AreYouLiberal.Com
19Dec/14Off

Chuck C. Johnson Wrong Again: FBI Conclusively Links N. Korea to Sony Hack

All week long, right wing smear merchant Chuck C. Johnson has been ranting on Twitter about his goofy theory that North Korea had nothing to do with the Sony hack, claiming he had absolute proof and demanding apologies from media who reported the story. A small sample of his dozens ...

19Dec/14Off

Drop Comedy Bombs, Not Real Bombs: Why Not “Drop” The Interview on North Korea?

The Wall Street Journal, not usually in
favor of government support for the arts, argues that the
United States government should buy the rights to Sony's The
Interview
and then release it into the public doman. It would
surely find itself to North Korea via any number of bit torrent
sites and the like. As the Journal notes, Chinese love to mock Kim
Jong-un and his whole family line, and there's a bustling trade in
pirated merchandise between North Korea and China.

And there's an old-school way to get the flick
into North Korean hands:

Park Sang Hak, a North Korean defector now living in the South,
has an idea. Mr. Park, whom we profiled last year, puts information
about the outside world along with movies and television programs
on USB drives, which he floats into the North on balloons. The Kim
Jong Un regime has labeled him “enemy zero” and sent an assassin to
kill him with a poison-tipped pen. For real.

Mr. Park wants to include “The Interview” on future balloon
launches.

Sure, why the hell not? The reported budget for The
Interview
was about $45 million. And while The
Interview
has received some scathing reviews—Variety
said
"it's about as funny as a communist food shortage"
—it wouldn't
be the worst art ever purchased with tax dollars.

Related:
"Please DO NOT Watch OUR North Korea Videos Because We Are Afraid,
Said No One at Reason EVER!"

19Dec/14Off

Porn Panic Alert: Smut Becoming ‘Marriage Substitute’, Warn Conservatives Who Can’t Tell Correlation From Causation

So I was going to ignore this silly study about
how pornography is serving as a widespread "marriage
substitute"
for young American men. But it just keeps popping
up on my radar and a gal only has so much patience. Let's dive in.
I promise to keep it brief. 

The assertion: "Smut has become a replacement for marriage for
many of the 18 to 35 year old males who use it," as the good folks
at The Blaze put it

Is that so? When we strip out the speculating, here's what the
study actually found:

1) Internet usage in general was negatively associated with
marriage—the more hours a young man spent online, the less likely
he was to have a spouse.
2) Web porn consumption was negatively associated with marriage—the
more hours of pornography a young man watched, the less likely he
was to have a spouse. 

Fearmongering conservative media types are throwing around ample
ancillary stats in order to flesh out (pun intended!) the idea that
porn is a scourge on U.S. marriage rates. Here's The Blaze
again: 

The study highlights some of the shocking variables that cause
concern surrounding porn’s potential impact on marriage, including
the fact that the proportion of men today between the ages of 25
and 34 who have never walked down the aisle is six times higher
than it was in 1970.

And what's changed in society since 1970 besides the
advent of Internet pornography? Other than, you know, almost
everything...

So! It could be that bunches of young men find watching
porn an acceptable, lifelong substitute for not just actual sex but
actual human companionship. However, it seems much more likely
that:

a) bachelorhood makes watching a lot of porn and spending a lot
of time on the Internet more possible or desirable than it is for
people living with a wife and family, or

b) the kind of people who watch the most porn and spend the most
hours online have certain personal characteristics or life
circumstances that also make them less likely to want to marry or
less appealing as a marriage partner (for instance, married men in
the study were more likely to be employed and more likely to be
religious, both factors which would seem to lend themselves to
watching less pornography), or

c) married individuals are less likely to self-report ample
pornography consumption, or

d) all of the above. 

Say it with me now, kids: Correlation does not imply causation.
And "low-cost sexual gratification" probably isn't
the end of civilization as we know it. 

19Dec/14Off

Collectivism and the presumption of guilt

Back in March of 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama told a charming and funny story about how she supposedly slipped out to a Target department store on an undercover shopping run.  (The Obamas are both shameless phonies, so of course this bit of Princess-and-Pauper mingling with the Little People was actually a staged publicity stunt – there just happened to be press photographers standing by to snap pictures of the First Lady’s exercise in recession chic.)  At one point, a member of the proletariat approached Her Radiant Majesty and dared to ask her a question, making the disguised aristocrat think her cover was blown.  To Her Majesty’s relief, the peasant merely wanted the much taller Mrs. Obama’s help getting a box of detergent down from a high shelf.

“I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down… she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy,'” Mrs. O told TV host Dave Letterman, collecting a round of laughter from the audience for this heartwarming anecdote.  “That was my interaction.  I felt so good.”

