean CR” is just a fancy way to suggest some principle behind the president’s refusal to compromise or even negotiate.
(3) Origins
The most ubiquitous conventional wisdom is that the ultimate cause of these troubles is out-of-control tea party anarchists.
But is this really where the causal chain ends? The tea party was created by Obama’s first-term overreach, most specifically Obama­care. Today’s frantic fight against it is the echoing result of the way it was originally enacted.
From Social Security to civil rights to Medicaid to Medicare, never in the modern history of the country has major social legislation been enacted on a straight party-line vote. Never. In every case, there was significant reaching across the aisle, enhancing the law’s legitimacy and endurance. Yet Obama­care — which revolutionizes one-sixth of the economy, regulates every aspect of medical practice and intimately affects just about every citizen — passed without a single GOP vote.
The Democrats insist they welcomed contributing ideas from Republicans. Rubbish. Republicans proposed that insurance be purchasable across state lines. They got nothing. They sought serious tort reform. They got nothing. Why? Because, admitted Howard Dean,Democrats didn’t want to offend the trial lawyers.
Moreover, the administration was clearly warned. Republican Scott Brown ran in the most inhospitable of states, Massachusetts, on the explicit promise to cast the deciding vote blocking Obamacare. It was January 2010, the height of the debate. He won. Reid ignored this unmistakable message of popular opposition and conjured a parliamentary maneuver — reconciliation — to get around Brown.
Nothing illegal about that. Nothing illegal about ramming it through without a single opposition vote. Just totally contrary to the modern American tradition — and the constitutional decency — of undertaking major social revolutions with only bipartisan majorities. Having stuffed Obamacare down the throats of the GOP and the country, Democrats are now paying the price.
I don’t agree with current Republican tactics. I thought the defunding demand impossible and, therefore, foolish. I thought that if, nonetheless, the GOP insisted on making a stand, it should not be on shutting down the government, which voters oppose 5-to-1, but on the debt ceiling, whichAmericans favor 2-to-1 as a vehicle for restraining government.
Tactics are one thing, but substance is another. It’s the Democrats who have mocked the very notion of settled law. It’s the Democrats who voted down the reopening of substantial parts of the government. It’s the Democrats who gave life to a spontaneous, authentic, small-government opposition — a.k.a. the tea party — with their unilateral imposition of a transformational agenda during the brief interval when they held a monopoly of power.
That interval is over. The current unrest is the residue of that hubris.

The Budget Fight and Obama’s Vindictive Streak

The president thinks negotiating with his “ideological” opponents on the budget is beneath him. 

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Shutting down the government in an effort to use a budget fight to get rid of Obamacare is not the strategy I would have recommended for the GOP. And while Republicans can be blamed for starting the shutdown, it’s increasingly apparent that President Obama and the Democrats deserve the lion’s share of blame for not only prolonging it but also making it as painful as possible.

Obama has always had a bit of a vindictive streak when it comes to politics. I think it stems from his Manichaean view of America. There are the reasonable people — who agree with him. And there are the bitter clingers who disagree for irrational or extremist ideological reasons.

In his various statements over the last week, he’s insisted that opponents of Obamacare are “ideologues” on an “ideological crusade.” Meanwhile, he cast himself as just a reasonable guy interested in solving America’s problems. I have no issue with him calling Republican opponents “ideologues” — they are — but since when is Obama not an ideologue?

The argument about Obamacare is objectively and irrefutably ideological on both sides — state-provided health care has been an ideological brass ring for the Left for well over a century. But much of the press takes its cues from Democrats and sees this fight — and most other political fights — as a contest pitting the forces of moderation, decency, and rationality against the ranks of the ideologically brainwashed.

What’s unusual is the way Obama sees the government as a tool for his ideological agenda. During the fight over the sequester, Obama ordered the government to make the 2 percent budget cut as painful and scary as possible.

“It’s going to be very painful for the flying public,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned Americans.

“The FAA’s all-hands furloughs managed to convert a less than 4 percent FAA budget cut into a 10 percent air-traffic control cut that would delay 40 percent of flights,” the Wall Street Journal noted at the time. 

