- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 25, 2006

Non-free farming

“I have listened to many of my conservative friends talk about the wonders of the free market, of the importance of letting the consumers make their best choices, of keeping government out of economic activity, of the virtues of free trade, but then I look at various agricultural programs like this one. Now, it violates every principle of free market economics known to man and two or three not yet discovered.

“So I have been forced to conclude that in all of those great free market texts by Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and all the others that there is a footnote that says, ‘By the way, none of this applies to agriculture.’ … [T]here is no greater contrast in America today than between the free enterprise rhetoric of so many conservatives and the statist, subsidized, inflationary, protectionist, anti-consumer agricultural policies, and this is one of them. …

“There is no greater obstacle … to the completion of a comprehensive trade policy than the American agricultural policy, with one exception, European agricultural policy, which is much worse and just as phony.”

— Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, debating an agricultural appropriations bill May 23 in the House, reprinted by the Club for Growth at www.clubforgrowth.org

Blah, blah, blogs

“On blogs, anything and everything goes, including on the blog names themselves. … Fafblog, which quotes an apparent admirer to this effect: ‘This is a good blog. This is the best blog. It is about god and the universe and those horrible screaming monkeys and that time I made a pizza out of an old tire and a can of whip cream. It is the Fafblog.’

“No, what it is, is Narcissism gone wild. …

“Blogs can be fun, entertaining, and informative, but they don’t lend themselves to disciplined thought, much less disciplined writing. There’s nothing wrong with the blogs in and of themselves, but when they are a young person’s only or next-to-only exposure to the written word, they certainly don’t boost reasoning or writing skills.

“Meanwhile, the very structure of the blogosphere, with its immediate permalinks from site to site to site, encourages a tendency to bounce wildly from one topic, indeed one entire realm of discourse, to another and another and to countless others still, all with the quick click of an electronic-mouse button.”

— Quin Hillyer, writing on “Hey, Ho, the Battling Blogs,” May 24 in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Nevermore

“Only four mourners attended his funeral in Baltimore, along with an Episcopal minister, the gravedigger and the sexton. The minister, a distant relation of the deceased, decided not to deliver a sermon to such a small gathering. …

“The grave itself sat unmarked for 25 years. …

“Edgar Poe … had had a troubled life by the time he died at 40. … His professional decisions brought him a fair amount of scorn and continual financial hardship, but also considerable personal fulfilment.

“Poe was not an icon at the time of his death in 1849. He could disappear without a trace, and he had. At the end of September that year, Poe had been lecturing in Richmond, Va., to raise money for his new literary magazine. … From Richmond, he intended to go to Philadelphia and then home to New York. … Instead, he ended up … in Baltimore. The official record loses sight of him for five days before he turns up, incapacitated, inside an inn called Ryan’s. …

“Poe’s biography may be said, in a sense, to begin with his death rather than his birth.”

— Matthew Pearl, writing on “Mysterious for evermore,” in the London Sunday Telegraph

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