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Another Perspective

The Church Shooter and Capital Punishment

By 6.23.15

It is fitting, if late, that South Carolina’s political leaders seem ready to evict the Confederate flag from the grounds of their state Capitol in response to the vile shooting that left nine African-Americans dead in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church last week. In a Monday news conference while flanked by Democrats and fellow Republicans, Gov. Nikki Haley noted that many in the Palmetto State see the Confederate flag as a tribute to their Southern roots but said, “Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it’s time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds.” She urged state lawmakers to act next week.

Haley is also right about another way to demonstrate her state’s outrage. She told NBC’s Today show, “We will absolutely… want him to have the death penalty.”

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., opposes the death penalty. Still, he noted, “If you are going to have a death penalty, then certainly this case would merit it.”

Free Market Accountability Project

China Comes to Washington

By 6.23.15

China’s leadership is attempting to manage international trade as if it were a game of Fluxx — a card game where players win by constantly changing the rules of the game on their opponents.

International trade cannot flourish under such conditions. And, while it may appear that the trade environment can be manipulated to benefit one side, ultimately such arbitrary actions harm all involved parties.

On June 23 and 24, Secretaries Kerry and Lew will host the seventh session of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. The Dialogue, according to the Treasury Department, is an “essential step in advancing a positive, constructive, and comprehensive relationship between the two countries.” Without an honest conversation about the positive and negative aspects of the bilateral relationship, it will serve as nothing more than another bureaucratic photo-op.

A Bigger Perspective

Unconditional Forgiveness

By 6.23.15

Nobody would ever confuse yours truly for a good Christian, and the long services at most black churches fail utterly to move me. Yet if I were anywhere near Charleston, South Carolina, last weekend or next, I would march straight into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and carve out a pew.

I wish I could be there for two reasons — for solidarity and, frankly, for awe.

As most people know by now, last Wednesday a deranged young man with a Dumb and Dumber haircut named Dylann Roof marched into that church and asked a Bible study group for their help. Parishioners of Emanuel attempted to do what they could for him. He repaid their gracious efforts with gunfire, shooting ten and killing nine of them.

Roof wrote and said that he did this to provoke a race war in America. According to the Washington Post, Roof told police that he “almost didn’t go through with it” because they were “so nice to him.” But, he shrugged, “I had to complete my mission.”

He did so by murdering nine people in a church, instantly making martyrs of them.

Political Hay

Congressman Mark Meadows: Profile in Courage

By 6.23.15

As the Gipper might say: Here we go again. Another petty campaign of retribution against a conservative who stands up for principle.

Once upon a time Ronald Reagan used to go through this kind of thing. The GOP Establishment of the day couldn’t abide him. They didn’t want him running for governor of California (he was too extreme to win, it was explained). And they certainly didn’t want him running for president — either in 1976 or 1980. Too extreme, explained Gerald Ford himself, to ever get elected. Right.

This time the target is Republican North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows.

Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz has suddenly decided to distinguished his time as the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee by turning on — conservatives. Specifically, Mark Meadows.

Special Report

The Pope’s Climate Confusion

By 6.23.15

As the leader of perhaps the single largest institution in the world — the Roman Catholic Church — the pope potentially influences at least the Church’s 1.2 billion members, and perhaps millions of others around the globe. His sway makes it critical that when pontificating on matters beyond religion — matters which impact public policy both within and among nations — he acquire and consider a wide range of information from experts across the relevant political, scientific, economic, and philosophical spectra before making his influential pronouncements.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the environment and climate change, about which he just issued an encyclical focused “on care for our common home,” Pope Francis seems to have shrouded himself in confirmation bias of the worst sort, taking in little information that did not conform to his pre-existing anti-capitalist bias and leading to analysis and policy prescriptions that are not just erroneous but harmful.

The Hillary Watch

HIllary and History

By 6.23.15

There are no sure things in politics, but Hillary Clinton is the closest thing to a sure thing to become the Democrats’ candidate for president in 2016.

This is one of the painful but inescapable signs of our time. There is nothing in her history that would qualify her for the presidency, and much that should disqualify her. What is even more painful is that none of that matters politically. Many people simply want “a woman” to be president, and Hillary is the best-known woman in politics, though by no means the best qualified.

What is Hillary’s history? In the most important job she has ever held — Secretary of State — American foreign policy has had one setback after another, punctuated by disasters.

U.S. intervention in Libya and Egypt, undermining governments that were no threat to American interests, led to Islamic extremists taking over in Egypt and terrorist chaos in Libya, where the American ambassador was killed, along with three other Americans.

Political Hay

The Donald’s Log Cabin

By 6.23.15

In announcing his presidential candidacy, Donald Trump used his patented carnival barker’s routine. After that he took off for New Hampshire to actually campaign. 

At his first stop he drew a good-sized crowed. After his pitch, reporters asked some of those attending what they thought of Trump as a candidate. One man told an interviewer, “He says it like it is. I like the fact he started at the bottom and built his success himself.”

The legendary rags-to-riches story? Not exactly. Donald Trump was the son of Fred Trump, a well-established and wealthy real estate developer in New York City. His company, Elizabeth Trump and Son, specialized in middle-class rental housing in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Unglamorous, but it filled a need.

Ben Stein's Diary

The Patron Saint of Kindness

By 6.22.15

What I don’t understand about my wife is how anyone in a world of such evil and selfishness can be so good. Yes, as my sister says, “Your basic human is not such a hot item.” My sister is so right.

But when my dog died, Alex gave me her dog. She had two, but she gave me her favorite, Ginger, a magnificent German short-haired pointer. Who gives away her dog — even to a husband — who is living in Malibu while she is living in the Hollywood Hills? What kind of human is that?

Wives are supposed to be wildly jealous and angry when their men flirt. But Alex is so confident in her position in my life that when I flirt or stare, she laughs, and when other women ask me for money, she cares if they are in genuine need and if so, insists I give it to them. She has no anger in her. My father once said of fellow economist Paul McCracken that he had no anger in him and no meanness of spirit. So it is with Alex. Like her father, she simply has no time in her life for anything but kindness.

Buy the Book

Willie on Willie — Revelations and Recollections

By 6.22.15

It’s a Long Story: My Life
By Willie Nelson with David Ritz
(Little, Brown, 392 pages, $30)

We’re at a scratchy point in our history just now, as we often are, with a lot of sharp-elbows being thrown between the races, the sexes, various political and economic factions. Not the worst we’ve ever seen. But not business as usual either. If some researcher took time away from our current conflicts to identify what more Americans like and agree on than anything else, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it’s Willie Nelson and his music. (A lot of overseas precincts would agree as well.)

Ben Stein's Diary

The Blessings of Father’s Day

By 6.22.15

Sunday
It is hot here in Beverly Hills. I flew in from Dulles last night on Virgin America. It is a great flight in terms of leg room, but the food was criminally bad. Just stunningly awful. Who eats food like that? Rice pilaf? In the USA? What?

I am still reeling about the shootings in Charleston. I did some calculations, along with my trusty friend Bob. Dylann Storm Roof (the “storm” is a phony to show he was a Neo-Nazi) murdered nine faithful black Christians in about two hours last Wednesday. It is a national tragedy and should be.

Every ten hours — roughly — black Americans kill nine black Americans, on average, day after day, and again, these are rough calculations. That’s every day. This in no way lessens Dylann Roof’s sin. But it shows how sorrowful is the condition of Black America. Why is it so bad? Because black male children grow up without fathers in the home. Tragedy.

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