Two years later, Mrs. Obama suddenly recovered deeply repressed memories that revealed the encounter with that diminutive peasant at Target was actually a horrifying example of America’s deep-seated racism.  In a new interview with People magazine, the First Lady scoffed at the notion that living in the White House shields the First Couple from racial prejudice.  (Presumably she would also scoff at the idea that her very presence in the executive mansion says something about how non-racist America is.)  As evidence, she cited that very same day at the Target, but now it was all about an arrogant white woman assuming that the black lady – who was secretly the wife of America’s sovereign emperor in disguise! – was there to step and fetch for her.  Contrary to what she told David Letterman, Mrs. Obama suddenly didn’t feel good about the interaction at all.  She also seems to have forgotten about the disparity in height between herself and the other Target shopper:

“I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.”

In a 30-minute conversation, the president and Mrs. Obama candidly added their stories to the national discussion of race and racial profiling that was sparked by the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.

“There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys,” said the president, adding that, yes, it had happened to him.

Mrs. Obama recalled another incident: “He was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee.”

(Hat tip to Ben Shapiro for remember Mrs. Obama’s earlier portrayal of the Target encounter.)  That’s quite a sweeping statement from Mr. Obama – every black professional in America has been mistaken for a valet by white restaurant patrons?  Does anyone in Obama’s lapdog press feel like researching the coffee incident and finding out if the First Lady just made it up, or is misrepresenting a more innocent moment as a snapshot of American racism?  Of course not – they’d never even dream of doubting the Obamas, no matter how often they’re caught lying, and they’d never apply journalistic scrutiny to an anecdote that reinforces their preferred social narratives.

In a similar vein, not a single journalist in the world bothered to ask any tough questions when an Australian academic named Rachel Jacobs invented a phony anecdote about a Muslim woman fearfully removing her headscarf while riding a train during the Sydney hostage crisis.  Moved almost to tears by this heartbreaking submission to Australian anti-Muslim racism, our feisty Social Justice Warrior claims to have sat beside the woman, helped her get that headscarf right back on, and walk her through the train station after arrival, where the Muslim woman expressed gratitude to Jacobs for her courage.  A Twitter hashtag called #illridewithyou inspired by this incident collected hundreds of thousands of followers, becoming a global social media phenomenon.

Only after this flash in the Twitter pan had subsided did Jacobs cheerfully admit she fabricated the entire incident, peddling a fairy tale about her immense courage in the face of imaginary intolerance because, by gum, if there had been any actual intolerance on display, that’s what she would have done.  Jacobs isn’t sorry about perpetrating a global hoax; on the contrary, she’s immensely proud of herself for telling such a useful lie, even as she concedes she didn’t even know if the woman with the headscarf was a Muslim, and might have been removing it because the train car was a bit stuffy.  She wants credit for spreading such an “inspirational” story, even though the story was false.  She described her casual slander of Australian society as “a pre-emptive strike against racism and bigotry.”

Over at Sony Pictures, which just endured a pre-emptive strike against mockery of North Korea’s sacred dictator Kim Jong Un, there’s more bad news in the wind, as its expensive holiday remake of “Annie” has been racking up scathing reviews.  The movie was among the Sony property stolen by North Korean hackers and disseminated online, but it’s evidently so bad people aren’t even bothering to watch it for free.

A legion of Social Justice Warriors marched onto the Internet and declared the real reason for all those bad reviews, including brutal slams from the longtime movie critics at liberal dinosaur papers like the New York Times, could only be… wait for it… racism.  “Annie,” you see, is a retelling of the story that features black actors playing both Little Orphan Annie and the Daddy Warbucks character.

Speaking of musical numbers, actor Samuel L. Jackson – who grew rich beyond the wildest dreams of middle-class America by appearing in some of the most popular films ever made – has scanned the minds of America’s police officers, and discovered murderous racism lurking behind their sunglasses.  He put together a music video in the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand juries refusing to hand down indictments against white police officers in the death of black men, where he sings: “I can hear my neighbor cryin’ ‘I can’t breath.’ Now I’m in the struggle, and I can’t leave.  Calling out of the violence of the racist police, we ain’t gonna stop till people are free.”

“I can’t breathe” were the last words of Eric Garner, who could not possibly have been in a “choke hold” when he spoke them, but leave that aside for a moment.  There is absolutely no reason to believe the deaths of either Garner or Michael Brown had anything to do with racism.  The arrest Garner died while resisting was overseen by a black female police sergeant.

What all of these stories, and so many others, have in common is the assumption of bad faith by liberals, who claim they can read the minds of everyone from dinner-party guests to society at large and detect the dark secret impulses seething beneath every word and deed.  The worst bad motives are assumed for every action, including something as harmless as a short woman asking a taller department-store patron to grab a box of detergent off the top shelf for her.  If events that cannot be construed as social-justice crimes are not ready to hand, the liberal will simply invent them, transforming lies into Deeper Truth with the magical power of leftist ideology.  We’re even presumed guilty of crimes no one actually committed, most notably the horrible “anti-Muslim backlash” that never actually happens after Muslim terrorists commit atrocities.

