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

Film & TV

Netflix Debuts Its Obama Manifesto

This week’s widespread media blitz heralding Netflix’s broadcast of its first Obama-endorsed presentation, American Factory, was more than synchronicity. It felt as though U.S. publicists and journalists collectively exhaled their relief at finally regaining the bully pulpit. Reviews of American Factory, a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Capital versus Tucker Carlson

Advertisers do not advertise on Tucker Carlson’s show to endorse the views of Tucker Carlson. They advertise on his show for the same reason they advertise elsewhere: a captive audience — in Tucker’s case, the second-largest one in cable news — might spare thirty seconds of attention that will, they hope, ... Read More
Natural Law

Are Your Sexual Preferences Transphobic?

Last year, a study exploring “transgender exclusion from the world of dating” was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Of nearly 1,000 participants, the overwhelming majority, 87.5 percent, irrespective of their sexual preference, said they would not consider dating a trans person, ... Read More