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Laura Nyro: A Tale of Two Tributes

By 1.25.16

Many performers from the 1960s and 1970s have inspired tributes in the form of cover bands, the recording of new interpretations of their material and even Broadway shows. Of course, there are hundreds, probably thousands of tributes to the Beatles. But it is certainly not limited to the Fab Four. Led Zeppelin, Carole King, the late David Bowie and the Eagles (featuring the also recently departed Glenn Frey) immediately come to mind.

Then there’s the case of Laura Nyro. Unlike the other acts mentioned, Laura Nyro is not a household name. I suspect that many music fans who were around during the ’60s and ’70s probably never even heard of her. But those who come to know Nyro’s music are a devoted lot who remain fans for life.

Another Perspective

‘Fantastic’ Democrats Hold Last-Minute Town Hall Tonight

By 1.25.16

Des Moines Register, January 25

Tonight in Des Moines, one week before the Iowa Caucuses, the Iowa Democratic Party and Drake University will co-host a CNN Town Hall. The three participants are perennial presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, straight man Martin O’Malley, and life-long Marxist Bernie Sanders.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Andy McGuire said Democrats are honored to showcase “our fantastic candidates.” McGuire sharply rebuked Ted Cruz for being a Republican and praised “New York values.” McGuire also noted that Iowa Democrats, according to this newspaper’s poll, feel the number one issue in the state is the lack of diversity in the Academy Awards. McGuire expressed hope that CNN panelists tonight would not be diverted toward “phony issues” like the slow economic recovery over the last seven years or the resurgence of Iran amidst the meltdown in the Middle East.

Politics and History

Do Emotions Trump Facts? Part II

By 1.25.16

Former governor Sarah Palin is an intelligent person, contrary to how liberals have tried to portray her. So it seemed to me that, if anybody could explain why they were promoting the candidacy of Donald Trump, it would be Governor Palin.

But I listened in vain for any evidence or logic that would provide a reason to vote for Donald Trump for the office of President of the United States. There were lots of ringing assertions, just as in Trump’s own speeches, but no convincing facts or demonstrable reasons.

After all these months, no coherent plans have emerged from the rhetoric of “The Donald”— just sweeping boasts about all the things he says he will achieve. But boasts about the unknown future are hardly reassuring.

However puzzling the fervent support for Donald Trump may be today, given how little basis there is for it, such blind faith is not unique in history. Other dire or desperate times have produced other charismatic leaders to whom desperate people have turned, with hopes of deliverance.

Trump is certainly different from establishment Republicans, but is that enough?

A Further Perspective

Little Sisters Take a Stand for Freedom

By 1.25.16

Sharp-eyed viewers might have noticed a couple of nuns sitting in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s guest box at President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union. They represented the Little Sisters of the Poor who have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to relieve them of a federal health care requirement that they facilitate contraceptive coverage for women. This is more than just a case about the Affordable Care Act. Justices will decide if freedom of religion will survive in an increasingly secular nation.

The Little Sisters of the Poor are a Roman Catholic congregation that cares for the elderly and poor in 31 countries. Their mission includes operating 30 nursing homes in the United States. Little Sisters keep a constant vigil with the dying, striving to assure that no one dies alone. A Little Sister is often the last person an elderly resident sees before death.

Loose Canons

Hillary’s Last Hurrah

By 1.25.16

At sixty-eight years old, Hillary Clinton is very old and very tired. This week, she’s slogging along the campaign road, her media minions in tow, trying to convince the gullible among Iowa’s likely caucus-goers that she’s not part of the Democratic establishment.

Everyone knows, especially Clinton, that this is her last shot at the presidency. The greatest obstacle to her nomination is not Bernie Sanders. It’s the FBI’s long-term investigation of her conduct as secretary of state.

