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Who Moved My Media?

By 12.8.14

For years, the Washington press corps has been telling us that our medical delivery system was antiquated and unable to meet the needs of its 21st century customers. The journalists of the legacy media frequently suggested that opposition to a government-imposed solution to this very real problem was rooted in ignorance, irrational fear of change, or venality. Over the past several days, we have had the opportunity to observe some of these people react to a similar upheaval in their own industry, and the response has been instructive. Oddly enough, they have exhibited a surprising affinity for the status quo.

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Loose Canons

Republicans Reject Their Mandate

By 12.8.14

Mary Landrieu’s defeat in Louisiana on Saturday should have put paid to Obama’s statism. But it didn’t because Republicans evidently have dedicated themselves to throwing away the mandate to end Obamaism that voters gave them in November. Some used to call the Republicans the “stupid party,” but what is going on now goes much farther than mere stupidity can account for.

How else can you view the responses to Obama’s unconstitutional — and hence, illegal — immigration amnesty declaration? The problem extends far beyond that, but the immigration amnesty is the most apt example because it is the most current.

Last Wednesday, House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) — certainly not to be confused with anti-amnesty stalwart Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) — made a startling statement. Pete Sessions said that Republican leaders intend to push an amnesty bill through in January that would subject only the most dangerous illegal alien criminals to deportation.

Let me say that again: the Republican leaders of the House want to endorse Obama’s action by passing a law to embrace it and call it their own.

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The Environmental Spectator

The Missing Hurricanes

By 12.8.14

As the telephone rang, the screen said it was Henny-Penny calling. I hadn’t heard from her since she resigned as Founder and Recording Secretary of The Holy Order of the Sky is Falling and became a global warming skeptic. 

Me: “What’s new?”

H-P: “Hurricanes.”

Me: “But we don’t have hurricanes in California.”

H-P: “I’m talking about the big picture. An official report has just been released. Not one hurricane has made landfall in Florida for nine consecutive years. That’s a modern record.”

Me: “Good news, alright, but bad for Al Gore the erstwhile Pontiff of the Holy Order of the Sky is Falling. It was about nine years ago he predicted a series of hurricanes that would devastate Florida and the East Coast. He said it would all be due to global warming caused by greedy humans enjoying a good standard of living by using electricity and driving SUVs.”

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The Nation's Pulse

America’s ‘Other’ Inequality

By 12.8.14

There is a highly unequal distribution of common decency between most Americans and those who abuse the welfare state. But amid the ongoing hubbub about income and wealth inequality, this disparity of propriety gets short shrift. Forget the monetary cost. It’s the social price tag—and its polarization of politics—that’s killing us.

Let’s be clear, I do not mean to single out Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” of the U.S. population that receives some form of government benefit. Rather, I mean to focus upon those who abuse Uncle Sam’s generosity.

Although waste, fraud, and abuse isn’t breaking the bank, it’s no small line item. According to the U.S. government’s own estimates, 5.2 percent ($98.7 billion) of its social program payments are “improper”—meaning that the payment went to the wrong person, the payment amount was incorrect, there was no documentation justifying a payment, or the beneficiary used the payment on something for which it wasn’t intended.

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Special Report

Mad Sounding Meds: Is This Any Way to Treat a Condition?

By 12.8.14

My friend said he was stunned by the headline in the Wall Street Journal, “ACTIVIS, ALLERGAN NEAR DEAL.” He said the article went on to talk about a flirtation with Zoetis, while Salix waited in the wings. I had no clue what he was talking about. 

The story was all about a corporate drama unfolding in what is known as Big Pharma. Problem is, no one except those familiar with the industry would know any of the players. In Big Pharma the corporate names are as bizarre and confusing as the names of their products, all of which need FDA approval.

For example, just imagine ingesting yohimbine or phentermine. Those sound like something that a medicine man might have prescribed for a skin rash or chronic gastric distress. No thanks, I’ll leave those to the aliens for whom those exotic names are familiar. 

