Day: September 19, 2017

Students idiots on free speech? Look to their professors and politicians


The Washington Post reports that a ‘chilling new study’ shows that large numbers of college students are hostile to free speech. They believe that shouting down speakers they don’t like and committing violence against them is acceptable. They fail to recognize that ‘hate speech’ is protected by the First Amendment. According to columnist Catherine Rampell:

A fifth of undergrads now say it’s acceptable to use physical force to silence a speaker who makes “offensive and hurtful statements.”


That’s one finding from a disturbing new survey of students conducted by John Villasenor, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and University of California at Los Angeles professor.

 

I believe the professors are the ones teaching the students to be against free speech. Look how many share the views of the student body with their ‘I need some muscle over here’ kind of talk in front of the students. Melissa Click of the University of Missouri got fired after public exposure of that remark, but the fact remains, she would have kept on teaching this sort of thinking had she not been caught on camera. And she is not alone. The latest practitioner of incitement to violence is one Professor Stephen Isaacson of John Jay College, who said he was privileged to teach ‘future dead cops.’

 

I chalk it up to the political atmosphere. If professors are bad on free speech, so is the political class that succors them.

 

President Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, and her fellow Democrat state attorneys general threatened legal action against those who disagreed with the government on climate change. Now that is dangerous.

 

The IRS blocked political opponents of the president through tax regulations in order to infringe on their free speech. Our government stifled the groups’ ability to raise money and spread their message before the elections by failing to approve their tax-free status. That is not only extremely dangerous, it is illegal.

 

The article about the state of things, how the assault on free speech has filtered down from the top is extremely useful. The First Amendment is extremely important for our freedom and future. I am glad the press, even on the leftside, in this Washington Post column, recognize that. It is a shame they didn’t come down hard on Obama when he and his agencies stifled diverse thought.


 

The Washington Post reports that a ‘chilling new study’ shows that large numbers of college students are hostile to free speech. They believe that shouting down speakers they don’t like and committing violence against them is acceptable. They fail to recognize that ‘hate speech’ is protected by the First Amendment. According to columnist Catherine Rampell:

A fifth of undergrads now say it’s acceptable to use physical force to silence a speaker who makes “offensive and hurtful statements.”


That’s one finding from a disturbing new survey of students conducted by John Villasenor, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and University of California at Los Angeles professor.

 

I believe the professors are the ones teaching the students to be against free speech. Look how many share the views of the student body with their ‘I need some muscle over here’ kind of talk in front of the students. Melissa Click of the University of Missouri got fired after public exposure of that remark, but the fact remains, she would have kept on teaching this sort of thinking had she not been caught on camera. And she is not alone. The latest practitioner of incitement to violence is one Professor Stephen Isaacson of John Jay College, who said he was privileged to teach ‘future dead cops.’

 

I chalk it up to the political atmosphere. If professors are bad on free speech, so is the political class that succors them.

 

President Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, and her fellow Democrat state attorneys general threatened legal action against those who disagreed with the government on climate change. Now that is dangerous.

 

The IRS blocked political opponents of the president through tax regulations in order to infringe on their free speech. Our government stifled the groups’ ability to raise money and spread their message before the elections by failing to approve their tax-free status. That is not only extremely dangerous, it is illegal.

 

The article about the state of things, how the assault on free speech has filtered down from the top is extremely useful. The First Amendment is extremely important for our freedom and future. I am glad the press, even on the leftside, in this Washington Post column, recognize that. It is a shame they didn’t come down hard on Obama when he and his agencies stifled diverse thought.


 



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It’s Official: Big Changes Coming to Fox News


Months of speculation ended on Monday September 18 when Fox News programming President Suzanne Scott made the announcement: Fox News’ prime time schedule is set for yet another big change starting next week. This marks the fourth major adjustment in Fox News’ critical evening lineup in less than a year.

The Drudge Report Sept. 18, 2017 2:03 P.M. E.T.

This change has been in the works for about two months. As I reported for American Thinker back on August 16, Laura Ingraham will join the channel with her own show at 10 P.M. E.T. The Ingraham Angle, as it will be called, is scheduled to premiere on October 30. The other big change, which I also reported five weeks ago, is that Sean Hannity, who has been on at 10 P.M. since 2013 (and in prime time on Fox News since the channel launched in 1996), will move to 9 P.M. Last month, the rest of the media got this part of the story wrong in predicting that Hannity would remain at 10 P.M. Hannity, at 9 P.M., will finally be in a position to take on the current cable news leader Rachel Maddow, whose MSNBC show went to the top of the ratings after Bill O’Reilly was fired by FNC last April and The Five was moved to 9 P.M. A weak contender in the ratings in prime time, the ensemble lightweight political chat show The Five will move back to 5 P.M. starting next Monday, making room for Hannity’s shift to the 9 o’clock hour the same night.

Fox executive Scott’s announcement generated a lot of coverage in the media on Monday and was noted at the end of Bret Baier’s news hour Monday evening at 6:59 PM on FNC. At the start of his own Monday night show, Hannity said he would be making a major announcement, which he did with considerable enthusiasm at the end of his program. He appeared to be looking forward to the challenge of overtaking Maddow.

Starting Monday September 25, we’re going to be moving to 9 P.M., back where we started. We’re very happy about it. By the way, all my career I’ve started behind the eight ball. In the month of August, for example, we were number two in cable because for some bizarre reason, conspiracy theory TV is working right now. But with your help and if you help us spread the word, give us a little time, we’re planning on being number one with your help.


We also really want to congratulate our good friend of this program, Laura Ingraham. She’s going to be taking over the 10 P.M. slot at the end of October. As I wrote on Twitter earlier today – when you think about it, I never expected that I would be the bridge between two generations of the Fox News Channel. This is the next generation. We’ve had some changes, obviously – Greta, Bill, and Megyn have all left. I’m glad to be back in my own time slot. It starts next Monday. We’re very proud of Tucker and Martha and now Laura. We’ll see you Monday – Monday night at 9 o’clock. We’ll always be fair and balanced.

Sept. 18, 2017: Sean Hannity announces his show is moving to 9 P.M.

In his Twitter feed, Hannity announced that his FNC show – which has usually been pre-recorded when it aired at 10 P.M. – will return to being live when it moves to 9 o’clock.

Close watchers noted that Hannity, during the closing moments of his show Monday night and for the first time in memory, was holding and waving a pair of reading glasses. After his show aired, I asked him, “What’s with the glasses?” His email reply: “Maddow Anderson glasses. Lol” –  a lighthearted reference to the looming challenge at hand (both Maddow and Anderson Cooper, who is on CNN at 9 P.M., wear glasses during their programs).

Laura Ingraham

While Hannity and Ingraham are both considered to be strong contenders for success in this latest chapter of the ongoing cable news wars, The Five finds itself in a weakened position. Its move back to 5 P.M. after less than five months in prime time is a de facto admission of ratings defeat. Previously, the Five, which premiered in 2011, did very well at 5 P.M., often coming in as the second most-watched program on Fox News. But that was then and this is now.

Arguably the strongest personality on The Five (prior to its move to prime time) was conservative financial expert and author Eric Bolling. In late April, Bolling was assigned to a new show at 5 P.M. that started on May 1, The Fox News Specialists. That show was abruptly canceled the same day Bolling and Fox News parted ways on September 8. Another key player on The Five, longtime Democratic Party operative and liberal stalwart Bob Beckel, was fired on May 19. His replacement was left wing writer and analyst Juan Williams. If anyone could make a viewer miss Beckel’s presence, it’s Juan Williams. Beckel, an acerbic but avuncular personality with a surprising degree of charisma, at least didn’t take himself too seriously and his comments were usually brief and kept to a minimum, a fact that he joked about. Williams is a skilled propagandist for the left, having cut his teeth at PBS, the Washington Post, and NPR. And he takes himself very seriously.

On his nationally syndicated radio show on Monday afternoon, Hannity welcomed as a guest – for the first time since he was fired from Fox News – Bill O’Reilly. Hannity noted that they hadn’t been close, because they didn’t see each other that often and because of “the competitive nature of our business.” But now, he noted, they’ve started to talk.

Over the course of time, we realized we had a lot more in common than we probably ever realized. Bill O’Reilly I think is a victim in many ways of this liberal effort to silence every conservative voice.

Before bringing O’Reilly on, Hannity announced the big news of impending schedule change at Fox News. By all accounts, Hannity is a man with a sense of humor who enjoys a joke; he quipped before going to a commercial break: “Rachel – Hi! I’m Sean. Anderson – How’re you doin’? I’m coming – to a city near you.”

Peter Barry Chowka is a widely published author and journalist.  He writes most frequently these days for American Thinker.  His website is AltMedNews.net.  Follow Peter on Twitter.

Months of speculation ended on Monday September 18 when Fox News programming President Suzanne Scott made the announcement: Fox News’ prime time schedule is set for yet another big change starting next week. This marks the fourth major adjustment in Fox News’ critical evening lineup in less than a year.

The Drudge Report Sept. 18, 2017 2:03 P.M. E.T.

This change has been in the works for about two months. As I reported for American Thinker back on August 16, Laura Ingraham will join the channel with her own show at 10 P.M. E.T. The Ingraham Angle, as it will be called, is scheduled to premiere on October 30. The other big change, which I also reported five weeks ago, is that Sean Hannity, who has been on at 10 P.M. since 2013 (and in prime time on Fox News since the channel launched in 1996), will move to 9 P.M. Last month, the rest of the media got this part of the story wrong in predicting that Hannity would remain at 10 P.M. Hannity, at 9 P.M., will finally be in a position to take on the current cable news leader Rachel Maddow, whose MSNBC show went to the top of the ratings after Bill O’Reilly was fired by FNC last April and The Five was moved to 9 P.M. A weak contender in the ratings in prime time, the ensemble lightweight political chat show The Five will move back to 5 P.M. starting next Monday, making room for Hannity’s shift to the 9 o’clock hour the same night.

