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Dropping in on the Veteran Down the Street

By 11.11.14

A few weeks ago, I dropped in on a fellow named Russ Post, an 89-year-old veteran of World War II and Korea, who just happens to live on my street. Another guy on our street, Deven, closer to my age, had been suggested I meet with Russ. We finally did. What followed was one of the more interesting and entertaining Saturday afternoons I’ve experienced in quite a while.

Russ took my teenage son and me on a roller-coaster ride from his youth in Western Pennsylvania to the Pacific theater to the Korea War, and rarely in a perfectly straight line. His vivid diversionary descriptions of some of his, shall we say, extra-curricular activities in the military and throughout his upbringing were rather raw, particularly his candidly expressed encounters with the opposite sex. That wasn’t what my son (who blushed) and I had come to hear, but it certainly made for a spirited conversation that easily kept our attention for two-plus hours. Not all the reminiscences seemed relevant or appropriate, but, hey, anyone who got shot up like Russ has earned the right to speak (and boast) as he pleases. It was his house and his life.

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Political Hay

Regulating Campaign Spending: The Democratic Drumbeat Continues

By 11.10.14

We ought to be debating the fact that corporations are now controlling not only the Republican Party, but the government of the United States.”
Howard (“Screamin’”) Dean, November 9, Meet the Press

“Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.”
Hillary (“What Difference Does It Make”) Clinton, October 24, Boston

54-42, Senate Democrats vote in favor of S.J. Resolution 19, to gut the First Amendment, September 11
reported by Mark Pfiefle on this page

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At Large

Nothing Macho, Please

By 11.10.14

Some very odd, things are going on in the upper echelons of the Australian Army.

A much-decorated Australian soldier, Major Bernard Gaynor, is fighting, largely alone, a battle against homosexual servicemen marching in uniform in “Gay Pride” parades that also mock and insult Christianity and with obscene displays before audiences that include children.

Gaynor served three tours of duty in Iraq while serving in Army intelligence. He has several awards recognizing outstanding conduct and was awarded the United States Meritorious Service Medal for operational performance in Iraq in 2008-09.

I have written elsewhere of Royal Australian Air Force Squadron-Leader Vince Chong receiving a gold commemoration from the vice-chief of the Australian Defense Force for his efforts as chairman of the Australian Defense Gay and Lesbian Information Service.

The activities of this body include having servicemen and women of all ranks marching in uniform in the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

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A Further Perspective

Our Military Is the Most Important Organization on Earth

By 11.10.14

Following the Democrats’ debacle in last week’s midterm elections, President Obama was his usual self at a press conference refusing to accept any responsibility for this electoral disaster despite having said his policies were on the ballot much less give any indication he intends to redeem his conduct in his last two years in office.

Perhaps Obama’s most telling statement was when, in response to a question from CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, he recalled pep talks he gave to White House staff before and after the midterms:

I told them this last week, and I told them that this morning. We have this incredible privilege of being in charge of the most important organization on earth--the U.S. government, and our military, and everything that we do for good around the world.

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Loose Canons

Happy Birthday, Teufel Hunden

By 11.10.14

Two hundred and thirty-nine years ago today, they were born at the Tun Tavern in Philadelphia. The news of their birth traveled far more slowly than they did. A short time later, according to their lore, their first man reported for duty aboard a US Navy ship. The officer of the deck barked, “What the hell are you?” and said, “You go aft and sit down ’till I find out.” The Tripolitan pirates didn’t know who they were when a handful marched across five hundred miles of Libyan desert in 1805. Led by a fiddle-playing Irish-American lieutenant named Presley Neville O’Bannon, they attacked Derna under a fierce barrage from three U.S. Navy ships, overcame odds of more than ten-to-one. and seized Derna in less than three hours.

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Buy the Book

A Lady With the Spark of Wit

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

The Informed Air: Essays
By Muriel Spark
(New Directions, 352 pages, $24.95)

How do you do it?” asked Evelyn Waugh in a letter to Muriel Spark. He had just finished reading The Bachelors, her fifth novel, and was “dazzled” by it. “Most novelists find there is one kind of book they can write (particularly humorous novelists) and go on doing it with variations until death. You seem to have an inexhaustible source.”

How did Spark do it? Twenty-two novels and not a dud in the bunch. And then there are the critical biographies, plays for stage and radio, a children’s book, a volume of memoir, and collections of short stories and poetry. Spark, known for her wit, dark humor, and versatility, was the queen bee of the postmodernists, and arguably one of the most innovative British novelists writing in the second half of the twentieth century. 

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The Right Prescription

If Words Mean Anything, Obamacare Is in Real Trouble

By 11.8.14

The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will hear a lawsuit challenging an arbitrary IRS decision to issue tax credits and penalties through federally created Obamacare exchanges. Two federal courts have already declared the regulation unconstitutional, but a third court ruled that the IRS has acted within its authority. It was this ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that prompted the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell to file an appeal with the high court. If the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration in this case, it could well be the undoing of the much-reviled health care law.

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Politics

Think Twice About Illinois’s Crony Republican Governor-Elect

By 11.7.14

With Bruce Rauner’s election in Illinois, the Republican Governor’s Association has checked this bluer-than-blue state off its Democrat tick list. It must feel good—but I’m less than sanguine. 

For the better part of a year, powerful Chicago Democrats have been whispering in my ear, extolling Rauner’s virtues. I heard similar insider political “chatter” about Barack Obama from these same Democrats long before he ran for U.S. Senate. Even the left-leaning Chicago Sun-Times suddenly changed its no-endorsement policy to back Rauner — and only Rauner — without even the basic formality of a candidate questionnaire or interview.

You see, for decades, Rauner, a wealthy venture capitalist and former chairman of private equity firm GTCR, donated millions to the Democratic Party to help defeat Republican candidates. That “investment” has paid dividends.

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The Nation's Pulse

The Few, The Loud, The Marines

By 11.7.14

The colonists who founded the United States Marine Corps in Tun Tavern 239 years ago Monday certainly understood their demographic. The launch of the USMC in a Philadelphia bar makes sense in a way that the founding of NAMBLA in an old church does not.

Uncommon valor is indeed a common virtue in taprooms, particularly in those moments before last call. Captain Samuel Nicholas didn’t possess a computer algorithm of the like Amazon employs to tell customers who bought The Audacity of Hope that they might also enjoy Mein Kampf. But he intuitively grasped that people who liked fighting also liked drinking.

Appropriately, Marines gather around the world in barrooms, or at least banquet halls with bars in them, to celebrate owing their existence, like so many of us do, to a meeting in a barroom. I have the good fortune to attend one such event this weekend.

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The Charlie Watch

Democrats Don’t Show in Florida

By 11.7.14

The Florida governor’s race was supposed to be about turnout. It was. And Republicans turned out just enough to give incumbent Rick Scott another four years in the governor’s mansion by 1.2 percent. Scott beat Democrat Charlie Crist by 67,000 out of 5.9 million votes cast. A marginal improvement over his 61,000 vote victory in 2010.

Floridians who’ve been out of the state for more than a couple of years might be surprised to learn Crist is now a Democrat. When they left, Crist was passing himself off as a Reagan Republican. And now, after a short spell as an independent, Crist describes himself as an Obama Democrat. Tuesday completed the political trifecta for him. Crist has now lost statewide elections as a Republican (U.S. Senate,1998), as an independent (U.S. Senate, 2010), and as a Democrat (governor, 2014). My sources tell me the Greens aren’t interested in him, and the Libertarians won’t return his phone calls.

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