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Another Perspective

In Defense of Religious Mediocrity

By 12.8.14

Rob Bell was a nationally renowned popular Evangelical Michigan megachurch founder and pastor (one of Time’s100 most influential people!) until his 2011 book Love Wins questioned traditional Christian understandings about salvation and damnation. He was following the trajectory of other post-Evangelicals towards liberal Protestantism and well beyond. Bell lost his pastorate and much of his Evangelical following, a fall meriting a New York Times feature.

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Another Perspective

Don’t Misunderstand: I Like Prince Charles

By 12.8.14

In one of my recent articles for The American Spectator I mentioned Prince Charles, in the context of some daffy clergyman opining that his coronation ceremony (a Christian sacrament, incidentally) should be opened by a reading from the Koran.

I found the near-uniform hostility and contempt for him expressed in readers’ letters a little surprising.

I have only met Prince Charles once. I was presented to him at a reception as chairman of the Victoria League for Commonwealth Friendship in Western Australia. He asked me what I did, and I, who am quite used to VIPs (I have worked for a couple), and for that matter have addressed a jury in a murder trial, found myself speechless, while a group of socialist politicians behind me clambered over one another like alligators in a pit for the chance of a Royal handshake.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Something Sick Is Happening

By 12.5.14

A few humble thoughts about the recent anger and disturbances in New York and elsewhere about alleged police brutality.

1. The crowds in Gotham were tiny. Hundreds at most. Maybe a few thousand for a while. But the MSM is going crazy as if it were a major event.

Your ancient correspondent remembers walking in anti-war demonstrations in Fun City, where I now am, where there were millions. These demonstrations are peanuts.

2. But they are mostly peaceful and that is a triumph. A genuine victory for America and decency.

3. You get a good idea of what’s going on if I tell you that I was at the Harvard Club for most of the evening and it was totally silent, with the usual collection of eccentrics. Then I went to the Yale Club, where the University of Virginia was having a wild, loud party in the lounge, with many UVA co-eds or alums in super-high bad-girl heels.

Both clubs are near supposed major loci of demonstrations, but you could not tell it from what I saw — which was nothing.

This tells you nothing about police behavior but a lot about how much the beautiful people care about it.

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In Memoriam

Goodbye to a Man Who Saved His Country

By 12.5.14

The Rt. Honorable R.G. Withers, Privy Councillor to the Queen, who has died in Perth, was the major figure in bringing down the Whitlam Labor Government in 1975 and saving Australia from the Whitlam’s “21 Bills” which, if passed, would have destroyed the Australian Constitution and created a statist dictatorship.

Despite his cynical and larrikin image (he was nick-named “The Toe-cutter”) Withers, who during the war had served at sea as a naval coder, was a deeply learned man with a profound knowledge of history.

This helped him see the menace to democracy of Labor’s bills and made him an advocate of impressive power. He went on to become Minister for Administrative Services but his achievement in putting backbone into the opposition to Gough Whitlam’s shambolic socialist government was probably his finest hour.

The voluminous tributes from a leftist media to Whitlam, who died a few days previously, completely failed to mention these bills, which Withers in 1975 roused the Opposition in the Senate to block.

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Special Report

Eric Garner, Tax Martyr

By 12.5.14

The protesters picked the wrong poster child.

Michael Brown stole tobacco. Eric Garner sold it.

Michael Brown assaulted a cop. Cops assaulted Eric Garner.

Eric Garner provided a public service in the free market. Michael Brown proved a public nuisance by regarding the market as free.

Michael Brown taunted: “You’re too much of a f---ing p-ssy to shoot me!” Eric Garner pleaded: “I can’t breathe!”

Note the not-exactly subtle differences between the cases of two towering black men weighing over 300 pounds. These surely eclipse the superficial similarities between the dead pair at the hands of police. Some, on either side of the controversies, can’t see through color or size to grasp the massive, black-and-white differences.

Despite damning video evidence showing police ignoring protocol and proportion, a grand jury declined to bring an indictment against a policeman placing the Staten Island “loosie” cigarette salesman in a chokehold—surely more rear-naked choke than headlock—precipitating a police pile on the nonviolent suspect in July.

The autopsy announced “homicide.” The grand jury announced “no true bill.”

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