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Updated: 2018-03-05T10:10:20.795-06:00




The true story of a 1950's Cold War scandal that ruined an Air Force pilot's career and rocked his marriage – all when the news media stirred up false suspicions about his heroic 54-day survival ordeal in the Sierra Nevada wilderness.(Also see another post at this blog, "Fifty Years Later: An Air Force Pilot's Bravery Outshines his Public Humiliation," a magazine article originally published at The American Thinker.)SHOOTING STAR: The last flight of Lt. David Steeves By David PaulinPrologue    Sometimes a decade can be summed up with a single news story – one highlighting the period's noteworthy accomplishments and failures, not to mention its amusing absurdities and contradictions. The case of 1st Lt. David A. Steeves is one such story. A 23-year-old Air Force pilot, Steeves captivated the nation on July 1, 1957 when he wandered out of the rugged High Sierra mountains -- 54 days after disappearing in his T-33 jet trainer while making a routine cross-country flight. Weeks earlier, the Air Force had declared him dead. Now very much alive, the dashing Air Force pilot became an instant hero with his harrowing story of survival.     The story of Lt. Steeves was one of 1957's top new stories – and one of the decade's most memorable. It revealed much about America in the 1950s. And when viewed today from the perspective of 50-plus years, it reveals much about America today.      Steeves by any definition was a hero, and that's initially how the media portrayed him. Six weeks later, however, the media did an about face, putting Steeves under a cloud of suspicion and innuendo. Yet all of the media's assumptions were false. The Air Force, for its part, also contributed to Steeves' guilt by innuendo. But ultimately, it was America's increasingly powerful news media that put the pilot's head in a noose in the court of public opinion.      Suffering a public humiliation he did not deserve, Steeves was a victim of media abuse decades before it would become a hotly debated subject. An examination of hundreds of newspaper articles from 1957 and 1958 makes this crystal clear. So do Air Force documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. They shed new light on one of the 1950's enduring aviation mysteries.   Steeves' downfall was not necessarily the result of unethical and cynical journalists exploiting a great story. Sometimes, things spun out of control even when well-intentioned people staffed the newsroom -- a result of competitive pressures, public demand, and because of how the news-gathering and reporting process has always worked.     None of these things can be neatly divorced from America's culture in the 1950s -- and nor from its culture today. “We need not be theologians to see that we have shifted responsibility for making the world interesting from God to the newspaperman,” social historian Daniel J. Boorstin wrote in his 1961 book “The Image.” It offered much trenchant commentary on America's culture and its emerging mass media – its newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations.    Earlier in the decade, members of America's high-minded Fourth Estate congratulated themselves for having saved the country from Wisconsin's irresponsible senator, Joe McCarthy. Yet during the 1957, just weeks after the senator's death, the media engaged in what amounted to McCarthy-style reporting on Lt. Steeves and his wife Rita. The strains of being in the media's distorting spotlight may have hastened the end of the young couple's already troubled marriage. As for Steeves, his Air Force career was ruined, his reputation permanently tarnished. He remained a hero nevertheless -- even if Americans were led to believe otherwise.     What happened to the Air Force couple in 1957 is today largely forgotten. Yet their story is more relevant than ever in an era in which bloggers and others in the “new media” [...]

In Austin, outrage over city-sponsored seminar on female leadership


Female-majority Austin City Council rejects expert's assertion that men are from Mars, women from VenusBy David PaulinOriginally published at The American ThinkerIt was supposed to be a training seminar for city employees on how to deal with a new leadership dynamic: a female-dominated City Council.Instead, the seminar in hip and left-leaning Austin, Texas, has triggered a political brouhaha resulting in one high-level resignation and an ongoing investigation – all after word leaked that management experts at the city-sponsored seminar dared to say that woman process information differently than men; view issues differently; and need to be treated differently.One expert was widely quoted as suggesting that women tend to ask too many questions (or at least more than men do) in part because they dislike dealing with financial minutia provided in memos before meetings. Members of the female-dominated City Council were outraged. Defending themselves, two management experts said their remarks comprised just a fraction of their presentations – and were taken out of context and misconstrued.But no matter. Last Monday, Assistant City Manager Anthony Snipes resigned after having been placed on leave. Earlier, he had written an abject apology, saying he was unaware that sexist comments would be made at the seminar he organized. But it apparently was not enough to save his career. Coincidentally, Snipes's resignation came on the heels of a skit on “Late Night with Conan O'Brien” that lampooned the seminar. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> Austin's left-leaning and humorless female leaders must have seen red at being lampooned by O'Brien, given that they are so much like him: hip, well-educated, and left-leaning. Interestingly, the skit itself played upon amusing stereotypes of women; and it drew a strange moral equivalence – suggesting that politically incorrect humor about women is on par with crude stereotypes of Jews. For the skit's final punch line, a female actress observed: "They finally asked a woman to administer the sexism workshop. I would never trust a man to get this right, almost as if I'd never trust a Jew." O'Brien and his laughing audience members sure have a strange sense of humor. The training session, to be sure, had started with the best of intentions. Not long ago, Austin voted in a new 10-member city council -- one composed of seven women. Men had traditionally dominated the City Council; and so city managers thought it a good idea to arrange a training seminar focusing on how city employees should interact with female elected officials, some of them former activists. Its title gave no hint of controversy: "The Changing Dynamics in Governance; Women Leading in Local Government." Jonathan Allen, the former city manager of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, was one of the featured speakers and made the most widely cited comments. He left his position in Lauderdale Lakes last April under unexplained circumstances and, like Snipes and Ott, is part of National Forum for Black Public Administrators. Race, however, has not been an issue in the controversy (at least not in any public discussion). "Do men and women speak the same language? And I'm going to tell you up front -- no," said Allen, who provided anecdotes about his talkative daughter, and how female elected officials whom he had advised were less interested in financial arguments and minutia than in impacts on the community. “If you use or attempt to use the same communication techniques in management techniques that you use in a predominately male dominated environment, you will be making a serious error in your professional development,” Allen explained.  Another speaker was business consultant Miya Burt-Stewart, a PhD who cited the philosophies described in the non-fiction self-help book "Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus.” "We understand that we are differ[...]

In Texas, black race hustlers throw white liberal under the bus


A former Michelle Obama intern decries a newspaper op-ed calling her a racial profiler. But who profiled whom?Originally published at The American ThinkerBy David PaulinShe voted twice for Obama.Inspired by “hope and change” in a post-racial and more egalitarian America, she worked three months as an unpaid college intern in Michele Obama's office -- though she never actually got to meet the First Lady. She says she now supports the Clinton Global Initiative, a non-profit seeking to strengthen global interdependence.                         A pretty and athletic woman with strawberry blond hair and blue eyes, she for the moment works as a nanny, though she has a self-designed bachelor's degree from the University of Texas in Austin focusing on conflict resolution and the human rights of children. Her course work included a large dollop of African-American studies; so not surprisingly she firmly believes America needs a national discussion about race -- and the unjust profiling of black men.Yes, her progressive credentials are impressive.And so, she fumed, it was all the more outrageous that a fellow progressive -- a black law student no less! -- would write a newspaper column that “defamed” her as a “blue-eyed” and “blond” racist.It was exactly the opposite of what happened, she said: She never profiled him. He profiled her!And so when a curious writer contacted her from The American Thinker, she said she had to speak out -- tell the world how she was “defamed” by fellow liberals: a black Texas state senator and his intern, a black law student, both of whom threw her under the bus with the help of the news media.Racial Politics     It was supposed to be post-racial America. But the Obama years have instead been filled with racially charged mayhem: inner-city riots; myriad black-on-white attacks like the “knock-out” game; and racially charged police shootings and arrests. And no doubt there also have been untold numbers of testy non-violent encounters with racial overtones: nasty spats and hurt feelings between ordinary blacks and whites who increasingly walk on eggshells around each other while navigating the lower-frequencies of American life.One of these stories occurred not long ago in the left-leaning city of Austin, Texas, and revolved around a nasty encounter between 24-year-old “Agatha” (not her real name) and her black tormentor: a 28-year-old law student named Robert McKnight. Their story reveals the amusing tensions existing between black male race hustlers and progressive white females from upper-middle-class backgrounds. And it underscores yet again how some media outlets will unhesitatingly take the word of race hustlers and social warriors over their white victims and the police.“You can't use my name,” Agatha said, explaining she wanted her name withheld because she feared a “backlash” for defending herself.Seated in the dark corner of trendy Austin cafe, the daughter of a prominent Houston radiologist spoke calmly during an interview; yet her carefully chosen words barely concealed her outrage at what McKnight had written about her in a column in the Austin American-Statesman, "Racially profiled in Austin a life-changing experience.""I am an African-American male,” McKnight declared. “That alone is a loaded and difficult calling,n irreversible one.” He added: “My black skin can label me as menacing.”Then he described how a bigoted and unnamed white woman -- a “blue-eyed blond” at University Village, an apartment complex in Austin for college students -- had “profiled” him. Claiming she had sicced the cops on him for no good reason, McKnight called the harrowing incident a life-changing event. “Believe it or not, I thank the Caucasian woman who was the impetus for this life-changing event,” he wrote, and went onto observe: “I have a newly ignited fire now, to fight for criminal justice reform, to fight for social e[...]

