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The Obama Watch

D.C. Reporters Push Back on White House Control

By 10.21.14

Nobody likes a micro-manager. Especially when that micro-manager is the government.

Here in the United States, we have this great thing called “the freedom of the press,” protected by our Constitution. But the White House doesn’t always seem to value that freedom above its own image. And since it is the primary distributor for some reports on the president’s activity, it takes advantage of that position to block certain content from being made public.

A group of “pool reporters” got tired of the White House throwing its weight around and demanding edits to their reports. So they came up with another way to share information that isn’t dependent on presidential press aides.

Here’s how the pool system works: instead of subjecting the president to a mob of journalists everywhere he goes, representative reporters for each event are chosen from a pool of regular White House press. The information they gather on the president’s appearances is then shared with news outlets, federal agencies, and congressional offices.

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TAS Live

Six Questions With Geert Wilders

By 10.21.14

Geert Wilders is the founder of the Dutch Party for Freedom, the fourth largest in that country’s parliament, and perhaps the Netherlands’ most controversial political figure. Wilders, whose 2008 film Fitna confrontationally opposed the encroachment of Islamic culture into Europe, has become an international figure while being prosecuted for “hate speech.” Calling himself a “right-wing liberal,” Wilders advocates curbing immigration into the Netherlands and other Western countries from Islamic nations, closing radical mosques, denaturalizing violent Muslims, and reducing the power of the European Union, among other things.

In America this week for a one-week tour, Wilders chatted with The American Spectator about Islam, the civilizational conflict, and what must be done to keep the West free.

How big is the threat to the West from Islamic civilizational jihad? Is our focus on terrorism overlooking other, perhaps more insidious means?

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Special Report

Big Sister in the Workplace

By 10.21.14

Aeschylus wrote “In war, truth is the first casualty.” The 2,500 years following that observation demonstrates that we can also say that truth is the first casualty in politics. So it should come as no surprise that the Democratic Party’s attempt to portray a Republican “war on women” is fraught with disinformation.

I live in a swing congressional district—California’s 52nd. The incumbent Democrat, Scott Peters, in a particularly nasty battle, is narrowly trailing his Republican challenger, Carl DeMaio. The Peters forces are pulling out the battle-tested “war on women” card, accusing DeMaio of being “against equal pay” by not supporting a moribund Democrat-sponsored piece of legislation known as the “Paycheck Fairness Act.”

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Political Hay

Who Says You Need a Doctor to Fight Ebola?

By 10.20.14

Perhaps it’s not surprising coming from our first Community Organizer president that the trait the administration claims is most needed in an “Ebola czar” — not that it’s been shown that such a position needs to be created in the first place — is, as Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health put it, “somebody who’s a good organizer.”

It’s been proven that rabble-rousing on the South Side of Chicago does not qualify one to lead anything more significant than a golf foursome (though you have to give Obama credit for spending his time doing what he’s best at, showing a clear understanding of the principle of comparative advantage).

Similarly, one wonders just what the newly named czar, Ron Klain, has “organized” that should give the American people confidence that the most incompetent administration in modern U.S. history is doing what needs to be done to keep citizens safe from a virus that the media is turning into the biggest medical scare since the Spanish Flu.

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Car Guy

If the Tesla D’s Such a Great Car…

By 10.20.14

My teeth hurt. Over the past week, I’ve been assaulted by one “news” story after the next about the latest fruit of government motors. Not GM. Tesla. The Model D. It is very slick! And very quick! It has all-wheel-drive! Not one but two electric motors (which isn’t new, by the way). Orgiastic comparisons with Porsche 911s and other exotic high-performance cars.

No mention, of course, that the government doesn’t pay people to buy 911s. Nor is Porsche a rent-seeking cartel whose existence depends on government support.

I was asked recently during a radio interview (here) why I do not like the Tesla. But that is not the right question, much less a fair question.

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The Right Prescription

The Incompetence Virus

By 10.20.14

The folks at Media Matters for America are angry at the press. In a sublimely ironic post, Eric Boehlert fumes, “As Republicans seek to gain a partisan advantage by ginning up fear about the Ebola virus… they’re getting a major assist from the news media.” Boehlert believes that media coverage of Ebola has abetted the GOP’s low designs by creating the “unfair” impression that the Obama administration is somehow incompetent. “If the news media's job is to educate, and especially to clarify during times of steep public concerns, then the news media have utterly failed during the Ebola threat.”

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Loose Canons

Those Chemical Weapons: A Buried Story of the Iraq War

By 10.20.14

The New York Times report of October 14 should have been bigger news. Big enough to reshape the entire history of the Iraq war that toppled Saddam Hussein at the cost of more than 3,500 American lives and $1 trillion. So far, in the midst of the Ebola crisis, another Iraq war, and so much more, it wasn’t more than a one-day story.

The article reported that contrary to the Democratic narrative, there were chemical weapons found in Iraq. Around 5,000 aviation bombs, artillery warheads, and shells were found over about an eight-year period beginning in 2004. A number of soldiers were injured in handling them.

Maybe, someday, enough information will be declassified so that the full story will be known. I have a small part of the information to relate.

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Play Ball

They’ll Always Be Royals

By 10.20.14

On Tuesday night, the Kansas City Royals will host a World Series game for the first time in almost exactly 29 years.

The last time such an occurrence took place was on October 27, 1985 when in Game 7 the Royals demolished the St. Louis Cardinals 11-0 to win their first and only World Series title. Bret Saberhagen, the Royals’ 21-year old ace who would win the AL Cy Young that season, hurled a complete game, five-hit shutout. Saberhagen got Cardinals outfielder Andy Van Slyke to make the final out by hitting a fly ball into the glove of rightfielder Darryl Motley. I will always remember Saberhagen and George Brett embracing on the mound. 

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A Further Perspective

Ebola vs. ‘The Last Ship’: One of Them Isn’t Fiction

By 10.20.14

I’m embarrassed to admit that this summer I watched a new cable TV series called The Last Ship. When I stumbled on a TNT trailer of the new series featuring the use of a Navy ship and authentic shipboard scenes, I decided to watch the first episode. It was pretty lame drama, but I was hooked.

The premise of the series is that a deadly virus has spread around the world, decimating the population, and a doctor on board an uninfected U.S. naval vessel is the only hope of developing a vaccine to save the world.

The mission is simple: Find a cure. Stop the virus. Save the world. The crew of 217 men and women of the lone unaffected U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer, the USS Nathan James (DDG-151), must find a way to pull humanity from the brink of extinction.

The reality of the current Ebola outbreak in Africa, which has spread to the U.S. and elsewhere, is a forceful reminder that the TV series is only fiction. This current epidemic is a very real danger that can’t be solved before the next commercial break.

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Ben Stein's Diary

About the Stock Market’s Correction

By 10.17.14

A few humble thoughts about the stock market’s recent correction:

We all knew the market was too high. You would be hard pressed to find any observer who did not think that the market was poised for a fall. So, now we have our correction.

There is no sign at this point of a drastic fall in corporate profits, the main driver of stock prices. Except in the oil sector, profits are superb. This can and will change but it has not changed yet.

There is rarely a huge correction that lingers without either a liquidity crisis — i.e., a drastic fall in available credit or else a generalized depreciation of the dollar — i.e., inflation — or a generalized depreciation in asset values, i.e., deflation. Despite much talk to the contrary, there is at this point no sign at all of general deflation in any large industrial area, and very little inflation. There is no sign of a major bank failure or a shortage of capital. Indeed, capital is cheap and plentiful worldwide.

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