Fox executive Scott’s announcement generated a lot of coverage in the media on Monday and was noted at the end of Bret Baier’s news hour Monday evening at 6:59 PM on FNC. At the start of his own Monday night show, Hannity said he would be making a major announcement, which he did with considerable enthusiasm at the end of his program. He appeared to be looking forward to the challenge of overtaking Maddow.

Starting Monday September 25, we’re going to be moving to 9 P.M., back where we started. We’re very happy about it. By the way, all my career I’ve started behind the eight ball. In the month of August, for example, we were number two in cable because for some bizarre reason, conspiracy theory TV is working right now. But with your help and if you help us spread the word, give us a little time, we’re planning on being number one with your help.


We also really want to congratulate our good friend of this program, Laura Ingraham. She’s going to be taking over the 10 P.M. slot at the end of October. As I wrote on Twitter earlier today – when you think about it, I never expected that I would be the bridge between two generations of the Fox News Channel. This is the next generation. We’ve had some changes, obviously – Greta, Bill, and Megyn have all left. I’m glad to be back in my own time slot. It starts next Monday. We’re very proud of Tucker and Martha and now Laura. We’ll see you Monday – Monday night at 9 o’clock. We’ll always be fair and balanced.

Sept. 18, 2017: Sean Hannity announces his show is moving to 9 P.M.

In his Twitter feed, Hannity announced that his FNC show – which has usually been pre-recorded when it aired at 10 P.M. – will return to being live when it moves to 9 o’clock.

Close watchers noted that Hannity, during the closing moments of his show Monday night and for the first time in memory, was holding and waving a pair of reading glasses. After his show aired, I asked him, “What’s with the glasses?” His email reply: “Maddow Anderson glasses. Lol” –  a lighthearted reference to the looming challenge at hand (both Maddow and Anderson Cooper, who is on CNN at 9 P.M., wear glasses during their programs).

Laura Ingraham

While Hannity and Ingraham are both considered to be strong contenders for success in this latest chapter of the ongoing cable news wars, The Five finds itself in a weakened position. Its move back to 5 P.M. after less than five months in prime time is a de facto admission of ratings defeat. Previously, the Five, which premiered in 2011, did very well at 5 P.M., often coming in as the second most-watched program on Fox News. But that was then and this is now.

Arguably the strongest personality on The Five (prior to its move to prime time) was conservative financial expert and author Eric Bolling. In late April, Bolling was assigned to a new show at 5 P.M. that started on May 1, The Fox News Specialists. That show was abruptly canceled the same day Bolling and Fox News parted ways on September 8. Another key player on The Five, longtime Democratic Party operative and liberal stalwart Bob Beckel, was fired on May 19. His replacement was left wing writer and analyst Juan Williams. If anyone could make a viewer miss Beckel’s presence, it’s Juan Williams. Beckel, an acerbic but avuncular personality with a surprising degree of charisma, at least didn’t take himself too seriously and his comments were usually brief and kept to a minimum, a fact that he joked about. Williams is a skilled propagandist for the left, having cut his teeth at PBS, the Washington Post, and NPR. And he takes himself very seriously.

On his nationally syndicated radio show on Monday afternoon, Hannity welcomed as a guest – for the first time since he was fired from Fox News – Bill O’Reilly. Hannity noted that they hadn’t been close, because they didn’t see each other that often and because of “the competitive nature of our business.” But now, he noted, they’ve started to talk.

Over the course of time, we realized we had a lot more in common than we probably ever realized. Bill O’Reilly I think is a victim in many ways of this liberal effort to silence every conservative voice.

Before bringing O’Reilly on, Hannity announced the big news of impending schedule change at Fox News. By all accounts, Hannity is a man with a sense of humor who enjoys a joke; he quipped before going to a commercial break: “Rachel – Hi! I’m Sean. Anderson – How’re you doin’? I’m coming – to a city near you.”

Peter Barry Chowka is a widely published author and journalist.  He writes most frequently these days for American Thinker.  His website is AltMedNews.net.  Follow Peter on Twitter.



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Melancholia: Rethinking a Movie


Thinking that I would soon have to trade in my DVR and thus lose all my recorded movies I decided to watch one that I had recorded more than three years ago but hadn’t seen: Melancholia (2011) by the Danish writer-director Lars von Trier. As I survey von Trier’s oeuvre, I see that I haven’t seen much of it, but I believe I did see Europa (1991), and perhaps even in the theatre. In America, Europa is known as Zentropa, which happens to be the name of von Trier’s film company.

Melancholia may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It operates on (at least) two levels. The first level is that of the “art film.” The second, which I think more Americans will appreciate, is more of a straight drama. But the art film takes precedence, as the film starts out with an actual overture where we see very static images set to the Act I Prelude of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

After the overture we see a white stretch limousine trying to negotiate a tight turn in what looks to be a forest. In the limo are two newlyweds still in their ceremonial finery. We’re left to conclude that the limo never got around the bend, because our newlyweds are next seen walking up the drive to the posh golf resort hosting their wedding reception. The bride’s sister informs them they’re two hours late.

If the rapturous “music of the spheres” overture bores you, you might just like the wedding reception, which is peopled with several stellar stars including Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, Udo Kier, and the recently deceased Sir John Hurt. Hurt and Rampling play the divorced parents of the bride, and when the alienated two are asked to deliver speeches there’s a bit of ugly rancor.

Melancholia has some beautiful camera work, such as when the wedding party ventures out on the manicured lawn at night to release small hot-air balloons, which seem to be made of paper. They’re a lovely sight against the night sky as they float off; one balloon catches fire. The entire movie takes place at the lovely Tjolöholm Castle in Sweden, which serves as the movie’s golf resort.

In the middle of the reception dinner, the bride excuses herself, but instead of going to the powder room, she goes outside. And what do we hear but the opening strains from Tristan, which we’ll hear from time to time throughout the movie. The bride takes a golf cart out across the links, then stops, and squats on a green to urinate. While relieving herself she looks up at the night sky with wonder, all to Wagner. (I myself prefer to micturate to Mahler.)

When the bride returns to her reception, it moves on to the cake cutting and the dancing. But as the evening rolls on, we begin to suspect that the bride is quite disturbed, perhaps even clinically depressed. We also learn that she is not by any means “marriage material,” as she commits an unforgiveable act that ends her marriage on her wedding night.

Melancholia is divided into two parts, each named for a sister. Part I is named for Justine, the bride, and Part II is named for Justine’s sister Claire, who is married to the owner of the resort, where they live with their young son. Part I is all about the disastrous wedding reception, and Part II concerns an intervening world event of incalculable importance. If you haven’t seen the film and are interested in doing so, then you might want to stop reading now.

SPOILER ALERT:

The shattering world event of Part II is the advent of Melancholia, a new planet that is on its merry way to rendezvous with Earth, hopefully in a “fly-by.” But the Internet is abuzz with stories that Melancholia will crash into our little planet. Early in Part II, the dysfunctional, depressed Justine comes to live with her sister, and upon arriving she seems to be good for nothing but sleep. Part II is about how Justine, Claire, and Claire’s husband John, deal with the prospect of total loss.

Justine (Kirsten Dunst) is taking the possibility of imminent doom rather calmly compared to her sister, to whom she offers little comfort. Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is the more sympathetic sister. Claire’s husband John (Kiefer Sutherland) tries to assure her that the planet will indeed fly by them.

Part II raises very interesting “metaphysical” issues. Justine is bleakness itself and is resigned to the End of World. She tells Claire that life on Earth is evil, and that no one will miss us. You wonder whether Justine loves anything on Earth. Unlike her sister, Claire is tormented by the prospect of losing everything. Perhaps that’s because she has a child. Claire seems to love the Earth and her life on it, life on Earth is good, and so she suffers. The contrast between the two sisters in how they face The End of the World is, or should be, the focal point of the movie: do you love life or not? (I wish I had screened Melancholia back in 2014 so that I could have included it in “The End of the World and Other Entertainments.”)

RE-EDITING MELANCHOLIA:

But what’s the point of joining these two stories? Except for sharing some of the characters, Part I and II seem unrelated. I could see splitting them apart to make separate movies. That would mean adding a new second half to Part I and adding a new first half to Part II. Part I, the wedding reception, is excellent as it is, and a new second half could be developed in any number of directions. For instance, von Trier could follow the story of the groom. Part I is fecund with possibility for a terrific second half that doesn’t lead to the destruction of the planet. Making Part II into a separate movie, however, might be more difficult than Part I.

It’s doubtful that Mr. von Trier would be up for splitting his movie in two, but Melancholia could still be salvaged as a single movie. I like this movie, and I think I know how to fix it. Here are some ideas:

In Part II Justine tells Claire that she “knows things.” As evidence, she tells Claire how many beans were in the bottle in the wedding reception contest, which Claire knows is correct as the caterer told her the number. Justine also thinks she “knows” that life exists nowhere but on Earth, which would make the enormity of the approaching planet more so. Is Justine omniscient or what? Also, at the very end of Part I Justine looks up into the sky and says: “The red star is missing from Scorpio and Antares isn’t there.” But it’s daytime; can she see stars in daylight; is she superhuman? Such elements distract from the real story. Cut them.

Another thing to cut is the “art film” stuff, such as when Justine goes out to look at a night sky that has two orbs, the Moon and Melancholia. She does this lying on the ground naked as a blue jay, all while Wagner blazes away. The scene is a distraction and doesn’t further the story. Although we’re all grateful to see Ms. Dunst in the altogether, the scene needs cutting.

And something needs to be done about the overture. If von Trier simply must have his overture, then he might think about using different images. You see, Tristan is about love and longing, but the visuals he uses in the overture make it ponderous, rather than rapturous. Tristan’s Act I Prelude has always seemed a special, singular piece of music to me; serious opera lovers might resent its appropriation to accompany the End of the World. The quickest, easiest, and perhaps best fix for the overture is to simply cut it.

