http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/312771/hollow-republic-yuval-levin President Obama must surely wish he could undo the campaign speech he delivered in Roanoke, Va., on July 13. That was where he offered up the view that “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that, somebody else made that happen.” It is a line that could haunt him right to November, revealing […]
http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/detail/will-iran-take-over-iraq Although the war in Iraq officially concluded on December 15, 2001, in truth, the war ended some time before that. Despite all odds, the U.S. military subdued the years-long insurgency and defeated the Ba’athists, al-Qaeda, the militias, and the Iranian-backed terrorists trying to destroy a free country in its infancy. The most amazing fact […]
http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/detail/approaching-americas-moral-crossroads Who said this and when? “…it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and […]
http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/detail/dont-ask-dont-tell-for-muslim-brotherhood “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of man?” So began the introduction to one of the most popular radio dramas of the early 20th century. Later featured as a masked film hero dressed in black, “The Shadow” used his villainous traits to fight evil. The plot to each story played out to […]
Richard Landes: Romney Is Right on Culture and the Wealth of Nations
A 2002 United Nations report written by Arab intellectuals acknowledges the problems the Republican candidate pointed out.
Mitt Romney caused a firestorm last week in Jerusalem by commenting on the cultural dimensions of Israeli economic growth. Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat, correctly seeing an implied criticism of Palestinian culture, called Mr. Romney a “racist” and complained that Palestinian economic woes are really caused by the Israeli occupation. Analysts said Mr. Erekat’s reaction was a sign that Mr. Romney has disqualified himself as a broker for peace. The episode reveals as much about the dynamics of the Middle East conflict as about presidential politics.
In making his brief case, Mr. Romney cited two books: “Guns, Germs and Steel,” by geographer Jared Diamond, and “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” by economist David Landes (my father). As in other fields of social “science,” economists argue about whether development derives from cultural advantages or from natural ones such as resistance to disease and access to primary resources. Prof. Diamond, whose book focuses on societies’ natural advantages, last week wrote an op-ed in the New York Times emphasizing both culture and nature and trying to draw Prof. Landes in with him.
But Israel (which neither book examined) and the Arab world (which only the Landes book examined) illustrate the primacy of culture as both necessary and sufficient for economic development. Israel, a country with no natural resources, an economic backwater even in the Ottoman Empire, rose to the top of the developed world in a century on culture alone. The Arab nations, on the other hand, illustrate the necessity of a certain kind of culture: Even those with vast petrodollars still have among the least productive economies in the world.
After terrorizing the West for two generations, no one pays much attention to the Great Bear anymore. The latest unrest in Russia has merited a fraction of the headlines about the Arab Spring, Palestine or upset Muslims in Burma. The old journalistic guidelines used to be, “If it bleeds, it leads.” The new journalistic guidelines are, “If it’s not about Muslims, we don’t care.”
But the events in Russia are highly educational, not in their absurd specifics involving a female punk band and overweight thugs beating up people in their street, but in the glorious spectacle of what happens when a government mafia starts running out of money and the economy that it has been feeding off can no longer nurture its numberless ranks of official and semi-official parasites.
Most countries have their mafias, and by that I don’t mean the jolly grunters who run numbers out of basements or break legs over interest rates that even banks can’t charge. The government mafia is a web of mutual connections for mutual profit.
Say Ivan wants a construction contract. So he talks to Alexei, who knows someone in politics who can get him that contract in exchange for a bribe. That someone is Boris, who owes his position in a ministry of something or other to his friendship with Anatoly back when they were both junior KGB thugs whose fathers were also in the same business. Ivan gives some money to Alexei, who takes a percentage and passes along the rest to Boris, who takes a percentage and passes it to Anatoly who ushers in Ivan to see Vladimir, who is the undersecretary to the deputy minister of construction, who then demands a bribe that is twice as large as the cost of construction, but that’s okay because the bid is four times the cost of construction.
This is obviously a very inefficient system. In the United States, Ivan would be named John, there would be only half as many people to see, and the bribe would be known as a campaign contribution. And this is also why the United States has fewer bribes and higher taxes, because we don’t believe that government contracts should be handed out to unqualified people on the basis of bribes. We believe they should be handed out to unqualified people on the basis of race, sexual orientation or imaginary environmental crisis.
