Thursday, December 24, 2015

Killing Christmas

For me, growing up in New York City, even as a non-Christian, the best time of year was always the festive, colorful Christmas season. And it wasn't some amorphous commemoration of the winter solstice that lit up and energized the town. December weather in New York does not inspire festivity. What does is Christians celebrating the birth of their savior. Or it did until the joyless dictates of the gods of "political correctness", "diversity", and "inclusion" took over.

The massive store windows along 5th Avenue were once alive this time of year with imaginative Christmas-themed displays. No more, writes the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger. 

For many, December required a pilgrimage to Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Bergdorf Goodman. No matter the weather, people walked the mile from 38th Street to 59th Street and jammed sidewalks to see these stores’ joyful Christmas windows.

Stay home. This year Fifth Avenue in December is about . . . pretty much nothing, or worse.

To be sure, the magnificent Rockefeller Center Christmas tree still stands, and directly across on Fifth Avenue is St. Patrick’s Cathedral, its facade washed and hung with a big green wreath. But walk up or down the famous avenue this week and what you and your children will see is not merely Christmas scrubbed, but what one can only describe as the anti-Christmas.

Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.

Henninger concludes with a pointed message to the 5th Avenue merchants --

As for Saks and the other Fifth-Avenue sellouts, I have two words this season. They aren’t Merry Christmas.

Putting an exclamation point on Henninger's lament, the Journal published on the same page the following --

From Cornell University’s “Fire Safety Guidelines For Holiday Displays”:

University members are reminded to be respectful of the religious diversity of our students and colleagues and are encouraged to use an inclusive approach in celebrating the holiday season. Individuals and units demonstrate this inclusive approach by:
• Focusing on the winter season rather than a particular holiday
• Displaying symbols that visually represent holidays of several religions in combination with secular decorations of the season.


Winter Holiday Displays/Decorations that are Consistent with Cornell’s Commitment to Diversity and the University Assembly Guidelines:
• Snowflakes
• Trees (in accordance with Fire Safety Guidelines) decorated with snowflakes and other non-religious symbols

Winter Holiday Displays/Decorations that are Consistent with University Assembly Guidelines But Should be Basis of Dialogue Within Unit or Living Area

• Trees decorated with bows, garland and lights (in accordance with Fire Safety Guidelines)
• Wreaths with bows (in accordance with Fire Safety Guidelines)
• Combination of snowflakes, (in accordance with Fire Safety Guidelines), Santa Claus figure, and dreidel
• Holly

Winter Holiday Displays/Decorations that are NOT Consistent with Either University Assembly Guidelines or the University’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusiveness

• Nativity scene
• Menorah
• Angels
• Mistletoe
• Stars at the top of trees
• Crosses
• Star of David

(I put the absolutely verboten items in bold face).

Some of this stuff is downright mystifying. Bows, garland, lights, wreaths, and holly might be sort of OK but mistletoe and stars on top of trees are definitely not?? What about stars partway down the tree?
By snowflakes, I assume Cornell means images of students in distress after viewing an offensive nativity scene.
No crosses, of course. Unless they're immersed in jars of urine. Then they become eligible for a government subsidy.
Note that there are no warnings to exclude displays celebrating Kwanzaa.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

More Trump

Last week on Fox News Special Report, Donald Trump was shown dissing three of Fox News' star commentators - George Will, Charles Krauthammer and Steve Hayes. Trump said that he absolutely hates Krauthammer, that he doesn't even know who Hayes is and that Will is boring.

As the sardonic Stewart character in The Big Bang Theory might say, "Ouch".

Jonah Goldberg likened Trump's questioning of Ben Carson's character to Carrot Top criticizing the comedy talent of Jerry Seinfeld. The same could be said about Trump's claim that Will is "boring". Ponder that. Donald Trump thinks that George Will is boring. Will has read more books in the last day and a half than Trump has in his entire life. Will speaks and writes of complex issues with elegance and understanding. Trump talks nonsense and can't write.

Consider this short passage of Will's. The triple negative would make Trump's head spin.

-- Popularity makes no law invulnerable to invalidation. Americans accept judicial supervision of their democracy - judicial review of popular but possibly unconstitutional statutes - because they know that if the Constitution is truly to constitute the nation, it must trump some majority preferences.

Of course, Trump isn't above spinning heads himself, except that he does it with incoherence instead of erudition --

But we have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ballgame. Frankly, I would have said get out of Syria; get out—if we didn’t have the power of weaponry today. The power is so massive that we can’t just leave areas that 50 years ago or 75 years ago we wouldn’t care. It was hand-to-hand combat.

Hillary Clinton is a target-rich environment. A short list of her vulnerabilities include mishandling government secrets, the Russian "reset", Assad the reformer, jihadist chaos in Libya, a State Department tenure devoid of even a single positive achievement, notorious close associates like Sidney Blumenthal, Cheryl Mills, and Huma Abedin, her slush fund "Foundation", securities fraud, enabling a rapist, her pantsuits being perpetually on fire, and on and on and on.
(For elaboration of some of these, as well as other items, see -

Question - So at what does Donald Trump direct his fire? Answer - Speculating on how she was spending her time in the ladies room during the recent Democratic debate. I suppose this is what Trump considers being not boring.

Trump worshippers nod approvingly at his mindless gibberish and laugh at his sophomoric taunts. Marinated in a culture that admires the likes of Bill Maher, ("Sarah Palin is a c**t"), and David Letterman, ("Palin's daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez"), they confuse crudity with wit; bluster with virtue; incivility with honesty; superficiality with clarity; impulsiveness with wisdom; celebrity with substance. There is no there, there, but Trump will always be on Baba Wawa's list of "most fascinating" people in the universe.

Kevin Williamson's observations regarding the recent dust-up between two like-minded, depraved scoundrels --

The specific lie here is Herself’s claim that Donald Trump’s boobish pronouncements are used in ISIS recruiting videos. This isn’t true. Even Trump, a habitual liar who wouldn’t know the truth if it were printed in gigantic gilt letters across a second-rate hotel tower in Las Vegas, knows that this isn’t true. So: Habitual liar lies habitually about habitual liar, who demands apology. Not the most edifying spectacle in American public life, but what the hell do you expect from an encounter between these two great hemorrhoids on the body politic?

Here’s the thing, though: You can’t tell lies. Even about a lying cretin like Donald Trump. Never mind the question of personal character: Judging a Clinton–Trump conflict on character grounds is like judging the Iran–Iraq war on human-rights grounds — one wants both sides to lose.

Never mind what this says about Herself’s fitness for the presidency: We all know that she is morally, ethically, and intellectually unfit for the job. She’s unfit to manage a Walmart in Muleshoe, Texas. She’s unfit to have a route delivering the Buck County Courier Times. From cattle futures to bimbo eruptions to Internet auteurs inspiring terror attacks in Benghazi, anybody who is paying any attention understands that Herself’s relationship with the truth is a lot like her relationship with the Big Creep: all politics, a marriage of convenience.

Bret Stephens has figured out what the uncompromising Right really wants and is certain to get in 2017 - a president it can go on hating.

Dear fellow conservatives:

Let us now pledge to elect Hillary Clinton as the 45th president of the United States.

Let’s skip the petty dramas of primaries and caucuses, the debate histrionics, the sour spectacle of the convention in Cleveland. Let’s fast-forward past that sinking October feeling when we belatedly realize we’re going to lose—and lose badly.

Let’s move straight to that first Tuesday in November, when we grimly pull the lever for the candidate who has passed all the Conservative Purity Tests (CPTs), meaning we’ve upheld the honor of our politically hopeless cause. Let’s stop pretending we want to be governed by someone we agree with much of the time, when we can have the easy and total satisfaction of a president we can loathe and revile all the time.

Let’s do this because it’s what we want. Maybe secretly, maybe unconsciously, but desperately. We want four—and probably eight—more years of cable-news neuralgia. We want to drive ourselves to work as Mark Levin or Laura Ingraham scratch our ideological itches until they bleed a little. We want the refiner’s fire that is our righteous indignation at a country we claim no longer to recognize—ruled by impostors and overrun by foreigners.

Though generally correct in his assessment, Stephens neglects to mention the paramount purity test that the Levin-Ingraham-Coulter-Hannity (and disappointingly) Steyn conservative wing insists upon - that of opposition to immigration reform. After all, Donald Trump is hardly a paragon of conservative purity. But his fairy tale proposal to deport all eleven million or so illegals electrifies the nativists. And that renders his other positions irrelevant. Immigration is the be-all and end-all issue for these people. As Ann Coulter tweeted -- I don't care if @realDonaldTrump wants to perform abortions in White House after this immigration policy paper.

