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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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Special Report

The New York Times Rediscovers Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq

By 10.17.14

What a difference a decade makes! When it was first reported in May 2004 that Saddam-era chemical weapons shells had injured U.S. troops, the editors of the New York Times dismissed that, “Finding some residual weapons that had escaped a large-scale destruction program would be no great surprise and if the chemicals had degraded, no major threat.” Now, a major New York Times report on the issue has been followed by an editorial warning of “A Deadly Legacy in Iraq”: some 5,000 chemical shells have been discovered over the years in Iraq by U.S. or U.S.-trained Iraqi forces. Many more such munitions litter the wreckage of an old Iraqi weapons facility northwest of Baghdad, which the Islamic State captured in June.

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The Nation's Pulse

What a Waste It Is to Prevent Waste

By 10.17.14

Ballot questions empower voters to speak the most glorious word in the English language: No.

It’s efficient. Using just two letters it nevertheless possesses more power than any four-letter word. It’s easy to remember with its components falling sequentially in the alphabet. It’s direct. There’s no “on the other hand” or “maybe” ambiguity in “no.”

“No means no,” public-service announcements thankfully remind fraternity brothers and roofie-wielding last-call vultures. The catchphrase merits repeating on political adverts.

Denizens of Massachusetts, displeased with the state legislature repeatedly balking at expanding the bottle bill to apply to flimsy water containers, have taken their campaign directly to the people. Question 2 seeks to compel consumers to pay an extra tax when purchasing a Gatorade, Snapple, or other non-carbonated beverage not currently requiring a deposit charge. The state now charges a nickel. The initiative directs increases automatically tied to inflation.

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The Charlie Watch

Scott Hits the Fan

By 10.17.14

It’s not easy to look less coherent, less prepared, less thoughtful, more bizarre than Charlie Crist. Many veteran Charlie-watchers didn’t believe it could be done. Until Wednesday night, that is, when Republican Florida governor Rick Scott managed to pull it off.

In the first day of Electoral Politics 101 we learn that in televised debates the first rule is don’t commit a gaffe. Don’t do or say something dumb that might cost votes. Scott broke that rule Wednesday.

So many newspaper and Internet images of the Wednesday night debate at Broward College show just one candidate on the stage — Crist. That’s because for several minutes after the debate was scheduled to begin, Scott refused to take the stage. He wouldn’t come on because Crist had a small fan behind his podium. Those who’ve seen the coverage of the event know I’m not making this up.

Crist has a fan on him when he makes public talks in order not to be seen sweating. Considering the left-wing nonsense Crist is retailing these days, perhaps he should sweat. But let it pass for now.

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At Large

England and Shame: The Hamas Vote

By 10.17.14

I am half-English, half-Australian. My forebears came over with William the Conqueror from Maine and Anjou in 1066 and sank deep roots in Shropshire, the most English of English counties. My dear wife is English, and it was in England that I met her, in the lovely Cotswolds. The images of “Englishness” are deep in my whole mental makeup. I have been deeply aware of England’s contribution to what is humane and decent in civilization. When Australia had a referendum as to whether it ought to become a republic, independent of the British Crown, I did my best to work for the Royalist cause (we won).

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