You might have noticed that I’m not Obama’s biggest fan. But grudgingly I must admit that there are one or two things he has gotten right.
Five years ago, the administration decided to help veterans find work after returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Vets have received preferential hiring for government jobs going back to WWII, but Obama further sweetened the formula in their favor. Last year, nearly half of all full-time hires were ex-military; now vets make up a full third of the federal workforce.Read On
Eight years ago, when I was a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, Roger Cohen came through, gave a talk on Germany’s postwar trajectory that I thought brilliant, and stayed for a week. We met most days at breakfast, and I came to admire him. The only thing that I could say that was critical of the man was that he harbored an antipathy for Republicans that defied common sense.
In today’s Pravda-on-the-Hudson, he published a piece entitled The Great Unraveling, in which, among other things, he wrote the following:Read On
The great economic lesson of the 1980s supply-side revolution is that taxes matter. But what are the nuances of that lesson, and how should that lesson by applied to the modern American economy? Politicians and pundits typically offer extreme versions of how tax reform would affect growth, either that it is a magic bullet or a complete irrelevancy. A new study by William Gale and Andrew Samwick offers a good summary of consensus thinking of the matter:
Tax rate cuts may encourage individuals to work, save, and invest, but if the tax cuts are not financed by immediate spending cuts they will likely also result in an increased federal budget deficit, which in the long-term will reduce national saving and raise interest rates.Read On
Over the weekend, a British aid worker named David Haines was beheaded by ISIS. British Prime Minister David Cameron was appropriately outraged by the murder. Slightly less appropriate was his decision to use the incident as an excuse to play mufti for a day. From Cameron’s remarks reacting to the Haines’ beheading:
“The fact that an aid worker was taken, held and brutally murdered at the hands of ISIL [ISIS] sums up what this organization stands for,” Cameron said in an address to the British people. “They boast of their brutality; they claim to do this in the name of Islam. That is nonsense. Islam is a religion of peace. They are not Muslims, they are monsters.”Read On
Do Christians in the Middle East — specifically in Syria and the surrounding countries — deserve our contempt or our sympathy?
According to Ted Cruz and Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post, “contempt” about sums it up. Levantine Christians have often allied themselves with the likes of the Assads and the Husseins, and oppose Israel, often with flourishes that would quicken the hearts of the worst kind of Anti-semites. In short, they support bad actors and oppose our friends.Read On
Yesterday was the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Fort McHenry, and the composing of the Star-Spangled Banner.
My wife, as a master (mistress?) Quilter, was part of the team that made the official replica flag for this year’s festivities, using original materials and techniques to make a full-sized flag as close as possible to the one Francis Scott Key saw being raised on that glorious morning. The original is too beat-up to be used — it is usually housed in the Smithsonian — though the replica will hang there for a time.Read On
I’m on Day 13 of my self-imposed news blackout, and loving it more each day. However, I did promise the editors that I wouldn’t be a stranger here, so I felt obliged to take a quick peek this morning. I figured it wouldn’t destabilize me too much to read the latest on the Scottish independence referendum. I found myself unsure what to think, so I figured I’d farm this one out to you.
On the one hand, the arguments for secession are lunatic. In fact, they’re nonexistent: The secessionists have no arguments, just very, very strong feelings. I’m sure you’re familiar with the outlines of this debate, so I’ll just review briefly:Read On
While researching a paper on the effects of social security on fertility rates a few years ago, I stumbled upon the concept of Demeny Voting, an intriguing idea to mitigate the tendency to neglect the long-term interests of citizens who have not come of age. Popularized by demographer Paul Demeny in the 1980s, it argues that the comparative political power of older voters should be weakened by giving each parent of a minor the exercise of an additional half a vote.
This kind of proxy-voting has since gained a few advocates in power, though they are still few and far between. In Germany, the Kinderwahlrecht has been suggested by the classically liberal Free Democrats and backed by some Social Democrats and Greens. In recent years, Economists in Canada, Japan, and Austria have endorsed the proposal, but its champions are — needless to say — far from achieving the critical mass necessary for constitutional amendments in their respective countries.Read On
We now have on our hands Barack Obama’s War, for our latest Middle Eastern war belongs entirely to him. And someone — let it be me! — should alert Sen. Rand Paul to this teachable moment, for Obama’s War (which Rand Paul supports) was brought on by the very policy of non-intervention that he, his father, and the Cato Institute all championed. As Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has testified in word and deed, there is essentially no difference on foreign affairs between left-wing Democratics and arch-libertarians who sometimes vote Republican.
This war might have been avoided. Had Obama taken the trouble to arrange for a few thousand American soldiers to remain in Iraq — as he easily could have — the Iraqi’s coalition government between Shia, Sunni, and Kurd would have held, despite Maliki’s perfidy. That, in tern, would have prevented al-Qaeda’s reemergence in the Sunni-dominated provinces of Iraq. Moreover, ISIS would not be in control of great swathes of Syria had the president followed the advise of his advisors and allies and backed the secular-minded opposition to Bashar al-Assad from the start.Read On
As you may have noticed, there is “a mystery virus” sweeping America. Or so we are told, for there is no mystery as to the identity of this virus. As internist Chris Foley, out in Minnesota, told Scott Johnson of Powerline:
This is basically the same virus commonly seen in the equatorial Americas and South America. The very odd emergence of this virus at this time – especially just prior to the new school year and now fueled by the congregation of children in schools – demands an explanation. The only plausible one is that this has been brought here from south of the – now non-existent – border.Read On
My most recent contribution over at PJ Media concerns a firefighter in Oakland, California who played his victim card against a police officer. Sadly for him, he didn’t know the officer was holding the better hand: The incident was recorded on the officer’s body camera, and when the police released the video the world was able to see the firefighter’s accusations were groundless. He made a very public, very serious, and very false accusation, and if he’s any kind of man at all, he’ll make a very public apology.