Stephens does make a brief reference to the matter of immigration --

Abraham Lincoln once said “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.” What. Ever. Now the party of Lincoln has as its front-runner an insult machine whose political business is to tell Mexicans, Muslims, physically impaired journalists, astute Jewish negotiators and others who cross his sullen gaze that he has no use for them or their political correctness.

And while we’re building a wall around our party, let’s also take the opportunity to throw out a few impostors in our midst. Like that hack, George Will. Or John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, Jeb Bush and every other Republican In Name Only. Or Marco Rubio, who didn’t chicken out on immigration reform quite as quickly or convincingly as Ted Cruz did. Or the Republican “Establishment” and “elite”—like the editorial board of this newspaper—who want to flood the country with cheap foreign labor so they can enrich their Wall Street pals.

The irony is that after Trump loses the general election, Madame Presidenta will open up the floodgates and Mexico will become a de facto 51st state.

Added 12/24 -- Speaking of George Will and Donald Trump...The former psychoanalyzes the latter and is spot on with his diagnosis - a severe case of low self esteem.

If you look beyond Donald Trump’s comprehensive unpleasantness — is there a disagreeable human trait he does not have? — you might see this: He is a fundamentally sad figure. His compulsive boasting is evidence of insecurity. His unassuageable neediness suggests an aching hunger for others’ approval to ratify his self-admiration. His incessant announcements of his self-esteem indicate that he is not self-persuaded. Now, panting with a puppy’s insatiable eagerness to be petted, Trump has reveled in the approval of Vladimir Putin, murderer and war criminal.

Will then takes a historical look at the three national elections in which the Republican Party's conservative identity was at stake - 1912, 1964, and 2016. (Strange how this happens every 52 years). The GOP's current challenge is to muster enough resilience and common sense to reject Trump and with him, the threat to its existence.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Mollie Hemmingway calls out the press for its complete lack of interest in reporting on Obama's myriad failures. If Bush were president...

Remember how much crap we gave President Bush for his “heckuva job, Brownie” comments in the aftermath of Katrina? Well, heckuva job everyone responsible for vetting new Americans. You couldn’t be doing better. A++ work.

But back to Obama. He issued a veto threat after claiming we couldn’t do any better at screening people. Turns out we’re asking them to volunteer information about how bad they are and respecting the “privacy” of their public comments calling for violent jihad. And yet, the media undoubtedly spent 200 times more time talking about whatever a certain floppy-haired presidential candidate muttered than this. Seriously, we saw the media make fun of Trump’s claim that he’d screen Muslim visitors by simply asking them whether they were Muslim. And rightly so, because that’s a plan that makes no sense. It’s also exactly what we were doing to screen out threats — asking people to tell us whether they were one — but the breathless and concerned coverage about the policies of an actual administration currently in power seems notably lacking.

...During the Bush administration, newscasts ended with solemn music and a scroll of the names of men and women who had died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Newspapers ran sections listing the dead. Yet for some reason, the media coverage of the cost of such wars has been eerily quiet, even though 75 percent of the soldiers killed in Afghanistan have been killed during Obama’s time in office.

...We’re at war in Afghanistan, at war in Iraq, we've helped destabilize Libya and Syria, we've seen the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, we have no ability to vet visitors and entrants to the country or otherwise protect our borders, and we have no coherent strategy for dealing with ISIS. We have a president who actually claims that climate deals are a good way to fight ISIS, and a press that treats this as a reasonable claim to make.
Must be nice to be a Democratic president.

And San Bernadino was Obama's fault --

Hemmingway writes about the Obama administration's failure to properly vet the San Bernadino terrorists. This is due to a clear DHS policy to ignore social media commentary of individuals seeking visas to enter the U.S. as the indispensable Andrew McCarthy points out.

It turns out (Tafsheen) Malik was an active user of social media. Government investigators made this discovery only after the San Bernardino massacre. Malik’s actual posts were not published in the initial media reports (leaving us to wonder just how inflammatory they must be). But sources close to the investigation acknowledge that she championed jihad and condemned the United States.

It is not enough to say that these signs of the Islamist mindset were missed by security and intelligence agencies. Our government chose to miss them.

As a matter of policy, the Department of Homeland Security — the bureaucratic behemoth created after 9/11 to enhance protection of our country — avoids looking at, much less scrutinizing, the publicly available social-media commentary of aliens who seek visas to enter the United States, including from Islamic countries that are jihadist strongholds.

You read that correctly.

Now that the story of shocking recklessness is out, the administration is scrambling for cover. The policy, officials stammer, was not really written down and was, in any event more like a loose guideline than a real rule.

That is simply false. The guidance was mandatory, and it even ignited a furious intramural clash at DHS. In the end, Secretary Jeh Johnson personally refused to countermand the guidance, siding with DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (the radicalism of which is on a par with the Justice Department’s infamous Civil Rights Division) over Homeland Security agents who were worried about, you know, security.

...But let’s put all of the Obama administration’s panicked excuse-making aside. The fact of the matter is that Tashfeen Malik was issued a visa not because of an insane “secret” visa policy, but because of the Obama administration’s criminally irresponsible but quite public national “security” strategy — “Countering Violent Extremism.”

I wrote about CVE when the new strategy was rolled out during Obama’s first term. In essence, CVE holds that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, or even with Islamist ideology that reviles the United States. 

...In sum, Obama’s CVE strategy expressly instructs our investigators to consider only violent or criminal conduct. They are told to ignore radical ideology, particularly if it has the veneer of “religious expression.” They are directed to turn a deaf ear to anti-Americanism and the desire to impose sharia, which just happens to be the principal objective of all violent jihadists and of the Obama administration’s oft-time consultants, the Muslim Brotherhood.

...The mulish determination not to “know thine enemy” is the intentional design of the Obama strategy. What happened in the case of Tashfeen Malik was not a glitch. It was foreseeable and inevitable. And now, 14 innocent people are dead.

Barack Obama "won" the Washington Post's "worst year in Washington" award for 2014. Jim Geraghty explains that the president was even worse in 2015.

A review of a Federal Reserve chief's memoirs. Boring right? Not when the reviewer is Kevin Williamson. (Spoiler alert - He doesn't like the book).

Ben Bernanke’s new book is a must-read, which is to say it will be read only by those of us who must, of whom there are more than a few, which is the only possible explanation for our friends at Norton’s having had the chutzpah to hang a $35 price tag on it.

It is called The Courage to Act, and it follows Scott Walker’s Unintimidated and Robert Gates’s Duty in the unseemly tradition of self-important (and important) men writing books more or less titled Me and My Virtue. Ulysses S. Grant killed more men than cancer and saved the Republic from internal treachery while on a 40-year whiskey bender, and he called his personal memoirs “The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.” That was a work of art. The text of Mr. Bernanke’s memoir consists of 579 pages of score-settling and occasionally insipid self-justification featuring sentences such as “The OTS, AIG’s nominal regulator, showed little concern about the riskiness or opacity of AIG FP.” It is dreadful stuff, and you really should not read it unless you are somehow obliged to or are being paid.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The GOP's Case Of The DTs

What was, just a few months earlier, a golden opportunity to elect a Republican president in 2016 has become, depressingly, a seemingly lost opportunity. The Democrats were...are putting up a deeply flawed, old (both age- and idea-wise), and eminently beatable opponent. The Republicans had...have, a vast array of young, smart, articulate, successful (politically and otherwise), attractive, and (importantly) conservative potential candidates. Unimportant as it is, the GOP group is also ethnically and gender diverse, providing an inducement to potential voters who are foolishly swayed by those trivialities.

And so who works his way to the top of the GOP field? Donald Effing Trump, that's who - a blustering, obnoxious, ignorant, thoughtless, old fool (older than Hillary) who proudly brandishes his well-deserved reputation as a crony capitalist and who embodies every Republican caricature the Democrats can pull out of their nether parts. To top it off, he's not conservative! As Guy Benson points out, (Townhall column linked below), Trump proclaims solidly left-wing positions on health care, the Iran nuclear deal and raced based affirmative action, to name just a few. As an advocate for frequent and robust government involvement in people's lives, he would fit quite comfortably in the field competing for the Democratic nomination.

In a recent Gallup poll, 36 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats said they would support Trump as a third party candidate. That's impressive support from the jackass party, but even so, it understates his potential. Make Trump a primary challenger to Clinton instead of a GOP candidate and those numbers could conceivably reverse. A (D) instead of an (R) following Trump's name would make all the difference.

This past week, Barack Obama offered a pathetic defense of his failed anti-terror policy and Hillary Clinton shamefully, disgracefully lied about telling the grieving parents of the victims of the Benghazi tragedy - a tragedy of her making - that she blamed the planned terrorist attack on an obscure video. In other words, she lied about her lie.

And the big news was - Donald Trump's bigoted and hilariously unworkable "plan" (see Krauthammer below) to prohibit all Muslims from entering the country.

