A reporter asked Majority Leader Harry Reid how he could justify exempting Nebraska from Medicaid payments forever, in exchange for Sen. Ben Nelson's vote. His reply:

There's a hundred senators here. And I don't know if there's a senator that doesn't have something in this bill that was important to them. And if they don't have something in it important to them, then it doesn't speak well of them. That's what this legislation is all about. (Harry Reid, Dec. 21, 2009, Democratic press conference after cloture vote on health-care bill)

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s2smodern

Democrats insisted on changing the law in Massachusetts to require an election to fill the office of Sen. John Kerry, should he be elected president in 2004. They argued that the people, not the governor, should choose the senator's replacement. Of course, the governor at the time was a Republican, Mitt Romney. Now that the governor is a Democrat, the people should not choose Ted Kennedy's successor; the governor should make the appointment. The duplicity here is despicable.

Democrats went berserk over what they called President Bush's "power grab," but are silent in the face of President Obama's massive consolidation of power. The duplicity here is despicable.

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When the president announced last week that he would “cut out the middleman” and make direct government loans to students, he laid bare his contempt for free enterprise. He is fulfilling a campaign promise by overhauling the system through which he claims, “Private lenders are costing America’s taxpayers more than $15 million dollars every day and provide no additional value except to the banks themselves.”

Consider the philosophy behind his statement. If government cuts out the middleman and performs the service instead, it will be cheaper and more efficient, he reasons. Apply this same reasoning to, say, the entire banking industry. Government’s direct involvement in the banking industry can eliminate all those bonuses paid to greedy executives and profits earned by greedy share holders, and make sure that loans are extended to low-income borrowers whether they qualify or not. Direct government control of the banking business will surely make it fairer and more efficient.

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A widely anticipated textbook, "Universal Economics," has just been published by Liberty Fund. Its authors are two noted UCLA economists, the late Armen A. Alchian and William R. Allen. Editor Jerry L. Jordan was their student and later became a member of President Ronald Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, as well as the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Professor Alchian was probably the greatest microeconomic theorist of the 20th century, while Professor Allen's genius was in the area of international trade and the history of economic thought. Both were tenacious mentors of mine during my student days at UCLA in the mid-1960s and early '70s.

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President Barack Obama's first education secretary, Arne Duncan, gave a speech on the 45th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where, in 1965, state troopers beat and tear-gassed hundreds of peaceful civil rights marchers who were demanding voting rights. Later that year, as a result of widespread support across the nation, the U.S. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. Secretary Duncan titled his speech "Crossing the Next Bridge." Duncan told the crowd that black students "are more than three times as likely to be expelled as their white peers," adding that Martin Luther King would be "dismayed."

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I'm thankful that increasing attention is being paid to the dire state of higher education in our country. Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has just published "The Diversity Delusion." Its subtitle captures much of the book's content: "How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture." Part of the gender pandering at our universities is seen in the effort to satisfy the diversity-obsessed National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, each of which gives millions of dollars of grant money to universities. If universities don't make an effort to diversify their science, technology, engineering and math (known as STEM) programs, they risk losing millions in grant money.

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So much of our reasoning about race is both emotional and faulty. In ordinary, as well as professional, conversation, we use terms such as discrimination, prejudice, racial preferences and racism interchangeably, as if they referred to the same behavior. We can avoid many pitfalls of misguided thinking about race by establishing operational definitions so as to not confuse one behavior with another.

Discrimination can be operationally defined as an act of choice. Our entire lives are spent choosing to do or not to do thousands of activities. Choosing requires non-choosing. When you chose to read this column, you discriminated against other possible uses of your time. When you chose a spouse, you discriminated against other people. When I chose Mrs. Williams, I systematically discriminated against other women. Much of it was racial. Namely, I discriminated against white women, Asian women, fat women and women with criminal backgrounds. In a word, I didn't offer every woman an equal opportunity, and they didn't offer me an equal opportunity.

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Mike Scruggs