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Willie on Willie — Revelations and Recollections

By 6.22.15

It’s a Long Story: My Life
By Willie Nelson with David Ritz
(Little, Brown, 392 pages, $30)

We’re at a scratchy point in our history just now, as we often are, with a lot of sharp-elbows being thrown between the races, the sexes, various political and economic factions. Not the worst we’ve ever seen. But not business as usual either. If some researcher took time away from our current conflicts to identify what more Americans like and agree on than anything else, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it’s Willie Nelson and his music. (A lot of overseas precincts would agree as well.)

Ben Stein's Diary

The Blessings of Father’s Day

By 6.22.15

It is hot here in Beverly Hills. I flew in from Dulles last night on Virgin America. It is a great flight in terms of leg room, but the food was criminally bad. Just stunningly awful. Who eats food like that? Rice pilaf? In the USA? What?

I am still reeling about the shootings in Charleston. I did some calculations, along with my trusty friend Bob. Dylann Storm Roof (the “storm” is a phony to show he was a Neo-Nazi) murdered nine faithful black Christians in about two hours last Wednesday. It is a national tragedy and should be.

Every ten hours — roughly — black Americans kill nine black Americans, on average, day after day, and again, these are rough calculations. That’s every day. This in no way lessens Dylann Roof’s sin. But it shows how sorrowful is the condition of Black America. Why is it so bad? Because black male children grow up without fathers in the home. Tragedy.

The Right Prescription

King vs. Humbug

By 6.22.15

A week from today, the Supreme Court will tell us whether it is now legally permissible for Executive Branch bureaucrats to rewrite laws that fail to fit their statist agenda. And, the unctuous posturing of Obamacare apologists notwithstanding, that’s all King v. Burwell is about. It will answer one question: Can Barack Obama and his scofflaw administration get away with enacting a statute that was never passed by Congress? Yet, listening to the President, congressional Democrats, and the media, it’s about whether “reform” will be gutted and untold millions deprived of “affordable” insurance coverage. What a bunch of sanctimonious BS.

Free Market Accountability Project

Government Should Stop Subsidizing Tesla, Billionaire Musk

By 6.22.15

Multibillionaire Elon Musk made his first billion as the inventor of PayPal — and, as we all know, the first billion is the hardest.

Musk once showed he knew how to fill a market niche, but lately he has specialized in taking the easy way to more wealth, bilking taxpayers out of billions of dollars through various crony socialist schemes requiring generous state and federal subsidies doled out to his high tech money-losing efforts.

The amount of money the government gives to Musk is a truly shameful, indefensible example of welfare for the well-to-do.

Musk invested the money he made in PayPal in companies making electric cars (Tesla Motors), selling solar panels (SolarCity Corp.), and making and flying rockets (SpaceX).

Together, Tesla, SolarCity, and SpaceX have benefited from more than $4.9 billion in subsidies, tax credits, grants, and payments, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Public Policy

Public Safety Was the Last Thing on Their Minds

By 6.22.15

Everyone has a story: The time an unlicensed driver rear-ended me. The time an unlicensed driver ran a red light and killed a co-worker’s dog as her husband was walking the dog in a crosswalk. It seems as if there are so many unlicensed drivers in California that authorities are not capable of deterring the unlicensed from getting behind the wheel.

In fact, according to a report by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, 17 percent of licensed California drivers have suspended driver’s licenses — not for dangerous driving but for failing to pay off citations for minor traffic offenses. In March, the U.S. Department of Justice faulted authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, for engaging in a toxic pattern of burying African-American residents in fines and penalties for minor offenses with the goal of serving “revenue rather than public safety needs.” It turns out California has been dishing out the same dirty treatment to its diverse commuting class.

A Further Perspective

Terror, Sanctions, and a Chinese Wall

By 6.21.15

The State Department on Friday released its Annual Report on Terrorism, and we can read all about it in the Washington Post. We learn that there was a 35 percent increase in terrorist attacks around the world, “driven by extremist groups in the Middle East and Africa.” In Iraq, these “extremist groups” have declared “a caliphate.” For our State Department—and its propaganda arm—Islam is the religion that dare not speak its name.

Main Street U.S.A.

A Moral Moment

By 6.21.15

Each in his own way, each to a wholly different purpose, the pope and Dylann Roof, the suspected Charleston gunman, have hold of something major.

Which is — I trust I do not surprise anyone — the failings of the liberated human spirit.

Let’s see what we can do with this improbable pairing.

First, consider Pope Francis. To quote a Wall Street Journal headline, “Pope Blames Markets for Environmental Ills.” Markets? Meaning what? Meaning the virtually uninhibited choice that economic markets offer consumers: I’ll have some of this; I’ll have some of that. For the environment’s degraded condition the pope, in a new encyclical, blames bad choices, reflecting “the interest of the deified market, which become the only rule.” Francis would enjoin, as he sees it, more responsible choices, concerning stewardship of our earthly home and its resources.

A Bigger Perspective

A Call to Courage in the Hour of Evil

By 6.19.15

Among the nine innocents murdered at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston Carolina this past Wednesday was Pastor Clementa Pinckney. Reverend Pinckney is my cousin, and our parents lived just across the field growing up in Marion, South Carolina. Our families have remained very close over the years. I knew them before I knew the world. We were all molded from the same clay.

Pastor Pinckney was the real deal. He was always one of the bright ones. He did very well in school, and was called to preach at the age of 13. By the age of 18 he had become a pastor. After college he served as an intern for a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. When she retired, Clementa ran for her seat, and at the age of 23 was the youngest person ever elected to serve in the House. In another unprecedented achievement, Pinckney was elected to the South Carolina Senate at age 27. In between raising a family and serving as a pastor, Pinckney earned at least two masters degrees. At the age of 41 he was just beginning to fulfill all of the promise his hard work and dedication had earned him.

Ben Stein's Diary

‘We Just Have to Stay Prayed Up’

By 6.19.15

I learned about the killings in Charleston Thursday as I was driving around the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, across its flat gray endless horizons. At first, I could not believe it was possible. This is 2015, not 1964. I know and love South Carolina and spend much of the year in Greenville. I have never seen more harmonious race relations anywhere.

But it was true. A deranged 21 year old with a brutal paranoia and a brutal gun had killed nine people just as they sat and prayed.

Little by little the news filtered out. As is always the case, he did not have many friends. His parents were divorced. He spent a lot of time playing video games. He had drug problems. Recently, he had reportedly been put on a potent opiate called Suboxone often used to get people off illegal street drugs like spice and bath salts. I know the subject well. 

So, it’s a story about kids and guns, about drugs, about hate — he told his victims he was killing them because they were black and were raping white women. It’s just a horrible story. I thought about it all day as titanic lightning and thunder storms barreled through the Eastern Shore and across the Bay.

The Nation's Pulse

Meet the New Boss

By 6.19.15

Twenty-five-year-old bosses are the next big thing. The next big, little thing, that is. From the digital pages of Forbes, who should know something about the matter, we hear that more and more old(er) workers are reporting to young(er) bosses. Grok this:

According to human resource and career consultants, older workers are reporting to younger bosses more and more these days. A 2014 survey by the jobs website CareerBuilder found that 38% of workers reported that they currently work for a younger boss.