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We Know Something that most Americans Don’t — How I became a thought-criminal

This morning I received an email from Piotr Jankowski, managing editor of a Polish-language news website in Warsaw, telling me about an article they had just posted about me, my work, and my recent arrest at GMU by the politically correct campus police. The article was titled, Persecuted: in USSR for anti-communism, in USA for anti-Islamism.

Surfing their site, it didn’t take long to discover close to a dozen People’s Cube images and parodies by me and other Cubists from several years back, translated into Polish.

Since my grandfather was Polish, we had a Polish dictionary and a language manual in the family library. Polish is also close enough to my native Russian and Ukrainian, so with some practice I was able to read Polish magazines, which were more interesting than the Soviet ones.

As a kid, I loved the Polish satirical magazine Szpilki. It wasn’t widely available and their cartoons were often a lot more sexually charged than those in the Soviet print media, so my parents tried to keep them out of my sight. But seeing just one issue was enough to make me wonder why such things didn’t exist in the Soviet Union. It was possibly then that I first experienced adult thoughts about the existence of censorship. Seeing those magazines today wouldn’t probably impress me that much, but at the time they turned me into a thought-criminal. I realized that a world without censorship was more fun to live in.

Granted, Poland was a reluctant Soviet satellite with heavily censored press. And yet Polish movies and books seemed more honest and revealing in just about anything, from sex to politics. Apparently the Poles enjoyed a little less censorship and a little more freedom that we in the USSR did. It was logical to conclude that if a little less censorship meant a little more fun, a world without any censorship whatsoever would be a blast. And that world existed just west of Poland – in Europe, America, and the rest of what we call Western societies.

Ever since I imagined a world without censorship, I wanted to live in it. My own country began to feel less like the Motherland and more like an obstacle to freedom. As a teenager, whenever the Motherland’s embrace felt especially stifling and cold, I stayed warm thinking about parts of the world where people were free. I imagined I was one of them and it made me felt better. These people could speak their mind without the fear of being overheard. They could write and read books, make and watch movies, play and listen to the music without government’s permission. They gave me hope.

The sounds of the Beatles and other rock and roll music of the 1970s also helped. Turning on the tape recorder provided an instant immersion into that free world, a temporary escape from the stuffy Soviet reality. I believe that was a common experience for many young people of the Eastern Bloc. Owning an overpriced pair of blue jeans and listening to Western music went way beyond mere aesthetics; it was a non-verbal expression of our longing for freedom and an analgesic relief from the daily ideological bullying and brainwashing by the Communist regime.

It felt as though all those uncensored cartoons, music, and blue fade-out apparel were made especially for us. Communist propagandists agreed, telling us that all those “Western things” were masterminded by capitalist propagandists with the sole purpose of subverting the Soviet youth and weakening our communist resolve. We laughed at their paranoia, and yet the feeling of some secret messaging addressed to us was inescapable. Living in a totalitarian society will do that to you.

Everything the Communists did had a special political purpose, and they projected the same on their “capitalist adversaries,” claiming that all those “Western things” were part of a clandestine anti-Soviet operation. Later it came almost as a revelation to many Soviets that it wasn’t so. The superior consumer goods were the natural outcome of the capitalist economy, the uncensored art was the outcome of freedom, and rock and roll was a scream of joy that resulted from it. Whatever political messaging the Soviets attached to those things would have most likely surprised their creators.

As for me, I just wanted to experience a world where things were appreciated merely for their beauty, without any political weight clinging to them after they’d been dragged through the garbage of false totalitarian narratives.

Then I finally came to live in the U.S. and discovered a country chained by political correctness, which has become America’s new zeitgeist. Censorship came not as much from the government as from the media denouncements, which were then universally repeated by the mindless adepts of “progressivism.” Wherever I look I see a never-ending buildup of false narratives in an increasingly unfree society, where few things remain to be enjoyed for their beauty without the political ball and chain attached to them. One can’t even buy a chicken sandwich or watch a TV show, let alone read the news, without thinking about political messaging, symbolism, or ulterior motives.

