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The Nation's Pulse

Get Big Government Out of High School Locker Rooms

By 11.9.15

This story starts with a transgender high school student who was born male but identifies as female. As a public high school student, she wants the school to recognize her as a girl, to call her by her new legal name, to allow her to use the girls’ bathroom and to accept her in girls’ athletic programs.

Her high school in Palatine, Illinois, has pretty much complied. Teachers call the girl by her female name. She uses the girls’ bathroom. She plays on a girls’ sports team. Except, she does hit one wall: The school doesn’t provide unfettered access to girls’ locker rooms where students shower or change clothes. Administrators have experimented with different arrangements — such as a separate room. The New York Times reported the district said it would allow Student A (her name in this legal case) to change in the girls’ locker room, “but only behind a curtain.” Student A, for her part, “said she would probably use that curtain to change. But she and the federal government have insisted that she be allowed to make that decision voluntarily, and not because of requirements by the district.”

Buy the Book

Three Cheers for the Surveyor

By 11.6.15

Very few books can be summarized as “social science by a prayerful engineer wearing a hauberk,” but John Gravino’s The Immoral Landscape (of the New Atheism) stands tall as a paperback fitting that description.

Gravino used the CreateSpace platform to publish a defense of “biblical moral psychology” aimed at professional atheists and the far larger crowd of people who listen to their arguments if only because scandals in the church seem to be caused in part by her encouragement of self-control.

The best-known atheists attack Christianity in a predictably Freudian way, starting with the big dog on the block: Sexual repression is part of the Catholic DNA, critics say, and despite the obvious ironies involved in claiming that striving for the good makes you bad, critics assert that unbending allegiance to virtues like celibacy for priests in the Roman rite and chastity for everybody fosters perversion and hypocrisy among the devoutly religious.

Car Guy

The C02 Trump Card

By 11.6.15

It had to happen — and now it has.

VW — and soon, everyone else, inevitably — is under the gun over “emissions” that aren’t even pollutants.

Carbon dioxide.

This inert gas (look it up if you missed it in high school chemistry) doesn’t contribute to smog, cause acid rain, deplete the the ozone layer, irritate the lungs, or harm babies. Plants breathe it and by breathing it, produce the oxygen we need to breathe. If C02 is a “pollutant” then according to the same logic, so is water vapor (oy, don’t give them ideas).

But carbon dioxide is a “greenhouse gas” that contributes to “climate change,” the new (and pope-approved!) catch-all phrase that encompasses warmer and colder weather, neatly pathologizing both of them.

Cows produce it; we produce it and cars produce it.

VW is in the crosshairs because of this.

The Nation's Pulse

None Dare Call Them Dudes

By 11.6.15

Like that creepy crossdresser seeking admission into your bathroom stall, no never means no for the Left.

Grounded denizens of Space City rejected the spaced-out Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) on Tuesday by a 61-39 percentage margin. Immediately talk commenced among the rule-or-ruin losers of stripping the Super Bowl from NRG Stadium and shopping for a judge to issue a better verdict than the one handed down by the voters.

The trouncing, sloganeering, and subsequent boycott proposals surrounding the “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” campaign recalls Anita Bryant’s 1977 “Save Our Children” triumph in Dade County and the ensuing treatment of Florida orange juice as Everglades swamp water. “Hitler danced a jig when his troops marched into Poland,” Harvey Milk claimed in pushing the OJ prohibition. “Bryant danced the same jig when she won.”

Special Report

Why Common Core Is Cracking Up

By 11.6.15

After a decade in the making, the Common Core State Standards are on track to replace uneven state standards in English, mathematics, and other basic academic subjects. But as a rising number of parents and elected officials question this emerging national catechism, the program is meeting new resistance.

First proposed by a coalition of governors and state school superintendents, Common Core codifies what elementary and high school students should study and know after completing each grade.

Strictly speaking, the standards are not a curriculum. Nominally, how subjects are taught and the materials used are decisions left to individual states and school districts. Supporters insist they will raise academic proficiency and ensure uniformly high standards across the nation.

