Stories by Thomas
The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. Among the biggest lies of the welfare states on both sides of the Atlantic is the notion that the government can supply the people with things they want but cannot afford. Since the government gets its resources from the people, if the people as a whole cannot afford something, neither can the government.
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.
A small headline in the second section of the Wall Street Journal last week told a bigger story than a lot of front page banner headlines. It said, “U.S. Firms Add Jobs, but Mostly Overseas.”
Around this time of year, I sometimes hear from parents who have been appalled to learn that the child they sent away to college to become educated has instead been indoctrinated with the creed of the left. They often ask if I can suggest something to have their offspring read over the summer, in order to counteract this indoctrination.
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. An amazing proportion of the media has given us a painful demonstration of the thinking -- and lack of thinking -- that prevailed back in the days of the old Jim Crow South, where complexion counted more than facts in determining how people were treated.
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. Behind all this busy work for bureaucrats is the idea that there is something wrong if a community does not have an even or random distribution of various kinds of people. This arbitrary assumption is that the absence of evenness or randomness shows a “problem” that has to be “corrected.”
One of the highly developed talents of President Barack Obama is the ability to say things that are demonstrably false, and make them sound not only plausible but inspiring. That talent was displayed last week when he was asked whether he thought the Supreme Court would uphold Obamacare as constitutional or strike it down as unconstitutional. He replied: “I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
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.
Many people may be voting for Mitt Romney because of the view in some quarters that he is the inevitable Republican candidate for President of the United States and the candidate with the best chance of beating Barack Obama, rather than because they actually prefer Romney to the other candidates. Inevitability has a very unreliable track record. During the primary season, people should vote for whomever they prefer, on their own merits, not because pundits have pronounced them inevitable.
What are we to make of President Barack Obama’s latest pronouncements about Iran’s movement toward nuclear bombs?
Many people are looking to the many primary elections on March 6 “Super Tuesday” to clarify where this year’s Republican nomination campaign is headed. It may clarify far more than that, including the future of this nation and of Western civilization. If a clear winner with a commanding lead emerges, the question then becomes whether that candidate is someone who is likely to defeat Barack Obama. If not, then the fate of America and of Western nations, including Israel will be left in the hands of a man with a lifelong hostility to Western values and Western interests.
During a recent Fox News Channel debate about the Obama administration’s tax policies, Democrat Bob Beckel raised the issue of “fairness.” He pointed out that a child born to a poor woman in the Bronx enters the world with far worse prospects than a child born to an affluent couple in Connecticut. No one can deny that. The relevant question, however, is: How does allowing politicians to take more money in taxes from successful people, to squander in ways that will improve their own reelection prospects, make anything more “fair” for others?
It is fascinating to see people accusing others of things that they themselves are doing, especially when their own sins are worse.
A funny thing happened to Mitt Romney on the way to his coronation as the “inevitable” Republican candidate for president of the United States. Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado happened. Rick Santorum beat him in all three states on the same day -- and beat him by huge margins in two of those states, as well as upsetting him in Colorado, where the Mormon vote was expected to give Romney a victory.
This may be the golden age of presumptuous ignorance. The most recent demonstrations of that are the Occupy Wall Street mobs. It is doubtful how many of these semi-literate sloganizers could tell the difference between a stock and a bond. Yet there they are, mouthing off about Wall Street on television, cheered on by politicians and the media.
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. Most of us might be a little skittish about spending money if we were teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. But the beauty of politics is that it is all other people’s money, including generations yet unborn.
With all the talk about “disparities” in innumerable contexts, there is one very important disparity that gets remarkably little attention — disparities in the ability to create wealth. People who are preoccupied, or even obsessed, with disparities in income are seldom interested much, or at all, in the disparities in the ability to create wealth, which are often the reasons for the disparities in income.
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. The skills required to use the cameras and chemicals required by the photography of the mid-19th century were far beyond those of most people — until a man named George Eastman created a company called Kodak, which made cameras that ordinary people could use. It was Kodak’s humble and affordable box Brownie that put photography on the map for millions of people.
It used to be common for people to urge us to learn “the lessons of history.” But history gets much less attention these days and, if there are any lessons that we are offered, they are more likely to be the lessons from current polls or the lessons of political correctness.
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. The sudden rise, and equally sudden fall, of a succession of Republican front-runners is just one sign of the dissatisfaction of the Republican voters with this field of candidates.
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. What the media call Gingrich’s “baggage” concerns largely his personal life and the fact that he made a lot of money running a consulting firm after he left Congress. This kind of stuff makes lots of talking points that we will no doubt hear, again and again, over the next weeks and months. But how much weight should we give to this stuff when we are talking about the future of a nation?
Washington gridlock may turn out to be the salvation of the Obama administration. Not only does gridlock allow the president to blame Republicans for not solving the financial crisis that his own runaway spending created, the inability to carry out as much government intervention in the economy as when the Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress means that the market can now recover on its own to some visible extent before the next election.
Many people are lamenting the failure of the Congressional supercommittee to come up with an agreement on ways to reduce the runaway federal deficits. But you cannot judge success or failure without knowing what the goal was. If you think the goal was to solve the country’s fiscal crisis, then obviously the supercommittee was a complete failure. But, if you think the goal was to improve the chances of the Obama administration being re-elected in 2012, it was a complete success.
Now that Newt Gingrich has become the latest in a series of Republican front-runners, he is getting the kinds of scrutiny and attacks that have done in other front-runners. One of the issues that have aroused concern among conservative Republicans is that of amnesty for illegal immigrants, especially after Gingrich said that it would not be “humane” to deport someone who has been living and working here for years.
