Chapman’s News & Ideas | Page 14

Advanced Sausage Making in Congress

The US House’s passage tonight of the $1.1 trillion “CRomnibus” bill to fund the government for nine months had bi-partisan support. But it saw defections from some conservative Republicans and a huge Democratic break from the White House (which had helped negotiate the bill with Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid). Nancy Pelosi, who had been on board, wound up attacking the bill, calling it “blackmail”.

Now a fascinating drama is developing in the Senate. Ted Cruz gets maybe seven or so Republicans against the bill while Mitch McConnell gets 38 or so GOP votes for it. But the real story is on the Democratic side. The GOP in Congress is more conservative than in years gone by, but the Democrats are far more liberal, too. So how many votes does the articulate progressive hope Elizabeth Warren get versus Harry Reid?

Consider: if Reid wins, the far left of the party becomes bitter. Warren grows in the esteem of the rank and file of the Democratic base. But if Warren somehow prevails, the “deal” probably evaporates before the vote is even taken, and excuses have to be made by Obama and Reid on why the bill they helped craft is now a bad one. Congress goes home, as the “shutdown” occurs over Christmas. But, like I said, in that case, it clearly would be the Democrats causing the shutdown, which would be embarrassing for the President. Of course, one should never underestimate the desire of the companionable media (NPR, the networks, the New York Times) to save the Democrats’ reputation through some slight of hand. One amusing possibility is that the Administration finds that a “shutdown” doesn’t mean, you know, a shutdown in any real sense. Read More ›

Iran Cheats, Obama Blinks

Iran is cheating already on it pledge to hold up nuke development while negotiations proceed, according to a lengthy report today by the Financial Times. The hub of activity is at the Arak plutonium enriching reactor.

Israeli spokesman Omri Ceren points out that President Obama helped persuade Congress to back off while he negotiated with the mullahs. The argument that persuaded many of the legislators was that the White House would not tolerate any cheating. You see,the President would be on it instantly.

At a press conference a year ago, the President urged Congress to hold back and let him lead the Iranians in negotiations. “(T)his way we can assured and the Iranians will know that if negotiations fail even new and harsher sanctions will be put into place. Listen, I don’t think the Iranians have any doubt that Congress would be more than happy to pass more sanctions legislation. We can do that in a — in a day, on a dime.” Read More ›

Rolling Stone Recants, UVA President Under Bright Light

Sensational allegations about a supposed rape culture at the University of Virginia that appeared in a Rolling Stone article unquestionably did great damage to the university. Now Rolling Stone is retracting the main theme, and more or less apologizing, as the facts about “Jackie”–a woman who said she was gang raped for three hours at a fraternity house–are dissolving. Students are not amused. They feel correctly that the student body has been slandered.

But that’s the students; what about the Administrators, especially UVA President Teresa Sullivan? So far, Dr. Sullivan says only that the story causes her to remain “more focused than ever” on the issue of rape on campus. Really? The school administration reacted with severity to the first story from Rolling Stone, suspending the fraternity in question and all others until January 9. There was no sense that it was interested in fair play or conventional justice. It apparently made no effort to ascertain the truth before it acted. Read More ›

“Lunchbucket Philanthropists” Stay Small, Give Big

Discovery fellow (and State Representative) Hans Zeiger, in Philanthropy Daily, December 3.

Give big by staying small
by Hans Zeiger

A few weeks ago, hundreds of philanthropists gathered for the Exponent Philanthropy National Conference in Washington, D.C. Founded in the 1990s as the Association of Small Foundations, Exponent Philanthropy consists of “donors, trustees, and philanthropic professionals who choose to give big by staying small, working with few or no staff to make the most of their resources.”

Small philanthropy is integral to the American civic tradition. It is certainly integral to the civic tradition in my hometown of Puyallup, Washington. I serve on the board of one small foundation, an offshoot of the Kiwanis Club of Puyallup that over the years has raised an impressive number of donations and estate gifts from club members, mostly to benefit children in our town. Many of the gifts are designated scholarships for local high school graduates. Recently we approved grants for playground enhancements in the downtown park, a scholarship program for minority students in our county, a facility upgrade at the local library, and support for the food bank. Read More ›

Venerable New Republic Now Less Venerable

I read The New Republic, the venerable liberal journal founded by Progressives a hundred years ago, and even under the new owner management of Chris Hughes, a Facebook billionaire, I find it stimulating. That doesn’t mean that I agree with it, but just that it is less predictable and knee-jerk left-wing than, say, the editorial page of The New York Times. Unfortunately, Chris Hughes, age 30, thinks print is on its way out and that the future of the magazine is digital.

