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by John Stossel

        After Joe Biden's inauguration, he ordered everyone on federal lands to wear a mask. That night, he and his family posed for pictures at the Lincoln Memorial -- none of them wearing a mask.

        California Governor Gavin Newsom told Californians it's "essential" to avoid "mixing with people outside of your household." Then he had dinner with lots of people outside his household, without masks.

        You can see the mask-less governor and the Biden family in my new video.

        Newsom did apologize for attending "a friend's birthday party." Maybe you heard about that. But you might not know that the restaurant charges $800 for dinners or that the governor's "friend" is a lobbyist, a politically connected "fixer" who helps select Hollywood businesses get exemptions from government shutdowns.

        Restaurant owner Angela Marsden, instead of hiring an expensive lobbyist, spent her money building an outdoor patio that complied with COVID-19 regulations. But then the state shut down even outdoor dining.

        "I'm losing everything," she cried in a viral video.

        But the business right next door wasn't shut down. NBC's TV show, "Good Girls," was allowed to set up a dining area right outside her restaurant.

        "She doesn't have a powerful team of lobbyists to argue on her behalf in the state's capital," points out Jarrett Stepman, a reporter who covers politicians' hypocrisy for The Daily Signal.

        California gives him plenty of fodder. San Francisco Mayor London Breed went to a party at that fancy restaurant, too.

        Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi got her hair done when California salons were closed.

        Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves held three Christmas parties, violating his executive order limiting the number of people at gatherings.

        When a reporter asked, "How is that not in conflict with the order?" Reeves responded that his parties "send a message to the people of Mississippi that you can return to a life that is somewhat normal."

        But "the people" can't. Only politicians get to do that.

        Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo attended a wine and paint event, just days after tweeting, "Stay home except for essential activities & wear a mask."

        Even after a photo showed her at the event, Biden nominated Raimondo to be secretary of Commerce.

        "Instead of being booted out, they get a promotion," complains Stepman.

        Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a 14-day quarantine for anyone going to several states, including Delaware, for "nonessential" activity. Then she went to Delaware for a Biden victory celebration, something that strikes me as "nonessential" as they get.

        "I do a lot of things to advance the interests of the District of Columbia," was Bowser's arrogant defense. "All of them are necessary."

        If politicians do it, it's always necessary. Rules are for the little people.

        In Chicago, after politicians ordered salons closed, Mayor Lori Lightfoot still went to one for a haircut.

        She defended her decision, saying: "I'm out in the public eye. I take my personal hygiene very seriously."

        Stepman says Lightfoot is a "double hypocrite" because "she was seen attending Election Day parties and giant street festivals not wearing a mask."

        The Heritage Foundation tracks such political hypocrisy, calling it "COVID Hypocrisy." As I write, they're up to 57 examples of "Rules for thee, but not for me."

        Stepman concludes, "It's up to us to say, 'You're either going to follow these rules, change these rules, or we're going to throw you out.'"

        Throwing out these hypocrites would be a good start.

        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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by John Stossel

        Joe Biden says he'll "advance racial equity" by making "bold investments" in "Affordable Housing," aiding "businesses owned by Black and Brown people," establishing an "Equity Commission," etc.

        Gosh, that'll do it.

        Others demand reparations for slavery, more social programs and defunding the police.

        Yet, economist Thomas Sowell says, "I haven't been able to find a single country in the world where policies advocated for Blacks in the United States lifted any people out of poverty."

        Sowell's a Black man who grew up in poverty. His father died before he was born, and his mother died soon after.

        "We were much poorer than the people in Harlem and most anywhere else today," he reflects. "But in the sense of things you need to get ahead, I was enormously more fortunate than most Black kids today."

        That's because he discovered the public library. "When you start getting in the habit of reading when you're 8 years old, it's a different ballgame!"

        Exploring Manhattan, he saw disparities in wealth. "Nothing in the schools or most of the books seemed to deal with that. Marx dealt with that," says Sowell. He then became a Marxist.

        What began to change his beliefs was his first job at the U.S. Department of Labor. He was told to focus on the minimum wage.

        At first, he thought the minimum wage was good: "All these people are poor, and they'll get a little higher income. That'll be helpful," he reasoned.

        But then he realized: "There's a downside. They may lose their jobs."

        His colleagues at the Labor Department didn't want to think about that. "I came up with how we might test this. I was waiting to hear 'congratulations!' (but) I could see these people were stunned. They'd say, 'oh, this idiot has stumbled on something that would ruin us all.'"

        Once he saw how government workers often cared more about preserving their turf than actually solving problems, Sowell rethought his assumptions.

