- Very Close Race for Senate Nomination in Georgia
- Welcoming 100 Sandy Hook Moms
- Bonus Quote of the Day
- Gingrich Warns Republicans About Overreach
- Father Hopes to Follow Son as Mayor
May 16, 2013
Unless the Benghazi scandal consumes her, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is virtually a shoo-in for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination if she wants it. And she’s outpolling her GOP rivals.
The question is: why?
It can’t be because she was a great secretary of State. She did travel more miles (956,733) to more countries (112) than any of her predecessors. She handled herself on public occasions with poise and dignity, speaking almost always in measured tones.
But what did she accomplish? Other than speaking forcefully for the rights of women — who are probably now more endangered than ever in the Muslim world — it’s hard to name a single foreign policy breakthrough that the Obama administration or its chief diplomat has achieved.
Palestinians and Israelis haven’t even been brought to the negotiating table, let alone moved toward peace. Russia and China are at least as hostile toward the United States as they were in 2008, and more assertive. Iran is closer to having a nuclear weapon. North Korea is more belligerent. Iraq is becoming an Iranian ally.
The “Arab Spring” is replacing pro-Western despots with anti-Western despots. We are about to abandon Afghanistan to the Taliban. And in Syria, either the brutal Assad regime will survive, an ally of Iran and Hezbollah, or the resistance, now dominated by Sunni jihadists, will win.
And then there is Benghazi, Libya. Gregory Hicks, the former No. 2 man in the Libyan embassy, testified that he called Clinton at 2 a.m. to report that the U.S. consulate was under terrorist attack and that his “jaw dropped” when Obama, Clinton and U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice said that a video caused the riot. Now, he said, he’s been demoted for talking.
In 2016, Clinton will certainly be able to claim that she has more foreign policy experience than any of her Democratic or Republican rivals. But she won’t be able to say she achieved much of anything.
May 15, 2013
As I alluded to in the previous post on the Education Innovation Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz., a number of digital technology programs today give kids and teachers a leg up on learning. They can provide instant feedback on what pupils are learning, customize content to a student’s achievement level, teach English as a second language in novel ways and help kids keep up with assignments.
Coursera, the university-based distant-learning system, has just announced it’s going to help K-12 schools, too.
There were hundreds of new digital ideas on display at the summit. Also, charter-school operators offering competition to public school systems — which can make them better if they will rise to meet the challenge. There’s even now a New Schools Venture Fund providing money for startup charters in poverty areas.
May 8, 2013
In the 30th anniversary year of the landmark report on U.S. education failure, “A Nation at Risk,” I really think there’s hope — at long, long last — for a turnaround.
The hope lies in digital learning, in new schools that challenge the old kind and in the adoption by 45 states of a “core curriculum” whereby kids across the country will be taught what they need to succeed in the 21st century. Full story
April 29, 2013
The best news coming out of Congress recently — other than bipartisan work on immigration — is bipartisan work on a tax policy overhaul.
And it’s being conducted not by an ad-hoc “gang” — useful as those are when responsible leaders won’t act responsibly — but by the two people most in charge of the subject: House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont.
The two wrote a joint op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on April 8 committing themselves to producing overhaul legislation, which Camp’s office says he hopes will be out of his committee by the end of the year. Full story
April 22, 2013
The incredibly swift and effective handling of the Boston Marathon bombing case this week by federal, state and local officials should sustain (or restore) national confidence in those institutions — and embarrass Congress.
Congress, of course, had no role whatsoever to play in Boston, and the Senate’s failure to pass gun legislation favored by almost 90 percent of the population only justifies its low public esteem (maybe the right word is contempt). Full story
April 15, 2013
ST. GEORGE, Utah — This state is about as conservative as there is, yet it has some of the most sensible immigration laws in the country. Its record is a challenge to Republicans in Congress — and to the Obama administration, which isn’t letting the state go as far as it would like.
Remember all the 2008 Democratic-primary fuss about whether undocumented (or illegal) immigrants should be able to get driver’s licenses? Utah solved the problem by granting them Driver Privilege Cards, which can’t be used as identification at airports but do entitle holders to be able to buy auto insurance. Full story
April 5, 2013
There’s nothing I’d like more than to see comprehensive immigration reform pass this year, but those who want to repair this broken system ought to quietly concoct a less-than-comprehensive Plan B just in case.
That’s because a comprehensive bill granting a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented residents of the United States is likely to be weighed down with so many conditions and complexities — waiting periods, proofs of taxes paid and years worked, denials of public benefits, border security certifications — that it may not do much for most of the people it’s designed to help.
And it will be the target of so much flak that it may bring down other reform provisions with it.
By all means, the Senate and House gangs of eight trying to come up with a comprehensive bill should see how far they can get. Full story
March 29, 2013
The National Rifle Association is paranoid about universal background checks leading to national registries leading to confiscation of guns. The NRA threatens politicians who favor limits on the size of magazines. And CEO Wayne LaPierre was downright hysterical on “Meet the Press” last week, attacking New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s $12 million gun control campaign — as if the NRA doesn’t use its clout to block gun control.
