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Writing for Esquire, Stephen Marche describes Thomas Piketty’s confiscation manifesto in measured, restrained terms:

The term must-read has lost most of its urgency by this point—if indeed it had any urgency to begin with. When you see it in a review today, you assume it simply means the reviewer enjoyed the book, or that everybody else will be reading it and therefore you must, too. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a must-read in that sense: It’s at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, and everyone with an interest in politics or policy or economics is at least pretending to read it right now. But it’s a must-read in another, deeper, truer sense: If you want to understand the world, if you want to comprehend the mechanics of the forces shaping our time, if you want to know the political choices we face, you must read it. I cannot think of a more important book published in my lifetime.

…Occupy was a mess of old-fashioned ideologies infused with inchoate rage, and it produced no clear vision and no clear goals. Piketty’s book is much more radical. Never again will the idea fly that all we must do as a society is permit the flow of capital and leave entrepreneurs alone and everything else will take care of itself. Society requires collective decisions about how and why resources are produced and consumed.

Quite where this idea has “flown” to any significant effect in the highly regulated, highly taxed welfare states of the West is left unsaid. 

Chris Hayes Wants to Kill About 5.7 Billion People

MSNBC host Chris Hayes is getting an alarming amount of attention for his latest effort in The Nation, a stemwinder arguing that the abolition of fossil fuels is like the abolition of slavery.

The argument may sound forced, but Hayes has a logical premise that goes something like this: Socrates does not wear sandals; a potato kugel does not wear sandals; therefore Socrates is a potato kugel. It’s also tricked out with quasi-erudition and broad claims such as this one: “Before the widespread use of fossil fuels, slaves were one of the main sources of energy (if not the main source) for societies stretching back millennia.” (Busy old fool, unruly Sun!)

Hayes, who serves as an editor-at-large for The Nation, manages to make 4,600 words feel even longer, with overflowing adjectives (“obvious,” “ungodly,” “brute, bloody”); lethal compound modifiers (“heart-stopping,” “full-throated”); cascades of adverbs (“immensely,” “basically,” “unfathomably” “probably,” “literally,” and even “downright”). There’s a to-be-sure paragraph guaranteeing the reader that Hayes is not making a “moral comparison between the enslavement of Africans and African Americans and the burning of carbon to power our devices” — followed by another 3,600 words comparing the enslavement of Africans and African Americans with the burning of carbon. (Hayes is coy as to what devices are in fact powered by these exotic carbon energy sources — about which more in a moment.)

So how does it make sense to compare the use of hydrocarbons with the enslavement of people? Turns out it’s the One Percent again, still clinging jealously to their privileges:

To preserve a roughly habitable planet, we somehow need to convince or coerce the world’s most profitable corporations and the nations that partner with them to walk away from $20 trillion of wealth . . . 

The last time in American history that some powerful set of interests relinquished its claim on $10 trillion of wealth was in 1865—and then only after four years and more than 600,000 lives lost in the bloodiest, most horrific war we’ve ever fought.

That’s more or less all there is to Hayes’s case.

The virtuous cadre of fossil-fuel “abolitionists” will have to compel these fat cats to give up their wealth. And like John Brown and Julia Ward Howe before them, they can take heart despite the immensity of the task, because the toll of human suffering is right before their . . . because the horrors of the vile institution are clear to . . . because the conscience recoils at the sight of . . . Well, it’s kind of hard to say what the actual societal gain of eliminating fossil fuels would be, because fossil fuels are the main reason modern society exists at all.

Keep reading this post . . .

Tags: Global Warming

The Obama State Department Parodies Itself

U.S., EU, and Ukrainian government accounts have been using the Twitter hashtag “#UnitedforUkraine” in the messages they broadcast on the social network about the situation between Russia and Ukraine (see some examples). Today, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Twitter account started using it in their messages too. Like this one, relaying a quote from John Kerry’s hockey buddy and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov:

In total seriousness, the State Department’s top spokesman expressed hope that this might be a breakthrough, representing a kind of commitment from the Russians (rather than, you know, a joke):

But at today’s State press briefing today, when Psaki was asked about how Russia has adopted #UnitedforUkraine, she was less sanguine. ”I don’t think they’re living by their hashtag,” she said. Now that’s cringeworthy — nearly perfect public diplomacy undone by inconsistency, a messaging mistake as old as the ages.

