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Prepare for Scott Walker 2016

By 10.27.14

With a little more than a week remaining before the mid-term elections, most conservatives are focusing upon a dozen Senate races, as Republicans are expected to gain control of the upper chamber.

But the contest that piques my interest the most is the gubernatorial race in Wisconsin, where Republican Governor Scott Walker is locked in a dogfight with Democratic challenger Mary Burke. Walker’s re-election is very much in doubt, despite the accomplishments of his first term: putting Wisconsin’s fiscal house back in order, reforming the state’s collective bargaining process, and giving local communities greater control over their affairs.

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The Nation's Pulse

Religious Sanctimony in Ferguson

By 10.24.14

Testimony emerging from the grand jury investigating the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri seems to confirm the police officer’s claims of self-defense. The official coroner’s report reputedly points to a struggle over the police officer’s gun. But more facts need to be known over the controversial encounter that inflamed protests in the majority black town against the majority white police force.

Lack of hard facts did not deter Religious Left activists Jim Wallis and Cornel West from demonstrating and seeking their own arrests in Ferguson last week as part of a “weekend of resistance” ending with a carefully choreographed “Moral Monday” protest. They even confronted police officers to demand their “repentance” for Brown’s “murder” while kindly offering to take their confessions.

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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. 

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The Charlie Watch

Rudy Throws a Fastball Near Charlie’s Chin

By 10.24.14

“I’ve never met a person in politics I disrespect more than Charlie Crist,” former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said while campaigning for incumbent Republican governor Rick Scott in South Florida Wednesday. Strong stuff, even from Da Mare, who has never been a non-directive counselor, and is not the first person one associates with the word reticence.

Giuliani’s beef with Crist may be at least as much personal as political. Giuliani has grumped over the years that in 2008, when Giuliani was seeking the Republican nomination for president, Crist told him three times that he would endorse him. This was a big deal then, because at the time Crist was the Republican governor of Florida with high polls numbers, and the Florida primary was coming up, a primary very important to Giuliani’s election strategy.

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Live From New York

Terrorism as Art?

By 10.24.14

With exquisitely bad timing, and amid furious protests, this week the Metropolitan Opera premiered a new version of John Adams’ controversial opera, The Death of Klinghoffer. The opera focuses on the 1985 murder of a disabled American tourist, Leon Klinghoffer, by Palestinian terrorists during the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship. Klinghoffer was shot because he was Jewish; his killers forced the crew to throw his body and wheelchair overboard.

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A Further Perspective

Who Am I to Judge?

By 10.24.14

The logic of Pope Francis’s claim that “God is not afraid of new things” calls for some comment, and the crossing of several pons asinori.

First, if you are a Christian, it is a statement of the obvious: God, as God, is not afraid of anything. (Christ, as a man, was apparently afraid of crucifixion — His sacrifice would have had no meaning if it had not included fear — but that is a different matter.)

While God is not afraid of new things, there are many instances in which Man should be afraid of new things, from bio-engineering to nuclear weapons. Both Nazism and Communism had claims to be new things, new orders sweeping away old dead orders.

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At Large

Terror on the Hills

By 10.24.14

Terror struck in two disparate venues Wednesday, places — in the Talmudic phrase — “as far apart as east from west.” Indeed Jerusalem, Israel, is the hub of the Middle East and no place is as bleached in its Western-ness as Ottawa, Canada. Yet the hills of each played grim host to the murderous scourge of our time, the “Black Death” of Islamic terror. Each terrorist succeeded in bartering his pathetic existence for one innocent life. The world is better off without the two miscreants but sadly impoverished by losing two pure souls.

In Jerusalem, the usual crowd had been crammed together at Ammunition Hill, a terminus for the light rail system and a link to several bus lines. The hillock takes its name from its history as a key storage area for British ordnance prior to 1948. It became a pivot in the ground war between newly declared Israel and neighboring Jordan in 1948, winding up in Jordanian hands.

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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.

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Political Hay

And There They Go Again — Liberals Play the Race Card

By 10.23.14

There they go again indeed, right on schedule. From MSNBC to the Georgia Senate election to a memo from an ex-Obama pollster, the age-old race card has reared its ugly head again.

The difference this time? An increasing number of Americans, some of them prominent, are calling out the perpetrators.

Let’s start with MSNBC. Take a look at this from Bill O’Reilly who opened his Fox show the other night with a clip from — where else? — Chris Matthews’s Hardball. As Matthews sits on-camera quietly sipping something from a cup during a discussion on Ebola and ISIS, MSNBC regular Howard Fineman, once upon a time of the late Newsweek and now of the Huffington Post, calmly plays the race card. “Can I mention race here?” Fineman asks Matthews, who of course answers in the affirmative: “You may.” And off they go:

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Campus Scenes

How the Supreme Court Created the Student Loan Bubble

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

Business reporters and talking heads are tripping over themselves to predict the next bubble. It’s the least they can do after so many of them fueled the dot-com and real-estate booms and busts that tanked the economy and robbed millions of Americans of their hard-earned (or at least borrowed) money. Many have identified higher education as the next Big One. College spending has all the makings of an economic bubble: supply that exceeds demand; a market wildly inflated by government intervention; a return on investment on par with a Tulsa, Oklahoma timeshare; art history. 

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