These cuts, I think, will strengthen the film, and perhaps even get it a second run. That means more money. Lars baby, we can fix this flick. Call me.

Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. 

Thinking that I would soon have to trade in my DVR and thus lose all my recorded movies I decided to watch one that I had recorded more than three years ago but hadn’t seen: Melancholia (2011) by the Danish writer-director Lars von Trier. As I survey von Trier’s oeuvre, I see that I haven’t seen much of it, but I believe I did see Europa (1991), and perhaps even in the theatre. In America, Europa is known as Zentropa, which happens to be the name of von Trier’s film company.

Melancholia may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It operates on (at least) two levels. The first level is that of the “art film.” The second, which I think more Americans will appreciate, is more of a straight drama. But the art film takes precedence, as the film starts out with an actual overture where we see very static images set to the Act I Prelude of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

After the overture we see a white stretch limousine trying to negotiate a tight turn in what looks to be a forest. In the limo are two newlyweds still in their ceremonial finery. We’re left to conclude that the limo never got around the bend, because our newlyweds are next seen walking up the drive to the posh golf resort hosting their wedding reception. The bride’s sister informs them they’re two hours late.

If the rapturous “music of the spheres” overture bores you, you might just like the wedding reception, which is peopled with several stellar stars including Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, Udo Kier, and the recently deceased Sir John Hurt. Hurt and Rampling play the divorced parents of the bride, and when the alienated two are asked to deliver speeches there’s a bit of ugly rancor.

Melancholia has some beautiful camera work, such as when the wedding party ventures out on the manicured lawn at night to release small hot-air balloons, which seem to be made of paper. They’re a lovely sight against the night sky as they float off; one balloon catches fire. The entire movie takes place at the lovely Tjolöholm Castle in Sweden, which serves as the movie’s golf resort.

In the middle of the reception dinner, the bride excuses herself, but instead of going to the powder room, she goes outside. And what do we hear but the opening strains from Tristan, which we’ll hear from time to time throughout the movie. The bride takes a golf cart out across the links, then stops, and squats on a green to urinate. While relieving herself she looks up at the night sky with wonder, all to Wagner. (I myself prefer to micturate to Mahler.)

When the bride returns to her reception, it moves on to the cake cutting and the dancing. But as the evening rolls on, we begin to suspect that the bride is quite disturbed, perhaps even clinically depressed. We also learn that she is not by any means “marriage material,” as she commits an unforgiveable act that ends her marriage on her wedding night.

Melancholia is divided into two parts, each named for a sister. Part I is named for Justine, the bride, and Part II is named for Justine’s sister Claire, who is married to the owner of the resort, where they live with their young son. Part I is all about the disastrous wedding reception, and Part II concerns an intervening world event of incalculable importance. If you haven’t seen the film and are interested in doing so, then you might want to stop reading now.

SPOILER ALERT:

The shattering world event of Part II is the advent of Melancholia, a new planet that is on its merry way to rendezvous with Earth, hopefully in a “fly-by.” But the Internet is abuzz with stories that Melancholia will crash into our little planet. Early in Part II, the dysfunctional, depressed Justine comes to live with her sister, and upon arriving she seems to be good for nothing but sleep. Part II is about how Justine, Claire, and Claire’s husband John, deal with the prospect of total loss.

Justine (Kirsten Dunst) is taking the possibility of imminent doom rather calmly compared to her sister, to whom she offers little comfort. Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is the more sympathetic sister. Claire’s husband John (Kiefer Sutherland) tries to assure her that the planet will indeed fly by them.

Part II raises very interesting “metaphysical” issues. Justine is bleakness itself and is resigned to the End of World. She tells Claire that life on Earth is evil, and that no one will miss us. You wonder whether Justine loves anything on Earth. Unlike her sister, Claire is tormented by the prospect of losing everything. Perhaps that’s because she has a child. Claire seems to love the Earth and her life on it, life on Earth is good, and so she suffers. The contrast between the two sisters in how they face The End of the World is, or should be, the focal point of the movie: do you love life or not? (I wish I had screened Melancholia back in 2014 so that I could have included it in “The End of the World and Other Entertainments.”)

RE-EDITING MELANCHOLIA:

But what’s the point of joining these two stories? Except for sharing some of the characters, Part I and II seem unrelated. I could see splitting them apart to make separate movies. That would mean adding a new second half to Part I and adding a new first half to Part II. Part I, the wedding reception, is excellent as it is, and a new second half could be developed in any number of directions. For instance, von Trier could follow the story of the groom. Part I is fecund with possibility for a terrific second half that doesn’t lead to the destruction of the planet. Making Part II into a separate movie, however, might be more difficult than Part I.

It’s doubtful that Mr. von Trier would be up for splitting his movie in two, but Melancholia could still be salvaged as a single movie. I like this movie, and I think I know how to fix it. Here are some ideas:

In Part II Justine tells Claire that she “knows things.” As evidence, she tells Claire how many beans were in the bottle in the wedding reception contest, which Claire knows is correct as the caterer told her the number. Justine also thinks she “knows” that life exists nowhere but on Earth, which would make the enormity of the approaching planet more so. Is Justine omniscient or what? Also, at the very end of Part I Justine looks up into the sky and says: “The red star is missing from Scorpio and Antares isn’t there.” But it’s daytime; can she see stars in daylight; is she superhuman? Such elements distract from the real story. Cut them.

Another thing to cut is the “art film” stuff, such as when Justine goes out to look at a night sky that has two orbs, the Moon and Melancholia. She does this lying on the ground naked as a blue jay, all while Wagner blazes away. The scene is a distraction and doesn’t further the story. Although we’re all grateful to see Ms. Dunst in the altogether, the scene needs cutting.

And something needs to be done about the overture. If von Trier simply must have his overture, then he might think about using different images. You see, Tristan is about love and longing, but the visuals he uses in the overture make it ponderous, rather than rapturous. Tristan’s Act I Prelude has always seemed a special, singular piece of music to me; serious opera lovers might resent its appropriation to accompany the End of the World. The quickest, easiest, and perhaps best fix for the overture is to simply cut it.

These cuts, I think, will strengthen the film, and perhaps even get it a second run. That means more money. Lars baby, we can fix this flick. Call me.

Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. 



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Finland Welfare State Has Massive Baby Problem…


The number of newborns has fallen to its lowest level in 148 years

You know you’ve got a problem when even the best don’t have the solution.

Finland, a first-rate place in which to be a mother, has registered the lowest number of newborns in nearly 150 years. The birth rate has been falling steadily since the start of the decade, and there’s little to suggest a reversal in the trend. 

Demographics are a concern across the developed world, of course. But they are particularly problematic for countries with a generous welfare state, since they endanger its long-term survival.

For Heidi Schauman, the statistics are “frightening.”

“They show how fast our society is changing, and we don’t have solutions ready to stop the development,” the Aktia Bank chief economist said in a telephone interview in Helsinki. “We have a large public sector and the system needs taxpayers in the future.”

To do that, the fertility rate should equal two per woman, Schauman says. It was projected at 1.57 in 2016, according to Statistics Finland.

That’s a surprisingly low level, given the efforts made by the state to support parenthood.

Perhaps nothing illustrates those better than Finland’s famous baby-boxes. Introduced in 1937, containers full of baby clothes and care products are delivered to expectant mothers, with the cardboard boxes doubling up as a makeshift cot. The idea behind the maternity packages was prompted by concerns over high infant mortality rates in low-income families. The starter kits were eventually extended to all families.

Offering generous parental leave and one of the best education system in the world doesn’t seem to be working either. According to the OECD, Finland already has the lowest ratio of youths to the working-age population in the Nordics.
 

And it also has the highest rate of old-age dependency in the region.

The situation is only likely to get worse, according to OECD projections.

The European Commission says demographic factors are limiting Finland’s economic growth potential, which is estimated to peak at 1.9 percent in 2035 and flatten at 1.5 percent between 2050 and 2060.

What to do?

Reversing the modern idea that it’s ok not to have kids is impracticable. Opening the doors to immigrants is a political no-go area (Prime Minister Juha Sipila’s center-right government relies on the support of nationalist lawmakers). The leader of the opposition Social Democrats, Antti Rinne, caused a stir in August when he urged women to fulfill their patriotic duty and have more babies.

The government has been working with employers and trade unions to boost gender equality by making parental leave more flexible and the benefits system simpler. The reforms are expected to come into force in 2019.

Schauman believes that won’t be enough.

“The discussion has revolved around gender equality and the employment of women, with the issue of natality sent to the background,” she said. What Finland really needs is a political program that treasures the family and increases the value of parenthood, the economist argued.

The baby boxes that are delivered to expectant mothers contain all sorts of goodies. They include bodysuits, leggings, mittens, bra pads, talcum powder, lubricant, a hairbrush and a bath thermometer.

One suggestion is to leave out the condoms.



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Citizen Newt Is Needed Today


Citizen Newt, an authorized biography by Craig Shirley, explores how the legendary speaker of the House rose and influenced American politics and policy. It takes readers on a journey from when Gingrich decided to run for Georgia’s Sixth District to when Republicans gained control of the House in 1994.

Shirley told American Thinker, “You are hard-pressed, in the 230-year history of the American republic, to come up with the name of a political leader who wasn’t president who has had as long-lasting an impact on the national political debate as Newt Gingrich. I also was motivated to write his book because liberals can’t be trusted to record conservative history. They’re interested in pushing an agenda instead of reporting the facts. Of the books that are in my bibliography just about every one of them was written by a liberal, and every one of them was rancid, error-filled, agenda-driven, in every way, shape or form. They were not reporting on the facts of Newt Gingrich. They were reporting on their own personal ideology. But Gingrich burst on the national political scene in the late 70s, and here we are some 30 or 40 years later, and he’s still relevant.”

