Special Report

Special Report

X-box in the Library, e-Sports in the Arena, Dorks Everywhere

By 10.24.14

If you aspire to unnaturally prolong virginity, develop Napoleon Dynamite’s social skills, and project a pasty, amoeba-like appearance to the world, video games remain a great way to achieve your goals.

Last week, 40,000 Koreans packed into the same stadium that hosted the World Cup twelve years ago to cheer on the League of Legends World Championship, a video game tournament to determine the best team of gamers on the planet. Like winning an ugly contest, victory in a competition of losers strikes as the opposite of capturing a World Cup. The cheering throngs, certainly more pathetic than the cheered, loudly disagreed.  

Korea’s Samsung Galaxy White won the competition in front of the home audience. The fifth-place Americans remain far behind the Koreans and Chinese at prolonging adolescence in their moms’ basements. Fear not, thousands of unemployed American twentysomethings do their best to wrong this right. 

Special Report

The Gift Shop of the Dead

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

For the past twelve years I’ve volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center serving mainly low-income women in the District of Columbia, and I’ve noticed something about how our clients talk: Nobody ever says “prison.” Boyfriends, husbands, fathers, sons were never “locked up,” “in jail,” or “serving time”; they were always “incarcerated.”

There is an unexpected poignancy to the bureaucratic term—a lacy Latinate word suffused with so much pain, as if standardization and abstraction could dissolve shame. Hesitation first, and then that careful, strictly-speaking “incarcerated,” like the set phrases we use in the confessional.

Nothing could be further from these women’s delicacy than the National Museum of Crime and Punishment, a giant KFC bucket of suffering. I spent about four hours in this glitzy memorial-without-memory, accompanied by at least two school field trips. Admission is $23.21 and, you know, your self-respect.

Special Report

Sermonizing Pols

By 10.22.14

In a time of triumphant secularism, politicians treat the religious with increasing contempt. It was only a matter of time before headlines about government demanding the sermons of pastors appeared in the United States. Seeing themselves as superior to the religious, secularists feel entitled to bully pastors who impede their political plans.

Secularists have grown far more dogmatic than many of the religious. They are the ones who now hold the view that “error has no rights,” while circles within the Catholic Church now see “positive aspects” in error.

Special Report

Big Sister in the Workplace

By 10.21.14

Aeschylus wrote “In war, truth is the first casualty.” The 2,500 years following that observation demonstrates that we can also say that truth is the first casualty in politics. So it should come as no surprise that the Democratic Party’s attempt to portray a Republican “war on women” is fraught with disinformation.

I live in a swing congressional district—California’s 52nd. The incumbent Democrat, Scott Peters, in a particularly nasty battle, is narrowly trailing his Republican challenger, Carl DeMaio. The Peters forces are pulling out the battle-tested “war on women” card, accusing DeMaio of being “against equal pay” by not supporting a moribund Democrat-sponsored piece of legislation known as the “Paycheck Fairness Act.”

Special Report

The New York Times Rediscovers Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq

By 10.17.14

What a difference a decade makes! When it was first reported in May 2004 that Saddam-era chemical weapons shells had injured U.S. troops, the editors of the New York Times dismissed that, “Finding some residual weapons that had escaped a large-scale destruction program would be no great surprise and if the chemicals had degraded, no major threat.” Now, a major New York Times report on the issue has been followed by an editorial warning of “A Deadly Legacy in Iraq”: some 5,000 chemical shells have been discovered over the years in Iraq by U.S. or U.S.-trained Iraqi forces. Many more such munitions litter the wreckage of an old Iraqi weapons facility northwest of Baghdad, which the Islamic State captured in June.

Special Report

Thou Shalt Not Kill: When the Communists Murdered a Priest

By 10.17.14

It was October 19, 1984—30 years ago this week. A gentle, courageous, and genuinely holy priest, Jerzy Popieluszko, age 37, found himself in a ghastly spot that, though it must have horrified him, surely did not surprise him. An unholy trinity of thugs from communist Poland’s secret police had seized and pummeled him. He was bound and gagged and stuffed into the trunk of their cream-colored Fiat 125 automobile as they roamed the countryside trying to decide where to dispatch him. This kindly priest was no less than the chaplain to the Solidarity movement, the freedom fighters who would ultimately prove fatal to Soviet communism—and not without Popieluszko’s stoic inspiration.

The ringleader this October day was Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski, an agent of Poland’s SB. Unlike Jerzy, who grew up devoutly religious, Piotrowski was raised in an atheist household, which, like the communist despots who governed Poland, was an aberration in this pious Roman Catholic country. The disregard for God and morality made Piotrowski an ideal man for the grisly task ahead, which he assumed with a special, channeled viciousness.

Special Report

The Synod of Confusion

By 10.15.14

The Catholic Church’s Synod on the Family was ostensibly called to address the crisis within the family. But many of the statements coming out of it can only have the effect of deepening the crisis. The Vatican has issued a draft document summarizing the Synod which contains a host of dubious ideas that appear to reaffirm the causes of the family’s collapse. It is almost as if the most influential Synod participants want to redefine the crisis as a state of health.

The document is full of “respect” for deviations from Church teaching that safeguard the family. Many of the passages read like quasi-endorsements of sin. Relationships that the Church has always regarded as affronts to God are treated as steps on the path toward holiness:

Special Report

Wendy Davis: Way Over the Line

By 10.14.14

My opponent wishes to rape women, but he cannot, because he is crippled. That’s the gist of Wendy Davis’s argument for why she should be elected governor of Texas over her Republican opponent, Greg Abbott. Needless to say, the people of Texas have not been too receptive. It’s hard to imagine what sort of audience she thought she was addressing — a Viking clan choosing a leader for its next raiding party?

The already infamous wheelchair ad Davis launched Friday was swiftly and widely denounced, from Mother Jones to MSNBC to the Washington Post, but I’d like to applaud Davis, and encourage her to keep going. She might not be the worst major political candidate of all time just yet, but she still has almost a month to go. Maybe her next ad should suggest Abbott uses baby pandas for target practice, or that he was once kicked out of a Juggalo gathering for indecency. At the least, maybe Donald Glover will work her into his bit about insults involving wheelchairs.

Special Report

A Conflation of Viruses

By 10.13.14

Is anyone surprised that after Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan succumbed as the first victim of the Ebola virus to die on American soil his demise would become a cause célèbre for the race-hustling Left?

Of course not. The only surprise was that it was Jesse Jackson, whose exploits in racial demagoguery have of late been plagued by a relative lugubriousness in comparison to more ebullient contenders like Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan, who commandeered the train by insinuating himself among Duncan’s family members to accuse Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of bigotry for the sin of not saving its most high-profile patient.

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.