August 3, 2011
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If you are driving along and suddenly see a big red rubber ball come bouncing out into the street, you might want to put your foot on the brake pedal, because a small child may well come running out into the street after it.
During decades of watching both collegiate and professional football, I have seen hundreds of touchdowns scored by black players -- but not one extra point kicked by a black player.
Most laws are meant to stop people from doing something, and to penalize those who disregard those laws. More generally, laws are meant to protect the society from the law breakers.
Since when has it been considered smart to tell your enemies what your plans are?
The Obama administration treated the creation of “democracy” in the Middle East as a Good Thing. Ironically, those who created the United States of America viewed democracy with fear — and created a Constitutional republic instead.
Many ideas presented as “new” are just rehashes of old ideas that have been tried before — and have failed before. So it is no surprise that the recent “Growth and Opportunity Project” report to the Republican National Committee is a classic example of what previous generations called “Me too” Republicanism.
The main thing wrong with the term limits movement is the “s” at the end of the word “limit.”
Among the many irrational ideas about racial and ethnic groups that have polarized societies over the centuries and around the world, few have been more irrational and counterproductive than the current dogmas of multiculturalism.
Back in my teaching days, many years ago, one of the things I liked to ask the class to consider was this: Imagine a government agency with only two tasks: (1) building statues of Benedict Arnold and (2) providing life-saving medications to children. If this agency’s budget were cut, what would it do?
John Stuart Mill’s classic essay “On Liberty” gives reasons why some people should not be taking over other people’s decisions about their own lives. But Professor Cass Sunstein of Harvard has given reasons to the contrary. He cites research showing “that people make a lot of mistakes, and that those mistakes can prove extremely damaging.”
A nation’s choice between spending on military defense and spending on civilian goods has often been posed as “guns versus butter.” But understanding the choices of many nations’ political leaders might be helped by examining the contrast between their runaway spending on pensions while skimping on military defense.
I can’t get excited by the question of whether Senator Robert Menendez had sex with a prostitute in Central America. It is her word against his — and when it comes to a prostitute’s word against a politician’s word, that is too close to call.
People on both sides of tax issues often speak of such things as a “$300 billion tax increase” or a “$500 billion tax decrease.” That is fine if they are looking back at something that has already happened. But it can be sheer nonsense if they are talking about a proposed increase or decrease in the tax rate.
An old-time trial lawyer once said, “When your case is weak, shout louder!”
The gun control controversy is only the latest of many issues to be debated almost solely in terms of fixed preconceptions, with little or no examination of hard facts.
There is no question that liberals do an impressive job of expressing concern for blacks. But do the intentions expressed in their words match the actual consequences of their deeds?
Many years ago, as a young man, I read a very interesting book about the rise of the Communists to power in China. In the last chapter, the author tried to explain why and how this had happened.
The beginning of a new year is often a time to look forward and look back. The way the future looks, I prefer to look back — and depend on my advanced age to spare me from having to deal with too much of the future.
When I was growing up, an older member of the family used to say, "What you don't know would make a big book." Now that I am an older member of the family, I would say to anyone, "What you don't know would fill more books than the Encyclopedia Britannica." At least half of our society's troubles come from know-it-alls, in a world where nobody knows even 10 percent of all.
With all the talk about taxing the rich, we hear very little talk about taxing the poor. Yet the marginal tax rate on someone living in poverty can sometimes be higher than the marginal tax rate on millionaires.
Amid all the political and media hoopla about the “fiscal cliff” crisis, there are a few facts that are worth noting.
If everyone in America had read Stephen Moore’s new book, “Who’s The Fairest of Them All?”, Barack Obama would have lost the election in a landslide.
Few things can make you appreciate home like staying in a hotel. This includes not only low-budget, bare bones hotels but also sweepingly large and ornate luxury hotels. What many hotels seem to have in common are needless hassles.
Some media pundits see in the growing proportion of non-white groups in the population a growing opposition to the Republican Party that will sooner or later make it virtually impossible for Republicans to win presidential elections or even to control either house of Congress. But is demography destiny?
