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  • America’s decline and fall in 13 quotes from our interview with Mark Steyn
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 11:54 pm by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (1)

    In connection with the newly expanded edition of his book, “Mark Steyn’s Passing Parade,” we sat down with the best-selling author and prolific columnist to discuss a wide variety of issues, ranging from climate change to Common Core, free speech to the fate of the Western world and more.

    Below are 13 of the most compelling excerpts from our interview with Mr. Steyn, which tell the story of America’s decline and fall, with some room for optimism at the end.

    If you’d like to stay updated on all things books, be sure to give Blaze Books a follow on Facebook and Twitter.

    1. History, as reflected in the life of Otto von Habsburg, is cyclical

    Otto von Habsburg in 1936. (Image Source: Imagno/Getty Images)

    Otto von Habsburg in 1936. (Image Source: Imagno/Getty Images)

    “What I like about [Habsburg's plight]…is that it kind of reminds us that in the span of one life, everything can change. You can see the rise and fall of Communism, you can have revolutions, you can have vast convulsions, all within one man’s life. And, if you’re like Otto von Habsburg, your very surname sort of mocks the idea of prosperity – you’re going around like the last sort of souvenir of an enterprise nobody else is interested in. I like things like that, because it’s a reminder that a guy can live three score and 10, maybe he’ll get an extra 10 or 15 years on top of it, but within 80 or 90 years empires rise and fall, all within the span of a single life.”

    2. Here’s the evolution of America in five simple stages

    “You know how the first generation are warriors, and then the second generation become farmers, and then the third generation become inventors and creators, and then by the fifth generation they’re diversity outreach consultants or whatever, which is the stage we’re pretty much at.”

    3. We may be at the point in the cycle of the West in which there will be no order in the world

    After America

    “But that [the transition of power from Great Britain to America] was the – if you’re gonna go out of business as the global hegemon – passing it to your prodigal son that shares the same language, shares the same legal inheritance, shares the same views on liberty but has taken them in a slightly different direction or whatever, that’s the smoothest transition of global power in history. And the idea that it’s the same when the baton is passed – that London to Washington is the same as Washington to Beijing – is deeply disturbing…I think in the long run, I would say the danger is that we are moving into a world of no order, in which all the mischief makers whether you’re talking about Putin or the mullahs or the Chinese politburo will just have the run of the planet. And I think that’s a tragedy.”

    4. As for where we are today, this is our economy on progressivism

    “too much of our human capital is diverted into at the low level, low-skill service jobs, and at the high level into things like the president and first lady did until 20 minutes before they became president and first lady – you know the first lady was a diversi-crat, and the president was a community organizer. That’s even more pointless than doing the nightshift at the Quicky-Mart. It’s even less connected to the creation of wealth. And then at the middle you’ve got people who do these sort of jobs with the Department of Paperwork all day long. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lawyer insuring that something is compliant with the federal regulations, or whether you’re one of those people who says, ‘Well you send me a W-2, and I’ll send you a 1099 and we’ll all pretend that this is some kind of valuable economic activity.’”

    You send me a W-2…I’ll send you a 1099..we’ll all pretend that this is..valuable economic activity
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    5. Steyn feels that people are going to choose to go off the cliff, progressivism’s natural end

    (Image Source: Baltimore Post-Examiner)

    (Image Source: Baltimore Post-Examiner)

    “I find the idea that the progressive project, which we’re in now, which for some people now is the point of life, that life becomes a sort of exercise in solipsistic kind of self-expression, and it should all be about going to college till you’re 35 and taking early retirement at 52 and you do some desultory little activity between 35 and 52, but that the purpose of life now has been utterly transformed in the course of the 20th century in a way that’s unsustainable. So how do you persuade people that you can’t have a 30-year retirement, and you can’t stay in school till 28th grade, that life…the values are not gonna work. And I’m not sure, when you say progressivism, I’m not sure that in the end it won’t want to — the way to bet is that it will want to go off the cliff and over the cliff, and the question then is, how do we pick up ourselves up after that.”

    The purpose of life now has been utterly transformed…in a way that’s unsustainable
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    6. Ultimately, will America have any more purpose than the Soviet Union?

    (Photo Credit: Peter Turnley/Corbis)

    (Photo Credit: Peter Turnley/Corbis)

    “[America] was founded on certain ideas about liberty, and small government and self-reliant citizens, and so if it is no longer a self-governing Republic of limited government by self-reliant citizens, that it’s actually – a majority of people are actually comfortable with European-sized welfare states, and dependency, and all the rest of it – if at that point America still has any more purpose than the Soviet Union did after it ceased being Communist. And I think that’s an interesting question. The Soviet Union broke up, and Yugoslavia broke up and…big countries are not the norm, and a big country that checks out of its founding principles…there’s no reason why it should expect to maintain the same real estate in perpetuity.”

    7. Here’s a cautionary tale from Scotland on the transformative power of government if we do not change course

    “The Scots are almost everywhere you go – every corner on the planet — anything that’s worth it, doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about banks in Hong Kong or rubber plantations in Malaya or the Canadian Pacific Railway, everywhere you go on the planet was built by Scots. And you go back to contemporary Scotland now, and they’re these pathetic, feeble, passive economic swamp of dependency – parts of Glasgow, male life expectancy…they all sit around eating fried Mars bars all day, and life expectancy is getting down to West African rates in certain wards of Glasgow. So if you’re someone who knows the Scottish diaspora, all that great stuff they did around the planet, and you go back to Scotland, you think, “What the hell happened?” “Well what happened is government. What happened is welfare.”

    8. What we should recognize is that “the great evil of welfare is not that it wastes money, which it certainly does, but it’s greatest evil is that it wastes people”

    Packard Plant in Detroit. (Image Source: Fineartamerica.com)

    Packard Plant in Detroit. (Image Source: Fineartamerica.com)

    “[What one conservative professor underestimated was] how far welfare and the culture of trans-generational dependency has eaten into the American spirit. And I see that in my part of the world – you know I live in a corner of the world where the mills have closed down, and people who were the grandsons of mill workers and the great-grandsons of farmers – there’s nothing for them to do. But yet at the same time there’s subsidized housing and there’s subsidized this and that…so people can live their lives without having to bear the burdens of their grandparents and great-grandparents, but it’s not a life of dignity. And that’s why I always say the great evil of welfare is not that it wastes money, which it certainly does, but it’s greatest evil is that it wastes people. And that’s absolutely terrible.”

    9. But things aren’t looking good in society, as reflected in a free speech case that Steyn says could lead to the biggest setback for the First Amendment 50 years

    (Image Source: Junkscience.com)

    (Image Source: Junkscience.com)

    “I’m being sued by Michael Mann from Penn State University, who’s one of three people who came up with the global warming hockey stick, which showed the last thousand years as the flat handle of the hockey stick – no temperature fluctuations for a millennium – and then the 20th century is the blade where basically it rockets up and out the top right-hand corner of the graph like we’re all gonna fry circa 2014. That would be the conclusion you’d draw from his graph, which isn’t what happened.

    …the use to which that graph was put was in my mind completely fraudulent. And I described it as fraudulent.

    I think I’m entitled to say that…there’s all kinds of people who think that graph does not smell right…the President of the Royal Statistical Society in Britain is among them…you know statisticians are not big fans of what Michael Mann did with his proxy data. So he’s suing me, and, you know, it’s always a crapshoot when you’re in court, and if you come up in front of a jury.

    But I will say this: that I think if he [Mann] were to prevail in that case, it would be the biggest setback for the First Amendment in half a century since New York Times v. Sullivan. It would be a very consequential case, with repercussions that go way beyond climate change. But just on the climate change stuff, it would tell editors and publishers that this critical aspect of public policy on which trillions of dollars of spending hinges, is not like other public policy questions. It is not subject to the give and take of vigorous debate. And that’s why I’m fighting this battle. And that’s why I think…people understand the seriousness and I think I’ll win. But that’s what would be the consequence of it.”

    10. This statement sums it up nicely: “I don’t like official ideology…whether it’s fascism or communism, or whether it’s marriage equality or climate change”

    (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

    (Photo: Shutterstock.com) 

    “Again, it’s [climate change] an elite accessory that will destroy millions of lives. And we should be free to talk about it. And again…I’ve got no problem…most people who are opposed to gay marriage don’t object to you or anyone else arguing in favor of it, but increasingly people who are in favor of gay marriage don’t even want to hear about opposing arguments. And I don’t like official ideology. I don’t like it whether it’s fascism or communism, or whether it’s marriage equality or climate change. I don’t want to be told this is the official ideology and you can’t deviate from it, because it’s despotic and it’s totalitarian.

    I’m not making crazy comparisons here: I know the difference between Hitler and Stalin, and James Cameron and Barbara Streisand. I can tell the difference between Barbara Streisand and Hitler at two hundred yards, but it is totalitarian and despotic when you start saying, the other side cannot make its case.”

