- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2014

Though Sony’s uber-lawyer David Boies has now indicated the studio’s parody film showcasing North Korean President Kim Jong-un will be distributed at some point in the future, the media morality play continues. Two other major studios have followed suit: One canceled production on a psychological thriller about North Korea, another placed an existing film which spoofs the nation’s politics into cold storage.

“What’s next, a ban on MASH reruns?” demands a USA Today editorial. “Sony seems to be taking its lead from Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who, as part of his policy of appeasing Adolf Hitler, announced he would ban Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator.’ Dealing with the threat is not easy. The Internet is a platform, not a fortress. But a forceful response, perhaps including interference with North Korean broadcasts and computer networks, is necessary.”

Easier said than done, however: The isolated dictatorship has maintained an army of thousands of cyberhackers for more than a decade, some housed at the luxury Chilbosan Hotel in Shenyang, China says Michael Daly, a Daily Beast columnist.

“The regime has recognized that the Internet is a realm where it can act out its aggressions at relatively little cost or risk. And this is a form of warfare where North Korea’s lack of a cyber infrastructure or even a reliable electrical grid actually works to its advantage. The hermit kingdom is so hermetically sealed as to be virtually hack proof, thereby confounding anybody bent on retaliation,” Mr. Daly observes.


“As you know, the Republican Party and Hollywood have at times been at odds. But we can all agree that the current situation regarding the release of ‘The Interview’ goes far beyond politics. It is about freedom and free enterprise,” Republican National Committee chairman ReincePriebus advised nine leading theater distribution executives in an open letter that suggest he does not agree with President Obama’s assessment that the North Korean attack on Sony was mere “cybervandalism,” not war.

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“We are setting a troubling example and a terrible precedent. Today, we’re talking about the movie industry. Tomorrow, we could be talking about energy, manufacturing, publishing, or even small businesses. While the president has sent mixed messages on this issue, I want to speak clearly on behalf of the Republican Party: I urge you to show the movie,” Mr. Priebus continued.

“As a sign of my commitment, if you agree to show this movie, I will send a note to the Republican Party’s millions of donors and supporters urging them to buy a ticket — not to support one movie or Hollywood, but to show North Korea we cannot be bullied into giving up our freedom,” he added.


“The United States of Anxiety”

— A phrase from National Review correspondent Kevin D. Williamson, who notes: “In ten days about 1 million Americans will be gathered in Times Square waiting for a ball to drop, a strange spectacle indeed for a country that seems to be waiting on both of them. If 2014 had a grand theme, it was testicular absence.”


Just in time for President Obama’s winter holiday in Hawaii: State and local officials in the Aloha State have submitted their formal proposal for the Barack Obama Presidential Center — this to The Barack Obama Foundation, a year-old nonprofit that’s coordinating the project and entertaining pitches from Chicago and New York City. The facility could cost up to $500 million to construct according to some press reports; it would be located on a beach-front site in the Kaka’ako neighborhood of Honolulu, with plans that are definitely Obama-friendly. The site would also house a Global Youth Leadership Academy, an “action-oriented” Convening Institute, a Hawaii University Center for Community Organizing and an interactive and an issues-based visitor center, according to advance materials. The library would bring up to between $40 million in annual tax revenues and $2 billion in “new economic activity,” the planners estimate.

“President Obama is part of our island family,” says Hawaii Gov. David Ige. “We humbly suggest that Hawaii is the best place to build his Presidential Center. With our rich cultural heritage, mature visitor industry and Asia-Pacific ties, we believe we can help President Obama create an institution that will carry forward his important work on a global stage.”


Those who really want Hillary Rodham Clinton to run for president are expanding their public outreach. Ready for Hillary, an independent political action committee that has accumulated 3 million followers, is upping the ante. Yes, they’re still selling $35 “I’m Ready” Christmas ornaments and “Hillary Bubble Glasses” — four for $50 for fans who want to toast Mrs. Clinton on New Year’s Eve. But there’s more, with some rebranding attached. “Become an ORIGINAL RFH member today,” the group advises in an splashy message released Sunday.

They are also cultivating specific audiences, with custom-tailored outreach for veterans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, black and Latino voters, the LGBT community, women and “people of faith.” So far, the PAC has raised over $10 million for the cause.

There’s a likely reason for all this: Ready for Warren, a fiercely progressive PAC with the support of both MoveOn.org and Democracy for America was launched last week to support the potential White House bid of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, with nationwide “house parties” set for the first week of January. “Warren is the backbone that the Democratic Party too often forgets it needs,” the organizers advise.

And one more thing, on the exact opposite side of things: The Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, another independent PAC, squeaks by all the competition with $10.5 million in donations on hand should Mr. Carson decide to run. But there is a difference; the Carson group has opened two region offices in New Hampshire and Iowa, with this rationale: It’s not if Ben Carson runs, it’s when he runs,” says campaign director Vernon Robinson.


There was ISIS, ISIL and the Islamic State to choose from. Now the press has another preferred term to bandy about when they cover news of Islamic militants. And that is “Daesh,” which more or less stands for “Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham,” an Arab term for the group.

“It’s a term that our partners in the gulf use,” Army Lt. Gen. James Terry, who oversees U.S. war efforts in Iraq and Syria, recently told Pentagon reporters.

“The leaders of the extremist group reportedly hate the term Daesh and consider it pejorative,” observes Andrew Tilghman, a staff writer for The Military Times.


81 percent of Americans believe that “Baby Jesus was laid in a manger”; 92 percent of Protestants and Catholics agree.

75 percent overall believe there were “Wise men, guided by a star, brought gifts”; 89 percent of Protestants and 84 percent of Catholics agree.

74 percent overall believe “an angel announced birth of Jesus to shepherds”; 90 percent of Protestants and 90 percent of Catholics agree.

73 percent overall believe “Jesus was born to a virgin”; 91 percent of Protestants and 86 percent of Catholics agree.

72 percent overall say Christian symbols should be allowed on government property either alone or accompanied by symbols from other faiths; 90 percent of Protestants and 75 percent of Catholics agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 1,507 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 3-7.

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