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The Bootblack Stand

Of Aliens and Isolationists

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

Mr. Plunkitt—

In expectation of runnin’ for president, I’ve been workin’ with a language coach. But I still keep gettin’ tripped up. The other day I was at a nice Dallas café, and I ordered two Buds Lite and the chef’s special paninus. The waiter looked at me funny and then asked me to meet him in the alley. I never even got my sandwich! How do I make myself seem smart without coming across as a faker?

Rick Perry
Governor of Texas


What makes you so sure the American people want a member of the intelligentsia in the White House? After all, they did elect that dolt Zachary Taylor. No, what Americans want is a man with true grit. A man who wears sandpaper boxer shorts. One who’s willing to eat the larva at the bottom of the tequila bottle, or to lick an electric fence, just to taste the voltage. A man who’s not afraid to make love to his first and only wife under the twinkling stars, after breaking into the local planetarium.

Might you be such a man?

Mr. Plunkitt—

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Ben Stein's Diary

The Death of Ben Bradlee

By 10.22.14

Wow. The death of Ben Bradlee. We are all mortal.

Naturally, I disliked him very much for his harm to the ultimate peacemaker, Richard M. Nixon. But when I looked up Mr. Bradlee in Wikipedia (sometimes reliable, sometimes not), I was staggered by something that had long been lurking in my old brain and now becomes crystal clear. Two things, in fact.

First of all, I had always thought that the Beautiful People in the Northeast, Hollywood, and D.C. loathed Nixon because they thought he was way below their social station. After all, his first major target was a New England Blue Blood Communist spy, Alger Hiss of Harvard. When Nixon drew blood with that attack, the gauntlet was thrown down to avenge Mr. Hiss.

So, now I see that Ben Bradlee has about the fanciest pedigree that anyone I have ever seen on Wikipedia has had. Descended from European Royalty in about ten different ways. Heir to substantial wealth in New York and Boston. Boarded at St. Mark’s School, a super waspy redoubt. Harvard, naturally.

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At Large

Goodbye to Australia’s Worst P.M.

By 10.21.14

Australia’s worst-ever Prime Minister, Edward Gough Whitlam, died on Monday, aged 98.

Whitlam and the Australian Labor Party came to power at the end of 1972, inheriting from the previous Liberal (i.e. conservative) Government a stable, prosperous country which they proceeded to run into the ground. Australia was a long time recovering from their legacy of folly and criminality.

Whitlam’s very first action as Prime Minister was to restore the passport of Wilfrid Burchett, the Australian traitor and KGB operative who had helped interrogate allied prisoners of war in North Korea and helped fabricate fake germ-warfare confessions.

To gain credence in the Third World, Whitlam granted Papua New Guinea independence long before it had a trained and educated class capable of running it. Despite mineral wealth, it is now a typical corrupt broken-backed third world state, kept barely afloat by Australian aid.

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Main Street U.S.A.

Why Wendy Can’t Win

By 10.21.14

“(Wendy) Davis is running (for governor) against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is heavily favored to win in a state that remains strongly Republican.” — Katie Glueck, in “Wendy Davis and the ever-longer odds,” Politico, Oct. 19.

Yes, yes, lady, fine; you got it. But this is barely to scratch the surface of the thing.

Why does Texas, a pulsating, change-oriented state, full of young people, full of minorities, full of those women the Republicans are alleged (by Democrats) to be running a “war” against — how come Texas “remains strongly Republican”? Which it does and probably will for a while longer, barring divine intervention.

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Political Hay

A Time for Choosing at 50

By 10.21.14

October 27, 1964. Fifty years ago. It was a Tuesday night, one week from election day. As the Johnson-Goldwater campaign wound to its end, with Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society liberalism he was championing poised to win in a landslide over GOP nominee Senator Barry Goldwater, Americans turned on their television sets to see one last political commercial. They quickly discovered a very familiar face in a very unfamiliar setting.

Actor Ronald Reagan, longtime movie and TV star, newly the host and occasional star of Death Valley Days, a weekly TV series based on the old West, was introduced by an off-screen voice for a “thoughtful address” sponsored by the Goldwater campaign. Suddenly, there was actor Reagan (here) standing behind a bunting-draped podium in front of a live audience. Within seconds, Reagan was on his way to changing American history. He began as follows:

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Media Matters

Predatory Journalism at the New York Times

By 10.21.14

The New York Times is again on the warpath against what it calls “predatory lending.”

Just what is predatory lending? It is lending that charges a higher interest rate than people like those at the New York Times approve of. According to such thinking — or lack of thinking — the answer is to have the government set an interest rate ceiling at a level that will be acceptable to third parties like the New York Times.

People who believe in government-set price controls — whether on interest rates charged for loans, rents charged for housing, or wages paid under minimum wage laws — seem to think that this is the end of the story. Yet there is a vast literature on the economic repercussions of price controls.

Whole books have been written just on the repercussions of rent control laws in countries around the world.

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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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