Confidence men know that their victim — “the mark” as he has been called — is eventually going to realize that he has been cheated. But it makes a big difference whether he realizes it immediately, and goes to the police, or realizes it after the confidence man is long gone.
It was a little much when President Barack Obama said that he was “offended” by the suggestion that his administration would try to deceive the public about what happened in Benghazi. What has this man not deceived the public about?
Not since the days of slavery have there been so many people who feel entitled to what other people have produced as there are in the modern welfare state, whether in Western Europe or on this side of the Atlantic.
Much puzzling behavior by Barack Obama falls into place when we go behind the image that he projects (“Obama 1”) to the factual reality of the man’s whole life and thrust (“Obama 2”).
The theme that most seemed to rouse the enthusiasm of delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte was that we are all responsible for one another -- and that Republicans don't want to help the poor, the sick and the helpless.
Insurance is all about risk. Yet neither insurance companies nor their policy-holders can do anything about one of the biggest risks -- namely, interference by politicians, to turn insurance into something other than a device to deal with risk.
There are some very serious issues at stake in this year's election -- so many that some people may not be able to see the forest for the trees. Individual issues are the trees, but the forest is the future of America as we have known it.
Governor Mitt Romney's choice of Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate is one of those decisions that seem obvious -- if not inevitable -- in retrospect, even though it was by no means obvious to most of us beforehand.
It has long seemed to me that there is far more rationality in sports, and in commentaries on sports, than there is in politics and in commentaries on politics.
If Milton Friedman were alive today — and there was never a time when he was more needed — he would be one hundred years old. He was born on July 31, 1912.
Random thoughts on the passing scene: Even squirrels know enough to store nuts, so that they will have something to eat when food gets scarce.
Since so many in the media cannot resist turning every tragedy into a political talking point, it was perhaps inevitable that (1) someone would try to link the shooting rampage at the Batman movie in Colorado to the Tea Party, and that (2) some would try to make it a reason to impose more gun control laws.
Since this is an election year, we can expect to hear a lot of words -- and the meaning of those words is not always clear. So it may be helpful to have a glossary of political terms.
Random thoughts on the passing scene: Many people may have voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because of his charisma. But anyone familiar with the disastrous track record of charismatic political leaders around the world in the 20th century should have run for the hills when they encountered a politician with charisma.
It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a "socialist." He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.
Would anyone work to support themselves or their families -- and then turn over a chunk of that hard-earned money to somebody else, just because of the words used by that somebody else?
'Education" is a word that covers a lot of very different things, from vital, life-saving medical skills to frivolous courses to absolutely counterproductive courses that fill people with a sense of grievance and entitlement, without giving them either the skills to earn a living or a realistic understanding of the world required for a citizen in a free society.
Democrats have been having a field day with the cry of “tax cuts for the rich” — for which Republicans seem to have no reply.
When two white newspaper reporters for the Virginian-Pilot were driving through Norfolk, and were set upon and beaten by a mob of young blacks
The "Occupy" movement, which the Obama administration and much of the media have embraced, has implications that reach far beyond the passing sensation it has created.
Labor unions, like the United Nations, are all too often judged by what they are envisioned as being — not by what they actually are or what they actually do.
Whatever the ultimate outcome of the case against George Zimmerman for his shooting of Trayvon Martin, what has happened already is enough to turn the stomach of anyone who believes in either truth or justice.
Apparently the soaring national debt and the threat of a nuclear Iran are not enough to occupy the government's time, because the Obama administration is pushing to force Westchester County, N.Y., to create more low-income housing, in order to mix and match classes and races to fit the government's preconceptions.
Random thoughts on the passing scene: How long do politicians have to keep on promising heaven and delivering hell before people catch on, and stop getting swept away by rhetoric?
One of the highly developed talents of President Obama is the ability to say things that are demonstrably false, and make them sound not only plausible but inspiring.
