Google+

The Corner

The one and only.

The Latest Tweets from Team NRO . . .


Act of Thor



Text  



Today’s Between the Covers podcast is with Brad Thor, author of Act of War. We discuss his new novel, how his series hero Scot Harvath acts as his alter-ego, and how thriller writers stay on top of the news and keep their subject matter current.

Slouching Towards Post-Democracy



Text  



An interesting, if somewhat technical, story emerged in the EU’s parliament yesterday.

Let’s start with Euractiv:

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage this evening (7 July) blasted the three main pro-European parties for blocking his Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy MEPs from influential positions in European Parliament committees. At time of going to press (7 July), it appeared that the European People’s Party, the Socialists and Democrats and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe had teamed up to prevent the posts going to the EFDD.

After a secret ballot this evening, they rejected Italian EFDD MEP Eleanora Evi as chairman of Committee on Petitions, 23 votes to eight, instead electing Liberal Cecilia Wikstrom. They also blocked Evi, from Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement, from a vice-chairmanship. She said the move was “anti-democratic and immoral”.

EFDD sources said they had also been blocked from influential posts in the agricultural committee, which they blamed on the stitch-up between the three groups. The EFDD currently has no chairmanships or vice chairmanships in any committee.

To take a step back at this point, the ‘EFDD’ is the political ‘family’ within which UKIP is housed for the purposes of the EU parliament. The biggest of these families is the European Peoples’ Party (the EPP), the center-right grouping that, until a few years back, also included Britain’s Tories.  Being a part of such families (the bigger and the more pan-European the better) generates substantial procedural advantages within the parliament and also (I know, I know) can increase the amount of taxpayer funding available. 

Anyway, back to the story, turning naturally to the Shanghai Daily:

The composition of the committees, including each chairmanship, is carved up according to the D’Hondt system, a calculus designed to award posts in proportion to the number of MEPs in each political grouping that make up the EP.  Following last week’s elections in Strasbourg to decide who sits on the each committee it was thought that the eurosceptic Europe of Freedom & Direct Democracy (EFDD) group would chair the petitions committee, with the job going to Italian MEP Eleonora Evi, from Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement. This committee scrutinizes petitions from individual EU citizens but is more important in guarding against lobbying by special interest groups.

That’s not how it worked out.  The EPP, center-left S&D and ‘liberal’ ALDE groupings (respectively the largest, second largest and fourth largest ‘families’ in the parliament) agreed between themselves to ignore the D’Hondt precedent and to vote in that ALDE Swede.

Even ahead of this (secret: the EU parliament doesn’t do accountability) vote, the planned stitch-up had already outraged the Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA), a grouping, incidentally, with politics very different to those of the EFDD.

Shanghai Daily:

Danish MEP Margrete Auken, the Greens spokesperson on the committee, said: “Excluding any political group from a committee chairmanship to which it is due under the established system for fairly distributing these posts would be a blow to the democratic process in the EU Parliament. This goes beyond petty politicking to the heart of European democracy.” 

 Auken added that it was all the more important for the petitions committee, given its role in defending rules and rights and “standing up to interference by special interests”.

 ”The candidate nominated by the EFDD group appears to have all the qualifications and the right approach to adequately exercise this duty,” the Danish MEP continued. “

Now, the D’Hondt system is a ‘convention’, not a rule. Legally, it can be ignored. That it has been, however, on this occasion and in this way, is telling. Not only are the EPP, S&D and ALDE sending a clear signal to Europe’s increasing number of euroskeptic voters that their opinions simply don’t count, but they are also revealing something else: that their loyalty to the construction of a European superstate transcends the allegedly distinct ideologies for which they are meant to stand. In that connection, it’s worth remembering that the ‘center-right’ EPP and the ‘center-left’ S&D voted together some 75 percent of the time in the last EU parliament, as indeed, you would expect oligarch parties to do.

And so, once again, we turn wearily to the last lines of Animal Farm:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

The idea that this structure can be reformed is idiocy. Pretending that it can be is deceit. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Krauthammer’s Take: Hillary Clinton Will Have to Make Her Campaign about Bill’s Administration, Not Obama’s



Text  



Hillary Clinton must balance her presidential campaign strategy between defending President Obama’s foreign policy decisions as his former secretary of state and distancing herself from him since his approval ratings have been down.

