Harry Binswanger writes: President Obama’s Kansas speech is a remarkable document. In calling for more government controls, more taxation, more collectivism, he has two paragraphs that give the show away. Take a look at them.
“…there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes–especially for the wealthy–our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.
Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ’50s and ’60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.”
Though not in Washington, I’m in that “certain crowd” that has been saying for decades that the market will take care of everything. It’s not really a crowd, it’s a tiny group of radicals–radicals for capitalism, in Ayn Rand’s well-turned phrase.
The only thing that the market doesn’t take care of is anti-market acts: acts that initiate physical force. That’s why we need government: to wield retaliatory force to defend individual rights.
Radicals for capitalism would, as the Declaration of Independence says, use government only “to secure these rights”–the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. (Yes, I added “property” in there–property rights are inseparable from the other three.)
That’s the political philosophy on which Obama is trying to hang the blame for the recent financial crisis and every other social ill. But ask yourself, are we few radical capitalists in charge? Have radical capitalists been in charge at any time in the last, oh, say 100 years?
‘Looks Like Weimar Germany’: The Viral Photo Out of Connecticut That’s Giving Some Gun Owners ChillsPosted: January 1, 2014
Jason Howerton reports: A now-viral photo showing a long line of Connecticut residents waiting to register their guns and ammo is circulating across the Internet — and it’s sending chills down the backs of some gun owners.
Connecticut gun owners are rushing to register certain firearms and ammunition that will be considered illegal contraband in the new year.
Under a wide-ranging gun control law passed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, they have until Tuesday to submit the paperwork with the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
“Another disgusting picture from Connecticut . . .men waiting in line to register guns with the government,” user @chipwoods commented.
“First, they came for the guns,” @PaulRReyes added.
People often say that “the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.” Economics professor Steve Horwitz explains why in the United States, this characterization is largely a myth.
The Examiner‘s Gene Healy‘s list is good, but he mentions briefly at the top, but doesn’t include in his final top five, what I would personally crown as the number one worst op-ed of the year–the New York Times piece arguing that conservative Dallas ”willed the death” of JFK (by getting a communist to shoot him?) But not just that NYTimes item, variations on that same malignant fantasy polluted op-ed pages from coast to coast, for weeks.
For readers who saw our JFK 50th anniversary coverage here at punditfromanotherplanet during November, I hammered this leftist “Dallas-did-it” myth nonstop, including savage pieces by George Will, and others. While my personal choice doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of number one worst op-ed, I’m glad to see that it at least got an honorable mention.
Gene Healy writes: Picking the year’s worst op-eds — an annual tradition in this space — wasn’t easy in 2013. There’s the Slate writer who announced you’re “a bad person if you send your children to private school”; the New York Times piece arguing that conservative Dallas ”willed the death” of JFK (by getting a communist to shoot him?); and the fellow who worried that allowing more high-skilled immigration would exacerbate “America’s Genius Glut.”
If you’ve been losing sleep over the genius glut in American punditry, rest easy. That threat’s a long way off.
To narrow the choices and give this pudding a theme, I’ve decided that 2013’s malicious listicle will focus on the perverse affinity for executive power of our alleged “Thought Leaders.” In a year when presidential incompetence and power lust ruled the headlines — when record numbers of Americans feared big government — the leading lights of the American commentariat clamored for more presidential power. Go figure.
Early on in President Obama’s summer of scandal eruptions, communitarian honcho Amitai Etzioni was incensed that anyone dared invoke the I-word. After all, the president likely “did not know diddly squat” about IRS harassment of the Tea Party.
Only a constitutional amendment making it harder for Congress to impeach the president could save us, Etzioni insisted. But since we manage fewer than onepresidential impeachment per century, how much harder could it be?
In this column, Dowd’s father figure disappoints her once again. Instead of “hurl[ing] a few missiles, Zeus like,” at Syria, Obama had been contemptibly weak: “When it came time to act as commander in chief, he choked,” reverting to “Barry, president of the Harvard Law Review.” Apparently, only a legalistic sissy would ask Congress to authorize a war.
Mollie Hemingway writes: Trash TV legend Morton Downey, Jr. made a highly questionable claim in 1989 that he was attacked by neo-Nazis in a San Francisco International Airport restroom. He said they shaved his head and painted a backwards swastika on his face. Every year it seems as if these hate crime hoaxes increase. But lies about hate crimes are just one kind of whopper. As we close out 2013, awash in daily social media outrage and as gullible as ever, here are six hoaxes that suckered far too many journalists and others.
The lying lesbian waitress
In mid-November, waitress Dayna Morales sent a picture to Have A Gay Daypurporting to show that customers left her a mean note in place of a tip. The receipt allegedly said: “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I don’t agree with your lifestyle and how you live your life.” Outraged Americans expressed their shock and horror at the mean note, sharing the picture and associated stories tens of thousands of times. Everyone patted themselves on the back for agreeing that this was hateful homophobic behavior. Thousands of dollars in donations poured in for the former Marine. The only problem is that the story had no basis in fact. The family whose receipt was shown proved that they had actually tipped 20% on their bill. Friends told media outlets that this was just the latest in a string of extraordinary stories told by Morales, who was dishonorably discharged from the military for failing to turn up to drills. She had told friends, reportedly, that she was the only survivor of a bomb blast in Afghanistan. She also reportedly made fantastic claims about incurable brain cancer, sustaining major damage in Hurricane Sandy and being impregnated by her father. At one point Morales claimed she would donate the gifts she received to the Wounded Warrior Project, but the group couldn’t verify if she made any donation.
