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A Further Perspective

Hillary and Obama: Saying More Than Intended

By 11.3.14

Hillary Clinton has now joined Obama in making a decidedly anti-business remark. While the camps of both politicians attempted to explain these away as gaffes, they still raise a host questions. The most important of which is how these two top Democratic leaders actually feel about the private sector, in which the vast majority of Americans work.

The other week at a Boston rally, Hillary Clinton came out with this jaw-dropper: “Don’t let anybody tell you that corporations and businesses create jobs.” If that sounds more than vaguely reminiscent, it should. Obama said essentially the same thing in a 2012 campaign rally. Speaking about infrastructure and the wealthy paying higher taxes, Obama took verbal flight: “…If you've got a business — you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

While both politicians’ camps sought to undo the damage — Hillary doing so three days later at another Massachusetts rally — when two people of such importance make essentially the same huge mistake, it raises a host of questions America should be asking.

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Another Perspective

Drugs ’R Us — What About Those Side Effects?

By 11.3.14

The marketing of today’s wonder drugs, on which the pharmaceutical industry spends an estimated $4 billion a year, includes warnings about the potentially sinister side effects of those medications. The chilling disclaimers are found in the very fine print of magazine advertisements for the latest cholesterol inhibitor, or in the rapid-fire voice-over about side effects heard over and over again in TV ad spots touting pills for heart burn or insomnia.

For example, a popular sleep aid medication starkly warns of side effects including drowsiness, dizziness, diarrhea, vomiting, hallucinations, muscle aches and pains and even addictive dependency. Pretty tough trade off for good night’s sleep… even if the side effects are “rare and usually temporary,” as the disclaimer says. Sleep through the night, have hallucinations and diarrhea all day?

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Ben Stein's Diary

The Story on the Elections

By 11.1.14

So, let’s plunge right into it. What is the story on the elections?

First, to the extent that the elections are about the state of the economy, the Democrats should do surprisingly well. Here is why. The economy has revived very considerably from the Crash of 2008. That Crash was unequivocally caused by the policy failures of the Bush administration. The policies that saved us from a Great Depression were also created by the Bush administration, but who remembers those? And besides, the GOP is running from its own most successful economic gambits, the bank bailouts, a vital necessity when they happened. TARP and the saving of the big financial houses should be worn with pride by the GOP, but they are not.

The Obama administration’s immense deficits probably did help to stabilize the demand side of the economy. The piper — those damned deficits — will have to be paid, but that’s far in the future. The Democrats are happy to claim credit for stabilizing the economy when really most of it goes to Bush 43. If the GOP refuses to take credit even for what it did right, it has problems.

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A Further Perspective

Attractions of Islamism — Explored in Three Stories

By 10.31.14

In 1910, with Prussian militarism apparently the greatest looming threat to the British Empire and Western civilization, G. K. Chesterton published a novel, The Flying Inn, in which he argued the longest-lasting threat was Islam, and its attractiveness to a certain type of liberal mind.

In the story, the jaded British upper-class and smart set are captivated by a fashionable, nuanced variety of Islam, headed by the urbane, silver-tongued Nietzschean nihilist Lord Ivywood and a strange little Turk, Misyra Ammon.

The cross is replaced by trend-crazed clergymen on the spires of the great cathedrals with a multi-cultural, politically correct symbol combining cross and crescent, and alcohol is forbidden for working people (though the smart set can still obtain it for themselves). Furtive preparations are made to introduce polygamy and harems.

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The Nation's Pulse

The Growing Halloween Depravity of Grownups

By 10.31.14

Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers kill kids rushing to become adults. Is it too much to ask of the ghoulish trio to apply their talents toward adults rushing to become kids?

The grownups who have decimated the ranks of trick-or-treaters by aborting 10 million of them in the last decade offer penance for their sins against Halloween by dressing up in place of the missing children. The National Retail Federation estimates that adults will spend $1.4 billion on their own Halloween costumes this year. That’s $1.4 billion that they could have spent on man-cave clubhouses, a huge birthday party, a collection of Care Bears, or some other pastime recently favored by adults.

