Public Nuisances

Public Nuisances

Scandal in the White House in Times Past

By From the December 2011 - January 2012 issue

A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION looms on the horizon, and already the nation's great organs of opinion--and occasionally of fact--are gearing up to serve the commonweal and, ever so quietly, their own biases.

Already we are told that Herman Cain--the non-politician seeking the Republican nomination--had two untoward incidents in the 1990s with ladies who were not his wife…or maybe he did not. He pleads innocent. His wife does too. Then there is Governor Rick Perry. He has appeared hesitant on the debate platform. First, he said he was fatigued. Then he explained he is a bad debater, and so what? Ours is not a parliamentary system, and the only time a candidate's ability to debate is exigent is during election time. After that, a candidate's powers of debate matter about as much as a candidate's facility with chopsticks. Judgment, decisiveness, managerial skill, and experience are what matter. Witness the pitiable floundering of the Obama administration.

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Public Nuisances

Liberalism Always Goes Too Far

By From the November 2011 issue

WASHINGTON -- ONE OF THE causes that has brought the great and worthy movement of Liberalism to its present state of decrepitude has been remarked upon in this column many times before: Liberalism always goes too far. Even in the case of a noble impulse, it goes too far. Public events in recent days in that magnificent monument to Liberalism, San Francisco, show us once again the example of Liberalism over the edge.

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Public Nuisances

Twenty Percent, Si. Twenty-Five Percent, No.

By From the November 2011 issue

WASHINGTON -- It is clear from the way President Barack Obama has been talking about the federal budget recently, and about taxation since he came to office, that all the money that Americans earn belongs to the federal government. The key words in this conversation are "tax expenditures." President Obama has lost a lot in tax expenditures and he wants more of those tax expenditures back. He can spend that money, he believes, more wisely than the citizenry--that is to say, you and me.

He has wiggled and wobbled on the nation's finances over the years. First he spent money that he did not have. Then he threatened to raise taxes on the rich to pay for it. Then he spent again money that he did not have. Now he is getting very serious about the budget, by which he means the budget deficit which is so large you do not even want to think about it. So he is back to taxing the rich again, which eventually means you and me.

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Public Nuisances

The Long War and the Budget

By From the October 2011 issue

WASHINGTON -- We are engaged in a long war -- actually two long wars. The first and most commonly accepted of our wars is the long war against Islamofascists. It is not a war against vast armies. Comparatively speaking, it is just a war against a handful of thugs, but they want to strike at our heart, wherever we are ill-prepared, and if they can they will cause incalculable destruction. This we discovered on September 11, 2001. We are on the hem of wiping al Qaeda out, but there are other thugs waiting. We must be vigilant against them. It will be a long war.

The second long war is at home on budgetary matters. That both the left and the right have been in a fury about an early battle in that war, the debtceiling battle, suggests just how long that war will be. We have little consensus on this war. Yet a war it is, and a very long war I fear it will be. It is a war to balance the budget, putting the economy on a sustainable course, and ensuring growth and jobs. It is a war to get the country back to a federal budget that accounts for 20 percent of GDP rather than the 25 percent of GDP that President Barack has snatched from us while we were not looking.

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Public Nuisances

Ryan Withdraws

By From the October 2011 issue

WASHINGTON -- ALAS, in August we lost a most desirable candidate for the White House, one that is not charismatic, did not write (or have someone else write) his memoir, has displayed no jump shot in public, and did not leave important documents on his desk while gallivanting around the country in the campaign mode and heading for vacation on Martha's Vineyard. In the first instance I am talking about Congressman Paul Ryan. In the second I am talking about President you-know-who. Since the day he was inaugurated he has been campaigning for his second term, all the while expressing ambivalence about wanting a second term. That is nonsense. He is living rent-free and has that big airplane to fly about the country in.

