Friday, April 01, 2016

Another Climate Alarmist Admits Real Motive Behind Warming Scare

March 29, 2016
German economist Ottmar Georg Edenhofer (DPA)
Fraud: While the global warming alarmists have done a good job of spreading fright, they haven’t been so good at hiding their real motivation. Yet another one has slipped up and revealed the catalyst driving the climate scare.
We have been told now for almost three decades that man has to change his ways or his fossil-fuel emissions will scorch Earth with catastrophic warming. Scientists, politicians and activists have maintained the narrative that their concern is only about caring for our planet and its inhabitants. But this is simply not true. The narrative is a ruse. They are after something entirely different.
If they were honest, the climate alarmists would admit that they are not working feverishly to hold down global temperatures — they would acknowledge that they are instead consumed with the goal of holding down capitalism and establishing a global welfare state.
Have doubts? Then listen to the words of former United Nations climate official Ottmar Edenhofer:
“One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with the environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole,” said Edenhofer, who co-chaired the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group on Mitigation of Climate Change from 2008 to 2015.
So what is the goal of environmental policy?
“We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy,” said Edenhofer.
For those who want to believe that maybe Edenhofer just misspoke and doesn’t really mean that, consider that a little more than five years ago he also said that “the next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.”
Mad as they are, Edenhofer’s comments are nevertheless consistent with other alarmists who have spilled the movement’s dirty secret. Last year, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, made a similar statement.
“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said in anticipation of last year’s Paris climate summit.
“This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”
The plan is to allow Third World countries to emit as much carbon dioxide as they wish — because, as Edenhofer said, “in order to get rich one has to burn coal, oil or gas” — while at the same time restricting emissions in advanced nations. This will, of course, choke economic growth in developed nations, but they deserve that fate as they “have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community,” he said. The fanaticism runs so deep that one professor has even suggested that we need to plunge ourselves into a depression to fight global warming.
Perhaps Naomi Klein summed up best what the warming the fuss is all about in her book “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.”
“What if global warming isn’t only a crisis?” Klein asks in a preview of a documentary inspired by her book. “What if it’s the best chance we’re ever going to get to build a better world?”
In her mind, the world has to “change, or be changed” because an “economic system” — meaning free-market capitalism — has caused environmental “wreckage.”
This is how the global warming alarmist community thinks. It wants to frighten, intimidate and then assume command. It needs a “crisis” to take advantage of, a hobgoblin to menace the people, so that they will beg for protection from the imaginary threat. The alarmists’ “better world” is one in which they rule a global welfare state. They’ve admitted this themselves.

Obama: Islam Inherently Violent? That's Absurd

That’s something only the “Republican base” believes. Along with all too many Muslims.

