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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.

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A Quarrel in a Far Away Country

By 3.1.14

No one seems to get why the Ukraine Crisis matters, why a Russian invasion of the Crimea represents a turning-point in American decline. But decades hence historians might point to today as the moment when everything changed. 

Oh, I’m not a war-hawk. What’s happening reminds one all too well of Cecil Woodham-Smith’s The Reason Why, the best account of the Crimean War and the battle of Balaclava. As I write, Balaclava seems to be occupied by Russian troops, and the last thing one wants to see is another Charge of the Light Brigade. Lord Raglan never meant his cavalry to charge the guns, but his garbled message was brought to Lord Cardigan by the impetuous Captain Nolan, who berated Cardigan before his men. “He wants me to attack the guns,” pondered Cardigan.  “But where are the guns?” “There, my Lord,” cried Nolan, pointing to the Valley of Death. “There. There are your guns.”

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Who Shut Down the Government?

By 10.3.13

Republicans need to articulate their side of the story.

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