‘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. If Alice could visit the world of liberal rhetoric and assumptions today, she might find similarly illogical and bizarre thinking. But people suffering in the current economy might not find it nearly as entertaining as “Alice in Wonderland.”
One of the things that has struck me, when I have gone on luxury cruise ships, is that most of the passengers look like they are older than the captain — and luxury cruise ships don’t have juveniles as captains. The reason for the elderly clientele is fairly simple: Most people don’t reach the point when they can afford to travel on luxury cruise ships until they have worked their way up the income ladder over a long period of years.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that a good catchphrase could stop thinking for 50 years. One of the often-repeated catchphrases of our time — “It’s the economy, stupid!” — has already stopped thinking in some quarters for a couple of decades. There is no question that the state of the economy can affect elections. But there is also no iron law that all elections will be decided by the state of the economy. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected for an unprecedented third term after two terms in which unemployment was in double digits. We may lament the number of people who are unemployed or who are on food stamps today. But those who give the Obama administration credit for coming to their rescue when they didn’t have a job are likely to greatly outnumber those who blame the administration for their not having a job in the first place.
California is a great place for studying the thinking — or lack of thinking — on the political left. The mindset of the left was recently displayed in a big, front-page story in the Oct. 30 issue of the San Mateo County Times. It was an investigative reporter’s exposé of the “payday loan” business and its lobbyists. According to the reporter: “In California, lenders charge up to $45 in fees on a maximum $300 loan. This amounts to an interest rate of 460 percent, trapping some borrowers into a never-ending cycle of debt.”
In various cities across the country, mobs of mostly young, mostly incoherent, often noisy and sometimes violent demonstrators are making themselves a major nuisance. Meanwhile, many in the media are practically gushing over these “protesters,” and giving them the free publicity they crave for themselves and their cause — whatever that is, beyond venting their emotions on television. Members of the mobs apparently believe that other people, who are working while they are out trashing the streets, should be forced to subsidize their college education — and apparently the president of the United States thinks so, too. But if these loudmouths’ inability to put together a coherent line of thought is any indication of their education, the taxpayers should demand their money back for having that money wasted on them for years in the public schools.
Twenty years ago, hysteria swept through the media over “hunger in America.” Dan Rather opened a CBS Evening News broadcast in 1991 declaring, “one in eight American children is going hungry tonight.” Newsweek, the Associated Press and the Boston Globe repeated this statistic, and many others joined the media chorus, with or without that unsubstantiated statistic. When the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Agriculture examined people from a variety of income levels, however, they found no evidence of malnutrition among those in the lowest income brackets. Nor was there any significant difference in the intake of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from one income level to another. That should have been the end of that hysteria. But the same “hunger in America” theme reappeared years later, when John Edwards was running for vice president. And others have resurrected that same claim, right up to the present day.
Among those who have been disappointed by President Barack 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.” Like so many other expectations that so many people projected onto this little-known man who suddenly burst onto the political scene, the expectation of movement toward a post-racial society had no speck of hard evidence behind it — and all too many ignored indications of the very opposite, including his two decades of association with the egregious Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Those people of good will who want to replace the racism of the past with a post-racial society have too often overlooked the fact that there are others who instead want to put racism under new management, to have reverse discrimination as racial payback for past injustices. Attorney General Eric Holder became a key figure epitomizing the view that government’s role in racial matters was not to be an impartial dispenser of equal justice for all, but to be a racial partisan and an organ of racial payback. He has been too politically savvy to say that in so many words, but his actions have spoken far louder than any words.
If there was ever any doubt that the Democrats take the black vote for granted, that doubt should have been put to rest when Barack Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus, “Stop whining!” Have you ever before heard either a Democratic or a Republican leader tell his party’s strongest supporters, “Stop whining”? Blacks have a lot to complain about, not just about this Democratic administration but about many other Democratic administrations, national and local, over the years. Unfortunately, black voters, like many other voters, often judge by rhetoric, rather than realities. When it comes to racial rhetoric, the Democrats outdo the Republicans by miles.
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. Some Republicans seem to be longing for another Ronald Reagan. Good luck on that one, unless you are prepared to wait for several generations. Moreover, even Ronald Reagan himself did not always act like Ronald Reagan. The current outbreak of “gotcha” attacks on Texas Gov. Rick Perry show one of the other pitfalls for those who are trying to pick a national leader. The three big sound-bite issues used against him during the TV “debates” have involved Social Security, immigration and a vaccine against cervical cancer. Where these three issues have been discussed at length, his position was far more reasonable than it appeared to be in either his opponents’ sound bites or even in his own abbreviated accounts during the limited time available in the TV “debate” format.
A few weeks ago, I had what seemed to me a small medical problem, so I phoned my primary physician. However, after we discussed the problem, he directed me to a specialist. After the specialist examined me, he directed me to a different specialist elsewhere. When I was examined and tested in the second specialist’s office, he immediately phoned a hospital, asking to have an operating room available in an hour. No more than five hours elapsed between my seeing the first specialist and the time when I was on an operating table. This was quite a contrast with what happens in countries with government-run medical systems. In such countries, it is not uncommon to have to wait days to see a physician, weeks to see a specialist and months before you can have an operation. It is very doubtful whether I would have lasted that long. In the intensive care unit, where I was sent after the first of two operations, I was hooked up to high-tech machines and had a small army of people looking after me around the clock. Would a government-run medical system have provided all this, especially for a man in his 80s? In some countries with government-run medical systems, individuals are not even permitted to pay out of their own pockets for medications that the government has ruled are too expensive for people in their age bracket or medical condition.