The Department of Homeland Security announced it might not be able to protect the nation’s borders, and in an effort to prove the point summarily released a couple thousand of immigrant detainees, many of them with criminal records.

Obama, the avowed problem solver, set out to create problems for the American people, just to prove how great government is and how crazy Republicans were for wanting to cut spending — much of the money borrowed from China — a little. But don’t you dare call him an ideologue!

Now, with the government shutdown and the looming fight over the debt ceiling, Obama’s doubling down on this ideologically perverse strategy.

The National Park Service, which has somehow become the unofficial goon squad of American liberalism, reversed course and let American World War II vets visit the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. This is obviously good news. (I was waiting to see if Steven Spielberg would come out with a new Obama-friendly director’s cut of Saving Private Ryan in which the old guy at the end is dragged off in cuffs before he can reach Tom Hanks’s grave.)

Still, it cost the government more money to try to keep WWII vets out of an open-air memorial than it would have to just leave it be. In Virginia, the NPS ordered the Claude Moore Colonial Farm to shut down, even though it’s privately funded.

Far worse, Obama told CNBC’s John Harwood that Wall Street should be far more panicky about Republican efforts to use the debt ceiling to win concessions from the White House. I don’t blame Obama for being annoyed with Republicans for trying to use the debt ceiling the exact same way he did when he was a senator. But normally a sitting president doesn’t try to talk down the economy just to win a political point.

Whenever the Bush administration issued terror warnings, Democrats insinuated that it was all a cynical political stunt. But this week, the White House sent out National Intelligence Director James Clapper to whip up fears that national security would be imperiled by a shutdown less than 48 hours old.

When Republicans vote to fund essential or popular parts of the government, the response from Democrats is, in effect, “How dare they?” Nancy Pelosi calls the tactic “releasing one hostage at a time” — as if negotiators normally refuse to have hostages released unless it’s all at once.

In the 17 previous government shutdowns since 1977, presidents have worked to avoid them or lessen their impact. Obama has made no such effort out of an ideological yearning to punish his enemies, regardless of the collateral damage.

— Jonah Goldberg is the author of The Tyranny of Clichés, now on sale in paperback. You can write to him by e-mail at, or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Elderly Veterans Feel Obama’s Wrath

Posted By Matthew Vadum On October 3, 2013 @ 12:45 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 14 Comments

 A US World War II veteran visits the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2013. The US Park Service opened the area to the veterans who are brought to Washington to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top through the efforts of Honor Flight, a non-profit organization created solely to honor America's veterans for all their sacrifices. The US government shut down Tuesday for the first time in 17 years after a gridlocked Congress failed to reach a federal budget deal amid bitter brinkmanship. Some 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed in a move reminiscent of two previous shutdowns -- for six days in November 1995 and 21 days from December that year into early 1996. AFP Photo/Karen BLEIERKAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images


World War II veterans overtook the gates blocking access to the World War II Memorial in Washington.

President Obama’s Machiavellian drive to hurt and irritate Americans to win the budget fight kicked into high gear this week as jackbooted police refused to allow World War II veterans to make a pilgrimage to the open-air Washington, D.C., memorial that was created to honor them.

As a whiff of fascism blows through the nation’s capital, the president is demonstrating to the whole world how revoltingly out-of-control the hyper-bloated U.S. government is. Obama is doing petty, irritating things like needlessly shutting down national parks in order to rankle voters in the hope they’ll blame Republicans for the ongoing government shutdown. Liberals, in typical fashion, predict apocalypse because of the shutdown. In reality, Americans are barely noticing that Uncle Sam is taking a nap.

Around two dozen members of Congress, including Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), have been ignoring the guards and conducting their own tours of the National World War Two Memorial on the National Mall. They’ve been leading the “Honor Flight” veterans around the barriers now popularly called “barrycades” to show them the national shrine that honors them for their service. Many of the veterans are making these trips for the first time but they are so advanced in age it may also be their last visit to the site.

The National Park Service claims the memorial and the entire National Mall area had to be closed because of the ongoing government shutdown.

