Friday, February 17, 2012

Top 10 Reads of the Week - February 17, 2012

Why the World Needs America - Robert Kagan [Wall Street Journal]
History shows that world orders, including our own, are transient. They rise and fall, and the institutions they erect, the beliefs and "norms" that guide them, the economic systems they support—they rise and fall, too. The downfall of the Roman Empire brought an end not just to Roman rule but to Roman government and law and to an entire economic system stretching from Northern Europe to North Africa. Culture, the arts, even progress in science and technology, were set back for centuries.
Modern history has followed a similar pattern. After the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, British control of the seas and the balance of great powers on the European continent provided relative security and stability. Prosperity grew, personal freedoms expanded, and the world was knit more closely together by revolutions in commerce and communication... Read the Rest

 Europe in the Rearview Mirror - Victor Davis Hanson [PJ Media]
The European Union was always a paradox. Its existence was predicated entirely on the notion of German guilt, translating into massive cash transfers east and south. Just as Versailles was supposed to have restrained Germany, then a divided, postwar Germany, then NATO integration and the common Soviet enemy, and then the EU — and now what next? 
There was quite a EU veneer placed over the politically incorrect “German Problem.” Most of us listened in disbelief as we were lectured that veritable disarmament, subsidized windmills, reach outs to a Syria or Libya, easy anti-Americanism, and sermons about cradle-to-grave socialism were the way of the new Europe. And always came the grating condescension, that a self-appointed bureaucratic class in Brussels might lecture Neanderthals what was good for them, without worry over democratic checks and balances... Read the Rest
 The Obama Budget: Some Day My Cuts Will Come - David Boaz [CATO@Liberty]
It’s being reported that in his 2013 budget President Obama will propose to increase spending now and reduce the deficit some day. Isn’t that what every budget promises these days? As I noted last summer during the debt ceiling fight at the Britannica Blog, fiscal conservatives should be very skeptical of plans and proposals that promise to cut spending some day—not this year, not next year, but swear to God some time in the next ten years:
As the White Queen said to Alice, “Jam to-morrow and jam yesterday—but never jam to-day.” Cuts tomorrow and cuts in the out-years—but never cuts today.
We’ve become so used to these unfathomable levels of deficits and debt—and to the once-rare concept of trillions of dollars—that we forget how new all this debt is. In 1981, after 190 years of federal spending, the national debt was “only” $1 trillion. Now, just 30 years later, it’s past $15 trillion... Read the Rest
Health Mandate vs. Religion - Senator Scott Brown [Boston Herald]
Republicans and Democrats don’t come together nearly enough these days, and when we do it’s usually because of something we all recognize as clearly out of line. It takes a really bad idea to reveal our shared convictions on issues bigger than politics. That is the case with the new mandate from the Obama administration requiring religious organizations to offer insurance coverage for practices that go against the teachings of their church, violate the tenets of their faith and step on their constitutional protections.
Basically the government is saying, “Just do what you’re told, and leave the moral questions to us.” This runs against religious liberty, the Constitution, the consciences of millions of Americans and the independent spirit of Massachusetts. We don’t take well to imperious commands from Washington, and if we meekly submit to this mandate, you can be sure that a lot more will follow... Read the Rest
  Obama's Budget Games - Dana Milbank [Washington Post]
Gene Sperling’s sports metaphors collided so often during the White House budget rollout that it’s a wonder the man didn’t pull a hamstring.
The head of President Obama’s National Economic Council suited up for a Monday afternoon news conference with a full lineup of athletic cliches. “We believe manufacturing punches above its weight economically,” he said, and the administration’s trade policy “will level the playing field against countries around the world.”... Read the Rest

Obama's Broken Deficit Promise - Jake Tapper [ABC News]
“This is big,” wrote White House director of new media Macon Phillips in a February 23, 2009 blog post, ”the President today promised that by the end of his first term, he will cut in half the massive federal deficit we’ve inherited. And we’ll do it in a new way: honestly and candidly.” 
Indeed, President Obama did make that promise that day, saying, “today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office. This will not be easy. It will require us to make difficult decisions and face challenges we’ve long neglected. But I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay — and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control.” 
The 2013 budget the president submitted today does not come close to meeting this promise of being reduced to $650 billion for fiscal year 2013... Read the Rest

Great Scott - Stephen Hayes [Weekly Standard]
Throughout the 2012 election cycle Republicans have pined for a bold, conservative reformer—a leader courageous enough to make difficult choices and articulate enough to explain them to a skeptical public. The good news is they have such a candidate. The less good news: Scott Walker isn’t running for president. He’s running to hang on to his job as governor of Wisconsin.
Walker is the target of a recall effort funded by national labor unions. Why? Reforms he made to balance the budget have dramatically diminished the influence of public employee unions. If not reversed, these reforms will inspire similar efforts across the country, and the outsized power of public sector unions will finally be reined in.
The election in Wisconsin—which will happen in late spring or summer—could have a profound impact on the 2012 presidential race, with the winning side emerging from the battle organized and energized in one of the most important swing states this November... Read the Rest
Athens on the Potomac: America's Budget Debacle - Editors [Chicago Tribune]
President Barack Obama's budget proposal Monday all but seals the deal: Together, Washington Democrats and Republicans have stopped governing. Both parties now are on automatic pilot. They'll do as little as possible to solve this nation's debt crisis before Nov. 6. Instead they'll wait to see whether American voters firmly choose a direction for the United States and its destructive indebtedness. 
How destructive? Conveniently, one of this nation's plausible futures plays out vividly on a TV screen near you: Fire-heaving mobs enraged by the harsh consequences of rampant public borrowing have torched one of Europe's grossly indebted capitals,Athens. Fretful officials in other capitals — Rome, Lisbon, Madrid and more — must wonder whether the flames will rage in their countries next.... Read the Rest
The State and Local Pension Crisis -  Diana Furchtgott-Roth [Real Clear Markets]
President Obama's new budget, with its trillion dollar deficit and interest payments of $5.6 trillion on the debt over the next decade, is only part of America's unfunded liability. 
The state and local pension crisis is the subject of a new report by the Republican staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, entitled "State and Local Government Defined Benefit Pension Plans: The Pension Debt Crisis that Threatens America." 
Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said last month, "Today, public pension debt stands at an alarming $4.4 trillion with outstanding state and local municipal debt at nearly $3 trillion. The public pension crisis plaguing our nation demands a real solution."... Read the Rest
Overreach: Obamacare vs. The Constitution - Charles Krauthammer [Washington Post]
Give him points for cleverness. President Obama’s birth control “accommodation” was as politically successful as it was morally meaningless. It was nothing but an accounting trick that still forces Catholic (and other religious) institutions to provide medical insurance that guarantees free birth control, tubal ligation and morning-after abortifacients — all of which violate church doctrine on the sanctity of life. 
The trick is that these birth control/abortion services will supposedly be provided independently and free of charge by the religious institution’s insurance company. But this changes none of the moral calculus. Holy Cross Hospital, for example, is still required by law to engage an insurance company that is required by law to provide these doctrinally proscribed services to all Holy Cross employees... Read the Rest
 The Funniest Thing I Saw This Week

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