The Fuehrer supposedly took the sterilization debate with him to the grave. A Massachusetts judge, who earlier this month ordered that a bipolar and schizophrenic woman be "coaxed, bribed, or even enticed...by ruse" to abort her pregnancy and undergo sterilization, proves this isn't so. Though citizens of Massachusetts never approved of state sterilization, its elites served as the most fervent evangelists for eugenics--particularly for the "feeble minded." Read my article @ the American Spectator that wonders if "our bodies, our choice" still applies when we are not in our right minds?
What comes up must come down. The Newt Gingrich who emerged triumphant in South Carolina will likely depart Florida a loser tomorrow. Gingrich enthusiast Sarah Palin blames his decline on the "politics of personal destruction." If this is so, it is fitting. A politician who made his career attempting to collect the scalps of the likes of Gerry Studds and Jim Wright now is the victim of the "politics by other means" that he so masterfully practiced. Read my column @ Human Events on how Gingrich supporters have confused their candidate's penchant for attacking scandal-embroiled Democrats for conservatism.
President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address that he wants an America where everyone gets "a fair shot" and "everyone does their fair share." We all agree that fair is, well, fair. We all disagree on what's fair. But the president imagines himself as the detached arbiter of economic justice. His fair is fairer than fair. Read my piece @ FrontPageMag on how "fairness" is one of those words that tells us more about the speaker than about what is spoken.
In keeping with my iPod v. the album theme, I have been making a conscious effort to listen to at least one album every day on my new silvery gizmo. Since 300 or so albums made the transition from physical CD to electronic binary-code microbes (I made this last part up--I have no idea what they have become), I have a lot to choose from. On Monday I listened to "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath." There's a lot more variety--keyboards, slow songs, an instrumental, soft acoustic guitars--than one expects from a heavy-metal outfit. Yesterday I listened to "Bon Iver," which opens with the magnificent "Perth," accurately described by the band's frontman as a "Civil War-sounding heavy metal song." Today I am going for Dinosaur Jr.'s "Where You Been," one of my favorite offerings from one of my favorite musical periods (early 1990s). A Dinosaur Jr. live performance resulted in hearing damage several years back. My hope is that the iPod is more sensitive to my eardrums than J. Mascis. What albums are you listening to? What albums should I be listening to?
Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas skipped the White House event honoring the Stanley Cup champions yesterday. "I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People," the playoffs MVP explained. "This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government. Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country." My initial reaction was, Tim, take one for the team and show up. One needn't politicize innocuous events. Having slept on it, I think I have a better appreciation for the goalie's stance. Politicians are political. Everything they do involves political calculation. The motivation behind the tradition of inviting athletic champions to the White House is for the president to get favorable publicity. The players, be they Cardinals, Packers, Mavericks, or Bruins, are there as props. Ron Paul understands this phenomenon of politicians whoring off celebrities. His famous "no" vote for a tax-funded award for Mother Theresa pretty much exposed the stunt as a way of politicians to honor themselves rather than to honor a saintly woman. "My advice to him is to stick to hockey," Phil Johnston, who has served as chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, told the Boston Herald. "I think Bruins players are taken seriously for their hockey, not for their politics." What would his advice be to Massachusetts senior senator John Kerry, who showed up at the White House event with two black eyes supposedly from a hockey game?
Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina presidential primary. So did Mark Sanford, John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, and any other disgraced pol jonesing for a comeback. Who says cheaters never win? A vote for the former House Speaker is a vote for "defining deviancy down," shifting the parameters of acceptable behavior. Ditching one wife after a cancer diagnosis, and another one suffering from multiple sclerosis, Newt isn't your garden-variety family values candidate. Read my column @ Human Events on how giving Newt forgiveness shouldn't require giving him votes.
Senator Scott Brown officially kicked off his campaign for reelection last night. Despite the senator from Massachusetts' iconic pick-up truck and barn coat, Brown is not the one running as a populist in this race. Elizabeth Warren, salt of the earth of Harvard Yard, has cast herself as a woman of the people. But as I write @ FrontPageMag, a millionaire Ivy League law professor fresh from the DC bureaucracy claiming the mantle of "populism" is a tough one to carry off.
