ISIS is about to conquer Baghdad while the Kurds are begging for arms and American airpower to prevent the massacre of the people in Kobane. Joey Biden accidentally told the truth about Turkey’s placid approach to ISIS but apologized quickly. Ukraine has gone quiet for the moment but Kim Jong-un remains missing and — given his five weeks’ absence — intelligence analysts are trying to figure out if the North Koreans are about to go off the rails again. And TSA’s experts are screening passengers at some airports, including JFK, to ensure our borders remain open to anyone who will not die of Ebola before they go through customs inspection. The rest of the world is in about the same shape.
Friday the 13th comes on Monday this month, which will confuse a lot of people. But not as many as Joe Biden will likely confuse Monday in Broward County (Fort Lauderdale), Florida when he campaigns on behalf of Charlie Crist, a pretty confusing guy himself.
Biden, and the traveling retinue required to interpret what Joe just said at the podium and to send out initial apologies to the wounded, will croon in the name of Crist for governor in the Parkland home of a major Democratic Party fundraiser. Mirabile dictu, Biden fancies a run at the presidency in 2016 (he runs periodically, to no effect), and so will likely be tooting his own horn as much as Crist’s. Though it’s often hard to tell with Joe, who is a forensic unguided missile and a stranger to coherence.
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.
Are you fed up with your tax money being misspent while the government that collects them tramples on citizens’ rights? When the IRS scandal broke, one man decided enough was enough — and he hasn’t paid taxes since.
Daily Caller reporter Patrick Howley has refused to pay taxes since the public learned about the IRS targeting conservatives. On the 500th day after the news hit, he reviewed what we’ve learned about what happened in the IRS (precious little) and what has happened in our country in the meantime. Here’s just a sampling:
The government shut down because of Obamacare and Republicans got blamed.… ISIS beheaded three Western journalists.… Vladimir Putin seized Crimea. Guatemalan children poured across the border. John Kerry let Iran keep having nuclear power plants. War raged between Israel and Hamas. Armed federal agents stole a rancher’s cattle and then it was all okay because the rancher said something racist. Ebola broke out. A Malaysian plane got lost. Racial tensions spilled over in Ferguson.
I recently came across a photograph of myself, a good many years younger, sitting behind the wheel of a yellow postwar Austin convertible, the mudguard punctured with a line of bullet holes.
The car had been lent to me by Captain Harry Howden, former captain of HMAS Hobart, only survivor of Australia’s three modern cruisers in World War II.
Hobart had been the last ship out of Singapore as the Japanese stormed in. Howden, noticing the car abandoned on the docks, cocked a snoot at the enemy by stopping while it, and the British crest from over the dockyard gates, were hoisted onboard. Hobart’s quarter-deck 6-inch gun-turret cleared it with an inch to spare. Hobart and the Japanese infantry swarming in were dueling with machine-guns as the car was loaded and Hobart steamed out of the shattered harbor, ensigns flying.
Those who knew Harry Howden during his retirement might have been surprised to learn of this quietly spoken, self-effacing man’s heroic and romantic past.
On California’s northern coast are three counties that marijuana aficionados call the Emerald Triangle. In their view, the growers there have perfected a strain of cannabis that has high potency and consistently high quality. Result: There are many growers, most tending their crops in remote corners of these mountainous, heavily wooded counties.
This produces serious environmental damage. In Humboldt County where the largest amount of Emerald Triangle marijuana is grown, the sheriff’s office conducted an aerial survey and counted 4,000 visible outdoor grows, nearly all of them illegal. (California was the first of 22 states to permit medical use of marijuana, so some grows were established to serve users who have permit cards.)
When you pick up Jason Mattera’s eye-opening new book Crapitalism and Daniel Hannan’s masterful Inventing Freedom, you wouldn’t expect such different works to lead you to the same destination. But despite the former being about “Liberals who make millions swiping your tax dollars” and the latter being the story of “how the English-speaking peoples made the modern world,” each leaves the reader with a palpable combination of anger and inspiration at what the U.S. could be as compared to what it currently is.
Ben Affleck has a case — a bad case — of Islamophilia. By now the exchange on Bill Maher's show is everywhere, as well it should be. Maher and Sam Harris argued that much more than just a tiny fraction of the Muslim world holds extreme views, such as the death penalty for apostates. Affleck retorted that calling out Islamic radicalism in this way was “so gross" and "racist," like calling someone a “shifty Jew.” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof essentially agreed, saying that the position held by Maher and Harris “does have the tinge a little bit of the way white racists talk about African-Americans."
Four years ago, Sam Brownback was elected the governor of Kansas in a landslide. Within two years, he was able to elect a conservative majority in the state senate, a goal that had eluded GOP activists for decades. Then Brownback did what he said he would do — cut taxes, reformed education, and opposed Obamacare, earning the praise of many on the right, including Grover Norquist.
So why is Brownback, facing re-election, now fighting for his political life?
First, it has become a truism that when a Republican governor aggressively takes on the left, he or she will be viciously attacked. Brownback has succeeded in enacting a solid conservative agenda. He eliminated income taxes on small businesses, and reduced income taxes on everyone else. He fought to keep coal as part of electricity generation feedstock. He refused the money and mandates of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Combine Brownback’s bold reforms with his longtime reputation as a culture warrior, and you get a tantalizing target for the left.
We’re two years into a lame-duck presidency. How are we doing? How do you like it?
There is certainly a bad history of lame-duck presidents. Some call it a “Second Term Curse.” (For example, see Lawrence Summers’ op-ed in August.) In recent history, Nixon resigned, Reagan had Iran-Contra, Clinton was tried by the Senate, George W. Bush had Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 financial crisis, and Obama. Obama’s list just grows and grows.