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The Public Policy

The Known and Unknown of the Ex-Im Bank

By 4.30.15

(Editor’s Note: Debra J. Saunders is off. The following column is by Veronique de Rugy.)

Have you noticed that everyone in the top tier of Republican presidential candidates — Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush — has gone on record against a small New Deal-era crony agency called the Export-Import Bank of the United States? In fact, Sen. Rubio recently came out with all guns blazing against the bank, arguing that it picks winners and losers and shouldn’t be reauthorized once its charter expires June 30. Maybe their commitment to end Ex-Im cronyism and corruption will rub off on their colleagues.

There are several reasons one might want to let the bank expire. First, the Ex-Im Bank exemplifies the kind of government program that benefits well-connected companies by harming unseen victims. Over 60 percent of its activities benefit 10 large and politically connected companies — including Boeing, General Electric, and Caterpillar.

Political Hay

Hillary’s Appearance Is Fair Game

By 4.29.15

At the White House Correspondents’ dinner, Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong asked all media attendees to raise their hands and pledge that they would “solemnly swear not to talk about Hillary’s appearance because that is not journalism.” It was a joke but also something more.

It was part of a growing multitude of demands made by Hillary supporters of what is and what is not appropriate to say about their chosen candidate. It also supported the notion that Hillary’s greatest obstacle is that infamous “glass ceiling” of gender bias that has denied a woman the ultimate seat of power in the White House.

Strong’s chastisement was, of course, met with loud and prolonged cheers. Media members and their celebrity guests, the two most appearance-obsessed demographics in the United States (something a follow-up joke by Strong alluded to), cheered the sentiment. The audience consensus was clear — Hillary’s personal appearance was off limits because any such observations were proof of sexist, patriarchal bias.

The Oregon Trial

This Is Your Brain on Cover Oregon: Any Questions?

By 4.29.15

“Everyone knows Custer died at Little Big Horn. What this book presupposes is: maybe he didn’t.”

It is a tale told by a madman: Eli Cash in the Wes Anderson movie The Royal Tenenbaums. But the leap that it describes — from what we think we know to a reality that is a total, brain bending contradiction — is a little more understandable for folks who spend too long contemplating the bonkers political situation in the State of Oregon these days. The true story just might be stranger than anything we could have made into fiction.

When, the federal government’s website for Obamacare, launched on October 1, 2013, it was a laughingstock. Saturday Night Live joked that only six people could be on the site at one time. That turned out to be the exact same number of people who managed to sign up the first day. Jon Stewart challenged DHHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius to a contest: “I’m going to try and download every movie ever made, and you’re going to try to sign up for Obamacare, and we’ll see which happens first.”

The Marital Spectator

Justice Kennedy’s America

By 4.29.15

What Justice Kennedy regards as liberty, America’s founding fathers considered license. Casting license as liberty increasingly defines modern America, as it hurtles toward the full embrace of all things unnatural.

The founding fathers saw liberty as a gift from God, with limits set by God. For Justice Kennedy, willful man, not God, determines liberty. Whatever humans deem liberty, no matter how obviously it repudiates God’s order of creation, is liberty. Kennedy spelled this out in his famous description of abortion rights.

“These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the 14th Amendment,” he wrote. “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the state.”

The Obama Watch

The Affordable Prayer Act of 2015

By 4.29.15

The Supreme Court will soon decide the legality of federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in states without their own insurance exchanges. While the administration awaits the ruling, it quietly seeks to undo the damage from the previous challenge to the ACA heard by the Court. In that decision, the Court ruled that ACA’s required contraceptive coverage violates the religious freedom of closely held companies whose owners oppose certain birth control measures on religious grounds.


Unwelcome Back, Carter

By 4.29.15

The position of former President has always been a revered and exalted one in the United States, ever since George Washington did his Cincinnatus impression and retired to his… well, sort of like a farm. Later Presidents wrote good books (like Grant and Coolidge) or bad books (like Clinton) and did good works (like Nixon) or bad works (like Clinton.) Or they could paint funny watercolor self-portraits like George W. Bush.

Indeed, such was the esteem in which Americans held Jimmy Carter that they promoted him to the august role of former President after a single term in office! He left the White House on January 20, 1981, to be welcomed by the lusty cheers of a grateful nation.

Men and women of a certain age recall Jimmy’s tenure as Chief Executive with a shudder, often accompanied by a cold sweat. It is hard to communicate to the younger generation how different life was in those halcyon days. Back then you bought a home by signing a mortgage in the range of fifteen percent. Yes, you heard right, fifteen! That is a mere five times the current rate. You can imagine how much fun life was in that environment.

Special Report

Hang Down Your Head, Debbie Dooley

By 4.29.15

If you’ve ever got to teach a kid the meaning of non sequitur, remember this assertion by one Debbie Dooley, Tea Party eccentric and advocate for solar energy:

Support solar energy, because Americans for Prosperity (AFP) says you shouldn’t, and “they refuse to take a position on the fiscal irresponsibility of illegal immigration and amnesty because their corporate benefactors support open borders and amnesty.”

The best I can figure is that Dooley’s actually Andy Kaufman, returned to prank the Tea Party: “Vote solar. Because Mexicans.”

There’s a ballot initiative campaign underway in Florida to get the state to endorse and promote solar energy all the usual ways, and it’s well-financed by interest groups with national ambitions, including friends of billionaire Tom Steyer, so different versions of the fight are popping up from Arizona to Indiana.

The Current Crisis

Can a One-Percenter Lead the Democrats?

By 4.29.15

Does it strike you as an indication of a political party’s robust vitality that in a country of more than 300 million people that party has just one likely nominee for president? Notwithstanding the fact that she has at her disposal nearly a billion dollars, she is 67 years old, and she stands accused of committing at least one felony. What country are we talking about, the old USSR? No, we are talking about the contemporary U.S. of A.


Anti-Trust Law and Lawlessness

By 4.28.15

We all make mistakes and some of us learn from them. What is even better is to learn from other people’s mistakes, where they pay for those mistakes while we learn free of charge.

Many Americans who say that we should learn from other people, especially Europeans, mean that we should imitate what they did. That may make those who talk this way feel superior to other Americans. But let us never forget that the most disastrous ideologies of the 20th century — Communism, Fascism, and Nazism — all originated in Europe. So did both World Wars.

More recently, Europe has been belatedly discovering how unbelievably stupid it was to import millions of people from cultures that despise Western values, and which often promote hatred toward Western people.

Maybe that is a mistake that we can think about when Congress finally decides to do something about our open borders and our immigration laws that we refuse to enforce.

Special Report

David Axelrod’s (Ongoing) Commie Connections

By 4.28.15

Several times I’ve written for The American Spectator on the person of David Axelrod, the figure most responsible for giving America two terms of Barack Obama. My first piece was a cover feature for the March 2012 print edition, titled, “David Axelrod, Lefty Lumberjack.” This lengthy profile was followed by an August 2012 piece titled, “All in the (Political) Family.” Then followed still more writings on Axelrod and friends, particularly the new material I reported in my book on Obama’s communist mentor, Frank Marshall Davis.

These writings got a lot of attention. I discussed the topic a number of times in interviews. People were shocked, and they wanted more. What other skeletons lay in David Axelrod’s political-ideological closet?