March 31, 2016
Barack Obama is amused.
“I’m amused,” he said in remarks published Tuesday, “when I watch Republicans claim that Trump’s language is unacceptable, and ask, ‘How did we get here?’ We got here in part because the Republican base had been fed this notion that Islam is inherently violent, that this is who these folks are. And if you’ve been hearing that a lot, and then somebody shows up on the scene and says, well, the logical conclusion to civilizational conflict is we try to make sure that we’re not destroyed internally by this foreign civilization, that’s what you get.”
Where would anyone get the crazy idea that Islam was inherently violent? Well, the day’s headlines might give us that very strong impression, but Obama would tell us (and has told us) that those Muslims who are screaming “Allahu akbar” as they murder non-Muslims are, despite appearances, not really Muslims at all, but just people who have twisted, hijacked, misunderstood the Religion of Peace.
It is, true, however, that there are plenty of Muslims who tell us that Islam is inherently violent. Here are a few of them:
“Jihad was a way of life for the Pious Predecessors (Salaf-us-Salih), and the Prophet (SAWS) was a master of the Mujahideen and a model for fortunate inexperienced people. The total number of military excursions which he (SAWS) accompanied was 27. He himself fought in nine of these; namely Badr; Uhud, Al-Muraysi, The Trench, Qurayzah, Khaybar, The Conquest of Makkah, Hunayn and Taif . . . This means that the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) used to go out on military expeditions or send out an army at least every two months.” — Abdullah Azzam, co-founder of al-Qaeda, Join the Caravan, p. 30
“If we follow the rules of interpretation developed from the classical science of Koranic interpretation, it is not possible to condemn terrorism in religious terms. It remains completely true to the classical rules in its evolution of sanctity for its own justification. This is where the secret of its theological strength lies.” — Egyptian scholar Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd
“Many thanks to God, for his kind gesture, and choosing us to perform the act of Jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims. Therefore, killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you, responding back to your attacks, are all considered to be great legitimate duty in our religion.” — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow 9/11 defendants
“Allah on 480 occasions in the Holy Koran extols Muslims to wage jihad. We only fulfill God’s orders. Only jihad can bring peace to the world.” — Taliban terrorist Baitullah Mehsud
“Jihad, holy fighting in Allah’s course, with full force of numbers and weaponry, is given the utmost importance in Islam….By jihad, Islam is established….By abandoning jihad, may Allah protect us from that, Islam is destroyed, and Muslims go into inferior position, their honor is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish. Jihad is an obligation and duty in Islam on every Muslim.” — Times Square car bomb terrorist Faisal Shahzad
“So step by step I became a religiously devout Muslim, Mujahid — meaning one who participates in jihad.” — Little Rock, Arkansas terrorist murderer Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad
“And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives, and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.” — Texas terrorist bomber Khalid Aldawsari.
Obama would dismiss all these as “extremists” who are not really Muslim at all and have nothing to do with Islam. Yet one also might get the impression that Islam is inherently violent from the authoritative sources in Sunni Islam, the schools of Sunni jurisprudence (madhahib):
Shafi’i school: A Shafi’i manual of Islamic law that was certified in 1991 by the clerics at Al-Azhar University, one of the leading authorities in the Islamic world, as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy, stipulates about jihad that “the caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians…until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” It adds a comment by Sheikh Nuh Ali Salman, a Jordanian expert on Islamic jurisprudence: the caliph wages this war only “provided that he has first invited [Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians] to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya)…while remaining in their ancestral religions.” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.8).
Of course, there is no caliph today, unless one believes the claims of the Islamic State, and hence the oft-repeated claim that Osama et al are waging jihad illegitimately, as no state authority has authorized their jihad. But they explain their actions in terms of defensive jihad, which needs no state authority to call it, and becomes “obligatory for everyone” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.3) if a Muslim land is attacked. The end of the defensive jihad, however, is not peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims as equals: ‘Umdat al-Salik specifies that the warfare against non-Muslims must continue until “the final descent of Jesus.” After that, “nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus’ descent” (o9.8).
Hanafi school: A Hanafi manual of Islamic law repeats the same injunctions. It insists that people must be called to embrace Islam before being fought, “because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith.” It emphasizes that jihad must not be waged for economic gain, but solely for religious reasons: from the call to Islam “the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war.”
However, “if the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax [jizya], it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.” (Al-Hidayah, II.140)
Maliki school: Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and philosopher, was also a Maliki legal theorist. In his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that “in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”
Hanbali school: The great medieval theorist of what is commonly known today as radical or fundamentalist Islam, Ibn Taymiyya (Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, 1263-1328), was a Hanbali jurist. He directed that “since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.”
This is also taught by modern-day scholars of Islam. Majid Khadduri was an Iraqi scholar of Islamic law of international renown. In his book War and Peace in the Law of Islam, which was published in 1955 and remains one of the most lucid and illuminating works on the subject, Khadduri says this about jihad:
The state which is regarded as the instrument for universalizing a certain religion must perforce be an ever expanding state. The Islamic state, whose principal function was to put God’s law into practice, sought to establish Islam as the dominant reigning ideology over the entire world….The jihad was therefore employed as an instrument for both the universalization of religion and the establishment of an imperial world state. (P. 51)
Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Assistant Professor on the Faculty of Shari’ah and Law of the International Islamic University in Islamabad. In his 1994 book The Methodology of Ijtihad, he quotes the twelfth century Maliki jurist Ibn Rushd: “Muslim jurists agreed that the purpose of fighting with the People of the Book…is one of two things: it is either their conversion to Islam or the payment of jizyah.” Nyazee concludes: “This leaves no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad, and the option of poll-tax [jizya] is to be exercised only after subjugation” of non-Muslims.