She may be cautious about throwing him under the bus, but Charles Krauthammer said Monday on a Fox News Special Report, “I think she ran over him in neutral, and she is staying right on top of him.”

Krauthammer believes Clinton’s strategy is “obvious and clear,” saying her previous position as secretary of state is detrimental to her campaign from a historical perspective, so she will piggyback on her husband Bill Clinton’s past administration.

She can point to the prosperity and peace characterizing the decade of Bill Clinton’s presidency, implying a similar forecast for her potential term. Whether the glory of the 90s was due to her husband is “irrelevant” for this implicit message, Krauthammer explained.

Web Briefing: July 11, 2014

State Dept: Hamas Does Not Have Role in Palestinian Government



Text  



State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says that the White House does not believe that Hamas plays a role in the Palestinian Authority’s current government. 

The Palestinian Authority formed a new government on June 2, drawing no cabinet ministers from Hamas but gaining the Islamist militant group’s backing for the PA’s president, Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and does not recognize Israel, is identified as a terrorist organization by both Israel and the U.S. 

CNN reporter Elise Labott asked Psaki about the government’s continued backing of the PA. ”Now that the U.S. has, in effect, kind of accepted the fact that Hamas is now in this unity government,” she said, “you would think that as leader of this unity government, it would be incumbent on President Abbas to rein in or take — you know, try and maintain some kind of control over the activities of Hamas.” 

Psaki replied that the State Department has stated from the very start that they would judge the PA “by its actions, composition and policies.” She continued, “Based on what we know now, it hasn’t changed. We don’t believe that Hamas plays a role in the government.”

Labott said that, though it is possible that as a technicality Hamas does not play a role, the unity government does indeed include Hamas. She asked, “Now does President Abbas, more so than ever, bear responsibility for the actions of Hamas?”

Psaki said this was not the case. 

Within hours of the new government’s formation in June, the State Department announced that it would continue to support and fund the Palestinian Authority, to which it gives about $500 million each year, according to the Jerusalem Post.

ADVERTISEMENT

McDaniel Soldiers On



Text  



Down in Mississippi, Chris McDaniel is still fighting his race against Senator Thad Cochran. His lawyer, Mitchell Tyner, said Monday he was confident the campaign would turn up enough fraudulent ballots to swing the results of the election. Cochran won that race by approximately 6,700 votes and Tyner told reporters he “would be surprised if we don’t find 6,700″ bad ballots.

Volunteers on Monday began reviewing all of the ballots cast in Mississippi’s runoff election in an effort, weeks after the the conclusion of the contentious race, to show that McDaniel is the legal victor.

McDaniel has yet to concede the election. Tyner told reporters that among the ballots being reviewed are “several thousand” cast by ineligible voters. Mississippi law prohibits anybody who voted in the Democratic primary earlier in June from crossing over to vote in the Republican runoff.

The McDaniel campaign served notice on the Cochran campaign on Friday that volunteers would be viewing the ballots. If it does challenge the election results, it will first do so with the state Republican committee, which is set to certify the results of the race early Monday evening. Ten days later, the campaign can appeal for judicial review.

“We are surprised at the amount of evidence that continues to come forward that shows us that there has indeed been election fraud in this case,” Tyner said.

Tyner hasn’t always been a Cochran foe: A former Republican gubernatorial candidate — he lost a primary to Haley Barbour — he still features a picture of himself with Cochran on his website.

Of Gossip, Saints, and Summer Reading



Text  



Margery Kempe (1373–1438) deserves to be rediscovered, to have her consequential life recounted in an entertaining and thoughtful way, and to be considered for saintly recognition as the intercessor for gossip victims. The first two are accomplished, and the latter advanced strongly, in Skirting Heresy: The Life & Times of Margery Kempe, by Fox Business Network journalist Elizabeth MacDonald. I’ve just polished off this biography-of-sorts: It’s a fascinating work.

As saints (Anglican) go, Kempe is one (her feast day is November 9 — I’d be remiss if I didn’t note it’s also the embarkation date of the next NR Cruise), and a case could be made for her joining the Roman Calendar. But her recognized sanctity aside, Kempe is a remarkable figure: a mother (14 children before she became a professed celibate); businesswoman (failed brewer); author (albeit dictated) of the first English-language autobiography; pious Catholic, mystic, and visionary who had multiple interactions with Christ; controversial public figure (Margery was afflicted by profound public tears and sorrow owing to her communion with the Lord’s sufferings); humiliated victim of savage gossip (often from fellow parishioners who detested her waterworks); and, as the Reformation began its first rumblings, a defier of clerical blackguards and arrogant politicians (several of whom tried this contemporary of St. Joan of Arc, but failed to see her sentenced to flames).