I just got a note from Michael Krull, Newt Gingrich's campaign coordinator. It reads, "We've got about 48 hours left here in South Carolina and I'm slammed, so I have to keep this short. Bunch of new polls out today. Rasmussen had us within 3 yesterday. Insider Advantage actually had us UP three on Mitt Romney. PPP has us tied in their first night of polling. And Rick Perry just dropped out of the race and endorsed Newt! Things are crazy right now, but couldn't be going better." Couldn't be going better, huh? Someone should tell Mr. Krull to see Animal House. He was in it. "Remain calm. All is well." The media isn't giving Gingrich the John Edwards treatment. Gingrich is a Republican, after all. Brian Ross's interview with Gingrich Wife #2 on the eve of South Carolina's primary may be the most devastating hit of the entire campaign. How will Christian conservatives react to their favored candidate's ex-wife contending that her former husband sought an "open marriage"? How's that selling in Spartanburg? My sense is that the religious right gravitates to the guy with seven kids rather than the one with three wives. Perhaps worse still for Gingrich is his former wife's televised testimony that her husband left her for his mistress in the wake of her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis. File that one under "You were forewarned." Gingrich divorced his first wife after she came down with the cancer. America is a great country for three reasons. Anybody can marry three women. Anybody can become president. Nobody can do both.
The debate about debates is over. Debates won. Rick Perry ended his campaign for the presidency today. His campaign for the presidency really ended when he stepped behind the podium in any of a number of debates. He was like a deer in the headlights. His inability to name the three departments he would eliminate--"Ooops"--will go down as one of the most cringe-inducing moments in presidential debate history. Newt Gingrich, a candidate with less money and lower poll numbers, has pushed his way to the front of the Republican pack with his debate performances. He may not have a way with women. But he's pretty good at verbal sparring. Perry's crash, and Gingrich's acceleration, says much about the power of debates in 2012's race for the presidency. That said, Americans usually elect the most popular kid rather than the captain of the debating team come November.
Mercedes Benz expropriated Che Guevara iconography last week to sell cars at a trade show in Las Vegas. What happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas. Infuriated Cubans demanded an apology. Read my column @ Human Events that wonders if the people demanding an apology should have been Che Guevara's cultists appalled with their Communist hero shilling cars for capitalist Mercedes Benz.
I spent the better part of my weekend in Foxboro, Massachusetts, or perhaps more accurately, several towns away in Sharon, Massachusetts. Rather than tailgating in the cold for four hours in preparation for watching a football game in the cold for four hours, I tailgated with a friend in an EconoLodge several miles from Gillette Stadium. It was great. Food, beers, 49ers-Saints on the television, music amplified from my much-discussed new iPod, and, most importantly, warmth. My old military ID provided a cut-rate, well, rate and a "Thank you for your service" that always makes me feel a bit awkward. We walked three miles to and then from the stadium. People say that's crazy. But paying $40 for parking and sitting in traffic for hours after the game is crazy. My most memorable experience at the Patriots-Broncos game was catching some of the last manic minutes of the 49ers-Saints game on the jumbotron. That said, as a Patriots follower, I've come to appreciate the art of the blowout. Whereas other fans get bored with the blowout, I stand in awe of the precise execution of New England's offensive juggernaut. Brady and company resemble a video game. I can't say the same for Mr. Tebow, who, at his most Tebowish, resembles less a video game quarterback than a pre-television-era leather-helmetted fullback. As much as I admire the guy, it would be a lie to say that I wasn't one of the 68,000 people chanting Teeee-bow, Teeee-bow. The quarterback looked hurt. But he shielded his pain better than I did. If you could have seen my face when I took a spill on the side of Route 1 on my trek back to the EconoLodge. I would say don't drink and walk. But really it was my preoccupation with safety that made things unsafe. Making sure to walk on the grassy shoulder protected from oncoming traffic by the metallic roadside barrier, I overlooked the dangers of nature admidst obsessing over the dangers of machines. Unlit, icy, and suddenly sloping, I took a header that left my head unscathed but impacted my shoulder like a Shaun Ellis sack might. My knee got the worst of it, damaged from the initial slip but not from the impact. Fear not friends, I will not be listed on the football fan injury report as "questionable" or "doubtful" for next week's games. I will be watching, if not from Foxboro than from my living room. It's safer there.
A North Carolina task force endorsed $50,000 reparations for victims of its 20th century eugenics program. Progressives once imagined eugenics as cutting-edge science, the wave of the future even. Now everybody realizes how backward it really was. Read my piece @ FrontPageMag on how the liberal press that now inveighs against the eugenics past once played a central role in making that past.
As Americans preferred digital to physical music in 2011, I said goodbye to CDs and hello to an iPod. When wax gave way to magnetic tape, and later when magnetic tape yielded to polycarbonate plastic, the album reigned supreme. For myriad reasons, the album can't survive the digitized tomorrow. Read my article @ the American Spectator on how the iPod triumph of the song over the album brings us back to the future.