All this makes it clear that there is abundant reason to believe that Islam is indeed inherently violent. It would be illuminating if Obama or someone around him produced some quotations from Muslim authorities he considers “authentic,” and explained why the authorities I’ve quoted above and others like them are inauthentic. While in reality there is no single Muslim authority who can proclaim what is “authentic” Islam, and thus it would be prudent not to make sweeping statements about what “authentic Islam” actually is, clearly there are many Muslim who believe that authentic Islam is inherently violent.
One might also get the impression that Islam is inherently violent from these Qur’an verses:
2:191-193: “And slay them wherever you come upon them, and expel them from where they expelled you; persecution is more grievous than slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then, if they fight you, slay them — such is the recompense of unbelievers, but if they give over, surely Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s; then if they give over, there shall be no enmity save for evildoers.”
4:34: “Men are the managers of the affairs of women, for Allah has made one superior to the another, and because they have expended of their property. Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret for Allah’s guarding. And those you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them. If they then obey you, look not for any way against them; Allah is All-high, All-great.”
4:89: “They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of Allah; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.”
5:33: “This is the recompense of those who fight against Allah and His Messenger, and hasten about the earth, to do corruption there: they shall be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall alternately be struck off; or they shall be banished from the land. That is a degradation for them in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement.”
5:38: “And the thief, male and female: cut off the hands of both, as a recompense for what they have earned, and a punishment exemplary from Allah; Allah is All-mighty, All-wise.”
8:12: “When thy Lord was revealing to the angels, ‘I am with you; so confirm the believers. I shall cast into the unbelievers’ hearts terror; so smite above the necks, and smite every finger of them!”
8:39: “Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s entirely; then if they give over, surely Allah sees the things they do.”
8:60: “Make ready for them whatever force and strings of horses you can, to strike terror thereby into the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them that you know not; Allah knows them. And whatsoever you expend in the way of Allah shall be repaid you in full; you will not be wronged.”
9:5: “Then, when the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then let them go their way; Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.”
9:29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, and do not practice the religion of truth, even if they are of the People of the Book — until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.”
9:111: “Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions against the gift of Paradise; they fight in the way of Allah; they kill, and are killed; that is a promise binding upon Allah in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Koran; and who fulfils his covenant truer than Allah? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with Him; that is the mighty triumph.”
9:123: “O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you; and let them find in you a harshness; and know that Allah is with the godfearing.”
47:4: “When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads. So it shall be; and if Allah had willed, He would have avenged Himself upon them; but that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will not send their works astray.”
There are some tolerant verses in the Qur’an as well — see, for example, sura 109. But then in Islamic tradition there are authorities who say that violent passages take precedence over these verses. Muhammad’s earliest biographer, an eighth-century Muslim named Ibn Ishaq, explains the progression of Qur’anic revelation about warfare. First, he explains, Allah allowed Muslims to wage defensive warfare. But that was not Allah’s last word on the circumstances in which Muslims should fight. Ibn Ishaq explains offensive jihad by invoking a Qur’anic verse: “Then God sent down to him: ‘Fight them so that there be no more seduction,’ i.e. until no believer is seduced from his religion. ‘And the religion is God’s’, i.e. Until God alone is worshipped.”
The Qur’an verse Ibn Ishaq quotes here (2:193) commands much more than defensive warfare: Muslims must fight until “the religion is God’s” — that is, until Allah alone is worshipped. Ibn Ishaq gives no hint that that command died with the seventh century.
The great medieval scholar Ibn Qayyim (1292-1350) also outlines the stages of the Muhammad’s prophetic career: “For thirteen years after the beginning of his Messengership, he called people to God through preaching, without fighting or Jizyah, and was commanded to restrain himself and to practice patience and forbearance. Then he was commanded to migrate, and later permission was given to fight. Then he was commanded to fight those who fought him, and to restrain himself from those who did not make war with him. Later he was commanded to fight the polytheists until God’s religion was fully established.”
In other words, he initially could fight only defensively — only “those who fought him” — but later he could fight the polytheists until Islam was “fully established.” He could fight them even if they didn’t fight him first, and solely because they were not Muslim.
Nor do all contemporary Islamic thinkers believe that that command is a relic of history. 
According to a 20th century Chief Justice of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid, “at first ‘the fighting’ was forbidden, then it was permitted and after that it was made obligatory.” He also distinguishes two groups Muslims must fight: “(1) against them who start ‘the fighting’ against you (Muslims) . . . (2) and against all those who worship others along with Allah . . . as mentioned in Surat Al-Baqarah (II), Al-Imran (III) and At-Taubah (IX) . . . and other Surahs (Chapters of the Qur’an).” (The Roman numerals after the names of the chapters of the Qur’an are the numbers of the suras: Sheikh Abdullah is referring to Qur’anic verses such as 2:216, 3:157-158, 9:5, and 9:29.)
Here again, obviously there is a widespread understanding of the Qur’an within Islamic tradition that sees it, and Islam, as inherently violent. And we see Muslims who clearly understand their religion as being inherently violent acting upon that understanding around the world today, in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Israel, Nigeria and elsewhere. We can hope that those who embody the true, peaceful Islam that Obama assumes to exist come forward and work against the Muslims who believe in violence, instead of just issuing pro-forma condemnations. So far we have not seen that. On the contrary, we see reformers threatened and cowed into silence. The Moroccan activist Ahmed Assid condemned violence in Islam’s name and was immediately declared an apostate and threatened with death by Muslim clerics. If the Ahmed Assids of the world represent the true Islam that is not inherently violent, the message has not gotten through to all too many of their coreligionists.
We may hope it does someday. In the meantime, it is imperative to continue to speak about how Islamic jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism, so as to alert all people of good will to the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat, and its motives and goals. This is not indulging in hateful generalizations; it is simply to speak honestly and realistically about a threat all free people face. If we cannot speak about it, it will nonetheless keep coming, and catch us unawares.