A long-standing legal charade was played out again recently, when Federal Express paid $3 million to settle an employment discrimination case brought by the U.S. Department of Labor.
It is not often that I agree with Geraldo Rivera, but recently he said something very practical and potentially life-saving, when he urged black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies.
One of the things that turned up, during a long-overdue cleanup of my office, was an old yellowed copy of the New York Times dated July 24, 1992. One of the front-page headlines said: "White-Black Disparity in Income Narrowed in 80's, Census Shows."
There have been many frauds of historic proportions -- for example, the financial pyramid scheme for which Charles Ponzi was sent to prison in the 1920s, and for which Franklin D. Roosevelt was praised in the 1930s, when he called it Social Security.
There are undoubtedly many people who are alive today because of James Q. Wilson, who died last week.
The only good news for the Republicans coming out of the seemingly endless presidential candidate "debates" is that some Republican leaders are now belatedly thinking about how they can avoid a repetition of this debacle in future elections.
The same presumptions of superior wisdom and virtue behind the interventionism of progressive presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in the domestic economy also led them to be interventionists in other countries.
A funny thing happened to Mitt Romney on the way to his coronation as the inevitable Republican candidate for President of the United States.
California has a huge state debt and Washington has a huge national debt. But that does not discourage either Governor Jerry Brown or President Barack Obama from wanting to launch a very costly high-speed rail system.
The news that Eastman Kodak is preparing to file for bankruptcy, after being the leading photographic company in the world for more than a hundred years, truly marks the end of an era.
No one seems to be really happy with this year’s field of Republican candidates for that party’s presidential nomination — except perhaps the Democrats.
If Newt Gingrich were being nominated for sainthood, many of us would vote very differently from the way we would vote if he were being nominated for a political office.
Washington gridlock may turn out to be the salvation of the Obama administration.
The joys of Christmas do not include coping with crowds at shopping malls or wracking your brains trying to figure out what to get as a gift for someone who already seems to have everything.
"Alice in Wonderland” was written by a professor who also wrote a book on symbolic logic. So it is not surprising that Alice encountered not only strange behavior in Wonderland, but also strange and illogical reasoning — of a sort too often found in the real world, and which a logician would be very much aware of.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that a good catch phrase could stop thinking for 50 years. One of the often-repeated catch phrases of our time — “It’s the economy, stupid!” — has already stopped thinking in some quarters for a couple of decades.
Back in the 1920s, the intelligentsia on both sides of the Atlantic were loudly protesting the execution of political radicals Sacco and Vanzetti, after what they claimed was an unfair trial. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote to his young leftist friend Harold Laski, pointing out that there were “a thousand-fold worse cases” involving black defendants, “but the world does not worry over them.”
Random thoughts on the passing scene:
Among those who have been disappointed by President Obama, none is likely to end up so painfully disappointed as those who saw his election as being, in itself and in its consequences, a movement toward a “post-racial society.”
Listening to political rhetoric often leads to opposite conclusions from those resulting from checking out hard facts — and not just for blacks.
One of the problems in trying to select a leader for any large organization or institution is the tendency to start out looking for Superman, passing up many good people who fail to meet that standard, and eventually ending up settling for a warm body.
The so-called “debates” among Republican presidential aspirants are classic examples of the media spreading misunderstanding instead of enlightenment. The ancient admonition, “With all you’re getting, get understanding” has been replaced in the media by, “With all you’re getting, get sound bites — and, if possible, ‘gotcha’ sound bites.”
Those who are impressed by words seem to think that President Obama made a great speech to Congress last week. But, when you look beyond the rhetoric, what did he say that was fundamentally different from what he has been saying and doing all along?
Although much of the media have their antennae out to pick up anything that might be construed as racism against blacks, they resolutely ignore even the most blatant racism by blacks against others.
Many years ago, the Saturday Evening Post was one of the best-known magazines in America. But somehow I learned that the Saturday Evening Post was actually published on Wednesday morning. That was a little disconcerting at first. But it was one of the most valuable lessons, that words do not necessarily reflect reality.