It is astonishing, after reading this book, to find the overlap between then and now. Many believe that there is a need for a Gingrich clone to tell it like it is and to pass legislation, while taking on the corrupt interests of the media, political consultants, lobbyists, and the establishment. Shirley believes “The problem for Donald Trump is that this Congress is a bunch of do-nothings. It is the static versus the dynamic. Newt took the Republican Party from a minority status to a majority status and accomplished his goal as stated in the ‘Contract With America.’ He got through 9 out of 10 pieces.”

Shirley quotes a 1985 statement by Gingrich, “The biggest division in the Republican Party… is between those who are serious about building a majority party and those who are locked into the mentality of a minority party.” Another quote from his 1979 campaign, where he charged that the Republican Party had not “a competent national leader in his lifetime. The GOP did not need another generation of cautious, prudent, careful, bland, irrelevant, quasi-leaders.” Sound familiar?

When asked about this, Gingrich responded to American Thinker, “It takes enormous leaders to get bills through both the House and the Senate. To accomplish something there is a need to have a leadership who knows what it is doing, communicates to the American people to get their support, and then through the American people gets the support of Congress. A perfect example is when President Trump went to North Dakota with a popular tax cut message. What I would do is build a coalition in every state of everyone who wants a tax cut and ask them to pressure members of both parties.”

In 1984, then-congressman Gingrich declared that the Democrats were obstructionists. He sees the similarities between the behavior then and now, “The fight started by Reagan and sustained by us, is the same fight of Trump today. What happens is they get into Washington surrounded by other Democrats who have this groupthink where they like to be mutually reinforced, a collectivist behavior that never wants to break rank. These people voting against the Trump agenda could be career ending; especially the states where Trump won overwhelmingly like West Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, and Montana. It appears that they are out of touch with their constituents. The average American repudiates Democratic Party values. I predict in 2018 we will hold our own in the House and pick up 4 to 6 seats in the Senate.”

Because the Democratic Party’s program is based completely on identity politics, it is no wonder that they do not control the state legislatures, state senates, governorships, the House, the Senate, or the White House. Gingrich feels it falls back onto President Obama’s shoulders, “He spent eight years annihilating the Democratic Party where now they only control six state legislatures in the country. Look at how ridiculous the statement was of a candidate running for governor in Maine when he said there are too many white people there. If true, he just repudiated the vast majority of voters there and he blatantly narrowed his appeal and acceptability. This is what goes on in the Democratic Party all the time. They do not realize how weird they have become because the only ones they talk to are themselves.”

In 1981, Gingrich appeared to be ahead of his time when he initiated a resolution to put a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King in the U.S. Capitol. This overwhelmingly passed the House and the Senate. When asked how it relates to what is happening today, Gingrich responded, “If I were African-American I don’t think I would be very happy with a statue of somebody who fought to sustain slavery. I think we should understand the feelings over the very specific issue of the Confederacy, and not consider it offensive if they are to be taken down and put in a museum because they are not being destroyed.”

He became professorlike when he noted, “We wrote an alternate novel about Gettysburg. What many people don’t realize is that Robert E. Lee’s army actually had active slave traitors who went with them and actually captured free independent blacks in the Gettysburg area and took them South to sell into slavery.”

What about the attitude toward Thomas Jefferson and George Washington? “That is completely different. I think we have to remember that it was these men who came up with the concept of a world where people were systematically able to organize the right to govern without a king. They actually created a self-governing system in which individuals could have freedom. They also wrote into the Constitution that provided for abolishing the slave trade in DC, and provided a series of steps that began to move the system away from slavery. I think it takes remarkable ignorance or a willful rejection of the facts not to realize the worth of these historic figures.”

He also thought the discussion about the movie Gone With The Wind is “stupid. It would be a little like dissing William Shakespeare because there are parts of his writings that are anti-Semitic. Both the movie and the writings reflected the world they were part of.”

He thinks conservatives should see the glass half-full by looking at the accomplishments, including the court system moving to the right, the biggest deregulation underway in history, and a real effort toward tax reform. Regarding health care reform, “I believe people do not realize that 49/52 Republicans voted correctly in the Senate. There were sixteen Democratic nos for every Republican yes. We are only focusing on the one, not the 48 Democrats who got a free pass.”

Reading this book, people will feel deja vu. Americans should yearn for the return of Newt Gingrich, because he was someone who got things done and found solutions, someone who put America first.

The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

Citizen Newt, an authorized biography by Craig Shirley, explores how the legendary speaker of the House rose and influenced American politics and policy. It takes readers on a journey from when Gingrich decided to run for Georgia’s Sixth District to when Republicans gained control of the House in 1994.

Shirley told American Thinker, “You are hard-pressed, in the 230-year history of the American republic, to come up with the name of a political leader who wasn’t president who has had as long-lasting an impact on the national political debate as Newt Gingrich. I also was motivated to write his book because liberals can’t be trusted to record conservative history. They’re interested in pushing an agenda instead of reporting the facts. Of the books that are in my bibliography just about every one of them was written by a liberal, and every one of them was rancid, error-filled, agenda-driven, in every way, shape or form. They were not reporting on the facts of Newt Gingrich. They were reporting on their own personal ideology. But Gingrich burst on the national political scene in the late 70s, and here we are some 30 or 40 years later, and he’s still relevant.”

It is astonishing, after reading this book, to find the overlap between then and now. Many believe that there is a need for a Gingrich clone to tell it like it is and to pass legislation, while taking on the corrupt interests of the media, political consultants, lobbyists, and the establishment. Shirley believes “The problem for Donald Trump is that this Congress is a bunch of do-nothings. It is the static versus the dynamic. Newt took the Republican Party from a minority status to a majority status and accomplished his goal as stated in the ‘Contract With America.’ He got through 9 out of 10 pieces.”

Shirley quotes a 1985 statement by Gingrich, “The biggest division in the Republican Party… is between those who are serious about building a majority party and those who are locked into the mentality of a minority party.” Another quote from his 1979 campaign, where he charged that the Republican Party had not “a competent national leader in his lifetime. The GOP did not need another generation of cautious, prudent, careful, bland, irrelevant, quasi-leaders.” Sound familiar?

When asked about this, Gingrich responded to American Thinker, “It takes enormous leaders to get bills through both the House and the Senate. To accomplish something there is a need to have a leadership who knows what it is doing, communicates to the American people to get their support, and then through the American people gets the support of Congress. A perfect example is when President Trump went to North Dakota with a popular tax cut message. What I would do is build a coalition in every state of everyone who wants a tax cut and ask them to pressure members of both parties.”

In 1984, then-congressman Gingrich declared that the Democrats were obstructionists. He sees the similarities between the behavior then and now, “The fight started by Reagan and sustained by us, is the same fight of Trump today. What happens is they get into Washington surrounded by other Democrats who have this groupthink where they like to be mutually reinforced, a collectivist behavior that never wants to break rank. These people voting against the Trump agenda could be career ending; especially the states where Trump won overwhelmingly like West Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, and Montana. It appears that they are out of touch with their constituents. The average American repudiates Democratic Party values. I predict in 2018 we will hold our own in the House and pick up 4 to 6 seats in the Senate.”

Because the Democratic Party’s program is based completely on identity politics, it is no wonder that they do not control the state legislatures, state senates, governorships, the House, the Senate, or the White House. Gingrich feels it falls back onto President Obama’s shoulders, “He spent eight years annihilating the Democratic Party where now they only control six state legislatures in the country. Look at how ridiculous the statement was of a candidate running for governor in Maine when he said there are too many white people there. If true, he just repudiated the vast majority of voters there and he blatantly narrowed his appeal and acceptability. This is what goes on in the Democratic Party all the time. They do not realize how weird they have become because the only ones they talk to are themselves.”

In 1981, Gingrich appeared to be ahead of his time when he initiated a resolution to put a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King in the U.S. Capitol. This overwhelmingly passed the House and the Senate. When asked how it relates to what is happening today, Gingrich responded, “If I were African-American I don’t think I would be very happy with a statue of somebody who fought to sustain slavery. I think we should understand the feelings over the very specific issue of the Confederacy, and not consider it offensive if they are to be taken down and put in a museum because they are not being destroyed.”

He became professorlike when he noted, “We wrote an alternate novel about Gettysburg. What many people don’t realize is that Robert E. Lee’s army actually had active slave traitors who went with them and actually captured free independent blacks in the Gettysburg area and took them South to sell into slavery.”

What about the attitude toward Thomas Jefferson and George Washington? “That is completely different. I think we have to remember that it was these men who came up with the concept of a world where people were systematically able to organize the right to govern without a king. They actually created a self-governing system in which individuals could have freedom. They also wrote into the Constitution that provided for abolishing the slave trade in DC, and provided a series of steps that began to move the system away from slavery. I think it takes remarkable ignorance or a willful rejection of the facts not to realize the worth of these historic figures.”

He also thought the discussion about the movie Gone With The Wind is “stupid. It would be a little like dissing William Shakespeare because there are parts of his writings that are anti-Semitic. Both the movie and the writings reflected the world they were part of.”

He thinks conservatives should see the glass half-full by looking at the accomplishments, including the court system moving to the right, the biggest deregulation underway in history, and a real effort toward tax reform. Regarding health care reform, “I believe people do not realize that 49/52 Republicans voted correctly in the Senate. There were sixteen Democratic nos for every Republican yes. We are only focusing on the one, not the 48 Democrats who got a free pass.”

Reading this book, people will feel deja vu. Americans should yearn for the return of Newt Gingrich, because he was someone who got things done and found solutions, someone who put America first.

The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.



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What? No Emerging Democratic Majority?


Back in the Oughts, John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira hit the big time with The Emerging Democratic Majority. They told liberals exactly what they wanted to hear: that women, minorities, educated, and young people were voting Democratic, and there would be more of them every year. The future was ours, comrades.

But now Judis, writing in the New Republic, says he was wrong. Why?

The answer is really rather simple. His prophecy relied on a Census Bureau assumption, that Moses supposed erroneously.