 Tags: IslamJihadkoranviolence

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Lots of Love for Garry Shandling

March 25, 2016
Jerry Seinfeld & Garry Shandling on 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee'
The late Garry Shandling, who died on Thursday, in Los Angeles, at age sixty-six, was not just one of the most influential comedy writers and performers of the past few decades but one of the most beloved. There was perhaps more love—real, uncomplicated love—for Shandling among his fellow-comedians than there was for anyone else. They respected and admired him as a comedian, of course; his standup and two shows, “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” and “The Larry Sanders Show,” were intelligent, honest, and groundbreaking. But Shandling was also a kind and empathetic person in a comedy world in which those qualities rarely come in uncomplicated packages, if at all.
When Shandling appeared on “WTF with Marc Maron,” in 2011, Maron, introducing him, was full of expectation, to an unusual degree. “For some reason, I think that he’s a Buddha,” Maron said. “For some reason, I think that he has some information for me that I need to know. I think I have this weird void because my father was this angry, detached, self-involved dude.” Maron had been looking for a father figure, he said, and there was a part of him that wanted that, or insight, from Shandling. “I feel myself wanting some wisdom,” Maron said. Even if many comedians weren’t necessarily looking for a parent, they appreciated Shandling on a personal and spiritual level. It wasn’t that he provided anyone with certainty but that he was calm and reassuring within life’s uncertainty.
Shandling was born in Chicago and grew up in Arizona. His father was a successful print-shop owner, and his mother, who ran a pet store, was famously smothering. (“She wanted me to have kids, but not with another woman,” he said on “WTF,” repeating a joke from his act.) When he was nineteen, during college at the University of Arizona, he showed some jokes to George Carlin, who was appearing at a club in Phoenix. Carlin told him that he had funny stuff on every page and should keep at it. After college, Shandling moved to Los Angeles. He wrote for “Welcome Back, Kotter,” “Sanford and Son,” and “The Harvey Korman Show,” and then turned to standup. He first appeared on “The Tonight Show” in 1981. (“I had dinner last night at a friend of mine’s house, and he has, ah—what do you call those things? A baby.”) In the eighties, he started filling in for Johnny Carson as a guest host, an experience that became fodder for “The Larry Sanders Show.”
Shandling never married. He liked to make self-deprecating jokes about sex, or, as he called it, lovemaking. His first “Tonight Show” set ends on an “It’s a Small World” penis-size joke; on “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist,” he says that he thinks it’s more important that a couple start at the same time than finish at the same time; when talking to the Times in 2007 about life after “Larry Sanders,” he said that one of the seven stages of grieving was masturbation. One takeaway from these jokes, perhaps, is reassurance that though we are all pathetic and life is ridiculous, cringing together in public helps remove the sting.
Young Shandling was handsome and odd, telegenic and intriguing, with a crown of fluffy hair, eyes that squinted in contemplation and bemusement, and rather puffy lips. When he smiled, he revealed a surprisingly dazzling set of teeth. He looked as if his natural expression was thoughtfulness; the smile seemed to indicate the joy of finding the humor amid the introspection. The audience shared in that joy. In 1984, before doing a gig in Lake Tahoe, he told a young Judd Apatow, who was interviewing him over the phone, “The most important thing a comic can do is write from his insides.” This idea—writing comedy from within, honestly, and not just casting about for jokes—strongly influenced his peers. (In 1993, he hired Apatow to write for “The Larry Sanders Show,” and mentored him. “There is no one who has taught me more or been kinder to me in the comedy world than Garry Shandling,” Apatow writes in his book “Sick in the Head.”)
Shandling and Alan Zweibel co-created “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” in 1986. It ran on Showtime until 1990. Shandling starred as a standup comedian named Garry Shandling, who knew he was a sitcom character; he lived in a condo like Shandling’s, in the same town. The show’s theme song went, “This is the theme to Garry’s show. . . . Garry called me up and asked if I would write his theme song. . . . This is the music that you hear as you watch the credits.” Shandling broke the fourth wall so thoroughly as to obliterate it.
In 1992, he and Dennis Klein co-created “The Larry Sanders Show,” which ran on HBO until 1998. Among its many innovations, “Larry Sanders” helped popularize a trope that has become ubiquitous: celebrities playing unflattering versions of themselves. In the first season, Sanders books David Spade, a young standup he has helped get his start, only to discover that Spade is appearing on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” first, doing the same jokes. When Sanders confronts him, Spade plays innocent and pretends to be naïve and remorseful; he’s later revealed to be a casually smug bastard who is out for himself. The Larry Sanders character was as flawed as the satirized celebrity guests. What made the audience love him was that Shandling’s empathy showed the humanity within. It was clear that the insight required to observe and portray all of these lacerating details came from a singularly sensitive mind.
In 1993, Shandling was offered a late-night talk show on NBC, in David Letterman’s old slot, but he chose instead to keep doing “Larry Sanders”—his own show, in his own format. (Thinking of this now, I find myself mourning the loss of “The Colbert Report,” a more precise and original vehicle for Stephen Colbert’s satirical talents than “The Late Show” has been so far.) The late-late gig in 1993 went to Conan O’Brien.
Last night, on “Conan,” O’Brien paid tribute to Shandling, in a segment that taped a few hours after O’Brien had learned of his death. Shandling was “extremely sensitive, he was complicated, and he had a ton of empathy for other people,” O’Brien said. “That is something that in this business, in comedy, is extremely rare.” O’Brien said that when his “Tonight Show” gig ended—“in this crazy, effed-up, spectacular fashion,” he was shell-shocked, and took a trip to Hawaii with his wife and children, not knowing what to do with himself. Shortly after they arrived, he was alone in his room, feeling bad, and Shandling called—he happened to be staying three doors down.
“I spent the entire week with Garry Shandling,” O’Brien said. “He counselled me, he cheered me up, he told me jokes, he talked to me about philosophy, he told me everything was going to be fine, he talked about how there are bigger things in the world and I was going to be fine, he talked about Eckhart Tolle, all this amazing stuff,” O’Brien said. One afternoon, they took a long walk. “We climbed over lava formations, we went through a cave,” they found a strip of sand and lay down and watched the sun go down. O’Brien said, “I turned to him and I said, ‘Garry, this is the most romantic moment of my life, and it’s with you.’ ” The segment ends with an amazing clip from years earlier, when O’Brien hosted the Emmys and Shandling helped out, which seems, uncannily, to anticipate that experience.
Shandling’s appearance on Jerry Seinfeld’s Web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” from January, is a portrait of friendship and affection we might not typically associate with Seinfeld, who can come across as a very observant robot. “We started at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles at the same time, we did ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’ at the same time, we did our TV series in the nineties at the same lot at the same time, right across the street from each other,” Seinfeld tells us, in a voice-over, as we see old photos and clips. “We were a pair.” When they greet each other, Shandling walks toward Seinfeld, says, “I love you,” and hugs him. Seinfeld says he loves him, too. They drive around in a Porsche, making jokes and visiting old haunts: the Comedy Store, the CBS Studio Center lot. They walk with their arms around each other. They end up talking at length about mortality; mostly, though, Seinfeld laughs so much, and with such violent delight, that we keep seeing his molars.
In the car, Seinfeld mentions the comic David Brenner. He says, “David Brenner passed away last year. Do you ever think about, like, all that material?”
Shandling, laughing, is partly incredulous, but knows Seinfeld so well that he on some level isn’t. “I’m at a stage in my life where I actually care about the person,” he says, fond and amused at once.
Seinfeld won’t let it go. “All that material. You work so hard on it,” he says. “It’s just gone, and it doesn’t mean anything to anyone anymore.”
“That material, and your material, is purely a way for you to express your spirit and your soul and your being,” Shandling tells him.
“It doesn’t have any value beyond that?”
“It doesn’t have any value beyond you expressing yourself spiritually in a very soulful, spiritual way,” Shandling says, laughing at him. “It’s why you’re on the planet!” He punches the ceiling. “God! Open up the sunroof!” he says, and laughs again.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

