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The Free Market Optimist

Earth Day Shocker! Capitalism Saves the Planet! (Part I)

By 4.21.16

This Earth Day is different. Something BIG is changing fast… and not just the climate.

To everyone’s surprise, the war on climate change just morphed into what looks like an accidental free market triumph. Clean tech wind and solar energy entrepreneurs are kicking ass way beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, even in unsubsidized markets. Production costs are dropping so fast that reportedly, in 2015, the best executed utility scale wind and solar projects became (without subsidies) cheaper than gas or coal.

And this despite a massive drop in fossil fuel prices.

Through the magic of capitalism, technology innovation is on course to reduce, dramatically, your — and everybody’s — energy costs while at the same time reducing emissions that some credible evidence indicates may be bad for the environment. Next step: cutting some tax rates can accelerate these benefits in ways both conservatives and progressives can embrace enthusiastically, conserving their high-octane vitriol for other fights.

Swung On and Missed

A Coherent Baseball Babe — What Next?

By 4.21.16

It’s a little like catching an Episcopal bishop saying something sensible. Absolutely counter-intuitive. But it appears ESPN has a coherent baseball babe who actually knows something about the game, respects the game, is articulate, and eschews the dreary frippery that so many baseball babes abuse viewers’ time with. (She doesn’t bite off more than she can eschew.) Good thing, as political correctness seems to require now that all sports broadcast booths be sexually integrated, just as the local Action News anchors are required to be. This PC work rule seems to apply whether the gender hire (for the purposes of this column — the baseball babe) knows anything about the sport in question or not. Most don’t seem to. 

Special Report

‘No Trump’ Bid, Democrat Grand Slam

By 4.21.16

Five years ago I published “Donald Trump’s Miracle Presidential Win” in TAS, presenting it as a long-shot scenario, rather than prediction. It included these paragraphs:

Pundits chuckled when Donald Trump claimed presidential ambitions, calling him unserious. But events in 2011 dramatically reframed the picture, vaulting Trump from unlikely nominee to contender. If a dour Ross Perot won 19 percent in 1992, the supremely self-assured Trump might double it in far worse times.…

In running as an Independent, Trump jettisoned much of the baggage he accumulated in having publicly switched positions on major issues several times. He ran as a pragmatist who, unencumbered by ideology of any stripe, could manage the government, bring true fiscal discipline and regain respect abroad.

Live From New York

A Trump Grows in Brooklyn

By 4.20.16

As soon as the polls closed in New York at 9 p.m., the media immediately declared Trump the victor. It took the media longer to call the race for Hillary. The exit polls showed an easy win for Trump but a more underwhelming victory for Hillary.

“All the Democrats I know distrust her,” a registered female Democrat in Long Island said to me. “To a person they think she is dishonest.”

Trump has taken to calling her “crooked Hillary,” which delighted audiences as he campaigned through the state. After a horrendous stretch, Trump’s campaign has stabilized, enjoying a “tsunami of support” in New York, as CNN’s Anderson Cooper put it. At the apparent direction of his de facto new campaign manager Paul Manafort, Trump went quiet for two weeks, avoiding pointless interviews with tendentious hosts like Chris Matthews.

Less was more for him in New York. Rudy Giuliani endorsed him, as did the New York Post, which praised his “outer-borough sensibility.” Trump grew up in the neighborhood of Jamaica Estates in Queens, which these days, under the dysfunctional leadership of New York City’s Marxist mayor Bill de Blasio, looks more and more like a cesspool.

Another Perspective

Trump’s Triumph of New York Values

By 4.20.16

Donald Trump at long last found a state where he could break 50% of the vote. Prior to last night, the nearest he came was the great conservative colossus of Massachusetts. To achieve the elusive number, he needed a state to the left of the commonwealth of Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Barney Frank, and Elizabeth Warren, and he found it last night. It is New York. It is the home of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who once growled at pro-lifers that they have “no place in the state of New York.” It is the home of comrade Mayor Bill de Blasio, who once peddled subscriptions to the newspaper of the Marxist Nicaraguan Sandinistas. It is the home of Communist Party USA and Columbia University. It is the home of obscenely unlivable tax rates. It is the home turf where Donald Trump launched his empire of casinos and strip clubs with a path blazed by the torch of eminent domain. It is the home of the New York Times.