[The Bureau] projects that the same percentage of people who currently identify themselves as “Latino” or “Asian” will continue to claim those identities in future generations. In reality, that’s highly unlikely. History shows that as ethnic groups assimilate into American culture, they increasingly identify themselves as “white.”


Oh no!


Whiteness is not a genetic category, after all; it’s a social and political construct that relies on perception and prejudice.

Remember when “Irish, Italians, and Jews were not seen as whites?” Probably not, because they were “other” a century ago.

“In the 2010 Census, 53 percent of Latinos identified as ‘white,’ as did more than half of Asian Americans of mixed parentage.” And that percentage is bound to grow.

So no Emerging Democratic Majority after all, because everyone ends up wanting to be white. Who knew?

But surely there is hope. Surely, Asian Americans at least can be tempted into the “educated” voting category and bribed with government-funded academic sinecures so that they identify with the urbanist metrosexual Creative Class rather than the international capitalist conspiracy.

Only now, according to Richard Florida, the Creative Class and its “ideopolises” are Very Bad Things that increase inequality.

The way for Democrats to win, writes Judis, is the way that Democrats from Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama won, not by identity politics but by “portraying themselves as the candidates of “the common folk” and “the middle class” against Wall Street and other special interests.”

There is no need, in short, for Democrats to choose between appealing to white workers and courting people of color. By making a strong and effective case for economic justice, they can do both at the same time.

Allow me to translate. Democrats should fight elections based upon offering the greatest amount of free stuff to the greatest possible number of voters, and not limit their appeal by offering free stuff to small subsets of the electorate.

But, for me, the notion of “economic justice” bears a frosty sound. It is eternally forward-looking from a Year Zero, imagining and implementing what Frankfurt School’s Max Horkheimer called “the right kind of society.”

What the “economic justice” believers do not begin to confront is the accumulated injustice of over a century of “economic justice” politics.

  • They do not care about the white working class, that they cast aside half a century ago.
  • They do not care about ordinary middle-class citizens, that obey the law, go to work, and follow the rules.
  • They do not care about a generation of college students, that were impoverished by student debt slavery so that university administrators might diversify and include.

And yet John B. Judis is all about selling the American people on “economic justice.”

I say there is no such thing as justice, only injustice. The most that government can do is ameliorate some of the injustice, the road-kill it has carelessly cast aside through its blind pursuit of economic justice.

The recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida point this up. What price “economic justice” when your home is flooded and the power and water are shut off? People don’t care about economic justice then, they only care about surviving, and then, helping other people survive.

Black Swan guy Nassim Nicholas Taleb understands this when he writes:

Survival comes first, truth, understanding, and science later[.]

And “economic justice” comes after that. Because economic justice isn’t worth a nickel to me unless I survive.

I am reading an analysis of the Frankfurt School — so you don’t have to — and the maddening thing is the way that these lefty intellectuals sneer at “the preservation of contemporary society” and lust for “its transformation into the right kind of society.”

They think that the economic problem has been solved, and that all that remains is to award the prizes to the deserving. In fact the economy, like all life, must constantly renew and revive itself, from the individual to the family, to community and nation, and a society that forgets this basic fact of survival is heading straight for the fate of the Soviet Union and Maoist China.

I tell you what I think. I think it is a crime against humanity that we normals have not made “economic justice” as much a pejorative as “white supremacist.”

Maybe the Hispanics and Asians will figure it all out for us as they explore their essential whiteness in the years to come.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.

Back in the Oughts, John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira hit the big time with The Emerging Democratic Majority. They told liberals exactly what they wanted to hear: that women, minorities, educated, and young people were voting Democratic, and there would be more of them every year. The future was ours, comrades.

But now Judis, writing in the New Republic, says he was wrong. Why?

The answer is really rather simple. His prophecy relied on a Census Bureau assumption, that Moses supposed erroneously.

[The Bureau] projects that the same percentage of people who currently identify themselves as “Latino” or “Asian” will continue to claim those identities in future generations. In reality, that’s highly unlikely. History shows that as ethnic groups assimilate into American culture, they increasingly identify themselves as “white.”


Oh no!


Whiteness is not a genetic category, after all; it’s a social and political construct that relies on perception and prejudice.

Remember when “Irish, Italians, and Jews were not seen as whites?” Probably not, because they were “other” a century ago.

“In the 2010 Census, 53 percent of Latinos identified as ‘white,’ as did more than half of Asian Americans of mixed parentage.” And that percentage is bound to grow.

So no Emerging Democratic Majority after all, because everyone ends up wanting to be white. Who knew?

But surely there is hope. Surely, Asian Americans at least can be tempted into the “educated” voting category and bribed with government-funded academic sinecures so that they identify with the urbanist metrosexual Creative Class rather than the international capitalist conspiracy.

Only now, according to Richard Florida, the Creative Class and its “ideopolises” are Very Bad Things that increase inequality.

The way for Democrats to win, writes Judis, is the way that Democrats from Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama won, not by identity politics but by “portraying themselves as the candidates of “the common folk” and “the middle class” against Wall Street and other special interests.”

There is no need, in short, for Democrats to choose between appealing to white workers and courting people of color. By making a strong and effective case for economic justice, they can do both at the same time.

Allow me to translate. Democrats should fight elections based upon offering the greatest amount of free stuff to the greatest possible number of voters, and not limit their appeal by offering free stuff to small subsets of the electorate.

But, for me, the notion of “economic justice” bears a frosty sound. It is eternally forward-looking from a Year Zero, imagining and implementing what Frankfurt School’s Max Horkheimer called “the right kind of society.”

What the “economic justice” believers do not begin to confront is the accumulated injustice of over a century of “economic justice” politics.

  • They do not care about the white working class, that they cast aside half a century ago.
  • They do not care about ordinary middle-class citizens, that obey the law, go to work, and follow the rules.
  • They do not care about a generation of college students, that were impoverished by student debt slavery so that university administrators might diversify and include.

And yet John B. Judis is all about selling the American people on “economic justice.”

I say there is no such thing as justice, only injustice. The most that government can do is ameliorate some of the injustice, the road-kill it has carelessly cast aside through its blind pursuit of economic justice.

The recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida point this up. What price “economic justice” when your home is flooded and the power and water are shut off? People don’t care about economic justice then, they only care about surviving, and then, helping other people survive.

Black Swan guy Nassim Nicholas Taleb understands this when he writes:

Survival comes first, truth, understanding, and science later[.]

And “economic justice” comes after that. Because economic justice isn’t worth a nickel to me unless I survive.

I am reading an analysis of the Frankfurt School — so you don’t have to — and the maddening thing is the way that these lefty intellectuals sneer at “the preservation of contemporary society” and lust for “its transformation into the right kind of society.”

They think that the economic problem has been solved, and that all that remains is to award the prizes to the deserving. In fact the economy, like all life, must constantly renew and revive itself, from the individual to the family, to community and nation, and a society that forgets this basic fact of survival is heading straight for the fate of the Soviet Union and Maoist China.

I tell you what I think. I think it is a crime against humanity that we normals have not made “economic justice” as much a pejorative as “white supremacist.”

Maybe the Hispanics and Asians will figure it all out for us as they explore their essential whiteness in the years to come.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.



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London Update: West to Blame for Islamic Terrorism


As recently as Monday, Reuters was cryptic about the bombing’s cause and its perpetrators. Under the headline, “British police arrest second man over London train bomb,” this:

“It is inevitable that so-called Islamic State, or Daesh, will reach in and try to claim responsibility. We have no evidence to suggest that yet,” [British Interior Minister Amber] Rudd told the BBC.

But then Rudd tipped her hand:

“But as this unfolds, and as the police do their investigations, we will make sure that we find out exactly how he [the first suspect] was radicalized, if we can.” [Italics added]

The radicalized Catholic? Jew? Atheist? Ariana Grande fan?

Reuters won’t even hint at the identities of the nabbed suspects, though the first is rumored to be Iraqi. An ongoing police investigation and all that. So much for scoops.

Mentioned at Reuters, but elaborated on in Monday’s “Counter Jihad Report”, this wrinkle to Friday’s train bombing:

Last decade, Ronald and Penelope Jones were being feted for their work as foster parents. Now their suburban Surrey home was raided in an investigation into the train bombing in London.


The Joneses had won praise for fostering hundreds of children. But their growing interest in taking in refugees from Muslim countries turned their pleasant home with its wooden fences and green backyard into a ticking time bomb.

Seems that many of the children that the Jones’ sheltered were, in fact, young men who passed themselves off as boys. Or so goes the story. More needs to be learned about the Jones couple. Were they well-meaning dupes or somehow complicit? 

But let’s go with the story. Let’s say the Ronald and Penelope were naïve, but well-intentioned, dunderheads. As the “Counter Jihad Report” asserts:

The couple became interested in fostering “refugees” when the media barraged helpless listeners with sob stories of Syrian suffering.

There you go. A fruit of failing to name and explain the nature of Islamic militancy and its menace to the West: fuzzy-brained do-gooders facilitating terror acts from their home.  

The establishment narrative continues to dictate that the terrorist is a “lone-wolf” — a social misfit on par with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. The Birmingham concert massacre could well be Columbine High. Unfortunate and criminal, but it reveals societal pathologies — not asymmetric warfare. Highly irregular warfare, the intent being to demoralize the citizenry, breaking down their will over time to not just resist Islam’s advance, but defeat it.       

But every former goatherder and his brother living in London’s Muslim neighborhoods knew the truth immediately on Friday. Every non-Muslim Brit knew it, too. Ruling PC, however, forbids public acknowledgement. Doing so means near-instant castigation. If you’re high enough up the food chain, what ensues are mockery, character assassination, ostracization – and, if the powers-that-be can get you — loss of job. In the U.K., Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage are rare birds. Most everyone else must submit to grotesque denial and the torturing of the truth.