In North Carolina, the Left Panics over the Entirely Commonsense ‘Bathroom Bill’

By Jane Clark Scharl — March 30, 2016

Let’s get this straight up front: Nearly everything the Left is saying about North Carolina’s House Bill 2 is false. HB2 is a law passed, and signed by the governor, in response to a Charlotte municipal ordinance that allowed transgender individuals to use any restroom they wanted, regardless of whether it was designated for men or for women. The bill overrides the city’s ordinance and prevents other cities in North Carolina from imposing similar measures.

Opponents of the law have employed scorched-earth rhetoric including such language as “rewrites civil law” (an odd description for a measure upholding what has been civil law since 1972). That goes for the ACLU’s lawsuit as well.

And they say conservatives are the panic-mongers.

But here’s the really maddening thing: At the same time that Leftists on college campuses are forcing professors to water down their lessons lest the truth be a “trauma trigger,” they’re blasting a law that exists to protect people from actual trauma triggersNot fake trauma triggers, like the question “Where are you from?” Real ones, like male genitalia in a girl’s locker room.
The purpose of HB2 is to ensure that people, especially women and children but men as well, can use public restrooms, locker rooms, and changing areas without being exposed to people of the opposite biological sex. It’s pretty common sense.

But common sense has not always been a good defense against the rage of the Left. Here’s a lineup of the most oft-told lies about HB2 and its supporters.   


The law goes out of its way to point out that, even though it requires men to use the men’s room and women to use the women’s room, single-occupancy restrooms can be used by people regardless of their biological gender or of the gender they identify with. Schools and places of business have the option to make those single-occupancy areas available to individuals who aren’t comfortable in public private spaces assigned to their specific biological gender.

Of course, this sensible solution works if you simply want to provide individuals struggling with their biological gender a place to go to the bathroom, or if you want to accommodate people who are fine with their biological gender but are just exceptionally shy about undressing in public. The goal of the Left, however, is more sweeping: to force everybody else to celebrate the courage of the 52-year-old man transitioning to a six-year-old girl – and to suppress the obvious question, Is this really his best life?