Ryan has now declared that he is inalterably not seeking the Republican nomination. He did it despite pressure from Karl Rove and Governor Mitch Daniels and after a long hike on the countryside with Bill Bennett, the corpulent ex-Reagan cabinet official. On second thought, the hike could not have been that long. The last time I saw Bennett, a long hike would have been life-threatening.

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Public Nuisances

London Honors Reagan

By From the September 2011 issue

The other morning I wandered down to Grosvenor Square to see the July 4 unveiling of a statue of President Ronald Reagan, despite reports that only a handful of people would be there. That invaluable piece of intelligence was handed down by the Hon. Louis B. Susman, our ambassador, who was busy as a director of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team during the 1980s when President Reagan was staring down the Soviets with his befuddling mixture of amiability and steely resolve that astoundingly "ended the Cold War without firing a shot." That is how Lady Thatcher memorably put it. She was not astounded, nor was President Richard Nixon or other hawkish Cold Warriors.

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Public Nuisances

Adolf and Anders

By From the September 2011 issue

THINK OF Anders Behring Breivik, the man who bombed a government building in Norway before proceeding to cold-bloodedly massacre scores of defenseless young people on a secluded island several miles away, as an Adolf Hitler of one. The first Adolf Hitler was a Hitler to millions. He captured an entire nation and terrified the world for years.

One imagines that the two, if ever they could have a quiet talk together, would have much to agree on. Both were meticulous planners, though I dare say Breivik was Hitler's superior. He would not delay an invasion of Russia. Both harbored grudges against threats to their culture from the foreign-born, and what Breivik called the "cultural Marxists." I can well imagine the Führer admiring Breivik's taste in uniforms, his Aryan features, and his longing for his Viking past. Both were mama's boys.

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Public Nuisances

Public Nuisances

By From the July/August 2011 issue

Newt and Paul Ryan

WASHINGTON

How did so flawed a man as Newt Gingrich get to the top of his party in the 1990s? For that matter, how did so flawed a man as Bill Clinton get to the top of our government in the 1990s? And—here I am giving you a hint to the answer for the above questions—how did so flawed a man as Dominique Strauss-Kahn get to the top of the International Monetary Fund and of French politics? All are about the same age. All have similar, shall we say, recreations. The answer is that they came from what is called the 1960s Generation. Now they are gone. There will be temporary reprises—more court appearances for DSK, an occasional public appearance for Bill, some more catastrophic missteps on the campaign trail for Newt—but for all intents and purposes they are history.

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Public Nuisances

Public Nuisances

By From the July 2010 - August 2010 issue

Revolt of the Masses

WASHINGTON -- Owing to the promotion tour for my new book, After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery, I have been meeting with what the intelligentsia once called "the masses." They read books. They pay taxes. They attend lectures. Oh, and by the way, they are now a lot more prosperous and even more civilized than the intelligentsia, today's version of which are actually anti-intellectual and occasionally only semi-literate.

The reason that "the masses" are a lot more prosperous and even civilized is that they have been participating in our free-market economy for years. It has made their lives easier, and they recognize it. As Arthur Brooks, the urbane president of the American Enterprise Institute, demonstrates in his new book, The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future, seventy percent of Americans favor free enterprise, with only a glum thirty percent turning their tremulous palms up to the nanny state.

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Public Nuisances

Public Nuisances

By From the June 2010 issue

There He Gropes Again

WASHINGTON -- Not so long ago there arose on the American political scene something called, the Angry Left. It was an indignant group of ritualistic liberals whose appearance the mainstream media apprised us augured well for Democratic victory in 2008, and so it did. The Angry Left turned out the vote for the Prophet Obama. At the time, do you recall any public figure on the right stepping forward and warning against possible violence from the indignados of the Angry Left? Did, say, the Hon. Newt Gingrich step forward at a conservative forum, say the Heritage Foundation, and remind his fellow Americans of the bombings of government buildings, the burning of university libraries, the robbing of banks by angry leftists in years gone by? I cannot recall any such warnings from any conservative eminence.

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