Obama Has Played This Game Before


After the President delivered his big address on immigration the other day, I noted that he couldn’t really have meant a single of the portentous, high-minded words he uttered. If he were truly serious about enacting immigration reform, after all, the President would hardly have introduced the topic just a couple of months before an election–or gone out of his way to insult Republicans.

Today in the Wall Street Journal, our own Bill McGurn demonstrates that Barack Obama has played this game before.

David Brooks, Reluctant Tea Partier


I know we’re all supposed to have complicated, negative feelings about David Brooks in the NYTimes. Personally, I don’t, because I don’t read the NYTimes — except for Wednesday’s food section — and never the editorial page. My life is much richer since I made that a rule.

On the other hand, I’m a huge fan of his books — Bobos in Paradise, especially — and when he writes about more abstract social and economic patterns, I’m there. In today’s NYTimes (which I never read) he writes about two kinds of businessmen: the Princes and the Grinds. Of Princes, he says:

Why Is the US Buying Russian Arms?


To equip Afghanistan, Iraq, and…Pakistan, of course!

The Obama administration’s recent lifting of sanctions against Russia’s state arms exporter could boost orders for Russian aircraft from a somewhat-unexpected customer: the U.S. military. As part of its effort to equip the militaries of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, the Pentagon has in recent years been snapping up helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft from the arsenals of its former Cold War rivals, including Russia. The goal is to help the three countries build air forces that are rugged, affordable and easy to operate. […] But […] U.S. lawmakers are complaining about a lack of oversight of the procurement process and asking the military to consider buying more American-made aircraft.

The Courage of the NAACP


I saw the headline, but didn’t believe it. Surely an organization as old and venerated as the NAACP wouldn’t go out on so dangerous a limb. Sure, it had fought against lynchings, forced segregation, voter suppression and intimidation, police abuse, fire hoses, dogs, tear gas, rubber bullets, real bullets, billy clubs, baseball bats, tire irons, governors, corrupt politicians, corrupt judges, Plessey v. Ferguson, burning crosses, burning churches, the KKK, the back of the bus, and much, much more. Overcoming all of these obstacles, with faith in Dr. King’s dream that one day people would be judged by their character rather than their race, the old organization marched on.

Tomorrow, so says ABC News, the NAACP will confront the next Goliath. And what, you ask, is this dragon that stirs the old organization’s taste for battle? Having faced hooligans bearing batons before, do they now seek out the paramilitary thugs who intimidated voters on election day in 2008? Poppycock! Your sights are set too low. Well then, you may ask, are they going to fight for the reinstitution of Washington DC’s educational voucher program, which enabled low income families to attend high performing schools like the one the President’s children attend? Horse squeeze! That’s not a crisis worthy of this revered old bag of bones’ attention. Ah, you say, they are finally rising up in defense of Arizona’s attempt to protect its citizens, which include African Americans, from the insidious effects of illegal immigration. Wrong again, nescient innocent that you are!

Soccer: Take Your Medicine, America


Well, it’s over. Some team from Europe won and it was—surprise—by a score of 1-0. Hundreds of millions of people watched all over world, including a few million here in the United States. However, if you read our nation’s sports pages (and front pages), you would think this event compared to the Super Bowl in terms of national interest.

Newspapers have traditionally tried to force-feed Americans on soccer, especially the World Cup. There’s a no-so-well-disguised scolding attitude to their coverage as they keep pointing out it’s the most popular sport in all the world except in this backwater nation of ours. If only Americans would embrace the grace and majesty of the game and join the rest of the world and hold hands and yada yada yada.

Lookin’ Good


In the race for attorney general out here in the Golden State, the Field Poll released on Friday found that the Republican candidate, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, leads the Democrat, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, by 37 to 34 percent.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo

A penny saved is a penny stolen by the Jewish bats


Hamas TV has the scoop. The Jews are devils and bats. We have it on Ben Franklin’s own authority:

These were his words. ‘An immense danger faces the American people – the proliferation of Jews in the United States.’ He went on to say: ‘The Jews are devils and bats. We must expel these sinners…’ These are his words, not mine. We must expel this group of sinners from the United States, and if you don’t do this immediately, our future generations will curse you, when they find themselves under the boots of the Jews.

Bad Is Bad Enough


This Commentary blog post goes a long way to explaining why a sensible public is no longer so subject to extravagant description – yes things are truly bad, but “worst ever”? If scientists, journalists, and politicians want to have credibility, they need to return to fact and responsible moderation in their tone.

Islam, Corruption and Election Fraud


Alaa Al Aswany asks why Egyptian officials fail to view the rigging of elections as a sin.

