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Another Perspective

Reform Ex-Im Bank, Don’t Abolish It

By 6.3.15

What can you say about a government agency that has allowed itself to be defined by its adversaries as bastion of corporate privilege? That it is a private ATM for the Fortune 500? That it is an institution established by FDR that should be abolished?

The Export-Import Bank of the United States has made itself an easy target for populist, anti-corporate forces. The aftermath of a grim recession adds fuel to the fire. In the absence of broad-based resource allocation and an effective communications strategy, Ex-Im Bank finds itself lacking support in Congress, including some of the GOP.

A Further Perspective

Seattle’s Big Dig Still Isn’t Digging

By 6.3.15

Look on the bright side, Seattle! If the big-bore tunnel to replace highway 99 has to be scrapped, the cement-reinforced completed remnant may make a perfect bomb shelter should North Korea’s mad dough-boy of a dictator ever act on his threats to bomb the West Coast.

I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I could do.

Seattle’s tunneling project is an arranged marriage for Seattle. Seattle’s voters rejected the project the one time it was on the ballot, but elected officials, playing the parental role, saw what was best, and arranged the union anyway.

The dowry promised was a new waterfront for the core of downtown, a bonanza of development possibilities, with parks, condos and car-free views all in the mix. Sadly, however, the marriage has yet to be consummated. The drill just keeps getting stuck.

The Obama Watch

Beyond the Brave New World

By 6.3.15

The speed with which the West has embraced all things perverse makes Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World look almost quaint. The moral anomalies of the West have far surpassed his imagination. The intensely reverential reaction to Bruce Jenner’s narcissistic self-mutilation would probably have struck Huxley as too improbable for fiction.

Given all the fawning over Jenner for his delusional preening, one wouldn’t be surprised if President Obama places a phone call to the former Olympian to congratulate him for his “courage.” For now, Jenner will have to content himself with a tweet from one of Obama’s chief advisers, Valerie Jarrett, in which she said, “The brave choice to live as your authentic self is a powerful example to so many.” That bravery seems to consist of timing his claimed gender change to the exact moment it would generate the least amount of criticism and garner the highest ratings for his upcoming reality show.

Another Perspective

Gay-Marriage Conservatives?

By 6.3.15

Speaking on Fox News Channel’s The Five, pundit Greg Gutfeld said that “gay marriage, in my opinion, is a conservative idea.” He noted that the left “generally hates traditions” and is all about “breaking with traditions,” and that gay marriage offers conservatives an opportunity to “embrace a tradition” that strengthens families and communities.

I should acknowledge that Gutfeld spoke without notes, unscripted, live and off-the-cuff. I often talk with inexactness when I’m speaking live. Live speaking is a perfect venue to make mistakes. It’s easier to type your thoughts and have the benefit of reflection, revision, and a word processor.

That said, let’s go with Gutfeld’s words, because they do represent a position held by some conservatives, and especially younger conservatives.

With all respect to Greg Gutfeld, who I usually agree with, gay marriage is absolutely not a conservative idea. Not unless, as liberals do with marriage, one redefines conservatism.

The Current Crisis

The Future of Identity Politics

By 6.3.15

Are American voters still suckers for identity politics? Have they not learned that character matters more to leadership than some random physical trait, say: race, color, or creed? Did Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s race help him win World War II? Did Ronald Reagan’s creed help him win the Cold War? What was his creed?

Ben Stein's Diary

Marijuana Is a Cancer

By 6.2.15

Sunday–Last Day of May
Rancho Mirage. It is so unbelievably hot here it’s well, it’s unbelievable. That’s how hot it is. 106 degrees with no breeze at all.

I am not at all sure why we are even here, but the son of a close relative is visiting and he had expressed an interest in playing golf. We have a super course here at the Club at Morningside and we might have played a few holes but it’s far too hot now. It is heat stroke, sunstroke weather. Cruel.

As I drove our guest to dinner, on my disk of Civil War songs, what should we hear but the stirring strains of “Dixie.” Our guest, age 27, a family man who had gone to college in the deep, rural south, and who now lives in the deep, semi-rural south, had no idea of what the song was or what it represented. None at all.

The Obama Watch

Reinstating Sanctions Against Iran Won’t Be a Snap

By 6.2.15

In an interview which aired on Israel's Channel 2 over the weekend, President Obama effectively ruled out military action against Iran and defended the ongoing P5 + 1 negotiations:

I can, I think, demonstrate, not based on any hope but on facts and evidence and analysis, that the best way to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon is a verifiable, tough agreement.

A Further Perspective

The Thing Is, Lots of People Don’t Trust the Government

By 6.2.15

Do I trust the federal government? Hell no. President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice is happy to spend years investigating a foreign soccer organization for corruption and former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert for allegedly paying off a blackmailer — but not the alleged blackmailer — yet ignores big concerns. The feds have done next to nothing about the IRS targeting of conservative political groups, other than to defend IRS official Lois Lerner’s creative use of the Fifth Amendment when she refused to answer questions from House investigators. And when Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked in 2013 whether the government was collecting data on millions of Americans, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said no. Shortly thereafter, Edward Snowden leaked information that showed Clapper had lied. The very fact that leaker Snowden had been given top security clearance made the intelligence community appear reckless and incompetent.

Main Street U.S.A.

A Sense of Proportion

By 6.2.15

Evidence of the country’s much-vetted shift to the political left is the strengthening and spread of the movement to abolish capital punishment, that relic of barbarous times when we struck off people’s heads for, you know, social revenge. Sort of like what ISIS does. As we don’t want to be like ISIS, or the remaining repositories of organized revenge, such as Iran, we need to cool it on capital punishment.

So, in part, goes the argument that Nebraska legislators adopted in overriding their governor’s veto of a bill to abolish the death penalty. Nebraska got a lot of publicity at the time because there wasn’t much else going on besides the Texas floods and also, because of Nebraska’s being a “red” state, its action might be seen as auguring great change in the near future: a movement from revenge to mercy.

It is hard to be against mercy, whose quality, Portia tells us, is not strained but droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. Clarence Darrow made a similar, and successful, argument in behalf of Leopold and Loeb, the killers of 14-year-old Bobby Franks. Everyone favors mercy — in the abstract.

Political Hay

Martin O’Malley: The Great Deceiver

By 6.2.15

Martin O’Malley wants to be president. He wants the job so badly he’s apparently perfectly willing to re-write history. To just refuse to tell the truth. 

In his announcement speech for president the other day, O’Malley, the man who governed both Baltimore and then Maryland for years, stood in front of the cameras and practiced the political game of — there’s no other way to say it — lying by omission. Said the would-be president:

We have work to do.

Our economic and political system is upside down and backwards and it is time to turn it around.

What happened to our economy — what happened to the American Dream — did not happen by chance.

Nor was it merely the result of global forces somehow beyond our control.

Powerful, wealthy special interests here at home have used our government to create — in our own country — an economy that is leaving a majority of our people behind.

An economy that has so concentrated wealth in the hands of the very few that it has taken opportunity from the homes of the many.