This decadent, truth-denying approach to the Islamic fundamentalist assault on the West isn’t a passing moment. It’s revealing. And deeply troubling. It’s the outgrowth of decades of intellectual and moral decay. The result is a spreading cultural squalor. And it’s quite intentional. It erodes, bit by bit, societal bedrock. It challenges and demeans time-tested principles. It derides virtues, common sense, enlightened self-interest (individual and communal). It slanders national interest. Protecting a society’s core beliefs and values from alien and opposing beliefs and value systems is bigoted — or “racist,” to use the all-purpose smear.

Western intellectuals and academics have been and are the driving force in this generations-long campaign to destroy Western Civilization. Islam — specifically, the millions of Muslims that now live in Western Europe — is a Trojan Horse. It’s a Trojan Horse not of an external enemy’s making, but built by Westerners who loathe their own societies.  

Post WWII, Muslims came first to Western Europe at the invitation of governments. The need was cheap labor. Two great wars had killed tens of millions of Europeans. Prior to WWI, birthrates were dropping throughout Europe’s affluent countries. They continued to do so. 

Over time, what was a practical move was seized upon by the anti-Western left. The growing masses of Muslims in Western Europe came to be regarded as a weapon.

The collection that makes up the antis — progressives, statists, atheists, nihilists, or some combination — recognized in Islam valuable hostile elements, useful in laying low the West.

The West’s own haters are responsible for Ronald and Penelope Jones — and Lord knows, countless other dupes, high and low. The facile-minded and, thus, vulnerable, who’ve bought that Western commitments to tolerance, fairness, equal rights, and inclusion mean Muslims have automatic places at the table. Not just Muslims, mind you, that reciprocate and seek true assimilation — they’re a minority. But any Muslim, because the root cause of “terrorism” can’t be an ideo-religion and its tens of millions of fervent adherents.  

That’s led to the fantasy indulgence of Western Europe’s establishments (and here, too) that given time, Muslims will assimilate into Western societies. Merkel, Macron, and May are poster children for this make-believe. Add clerics, like Pope Francis.

Decent-paying jobs, Xbox, and rubbing elbows with Hindus, Christians, and atheists in daily life will pacify Muslims. Muslim killer bees mating with Western honey bees will eventually produce drones. The affectations of Islam will remain, but harder, aggressive, deadlier aspects of the faith with vanish. Peace, love, and harmony will hold sway.

But this conviction underestimates, if not demeans, the power of religion. Materialism and godlessness may be the ways for modern Western progressives, but not for billions of people of various faiths worldwide. It certainly isn’t for Muslims, who take the tenets of their religion seriously — as in soul-savingly serious… as in heaven or hell serious.

It evades the history of Islam — right into modern times. The rationalizations can’t alter the facts. Islam has expanded through Al Hijra — conquest via migration. And, not incidentally, through the sword, through conquest. Violence, killing, and submission or death are intrinsic to Islam’s growth. Mohammed was a warrior, and not in the Salvation Army way.

Mohammed invented the rationale for the violence and bloodshed endemic through Islam’s long history… for the bloodshed committed in the name of Allah across the globe today. Ask Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia about the “Religion of Peace.” As of September, 2015, the Gatestone Institute estimated that “One Christian [is] Slaughtered Every Five Minutes” … by Muslims.        

Western Europe’s future is dark – unless clear-sighted, courageous leaders are lifted up by its peoples. Leaders with the courage to speak the truth, and the resolve to remove the menace from their midst.    

Generic terrorism struck again in London last Friday. That’s what it always is initially — an act of terrorism without specific cause. It’s the etiquette. As if London’s tube bombing could possibly have been done by a rogue Anglican. What are the Vegas odds on that?

Then ISIS took credit. But no admission by pols and elites on either side of the pond that Islamic terrorists acted to kill, obedient to their faith. The narrative must remain chaste: Islam’s basic tenets couldn’t possibly be the motivation. Maiming and killing innocents (or in the parlance, infidels) is filed under “other” causes.

As recently as Monday, Reuters was cryptic about the bombing’s cause and its perpetrators. Under the headline, “British police arrest second man over London train bomb,” this:

“It is inevitable that so-called Islamic State, or Daesh, will reach in and try to claim responsibility. We have no evidence to suggest that yet,” [British Interior Minister Amber] Rudd told the BBC.

But then Rudd tipped her hand:

“But as this unfolds, and as the police do their investigations, we will make sure that we find out exactly how he [the first suspect] was radicalized, if we can.” [Italics added]

The radicalized Catholic? Jew? Atheist? Ariana Grande fan?

Reuters won’t even hint at the identities of the nabbed suspects, though the first is rumored to be Iraqi. An ongoing police investigation and all that. So much for scoops.

Mentioned at Reuters, but elaborated on in Monday’s “Counter Jihad Report”, this wrinkle to Friday’s train bombing:

Last decade, Ronald and Penelope Jones were being feted for their work as foster parents. Now their suburban Surrey home was raided in an investigation into the train bombing in London.


The Joneses had won praise for fostering hundreds of children. But their growing interest in taking in refugees from Muslim countries turned their pleasant home with its wooden fences and green backyard into a ticking time bomb.

Seems that many of the children that the Jones’ sheltered were, in fact, young men who passed themselves off as boys. Or so goes the story. More needs to be learned about the Jones couple. Were they well-meaning dupes or somehow complicit? 

But let’s go with the story. Let’s say the Ronald and Penelope were naïve, but well-intentioned, dunderheads. As the “Counter Jihad Report” asserts:

The couple became interested in fostering “refugees” when the media barraged helpless listeners with sob stories of Syrian suffering.

There you go. A fruit of failing to name and explain the nature of Islamic militancy and its menace to the West: fuzzy-brained do-gooders facilitating terror acts from their home.  

The establishment narrative continues to dictate that the terrorist is a “lone-wolf” — a social misfit on par with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. The Birmingham concert massacre could well be Columbine High. Unfortunate and criminal, but it reveals societal pathologies — not asymmetric warfare. Highly irregular warfare, the intent being to demoralize the citizenry, breaking down their will over time to not just resist Islam’s advance, but defeat it.       

But every former goatherder and his brother living in London’s Muslim neighborhoods knew the truth immediately on Friday. Every non-Muslim Brit knew it, too. Ruling PC, however, forbids public acknowledgement. Doing so means near-instant castigation. If you’re high enough up the food chain, what ensues are mockery, character assassination, ostracization – and, if the powers-that-be can get you — loss of job. In the U.K., Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage are rare birds. Most everyone else must submit to grotesque denial and the torturing of the truth.

This decadent, truth-denying approach to the Islamic fundamentalist assault on the West isn’t a passing moment. It’s revealing. And deeply troubling. It’s the outgrowth of decades of intellectual and moral decay. The result is a spreading cultural squalor. And it’s quite intentional. It erodes, bit by bit, societal bedrock. It challenges and demeans time-tested principles. It derides virtues, common sense, enlightened self-interest (individual and communal). It slanders national interest. Protecting a society’s core beliefs and values from alien and opposing beliefs and value systems is bigoted — or “racist,” to use the all-purpose smear.

Western intellectuals and academics have been and are the driving force in this generations-long campaign to destroy Western Civilization. Islam — specifically, the millions of Muslims that now live in Western Europe — is a Trojan Horse. It’s a Trojan Horse not of an external enemy’s making, but built by Westerners who loathe their own societies.  

Post WWII, Muslims came first to Western Europe at the invitation of governments. The need was cheap labor. Two great wars had killed tens of millions of Europeans. Prior to WWI, birthrates were dropping throughout Europe’s affluent countries. They continued to do so. 

Over time, what was a practical move was seized upon by the anti-Western left. The growing masses of Muslims in Western Europe came to be regarded as a weapon.

The collection that makes up the antis — progressives, statists, atheists, nihilists, or some combination — recognized in Islam valuable hostile elements, useful in laying low the West.

The West’s own haters are responsible for Ronald and Penelope Jones — and Lord knows, countless other dupes, high and low. The facile-minded and, thus, vulnerable, who’ve bought that Western commitments to tolerance, fairness, equal rights, and inclusion mean Muslims have automatic places at the table. Not just Muslims, mind you, that reciprocate and seek true assimilation — they’re a minority. But any Muslim, because the root cause of “terrorism” can’t be an ideo-religion and its tens of millions of fervent adherents.  

That’s led to the fantasy indulgence of Western Europe’s establishments (and here, too) that given time, Muslims will assimilate into Western societies. Merkel, Macron, and May are poster children for this make-believe. Add clerics, like Pope Francis.

Decent-paying jobs, Xbox, and rubbing elbows with Hindus, Christians, and atheists in daily life will pacify Muslims. Muslim killer bees mating with Western honey bees will eventually produce drones. The affectations of Islam will remain, but harder, aggressive, deadlier aspects of the faith with vanish. Peace, love, and harmony will hold sway.

But this conviction underestimates, if not demeans, the power of religion. Materialism and godlessness may be the ways for modern Western progressives, but not for billions of people of various faiths worldwide. It certainly isn’t for Muslims, who take the tenets of their religion seriously — as in soul-savingly serious… as in heaven or hell serious.

It evades the history of Islam — right into modern times. The rationalizations can’t alter the facts. Islam has expanded through Al Hijra — conquest via migration. And, not incidentally, through the sword, through conquest. Violence, killing, and submission or death are intrinsic to Islam’s growth. Mohammed was a warrior, and not in the Salvation Army way.

Mohammed invented the rationale for the violence and bloodshed endemic through Islam’s long history… for the bloodshed committed in the name of Allah across the globe today. Ask Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia about the “Religion of Peace.” As of September, 2015, the Gatestone Institute estimated that “One Christian [is] Slaughtered Every Five Minutes” … by Muslims.        

Western Europe’s future is dark – unless clear-sighted, courageous leaders are lifted up by its peoples. Leaders with the courage to speak the truth, and the resolve to remove the menace from their midst.    