Beaten to Death at McDonald's


Black thug culture, murder under the Golden Arches, and a $27 million negligence verdictOriginally published at FrontPage Magazine and The American Thinker (Listen to Houston radio talk-show host Michael Berry talk about this article during an interview with Dallas attorney Chris Hamilton -- click here.)By David PaulinTo the four clean-cut college freshman out on a double date, it had seemed like a typical McDonald's: spanking clean, well-lighted, and safe. It was in a good neighborhood too, right next to Texas A&M University in College Station -- a campus known for its friendly atmosphere and official down-home greeting: “howdy” Shortly after 2 a.m that Sunday, they pulled into the parking lot of so-called “University McDonald's”  – and beheld a scene unlike anything portrayed in all those wholesome McDonald's television commercials. Before them, hundreds of young black males were loitering about, some without shirts. Other local residents -- the more cynical and world-weary, both whites and most blacks -- would have taken one look at the crowd and driven off, dismissing many of the young and posturing black males as thugs. But not them: innocent white kids from the suburbs. They presumed this was post-racial America -- and that they were in an easy-going college town.Twenty minutes later, two of them were dead.Incredibly, the race of the assailants was scrubbed from local news coverage; and utterly missing from tersely written wire-service stories about a Brazos County jury's whopping $27 million negligence verdict on July 30 against “University McDonald's” – an outlet owned by the Oak Brook, Illinois-based fast-food giant. What the media considered unmentionable nevertheless loomed over a riveting seven-day trial, which came amid the growing phenomena of black-on-white violence -- unprovoked attacks on whites and black mob violence like the so-called “knock-out game."Chris Hamilton, lead lawyer of the small Dallas firm that humbled the corporate giant, was asked, during a phone interview, how many reporters had even bothered to inquire about the race of the assailants during the many interviews he gave.“You're the only one,” he replied.Race, of course, was irrelevant to the high-stakes negligence trial that revolved around McDonald's lack of on-site security and corporate responsibility. Yet shortly before the trial, Hamilton hinted at the issue of race – suggesting that two very different worlds were colliding at University McDonald's during its after-midnight hours – a mix that was potentially volatile. The upcoming trial, he told a local television reporter, was not only about seeking justice for his clients -- but about the public's need “to know what's really going on at McDonald's: what the risks are; what the dangers are of sending your kids there, particularly after midnight." His extensive pretrial investigation – numerous depositions, pathology reports, and an in-depth analysis of police records – told a story that was heartbreaking and infuriating, and that until the trial had remained largely out of pubic view as the case was handled by College Station Police, Brazos County District Attorney Jarvis Parsons, and an asleep-at-the-wheel news media. Apart from legal arguments over alleged corporate negligence, the high-profile trial offered a shocking view of how a thuggish black subculture flourished at University McDonald's. The blame could be laid squarely upon McDonald's black managers, and on the failure of higher-ups in McDonald's to ensure patrons, both black and white, were safe during late-night hours – an increasingly lucrative market for the fast-food giant.Beaten to Death For the two young couples, the evening had started at a country-western concert at “Hurricane Harry's” in College Station's entertainment district; and afterward, just after 2 a.m. on Sunday, February 18, 2012 -- a quick trip to n[...]

Why Presbyterians took up the 'Palestinian Cause'


The church of the old WASP establishment and many U.S. presidents now embraces an odd mix of Christianity, Marxism, and the work of Edward SaidOriginally published at FrontPage MagazineBy David PaulinWhat has happened to America's Presbyterians? Leaders of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have joined ranks with the radical left in recent years. They vilify Israel, apologize for Islamic terrorists, and cheer on the Palestinian cause. Now, these leftist elites are savoring an important victory, having pushed through a resolution to divest from U.S. companies operating in Israel: Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard. The contentious vote in the church's general assembly passed by a narrow 310-to-303, and was a long-time goal of leftist Presbyterians, who since 2006 had submitted four divestiture resolutions that failed to muster sufficient votes.Divestiture is largely symbolic: The companies in the portfolio of America's largest Presbyterian denomination represented a pittance of its investments, about $21 million. But leftist Presbyterians saw divestiture as a way to shame the companies and ostracize Israel over what they believe is its humiliation of Palestinian Arabs and illegal occupation of their lands – a situation they claim begets terrorism. They conveniently forget that Israel has been ready to trade land for peace since its birth in 1948. As for the companies they vilify: Caterpillar's bulldozers are used in anti-terror operations; and Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard provide electronic security systems.More than a few rank-and-file Presbyterians were outraged over the June 20th divestiture vote; tens of thousands have left the church in recent years as it drifted left. “We stand in full support of Israel's right to protect its citizens and of all American companies to engage in honest free enterprise,” said Rev. Paul deJong, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Fort Myers, the oldest Presbyterian church in Lee County, Florida.“The church has been infected,” a Presbyterian seminary student in Texas once told me, a women in her 30s who became a minister. She was referring to a pro-Palestinian conference hosted several years ago by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, an affiliate of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). At the time, leftist Presbyterians were calling for a divestiture resolution.Israel is not perfect, of course; no country is. But the venom of Israel-bashing Presbyterians has been troubling because of how it negates anything positive about the Middle East’s only democracy. Israel is singled out as a rights abuser. What accounts for this moral confusion? Israel-bashing didn't used to be fashionable, including among Presbyterians. Indeed, Israel was widely admired in the years after its birth and miraculous growth. Upbeat news articles spoke of those “plucky Jews.” But no more. Now Israeli Jews are denied credit for their nation’s economic and democratic miracle, growing out of a region that American writer Mark Twain – passing through as a travel writer in 1867 – had described as an unpopulated and “desolate country.”Now, Israel’s story has a new twist, one put forth by left-leaning Presbyterians and fellow-travelers in other Christian denominations. Jews achieved what they did because they exploited somebody else: Palestinian Arabs. In this view Palestinian Arabs, not Jews, are now the chosen people. This Israel-bashing narrative also bristles with anti-Americanism, and over the years it has become popular in America's universities. That's an old story. But what's less well known is that this same narrative has gained currency at many Christian seminaries. Many seminary professors have adopted a world view similar to the post-modern left; what for them is a strange hybrid of Christianity, Marxism, and the word of Edward Said. (Said, of course, was the high-profile Columbia University pro[...]

George Bush’s Prediction of the Iraq Meltdown


Originally published at Frontpage Magazine and The American Thinker blogBy David Paulin Former President George W. Bush is remaining mum on the tragedy unfolding in Iraq. But as an army of bloodthirsty Islamists rampages across Iraq with the goal of establishing a 7th century religious tyranny — a caliphate — it’s worth recalling who years ago had predicted this would happen if the Democrats got their way.It was President George W. Bush and his top officials.They warned early on that Iraq was ripe for the rise of an Islamic caliphate — either in a failed state created by Saddam Hussein or, they later contended, if the U.S.-led coalition bugged out without leaving behind a stable Iraq. For instance, two years into the U.S.-led occupation, in 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld warned that a premature withdrawal would be disastrous — and he foresaw what has in fact happened. He explained, “Iraq would serve as the base of a new Islamic caliphate to extend throughout the Middle East, and which would threaten legitimate governments in Europe, Africa and Asia.”Vice President Dick Cheney also warned of the rise of a caliphate if the U.S. withdrew before Iraq was capable of governing and defending itself. “They talk about wanting to re-establish what you could refer to as the seventh-century caliphate” to be “governed by Sharia law, the most rigid interpretation of the Koran,” he said.Gen. John P. Abizaid, then America’s top commander in the Middle East, also offered prescient testimony in 2005 to the House Armed Services Committee, forseeing what the terror masters would do in a weak Iraqi state. “They will try to re-establish a caliphate throughout the entire Muslim world. Just as we had the opportunity to learn what the Nazis were going to do, from Hitler’s world in ‘Mein Kampf,’ we need to learn what these people intend to do from their own words.”Liberals jeered such dire predictions — and especially at the repeated use of the word “caliphate.”The New York Times, for instance, ran a piece on December 12, 2005, that mocked the forgoing Bush-administration officials for their warnings of a “caliphate” — portraying them as foreign-policy amateurs peddling an alarmist view of the Middle East. Wrote reporter Elisabeth Bumiller: "A number of scholars and former government officials take strong issue with the administration’s warning about a new caliphate, and compare it to the fear of communism spread during the Cold War. They say that although Al Qaeda’s statements do indeed describe a caliphate as a goal, the administration is exaggerating the magnitude of the threat as it seeks to gain support for its policies in Iraq."Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, obviously don’t believe what’s printed in The New York Times. ISIS, incidentally, has reportedly been preparing to make its move for several years — right under the radar of the Obama administration. Were they emboldened by President Obama’s endless apologies to the Muslim world? Or the deadlines he’d set for leaving Iraq and Afghanistan? Probably all of the above. But what no doubt really energized them was President Obama’s failure to negotiate a deal with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that would have left sufficient U.S. troops in Iraq.President Bush, for his part, issued a prophetic warning in 2007 when vetoing a Democratic bill that would have withdrawn U.S. troops. “To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States,” he said. "It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean increasing the probability that American troops would have t[...]

