Monday, April 22, 2013

Putin Wins, Obama Loses in Boston Jihad (new release)

 Pundits tut-tutted when a left-wing publication (see hoped out loud that white, anti-tax, domestic terrorists perpetrated the Boston marathon massacre. They had reason to hope: Wouldn’t backwoods, pick-up-truck radicals pick tax day for their strike?  What a disappointment to learn that the terrorists were young Muslim devotees of extremist web sites.

Such a liberal Wunschtraum was indeed in bad taste, but terror incidents do have political consequences, sometimes vast; so why shy away from discussing them?

The Oklahoma City bombing by white anti-government terrorists resuscitated a faltering Clinton presidency. George Bush’s performance at the ruins of the World Trade Center in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was the high point of his presidency.

Boston extremism should plague Barack Obama throughout his second term as it raises legitimate question about his handling of the war on terror. It will help Vladimir Putin remove the last vestiges of democracy and free press from his totalitarian Russia without a peep from the U.S.

The Boston Marathon attack undermines Obama’s claimed foreign-policy achievement (“I killed Osama and Al Qaeda is on the run.”) on which he based his campaign. A newsman as respected as Tom Brokaw refuted Obama in clear words (on Meet the Press)  that could not be misunderstood: “With the death of Osama Bin Laden, Islamic rage did not go away. In fact, it is in some ways more dangerous.”

Imagine the effect of a Brokaw making such a statement on the eve of the election, but Obama no longer has to face the electorate. He is home safe.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Maggie’s Critics Each Owe her $3,000

England yesterday laid to rest former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with pomp and circumstances not seen since the Queen Mom’s funeral of 2002. Thatcher’s detractors turned their backs to her passing coffin, held signs “Rest in Shame,” and pushed the song “Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is Dead” to the top of the charts.

Margaret Thatcher’s enemies will never forgive her for breaking the unions’ stranglehold, for her support of budgetary discipline, her privatization of England’s decaying state companies, and for deregulation. Her detractors will not forgive her alliance with Ronald Reagan against the USSR’s evil empire. They will not forgive her support of the first war against Saddam Hussein.

Thatcher’s detractors will never concede that she reversed England’s fifty years decline as the “sick man of Europe” and restored her country to the top ranks of world economic powers.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Korean Unification: Do Not Be Surprised If It Comes Soon

The most significant geopolitical events of the past half century have been unanticipated. Not that we did not expect them, but they were supposed to happen in the distant future, not now.  The North Korean regime could collapse in the same unexpected way, leaving shocked politicians, diplomats, and pundits to fend with its consequences.

While it is comforting to believe that predictable rational calculation and self interest determine the course of human events, the timing of the most significant changes in the world order is  heavily influenced by chance, personalities, emotions, and miscalculations. We expect the two Koreas to muddle along in a shaky equilibrium that will result in the end of  the Hermit Kingdom in the distant future. A collapse of the North Korean regime in the near term would send pundits in vain searches of past writings for hints they saw it coming.

Unfolding events in the Koreas and their respective mentor states, the United States and China, resemble the run ups to the collapse of communism in the USSR and Central and Southeastern Europe and the reunification of the two Germanys. Few foresaw that both would collapse as abruptly as a house of cards. The intelligence community did not foresee the end of the USSR – an intelligence failure greater than its weapons-of-mass-destruction fiasco.  Likewise, it will likely categorize the near-term collapse of the North Korean regime as a “highly unlikely” outcome.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hunger Figures Show Massive Failure of Food Stamps (Or Fishy Statistics)

Statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Agriculture reveal that childhood hunger rates remain high. The U.S. Census Bureau calculates that 29.2 percent of families with children are “food insecure,” to use the agriculture department’s term.  Insofar as 32 million of the 78 million U.S. families have children, this means that some 20 million children live in food insecure households.  

“Twenty million hungry children” should be a shocker. We have expensive and pervasive government programs to eradicate such problems. We have a First Lady, who has put childhood nutrition on the front burner. “Twenty million hungry children” suggests a policy failure of massive proportions. How can we spend such money, effort, and treasure and still have 20 million hungry children, inquiring minds might want to know?

Speaking of cost and effort: Almost fifty million Americans receive food stamps (renamed SNAP). Some one half of these (25 million) are children. We spend $75 billion on food stamps, or $1,500 per recipient. Food stamps cost $4,500 per year to supply a single mother with two children.

Another 32 million school children receive free or highly subsidized meals at schools. The federal, state and local government cost of school meals is some $14 billion, or about $438 per year per recipient. For the single mother with two kids, free school lunches add more than $1,000 to her food budget.

Children living in poor homes are also the beneficiaries of federal aid to families with dependent children, subsidized housing, CHIPS health insurance among other things– all of which free up household income for purchases of food.

The headline: We have 25 million children receiving food stamps and 32 million children receiving school lunches. Nevertheless, we still have 20 million children who are “food insecure.” 

These figures suggest, by the way, that five million non-poor children are on food stamps and 12 million non-poor children get free meals at schools. Food stamps and free lunches have become middle class entitlements.

Either we have a colossal policy failure of our federal food programs or there is something fishy with the federal government’s measure of “hunger.”

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Infrastructure Gap? Look at the Facts. We Spend More Than Europe

Big government advocates seek to substitute “infrastructure” for the “s” (stimulus) word. President Obama’s State of the Union address called for $40 billion to fix the nation’s roads and bridges and also called for a federal infrastructure bank.  On April 29, he called for an additional $4 billion of infrastructure spending. $40 billion here and $4 billion there, and soon you have some real money.

To convince a wary public to spend more with trillion dollar deficits, big government advocates must gin up a national infrastructure emergency that threatens safety, jobs, and well being. Public spending lobbyists are ready to oblige with D+ report cards for  “aging and unreliable” roads, bridges, and ports. Big government advocates substitute scare tactics for the facts that our infrastructure is as good as Europe’s and that we spend more than the European Union on public investment. If we spend as much or more and have inferior infrastructure that is a political failure of untold proportions for which someone should pay.

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