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Editorial By: Kelly Woodard

As I scramble to finish my holiday shopping for everyone on my list, I’ve come to the realization that our society has moved from a retail driven, money hungry, machine to a couture driven, money obsessed, machine with unattainable expectations for those of us who lead normal lives.
I’ll explain.
This day and age, you can’t turn on the TV without seeing a thousand commercials for luxury cars, lavish jewelry, the perfect home, etc. We watch shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians which features a filthy rich family with no concept of reality or what it takes to make a dollar in the real world. We obsess over what Kim was wearing today, or what she and her sister will buy for their babies for Christmas. We drool over their $15,000 handbags and lavish shoe collections, all while the media tells us that we too need these things to validate our existence.
Then there’s the “Housewives” franchises on Bravo where filthy rich women with questionable moral character flaunt their big houses, fancy cars, wardrobes, and even expensive wigs, all while cat fighting and calling those who can’t afford these things trash. Yet we eat it up.
And sitcoms aren’t any better. Let’s flash back to Friends for a second. Am I supposed to believe that these 20 something’s who work at restaurants and coffee houses can afford 2000 square feet of gorgeous Manhattan apartment on tips? Flash forward to the How I Met Your Mother era…..same story.
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A Time for Torture
Making Sense by Michael Reagan

A poll released this week found 51 percent of Americans approve of the harsh interrogation tactics the CIA used immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Imagine what those numbers would have been on Sept. 12, 2001.

The NBC/Wall Street Journal survey is in synch with the results of similar opinion polls that show a majority of Americans are not naive about what "torture" is or isn't or when it should be used.

About half of those polled called the CIA's use of water boarding, sleep deprivation and other tough interview methods "torture," but a majority still approved of it.

About 30 percent of Americans — most of them Democrats — told NBC they think the CIA went too far in the early days of the Bush administration. About 80 percent of Republicans approved the CIA's tactics.

Dick Cheney got beat up this week by the liberal media, Senate Democrats and the holier-than-thou crowd for refusing to use the word "torture" to describe the CIA's methods of extracting information from evil people who wanted to kill us or who knew where Osama Bin Laden's home address was.

As for the future, 45 percent of those polled say the CIA should continue to use the same interrogation tactics while 28 percent said they should not.

Interrogating our enemies during war is a dirty business.

It's not anything like that classy old 1950s quiz show "What's My Line," where a panel of well-dressed celebrities like Steve Allen had 10 questions to figure out the occupations of the mystery contestants.

"Mr. Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, did you ever mastermind a plan to blow up the World Trade Center?"

"No."

"OK, panel. Eight down and two to go."

I have a little story for anyone who thinks America's rough interrogation tactics really deserve to be called "torture."

During the mid-1980s, when I was on a vacation in Italy, my wife and I were being protected by the U.S. Secret Service and its Italian equivalent.

A few years earlier, the leftist Red Brigade had been terrorizing Italy, assassinating people, kidnapping business executives, setting off bombs, robbing banks and blowing off people's kneecaps as they walked down the sidewalks.

In 1981, after the Red Brigade kidnapped U.S. General James Dozier, it took Italy's counter-terrorism agency 42 days to rescue him -- without firing a shot.

I asked one of the unshaven, rugged, glass-eating Italian secret servicemen working in our motorcade detail how they finally found out where General Dozier was being held.

He told me that after his colleagues caught a few members of the Red Brigade they were taken to the basement and interrogated.

The terrorists became very talkative after their genitals were placed in a vise.

The agents who used this persuasive technique — which also led to the capture of hundreds of Red Brigade members and put the deadly terrorist group out of business — were disciplined by their superiors.

They were suspended for five days and went to the beach.

As the Italians proved, sometimes in war you have to use "enhanced" interrogation methods to get the successful ending you want.

In 2001 we found ourselves in a bloody war against terrorists. The White House knew it. The CIA knew it. Even the media and Democrats in Congress knew it. The American people figured it out too.

What the CIA did to extract information from the Islamist terrorists was not nice, but it was not really torture.

We shouldn't be second-guessing and beating up on the CIA, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and all the other men and women who've helped to keep us safe for the last 14 years.

We should be thanking them.