At a 9/11 ceremony, a little girl asks why her father died


"I'd like someone to really, really explain why this happened."  Originally published on September 11, 2013, at the American Thinker blog and FrontPage MagazineBy David PaulinIt has been a heartbreaking scene at 9/11 ceremonies in recent years: children honoring mothers or fathers they can't remember - yet desperately want to know.Emma Kathryn Hunt is one of them. On Tuesday, she attended a 9/11 ceremony at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Connecticut -- near where hundreds of horrified onlookers gathered 12 years ago and watched smoke billowing from the Twin Towers, some 50 miles away.Emma, a middle-school student, joined her mother, grandparents and hundreds of others at the state park, the site of a 9/11 memorial that includes 154 stone plaques on the manicured grounds. Each bears the name of a 9/11 victim who had ties to Connecticut. One is Emma's father: William Christopher Hunt. Emma was 15 months old when her dad died with nearly 3,000 others at the World Trade Center. A 32-year-old vice president of Eurobrokers, he had worked on the 84th floor of the South Tower."What do I remember about my dad? Nothing. Absolutely nothing," Emma told a reporter covering the event. Even so, Emma said that when she goes to bed at night, she gazes at a photo of both her and her dad taken on her first birthday. "It's on my bedside table. It's the last thing I look at night. And I tell him, 'Good night, daddy. I love you. I love you always.'"She explained, "Everything I know about my dad I know because someone in my family tells me things about him. Mostly, it's my grandma. She tells me stories about him when he was a kid. Or how I'm like him. But I don't really know, because I can't remember him."Emma remained composed during the first part of Tuesday's ceremony, according to Marian Gail Brown's article in the Westport News. Emma, Brown wrote, "tucked her bright orange-red hair away from her freckled face" as she listened to each speaker: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman; and a local minister and rabbi. But "then came the reading of the names of the 161 victims of 9/11 with Connecticut connections in alphabetical order. 'Laurence Abel'... 'Allen Patrick Boyle'...'Sandra Campbell'...'Judith Florence Hofmiller'...Emma grabbed her mother by the knee and squeezed. Two more names before the 71st name. Emma leaned into her mom. Her shoulders shook. 'William Christopher Hunt.' Her body convulsed. And the tears poured out. Her mom rubbed her back and pulled her adolescent half-girl, half-woman body toward her, whispering to Emma."As heartbreaking as that moment was, it wasn't as heartbreaking as other things that Emma revealed; specifically, that her teachers don't talk much about 9/11. Emma, however, said she wishes they did discuss the terror attack -- even though she worries about what might be said about why her father died.It's a troubling revelation. Does she perhaps worry she might be taught the version of 9/11 told by the anti-American left; by people like Ward Churchill, the former ethnic studies professor who infamously called people like her father "little Eichmanns"? That characterization delighted the left, whose members believed that America got what it deserved on 9/11 because of the evils it had visited on foreign lands.Emma is perhaps too young to learn about the nuances of why they hate us; yet a question she asks goes to the heart of the matter: "I'd like someone to really, really explain why this happened."Why hasn't anybody told her?Connecticut's 9/11 ceremony was indeed sad -- though not in the way that those who didn't talk to Emma might have thought.[...]

Dr. King's Legacy Betrayed


By David PaulinIt's one of the saddest legacies of  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In American's gritty urban centers, many streets and avenues that were named for him, following his murder on April 4, 1968, are now awash in violence. Black-on-black violence.One example occurred on Wednesday in a neighborhood of southeast Houston. That's where Demarkus Harrison, a 20-year-old black man, was killed by gunfire -- allegedly fired by an 18-year-old black man named Louis Dante Anthony IV. He is being sought by police but has not been charged. This shooting was notable because of what Anthony's father did after an angry bystander tossed a bicycle at his car as he sat at the wheel. Louis Dante Anthony III, age 38, gunned his accelerator pedal and, as numerous police officers and reporters watched, barreled his car through a crowd of screaming onlookers. TV news cameras recorded the mayhem at the Belarbor Apartments at Belarbor Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Incredibly, no injuries were reported as a result of the vehicular mayhem.  allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> Aside from watching the shocking scene of bystanders running for their lives, take note of the neighborhood where the mayhem occurred. The apartments look comfortable and well maintained. Streets are landscaped and orderly. Late-model cars, pick-ups, and SUVs line the streets and fill parking lots. This is no ghetto. It's what might be called lower-middle class. Yet in many low-income foreign countries, this neighborhood would be occupied by people who are dazzlingly rich, and who behave with a refinement and possess values befitting their wealth. Yet in this neighborhood, material wealth has not translated into what might be called middle-class manners and values; a lifestyle once idealized in television sitcoms like "Father Knows Best" or "Leave it to Beaver" or "The Bill Cosby Show."TV news reports of this incident offer a truly sad glimpse into a certain segment of black America; what might be called a black subculture -- with all its pathologies on display. This is news and social commentary. It underscores how a cornerstone of Dr. King's dream -- the betterment of black Americans through non-violent protests and racial equality -- has turned into a nightmare for some. It may come as surprise to liberals, but material wealth is not necessarily enough to erase the pathologies of a culture that Dr. King probably never envisioned would exist nearly a half century after his death. The news segment from KHOU 11 in Houston says it all.Originally published at The American Thinker blog [...]

A version of 'knockout game' stirs outrage in Austin, Texas


This is a version of an article originally published at The American Thinker blog By David Paulin A YouTube video has gone viral that shows a black youth slapping a black Wendy's cashier in the face and then running away -- part of a little-known trend called "smack cam." The incident provides an unsettling glimpse into black-on-black violence -- and black thug culture.The incident in Austin, Texas, is being investigated by the local police. It is especially disturbing because of who was involved: not only two black teens or pre-teens but a black adult female who appears to be a guardian or role model. Identified as "CB," she drives the get-away car; it's not clear if she also narrates the video. Referring to the hapless cashier as the video starts, she or an unseen narrator cheerfully explains that they are "gonna do the smack cam on this niggah." Next, a young teen identified as "Lil Rick" shyly approaches the counter  -- then suddenly slaps the unsuspecting cashier, 16-year-old Calaybra Jones. Another teen records the incident with his smart phone.Their video briefly popped up on the YouTube site of Austin rapper Kade Fresco. But after news reports of the incident stirred public outrage, the video disappeared -- only to be quickly reposted by an outraged resident. “I'm sad. I'm angry," Jones told a local news outlet. "It’s just shocking that they would do that to someone that they don't even know.”Police have identified the suspects and expect to make arrests in what is the first case of "smack cam" in Austin to draw wide attention. The game, however, is a little-known national trend that has been around for a while and that involves mostly black participants. In recent months, however, it has been overshadowed by the more violent knockout game that involves black-on-white violence. The goal there is to knock out a random white victim with a sucker punch. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="420"> The Wendy's assault, to be sure, is hardly the first case of black thug violence in Austin -- a hip college town, hi-tech Mecca, and the state's capital. Last October, Austin residents were stunned when hundreds of rampaging black youths converged by a shopping mall one evening. They walked atop parked cars, fought among themselves, and hurled rocks at scores of police officers arriving from other parts of the city. Police called it a full-blown riot but never figured out what set it off. Highland Mall was an upscale mall in its heyday, but it has been in decline as it increasingly became a gathering spot for sometimes rowdy black youths.And at Austin's recent South By Southwest music and film festival, a 21-year-old black rapper named Rashad Owens plowed his car through barricades and raced down a crowd -- killing four festival goers and injuring 20. Owens, whose rap sheet included criminal mischief and drunken driving arrests, had been eluding a police officer attempting to stop him for an illegal turn and driving with his headlights off.And in another incident at the festival, a 23-year old rapper named Tyler Gregory Okonma ( "Tyler, the Creator") was charged with inciting a riot. He had exhorted his fans to push past security at a downtown club.  To date, no black leaders have stepped up to denounce what has been happening, and that is hardly surprising in Austin. A politically liberal Mecca in a red state, it is governed by guilt-ridden liberal Democrats. They are proud of Austin's diversity; the fact that it's no longer a "whitopia" -- as it was during the bad old days of Jim Crow, and before they turned it into a sanctuary city whose white population is slipping toward minority status. Segregation and racial in[...]

