New Jersey alcohol enforcers raided several dozen bars Wednesday on the suspicion that they pour generic well-drinks from premium bottles. TGI Friday's, Applebee's, and Ruby Tuesday's were among the establishments busted in Operation Swill. The barfly gets when the barkeep cheats him. He doesn't grasp when he cheats himself. In the case of vodka, America's favorite hard liquor, trading in the contents of cheaper brands for the more expensive ones isn't really cheating anyone. Strangely, booze connoisseurs pay more attention to the name on the bottle on the one bottle in which it doesn't really matter. Read my article @ the American Spectator on how vodka is vodka is vodka.
You may not like the president. You may not like his policies. Admit that you like his prom date. If you argue that your unlucky lady bested Obama's in the looks department, I won't believe you. Your duds for the big dance are another matter.
Media reports make a connection between the FBI killing Tamerlan Tsarnaev friend Igbrahim Todashev earlier this morning and last month's Boston Marathon Bombing. My hunch is that Todashev lunged at FBI agents with a knife because they began to unravel his involvement in an earlier Tsarnaev triple murder. On September 11, 2011, three men were murdered in Waltham, Massachusetts. The date, and the fact that at least two of the victims were Jews, didn't initially seem significant to investigators. The fact that the murderers left thousands of dollars at the scene, and ritualistically dumped bags of marijuana on the victims, piqued interest. Now that we know one of the victims was best friends with Tsarnaev, the events surrounding the triple murder begin to make sense--particularly with the connection to Todashev, who moved from the area shortly after the Waltham murders. Similarly, Tsarnaev didn't attend his best friend's funeral and stopped attending the gym he trained at with his alleged victim. Despite Tsarnaev's boxing prowess, slashing the throats of three grown men--men also involved in combat sports--seems a difficult task. A seventeen-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who wrestled at a measly 135 pounds in high school, wouldn't have been much help in such a crime. But Todashev, a mixed martial artist who logged his first professional win last year, puts the feat more within reach. My hunch is that Todashev, who had been attempting to return to Chechnya, involved himself not in the spectacular Boston Marathon Bombings but in the forgotten homicides that occurred more than a year earlier in a city a few miles away from the finish line.
My heart goes out to the folks in Oklahoma who lost loved ones in the tornado. My mind, though, doesn't truly grasp the meteorological phenomenon. Though yesterday's tornado wasn't as powerful as the one to hit Oklahoma in 1999--unleashing wind gusts in excess of 300 mph--it was powerful enough to claim two dozen lives and level neighborhoods. The event piqued my curiosity about twisters, and why they, like immigrants, choose to come to the United States over any other country on earth. It apparently has to do with the mountains. The United States has major north-south mountain ranges (the Rockies, the Appalachians) that bookend tornado alley. The United States doesn't have any east-west mountain ranges to buffer the winds coming from the artic and the tropics. All of this makes for a perfect storm for a perfect storm.
The 2012-2013 television season featured more gay characters than ever. The Big Four networks lost 7.5 percent of their viewer share. This resulted in the cancellation of numerous gay-themed programs earlier this week. Depictions of homosexuals on network television more closely resemble advertising than entertainment. Some viewers inevitably buy; most turn the channel. Read my article @ the American Spectator on the departing activist gay characters that America gladly wave goodbye to and the one departing gay character that activist gays happily see off the small screen.
Earlier this week, the conviction of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell left a lot of people wondering about the ethical difference between late-term abortion in the womb and infanticide a few inches out of the womb. A Florida case sparks similar questions. A Tampa man faces life in prison for slipping an abortifacient into his pregnant girlfriend's system. The woman wanted to keep her baby. The man, quite obviously, didn't. This situation happens thousands of times every month in the United States, only in the reverse. A woman aborts her baby over the objections of her unborn child's father. The law looks the other way, as it's determined that the choice belongs solely to the mother. She can cavalierly dismiss the concerns of the father on a whim. Leaving the law aside, and looking just at the ethics, what's the difference between what this man did and what scores of American women do every day? Life requires two parents to make it. Why does death require the order of just one parent of a certain sex? The logic of abortion law lacks logic. Even more so, the morality of abortion law lacks morals.
Boxing's obituary has been written more times than Jason's and Freddy's combined. How do the sport's snarky eulogists reconcile their frequent gleeful death notices with the fact that, for the second year in a row, the best compensated athlete on the planet punches people in the face for a living? People shell out $60 to cable companies to watch the most primitive sport on their uber-modern flatscreens. They don't pay for basketball, football, or baseball. Boxing isn't what it used to be. But its obituaries are what they have always been: wrong.