That Trump is unqualified for the presidency is almost beside the point. (Our current president is similarly far out of his depth). The most frustrating thing is, in the general election, Trump is unelectable. (Benson runs the numbers below). Supporters of Trump are as blind to this fact as they are to his intellectual and moral failings. 

My personal dream ticket is Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin (in either order). Aside from the excellent leadership it would provide, such a team would drive the left absolutely, irretrievably, bonkers. What fun that would be! But I would never support such a ticket because - It. Could. Never. Win.

Un-conservative and un-electable. Trump violates the Buckley Rule at both ends.

Trump devotees are delusional if they envision their guy taking the oath of office January, 2017. If Trump manages to secure the GOP nomination or if he runs as a third party candidate, the person solemnly swearing will be HRC. (We'll find out if she can do it straightfaced). This will probably happen even if Trump isn't on the ballot because of the damage he has inflicted on the Republican brand. And the Trump crowd is hallucinating if it claims there would be no difference between a Clinton presidency, or one administered by, say, Marco Rubio.

There is one last hope. The Obama Justice Department will eschew politics, do the right thing, and indict the presumptive Democratic nominee for criminally negligent handling of classified, non-classified, and top secret material; for criminally negligent endangerment of national security; for multiple counts of perjury; for obstruction of justice; and for dozens of other prosecutable crimes.
Yep, all that's needed is a principled display of integrity and independence from Attorney General Lynch. Or as Kevin Williamson might say, "Look! A unicorn!"

Summing it all up -- Aaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!!

Links to some good recent commentary on Trump --

Quin Hillyer --

Charles Krauthammer --

Guy Benson --

Mona Charen --

Added 12/12 - Jonah Goldberg's G-File today includes an analysis of pernicious populism and the noxious celebrity cult of Donald Trump. He also has some amusing metaphor-laced thoughts about dealing with ISIS. Sprinkled liberally (in a good sense) with Goldbergisms, the column is, as usual, entertaining and enlightening. And it's long. More to savor.

When populism is yoked to a cult of personality, the mob defines success as success for their leader, principle be damned.


Added 12/14 -- Kevin Williamson warns the left that their enthusiastic support for Obama's repeated flouting of the law will come back to haunt them in the form of a

President Cruz, President Rubio, President Fiorina . . . 

Or, angels and ministers of grace defend us, President Trump. Last week, the civically illiterate reality-television grotesque declared before a meeting of a policemen’s union that one of his first acts in office would be to issue an executive order mandating capital punishment for anybody convicted of murdering a police officer. Never mind that the president has no such power and that Trump doesn’t seem to understand the difference between state and federal law; we have so quickly accustomed ourselves to believing that anything that sounds good to us is right and proper (“constitutional” in 2015 anno Domini means “I like it”) that no one other than a few persnickety constitutionalists (that suspicious foreigner Charles C. W. Cooke leaps to mind) even bothered to note how nuts Trump’s promise is. In this, as in many things, Trump resembles Barack Obama and the Clinton mob, who have been, it bears remembering, his traditional political allies.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Blowing Up Safe Spaces

Ben Shapiro targets campus racialist totalitarians with his rapid fire monotone. Trigger warning - Not for squeamish leftists!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Dangerous Fourteen Months

Victor Davis Hanson warns of the impending calamity of a Barack Obama unencumbered by electoral politics and provides a summary of the Smirker-In-Chief's assorted malevolent characteristics.

What remaining unpopular executive acts might anger his opponents the most? Close down Guantanamo, let thousands more refugees into the United States, free thousands more felons, snub another ally, flatter another enemy, weigh in on another interracial melodrama, extend amnesty to another million illegal aliens, make global warming laws by fiat, expand Obamacare, unilaterally impose gun control? In lieu of achievement, is the Obama theory to become relevant or noteworthy by offending the public and goading political enemies?

An Obama press conference is now a summation of all his old damn-you clichés — the fantasy strawman arguments; the caricatures of the evil Republican bogeymen; the demagogic litany of the sick, the innocent, and the old at the mercy of his callous opponents; the affected accentuation (e.g., Talîban; Pakîstan, Îslám, Latînos, etc.) that so many autodidacts parade in lieu of learning foreign languages; the make-no-mistake-about-it and let-me-be-clear empty emphatics; the flashing temper tantrums; the mangled sports metaphors; the factual gaffes; and the monotonous I, me, my, and mine first-person-pronoun exhaustion. What Obama cannot do in fact, he believes he can still accomplish through invective and derision.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Words For Obama's Tombstone

A Jonah Goldberg citation led me to a piece in the American Spectator by historian Walter Russell Mead, a Democrat and a 2008 Obama voter. Mead castigates Obama for his preening moral certitude in pushing for the acceptance of thousands of Syrian refugees.

Goldberg excerpted parts of the essay and put the following passage in bold type (so I will too). -- one, other than the Butcher Assad and the unspeakable al-Baghdadi, is as responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria as is President Obama. No one has committed more sins of omission, no one has so ruthlessly sacrificed the well-being of Syria’s* people for his own ends, as the man in the White House. In all the world, only President Obama had the ability to do anything significant to prevent this catastrophe; in all the world no one turned his back so coldly and resolutely on the suffering Syrians as the man who sits in the White House today—a man who is now lecturing his fellow citizens on what he insists is their moral inferiority before his own high self-esteem.

* And Iraq's I might add

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

No Contest

Kevin Williamson does a comparison - the American Right vs. the American Left and Republican vs. Democrat and comes to an obvious conclusion.

I left the Republican party a long time ago for a number of reasons, one of which is that I didn’t want to be part of any organization that had Arlen Specter as a member. The man this magazine famously named “America’s worst senator” eventually bailed and hooked up with Team Jackass, but I didn’t see any real reason to come back. Still, for all the angst regarding the presidential primary and the endless largely phony us-and-them theater of base vs. establishment, I cannot remember a time since the Alex P. Keaton years when the Republican party has seemed to me so attractive.

...Though conservatives’ internal debates sometimes get a little silly and theatrical, practically the entirety of the meaningful political discourse in our country is taking place on and among the Right. Our argument is Mark Levin and George Will and Reihan Salam; the Left’s debate is Franz the Eternally Wounded Transgender Activist at Amherst vs. Caitlyn the Eternally Wounded Women’s Studies Major at Yale on the subject of which malevolent pronouns turn literary criticism into rape. Take a little time some afternoon and read an issue of National Review cover to cover and then do the same thing with The New Republic. Listen to Justin Amash talk for five minutes and compare him with Bernie Sanders. And if Amash isn’t your thing, check out Cole, Martinez, Abbott, LePage, the ladies and gentlemen of the 38 state legislatures under full (30) or partial (8) Republican control, or one of those 32 Republican governors. The Republicans aren’t having a meltdown — they’re suffering from an embarrassment of riches.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Last week's voting results in Kentucky and Virginia continues a pattern of GOP Obama-era electoral success in all sectors of government save the White House. Since 2010, Democrats have lost 12 governorships, 13 Senate seats, 69 House seats and an incredible 900+ seats in state legislatures. Foreign policy failure, a $19 trillion debt load, ongoing scandals and corruption, and a four decade low level of employment participation have contributed to the public's rejection of Obama, Reid, Pelosi governance. However, the primary factor in the stunning turnaround has been, and will continue to be, the disaster of Obamacare.

And, as far as Democrats are concerned, it will all be for naught. Kevin Williamson writes of the impending death of that misbegotten piece of sh...legislation.

The fact is that Obamacare has fallen apart without Republicans’ dismantling it. Almost all of its basic promises have failed, it is an economic shambles, and it is a political mess: Unsurprisingly, people still don't like it. Less than a third of Americans support the individual mandate, three-fourths oppose Obamacare’s tax on high-end health-care programs, and more voters oppose the law categorically than support it. A quarter of voters say the law has hurt them personally. The question isn’t why Republicans haven’t gotten around to repealing and replacing it — the answer to that question resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for a while, still — the question is when Democrats will get around to admitting that, purity of their hearts notwithstanding, they and they alone — not one Republican voted for Obamacare — have created a mess that has introduced nothing to American health care except chaos.

Next, KW focuses on the "Cadillac Tax", one of the parlor tricks Gruber and company utilized to make the bill appear fiscally sustainable. Problem is, unions hate it and their wholly owned subsidiary, the Democratic Party, desperately need them to hold the White House in 2016.

The Cadillac tax was never going to be long-lived. It was a lie from the beginning, a part of the great fiction that allowed Democrats to claim that Barack Obama’s signature health-insurance initiative would add “not one dime” to the deficit, as the president repeatedly insisted. But the tax was and is bitterly opposed by important Democratic constituencies: the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Teachers, the members of which enjoy very generous health-care programs (the teachers at your direct expense, suckers) and don’t much like paying taxes despite their endless nattering about the need to make sure everybody pays his “fair share.”