This presumption of guilt is absolutely crucial to collectivism.  The Left must teach its subjects to think of themselves as criminals.  That’s the only way law-abiding people will endure levels of coercive power that would normally require specific accusations, a fair trial, and the possibility of appeals.  Social-justice “crimes” can be prosecuted without any of those things.  There is no appeal from the sentence, and no statute of limitations on the crimes, as any left-winger who thinks today’s American citizens need to suffer for the historical offense of slavery will be happy to explain to you.  There’s no evidence you can present in your defense, for the Left has read your mind, and knows better than you what demons lurk in its recesses.

This is one reason the Left dislikes the trappings of constitutional law and order.  The presumption of innocence is highly inconvenient for social crusades; it’s the antithesis of collective political “justice.”  The current demonstrations against police officers include explicit calls to deny them due process (sometimes escalating to simply calling for their summary execution.)  The Obama White House is said to be thinking about stripping police officers of grand jury protection, since those procedures have such a disappointing tendency to review evidence and decide charges are not warranted.  The mob wants this because they are said to have “lost confidence” in the legal system.  In other words, their ideology has revealed who is guilty, so legal proceedings based on overcoming the stout hurdle of presumed innocence are mere trickery to frustrate the righteous crusade.

Campus culture, the fetid breeding ground of collectivist ideology, bubbles with the presumption of guilt.  All this stuff about “trigger warnings” and demanding protection from perceived offense, to the extent it’s not just a cynical power play, is based on the notion that targeted speakers are guilty of offenses they might even be aware of.  Arguments that run contrary to collectivist ideology are never offered in good faith by honest dissenters – they’re always sinister tricks cooked up by devils out to impose racist hierarchies, sexist patriarchies, and capitalist oligarchies.  People marinated in this drivel have been growing up and moving into positions of political and cultural influence for years, bringing this payload of presumed guilt against all who dissent against the noble Left with them.  You know the litany of pre-litigated, pre-judged thought crimes by now: you’re just a tool of your corporate masters, you just enjoy watching poor people suffer for the hell of it, you want women to be slaves…

It’s very convenient to declare that you don’t have to engage with dissenting ideas because they all drip from forked tongues, but there’s more to the liberal presumption of social guilt than that.  It also flatters their egos – the Anointed Ones are the only members of society who aren’t guilty of prejudice, even when they display the most corrosive prejudice towards the groups they don’t like.  Most importantly, it illuminates their vision of a righteous elite exercising vast power to force virtue upon miserable, unworthy citizens, who cannot be left unregulated to indulge their monstrous impulses.  If you think micro-regulators should be running society, and government should be taxing money away from the proletariat before they hurt themselves with it, then by definition you don’t think very much of the people you’re planning to tax and regulate.  You must see them as thieves, exploiters, and haters… their vision too short, and too clouded with bigotry, to make important decisions about the fate of the nation.  Leftists have a boundless appetite for stories that reinforce their low opinion of the people they dominate… and to be honest, some of the dominated are hungry for reassurance that they did the right thing by ceding control of their lives, and the lives of their neighbors, to the Left.  People who have relinquished their freedom must learn to think poorly of themselves, if they are to sleep well at night.

 

The post Collectivism and the presumption of guilt appeared first on RedState.

19Dec/14Off

VIDEO: ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ Protester Tries to Block Traffic, and Gets What He Deserves

It was inevitable that this would happen eventually. When one of the moronic “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protesters had the brilliant idea to try to block traffic, the situation ended

19Dec/14Off

Obama, Who Tried to Censor “Innocence of Muslims” Vid, Says Sony Shouldn’t Have Pulled The Interview

What a difference a couple of years
make, eh? Here's President Obama talking at today's press
conference about Sony's decision to yank The Interview
after being hacked and threatened:

“We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can
start imposing censorship here in the United States,” Obama said.
“Imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in
self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities
of someone who’s sensibilities probably need to be offended.”

More
here.

Good for Obama! Sticking up for free expression and all that,
right? What is it that lovely lady on Fox's Outnumbered said?

"America is AWESOME!"

But before we lose perspective, recall the president's reaction
in 2012 to the YouTube video "The Innocence of Muslims," which
mocked Mohammed as a pedophile and more. 

The Obama administration
pressured Google to remove the offending short
, which for a
while it claimed triggered the riot in Benghazi, Libya:

Obama administration officials said Thursday that they have
asked YouTube to review the video [that reportedly set off the
embassy attacks] and determine whether it violates the site's
terms of service, according to people close to the situation but
not authorized to comment.

At a September 25, 2012 address to the United
Nations, Obama himself declared that we "must" condemn
"
those
who slander the prophet of Islam
":

The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of
Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also
condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is
desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied. Let
us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shiite
pilgrims.

