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The Obama Watch

Things Happen

By 10.5.15

While the Administration quibbles with the Russians about whether they are attacking the bad guys or the good guys in Syria, the U.S. was busy attacking a Doctors Without Borders medical facility in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The air attack occurred in the early hours of Saturday, October 3, and lasted about 30 minutes. Nine Doctors Without Borders staff are dead and at least 37 are seriously wounded. And the casualty count has only just begun.

The Public Policy

Will Property Crime Uptick Become Crime Wave?

By 10.5.15

“Crime drops to new lows,” read Tuesday’s San Francisco Chronicle headline for a story about historic lows in crime statistics, nationally as well as in the Bay Area. I hope you enjoyed that headline, because it could be the last time you will read it for at least a decade. Though violent crime rates dropped in California in 2014, some property crime is rising. Some fear that changes in California law that have led to increases in property crime eventually could result in a rise in more serious offenses.

Free Market Accountability Project

Why the Next Speaker Should Tackle Patent Reform

By 10.5.15

Speaker John Boehner . will retire at the end of this month, and in so doing, will mark the decisive end of an era of Republican politics.

Boehner, who first stepped up to the plate to replace Tom DeLay, was in many ways a creature of the same Bush-era style of Republican politics. That is, a Republican politics dominated by special interests, carve-outs, and old school wheeling and dealing, or as George Will memorably termed it, K Street conservatism. At its best, this school of politics was pragmatic and able to form broad coalitions to tackle important issues and maintain Republican dominance. At its worst, it was, as Will wrote, a politics of “exuberantly serving rent seekers.”

Political Hay

Wanted: Two Conservative Communicators

By 10.5.15

It is nowhere written on the heart of man by the finger of God that the presidency is the only political bully pulpit. But John Boehner . and Mitch McConnell . don’t understand this. (Neither does Reince Priebus, but this is for another day.) This is why Boehner was obliged to give up the Speakership, and why a Rasmussen poll last week showed that only 22 percent of Republican voters want McConnell to continue as Senate Majority Leader.

Up In Arms

The Sounds of Silence

By 10.2.15

To Bibi, or not to Bibi, that is the question in today’s United States policy toward Iran. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortune of money being dumped into the Ayatollah’s coffers. Or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. To die — to sleep, and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation devoutly to be wished, at least for the suicide bombers subsidized by the terrorist regime of Iran. That sleep of death being inflicted so liberally, with innocent bystanders shuffling off this mortal coil prematurely, must give us pause.

And pause Bibi did. A preternatural protracted pause that made the evildoers of the world squirm, forced to listen in the silence to the eldritch shrieks of the demons in their souls. Provided of course that they have souls.

A Further Perspective

A Man Against the Machines

By 10.2.15

On Wednesday night Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly and pundit/columnist Charles Krauthammer debated the ignorance and passivity of the American electorate.

O’Reilly argued that polling showing Vice President Joe Biden leading every Republican in a hypothetical presidential election despite the same poll respondents’ recognizing that the country is on the “wrong track” demonstrates that Americans are “simply dumb, don’t pay attention, and don’t care.” He ascribed this cognitive dissonance to people who “don’t have to live in the real world anymore” because their “machines” can “obliterate reality” as drugs and alcohol once did.

Special Report

Planned Parenthood, Unplanned Hearing

By 10.2.15

Ann Richards was the state treasurer of Texas when she delivered the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Her claim-to-fame was this line about vice president George H.W. Bush, then running for president: “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

Her indictment of Bush was so effective that he won the presidency in that election. Basically, she appealed to the convention’s partisans, but her delivery came across to others as obnoxious. She helped inspire the Democrats to nominate her own Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen as running mate to Michael Dukakis. But she also said, “When we pay billions for planes that won’t fly, billions for tanks that won’t fire, and billions for systems that won’t work, that old dog won’t hut. And you don’t have to be from Waco to know that when the Pentagon makes crooks rich and doesn’t make America strong, that it’s a bum deal.”

Political Hay

Yes We Klan!

By 10.2.15

“The Democrat Party, of course, is the party of the KKK, of Jim Crow laws, and, perhaps just as bad right now, of servitude,” Dr. Ben Carson recently proclaimed on the campaign trail.

The best way to avoid saying something controversial remains to avoid saying something factual. Carson is too much the political neophyte to grasp this principle.

Neurosurgeons have a way of cutting through to the meat of the gray matter. Carson’s comment provoked thoughts. It certainly did not prick conscience.

Democrats, fearless fighters against hooded night riders now that they provoke laughter instead of terror, do not acknowledge their party’s history as the political home of the Ku Klux Klan. In a gross case of projection, they cast their political enemies instead of their political ancestors as the purveyors of state-sponsored racism.

The Hillary Watch

Misspeaker of the House

By 10.2.15

When House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy blurted out on Fox News September 30 that “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we [the Republicans] put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping,” he blundered badly. But that is only a minor quiddity of what is at issue with the murder of four Americans at Benghazi. 

McCarthy showed himself incapable of differentiating between a national security issue and partisan politics. His flighty statement was a gaffe, the kind of gaffe that ought to give the Republicans of the House pause in choosing him for Speaker of the House. Yet Hillary and the Democrats attacked him with higher ambitions. They believed that McCarthy had, in his boasts to partisanship, incinerated the whole object of the House Select Committee’s investigation. Of course they are wrong. Once again they have committed the generic fallacy. The evidence remains untouched to haunt Hillary’s tenure as secretary of state and now there is more evidence provided by Hillary’s own aides and printed in the Washington Post. It reflects badly on her character.

Special Report

Fear and Loathing Stalk the West

By 10.2.15

Civilizations come and civilizations go. While some prove capable of inner renewal, there’s no guarantee that any given culture will maintain itself over long periods of time. Today we continue to admire the achievements of Greece and Rome. As distinct living cultures, however, they’ve been dead for centuries.

Many of us think of civilizational failure in terms of a society’s inability to withstand sudden external encounters. The sun-worshiping human-sacrificing slave-owning Aztec world, for instance, quickly crumbled before Hernán Cortés, a handful of Spanish conquistadors, and his native allies, and, perhaps above all, European-borne diseases. Given enough violence, superior technology, and the will to use it, an entire culture can be seriously destabilized, if not swept aside. Yet ever since Edward Gibbon’s multi-volume Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, it’s been impossible to downplay the role of internal vicissitudes in facilitating civilizational degeneration.