The teachers’ unions, it should be noted, are the biggest political spenders in the country — not the NRA, not the Koch brothers, not the Chamber of Commerce or Big Oil or Big Whatever. In the private sector, unions are in decline and have been for decades, mainly because extortion is a terrible business model in the long term. But in the public sector — in government — unions rule the roost, which is why they run the Democratic party in spite of their relatively small overall numbers. Hillary Rodham Clinton cannot be president without the support of the teachers’ unions, period, and so she supports repealing one of the main revenue-generating measures attached to Obamacare.

...Republicans blew the health-care fight last time around. Barack Obama rolled into town with his sack of goodies like some cracked Santa Claus, and all Republicans could muster was: “We have the best health-care system in the world. Harrumph! Harrumph!” We didn’t. We had a half-socialized mess of a system in which very important health-care decisions — the ones regarding insurance — were mainly taken out of the hands of consumers and put in the hands of their employers, who have very different economic incentives. Thank Franklin Roosevelt for that. Add to that a wildly corrupt, fraud-ridden Medicaid program and an insanely unsustainable Medicare program, insufficiently competitive insurance markets, and a few other flavors of nightmare fuel, and it’s easy to see why people wanted health-care reform — and why they want it still. “No” is my favorite word in politics, but it isn’t the right answer every time, and it wasn’t the right answer on health-care reform.

Neither was Obamacare, of course. The president had campaigned on health-care reform, and the Democrats had an unusual commanding position in Congress that was unlikely to be sustained or repeated. The president made it clear that he would happily sign any stack of paper, up to and including a three-year-old Denny’s menu, if the words “health-care reform” appeared in its title. The Democrats indulged the worst sort of dishonesty — we’ll cover millions more people while saving money and improving quality and look a unicorn! — and they cooked up the Affordable Care Act, with Nancy Pelosi famously insisting that Congress had to pass it to discover what’s in it. Now that she’s discovered what’s in the act, she doesn’t much like it.

 ...For now, eliminating the Cadillac tax is one tax cut that Republicans should resist. The teachers’ unions and the AFL-CIO put these clowns in office and inflicted Obamacare on the country, and we should make them pay for it. As Ed Koch famously said: The people have spoken, and now they must be punished.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Yay Us

Astute observers of human nature that we are, conservatives are a generally dour and pessimistic bunch. For tens of thousands of years that attitude has proved reliably predictive, as humankind's natural defects of selfishness and greed prevented it from advancing beyond a standard of living that was brutish, nasty and short. Fortunately, beginning in the 17th century, a movement began, gradually at first, and then with a rush on July 4, 1776, granting individuals the freedom to pursue happiness within a system of free market capitalism. Among its myriad benefits, that revolution allowed human flaws to be utilized as assets, initiating miraculous improvements in living standards.

Kevin Williamson is cheered by this significant achievement of Homo sapiens --

The Princeton economist Angus Deaton, recently awarded the Nobel prize, has spent much of his career working on how we measure consumption, poverty, real standards of living, etc. It is thanks in part to his work that we can say that the global rate of “extreme poverty,” currently defined as subsistence on less than the equivalent of $1.90 a day, is now the condition of less than 10 percent of the human race. In the 1980s, that number was 50 percent — half the species — and as late as the dawn of the 21st century, one-third of the human race lived in extreme poverty. The progress made against poverty in the past 30 years is arguably the most dramatic economic event since the Industrial Revolution. It did not happen by accident.

...There is much left to do: We have unsustainable fiscal situations in the Western welfare states, irreconcilable Islamist fanatics originating in points east but spread around the world, environmental challenges, and that tenth of the human race that still needs lifting out of hardcore poverty. But we have achieved a remarkable thing in that unless we mess things up really badly, in 50 years we’ll be having to explain to our grandchildren what a famine was, how it came to be that millions of people died every year for want of clean water — and they will look at us incredulously, wondering what it must have been like to live in the caveman times of the early 21st century.

The recent plummeting of global extreme poverty is due almost exclusively to China's and India's acceptance of the ideas of Smith, Hayek, and Friedman (Milton, not Thomas). In the process, those two countries rejected policies advocated by Marx, Sanders, Obama, Clinton, Warren, et al. Other nations are adopting, have adopted that which made us great and exceptional, even as we are turning away from it.

And note - these wonders are occurring with a current global population of 7.3 billion, roughly ten times what it was in 1700. Many, Many more mouths to feed. Yet, taken as a whole, our species is incomparably better off now. Malthus was wrong, spectacularly wrong, and so are his intellectual successors.

More cause for optimism -- It's always gratifying when an individual of the left gets something right. The Wall Street Journal's token liberal opinion writer, William Galston, has correctly identified single parenthood as the chief cause of African-American poverty. When conservatives make this connection, they're immediately and viciously branded as racists. To correct the discrepancy between black and white poverty rates by substantially diminishing the former, many more voices on the left must come to Galston's conclusion. They must relinquish the intellectually lazy, politically expedient myth that racism, crime and the vestigial cultural effects of slavery, segregation and discrimination are to blame. 

About seven in 10 white children, from newborn to 18 years of age, are living with their biological parents, compared with one in three black children.

This matters because—as family-structure researchers Sara McLanahan and Isabel Sawhill note in the Future of Children, “most scholars now agree that children raised by two biological parents in a stable marriage do better than children in other family forms across a wide variety of outcomes.”

...The researchers study—and reject—the hypotheses that these differences reflect higher prenatal sensitivity to factors such as stress and poor nutrition or that they are entirely attributable to dangerous neighborhoods and poor schools. There are independent effects of family background that contribute to the large gaps between boys and girls. In fact, the researchers conclude, neighborhoods and schools are less important than the “direct effect of family structure itself.”

Why is this? The research team finds that boys’ problems are far more behavioral than cognitive. For example, truancy and classroom disciplinary issues lead to suspensions, which play the largest role in explaining the boy-girl high-school graduation gap. But the presence of fathers in the household substantially reduces the gaps between boys and girls in absences and suspensions. It turns out that boys need fathers as well as mothers even more than girls do, and suffer even more when fathers are absent from their lives.

...we should never imagine that efforts by government and civil society, however effective, can fully substitute for the influence of stable, intact families.

Kevin again --  expressing puzzlement over our inconsistencies in defining adulthood. He observes an effort by doctors to enlist government in raising the age "minors" are permitted to smoke...

Never mind that government-backed health projects often turn out to be wrong — e.g., that starchy food pyramid — we ought to carefully consider whether they ought to exist in the first place.

“Of course they ought to exist,” the progressive argument goes. “Government subsidizes health care and takes upon itself some share of health-care costs, and it therefore has a legitimate interest in whether you smoke.” Or eat your veggies. That is, in its way, entirely correct, and it is an important part of the case against such policy misadventures as the wretchedly misnamed Affordable Care Act — or Medicare, for that matter. Once the government is in the business of financing something, it acquires all sorts of interests and leverage points, all of which it will use — reliably, and almost without exception — for political ends.

...We should pick an age of adulthood and stick with it. If 18-year-olds are going to be legally permitted to inflict Barack Obama on this republic, then the few sensible souls among that age cohort should be permitted to legally dull the resultant pain with a cocktail. And what’s a cocktail without a cigarette?

If, on the other hand, we’re going to decide that 22-year-old students at Harvard getting ready for law school or junior positions in the U.S. Foreign Service are not far enough removed from their diapers to be expected to deal with the micro-aggressions of Mark Twain, then they sure as Hell shouldn’t be at Parris Island preparing to meet macro-aggressions on behalf of these United States — or permitted to see the inside of a voting booth.

Speaking of micro-aggressions, how about this?! ("She" refers to a University of Vermont freshman, Cameron Shaeffer, the subject of the article).

According to a piece in the Huffington Post, the word “too” is sexist and hurts women by constantly making them feel like they’re not good enough.

...“In my experience, I rarely hear too thrown around about men,” she explains. “You hear someone say, ‘He’s short,’ but you seldom hear ‘too short.’”

Well, why shouldn't Ms. Schaeffer be so easily offended? She has as a role model the probable next president of the U.S. And that woman is offended by the imagined suggestion that she speaks at an excessive decibel level, (shouts) something of which men are apparently never accused. (No wonder she got rolled by Assad and Putin).

KW takes aim at the pernicious phenomenon of celebrity that has somehow empowered and enriched such vacuous non-talents as Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Lena Dunham and the Kardashians (whoever they are).