At Large

Tunnels, Mayhem, and ‘Misguided Cowards’

By 4.20.16

On Monday, a Palestinian terrorist set off a bomb in a packed Jerusalem bus during evening rush hour. At least 21 people are reported to be “injured.”

“Injured” doesn’t begin to describe the mayhem. Jerusalem resident Racheli Dadon was on the bus with her 15-year-old daughter. From her hospital bed, she described the aftermath. “Everything was dark and smoky, I looked for my daughter and she was all burned. After the explosion I collapsed. Her face was all black, you couldn’t see her.”

As is their wont after a gruesome murder of innocents, Palestinians celebrated by honking their horns and passing out candy in the streets, with the candy representing the sweetness of the moment.

The Current Crisis

Crazy Bernie’s Curious Pursuit of the Presidency

By 4.20.16

It comes down to this. Crazy Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton because no other Democrat would stick his/her/its neck out. Hillary was billed “Hillary, The Inevitable” and the rest of the gullible Democrats believed it. Of course, Crazy Bernie was not really a Democrat. He was a self-proclaimed democratic socialist. There was a day when a democratic socialist was too outré for the Democratic Party. Back then the democratic socialist would have had to run on a third-party ticket, perhaps on a fourth-party ticket. Now, of course, the Democratic Party has moved so far to the left that Bernie can claim he speaks for the party’s base.

That makes him a pretty potent adversary for Hillary, at least with Democrats. One wonders, what would happen if Crazy Bernie had gone beyond socialism. What if he had declared himself a Communist? Would the Democratic base still be with him? After all he did honeymoon in the Soviet Union in 1988 after visiting Nicaragua in 1985. Maybe next time around an aspiring Democratic candidate will run as a Communist.

Ben Stein's Diary

Morningside in America

By 4.20.16

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I am in Beverly Hills. The sun is shining. The dog is lying on the couch nearby. Except for an occasional sports car revving up, it is quiet.

I know I have not been in touch for a while so I will now summarize a few thoughts that have been rolling through my head and tell a few memories.

First, we spent most of this winter at our house in Rancho Mirage, at The Club at Morningside. It is a gated community, and it’s paradise. The views of the golf course are perfect. The quiet is perfect (I love quiet). The company — wife and dogs — is perfect. The 12 step meetings I go to every single day are perfect. At a place called Fellowship Hall in Palm Desert. Lot of old timers, like me. Perfect.

Special Report

Populist Wasteland

By 4.20.16

I have to admit that I like Jerry Brown. No, I don’t like the California governor’s destructive liberal policies. What I like is his honesty. Recently, Governor Brown signed a ridiculous bill that will raise California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour (that’s $30,000 a year for a full-time worker). But unlike President Obama and other Democrat politicians, he did not try to justify this legislation with twisted Keynesian arguments that this would somehow be good for the economy. Brown signed the bill admitting, “Economically, minimum wages may not make sense.” Rather, he insisted that they make sense “morally and socially and politically.”

Culture Vultures

Megyn Kelly and the Liberal Mean Girls Crowd

By 4.19.16

Here’s the headline from Mediaite on April 6th. 

Megyn Kelly on Media’s Trump Obsession: We Should Worry About ‘Our Souls and Journalism’

Here’s the headline from the New York Times on April 13th:

Megyn Kelly Meets With Donald Trump

Kelly said to Katie Couric that “…we all have to worry about numbers to some extent, that’s the reality of TV news in 2016, but we also have to worry about our souls and journalism.”

Then, barely a week later, the Times was reporting this about the state of Kelly’s soul: