Special Report

Special Report

A Brave People Withstanding SARS and Killer Bees Can Survive Ebola

By 10.10.14

Ebola, a disease especially contagious in its spread of panic, affects an overwhelming number of television journalists. Not since the associates of the Good Witch Glinda and Hermione Granger descended upon Salem has a scourge incited such mass hysterics. Cable news does now for Ebola what Cotton Mather’s Memorable Providence, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions did then for the vexing yet similarly elusive sorcerer problem.

A Dallas Morning News photographer recently captured the image of a man wearing a surgical mask crossing the street. Perhaps because of such vigilance just five cases of the disease exist among the 316 million people residing in the United States. A recent visitor to our country passed away on Wednesday from Ebola, the first recorded death from the disease on American soil. Cars kill about 4,400 pedestrians every year in the U.S. Just something for the masked man photographed outside of the crosswalk to think about.  

Special Report

With Friends Like Us

By 10.3.14

On Wednesday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Obama to discuss, according to the White House schedule, “the situation in Gaza; developments related to Iran; and the international effort to combat ISIL.” The schedule effusively claimed that “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, and our close consultations on a range of regional issues.”

We’ll never know the tenor of the private meetings between these men who have a famously prickly relationship. But if by the end of the day Bibi wasn’t saying (or at least thinking) that the Obama administration should shut the #&%@ up or perhaps perform some unnatural physical acts on themselves, he certainly should have been.

Special Report

Something Is Rotten in the State of Europe

By 10.2.14

William Shakespeare knew a thing or two about human psychology. But he also understood a great deal about the body-politic and how small signs can be indicative of deeper traumas. So when Marcellus tells Horatio at the beginning of Hamlet that you can almost smell the weakness permeating Denmark, it’s Shakespeare’s way of telling us to pay attention to what sticks out as abnormal and to ask what else it may portend.

It was difficult not to be reminded of this advice when reading that a majority of Germany’s Ethics Council recently called for the abolition of legal constraints upon incest. Referring to a case in which a man had entered into a relationship with his biological sister, the Council declared: “The fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination has more weight in such cases than the abstract protection of the family.”

Special Report

Defeating ISIS the World War One Way

By 9.26.14

Many people, even alleged conservatives, blame the West when it comes to explaining Islamic terrorism. If it wasn’t the crusades, it was the end of World War One, when Winston Churchill and T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia), among others, carved up the map of the modern Middle East.

But if the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of modern Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine (eventually Israel) were a cause of movements like ISIS, why was the region relatively quiescent after the First World War? Indeed, Lawrence, in 1922, predicted that even among the ever restless Arabs, there would “be no more serious trouble for at least seven years,” which, in those territories for which Britain was responsible, proved broadly true. In 1935, he wrote to Robert Graves, “How well the Middle East has done: it, more than any other part of the world, has gained from the war.”

Special Report

Anti-Semitism, Death, and the Left

By 9.25.14

Erev Rosh Hashanah. First day Tishrei (first month of the Jewish year), maybe it is a coincidence. The paper of record happens to carry a lot of Jewish-related news, none of it cheerful. Israeli army officials reported the IDF located the murderers of three teenagers – the crime that started the chain of events leading to last summer’s Gaza war – and killed them in a brief gun battle. Not the sort of thing you want to cheer on Erev Rosh Hashanah, a day that among other thing celebrates the beginning of God’s plan.

Are Jews the witnesses of this plan, the guinea pigs? Maybe both. You have to wonder. It is okay to wonder. Job did. He refused to complain, but he wondered, or how would we have his story? What are humans for? To obey the law and walk a righteous path through life? Or to murder one another?

Special Report

Ross Relations After Ferguson

By 9.24.14

I have to say it was an email I never expected — from a producer for PBS television asking me if I’d like to participate in a televised town hall-style special in St. Louis, Missouri, hosted by Gwen Ifill, on the subject of race relations in “America after Ferguson.” (The show will air this Friday night at 8 PM EDT on PBS stations across the country. Record it and watch!) Apparently, the producer had read my American Spectator article, “Ferguson on Fire” and thought that I’d be a good representative of a “conservative” viewpoint without being a “bomb thrower” and without coming across as racist.

I agreed, of course.

It turned out that I was the only invited panelist (out of ten) who was overtly not a liberal, participating in front of a room full of several hundred people (almost all PBS-watching liberals) at the Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri—St. Louis.

Special Report

Gridiron or Street, Our Gladiators Are Under Siege

By 9.22.14

Besides a selfish sense of schadenfreude, what do we gain when our gladiators lose?

This is a question I’ve asked myself these past few weeks. Another question might be more appropriate, however. Where, as Americans, did we develop this demanding, and sometimes suspiciously manufactured “outrage” that requires culpability of third parties for what inherently is complicated human behavior?

Make no mistake about it, I’m not defending the actions of a few wayward athletes who got caught doing some things that most likely far more of us do in private. Were it not for the advent of ubiquitous cameras and Americans’ new and confusing penchant for texting every thought they have into the unsecure “cloud,” we’d probably never know of these few, and Mr. Goodell could run his organization on that fine line that teeters between gladiator and barbarian without public interference.

Special Report

News of the Future — Moderate Syrian Rebel Edition

By 9.18.14

Mosul, Iraq, October 8, 2014 — Multiple sources have confirmed that Free Syrian Army (“FSA”) forces, part of the “moderate” rebel groups recently trained and armed by the Obama administration, have defeated three small groups of ISIS fighters — with perhaps 25 to 40 members of the terrorist organization killed in each battle — on the outskirts of Raqqa, the Syrian city thought to be home to ISIS leadership. In his daily briefing, a smirking White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “Today’s victories conclusively prove that the president’s critics were operating from ignorance and partisanship, and not in the best interests of the United States and the region.” President Obama is scheduled to appear on NBC’s Meet the Press this Sunday to discuss this rare Middle East success for his administration.

Special Report

Joan Rivers, Outpatient Surgical Centers, and Admitting Privileges

By 9.15.14

The comedian Joan Rivers died on September 4. She had undergone a “routine procedure,” an endoscopy, for an examination of her vocal chords, on August 28 at what is termed “an ambulatory surgical center” for outpatient surgery. She experienced cardiac arrest, was taken by ambulance to a hospital, put into a medically-induced coma, and then on life support. Her death has prompted public discussion of ambulatory surgical centers. For example, PBS’ NewsHour broadcast such a story on September 12.

Special Report

Mideast Christians, Israel, and Why Ted Cruz Got Booed

By 9.12.14

Senator Ted Cruz’s vigorous affirmation of Israel, which provoked boos from a conference for persecuted Mideast Christians on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., has created a growing controversy. Unfortunately, the strife is unlikely to help either Israel or besieged Christians threatened by ISIS, among other dark forces.

The controversy flows partly from the very different historical journeys of American Christians and Mideast Christians. As the conference keynoter, Cruz was barely a few minutes into his remarks before telling the packed hotel ballroom that Israel was a friend to Christians, prompting a growing chorus of jeers. “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you,” he declared before hastily quitting the podium, startling much of the audience. A cleric restored calm by leading the crowd in the Lord’s Prayer.