        He turned away from Marxism and became a free market economist, writing great books like "Basic Economics," "Race and Culture" and my favorite title, "The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy."

        Today's self-anointed leaders talk constantly about how America's "systemic racism" holds Black people back.

        "Propaganda," Sowell calls it. "If you go back into the '20s, you find that married-couple families were much more prevalent among Blacks. As late as 1930, Blacks have lower unemployment rates than whites."

        But if systemic racism was the cause of inequality, he says, "All these things that we complain about, and attribute to the era of slavery, should've been worse in the past than in the present!"

        Sowell says the bigger cause of Black Americans' problems today is government welfare initiated in the 1960s. The programs encouraged people to become dependent on handouts.

        "You began to have the mindset that goes with the welfare state," Sowell says. "No stigma any longer attached to being on relief."

        Sowell concludes that government programs that are supposed to help minorities do more harm than good. Affirmative Action, for example.

        In 1965, he took a teaching position at Cornell. The college, he said, had lowered admission standards to diversify the student body, and most students admitted under affirmative action did not do well.

        "Half of the Black students were on academic probation," he wrote, later adding, "Something like 1/4th of all the Black students going to MIT do not graduate. (There is) a pool of people whom you are artificially turning into failures by mismatching them with the school."

        Saying such things makes Sowell an outcast in academia, and now most everywhere.

        Sowell writes, "If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules... that would have gotten you labeled a radical 50 years ago, a liberal 25 years ago, and a racist today."

        Starting next week, you can watch a new documentary on Sowell's life, "Thomas Sowell: Common Sense in a Senseless World," online at FreeToChooseNetwork.org.

        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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By Ed Duffy

Everyone has their favorite news sources. One may even consider one's favorite news personalities to be friends or at least allies. That's all well and good, but keep in mind what it's all about before you pledge your loyalty to a network.

If a news outlet's primary content is about government and politics, whether they lean right, left or center, they need to get interviews. They need to be invited to pressers. They need to be on the press release list. They need the occasional scoop or leak or tip from someone on the inside. In short, they need to remain in the good graces of the power they want you to believe they speak truth to. They can be somewhat critical of course. It has to seem authentic, but if they go too far and make folks mad, they get cut off. All they need from you is your attention; good, bad or ugly; doesn't matter. Your peace, happiness, quality of life are not a factor.

That's not to say these are bad people. It's just the nature of the industry. Always take it with a grain of salt. Question everything.

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by John Stossel

        Was 2020 the worst year ever? The media keep saying that.
        We did have the pandemic, a bitter election, unemployment, riots and a soaring national debt.
        But wait, look at the good news, says historian Johan Norberg. His new book, "Open: The Story of Human Progress," points out how life keeps getting better, even if people just don't realize it.
        2020 was "the best year in human history to face a pandemic," he says.
        Had the pandemic happened in 2005, "You wouldn't have the technology to create mRNA vaccines."
        "In 1990," he continues, "we wouldn't have a worldwide web. If we had had this pandemic in 1976, we wouldn't have been able to read the genome of the virus. And ... in 1950, we wouldn't have had a single ventilator."
        These last 20 years, adds Norberg, have been especially good. "Mankind has attained more wealth than ever."
        I push back: "There's more to life than wealth! And lot of this money went to the top 1%. Ordinary people think they're doing worse."
        "If you look at specifics like global poverty, child mortality, chronic undernourishment and illiteracy," Norberg replies, "they all declined faster than ever."
        Those things: global poverty, child mortality, undernourishment,and illiteracy are pretty good measures of quality of life.
        "Literacy might be the most important skill," says Norberg. "It's the skill that makes it possible to acquire other skills. We've never seen literacy at these high levels ever before. (Even) in the most problematic countries around the world, it's better than it was in the richest countries 50, 60 years ago. That's most important for those who have the least."
        Of course, there were bad trends in 2020. Murder rose in the United States. Social media algorithms divided us further. "Suicide is up," I tell Norberg.
        "I can definitely see the problems," he replies, "but once upon a time, if you ended up in the wrong school or neighborhood, you had nowhere to go -- no other community available to you. Now there is, and that opens up a world of opportunity. Some awful things as well, but some beautiful things."
        That meant that even during this pandemic, people found new ways to help others.
        Volunteers used the internet to find better ways to donate their time. Young people brought food to the elderly.
        Zoom and Slack taught us that not being in the office sometimes works as well, or better.
        Businesses had new tools with which to adapt.
        Restaurants moved to takeout and delivery, aided by apps like UberEats and Grubhub.
        Such healthy adaptation rarely makes news, because reporters seek out problems.
        Many worry loudly about climate change. Some claim the environment keeps getting worse. A dismayed CBS correspondent mourned, "Biodiversity is reportedly declining faster than any time!"
        Even if that were true, says Norberg, "We have never made this much progress against pollution. The six leading pollutants, the ones that used to pollute our lungs and forests and rivers, they've declined by some 70%!"
        In January of this year, when President Trump announced the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, "World War III" trended on Twitter. The Selective Service website crashed for fear there would be a draft.   
        "People think there's more war," I say to Norberg.
        "But we've forgotten the wars that we had in the past! When I grew up in the 1980s, there were more wars, and battle death rates were four times higher."
        Less war is one reason people keep living longer. After COVID-19, that trend will continue.
         "We have this tendency, for good reasons, to focus on problems, because that's our way of solving problems," says Norberg. "But then there's the risk that we'll just despair and think it's hopeless and we give up. That's not the solution to our problems.
        "Just cheer up and be happy?" I ask.
        He answers, "Be a little bit grateful for what we have."
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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by John Stossel