The trials, pilgrimages, weeping, and relentless uproar that surrounded Kempe is all very much brought to life by MacDonald, a gifted writer and story-teller who admittedly takes liberties with centuries-later scene-setting (“As yellow, red, and orange leaves fell slanted in droves . . . ”). But it’s all very believable, and even inspiring. MacDonald (the slightest of acquaintances) is on a quest with Kempe — to see her positioned and recognized as the Patroness of gossip victims. That there isn’t already a saint to invoke for this common affliction is shocking; obviously, MacDonald is on to something. And at a time when you’d expect a book by a well-known Fox journalist to be about “Why Obama Is Destroying . . . ” or “How the Far Left Has Screwed Up . . . ” — and definitely not about some important but largely forgotten medieval mystic — well, that’ll make you take notice. If you want a very different summer read, quick and engaging, about someone important, about something important, you should pick up Skirting Heresy.​

Will Gay Couples Divorce More than Straight Ones? (And Will We Even Be Allowed to Study It?)



Text  



Over at the Power Line blog, my former AEI colleague Steve Hayward notes that the first same-sex divorce in the state of Indiana occurred a couple of weeks ago. Will gay couples end up divorcing at higher rates than straight couples? Steve justifiably wonders whether American social scientists will be willing to study the durability of same-sex relationships, given the witch-hunting of Mark Regnerus and others who have published data that paint such relationships in a negative light.

Since Steve also cites the kerfuffle over my own politically incorrect research (on immigration), I might as well be the one to point to some of the studies on same-sex divorce in northern Europe, where gay unions have been legally recognized for much longer than here in the U.S. Although the research is preliminary, the general finding is that, yes, same-sex couples are more likely to divorce than opposite-sex couples.

The best study I’ve seen focused on Scandinavia, where same-sex civil unions — essentially marriages in everything but name — have been legal for about two decades. The authors had access to population-level administrative data that generated a sample size of over 1,500 same-sex unions. After controlling for age, region, country of birth, education, and duration of the partnership, male couples in Sweden were 35 percent more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples, and lesbian partners were over 200 percent more likely to divorce. Whether the couples had children made little difference in the relative rates.

Studies of unmarried “cohabiter” couples are less informative — I’m not convinced that platonic roommates have been adequately excluded from the category of “couples” — but the results point in the same direction. In the Netherlands, for example, researchers examined tax and population records to track the relationship status of filers, including 731 same-sex couples. The dissolution rate for unmarried same-sex couples was more than double the rate for unmarried opposite-sex couples.

A small study of British cohabiters found that, compared to married heterosexuals, opposite-sex cohabiters were 2.75 times as likely to break up within five years, whereas same-sex cohabiters were 5.25 times as likely as to end their relationship in that time.

There are hints of similar results in the American literature, usually found below the headlines of studies with small sample sizes. But, down the road, will researchers jump at the chance to publish large-scale comparisons here in the U.S.? And will they suggest their results have policy implications? Sadly, in this political climate, it might depend on which way the results come out.

Biden: ‘Tea Baggers’ Preventing New Gun-Control Laws



Text  



Vice president Joe Biden has disparaged gun-rights advocates as “tea baggers,” CNN host John Walsh told reporters today. Walsh, the former host of America’s Most Wanted, recounted that he bonded with Biden over the need for more gun control and their distaste for the National Rifle Association..

“I said to Joe Biden, ‘90 percent of Americans are for a responsible background check for a gun, and you know what this Congress has done? Not voted on it, not brought it to the floor, not introduced a bill,’” he recalled to reporters during an event for his upcoming program, a crime show called The Hunt. “I said, ‘They’re all scared shitless of the NRA, aren’t they?’”

“‘John, every one of them,’” the vice president replied, according to Walsh. “‘Because the NRA will run a tea-bagger against you. . . . They’ll put 5 million bucks against you.’”

Walsh made clear that he is a gun owner, but said the United States needs to do more to address gun violence and characterized himself as “the biggest advocate for background checks out of any gun owner in America.”

The Beautiful Game



Text  



I promise not to pepper the Corner with mail about soccer — we could be here all week — but, whenever I mention soccer in my column, as today, I receive some witty (or acerbic) notes.

