During his trip to Burma, President Obama repeatedly mispronounced the name of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s democracy leader and heroine. That could happen to lots of people. Worse was Obama’s decision to refer to the country as “Myanmar” rather than “Burma.” “Myanmar” is the preferred name of the country’s longtime dictatorship; democrats call the country “Burma.” The U.S. government had always used the name “Burma.” Early in his presidency, Obama recorded a brief speech extending his friendship to “the Islamic Republic of Iran.” That is how the Iranian dictatorship likes to think of the country. The U.S. government had never used this terminology. President George W. Bush, for example, routinely called Iran’s government a “regime.” That Obama said “Islamic Republic of Iran” was a blow to many Iranian democrats. What’s in a name? In the world of diplomacy, at the highest levels, a lot.
In the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas, Iron Dome stopped almost 90 percent of the incoming missiles. Iron Dome is the Israelis’ missile-defense system. The success of this system has the Left in our country worried. “Don’t you dare think of further development here!” they say. Time magazine complained that Iron Dome was “being used as justification for more ambitious missile defenses.” Tellingly, the magazine referred to our program as “the U.S. fledgling national missile defense system.” This is a system begun in 1983. If it is still fledgling, it’s because the Left wants it to be that way.
In November, the state of Illinois moved to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, and in Chicago, Rahm Emanuel jumped on the bandwagon: “I strongly support state legislation that will allow every Chicagoan, regardless of legal status, to enjoy the rights and responsibilities that come with a driver’s license,” he said. The rights part is obvious, but the responsibilities? Advocates claim that the measure increases the number of insured drivers. Alas, this is historically untrue. In 2000, alarmed that 26.3 percent of drivers were uninsured, New Mexico started granting licenses to illegal immigrants. By 2008, that number had jumped to 29.5 percent — the highest rate in the union. Looking on the bright side, perhaps we can at least stop calling illegal immigrants “undocumented”?
In mid-November, a surprising 8–7 decision by the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated Michigan’s affirmative-action ban. The law, Proposition 2, was a state referendum that barred state universities and all other state- and local-government authorities from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to individuals based on race or sex. The court somehow determined that it is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause to have a law that guarantees citizens equal protection and treatment from their government. The Supreme Court may, and should, reverse, thereby setting down the principle that a constitutional amendment cannot mean the exact opposite of what it says.
If a business has more than 50 full-time employees but does not offer health coverage, Obamacare makes it pay a $2,000 fine per worker (with the first 30 exempted). So employers are cutting back on hours, workers, or both. Some Applebee’s, Denny’s, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden franchises have announced a hiring preference for part-timers over full-timers. Other chains, such as Papa John’s, will also hike prices. Liberals are protesting these businesses’ decisions, without reflecting on how they have been made rational by their cherished law.
“Our Walmart,” the union-financed anti-Walmart group, planned walkouts and boycotts for Black Friday. Our Walmart claims to speak for Walmart employees — “We envision a future in which our company treats us, the Associates of Walmart, with respect and dignity” — but most Walmart employees wouldn’t agree. Out of a work force of 1.4 million, only 50 or so Walmart employees joined the protest. Blame for Our Walmart’s failure lies with economic fundamentals. Many Walmart employees would be worse off if Our Walmart’s recommendations went into effect: Wages would increase, but many employees would lose their jobs. Customers would be worse off too: The bottom 20 percent of income earners spend 26 percent of their income on groceries, so Walmart’s prices — between 8 and 39 percent lower than competitors’ — offer significant savings to poorer Americans. Understanding of how to help the poor appears to be lacking in the company’s critics.