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Main Street U.S.A.

What? We Don’t Expect to Win?!

By 9.16.14

According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, just 28 percent of Americans are “confident” that the president’s plan to destroy the Islamic State will succeed. Sixty-eight percent say they aren’t confident at all.

We are talking here, my friends, about Americans. What must be the reaction in the Islamic State? “I tell you, Mustafa, the Yankees will never finish this game. They will swat and swat; they will grow tired; they will withdraw while pretending not to withdraw.” Would the Islamic State reaction be something like that?

Countries are like ball clubs or rock groups. They develop reputations: in the case of countries, a reputation for firmness in the face of challenge, or a reputation for climbing out of windows, ahead of the cops, to avoid unpleasantness; a reputation for promise-keeping, a reputation for reducing the firmest pledges to mere theories. Guess which reputation Americans see as operative presently in White House affairs.

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‘The Cosmopolitans’: Worth Watching Even If There’s Only One Episode

By 9.16.14

The Cosmopolitans, Whit Stillman’s new project about American expats in Paris, is several different kinds of experiment: It’s Stillman's first foray into television. It’s a return to the slightly more naturalistic style of earlier movies like Metropolitan, rather than the more stylized approach of 2011’s wise and winsome Damsels in Distress. And it's a commercial experiment, since Amazon is offering the pilot for free; the pilot’s ratings will decide whether Amazon picks up the whole series as part of its Prime content.  

That experiment deserves to succeed. Judging by the pilot, The Cosmopolitans will please fans of Stillman’s movies. There’s culture-clash comedy of manners, amiable and opinionated youth, and some very fun dialogue. (“This is my friend Hal. He’s lonely and craves the company of maternal women.”)

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A Further Perspective

Ted Cruz’s Squandered Opportunity

By 9.16.14

When Senator Ted Cruz delivered the keynote address at last Wednesday’s inaugural In Defense of Christians Summit in Washington, D.C., he was expected to place a much-needed spotlight on the plight of the ancient and persecuted Christian communities of the Middle East.

Instead, under the guise of supporting Israel, Cruz placed the spotlight squarely on himself, and by so doing inflicted untold damage to the cause of Christianity’s survival in the Middle East.

There’s been some misinformation about exactly what Cruz said to the crowd and how it was received. (You can see for yourself here.)

First Cruz offered a few strong remarks about Middle Eastern Christians and the need for solidarity with Jews (all of which were unanimously applauded). Then he began making increasingly provocative statements about Jews and Israel, seemingly gauging the audience’s reaction with each remark. He said:

Christians have no greater ally than the Jewish state.

Let me say this: Those who hate Israel hate America. And those who hate Jews hate Christians.

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Scandalabra

The Scandals Are Catching Up With Mary Landrieu

By 9.16.14

Over the weekend the latest in the rolling scandal surrounding Mary Landrieu’s practice of charging taxpayers for her campaign travel throughout Louisiana made its way into a sluggish and indifferent local media.

You would think the news that since 2000 Landrieu had spent some $34,000 on forty-three separate incidents of chartered travel to fundraisers and other campaign events, the result of an audit by the law firm of Perkins Coie into her Senate office books, would have exploded into Louisiana’s media. But Landrieu’s embarrassing and troubling disclosure was released—naturally!—on Friday afternoon. And by Sunday, no mention of the news had made the front pages of the newspapers in New Orleans, Shreveport, Lafayette or Lake Charles. So far it’s a blip on the state media’s radar, the fodder for Republican rhetorical attacks against Landrieu and not much more.

That may be the attitude of most of Louisiana’s media. It is not the thinking of the state’s voters.

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The Book on Late-Talking Children

By 9.16.14

Anyone who knows what anxiety, and sometimes anguish, parents go through when they have a child who is still not talking at age two, three, or even four, can appreciate what a blessing it can be to have someone who can tell them what to do — and what not to do.

That someone is Professor Stephen Camarata of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, whose recently published book, Late-Talking Children, gives parents information and advice that they are not likely to find anywhere else. And it does so in plain English.

Professor Camarata has been researching, diagnosing, and treating children with speech problems for decades. Moreover, he knows from personal experience what it is like to be a parent of a late-talking child, and he himself was three and a half years old before he began to speak. So he has seen this problem from many angles.

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Campus Scenes

We Invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Yale—And Outrage Ensued

By 9.16.14

Just under three weeks ago, Yale President Peter Salovey delivered his freshman address on free expression. He quoted extensively from the Woodward Report, a document whose language he called “clear and unambiguous” in its defense of free speech, and he made the case for why “unfettered expression is so essential on a university campus.”

Our community now faces an opportunity to put these ideals into practice. The Buckley Program, an undergraduate group on campus, recently invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali to give a lecture this week. An accomplished and courageous woman, Hirsi Ali has an amazing story. She suffered genital mutilation as a child and later fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage. These are beyond mere “unfortunate circumstances,” as some organizations have called it. Once in the Netherlands, she worked at a refugee center, became a politician, fought for human dignity and women’s rights and ultimately abandoned her Muslim faith. In her works since then, she has voiced strong opinions against Islam, opinions which have provoked constant threats on her life ever since.

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Enemy of the Week

Another Uninterrupted Stretch of Blowhards

By 9.15.14

“We’ve always said, all options except for boots,” a State Department spokeswoman said last month. “That is still the case.” The catchphrase has become “no boots on the ground.” Nancy Sinatra used hers for walking. But what about our men and women in uniform and under the command of our president? Can they use theirs for golf? Marching on parade? Hiking in the Rockies? Or to think of it another way, what about sneakers or high heels? Can they be worn on the ground?

We were hoping the president’s major address last week would clarify matters. Instead, the only thing that really moved us was his fulsomeness about the country he has found out he really and truly loves. Some would say he was being Reaganesque.

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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.

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Another Perspective

Ben Carson for Vice President!

By 9.15.14

It may be thought that as an Australian I have no right to publish an opinion on American politics, but the whole world has an interest in who leads America. Your hopes and fears are ours. So, as one who has watched Obama’s policies of defeatism, retreat, and serial blundering with dismay, here goes.

Dr. Ben Carson has many qualities that make him superbly suitable for high office: he has, pre-eminently, brains and force of character. No one can read his biography and fail to be impressed by his achievements and credentials.

He is a fine speaker, and his background is, unlike Obama’s, an open book. He even (an unfortunately relevant consideration in the modern age) looks presidential.

On every comparison with Obama of fitness for the office, Carson aces him: a brilliant neurosurgeon who rose to the top of his profession, contrasted with a “community organizer” and lawyer who as far as I know never conducted a trial in his life. Unlike Obama’s Nobel Prize, Carson’s awards have been earned.

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A Further Perspective

We Need the CIA ‘On That Wall’ More Than Ever

By 9.15.14

The violent ambitions of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been condemned across the world: in Europe and the Middle East, by Sunni nations and Shiite ones, and by sworn enemies like Israel and Iran. Now, even Pope Francis has joined the call for ISIS to be stopped.

The recent military successes of ISIS, and the barbarous slaughter of women and children and the beheading of two American journalists sent a new round of national security chills throughout the country. These grisly events were stark reminders of the resourcefulness and dogged determination of terrorists hell-bent on inflicting grievous harm to Americans.

President Obama has vowed “to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.” This vital campaign will require maximum efforts by the CIA and special forces to achieve enhanced intelligence and to execute effective covert operations.

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