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Cashiering Andy Jackson

By 4.21.15

Andrew Jackson was sort of a rough-and-tumble president, undoubtedly, but the United States, in the 1820s and ’30s, was sort of a rough-and-tumble country. Notice how refined and civilized we’ve gotten since then, to the point that a coalition of lady activists is ready to pull President Jackson’s mug off the $20 bill, substituting — well, that’s yet to be decided.

New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s notion is that whoever we come up with for a replacement needs to be female, there being no other females on our paper currency. An online poll suggests Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and — get ready — Wilma Mankiller, a former chieftains of the Cherokees.

Mankiller’s promotion to greenback celebrity — viewed apart from her titillating name — would be seen, most likely, as an act of overdue retribution. According to one kick-out-Jackson activist, our country’s seventh president “engineered a genocide” by conspiring with Congress to drive the Cherokees, at bayonet’s point, out of the Southeast and into Oklahoma.

The Nation's Pulse

An Afternoon With Carol Burnett

By 4.21.15

One of the most endearing qualities of Carol Burnett’s comedy is her willingness to answer questions from her audience. The spontaneous nature of these exchanges demonstrates her ability to work a room and shows Burnett at her funniest. Hillary Clinton could learn a thing or two from her.

Burnett, who will turn 82 next week, can still connect with an audience as she demonstrated this past Sunday afternoon at Boston’s Symphony Hall. Unfortunately, due to a cold she was unable to do her trademark Tarzan yell. She also needed to sit down midway through the show. But this did not diminish her spirit nor her wit, which remains razor sharp. When an audience member asked Burnett what drew her to comedy, she quipped, “My face.” This brought much laughter and there was a lot more from where that came.


The Smear of Congressman Bill Shuster

By 4.21.15

It was a smear. A political hit job. 

The headlines were everywhere, particularly here in the home state of Pennsylvania’s Congressman Bill Shuster. Shuster, who represents the state’s 9th District, serves as the chairman of the powerful U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headlined the story this way:

Legislation tainted by Rep. Bill Shuster’s relationship with airline lobbyist, critics say

The Allentown Morning Call gasped

PA Congressman Bill Shuster admits to ‘personal relationship’ with airlines lobbyist

Ben Stein's Diary

Obama’s Jet Lag Diplomacy

By 4.20.15

Now, here’s a continuing problem. Once again, someone has created false, fake Facebook “posts” ostensibly but not really from me. This has been going on for years. I don’t even have a Facebook page. I never made one. I don’t know how to make one.

But some evil person made one years ago that has a photo of my wife, falsely says that’s me, and says I live in a “domestic partnership,” while in fact I have been married since 1968.

Some wicked liar made up a post of me saying I was gay about two years ago. This led to a barrage of e-mail saying how great it was that I was gay!!! But it wasn’t true.

Then there have been other fake “posts.” Today’s are about yours truly supposedly saying that there are such things as “chemtrails” of chemicals sprayed into the air by some mysterious entity to make us stupid. I never said any such thing and I don’t believe it.

There’s also some fake “post” of me supposedly saying Chelsea Clinton should be the next ambassador to Libya. I have seen this one floating around the Internet, but I never said it or sent it.

Political Hay

Lincoln for President!

By 4.20.15

Few political observers were surprised in May of 2013 when Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee completed his leftward ideological makeover and became a Democrat.

During his seven years in the Senate, Chafee was consistently the most liberal Republican. Yet that only went so far with Ocean State voters, some of the nation’s most devoutly Democratic. In the November 2006 Democratic wave, Chafee got tossed from office — after only narrowly surviving a Republican primary challenge from the right.

Undaunted, Chafee in 2010 sought — and won — the Rhode Island governorship as an independent. In Providence, he governed from the left, proposing an array of tax increases. He memorably refused to call the Christmas tree at the Rhode Island State House what it was. He referred to the towering fir, decorated with lights, tinsel, and toys, as a “holiday tree,” insisting that “I’m representing all of Rhode Island, I have to be respectful of everyone.”

Chafee finally just became a Democrat. But in September 2013, facing low approval ratings, he announced he would not seek re-election for a second term as governor.

