Special Report

Special Report

The Ousting of Tony Abbott: Australia’s Success Story in Crisis

By 9.15.15

When visiting my native Australia in late-July this year, I was invited to attend a book-launch at the New South Wales state parliament in Sydney. The main speaker was the now ex-Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

It breaks no confidence to say that most people at the small gathering represented a Who’s Who of the Australian right. As is Abbott’s wont, he appeared very self-confident, and entertained the mixed crowd of politicians, journalists, academics, social conservatives, committed free-marketers, and largely Catholic clergy with his usual combination of political-historical observations and self-deprecatory humor. At one point, Abbott even remarked that he might well find himself back working as a journalist sometime in the future.

In retrospect, that particular comment was revealing inasmuch as it seemed to indicate Abbott’s awareness that his political fortunes could be about to change very quickly. Indeed, even among this group of friends and fellow travelers, there was considerable uncertainty as to whether Abbott would be leading the government into the next election, due by January 2017.

Special Report

Race and Margaret Sanger

By 9.14.15

Anytime I write about Margaret Sanger’s May 1926 speech to the women’s chapter of the KKK in Silverlake, New Jersey—as I did again recently—liberals get very upset. They accuse me of distortion, disinformation, dishonesty. Really, my crime is raising the subject at all. Many liberals cannot—they cannot—find it within themselves to condemn this sordid moment. One writer in the Huffington Post, who was highly unimpressed with me (hey, it’s not the first time), went so far as to assert that the KKK “was almost a mainstream group then, if still clandestine.”

Special Report

Those Yellow-Stain Blues

By 9.10.15

It’s a lucky thing the driver wasn’t crushed when a three-story-tall lamp post fell on top of a car stopped on the corner of Pine and Taylor Streets in San Francisco on a Monday evening last month.

The base of the lamp post had been corroded after countless soakings with urine from San Francisco’s ubiquitous homeless, prompting a spokesman for the city’s Public Utilities Commission to encourage people and dogs alike to water fire hydrants rather than light poles because the fire hydrants are made of stronger cast iron.

That collapsing lamp post is a perfect metaphor for urban Democrat governance. If you want to know what inevitably results from allowing the Far Left to run cities cleared of middle-class voters over decades, picture vast armies of homeless bums gleefully micturating on public infrastructure, while public officials merely beg for more clichéd choices amid terror of alienating a prominent, if noisome and not quite sane, constituency, until that piddle-drenched infrastructure inevitably topples.

Special Report

The Migrant Conquest of Europe

By 9.8.15

We are watching astonishing events unfold in Europe day by day.

A sober New York Times front-page headline reads “Migrant Chaos Mounts While Divided Europe Stumbles for Response.” Television news — less demure and more sensational — treats what’s going on like a sports match, doing nothing to hide which side it is rooting for. The weary asylum seekers are jubilant victors and heroes. Their defiant triumph over heartless Hungarian and Austrian authorities deserves our admiration and applause.

Hundred of thousands of migrants are pouring into Europe this summer. Millions of West Africans and Middle Easterners are eager to join them, and there is no sign the flow will subside. Turkey harbors an estimated 1.8 million displaced people.

Meanwhile, wrenching photographs surface of a drowned 3-year-old Syrian boy, breaking hearts and intensifying public demands for unlimited humanitarian aid. News cameras focus on the sad-eyed women and children, looking for all the world like Madonnas clutching Baby Jesuses, and this is not accidental in the battle for hearts and minds.

Special Report

Justice, Not Social Justice

By 9.4.15

Tom Brady’s a winner. You can glean that from that last-minute look on the face of cornerback Richard Sherman or by reading the scorching rebuke of the NFL by Judge Richard Berman.

But you mainly understand this merely by watching—and not necessarily on fall Sundays—Tom Brady. But the jaundiced perspective of 2015 America senses that people marry supermodel brides, live in mansions, and bedizen their fingers with Super Bowl rings by cheating. When “congratulations” yields to “no fair” one begins to understand just how much losing is winning. 

