Deep within the recesses of Krakow’s Czartoryski Museum, amidst priceless antiquities and artworks, resides a cabinet of historical curiosities unlike any other in Europe. Therein the visitor encounters an eclectic assortment of Polish and European artifacts, including the hero-king Jan Sobieski’s plush camp bed, Voltaire’s razor-sharp quill, and even a morsel of Napoleon’s half-eaten bread, discarded on the banks of the Berezina in the brutal winter of 1812, and now lovingly preserved, however moldering, behind plate glass. Above this unapologetically patriotic, but distinctly Europhile, display hangs the tongue-twisting inscription “Przeszłość Przyszłości,” or “The Past in the Service of the Future.” It is a quintessentially Eastern European turn of phrase, and one perfectly suited to a region where the thick patina of history is assiduously polished, and not infrequently touched up, by those in the echoing halls of power and in the roiling public square.
The man who succeeded disgraced former vice presidential candidate John Edwards as leader of a special poverty center at the University of North Carolina School of Law is no less hypocritical — in his luxurious living versus his hyperbolic rhetoric — than his predecessor.
Gene Nichol, who was once dean of UNC’s law school before a controversial stint as president of the College of William and Mary, regularly attacks elected Republicans in the Tar Heel State over policies that allegedly benefit “the rich” at the expense of the poor — most prominently in the opinion pages of the News & Observer of Raleigh. Most recently he attacked reforms that lowered taxes broadly and reeled in generous unemployment benefits (compared to neighboring states), among other things, in an effort to lower North Carolina’s high jobless rate. Those reforms have been working.
Americans have always assumed that there was a “one-for-all-and-all-for-one” aspect to our country, but watching Karen Moreau’s “The Empire State Divide,” it’s hard to argue that we haven’t become bitterly divided along class lines.
Moreau is the daughter of an upstate mushroom farmer who has taken up the case for fracking in New York. “Today every farm family needs a lawyer so I was designated by my family,” she says. One of nine children, she has returned to her native Catskill to argue the case for embattled farmers by founding the Land and Liberty Foundation. In the process, she has produced a 20-minute documentary that will be show audiences tomorrow morning at the CPAC Convention in Washington just how bad things have become in the Empire State.
On Monday, financial news outlets reported breathlessly on markets’ reactions to the crisis in Ukraine*. The Wall Street Journal said the events “rocked global financial markets.” Television business anchors used words like “roiled” and “tumbling.”
But from the point of view of a professional trader, the reaction of almost every market outside of Russia and Ukraine and their immediate neighbors was downright tame.
Congratulations, Hollywood! You've survived awards season: a grueling ten-week experience peppered with the twin terrors of routinely dressing up in evening wear—often requiring entire days of primping, pampering, and drinking—and sitting through three-hour events with open bars, thousand-dollar goodie bags, and gourmet meals as billionaires gleefully present each other with nicknamed awards for their yearly achievement of having only a single marketable skill.
Given Venezuela’s ongoing meltdown and the visible decline in the fortunes of Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner, one thing has become clear. Latin America’s latest experiments with left-wing populism have reached their very predictable end-points. There is a price to be paid for the economics of populism, and no amount of blaming nefarious “neoliberals” can disguise cruel realities such as food-shortages, electricity-blackouts, endemic corruption, the disintegration of rule of law, utterly insecure property-rights, and wild inflation — all of which have helped Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador achieve the ignominious distinction of being categorized as “repressed economies” in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom.
Over 3,700 Evangelicals gathered over the last several days in Nashville for the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) annual convo amid emerging threats in America to religious liberty and public expression of orthodox Christianity.
It was the first NRB I’ve attended since 1984 (!), when I staffed a display booth as a college intern. In those days, many prominent, politically engaged tele-evangelists were riding high, active at NRB, and, with many Evangelicals, hopeful that the Reagan presidency might coincide with spiritual renewal in America. President Reagan in fact addressed NRB that year, though regrettably I did not see his speech, which hailed the “spectacular” growth of Christian media. Many Evangelicals had only recently emerged from the Evangelical sub-culture and were clearly excited about their opportunity on a larger societal stage.
The President wants to shrink the U.S. Army back to its size in 1940.
Yes, 1940. The year before America was forced into the Second World War.
But that’s just the starter for this budgetary disaster.
In its new budget proposal for the Department of Defense, the Administration also intends to eliminate the A-10 ground support aircraft — the plane that does so much to support U.S. forces under fire.
Instead, the President has retrenched into that traditional bastion of defense spending — prioritizing the legacy projects of Admirals and Air Force Generals.
The Navy protects its carriers and the Air Force protects its high tech-high cost ascendancy.
Let’s be clear. America needs aircraft carriers, though we could make do with 10. We also need air superiority fighters — though we could make do with a few less. But if the last ten years of war have taught us one thing with certainty, it’s that we can’t make do without a significant ground forces capability.
Is Ukraine on the verge of civil war? Or is the Putin-backed Yanukovych government’s attempted crackdown on a strong and resilient opposition of many thousands of protesters and countless other sympathizers more like the Jaruzelski communist government’s imposition of martial law against Solidarity in 1981 or the Soviets’ invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 or the Red Army’s massacre of Hungarians in 1956? History moved slowly, but by 1989-1991 it was clear which side in the end had prevailed, and it wasn’t the Soviets.
History now is moving faster. Emboldened by Putin’s instructions, Yanukovych on Tuesday attempted to rid central Kiev of its opposition encampments. The brutality backfired, literally as they say, as the determined and resourceful opposition reverted to an uncanny scorched earth policy to stay put. Had it been just these “terrorists” he was up against, Yanukovych might have continued his assault through Wednesday. Instead, late in the days he announced he’d reached a truce of sorts with the opposition. The standoff in central Kiev continues.
Climate change ranks as one of the greatest threats to civilization, according to Secretary of State John Kerry. His recent doomsday speech in Indonesia put weather in the same category of menace as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The speech reached levels of alarmism that would have made Al Gore proud. Kerry had “half of Jakarta underwater” by the end of this century.
The claim of catastrophic, man-generated climate change is as factually certain as the law of gravity, said Kerry. Yet he provided no evidence for what he calls an easily demonstrated fact. He simply made appeals to the authority of the scientific priesthood: “When 97 percent of scientists agree on anything, we need to listen, and we need to respond.” Of course, that 97 percent figure isn’t scientific. That Kerry would fall back on this propaganda reveals what constitutes a fact in his mind.
After itemizing the apocalyptic consequences of failing to treat catastrophic climate change as a certainty, Kerry let drop that his case could serve in the end as a noble lie. Even if we are wrong, he said, we are right, since all the huffing and puffing will have stimulated cleaner living.