But then, if he was any kind of man at all, he wouldn’t have made the accusation in the first place.Read On
It’s election night in Sweden and, according to the latest polls, my country has chosen a future of sorrows past.
But before I get into all that, I should offer up some background for those of you not currently glued to the Swedish state-TV:Read On
The first 40 years of the twentieth century saw a revolution in fundamental physics: special and general relativity changed our perception of space, time, matter, energy, and gravitation; quantum theory explained all of chemistry while wiping away the clockwork determinism of classical mechanics and replacing it with a deeply mysterious theory that yields fantastically precise predictions yet which nobody really understands at its deepest levels; and the structure of the atom was elucidated, along with important clues to the mysteries of the nucleus. In the large, the universe was found to be enormously larger than expected and expanding—a dynamic arena which some suspected might have an origin and a future vastly different than its present state.
The next 40 years worked out the structure and interactions of the particles and forces that constitute matter and govern its interactions, resulting in a standard model of particle physics with precisely defined theories that predicted all of the myriad phenomena observed in particle accelerators and in the highest energy events in the heavens. The universe was found to have originated in a big bang no more distant than three times the age of the Earth, and the birth cry of the universe had been detected by radio telescopes.Read On
I was talking to one of the kids I work with (I think he’s like 25 or something) and we were talking about the first computers we ever used.
The first time I ever saw a computer in real life was probably in 1985 or 1986. I was in first grade. They brought it in. They explained this would be the computer for the class room. They showed us how to boot it up (with a 5 inch floppy). The program that it ran was what I found our many years later to be some kind of CADD. It had a little triangle called a “turtle” and it could draw lines. If you wanted it to turn one way you typed in a 90. Which I thought at the time was an odd code that I should probably write down.Read On
When he downloaded the podcast that Rob, James and I recorded yesterday, a friend (in Manhattan, of all places) dropped me this line about last week:
I admit it. I missed the Ricochet podcast dearly while it was on hiatus.Read On
As U.S. military advisers pour into Iraq, weaponized drones fly over Syria, and America conducts air strikes on combatants, President Obama assured us Wednesday night that we are not at war with ISIS.
To be sure, we are “meeting them with strength and resolve” through “targeted action.” And, yes, we are leading a “broad coalition” to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the enemy, if you can call them that. But this is merely a “comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy,” not war.Read On
Mona and Jay begin with a guest, Michael Rubin, the foreign-policy analyst. He briefs us on ISIS, and the American response. Later, Mona discusses the return of the “security moms” — American women concerned about security, and acting on those instincts, politically. She also mentions an Obama official’s geography blunder. If a Republican had made the same blunder . . .
The two discuss Common Core, and this relevant question: What do you do when your gurus disagree? There is some remembering of 9/11, including the bravery and example of the passengers aboard Flight 93.Read On
I think that many of the trends in food politics are profoundly Conservative — reactionary, even. This is a terrific opportunity for Republicans to gain new adherents as many groups that have not been Republican constituencies adopt Conservative approaches to eating. Their reaction is a result of the failure of the federal, progressive attempt to manage our nation’s food production.
I ended my post “The Obesity Epidemic And Federal Dietary Guidelines” with this quote, and my observation:Read On
On this date in 1984, President Reagan spoke in Endicott, New York, just across the Susquehanna from Vestal, where I grew up. Even though I wrote the speech, when I reviewed the remarks—to mark the anniversary, Bob Joseph of WNBF radio had me on this morning—I found myself astonished in a couple of ways.
In the first place, the crowd loved the Gipper—and Endicott was a heavily blue-collar town, dominated by the descendants of the Italians, Poles, and Ukrainians who had moved there to work in the Endicott-Johnson show factories. They were natural Democrats—but they cheered and cheered for Ronald Reagan.Read On
Just catching up now to a Forbes piece by Brian Domitrovic, another broadside against the expansion of the child tax credit outlined in the conservative reform policy book “Room to Grow.” This bit is unfortunately representative of the piece:
The “Room to Grow: suggestion is Keynesianism by another name: non-marginal rate cuts so that people closer to the bottom can have more to spend. It is odd to hear that supply-side economics should be updated because it succeeded in the 1980s. The proposed update suggests a return to demand-side economics, whose record includes having failed spectacularly in the stagflation of the 1970s.Read On
As a long-time resident and man about town here in the Arabian Gulf, I was intrigued by the President’s speech on how we are to deal with IS/ISIL/ISIS.
I read and reread the communique agreed to by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners and Secretary Kerry. I can’t see why the U.S. believes these nations are going to rush to help in any fashion other than providing monetary assistance (as they already have been doing). Having worked deeply with the Saudi armed forces in the 90s and Bahrain’s armed forces for 20 years I know full well their capabilities and limitations, which will not be mentioned here.Read On
In 2003, George Bush had his “coalition of the willing.” For his Iraq war, Barack Obama will have a “coalition of the ‘illing.”
Democrats attacked the Bush administration in 2003, claiming that the coalition of the willing was anything but. Now that President Obama is seeking allies for a war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, it should be remembered that more than 35 nations contributed about 20,000 troops to the 2003 intervention in, and reconstruction of, Iraq. That group included many of the world’s leading democracies (though it lacked the faithless French and Germans).Read On