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Nous Sommes Tous Français

By 11.13.15

As casualty counts mount after the coordinated attacks by Islamic State commandos on several locations in Paris Friday evening, there is every reason to remember the French newspaper headlines on September 12, 2001: Nous sommes tous américains, We are all American.

Muslim terrorists armed with automatic rifles and screaming Allah Akhbar left some 100 dead in the quaint and popular Bataclan café-music hall in east-central Paris; the toll is likely to rise. They reportedly hit two nearby restaurants as well and set off bombs at the Stade de France, the 80,000 capacity football stadium in the close-in northern suburb of Saint-Denis, during a France-Germany exhibition match.

Regardless of differences over strategic and political issues arising between sister-Democracies during the current global war with totalitarian Islam, in these grim moments we are united in knowing why we fight.

We are all French; we are all Israelis; we are all Americans.

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Divine Comity

By 9.25.15

The age of Boehner in the United States Congress is at an end. He announced his resignation effective the end of October 2015.

The first flurry of commentary will likely center on the motives, or proximate causes, of the startling move. Some say he dreamed his entire career of bringing the Pope to Congress, and having achieved that end, his mission is completed. Others say he could not marshal two hundred and eighteen Republican votes to save his speakership against an expected vote of no confidence. On the one hand are those who argue he was undone by those pesky conservatives; on the other are those who claim Boehner himself was frustrated by Obama’s high-handed usurpation of powers delegated by the Constitution to the legislative branch. But today, for one moment of sanity, of clarity, of pause, of deliberation, of reflection, let us lay aside what Maimonides calls “the follies of temporal existence” and try to “heed the clarion call to awaken from our slumber.”

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Donald Trump’s September 3 Press Briefing

By 9.3.15

Reince Priebus came to see Trump at his NYC offices today, after which Trump held a news briefing outside his building. The crowd seemed not to be able to get enough of him, and Trump obliged by taking more questions than he’d planned. Anyone watching this briefing would come away scratching their head, for the man doesn’t fit the image painted of him by the conservative news media. Buffoon? Unpresidential? Nativist? Racist? Demagogue? Absolutely not.

Trump was in control, happy to answer any question without looking at notes, and not sounding like he’d been briefed by consultants. The press was remarkably friendly, and he responded in kind. The Jorge Ramos incident still fresh in their minds, everyone behaved themselves.

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Murder Most Foul

By 8.26.15

On Wednesday morning Vester L. Flanagan II, aka Bryce Williams, shot 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward who were both employees at WDBJ Television in Roanoke, Virginia, where Flanagan had previously been employed. Another woman, Vicki Gardner, who was being interviewed by Parker at the time, was shot in the back and is reported in stable condition after surgery.

Parker’s boyfriend, Chris Hurst, said the two of them were “very much in love” and that he is “numb.” Parker’s family issued a brief statement to Entertainment Tonight: “Today we received news that no family should ever hear. Our vivacious, ambitious, smart, engaging, hilarious, beautiful, and immensely talented Alison was taken from the world. This is senseless and our family is crushed.”

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Garland, Texas: There’s Some History Here

By 5.4.15

Last night a free speech event in Garland, Texas was attacked. As this is written, two suspects are dead. One security guard was shot and released from the hospital after treatment for a minor wound.

The event, the “Mohammed Art Exhibit and Contest,” was reported here by Breitbart and here by the Dallas Morning News. It was sponsored by Pamela Geller of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and featured keynote speaker Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician and free speech advocate. Both were safe, with Geller finally contacted by Fox News where she was interviewed by anchor Kelly Wright. 

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Netanyahu’s Nailbiter

By 3.17.15

TEL AVIV — Exit polls in the Israeli election show Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s Likud tied or one seat ahead of Isaac “Buji” Herzog’s Zionist Union, a merger of Labor and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah party. The polls appear to have broken to Likud at the expense of the smaller rightwing parties.

It’s good news for Bibi, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee he’ll remain prime minister. Israeli parties never win a majority of seats in the Knesset, so now begins the complicated process of determining the shape of the next coalition government.

The next stage is for party leaders to recommend a prime minister to President Reuven Rivlin, who will instruct the winner to attempt to form a government. The Joint List that combines the Arab parties, who have in the past refused to participate out of anti-Zionism, have indicated that they’ll likely back Herzog, a crucial factor in the center-left’s ability to form a government.

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Here’s the Guy Rudy Is Talking About: Frank Marshall Davis, Communist Party no. 47544

By 2.22.15

“This is your work that Rudy is talking about!”

So emailed a friend of mine on Saturday morning, sending me a link to the Drudge Report, which led with a scandalous New York Daily News article apoplectic and incredulous that Rudy Giuliani could launch the hysterical, Neanderthal, McCarthyite claim that our president, Barack Obama, had been influenced as a young man by a literal communist. I quickly read the piece and nodded to myself. Not only did Rudy have the communist right, but he even had Obama’s exact age (nine) right when he was first introduced to the communist.

The next morning, I had more emails. The New York Post did a piece that was also atop the Drudge Report. It quoted Rudy. “From the time he was 9 years old, he was influenced by Frank Marshall Davis, who was a communist,” Giuliani said. The ex-mayor added that Obama’s grandfather introduced him to Davis, who the Post gently called “a writer and labor activist.”

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From Church Bell Tower to Minaret and Back Again

By 1.16.15

Supposedly Duke University thought turning the majestically Gothic bell tower of famous Duke Chapel into an Islamic minaret for every Friday call to prayer, heralded as “interreligious reimagining of a university icon,” would be non-controversial.

But the bow to campus multiculturalist ideology, thanks to nationwide publicity, barely lasted 24 hours. A campus spokesman curtly announced that what had been intended as unifying had become undesirably divisive. So the Muslim student group, which serves the five percent of Duke students said to be from Islamic backgrounds, will continue to worship in the chapel basement and will issue prayer calls outside the chapel instead.

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Killers in a Nice Neighborhood

By 1.8.15

You know the Rue Serpollet, it’s on the east side near Bagnolet, in the 20th arrondissement, last refuge, practically, of the old Parisian working class, almost gone now from the capital. But to be more precise, in terms of urban geography, it is getting close to Montreuil and Vincennes, more mixed, economically integrated, as once, though no one remembers, almost all the city was.

Most Parisians do not know the Rue Serpollet, a little street ending in a dead-end on the city line, a quiet little street, felt more like being in a provincial town than the capital of France. You can walk around, smell the fresh baked bread early in the morning, stop in a café and stand at the bar for an espresse and a shot of brandy, think about how swell it is here, this quiet neighborhood in this swell city.

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Hell to the Redskins

By 6.18.14

By a two-to-one vote, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a ruling that eliminates trademark registration for six current trademarks of the Washington Redskins NFL team (including for the “Redskinettes” cheerleaders).

Its argument is that the trademarks “were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered.” It notes that its ruling does not prevent the team from using those words and symbols, but that it would prevent standard federal protections against others using them, including against companies, whether in a garage in D.C. or in factory in China, making unlicensed apparel and other items using the logos without paying a fee to the team or to the league.