In reality, it’s a case of the eminently impeachable President Obama punishing the American people, sadistically causing them pain for no reason other than to get them mad at his political enemies.

Blogger Doug Ross deconstructs Obama’s nonsense, likening the president “to a petulant six-year old throwing a temper tantrum when he doesn’t get his own way.”

Obama has “intentionally shut the door on veterans visiting — for perhaps the last time in their lives — under the ‘Honor Flight’ program,” Ross writes. “Now, for those who aren’t aware, this memorial is in an open-air park, it was paid for with private funds, and it is unattended. 

According to its website, it is open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

Obama, who can barely conceal his white-hot hatred of the military, has also ordered that veterans entering the grounds to be arrested.

Good-government group, Judicial Watch, Ross notes, “filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get to the bottom of this outrageous act on the part of an administration that is completely out of control. Governor Sarah Palin also called for civil disobedience.”

President Obama’s favorite union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), sent an ACORN-style rent-a-mob to the World War II memorial to intimidate the elderly veterans who risked their lives for their country.

As Patrick Poole reports at PJ Media, around “20 SEIU protesters arrived on the scene chanting ‘Boehner get us back to work’ and claiming they were federal employees furloughed because of the shutdown.”

The protesters refused to provide proof they actually worked for the federal government. One of the protesters admitted he was paid $15 to show up and protest.

That wasn’t the only federal landmark President Obama has targeted across America.

As Lachlan Markay of the Washingon Free Beacon reports, the National Park Service shuttered a Virginia tourist attraction –its first closure to the public in 40 years– that happens to be located on federal land, even though Uncle Sam does not financially contribute to its maintenance of operation.

Anna Eberly, managing director of the Claude Moore Colonial Farm, said yesterday that NPS ordered the historical-reenactment site to close until Congress begins funding the federal government again. Law enforcement agents marched staff and volunteers from the property on Tuesday, she said.

“You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don’t have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money,” Eberly said.

“In all the years I have worked with the National Park Service … I have never worked with a more arrogant, arbitrary and vindictive group representing the NPS,” Eberly said.

The farm begged the Obama administration to let it continue to operate. “Every appeal our Board of Directors made to the NPS administration was denied,” she said, referring to their repeated refusals as “utter crap.”

“We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm,” she said.

Closing the farm is part of the Obama administration’s drive to use taxpayers and tourists as political pawns in a propaganda maneuver aimed at expanding the size and scope of government.

U.S. Park Ranger Richard Trott places a closed sign on a barricade in front of the World War II Memorial monument in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2013. Photographer: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

This approach is called the “Washington Monument Strategy.” The theory is that such minor annoyances amplify the consequences of budget cuts, or in this case, of the government shutdown. The goal is to force congressional Republicans to surrender their principles and agree to fund Obamacare — and in the process look wimpy and lose the support of their grassroots.

The Washington Monument Strategy just as easily fits into the world of community organizing. Anyone familiar with the methods of modern-day leftist agitators could have seen all of this coming.

Rules for Radicals author Saul Alinsky taught that the community organizer’s first job is “community disorganization” by which he meant the manufacture of crises designed to inflame the community. The organizer must “create the issues or problems.” He must “rub raw the resentments of the people of the community” and “fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression.”

The organizer must “agitate to the point of conflict” because without friction and controversy “people are not concerned enough to act.” Having harangued the community out of its feelings of complacency, the organizer then directs its rage at specific targets and scapegoats, providing “a channel into which the people can angrily pour their frustrations.”

Obama is on a drive to turn America into a one-party state so naturally his wrath is directed at Republicans. The GOP makes for an easy target because Obama knows the mainstream media won’t blame him for anything bad that happens no matter how painfully obvious his culpability may be. Useful left-wing idiots including NBC’s David Gregory, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, British expellee and disgraced yellow journalist Piers Morgan of CNN, and all-around fraud Paul Krugman of the New York Times have been parroting around the clock the party line that the shutdown is wholly the fault of Republicans.

Republicans themselves are far from united. Many Republicans are haunted by an inordinate fear of being blamed for the shutdown. Discussions of strategy and tactics between these tormented souls nowadays are like episodes of Seinfeld, filled with invented, silly rules and extended debate about the niceties and interstices of etiquette.