In Caracas, students shame OAS with peaceful protest


Ignoring human rights abuses in Venezuela in exchange for cheap oilThis is an updated version of a piece originally published at FrontPage MagazineBy David PaulinMassive and bloody anti-government street protests have roiled Venezuela for two months. But for a week now, hundreds of protesters have gathered at a tent camp set up outside the United Nations' offices in Chacao -- an upscale municipality in metropolitan Caracas and opposition stronghold. Tear gas, rubber bullets, and Chavista thugs on motorcycles had not yet made an appearance as of this past weekend.    This has been a peaceful protest -- a headline-grabbing bit of political theater that started last Monday, March 31, and coincided with parallel protests outside the embassies of Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Oil barrels were lined up outside each embassy as students carried protest signs and unfurled banners. Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Nicaragua, like 18 other left-leaning countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, have remained silent over Venezuela's brutal crackdown against massive anti-government protests that have raged for nearly two months -- leaving at least 37 people dead and hundreds injured. Most were students. Hugo Chávez, a firebrand socialist, used sweetheart oil deals to make friends and build anti-American alliances soon after becoming president in 1999. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> The students are demanding a formal inquiry into Venezuela's rights abuses by the Organization of American States, and they were protesting the shameful meeting recently held at the OAS's headquarters in Washington, D.C., where Venezuelan opposition lawmaker María Corina Machado got a cold shoulder from most OAS members. They had no interest in hearing her discuss Venezuela's abuses even though they have been condemned by rights groups.The OAS's mission includes promoting peace and democracy; yet its members argued for hours about whether Machado, a 46-year-old engineer, should or should not be allowed to speak. Coming to her defense, Panama eventually made her a temporary part of its delegation -- a procedural maneuver it hoped would allowed her to discuss Venezuela's abuses in a formal and public session. But Venezuela's left-leaning allies ultimately prevailed, voting only to hear her during a private session reserved for ad hoc matters. The vote was 22 to 11. Keeping the session private was unusual for an organization claiming to support transparency; whose charter allows for sanctioning rights abusers within its ranks. Yet Venezuela's OAS member Carmen Luisa Velasquez defended the closed session and, according to The Wall Street Journal, provoked loud laughter when explaining to audience members:  "With total transparency: in privacy." It was an Orwellian remark, the sort of language you might expect in a communist state like Cuba, where language is turned on its head to serve a corrupt state. Machado said as much, blaming the behavior of the OAS on the influence of Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro and Cuba. Under Maduro -- a former bus driver and union leader -- Cuba has gained an even bigger role in Venezuela than it had during Hugo Chávez's days, say many observers. Chávez died of cancer a year ago."They are afraid of the truth," Machado told reporters after the OAS meeting. "They don't want the truth to come out about the massive repression taking place in Venezuela. They don't want it to be known in the world and in our America."Machado is hardly alone in speaking out against Cuba. In recent months, its growing influence in Venezuela has provoked anti-Cuban protest marches; anti-Cuban graffiti ("Cuba Out!)[...]

El Salvador's Dance with the Devil


Is El Salvador another Venezuela in the making?   Originally published at FrontPage MagazineBy David Paulin Some leftists have smartened up. Guerrilla insurgencies are passé for them. So are AK-47s from Cuba or the Soviet bloc or China.They saw an easier way to seize power; and so they got shaves, put on suites, and ran for office claiming to be left-leaning pragmatists. But after their election wins, they took advantage of a polarized citizenry and weak institutions to tear the system apart – more or less legally – from inside out.The stealth approach worked well for Hugo Chávez in Venezuela where Cuban agents and goons are now pitching in to put down anti-government protesters fed up with Venezuela’s “21st Century Socialism.” During his first election campaign, Chavez denied he was a socialist and portrayed himself as a moderate despite having led an aborted coup against a democratic government.Now, El Salvador seems poised to follow that same path after a former Marxist guerrilla leader – 69-year-old Salvador Sánchez Cerén – was elected president by a razor-thin margin and amid allegations of voting irregularities, which included claims that gang members were recruited to intimidate voters who opposed him. Sánchez Cerén had been El Salvador’s vice president — a hardliner in the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) party, named after a legendary Salvadorian rebel leader, Farabundo Martí, from the 1930s.Sánchez Cerén had an uneasy relationship with President Mauricio Funes, a 54-year-old former television reporter who had never been a guerrilla but identified with the left.Five years ago, the two teamed up in a union of political convenience that drew voters from across the political spectrum – and they won. Their election victory ended nearly two decades of conservative rule by the center-right National Republican Alliance (Arena). But President Funes’s political strategy was a pact with the devil. During his 5-year-term, his relationship with Sánchez Cerén and other FMLN hard-liners become increasingly strained, according to political observers.Arena has yet to accept the outcome. But barring unexpected developments, Sánchez Cerén will take office on June 1. He will be the first guerrilla leader to govern the Central American country, where an atrocity-filled civil war raged nearly 13 years, killing at least 75,000 people and sending tens of thousands of refugees to the U.S. A peace accord was signed in 1992 between the military-led government and leftist groups that had fought under the FMLN umbrella. They were subsequently absorbed into the FMLN political party.Venezuela’s turmoil overshadowed El Salvador’s bitterly contested election; for 50 percent of Salvadorians deeply fear the ideological left. They doubted Sánchez Cerén was a pragmatist who would work with opposition leaders and uphold El Salvador’s constitution. They had good reasons to be afraid: Sánchez Cerén has a long history as a Marxist ideologue. What’s more, he had a hand in murder and kidnappings during El Salvador’s horrific civil war – a dark past mentioned in a secret U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks. His “commitment to law and order cannot be easily assumed,” observed the missive for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dated September 30, 2009, and signed by Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Blau.Sánchez Cerén, an admirer of Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution, received 50.11% of the vote compared with 49.89% for Norman Quijano of Arena. Quijano was a former mayor of San Salvador, the nation’s capital.A mere 6,364 votes carried Sánchez Cerén to victory in a run-off election on Ma[...]

Honoring a Venezuelan Tyrant Amid Bloody Protests


Latin leftist and Hollywood elites turn blind eye to Venezuela's anti-government protests and mounting death tollOriginally published at FrontPage Magazine           By David Paulin      Massive and bloody anti-government protests have been roiling Venezuela for more than a month – provoked by an out-of-control murder rate, food shortages, and myriad instances of inept governance. But that didn't stop a rogues gallery of Latin leftists, including Cuban President Raul Castro, from turning up in Caracas to honor the late Hugo Chávez on the first anniversary of the Venezuelan leader's death.      Security forces and pro-government militias have responded with a vengeance against the protesters, leaving at least 21 dead and hundreds injured. Most were students.              The tear gas, rubber bullets and Chavista thugs on motorcycles, however, were out of sight and mind for Castro and fellow leftists, including Bolivian President Evo Morales and his Nicaraguan counterpart Daniel Ortega, among others. Like Castro, they enjoyed Chávez's oil largess over the years. Chávez had promoted himself as the savior of Venezuela's poor yet gave away billions of dollars of their oil wealth as a way to expand his influence and build alliances against the United States. The firebrand socialist, famous for his colorful anti-American broadsides, died a year ago of cancer, on March 5th, at age 58.                 A couple of Hollywood heavy weights – director Oliver Stone and actor Danny Glover – lent their celebrity to Wednesday's ceremonies that included a military parade and civic events. Glover and Stone considered Chávez a friend and ideological soul-mate.                 Chávez's hand-picked successor Nicolás Maduro – a 51-year-old former bus driver and union leader – led the ceremonies at “El Comandante's" sacred tomb – situated in a former military museum in Caracas that had served as the command center for a disorganized and bloody coup attempt that Lt. Colonel Hugo Chávez led on February 4, 1992, against a democratic government.                 "Hugo Chávez was, without a doubt, the great leader who brought democracy. Never in history has there been a leader who so authentically loved the people of this country," Maduro told cheering Chávez loyalists. The ceremony featured goose-steeping soldiers, columns of tanks, and low-flying Russian Sukhoi jets.                 A lavish spectacle, it came amid the economic and social chaos produced by what Chávez called “21st Century Socialism," and the bread-and-circuses populism is being deepened by Maduro in the oil-rich yet impoverished South American nation. Venezuela has long been a prize for Cuba, which sponsored leftist insurgences there in the 1960s. Now, socialist Venezuela has come to look more and more like Cuba, where basic goods also are scarce.                 Ironically, Chávez had portrayed himself during his first presidential campaign as a moderate seeking a “third way” between capitalism and socialism. Claiming he'd traded the bullet for the ballet, he pledged to reverse declining living standards and root out Venezuela's rampant corruption. But months after his landslide election victory, he did an about face, praising Cub[...]