    11. And we stand at this point because of the Left’s “long march” through the institutions

    “you can go back to the famous debate at the Oxford Union: ”This house would not fight for king and country…” The funny thing about that though is that we all understood 80 years ago that elites at the height of the ivory towers of the academy…people did not think – that kind of contempt for national feeling…the difference though now is not just at the elite academy, it’s actually down at the grade school. It’s being taught from the grade school – climate change is a very good example, or even the whole gay thing…when I was at school, we did Latin and Greek in school, and we were expected to pick up homosexuality in our free time. And now nobody does Latin and Greek, but they’re being taught all about gay issues, climate change, all the rest of it. It’s a waste of time above anything else.

    …If…[progressivism is] society’s default position – if it’s the air you breathe, which it is largely — the likelihood of persuading people to go into a polling booth every other Tuesday morning in November and plump for conservative government shrinks, and shrinks, and shrinks. They don’t live in the polling booths, they live in front of the television set, and in the grade schools, and in the squishy churches, and in the movie theater, and they spend two minutes once every two years in the polling booths.

    So if you’re not in all the space where they actually live, you’re gonna lose.”

    12. But it all starts with changing education — and we forget that an 8th grade-educated America won the Second World War

    WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  WORLD WAR II/WAR IN THE WEST/GERMANY

    U.S. solders capture a railroad gun in an advance near Rentwertshausen during the Second World War. April 10, 1945. T5c. Pat. W. Kohl. (Army)

    “The average American in 1940 had an 8th grade education. The post-war prosperity of this country was built by 8th graders. 8th grade America won the Second World War, and then bad that big post-war 1950s prosperity. Now we stay in school twice as long, have twice as much attention from school teachers, and for no purpose. The longer you keep people in education — if you pretend that college is universal, it becomes middle school. If everybody goes to college it’s middle school, that’s what it is, that’s what it will be. You take away so many people’s most productive years. It leads to later economic contribution, later family formation, it has all kinds of consequences. And the education that matters is still K through 8. Because if you screw up K through 8, you can spend the next 20 years trying to play catch-up, and it doesn’t really make any difference. And that’s what I’d like to see. I’d like to see a stronger telescope education. I’d like to see a return back to the spirit of single-town school districts, and I’d like to see American education delivered out of the hands of the present educational establishment, and Common Core does none of those things, which is why it’s to me part of the problem, not the solution.”

    13. While the hour is dark, the right man at the right moment could make all the difference

    Sir Winston Churchill, pictured in 1941. (Image Source: United States Library of Congress-J. Russell & Sons/Wikipedia Commons)

    Sir Winston Churchill, pictured in 1941. (Image Source: U.S. Library of Congress-J. Russell & Sons)

    “And you know as bad as things are – when I think back to that time for example, and I think when Neville Chamberlain was forced out of the prime ministership in the spring of 1940, if the Tory party had picked Lord Halifax instead of Winston Churchill, the entire history of the 20th century would have been different. And so the lesson you draw…we’re in New York City…Winston Churchill was almost hit by a car crossing 5th Avenue in 1932 or whatever it was – if that taxicab had actually left the tread marks over Winston Churchill — again the entire history of the second half of the 20th century would have been different. And so the lesson you draw from that is that yes the debt numbers are bad, yes the demographic numbers are bad, yes all the big picture stuff, the trends, the macroeconomic stuff is all bad, but even so, one man, the right man at the right moment can make all the difference…extraordinary people can make all the difference.”

  • Do your own homework: For The Record’s research for ‘Armed and Unaccountable’
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 7:42 pm by Tom Orr

    Comments (0)

    Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address from January 17, 1961.

    The soundbite about the system being set up to lie to itself came from an October 29, 2013 House Armed Services Committee hearing.

    The soundbite on the Army resisting the calls for software came from an April 18, 2013 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. The section on DCGS-A begins around 1:35:15.

    The soundbite on gaps in capability came from an April 25, 2013 House Armed Services Committee hearing. It is listed as “The Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of the Army.”

    The video of DCGS-A comes from the Army’s YouTube channel dedicated to that program.

    Rep. Duncan Hunter represents California’s 50th congressional district.

    Tom Schatz is the president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

    David Inserra is a research associate at the Heritage Foundation.

    The DCGS Board document shown in the episode: DCGS Flow Chart

    The “Boondoggle Goes Boom” article shown in the episode.

    Palantir Technologies‘ official website. The video of their products shown in the episode all comes from the Palantir YouTube channel.

    The emails shown in the episode: Feb 25 2012 Email and Jan 06 2012 Emails

    The comment “I love Palantir – great program” is from page 27 of this report from the Army Test and Evaluation Command.

    Sara Carter is the senior Washington correspondent for TheBlaze. She is on Twitter at @SaraCarterDC

    The March 2010 Government Accountability Office report “Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.”

    The July 2010 report from Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn shown in the episode: Advanced Analytical Capability Joint Urgent Operational Need Statement

    The letter from Col. Peter Newell to Rep. Norman Dicks about the Army developing the DCGS-A Cloud: Col Peter Newell letter

    The original report from the Army’s Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) on Palantir and DCGS-A from April 25, 2012. The statistic showing 96% support for Palantir is on page 27. Note that the other 4% were “undecided.” No respondents disagreed with the statement “Palantir is effective in supporting my mission.”

    The replacement report from ATEC, released on May 25, 2012.

    The House Oversight Committee letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

    The memo ordering the destruction of the original ATEC report from April 2012: Palantir Memo Rescinded

    The full text of the questions the For The Record submitted to the Army along with their responses.

    The redacted text from emails about Lt. Gen. Legere and the Palantir program: Emails redacted

    Rep. Duncan Hunter’s October 2013 letter to the Secretary of the Army: Hunter DCGS Letter

    The IT experts testified before Congress in an October 29, 2013 House Armed Services Committee hearing.

  • Questions submitted to the U.S. Army from The Blaze for “Armed and Unaccountable”
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 7:40 pm by Tom Orr

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    All Bold Text was provided directly from TheBlaze.

    1. Why was a “rescind and destroy” memo issued for the April 25, 2012 ATEC report,
    calling for it to be replaced with revised version dated May 25, 2012? What did the
    revised material include?

    A: An investigation revealed that the “rescind and destroy” memo was issued in order to
    ensure that the 25 April 2012 FOAR [Forward Operational Assessment Review] “properly
    reflected the strengths and weaknesses of Palantir and that the recommendations in the
    report were in line with the report’s purpose.” The investigating officer did not find that the
    direction was attributable to “anyone attempting to improperly advance the Army’s DCGS-A
    Program of record.”

    2. We’ve been told (by person(s) with knowledge of meetings and discussions on topic)
    that Lt. Gen. Mary Legere “strongly encouraged subordinates to endorse DCGS’s
    capabilities and dismiss Palantir as an effective component to DCGS.” In that, what
    is Lt. Gen. Legere’s response to that statement? How does Lt. Gen. Legere assess
    Palantir’s capabilities v. DCGS’s capabilities?

    A: The Army strongly endorses the best intelligence capabilities for our warfighter,
    regardless of the industrial partner who is providing that capability. The service has been a
    very open advocate of innovation and increased industry outreach opportunities with all
    industry partners.

    Army senior leaders fully supported industry outreach efforts to include the Cooperative
    Research and Development Agreement with Palantir that was signed May 30, 2012 in order
    to gain a greater understanding about how the Army can leverage Palantir capabilities. We
    have frequently encouraged Palantir officials to take part in numerous Industry Days and
    other DCGS-A initiatives. The Army plans to open up several DCGS-A opportunities for
    competition in the coming years, and is hopeful that all large and small industry partners will
    compete. It is important to note that DCGS-A also includes hardware, trucks, antennas and
    other equipment in addition to software applications and it is currently supported by over 60
    industry partners.

    Reference for question 3: The 1996 Clinger Cohen Act established the role of the
    agency CIO who is responsible for “developing, maintaining and facilitating
    the implementation of a sound and integrated IT architecture. The architecture is an
    integrated framework for evolving or maintaining existing IT and acquiring new IT. The
    agency heads shall identify in the agency’s IRM plan (required by the Paperwork Reduction
    Act (PRA)), major IT acquisition programs that have significantly deviated from
    their respective cost, performance or schedule goals.”

    3. According to OMB Circular No. A-130 Revised, as part of the capital planning
    process, each agency must “Support work processes that it has simplified or
    otherwise redesigned to reduce costs, improve effectiveness, and make maximum
    use of commercial, off-the-shelf technology.” How has the Army complied with the
    outlined requirements of this law, pertaining to DCGS-A?

    A: The DCGS-A Program participates with approximately 60 small and large commercial
    industry partners across the country that support DCGS-A. Each partner must be compliant
    with intelligence community data and standards and willing to build an open architecture.
    Ease of use, interoperability and easy access to data are critical factors for these
    participants in their work supporting the Army. Attached is a list of some of the industry
    partners that helps develop the software in use with DCGS-A.

