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A Further Perspective

From Kent State to Ferguson

By 8.19.14

Ah, social justice. Here we go again—and it is again. Consider these words:

The first issue is the unfilled promise of full justice and dignity for Blacks and other minorities. Blacks, like many others of different races and ethnic origins, are demanding today that the pledges of the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation be fulfilled now. Full social justice and dignity—an end to racism in all its human, social and cultural forms—is a central demand of today’s students—black, brown, and white.

This might sound like something coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, right now. But in fact I have just quoted the preface to a report by the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest issued in September, 1970 following the shooting of four white students at Ohio’s Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard on May 4. The Kent State shootings were followed in turn eleven days later by the police killing of two students, both black, at Mississippi’s Jackson State.

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Political Hay

Lehmberg Democrats Drunk on Their Own Power

By 8.19.14

You might not have seen the arrest or jailhouse videos from Rosemary Lehmberg’s DWI episode when it happened in the spring of 2013, but there’s a good chance you saw them over the weekend. If you still haven’t, we can fix that by having you click here and here.

That Lehmberg, district attorney for Travis County, Texas, isn’t at least as famous as Toronto's crack-smoking mayor Rob Ford is no surprise. Given how sloppy and belligerent she was during the arrest, not to mention her staggering blood-alcohol level of .239 (three times the legal limit), it is a bit odd that she was a virtual unknown outside the state of Texas until over the weekend.

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Buy the Book

Semper-Fi on Four Legs

By 8.19.14

Reckless: The Racehorse Who Became a Marine Corps Hero
By Tom Clavin
(NAL/Penguin, 308 pages, $28.95)

Tom Clavin’s Reckless is a story of courage and sacrifice and suffering and of the remarkable bond that can develop between man and animals. It’s the story of brave Marines who gave their all in a brutal war that was called a “police action,” a war which few Americans paid much attention to, or gave much due to the warriors who fought it on their behalf.

There are many heroes in this book, Americans who can never be thanked enough for their sacrifice and their service. Central to the story is a 900-pound, female Marine with four legs, a former Korean racehorse named Reckless, who eventually ran for much higher stakes than she ever would have on any racetrack.

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Dictator Watch

Cairo and Moscow: So Happy Together

By 8.19.14

While America’s attention was focused on Kim Kardashian’s new book of selfies, the Ebola virus, and events in Gaza, Iraq, Ukraine, and Ferguson, Missouri, a single 130-word Wall Street Journal dispatch last Tuesday described events in Sochi, Russia, that might portend a dangerous shift in the allegiance of one of America’s most important allies.

Though it missed the attention of most news editors, newly elected Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi arrived a week ago Monday in Sochi for two days with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Black Sea coast.

The duo toured the Olympic cross-country ski center, but not until Al-Sisi got to view an elaborate and tempting display of Russian military hardware that Putin had kindly set out before him, right there at the Sochi airport. Al-Sisi was barely out of his plane before he was gazing upon a massive array of armored vehicles, missile systems, and other weapons goodies — all of them available for sale. 

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A Further Perspective

Random Thoughts

By 8.19.14

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

I don’t know why we are spending our hard-earned money paying taxes to support a criminal justice system, when issues of guilt and innocence are being determined on television — and even punishment is being meted out by CNN’s showing the home and address of the policeman accused in the Ferguson, Missouri shooting.

One of the big differences between Democrats and Republicans is that we at least know what the Democrats stand for, whether we agree with it or not. But, for Republicans, we have to guess.

It is amazing how many otherwise sane people want Israel to become the first nation in history to respond to military attacks by restricting what they do, so that it is “proportionate” to the damage inflicted by the attacks.

Amid all the things being said on all sides about the massive, illegal influx of children from countries in Central America, we have yet to hear some American parent saying, “I don’t owe it to anybody to have my child exposed to diseases brought into this country, no matter what problems exist in other countries!”

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Special Report

SketchFactor and Its Skittish Critics

By 8.19.14

There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery — then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” Jesse Jackson

The inventors of a new iPhone (and soon on Android) app called SketchFactor think that similar, albeit not necessarily race-based, concerns — such as caring for one’s personal safety — represent a market to be tapped.

Ongoing events in Ferguson, Missouri, make the debate about SketchFactor particularly timely since — although with hugely different levels of importance and emotion — both are causing debates over race relations and racism in the United States.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Popping the Asset Bubble

By 8.18.14

Sunday
My brain is racing. I have too much on my mind. Money, money, money. No, not my own money, which I spend so fast it’s like a fast breeder reactor. Except that those reactors somehow make more fuel and I don’t. Well, that metaphor won’t work. Let’s try another. No, not my money, which is my usual shame because my mother would die if she saw how fast I spent it, like a drunken sailor coming off a nuclear submarine. (There is that nuclear analogy.) But the nation’s money. That’s what I am worried about.

The Fed Chair, Dr. Yellen, has advised that she plans to see the short term Fed borrowing rate rise from .25 percent to 2.5 percent within about two years. This would mark the end of a fantastically long period of the Fed keeping interest rates at essentially zero.

My mind goes back to the great economist, Edward F. Denison, of the Committee for Economic Development. Dr. Denison wisely told my Pop that if an interest rate goes from one percent to two percent, that’s not a rise of one percent. That’s a rise of 100%.

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Main Street U.S.A.

The Lynching of Rick Perry

By 8.18.14

All across America, it seems, we have been hearing about the militarization of law enforcement. To the growing list of 21st century social and cultural disorders it seems timely to add the criminalization of political disagreement.

What else could the Rick Perry case be about? A governor, and sometime presidential candidate, indicted by a grand jury for a particular use of his constitutional veto power? Such are the dismaying dimensions of the matter.

No such thing, replies the special prosecutor who procured the indictment of Texas’ longest-serving governor. Michael McCrum finds “absolutely no basis” for the accusation that politics motivated the indictment, on account of his case’s grounding in “the facts and the law, and nothing else.”

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Live From New York

Bill de Blasio’s War on Education

By 8.18.14

With the next school year just a month away, New York City’s progressive mayor Bill de Blasio is continuing his war against academic achievement.

In his bid for mayor, de Blasio the class warrior cried that there are two New Yorks. He wasn’t entirely wrong: there’s the New York of Bill de Blasio and the New York of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo is an interesting character in American politics. As the Democratic Party moves to placates the left wing of its base—including teachers unions—Cuomo, setting his sights on a future White House bid, has been very tepid about moving too far from the center. He has compromised with the Republican-controlled state senate on many issues, one being charter schools.

Much to the chagrin of the progressive mayor, who seems to want to shackle lower-income children to underperforming public schools, Governor Cuomo worked with the legislature earlier this year to protect charter schools—and they seem set to thrive in the Big Apple.

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Constitutional Opinions

Put Not Your Trust in Judges

By 8.18.14

I’m old enough to remember the “Impeach Earl Warren” bumper stickers. They were produced by the hard-right John Birch Society, and most people thought them kooky. Still, they reflected the way many conservatives felt about the then-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 50 years ago, and the federal bench generally. The courts had expanded the rights of alleged criminals, struck down voting barriers and mandated school busing, and all this went down hard with conservatives.

Times have certainly changed. Now it’s conservatives who look to the courts to fix our political problems. Last month the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a crucial portion of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), and if that decision sticks it’s going to increase drastically the premiums people have to pay. That in turn would lead to tremendous pressure to repeal the law, and that’s just what conservatives want. The decision itself was a well-reasoned analysis of a poorly drafted law, but the case was brought by conservative activists who sought to torpedo a law they opposed.

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