Screw you, bub. Because I just heard this (can't remember where,
but I'll think of it any second now):

“We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can
start imposing censorship here in the United States.”

19Dec/14Off

Obama Tells Sony Not to Be Intimidated, Hails New Cuba Policy, Discusses Criminal Justice Reform

ObamaIn
his last press conference of the year, President Obama criticized
Sony for bowing to threats and choosing not to show The
Interview
in theatres. The president expressed disappointment
that Sony did not run that decision by him first and warned the
company against going down the path of bowing to intimidation:

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can
start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if
somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical
movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary
that they don’t like or news reports that they don’t like.”

He confirmed that North Korea was responsible for the hack and
said there was no evidence that any other nation is involved.

Obama also talked about his new approach to Cuba. He criticized
the 50-year-embargo for failing to produce regime change in the
socialist island nation, but said that it would ultimately be up to
Congress to fix the policy. He noted that repealing the embargo

has support
—and opposition—on both sides of the political
aisle.

The president took a measured tone on the Keystone pipeline,
although he disputed that its approval would result in a vast
economic boon, as many conservatives have promised. It's an issue
to tackle in the new year, he said.

The press conference ended on a positive note, with Obama
insisting that "the vast majority of people are just trying to do
the right thing," when asked about race relations in America. He
noted that criminal justice reform is progressing, and draws
bipartisan support.

Presidential proclamations on policy issues usually provoke
well-deserved groans from libertarians. But all things considered,
there was more to like here than usual.

19Dec/14Off

Rand Paul Is More Right About Cuba Than Marco Rubio

Not having it. ||| The
Republican response to President Barack Obama's historic opening
toward Cuba this week has generally been awful and dispiriting to
behold. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for example, was the politician
most single-handedly responsible for the United States


re-establishing diplomatic relations with still-communist
Vietnam
two decades ago,
saying
at the time:

But that's totally different, because of something something WALNUTS! ||| Instead of vainly trying to
isolate Vietnam, the United States should test the proposition that
greater exposure to Americans will render Vietnam more susceptible
to the influence of our values. Vietnam's human rights record needs
substantial improvement. We should make good use of better
relations with the Vietnamese to help advance in that country a
decent respect for the rights of man.

What does McMaverick
say
now, with his co-conspirator Sen. Lindsey Graham
(R-S.C.)?

It is about the appeasement of autocratic dictators,
thugs, and adversaries, diminishing America's influence in the
world. 

The gap in both the writing and sentiment in those two
passages speaks volumes about how far GOP foreign-policy thinking
has degenerated over time. (It also speaks to McCain's own

100%
malleability
on key issues—back in 2000 he

said
 "I'm not in favor of sticking my finger in the
eye of Fidel Castro. In fact, I would favor a road map towards
normalization of relations such as we presented to the Vietnamese
and led to a normalization of relations between our two
countries.")

The faces of appeasement? Really? ||| Two senatorial exceptions to that rule have been
Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has long advocated lifting the U.S.
embargo,
telling Reason TV
in 2011 that "If someone's going to limit my travel, it
should be a communist, not my own government”; and also Rand Paul
(R-Ky.), who came out in qualified support of Obama's
actions

yesterday
. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who unlike most of
his GOP colleagues actually has deep knowledge about the
subject,

shot back at Paul
, saying "he has no idea what he's
talking about." Paul has now fired back
on Twitter
and with a
Time
op-ed
. Here's more from Rubio's argument:

[W]hat the president is saying, by recognizing Cuba's
government is that in the 21st century being a Communist,
brutal dictatorship is an acceptable form of government.

As a member of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
 really should
know by now,

diplomatic recognition
confers no such acceptance. The
United States has long recognized communist Laos (recognition since
1950, commie since '75*), China (1979), and Vietnam (1995). Among
the brutal dictatorships that contain U.S. embassies are Burma
(relations established in 1948), Uganda (1962), Equatorial Guinea
(1968), Zimbabwe (1980), Turmenistan (1991), Uzbekistan (1991), and
Eritrea (1993). When Marco Rubio was a teenager, most of the world
by population was not free. Would he have had his sainted Ronald
Reagan rip up diplomatic relations with scores of countries,
beginning with the Evil Empire itself? That is not how U.S.
diplomacy has ever worked.

Again, Rubio is actually better on Cuba than most
Republicans on Capitol Hill, and in his passionate press conference
Wednesday he threw some accurate cold water on the moment,
reminding people that the Cuban government could re-jail its 53
released political prisoners overnight (remember: there was a
similar release associated with the 1998 visit to the island by the
Pope, which was followed five years later by a brutal crackdown
against dissidents and civil society). Obama's announcement that
Cuba's sponsor-of-terror designation would now be up for review was
a cynical reminder that such labels are almost purely political and
expedient. Giddy predictions of Cuba's imminent collapse will
likely prove bollocks. And I can always respect a man whose
righteous indignation at human rights abuses extends to both
Havana
and
Riyadh
.