One way thirtysomething Halloween enthusiasts recoup the money spent on costumes involves not dispensing candy. One can’t help but notice the same couples, dressed in the late night as a sexy Ebola nurse and her doting patient, hiding in their kitchens with the lights out earlier in the evening when the doorbells ring.

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The Current Crisis

The Meaning of Goldwater

By 10.31.14

Adapted from remarks delivered on October 29 at a forum at Indiana University marking the 50th anniversary of Barry Goldwater’s presidential run.

Nineteen sixty-four was billed then and for years to come as the end of that era’s sudden political monstrosity, American conservatism. For years to come we were told that conservatism died, or committed suicide, in 1964 with the nomination of Barry Goldwater. And so ended—supposedly—another anomaly from America’s one-party state, at least for those who think it is right for there to be a one-party state within a democratic system.

Actually for us—those that are historically minded—1964 was not the end but the beginning, possibly the beginning of the beginning. It was the beginning of what has been for mainstream media—and come to think of it the Academy—the longest dying political movement in American history, American conservatism. Since 1964 conservatism’s obituaries have been filed with timely regularity—and I don’t know about you but I am actually feeling pretty good.

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The Public Policy

Make Offers to Public Employee Unions They Can’t Refuse

By 10.31.14

The recent statement by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein that public pensions deserve no special protection in municipal default has elicited understandable praise from fiscally sane observers. Alongside a similar ruling by the federal judge overseeing Detroit’s restructuring, Klein’s long awaited opinion in the case of Stockton, California, gives elected state and municipal officials nationwide needed leverage to begin rolling back unrealistic pension expectations.

But if the ability of bankrupt governments to treat pension debt on a par with other obligations results in nothing more than increased pressure on public employee unions to renegotiate extravagant retirement promises, the result will be, as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel might put it, “the waste of an opportune crisis.”

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Buy the Book

Reading the Reformist Manifesto

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

Room to Grow: Conservative Reforms For a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class
By Peter Wehener, Yuval Levin, et al.
(YG Network, 121 pages, Free)

Conservatism, properly understood, requires a healthy respect for the past as well as a clear-eyed appraisal of the present. So on paper, reform conservatism—billed by proponents as a movement to find new ways to apply conservative principles to contemporary problems—should appeal.

Many conservatives, however, find reform conservatism elitist, if they think of it at all. In the movement’s earliest iterations shortly after Barack Obama was elected president, it seemed to be pitched as a self-conscious alternative to the kind of conservatism embodied by the Tea Party.

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Campus Scenes

In Defense of Liberal Arts

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

Poor liberal arts. People don’t esteem the term—or its cousin, “liberal education”—very much these days, it seems. Evaluating the success or failure of an education now requires measurable outcomes, such as test scores or post-college employment. Learning is, more and more, about return on investment. K-12 education is increasingly focused on testing. In everyday conversation, the evaluation of a college major generally assumes the form of a question: “What can you do with that?”

This is a reasonable question, albeit one that liberal education finds itself mostly unable to answer. Conjuring the image of a thousand English majors working behind the counters of a thousand coffee shops, critics of liberal education demand to know what could possibly justify this outcome. Though the most popular major in America is, in fact, business, followed by the social sciences, nursing, education, and psychology—none of which are liberal arts subjects—it’s the useless liberal arts student, underemployed and deep in debt, that comes in for scrutiny.

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Special Report

About Those Cheating Tarheels

By 10.30.14

Right up until Wednesday, it was still possible for the University of North Carolina faithful to believe that the worst accusations against their school were little better than insinuation. The critics were just connecting dots, they’d tell themselves, even as it became abundantly clear to the disinterested observer that there was precious little space between those multitudinous dots. Now denial is no longer possible: all the lines have been penciled in, and the picture that has emerged is of the biggest scandal in college athletics history.

Over the last two decades, some 3,100 students, half of them athletes, have been taking phony classes in the African and Afro-American Studies department at UNC. There have been uglier scandals elsewhere involving drugs, violence, or money, but none that has so thoroughly undermined both the university’s purpose and the ideal of the student-athlete.

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