    4. According to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division’s
    “USAICoE Lessons Learned Collection Report” report dated January 2013, “DCGS-A
    is not an enterprise system capable of replacing the Army’s multiple intelligence
    ground processing systems.” The November 2013 memo “Training Requirements to
    Maintain Proficiency of DCGS-A” attributes the following assessment to the 130th
    Engineering Brigade “DCGS continues to be; unstable, slow, not friendly and a major
    hindrance to operations at the [battalion] level.” What is Lt. Gen. Legere’s response
    to these assessment of the program and why does there appear to be a disconnect
    between the DCGS-A assessment of Army personnel in theater and the assessment
    of Army officials stateside?

    A: The Army takes user feedback seriously and has implemented that feedback into the
    current version of DCGS-A that is in use in Afghanistan. In fact, in response to feedback,
    Army officials directed an ease of use campaign to specifically address user concerns which
    has resulted in a number of improvements included in the latest version of the DCGS-A
    software. The changes have been well received by our Soldiers. We will continue to
    leverage our soldier’s feedback to improve all aspects of the DCGS-A system, including
    software, hardware, ground stations, topographic support, etc.

    5. What’s the status of Red Disk and why have the previous two attempts to integrate
    DCGS via cloud computing architecture been unsuccessful?

    A: The Army, like all of the Services, is working with the Intelligence Community to migrate
    to the Intelligence Community cloud standards and to provide enhanced capability to our
    Warfighters. Previous DCGS-A cloud efforts have contributed to the Army’s and other
    Services’ understanding of these requirements while also serving the needs of our forces in
    theater. Red Disk, a separate effort from DCGS-A, will inform the Army’s future
    requirements for DCGS-A.

    6. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has called for an investigation into the misuse of DCGS-A
    funding in an October 29, 2013 letter saying “It was recently confirmed by the House
    Armed Services Committee that Operations and Maintenance funds may have been
    used for further Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funding for the Army’s
    Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS-A)…If accurate, this would be a clear
    violation of the Antideficiency Act (ADA).”

    What’s the Army’s response to this accusation and where did the Army allocate these
    funds in question?

    A: The Army Audit Agency is currently conducting an audit of the DCGS-A Program of
    Record in direct response to Rep. Hunter’s latest concerns. We are awaiting the results of
    the audit and it is premature to comment at this time.

  • ‘For The Record’ and ‘Real News Investigates’ Live Blog: 4/23
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 4:26 pm by Steve Krakauer

    Comments (0)

    While you watch For the Record and Real News Investigates on TheBlaze TV tonight, join the conversation here with Sara Carter and the show producers. We’ll have behind-the-scenes pictures and details, related links, polls and much more. The shows and live blog begin at 8 p.m. ET.

  • Barbara Boxer, Mark Steyn and Strom Thurmond walk into an elevator…epic creepiness ensues
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 12:32 pm by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (9)

    Yesterday we conducted an extensive interview with best-selling author and prolific columnist Mark Steyn, in connection with the release of a newly updated version of his entertaining and insightful book of obituaries and appreciations, “Mark Steyn’s Passing Parade.”

    One obit Steyn pens is for Strom Thurmond, the one-time Dixiecrat presidential candidate, and later Republican U.S. Senator of 48 years from South Carolina. Within his Thurmond obit, Steyn reveals a story about the one instance in which he encountered Thurmond, crammed into an elevator between current U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and the then-ancient Senator during the Clinton impeachment proceedings.

    We’ll let Steyn take the epically creepy story from there:

    Senator Strom Thurmond pictured during his one-hundredth birthday. (Image Source: Associated Press)

    U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond pictured during his one-hundredth birthday. (Image Source: Associated Press)

    “I was covering the impeachment trial of President Clinton, which was the first time I’d been exposed close up to the United States Senate, which is not a lovely site. And one of the few interesting things as that trial wore on was actually Strom Thurmond because he – Clinton had the sort of two sexpot lady lawyers – and Strom Thurmond used to bring candy for them each day, and then press them with his 112-year old lizard-like hands into their fingers. And you could see the women were like, fatally taken aback by this, but at a certain level they understood that this was what it was gonna take to prevent their guy from being removed from office. And in the end, Strom did not vote to remove Clinton from office, in part I do believe because he had the hots for those lawyers.

    Passing Parade

    Featured Book

    Title: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade: Obituaries & Appreciations expanded edition

    Author:

    Purchase this book

    But yea, there was one moment at the end of the day where we were sort of pressed in a crush – me, Barbara Boxer, Strom Thurmond, and a ton of other people. And I suddenly noticed what I thought was this like incredible-sized lizard on the sleeve of my coat. And I was listening to – I think Barbara Boxer was talking – so you look down in horror as this thing is moving down your arm, and then I realize that as it then reached down and began to stroke my hand that it was the incredibly wizened fingers of Strom Thurmond who I think had been meaning to reach over and stroke Barbara Boxer’s hand, but had fallen a little short, and ended up stroking mine.”

    Steyn took this experience in stride, stating:

    “What can you do? It’s not often…people are always saying your editors always want you to get up close and personal with these political figures, and I felt, if nothing else, I’d done some serious heavy petting with Strom Thurmond.

    But, you know, we live in hyper-partisan times, and that’s fair enough. My view basically of the American situation — Mark Levin and I were actually talking about this one time, and Mark put it very well: it’s a 50/50 nation and one side has to win, and the other side has to lose. And I tend to agree with that. All that said though, when you’re being groped by Strom Thurmond, it’s important to be able to recognize the comedy in your own side too. I like to think I could always do that.”

    For more from our interview, in which Steyn discusses one of the most potentially consequential First Amendment cases of the last 50 years (in which Steyn himself is being sued for his global warming-related criticism of climate scientist Michael Mann), and speaks with us about gay marriage, Common Core, the fate of the Western world and much more, be sure to read the full thing here.

  • Mark Steyn speaks with TheBlaze on his new book, and everything from global warming to Common Core to the First Amendment
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 11:48 am by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (1)

    We spoke with best-selling author and columnist Mark Steyn in connection with the release of a newly updated version of his entertaining and insightful book of obituaries and appreciations, “Mark Steyn’s Passing Parade.”

    In a wide-ranging interview, Steyn spoke with TheBlaze Books on his newly updated book, the fate of America, and issues ranging from gay marriage to global warming to free speech to education and Common Core. The interview, which we conducted in-person, is transcribed below with edits for clarity and links.

    If you appreciate this interview, be sure to follow Blaze Books on Facebook and Twitter.

    Passing Parade

    Give us a brief synopsis of your newly updated book, “Passing Parade: Obituaries & Appreciations.

    Steyn: Well my big books in recent years have been on the big geopolitical, socio-economic picture. A lot of statistics, lot of numbers, lot of big picture stuff. “America Alone” is essentially a book about demography – I mean I got a best-selling book about demography which doesn’t happen very often, but it’s about fertility rates, really. “After America” in some ways is about debt – it’s about multi-trillion dollar numbers. And they’re all big picture things, but for me the real pleasure is writing about people, and reminding yourself…that it’s not all fertility rates and debt/GDP ratios, but that at the right moment of history, one individual can make a difference. And the people in this book are people who made a difference. That can be in the sense of winning the Cold War like Ronald Reagan did, or it can be in the sense of William Mitchell, who’s the guy who invented Cool Whip…I like writing obituaries. The only thing I would say is that it’s hard to write about people you…you can’t be entirely negative or hateful about people. There’s gotta be something in there [within the person] that you respond to.

    Romano Mussolini

    One of Mussolini’s records. (Image Source: jazzfromitaly.blogspot.com)

    And it’s interesting – even someone like Romano Mussolini, who is the Mussolini’s son – Il Duche – the big-time fascist dictator of Italy…Romano Mussolini was a jazz pianist of all things, and I met him once when he came to play in London. His group was called the “Romano Mussolini All Stars.” And after the war in Italy, his dad had been hung from a lamppost, the bottom had dropped out of the dictating business, but Romano got to be the jazz pianist that he’d always wanted to be. But he thought the Mussolini name wouldn’t go well, so he changed his name to the equivalent of “Romano Smith and His Trio.” And nobody came to see him. And then he discovered that actually, the Romano Mussolini All Stars, that that was actually quite a draw with the jazz crowd. But there’s even in that – as I said, Mussolini wound up hanging from a lamppost when they caught up with him with his mistress, but even…the final anecdote about that is that the last time Romano saw his dad, when his time had almost run out, and everybody was catching up with him, and his dad came in effectively to say “Goodbye…” he didn’t know it would be the last time he saw him and he asked him to play some music from Franz Lehár, from The Merry Widow. And just that, even in the…just that little vignette is like a very poignant, human moment, in the life of someone who a couple weeks later was hanging from that lamppost.

    I think you always have to if you’re writing – even if you’re writing about – whoever it is, there’s gotta be some little way into the story that makes them human.

