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

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

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 ...


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 ...
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 ...

Most Popular


A Reckoning Is in Store for Democrats

The crisis of the Democrats is becoming more evident each week. Those of us who have been loudly predicting for years that the Russian-collusion argument would be exposed as a defamatory farce, and that the authors of it would eventually pay for it, are bemused at the fallback position of the Trump-haters: that ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar: A Hostage Situation

‘It has to stop,” says Representative Ilhan Omar. No, it does not. Representative Omar, the Jew-hating Minnesota Democrat, is engaged in one of her usual games of misdirection, a pattern of hers that by now is familiar enough to be predicted: She says something outrageously stupid, offensive, ... Read More

Why ‘Stop Sanders’?

'Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?” T. S. Eliot asked. “Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” And where is the intelligence we have lost in cleverness? Cleverness is the plague of our political classes, an influenza of the intellect. The consultants are always trying to ... Read More

Trump Is Hell-Bent on ‘Owning the Libs’

President Trump is looking into giving a free trip to San Francisco, New Orleans, or other great American cities to tens of thousands of refugees from Central America. All so he can own the libs. “Owning the libs” is one of those phrases to have emerged over the past few years that vacillates between ... Read More