But Rubio and the GOP are wrong, and wildly so, about a
number of their Obama-Cuba critiques. This move was not
"appeasement"; increased American travel and remittances do not
"only" serve "to benefit the regime," and this does not mark a
retreat from fighting for the freedom of Cubans.

Start with that most debased
of GOP foreign policy insults, appeasement. Here's

Rubio
:

Today's announcement…is just the latest in a long line of
failed attempts by President Obama to appease rogue regimes at all
cost.

You can find more A-word arguments from
Sen. Ted Cruz
(R-Texas),
Sen. Mark Kirk
(R-Illinois),
Sen. Dan Coats
(R-Ind.), Sen.-elect
Tom Cotton
(R-Ark.),
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart
(R-Florida),
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lethinen
(R-Florida),
Rep. Robert Pittenger
(R-N.C.),
Rep. Lynn Jenkins
(R-Kansas), Rep.
Michael Grimm
(R-N.Y.), Florida Gov.
Rick Scott
, Louisiana Gov.
Bobby Jindal
,
John Bolton
,  Charles
Krauthammer
,
Jennifer Rubin
,
Linda Chavez
,
Rush Limbaugh
,
National Review
, and the
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
, for
starters.

But how, precisely, is this appeasement? The U.S. got one
of its longtime intelligence operatives, plus an innocent-seeming
human rights activist, out of Cuban prisons in exchange for three
genuinely awful Cuban spies whose work was linked to the death of
Americans. Now, that two-for-three swap is certainly

unequal, and may indeed (as Rubio worries)
incentivize bad actors to take innocent Americans hostage in the
future, but as

Israel
for one can certainly testify, sometimes countries
that genuinely value their own citizens' lives accept numerically
and morally disproportionate prisoner exchanges. Frustrating, yes,
but not definitionally appeasement. Should Reagan have left

Nick
Daniloff
rot in Soviet prison just because he, too, was
most likely a hostage?

The more common argument for the A-word in this case is
that allowing for more American travel and remittances to the
island will somehow strengthen the Castro brothers' hand. Here's
Rubio:

This administration's attempts to loosen restrictions on
travel in recent years have only served to benefit the
regime. 


And
:

Now, thanks to President Obama's concessions, the regime in Cuba
won't have to change.

The entire policy shift is based on the illusion—in fact,
on the lie—that more commerce and access to money and goods will
translate to political freedom for the Cuban people. Cuba already
enjoys access to commerce, money and goods from other nations, and
yet the Cuban people are still not free. They are not free because
the regime—just as it does with every aspect of life—manipulates
and controls to its own advantage all currency that flows into the
island. More economic engagement with the U.S. means that the
regime's grip on power will be strengthened for decades to
come—dashing the Cuban people's hopes for freedom and
democracy.

Rubio, to my knowledge, has never visited Cuba

outside of the U.S.-controlled Guantanamo Bay facility
.
My 1998 experience of

attempting to live in Havana
convinced me beyond a shadow
of a doubt that three of the most important and attainable things
Cubans need, both for their basic human dignity and for their
struggle against their totalitarian overlords, are 1) exposure to
Americans; 2) increased access to non-governmental sources of
money, and 3) increased access to information.

Obama's moves
help on all three fronts. Here's how I
explained/described this line of thinking in a
2002 Reason
piece
:

Havana is famously seething with Cubans trying to pump
dollars from tourists. Walk through the central city as a blond man
in a white T-shirt, and you'll spend your days hearing the hissing
"kss-kss!" sound of people trying to grab your attention. It isn't
all about money scams, cheap cigars, and prostitutes. Just as often
-- maybe more often -- the approaching strangers and instant
friends just want to talk, to practice their foreign languages, to
pepper you with questions about the outside world.

Who really killed Tupac? What are the lyrics to that Rage
Against the Machine song, and what do they mean? How are the people
doing in Budapest and Prague now? Do American girls like Cuban men?
What do the people think about Bill Clinton? Why does your country
keep insisting on the bloqueo? How famous is Gloria Estefan? Why
isn't Luis Tiant in the Hall of Fame? These are all questions I
heard during my month there.

There are many things in Havana to be shocked by: the rotted
buildings, the child prostitution, the high price of Cuban beer,
the suffocating role of the state in virtually all human
transactions. But the thing I found most appalling was the culture
of information. Or, more precisely, the lack thereof.

The daily newspaper, Granma, is thin, horribly
written, and used primarily for toilet paper (what with the
shortages and all). The director of Cuba's sports Hall of Fame
could not tell me how many members it had. It took me a week of
asking dedicated baseball fans to find out how one could obtain a
schedule for upcoming games. Periodical libraries -- filled with
glorious back issues of Havana's handsome and competitive
round-the-clock newspapers from before World War II -- are
off-limits to most ordinary Cubans.

