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Carter and Israel


from National Review in 2002, Jay Nordlinger wrote Carterpalooza


 No one quite realizes just how passionately anti-Israel Carter is. William Safire has reported that Cyrus Vance acknowledged that, if he had had a second term, Carter would have sold Israel down the river. In the 1990s, Carter became quite close to Yasser Arafat. After the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia was mad at Arafat, because the PLO chief had sided with Saddam Hussein. So Arafat asked Carter to fly to Riyadh to smooth things over with the princes and restore Saudi funding to him — which Carter did.

You who read Impromptus have heard me say: When I was growing up, I perceived the Arab-Israeli conflict as a great civil-rights drama. The white oppressors were the Israelis, and the black sufferers and innocents were the Arabs, in particular the Palestinians. Menachem Begin, I thought, was George C. Wallace, and his defense minister, Ariel Sharon, was Bull Connor. (This was in the early ’80s.)

Well, blow me down. I had never heard anybody else — a soul — say anything like this. But here is Carter, to Douglas Brinkley, Carter’s biographer and analyst: “The intifada exposed the injustice Palestinians suffered, just like Bull Connor’s mad dogs in Birmingham.”

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Ranking Risks

Kevin_Williamson (1)

From National Review, Theatrical shootings aren’t the problem, hysterical reactions aren’t the solution, by Kevin Williamson:

These acts are dramatic because they are unusual (not as unusual as we’d prefer), extraordinary because they are unrepresentative of the contemporary experience rather than representative of it. Those of us who were around for the Clinton years do not recall them as a time of bloodthirsty savagery, but in terms of being shot to death, Americans are about twice as safe today as they were in the early 1990s. We are not, in fact, a polity dissolving into chaos. Our streets aren’t filled with blood — they’re filled with mediocrity. Politicians sell you emergency when they want to take something away from you. Terrorists are not the only people who know that a scared population is a compliant population.

We insulated moderns are not very good at ranking risks. We are fascinated and terrified by predator attacks, but in reality you are a hell of a lot more likely to be killed by a cow, a deer, a bee, or a moose than by a shark, a wolf, a bear, or a crocodile. But we love stories. We love them more than we love reality: The Republican party is not run by a secret cabal of warmongering billionaires; Barack Obama is a cookie-cutter Ivy League lefty, not a Kenya-born al-Qaeda plant; you’re going to die from emphysema or from being fat rather than from Ebola or a resurgent Islamic caliphate; the people who commit the murders are for the most part going to be ordinary criminals going about ordinary criminal business, and a fair number of the people they kill are the same thing.
Our ordinary crime is largely the result of ordinary failures: failed families, failed schools, failed communities, failed police departments, failed penal institutions, failed parole systems. Even our dramatic crimes are mostly rooted in ordinary failures: those failed families, again, failed mental-health practices, etc. A scary-looking rifle is visually arresting, a fact that tells us something about the weapon, and maybe something about us. It doesn’t tell us anything useful about the actual challenges facing the United States in 2015.

But if you are going to be worried about something, that ordinary crime — not the bloody pageantry of mass shootings — is the place to look.

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Thoughts on the Economy 2015 10 02


Steel prices are the lowest they have been in 15 years. In China it is cheaper than cabbage. Stainless and aluminum are also very low.

Oil is also bouncing around new lows.

A sharp drop in industrial commodities has some forecasting relevance. If it is confirmed by lower shipping rates, container imports, railroad utilization we could be facing a new recession.  Business seems weak in many areas.

Three postings to read:

from National Review, Checkmate: The Economic Chess Masters Play a Losing Game by Kevin Williamson- the new realtionship wiring in our connected economy makes traditional econ math models far less reliable.

from Marginal Revolution, Quick thoughts on the new employment report by Tyler Cowen- wages and employment are subject to new dynamics

from Carpe Diem Today is Manufacturing Day, so let’s recognize America’s world-class manufacturing sector and factory workers by Mark Perry- the efficiency gains in manufacturing is one of those critical dynamics.

This chart from Mark Perry speaks volumes:

US manufactruring

these changes provide a serious challenge to economic policy especially relative to wages and employment. It may be transition similar to the transition from agriculture to industry- a change that ignited the Progressive era.  We may be on the verge of a new era that will require substantially different thinking than we are getting.

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Pretending to Balance the Budget

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from Kevin Williamson at National Review, We’re Not That Far from a Balanced Budget

One, Americans earning $100,000 or more pay basically all of the federal income taxes, about 80 percent. That is far in excess of their portion of national income (“national income” being another thing that does not exist but which we are obliged to talk about), and they are only about 15 percent of all taxpayers. Households earning $250,000 or more, a tiny group (2.4 percent of taxpayers) pay about half of all federal income taxes, which is, again, disproportionate to their income relative to the rest of the population.

You do have to stop pretending that you can give the American middle class a big income-tax cut when it hardly pays any income taxes, and stop pretending that you can get spending under control without touching the tiny handful of popular programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, national security) that constitute the vast majority of federal spending. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; you just have to cut federal spending from 21.4 percent of GDP to 19.1 percent a couple of years from now, and maybe reform the tax code with an eye toward making revenue meet spending halfway. That isn’t going to make everybody happy, but it isn’t landing on Omaha Beach, either.

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Slide into Autocracy

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from Kevin Williamson at National Review, Squeaker of the House:

As Gohmert notes without quite saying so, these United States are in the process of transforming the form of their union government from that of a democratic republic to that of a unitary autocratic administrative state. Barack Obama and other progressives have hastened that transformation in no small part because they consider the American constitutional order in purely instrumental terms rather than as a good in and of itself. Sometimes the constitutional order serves progressive ends and sometimes it constrains them, which is why President Wilson despised the Constitution and President Obama simply ignores it when he believes it necessary, adopting as he has — with rather less fuss than one might have expected — a Gaullist rule-by-decree model. The familiar ratchet effect is in operation: The Left in power expands the state, particularly the executive, and the Right in power does not reverse the turn, in part because conservative politicians like power, too, in part because reversing those expansions is difficult, and in part because even if conservatives win the fight there’s not much juice in it.

This isn’t only a matter of executive opportunism and legislative sloth. The waxing of the president and the consequent waning of Congress is a result of the deep psychological structure of mass democracy on the American scale, probably an inevitable one. American democracy was born in the New England town-hall meeting and in state assemblies, relatively intimate venues where following the operations of government was non-cumbrous. A population of more than 300 million with worldwide interests is a very different sort of thing. From the very beginning, the mere scale of the American project ensured that most Americans would find it incomprehensible: How many Americans at the time really understood that James Madison and Alexander Hamilton went into the Philadelphia Convention plotting to abolish their government and set up a new one? How many can identify the main points of contention between Senator Cruz and Senator McConnell?

Speaker Boehner’s successor inherits a diminished role in a diminished institution, and it isn’t clear that there is much of anything he will be able to do to help the national legislature recover its self-respect, which lags so far behind its self-importance. Congress no longer has the power to return the president — and the presidency — to its proper role. That power, too, is now in the hands of the president, which is why it is unlikely that our national slide into autocracy will be reversed until the current political equilibrium is disturbed, which is to say until certain danger encounters uncertain danger.

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