        Who should be on Santa's naughty and nice lists this Christmas?

*Naughty:
        I'd give lumps of coal to:
        Federal bureaucrats, whose rigid rules delayed COVID-19 tests. The CDC wouldn't allow private companies to sell COVID-19 tests until the CDC's own test didn't work.
        President Donald Trump, for talking about cutting that red tape but not doing the hard work needed to get enough of it done.
        Gavin Newsom, California governor, for eating with several other families, unmasked, while his state forbade that.
        Trump for refusing to say that he'd accept the election results.
        Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, for -- after her party made it illegal -- getting her hair done and then criticizing the salon owner.
        Senator Ted Cruz, for killing a bill that would've given asylum to Hong Kongers fleeing the oppressive Chinese regime.
        Denver Mayor Michael Hancock for tweeting: "Pass the potatoes, not COVID," and "Host virtual gatherings instead of in-person dinners..." as he was boarding a flight to join his family for Thanksgiving.
        Government's foreign policy bureaucrats, one of whom admits "playing shell games" to trick leaders into leaving more American troops in Syria.
        Most Republicans, for refusing to criticize the president when he lied.
        Teachers unions for putting the kids last. Before they would return to work, LA's union demanded "a moratorium on private schools, defunding police, increasing taxes on wealthy, Medicare for all..." Catholic schools opened to help kids. Union leaders helped themselves.
        Almost all Republicans, for shutting up about debt once Trump was the big spender.
        Rioters who hijacked Black Lives Matter demonstrations, wrecking lives and spreading hate.
        Antifa's violent goons, and today's Proud Boys for being destructive jerks.
        The media for utterly ignoring Hunter Biden, calling his emails a "distraction."
        Twitter for blocking the NY Post's account for 16 days and labeling their links exposing Hunter Biden's emails "unsafe" and "harmful."
        Google, for censoring search results to show only certain news outlets (and almost never showing the Daily Caller or Breitbart).
        The media for constantly making life seem worse than it was.
        And Trump -- for making everything about him.

*Nice:
        Merry Christmas to vaccine developers all over the world. Equally noble were the entrepreneurs who failed but spent their own money trying.
        Innovative companies like Zoom that invented good things and let people use them for free.
        Jeff Bezos for delivering packages right to my door. I don't mind that he's made $200 billion for himself. It's his money. He didn't take it from others. He created wealth.
        Joe Biden, for declaring victory in a dignified, modest manner.
        Donald Trump, for being first president in decades to leaves office without starting a new war or sending troops to a new conflict.
        The founders of LBRY.tv, and Parler.com, for building social media options with less censorship.
        Doctors, nurses and EMTs who risked their lives helping others.
        Doctors, nurses and EMTs who came out of retirement to help others.
        Truckers, shelf-stockers, gas station workers, store owners, food processors and all the essential workers who kept working during COVID-19, making our lives better.
        The politicians and bureaucrats who finally lifted years of stupid regulations to allow professionals to work in other states and let truck drivers drive when they want to drive.
        People who wore masks even when they didn't need to, just to reassure those the media had made crazy.
        Businesses that adapted to serve the vulnerable, doing things like switching to deliveries and starting senior-only hours.
        Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous creator of Bitcoin, who launched a digital currency revolution that gives us an alternative to government currencies.
        Citizen journalists like Andy Ngo and Tim Pool, who cover topics (like antifa) that most media barely touch.
        Businesses that stayed open, to pay their workers, even when losing money.
        Volunteers who helped people.
        Notice the pattern here?
        Most of the worst came from politicians and the media, who want to be praised for "serving" us.
        The best came from free Americans doing what we think is right.
        Merry Christmas, 2020.
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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