The Left likes to pull out the statistic that no transgender individual has ever assaulted someone in a restroom, locker room, etc. That’s great. Good for the transgendered: There are no transgender rapists. But there are plenty of other kinds who would not hesitate to take advantage of this situation.

Under the Charlotte ordinance, transgender people weren’t the only ones allowed to use the restroom of the opposite sex. Anyone could. All he had to do was assert that his true gender wasn’t his biological gender. “Transgender” is a tricky word; it’s not like “transsexual,” which refers to someone who has had an operation or taken large doses of hormones. “Transgender” means simply experimentation with the stereotypes of the opposite biological gender. So a clever (or not so clever) rapist could smear on some lipstick, call himself transgender, and waltz right into a locker room full of half-dressed teenage girls. 

People have already taken advantage of these kinds of laws to put other people in compromising situations. In February, after the city of Seattle passed an ordinance similar to Charlotte’s, a man (not transgender) entered a girls’ locker room twice in one day. His goal? To “test” the limits of the new rule. An advocate of the ordinance said that the ordinance itself wasn’t a problem; the man was “just taking advantage of a loophole.”
That’s one big loophole.


This lie just keeps cropping up, mostly because the Left is the crowd most vocal about ensuring that women have access to abortions (though not that the abortions be safe and performed by qualified physicians). The Left cares about protecting victims only when it suits its purposes. If your story can be used as fodder for its political bonfire, you will be coddled and your hand held all the way. But if your trauma happens to interfere with their agenda . . . better get over it pretty fast, or you’ll end up the bad guy. 

The people who stand to lose the most if the ACLU gets its way are women and children. Some have had traumatic experiences in restrooms, locker rooms, and similar private spaces. They have suffered sexual and physical assault and then pieced together lives as normal as they could manage. Some were raped in the kinds of spaces that HB2 protects. For them, exposure to a naked person of the opposite biological sex can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder.

This means nothing to the ACLU. In its swift assault on HB2, the ACLU tells women, children, and rape survivors to get over themselves. For all that talk of always believing the victim, when victims confront the Left, they are belittled and silenced.

“HB2 is the most heinous, homophobic, transphobic law we have ever seen,” writes Michelangelo Signorile (who evidently has never seen sharia law) in the Huffington Post. Translation: “We can’t believe that anything as trivial as reality would be allowed to get in the way of our agenda.”

The Left won’t tolerate a sensible compromise, of single-occupancy bathrooms and changing rooms, because common sense isn’t its goal. Complete ideological domination is. In this milieu, the defense of sanity is difficult work, and North Carolina governor Pat McCrory should be commended.

— Jane Clark Scharl is a freelance culture and politics writer who lives in Phoenix, Ariz. Her work has been featured at National Review OnlineThe Intercollegiate Review, and The Imaginative Conservative.


