- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Manly egghead

“Europe produced both grand visionaries like Marx and compulsive improvers like Bentham; America prided itself on being a businesslike civilization. Europeans used the word ‘intellectual’ (a French invention, naturally) as a term of praise. Americans regarded it as synonymous with ‘egghead,’ if not ‘sexual deviant.’

“But look at the world of public policy today, and it is America that is the land of the intellectuals and Europe that is the intellect-free zone. Look at the Iraq war, and you can see the influence of the dreaded neocons. Look at tax policy, and you can see the influence of the supply-siders. Look at the debate about gender roles and, lo and behold, Harvey Mansfield, Harvard University’s lone conservative, has just mounted a heavyweight philosophical defense of ‘Manliness’ (though the references to Aristotle have not stopped Oprah Winfrey from flashing it on the cover of her magazine, next to a smiling picture of herself).”

— from “The Battle of Ideas,” in the March 23 issue of the Economist

Patriot secret

“Unlike his neighbors, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, founding father George Mason has rarely gotten his props from historians and the public. Until recently, the same could be said of the university bearing his name. But the advancement of Mason’s basketball team to the NCAA’s Final Four is only the school’s latest surprise win.

“The GMU economics department — which didn’t even award Ph.D.s until 1983 — has two Nobel Prize winners on its faculty. The law school ascended to the first tier several years ago, a striking achievement for a new program that 10 years ago was being run out of an old department-store building. What’s remarkable is that GMU’s freewheeling basketball team and its free-market academic teams owe their successes to very similar, market-beating strategies.

“GMU has excelled on the court and in the classroom by daring to be different.

“This is … the idea behind GMU’s free-market-oriented economics department. The department got started with a heretical premise: The academic market is inefficient, so how can we exploit it? ”

— GMU economists Alexander Tabarrok and Peter Boettke, writing on “The Secret of George Mason,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Taken for a ride

“Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer took George Stephanopoulos for a ride Sunday over Glacier National Park, and not just in a helicopter.

“Thanks to his proposal to mine eastern Montana’s coal beds and gasify the coal into synthetic fuel, Schweitzer is enjoying steady national press. Consider that he’s a newly elected, red-state Democrat, with homespun charm and bolo tie, and you can understand the media’s crush. …

“He’s exploiting the specter of global warming as a justification for his ‘synfuel’ plan.

“That was the point of Schweitzer’s helicopter ride with Stephanopoulos: to display Glacier National Park’s shrinking glaciers which are, as Stephanopoulos put it, ‘dramatic evidence that global warming is not, as some argue, a hoax. The glaciers that gave this park its name are melting.’ …

“What evidence is there for man-made global warming melting the glaciers in Glacier National Park? None. … Global-warming theory feeds a natural inclination to see ourselves as the problem and/or the solution. In this case, we’re neither.”

— David Holman, Schweitzer’s Folly,” Tuesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

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