Even though people are generally smart and jaded enough to tune
out the government's propaganda, they don't have much of anything
to replace it with, except for the odd BBC broadcast -- and contact
with foreign tourists. Every conversation with an American about
the U.S. undermines Fidel Castro by definition, because it surely
contradicts the banal lies he and his media mouth on a daily
basis.

Even if you don't take my commie-hatin' word for it, try to
think step-by-step through the notion that more U.S. tourists and
money = more power for the Castros. Rubio claims that "the
regime…manipulates and controls to its own advantage all currency
that flows into the island." That's just false.

If I hand a Cuban friend $100 in Havana, that Cuban now
has $100 (which is four or five times the average monthly salary).
Now, that friend may pay
consumption
taxes
on things he buys with that $100 at a state-owned
store, or pay taxes on the interest he earns by depositing the sum,
but the bulk of the transaction goes to the individual Cuban, on
terms that the Cuban governmet cannot "control." Yes, increased
transfers from Americans to Cubans will no doubt increase the net
receipts of the Cuban government. But it will also doubtlessly
increase the
share of the island's total
money owned by individuals. It will, in other words, increase
individual autonomy in one of the most repressed countries on
earth.

In return for this net gain, the communist government puts
itself in danger of losing, or at least eroding, its last remaining
piece of effective propaganda: the lie that the U.S. embargo and
related skullduggery is the principal source of Cuban
misery.

Once upon a time, "appeasement" meant ceding the Sudetenland to
an expansionist Adolf Hitler without even allowing Czechs a seat at
the negotiating table. Now it somehow means a two-for-three
prisoner swap, a slight easing on unconscionable restrictions
against Americans, promises of 53 political prisoners
being freed, the same diplomatic engagement the U.S. has had with
Venezuela since 1835, and a net increase in individual Cuban
latitude? Republicans not named Paul or Flake (or
Amash
) may want to start rethinking their hyperbole. Sadly,
there's
little reason to believe that they will
.

* Clarified from original.

19Dec/14Off

Tea Party Is a Movement Now, Not Just a Mood

Is the tea party a movement or just a mood?

That was the question posed by Weekly Standard columnist and Fox News contributor Steven Hayes as he kicked off a panel at the Heritage Foundation celebrating the 5th anniversary of the tea party.

Hayes and his co-panelists, Heritage Action for America CEO Michael Needham and University of Virginia professor of politics James Ceaser, all agreed that the tea party is in fact a movement. Moods, as Hayes noted, don’t last for five years.

Recent polls regarding national tea party support show the panel’s assessment is correct. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in November found one-fifth of American adults consider themselves supporters of the tea party. As panel moderator David Azerrad of the Heritage Foundation noted, that’s quite an improvement from the original tea party, which numbered between 30 and 130 members.

But the panelists didn’t just rely on poll numbers to support their conclusion. They also highlighted some of the tea party’s major accomplishments since its inception in 2009.

Particularly noteworthy, according to the panelists, is the influence of 2010 tea party candidates such as Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The media prefers to focus on failed tea party candidates such as Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, but it has been Lee, Cruz, Rubio and Paul who have injected new life into the GOP and are producing its most innovative policy solutions.

Needham pointed specifically to Lee’s Higher Education Reform and Opportunity, or HERO, Act, Senator Cruz’s proposed energy legislation and Senator Paul’s focus on overcriminalization as prime examples of tea party ideas in action.

Another sign of tea party success has been its ability to set the terms of political debates. In particular, Ceaser credited the tea party with “bringing the national debt onto the front burner,” and reminding Americans that “if you spend today, someone will have to pay [for] it tomorrow.”

Tea partiers such as Cruz frequently have caused a ruckus on Capitol Hill fighting spending bills and opposing debt-ceiling increases. The result has often been legislative gridlock. Many on the left and in the mainstream media regard this as a failure of the tea party, but Hayes observed that “that was, in some ways, the entire point of the tea party.”

The tea party-fueled debt debate has had an even greater impact at the state level. In what Ceaser called the tea party’s “greatest actual achievement,” state governments have taken bold steps to rein in public-sector unions and control pensions. And it’s happening in both Republican and Democratic states, Ceaser noted, as both parties are realizing the problems of excessive debt.

That the tea party has made popular a topic as unexciting as government debt indicates how truly influential it is.

The panel also credited the tea party with bringing the Constitution back into public discourse. Ceaser praised the tea party for restoring the idea of the Constitution as “a guide for the thinking of a political party and program,” which he noted was the role it played in the 19th century. In that era, legislators often engaged in debates about what the Constitution allowed and what it meant.

Unfortunately, our current Democratic and Republican parties largely have ignored the Constitution and, prior to the tea party, rarely debated its meaning. The result was a mistaken perception of the Constitution as nothing more than “a matter of individual rights protected by courts” that political parties and movements simply should not bother with.