The Kennedy-Chavez Oil Subversion Campaign Lives On


Still whitewashing the grim realities of Venezuela's '21st Century Socialism'   Originally published at The American Thinker and FrontPage Magazine By David PaulinVenezuela’s economy is on life support, yet its pretensions of humbling the United States persist. This is underscored by its plans to continue Hugo Chávez’s showcase anti-American propaganda program  – giving away free home-heating oil to poor Americans this winter, just like it has done for the past nine years. As usual, former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy II is facilitating and cheering on what amounts to an anti-American program by the oil-rich yet impoverished South American nation.There had been much speculation about whether Venezuela would continue, amid its deepening economic woes, to use oil largess to promote its leftist ideology abroad, as the late President Chávez had done. But CITGO Petroleum Corporation, the Houston-based arm of Venezuela’s state oil company, confirmed on Wednesday that it will indeed provide free home-heating oil to poor Americans, those who supposedly can’t afford heating oil.Leftist firebrand Chávez, who died last March of cancer, launched the program in 2005. Since then, CITGO claims that more than 235 million gallons of home-heating oil have been distributed to more than 1.8 million low-income Americans. It says it has assisted families, homeless shelters, and native American tribes in 25 states and District of Columbia. Naturally, the blue states of the Northeast are major recipients given the wide use of home-heating oil there.Chávez made anti-Americanism a cornerstone of his foreign policy. He devised sweetheart oil deals with like-minded nations to spread his leftist ideology — essentially using oil as a political weapon. His hand-picked successor Nicolás Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, is showing yet again that he is determined to follow in Chávez footsteps.Interestingly, CITGO’s announcement comes as a U.S. judge in South Texas fined CITGO more than $2 million for felony violations of the U.S. Clean Air Act committed by its Corpus Christi refinery. Pollution from the facility was blamed for sickening dozens of nearby residents. Presumably, they were low-income Americans, people who could only afford to live near a smelly oil refinery and who, it would seem, lacked the propaganda value of poor Americans elsewhere, especially in the Northeast’s blue states.“We have committed to this program once again this year because we see it as a humanitarian effort that helps our most vulnerable neighbors stay warm during one of the coldest winters in history,” Nelson P. Martinez, President and CEO of CITGO Petroleum Corporation, announced in his company’s news release. “We can’t relieve the need for everyone but this is our humble contribution to share the responsibility of improving the quality of life in our communities by using the strength of our resources to help those in need. This is one of the most important values we share with our shareholder, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” he added.Kennedy, for his part, is again playing the role of useful Democratic idiot in Venezuela’s anti-American oil largess. A non-profit he created in 1979, Citizens Energy Corporation, has gladly partnered with CITGO to again deliver the fuel.“The poor are facing a terrible hardship this winter,” said Kennedy, as quoted in CITGO’s news release. “Federal fuel assistance has dropped 40 percent over the last few years while heating oil prices have jumped by a third. With the kind of cold we’ve experienced this winter, the federal aid just doesn’t go as far. It’s a triple whammy [...]

Can a Beauty Queen's Murder Bring Down Socialism?


How the murder of a former Miss Venezuela is threatening the post-Chavez regime. By David PaulinOriginally published at The American Thinker  blog and FrontPage MagazineBeauty queens are revered in Venezuela, none more so than those crowned “Miss Venezuela.” So when a beloved former “Miss” named Mónica Spear and her ex-husband were murdered by highway bandits, the crime sparked national outrage — touching off street protests, non-stop media coverage, and an ongoing national conversation about the socialist government’s failure to stop a runaway murder epidemic. Now, outrage over the murders is prompting many Venezuelans to confront the contradictions of Venezuela-style socialism. One of the biggest ironies: violent crime has exploded since President Hugo Chávez, a firebrand leftist, took office 15 years ago. This has happened, moreover, as capitalism has increasingly been dismantled – supposedly replaced by more economic equality and “social justice” in the oil-rich yet impoverished South American nation.Chávez, who died last March of cancer, coined the term “21st Century socialism.” He contended it would reverse corruption-riddled Venezuela’s long economic decline, as would his strategy of pursing anti-American alliances. But as fallout continues over the high-profile murders, many Venezuelans are becoming more cynical about President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist agenda as tens of thousands of Venezuelans are being murdered annually. Maduro, Chávez’s hand-picked successor, is grappling with food shortages, falling oil prices, and annual inflation topping 50%. He rules a politically polarized country where just over 50 percent of voters support his leftist agenda. A former bus driver and union leader, he possesses neither Chávez’s charisma nor mystical connection to Venezuela’s poor majority.Spear, crowned “Miss Venezuela” in 2004, died in a hail of gunfire on a dark highway on Monday, January 6, with ex-husband Henry Thomas Berry, a 39-year-old British citizen who specialized in adventure tourism at a local travel agency. Their 5-year-old daughter suffered a leg wound.Police said several bandits laid sharp objects on the road that flattened the car’s tires; other reports said the car was disabled after hitting a pothole — a common problem on poorly maintained roads. The couple locked themselves in their car as the bandits showed up, but to no avail: Six shots were fired as a tow-truck arrived. The couple’s ill-fated holiday in the spectacular mountains and plains of western Venezuela had been intended to give them a new start together.With Spear and Berry’s murders, Venezuela’s skyrocketing murder rate suddenly has human faces – and President Maduro is on the defensive. He’d been focusing on deepening “21st Century socialism.” This included an “economic offensive” against the commercial class: from owners of supermarkets to electronics stores to car dealerships – all were being ordered to offer government-set “fair prices.” And before November’s make-or-break municipal elections, he’d won votes by taking bread-and-circuses populism to new heights, tacitly giving Christmas shoppers, as some observers saw it, a green light to loot electronics stores. “We’re doing this for the good of the nation,” he said. “Let nothing remain in stock!” A number of retailers were jailed — accused of speculating, hoarding, and unfair lending.Now, sensing political trouble over Spear and Berry’s murders, Maduro is shifting his attention away from his “economic offensive.” He’s instead calling for an unprecedented anti-crime program, and he recen[...]

Venezuela rocked by murder of soap opera star and former 'Miss Venezuela'


By David PaulinOriginally published at The American Thinker blogSocialism has yet to bring "social justice" to Venezuelans -- only empty store shelves, roaring inflation, and one of the world's worst murder epidemics. Now, the chaos has a human face -- a former beauty queen named Mónica Spear who was murdered Monday night by roadside bandits. Beauty queens are revered in Venezuela, and Spear's murder has caused a public uproar -- setting off street protests and putting Nicolás Maduro's socialist government in an uncomfortable spotlight in politically polarized Venezuela.Spear, crowed a "Miss Venezuela" in 2004, died in a hail of bullets along with her ex-husband, Thomas Henry Berry, a 39-year-old British citizen. Their 5-year-old daughter suffered a leg wound.Police said several bandits apparently laid sharp objects on the road that flattened the car's tires. When the couple locked their car, the bandits started shooting as a tow truck arrived. One news report said the couple's holiday outing in the mountains and plains of western Venezuela was intended to give them a new start together.A popular soap-opera actress for the Telemundo network, Spear, 29 years old, was visiting Venezuela for the holidays. In 2011 she had moved to Florida, joining tens of thousands of other Venezuelan expatriates who'd fled Venezuela during the socialist rule of Hugo Chávez, who died last March of cancer.Nearly 25,000 Venezuelans were murdered last year, making the oil-rich but impoverished South American nation one of the world's most violent. Most of the victims are poor."This is a blow to all of us," President Maduro said on state television, while vowing to pursue the killers with "an iron hand." Strangely, Maduro later opined that hired killers might have targeted Spear and her family. But he cited no evidence to support that claim, which seemed calculated to deflect public outrage. In the past, Maduro has often blamed oligarchs, businessmen, and Yankee imperialist for Venezuela's economic mess.Amid street protests over Spear's death on Wednesday, Maduro held a security meeting in Caracas with the country's governors and mayors of major cities.When Hugo Chávez took office in 1999, Venezuela had one of the region's fastest growing murder rates, but since then the murder rate has soared. Now Venezuela is ranked by the United Nations as the world's fifth most violent country. There's an irony here, because under Chávez crime and violence "were viewed as the product of capitalism and poverty," Venezuela sociologist Roberto Briceño told The Washington Post. He attributed the crime wave "to a lack of basic law enforcement."Spear attended junior college in Florida before graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2004. "She was a powerhouse. She really wanted to be an actress," said one of her acting teachers, John DiDonna.Recalling an acting exercise involving Spear, DiDonna told the Orlando Sentinel that she was told to confront a student portraying the devil. "She just went off... she had an incredible argument with Satan right in the classroom. She was just fabulous."The devil, of course, is capable of wearing many attractive disguises. Socialism is one of them.[...]

