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The Continuing Crisis

The Continuing Crisis

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

He is eating pizza far from the White House. He is downing Starbucks, slurping ice cream, and munching on burgers across America. Yet he is infrequently in the executive mansion and when he is, he is apparently asleep. He rarely addresses affairs of state. Actually President Barack H. Obama has almost given up on statecraft and returned to doing what he does best, namely, campaigning. In that he is like another of America’s political prodigies, former President Bill Clinton. As a species they have been denoted as Chronic Campaigners, and whether in retirement or in full presidential plumage they shake hands, josh it up with the crowd, or simply raise money. They raise a lot of it, Mr. Clinton for his various charities, the president for the Democratic Party and very soon for the Barack H. Obama Presidential Library and Golf Club. Yet before he enters upon that particular fundraising drive there is August to contemplate with a swell fifteen-day vacation in Martha’s Vineyard—fifteen days of glorious repose while our southern border is a chaos, Gaza is a heap, and Ukraine vacillates between civil war and war with Russia.

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About This Month

The Defiant Ones

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

We thought we had some breaking news. Shortly after the calamitous November 4 elections, the Washington Post quoted a top aide as telling a key Washington-based leader, “I said you need to accept blame. You need to be accountable for your actions. You need to be responsible. And he said, ‘You know what, I understand those things, I want to do those things, and that’s what I’ll work on doing.’” 

Except, it turns out, the blame accepter wasn’t our nation’s president. He was the Washington Redskins’ beleaguered quarterback, Mr. RGIII. He takes a beating every Sunday of the sort our president experienced on Election Day. For the record, that’s two midterms in a row our man has failed. Once again we see why he has never released his college records.

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Special Report

Protestants Should Heed the Pope This Week

By 11.18.14

Pope Francis has offered counsel over the last week that culturally adrift Protestants and Evangelicals especially should heed the timeless truths regarding human life intrinsic to Christian faith and organic to nature itself, not based on Christian scripture exclusively but available to all creation.

Yesterday November 17, the Pope, at an interfaith convo at the Vatican on the family called “Humanum,” robustly affirmed the divinely created “complementarity” of male and female, the unchanging definition of natural marriage, the family as an “anthropological fact,” and the “right” of children to “grow up in a family with a father and mother.”

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Political Hay

Immigration Law: What Difference Does It Make to the Hispanic Voter, and Why?

By 11.18.14

According to an election eve poll conducted by Latino Decisions, immigration was the top issue for Latino voters in this election cycle.
— National Council of La Raza, Press Release, Thursday, November 6, 2014

What is the truth in this statement now that we know that so many Latinos eligible to vote stayed home? If it was their top issue, then President Obama’s early September announcement to delay any executive action on immigration until after the election, presented them with two alternatives: vote to retain a Democratic majority in the Senate and to obtain a Democratic majority in the House, or stay home to protest. The voter turnout would suggest that they chose the second. And, the day after the election, the President said he “heard” the two-thirds (of all voters, including Hispanic voters) who stayed home. Accordingly, he has spoken constantly since then about issuing an executive order on immigration.

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The Obama Watch

The Name’s the Same — Aptronyms

By 11.18.14

Richie Richman is a name that perfectly describes the well-heeled financial position of Mr. Richman. It’s like the name match of Tom Crapper, the man who many credit with inventing the toilet. 


In fact, Mr. Crapper was a plumber who founded Thomas Crapper & Company in London and invented the ballcock, or float value, a mechanism that increased the efficiency of the flush toilet by avoiding an overflow or (in the event of inadequate water pressure) a backflow. 

Two other people with well-fitting names are Bernie Madoff, who made off with billions from defrauded investors, and Anthony Weiner, who left politics after sexting unseemly selfies and engaging in explicit online chats under the name “Carlos Danger.”

By way of definition, a person’s name that is regarded as amusingly appropriate to their occupation or passion is called an aptronym.

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The Public Policy

A Legacy of Liberalism

By 11.18.14

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said there were “phrases that serve as an excuse for not thinking.” One of these phrases that substitute for thought today is one that depicts the current problems of blacks in America as “a legacy of slavery.”