Humberto Fontova
March 30, 2016

A poster features portraits of Cuba’s President Raul Castro, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama and reads in Spanish “Welcome to Cuba” outside a restaurant in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, March 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Right before his first tango in Buenos Aires, President Obama addressed the Cuban people (and the world) in an instantly famous speech from Havana’s Grand Theater. Among the highlights:
“Here’s my message to the Cuban government and the Cuban people: The ideals that are the starting point for every revolution, America’s revolution, Cuba’s revolution, the liberation movements around the world, these ideals find their truest expression, I believe, in democracy.”  (U.S. President Obama, Havana Cuba, March 22, 2016.)
Let’s hope this astounding observation resulted from bad staff work. Because, in fact, from the mid-fifties on, both Obama’s recent host (Raul Castro) and his recent mural idol (Che Guevara) were Soviet agents committed to creating a Stalinist Cuba—a vassal to the Communist motherland.  
Oh, I know, I know -- the media, your professors, the History Channel, Francis Ford Coppola, etc., etc., all claim the Cuban revolutionaries were noble “nationalists” who were pushed kicking and screaming into the arms of Mother Russia by blockheaded Yankee “bullying.”
Pure and perfect baloney—like practically everything that the above sources claim about the Cuban Revolution.  
In fact, the leaders of the Cuban “liberation movement” (as Obama calls it) were Soviet vassals from the get-go. Starting in the mid-fifties both were proudly and faithfully working for the Soviet Union. On a visit behind the Iron Curtain, in 1953, Raul Castro met and was assigned a KGB case-officer named Nikolai Leonov.  Then, in 1955, while exiled in Mexico City, Raul Castro introduced Leonov to his new Argentinean friend Ernesto “Che” Guevara. 
Probably no Bobby-Soxer ever swooned over Frank Sinatra like Guevara swooned that day. Probably no Beatle-maniac gaped, giggled and screamed at Paul McCartney like the smitten Guevara when introduced to a “gen-you-wine!” Stalinist apparatchik. You see, amigos, even at that tender age Ernesto Guevara was already boasting that in his view, “the solution to the world’s problems lie behind the Iron Curtain” and signing his correspondence as “Stalin II.”   Yes, it was love at first sight.
Oh, I  know, I know -- in the movie "Motorcycle Diaries," Robert Redford depicts Ernesto Guevara as an idealistic youth anguished over the plight of the poor and yearning to alleviate it—a Peace Corps volunteer by another name. In fact, from his political infancy forward, Guevara was always a hard-core Stalinist. So yes, both Raul Castro and Ernest “Che” Guevara functioned as wind-up toys for a Spanish-speaking KGB agent named Nikolai Leonov. 
Raul and Che had barely entered Havana, in January 1959, when more of their Soviet chums showed up to eagerly offer some “hands-on” advice—which was eagerly accepted and implemented.
A highly effective Stalinist policy titled El Compromiso Sangriento (The Blood Covenant) was presented to Raul and Che only weeks after they entered Havana in January 1959. The emissary was a Soviet GRU agent named Angel Ciutat, a Spanish Communist actually, who fled into the arms of mother Russia after Franco’s victory. The scene was a meeting at Che's palatial (and recently stolen) estate just west of Havana.
Oh, I know, I know -- the sources already mentioned say Che Guevara was antiseptically selfless, living a life to shame a Trappist monk. In fact:  “Che Guevara’s Havana mansion was among the most luxurious homes in Cuba," wrote Cuban journalist Antonio Llano Montes in 1960. “The mansion had a boat dock, a huge swimming pool, seven bathrooms, a sauna, a massage salon and several television sets,” continues Llano Montes. “One TV had been specially designed in the U.S. and had a screen ten feet wide and was operated by remote control (remember, this was 1959). This was thought to be the only TV of its kind in Latin America. The mansion’s garden had a veritable jungle of imported plants, a pool with waterfall, ponds filled with exotic tropical fish and several bird houses filled with parrots and other exotic birds.”
But back to the Blood Covenant. Every candidate for military officer suggested Soviet officer Ciutat would take his place in a firing squad and pull the trigger with live ammo. Given the hundreds of Cubans being murdered weekly by firing squad in Cuba, at the time, the scheme seemed simply quite practical.
From his prison-cell window, the late Tito Rodriguez Oltmans, a former Cuban freedom-fighter and political prisoner, watched this blood covenant in action. "Every evening the military cadets and regime officials would be bused in and armed with Belgian .308 caliber FALs as they lined up for the firing squad," recalls Mr. Oltmans, a prisoner in La Cabana prison in the early 1960s. “As darkness fell the condemned patriot -- shirtless and gagged -- would be dragged to the execution wall and bound. The cadets and officials would line up only four meters in front of the patriot and all had loaded weapons." FUEGO!
A brief aside: historically, and almost universally, many members of a firing squad shoot blanks, to assuage their conscience. But such assuaging would contradict the Cuban firing squads' most vital purpose.
The point of the Blood Covenant was to bond the murderers, especially those in line for future leadership, with the murderous regime. The more shooters, the more murderers. The more murderers thus manufactured, the more people highly-motivated to resist any overthrow of their system. After 16,000 firing-squad murders (according to the Black Book of Communism) Cuba's officer and regime official corps was plenty "bonded" to the regime.
Most of Cuba’s economic infrastructure–especially tourism facilities–are owned by Cuba’s military; hence, every penny spent in Cuba by foreign investors and tourists lands in their pockets. Every shred of observable evidence proves that travel to Cuba and business with its Stalinist mafia enriches and entrenches these KGB-trained and heavily-armed owners of Cuba’s tourism industry. They’re the only outfit in Cuba with guns and they remain the most highly motivated guardians of Cuba’s Stalinist and Terror-Sponsoring status-quo.
Please note, amigos: there is no “doing business with Cuba,” as liberals and moronic libertarians claim. There is only doing business with the KGB and GRU trained Stalinist fat-cats who occupy Cuba.
Hence, as long predicted by almost all “crazy right wing!” Americans of Cuban heritage, while today (and mostly thanks to Obama) Cuba is enjoying record foreign investment and record tourism. Cubans are suffering record repression. Case closed.
 Tags: Barack ObamaCastroCuba