A great many dumb issues and empty crusades make it to the forefront of the public political consciousness because of celebrity. The anti-vaccination movement is celebrity-propelled; the phony pay-inequality crusade is a creature of celebrity (N.B., Emma Watson: The movie that made you rich wasn’t called Hermione Granger and the Sorcerer’s Stone); global-warming hysteria has been sustained by celebrity much more than by science; Lena Dunham’s daft and illiterate political pronouncements would not echo very far beyond Maison Premiere if she were just another rich private-school kid from Manhattan instead of a famous rich private-school kid from Manhattan.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Good Riddance, Actually

Peggy Noonan in today's Wall Street Journal --

"Joe Biden’s decision not to run for president left me sad. He would have enlivened things. He has always reminded me of what Democrats were like when I was a kid—kind of normal and earthy and fun. They did not spend their time endlessly accusing people of being sexist-racist-homophobic-gender-biased persons of unchecked privilege. They would have thought that impolite."


Recall Biden speaking of Republicans to an audience populated with many African-Americans - "They're gonna put y'all back in chains."

No race-baiting there. The "y'all" was an especially classy touch.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Uncommon Wisdom

The website has compiled a list of notable quotes from the venerable Thomas Sowell. Named "our greatest living philosopher" by left wing convert David Mamet, Dr. Sowell produces much more than just witty aphorisms of course. A complete list of his works can be found here -

A sampling from Ricochet's list --

"Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good."

"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics."

"Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any cost, however large."

"The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty."

"I have never understood why it is 'greed' to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else's money."

"Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it."

"It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance."

"There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs."

"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong."

"Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late."

“Any serious look at the history of human beings over the millennia shows that the species began in poverty. It is not poverty, but prosperity, that needs explaining. Poverty is automatic, but prosperity requires many things — none of which is equally distributed around the world or even within a given society.”

An astute Sowell admirer noted -- "Isn’t it telling that were society to act broadly upon all of Sowell’s statements, we would be much more likely to approach – if not utopia, a far more perfect union. It is also remarkable that progressives pursue the exact opposite of virtually every one of Sowell’s statements. In sum, this captures the ethos of my despair for the future."


"...two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an al-Qaeda-like group.”
Hillary Clinton email to her daughter the night of the Benghazi attack

“We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack—not a protest.”
Clinton speaking to Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil, September 12, 2012 the day after the Benghazi attack

“We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.”
Clinton at the ceremony receiving the flag draped coffins of the Benghazi victims, September 14, 2012

Steve Hayes (The Weekly Standard) --

Charles Woods has been waiting a long time for the truth. He met his son’s body at Joint Base Andrews, three days after the attacks, at a solemn ceremony in just outside Washington, D.C. He first met Clinton at that brief memorial service. He remembers it well, in part, he says, because he took notes immediately after he spoke with her. 

When I asked him about that day as we waited for the hearing to begin, he pulled a small leather black datebook from his pocket – maybe the size of a calculator, with 2012 engraved in gold on the front – as he recalled her words. He began reading from the entry that started on September 14, the day of the ceremony, and continued into the space for the following day. It ran just five or six lines, written in pencil.

He recorded Clinton’s exact words. “We are going to have the filmmaker arrested who was responsible for the death of your son,” he read. Then he looked up. “I remember those words: ‘who was responsible for the death of your son.’ She was blaming him and blaming the movie.”

Spreading the lie --

Jim Jordan (R, Ohio) --

You can live with a protest about a video. That won’t hurt you. But a terrorist attack will. So you can’t be square with the American people. You tell your family it’s a terrorist attack, but not the American people. You can tell the president of Libya it’s a terrorist attack, but not the American people. And you can tell the Egyptian prime minister it’s a terrorist attack, but you can’t tell your own people the truth.

Jim Geraghty writing at NRO --

...Byron York thinks this is already “priced in” in the public’s mind: “The documents were still more evidence that the blame-it-on-the-video story was lies and spin. But the public has known for a while that it was lies and spin. It seems unlikely to strike many Americans as very big news.”

If the American public knows that it was lied to about a terror attack, and doesn’t really care… then maybe we are doomed.

Added 10/24 --

Jonah Goldberg tears into Hillary and the press. A very good analysis of the specifics of her mendacity (and Obama's) and of the general aversion of the mainstream media to honestly report events that favor Republicans. Goldberg (as usual) expresses the frustration and outrage well. There's too much to excerpt. Please read --

Andrew McCarthy is equally effective in focusing on the brazenness and disgrace of Hillary's lies --

These are two forceful columns. I would recommend that liberals and progressives (there - I used your preferred terminology without scare quotes) read both just to get an idea of the exasperation that the prospect of a President Hillary Clinton generates among conservatives.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Trump Loses (And Other Stuff)

Self-proclaimed conservative "purists" believe there is little difference between squishy RINOs like John McCain or Mitt Romney and hard leftists like Barack Obama. This nonsense kept many conservatives home on Election Days 2008 and 2012 helping to elect and re-elect the worst president in American history. (Even Buchanan didn't actively damage the nation. He certainly didn't mess up the world.)

Now that some of these idiots are throwing their support to Donald Trump, I have news for them - I'm staying home November 8, 2016 if Trump gets the Republican nomination.* The reason? There really is no difference between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Among their similarities -- They're both well left of center ideologically, though they're both quite willing to adopt to any principle that advances their interests. They're both strong believers in and practitioners of crony capitalism. They both have no sense of decency and integrity. (Hillary's propensity to lie makes her husband seem like Abe Lincoln in that regard. Trump has the morals of a 6th grade playground bully). They both lack the wisdom for effective decision making. They both seem to be able to get away with anything. And they both became filthy rich on the backs of other people. (I don't usually like that description of the wealthy but in the case of these two it's appropriate)
Quds. Kurds. What difference does it make?!

Believe it or not, my lack of support is a problem for Trump. As I pointed out with the case of Todd Akin, my backing is necessary (though, unfortunately, not sufficient) for a general election victory - if a Republican does not get my vote, he does not win. Trump has no chance.

*A caveat - If it's Trump vs. Clinton and Jim Webb runs as a 3rd party candidate, I'll vote for Webb. Webb is a reminder what the Democratic Party used to be.

The other stuff --

The hilarity of James Lileks' National Review Athwart columns tend to mask the author's perceptive wisdom. Like few others - P.J. O'Rourke and Andrew Klavan come to mind - Lileks can generate humor from outrage, an impressive talent. Here are his most recent efforts --

The title of the John Hawkins column below makes a false assertion. Inequality is not irrelevant to economic health. Wealth creation and diminishment of poverty is positively correlated with income and wealth inequality. Otherwise, a good piece.  --

No Christians = No criminal charges or lawsuits = No coverage by NYTimesNBCWashingtonPostCNNCBSNPRetcetc.
A gay person walks into a Muslim bakery...(A pretend gay person, that is. Real gay people, the "activists" among them anyway, are too busy harassing Christians. And too understandably fearful to provoke Muslims) --

A quartet of columns explaining why invoking Scandinavia is a fallacious argument for socialism --

Bjorn Lomborg continues to spotlight the global green industry's assault on the world's poor.

The left's attack on the producers of life-saving medicines --

From Bookworm --

Voter ID

Also, in her typically long October 21 blogpost, Bookworm includes some stomach-turning photos of surviving victims of the recent Palestinian knife attacks. Keep in mind - these are survivors. What the MSM terms "the injured".
Horrifying to normal humans, the images will cheer supporters of Palestinian terrorism and leave its enablers, Messrs. Obama and Kerry, unmoved, and babbling platitudes about ending the "cycle of violence".
(Go to the 10/21 entry)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Genius At Work

Reading Kevin Williamson at times, I'm reminded of the scene in the film Amadeus where an awestruck Salieri is perusing some of Mozart's musical scores.

Astounding! It was actually, it was beyond belief. But they showed no corrections of any kind. Not one. He had simply written down music already finished in his head! Page after page of it as if he were just taking dictation. And music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall.

I don't know if KW is able to write as if taking dictation, but the quality and volume of his output is remarkable. Below is one weekend's worth of eclectic thinking.

A learned and lengthy examination of a variety of recent instances of the human propensity to punish perceived opponents. Williamson added the following preface to his essay --

I hope you’ll forgive the 4,500-word Saturday-evening brain dump below. There is something to that Blaise Pascal line about sending a long letter because he didn’t have time to write a short one.

Out of the box thinking on reducing unemployment (Only conservatives think this way) --

Technology is turning the tables on the old conventional wisdom that you can't fight City Hall --

On BHO's distaste for HRC --

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Crappy Days Are Here Again

Jonah Goldberg with some thoughts on Tuesday's Democratic "debate" and the sorry state of leftist ideology.

I mean good gawd, Lincoln Chafee? He’s less a presidential candidate and more a cautionary tale of what happens to WASP genes when you drench them in scotch, ink residue from old issues of Mother Jones, and bong resin.