They also ignore the fact that congressional Republicans won the shutdown battle with President Clinton in 1995. Contrary to media myth, the Republicans in that conflict got largely what they wanted and did fine in the following congressional election, even gaining Senate seats.

Meanwhile, the ever-fearful Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) may already be preparing to cave in after only a few days of pressure. There has been talk that GOP leadership will soon use the shutdown conflict as cover to force the unpopular immigration amnesty through Congress.

Alarmingly, Robert Costa of National Review Online reports that Boehner “wants to craft a ‘grand bargain’ on fiscal issues as part of the debt-limit deliberations, and during a series of meetings on Wednesday, he urged colleagues to stick with him.”
The revelation came quietly. Boehner called groups of members to his Capitol office all day, taking their temperature on the shutdown and the debt limit. It became clear, members say, that Boehner’s chief goal is conference unity as the debt limit nears, and he’s looking at potentially blending a government-spending deal and debt-limit agreement into a larger budget package.
“’It’s the return of the grand bargain,’ says one House Republican, who requested anonymity to speak freely. ‘There weren’t a lot of specifics discussed, and the meetings were mostly about just checking in. But he’s looking hard at the debt limit as a place where we can do something big.’”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steele refused to shed much light on the situation. “The speaker has always said we’ll need substantial spending cuts and reforms in order to raise the debt limit, like in the debt-limit bill we’ve been discussing, but let’s drop the phrase ‘grand bargain.’ Right now, there’s nothing grand, and there’s no one to bargain with.”

There may, however, be some cause for optimism.

Yesterday Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus offered to have the RNC pay all costs associated with keeping the memorial open.

It was a move of unusual courage and brilliance for the RNC and it may signal that the GOP’s resolve to dig in and fight against the horrendous, nation-destroying program that is Obamacare is stiffening.

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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Film Review: 'Rush'