Have a quickie: “I turned 69 in June and find that old age is a lot like soccer. One falls down a lot and rarely scores.”

Conestoga Wood CEO: ‘These Liberties Are What Make America America’



Text  



Anthony Hahn is president and CEO of Conestoga Wood Specialties, which, along with Hobby Lobby, gained a win for religious liberty in the Mennonite-family-owned cabinet company’s case before the Supreme Court on the last day of June. (Conestoga Wood was represented by Alliance Defending Freedom.) Hahn talks with National Review Online about the victory.
 

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What was your first reaction upon learning the news of last week’s Supreme Court decision?

ANTHONY HAHN: God is good! This was an answer to prayer and God deserves to get all the credit for this decision. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld one of our fundamental rights, the freedom of exercising our religion in all areas of our lives.



Anthony Hahn at work

KJLWas going to the Supreme Court just about the last thing you ever wanted to do?

HAHN: Yes, we did not want to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, but this ended up being the only option that we had.
 

KJL: What did you learn about politics, law, and the media during the course of your case?

HAHN: Well, I learned that politics could be very challenging and can sometimes get in the way of or stifle freedom. Our elected officials need to focus on the issues and not on how they can use the issues to their political advantage. I also learned that our laws that we take for granted can be challenged and even changed by appointed governmental departments or judges. I have learned that the media can blow things way out of proportion by not necessarily stating all the facts or not stating the facts correctly. I learned that you need to be careful what you say, how you say it, and to whom you say it. The media has a way of twisting things. In general, the media pushes an agenda hostile to freedom.
 

Keep reading this post . . .

Elizabeth Warren and Misinterpretations of Hobby Lobby



Text  



I cannot believe that we live in a world where would even consider letting some big corporation deny the women who work for it access to the basic medical treatments or prescriptions that they need based on vague moral objections. 
– Elizabeth Warren

Scrolling through my Facebook feed following last week’s intensely scrutinized session of the U.S. Supreme Court, I was filled with as much fear and anger as the next pro-women’s health, pro-women’s-empowerment advocate when I stumbled upon the above quotation by Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat.

Not because of the apparent lack of punctuation and scorn for proofreading exhibited by Warren’s meme manager — because Warren so dishonestly says the court would, as so many “progressives” falsely claim, systematically deny women the right and access to health care.

Upon further reading of the “8 Best Lines from Ginsburg’s Dissent on the Hobby Lobby Contraceptive Decision,” I discovered still more startling “facts,” such as the idea that “the exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would . . . deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage.” 

Legions! It’s an all-out war!

Keep reading this post . . .

I, Car Elevator



Text  



I’d like to publish a letter that responds to an item in today’s Impromptus. First, the item. It concerns class resentment, which I despise. It’s so destructive, and so unnecessary — especially in a society so fluid and democratic as the United States.

A Washington Postie wrote,

Mitt Romney said it, and on Monday the Supreme Court upheld it: Corporations are people, my friend.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee was jeered when he made the claim in 2011 at the Iowa State Fair. But somewhere, perhaps in his $55,000 car elevator in La Jolla, the businessman-politician is laughing.

Here is what I say in my column:

He could be in his car elevator, sure. And more power to him. But he also could be helping people less fortunate than he, not just writing checks but giving of his time, and working with his own hands. Do his jeerers do the same?

By the way, can we expect the Washington Post to make wealth cracks about the Clintons? Or Al Gore?

One more thing: What Romney said at the Iowa State Fair was, of course, 100 percent true. And he was nervy to say it. He is an infinitely better man than his jeerers.

(For the above-quoted article, go here.)

And now, the letter. It comes from an American reader who has long lived in Scandinavia. He has a very solid understanding of economics and enterprise. He writes,

Do people think Romney burned $55,000 in cash while reciting some magic words in an incantation which resulted in the sudden appearance of his car elevator?

I’m sure there is a fair number of electricians, carpenters, masons, welders, engineers, architects, and not least simple laborers who are quite pleased that Mitt chose to spend $55,000 on his car elevator.

I am not much of a quitter, but I find it very hard to explain capitalism to those indisposed toward it — or hard set against it. I have better luck with foreign policy and defense policy. I myself was slowish to a basic understanding of economics. But when I got it — I was midway through college, I think — I got it (if I say so myself).