    The right man at the right moment can make all the difference
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    And you know as bad as things are – when I think back to that time for example, and I think when Neville Chamberlain was forced out of the prime ministership in the spring of 1940, if the Tory party had picked Lord Halifax instead of Winston Churchill, the entire history of the 20th century would have been different. And so the lesson you draw…we’re in New York City…Winston Churchill was almost hit by a car crossing 5th Avenue in 1932 or whatever it was – if that taxicab had actually left the tread marks over Winston Churchill — again the entire history of the second half of the 20th century would have been different. And so the lesson you draw from that is that yes the debt numbers are bad, yes the demographic numbers are bad, yes all the big picture stuff, the trends, the macroeconomic stuff is all bad, but even so, one man, the right man at the right moment can make all the difference…extraordinary people can make all the difference.

    One of the obituaries that I thought interesting was Strom Thurmond’s. Give some readers insight into the story in which you were stuck in an elevator between Barbara Boxer and Strom Thurmond.

    Steyn: I was covering the impeachment trial of President Clinton, which was the first time I’d been exposed close up to the United States Senate, which is not a lovely site. And one of the few interesting things as that trial wore on was actually Strom Thurmond because he – Clinton had the sort of two sexpot lady lawyers – and Strom Thurmond used to bring candy for them each day, and then press them with his 112-year old lizard-like hands into their fingers. And you could see the women were like, fatally taken aback by this, but at a certain level they understood that this was what it was gonna take to prevent their guy from being removed from office. And in the end, Strom did not vote to remove Clinton from office, in part I do believe because he had the hots for those lawyers.

    Passing Parade

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    But yea, there was one moment at the end of the day where we were sort of pressed in a crush – me, Barbara Boxer, Strom Thurmond, and a ton of other people. And I suddenly noticed what I thought was this like incredible-sized lizard on the sleeve of my coat. And I was listening to – I think Barbara Boxer was talking – so you look down in horror as this thing is moving down your arm, and then I realize that as it then reached down and began to stroke my hand that it was the incredibly wizened fingers of Strom Thurmond who I think had been meaning to reach over and stroke Barbara Boxer’s hand, but had fallen a little short, and ended up stroking mine.

    What can you do? It’s not often…people are always saying your editors always want you to get up close and personal with these political figures, and I felt, if nothing else, I’d done some serious heavy petting with Strom Thurmond.

    But, you know, we live in hyper-partisan times, and that’s fair enough. My view basically of the American situation — Mark Levin and I were actually talking about this one time, and Mark put it very well: it’s a 50/50 nation and one side has to win, and the other side has to lose. And I tend to agree with that. All that said though, when you’re being groped by Strom Thurmond, it’s important to be able to recognize the comedy in your own side too. I like to think I could always do that.

    When you’re being groped by Strom Thurmond, it’s important to..recognize the comedy in your own side
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    Are there any other particular obituaries that you think readers will find entertaining or insightful in the book.

    Steyn: I always like ones – there’s an obituary there of Otto von Habsburg, who had the 20th century worked out for him would have been Holy Roman Emperor; would have been Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And instead things didn’t work out for him and at the end of his life he was a member of the European Parliament, which I would say is about as big a comedown because it’s not a parliament, it’s basically a Potemkin legislature…I would say that’s as big a comedown as you could get.

    What I like about that is that it kind of reminds us that in the span of one life, everything can change. You can see the rise and fall of Communism, you can have revolutions, you can have vast convulsions, all within one man’s life. And, if you’re like Otto von Habsburg, your very surname sort of mocks the idea of prosperity – you’re going around like the last sort of souvenir of an enterprise nobody else is interested in. I like things like that, because it’s a reminder that a guy can live three score and 10, maybe he’ll get an extra 10 or 15 years on top of it, but within 80 or 90 years empires rise and fall, all within the span of a single life.

    Sticking with that theme of the ebbs and flows of history, if you were to analogize where America is to another country in another time period in the history of the world, be it Rome or Great Britain at the turn of the 19th century, what country are we and what period are we living in?

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    Steyn: When I wrote “After America,” my old editor Cullen Murphy wrote a book called “Are We Rome.” Cullen isn’t any kind of conservative but it’s a very interesting analysis. Societies rise and fall – they reach a level of comfort and they decline. You know how the first generation are warriors, and then the second generation become farmers, and then the third generation become inventors and creators, and then by the fifth generation they’re diversity outreach consultants or whatever, which is the stage we’re pretty much at. And I think there’s truth in the comparisons – you know the one people talk about which is the comparison with Britain at the height of empire – and Kipling to any English schoolboy, Kipling’s recessional – Britain in the era of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, which was a parade such as no one has ever seen of the queen’s subjects from around this mighty empire march down the mow in London, and the idea that if you were a five year old boy who’d been taken along to see the parade that you would end your days in a socialist basket-case would have seemed absolutely astonishing because they thought they were beyond history in a way that America thinks it.

    And I think there’s a lot of truth in that except you know – Robert Kagan who wrote this book “The World America Made,” he said well if we are Britain, we’re Britain in the 1870s, you know at the height of imperial…I don’t think that’s true. I just was thinking about it because I’ve just come back from Australia where there’s an entire part of a suburb I think of Melbourne – all the streets are named after Crimea, and I was thinking well you know who here would name – there’s a Kandahar, Saskatchewan, because that was the site of a great heroic victory in – I hope I get this right now — I think it’s the Second World War. No one’s ever going to build a Kandahar, Idaho, so I think that’s the…I don’t like…I’m not even comfortable with those comparisons.

    But I’ll tell you why I think we shouldn’t even start thinking like that – and that’s the other thing Kagan says in the book – he says we should be no more concerned about China’s economic dominance than the British were about with America’s dominance. Now wait a minute. You know to everyone except the British and the Americans, the Anglo-American period is seen as one continuous phase. The French don’t distinguish…they just say “Les Anglo-Saxons, to hell with them all.” They see it as, you know two centuries of seamless Anglo-American dominance beginning with the Battle of Trafalgar. And my friend Andrew Roberts, a British historian that [George W.] Bush liked enormously, likes to pinpoint it to I think one month in the 1940s, when on the 14th day of the month the British had more men under arms than America, and on the 15th the Americans did, and that’s the point at which the baton was passed.

    But that was the – if you’re gonna go out of business as the global hegemon – passing it to your prodigal son that shares the same language, shares the same legal inheritance, shares the same views on liberty but has taken them in a slightly different direction or whatever, that’s the smoothest transition of global power in history. (more…)

  • ‘Open letter’ to the Clinton baby
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:46 am by Jonathon M. Seidl

    Comments (36)

    The New York Post’s Kyle Smith is out with a funny open letter to Chelsea Clinton’s unborn baby. Here’s a taste:

    Dear Baby Clinton-Mezvinsky:

    Welcome to advanced gestation! Since you’re new around here, I thought you’d like to know a little bit about what makes you so special. The reason is, you’re going to live your whole life in make-believe!

    Do you know the fairy stories about a princess in a castle? Well, you get to be that real-life prince or princess, in a real-life castle where Mommy Chelsea is also a princess, Grandma is about to be crowned Queen, and Grandpa Bill is a retired ex-King with lots of helpful advice on ruling the kingdom, er, monarchy. (Your other grandma and grandpa were both a kind of court vassal called Congressmen. Oopsies, other grandpa, Edward Mezvinsky, even went to something called “prison,” which is kind of like a big, cozy crib! Can you say “wire fraud”? Good, you can’t! Don’t! Around here we pretend Grandpa isn’t a criminal!)

    Inside the castle towers you will find that Mommy, Mommy’s mommy and Mommy’s daddy Bill are all really good at make-believe games. So you get to pretend all the time! Mommy’s mommy and Mommy’s daddy even pretend to still be married even though they’ve been living hundreds of miles apart for 14 years!

    Read the rest over at the Post.

  • Is Your Health Insurance Unaffordable Under Obamacare? Common Sense Care Can Help
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:14 pm by Sponsored Post

    Comments (1)

    PRESENTED BY:  Common Sense Care

    Each day the reality of Obamacare (or the Affordable Care Act) takes its toll as Americans feel the impact of skyrocketing health insurance costs. Whether you’re an employer that can no longer afford health insurance for your employees or an individual whose health insurance has been cancelled, the vast majority of Americans are experiencing the consequences of a government run amok.

    The real-life stories of hard-working Americans who are worse-off today prove wealth redistribution for the fallacy it is– a mechanism to threaten and shrink the middle class. Take for example, Jason, 37, who recently spoke to Jim Jones of CommonSenseCare.com: “I make just enough money to not be able to afford health insurance.” Jason has a family, works hard and just wants to do what any middle-class American would like to do– support their family and the laws of their country at the same time.

    photo

    After paying for food, mortgage, utilities and trying to save for his children’s college education, Jason has very little disposable income and not nearly enough money to pay for an Obamacare policy. “So I guess I’m going to get fined and have the risk of being on my own for getting sick or having a catastrophic accident. I’m getting penalized and putting my family at risk. That’s not right.” Jason is the prime example for why The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is so flawed.

    But there’s hope. If you’re like Jason and can’t afford health insurance, or your health insurance comes with a high deductible, CommonSenseCare.com can help you.