The FBI is investigating two aspects of Clinton’s conduct while she was secretary of state: first, the handling of classified information — up to and including top secret/special access program information — on her private email system; second, the possibility that Clinton, as secretary of state, sold American foreign policy to the highest bidder who wanted to contribute to the Clinton Family Foundation or pay Bill another $500,000 for a twenty-minute speech.

The Right Prescription

Thelma and Louise Endorse Trump

By 1.25.16

Four years ago, I called the GOP “The Thelma and Louise Party” because its primary voters were determined to nominate a presidential candidate who couldn’t possibly win the general election. The weirdest thing about Romney’s doomed candidacy was the support he received from people like Ann Coulter, who had spent years vehemently denouncing such transparent RINOs. This year, Coulter supports another RINO who can’t win — Donald Trump. Now, Sarah Palin has endorsed this sure loser. Coulter and Palin have thus become the Thelma and Louise of the Republican Party. Will GOP voters let them drive their party off the cliff?

Free Market Accountability Project

Patent Trolls Laughed All the Way to the Bank Last Year

By 1.25.16

Lost in the haze of New Year’s Resolutions and wall-to-wall election coverage, a very disturbing fact for America’s inventors emerged early this month: The number of lawsuits filed by non-practicing entities (NPEs), more properly known as “patent trolls,” increased by 25 percent in 2015. As a quick reminder for those who might not have followed the issue yet, patent trolls are companies that exist solely to extort money for (often comically vague and totally unused) patents, at the expense of actual inventors and small businesses.

Indeed, patent abuse in general had a pretty strong year in 2015, with its poster boy probably being Martin Shkreli, the infamously extortionate hedge fund manager who jacked up the price of the drug Daraprim by over 5000 percent simply because he owned the (expired) patent for it. Shkreli, fortunately, was quickly outcompeted by generic drug manufacturers, who took advantage of the patent’s expiration, but not everyone was so easily saved from patent profiteers.

Political Hay

Can Kibitzers Stop Trump?

By 1.22.16

National Review editor Rich Lowry is now leading an effort urging conservatives to speak out against Donald Trump and oppose his candidacy. The “Against Trump” issue of National Review concludes: “Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP.”

That statement may be true, but for many conservative voters it may be unintelligible, if not irrelevant. For them, Trump could still be the party nominee, and he might even be elected president. Fox News, Talk Radio, and the panoply of self-promoting conservative websites are not bastions of deep thought, and they have profoundly more impact than, say, National Review. Let me be bold. If NR editor Bill Buckley, more into ideas, and NR publisher Bill Rusher, more into power, were alive today, and I knew both men, WFB Jr. would argue against Trump and maybe tilt Rubio as acceptable and plausible, and Rusher would argue for Trump and maybe tilt Cruz as the preeminent conservative. Who knows what the magazine cover would look like?

Conservative Tastes

Trump-Cruz 2016

By 1.22.16

It’s time to unite.

Trump-Cruz in 2016.

Yet here is the headline from the New York Times.

Donald Trump or Ted Cruz? Republicans Argue Over Who Is Greater Threat

The story reads in part:

WASHINGTON — With Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz battling for the Republican nomination, two powerful factions of their party are now clashing over the question: Which man is more dangerous?

Conservative intellectuals have become convinced that Mr. Trump, with his message of nationalist-infused populism, poses a dire threat to conservatism, and plan to issue a manifesto on Friday to try to stop him.

Politics

Whither Conservatism in the Age of the Donald?

By 1.22.16

Conservatives wonder how “liberal,” a word synonymous with freedom, morphed into a euphemism for soft statism. Puzzlement may soon hit regarding what their own label shares in common with William F. Buckley, Ronald Reagan, and Barry Goldwater.

We live in a post-conservative age. Donald Trump’s popularity among people who call themselves conservative indicates this. Not knowing what they stand for anymore, conservatives flock to whoever most boldly insults liberals or becomes Satan to the Fourth Estate. The fault isn’t in the reality-TV star but in ourselves.

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