The dramatic love life of Manti Te’o
Manti Teʻo, linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, played in college for the University of Notre Dame. One of the more interesting stories of the 2012 college football season was Te’o’s excellent leadership on the field after enduring the deaths of his beloved grandmother and beautiful girlfriend. His name was mentioned frequently as a Heisman contender and the deaths were mentioned in all the major media write-ups of his amazing season. In January of this year,Deadspin revealed that the very existence of the girlfriend was a hoax — an online relationship with a man posing as a woman.
Elan Gale’s fake fight on an airplane
On Thanksgiving Day, reality television producer Elan Gale tweeted out an imaginative tale of a very rude woman on a packed airplane. Twitter lost its collective mind over how awful this woman — who was berating a flight attendant, according to the tweets — was. She didn’t exist and Gale later revealed that he’d invented the woman as a way to entertain himself and his followers while on a flight. It being Thanksgiving, journalists went ahead and reported the event as fact without verifying it.
For Reason, A. Barton Hinkle writes: You can’t swing a dead cat by the tail these days without hitting a news story about the lack of legislation issuing from the 113th Congress. From CNN to McClatchy to NPR to the L.A. Times, the air is thick with pieces lamenting that the 113th makes “the infamous ‘do-nothing Congress’ of the late 1940s look downright prolific.”
Apparently we’re all supposed to feel really bad about that.
Before the holiday break, Congress sent just 70 bills to the president’s desk. That compares — unfavorably, we are given to understand — with the 395 bills passed by the 80th Congress, whose supposed indolence Harry Truman ran against. It even compares unfavorably to the 112th Congress, which led to only 231 new laws.
The censorious pieces never stop to explain precisely why Congress should be judged according to the number of bills it passes. That’s simply assumed. This is one of those telltale signs of media bias that are always cropping up, if you keep your eyes open. (Here’s another: Run a Google News search for the terms “economic inequality” and “economic liberty.” The former shows up more than 50 times as often. Guess why.)
Unpack the assumption behind the stories about congressional productivity, and you find a bias toward statism: the notion that government action is inherently good, and that more government action is inherently better — and that this is true as an analytic proposition, entirely separate from whatever a particular government action might entail.
Which is pretty funny, when you stop to think.
Goldberg writes: The Beltway consensus seems to be that 2013 was a bad year for the same reason nearly every other recent year was bad: polarization and partisanship. Personally, I can think of plenty of more important things to worry about than partisanship. Democracy is about disagreements, and partisanship is often a sign of healthy disagreement.
But polarization is a bit different. It speaks not just to a lack of basic agreement about what kind of society we should live in, but a breakdown in understanding and respect among Americans. There’s a lot of them-vs.-us talk these days on the left and the right. And while I’d never want to live in a country where we all join hands and sing “Kumbaya,” maybe a bit more understanding wouldn’t be all bad.
So I have small suggestions for New Year’s resolutions for both the Right and the Left in 2014. For liberals, maybe you should try to accept the fact that you’re not the non-conformists you think you are. And for conservatives, perhaps you should consider that you’re not necessarily the irrefutable voice of “normal” Americans.
2013 brought little more than uncertainty to an already uncertain nation.
2013 was an excellent opportunity to learn the lesson that we failed to learn in 1857, 1933, 1971, and 2008: Uncertainty is the destroyer. Economic growth remains unsteady, with a consensus among experts that the economy is slowing down as the year closes — Bloomberg calculates the average of economic-growth forecasts at a tepid 1.8 percent. Key figures remained negative in 2013, from the labor-force participation rate (down 2.7 percentage points since Barack Obama took office) to the employment-to-population ratio (down 2 percentage points during the same period). The most important of those economic indicators, at least so far as future growth is concerned, is net domestic private investment, which remains far away from returning to pre-crash levels.
Weak private investment means weak growth and bleak long-term employment prospects. There is no way to finesse away that fact. The question is: Why are we still in this position, all these years after the end of the recession?
There is some debate on the right about whether President Obama is a fundamentally well-intentioned incompetent or a more Machiavellian figure so power-hungry that he is willing to kneecap key sectors of the U.S. economy in order to advance his political agenda. My own view is that the distinguishing feature of Obama’s ideology is the utter inability of the president and his partisans to distinguish between the national interest and their own political interests. (That is one problem with electing a messiah rather than a chief administrator.) If you believe that your guy is a uniquely gifted, once-in-a-lifetime transformational figure with a mandate to save the country, and that he is opposed by uniquely wicked servants of Mammon and partisans of unreason, then it follows that your political interests are identical to the national interest, and consequently you have such grey eminences as Bill Clinton, who has managed to secure for himself a career as an elder statesman without ever having been a statesman, insisting that Republicans are “begging for America to fail” — because they oppose large parts of the president’s health-care program, which the president now opposes, too, having set aside measures that are too unworkable or punitive to act on until some more politically opportune time.
Joe Pappalardo writes: Real scientists can be the harshest critics of science fiction. But that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a movie just because it bends the laws of nature. We polled dozens of scientists and engineers to discover the sci-fi movies they love…
Check it out at Popular Mechanics