Socialism is seductive to the immature. And a sneering envy is one of the least attractive of all human qualities.

P.S. The heading of this post alludes to this.

Piketty’s Can Opener



Text  



I’m late to the party in commenting on Thomas Piketty’s best-selling book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. This is because it’s taken me a while to work my way through the whole thing, and then read the footnoted papers that back up the key claims that most interest me.

In retrospect, this turns out to have been a wise approach. In the past couple of months, significant controversies have arisen over both the data (especially with respect to wealth inequality) and calculations (especially with respect to returns to capital).

I have a longstanding interest in Piketty’s subject. I believe that the first thing I ever wrote for print was an attempt to describe why income inequality had become so extreme in America. Since then, I’ve written repeatedly about the related problems of rising inequality, the increasing cultural gap between those with and without college degrees, slowing middle-class wage growth and insufficient social mobility. I have argued – usually in conservative publications – that conservative thinkers, activists, and politicians have frequently downplayed such problems, and have implemented policies that tend to exacerbate them. 

I support many right-of-center economic policies in spite of this, because I view these negative effects as the bad side of a trade-off in which we must accept some amount of social dislocation in return for innovation to drive increases in productivity that, in turn, drives long-run improvements in living standards for the broader society. I see managing this tension between innovation and cohesion as perhaps the fundamental task of domestic political economy in wealthy modern societies.

Piketty’s Argument
Piketty posits a simpler world. He argues that there is no such trade-off, at least in any practical sense that would drive policy decisions. 

I’ll focus on the case of America, and start by stipulating to all of his data. The work of claim and counter-claim that has arisen on the subjects of wealth inequality and returns to capital is useful and productive, but isn’t very relevant to the causes of rising inequality to date in the United States. The American super-wealthy are not primarily living off returns to capital; they are mostly people who work for an extremely lucrative living. Piketty is direct about this, saying:

Let me return now to the causes of rising inequality in the United States. The increase was largely the result of an unprecedented increase in wage inequality and in particular the emergence of extremely high remunerations at the summit of the wage hierarchy, particularly among top managers of large firms.

He dubs these people the “supermanagers,” and points to the U.S. as the exemplar of what he terms “meritocratic extremism.”

Piketty then presents a straightforward solution to reducing the resulting income inequality: an 80 percent top marginal income-tax rate plus a progressive global wealth tax.

He believes that this increase in taxes would not affect economic output, saying that “the evidence suggests that a rate on the order of 80 percent on incomes over $500,000 or $1 million a year not only would not reduce the growth of the US economy but would in fact distribute the fruits of growth more widely while imposing reasonable limits on economically useless (or even harmful) behavior.” In fact, in this quote he hints that we might not just get a free lunch, but might get paid to eat as well, since such very high taxes would reduce only two kinds of activities: those that produce zero extra output (“useless” activities) and those that actually reduce welfare (“harmful” activities).

Tax rates are not the only thing that drives behavior, but the idea that you could institute tax rates at this level and have no impact on output is a pretty extraordinary claim. This is what explains his repeated insistence on a very specific mechanism that has created the so-called supermanagers in the US: In plain English, that large company CEOs and their cronies have gamed the compensation process.

Keep reading this post . . .

Edward Snowden and the NSA Are Two Separate Questions



Text  



In the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf responds to criticism of Edward Snowden. Snowden may have handed over thousands of pieces of personal information to a journalist, Friedersdorf writes, but this proves only that the NSA’s collecting that information in the first instance is problematic. The nub of his argument is this:

The NSA collects and stores the full content of extremely sensitive photographs, emails, chat transcripts, and other documents belong to Americans, itself a violation of the Constitution—but even if you disagree that it’s illegal, there’s no disputing the fact that the NSA has been proven incapable of safeguarding that data. There is not the chance the data could leak at sometime in the future. It has already been taken and given to reporters. The necessary reform is clear. Unable to safeguard this sensitive data, the NSA shouldn’t be allowed to collect and store it.

And, he suggests:

So long as [defenders of the NSA] insist that Snowden is a narcissistic criminal and possible traitor, they have no choice but to admit that the NSA collected and stored intimate photos, emails, and chats belonging to totally innocent Americans and safeguarded them so poorly that a ne’er-do-well could copy them onto thumb drives. 