The tea party’s return to the Constitution has revitalized public interest in its meaning and forced politicians to engage once more in constitutional debates.

Despite frequent mischaracterizations in the mainstream media, targeting by the IRS, and verbal attacks from President Obama, the tea party remains highly influential in American politics. The left and the media don’t want to admit it, but the tea party is not a passing mood; it’s a movement. And, as Steve Hayes concluded, “It’s not going anywhere anytime soon.”

The post Tea Party Is a Movement Now, Not Just a Mood appeared first on Daily Signal.

19Dec/14Off

Florida Congresswoman: Other Nations’ Engagement Hasn’t Resulted in Free Cuba

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., was interviewed on Wednesday by Greta van Susteren about President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba.

Ros-Lehtinen said that the president “has broken the law.”

When asked if our previous policy towards Cuba had been working, Ros-Lehtinen said:

Has our foreign policy been working? Well, the policy of 190 other countries who have been wheeling and dealing and going to tourist trips and doing everything with Castro, they have not brought Cuba any closer to freedom or democracy. So it’s not that the United States policy has not worked, the other policy of engagement has not worked.

Ros-Lehtinen said that Obama’s desire to normalize relations with Cuba “will not bring the Cuban people any closer to democracy.”

According to Ros-Lehtinen, the policy shift will only result in a change on our side.

“The one that will not change is the Cuban, communist, dictatorial, authoritarian regime,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “These guys are not going to change.”

The post Florida Congresswoman: Other Nations’ Engagement Hasn’t Resulted in Free Cuba appeared first on Daily Signal.

19Dec/14Off

Jimmy Fallon Talks The Interview

On Thursday’s episode of The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon discussed Sony Pictures’ decision to cancel the release of “The Interview.”

“Which means the hackers have accomplished their goal of making everyone in the world want to see ‘The Interview,’” said Fallon. “I mean, I wasn’t planning [to], now I can’t wait to see it.”

The post Jimmy Fallon Talks The Interview appeared first on Daily Signal.

19Dec/14Off

Rand Challenges Rubio’s ‘Isolationist’ Stance on Cuba

Rand PaulSen. Rand Paul called out Sen. Marco Rubio
on Twitter, criticizing his Cuba policy as isolationist. It's the
latest battle in the war of ideas between the senators, who
represent two very different strains of Republicanism when it comes
to foreign policy.

Paul accused Rubio of "acting like an isolationist"—an ironic
criticism, given that Paul is often accused (wrongly) of being an
isolationist solely because he has opposed U.S. military
involvement in places like Iraq and Libya. The tweets:

Hey @marcorubio if
the embargo doesn't hurt Cuba, why do you want to keep it?

— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December
19, 2014

Senator @marcorubio
is acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders
and perhaps build a moat. I reject this isolationism.

— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December
19, 2014

The United States trades and engages with other communist
nations, such as China and Vietnam. So @marcorubio why not Cuba?

— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December
19, 2014

.@marcorubio what
about the majority of Cuban-Americans who now support normalizing
relations between our countries? http://t.co/0qhSOeD9Va

— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December
19, 2014

Rubio did not respond.

While some libertarians—including
some of us at

Reason
continue to be uncomfortable with aspects of Paul's
ISIS plan (even though it's better than pretty much anyone
else's ISIS plan, that's for sure), the senator
deserves praise for breaking with many in the GOP and sticking to
the freedom-maximizing position on Cuba. People who want to keep
the socialist island nation trapped in desperate poverty—either
because they believe the U.S. is still fighting the Cold War, or
because of an
irrational hatred
of capitalism—should be on the defensive.

Kudos to Paul
for putting them there.

19Dec/14Off

SRP Voting February 26 on Whether to Slap New Monthly Fee on Solar Users

Some people like to drive large trucks while others prefer small cars. It’s a matter of choice. Big trucks haul stuff. Small cars save money on gas.

But what if the government were to impose a fee on people with small cars because they consume less gas? Big government would make the case that by using less gas people who drive small cars are not paying their fair share of the infrastructure needed to deliver gasoline to the local service station.

It’s a ridiculous argument. And that’s exactly the argument the Salt River Project is making to justify a $50 a month fee on people who generate their own power through rooftop solar panels.

SRP is upset because the increase in solar could lead to a decrease in electricity used, less of their product purchased. Instead of cutting costs and a little belt tightening, the folks at SRP decided it would be a better idea to simply slap a $50 a month fee on new rooftop solar users and hit existing solar customers with a fee after ten years or when they sell their home.

The SRP Board will have the final say with a vote February 26th.

It’s a win/win for SRP. It collects fees from rooftop solar users while at the same time taxing its competition, rooftop solar, out of existence.

