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David Brooks Insults Capitalism

By 12.3.14

 

 

I object to the term “crony capitalism” because it gives a misleading and negative perception of the most beneficial — and moral — economic system ever experienced by man.

I object to New York Times columnist David Brooks for the same reason.

Few things are more harmful to a rational debate over national economic policy than an electorate that is not just uninformed, but misinformed. And when it comes to economics, misinformation almost always has the effect — no doubt intentional — of encouraging voters to mistrust liberty, especially economic liberty, while looking to a feckless, impersonal, self-serving government for care and comfort.

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Media Matters

The Sins of Elizabeth Lauten

By 12.3.14

Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for a GOP congressman, committed a cardinal sin in politics last weekend: posting on Facebook about a couple of aggravated teenagers forced to endure their dad’s turkey-pardoning ceremony, during a space of time where little to nothing of note was happening on the national scene. Thankfully, our esteemed fourth estate immediately seized on her transgression against the cult of personality inhabiting the White House, and badgered her and her under-the-radar Republican boss until she was forced to publicly apologize, resign, and pack up her things from her Hill apartment and return to that segment of flyover country from whence she came. The media may not know how to handle more pressing matters facing their industry, like whether they should report accurately on a Missouri grand jury investigation so as not to further inflame community tensions, but they sure know how to make a girl cry.

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Ben Stein's Diary

It Can’t Rain Hard Enough

By 12.2.14

Monday
This will be short and sweet. We got back Saturday night to LAX. The passengers milling around the baggage carousels looked desperate, terrified, unhinged. Why? I can well recall when I flew to LAX in the 1970s. The terminals were open air. The passengers looked happy and relaxed. Now they look as if they are fleeing Islamic State.

Maybe they are. Maybe that’s why they look so scared. We have so many immigrants in LA now. Many from the Middle East, fleeing bad situations, fleeing for their lives. Some of them live near me in Beverly Hills. No matter how rich they are — and they are often rich — they look fearful.

Their grandchildren may look happier. Maybe. Meanwhile, in my mind’s eye, I go back to Greenville, where the passengers and their families look happy. I miss Greenville. I miss Jean playing the piano at the Poinsett Club. I miss the waffles at the Waffle House.

I want to look and feel relaxed. Hard to do if you are me and have so many people asking you for money.

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The Nation's Pulse

FDA: More Nutrition Information Will Make Americans Healthier — Oh, Really?

By 12.2.14

The Food and Drug Administration’s broad new menu-labeling rules will force restaurants, movie theaters, and grocery stores to add calorie information to the food they sell. The FDA’s action is based on a provision of the Affordable Care Act mandating more nutritional labeling, which is part of a federal plan to control the obesity epidemic in this country.

This new information, which few consumers will pay any attention to, will cost the affected industries $1.9 billion. Of course, the extra cost for all this new information, which few except Washington bureaucrats are really interested in, will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

FDA officials opine that the new requirements will “help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families,” and thus will lead to healthier nutrition. That’s a laudable plan, but I just don’t think it’s worth much. 

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Main Street U.S.A.

What? Another ‘Conversation About Race’?

By 12.2.14

“Race,” you said? A “national conversation” about race and the variant understandings and byplays that result from our differences? A sit-down in front of the cultural mirror to inspect the origins of community anger, as reflected in riots and police shootings? A talk about — let’s get down to it — Ferguson, Missouri?

The media are beating that drum, with accompaniment from the White House, where the nation’s first black (if you like, mixed-race) president held a cabinet meeting Monday, with follow-up gatherings involving parties interested in this sort of thing. The non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, and the ensuing riots, have set the nation up for an intensive examination of, as usual, white racism.

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Another Perspective

Political Patsies: Is That the Best the Stupid Party Can Be?

By 12.2.14

Let’s say there are two political parties in a country. The Evil Party and the Stupid Party. When the Evil Party’s candidate is elected president, he abuses his power and rules by diktat, like an all-powerful king. That’s why he’s evil. Not everyone likes this, however. Some don’t like his diktats, and some don’t like kings. The latter complain that this is contrary to the country’s constitution, but in fact no one is going to stop the Evil president from abusing his power while he’s in office.

One of the Evil president’s chief goals is to ensure that the Stupid Party never wins a presidential election. But now let’s suppose (hey, it’s just a hypothetical) that the Stupid Party wins a presidential election one year. At this point the Party has a choice. The Stupid president can either assume the broad king-like powers of an Evil president, or he can rule more modestly in what he thinks is the country’s constitutional tradition.

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To Be Absolutely Frank

Do What the Cops Tell You: It Isn’t Rocket Science

By 12.2.14

It was shortly before Christmas in Washington, D.C., a Saturday night In the early 2000s. I had been invited to a neighborhood Christmas party on my Capitol Hill street. As it happened, afterward I was scheduled to go out to dinner with a neighbor and her two house guests, a couple visiting from Chicago, at a downtown restaurant. Shortly before the party was to begin I received a phone call from the clearly anxious party hostess. She had ordered liquor from a store on the other side of the Hill and the store had just called to say their delivery man was ill and she would have to pick it up herself. Alas, the hostess did not have a car. So she asked if I would go pick up the liquor, already paid for. 

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Buy the Book

The Cold War in Retrospect: How Historians Still Get It Wrong

By 12.2.14

Myths of the Cold War: Amending Historiographic Distortions
By Albert L. Weeks
(Lexington Books, 154 pages, $76)

Are Western historians going soft on the Cold War that the Russians waged against the West for 45 years? A new look at trends in this gray area of history indicates that many writers and younger generations now contend the threat of hostilities, including nuclear exchanges, can be blamed primarily on American post-war posture, not solely on that of the Russians.

But historian Albert Weeks, a former State Department official and long-time academic, has produced a concise and polemical book to confront this “lamentable historiographic distortion.” Now 91 and retired in Florida, he seeks to set the record straight.

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A Further Perspective

Opinions Versus Facts

By 12.2.14

Everyone seems to have an opinion about the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri. But, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say, “You’re entitled to your own opinion but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

Soon after the shooting death of Michael Brown, this 285-pound young man was depicted as a “gentle giant.” But, after a video was leaked, showing him bullying the owner of a store from which he had stolen some merchandise, Attorney General Eric Holder expressed displeasure that the video was leaked. In other words, to Holder the truth was offensive, but the lie it exposed was not.

Many people who claimed to have been eyewitnesses to the fatal shooting gave opposite accounts of what happened. Some even gave accounts that contradicted what they themselves had said earlier.

Fortunately, the grand jury did not have to rely on such statements, though some in the media seemed to. What the grand jury had, that the rest of us did not have until the grand jury’s decision was announced, was a set of physical facts that told a story that was independent of what anybody said.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Flying Into Integration

By 12.1.14

So, a roundup of the week. On Monday, wifey and I flew to Atlanta. The people at LAX looked as usual — frantic, worried, frightened, angry. They took their seats and kept on looking tense. I fell asleep for most of the flight.

Except — I awakened and looked at the fine Delta in Flight Entertainment choices. To my delight, there was a film called Nixon on Nixon. It was highly edited, wildly biased, not at all representatives of what Nixon supposedly thought and believed, based on the tapes.

The excerpts themselves were a total scream. I liked especially the parts where the authors of the film tried to make Nixon look like an anti-Semite. Yes, indeed, they had a ton of Nixon quotes calling Jews familiar derogatory names.

But they also completely forgot to mention that most of Nixon’s top policy choices were Jewish — including Arthur F. Burns at the Federal Reserve and Henry Kissinger as National Security Adviser. They also forgot my dear old Pop as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

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