Merry Christmas.
Copyright ©2014 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution" (St. Martin's Press). He is the founder of the email service reagan.com and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com. Follow @reaganworld on Twitter.
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The City of Five Flags Now Only Flies One After County Commission Vote
By: Kelly Woodard

What started as a campaign to remove the Confederate Flag due to its controversial history at the Pensacola Bay Center has resulted in four of the city’s historic five flags being removed after Escambia County Commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of leaving only the American flag to fly on publicly owned property.
Commissioner Grover Robinson made the original motion to remove the “rebel flag,” from the Pensacola Bay Center, a motion that left many Pensacola residents with split opinions on the matter. Pensacola resident, Marcus Bailey, said of the decision, “That flag has long stood for hate and oppression. The fact that any city is still flying it is disrespectful to its residents and breeds the kind of animosity that we have seen all over the news.”
Not everyone agrees with Bailey. Aubey Smith, Commander of the Pensacola Sons of Confederate Veterans, said “The flag is a part of our heritage. It’s our ancestry. The 600,000 men, women and children who died during that conflict, it’s not something that can be swept under the rug by not showing that flag.”
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Your Art Can Float Everyone’s Boat At the Wharf Boat & Yacht Show Poster Contest
By: Kelly Woodard

Are you a talented artist who loves boats? Then enter for your chance to win the 2015 Official Wharf Boat & Yacht Show Poster Contest. Artists are challenged to produce their own interpretation of what boating means here on the gulf coast with a creative concept that will serve as the official poster of the 2015 Boat & Yacht Show.
The winning artwork will be included in other promotional materials and advertisements for the show. Submissions should incorporate signature details such as show's name, year, and location and iconic elements such as powerboats, elements of The Wharf property including Marlin Circle, Ferris Wheel, The Marina, and so on.
The winner of the contest will receive a $500 one-time reward, a free display space at the 2015 Boat & Yacht Show and a pair of tickets to the Florida Georgia Line concert at The Amphitheater at The Wharf on March 21, 2015. During the 2015 Boat & Yacht Show, the winner must be available to sign posters and souvenirs for show attendees. Additionally the winner may have the opportunity to create additional small elements from their winning artwork to potentially be used for official Boat & Yacht Show merchandise.
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Don’t Let the Holiday Pounds Keep You Down, Just “Make It To The Line”
By: Kelly Woodard

Get a jump on melting off those holiday pounds at the "Make It To The Line" 4-Mile Run/Walk & 1-Mile Fun Run next Saturday, December 27
th beginning at 10 am at the world famous Flora Bama Lounge located at 17401 Perdido Key Dr.
The Flora-Bama Lounge is famous for many things including great drinks, good and flinging fish, but also for their incredible New Year’s weekend events. You’ll find a rockin’ party on the list of fun, as well as a cold swim and black-eyed peas, but the whole thing kicks off with a fun run down the shores of Perdido Key beach, many just moments from the snow white sand.
Individuals and families up to three members can compete. Participants will receive run packets that include t-shirts and other goodies. Trophies will be awarded three deep for all age groups in both the run and the walk. Special awards will be given for overall male, overall female, overall wheelchair, master male, master female, grand master male, grand master female, senior grand master male and senior grand master female runner and walkers.
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Valentino Files Ethics Claim Against Sheriff David Morgan
By: Kelly Woodard

Former County Commissioner Gene Valentino is claiming that Escambia County Sherriff David Morgan and Chief Deputy Eric Haines violated various codes of ethics in several instances in an official complaint.
In the complaint, originally filed on October 28
th, Valentino claimed that Sheriff Morgan was threatening and intimidating in a phone message left on Valentino’s county issued cell phone. Valentino claimed that the message bordered on “harassment” and left him “in fear for his life” after Morgan, who disapproved of a presentation backed by Valentino that was set to be presented to the commission, stated that if Valentino went forward with the presentation that there would be “fireworks and blood in the water”.
Valentino goes on to say that Sheriff Morgan used county funds to produce a campaign video for his opponent, Doug Underhill, who later went on to defeat Valentino for his seat on the county commission. He claimed that Morgan’s involvement in Underhill’s campaign was a direct result of strife in their personal relationship.
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