Any student of Arizona history will tell you that SRP was founded on innovation and the pioneering spirit. The bureaucrats who currently occupy the offices at SRP have forgotten that.

Let’s hope the SRP Board members have better memories. The members are listed below.

Division 1: Kevin J. Johnson
Division 2: Paul E. Rovey
Division 3: Mario J. Herrera
Division 4: Leslie C. Williams
Division 5: Stephen H. Williams
Division 6: Jack M. White Jr.
Division 7: Keith B. Woods
Division 8: Deborah S. Hendrickson
Division 9: Arthur L. Freeman
Division 10: Mark V. Pace
Seat 11: Carolyn Pendergast
Seat 12: William W. Arnett
Seat 13: Fred J. Ash
Seat 14: Wendy L. Marshall

19Dec/14Off

Q&A: Judge Andrew Napolitano on how America is becoming a Surveillance State

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"Jefferson and Madison and William O. Douglas and everybody that
took a stand for human liberty would be turning in their graves,"
roars Judge Andrew
Napolitano
 about President Obama's decision to use drones
on American citizens.

The syndicated columnist, Fox News senior judicial analyst,
and outspoken libertarian sat down with Reason TV's Nick
Gillespie to discuss his new book, Suicide
Pact:The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Assault
on Civil Liberties
.
 

View this article.

19Dec/14Off

A Red State Sides With Solar, Competition, no Taxes

slrSouth Carolina has become the 44th state to institute net metering. That’s the free market concept that requires utility monopolies to give rooftop solar customers full, fair credit for the excess energy they send back to the grid.

Rooftop solar and net metering have essentially introduced the free market concept to the electric utility market.

South Carolina made the right call. It made the conservative call.

People now have a choice, there is more competition, and solar customers maintain the right to use the power they generate on their roofs.

There are a number of utility monopolies fighting solar choice and net metering across the country. They have been lobbying for tax hikes, special fees, and surcharges all designed to undercut rooftop solar.

In some states, utilities have even come up with a plan that borders on socialism. In Minnesota, they support a Value of Solar Tariff (VOST) program. The program would force consumers to sell all of their homegrown power to the utility, and then get taxed on it. Leave it to a liberal state to screw up solar power and slow its growth.

South Carolina got it right.

And it was a smart move politically. In a recent South Carolina poll, 73% of respondents across political party lines said they want to see more solar growth.  A strong majority of South Carolinians (more than 75%) agree that rooftop solar is an important part of providing choice and competition in electricity.

This tale of two states offers a valuable lesson. When it comes to expanding solar, the conservative way gets the job done.

19Dec/14Off

The IRS May Be Underfunded But It Still Deserved to Have Its Budget Cut

IRS Commissioner Josh Koskinen complained recently about Congress cutting the agency’s budget by $350 million in the recent budget deal.

Koskinen warns that taxpayer service will be hurt because the IRS will have to furlough employees and make other adjustments because of the reduction of funding.

The IRS has an impossible job. It is tasked with enforcing a convoluted mess of a tax code that Congress created. Given that task, and the additional tasks Congress has foisted upon it with Obamacare and other laws like FATCA, and its funding levels, it is probably fair to say that cutting the IRS budget is not a priority until Congress simplifies the tax code.

Nevertheless, it is also fair to say the IRS completely deserved to have its budget cut. In fact, the IRS should probably be grateful it didn’t receive an even deeper cut.

The IRS acted illegally when it targeted certain conservative nonprofit groups for extra scrutiny before granting them their rightful non-taxable status. Those responsible for that crime have still not been held to account. Nor has Koskinen made noticeable progress in cleaning up the agency. Instead, it appears as if the IRS is still stonewalling Congress in its efforts to get to the bottom of the situation.

Most IRS employees are dedicated, hardworking, and professional. They don’t deserve to be tainted because of the actions of a few bad apples that used the agency’s power to hurt the cause of groups they ideologically disagree with. Nor do they deserve to have their jobs made more difficult because of the consequences of the actions of the IRS leadership that abused their power.

But those are the consequences when an agency as vital as the IRS behaves in such an underhanded fashion.

This should serve as a lesson to the IRS and other government agencies. If you don’t want your budgets cut in a way that will make achieving your mission even more difficult, don’t break the law and abuse your power.

It should serve as a further wake-up call to Koskinen and the other powers-that-be at the IRS. If you want your agency to receive adequate funding, prove to Congress and the American people that you are fixing the problems you inherited and are restoring trust in an agency that absolutely must be beyond reproach if it is to succeed in its mission.

It is certainly a more becoming way to behave than whining about losing money when you’ve just betrayed the public’s trust and done little to show contrition for doing it.

Tax reform will make the IRS’s job easier, but only cleaning up its internal mess will restore the people’s confidence in the agency.

The post The IRS May Be Underfunded But It Still Deserved to Have Its Budget Cut appeared first on Daily Signal.