New York Times Puts ‘Guns & Ammo’ Magazine in Crosshairs


By David PaulinOriginally published at The American Thinker blog and FrontPage MagazineGuns & Ammo magazine has fallen into the liberal cross-hairs of The New York Times – the target of a bogus scandal the Gray Lady dished up as part of its anti-gun crusade. “Banished for Questioning the Gospel of Guns.” So read the front-page headline calculated to shock the naïve and gullible. The article’s shocking revelation: Guns & Ammo has chummy relationships with advertisers and panders to its readers. That, of course, is how things work at all those specialty magazines that are chock-full of ads. Yet as the newspaper that helped elect Barack Obama sees things, there’s a nefarious conspiracy going on involving Guns & Ammo parent company InterMedia Outdoors and malevolent gun manufacturers — all of whom supposedly abhor free speech and will go to appalling lengths to advance an absolutist pro-gun agenda. What sent The Times into its hand-waving frenzy was Guns & Ammo’s recent firing of long-time columnist Dick Metcalf, who had outraged advertisers and readers with a column titled “Let’s Talk Limits.” It argued that Second Amendment rights were not absolute. “The fact is, all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be,” Metcalf wrote. “Freedom of speech is regulated. You cannot falsely and deliberately shout, “Fire!” in a crowded theater.” Personally, I find nothing over the top about this statement, and many readers here would probably agree. But that’s not how Guns & Ammo’s advertisers saw things. They wanted Metcalf out, as did many of Guns & Ammo’s 400,000 readers who “threatened to cancel their subscriptions” and even sent the magazine death threats, according to The Times’ article by reporter Ravi Somaiya. Political fallout over the controversy also caused Guns & Ammo’s editor, Jim Bequette, to announce that he’d speed up his retirement plans and bring his successor on board ahead of schedule. Yes, it’s all very sad when talented and well-intentioned people lose their jobs due to politics – and one silly mistake. But there’s also nothing to prevent Metcalf and Bequette from going to work for another magazine, one that would perhaps be a better fit for them. Perhaps they could start up their own publication. Yet as The Times sees things, the shake-up at Guns & Ammo suggests dark forces are thwarting reasonable discussions at gun magazines about Second Amendment issues and, more specifically, that Metcalf’s departure “sheds light on the close-knit world of gun journalism, where editors and reporters say there is little room for nuance in the debate over gun laws. Moderate voices that might broaden the discussion from within are silenced.” But wait a minute: Couldn’t you say something similar about the dearth of people with conservative political opinions in The Times’ newsroom?How many of its reporters and editors are Republicans? Inquiring minds want to know. Guns & Ammo, of course, operates just like other specialty magazines that depend on advertising dollars. “We take care of those who take care of us,” a publisher at one of the country’s most widely read aviation magazines used to tell his staff, according to a former boss of mine who, earlier in his career, had been one of that magazine’s senior editors. He recalled how the editor-in-chief at the time, a well-known aviation journalist and author, used to write scathing inter-office memos about new airplanes he’d flown, and hated — yet none [...]

Death of Phil Everly of 'Everly Brothers' recalls America's lost age of innocence


By David Paulin

Originally published at The American Thinker blog

Phil Everly and his older brother, Don, formed the Everly Brothers - a clean-cut musical duo that churned out some of America's most treasured pop songs. His death on Friday at age 74, in a hospital near his Southern California home, is getting prominent news coverage revolving around his life and rich contribution to America's musical heritage. But what cannot be emphasized enough is that the Everly Brothers' classic pop songs -- during the 1950s and early 60s -- are iconic expressions of a lost era of American innocence.

In one of the better articles about Phil Everly's passing, The New York Times explained

 The Everlys brought tradition, not rebellion, to their rock 'n' roll. Their pop songs reached teenagers with Appalachian harmonies rooted in gospel and bluegrass. Their first full-length album, "The Everly Brothers" in 1958, held their first hits, but the follow-up that same year, "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us," was a quiet collection of traditional and traditional-sounding songs.

My favorite song by the group was "Bye Bye Love," a blockbuster hit of 1957. This was the same year that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated for a second term....and Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the third time, and was shown only from the waist up.

Conservatives admire the era for its social unity and values; liberals despise it for its social conformity and unresolved social problems. Both views have merit, (though my own feeling, like many who are reading this, is that there was far more to admire than despise about the 1950s). Other hits songs from the duo included "Wake Up Little Susie," "Cathy's Clown," "All I Have to Do Is Dream" and "When Will I Be Loved?"

Phil Everly is survived by his brother. As up-and-coming musicians, their most formative years were in Iowa, Indiana, and Tennessee.

In this YouTube clip of a 1950's television show, the young duo sings "Bye Bye Love." The brothers and audience project a wholesomeness that has all but vanished in much of America, though probably not in its vast interior; what liberals cynically call fly-over country -- a place that nevertheless was the wellspring from which the Everly brothers and their legendary music emerged, with all its purity and innocence.

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Six Cubans perish at sea as Castro brothers gloat over Obama's handshake



By David Paulin

Originally pulished at The American Thinker and Front Page Magazine

President Obama gave the Castro brothers a when shaking hands with counterpart Raul at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. But that propaganda victory for the communist tyranny meant little to six ordinary Cubans who, on Christmas Eve, were declared lost at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Cubans — three men and three women — were no doubt aware of the handshake brouhaha when they departed the Dominican Republic on December 17 on an illegal boat trip to Puerto Rico, after alerting relatives in the United States about their estimated arrival date. To them, Obama’s handshake wasn’t a gesture likely to improve their dead-end lives — not in a country designated by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism and regularly condemned by human rights groups.

Relatives of the Cubans alerted the Coast Guard when their boat failed to arrive, thus setting off a four-day air search as two aircraft flew a total of 22 hours over 22,000 square nautical miles, but on Tuesday evening the search was called off. “While the fate of (these) people may never be known…our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones during this difficult time,” said Coast Guard Capt. Drew Pearson in a on Christmas Day.

The Cubans, whose names were not released, join untold others who have died at sea to fulfill their dreams of coming to America, a country that to them remains a beacon of freedom — even as President Obama bows to foreign leaders, shakes hands with tyrants, and apologizes for America’s supposed sins. The Castro regime has all but stamped out Christmas in Cuba, so it is especially tragic and sad that the Cubans who perished never saw Christmas in Puerto Rico, a holiday that would have been similar to what Cubans enjoyed before Castro’s communist revolution.

In an Op-Ed in The Washington Times, Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
“Shaking Raul Castro’s hand, while dismissed by some as only a handshake, not only emboldens the regime, but will not stop the atrocious acts against the Cuban people. Mr. Obama extended his hand to Raul Castro, even though the Castro brothers are unwilling to unclench their fist over the Cuban people.”
Those words are certainly not news to ordinary Cubans  — even if they fall on deaf ears in the Obama administration.

Texas DA who prosecuted Tom DeLay has mud on face again


In Travis County, legal sophistry and crackpot testimony sent two day-care owners to prison for 21 years Originally published at The American Thinker blogBy David PaulinRonnie Earle's problematic record as Travis County District Attorney is coming back to haunt him – yet again. Earle, a Democrat, made a name for himself with some cleaver legal sophistry: specifically, he convinced a gullible jury in liberal Travis County, Texas, that former Republican House Speaker Tom DeLay was guilty of “money laundering” related to his funneling of campaign contributions to Republican candidates. A Texas Appeals Court recently dismissed the charges, ruling DeLay had broken no laws. Delay had called the prosecution the criminalization of politics.Now, another case overseen by Earle in the liberal enclave of Travis County has come back to haunt the flamboyant district attorney. It concerns the case of Fran and Dan Keller, former day-care owners in Austin whom prosecutors claimed had engaged in outrageous satanic rituals and sexual abuse with the children entrusted to their care. The married couple had always maintained their innocence. On Tuesday, Mrs. Keller, 63, was released after 21 years in prison when the case against her fell apart. Her husband Dan, who turns 72 on Friday, is expected to be released within days, said defense lawyer Keith Hampton. Both were serving 48 years sentences.The case, like California's Martin preschool trial and others, was part of a national hysteria over alleged sexual abuse with Satanic overtones in the 1980s and early 1990s. Psychologists and therapists were subsequently criticized for having implanted the bizarre allegations into the minds of children.“For those who believed in the prevalence of ritual abuse, the allegations were powerful proof that secret societies and dangerous cults — often protected by top politicians, business leaders and law officers — engaged in depraved attacks on children who could be dominated and indoctrinated through pain, humiliation and terror,” observed the Austin American-Statesman. In this sense, the arguments of prosecutors were not dissimilar from  left-wing conspiracy theories that have gained currency in recent years -- from crackpot storylines from Hollywood regarding the JFK assassination to claims that President George W. Bush dynamited the levies in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in order to clear blacks out of the city.The sensational trial must have been a rollicking good time for the publicity-hungry Ronnie Earle. As the Statesman explained:The case began Aug. 15, 1991, when a 3-year-old girl told her mother that Dan Keller had hurt her. The mother and daughter were on their way to a scheduled appointment with the girl’s therapist, who drew out details that included Keller defecating on her head and sexually assaulting her with a pen. In the following weeks, two other children from the day care offered similar accusations. By the time of the Kellers’ six-day trial in November 1992, the list of atrocities had grown.According to the children, the couple served blood-laced Kool-Aid and forced them to have videotaped sex with adults and other children. The Kellers, they said, sometimes wore white robes and lit candles before hurting them. The children also accused the Kellers of forcing them to watch or participate in the killing and dismemberment of cats, dogs and a crying baby. Bodies were unearthed in cemeteries and new holes dug to hide freshly killed animals and, on[...]