    As we see with Jason’s story, those who are paying full price for the “Affordable Care Act” can’t afford to pay for their own family’s insurance. The only thing Obamacare has managed to do is shift the cost of healthcare from one socioeconomic class to another, this time burdening the middle class. This is a classic consequence of wealth redistribution 

    But Obamacare isn’t just unaffordable; it also limits choice in the healthcare marketplace. Currently, the Affordable Care Act offers only four plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each of these plans comes with identical essential benefits, but has varying deductibles and co-insurance. By the time you reach the Gold and Platinum plans, however, the premiums are so expensive that they’re really not choices at all. That leaves just about everyone (especially the middle class) with two options– the Bronze or the Silver plan.

    Many Americans like Jason don’t qualify for a federal subsidy, and their premiums are so high that they can’t afford them and go without health insurance altogether. Even with a generous subsidy, to access an Obamacare plan you have to pay a high deductible, which makes the insurance virtually inaccessible. Jason understands that Obamacare is not sustainable. “That’s not right,” he said.

    The architects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) thought the American people would readily embrace wealth redistribution. The only problem with this is that young adults don’t want to be forced to buy an overpriced policy that compensates for people who are older or for those that qualify for a subsidy. Likewise, older adults aren’t interested in buying an overpriced policy for benefits they don’t want or will never use. And finally, small businesses don’t want overpriced policies that drive up costs, inhibit growth and stifle job creation.

    (Source: Jim Jones)

    (Source: Jim Jones)

    If you think the insurance industry is bad now, wait until your healthcare is administered through the federal government. You can expect the efficiency of the postal service and the compassion of the IRS.

    Middle class America will pay the price one way or another. They will have to either purchase insurance they can barely afford, putting families at more financial risk than ever before, or forgo coverage altogether because it’s too expensive. The bottom line is that ACA conflicts with its own intent: It shifts healthcare costs for the uninsured from one income class to another while failing to provide meaningful coverage. That is flawed law. 

    There is a better way, an American way, and it begins with We The People taking America back.

    Visit CommonSenseCare.com today to find out how you can take control of your care and save on out-of-pocket costs.  

  • All of the reasons why the No. 1 book on Amazon — and the left’s most hyped book of the year — is wrong (so far)
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 12:53 pm by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (69)

    Capital in the Twenty-First Century

    Last month, we noted that Leftist economist Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” had gone viral in the progressive intellectual sphere. We also noted that given the institutions lavishing praise on the book, and the hype echoing throughout the blogosphere, that the book could be of primary importance for years to come in justifying the left’s agenda on income inequality, taxation and economics more broadly.

    As the book has climbed the charts to No. 1 on Amazon, the articles have not stopped coming, with two glowing profiles of Piketty just this week.

    The left’s love-affair with Piketty’s Marx-inspired title should come as no surprise given that the book gives intellectual credence to the argument that inequality is the great problem of our time — the inevitable outcome of capitalism in Piketty’s view — along with a set of progressive policy “solutions” to counteract capitalism’s perceived deficiencies. These solutions include implementing a global annual progressive wealth tax, and levying an 80% tax on incomes of $500,000 or $1 million a year and up.

    But various commentators have started to push back on the Piketty phenomenon.

    Below is a round-up of some of the arguments being leveled against Piketty’s magnum opus thus far:

    • On TheBlaze TV’s Wilkow! program, University of Maryland Economist Peter Morici, King’s College Professor Brian Brenberg and host Andrew Wilkow recently challenged Piketty’s thesis:
    • Writing in Bloomberg, columnist Clive Crook argues in an article entitled “The Most Important Book Ever is All Wrong,” that as the title suggests, Crook’s arguments are illogical and his primary focus on inequality is misguided:
    • Piketty’s data and arguments are “schizophrenic”

    “There’s a persistent tension between the limits of the data he presents and the grandiosity of the conclusions he draws. At times this borders on schizophrenia. In introducing each set of data, he’s all caution and modesty, as he should be, because measurement problems arise at every stage. Almost in the next paragraph, he states a conclusion that goes beyond what the data would support even if it were unimpeachable.

    This tendency is apparent all through the book, but most marked at the end, when he sums up his findings about “the central contradiction of capitalism”:

    The inequality r>g [the rate of return on capital is greater than the rate of economic growth] implies that wealth accumulated in the past grows more rapidly than output and wages. This inequality expresses a fundamental logical contradiction. The entrepreneur inevitably tends to become a rentier, more and more dominant over those who own nothing but their labor. Once constituted, capital reproduces itself faster than output increases. The past devours the future. The consequences for the long-term dynamics of the wealth distribution are potentially terrifying …

    Every claim in that dramatic summing up is either unsupported or contradicted by Piketty’s own data and analysis. (I’m not counting the unintelligible. The past devours the future?)”

    • Piketty views inequality as the crucial issue of our time, which while satisfying a large audience, neglects the more important issue of wages and living standards 
    koch protest 2

    A Code Pink rally against Koch Industries. (Image Source: Gateway Pundit)

    “Piketty’s terror at rising inequality is an important data point for the reader. It has perhaps influenced his judgment and his tendentious reading of his own evidence. It could also explain why the book has been greeted with such erotic intensity: It meets the need for a work of deep research and scholarly respectability which affirms that inequality, as Cassidy remarked, is “a defining issue of our era.”

    Maybe. But nobody should think it’s the only issue. For Piketty, it is…

    Over the course of history, capital accumulation has yielded growth in living standards that people in earlier centuries could not have imagined, let alone predicted — and it wasn’t just the owners of capital who benefited. Future capital accumulation may or may not increase the capital share of output; it may or may not widen inequality. If it does, that’s a bad thing, and governments should act. But even if it does, it won’t matter as much as whether and how quickly wages and living standards rise.

    That is, or ought to be, the defining issue of our era, and it’s one on which “Capital in the 21st Century” has almost nothing to say.” [Note that Kevin Williamson of National Review piles on in a very insightful peace on poverty]

    • Writing in Foreign Affairs, Economist Tyler Cowen has a number of issues with Piketty’s book, including but not limited to the following:
    • Piketty’s main thesis that the rate of return on wealth will outpace the rate of economic growth — leading to growing wealth inequality — is questionable

    “…in too many parts of his argument, he seems to assume that investors can reap such returns automatically, with the mere passage of time, rather than as the result of strategic risk taking. A more accurate picture of the rate of return would incorporate risk and take into account the fact that although the stock of capital typically grows each year, sudden reversals and retrenchments are inevitable…it is difficult to share his confidence that the rate [of return on wealth]…is likely to be higher than the growth rate of the economy. Normally, economists think of the rate of return on capital as diminishing as investors accumulate more capital, since the most profitable investment opportunities are taken first. But in Piketty’s model, lucrative overseas investments and the growing financial sophistication of the superwealthy keep capital returns permanently high. The more prosaic reality is that most capital stays in its home country and also has a hard time beating randomly selected stocks. For those reasons, the future of capital income looks far less glamorous than Piketty argues.”

    • We do not and cannot know what assets (including the capital Piketty focuses on like stocks) are going to provide the greatest return going forward

    “economists, such as Friedrich Hayek (more…)

  • An ordinary dance contest with an extraordinary contestant: ‘She continues to amaze me’
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 12:06 pm by Colin Balfe

    Comments (2)

    Recently, we put out the request for our audience to send us amazing photos and the stories behind them. What you’ve sent so far has blown us away. In fact, we’ve started a Facebook page to share these amazing stories and photos with as many people as we can. (To view them, visit The Blaze Best Moments Facebook page.) We’ve already shared a few, and today we bring you our latest installment.

    Today’s photo and story comes from Sarah Galbraith:

    Yesterday it was my privilege to watch my five-year-old daughter, Ruby, who has cerebral palsy, dance in a national talent contest.  Her performance, with her enthusiasm and smile, brought the crowd to its feet.  I share this because she has been an inspiration to me and others with her sweet face and personality.  Ruby has encouraged many dancers, as well as physical therapists to raise the bar on what can be expected from young people like Ruby.  She continues to amaze me and propels me through each and every day.

    Dancing Ruby

    (Source: Sarah Galbraith)

    If you have a photo you’d like to share with us, send it to BestMoments@theblaze.com. We may share your photos with TheBlaze and Glenn Beck audiences and across all of our platforms including TheBlaze.com, GlennBeck.com, Facebook and Twitter.

    Throughout our Facebook page, you will find our mission statement embodied in miraculous stories of love, hope, sacrifice and honor. That statement is, “We tell stories of love and courage where the good guys win.”

    We’re so grateful to be able to share these sacred moments to help uplift, inspire or empower others. Thank you for being so generous with your precious memories.

  • Tim Tebow and ‘Duck Dynasty’ star team up for one awesome photo involving an axe
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:27 am by Jonathon M. Seidl

    Comments (28)

    What do you get when you cross Tim Tebow, “Duck Dynasty” star Jase Robertson and an axe? Only one of the best photos imaginable:

    The photo was tweeted out by Robertson on Easter Sunday. The pair has toured together before for speaking engagements and are planning to do the same this summer.