Monday, March 28, 2016

Today's Tune: Skylar Gudasz ~ If I Were a Carpenter

Skylar Gudasz, the best singer you’ve never heard

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It takes about three notes, four words and five seconds for Skylar Gudasz to put you into another world on her astonishingly great debut album, “Oleander” (Daniel 13 Music). The lead-off track, “Kick Out the Chair,” opens with a surging wave of strings, Gudasz on piano and murmuring the title phrase – plus the admonition, “Tell the truth” to a “smog-eyed tragedy” of a hero.
It’s transporting, all the more so for its accompanying mystery. And now that the 12 songs of “Oleander” are out in the world, Gudasz can’t help but feel a little strange about opening up such deeply private feelings and thoughts.
“All of the songs are definitely intimate and intensely personal,” she says. “I was telling my friend recently how strange it feels to have shared the album now. Like suddenly everyone is in on a secret of mine, one that I didn’t realize how tender it would be to tell.”
Gudasz, a 28-year-old Virginia native who calls Durham home nowadays, has been one of the local music scene’s best-kept secrets for several years. Before the release of “Oleander,” she was best-known for a series of high-profile vocal cameos on projects including Lost in the Trees mastermind Ari Picker’s “Lion and the Lamb” (a 2015 Duke Performances commission) and local studio godfather Chris Stamey’s ongoing series of live “Big Star’s Third” performances.
Invariably, her voice – smoky and expressive, with a penchant for singing “on the Southern side of the beat,” as Stamey puts it – makes jaws drop. That included Stamey, who was playing onstage with her in Barcelona, Spain, one night a few years back when she left an audience awestruck. Once they were back in North Carolina, he brought Gudasz into his Chapel Hill studio to make some demo recordings.
“I wanted to hear the songs she was writing, and they were not at all what I expected,” Stamey says. “These piano songs, and I thought they were wonderful. But life went on for another month or two until those songs of hers came up on my iTunes one day. ‘What am I doing?’ I thought. ‘This is what I want to do, make this record with Skylar.’ That was the process. But I want to fight the perception of me being her ‘Svengali.’ I was able to help her color in and realize some things, but she gets all the props.”

Falling into the scene

Gudasz grew up in the rural Virginia environs of Ashland, right next to Kings Dominion amusement park. And if you weren’t working on a farm, you were working at Kings Dominion. Among her jobs there were handling props for one of the park’s shows and selling candid pictures taken of people on a roller coaster.
Singing was a constant, mostly in choirs and the theater (she came to UNC-Chapel Hill to study dramatic art and creative writing). The discovery that she had cysts on her vocal chords closed off classical singing as an option, so Gudasz took a path closer to some of the confessional singer-songwriters she’d grown up admiring – Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Carly Simon.
In Chapel Hill, Gudasz fell in with a group of musicians including members of Mandolin Orange and The Old Ceremony. Local musician and studio owner Jeff Crawford was recording her six years ago for his “Music From the Gathering Church” series.
“Her voice just floored me, and her writing is incredible,” says Crawford, who still plays in Gudasz’s band. “I was blown away. She’s always had this Karen Carpenter thing going on, in a good way, and her writing recalls Joni Mitchell, Aimee Mann. But she puts her own spin on all of it, which is a really cool thing. No stage is too small or too big for her. She’s super-quick and also really creative and generous.”

Music for its own sake

As lush as the final version of “Oleander” turned out to be, it started out as more of a bare-bones project. Initial sessions consisted of Stamey recording Gudasz singing while playing piano or guitar (her primary instrument is actually flute). As the album progressed, they added strings, horns and other accoutrements – played by an all-star cast including Let’s Active mastermind Mitch Easter, The Old Ceremony’s Django Haskins, Megafaun’s Brad Cook, Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and jazz man Ken Vandermark.
Gudasz remembers that while they were in the control room listening to Vandermark (a 1999 MacArthur Fellow) do his take on clarinet, Stamey turned to her and asked, “Can you believe this life that we’re living?”
But for all the star power involved, “Oleander” is still very much Gudasz’s record. One of the grabbier songs on it is “I’m So Happy I Could Die,” an acidic kiss-off on which Gudasz manages to sound numb and dangerously off-kilter all at once. Comments on the YouTube video range from, “Kanye West should be on the remix” to, “so psycho, love it!”
“Hasn’t everybody felt like that song?” Gudasz asks with a laugh. “Oftentimes songs get conflated with a songwriter’s particular personal experiences, and usually they are based in some bit of truth or specific moment. But that song was probably the most ‘songwriting exercise’ song of all the ones on this record. Not that it wasn’t personal at all, but I definitely set out with a mission on that one.”
Now that “Oleander” is out in the world, Gudasz will spend a good chunk of this year touring for it, coming off a stint opening for Mount Moriah. Good as it is, however, “Oleander” is still a long shot without an obvious slot on commercial radio. Unfortunately, music for its own sake isn’t much of a niche anymore.
“It’s hard to talk about to people who don’t live around here and aren’t in the scene,” Gudasz says. “You know, they’ll say things like, ‘You’re a musician, so what have you ever done? Why don’t you stop messing around and go on “The Voice” already?’ As if that’s a realistic plan. The music industry is such a changing sea right now, and no one knows what to make of any of it. People are just confounded by it. I’ll get, ‘So you play…what, weddings? You tour? Where?’ It’s all just very confusing.”
Actually, Gudasz DOES play the occasional wedding. When Crawford got married in 2013, she sang at his wedding – “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” – and by all accounts it was amazing.
She’s not going to stay the Triangle’s secret for much longer.

David Menconi: 919-829-4759@NCDavidMenconi
Who: Skylar Gudasz, Wild Fur, Vaughn Aed
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Cat’s Cradle Back Room, 300 E. Main St., Carrboro
Cost: $8-$10
Details: 919-967-9053 or

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