Flashback — Terror in the Skies

The Ongoing Dissent Over TWA 800

By From the August 1999 issue

(This article ran in the August 1999 issue of The American Spectator.)

It was billed as an investigation of the investigators. On May 10, 1999, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) held a one-day hearing with witnesses offering damaging testimony about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's role in the TWA 800 probe. Grassley's opening remarks were particularly critical of former FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom for failing to uncover the cause of the explosion that killed the jumbo jet's 230 passengers and crew on July 17, 1996.

Grassley's hearing focused on two star witnesses. One was Andrew Vita, assistant director of field operations for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF). The second was William A. Tobin, former chief metallurgist for the FBI. Both supported Grassley's claim that Kallstrom needlessly prolonged the probe.

Letter From San Francisco

Election or a Round of Musical Chairs?

By 11.5.15

Outsiders like to think of San Francisco as a hotbed of contentious activism. Locals have tended to regard City Hall as the arena where Democrats and progressive Democrats mix it up. With Tuesday’s election, you can say goodbye to any notion of anarchy. All bow to the victorious political machine. City Hall is all-Democrat all the time — yet conservative in its own fashion: the status quo is king.

Hang on, esteemed reader, because City Hall relationships read like a soap opera digest.

Mayor Ed Lee, who was re-elected, was handpicked by his predecessor Gavin Newsom in 2011. Lee, then city administrator, had never run for office when Newsom asked him to serve as interim mayor. Lee first promised he would be a placeholder for the year that remained in Newsom’s second term, and then decided to run for the office. He won.

This year, Lee faced no serious opposition.

Main Street U.S.A.

‘Trumpmania’ Defeats Political Correctness

By 11.5.15

It was a flat-out defeat for political correctness. A triumph for conservatism. One more indication that the anti-political correctness tidal wave gains steam.

And — according to Democrats — in Kentucky this was a victory by proxy for Donald Trump.

For all those Establishment GOP types — not to mention the Establishment at large and their boosters in the media — the results of the Kentucky governor’s race, Virginia state senate races, the Houston “discrimination” ordinance — not to mention the defeat of San Francisco’s Sanctuary City sheriff — have come as a shock.

Left to their own devices, Americans in four different states have given a decided thumbs down to politically correct ideas that men using women’s bathroom was a “civil right,” that Tea Partier Matt Bevin’s unabashed Christianity, support for social issues, and opposition to Obamacare was a loser, that gun control in Virginia was a winner. And again, don’t forget the sheriff out there in San Francisco who was a defiant supporter of Sanctuary Cities — and is now the about-to-be ex-sheriff.

A Further Perspective

Gluttons for Punishment

By 11.5.15

Like a parrot in a pet store, the Bernie Sanders faithful have the same refrain for the suggestion that America can’t, or at least shouldn’t be, a socialist country. In many ways, they say, “it already is. Bok!”

While we are plenty removed from pure socialism (and pure capitalism for that matter), the statement isn’t altogether untrue. Like most complex political arguments there is a fair bit of semantics involved, but there is also little denying that some of America’s costliest programs are about as socialist in nature as America gets. 

It seems the debate regarding Mr. Sanders’ philosophy provides that rare case in which both sides are right: America is definitely somewhat socialist, and it definitely shouldn’t be.

Uncle Sam’s forays into leftist economic principles have generally been popular, precisely because they have become, to borrow Marx’s phrase, the opiate of the masses—habit forming, expensive measures more designed for short-term political highs than long-term solvency.

Another Perspective

Winning Over Women: The Path to the Oval

By 11.5.15

If conservatives can’t sell their agenda to voters in the upcoming presidential election, then the Left’s vision for our nation may be cemented for years to come. In order to win and put our nation on the right path, Republicans need to zero in on how conservative solutions revolving around greater choice and economic opportunity will help all Americans, especially women.

The truth is, Democrats and Republicans aren’t just two competing teams, one blue, and one red. Democratic and Republican candidates have different, often dueling visions for the future of America, whether it’s workplace regulations, healthcare, or energy. These issues have profound influence on our country and economy, as well as individuals’ economic well-being. This is why there should be less attention on the political theater, and more on the candidates’ plans and visions for America.