  • You’ve heard what Justice John Paul Stevens wants to do to the Second Amendment — here’s what he’d like to do to the First
    Posted April 21, 2014 at 2:03 pm by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (183)

    Previously we wrote about former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’s desire to amend the Second Amendment, a position he reiterated during an interview with George Stephanopoulos yesterday. The practical effect of his amendment would be that Congress could pass a ban on individual gun ownership.

    Today comes word via a New York Times article that Justice Stevens, who has been making the rounds in connection with his new book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,” would also like to override the First Amendment “to address what he [Stevens] said was the grave threat to American democracy caused by the torrent of money in politics.”

    Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens speaks with George Stephanopolous during an interview aired on ABC's "This Week," April 20, 2014. (Image Source: ABC News/This Week screengrab)

    Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens speaks with George Stephanopolous during an interview aired on ABC’s “This Week,” April 20, 2014. (Image Source: ABC News/This Week screengrab)

    To wit, Adam Liptak of the Times writes:

    “The new amendment would override the First Amendment and allow Congress and the states (more…)

  • 10 quotes that will challenge you and spark your creative energy
    Posted April 21, 2014 at 11:39 am by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (19)

    Tonight, author, trader, investor and entrepreneur James Altucher will be a guest on the Glenn Beck program on TheBlaze TV. Altucher will be discussing the principles of his 2013 book, “Choose Yourself!,” a guide to being happy, making millions and living the dream.

    Often contrarian, heartfelt, raw and inspiring, Altucher’s writings are in many ways akin to those of Srinivas Rao. We at Blaze Books [Facebook, Twitter] highly recommend reading everything you can from the treasure trove of free wisdom that he provides on an almost daily basis.

    Below are the 10 most popular quotes from “Choose Yourself,” ranked in descending order by number of highlights in the Kindle version of his book.

    Choose Yourself

    Only deal with the people who love you back, who are winners and want you to win too.
    Share:

    1. Success comes from continually expanding your frontiers in every direction—creatively, financially, spiritually, and physically. Always ask yourself, what can I improve? Who else can I talk to? Where else can I look?

    2. Only think about the people you enjoy. Only read the books you enjoy, that make you happy to be human. Only go to the events that actually make you laugh or fall in love. Only deal with the people who love you back, who are winners and want you to win too.

    3. Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, “I did it again.”

    4. Rejection—and the fear of rejection—is the biggest impediment we face to choosing ourselves.

    The only real fire to cultivate is the fire inside of you. Nothing external will cultivate it.
    Share:

    5. The only real fire to cultivate is the fire inside of you. Nothing external will cultivate it. The greater your internal fire is, the more people will want it.

    6. What you need to do is build the house you will live in. You build that house by laying a solid foundation: by building physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

    7. The only truly safe thing you can do is to try over and over again. To go for it, to get rejected, to repeat, to strive, to wish. Without rejection there is no frontier, there is no passion, and there is no magic.

    8. In this new era, you have two choices: become a temp staffer (not a horrible choice) or become an artist-entrepreneur.

    The only truly safe thing you can do is to try over and over again.
    Share:

    9. This is about a new phase in history where art, science, business, and spirit will join together, both externally and internally, in the pursuit of true wealth.

    10. There’s a saying, “The learned man aims for more. But the wise man decreases. And then decreases again.”

  • NBC commissioned a ‘psychological consultant’ to evaluate host David Gregory
    Posted April 21, 2014 at 10:35 am by Jonathon M. Seidl

    Comments (59)

    From the Washington Post comes this nugget amidst the “Meet the Press” ratings debacle and host David Gregory:

    Thus, “MTP’s” meltdown has sounded alarm bells inside NBC News and attracted the attention of its new president, Deborah Turness, who arrived from Britain’s ITV News in August. Gregory’s job does not appear to be in any immediate jeopardy, but there are plenty of signs of concern.

    Last year, the network undertook an unusual assessment of the 43-year-old journalist, commissioning a psychological consultant to interview his friends and even his wife. The idea, according to a network spokeswoman, Meghan Pianta, was “to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.” But the research project struck some at NBC as odd, given that Gregory has been employed there for nearly 20 years.

    UPDATE:

    Politico’s Dylan Byers has some crucial updates, mainly that NBC has tried to backtrack on the “psychological consultant” part:

    UPDATE (11:17 a.m.): In an email, Pianta challenged Farhi’s reporting, saying that the network brought in a “brand consultant” not a psychological one as Farhi reported:

    Last year Meet the Press brought in a brand consultant — not, as reported, a psychological one — to better understand how its anchor connects. This is certainly not unusual for any television program, especially one that’s driven so heavily by one person.

    UPDATE (11:25 a.m.): Farhi said he checked with NBC twice on Sunday about the term “psychological” and that they had no objections at the time.

    “I checked it twice with them yesterday. No objections then,” he wrote in an email.

  • Perpetrators of 1971 FBI break-in receive hero’s welcome at Tribeca Film Festival
    Posted April 21, 2014 at 9:12 am by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (4)

    In 1971, eight progressive activists calling themselves the “Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI” became some of the nation’s most wanted individuals by breaking into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and stealing and leaking over 1,000 classified documents focusing in part on domestic surveillance.

    Today, at the Tribeca Film Festival where their exploits — for which they were never caught — are being documented in the just-premiered “1971,” they are being treated as heroes.

    The film cast and crew took questions following the world premiere of "1971" at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 18, 2014. Pictured from left to right are Civil Rights Lawyer and representative of the Citizens' Committee to Investigate the FBI David Kairys, Chief Counsel to the "Church Committee" Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr., Producer Laura Poitras, FBI break-in perpetrators Keith Forsyth, John and Bonnie Raynes former and Washington Post journalist who broke the story Betty Medsger.

    The film cast and crew took questions following the world premiere of “1971″ at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 18, 2014. Pictured from left to right are Civil Rights Lawyer and representative of the Citizens’ Committee to Investigate the FBI David Kairys, Chief Counsel to the “Church Committee,” Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr., Director and Producer Johanna Hamilton, FBI break-in perpetrators Keith Forsyth, John and Bonnie Raynes, the former Washington Post journalist who broke the story, Betty Medsger and Co-Producer Laura Poitras.

    Heralded as the precursors to leakers Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, three of the eight individuals responsible for the 1971 FBI break-in including Keith Forsyth, Bonnie and John Raynes, who attended the film’s world premiere on Friday, April 18, received a standing ovation upon their introduction.

    An audience member lavished praise on the burglars for their efforts during the Q&A session that followed the viewing.

    The film focuses on the individual stories of those who carried out the burglary, which coincided with the “Fight of the Century” boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier on March 8, 1971.

    Framing the perpetrators as “eight ordinary citizens,” compelled to act because they had “begun to feel the specter of intimidation,” “1971″ provides exclusive interviews, primary documents, news coverage and re-creations that build to the following conclusion: “The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI has won—real oversight over the FBI and a national conversation about privacy rights has begun.”

    Two of the perpetrators, John and Bonnie Raynes, committed the FBI burglary despite having three young children at home. (Image Source: 1971film.com press kit)

    Two of the perpetrators, John and Bonnie Raynes, committed the FBI burglary despite their concerns given the fact that they had three young children at home. (Image Source: 1971film.com press kit)

    The film portrays the burglars in a uniformly positive light (more…)

  • ‘Patriotism, youth and simplicity’: The picture that is the ‘perfect representation of small town America’
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 4:39 pm by Colin Balfe

    Comments (0)

    At TheBlaze, we’re fortunate to have a truly extraordinary audience. A little while ago, we asked you to send us the best moment of your life captured in a photo. What came in blew us away. We started a Facebook page to share these amazing stories and photos with you. To view them, visit The Blaze Best Moments Facebook page.

    Below, you can see one such moment. It comes from Jayson Massey:

    This picture was taken at a football game in Lyndon, KS, last year. It pictures a member of the American Legion Post 125 and my baby girl on the right. To me, this picture is the perfect representation of small town America: patriotism, youth and simplicity. Several things that many parts of America are lacking.

    Football

    (Source: Jayson Massey)

    If you have a photo you’d like to share with us, send it to BestMoments@theblaze.com. We may share your photos with TheBlaze and Glenn Beck audiences and across all of our platforms including TheBlaze.com, GlennBeck.com, Facebook and Twitter.

    Throughout our Facebook page, you will find our mission statement embodied in miraculous stories of love, hope, sacrifice and honor. That statement is, “We tell stories of love and courage where the good guys win.”

    We’re so grateful to be able to share these sacred moments to help uplift, inspire or empower others. Thank you for being so generous with your precious memories.