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The Clock Is Ticking on Obamacare Repeal


Repealing and replacing ObamaCare, a popular Republican campaign issue for the past seven years, has been far less urgent as a legislative issue. Just goes to show that talk is cheap. Empty promises from Republican congressional candidates running for reelection, meaningless bills for show only, passed by Congress knowing they would never become law after being shredded by the Obama veto pen.

Now with once-in-a-generation control of the executive and legislative branches, an opportunity to lead and govern, the GOP can’t seem get their heads out of their nether regions to do something of significance. Simple things like what they have been promising their constituents.

Why is the clock ticking? Come September 30, Republicans will no longer be able to repeal ObamaCare with only 51 Senate votes based on Senate rules on reconciliation. On October 1, less than two weeks away, 60 votes will be needed to advance any legislation. Tick tock.

Sure, the Senate can change the rules, but don’t hold your breath waiting for that. The Senate already failed on their first repeal attempt in July. They created the September 30 deadline through the budget resolution passed in January. Back when they were basking in the light of Donald Trump’s electoral coattails. The proverbial dog chasing the car finally catching it and asking itself, “What now?”

Republican senators have a bill they are hoping to pass before the deadline in a few weeks. Sponsored by Senators Cassidy, Heller, Johnson and Graham, the bill ends ObamaCare subsidies and mandates, both employer and individual. It gives block grant dollars to the states to spend at their discretion for Medicaid recipients.

Not the repeal promised to voters, but at this point the best we can hope for. Far better than doing nothing, which has been the GOP Senate’s track record so far this term.

If this bill fails to launch, then it’s back to the filibuster and 60 votes necessary to pass anything. Good luck getting a handful of Democrats on board with anything short of single-payer. Which, based on recently uncovered video, Senator Bernie Sanders in 1987 admitted, “would bankrupt the nation.”

So what? We are $20 trillion in debt with well over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Congress and previous presidents have already bankrupted the nation. Bernie’s plan would cost $32 trillion over ten years, chump change compared to our unfunded obligations. Fire up the printing presses at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Print more money. Borrow it from China. Whatever.

Back to the Senate bill. The Congressional Budget Office needs to analyze and score the bill before it can be considered. Can they do that in less than two weeks? Have they even started? Tick tock.

What if all GOP senators aren’t on board? Senator Rand Paul isn’t, as it doesn’t provide enough of an ObamaCare repeal. Then there are the three stooges who voted against the “skinny repeal” last July, Senators McCain, Murkowski, and Collins. McCain might vote for this bill, as his BFF Lindsey Graham is a cosponsor. Then again, Senator Maverick might slight his pal just to stick it to his non-BFF President Trump. Too close to call at this point. And unlikely to gain any Democrat senators, except perhaps a moderate like Joe Manchin.

The CBO will likely score the bill badly. Their assumption is that if individuals are not forced by the government, via the muscle of the IRS, to purchase insurance, they won’t. This leads to all persons formerly falling under the individual mandate scored incorrectly by the CBO as “uninsured” without mandates under the new bill. When in reality, most will find alternative insurance more suited to their needs when essential benefits and other insurance mandates disappear.

The clock is ticking. If the Senate can drag something across the finish line, the House can hopefully tweak and improve it, getting something to President Trump’s desk for signature. If not, then Republicans can campaign for reelection in 2018 touting their empty promises and legislative impotence. Tick tock.

Suppose the President gives up on his party’s legislative incompetence and has another dinner with his new pals Chuck and Nancy? Who knows what might emerge from the Democrat swamp? Not single-payer and certainly not a repeal. The current trajectory of ObamaCare is unsustainable and everyone knows it. The President promised to fix it. If his political partners, the GOP, can’t muster the will to do their jobs, Trump will find new partners.

September 30 is less than two weeks away. Will the Republicans make good on their longstanding promises to repeal and replace? Or will they continue to fiddle while Rome burns, facing a hostile electorate in 2018? All because they don’t approve of President Trump’s “tone and demeanor”?

A recent Politico-Harvard poll found, “More than 80 percent of Republican voters think repealing and replacing ObamaCare should be an ‘extremely important priority’ for Congress.”  Clearly their constituents want this fixed. As does their President. The time for talk and excuses is over. The clock is running. Can the GOP Congress deliver? Tick tock.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter. 

Repealing and replacing ObamaCare, a popular Republican campaign issue for the past seven years, has been far less urgent as a legislative issue. Just goes to show that talk is cheap. Empty promises from Republican congressional candidates running for reelection, meaningless bills for show only, passed by Congress knowing they would never become law after being shredded by the Obama veto pen.

Now with once-in-a-generation control of the executive and legislative branches, an opportunity to lead and govern, the GOP can’t seem get their heads out of their nether regions to do something of significance. Simple things like what they have been promising their constituents.

Why is the clock ticking? Come September 30, Republicans will no longer be able to repeal ObamaCare with only 51 Senate votes based on Senate rules on reconciliation. On October 1, less than two weeks away, 60 votes will be needed to advance any legislation. Tick tock.

Sure, the Senate can change the rules, but don’t hold your breath waiting for that. The Senate already failed on their first repeal attempt in July. They created the September 30 deadline through the budget resolution passed in January. Back when they were basking in the light of Donald Trump’s electoral coattails. The proverbial dog chasing the car finally catching it and asking itself, “What now?”

Republican senators have a bill they are hoping to pass before the deadline in a few weeks. Sponsored by Senators Cassidy, Heller, Johnson and Graham, the bill ends ObamaCare subsidies and mandates, both employer and individual. It gives block grant dollars to the states to spend at their discretion for Medicaid recipients.

Not the repeal promised to voters, but at this point the best we can hope for. Far better than doing nothing, which has been the GOP Senate’s track record so far this term.

If this bill fails to launch, then it’s back to the filibuster and 60 votes necessary to pass anything. Good luck getting a handful of Democrats on board with anything short of single-payer. Which, based on recently uncovered video, Senator Bernie Sanders in 1987 admitted, “would bankrupt the nation.”

So what? We are $20 trillion in debt with well over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Congress and previous presidents have already bankrupted the nation. Bernie’s plan would cost $32 trillion over ten years, chump change compared to our unfunded obligations. Fire up the printing presses at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Print more money. Borrow it from China. Whatever.

Back to the Senate bill. The Congressional Budget Office needs to analyze and score the bill before it can be considered. Can they do that in less than two weeks? Have they even started? Tick tock.

What if all GOP senators aren’t on board? Senator Rand Paul isn’t, as it doesn’t provide enough of an ObamaCare repeal. Then there are the three stooges who voted against the “skinny repeal” last July, Senators McCain, Murkowski, and Collins. McCain might vote for this bill, as his BFF Lindsey Graham is a cosponsor. Then again, Senator Maverick might slight his pal just to stick it to his non-BFF President Trump. Too close to call at this point. And unlikely to gain any Democrat senators, except perhaps a moderate like Joe Manchin.

The CBO will likely score the bill badly. Their assumption is that if individuals are not forced by the government, via the muscle of the IRS, to purchase insurance, they won’t. This leads to all persons formerly falling under the individual mandate scored incorrectly by the CBO as “uninsured” without mandates under the new bill. When in reality, most will find alternative insurance more suited to their needs when essential benefits and other insurance mandates disappear.

The clock is ticking. If the Senate can drag something across the finish line, the House can hopefully tweak and improve it, getting something to President Trump’s desk for signature. If not, then Republicans can campaign for reelection in 2018 touting their empty promises and legislative impotence. Tick tock.

Suppose the President gives up on his party’s legislative incompetence and has another dinner with his new pals Chuck and Nancy? Who knows what might emerge from the Democrat swamp? Not single-payer and certainly not a repeal. The current trajectory of ObamaCare is unsustainable and everyone knows it. The President promised to fix it. If his political partners, the GOP, can’t muster the will to do their jobs, Trump will find new partners.

September 30 is less than two weeks away. Will the Republicans make good on their longstanding promises to repeal and replace? Or will they continue to fiddle while Rome burns, facing a hostile electorate in 2018? All because they don’t approve of President Trump’s “tone and demeanor”?

A recent Politico-Harvard poll found, “More than 80 percent of Republican voters think repealing and replacing ObamaCare should be an ‘extremely important priority’ for Congress.”  Clearly their constituents want this fixed. As does their President. The time for talk and excuses is over. The clock is running. Can the GOP Congress deliver? Tick tock.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter. 



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Is Elon Musk Undercutting National Security?


Earlier this week, former congressman Ron Paul, an Air Force veteran, penned an op-ed for Fox News denouncing Congress’ hidden agenda in pushing forward Section 1615 of the National Defense Authorization Agreement (NDAA). The bill language in Section 1615 is cloaked with the appearance it would eliminate U.S. dependence on Russian rocket technology, however, the bill instead would be weakening the Air Force by cutting off all competition in the aerospace industry, creating a monopoly benefitting only one company, Elon Musk’s SpaceX.  

Not surprisingly, Paul’s op-ed has ruffled a few feathers in the military-industrial complex, and a few have even gone so far as to accuse him of being in the pockets of defense contractors. But as one may expect, Doctor Paul falls on the right side of the issue. 

Currently, there are only two competitive companies the Air Force can employ for the use of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV), a military satellite launch program used by the U.S. Air Force intended to assure access to space for the U.S. government. They are the United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX. 

There is one major difference between the two companies: ULA uses and relies on the Russian-made RD-180 engines for the first stage of launch, while SpaceX does not.  

And now due to tense political relations between Russia and the United States in recent years, the U.S. government will completely phase out the use of RD-180 engines within a few years, which means if new launch vehicles are not developed, SpaceX will soon have the entire industry all to itself in one growth-killing, government-created monopoly. 