Perhaps that issue was less important when Psaki’s tweet was part of a coordinated show of force by the U.S., with another State Department official deploying another social network around the same time:

Because one might easily ask: How many selfies does the hashtag have?

April 24, 2014

Krauthammer’s Take: Bundy Turned Into A ‘Conservative Hero’ Too Quickly

Conservative commentators were out in force Thursday to denounce Cliven Bundy’s comments about race, and Charles Krauthammer followed suit on Special Report earlier this evening.

“It isn’t enough to say I don’t agree with what he said. This is a despicable statement. You have to disassociate yourself entirely from the man. It’s not like the words exist here and the man exists here,” he said.

Krauthammer noted that Bundy doesn’t recognize the authority of the United States of America, and asked why that makes him a patriot to some people.

“I love this country, I love the constitution, and it’s the constitution that established the government that all of us have to recognize. And for him to reject it was the beginning of all of this,” he said.

Krauthammer warned against making a “conservative hero” out of someone who simply takes a stance against the government. He suggest people “wait, watch, and think” before deeming someone a hero.


What’s Wrong with Piketty’s Answer To Inequality

A lot has been written about the new book by Thomas Piketty on income inequality. Let’s leave aside the question of whether inequality is really growing out of control as he claims it is, or the idea that the main reason inequality has increased is that the return to capital has been greater than the general growth in the economy (that’s the “r > g“).

I have an issue with his prescription that all that’s needed is a global wealth tax (meant to destroy some wealth at the top) to lower the rate of return on capital as a means of controlling income inequality. If everyone recognizes that people who own wealth are in a better position than those who don’t, and that this advantage is cumulative over time, why not try to increase access to capital for more people, especially for those in the bottom, rather than try to hammer the ones at the top?

For instance, while I don’t necessarily endorse all these policies, here are a few ways to improve access to capital for middle- and lower-income Americans:

  • Encourage more employers to offer 401(k)-style retirement plans to their employees
  • Encourage 401(k) automatic enrollment
  • Expand the saver’s credit
  • Reform Social Security to make it a system of real savings for every Americans (as suggested here)
  • Change the deduction for tax-deferred savings into a capped tax credit so that lower-income Americans can take advantage of the tax benefits of savings
  • Encourage more of the unbanked into banking (for instance, some have suggested allowing the Postal Service to partner with traditional banks to offer banking for lower-income unbanked Americans; others, like Jim Epstein at Reason, have suggested other ways to serve the unbanked, such as eliminating price controls and allowing banks to run lotteries.)

Again, I am not endorsing all of these, and I’m sure that there are many more ways to help middle- and lower-income Americans have access to capital and increase savings. Moreover, obviously having access to better-paying jobs (that doesn’t mean increasing the minimum wage) and increasing income mobility at the bottom would go a long way to helping with this problem too. How to do that? Getting rid of occupational-licensing laws and allowing low-income kids to get out of the dismal public schools by giving them school vouchers would also be important first steps. 

The bottom line: If capital is leading to inequality, then we should devote public policy to finding ways to remove the barriers to capital formation and saving that affect lower-income families, provide better targeted incentives for them to save and invest (not increase their level of personal debt), rather than distracting ourselves with trying to reduce the rate of return on capital, which will only hurt everyone. 

This won’t be easy, and it won’t appeal the soak-the-rich advocates. But it would have an actual positive impact on middle- and lower-income people in a way just destroying rich people’s wealth wouldn’t.

Chicago High School to Be Named after Obama

Some 300 Chicago students will soon be the first graduating class of the Barack Obama College Preparatory High School, according to new plans announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

On Thursday, Emanuel, who also served as the president’s first chief of staff in the White House, said the city plans to open the selective-enrollment high school in time for the 2017–18 school year.

The school will help alleviate the high demand for selective-enrollment schools, to which more than 16,000 students applied for just 3,200 seats. It will become Chicago’s eleventh such school.

In its first year, the school will enroll a 300-person freshman class, and add students each year until reaching a total of about 1,200 students, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Emanuel said the president is aware of the $60 million project and is “excited about it.”

The Forgotten Statute

My latest Bloomberg column notes that the kind of affirmative action program on which the Supreme Court ruled is illegal under federal law. The Court’s great mistake in this area was to rewrite the law back in 1978.

When there’s no need to decide what the Constitution says about a policy, the justices shouldn’t take up the question. And there’s already a statute that settles whether universities should be able to take race into account in admissions: the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

That law holds that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

These words are not tricky to interpret. . . .

