The Nation’s Pulse

The Nation's Pulse

An Afternoon With Carol Burnett

By 4.21.15

One of the most endearing qualities of Carol Burnett’s comedy is her willingness to answer questions from her audience. The spontaneous nature of these exchanges demonstrates her ability to work a room and shows Burnett at her funniest. Hillary Clinton could learn a thing or two from her.

Burnett, who will turn 82 next week, can still connect with an audience as she demonstrated this past Sunday afternoon at Boston’s Symphony Hall. Unfortunately, due to a cold she was unable to do her trademark Tarzan yell. She also needed to sit down midway through the show. But this did not diminish her spirit nor her wit, which remains razor sharp. When an audience member asked Burnett what drew her to comedy, she quipped, “My face.” This brought much laughter and there was a lot more from where that came.

The Nation's Pulse

Assisted Suicide — It’s Civil Rights for the Affluent

By 4.13.15

The assisted-suicide movement is the rare self-proclaimed civil rights movement that exists to cater to the wishes of affluent Americans. On Tuesday, the California Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on SB 128, a bill to legalize assisted suicide in the state. (Proponents don’t like the word suicide, so they call the measure the “End of Life Option Act.”) Supporters talk of their fear of medical personnel’s prolonging their lives, of pain and lack of autonomy; opponents fear that the bill’s passage would represent a callous act of cultural abandonment of the sick and disabled.

I don’t mean to suggest that life is easy for those who have a personal stake in the bill’s passage. Christina Symonds, 43, gave heart-rending testimony about her battle with ALS. Because she wants the ability to choose assisted suicide, her family moved to Oregon, which legalized assisted suicide 17 years ago. “I do not want to live my last days in a wheelchair, fully paralyzed, connected to a breathing machine,” she said. “To me, that is the picture of horror.” That is certainly not the end any young mother would choose.

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Intellectual Dishonesty Is Winning Every Time

By 4.6.15

I am depressed. Normally I’m a cheerful guy, but this week I’m depressed.

It isn’t because of any personal problems. Personally I’m doing okay. My health is good. I have money in the bank. My wife and kids and grandkids are fine. Even my cat is doing well. The only really negative thing in my personal life is that, being an old man, I’ll probably not live long enough to read all my books.

The cause of my depression is that my normal anxiety about the future of American society spiked to unprecedented levels during this past week or two. This had to do with the state of Indiana and its Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). It isn’t simply that my side (the morally conservative side) suffered a great defeat at the hands of a tremendously powerful and effective gay-liberal propaganda machine — a machine made up, not just of the Democratic Party and the mainstream media and Hollywood, but of a big section of American big business.

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Can’t I Support Gays and Religious Freedom?

By 3.31.15

I’m a not particularly religious Jewish libertarian, which means — if you wouldn’t have guessed — that I don’t have a moral objection to, nor a public policy framework for, homosexuality.

But the reaction by many others who aren’t social issues conservatives to Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act — modeled on a federal law sponsored by liberal Democrat Chuck Schumer (NY), passed 97-3 in the Senate in 1993, and then signed by President Bill Clinton (while Democrats still had majorities in both houses of Congress) — borders on the insane.

The NCAA wondered how the new law would negatively impact the upcoming Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis. The obvious answer: it won’t.

Openly gay actor George Takei (of Lieutenant Sulu fame from the original Star Trek series) is “demanding that socially responsible companies withdraw their business, conferences and support” from Indiana.

Liberal bloggers, in a typical mindless reaction, are calling for boycotts of products made in Indiana.

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Liberation Theology Denounces Netanyahu’s Reelection

By 3.27.15

The reelection of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will certainly inflame the small but outspoken segment of American Protestantism that is anti-Israel. Mainline Protestant elites, undeterred by their empty pews, have been ideologically hostile to Israel for decades. More politically significant is the growing segment of Evangelical elites, many of them shifting left on a wide range of issues, who have become more critical of Israel than is common among mainstream Evangelicals.

One recent example straddles both religious worlds. Miguel De La Torre is a Cuban-American theologian, formerly conservative, who was ordained Southern Baptist and previously taught at largely Evangelical Hope College in Michigan until his controversial left-leaning polemics evidently lead to his departure for the firmly liberal Iliff School of Theology in Denver, a United Methodist seminary.

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Who’s the Racist?

By 3.25.15

White liberals sincerely judge themselves to be morally superior to conservatives, and they base this judgment on what they consider to be an undeniable fact, namely, that they themselves are free of anti-black racism while conservatives are drenched in racist feelings.

Anti-black racism, liberals hold, is the greatest of all American sins. It is America’s Original Sin. It is a greater national sin than drunkenness or thievery or adultery or political corruption or anything else you can name. Racism, more than anything, has kept the United States from being the ideal society that conservatives stupidly imagine it to be. Why do conservatives imagine this? Because, being chronic racists, they avert their eyes from the ugly truth of American social and historical reality. Since white liberals are racism-free, it follows that they are morally superior to conservatives.

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Racism and Lies in Ferguson

By 3.19.15

When I was involved in the original and only true civil rights movement a lifetime ago, I never dreamed that black and white liberal leaders would still be playing the race card today, half a century later. Call me a naïve idealist but I actually believed that by now racism would be buried in America along with bell-bottom trousers and high-button shoes. 

I voted for presidential candidate Barack Obama (once) mainly because I believed that he would be the force that would push the country into that post-racial happy era, when we would all be living calmly together like good brothers and sisters totally ignoring skin color — and considering only the character of our multicolored neighbors.

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The Spectre of Prommunism

By 3.13.15

A spectre is haunting New Mexico—the spectre of Prommunism.

Like “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” a dance party relying on the killing of 100 million people as a theme works better in theory than in practice. Okay. So, maybe it didn’t sound so good in theory, either.

More than a quarter century after the collapse of Communism in Europe, Prommunism fell this week in Albuquerque.

“The reactions we got were certainly not those that we had considered,” Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School senior Jody Baylet told KRQE TV. “For example, we did get a lot of violent speech.”

So did Prommunism’s forebears: “Better dead than red,” “The only good Communist is a dead Communist,” “We begin bombing in five minutes,” etc.

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Shooting an Elephant or Two — or Forty-Three

By 3.6.15

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus this week announced plans to phase out elephants due to the complaints of animal-rights activists regarding the well-being of the beasts. Acrobats flipping thirty feet above the hard ground sans net and lion tamers kissing the king of the jungle on the lips don’t similarly move the activists into action.

Who will rescue us from the humans who rescue the elephants from the humans?

We lose a lot when we allow the world savers to pursue their ambitions unimpeded. They never achieve what their messiah complexes set them toward. Worse still, they often leave the planet they promised to rescue in need of rescue.

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Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene

By 3.4.15

When President Obama keeps talking about “violent extremists” in the abstract, you might wonder whether Presbyterians are running amok.

The mainstream media seem desperate to try to find something to undermine Republican governor Scott Walker’s rise in the polls. The worst they have come up with is that he didn’t finish college. Neither did Bill Gates or Michael Dell. The Wright brothers didn’t finish high school. Neither did Abraham Lincoln or George Washington.

Have you noticed that there seem to be an ever growing number of things that we are not supposed to say in public?

Given the Obama administration’s repeatedly failed policies in the Middle East and the lost credibility of the president’s glib pronouncements, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress may be many Americans’ first chance to get a realistic assessment of the Middle East situation and its potential for international catastrophe.

Attempts to bring order out of the chaos in the paper jungle of my office usually get nowhere until I finally break everything down into just two categories: (1) urgently needed and (2) trash to be thrown out.