Another Perspective

Another Perspective

A Halo for Selfishness

By 4.8.14

The recent Supreme Court decision over-ruling some Federal Election Commission restrictions on political campaign contributions has provoked angry reactions on the left. That is what often happens whenever the High Court rules that the First Amendment means what it says — free speech for everybody.

When the Supreme Court declared in 2010 that both unions and corporations had a right to buy political ads, that was considered outrageous by the left. President Obama called the decision “devastating” and said it “will open the floodgates for special interests.”

Those unfamiliar with political rhetoric may not know that “special interests” mean people who support your opponents. One’s own organized supporters — such as labor unions supporting President Obama — are never called “special interests.”

All politicians are against “special interests,” by definition. They all want their own supporters to have the right to free speech, but not those individuals and groups so benighted as to support their opponents.

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How to Make Putin Feel the Sanctions

By and 4.1.14

Vladimir Putin stokes Russian nationalism, dreams of empire and a sense of victimization brought on by the “humiliating” collapse of the Soviet Union. He plays on the imagination of young people who have no personal memories of these things. At the same time he arouses the support of an older generation which remembers what it thinks of as the stability of the USSR. Between them is a growing middle class which, despite economic ups and downs, is generally much better off under post-Soviet Union Russia than before.

It is these people who provide the crowds that regularly protest the increasingly autocratic rule of the Putin regime which stifles free speech and assembly. While he diverts attention abroad (Crimea) and continues to threaten Ukraine — all to activate nationalistic patriotism — his regime condones widespread corruption. 

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Praying for an Obamacare Escape

By and 3.31.14

Matt Drudge’s widely discussed mid-March tweet that he has already paid Obamacare’s “liberty tax” highlights the uncertainties the self-employed face both from the health care law and the tax code in general. As pointed out by an editorial in Investor’s Business Daily, “self-employed entrepreneurs ranging from Drudge to small-shop proprietors and independent contractors have long been aware of the requirement to estimate their tax liability and send a quarter of it in every three months, and that this amount includes ‘other taxes’ such as the ObamaCare opt-out penalty.”

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The Ignorance of Neo-Prohibitionists

By 3.20.14

A brief but intense spiritual crisis beset the nation late last month after it was revealed that bottomless brunches were illegal in New York. Many New Yorkers were outraged and took to social media to say so, often in melodramatic fashion. The dismay dissipated a few days later, however, after the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) clarified the law in question.

That law—N.Y. 117-A—makes it a crime to “offer, sell, serve, or deliver to any person or persons an unlimited number of drinks during any set period of time for a fixed price.” This makes it sound as if unlimited drink offerings are prohibited, particularly since the statute says: “UNLIMITED DRINK OFFERINGS PROHIBITED.” However, it turns out there is an exception in the case of “certain” brunch specials, which are legal “when the service of alcohol is incidental to the event.” In other words, bottomless brunches are okay.

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An Airborne Hunt for Red October?

By 3.18.14

Is Zaharie Ahmad Shah a real-life Marko Ramius? Is the mystery of Malaysia flight 370 lifted straight from a famous bestselling thriller-turned-Hollywood-blockbuster? Recall: A brand new high tech Soviet nuclear submarine vanishes with officers and full crew aboard. A frantic search begins, though the alarmed Kremlin is silent about the fact that it has been notified by the captain that he intends to defect and hand the sub over to the Americans. The officers — but not the crew — are in on the plan.

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Why I Attend Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade

By 3.17.14

In the nearly 14 years I have lived in Boston, one of things I have come to enjoy the most is the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade which takes place the Sunday before the formal celebration of Ireland’s best known patron saint. I have just returned from my 12th St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

People who know me might be surprised by my regular attendance at this gathering. The first thing people associate with St. Patrick’s Day is copious consumption of alcohol. I don’t touch the stuff. In fact, I have been a teetotaler for more than 20 years. But from where I stand the St. Patrick’s Day means more than a pint of Guinness.

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Ukraine: What Would Reagan Do?

By and 3.17.14

The Russian takeover of the Crimea, as well as many of our problems in the Middle East, was funded by high oil prices. Since there is no military solution to the Crimea conflict, President Obama should look closely at the successful pages of the Reagan playbook.

Before the Reagan and Gorbachev Summits could begin, Reagan needed to rebuild our defenses to bring the Soviets back to the bargaining table. The Kremlin was pressured to end the Cold War on America’s terms because of President Reagan’s policies of supporting the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, deploying Pershing cruise missiles in Western Europe (to counter Soviet SS-20s), advocating the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and doubling the defense budget.

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Call a Constitutional Convention, Already!

By 3.14.14

We've talked endlessly about using a Constitutional convention to wrest the reins of government from entrenched interests and put them back in the hands of the people. Enough talk: It's time to put the theory into action.

To recap, the Constitution may be amended in two ways: by a two-thirds vote of Congress, or by a convention called by two-thirds (34) of the (50) state legislatures. All amendments to date have arisen through the first mechanism, although conservatives and libertarians increasingly are calling for state lawmakers to pursue the second. If 34 states pass convention measures, Congress must convene a convention to discuss amending the constitution. In the words of James Madison, who was instrumental to the drafting of Article V, "If two thirds of the States make application, Congress cannot refuse to call one." Even the centralizer Alexander Hamilton conceded that the wording of Article V leaves " the discretion of Congress."

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Where Was the Debate?

By 3.10.14

Usually a debate involves an exchange of opposing views.

But not at CPAC.

On Saturday, pundits Ann Coulter and Mickey Kaus debated immigration reform.

Except that it wasn’t a debate.

Yes, both Coulter and Kaus offered their opinions with conviction and energy. Yet their alignment was omnipresent.

Both oppose the prospect of amnesty, both oppose bipartisan immigration reform, and both believe that either option would lead America to a very dark place. Or, in Coulterspeak, a very brown place.

Still, the real issue with this discussion wasn’t Coulter’s opinions. Rather, it was how Coulter encapsulated CPAC more generally — illustrating how serious policy discussions remain an uncomfortable paradigm in conservative-conservative dialogue.

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A Drinking Fan’s Lenten Notes

By 3.7.14

Lent started early. On December 7 — a day that shall live in infamy — I embarked on an alcohol hiatus. At the three-month mark, I close-in on the sobriety record by people with the surname “Flynn,” which I set twenty years ago at seven months and 29 days. It’s not in the Guinness Book of World Records, but that’s only because Guinness doesn’t seek to encourage competition among Flynns here. It would be catastrophic for the bottom line.

I glimpsed an inspirational cliché that essentially said that how you live in your forties will determine how, and whether, you’ll live in your eighties. Not wanting to suffer from dementia when I grow up, I thought it wise to cease drinking to temporary senility. Forty will have that effect on a man. One can’t help but notice that people who drink excessively eventually exhibit drunken brains even once they stop drinking. The real hangover comes later.