Mitt Romney won New Hampshire by a fifteen point spread. That's no surprise. Eeking out the Iowa victory along with the convincing win in the Granite State boosts his prospects in South Carolina and Florida. If he wins there, it's over. But in a way it was over before it started. Check out his fiery speech. Ron Paul finished a strong second. He gave a good speech, too. A quarter of the GOP vote in a six-man race isn't fringe; it's a huge chunk of the party. Given Paul's capacity to attract young people and independents--groups the GOP struggled with in 2008--Republicans shouldn't be so quick to condescend when dealing with Paul or his Paullowers. For so long, pundits attempted to dismiss the Texas congressman. But pundits don't decide. People do. If the media did decide, John Huntsman would have performed better than third place yesterday. Has there ever been a Republican presidential candidate more fawned over by the Fourth Estate? Huntsman says "third place is a ticket to ride." Too bad for him the third contest is in South Carolina and not Vermont.
The worst bullies are those who imagine themselves as bullied. Professional homosexual Dan Savage fits that mold. Boasting of attempting to infect 2000 presidential candidate Gary Bauer with the flu, and orchestrating an internet campaign to transform Rick Santorum's last name into a word for something disgusting, the sex-advice columnist is a hate-filled crusader against hate. Read my column @ Human Events on knowing Rick Santorum by his enemies.
Eric Hoffer is often dubbed a Jewish intellectual. He was neither. But he did take up his pen in defense of Israel when it was under attack. "Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world," he wrote, for instance, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. Read my piece @ FrontPageMag on Eric Hoffer & Israel.
Ray Bradbury was a Depression-era, four-eyed, zit-faced, bully bull's-eye gliding through Los Angeles on steel-wheeled rollerskates forcefully demanding autographs from Hollywood's most glamorous stars. Nobody told the uncouth teenaged transplant from the Midwest that he was staring at his opposites when he cornered Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, and Judy Garland. Ray Bradbury was once a nerd. Now he rebels against nerds--tech-obsessed geeks to be more precise. Read my piece @ the American Conservative on how this "Luddite from outerspace" (in the words of TAC's editors) transformed from pulp scribbler to one of America's great short-story writers, from ultimate outsider to in with the "in" crowd.
A few tenths of a percentage point separate Rick Santorum from being a contender to Rick Santorum being the answer to a trivia question. As I write, he leads by the slimmest of margins. Winning would mark a huge comeback and the political story of the year (alas, the year is young). Losing would mean Santorum was the last of the anti-Romneys, the one who knew when to peak. You know who came in second in Iowa? Pat Robertson, John Edwards, Uncommitted, and the Paul Simon who doesn't write songs. So, there are no pyrrhic victories in the Hawkeye state. If Santorum beats Romney, we have a race. If he loses, we don't. It's that simple. At the time of this posting, it's a tie. Ties are for soccer, not politics (unless we're talking of the power tie). Given the geography of the primaries (South Carolina and Florida approach), I don't think poor showings mean that Perry or Gingrich must drop out. I do think Michelle Bachmann's poor performance in a neighboring state ends her campaign. The mark of unserious candidates is their propensity to stay in to the end but after it's over. Know what I mean? We'll see if Bachmann vindicates her antagonists who said she was unserious by staying in the race. Ron Paul speaks for a sizable portion of the Republican electorate but he can't win. Isn't that what presidential campaigns are all about, winning? One Paul supporter, Rick Santorum's nephew, offers a thought-provoking alternative: "Ron Paul seems to be the only candidate trying to win the election for a reason other than simply winning the election."
Have you read "Blue Collar Intellectuals" yet? Cal Thomas has. I know this because he has a nice column on the book today. That's a big deal. A Media Matters study a few years back listed Thomas as the America's second-most-widely-syndicated columnist. He appears in more than 300 newspapers, ahead of everybody--Ellen Goodman, David Broder, Charles Krauthammer, everybody--save for George Will. Millions of people read Thomas's column. A few of those people will go ahead and read my book after reading his column about my book. That's a good feeling. In the military we would call this a "force multiplier."
Ron Paul has a way of bringing out the liberal in conservatives. They speak liberal--"racist," "extremist," "crazy"--when talking about the Texas Congressman. It's because Ron Paul makes so many conservatives look like liberals in comparison that they talk like liberals. The exposed are insecure. Attitudinal pressure passes for intellectual persuasion among the feverishly anti-Ron Paul pundits. Read my column @ Human Events on how Ron Paul makes some conservatives uncomfortable, particularly the ones uncomfortable with conservatism.