This is fair. Certainly, one can’t criticize Snowden here without criticizing the NSA. But that doesn’t mean that one can’t criticize Snowden as well, does it? I’m with Friedersdorf on the general question of the NSA (domestically, at least), and, among the many reasons that I am is that the wholesale collection of citizens’ data allows rogue operatives access to material that they should never be permitted to see — among them, the likes of Edward Snowden. Now, Snowden may have had a good reason to collect and release that data. But he did not do so under duress. This was a choice, and there were presumably a considerable number of ways in which he could have made his point without having to release so many documents into the ether. Charles Johnson, of Little Green Footballs, puts it well, I think:

But even more to the point, and the reason for my headline above: hasn’t Edward Snowden himself committed a truly massive violation of civil liberties, by handing over these legally collected and properly redacted private communications to journalists — and to Glenn Greenwald?

Unlike Johnson, I am pleased that we know what the NSA has been up to. But I think it’s possible to recognize that there are two questions in play. Those are: 1) Should the federal government be taking all of this data?, and 2) Was Edward Snowden judicious in the way that he used that data to make his point? One can say “no” to the first inquiry without having to say “yes” to the latter.

Friedersdorf writes:

Snowden defenders see these leaked files as necessary to proving that the NSA does, in fact, massively violate the private lives of American citizens by collecting and storing content—not “just” metadata—when they communicate digitally. They’ll point out that Snowden turned these files over to journalists who promised to protect the privacy of affected individuals and followed through on that oath. 

Fine. But did it really require the information of 10,000 account holders and 160,000 e-mails to do that? I’m not so sure.

Scott Brown and Mitt Take on Obama and Shaheen



Text  



The Republican’s new campaign video. Very well done.

Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College



Text  



I’ve got a new Bloomberg article on the ongoing liberal freak-out.

Liberals should spend less time lauding the dissents in last week’s Hobby Lobby decision by the U.S. Supreme Court and more time reading them. If they did, they’d notice that some of their main arguments find little support — even from liberal justices. . . .

 

Reid Promises Hobby Lobby Legislation: ‘We’re Going to Do Something’ about It



Text  



Senate Democrats will introduce legislation after last week’s Supreme Court ruling that protected private business owners’ religious beliefs, according to Harry Reid.

On the Senate floor Monday, Reid was criticizing Republicans for holding up the confirmations of Obama-administration nominations, and listed a number of other pressing priorities he wants the chamber to take up — including addressing the Hobby Lobby ruling.

It’s unclear if Reid was proposing legislation to change the law at the heart of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which passed the Senate 97–3 in 1993, or whether he will propose other, related legislation.

“We have so much to address in the coming weeks,” said the majority leader. “We’re going to do something about the Hobby Lobby legislation we need to correct.”

Fox Hosts Talk Unaffordable American Dream -- Without Saying the Word ‘Inflation’



Text  



In a wide-ranging, six-minute conversation on Fox News Channel’s Outnumbered, five news personalities Monday explored a range of explanations for a recent study showing the “American Dream” had become unaffordable for most Americans — without ever once saying the word “inflation.”

The five Fox regulars were responding to a recent USA Today analysis “Price tag for the American dream: $130K a year.” The article has been getting attention because the figure McPaper came up with for a comfortable life is nearly triple the annual median income of $51,000. The Outnumbered gang considered a range of effects — including soaring education costs and poor lending practices in the government-supported real estate market. They also pointed to important deadweight losses for Americans, including high taxes and surging energy costs as a result of global warming initiatives.

But at no point did anybody refer to the monetary phenomenon by which the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States incessantly expands the supply of money, and as a direct result you end up paying more for less of everything until the day you die — and beyond. (Funeral costs are also skyrocketing.)

Inflation is widely claimed to be “moderate” or too low, even though inflation itself is an artificial creation of government, and the natural progression of prices against even a semi-reliable store of value is deflationary. (As was seen during the first 137 years of the U.S. economy, during which the dollar gradually increased in value while the economy experienced levels of growth and social mobility never seen before or since in human history.) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI inflation calculator, the dollar has lost 18 percent of its value since the beginning of the 2006 collapse in real estate prices — a severe and very unusual period of economic stagnation during which prices would have been expected to fall in a society governed by common sense. Over that period, the U.S. monetary base has increased more than tenfold, according to the St. Louis Fed.

The Outnumbered team did come close to acknowledging that inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. “You’ve got food prices that are back on the rise right now. The devaluing of the U.S. dollar. The buck doesn’t go as far these days,” said host Sandra Smith. “Everything is more expensive,” said #OneLucky Guy Brian Kilmeade.

