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Brandeis and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

April 18, 2014 at 9:50 am

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Brandeis University's decision to revoke its invitation to give Ayaan Hirsi Ali an honorary degree is the subject of my column this week. Please check it out at Reason (here) and Newsmax (here).

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The Blessings of Rootlessness

April 18, 2014 at 9:43 am

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My return to Massachusetts after 19 years away is the subject of a Passover-timed personal essay I wrote for Zocalo Public Square.

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United States of Envy

April 18, 2014 at 9:15 am

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Allan Meltzer writes at the Hoover Institution's Defining Ideas site:

Voters who will hear the Obama call for envy and redistribution should ask themselves and others: Would you prefer to live in an America where the market is dynamic and opportunity abounds, or in France, where unemployment is high and tax rates are crushing? Don't you prefer opportunity to envy?

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Ricky Greenfield

April 17, 2014 at 4:12 pm

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The sad news arrived this morning that the businessman, newspaper publisher, and conservative pro-Israel activist Ricky Greenfield has died.

There will be more remembrances to come, but it is not too soon to recall that Greenfield was an accomplished figure in many ways, and to call particular attention to his contributions to this site.

Greenfield was successful enough on Wall Street at places like Wertheim and Bear Stearns that he was able to spend his later years in the Jewish newspaper business, which hasn't recently spawned many great fortunes.

In addition to the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, which he bought a part of in 1992 and entirely in 1994, and which he owned until last month, and the Massachusetts Jewish Ledger, which he sold last month, he distributed information through a series of active email lists that he maintained.

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Ron Paul Defends Publishing 9/11 Conspiracy Theory

April 17, 2014 at 11:52 am

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Former congressman Ron Paul was asked on the Fox Business show "The Independents" about the decision to publish on the web site of the Ron Paul Institute, which he chairs, an article by Paul Craig Roberts asserting "The conclusion is increasingly difficult to avoid that elements of the US government blew up three New York skyscrapers in order to destroy Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah and to launch the US on the neoconservatives agenda of US world hegemony."

His answer, which can be viewed at the 7:25 mark on the video, was disappointing: "People should have a right to express their viewpoints...That doesn't mean I endorse what he said...He shouldn't be excluded because he takes that particular position...I don't believe government commissions ever get to the bottom of anything."

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Krugman's Pay

April 16, 2014 at 11:34 pm

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The income inequality institute at taxpayer-funded City University of New York will pay Paul Krugman $225,000 as a nine-month salary for a first year on the job that will involve no teaching or supervision of students, Gawker reports.

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George WIll on Liberty Versus Democracy

April 16, 2014 at 11:13 pm

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George Will's column this week is about the tension between liberty and democracy:

The fundamental division in U.S. politics is between those who take their bearings from the individual's right to a capacious, indeed indefinite, realm of freedom, and those whose fundamental value is the right of the majority to have its way in making rules about which specified liberties shall be respected.

I recommend that you click through and read the whole thing; it's a gem.

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Reid's Chinese Solar Deal

April 14, 2014 at 1:23 am

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Reuters reports about the Nevada Democrat, Harry Reid, who is the Senate majority leader:

questions surrounding family ties are flaring again in Nevada around the Senate majority leader. He and his oldest son, Rory, are both involved in an effort by a Chinese energy giant, ENN Energy Group, to build a $5 billion solar farm and panel manufacturing plant in the southern Nevada desert.
Reid has been one of the project's most prominent advocates, helping recruit the company during a 2011 trip to China and applying his political muscle on behalf of the project in Nevada. His son, a lawyer with a prominent Las Vegas firm that is representing ENN, helped it locate a 9,000-acre (3,600-hectare) desert site that it is buying well below appraised value from Clark County, where Rory Reid formerly chaired the county commission.

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Obama's Tax Returns

April 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm

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The Obamas have released their annual tax return, and one thing it shows is that as an investor, President Obama is a statist, or at the very least highly tax efficient. If he collected anything by way of dividends or capital gains in a banner year for the stock market, he did it in tax-exempt retirement accounts, because he recorded barely anything in investment income. For a guy who has reported a lot of assets — all those millions in book royalties — he's sure put a lot of assets in Treasury bills. Of their $481,098 in adjusted gross income reported for 2013, $394,796 was wages, $104,809 was his income from book royalties, and he earned a mere three dollars in ordinary dividends. I'm not an accountant so maybe I am missing something. Maybe he is racking up unrealized capital gains in non-dividend paying stocks that he plans to sell when he is out of office and no longer has to disclose his returns. But it takes some effort to have as many assets as Mr. Obama is reported to have and to have so little in taxable investment income.

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Harvard Faculty Divest

April 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm

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About 90 Harvard faculty members, including the "Lloyd C. Blankfein professor of history," have signed a letter to Harvard's president and governing Corporation calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies. The signatories include some of Harvard's usual leftist suspects — Everett Mendelsohn, Duncan Kennedy,Marshall Ganz. The Crimson has coverage.

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Shlaes on Piketty

April 10, 2014 at 2:20 pm

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Amity Shlaes has a column about the new book by French economist Thomas Piketty: "A book like Piketty's may be called Capital. A more accurate title might be Expropriation."

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Ron Paul Publishes 9/11 Conspiracy Theory

April 10, 2014 at 1:48 pm

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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, whose chairman is former Republican congressman Ron Paul and on whose advisory board sit two U.S. Congressmen and the senior judicial analyst of the Fox News Channel, has published an article by Paul Craig Roberts asserting, "The conclusion is increasingly difficult to avoid that elements of the US government blew up three New York skyscrapers in order to destroy Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah and to launch the US on the neoconservatives agenda of US world hegemony."

Somehow, that is a conclusion that I have managed to avoid despite the "difficulty."

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Jamie Dimon's Annual Letter

April 9, 2014 at 9:02 pm

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JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is out with his annual shareholder letter, and, as usual, it is an interesting read. The section focused on broad public policy issues, while broadly optimistic, raised these concerns:

Something is holding back the strong recovery of the great American economic engine. It is not lack of access to capital or loans, but it might be a combination of some of the following factors:

• Concerns around excessive regulation and red tape – I travel around the U.S. all the time, and this is a loud and growing complaint that I hear from businesses, small to large, across virtually all industries.

• Whether you were for or against "Obamacare," when massive changes to such an important part of the American economy are made, it does create uncertainty for many businesses.

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Taxes More Than Food, Clothes, Housing

April 9, 2014 at 10:41 am

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Americans will pay more in taxes — $4.5 trillion in 2014 — than they do for food, clothing, and housing combined, the Tax Foundation reports.

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Lipton Blames Activist Hedge Funds for Unemployment, Low Growth

April 9, 2014 at 10:25 am

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Martin Lipton of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz has a revised post at the Harvard Law School's corporate governance blog that faults activist hedge funds for contributing to slow growth and unemployment by favoring short-term steps over long-term investment: "We believe that attacks, and the threat of attacks, by activist hedge funds and pervasive activism are major causes of underinvestment, unemployment and slow growth of GDP."

Mr. Lipton says the SEC should change its rules to require hedge funds and other institutional investors to report their positions on forms 13F two days after the quarter ends, rather than the current 45 days, and also to require disclosure of a five percent stake in a company within one day rather than ten days.

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