NYU Jewish Students Targeted with Fake Eviction Notices

Students at a New York University dormitory known for having many devout Jews woke up to mock eviction notices slipped under their doors on Thursday morning, to simulate what pro-Palestine activists say Palestinian residents experience on the West Bank.

The mock notices were dispersed in Palladium Hall, which is the only dorm with a Shabbat elevator, which runs automatically to allow Jewish students to use it on the Sabbath without pushing the buttons. The notices, distributed by the university’s Students for Justice in Palestine, tell students they have until midnight on Friday to move out, according to the Times of Israel.

The group alleges that such notices are “routinely given to Palestinian families living under Israeli occupation for no other reason than their ethnicity”; in reality, Israeli authorities have demolished homes belonging to people who are thought to have carried out terrorist acts against Israelis. Additionally, NYU’s SJP joins calls for divestment from Israel by pointing out that university, the United States government, and other organizations invest in and aid Israel.

Known as “dorm storming,” the approach of slipping the fake notifications to students has taken place at other universities and is frequently perpetrated by other SJP chapters; at Northeastern University, the campus chapter was temporarily suspended.

“Being very straightforward, this made me feel targeted and unsafe in my own dorm room and I know others feel exactly the same as myself,” a student told the Times. “I understand free speech rights but if this was targeted solely to Jewish students then this appears to be of a more threatening nature rather than informative.”

Via Legal Insurrection.

Michelle Obama No Longer to Speak at Kansas Graduation

After a petition protesting the impact of the first lady’s scheduled appearance garnered nearly 2,000 signatures, Michelle Obama has rescheduled her graduation-day speech in a Topeka, Kansas, school district to the day before.

She will now speak at Topeka Unified School District 501’s “Senior Recognition Day” as part of a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling.

Students and their families began to express their discontent with Obama’s plan to speak at graduation because it resulted in limitations on how many tickets graduating students could obtain for their families. In the past, there were no limits to the number of people students could invite to the ceremony; the first lady’s appearance would have meant only six tickets apiece.

A petition asking the district to reconsider its decision, which involved combining the district’s five high-school graduations into one event because of the first lady’s remarks, managed to get 1,750 signatures.

“Once we learned about the concerns of some students, we were eager to find a solution that enabled all of the students and their families to celebrate the special day,” an Obama spokeswoman told the Hill.

Bundy’s Statements: Stupid and Appalling

Cliven Bundy’s statements about “the Negro” and slavery were stupid and appalling. Of course, because everything is now political, there will be a race over the next few days to ascribe his comments to all conservatives, most tea partiers, the majority of  Republicans, and, as one presidential candidate famously put it, to your “typical white person.”

Such a practice is as stupid and appalling as Bundy’s comments. But perhaps not as stupid and appalling as the statements of Bundy’s most famous antagonist, who marveled that Barack Obama was “a light-skinned” African American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted one.” Or maybe not as stupid and appalling as noted anthropologist Joe Biden’s astonishment upon discovering “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

Regardless, the debate over which is stupider and more appalling will itself be stupid and appalling, with no shortage of competing stupid and appalling quotes. And because the subject is race, and the mid terms are only months away, it won’t just be stupid and appalling, it will also be cynical, fatuous, and opportunistic.

The stupid and appalling statements of an obscure rancher in Nevada, however, merit a bit less attention from the mainstream media than the stupid and appalling statements of someone with the power of a vice president or Senate majority leader. Unlikely.


Oregon Drops Disastrous State-Run Obamacare Exchange for Federal One

Cover Oregon still isn’t online six months after its troubled launch, and now it looks like it never will be. Portland’s KATU reports that Oregon officials will recommend dumping its “beleaguered” state-run exchange, which was only able to accept paper-only applications because of its nonfunctional website, and will switch over to the federal program.

Portland Business Journal reports that acting CIO Alex Pettit made the suggestion at a Thursday morning press conference. While the timeline and impact the switch will have on current plans remains unclear, Pettit said he will travel to Washington, D.C. next week to discuss Cover Oregon’s transition.

The $305-millionfiasco” left several state health officials in its wake, leading to several resignations and removals since October. Democratic governor John Kitzhaber also got some heat for his role in overseeing the program; in January, he walked out of an interview with KATU when asked about Cover Oregon. The situation escalated to the point that the FBI investigated the program for fraud in misleading the federal government in the state’s progress.