Our versions of Boris, Anatoly and Vladimir still have to make money. Our version of Ivan runs an NGO dedicated to building clean energy windmills in Ghana or underwater electric cars to feed the hungry in Oslo. Boris and Anatoly didn’t meet while badgering a frightened poet in a Lubyanka basement, but passing a joint at an anti-war rally that the KGB boys in the Lubyanka probably helped organize. Their fathers were both professors of radical history at Yale and have written well-regarded books on how the Founding Fathers only started the American Revolution to protect their monopoly on cotton. They scored the dough for the Ghana underwater hungry windmills by adding a 4 percent tax on gasoline, cough drops or tanning salons. It doesn’t matter because so long as the money exists, the mafia can keep stealing it one way or another.
http://pjmedia.com/blog/cognitive-dissonance/?print=1 A coffee house called the Second Cup I occasionally frequent has decided to go environmentally friendly, prohibiting smoking even in the outdoor courtyard parallel to a busy thoroughfare. The rationale, of course, is that secondary smoke is injurious to its clients’ health and that health comes before any other consideration. The point, naturally, is […]
Greg Sargent, a liberal columnist for the Washington Post, has written a remarkable column . It is remarkable most of all for its honesty in explaining what is happening on multiple fronts in the Obama campaign.
In 2008, the mainstream media was in love with Barack Obama. They had a collective thrill running up their legs. John McCain was stunned — he thought the national press was his base. But McCain was foolish to think that the national media would give him a fair shake if he ran against a Democrat in the general election. McCain got the good press only when he ran against George W. Bush for the GOP nomination in 2000. That was an easy call for the media. Bush was a born again Christian, a Bush (privileged), a Texan. He spoke with a southern accent. These are characteristics all worthy of contempt if you write for the New York Times or Washington Post. McCain was a maverick. He supported campaign finance reform. He did not always vote with Republicans in the Senate. So backing him versus Bush was easy.
In 2008, the national media effort on behalf of candidate Obama had several components:
1. Make him a more appealing choice (fresher, younger, uncorrupted by politics) than Hillary Clinton.
2. Condemn any attempts by Obama critics to examine his largely unexamined history.
3. Create an image of Obama as a man above politics, a uniter, a healer, a redeemer, a post-racial candidate (unthreatening).
4. Dirty up McCain’s record with innuendo about adultery and colluding with lobbyists, and portray him as a man too old to serve — unsteady, out of touch, a cancer patient.
5. Report all attacks by the Obama campaign on McCain as truth.
6. Destroy Sarah Palin, making the GOP ticket look too risky to voters, given McCain’s age and health.
In a popular public speaking college text, my students are enjoined to be honest in what they say because “public speaking rests on the unspoken assumption that ‘words can be trusted and people will be truthful.'” Clearly blatant contempt for the truth is one kind of dishonesty but “more subtle forms of dishonesty are just as unethical.” These include
* juggling statistics, quoting out of context, [and] misrepresenting the source of facts and figures
* painting tentative findings as firm conclusions
* portraying a few details as the whole story
* citing unusual cases as typical examples
* substituting innuendo and half-truths for evidence and proof
* defaming, demeaning or degrading individuals or groups and engaging in abusive language
Barack Obama “juggles statistics” by stating that unemployment numbers are down but neglects to explain that “167,000 people dropped out of the labor force every month.” Thus, if “342,000 workers had not been suddenly dropped from the labor force meaning the size of the labor force was the same as March 2012, then the unemployment rate would have risen two tenths to 8.4%. Or, if the labor force were the same size as when Obama took office, [the unemployment rate] would be a staggering 11.1%.” In fact, the unemployment rate is meaningless since “some 5 million fewer Americans are working than when Obama took office.”
http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/columnists/70714/what-kind-support Much anguish has been expended over Jews who detest Israel so virulently they are in the forefront of the delegitimisation campaign. Such people were devastatingly satirised by Howard Jacobson as “as a Jew” Jews, who parade their identity solely to demonise Israel. There is, however, another group which is having a devastating impact on […]