Media Blackout of the 'Knockout Game'


By David Paulin It's an infuriating example of political correctness: Most of New York City's media outlets have sanitized the nature of a spate of unprovoked attacks upon hapless pedestrians -- all recent victims of the so-called "knockout game." There have been injuries and several deaths among men, women, and youngsters, as they suffered walloping “sucker punches” by roving black youths in New York City and elsewhere. The knockout game involves an unmentionable subject for most in the mainstream media: black-on-white violence. To a lesser extent, Asians and Hispanics have been targeted as well. They're white enough, it seems, for black youths playing the knockout game. For those unfamiliar with the knockout game, it's how some black youths amuse themselves, especially in urban settings. The goal: use a single devastating punch to knock a hapless victim unconscious. And when they succeed, they invariably react with merriment and laughter, as videos capturing the mayhem have revealed. Could racism be motivating these black youths? Nobody in the mainstream media dares suggest that this might be fueling the black mob violence in what President Obama said would be a post-racial era. The knockout game, to be sure, has been around a few years. It has been mostly ignored by the mainstream media, which generally airbrushes out the black-on-white nature of the mayhem. The knockout game, however, was the subject of a lengthy American Thinker article by John T. Bennett way back on July 14, 2011. Now, in light of the spate of recent attacks in New York City and nearby cities, some media outlets are belatedly acknowledging that the knockout game is indeed a growing trend – though they still tiptoe around the fact that the attackers are black. In Brooklyn, some recent victims of the knockout game were Jews, which is finally prompting New York City police officials to state that "hate crimes" may have occurred. Hate crimes? That must have shocked some at the New York Daily News, which on Monday ran an article that failed to note the generally black-on-white nature of the knockout game. Reporter Michael Walsh merely wrote that, "This disturbing game is a hit with goons" and is an "emerging trend among unhinged teens." And on Fox's "The Real Story" on Tuesday, two “experts” opined during a panel discussion that the black youths playing the knockout game were possibly influenced by violent video games or raised in troubled homes. "This is about parenting at the core," chimed in blond-haired moderator Gretchen Carlson. All about parenting, huh? Fair enough. But that also raises the question of just what some black parents are teaching their little darlings, given that they prefer to attack mostly whites. It’s safe to say that the media would readily cry "racism" if the knockout game involved roving gangs of white youths attacking blacks and to a lesser extent Asians and Hispanics. Fox's Greta Van Susteren, for her part, gets it, unlike some of her colleagues at Fox News, which is the news channel that I usually watch. In her "On the Record" segment, Susteren raised alarm bells about the knockout game.  "Take a close look," she said, referring to a video clip showing black youths playing the knockout game. "Do you know what is going on? That is young African-American teenagers viciously and gratuitously attacking a random victim, a teacher, in Pitts[...]

Hugo Chávez's successor takes bread-and-circuses socialism to new heights


President Nicolás Maduro's "economic war" on retailers comes amid the detention of a Miami Herald reporter and mysterious downing of a Mexican business jetOriginally published at The American Thinker and FrontPage MagazineBy David PaulinHugo Chávez must be rolling over in his grave -- convulsed with laughter. Bread-and-circuses socialism has hit new heights in Venezuela as Chávez's hand-picked successor Nicolás Maduro ordered the military occupation of electronic chain stores – and forced them to offer "fair prices.” Prices had been rising, but not anymore.Under President Chávez, bread-and-circuses populism also was the rage: nationwide stores were set up to sell food at below-market prices – an effort that, ironically, led to food shortages. Now, Maduro is taking Venezuela's entitlement culture a step further -- putting government-set prices on things like plasma television sets, refrigerators, and washing machines.Venezuelans are overjoyed.Since Saturday, thousands have been mobbing electronic stores to get a bargain. Prices are so low that even anti-government opponents have joined the mob that's enjoying the temporary fruits of Chávez so-called "21st Century socialism." A number of store managers and owners have been arrested, accused by Maduro of illegal price gouging, speculating, and unfair lending. "We're doing this for the good of the nation," said Maduro. “Let nothing remain in stock …We're going to comb the whole nation in the next few days. This robbery of the people has to stop."Critics called it "state sponsored looting." Store shelves were cleaned out. But Maduro, who faces make-or-break municipal elections in a month amid a deteriorating economy, vented his fury at Venezuela's allegedly unscrupulous retailers – the "parasitic bourgeoisie” as he called them, and lumped them together with Yankee imperialists and his political opposition. It was right out of Chavez playbook, but taken to new heights – or lows. Bread-and-circuses populism, to be sure, has existed in Venezuela long before Hugo Chavez, along with ample amounts of authoritarianism, statism, and corruption. The chaos among bargain hunters – caught on the YouTube clips below -- continued through Monday; and so the government sent out thousands of members of its security forces and civilian militia to ensure crowd control at electronics shops – those not already cleaned out or, in some cases, looted by shoppers who didn't want to pay even the government's dirt-cheap prices. Next on Maduro's hit list are clothing stores and automobile dealerships.Editor: insert YouTube clip, below. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="560">Venezuela is an oil-rich yet impoverished country. But it wasn't always poor. During the 1970s, it was dubbed “Saudi Venezuela” as oil prices soared and petro-dollars trickled down to most everybody. Those days are long gone -- yet many Venezuelans persist in their belief that oil wealth ought to make them rich; and so they're quick to accept Maduro's conspiracy theories about why consumer goods are unaffordable. To them, dirt-cheap electronics and appliances are part of their birthright by virtue of their oil wealth.Venezuela's rising prices and food shortages reflect the economic realities of Venezuela’s command-and-control economy – a 54 percent inflation rate and shortages of dollars caused by draconian currency[...]

Celebrating A Movie the Critics Hated


"Somewhere in Time" was derided by critics and bombed at the box office -- yet the 1980 movie about time travel and eternal love has become a cult classic Originally published on October 6 at The American ThinkerBy David PaulinMessage to high-brow movie critics and cultural elites: Stay away from the Grand Hotel on Michigan's Mackinac Island this weekend. No cynicism allowed! Not among the nearly 800 "time travelers" who arrived on Friday at the historic Grand Hotel -- the start of a three-day gathering during which they'll dress up in period garb and (in their minds) transport themselves back to 1912. The fanciful journey has been an annual ritual for 23 years now, bringing together incurable romantics from all over the country, and even abroad. It's a celebration of the 1980 movie "Somewhere in Time"-- a bittersweet love story involving time travel and shot mostly in and around the majestic 126-year-old Grand Hotel.The film's message: love is eternal.Critics hated "Somewhere in Time." Vincent Canby wrote in The New York Times that the film had the year's highest "giggle content," and "does for time-travel what the Hindenburg did for dirigibles." Deriding the film's "romantic idealism," Roger Ebert asked in the Chicago Sun-Times whether it wasn't "a little futile to travel 68 years backward into time for a one-night stand."Yet "Somewhere in Time" is now a beloved cult classic -- all of which underscores the amusing perception gap that often exists between ordinary movie audiences and cultural elites (and especially movie critics). But that's not news to Jo Addie, an antiques dealer in the Chicago area, who is president of the "Somewhere in Time" fan club and editor of its quarterly magazine. "You could hardly imagine a critic putting words to paper saying they truly love a movie like "Somewhere in Time," she wrote in an e-mail message. "It would have them losing their 'credibility' or their 'edge'. "Somewhere in Time" is not for the jaded or cynical."Released nationwide in early October, 1980, "Somewhere in Time" ran for three short weeks. It flopped at box offices, a fate attributed not only to bad reviews, but to bad marketing and bad luck. Among other things: an actors strike was underway. This prevented its actors from promoting it, for doing so would have violated the Screen Actors Guild's work rules. Universal Studios, for its part, never really believed in the film, having whittled down director Jeannot Szwarc's budget to a bare-bones $5.1 million.Cult Following Yet over the years cable television reruns and video rentals have elevated "Somewhere in Time" to the status of a cult classic in America and abroad. It's especially popular in Asia. A devoted fan club sprung up in 1990: "The International Network of Somewhere In Time Enthusiasts." Known by the acronym INSITE, it has been headed by Addie since 1999. Above all, INSITE says it strives to "celebrate the message of timeless love that "Somewhere in Time" represents."And so during the first weekend of October, as Mackinac Island's tourism season winds down, aficionados of "Somewhere in Time" - mostly married couples in their 50s - dress up in period attire; go to screenings of the film; and meet with cast and crew members to discuss the fine points of the movie's production. (Christopher Reeve, Jean Seymour, and screenwriter Richard Matheson are among many who have attended.) There is a costume promenade and visits to film locations. And Ma[...]

