Magazine | October 19, 2009, Issue


Populists Are Sometimes Right

Normally I look forward to Florence King’s “Bent Pin” column, but her commentary on the recent town-hall protests, “Put Down That Pitchfork” (September 21), disappointed me. Perhaps a better title for the column would have been, “Rustics You Are and Rustics You Shall Remain!”

It’s not that I don’t sympathize with her disdain for populism. That is typically very easy, since populists have a habit of endorsing the wrong policies for the wrong reasons. But the case of the town-hall protests is a bit complicated, for the populists are on the right side of the issue, even if their reasons are questionable. Instead of accepting this, King jettisons her principles.

Her waxing poetic about “Ma Bell” is a case in point. I am old enough to remember AT&T before the breakup, and there is nothing to lament about its passing. Sure, there was a low monthly rate — if you made just local calls. Depending on where the local switching station happened to be, it might take a long-distance call to reach someone only a couple of miles down the road. Once long-distance charges started kicking in, you quickly understood where “Ma Bell” made her money. The long-distance companies that came along in the wake of the breakup of AT&T, plus the rise of cell and Internet telephone service, have given us markedly better service for less money. 

The example shows that markets are efficient. And this truth is not soiled or rendered false when a populist agrees with it.

Still, King most often writes great columns, so an occasional hiccup here or there is no tragedy. I will be looking forward to another “Bent Pin.”

Michael Minnott

San Clemente, Calif.

Out in Left Field

I just got through reading Jay Nordlinger’s article about writers’ interjecting politics in sports stories. Finally, someone has said something! After blogging on Fox Sports and ESPN about this very subject for years, I thank Jay and hope many read his story. As prevalent as the liberal ideology is in the mainstream media, it is even more so in sports media. While I can ignore the fraudulent tripe in news, I’m addicted to sports and thus can’t escape the idiocy. 

I think Jay is correct, also, in the root cause he adduces for this bias: envy. It might be said that those who can’t teach, coach; and those who can’t write, write sports. Jealousy of players’ salaries might also contribute to liberal rants.

John Heavner

Via e-mail

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue


Politics & Policy

A Typology of Tyrants

Sickly, half-lame little Josep Jughashvili grew up to be the terrible and terrifying Joseph Stalin — gangster, egomaniac, mass murderer, diabolical titan. His statues once dotted town squares throughout the ...


Politics & Policy

Iran Outlook: Grim

The week of September 21 was supposed to be multilateralism on parade for President Obama: attending the Climate Summit, addressing the U.N. General Assembly, chairing the Security Council, and celebrating ...
Politics & Policy

Romney Reboots

In the early stages of the undeclared race for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney is the frontrunner. The former governor of Massachusetts has the best-developed national network of supporters ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Parallel Lives

  In February 1946, George Kennan despaired that the U.S. government, mystified by Soviet unwillingness to cooperate in its plans for shaping the post-war world, understood neither the nature of Stalin’s ...
Politics & Policy

The Wrong Man

Another Steven Soderbergh movie already? It was only last winter that the prolific director was inviting audiences to endure the turgid Che, his two-part, four-hour Che Guevara passion play. The ...


Politics & Policy


Populists Are Sometimes Right Normally I look forward to Florence King’s “Bent Pin” column, but her commentary on the recent town-hall protests, “Put Down That Pitchfork” (September 21), disappointed me. Perhaps ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ The difference is, the Dancing with the Stars judges have a solid case against Tom DeLay. ‐ In a matter of about three weeks, the Left’s view of Afghanistan has ...
The Bent Pin

Gone with the Windbags

Like eager children clamoring to know “Are we there yet?” MSNBC’s news anchors always seem to be asking “Is it racism yet?” We can tell from their unrestrained glee that ...
The Long View

Literary Classics

From The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the ...

Most Popular

PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More
Film & TV

Joker: An Honest Treatment of Madness

When I saw that the New York Times and The New Yorker had run columns berating the new Joker movie, criticizing it not simply on cinematic grounds but instead insisting that the film amounted to a clandestine defense of “whiteness” in an attempt to buttress the electoral aim of “Republicans” — this is a ... Read More

The Origins of the Transgender Movement

Editor’s Note: This article has been adapted from remarks delivered at a Heritage Foundation summit. I’ve been asked to talk about the origins of transgenderism and how it relates to children and their exploitation. But first, I would like to start with a little story. Yesterday I was wandering around ... Read More

The Democrats’ Disastrous CNN LGBT Town Hall

A few days after Donald Trump committed the worst foreign-policy blunder of his presidency by betraying America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria, former vice president Joe Biden, the elder statesman and co-frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary, was on a national stage talking to CNN’s primetime ... Read More
White House

What Is Impeachment For?

W hat is impeachment for? Seems like a simple question. Constitutionally speaking, it also appears to have a simple answer: to cite and remove from power a president guilty of wrongdoing. Aye, there’s the rub. What sort of wrongdoing warrants removal from power? I’d wager that the flames of ... Read More

CNN’s Anti-Religious Town Hall

LGBT activists gathered last week for CNN’s “Equality” town hall with the Democratic presidential candidates. The advocates present were, in the words of Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, the “tip of the spear in our fight for full equality.” The “spear” metaphor grew more apt as ... Read More