New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof asserts that there is “overwhelming evidence that centuries of racial subjugation still shape inequity in the 21st century” and he mentions “the lingering effects of slavery.” But before we become overwhelmed, that evidence should be checked out.

The evidence offered by Mr. Kristof in the November 16th issue of the New York Times seems considerably short of overwhelming, to put it charitably. He cites a study showing that “counties in America that had a higher proportion of slaves in 1860 are still more unequal today.” Has he never heard statisticians’ repeated warnings that correlation is not causation?

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Main Street U.S.A.

The Incredible Shrinking President

By 11.18.14

For two more years, two very long and, I’m afraid, discombobulating years, the United States is to be served by a president with the emotional maturity of — shall we guess? A 12-year-old determined to be noticed by everyone in the room? Maybe.

Barack Obama doesn’t care that his political party lost the election. He doesn’t care that his signature achievement — Obamacare — earns a disapproval rating of 56 percent in the latest Gallup Poll. He’s going to overhaul immigration policy by presidential decree while pushing his own ideas on climate change, in conjunction with the Chinese. He won’t commit to the Keystone pipeline.

What are we going to do? Impeach him? Send him to bed without his supper? One can’t think of an approach likely to influence the conduct of the most self-fixated chief executive, I imagine, in American history. Obama hears nothing he chooses not to hear, believes nothing corrosive to his self-image of brainy dexterity.

The best we can do, maybe, is ignore him. Don’t laugh — it may happen.

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Politics

Brit Hume Debates Brit Hume

By 11.18.14

Who doesn’t like Brit Hume? Outside of the anti-Fox foamers and the occasional cranks? He’s smart, experienced, and completely unafraid to speak his mind with considerable forthrightness and clarity. More than frequently he’s also right, something that can’t be said for a lot of people.

Which is just why his two Sunday appearances—the first on Chris Wallace show, the second on Howard Kurtz’s—confused. It was almost as if there were two Brit Humes debating one another.

Let’s begin with Brit Hume number one.The subject is President Obama’s impending executive order giving amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Wallace read a question from a viewer named Jim, who suggested that Republicans use the power of the purse to defund the implementation of the president’s executive order on immigration, as well as Obamacare. Send the bill to the president, who, of course, will refuse to sign it—resulting, presumably, in stalemate and a government shutdown. Hume responds:

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A Further Perspective

Stephen Harper Steps in for Obama

By 11.18.14

The events of the last year go a long way to explaining the nature of power. We’re used to thinking of power relations in material terms: America owns all the guns in the room, and therefore it’s the most powerful country in the world. But Obama has proven that military superiority isn’t the same thing as power, real power. What’s the use of having all the guns if you’ll not pull them out of your holster, or if you’ll do so only in stupid and unpredictable ways?

What’s missing from a purely material understanding of power is the spiritual element, the readiness to stand up to misbehaving thugs, the resolution to see fights through to the end, the right reason that avoids idiotic wars. Against the morally weak, the thugs know the difference between the two kinds of power. So did Winston Churchill. “We lose many battles,” he said. “But there’s one battle we always win—the last one.”

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Political Hay

Governors Under Seige

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

The math looks good. Very good. One can presume that when the American people head to the polls this November, the GOP will hold the House and perhaps strengthen its majority there. The Senate is a tantalizing six seats from Republican control, and Republicans have twelve prospects. In three red states—Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia—strong, experienced, Republican candidates are running ahead of second and third-string Democrats. In another four states that voted for Romney—Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Alaska—first-tier Republicans are challenging incumbents who vote in lockstep with Obama. And in another five states—Iowa, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, and New Hampshire—particularly strong Republican candidates could upset seemingly stronger opponents.

Republicans now have majorities in both chambers of the legislature in twenty-eight states, while Democrats fully control only seventeen. Come November, Republicans have a good shot at seizing control of the West Virginia House, the New Hampshire House, the Iowa Senate, and the Oregon House and Senate. There are no likely pickups for the Dems in state legislative bodies.

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