- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2005

Progressively wrong

“Ninety-six-year-old John Kenneth Galbraith spent his adult life urging America — and the world — to embrace socialism and reject capitalism. … He is best known for his incorrect theory of the ‘dependence effect,’ which says that because of advertising, we spend too much on ‘useless’ things and pay too little in taxes for the ‘good’ things government gives us. He was dead wrong about just about everything he wrote and spoke about, in other words.

“Now, after having written several autobiographies, there is a new ‘authorized biography’ of Galbraith. The February issue of Vanity Fair features a short interview with him … labeling him a ‘champion of progressive thought.’

“Galbraith spent his entire life repeating over and over and over again the same old tired, socialist nostrums to anyone who would listen. Yet in response to the question, ‘What is the trait you most deplore in others?’ he answered, ‘The habit of offering uncontrolled repetitive counsel and advice.’ ”

Thomas DiLorenzo, writing on “An Old Socialist Who Never Learned Anything,” Monday at www.lewrockwell.com

‘Dr.’ for dollars

“Laura L. Callahan was very proud of her Ph.D. When she received it a few years ago, she promptly rewrote her official biography to highlight the academic accomplishment, referring to it … nine times in a single-page summary of her career. And she never let her employees at the Labor Department, where she served as deputy chief information officer, forget it, even demanding that they call her ‘Doctor.’ …

“One employee was skeptical of Callahan’s qualifications, however, and began quietly asking questions. …

” ‘When she was running around telling people to call her “Dr. Callahan,” I asked where she got her degree,’ says Richard Wainwright, a computer specialist who worked for Callahan at Labor for two years. ‘When I found out, I laughed.’

“It turns out Callahan got her precious sheepskin from Hamilton University. Not Hamilton College, the highly competitive school in Clinton, N.Y., but Hamilton University, the unaccredited fee-for-degree ‘distance learning’ center in Evanston, Wyo. … Such diploma mills frequently use names similar to those of accredited schools.”

Paul Sperry, writing on “Cut-Rate Diplomas,” in the January issue of Reason

Thank you, sit down

“A celebrity accepting a prize for excellence in entertainment should, of course, be entertaining, but he or she should also have the good grace to remember that the speech itself is not in the running for any prizes (Julia Roberts’ gushing ‘I love the world’ speech when accepting her Oscar for ‘Erin Brockovich’ in 2000 stands out as a particularly icky archetype of dewy self-regard).

“People? You’re professionals receiving a positive job evaluation … not Alcoholics Anonymous members getting a 10-year sobriety medal. Wear a nice dress, crack a couple of jokes, and go away.

“At the extreme unprofessional end of the spectrum [at Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony] was Natalie Portman, whose slip-of-a-girl adorableness has reached such thermonuclear levels that she all but ascended the stage in a cloud of pixie dust when she took the Best Supporting Actress award for ‘Closer.’ Portman seemed overjoyed by her surprise win … but her complete inability to string together two sentences was off-putting.”

Dana Stevens, writing on “The Art of the Acceptance Speech,” Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

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