The Internal Revenue Service knows the most private details of Americans' finances. One needn't be particularly cynical to construe that as a recipe for an abuse of power. It's worse than that. It is an abuse of power, not merely a power that could be abused. Some information is just too personal for the eyes of outsiders. Our finances are one such area. USA Today documents the IRS fasttracking applications for tax-exempt status from liberal groups as it put a 27-month moritorium on approving the applications of any "Tea Party" group. FoxNews reports nearly 500 groups flagged for extra scrutiny by the IRS. A startling number of prominent conservative organizations and individuals report being audited. All the while, the IRS, which extracts the most personal details from its victims, claims privacy when the press comes for information from it. Now the Obama administration wants us to entrust even more power--through ObamaCare--into the three-letter obscenity. No thanks. Ironically, the Obama's administration has through the IRS scandal validated the view of government espoused by his Tea Party critics and has demonstrated the naivite of his followers.
A jury convicted Dr. Kermit Gosnell of being a fourth-trimester abortionist yesterday. Murder carries a possible death penalty in Pennsylvania. Though abortion-rights supporters seem reticent to use the "M" word, they do express outrage that Dr. Gosnell performed one abortion in a toilet bowl. Cleanliness is next to godliness, you know. The ghoulish doctor would be wise to employ an unscrupulous appellate lawyer to argue that his client's mother never taught him proper scissors etiquette. The grisly facts of the case aren't why the New York Times and other abortion booster sheets have largely kept the case from its pages. It's the thought that counts--as in, "What, ethically, differentiates this abortionist from ones who perform the deed inside the womb and a few weeks earlier?" Kermit Gosnell is guilty of murder. Abortion supporters are guilty of relying on euphemism.
The revelation that the Justice Department obtained possession of the phone records of Associated Press reporters, including their home and cell lines, necessarily amplifies the IRS story. It's one thing for unaccountable tax bureaucrats to hassle right-wing Tea Partiers. But when Obama administration bullies go after the Fourth Estate--heretofore known as 44's booster club--it gives a narrative to the tax politicization story, alienates the press corp, and undermines the idea that the current administration values basic civil rights, such as those embodied in the First Amendment. The intrusion on a free press sends a chilling signal to any source who wishes to remain anonymous: the government knows who you are. Piece together all this with the demotion of the Benghazi whistleblower and one grasps that this is an administration that goes to great lengths to keep its misdeeds secret. As an earlier generation of liberals warned us, it's not the crime it's the cover-up. In several of the current cases, the cover-ups appear to be crimes.
I attended a Buffalo Tom concert at the Sinclair, a new concert venue in Cambridge. At $20, and with no "convenience fee," the show was worth every penny and then some. I'm not sure that I can say the same for the rents in Harvard Square. I spoke to a mechant about the disappearance of one of his competitors. Rather than celebrate, he lamented the extortionate rents that sent him packing. There but for the grace of profits go him. I drank at Charlie's Kitchen, a haunt that I first visited at 8 with an older relative. It's one of the only businesses still in business after all these years. I could name a dozen or so bars I used to drink in--and none exists anymore. The cinema is gone, the Tasty diner has served its last meal, Tower Records and HMV--like so many in their industry--have vanished, and the comedy club has been out of existence for about as long as Harvard freshmen have been alive. But I'm still here, and it's a bit jarring to visit the same place and discover that it's a different place. I do this every time I visit Harvard Square. Thankfully, Buffalo Tom look and sound exactly like I remember them.
Joe Louis couldn't defeat the Internal Revenue Service. Neither could Evander Holyfield. But Manny Pacquiao looks like a heavy favorite to defeat the most powerful three letters in boxing when he fights next in Macau. Why is Manny leaving Las Vegas? The U.S. top tax rate approaches 40 percent. In Macau, it's 12 percent. When tax rates rise, human capital flees. That's the short-sightedness of big-government liberals, chasing away the tax base with punitive rates. Read my article @ the American Spectator on the Pac Man v. the Tax Man.
Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford handily defeated Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a special election for a seat in the House of Representatives. The seat was in Republican hands, so, despite TV funnyman Stephen Colbert's sister's strong poll numbers, a Democrat pick-up seemed far-fetched. It's South Carolina, after all. Any liberals crying in their coffee this morning can blame Bill Clinton, who won the election for Sanford by setting the precedent that a president--let alone a lowly congressman--can faithfully perform his public duties even if he doesn't faithfully uphold his marital vows. If liberals don't like this, they never should have made such fools of themselves in their defense of Clinton (e.g., Geraldo, Charles Grodin, Lanny Davis, Hillary). Americans like redemption stories. Sanford, a politician once with great promise, now gets to write his.
Three Cleveland teenagers, missing since George W. Bush's first term, reemerged yesterday as twentysomethings escaping from a former schoolbus driver's house. This man helped them escape and tells his amazing story in amazing fashion. Being held captive for a decade is horrible, but that fate isn't as bad as that of the victims of Clevelander Anthony Sowell. As with Sowell, the cops had visited the schoolbus driver's home. What's up with kidnapping and Cleveland?
The Rolling Stones launch their North American tour tonight in Los Angeles. If you have $600 to spare, plenty of seats remain for the asking. The steep prices may have something to do with the unsold tickets. In contrast, Kid Rock sells every seat on his summer tour for $20. And just about every seat is selling. Read my article @ the American Spectator on how musicians can make audiences feel like it's 1971. But they can't make their wallets feel like it's before 2008.