The Nation’s Pulse

The Nation's Pulse

Looking Back

By 7.8.15

After my 85th birthday last week, I looked back over my life and was surprised to discover in how many different ways I had been lucky, in addition to some other ways in which I was unlucky.

Among the things I did not know at the time was that I was adopted as an infant into a family with four adults, in which I was the only child.

All sorts of research since then has shown how the amount of attention and interactions with adults a child gets has a lot to do with the way the child develops. But of course I knew nothing about such things back then.

It was decades later, when I now had a son of my own, that I asked one of the surviving members of the family how old I was when I first started to walk. She said, “Oh, Tommy, nobody knows when you could walk. Somebody was always carrying you.”

Many times over the years, she liked to recall an incident when I was maybe three or four years old. She had taken me somewhere out of the neighborhood, maybe to a movie, and all was fine until we got back in sight of our home. That was when I picked up some rocks and started throwing them at her.

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America Was

By 7.3.15

“Where the sole employer is the state, opposition means death by slow starvation,” Leon Trotsky, whose death came slowly by way of a quick icepick, famously observed. Nonconformity appears as the capital offense when the market serves as the main employer.

If you’ve ever carried the Confederate flag at the local battle reenactment, vocalized doubts of whether those Spanish-speaking men milling outside the 7/Eleven represent the best Mexico offers, or, like a sucker, donated a small amount of money to a ballot affirmation of traditional marriage predictably destined for a squashing under the gavel of a man in a black dress, hide the evidence. If you’ve expressed a preference for Kim Kardashian over step-fathermother Caitlyn, even in your dreams, keep this bigoted prejudice in favor of ciswomen to yourself. If you’ve ever written for The American Spectator, delete it from your résumé.

Free speech increasingly comes at a price.

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Sugar and Salt Under Assault

By 6.29.15

In this spring’s series finale for the Emmy Award-winning cable drama on 1960s ad agency culture, Mad Men, creative executive Don Draper comes up with the concept for the “Real Thing” TV campaign for Coca-Cola after reluctantly spending some time with hippies at an ocean-side commune in California.

This scene evokes the actual spot from the tie-dye era in which hip young Americans and others, of all races, creeds, and colors, sing about the virtues of the soft drink from atop a mountain foothill. “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” the youngsters harmonize, in the famous footage, created by a real life adman at McCann-Erickson.

Flash forward to today’s California, circa summer of 2015. The one-time hippies — now graying city councilmen and women of San Francisco — are not so sweet on the sugary drink. In fact, they would like to teach the world a thing or two about regulation.

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The ‘Public Health’ Cabal’s War on E-Cigarettes

By 6.26.15

Ever since the abominable Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, giving oversight over tobacco to the FDA, was passed in 2009, I and many of my colleagues in public health have watched in disbelief and horror as the crusade against e-cigarettes swung into high gear. It seemed for a moment as though the Golden Age had come to pass regarding smoking: the twin goals of FDA regulation and a truly low-risk method of delivering nicotine to addicted smokers without the lethal tar was at hand, at last.

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Revolutions in Political Correctness: Ex Uno, Pluralis

By 6.25.15

There have been so many changes in what the Left deems politically correct, it’s difficult to keep up. So here are a couple that you need to know lest you betray your lack of coolness.

The University of California wants to ban the phrase “melting pot,” as in “America is a melting pot.” This is a huge turn-around. Until recently the Left has decried anything that smacked of racial or gender differentiation. It bristled at the notion that certain medical treatments might work differently on folks of different races, even to the point of objecting to a treatment (BiDil) that was shown to work particularly well on black men suffering from heart disease.

But that was then. Now we celebrate differences, not similarities. After all, how else can you have identity politics? And where would the Democrat party be without identity politics?

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Meet the New Boss

By 6.19.15

Twenty-five-year-old bosses are the next big thing. The next big, little thing, that is. From the digital pages of Forbes, who should know something about the matter, we hear that more and more old(er) workers are reporting to young(er) bosses. Grok this:

According to human resource and career consultants, older workers are reporting to younger bosses more and more these days. A 2014 survey by the jobs website CareerBuilder found that 38% of workers reported that they currently work for a younger boss.

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The Importance of Being Earnestly Native

By 6.15.15

How come natives never go native? Maybe they can’t. I’ll have to ferret out the logic on this one. Or maybe they’re too smart to do it. But there seems to be no shortage of gringos who wish to be something other than what they are.

Consider: Jeb Bush wants to be Hispanic, going so far as to identify himself as Hispanic on his Miami voter registration form. He later claimed this was just a mistake, changing the form and admitting that he is in fact the white-bread, privileged, preppy, gringo, silver-spoon-in-his-mouth, summers-in-Kennebunkport, just-a-splash-of-water-please, old-money WASP that he was born. (OK, not totally a WASP now. He converted to Catholicism in 1995. A recovering WASP?)

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Comedy-Club Commissars

By 6.12.15

I have seen the future—and it smirks.

Laughing or grinning? Not so much. Condescending, self-righteous, disapproving smirks are the best the frowny future offers in the smile department. 

Jerry Seinfeld lamented this “creepy PC thing” on Late Night with Seth Meyers this week. The remarks follow a few days after the comedian’s admission that he avoids campus performances because of the uptight reactions to jokes about race, gender, and other taboos.

Last year, Seinfeld scoffed at the idea of comedy quotas. 

“This has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America?” Seinfeld asked regarding the comedians appearing on his web series. “Who cares? Funny is the world that I live in. You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that.”

The response to Seinfeld’s outspokenness hasn’t been entirely supportive. Comedian Dean Obeidallah scolded Seinfeld at not to “blame college students for wanting comedy that fits their own sensibilities. Why should any audience have to change their comedy tastes to fit a comedian’s act?”

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Adulthood — Interrupted

By 6.4.15

In Progressive World, there are at least four stages of legally becoming an adult.

On Tuesday, the California Senate voted to raise the age when young people can buy cigarettes, from 18 to 21. The Hawaii Legislature has passed similar legislation. A companion California bill would mandate that e-cigarettes fall under the same restrictions as tobacco smokes.

If the bills become law, 18 will make a Californian old enough to vote, to enlist in the military, to sign a contract, to buy a gun, to get a tattoo and to get married — but not old enough to buy a cigarette. Not for three years.

It’s also not old enough to drink.

I am old enough to remember the mantra, “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote.” In 1971, responding to a system that allowed 18-year-olds to enlist in the military without letting them vote for who would run it, states ratified the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.

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Economists’ Advice to Grads: Don’t Even Think of Being a Cop or a Nurse

By 5.29.15

Gee, you’d never know that anything other than a trendy tech or think tank job were available to the youth of America when reading pieces like this one from Bloomberg: “Economists Offer These 10 Career Tips for Today’s Graduates.” Among such questionable advice as “go to graduate school” (expensive) and “pack up and move” (disruptive) you see the implicit message that only self-actualizing jobs are the ones worth having. And for a press supposedly hostile to capitalism — in line with the media’s generally lefty tenor — you’d never know that state jobs or highly regulated occupations, wherein workers are largely shielded from “independent contractor” status and automation, were even on offer in 2015.