Commentary

“The weather outside is frightful.” That used to mean something ominous – like the dreaded four-letter word “snow.” Now “frightful” has come to describe a warm, spring-like day filled with golfers and Frisbee players. And the quote above wasn’t just a song reference, it was an actual Washington Post headline from January 8. For several days, the Northeast enjoyed a wonderful warm spell that hit 70 degrees in both the nation’s capital and New York City according to the Weather Channel. I’m having a hot flash just thinking about it. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Manny Fernandez of The... continue reading
As Democrats take power in Congress, speculation has swirled around the question of why Republicans lost. But there is a factor – a costly factor affecting American businesses – that has gone largely unnoticed. In the summer of 2002, in response to Enron and WorldCom, Congress passed a slew of business regulations called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Although it was written largely by the then-Democratic-controlled Senate, most Republicans barely criticized the law when they regained power. Even when studies showed its costs were several times greater than anticipated and it was crippling small public companies, GOP leaders were reluctant to take... continue reading
Freedom of information is the backbone of good journalism. Keeping information open and available also helps democracy function. But contrary to the “information-wants-to-be-free” mindset left over from the dot-com era, free information isn’t free. In fact, information costs a lot of money – to produce, maintain and distribute. That’s one reason why what’s called an “open access” plan floating around Congress is such a bad idea. The proposal, under the mouthful Federal Research Public Access Act, would mandate “free online public access to such final peer-reviewed manuscripts or published versions as soon as practicable, but not later than 6 months... continue reading
One of the priorities of the new Congress, and something approved of by most of the media, is to expand federal grants and loans to college students. While this may sound like a good way to increase access to higher education, it is another case where people, in Sherlock Holmes’s words, see but do not observe. Before Congress increases spending on financial aid to college students, it should think about what the end result will be. That result will certainly be higher tuition costs for all students, and may result in no net tuition reduction for those who receive the... continue reading
In 1975, Bob Dylan sang about being given “shelter from the storm.” In 2006, the media warned us that was what everyone would need facing another devastating hurricane season. Americans braced back in May as the media belted out another Dylan classic, predicting “A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall.” ABC’s Jeffrey Kofman sounded the alarm about storms so bad scientists “are now considering adding a fearsome category 6. That's hurricanes of more than 175 miles an hour. Something no one would want to meet head-on.” No one did. Category 6 wasn’t even added, and the chorus of media hype about another... continue reading
Thanksgiving in America is a time of traditions – turkey and dressing, gathering around the table, watching football and seeing schoolchildren dressed up as Pilgrims and Indians, reenacting the first Thanksgiving. One of the most fascinating early American stories is the “sale” of Manhattan Island. The story goes that some Dutch colonists traded beads and other trinkets to the Indians for the land, acquiring the island for what amounted to $24 worth of goods. With our Westernized view of property – especially knowing how expensive Manhattan is nowadays – we struggle to understand how such a transaction could have occurred... continue reading
Don’t eat that! It doesn’t even matter what it is, somewhere someone on network news shows is probably telling you it’s “bad for you.” If you believe them, almost everything meets that requirement. Caffeine. Sugar. Cereal. Meat. Alcohol. The list doesn’t even stop at food and drink. Gambling, stress, chemicals – even too much work – are all demons of modern life. Face it, life is just dyin’ to get you. And the news media are trying to save you from yourself. Network newsies act like they want to wrap America in one giant mountain of bubble wrap – protected... continue reading
The frenzy about trans fats as dietary killers is escalating. Professors from the Harvard School of Public Health tell the media that trans fats kill hundreds of thousands of us annually and represent "the most dangerous ingredient in our diet." Were this true, it would put trans fats up there with cigarette smoking, obesity and alcohol abuse as a leading cause of death. Outside the New York Department of Health, where hearings on a proposed ban on trans fats (TFAs) in restaurants were held last month, protests were held, complete with music and dancing, demanding a "Trans Fat Free NYC."... continue reading
Watching TV can be torture. This close to the election, it’s even worse thanks to TV news. For more than a year, the networks told us almost every bit of good economic news was somehow bad. Now that they feel they have conservatives right where they want them, journalists are tightening the screws. No major news outlet is worse than CNN. It doesn’t matter whether it’s “Network” populist Lou Dobbs or curmudgeonly Jack Cafferty, CNN is brainwashing viewers into believing there is a “war on the middle class” led by business, conservatives and Republicans. Every day spins some good news... continue reading
Jesse Williams started smoking as a 21-year-old soldier in Korea in 1950. Though Williams was taught as a child that it was unhealthy to smoke, and, in turn, taught his children not to smoke, he refused entreaties from doctors and family to quit smoking. After 45 years of smoking two packs a day, with the packs carrying the Surgeon General’s warnings for nearly 30 of those years, Williams died of inoperable lung cancer. His widow sued Philip Morris for damages on grounds of product design and “fraud.” The Supreme Court will be hearing arguments in the case Philip Morris v... continue reading