In Islam, sins are divided into major and minor sins. Major sins warrant punishment by God in this life and the afterlife. Although jurists part on details, they all agree that bearing false witness is among the gravest of major sins. The sacred texts written a thousand years ago do not identify making false witness within the context of election rigging. Still, to rig an election with false results most certainly bears false witness. The misrepresentation prevents the winning candidate from obtaining the position which is his or her due, while giving the position to someone who does not deserve it. Indeed, one can argue that election rigging is much worse than bearing false witness, because bearing false witness deprives an individual or a family of their due, whereas rigging elections deprives the whole nation of its due.

The Boran Gym Debates Paul Krugman


We had a lively debate about Paul Krugman at my Muay Thai gym the other evening. I know most of you folks don’t understand Turkish, so I’ll translate. At about minute 1:00, my instructor, Ercan, offers the idea that Mr. Krugman might be underplaying the link between firms’ and households’ behaviour and their expectations of future tax and spending policy. As you see, a few of the students in the foreground immediately agreed that Mr. Krugman’s command of modern macro leaves something to be desired; we all reflect on that for about a minute. The debate gets a little worked up around minute 6:00 — someone brings up the whole issue of intertemporal price speculation and the optimal current-account deficit, and I have to admit things get a bit heated. The proper translation of the exchange at around minute 10:00 would be something like, “large capital inflows that lead to real exchange rate appreciation large enough to induce resource reallocation will typically be followed by a depreciation of the real exchange rate to below its original level.” Then the guy in the orange shorts says, “only if you’re modeling an economy in which it’s costly to move resources between the tradeable and nontradeable sectors!”

Anyway, unfortunately for Mr. Krugman, the debate was indeed resolved with a unanimous conclusion that the man’s a crude Keynesian.

No Studying, Please, We’re College Students


In the course of his polemic today against our failing high schools and colleges, J.P. Freire cites an unfortunate finding. “Don’t worry about the enforcement of political orthodoxy,” he writes; “the kids aren’t listening. In fact, they’re not even studying:”

[…] the average student at a four-year college in 1961 studied about 24 hours a week. Today’s average student hits the books for just 14 hours. […] No matter the student’s major, gender, or race, no matter the size of the school or the quality of the SAT scores of the people enrolled there, the results are the same: Students of all ability levels are studying less.

Holy Chi-Town, Batman!


Hey, take a look at some of these videos: extremely plausible Democrats–yes, Democrats–from Texas and Indiana claiming that Obama operatives bullied them, cheated and manipulated the caucus process to get their candidate onto the ballot in ’08. Now I know: everyone’s first reaction, including mine, is a sort of Tony Soprano shrug. “Democrat politics. Whatcha gonna do?” And yet I can’t help feeling this is what you might call one corner of a jigsaw puzzle that, when completed, will show the true portrait of our president as he is. A lot of the info on the vids is technical but if you want a direct emotional hit, try Part 3 below beginning at around 3:50. A dignified matriarch who marched with MLK, expresses her grief at watching thugs turn away black voters who wanted to vote for Hillary. Which is to say: despite the color of his skin, Obama is not the inheritor of the civil rights tradition, but just another in a long line of Tweedian Democrats, gaming the commons in pursuit of raw power.

Start the Conservative Class War Now


I’m with Ross Douthat and Matt Continetti, and to the items that they mention I would add one more casus belli: Tesla Motors, the manufacturer of electric sports cars. Three things every American ought to know about Tesla:

1. Tesla was founded by the entrepreneur Elon Musk, who made hundreds of millions of dollars selling PayPal and Zip2.

The “Devout Catholicism” of Mel Gibson


I have no desire to kick a man when he’s down. But in all the reporting on Mel Gibson’s rant against the mother of his youngest child — indeed, in most of the reporting on Mr. Gibson since The Passion — there one finds, more often than not, the reference to Mr. Gibson as a “devout Catholic.”

The truth appears to be that Mel Gibson has, rather publicly, built his own church that is not part of his diocese, and is more accurately described as in schism with the Catholic church. In fact, it is a commentary on the ignorance of religion so dominant in our Fourth Estate that in none of the interviews with Mr. Gibson did anyone ask him the question that might cause some real strains with some of his most enthusiastic fans: “Are you in communion with Rome, and do you regard Pope Benedict XVI (Popel John Paul II at the time of The Passion) as the true successor to St. Peter.”

Should Atheists Be More Polite?


Ron Rosenbaum thinks so. Julian Sanchez disagrees:

Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris &c. can come across as arrogant jerks […], but then, who else is going to really proselytize for the absence of a belief? It’s like starting a non-chess-players club; plenty of people fit the membership requirements, but only those with an active hostility to the game are going to feel the need to make a point of joining. In any event, this is at most an observation about a particular group of people; it doesn’t have much to do with the soundness of an atheist position as such.