Special Report

God Bless the Doolittle Raiders

By 4.20.15

It may have been the most unexpected, certainly one of the most heroic wake-up calls in history. It should be remembered and honored more than it is.

The spring of 1942 was not a happy time for civilization. Hitler and his Nazis owned or controlled most of Europe. After committing mass murder and mayhem at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy was rampaging unchecked in the Pacific, pitching a shutout against the underequipped and undermanned Brits and Americans. Almost as much of America’s Pacific fleet lay at the bottom of Pearl Harbor than was available to engage the Japanese.

The game-changing sea battles at Coral Sea and Midway would tilt the Pacific equation more in the Allies’ favor in May and June. But in April, Americans were starved for good news. Starved for any indication that we could strike back at our enemies. Enter 80 American heroes, volunteers, who managed to do what no civilian and almost no one in uniform thought was possible in April of 1942, to bomb the mainland of Japan.

The Right Prescription

What Part of ‘No’ Does HHS Not Get?

By 4.20.15

The Supreme Court has again thwarted the Obama administration’s illegal crusade to coerce employers into violating their religious convictions. Late last Wednesday, Associate Justice Samuel Alito stayed an order secured by the administration in a lower court that would have forced several Catholic organizations to comply with Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Despite a high-profile Supreme Court defeat last June in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, President Obama’s HHS bureaucrats and lawyers have continued their attempts to bully obviously exempt entities into obeying the mandate. Justice Alito’s action constitutes the fifth time SCOTUS has been compelled to rein the government in.

Car Guy

The End of AM/FM Radio?

By 4.20.15

A new car without a radio?

It sounds as unthinkable as a new car without floor mats or a heater. But there is a real danger that your next new car might come without an AM/FM receiver.

Or, might cost you extra.


As unthinkable as it sounds — and as undesirable as it would be (based on known consumer preferences; more on that in a minute) — there is chatter in Detroit that the car industry is giving thought to retiring the AM/FM receiver in favor of music piped into the car via subscription-based satellite radio, iPods, smartphones, and various mobile apps.

Rather than these technologies supplementing AM/FM radio — as they do right now — they would replace it.

Leaving you in the dark.

Well, in the quiet.

Unless you opened up your wallet and paid for the satellite radio hook-up.

Lifestyles Left and Right

Confit and Blood Sausage in the Hub of Social Justice

By 4.20.15

San Francisco is foodie heaven. If you want to eat out, you will never lack for options. That’s the plus side. On the downside, Ess Eff menus are getting so precious they take the fun out of eating.

You practically need a doctorate to read a menu in this town. I studied Latin and speak some Italian, and still I was stumped at the menu at a high-end Italian eatery. Friends had invited us to join them for dinner and had put down a $50 deposit for the reservation. I peeked online at the menu beforehand. Alas, the big foodie trend is to overcomplicate and over-describe meals. The first antipasto: “chicken liver mousse, spiced pear marmellata and balsamic gelatina.”

“Are there really people who want to eat liver with pear jam and vinegar Jell-O?” I asked my esteemed colleagues, who were trying to work. Comrade Caille Millner, who is far more sophisticated than I when it comes to matters of the palate, said she happily would eat the dish.

A Further Perspective

The Manufactured Drought

By 4.20.15

California is in the third or fourth year of a drought. It is not the first one. There was one in the early ’90s that lasted about the same length of time.

Restrictions were placed on watering lawns, washing cars and so forth, but that was before Climate Change had been invented, so people took it in stride and, in time, the rains came again.

This year’s drought drew national attention when governor Jerry Brown called for a 25 percent reduction statewide in water use. Alas, the drought is unevenly distributed. On the north coast, rainfall is close to normal and there is enough water stored not only for this year, but also for another year or two. Where there is not enough water storage—and it is aggravating the effects of the drought—is the state’s great Central Valley. 

There has not been a new reservoir built as part of the statewide system in 35 years, thanks to the organized opposition of environmental zealots who claim that dams prevent salmon and trout from spawning. That is a diversionary argument. No dams means a reduction in economic activity such as agriculture. This is a goal the environmental zealots pursue non-stop.