Thursday, May 10, 2012

The media and Barack Obama’s Pauline Kael moment on gay "marriage"

If you listen to Barack Obama’s statement to ABC News yesterday you’ll hear something not reflected in all the transcripts that went out yesterday. He said his administration gave up the legal fight to defend the Defense Against Marriage Act. It’s actually the Defense Of Marriage Act.

Obama claimed DOMA made marriage a federal issue and it should be a state issue. That’s a gross mischaracterization of DOMA, but for now that’s besides the point. Two days after major gay donors said they’d withhold funding from his campaign and one day before his swank $40,000.00 a person fundraiser with George Clooney, Barack Obama publicly reversed course on gay marriage. The Washington Free Beacon’s headline says it all: Gay For Pay.


But there is another angle to this as well.

Barack Obama and the Washington Press Corps, aligned perfectly on this issue, are oblivious to one overwhelming data point.

by Erick Erickson (read more)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Gold standard for all, from nuts to Paul Krugman

Nut cases. That’s what they are. And if you take an interest in them, you are a nut case, too.

That’s the consensus among credentialed economists who describe advocates of a return to the monetary regime known as the gold standard. In fact, the economic pack will marginalize you as a weirdo faster than you can say “Jacques Rueff,” if you even raise the topic of monetary policy in relation to gold.


But “all economists” is not the same as “all economies.” The record of gold’s performance in all economies over the past century is not all “terrible.” Especially not in relation to areas that concern us today: growth, inflation or the frequency of bank crises. The problem here may lie not with the gold bugs but with those who work so hard to isolate them.

by Amity Schlaes (read more)

Presidential Narcissism

Former president Bill Clinton just appeared in a reelection television commercial for President Barack Obama. At one point, Clinton weighs in on the potential consequences of Obama’s decision to go ahead with the planned assassination of Osama bin Laden. He smiles and then pontificates, “Suppose the Navy SEALs had gone in there . . . suppose they had been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him [Obama].”

There is a lot that is disturbing about Clinton’s commentary — and about the fact that such an embarrassment was not deleted by the Obama campaign. Clinton offers unintended self-incrimination as to why in the 1990s he did not order the capture of bin Laden when it might well have been in his power to do so — was it fear of something “horrible” that might have happened to his fortunes rather than to our troops? And, of course, such crass politicization of national security and the war on terror is exactly what Barack Obama accused the two Clintons of in the 2008 Democratic primaries. We also remember that Obama on several occasions chastised George W. Bush for supposedly making reference to the war on terror for political advantage, though he never did so in as creepy a fashion as Clinton. And aside from the fact that Barack Obama promised never to “spike the football” by using the SEAL mission to score campaign points, only a narcissistic Bill Clinton could have envisioned the death or capture of Navy SEALs not in terms of those men’s own horrible fates, but only as political “downside” for an equally narcissistic Barack Obama.


The problem with a narcissistic president is not just that he sees the world as all about himself, but that the world soon sees that it is not about him at all.

by Victor Davis Hanson (read more)

Fortunately, there is another Arab Spring going on alongside the drama in the streets of Cairo and Damascus. It is an explosion of start-ups by young Arab techies. Ground zero is a complex of buildings here in the heart of Amman. The site was built to be the headquarters of the Jordanian Army, but, at the last minute, King Abdullah ordered the army elsewhere, renamed the complex “The Business Park,” and declared it a special economic zone. The multistory army buildings now carry big signs that say “Microsoft,” “H.P.,” “Samsung” and “Cisco.” But it’s the building labeled “Oasis500” that really got my attention.

It’s where Lawrence of Arabia meets Mark Zuckerberg.

Oasis500 is an Arab-owned high-tech accelerator, looking to nurture 500 new start-ups in Jordan. It has dangled seed money for any Jordanian or Arab who wants to create a new company here, and, like a flash rainstorm in the desert, Oasis500 has already helped dozens of Arabic-content Internet start-ups to blossom practically overnight. Only 1 percent of global Web content is in Arabic today, but 75 percent of it is produced in Jordan. The Arab world needs to create millions of nongovernment jobs to satisfy its youth bulge. Alas, though, there are no employees without employers — high-I.Q. risk-takers ready to start companies — and that is what Oasis500 is trying to multiply, fast. Without this Arab Spring, the other Arab Spring will never last. There will be no middle class to sustain it.

by Thomas Friedman (read more)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Is this the end of "One Europe?"

How Europe's crisis resolves itself as yet remains unknown.

But with Sunday's returns from France and Greece, the mega-trends on the Old Continent are unmistakable. And for the European Union, they are ominous.

Nationalism -- be it economic nationalism or ethnic nationalism -- is ascendant. Transnationalism and multiculturalism are in headlong if not irreversible retreat. The European project is itself imperiled.

by Pat Buchanan (read more)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Jon Will's gift

When Jonathan Frederick Will was born 40 years ago — on May 4, 1972, his father’s 31st birthday — the life expectancy for people with Down syndrome was about 20 years. That is understandable.

The day after Jon was born, a doctor told Jon’s parents that the first question for them was whether they intended to take Jon home from the hospital. Nonplussed, they said they thought that is what parents do with newborns. Not doing so was, however, still considered an acceptable choice for parents who might prefer to institutionalize or put up for adoption children thought to have necessarily bleak futures. Whether warehoused or just allowed to languish from lack of stimulation and attention, people with Down syndrome, not given early and continuing interventions, were generally thought to be incapable of living well, and hence usually did not live as long as they could have.


Judging by Jon, the world would be improved by more people with Down syndrome, who are quite nice, as humans go. It is said we are all born brave, trusting and greedy, and remain greedy. People with Down syndrome must remain brave in order to navigate society’s complexities. They have no choice but to be trusting because, with limited understanding, and limited abilities to communicate misunderstanding, they, like Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” always depend on the kindness of strangers. Judging by Jon’s experience, they almost always receive it.

by George Will (read more)

The vanishing workers

The economy turned in another lackluster month for job creation in April, with 115,000 net new jobs, 130,000 in private business (less 15,000 fewer in government). The unemployment rate fell a tick to 8.1%, albeit mainly because the labor force shrank by 342,000. This relates to what is arguably the most troubling trend in the April jobs report, which is the continuing decline in the share of working-age Americans who are in the labor force.

The civilian labor participation rate, as it's known, fell again in April to 63.6%. That's the second decline in a row and the lowest rate since December 1981. That's right—more than 30 years ago, longer than Mark Zuckerberg has been alive. The nearby chart shows the disturbing round trip the workforce participation rate has taken since 1980 and the precipitous drop in the last three years.


Reversing this falling labor force trend is a major policy challenge, especially as more of the baby boomers retire. The U.S. will need more workers to finance more retirees. This will require faster growth and more job creation than we've seen in this disappointing recovery.

from the WSJ (read more)