  • Stand against evil, stand with Israel, and support the IFCJ
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 6:11 pm by Sponsored Post

    Comments (5)

    Stand against Evil, Stand with Israel, and Support the IFCJ

    Whether under the guise of “protection” or in the form of open anti-Semitism, Jewish citizens in the Ukraine are in peril. A short time ago, more than 20 religious and business leaders signed a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin demanding that he stop using propaganda that claims Russian-speaking Jewish citizens need his defense in order to tighten his control on the region.

    Inside Story Image

    “You have stated that Russia wants to protect the rights of the Russian-speaking citizens of the Crimea and all of Ukraine and that these rights have been trampled by the current Ukrainian government,” the letter stated. “Historically, Ukrainian Jews are also mostly Russian-speaking. Thus, our opinion on what is happening carries no less weight than the opinion of those who advise and inform you.”

    “We are convinced that you are not easily fooled. This means that you must be consciously picking and choosing lies and slander from the entire body of information on Ukraine,” the letter stated.

    Stand with Israel today and protect Ukrainian Jews

    Have there been other recent events that suggest Ukrainian Jews are being threatened? Sadly, yes. At a rally in Cherkassy, Ukraine, several ultra-nationalists shed their jackets to reveal aggressive anti-Semitic slogans printed on their T-shirts. “Beat the Zhids,” read the front of their shirts. “Zhids,” which can be translated as “dirty Jew,” is a smear heard frequently in Eastern Europe, and was traditionally associated with past bloody pogroms against the Jews.

    Yet another worrisome anti-Semitic event came in the form of police brutality against a 28-year-old Jewish man, Dmitry Flekman. Allegedly, police officers demanded $10,000 from Flekman as well as the code to his credit card, which was taken from him. Police also threatened that they were planning to search his home and would find drugs there. According to Flekman’s statement, the beating required him to seek medical attention at the hospital for a fractured tailbone.

    As anti-Semitism, civil unrest, and Russian aggression in Ukraine continue to rise, you’re likely wondering what you can do to help. There is an organization willing to stand up for what is right. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews was founded in 1983 by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to promote understanding between Jews and Christians and build broad support for Israel and other shared concerns. Their vision is that Jews and Christians will reverse their 2,000-year history of discord and replace it with a relationship marked by dialogue, respect, and cooperation. Learn how you can help today.

    The Fellowship‘s success has far exceeded expectations. Over the years, they have been leaders in Jewish-Christian relations, building bridges of goodwill that have led to greater understanding and cooperation between members of these two great faiths. They have helped hundreds of thousands of Jews escape poverty and anti-Semitism and return to their biblical homeland, funded humanitarian assistance that has touched the lives of millions of Jews in Israel and around the world, provided life-giving aid to Israel’s victims of war and terror, and much more. Learn how you can be a part of their mission and touch the lives of so many wonderful people around the world.

  • Milton Friedman demolishes Obama’s equal pay argument
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 12:06 pm by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (41)

    Last week, President Obama made his his National Equal Pay Day proclamation, repeating the misleading statistic that “women still make only 77 cents to every man’s dollar.”

    As Major Garrett perceptively noted, the manner in which the President carried out the equal pay push reflected former advisor David Plouffe’s ingenious strategy of “stray voltage”:

    “The theory goes like this: Controversy sparks attention, attention provokes conversation, and conversation embeds previously unknown or marginalized ideas in the public consciousness. This happens, Plouffe theorizes, even when—and sometimes especially when—the White House appears defensive, besieged, or off-guard.”

    While this post itself is perhaps reflective of the effectiveness of Plouffe’s strategy, nevertheless we thought it worth pointing out a video uncovered by George Mason University Professor Don Boudreaux over at Cafe Hayek. The video, which comes from a series of lectures delivered by Milton Friedman from 1977-1978, which were intended to serve as content for the “Free to Choose” video series (which preceded his best-selling book of the same name), deals with the substance of “equal pay” for “equal work” legislation.

    Here is the clip:

    Below are a couple of Friedman’s most compelling arguments: (more…)

  • Buck Sexton: ‘Realization of a Dream’ to Be Sitting in for Rush Limbaugh
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 11:45 am by Erica Ritz

    Comments (81)

    TheBlaze’s very own Buck Sexton is filling in for “America’s anchorman” Rush Limbaugh while he is away on Friday. It will be Sexton’s first time sitting behind the “golden EIB microphone” (though, technically, he will be broadcasting from New York).

    “If you told me when I started doing radio in 2013 that by 2014 I would be sitting in for Rush Limbaugh, I would have laughed,” Sexton told TheBlaze. “Today, it is happening, and what would have sounded like a joke then is the realization of a dream now. I couldn’t be more excited, or more thankful, for the opportunity.”​

    TheBlaze's Buck Sexton is filling in for legendary radio host Rush Limbaugh on April 18.

    TheBlaze’s Buck Sexton is filling in for legendary radio host Rush Limbaugh on April 18.

    A former CIA officer and NYPD Intelligence Division analyst, Sexton is TheBlaze’s national security editor. He is also the host of Buck Sexton on TheBlaze Radio Network from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET, and a co-host of Real News on TheBlaze TV at 6:00 p.m. ET.

    TheBlaze Radio Network can be heard on TheBlaze.com, TheBlaze iPhone and iPad apps, and iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s free digital radio service.

    Some of you may have heard-- and yes it's true-- I will be filling in for Rush Limbaugh tomorrow (4/18) on radio from 12-3 ET.
    TheBlazes Buck Sexton Filling in for Rush Limbaugh
    @BuckSexton
    Buck Sexton

    Joel Cheatwood, TheBlaze’s president and chief content officer, said he is “thrilled Buck is a part of TheBlaze team.”

    “He truly is a triple threat for us – radio, web, and television – and brings great passion and energy to everything he’s involved with,” Cheatwood remarked.

    You can follow follow Buck Sexton on Twitter and Facebook. And find a station where you can listen live to the Rush Limbaugh Show here.

  • New book asks: Did ‘crony capitalism’ prolong the Civil War?
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 10:30 am by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (43)

    In a new book titled “Uncle Sam Can’t Count,” Burton W. Folsom Jr. and wife Anita Folsom examine the history of largely disastrous government intervention in the American economy, through its impact on the early fur trade to 19th century railroad construction to the green energy boondoggles of today.

    Following in the footsteps of Burt Folsom’s excellent “The Myth of the Robber Barons,” much of the book centers on the constant battle between political entrepreneurs, who seek to use their political influence to capture monopoly profits and stifle competition, and market entrepreneurs, who seek to make a better product or deliver a superior service at a lower price than the crony capitalists with whom they compete.

    Uncle Sam Can't CountIn the shipbuilding business of the mid-1800s, it turns out that government intervention, specifically its mass subsidization of a handful of steamboat operators, may have literally prolonged the Civil War, in direct contradiction of one of government’s stated purposes for funding the industry in the first place.

    In the steamboat business, Cornelius Vanderbilt was the walking embodiment of market entrepreneurship, breaking up one shipping monopoly after the next by unrelentingly undercutting his competitors and continually improving his fleet. Vanderbilt’s success was so overwhelming that in California, his opponents used 75% or $672,000 of their annual $900,000 subsidy to pay him not to run any of his ships there.

    Such efforts would ultimately lead to the widespread deregulation and ending of subsidies to the industry.

    But before that point was reached, the government lavished crony capitalists such as Edward K. Collins with hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies each year, deterring competitors and disincentivizing innovation, the consequences of which may have included lengthier and more deadly Civil War.

    Here’s the story as told by the Folsoms in “Uncle Sam Can’t Count” [emphasis ours]:

    51B5ZQe663L

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    Americans were slower to turn to iron ships because their costs of iron construction were higher than those in England. Still, American engineers had been experimenting (more…)

  • Three book Thursday: Conservatism, the Constitution and Elizabeth Warren
    Posted April 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (1)

    Below are some reading materials of interest on three books including “11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative” by Paul Kengor (covered extensively by TheBlaze Books), “The Conscience of the Constitution” by Timothy Sandefur, and “A Fighting Chance,” Senator Elizabeth Warren’s soon-to-be-released book.

    1. “11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative” by Paul Kengor

    Writing in the American Spectator, former Reagan White House Political Director Jeffrey Lord argues that Kengor’s book is “important — a classic” because:

    11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative

    “While Reagan’s name is invoked constantly, all too frequently it is done for show or with misinformation that tries to lead an audience to believe Reagan believed something that in fact he did not. Making of America’s most famous conviction politician an all-purpose believer in everything and nothing simultaneously. Kengor has performed an enormously useful task here by setting out the core tenets of those who call themselves Reagan conservatives.”

    Lord draws a direct line between those who intuitively understand and appreciate Reagan conservatism, and the GOP Establishment:

    “While the above instances [of conservatives turning on Establishment Republicans] focus on Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, in fact the friction between Reagan conservatives and the GOP Establishment shows up time and time again. The move by House Republicans to upend Speaker John Boehner, the popularity of Senator Ted Cruz and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin among others, the fierce divide on when and how to challenge President Obama on Obamacare and other issues — all of these and more have a direct relation to some formulation of the Reagan conservative principles as Paul Kengor has outlined them in 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative.”

