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.

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New Essay for The Daily Beast: Jimmy Carter Was a Much Better President Than Anyone Admits

Among the modern Presidents, Jimmy Carter is the most admirable, accomplished, intelligent, and impressive. It isn’t surprising, then, that he is also the most vilified President in American culture.

In my new essay for the Daily Beast, I review Carter’s new book on women’s rights around the world, A Call To Action, and evaluate his misunderstood Presidency and legacy.

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New Column for the Indianapolis Star: Intelligent Design, Science Incompatible

In my latest column for the Indianapolis Star, I praise the President of Ball State University for giving a cease and desist order to an overly zealous and biased physics profssor who, during classroom lectures, sold his students the theory of “intelligent design.”

Some people believe they are sufficiently sneaky to smuggle creationism through customs in a container they call “intelligent design,” but the defenders of real science, knowledge, and argument typically, and luckily, win the battle. Examples in Dover, Pennsylvania and Muncie, Indiana (home of Ball State) should give encouragement to intelligent people who want to design a society of reason and logic that separates church and state and religion and science.

Read it here.

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.

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Interview with Mondo Film Podcast on the Norman Mailer Novel, An American Dream

I was happy to participate in an episode of the excellent, Mondo Film Podcast, on the Norman Mailer novel, An American Dream.

As a member of the Norman Mailer Society, I was flattered to receive an invitation to participate in a conversation on one of Mailer’s greatest novels. Listen to the entire program at the Mondo Film Podcast website.

I will also contribute to the next episode, which focuses on Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize winning work of literary journalism, The Executioner’s Song.

New Essay at The Daily Beast: Richard Hofstadter and America’s New Wave of Anti-Intellectualism

Twenty-first century philistines, suffering from a lack of imagination and curiosity, have seized upon understandable economic anxieties since the financial crash of 2008, to shepherd an increasingly large flock of American sheep into the livestock freight carrier Pulitzer prize winning historian, Richard Hofstadter, called “anti-intellectualism.

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life—one of Hofstadter’s best, among many great books – was a pile of dynamite in 1963, when it was first published and blew a sizable hole in the house of America’s self-comforting delusions of intellectual superiority. In 2014, one can only hope that some of its initial blast still reverberates, as media commentators, university administrators, and even the President, have exposed themselves as adherents to what Hofstadter indicted as the “lowest common denominator criterion” of thought and “technician conformity” of lifestyle. Suspicion, and often outright hatred, of ideas is making American culture as riveting as oatmeal. By reading Hofstadter, one learns that the resurgence of a new anti-intellectualism isn’t new, at all. In fact, Hofstadter identified the particularly poisonous strain of the virus that now infects the American mind and kills the imagination.

Read the rest at the Daily Beast.