Chavez’s Successor to Obama: ‘Yankee Go Home!’


Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro expels three top U.S. Embassy officials, blaming them for power blackouts and economic sabotageOriginally published at The American Thinker blog and FrontPage MagazineBy David PaulinVenezuela President Nicolás Maduro has expelled three top U.S. Embassy officials, accusing them on Monday of fomenting economic sabotage, including all-too-frequent power blackouts, in the oil-rich yet impoverished South American nation. Maduro’s remarks were right out of Hugo Chavez’s anti-American playbook. They dashed Washington’s hope that Maduro, a former union leader and bus driver, would be more “pragmatic” than Chávez, the popular firebrand president who died last March. Maudro was apparently unimpressed with President Obama’s desire for a reset in relations with Venezuela. “Get out of Venezuela! Yankee go home!” Maduro shouted on live television, during a celebration marking the bicentennial of a battle for independence from Spain. ”Enough of abuses against the dignity of a homeland that wants peace.” The embassy officials were identified as chargé d’affaires Kelly Keiderling; political officer Elizabeth Hoffman; and vice consul David Moo. They have 48 hours to leave the country. Maduro didn’t say whether the trio had anything to do with the dark side of Venezuela’s so-called “21st Century” socialism: toilet paper and food shortages; an annual inflation rate of more than 45 percent; epic levels of corruption; and Caracas’ status as the world’s murder capital. Power blackouts also have been a problem. “We have detected a group of officials of the United States Embassy in Caracas, in Venezuela, and we have been tracking them for several months,” Maduro explained. ”These officials spend their time meeting with the Venezuelan extreme right wing, financing them and encouraging them to take actions to sabotage the electrical system, to sabotage the Venezuelan economy.” Regarding the Obama administration, Maduro said he “doesn’t care” about its response. “We’re not going to allow an imperial government to come and bring money to stop companies operating, (and) to take out the electricity to shut Venezuela down.” “Señores gringos, imperialists, you have before you men and women of dignity that…will never kneel before your interests and we’re not afraid of you. We’ll confront you on all levels, the political, the diplomatic.” Maduro’s rant underscores that things can only get  worse in Venezuela. Under Chávez and Maduro,Venezuela’s old pathologies — Statism, bread-and-circus populism, and corruption – have grown to epic levels. But like Chávez, Maduro is clueless about what’s wrong; and so he finds it convenient to promote conspiracy theories and anti-Americanism. But this isn’t merely about political expediency and demagoguery, because Maduro no doubt really believes what’s he saying, as do many Venezuelans. “Yankee go home!” Sadly, it’s an old story in Latin America and many parts of the world. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420"> [...]

Titanic bandleader's violin auctioned for $1.45 million


Water-damaged violin a symbol of courage, duty, and religious faith Published October 20 at The American Thinker blogBy David PaulinWithin hours of the Titanic disaster a little over a century ago, members of the ship's orchestra were hailed as heroes. The eight men had continued playing to the very end. Bandleader Wallace Henry Hartley was the most famous of them. Days after the sinking, his body and violin were found floating in the icy North Atlantic. The violin had been a gift from his fiancée Maria.On Saturday, Hartley's violin sold in a London auction for $1.45 million. It was the highest price ever paid for a Titanic artifact, its value having been driven up because Titanic aficionados saw it as symbol of Hartley's courage, duty, and religious faith.There were, to be sure, many examples of bravery among the Titanic's crew and passengers, including the rich and famous. Benjamin Guggenheim, 46, the scion of the Guggenheim fortune, was overhead to say that he and other social elites had "dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.""Tell my wife, if it should happen that my secretary and I both go down, tell her I played the game out straight to the end," he said in a note passed along to a survivor. "No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward."Yet it was the Titanic's orchestra -- playing on as the ship tilted and water rushed aboard -- that is the most enduring memory of the maritime disaster. Eyewitness said the musicians were stoic; that their music calmed passengers who were boarding lifeboats or -- as was the case with 1,517 of them -- resigning themselves to their impending deaths on April 15, 1912. Hartley and his fellow musicians exemplified courage as defined by author Ernest Hemingway: "grace under pressure."An estimated 30,00-to-40,000 mourners lined the funeral route for Hartley when his body was returned to Britain. Hartley's fiancée would never marry.Where did Hartley and his fellow musicians find the courage that kept them playing to the end? Playing songs that according to varying eyewitness accounts, possibly included the Christian hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee" but was more likely the then-popular waltz "Autumn Dream."Hartley was raised a Methodist, and his religious faith and sense of duty influenced his conduct, according to music journalist Steve Turner, author of "The Band that Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic." "[Hartley's] moral character and his personal assurance that death was not the end must have stirred his bandsmen," he wrote. "Together as a band under Hartley's leadership, they transcended their personal limitations."In an interview with the online magazine of the United Methodist Church, Turner elaborated: "No one knows for sure why the band played. We do know that Wallace Hartley once told a friend about the power of music to prevent panic. My feeling is that he was a person of great moral authority as well as a born leader, and therefore his wish at that time was passed on to all the men."The buyer of Hartley's violin, identified only as a "British collector of Titanic items," paid $1.7 million after taxes and commission. The spruce and maple violin is not playable, having been ruined by sea water.Over the last few years, t[...]

Rioting Black Youths Stun Austin, Texas


Hip and liberal Austin, Texas, caught off guard by national trend -- black mob violenceOriginally published at The American Thinker blogBy David PaulinIt was a spasm of violence that stunned residents: some 200 black youths raising hell -- what police called a full-blown riot -- in Austin, Texas.Angry black youths inexplicably converged by the Highland Mall, near an iconic haunted house attraction, and walked atop parked cars, fought among themselves, and hurled rocks at some 30 arriving police officers. Several people suffered minor injuries, including one police officer. Later, police said so many squad cars were needed that the department was unable to provide adequate 911 emergency coverage to the rest of Austin. There were no reports of black-on-white violence, to be sure, as has often occurred at similarly thuggish  gatherings across the country. The violence was unprecedented in hip and liberal Austin and, police later said, inexplicable.From America's small towns to urban metropolises, black mob violence has been on the rise in recent years, despite President Barack Obama's pledge, as the first black president, to bring hope and change to a post-racial America. Some of the violence has involved rowdy black youths simply raising hell, coming together in threatening flash mobs or converging for events like Miami's Urban Beach Week; yet many gatherings of black mobs have involved vicious and unprovoked attacks on whites, such as one that recently occurred in Brooklyn, New York. Ten black youths blocked a white couple's car while shouting racial slurs, then beat up the husband and pulled the wife by hair onto the street.Author and journalist Colin Flaherty has chronicled the trend of black mob violence in his book "White Girl Bleed a Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America." Austin had escaped this trend until last Saturday night, when some 200 black youths rampaged near an iconic haunted-house attraction, the House of Torment, at the nearly empty Highland Mall. Video from an orbiting police helicopter revealed roving bands of youths walking around, with some occasionally engaging in fistfights among themselves. Some reportedly sported various gang colors. In their reporting on the riot, Austin's media outlets followed a widely accepted rule of mainstream journalism today: they failed to mention that the rioters were black. Yet many Austin residents surmised as much -- and their suspicions were confirmed when mug shots were published of four of at least five black youths whom police arrested. A police commander subsequently told local website CultureMap Austin that, yes, the rioters were mostly blacks.One gang banger was Charles Robertson-Davis, 22, whom police charged with inciting a riot. He was "constantly at the front of the crowd, challenging officers and encouraging other subjects in the crowd not to comply with police commands," stated an arrest affidavit.Interestingly, Robertson-Davis is no stranger to Texas law enforcement. He used to be on the state's 10-most wanted list. He had a $10,000 reward on his head until he was captured in mid-April. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Robertson-Davis is a member of the Bloods, a violent black gang, and has a long rap sheet: assault, arson, re[...]