Special Report

Special Report

Total Politics World

By 4.29.16

Will Ferrell mines laughs out of Alzheimer’s in a forthcoming film about Ronald Reagan.

The Telegraph describes the project as “a new comedy about Reagan’s second term in office – a period during which the head of state suffered from Alzheimer's.” But Reagan did not suffer from Alzheimer’s during his presidency. His diagnosis came more than five years after he left office, and the numerous doctors tending to him in the White House uniformly reported their patient did not exhibit symptoms as president. The film, which seeks laughs as a secondary purpose, has already achieved its primary purpose — to create an impression that dementia ruled the man who ruled in the free world — before even reaching the silver screen.

Politics blinds Ferrell into mistaking bad taste for a good laugh. It also deludes him into equating the laughter generated from ideological solidarity with that generated from genuine humor.

Will Ferrell is funny. This isn’t.

Ideology is a lot like any number of deadly diseases. Once it takes over, it kills it unless aggressively treated.

Special Report

The Other Diversity: A Liberal Frets Over Too Many Liberals in Academia

By 4.27.16

“It’s a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”
— Albert Einstein

Back in the late Sixties, as a student at Brandeis University, I remember a talk by Abbie Hoffman, the radical founder of the Yippie movement and one of the “Chicago Seven” who disrupted the Democratic Convention of 1968. He strode about the stage of Spingold Theater, cracking a bull whip and calling for revolution. That same year, William F. Buckley Jr., the acid-tongued conservative and founder of National Review, spoke at our Ford Auditorium. He wore a dark suit and tie, stood behind a lectern, and unapologetically challenged a room full of lefties to look beyond their slogans and protest buttons.

Special Report

The Most Important Interview of the Political Year

By 4.26.16

When ABC News’ Jonathan Karl sat down with the 80-year-old billionaire Charles Koch, the elder half of the hated-by-the-left Koch brothers, he probably didn’t expect to generate the most important political interview of this campaign season. Indeed, he probably doesn’t even know that he did.

The “mainstream media” was immediately all atwitter, intentionally misconstruing the Karl-Koch back-and-forth about Hillary Clinton after Koch said that, at least in terms of growth of spending and regulation, Bill Clinton was a better president than George W. Bush:

Karl: So is it possible another Clinton could be better than another Republican?
Koch: It’s possible. It’s possible.
Karl: You couldn’t see yourself supporting Hillary Clinton, could you?
Koch: Well, we would have to believe her actions would be quite different from her rhetoric. Let me put it that way.

Special Report

William Shakespeare Forever

By 4.25.16

We’ve just emerged from what could reasonably be called the winter of our discontent — Islamo-terrorists taking casualties against token resistance, entitled barbarians on campus indulging in snits and tantrums (this is just the faculty — the students are worse), a nasty-beyond-imagining presidential campaign — and there seems to be no one around capable of making glorious summer of 2016.

So perhaps this would be a good time take a moment to recognize and honor the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare (Saturday the 23rd), the man who probably understood our nature better than anyone ever has, and who reveals us to ourselves in insightful and entertaining ways that still connect with us centuries later.

Special Report

My Hunt for Bernie’s Grandfather

By 4.22.16

When Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debated in Brooklyn last week, they did so not far from Bernie’s childhood home and from some disturbing socialist-communist trails. Exploring those paths led me on a chase toward a character named Benjamin Glassberg — more than one Benjamin Glassberg, it turned out. Benjamin Glassberg of Brooklyn was the name of Bernie’s grandfather and also of a serious socialist-communist agitator. It became my task to ascertain if the two Benjamin Glassbergs were one and the same. The hunt absorbed far too much of my time. Do I not have other things to do? Yes, but the subject nonetheless remains of relevance to America’s apparent new favorite socialist.

Special Report

‘No Trump’ Bid, Democrat Grand Slam

By 4.21.16

Five years ago I published “Donald Trump’s Miracle Presidential Win” in TAS, presenting it as a long-shot scenario, rather than prediction. It included these paragraphs:

Pundits chuckled when Donald Trump claimed presidential ambitions, calling him unserious. But events in 2011 dramatically reframed the picture, vaulting Trump from unlikely nominee to contender. If a dour Ross Perot won 19 percent in 1992, the supremely self-assured Trump might double it in far worse times.…

In running as an Independent, Trump jettisoned much of the baggage he accumulated in having publicly switched positions on major issues several times. He ran as a pragmatist who, unencumbered by ideology of any stripe, could manage the government, bring true fiscal discipline and regain respect abroad.

Special Report

Populist Wasteland

By 4.20.16

I have to admit that I like Jerry Brown. No, I don’t like the California governor’s destructive liberal policies. What I like is his honesty. Recently, Governor Brown signed a ridiculous bill that will raise California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour (that’s $30,000 a year for a full-time worker). But unlike President Obama and other Democrat politicians, he did not try to justify this legislation with twisted Keynesian arguments that this would somehow be good for the economy. Brown signed the bill admitting, “Economically, minimum wages may not make sense.” Rather, he insisted that they make sense “morally and socially and politically.”

Special Report

All Politics Is Loco

By 4.15.16

Strange civil-rights struggles to vote without proof of identity and use a public bathroom based on gender identity animate today’s Democratic Party voters as they alienate yesterday’s.

Bernie Sanders spoke at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network event on Thursday, maintaining that Republican governors seek to “bring us back to Jim Crow days” by requiring identification at the polls (presumably for the same reason those Bull Connors who sell beer, give out library cards, and allow you to board an airplane do). This follows his condemnation in late March of a North Carolina law that redundantly instructs males to use the men’s room and females to use the ladies’ room, a universally embraced custom that did not require force of law until very recently. “It's time to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Sanders tweeted. “This law has no place in America.”

All politics is loco.

Special Report

The Church of Carl Rogers

By 4.13.16

In the 1960s, the psychotherapist Carl Rogers popularized “encounter groups” and “client-centered therapy” and wrote influential essays on becoming the “self which one truly is.” He peddled this relativistic mumbo jumbo to Catholic religious orders, among other groups.

Many years back I interviewed William Coulson, a protégé of Rogers who accompanied him on his trips to nunneries and seminaries, where Rogers encouraged the religious to find their “real selves.” Many of them later did, often in the company of post-pubescent youth.

“[Our] theories made priests and nuns feel good about being bad,” Coulson said. He recalled the “sensitivity training” and “self-esteem” workshops that Rogers held for the Jesuits and Franciscans, both orders eager to embrace the self-indulgence of the 1960s.

“Once we began to peel the onion at these workshops, there was no end to the shocking things people would say,” he said. “They became persuaded of this subjective theory of morality which says that the highest morality is the one you locate within you. And after a while these religious forgot about the teachings of the Church.”

Special Report

Iain Matthews: Still Playing After All These Years

By 4.11.16

To give you an idea of how close I was sitting to Iain Matthews during his concert last week at Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts, every time I said, “Yeah!” after he introduced a song he would smile and respond, “Yeah!” 

This was not like seeing Paul McCartney at Fenway Park. As great as that experience was, it did not have the intimacy of this performance. It was as if Iain Matthews was performing in my living room.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen Matthews perform live. Those familiar with this space might recall the tribute I attended in Brooklyn back in January 2014 for late Byrd Gene Clark’s 1974 solo masterpiece No Other. Matthews sang lead on “Silver Raven” and “The True One.” As much as I enjoyed that evening, I have long pined for an opportunity to see and hear a whole evening of Matthews’ music and was delighted this opportunity had come my way.