The hosts were responding to an article in which the word “inflation” is also strikingly absent. And it should be noted that the quality of the Fox economic discussion was on a par with The Wealth of Nations compared with a similar segment on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, in which the hyper-expensiveness of daily life in America was blamed on factors including the Wall Street boom, corporate profits, a too-low minimum wage, capitalism, and lack of a “moral imperative for shareholders” to make the American Dream more affordable.

But it is stunning proof of how deeply Keynesian mythology is embedded in American thought that (even though polls invariably list “rising prices” or some variation of that phrase as the first or second most important economic concern of Americans) the topic of inflation never comes up, even when people talk about how prices are increasing.

Tags: Inflation , Media , Fox News

Holly Fisher’s Bible and Gun: Two Instruments of Independence



Text  



I appreciated Charles C. W. Cooke’s post distinguishing Holly Fisher from Sherafiyah Lewthwaite, but it suffers from a fatal flaw: It uses reason and logic to rebut an internet meme about anything but. Truth be told, no sentient leftist would feel threatened by Holly Fisher if he met her, but most would be terrified to the point of incoherence by any true encounter with a woman like Ms. Lewthwaite. No, the visual comparison between a peaceful American intentionally trolling the Left and a vicious terrorist is all about shame and stigma, trying to place the Holly Fishers of the world outside the pale of civilized discourse.

It’s a very targeted shame, attacking two key instruments of American and individual independence, Holly’s Bible and her gun.

The Bible is by far the most important of the two. By embracing the truth within its pages, a person is guaranteed a spiritual independence that is beyond the reach of any earthly tyranny or ideology. Through dependence on God, a person is free from dependence on man, empowered to reject not just the shallow, scornful ideologies of the modern secular Left (an ideological paper tiger) but also the far more vicious ideologies of the jihadist Middle East or North Korea, where even now women like Meriam Ibrahim or men like Pastor Saeed Abedini have the God-granted strength of will to face persecution we can scarcely imagine. 

This importance of this belief is of course demonstrated by the Founders’ wisdom in protecting religious freedom as the first freedom in the Bill of Rights. Any state that stands squarely against the peaceful, free exercise of faith is doomed to fail. No earthly ideology can provide an adequate replacement for eternal hope, so a sustainable state is one that grants faith its rightful, primary role in the human heart.

The gun, while less important than the Bible, is still vital to the preservation of liberty. Not only does it mean that Holly can offer the first line of defense for her family, it also means that Holly — collectively with other armed citizens — acts as an implicit check on the growth of state power, rendering it far less likely that our state will encroach (like North Korea or Iran) on the deepest realms of freedom of conscience.

The Founders also knew of the importance of an armed citizenry, and recognized that in the Second Amendment. A state confronting an armed people is far more likely to remain within its constitutional bounds.

All of this is painfully basic. Indeed, it’s embarrassing to even type when most NRO readers have grasped these truths since grade school, but we live in an era when even the most basic truths are intentionally hidden from generations of Americans who are taught to scorn the Bible and fear the gun — often “taught” through the same kind of misleading imagery Charlie highlighted in his post. 

The Left can mock, shame, and rage all it wants, but the fact remains — if a leftist ever does encounter a Sherafiyah Lewthwaite, he would feel far, far better if a Holly Fisher was nearby.

Bill Gates Developing Contraceptive Pill That Lasts 16 Years



Text  



From The Verge, news of a revolutionary idea:

Instead of taking a pill a day, what if you could take one pill that lasted 16 years? That’s the premise for a new project funded by the Gates Foundation, which looks at innovative ways to deliver drugs into the body. A single smart capsule could release drugs into a patient’s body over the span of years, and respond to remote wireless signals if doctors want to alter or halt the treatment.

The most immediate use could be a smarter replacement to the standard birth control pill. The Gates Foundation project looks to develop a pill that would automatically release a contraceptive hormone into the bloodstream, lasting for 16 years or until it’s disabled by a wireless signal.

Perhaps conservatives should get behind this idea? It’d put the religious owners of big businesses in a difficult spot, to be sure. But, on the upside, it would likely guarantee electoral victory for the next hundred years. Let’s just hope that the override device isn’t running Microsoft Windows . . .

Pages

Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

NRO Polls on LockerDome

Subscribe to National Review