Climate-Change PAC Bends to Justify Backing Grimes after Her Call to Approve Keystone

Democratic discord over the Keystone XL pipeline displayed itself on Wednesday as Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes called on President Obama to approve the project on the same day a San Francisco-based PAC opposed to the pipeline announced plans to spend $500,000 in the state to oust Republican Mitch McConnell for his support of it.

Prior to Grimes’s statement, Creedo SuperPAC revealed its decision to spend half a million dollars to defeat McConnell, who it described as “one of the most obstructionist leaders” when it comes to combating climate change. Before Wednesday, Grimes had yet to take a position on the pipeline.

But later in the day, Grimes came out in favor of the pipeline’s construction, declaring the “good-paying jobs that strengthen the middle class” that would come from the project a “top priority.” She even said environmental concerns over the pipeline “have been addressed.”

Credo SuperPAC, which had already stated it would not aid Louisiana’s Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu because of her support of Keystone and her “votes against progressives,” defended its support of Grimes.

Although Grimes may not share their position, “the Keystone XL issue is not up to the Senate,” so she would not determine the project’s future. “The most important vote for us is the vote cast for majority leader,” the group’s president said.

Bundy’s Racial Rhetoric

Cliven Bundy’s racial rhetoric is indefensible, and it has inspired a lot of half-bright commentary from the left today directed at your favorite correspondent, mostly variations on this theme: Don’t you feel stupid for having compared him to Mohandas Gandhi?

Short version: No. There is a time to break the law, and the fact that the law is against you does not mean that justice is against you. The law was against Washington and Martin Luther King Jr., too. That does not mean that what is transpiring in Nevada is the American Revolution or the civil-rights movement; it means that there is a time to break the law. As I wrote, “Cliven Bundy may very well be a nut job, but one thing is for sure: The federal government wouldn’t treat a tortoise the way it has treated him.”

Critics on the left, being an ignorant bunch, may be unaware of the fact, but the example of Mohandas Gandhi is here particularly apt, given that the great man had some pretty creepy ideas about everything from race to homosexuality, for example writing that blacks aspired to nothing more than passing their time in “indolence and nakedness,” objecting to blacks’ being housed in Indian neighborhoods, etc. Americans, many of whom seem to believe that Mr. Gandhi’s first name was “Mahatma,” generally confuse the Indian historical figure, a man whose biography contains some complexity, with the relatively straightforward character from the Richard Attenborough movie. We remember Gandhi and admire him because he was right about the thing most closely associated with him. In the same way, there is more to the life of Thomas Jefferson than his having been a slave owner. The question of standing in opposition to a domineering federal government that acts as the absentee landlord for nine-tenths of the state of Nevada is only incidentally related to Cliven Bundy’s having backward views about race. Mr. Bundy’s remarks reflect poorly on the man, not on the issue with which the man is associated.

As I told Talking Points Memo this morning, I am sure that the men who died at the Alamo by and large did not share my own views on the social status of blacks, homosexuals, or women. Martin Luther King Jr. had some pretty backward ideas about social organization and the treatment of women. Franklin Roosevelt’s record on race was not very good at all. Yes, that was all long ago. But the Democratic party maintained a Klansman in the U.S. Senate until four years ago. The same people who will spend the next couple of days explaining that Nevada is and has always been about racism were studying their navels with great interest when Robert Byrd was engaged in loose talk about “white n—–s” not at some point in ancient history but just a few years ago. 

Those who are scandalized by the presence of firearms among the rebels in Nevada would do well to reconsider the career of Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau was one of the inspirations for Gandhi’s nonviolent noncooperation, but he was also the author of “A Plea for Captain John Brown.” John Brown, as you may know, was a practitioner of a rather different form of noncooperation. Thoreau writes: “Not to mention his other successes, was it a failure, or did it show a want of good management, to deliver from bondage a dozen human beings, and walk off with them by broad daylight, for weeks if not months, at a leisurely pace, through one State after another, for half the length of the North, conspicuous to all parties, with a price set upon his head, going into a court-room on his way and telling what he had done, thus convincing Missouri that it was not profitable to try to hold slaves in his neighborhood? — and this, not because the government menials were lenient, but because they were afraid of him.”

And that, of course, is what this ultimately is all about.