The perpetrator is, once again, leftist ideology. It may not be a replica of the Soviet ideology, but it is nonetheless aligned with the general delusional idea of a world-wide socialist Utopia achieved through a totalitarian rule of “benevolent” elites. And now the totalitarian leftists are teaming up with the totalitarian Islamists. The censorship in Western societies has redoubled since Islam came into play. Apparently the leftists are hoping that Islamic supremacism will quietly go away once it helps them to conquer the world. That is, of course, yet another dangerous delusion.

I hate politics as much as a soldier hates the war but continues to fight because it’s the only way to victory. I’d rather live my life enjoying beautiful things without any politics attached, but today that seems like an impossible dream. The alternative to fighting is a surrender to the stifling totalitarianism and censorship, which will be a lot worse than going back to the Soviet days. The West’s surrender to the leftist agenda means that there will be no other parts of the world left to give us the hope of freedom. Nowhere to smuggle uncensored books, tapes, or cartoons from. Nowhere to run to.

This is why I do what I do. And this is what also drives the people in the far-away Warsaw to do what they do, including the translation of the People’s Cube satires into Polish.

Having grown up in an unfree world, we know something that most Americans don’t.

EDITORS NOTE: This column was first published in the alt-media FrontPage Magazine.

U.S. Senator Cotton’s Letter to Iran’s Leaders Clarified

When Arkansas junior Senator Tom Cotton sent his open letter on Monday, March 9th to “The Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” signed by 46 other Republican colleagues, 7 declined, it caused a ruckus.

Cotton’s letter endeavored to  remind Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif of the Constitutional authorities.  The Executive Branch’s power in Article II, Sec.2 gives  it the right to negotiate foreign agreements. The Legislative Branch, in this case the Senate, must provide its “advise and consent” to treaties on a two-thirds vote and a three-fifths vote in the instances of Congressional-executive agreements. Anything not approved by Congress, such as the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei is deemed an executive agreement which could end with current term of the President in January 2017. Thus “the next President could revoke the executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

From the President to leading Democratic Senators, the short missive was rebuked as an unwelcome ‘stunt’ interfering with the Executive Branch of government prerogative of engaging in foreign relations.  President Obama considered it “ironic” considering  the signatories of the Cotton letter in league with those notorious hard liners in Tehran.  He alleged they were seeking to upend the MOU. The New York Daily News published a front page  picture of the Cotton letter accusing the signatories of being ‘traitors’.  For the first 48 hours that continued to be the criticism of Sen. Cotton and the GOP leadership in the Senate, with the exception of the 7 who agreed with the White House for different reasons. Senator Corker (R-TN) thought it was unhelpful as he was endeavoring to line up Democratic votes for his Senate Bill 615, The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) of 2015 co-sponsored by embattled Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif while calling the Cotton letter, “a propaganda ploy” argued:

“I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law,” according to Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The executive agreement was not bilateral but rather multi-lateral with the rest of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, subject to a resolution of the Security Council.

That majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate.

That “their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such mere executive agreements that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.”

Ayatollah Khamenei considered the Cotton letter reflective of the “US disintegration”. According to the Mehr news agency, the Supreme Ruler said:

Of course I am worried. Every time we reach a stage where the end of the negotiations is in sight, the tone of the other side, specifically the Americans, becomes harsher, coarser and tougher. This is the nature of their tricks and deceptions.

Further, he said the letter was ‘a sign of the decay of political ethics in the American system”, and he described as “laughable long-standing U.S. accusations of Iranian involvement in terrorism.”