Collision Course, as Rivals Follow Their Drives

‘Rush’ Goes Inside Formula One and Two of Its Titans

September 19, 2013
NYT Critics' Pick

Several times in “Rush,” Ron Howard’s excitingly torqued movie set in the Formula One race world, the camera gets so close to a driver’s eye that you can see each trembling lash. It’s a startlingly beautiful but also naked image, partly because there’s no hiding for an actor when the camera gets that close. In moments like these, you’re no longer watching a performance with its layers of art and technique: you’ve crossed the border between fiction and documentary to go eye to eye with another person’s nervous system. Mr. Howard doesn’t just want you to crawl inside a Formula One racecar, he also wants you to crawl inside its driver’s head.
Specifically, he wants to get inside those of James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), Formula One titans and rivals, who, in 1976, helped push the sport into mainstream consciousness. (Well, at least in much of the rest of the world: Formula One has long struggled in the United States.) In 1976, when both men were in their late 20s, they raced after each other while chasing the world championship over wet, dry and terrifyingly gnarly tracks. Tucked, very much alone, into open-wheel machines that could easily have become coffins, Hunt and Lauda cut corners and grazed death lap after lap — whooshing over racetracks, city streets and deceptively pastoral roads into the sort of sports legend that translates only occasionally into good cinema.
Built for speed on and off the track, Hunt was the pretty one, a tall, blond, British playboy who transcended his middle-class background to become racing royalty, the King James of newspaper headlines. Born into a wealthy Austrian family, the shorter, slighter and darker Lauda was, by contrast, cruelly nicknamed the Rat because of his pronounced overbite. (The Beaver would have been a more apt handle.) Hunt partied hard — archival photographs inevitably show him bookended by women, his gaze nestled in their décolletage — while Lauda assumed the role of the frosty, teetotaling tactician. They were an ideally matched, telegenic, salable pair — the heartthrob and the master gearhead — whose differences in and out of their cars put a playful, at times anguished human face onto a sports story.
It’s one that the screenwriter Peter Morgan strips down to its satisfying, straightforward core. There are all sorts of narratives that could be spun out of Formula One, including how lives were sacrificed for profit. (In 1994, Ayrton Senna became the last driver to die in a Grand Prix.) It’s hard to believe, though, that even a down-and-dirty exposé would be a fraction as entertaining as “Rush,” which distills the thrill of racing into a clash of personalities, one nail-biting face-off, a catastrophic accident and a wild comeback. Enzo Ferrari, the Ferrari founder (who was called the Saturn, or devourer of his children, because of the fatalities during his tenure), might have been more important to Formula One than any driver, but romances like “Rush” don’t belong to the owners: they belong to the workers, the grim ones and the smiling ones, the ones with the death wish and the ones with the gushers of Champagne.
Shortly after the movie opens, Hunt is walking barefoot into a hospital, bleeding from the nose while still in his racing suit. He’s a ravishing mess, and his effect on the room, which goes immediately silent, is unmistakably erotic. “Hunt, James Hunt,” he announces, echoing a familiar line. Before long, a nurse is at once dressing his wound and undressing the rest of him, a seduction that’s as much about the audience’s pleasure as that of the characters on screen. Best known for playing the comic-book hero Thor, Mr. Hemsworth is prettier than the all-too-real man he plays in “Rush.” Yet this surplus of beauty works for the role because the actor, who holds the screen with the unconscious physical confidence of the truly lovely, looks like the star that James Hunt became.
The scene of Hunt sauntering into a hospital also signals that, for all the machines and money, “Rush” is a human story about bodies, if ones almost always in furious motion. It’s also about work, about finding “a drive,” as they say in racing, and keeping it, even after machines and people spectacularly fail. Lauda, who’s seen buying his way into racing with loans (his family didn’t support his passion), isn’t a natural physical specimen or showman like Hunt. Yet one of the movie’s deepening pleasures is how, as the story slyly shifts from one man to the other, it peels back the arrogance encasing Lauda, who’s so abrasive that it’s hard not to root against him, even as Mr. Brühl’s dexterous, textured performance pulls you close.
Mr. Howard’s first movie as a director was the tight little pleaser “Grand Theft Auto,” and while he has periodically offered up a surprise (the western “The Missing”), he has often mired himself in commercial sludge like “The Da Vinci Code,” sporadically trying to break free with serious-minded prestige items, like “Frost/Nixon.” “Rush,” which is serious without being self-serious, fun without being trivial, feels like the movie that he has been waiting to make his whole life — it’s no wonder that he climbs into the cockpits with the camera again and again. Having a good script makes a difference, as does a brilliant cinematographer like Anthony Dod Mantle, who, shooting in digital, paints the screen in stunning, saturated colors that put the story’s extremes into vivid terms. There are no washed-out tones or characters here.
There are, instead, shifting feet, trembling hands, shredding tires and the hard whine of machines that, whether flying or skidding over the track, can feel like nothing other than needlessly reckless manifestations of human arrogance, like Icarus’ wings — but, you know, with the Marlboro brand emblazoned on them. Every so often, Hunt and Lauda come briefly down to earth, as does the movie, especially whenever they resume their roles in their domestic dramas (with Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara). In contrast to similar scenes in movies of this biographical type, these family interludes pass by swiftly and largely effortlessly, because the filmmakers know, as you soon do, too, that these men were born to do one blissful thing: race to the heart-quickening finish.
“Rush” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Nudity, alcohol and drug consumption and extreme racetrack peril.
Opens on Friday in New York and Los Angeles.
Directed by Ron Howard; written by Peter Morgan; director of photography, Anthony Dod Mantle; edited by Dan Hanley and Mike Hill; music by Hans Zimmer; production design by Mark Digby; costumes by Julian Day; produced by Mr. Howard, Mr. Morgan, Andrew Eaton, Eric Fellner, Brian Oliver and Brian Grazer; released by Universal Pictures. Running time: 2 hours 3 minutes.
WITH: Chris Hemsworth (James Hunt), Daniel Brühl (Niki Lauda), Olivia Wilde (Suzy Miller), Alexandra Maria Lara (Marlene Lauda), Pierfrancesco Favino (Clay Regazzoni) and Natalie Dormer (Nurse Gemma).

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