Because our political discourse is conducted at the lowest possible intellectual level, expect to hear me, Sean Hannity, and everybody else who has encouraged Mr. Bundy in his confrontation with the federal authorities to be denounced as a racist. I’ve been here before: Criticize the IRS for its abuse of power? Martin Bashir says you’re a racist. Note that Barack Obama went to Harvard? Jonathan Capehart says you’re a racist. Etc. Bill Clinton bestows the nation’s highest civilian honor on a noted and fairly nasty segregationist?  Barack Obama sits for years upon years listening to racist harangues in his church?  Uh . . . When it is convenient for the Left to ignore racial nastiness, it does so. That’s why Al Sharpton has a show on MSNBC, which also indulged Melissa Harris-Perry’s grotesquely racist remarks about adoption. When it is convenient to ignore something else, then racial nastiness is the only subject of conversation. This is going to be one of those times — never mind the other issues in question here.

There’s no explaining away Mr. Bundy’s remarks, and I abhor them, and am pleased  that Rich Lowry and others have taken the time to address them.

There’s no explaining away the lawlessness of the Obama administration or the crimes of the IRS, either. A nation can survive its cranks, but not a criminal government.

A final thought from my piece in the current print edition of NR: “Mr. Bundy is no doubt breaking the law, just as those lawless veterans were when they disregarded President Obama’s theatrical barricades during the government shutdown. No good society can afford to make Mr. Bundy’s example the general rule, but somewhere between his ranch in Nevada and the North Bridge in Concord is the place at which we say, ‘Enough.’ The terror of that is in the fact that every Timothy McVeigh thinks himself a Paul Revere — but still there are Paul Reveres, and times for Paul Reveres. A little sedition from time to time is like fireworks on the Fourth of July: inspiring, illuminating, and — do not forget it — dangerous.”

Bundy ‘Clarifies’

On the Peter Schiff Show, per Mediaite:

He said, “I’m wondering are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were they were slaves when they were able to have a family structure together . . . and the people have something to do.”

Bundy then asked, “Are they better off being slaves in that sense or are they better off being slaves of the United States government in the sense of a subsidy?”

Rand Paul’s Midwest Swing

Kentucky senator Rand Paul, who’s gotten a lot of attention on this blog lately, swung through the Midwest this week for events focused on school choice, an issue he thinks Republicans need to be talking about to reach the poor, urban, and minority voters who have long been faithful to the Democratic party.

That’s not exactly a novel insight, but in Milwaukee Paul told me he thinks school choice has been too much of a “think-tank issue” and that Republican politicians haven’t done enough to advance the cause. Over on the homepage, I write about Paul’s visit to Milwaukee: 

“Nobody in Washington knows a damn thing about education,” Kentucky’s junior senator tells a crowd of Latino students and parents gathered Wednesday to hear from the Tea Party’s rising star and to show their support for Wisconsin’s voucher program.

Rand Paul says he’s visiting Milwaukee’s St. Anthony School, the nation’s largest K–12 Catholic school, where 99 percent of the students are voucher recipients, in part to pay homage to the city, which he refers to in an interview as “the home of school choice.”

In an interview, the senator also responded to Bob Dole’s remark that Paul and the rest of his freshmen colleagues don’t have enough experience to be president.

“I respect Bob Dole, I think he’s a war hero and one of the venerable Republican statesman,” Paul said. “But as far as how we judge who will be our leaders, you know, most people said I couldn’t serve in the U.S. Senate because I’d only been a doctor and I think that’s not the way to look at who can best be our leaders. I think our leaders ought to be well-read, well-spoken, have a historical knowledge as well as have a belief in wisdom and justice.” 

The 90-year-old Dole said to the Wichita Eagle on Sunday that “first-termers” like Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz — whom he called at “extreme right-winger” — don’t have “enough experience yet.”

‘Sonia Sotomayor Through the Looking Glass’

In Politico today, I write about Sonia Sotomayor’s opinion in the Michigan affirmative-action case, and the absence of Asian-Americans in her 58-page opus: 

The emotional heart of her decision comes near the end, where she repeats over and over that “race matters.” She notes how a minority can be asked what country he is from, even if his family has been here for generations, and the hurtful effects of other similar “slights,” “snickers” and “silent judgments.”

This passage could be titled, “Micro-aggression comes to the Supreme Court.” Needless to say, such inadvertent offenses can wound people and in a perfect world they would never happen. But what do any of them have to do with college admissions, or the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence?

Sotomayor could have added that “race matters” when you are an Asian-American student who gets rejected from your top school because it discriminates against Asian-Americans to achieve a racial balance considered appropriate by its “race sensitive” administrators.