Jen Psaki 3-11-15  Legal Insurrrection

Source: Legal Insurrection

Notwithstanding the roiling criticism of the Cotton letter, comments by Secretary Kerry at a Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Wednesday, echoed those of State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on Tuesday who said, “historically, the United States has pursued important national security through non-binding arrangements.” Kerry said in his testimony that the Obama Administration was “not negotiating a legally binding plan” but one from “executive to executive,” Politico reported. Kerry insisted such a deal would still “have a capacity of enforcement.” Thus, he confirmed that the proposed Memorandum of Understanding  between the P5+1  and Iran was non-binding on the parties hinging on verification of conditions.  Something hitherto unachievable with the Mullahs who have a tendency to hide developments. This despite representations by President Obama that the negotiations in Geneva were making good progress towards that goal. Kerry said it was non-binding because we currently don’t recognize the Islamic Republic of Iran, passed embargoes arising from the 444 day Tehran US Embassy seizure and hostage taking in 1979 and adopted Congressional sanctions against its nuclear program. Further, the State Department considers the Republic a state sponsor of terrorism, something Ayatollah Khamenei categorically disagrees with as witnessed by his comments on the Cotton letter.  But seeing is believing when it comes to the Shia autocrats in Tehran proficient practitioners of taqiyya, otherwise known as lying for Allah. Iran ‘reformist’ President Hassan Rouhani suggested that diplomacy with the Administration was an active form of “jihad” equivalent to the 2,500 mile range cruise missile Iran unveiled this week.

Two legal experts on the matter of executive agreements disagreed with the position of Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and Secretary Kerry in the context of the Cotton letter. Daniel Wiser writing in the Washington Free Beacon asserted  that Cotton was correct and Zarif wrong. They concurred that future US Presidents could revoke the agreement over a bad deal, meaning, violation of provisions by Iran:

Jeremy Rabkin, a law professor at George Mason University and an expert in international law and Constitutional history, said in an email that “nonbinding” by definition means that the United States “will not violate international law if we don’t adhere to its terms”—contrary to Zarif’s assertion.

“In other words we’re saying it is NOT an international obligation, just a statement of intent,” he said.

“What Kerry seemed to say was not that his Iran deal would be in the same category but that it would not be legally binding in any sense, just a kind of memorandum of understanding,” Rabkin said. “I wonder whether he understood what he was saying. It was more or less conceding that what Cotton’s letter said was the administration’s own view—that the ‘agreement’ with Iran would not be legally binding, so (presumably) not something that could bind Obama’s successor.”

Cotton responded with a Tweet, saying:

Important question: if deal with Iran isn’t legally binding, then what’s to keep Iran from breaking said deal and developing a bomb?

Wiser then cites a National Review article by a second legal expert, John Yoo, a law professor at University of California, Berkeley and a former Justice Department official in the George W. Bush Administration:

The Cotton letter is right, because if President Obama strikes a nuclear deal with Iran using only [an executive agreement], he is only committing to refrain from exercising his executive power—i.e., by not attacking Iran or by lifting sanctions under power delegated by Congress. Not only could the next president terminate the agreement; Obama himself could terminate the deal.  Obama’s executive agreement cannot prevent Congress from imposing mandatory, severe sanctions on Iran without the possibility of presidential waiver (my preferred solution for handling the Iranian nuclear crisis right now). Obama can agree to allow Iran to keep a nuclear-processing capability; Congress can cut Iran out of the world trading and financial system.

But the fracas over Cotton’s letter continued unabated. An unidentified resident of Bogota, N.J.  “C.H.” shot off a petition to the Obama White House website, “We the People,” expressing the view that the 47 signers were in violation of the 1799 Logan Act and may have jeopardized achievement of a nuclear agreement with Iran.  Further “C.H.” contended that the Republican Senators might be subject to possible criminal actions brought under provisions of the hoary law that private individuals are barred from engaging in foreign relations. The petition took off like a rocket with upwards of 165,000 signatures heading for over 200,000 in less than 48 hours. That will allegedly require a response by the President, as witnessed by an earlier petition on support for medical marijuana.

