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Spectator's Journal

Tyrrell Opens the Bartley Gala of 2015

By 2.13.15

Does anyone remember that classic of left-wing thought written back in 2009, The Death of Conservatism? This extended exercise in sophistry was written by Sam Tanenhaus, and naturally it was celebrated by all the mainstream media’s walking dead: the walking dead at the money-losing New York Times, the walking dead at the money-losing Washington Post, the cadavers at the major networks, led by NBC News and its drop-dead beautiful star, Brian Williams, whose mythical helicopter crash-landed just last week. Tanenhaus’s book actually came out just months before a disconcerting event took place. That disconcerting event would be the off-year elections of 2010. You will recall that the 2010 elections were what we now call a wave election in which conservatives sprang from their sepulchers and swept in the conservative House of Representatives and 29 governorships, and many state legislatures.

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Campus Scenes

Let’s Give Our Empty Pocket College Kids a Fighting Chance

By 2.13.15

What kind of a country have we become where a college graduate with empty pockets starts their working life burdened with a debt that will take them decades to pay off? If there was ever a reason to defrock politicians, it is for their inherent inability to remove the needless barrier of debt that impedes the best and the brightest, the most ambitious and creative among the lesser financially endowed.

I am viscerally offended by the fact that today’s students are stuck paying huge debts incurred getting a college degree and I keep wondering if my experience six decades ago is relevant to what college graduates have to look forward to in today’s world.

My College Days: A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Although I graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, which is one of the elite high schools in New York, my marks were not exactly stellar. I was rejected by most colleges until thankfully being admitted to New York University’s uptown campus when it was on University Avenue in the Bronx.

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Special Report

Federal Reserve in Deep Panic over ‘Audit the Fed’

By 2.13.15

The governors of the Federal Reserve are in a panic deeper than the ones they supposedly are protecting us from. This week, a few of the financial wizards at the Fed came out to tell the American public why they are against an audit of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions—and why you should be too.

Dallas Fed Chief Richard Fisher said on Monday that the Fed is already "audited out the wazoo.” He wasn’t, of course, referring to the kind of audits that proponents of the “Audit the Fed” bills (S. 264/H.R. 24) actually want—audits of the board’s monetary policy decisions. Rather, he was likely referring to the annual audits of the bank’s financial statements, which are conducted by the General Accountability Office. Philadelphia Fed Chief Charles Plosser went out of his way to slam the bill on Monday, too.

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The Nation's Pulse

A Valentine Wish: Could We Bring Back Romance and Dating?

By 2.13.15

Talk to college or young career woman and you’ll often hear the lament that dating is extinct and romance is a relic of 19th century novels. Instead of guys having the confidence to ask a girl out and “court” her, we have a $2 billion on-line industry with dozens of on-line “dating sites where mutual interests draw a couple together.

There are also plenty of “relationship coaches” to help jump start or streamline the process of getting young people off their phones to talk to each other face-to-face. Such coaching was prompted by the fact that young adult relationships are typically anchored in social media; about half of users check up on previous dates through social networking sites (SNS), about a third of them usually post details and pictures of their dates, and about a third of them use SNS to “check out” someone they are interested in dating.

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The Public Policy

Has Google Pushed the Communications Decency Act Too Far?

By 2.13.15

The cyber-attack on Sony Pictures has raised many serious questions for 2015—and some seemingly frivolous “concerns.” For example, Google has alleged that stolen Sony documents reveal that the Motion Picture Association of America is attempting to resurrect the Stop Online Piracy Act, which died in Congress two years ago. Google claims that the MPAA “led a secret, coordinated campaign to revive the failed SOPA legislation through other means.” Specifically, that the MPAA “helped manufacture legal arguments in connection with an investigation by Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood,” and that this amounts to its “trying to secretly censor the internet.”

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Another Perspective

Let Him Who Is Without Spin…

By 2.12.15

I work on a treadmill of shameless self-promotion. Most mornings, I’ve tweeted before 6 a.m. When I’m not working on my column, I’m often blogging, posting on Facebook, jabbering on the radio (less often on TV) or speaking at a venue such as the Commonwealth Club of California.

I don’t want to bore anyone. I want people to like me — well, some people. So though I know that NBC News anchor Brian Williams had to take a leave of absence for six months — perhaps for good — to atone for concocting tall tales dirty with self-puffery, I also suspect that the handsome face of NBC News was under tremendous pressure to inflate his working persona. In 2015, it’s as important that top TV newscasters be a good story as it is that they report good stories. Maybe more important, as Williams showed courage in putting himself in a war zone.

Williams’ Chinook Down incident in Iraq occurred with other members of the network’s news team. Thus, Williams could not self-aggrandize without the consent — perhaps grudging consent — of his colleagues and the knowledge of higher-ups.

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Political Hay

Brian Williams for President?

By 2.12.15

The statement from NBC News President Deborah Turness was blunt and to the point. Among other things it said this in the announcement the network was suspending NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams for six months without pay:

While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.

In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field.

In other words? NBC is saying Brian Williams looked the camera in the eye and lied. Wow. The obvious? What better candidate for president of the United States than Brian Williams?

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Campus Scenes

Prohibition on Campus: In Loco Parentis Run Amok?

By 2.12.15

With colleges under growing pressure from the federal government under Title IX to reduce binge drinking and alcohol-related student misbehavior, Dartmouth College recently announced that it would ban hard liquor on campus.

The sexual assaults, fraternity hazing, and hospitalizations that have rocked campuses around the nation have often involved extreme intoxication, like the case of the former Vanderbilt football players convicted of raping an unconscious woman, or that of a Stanford swimmer recently accused of rape. 

Dartmouth isn’t the first school to ban hard alcohol — Bates and Bowdoin have similar rules — but it is the first Ivy League school to do so. Despite Dartmouth’s prominence as a member of the Ivy League, experts caution not to expect many institutions, if any, to follow its lead.

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Campaign Crawlers

Nobody is Really Ready for Warren

By 2.12.15

I've seen the interviews and I've heard the songs. I've seen the fake poll showing her leading in Iowa. I've been subjected to her mug in every corner of the Internet since she first pulled ahead of Scott Brown in that fateful race for Senate that propelled her from the lowly ranks of the Harvard faculty and the Troubled Asset Relief Program bureaucracy to the glittery halls of national elected office.

But I don't really believe anyone really wants the Massachusetts mohican to run for president.

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The Current Crisis

Brian Williams’ Future

By 2.12.15

On the vexed matter of Brian Williams my friend and colleague Wes Pruden raises a fundamental question. “Brian Williams, the tall tale teller for NBC News, has had a rough few days, but he’s likely to survive,” writes Wes. “He’ll probably be back,” Wes speculates, even overcoming the derisible endorsement of Dan Rather. Dan, your endorsement could be the kiss of death to poor Brian. Is there no reality-check on these egomaniacs?

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