New Essay/Interview for the Daily Beast: James Lee Burke Talks About His Fiction, History, and the American Dream

In my new essay for the Daily Beast, I profiled James Lee Burke, one of America’s greatest living writers. His new book – Wayfaring Stranger – is an epic work of historical fiction, sweeping across the 20th century to tell the story of Bonnie and Clyde, the Great Depression, World War II, the rise of commercial oil industry, and the emergence of Hollywood.

It is also Burke’s best book, and one of the best book of modern American fiction.

In my conversation with Burke, we discussed the personal origins of the book, American history and politics, and why he is sadness over the “death of traditional America” is not na├»ve or nostalgic.

Read it at the Daily Beast.

burkejpg-d11638e7aedf37ee

New Essay at the Federalist: The Patchetic Provincialism of American Feminists

In my latest essay for the Federalist, I indict American feminists for their obsession with petty, frivolous issues, and their indifference in the face of real women’s suffering in America, and around the world.

One of the few insights from Karl Marx still relevant is the need for international solidarity among oppressed people. If American women truly believed they were oppressed, they would have all the more reason to zealously advocate for the liberation of their African and Asian sisters, but instead they will obliviously protest that the existence of suffering elsewhere is no reason not to focus on making improvements here, no matter how marginal those improvements seem. The defense proves hollow when American feminists refuse to even come to the aid of fellow Americans, whether they are the impoverished immigrants suffering under the cruelty of Islamic insanity, or the working-class women of the military, who too often encounter an institution more worried about public relations than justice for rape victims. In an irony invisible to the Left, American feminism has become an elitist expression of upper-class concerns. Highly educated and paid women endlessly describe their own inconveniences, while ignoring the legitimate suffering of the poor, in foreign countries and their own cities.

Read the rest at the Federalist.

New Essay at The Federalist: Shelby Steele on Race and the Exhiliration and Terror of Freedom

I recently had the honor and thrill of speaking with one of America’s sharpest social critics on the phone for nearly an hour. Shelby Steele – author of the classics The Content of Our Character and White Guilt - offers wisdom in an age of silliness, strength in an age of cowardice, and bravery in an age of cowardice.

The results of our wide ranging discussion, along with some editorializing and background on my own shift from “white guilt liberalism” to belief in individual responsibility – are readable in my new essay for the Federalist.

shelby_steele188

New Essay at the Federalist: Why Was Sterling’s Public Racism Ignored and Private Bigotry Punished?

In my latest essay for the Federalist, I take a look at the controversy surrounding outed bigot Donald Sterling. Rather than indulging in the easy sanctimony of condemning a bigot who deserves condemnation, I also express fear, worry, and anger over how American society is losing its regard for the expectation of privacy, and for a culture that not only allow, but promotes and protects, free speech. We are now living under the rule of the social media mob, and it doesn’t look pretty.

Read it here.

New Essay at The Daily Beast: Stat-Happy News Ignores Journalism’s Need for Narrative

In my newest essay at the Daily Beast, I expose the arrogant conceit of “data” and “explanatory” journalists, especially Ezra Klein, who believe they transcend ideology by merely reporting statistical facts. I call on the literary journalism tradition to accomplish this task, showing how Twain, Hemingway, Mailer, Didion, David Foster Wallace, Tom Wolfe, and others, demolished the delusional narcissism of conventional journalists, like Klein, many years ago.

I also show how “data journalism” is part of a larger American trend of moving everything toward the machine. Technology is the new master, and young Americans approach it on their knees, hands folded, prepare to make any sacrifice. In the essay, I make the point that a literary journalism startup is what the culture desperately needs.

Since the Daily Beast published the essay, I’ve noticed a pattern in the responses I’ve received. Most middle aged readers understand the points I’m making clearly, while young readers can’t even begin to comprehend them.

It reminds me of an experience I recently had at a Gov’t Mule show in Chicago. The crowd was about an equal mix of millennials and silver pony tailed boomers. The silvery pony tails watched the show enthusiastically, enjoying the music, closely paying attention to the musicians, and reacting with excitement. The young fans held their “smart” phones up the entire time, pathetically trying to document different parts of the performance, I assume, for sharing on social media.

There’s more to life than machines, regardless of the benefits they bring. That goes for concerts and it goes for journalism.

Read the essay here.

New Essay at The Federalist: Street Gangs, Poverty, and The Left

What is it that prevents the left from condemning the street gang sadists who rape, rob, and murder innocent people, including children, in the poorest neighborhoods of America?

In my new essay for the Federalist, I answer that question by pointing to misguided moral relativism, liberal sentimentality, and political corruption.

Read the essay to learn about the disturbing and destructive relationship between American liberals and street gangs, and how such a relationship should exclude them from the moral universe on any discussion of poverty, crime, and urban development.

New Column At the Indianapolis Star: Gov. Pence Right to Reject Common Core

In my latest column for the Indianapolis Star, I celebrate the courage and convictions of Governor Mike Pence for rejecting the conformity and stupidity of Common Core as a standard for Indiana schools. I also warn against that dangers of allowing centralized power to dictate to states and localities what their children should learn, and how they should learn it.

Read it here.

-04_022614_Pence.JPG_20140226.jpg

New Essay at the Federalist – War Stories: An Interview with David Mamet

It is nearly impossible for me to measure the influence that the work of David Mamet – one of America’s greatest writers – has had on my thinking, my ideas, and, I hope, my writing.

Needless to say, I was thrilled and honored to spend 90 minutes with the literary genius and giant on the phone. The Federalist has published the result of that conversation – an essay that ranks among my best work, and one that I am very proud to have written.

The essay, because of Mamet’s brilliance and wit, contains so many gems of insight that it really becomes required reading.

I am particularly happy with the essay, because it truly gets to the essence of Mamet’s philosophy and personality. We spend time discussing his greatest work – Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo, Edmond, The Verdict – along with his newest book, Three War Stories.

We also spend time on his political conversion from liberalism to libertarianism, which is similar and influential on my own same ideological travel route, and on his early life on the streets and in the theaters of Chicago.

It is my hope that the large swath of people who will continually find Mamet’s work worthy of study will use my interview and profile as a source of knowledge for many years.

mamet_070111