...That’s one reason why Sanders wasn’t as foolish as some think for his “gift” on the e-mail scandal. Many Democrats now reflexively take the view that if Republicans or Fox News think something is bad, then it must be an illegitimate issue. Lending even rhetorical aid and comfort to the enemy is counted as “unprogressive” even on issues that progressives should be horrified by. The Clinton Foundation’s incestuous cronyism should horrify the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic party. But saying so would be seen as using “right-wing talking points” so they stay mum on the issue. The same people who freaked out over the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity should properly want Clinton indicted for what she did with her e-mail. But if the Republicans think so too, it must not be so.

 ... The debate was a joyless ass ache of a reminder of what liberalism really is. Bernie Sanders thinks you can pay for an 18 trillion dollar expansion of the welfare state — to make it align with a Denmark that doesn’t actually exist — simply by taxing “the billionaire class.” There are 536 billionaires in America. Even if you confiscated everything they had — which, by the way, would surely destroy the American economy by triggering the greatest round of capital flight in human history and amount to government seizure of countless businesses — it wouldn’t come close to covering the tab of Sanders’s proposals.

But saying stupid things about economics is why God put socialists on this planet. Sanders has to say such things because that is what socialists do.

... The real appeal of the New Deal wasn’t its alleged success, it’s that the New Deal is synonymous with a time when progressives had nearly unfettered political power to do what they wanted. Liberals don’t really worship the New Deal, they worship themselves. The New Deal is just a talisman in their undying faith in their own ability to guide society and make decisions for others better than people can make for themselves.

And, at a fundamental level, the desire for an unending string of New Deals going on forever, is indistinguishable from socialism. Liberals used to be honest about this point, as when Arthur Schlesinger let slip in the pages of Partisan Review that “There seems no inherent obstacle to the gradual advance of socialism in the United States through a series of New Deals.”

It’s all just so exhausting. And I guess what I resent most of all is the fact that I will spend the rest of my life arguing with people who not only think that their faith in progressivism and the State is smart and modern, but that their opponents are the ones who are stuck in the past. And in the process, they’ll keep making the country worse, with every failure providing the latest evidence that now, now, is the time for a new New Deal.

Friday, October 16, 2015

How To Increase Employment

In today's WSJ, a good, basic primer on job creation from an expert practitioner of the subject, Andy Pudzer, CEO of CKE restaurants. Mr. Pudzer would certainly make the Bernie and Hillary list of Hated Millionaires and Billionaires despite (because of?) the enormous good he provides society.

In September the labor-force participation rate—the percentage of Americans employed or actively looking for work—continued its decline under Mr. Obama, hitting 62.4%, a low last seen 38 years ago during the Carter administration. The rate has been stuck below 63% for 18 consecutive months. For prime working-age Americans—those between 25 and 54—the rate is 80.6%, the lowest figure since 1984. Nearly six million Americans are “not in the labor force” who “want a job now.”
After more than six years of “recovery,” about 2.5 million more people are working than were employed when the Great Recession began in December 2007. However, the employable population has increased by about 18 million people—seven times the number of people who found jobs.

Even the bump in employment reflects economic weakness. Compare September’s jobs numbers with those from December 2007: 230,000 more people were employed full time and more than two million more people were employed part time. In other words, 90% of the increase has come from part-time employment. About six million Americans are working part time because they can’t find a full-time job.

...Since the problem is too few jobs, it is important to understand who creates jobs. At my company, CKE Restaurants, for example, our franchisees are small business owners who furnish entry-level jobs and management careers every time they open a Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s. Franchisees generally invest more than $1 million to permit, build and equip restaurants, creating jobs for architects, attorneys and construction workers.

After opening, each store creates about 25 permanent jobs within the restaurant as well as ancillary jobs maintaining, advertising and supplying food and paper products to it.

Our approximately 3,000 domestic restaurants (90% franchised) spend more than $1 billion on food and paper products a year. That creates jobs for everyone from the farmers who plant the seeds to the truck drivers who deliver the ingredients to our restaurants.

CKE also spends about $175 million a year on advertising, great for actors and workers at ad agencies, as well as radio and TV stations. We spend $150 million annually on capital improvements, remodeling restaurants, and purchasing new equipment. This spurs opportunities for construction workers, equipment manufacturers and more. Then there’s the roughly $100 million put toward annual maintenance. That means jobs for window washers, air conditioner repairmen and landscapers.

These workers in turn spend their incomes on food, clothing, housing, health care, education and entertainment—supporting even more jobs. The more restaurants the company builds, the more jobs and the more growth in local economies. Collectively with our franchisees, CKE provides employment for more than 70,000 Americans and supports jobs for tens of thousands of others outside the restaurants.

This engine of economic growth applies to every part of the economy. Whether Ford, Apple,  Caterpillar, Wal-Mart or Coca-Cola, the web of job creation is the same. And so if a politician wants to help workers win a raise, he should help businesses add jobs by simplifying the tax code, enacting regulatory reform and replacing ObamaCare with something that works.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cursing At Solutions

The National Review blogsite The Corner reproduced this tweet from a Philip P. Richardson, a NY Times reporter (naturally).


So eloquent. You just have to admire the level of discourse of left wing journalists.

Addressing his "point" -- My father's family lived on the lower east side of Manhattan during the Depression - two adults and seven children in a small tenement apartment. There are few people in the U.S. today enduring worse poverty than they did. Yet, because they grew up in a strong two parent family, (which poverty did not weaken), all of the children grew up to be successful, law abiding citizens.

Richardson's obscene outburst is typical of the left's reactionary response to any conservative identifying and offering remedies for the true source of poverty. They simply don't tolerate ideas that threaten the viability of the big-government sustaining, poverty perpetuating welfare state.

Here is the video that inspired Richardson's tantrum.

Bush didn't even mention the three factors virtually guaranteeing an escape from poverty as cited by the Brookings Institution, a left leaning, (and Liz Warren hugging*), think tank.

1. Graduate from high school.
2. Wait until at least age 21 to get married and don't have children before marriage.
3. Have a full time job before starting a family.

Persons of all races following these rules have a poverty rate of two percent.

Imagine Richardson's wrath had Bush dared to be more specific as to how the poor could improve their situation.  


Saturday, October 10, 2015

My (Indirect) Dialogue With Kevin Williamson

A couple of days ago, Williamson posted the following on NR's blog site, The Corner :

In 1957, the nation was more or less at peace, the budget ran a small surplus, and we spent 9.8 percent of GDP on national defense. That was down sharply from the years immediately before (winding down of Korean War expenses, I guess) but quite a bit higher than it was in 1950 and 1951. In 1950, we spent only 4.9 percent of GDP on national defense, half that 1957 number.

This year, we’re going to spend about 3.3 percent of GDP on national defense. That’s less than we spent during the first Clinton administration, a fairly peaceable time. It’s less than we’ve spent since before the budgetary beginning of the post-9/11 era, by which I mean, since 2002.

Looking at 1957 from the other side of the ledger, tax receipts were 17.2 percent of GDP. This year, taxes are expected to come in at 17.7 percent of GDP, a little bit more.

I like 1957. It seems like a pretty good year to me, and its neighbors on the calendar were pretty good years, too.

My lefty friends sometimes say that Republicans should endorse those high Eisenhower-era personal income tax rates, but in fact the government took in slightly less in taxes then than it does now. Not many people paid those sky-rate 1950s tax rates on much of their money. Certainly not Ike—he had his million-dollar book deal structured as a capital gain. The 1957 story isn’t about the taxes.

It’s about the spending.

The real lesson of 1957 is that you could—if you were so inclined—spend three times what we spend on the military in GDP terms, produce a small budget surplus, and reduce total taxes. You could do that if you were willing to do the work on the rest of the budget.

To which I commented on the NR site --

Cmon Kevin. Of course we could spend one tenth of GDP on defense in 1957 without running a deficit. We didn't have the welfare state.

Today, KW wrote --

Interest on the debt today is almost exactly the same as it was in 1957; it is exactly the same as what it was in 1953: 1.3 percent of GDP. In 1957, we spent 1 percent of GDP on physical resources; today, we spend a bit less, 0.8 percent of GDP. Other functions constituted 1.6 percent of GDP in 1957, today down to 1.1 percent of GDP. Undistributed receipts is nearly unchanged, up 0.1 percent of GDP.

That leaves us with the welfare category, the only area of federal spending that has grown significantly relative to the size of the U.S. economy. In 1957, it was 3.9 percent of GDP—not insignificant, to be sure; that’s a slightly larger figure than our present-day military spending. But welfare entitlement spending in 2015 is 15.2 percent of GDP. Which is to say, broadly defined welfare spending alone is equal to 86 percent of all the federal taxes that are going to be collected this year. Most of that is Social Security, health-care spending, traditional welfare, and federal education spending, which has grown substantially despite the fact that most education spending happens at the state and local level.