On their way out as a consequence are the editor, Franklin Foer, and senior editorial writer, Leon Wieseltier. The latter has been an icon of TNR for ages. Read More ›

Mix Just Immigration Aims with Jobs for Legal Americans

For three decades there have been two issues that politicians regarded as so thorny they were best left alone: health care and immigration. The moving parts in each subject are complicated, and feelings run so strong that Presidents and Congresses long decided to speak only in general terms on the topics and otherwise leave them alone. Now we have seen what happens when one party (call it the President Obama party) decides to impose a health care solution. The clean up is still going on five years after passage of the misnamed Affordable Care Act and it will continue long into the future. Even more so, sadly, immigration. Fortunately, some critics are bringing up one of the veiled aspects of Read More ›

Tired of Living? Donate Your Organs

The Dutch are about to adopt a binding law to allow–no, encourage–the harvesting of organs of people who are euthanized. (They are way past mere “assisted suicide” in the Netherlands.) There are a number of supposed protections in the proposed policy to keep people from being pressured to die in order to donate their organs, but those protections are the sort that have a way of evaporating in practice. That is especially true once the elderly, sick and/or depressed understand–or are made to understand–that their seemingly unsatisfactory lives can be redeemed by premature death.

And, in some cases, the decision can be made for them. Read More ›

Have a Hobbit Party for Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday is a perfect occasion for reading The Hobbit Party by Jonathan Witt and Jay Richards, both of them Discovery fellows. It’s an amusing and sage guide to Tolkien’s philosophy as applied to modern times–to economics, for example. The distinguished Catholic priest/cultural guide, Fr. C. John McCloskey does the book proud in .

Ferguson Hysteria

There is a difference between news and hyped-news. The murder charge against a white policeman in Ferguson, MO, like the O.J. trial, the Rodney King arrest and the Travon Martin case in Florida,is an examples of media-induced hysteria. They are the racial equivalent of the death of Princess Diana that for a while transfixed much of the world or the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines jet. It’s of interest, but the total absorption of the media is owing to ratings, not significance. There are so many truly consequential developments in the world, including the world of American blacks–starting with stunted income and opportunity in a stagnating economy–that it is hard to credit the exaggerated emphasis on one highly equivocal death.

How Hillary Could Win

677px-Msc2012_20120204_408_Clinton_Hillary_Frank_PlittThere’s a widely accepted assumption in the media that Hillary Clinton has to move left in order to consolidate her claim to the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination. She gave credence to that assumption recently when she burbled fulsome praise for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, probably he most threatening potential rival on the left, and then made some remark about corporations not being responsible for their success.

However, while the left wing of the Democratic Party was her natural home in her early days of Saul Alinsky, Vietnam and Watergate, her most sincere and winning base now is the center of her party. She will get most of the feminist vote, no matter what. Even another woman, like Warren, doesn’t have her unbreakable record.

Plus–labor. The unions are very frustrated with Obama and the way Republicans like Gov. Scott Walker have trounced public employee unions in the states, while the Obama Administration sides with environmentalists on major energy and other economic projects. Unions can make a huge difference in Democratic primaries.

She also will inherit the Obama base among blacks, largely because she had it to begin with in early 2008, until Barrack became a likely winner. She doesn’t need to move left to get their support. Elizabeth Warren or any other likely primary foe (including Joe Biden) lacks her appeal.

And she has huge support on Wall Street, where she is known as the “candidate from Goldman Sachs.” The immense power of Wall Street in the Democratic Party is slowly dawning on the middle class and working people generally (how times change!). Crony capitalism is a certain theme for Republicans. But until the summer of 2016, Clinton could benefit from the backing of Wall Street and Hollywood–and swamp her opponents in fundraising.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have damaged the Democratic brand in many states–such as Appalachia and much of the Middle West–by pro-growth economic policies and hostility to Obama’s hostility to energy development. So Democrats in those states will be looking for someone who can carry the ticket–and it won’t be Elizabeth Warren.

A “Clinton Democrat”, therefore, might well try to “triangulate” (in the old phrase) by advocating for pro-energy policies at the same time as she advocated for “real progress” on alternative fuels. She could argue persuasively (and please her big business/Wall Street friends) by calling for more infrastructure investments–roads and bridges, etc. Indeed, she could please the “builders” and the environmentalists at the same time by calling for a gas tax increase tied exclusively to transportation’s unmet needs. She could call for a buildup of the military, even while pledging to keep the country out of “new wars.” Read More ›