Tom Brady, as he did on the field in his four Super Bowl victories, won fair and square in federal court on Thursday when Judge Richard Berman vacated the four-game suspension meted out by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell judged fair and square on appeal.

Special Report

From Barbary to the Gulf: Corsairs Then and Now

By 9.3.15

In 2007, two years before he became Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren penned a magisterial history of America’s long involvement in the Middle East, which goes back to within a decade of America’s founding. In Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present, Oren shows that not only was America involved in what then was called the Orient; he shows the extent of entanglement, and consequent great influence exerted by, America’s long tribulations with the Barbary pirates. The tale he so deftly spins holds lessons for America today—lessons sadly ignored by the current administration.

Special Report

Pope Francis and ‘Justicespeak’

By 9.2.15

Of all the watchwords in today’s political discourse, “justice” is perhaps the most popular. We hear it in arguments favoring a “just wage” and in such expressions as “social justice,” “climate justice,” and “economic justice.” “Justicespeak” drives debates, channeling conversations and ensuring that those who wield the word have an automatic advantage against their political opponents. 

After all, anyone who frames an argument in terms of justice has gone on the offensive, positioning any opponent as a defender of “injustice.” This may be a clever move, but it is unconvincing as an argumentative tool. And it is silly. 

Does any reasonable person really support injustice? The proof would seem to be in the pudding. It is in the recognition that one’s justice claims are partial and contested that constructive policy can be crafted, among equals who debate based upon substance rather than through superficialities and insulting barbs. 

Indeed, one of the fallacies of justicespeak is that it so often masks the real tradeoffs that have to be made in public policy decision-making.

Special Report

Cartoonish Colleges

By 9.2.15

As political correctness swept through universities, professors and administrators encouraged students to take offense at the “classics.” Students who refused to read the works of “dead white males” like Shakespeare were applauded. But now that political correctness defines the curriculum at most major American schools, students are expected to be a little more docile. They aren’t to challenge the received wisdom but to be “challenged” by it.

A few incoming freshmen at Duke University recently learned this lesson after complaining about a lesbian graphic novel that appeared on their summer reading list. They found the school’s choice of the cartoon book, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, perplexing on both moral and academic grounds. One student, referring to its visual depictions of lesbian sexuality, was quoted as saying: “I am a Christian, and the nature of Fun Home means that content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic nature.”

Special Report

Welcome to the United States of Alice

By 9.1.15

At a restaurant in Manhattan some years ago, I asked the waitress, apparently on her first lunch shift in that profession, about the soupe du jour. She went to ask the chef and three minutes later returned to say, “The soupe du jour is soup of the day.” Her answer wasn’t helpful but not deliberately inaccurate as what’s on many of today’s mainstream cultural, intellectual, and political menus.

America is sliding down the rabbit hole and stepping through the mirror. In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There, Alice meets Humpty Dumpty who declares, “When I use a word…it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

Whether or not one supports the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is anything but “affordable.” Most premiums are increasing steeply, government subsidies are growing, and the number of health providers is shrinking. This has to produce less health care as health coverage increases.

Special Report

Scurrying Rabbi(t)s

By 8.28.15

Three hundred and forty — count ’em — Reform and Conservative rabbis have signed an open letter to the United States Congress, asking the members to vote to confirm the deal negotiated between John Kerry and the government of Iran. They are taking whatever moral, ethical, spiritual, and religious chips they have and trying to cash them in for political capital.

Interestingly, the number of three hundred and forty, when converted into Hebrew letters (the sh sound has a value of three hundred and the m sound equals forty) can spell either ‘sham’ or ‘shame.’ Both of these fit nicely here, as we have sham rabbis whose behavior brings shame upon them and upon the religion they presume to espouse.

Although this is terribly disappointing, it is hardly surprising. These so-called clerics have long since abandoned any moral link to Judaism as a guide to proper behavior and character.