Recap: In GDP terms, we spend about a third on the military today compared to what we spent in the late 1950s. We spend almost exactly the same on interest on the debt. We spend 20 percent less on energy, transportation, the environment, and natural resources. And we spend almost four times as much on welfare. Again, that is in GDP terms, and our economy is a heck of a lot bigger than it was in 1957. As a share of all federal spending, welfare has gone from 23 percent of spending to 73 percent of federal spending. In constant-dollar terms, we spend 17.5 times as much. In nominal-dollar terms, we spend 150 times as much.

We could probably stand to trim the Pentagon budget a bit and reform defense procurement. But the real problem is the welfare state. The numbers don’t lie.

As I was saying...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Free Trade And Prosperity

Kevin Williamson waxes eloquent on one of his pet subjects - the glories of globalization. In the process he trashes a foolish, uninformed NY Times opinion writer (Paul Theroux).

Beyond the shopworn banality of his prose (“the catfish farms and the cotton fields and the blues bars . . . the gun shows and the church services and the football games”) Theroux is guilty of thinking and analysis that is beyond sloppy — he fails to account for the basic facts of the case. The South was an extraordinarily poor and backwards place until the day before yesterday. In the 1950s, about half of the households in the South didn’t have indoor plumbing. The economic transformation of the South in the past 50 years has been astounding, a success story for the ages.
As it has been for what development nerds sometimes call the “global south.” Just as the gentlemen of the Times were putting the headline on Theroux’s daft little tantrum, the World Bank published its estimate that this year — this year, not at some point in the happy-happy future — the number of people living in extreme poverty on this planet will dip below 10 percent for the first time in the history of the human species.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

"A Geopolitical Chernobyl"

-- The words of David Petraeus describing the current situation in the Middle East.

We really don’t know what their (Russia's) intentions are. --
General Lloyd Austin, Barack Obama's commander of US Central Command

Since Dumb and Dumber (Obama and Kerry) remain intractably clueless on the subject - here are Marco Rubio's September 16th debate comments explaining the motives and goals of Vlad Putin, two weeks before Putin began bombing our Syrian allies.

It’s pretty straightforward: He wants to reposition Russia once again as a geopolitical force. He himself said that the destruction of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Soviet Union, was the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century. And now he’s trying to reverse that. He’s trying to destroy NATO. He is exploiting a vacuum that this administration has left in the Middle East. Here’s what you’re going to see in the next few weeks: The Russians will begin to fly combat missions in that region — not just targeting ISIS, but in order to prop up Assad.

(My emphasis)

Ralph Peters seconds Rubio's assessment --

Because Putin didn’t go to the right prep school and has poor table manners, Western elites continue, even now, to underestimate his intelligence, his strategic vision and his ruthlessness. Putin cynically portrays his intervention in Syria as part of a common fight against the Islamic State. But the immediate target of his military will be the (relatively) moderate Syrian opposition, leaving the West with a choice between Bashar al-Assad and Islamist fanaticism.

Putin has a vision of a wall of Iranian-dominated, Russia-friendly, anti-American states stretching from western Afghanistan through Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea. And he’s well on his way to achieving it, thanks to the nuclear deal with Iran, US military hesitancy in the region and, now, an open alliance between Russia, Iran, Iraq’s Shia militias, Hezbollah and the forces of the Assad regime.

That wall would not only keep out the United States, it would isolate our Kurdish allies and overshadow our last clients in the region, including Israel (which has already moved to improve relations with Moscow).

While Russia moves forcefully to exert influence over Syria and Iraq, the Obama "strategy" has, at a cost of half as billion dollars, trained a grand total of "4 or 5" Syrian fighters. Four OR five - numbers too large for precision from Obama's military.

Yes, Obama is completely unqualified for his job. But his incompetence is augmented by an even more disturbing characteristic. As Peters notes in a tweet --

You bet President Obama’s afraid of Putin. Physically, tangibly, change-the-diaper afraid.

And Putin knows it. That's why his next move, predicts Peters, will be a dangerously provocative act --

Vladimir Putin’s next strategic gambit may be to order the shootdown of an American military aircraft over Syria. If we’re “fortunate,” it will only be an unmanned airframe he chooses to make his point.

But it may be a manned fighter. Putin is confident that the Obama administration wouldn’t respond militarily, but would eagerly accept his explanation that the shootdown was an accident, a simple misunderstanding.

Peters column --

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

SyFy Guy

Robert P. George and Patrick Lee offer a much needed facts of life tutorial to Bill Nye, the self proclaimed, "Science Guy"; Nye's ignorance of what constitutes human life and when it begins having been embarrassingly revealed in a You Tube video.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Back To Basics

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with basic economics, a trio of videos.

John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO, in a Reason TV interview, advocates his brand of conscious capitalism. He's especially good discussing nefarious government regulations such as the minimum wage and Obamacare.

And a couple of basic Prager University tutorials -  One from Greg Gutman on why the Right is right and the other from economist Walter Williams on the morality of capitalism.

Gutman --

Williams --

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Schooling Francis

George Will isn't impressed with the current media / leftist / environmentalist / anti-capitalist fed adoration of Pope Francis.

Supporters of Francis have bought newspaper and broadcast advertisements to disseminate some of his woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies. One example: “People occasionally forgive, but nature never does.” The Vatican’s majesty does not disguise the vacuity of this. Is Francis intimating that environmental damage is irreversible? He neglects what technology has accomplished regarding London’s air (see Page 1 of Dickens’s Bleak House) and other matters.

And the Earth is becoming “an immense pile of filth”? Hyperbole is a predictable precursor of yet another U.N. climate-change conference — the 21st since 1995. Fortunately, rhetorical exhibitionism increases as its effectiveness diminishes. In his June encyclical and elsewhere, Francis lectures about our responsibilities, but neglects the duty to be as intelligent as one can be. This man who says “the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions” proceeds as though everything about which he declaims is settled, from imperiled plankton to air conditioning being among humanity’s “harmful habits.” The church that thought it was settled science that Galileo was heretical should be attentive to all evidence.

Francis deplores “compulsive consumption,” a sin to which the 1.3 billion persons without even electricity can only aspire. He leaves the Vatican to jet around praising subsistence farming, a romance best enjoyed from 30,000 feet above the realities that such farmers yearn to escape.

...Poverty has probably decreased more in the last two centuries than it has in the preceding three millennia because of industrialization powered by fossil fuels. Only economic growth has ever produced broad amelioration of poverty, and since growth began in the late 18th century, it has depended on such fuels.
...The capitalist commerce that Francis disdains is the reason the portion of the planet’s population living in “absolute poverty” ($1.25 a day) declined from 53 percent to 17 percent in three decades after 1981. Even in low-income countries, writes economist Indur Goklany, life expectancy increased from between 25 to 30 years in 1900 to 62 years today.

...(Francis) stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.

Added 9/25 - Along the same lines, Mona Charen also makes some good points.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Waste Mismanagement

In their unending quest to feel good about themselves, the idiots running Seattle have introduced yet another counterproductive program (see also minimum wage increase) mandating that all trash  contain no more than 10% recyclable / compostable material.

This is red meat to Kevin Williamson and he enjoys the feast. He especially has fun explaining the methodology (hint - there is none) used to determine the magic 10%.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Obama's Legacy

This is it.

Russian dissident and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov laments the chaos, death and destruction resulting from Barack Obama's aiding our enemies, shunning our allies, and withdrawing American influence approach to world affairs.

Over the past year, especially in the past few months, Mr. Obama’s belief that American force in the world should be constrained and reduced has reached its ultimate manifestation in U.S. relations with Iran, Russia and Cuba. Each of these American adversaries has been on the receiving end of the president’s helping hand: normalization with Cuba, releasing Iran from sanctions, treating the Putin Ukraine-invasion force as a partner for peace in the futile Minsk cease-fire agreements.

In exchange for giving up precisely nothing, these countries have been rewarded with the international legitimacy and domestic credibility dictatorships crave—along with more-concrete economic benefits.

When dealing with a regime that won’t negotiate in good faith, the best approach is to use a position of strength to pry concessions from the other side. But instead the White House keeps offering concessions—while helping its enemies off the mat. That such naïveté will result in positive behavior from the likes of Ayatollah Khamenei, Vladimir Putin and the Castro brothers should be beyond even Mr. Obama’s belief in hope and change.

...Power abhors a vacuum, and as the U.S. retreats the space is being filled. After years of the White House leading from behind, Secretary of State John Kerry’s timid warning to the Kremlin this week to stay out of Syria will be as effective as Mr. Obama’s “red line.” Soon Iran—flush with billions of dollars liberated by the nuclear deal—will add even more heft to its support for Mr. Assad.