    2. “The Conscience of the Constitution” by Timothy Sandefur

    Writing in the Washington Post, recent Blaze Books interviewee George Will argues that thanks to the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Timothy Sandefur, America has “what it has long needed, a slender book that lucidly explains the intensity of conservatism’s disagreements with progressivism.”

    The Conscience of the Constitution

    In Sandefur’s “The Conscience of the Constitution,” Will writes that Sandefur’s explication of the stakes of the battle between individual liberty and majoritarian governance explains the “heatedness of political argument today.” Will explains it thusly:

    “The argument is between conservatives who say U.S. politics is basically about a condition, liberty, and progressives who say it is about a process, democracy. Progressives, who consider democracy the source of liberty, reverse the Founders’ premise, which was: Liberty preexists governments, which, the Declaration says, are legitimate when “instituted” to “secure” natural rights.”

    Will ends his review with an intriguing statement on Sandefur’s conclusion on democracy and the judiciary:

    “Government, the framers said, is instituted to improve upon the state of nature, in which the individual is at the mercy of the strong. But when democracy, meaning the process of majority rule, is the supreme value — when it is elevated to the status of what the Constitution is “basically about” — the individual is again at the mercy of the strong, the strength of mere numbers.

    Sandefur says progressivism “inverts America’s constitutional foundations” by holding that the Constitution is “about” democracy, which rejects the framers’ premise that majority rule is legitimate “only within the boundaries” of the individual’s natural rights. These include — indeed, are mostly — unenumerated rights whose existence and importance are affirmed by the Ninth Amendment.

    Many conservatives should be discomfited by Sandefur’s analysis, which entails this conclusion: Their indiscriminate denunciations of “judicial activism” inadvertently serve progressivism. The protection of rights, those constitutionally enumerated and others, requires a judiciary actively engaged in enforcing what the Constitution is “basically about,” which is making majority power respect individuals’ rights.”

    3. “A Fighting Chance” by Senator Elizabeth Warren

    Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 12.29.46 PM

    Senator Warren’s book, which comes out next week, has been getting some early buzz related to her recounting of contentious interactions between Warren and then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, as well as President Obama, along with her discussion on the controversy surrounding her proclaimed “Native American heritage.”

    At Blaze Books, we feel it valuable to know what is in the progressive zeitgeist, and as such feel that the following articles on Warren’s book are entertaining, insightful and worthwhile reads:

  • Awesome moment: ‘This was the day I met my son’s heart recipient’
    Posted April 17, 2014 at 11:10 am by Colin Balfe

    Comments (30)

    At TheBlaze, we’re fortunate to have a truly extraordinary audience. A little while ago, we asked you to send us the best moment of your life captured in a photo. What came in blew us away. We started a Facebook page to share these amazing stories and photos with you. To view them, visit The Blaze Best Moments Facebook page: Facebook.com/TheBlazeMoments.

    Below, you can see one such moment. It comes from Susan Puckett:

    This was the day I met my son’s heart recipient. My son, Thomas, died as a result of a traumatic head injury in August, 2008. He was just a few days away from turning 18. He had made the decision to be an organ donor when he got his driver’s license. We honored his wishes upon his death. Several months later, I wrote to all of his recipients and prayed that we would get a response. In the spring of 2011, I received the letter I had been praying for – from Derrick, my son’s heart recipient. With further correspondence, he was ready to meet us. That was in June of 2011. It was such a blessing to meet this wonderful, young man, who we now refer to as our heart son.

    heart brothers

    (Source: Susan Puckett)

    If you have a photo you’d like to share with us, send it to BestMoments@theblaze.com. We may share your photos with TheBlaze and Glenn Beck audiences and across all of our platforms including TheBlaze.com, GlennBeck.com, Facebook and Twitter.

    Throughout this page, you will find our mission statement embodied in miraculous stories of love, hope, sacrifice and honor. That statement is, “We tell stories of love and courage where the good guys win.”

    We’re so grateful to be able to share these sacred moments to help uplift, inspire or empower others. Thank you for being so generous with your precious memories.

  • Replace ‘Stalin’ with ‘Putin’ in this 1948 newspaper column, and prepare to be amazed
    Posted April 17, 2014 at 9:16 am by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (17)

    Recently, conditions in Ukraine have been intensifying, with some predicting a full-on Soviet revival marked by a ramping up of nationalism followed by moves to bring former Soviet bloc states back into the Russian orbit.

    In a throwback to the Cold War, it bears noting that this past weekend, Russian fighter planes made multiple close-range passes near an American warship stationed in the Black Sea as well.

    Ukrainian soldiers take part in a military drill not far from the small city of Goncharovskoye, some 150 km from Kiev, on March 14, 2014. Russia on March 14 declared it reserved the right to protect compatriots in the whole of Ukraine, seen as a threat that Moscow could move its forces beyond the Russian-speaking peninsula of Crimea. AFP PHOTO / SERGEI SUPINSKY SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images

    Ukrainian soldiers take part in a military drill not far from the small city of Goncharovskoye, some 150 km from Kiev, on March 14, 2014. Russia on March 14 declared it reserved the right to protect compatriots in the whole of Ukraine, seen as a threat that Moscow could move its forces beyond the Russian-speaking peninsula of Crimea. AFP PHOTO / SERGEI SUPINSKY SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images

    In light of Russia’s ongoing revanchist and irredentist exercise, and the West’s response or lack thereof to it, the below article written by Henry Hazlitt, a free-market journalist and author best known for his classic, “Economics in One Lesson,” seems to prove that if history does not repeat itself, it certainly rhymes.

    Hazlitt’s article is especially interesting in light of not only the parallels between 1948 Stalin and 2014 Putin, but in his opinion that the West should take the offensive against the Soviets, given his libertarian philosophy.

    The article, published in Newsweek on September 13, 1948, and collected in Hazlitt’s incomparable “Business Tides,” is titled “Does Stalin Want War?” All emphasis is ours.

    Does Stalin Want War?

    Does Stalin want war? This is not only the most fateful political question that confronts the world today, but the most fateful economic question. Economically, it overshadows inflation, for the extent of inflationary pressure will itself depend in large part on the issue of war or peace. War dictates the level of taxation and the whole structure of production. The recent diplomatic tension has been a major influence on our commodity and security markets, on business sentiment and business plans.

    If it takes two to make a war, it also takes two to keep the peace. And whatever Stalin wants today, he does not primarily want peace. No one who sincerely yearns for peace would turn loose every organ of propaganda against us; would order a daily barrage of vilification; would daily trump up new accusations and new lies against us; would systematically sow suspicion and hatred against the Western democracies; would use his consulates and embassies abroad as propaganda centers and espionage nests against the countries that harbor them; would daily raise new issues, think up new insults, create new crises; would cut off rail access to Berlin,”buzz” our supplying planes (more…)

  • Caption contest! The Obama-Biden ‘first selfie’
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 10:43 pm by Mike Opelka

    Comments (98)

    As seen on Twitter. Feel free to submit your caption in the comments section.

  • Do your own homework: For The Record’s research for ‘System Failure’
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm by Tom Orr

    Comments (1)

    The article “Ground Broken on Roxbury Islamic Center” shown in the episode.

    The official website for Americans For Peace And Tolerance.

    The March 2000 letter from Muhammad Ali-Salaam while acting in his role with the city: Ali Salaam Letter

    The newsletter from one month earlier showing Muhammad Ali-Salaam as one of the mosque’s major fundraisers: ISB February 2000

    The video of the August 2013 ceremony honoring Ali-Salaam shown in the episode.

    The foundational document for the Islamic Society of Boston showing Abdulrahman Alamoudi’s name: ISB Articles of Organization

    A 2004 Washington Post article on Alamoudi’s sentencing.

    The Department of Justice press release on Alamoudi’s sentencing that was shown in the episode.

    The article “$muggler Linked to Bin Laden” article shown in the episode.

    The article “Outspoken Cleric, Jailed Activist Tied to New Hub Mosque” shown in the episode.

    The article “Hub Mosque Leader Tied to Radical Groups” shown in the episode.

    The tax document showing Yusuf al Qaradawi as a trustee of the ISB. His name appears on page 4: ISB 990 – 2000

    The videos with translations of Qaradawi’s speeches come from MEMRI. You can find them on YouTube here, here, and here.

    The “40 Recommendations for The Muslim Home” page as it appeared on the ISB website in 2004: 40 Recommendations for The Muslim Home

    An article on Aafia Siddiqui, who attended the Islamic Society of Boston mosque and was later convicted of attempted murder.

    The Department of Justice press release on Tarek Mehanna’s sentencing for a plot to attack a shopping mall.

    The exchange between Rep. Louie Gohmert and then-FBI director Robert Mueller is from a June 13, 2013 House Judiciary Committee hearing. Gohmert’s questioning starts at 2:02:45.

    The video of Anwar Kazmi speaking in support of Aafia Siddiqui and Tarek Mehanna shown in the episode.