On the other hand, LaPierre has these points in his favor: enforcement of existing gun laws is not consistent, as Syracuse University TRAC reports show. And every jurisdiction ought to adopt the NRA’s Project Exile, whereby a criminal using a gun gets automatic extra jail time. Full story
Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association are obnoxious, paranoid and intimidationist — but he and they are not always wrong. Some of their ideas should be adopted by advocates of “gun safety,” including Congress.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, who’s under fierce liberal attack for his city’s aggressive and effective “stop and frisk” policy, could make common cause with the NRA on some of its ideas. LaPierre should give Bloomberg credit for some of his. Full story
March 26, 2013
In part 1 of this post, I argued that the biggest question facing the GOP is what should it be for? Republicans have been relegated to the role of Scrooge while Democrats have been playing Santa when it comes to taxes and economic growth.
So, can the GOP find a way to play Santa again? It’s hard to do on the tax side because Obama has kept rates low for everybody but the top 1 percent and the GOP, fighting fiercely for the 1 percent, only magnifies its Scroogish image.
Actually, some bright conservative writers have proposed good ideas recently. Rich Lowry of National Review, writing in Politico last week, suggested that, in the politically entrepreneurial spirit of Kemp, the party come up with 10 ideas for promoting work in America, advancing welfare reform, replacing (not just obliterating) “Obamacare” and making college affordable.
AEI’s Ramesh Ponnuru, in The New York Times, suggested reducing payroll taxes on ordinary workers, expanding the child care tax credit and lowering health care costs by altering the tax break for health insurance by letting people pocket the money they save buying cheaper plans. Full story
March 25, 2013
Among the Republican Party’s many problems, perhaps the biggest is: what should it be for? Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush correctly pegged the issue in his Conservative Political Action Conference speech — “stop being the anti-everything party” — but didn’t have much to offer as an alternative.
The party has confronted this problem before and met it. It was encapsulated in 1976 by the brilliant, erratic journalist-activist Jude Wanniski in an essay, “Taxes and a Two-Santa Theory,” published in the long-defunct Dow Jones newspaper, National Observer, but available here thanks to historian-economist Bruce Bartlett.
Wanniski argued that Republicans had embraced the role of Scrooge while Democrats had the pleasure (and political benefit) of playing Santa Claus, using government to dispense goodies and redistribute income. Republicans, fixated on balanced budgets, either constantly just said “no” or, in those days, insisted on raising taxes to pay for the Democrats’ spending. In a battle between Santa Claus and Scrooge, Santa wins, he wrote. Full story
March 19, 2013
Republican politicians have three concerns about gay marriage besides safeguarding the institution of marriage. One is that the religious right, a powerful constituency, is dead against it.
But, if the high court decides to strike down laws against same-sex marriage — including California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act — no church will be forced to perform such marriages. This will be a civil matter that religious institutions will be free to bless or not, as they choose.
And, theologically, as Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, put it so well, “ultimately, for me, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.”
The fact is, Jesus had nothing whatever to say about the subject. Biblical condemnations of homosexuality are contained in the Old Testament, especially Leviticus, and in various letters of St. Paul, who listed it with numerous other sins — adultery, fornication, etc. — that conservatives have long since given up trying to control by law. Full story
March 18, 2013
Hooray for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, for changing his mind about same-sex marriage. Now it’s time some other major Republican leaders to do so for reasons other than that they have children who are gay, like Portman and Dick Cheney, or that they, like former Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona, are gay themselves.
The Supreme Court may take the issue out of politics if it decides that marriage equality is a constitutional right. Portman said he hopes it won’t, apparently fearing a repeat of the decades of tumult that followed the court’s Roe v. Wade decision on abortion in 1973.
My guess, though, is that this is different. If you believe that life begins at conception, then every abortion is, at best, a case of manslaughter. You can’t not fight it.
When gays are allowed to marry, however, no one gets hurt. Quite the contrary — Full story
March 15, 2013
Likely as not, you could get rich collecting a dollar each time a speaker at this year’s (or any year’s) Conservative Political Action Conference invokes the name of Ronald Reagan.
But I was struck by some of the contents of his 1977 pre-presidential speech at that venue — words current attendees might well heed if they want the movement and the Republican party to prosper in the future, not fall off the right edge of the earth.
The speech was delivered with the GOP at one of its lowest points ever — with the presidency just lost and Democrats holding 60 Senate seats and a two-thirds majority in the House. Typically for Reagan, it was an upbeat declaration that there was really a conservative majority in the country and that a “New Republican Party” could consolidate it and win elections. Which, of course, happened just three years later with Reagan’s landslide victory, bringing in a Republican majority in the Senate.
Contemporary conservatives will have their hearts warmed anew by much of the speech — an eloquent ode to limited government, low taxes and family-oriented social conservatism. But Reagan also called for outreach and inclusion of a type that most tea party/Club for Growth/Jim DeMint conservatives — even Mitt Romney — now don’t accept, to the party’s long-term political peril.
As for Romney’s belief that the GOP couldn’t reach 47 percent of Americans — the “takers” — Reagan said: Full story
March 10, 2013
It’s four years, two months and millions of rancorous words too late, but could President Barack Obama’s outreach to congressional Republicans be the start of something big?
By big, of course, I mean serious efforts to reach a grand bargain on the national debt — followed, maybe, by further bargains on immigration and steps needed to get the economy working for people besides big bankers and investors in the stock market. Full story