But for Sotomayor, Asian Americans are the invisible minority.

The Old ‘Slavery Wasn’t So Bad’ Canard

Cliven Bundy turns about to be a paleo-libertarian of a certain stripe. He mused the other day about slavery in a quote published by the New York Times:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids – and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

This is so stupid and noxious it isn’t really worth rebutting, but a couple of points anyway.

The entire point of slavery was coercion. That was its competitive advantage, as economist Robert Fogel points out in his book Without Consent or Contract. He notes the common explanations for why slavery thrived in parts of the New World — the scarcity or expense of free labor, for instance — then says they miss the main point:

These answers slide past the most distinctive feature of New World slavery, a feature that made planters prefer slave to free labor even when free labor was relatively abundant, and even in climates, such as those of Maryland and Virginia, that were as congenial to Europeans as to Africans.

This feature is the enormous, almost unconstrained degree of force available to masters who wanted and needed to transform ancient modes of labor into a new industrial discipline. Centuries of tradition made it difficult to achieve that desired conversion without force; and the more rapid the rate of conversion the greater the amount of force that was necessary. Centuries of tradition also shielded European laborers from the degree of force that was permitted against African or Afro-American slave.

People like Bundy who minimize the horror of slavery tend to consider it a paternalistic institution that had something to offer the slaves. This is nonsense.

Keep reading this post . . .

Land Commercial Sends Wrong Message

I don’t know much about Terry Lynn Land. She may be a great candidate. But this commercial, which is getting some praise, strikes me as completely wrong! She encourages us to believe that a woman candidate couldn’t possibly be opposed to women. As one commentator put it, “She doesn’t have to answer it because she IS the answer.” 

This is the essence of identity politics and most of us on the right adamantly reject it. A black candidate can’t claim to speak for blacks; a Hispanic candidate cannot speak for his group, etc etc because groups don’t have interests, only individuals do. And because groups are not monoliths. 

I can easily imagine a woman candidate whose policies and beliefs would do harm to women — an Islamist, for example, or stay with me here, a believer in preferences (which have the effect of harming their intended beneficiaries).

Anyway, Land’s commercial should have listed some of the things she believes women want and need — like good jobs, public safety, less bureaucracy, better schools, a replacement for Obamacare – and then looked into the camera for her tagline “I’m fighting a ‘war on women’? Really?”

An Azza Attacks

I’m not going to comment on the argument of this article, which is that Brandeis shouldn’t have offered Ayaan Hirsi Ali (a colleague of mine at AEI, although one I have never met) an honorary degree or invited her to give a commencement speech, and was right to rescind the invitation and offer once granted. Instead I will just ask your indulgence while I complain about a pet peeve: sentences that begin “As a. . . I.” For example: “As a feminist scholar of Islam with a decade of experience working in America’s robust and diverse Muslim communities, I find her sweeping characterizations and rhetoric misguided.” One such sentence I can overlook. But there are six in a short essay. Much too much.

Reagan vs. Carter on Spending

Senator Rand Paul has from time to time claimed that Reagan was worse on spending, from a limited-government perspective, than Carter. At Reason today, Nick Gillespie backs him up with an article titled: “Rand Paul is Right: Carter Was Thriftier Than Reagan.” The subhed says it’s very important for Republicans to understand this fact.

I wouldn’t make too much of Paul’s comment, and I think Gillespie makes some good points along the way. But I don’t think his central fact is a fact. Gillespie writes: “Paul is also correct to say that Reagan was worse than Carter when it came to spending. . . . Carter increased real spending 17 percent over the last budget of his predecessor, Gerald Ford. Over two terms, Reagan increased spending by 22 percent over Carter’s final budget.”

But that means that on average, spending increased 4 percent per year under Carter and 2.5 percent per year under Reagan. That’s a pretty sizable difference: If Carter had merely kept spending at the same rate in a second term, his total would have been 37 percent. Reagan looks worse only if you hold getting re-elected against him.

Update: Gillespie has edited the post. His new numbers are slightly off. (He’s getting the annualized rates of increase by dividing the total increase by the number of years, which ignores compounding; you have to take roots.) But he concedes that on an annual basis, Carter increased spending faster than Reagan. Gillespie does not, however, agree with me that this fact is fatal to the Gillespie/Paul claim that Carter was the thriftier of the two.


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