But “C.H.” is wrong. Members of Congress in either chamber are exempt from that restriction. Moreover, there have been a number of instances where the many of the Democratic Congressional and Administration critics of Cotton and his Republican colleagues have engaged in private foreign relations episodes.  Among those who undertook such actions were Vice President Biden, Secretary Kerry when they were Senators and current House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, and the late Teddy Kennedy.  In Pelosi’s case, following her assumption of the House Speakership in 2006, she went off to Damascus in 2007 to sit with President Bashar Assad, despite the protestations of the Bush Administration who were trying to isolate the Syrian dictator.  However,  Republicans have done the same thing when it also suited their political purposes.

Finally, there was another groundswell campaign seeking to gain passage of Sen. Corker’s INARA.  Christians United for Israel (CUFI) flooded Capitol Hill with more than 57,000 emails from members across the US in support of passage of INARA because they were worried about Iran’s possession of nuclear capabilities.  The CUFI initiative was triggered by the March 3rd address by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu before a Joint Meeting of Congress  who made it abundantly clear that he believed the Administration’s 10 year phased deal was a “very bad deal.”

 writing in the Legal Insurrection blog about the Cotton letter controversy concluded:

And to think, all of that wailing and gnashing of teeth from Democrats wasted over a non-binding agreement, one that would have absolutely no legal sway over Iran.

RELATED ARTICLES:

What You Need to Know About the White House’s Talks With Iran

Is Obama Sidestepping Congress and Going to UN on Iran Deal?

Iranian President: Diplomacy with U.S. is an active jihad

Saudi Nuclear Deal Raises Stakes for Iran Talks

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) poses for photographers in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Source: Carolyn Kaster— AP.

Florida to Lose 79,459 Jobs Due to Defense Cuts

The Jacksonville Business Journal reports that Florida stands to lose 79,459 jobs and $4.1 billion in labor income by the end of fiscal 2013 if $1.2 trillion in federal defense cuts take place in January as planned.  A report conducted by George Mason University by economist Stephen Fuller says Florida would suffer the sixth most job losses of all the states. The report measures the impact of both defense and nondefense employment reductions at federal agencies and their contractors, as well as at businesses that count them as customers. A little more than half of Florida’s lost jobs in the next fiscal year — 41,905 — would result from Department of Defense cuts, and the rest would stem from reductions at civilian agencies. During that period, Florida would also see gross state product losses of $8 billion. To read more click here. The George Mason University report concludes – The magnitude of economic impacts resulting from the Budget Control Act of 2011 over the combined FY 2012-FY 2013 period have been shown to be large and their impact on the U.S. economy to be significant:

• Combined DOD and non-DOD agency spending reductions totaling $115.7 billion in FY 2013 would reduce the 2013 U.S. GDP by $215.0 billion.

• These spending reductions would result in the loss of 746,222 direct jobs including cutbacks in the federal workforce totaling 277,263 and decreases in the federal contractor workforce totaling 468,959 jobs, thus affecting all sectors of the national economy.

• The loss of these 746,222 direct jobs and 432,978 jobs of suppliers and vendors (indirect jobs) dependent on the prime contractors would reduce total labor income in the U.S. by $109.4 billion.

• The loss of this labor income and the resultant impacts of reduced consumer spending in the economy would generate an additional loss of 958,508 jobs dependent on the spending and re-spending of payroll dollars associated with the direct and indirect jobs lost as a result of BCA.

• This loss of $215.0 billion in GDP and 2.14 million jobs in 2013 would erase two-thirds of the GDP gains projected for the year and raise the national unemployment rate by 1.5 percentage points by the end of 2013.

• These economic impacts would affect every state with their respective vulnerabilities to projected DOD and non-DOD spending reductions being determined by their agency mix and relative magnitudes of federal payroll and procurement. Based on current patterns of federal spending by state, ten states account for more than half of total federal payroll and procurement outlays. This significant concentration of federal spending represents a major threat to these states’ economies in 2013. While other states may appear less vulnerable to federal spending reductions, these may also suffer significant impacts dues to their smaller sizes or more specialized economic structures.

Florida is has twenty-one military installations, and is home to U.S. Central Command at MacDill AFB in Tampa.