Five or six years ago in the green room of the D.C. satellite of Fox News I met Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Upon discovering that I once taught economics at Clemson University and had lived in Seneca, SC (where he has a home), he inquired about my opinion of Chinese currency manipulation. No more than ten words of my reply escaped my mouth before it become clear that Sen. Graham was not really interested in my opinion. Instead, he assumed that I shared his notion that the Chinese government manipulates the yuan in order to render that currency unfairly undervalued against the U.S. dollar — and that this undervaluation, in turn, harms the American economy. Upon realizing that I regard his notion as economically mistaken, he tuned me out and became noticeably contemptuous of me — me who, I’m sure, he then pegged as an egghead academic who doesn’t understand reality in the crisp, clear, and complete way that he, a politician, understands it.
The Spectacle Blog
Singer-songwriter and occasional actor David Bowie passed away yesterday following an 18 month battle with cancer. Bowie died two days after his 69th birthday.
It was on his 69th birthday that Bowie would release his final album Blackstar.
I read something quite interesting about Bowie in Patrick Humphries' biography of Nick Drake. In the '60's, in order to appear on BBC Radio, artists had to audition before a talent panel and Bowie (who was then known as David Jones) was no exception. Bowie's didn't fare so well at the audition. The BBC talent panel determined that Bowie was "a singer devoid of personality."
Only a panel of government bureaucrats could conclude that David Bowie was devoid of personality.
Rose Hamid, the Muslim woman ejected from the Donald Trump rally in South Carolina yesterday, got exactly what she wanted.
Hamid, a US Airways flight attendant and co-founder of Muslim Women of the Carolinas, was clever in strategically placing herself behind and above Trump so she could be visible when she stood up sporting her hijab.
Hamid was even more clever to protest silently. Trump has been repeatedly disrupted by hecklers and when hecklers shout they do themselves no favors. But Hamid's only statement was a shirt that read, "Salaam, I Come in Peace." Because she didn't say anything, Trump wasn't sure what was going on when he heard a commotion in the audience. When she was removed from the arena, her silence stood in sharp contrast to the heckling and jeering she received from Trump supporters. Because Trump supporters played right into Hamid's hands we get these headlines:
Obama State Department spokesman John Kirby formally condemned Israel for 10 acres of settlement expansion in Gush Etzion. Kirby stated that "continued settlement activity and expansion raises honest questions about Israel's long-term intentions and will only make achieving a two state solution much more difficult."
Let's put aside the fact that Gush Etzion would not be part of a future Palestinian state. The Obama Administration has got its priorities backwards when it is angrier about 10 acres of land in the West Bank than an Iranian rocket that came within a mile of the U.S.S. Harry Truman in the Strait of Hormuz just over a week ago. You would think the Iranian Revolutionary Guard launching rockets in the general direction of one of our warships would "raise honest questions about Iran's long-term intentions and will only put the Iran nuclear deal in doubt."
According to the German Ministry of the Interior, 18 of the 31 suspects identified in the New Year's Eve attacks in Cologne which saw scores of robberies, physical assaults and sexual assaults are currently seeking asylum in Germany.
It is believed that nearly 1,000 men were involved in these attacks. Out of 1,000 men, 31 is a small sample size. But what we know is that more than half the men identified in these assaults are asylum seekers. When the other 969 men of "Arab and North African appearance" are identified it will be interesting to see if the proportion of asylum seekers remains the same or possibly increases. If it turns out that more than 50% of those responsible for these attacks are asylum seekers then Angela Merkel's days as German Chancellor are numbered and, unless corrective action is immediately taken, Germany's days are numbered as well.
The unindentified man who stands accused of shooting Philadelphia police officer Jesse Hartnett has told authorities he shot the officer "in the name of Islam." He also pledged allegiance to ISIS.
When I heard about the attack, the first thing I thought about was Sean Collier, the MIT police officer ambushed in his cruiser by the Boston Marathon bombers.
Fortunately, Officer Hartnett has not met Collier's fate. Despite being shot in the arm multiple times, Officer Hartnett was able to return fire and hit the suspect before he was detained by other officers.
I watched the "Guns in America" Town Hall Meeting on CNN which was hosted by Anderson Cooper featuring President Obama. Here are five observations.
1. At the top of the show, Cooper admitted that CNN approached the Obama White House about doing this town hall after the San Bernardino attacks. So even though the San Bernardino attacks were a result of Islamic terrorism, CNN nevertheless approached the Obama Administration with the idea of having a town hall meeting about gun control and the Obama White House enthusiatically agreed. It once again demonstrates that CNN and the Obama Administration share the same political objectives. It also demonstrates that Obama and CNN would rather talk about anything other than Islamic terrorism. Of course, when it comes to President Obama the words Islamic and terrorism will never collide in the same sentence.
Actor Pat Harrington, Jr. passed away yesterday of complications from Alzheimer's Disease. He was 86.
Following his father's footsteps into acting, Harrington is best remembered for his portrayal of Schneider, the mustachioed maintenance man on the CBS comedy One Day at a Time from 1975 to 1984. The Schneider character was popular enough that there was consideration of giving Harrington a spinoff show, but this never came to fruition.
The world has lost an important conservative voice, an elegant and wickedly funny writer, and a true American character with the passing Wednesday of Florence King. Miss King (and woe be to the poor sod who addressed her as Ms. King, or as Florence without an invitation to do so) was 80. She died in her long-time home of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Florence King was a conservative, but hardly a standard issue one. Her view of the world tended to the curmudgeonly, and she often described herself politically as a royalist. She had no patience with populist foolishness and no delusions about the weak timber of mankind. Her column, which ran for years in National Review, was called “The Misanthrope’s Corner.” She deployed no euphemisms, which she called verbal stool softeners. Her work appeared in other conservative publications, including, I’m happy to say, The American Spectator.
If there was any question, up until now, as to whether Donald Trump's support had finally reached critical mass and may not be enough to earn him Iowa, I think you've finaly gotten an answer. Over the weekend, as polls showed Ted Cruz taking the lead among likely Iowa Caucus voters, Donald Trump started making hay about Cruz's eligibility to run for President. He hasn't quite accused Cruz of being a Kenyan Muslim imposter with designs on an American dictatorship quite yet, but he's suggested that Cruz might want to obtain a declaratory judgment on what it means to be a "natrual born citizen" before things go too far. After all, it would be a shame if something were to happen to that Presidential campaign you've got there.