Dead refugee children are on the shores of Europe, bringing home the Syrian crisis that has been in full bloom for years. There could be no more tragic symbol that it is time to stop being paralyzed by the Obama-era mantra that things could be worse—and to start acting instead to make things better.

And, as he often does, Victor Davis Hanson lists Obama's myriad failures, at home and abroad.

The policy of “leading from behind” and the crudity of “We came, we saw, he [Qaddafi] died” have left a human tragedy in Libya. Backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was an inexplicable choice, and it almost ruined the country. The United States did not need to hound and jail an innocent video maker in order to concoct a myth to cover up the culpable lax security in Benghazi. Yemen was strangely declared a model of our anti-terrorism efforts — just weeks before it ignited into another Somalia or Congo. ISIS was airily written off as a jayvee bunch as it spread beyond Syria and Iraq. There is little need to do a detailed comparison of Iraq now and Iraq in February 2009 (when it was soon to be the administration’s “greatest achievement,” a “stable” and “self-reliant” nation); the mess in between is attributable to Obama’s use of the aftermath of the Iraq War for pre-election positioning. Ordering Assad to flee while ignoring the violence in Syria and proclaiming a faux red line has now tragically led to a million refugees in Europe (and another 4 million in the neighborhood) and more than 200,000 dead. Israel is now considered not an ally, not even a neutral, but apparently a hostile state worthy of more presidential invective than is Iran. We have few if any reliable friends any more in the Gulf. Iran will become a nuclear power. The only mystery over how that will happen is whether Obama was inept or whether he deliberately sought to make the theocracy some sort of a strategic power and U.S. ally. The Middle East over the next decade may see three or four additional new nuclear powers. The Russia of kleptocrat Vladimir Putin is seen in the region as a better friend than is the U.S. — and certainly a far more dangerous enemy to provoke.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Worthwhile Reading

The case builds for sending Hillary Clinton to the Big House. (And not the one on Pennsylvania Ave in D.C. either).

Jonah Goldberg on Clinton's arsenal of smoking guns.

Charles Krauthammer laments that "Unless she’s indicted, Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination." (Says a lot about Democrats, doesn't it?).

(More) evidence that Clinton is as dumb as a post.

In a recently released e-mail from January 3, 2010, (Clinton) personally messaged an assistant, wishing her a Happy New Year, and then offered a demand list to start the year off:

I’d like to work w you to prepare a menu for Jason. Also does he give me a monthly bill for the food he buys and prepares for me? Could you or he buy skim milk for me to have for my tea? Also, pls remind me to bring more tea cups from home . . . Can you give me times for two TV shows: Parks and Recreation and The Good Wife?

Yes, this is the delightful paradox that is Hillary: a woman who claims she will fight for the shrinking middle class but who also happens to employ a personal chef (or Visiting Angel) that she’s not even sure she pays. A candidate who Understands People Like You but apparently isn’t familiar enough with the strange Google machine to look up television listings (I found it in one click after searching “The Good Wife times” and going to the official CBS homepage). A person who was actually in the habit of e-mailing her drink orders to aides at the State Department: “Pls call Sarah and ask her if she can get me some iced tea.”

Ponder that one again for a moment: She e-mailed one person to call yet another person with an order to bring her a beverage. A normal person, incapacitated and laid out in a hospital bed, can usually get beverage service in fewer steps than what Hillary was requesting.

This is reminiscent of Kurt Schlister's recent comment about HRC --

Keep in mind that this is a woman who flunked the District of Columbia bar exam. To do that, you literally have to answer the question, “What is a tort?” by drawing a picture of small cake.

Changing topics -- Goldberg tries again with another forceful attack on Donald Trump and his supporters. Jonah's stuff is almost always fun to read. Today's effort is no exception.

...if it’s true that politicians can disappoint, I think one has to say that the people can, too. And when I say “the people” I don’t mean “those people.” I mean my people. I mean many of you, Dear Readers. Normally, when conservatives talk about how the public can be wrong, we mean that public. You know the one. The “low-information voters” Rush Limbaugh is always talking about. The folks we laughed at when Jay Leno interviewed them on the street. But we don’t just mean the unwashed and the ill-informed. We sometimes mean Jews, blacks, college kids, Lena Dunham fans, and countless other partisan slices of the electorate who reflexively vote on strict party lines for emotional or irrational reasons. We laugh at liberals who let know-nothing celebrities do their thinking for them.
Well, many of the same people we laughed at are now laughing at us because we are going ga-ga over our own celebrity.

...If I sound dismayed, it’s only because I am. Conservatives have spent more than 60 years arguing that ideas and character matter. That is the conservative movement I joined and dedicated my professional life to. And now, in a moment of passion, many of my comrades-in-arms are throwing it all away in a fit of pique. Because “Trump fights!”

...Ann Coulter wrote of Newt in 2011: “If all you want is to lob rhetorical bombs at Obama and then lose, Newt Gingrich — like recent favorite Donald Trump — is your candidate. But if you want to save the country, Newt’s not your guy.” Now Ann leads a chorus of people claiming that Trump is our only savior. Has Trump changed, or have Ann and her followers? Is there a serious argument behind the new thinking, or is it “because he fights!”?

It is entirely possible that conservatives sweat the details of tax policy too much. Once in office, a president must deal with political realities that render the fine print of a campaign pamphlet as useful as a battle plan after the enemy is met. But in the last month, Trump has contemplated a flat tax, the fair tax, maintaining the current progressive tax system, a carried-interest tax, a wealth tax, and doing nothing. His fans respond, “That shows he’s a pragmatist!”

No. It shows that he has absolutely no ideological guardrails whatsoever. Ronald Reagan once said, “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.” Trump is close to the reverse. He’s a mouth at the wrong end of an alimentary canal spewing crap with no sense of responsibility.

In his embarrassing interview with Hugh Hewitt Thursday night, Trump revealed he knows less than most halfway-decent D.C. interns about foreign policy. Twitter lit up with responses about how it doesn’t matter and how it was a gotcha interview. They think that Trump’s claim that he’ll just go find a Douglas MacArthur to fix the problem is brilliant. Well, I’m all in favor of finding a Douglas MacArthur, but if you don’t know anything about foreign policy, the interview process will be a complete disaster. Yes, Reagan delegated. But he knew enough to know to whom to delegate.

If you want a really good sense of the damage Donald Trump is doing to conservatism, consider the fact that for the last five years no issue has united the Right more than opposition to Obamacare. Opposition to socialized medicine in general has been a core tenet of American conservatism from Day One. Yet, when Republicans were told that Donald Trump favors single-payer health care, support for single-payer health care jumped from 16 percent to 44 percent.

In today's Wall Street Journal --

A typically insightful column from Holman Jenkins suggesting appropriate avenues for expressing frustration with government and its bureaucrats. (And they don't involve supporting Trump or Sanders. And certainly not Clinton).

A member of the elite, surely, is the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, who let the cat out of the bag recently, saying subsidies to today’s green energy technology are a waste of money and capable of influencing climate only at a cost that is “beyond astronomical.”

Marketing by definition is selling us ideas that agree with our intuition. The opposite of marketing is making us think. Green energy is marketing. People like Elon Musk are not selling solutions to global warming, they are selling $100,000 T-shirts that say “I’m doing something about global warming.” Even then, he requires involuntary exactions from taxpayers to make his T-shirt business viable.

An interview with the estimable Thomas Sowell. Sowell notes that even though he grew up poor his rise was never hindered by debilitating minimum wage laws.

When looking back over my life, I think of the lucky things that happened to me. And one of the luckiest ones, I just realized recently, is that when I left home as a 17-year-old high-school dropout, the unemployment rate among black 17-year-old males was in single digits,” Mr. Sowell says. “In 1948, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was 10 years old and it hadn’t been changed. And there was huge inflation, and so it was as if there was no minimum wage.” He got a series of jobs—delivering Western Union telegrams, working in a machine shop—that put him on the right path.

And a lengthy essay explaining the Racial Reality Of Policing by a former NYPD cop. Excellent analysis.

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 129 instances of black men killed by “legal intervention”—that is to say, by cops. The figure is incomplete because of a lack of national reporting requirements, and it says nothing about the circumstances of the killings or the race of the officers involved. But it gives a sense of the scope of the problem.

By contrast, in that same year, 6,739 black men were murdered, overwhelmingly by young men like themselves. Since 2001, even as rates of violent crime have dropped dramatically, more than 90,000 black men in the U.S. have been killed by other black men. With fatalities on this scale, the term epidemic is not a metaphor. Every year, the casualty count of black-on-black crime is twice that of the death toll of 9/11.

To talk about this vast slaughter isn’t changing the subject from police misconduct. It’s the only way a conversation about reforming police practices can begin.