One problem though, the U.S. government is not currently equipped nor ready to altogether jettison the Russian-made engines, and certainly do not have the necessary backup resources to do so. The SpaceX-made engines severely lack in comparison to its Russian counterpart, and cannot “reach four of the eight critical military orbits”.  Defense Secretary Ashton Carter even admits that currently the Pentagon has no other alternative than to use the RD-180 engines for the safety of our country. This will change because of the private partnerships moved forward by the government to develop new, American-made engines. However, if Section 1615, which prevents the funding of new launch vehicles, becomes the law of the land, these engines will do nothing to preserve competition.

Critics argue these motors will ensure the current RD-180-dependent launch vehicle remains in the marketplace. This argument could not be further from the truth, and analysts have said so on multiple occasions.  

For example, former Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall and former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee  James told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that “any effort to simply replace the RD-180 with a substitute engine would require extensive design and engineering changes, as well as significant dynamic and acoustic testing, and would ultimately result in a new launch system, which would require recertification.” In other words, the only realistic procurement option left would be SpaceX’s Falcon 9. 

In conjunction with the government-built SpaceX monopoly and the occasional inefficiencies of the company’s end-to-end space launch services, it is extremely troubling considering how important launch vehicles are to United States’ self-defense, diplomatic endeavors, and conflict deterrent operations. In the words of the National Science and Technology Council, “access to and use of space is central for preserving peace and protecting U.S. national security.” 

Politics aside, everyone’s goal here should be to preserve peace as well as ensure national security, and the Pentagon has been clear: at this time, “the Department cannot depend entirely on only one source for critical national security satellites.” Which is why U.S. law currently mandates “the availability of at least two space launch vehicles.” 

The irony here is that SpaceX was once — and to some extent, still is — a victim of similar political gimmicks. Up until 2014, there was far less progress in spaceflight because the government was relying on a single provider, ULA. That is, until SpaceX filed a lawsuit against the Air Force, forcing a settlement outside of court and granting a multibillion-dollar contract with the company. Since then, SpaceX has come in and shook things up, lowering costs and greatly advancing the nation’s technological progress.  

Over the past several years, SpaceX has sent large donations to both Republicans and Democrats, most likely to advance its legislative priorities. A favorite target of theirs is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Senate Chairman of the United States Committee on Armed Services, donating to both the McCain Institute and his political campaigns. With over 70 percent of SpaceX’s funding supported by the government, it is glaringly obvious why it is willing to support any and every candidate, especially the ones with the most influence.  

However, SpaceX does not just provide funds to politicians — it has even gone to the next level of political maneuvering by paying lobbying firms directly, for the advancement of its interests related to past NDAAs. 

No matter what military industrial complex talking heads might say, Doctor Paul is right on the mark; Section 1615 is just another congressional shell game, shuffling procurement money around to please those with the best Washington lobbyists. Those who support aerospace privatization should not support Section 1615. Rather, they should eliminate government’s involvement in engines, launch vehicles, and all aspects of space launch systems all at once. 

However, even if Congress passes this NDAA provision, there is a lot to be optimistic about: one company is working on producing a new, privately-funded EELV to beat Congress at its own game. Special interests may win the battle this time, but they won’t win the war in the years to come. It’s time for a new race to space.  

Jillian Lane Wyant is a media consultant and former Press Secretary for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

Earlier this week, former congressman Ron Paul, an Air Force veteran, penned an op-ed for Fox News denouncing Congress’ hidden agenda in pushing forward Section 1615 of the National Defense Authorization Agreement (NDAA). The bill language in Section 1615 is cloaked with the appearance it would eliminate U.S. dependence on Russian rocket technology, however, the bill instead would be weakening the Air Force by cutting off all competition in the aerospace industry, creating a monopoly benefitting only one company, Elon Musk’s SpaceX.  

Not surprisingly, Paul’s op-ed has ruffled a few feathers in the military-industrial complex, and a few have even gone so far as to accuse him of being in the pockets of defense contractors. But as one may expect, Doctor Paul falls on the right side of the issue. 

Currently, there are only two competitive companies the Air Force can employ for the use of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV), a military satellite launch program used by the U.S. Air Force intended to assure access to space for the U.S. government. They are the United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX. 

There is one major difference between the two companies: ULA uses and relies on the Russian-made RD-180 engines for the first stage of launch, while SpaceX does not.  

And now due to tense political relations between Russia and the United States in recent years, the U.S. government will completely phase out the use of RD-180 engines within a few years, which means if new launch vehicles are not developed, SpaceX will soon have the entire industry all to itself in one growth-killing, government-created monopoly. 

One problem though, the U.S. government is not currently equipped nor ready to altogether jettison the Russian-made engines, and certainly do not have the necessary backup resources to do so. The SpaceX-made engines severely lack in comparison to its Russian counterpart, and cannot “reach four of the eight critical military orbits”.  Defense Secretary Ashton Carter even admits that currently the Pentagon has no other alternative than to use the RD-180 engines for the safety of our country. This will change because of the private partnerships moved forward by the government to develop new, American-made engines. However, if Section 1615, which prevents the funding of new launch vehicles, becomes the law of the land, these engines will do nothing to preserve competition.

Critics argue these motors will ensure the current RD-180-dependent launch vehicle remains in the marketplace. This argument could not be further from the truth, and analysts have said so on multiple occasions.  

For example, former Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall and former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee  James told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that “any effort to simply replace the RD-180 with a substitute engine would require extensive design and engineering changes, as well as significant dynamic and acoustic testing, and would ultimately result in a new launch system, which would require recertification.” In other words, the only realistic procurement option left would be SpaceX’s Falcon 9. 

In conjunction with the government-built SpaceX monopoly and the occasional inefficiencies of the company’s end-to-end space launch services, it is extremely troubling considering how important launch vehicles are to United States’ self-defense, diplomatic endeavors, and conflict deterrent operations. In the words of the National Science and Technology Council, “access to and use of space is central for preserving peace and protecting U.S. national security.” 

Politics aside, everyone’s goal here should be to preserve peace as well as ensure national security, and the Pentagon has been clear: at this time, “the Department cannot depend entirely on only one source for critical national security satellites.” Which is why U.S. law currently mandates “the availability of at least two space launch vehicles.” 

The irony here is that SpaceX was once — and to some extent, still is — a victim of similar political gimmicks. Up until 2014, there was far less progress in spaceflight because the government was relying on a single provider, ULA. That is, until SpaceX filed a lawsuit against the Air Force, forcing a settlement outside of court and granting a multibillion-dollar contract with the company. Since then, SpaceX has come in and shook things up, lowering costs and greatly advancing the nation’s technological progress.  

Over the past several years, SpaceX has sent large donations to both Republicans and Democrats, most likely to advance its legislative priorities. A favorite target of theirs is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Senate Chairman of the United States Committee on Armed Services, donating to both the McCain Institute and his political campaigns. With over 70 percent of SpaceX’s funding supported by the government, it is glaringly obvious why it is willing to support any and every candidate, especially the ones with the most influence.  

However, SpaceX does not just provide funds to politicians — it has even gone to the next level of political maneuvering by paying lobbying firms directly, for the advancement of its interests related to past NDAAs. 

No matter what military industrial complex talking heads might say, Doctor Paul is right on the mark; Section 1615 is just another congressional shell game, shuffling procurement money around to please those with the best Washington lobbyists. Those who support aerospace privatization should not support Section 1615. Rather, they should eliminate government’s involvement in engines, launch vehicles, and all aspects of space launch systems all at once. 

However, even if Congress passes this NDAA provision, there is a lot to be optimistic about: one company is working on producing a new, privately-funded EELV to beat Congress at its own game. Special interests may win the battle this time, but they won’t win the war in the years to come. It’s time for a new race to space.  

Jillian Lane Wyant is a media consultant and former Press Secretary for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)



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BOMB INGREDIENTS SOLD TOGETHER ON AMAZON…


A Channel 4 News investigation can reveal how Amazon’s algorithm can guide users to the chemical combinations for producing explosives.

Channel 4 News has discovered that Amazon’s algorithm guides users to the necessary chemical combinations for producing explosives and incendiary devices. Ingredients which are innocent on their own are suggested for purchase together as “Frequently bought together” products, as it does with all other goods.

Ingredients for black powder and thermite are grouped together under a “Frequently bought together” section on listings for specific chemicals.

Steel ball bearings often used as shrapnel in explosive devices, ignition systems and remote detonators are also readily available; some promoted by the website on the same page as these chemicals as products that “Customers who bought this item also bought”.

Black powder and thermite

Users searching for a common chemical compound used in food production — which Channel 4 News has decided not to name — are offered the ingredients to produce explosive black powder.

Channel 4 News was able to create a “shopping basket” on Amazon with up to 45kg of ingredients for black powder. Under current legislation an individual may only produce 100g of black powder for private use without storage. The transaction was not completed.

Users searching the website for another widely available chemical are offered the other ingredients for thermite in a “Frequently bought together” section. These three chemicals when ignited create a hazardous reaction used in incendiary bombs and for cutting through steel.

On listings for some of these chemical components, Amazon’s “Customers who bought this item also bought” section also offers:

  • Steel ball bearings
  • Push button switches
  • Battery connectors and cables

Elsewhere, Amazon offers igniter cord for sale, used to ignite explosive devices and pyrotechnics. This is listed alongside an electronic ignition system that allows for remote detonations.

While many of these ingredients are not illegal to buy or sell in the UK, there have been successful prosecutions where people have bought multiple chemicals and electronic components necessary to produce explosives.

One chemical for sale is listed as a “Regulated substance” by the Home Office, making it illegal to possess it without a licence, and illegal to supply to a person without checking that the purchaser has a licence.

Yvette Cooper, chair of Parliament’s home affairs committee, said the findings were “very disturbing”.

Amazon said that all products must adhere to their selling guidelines and all UK laws. They also say they will work closely with police and law enforcement agencies should they need to assist investigations.

Channel 4 News has withheld the specific names of the chemicals, though their authenticity has been verified by experts.



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