Friday, April 20, 2012

Top 10 Reads of the Week -April 20, 2012

Apocalyptic Daze - Pascal Bruckner [City Journal]
...Environmentalism has become a global ideology that covers all of existence—not merely modes of production but ways of life as well. We rediscover in it the whole range of Marxist rhetoric, now applied to the environment: ubiquitous scientism, horrifying visions of reality, even admonitions to the guilty parties who misunderstand those who wish them well. Authors, journalists, politicians, and scientists compete in the portrayal of abomination and claim for themselves a hyper-lucidity: they alone see clearly while others vegetate in the darkness.
The fear that these intellectuals spread is like a gluttonous enzyme that swallows up an anxiety, feeds on it, and then leaves it behind for new ones. When the Fukushima nuclear plant melted down after the enormous earthquake in Japan in March 2011, it only confirmed a feeling of anxiety that was already there, looking for some content. In six months, some new concern will grip us: a pandemic, bird flu, the food supply, melting ice caps, cell-phone radiation.
The fear also becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, with the press reporting, as though it were a surprising finding, that young people are haunted by the very concerns about global warming that the press continually instills in them. As in an echo chamber, opinion polls reflect the views promulgated by the media. We are inoculated against anxiety by the repetition of the same themes, which become a narcotic we can’t do without... Read the Rest

 The Great Divider - Peter Wehner [Weekly Standard]
In 2008, Barack Obama promised he would put an end to the type of politics that “breeds division and conflict and cynicism” and he would help us “rediscover our bonds to each other and get out of this constant, petty bickering that’s come to characterize our politics.”
As president, Obama has not only discarded this core commitment; he has turned it on its head. Republicans aren’t simply people with whom he has philosophical disagreements; they are members of the “Flat Earth Society” and have embraced a budget that demonstrates their “Social Darwinism.” The Republican philosophy is “simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.” The Republican vision is for elderly Americans unable to afford nursing home care, poor children, and children with autism and Down syndrome to “fend for themselves.” The GOP favors “dirtier” air and water. And Republicans in Congress consistently “put party before country.”.. Read the Rest
Competition Gives The Airlines A Bumpy Ride - George Will [Washington Post]
From his office window, Thomas W. Horton, in his fifth month as CEO of American Airlines, can see in the distance the Manhattan-size footprint of Dallas-Fort Worth airport, where American has 85 percent market share; it also has 68 percent in Miami, gateway to South America’s booming market. A few miles from here, however, sits one of the reasons why his company nevertheless entered bankruptcy recently — the corporate headquarters of Southwest Airlines.
Southwest, the most successful of the “low-cost” carriers that proliferated after the 1978 deregulation of the industry, has been profitable for 39 consecutive years, while the rest of the industry was losing $60 billion between deregulation and 2009. Southwest, JetBlue and the others have 30 percent of the domestic market, up from 10 percent in 1999. The “two-tier” airline industry is, however, becoming a thing of the past. All carriers are going to have low costs because of what Horton calls “fear-based discipline,” a.k.a. competition... Read the Rest
Why Your Highway Has Potholes - Editors [Wall Street Journal]
Nothing shows off the worst of Congress like a highway bill. And this year's scramble for cash is worse than ever because the 18.4 cent a gallon gasoline tax will raise $70 billion less than the $263 billion Congress wants to spend over the next five years. Let the mayhem ensue.
The Senate has passed a two-year $109 billion bill sponsored by Barbara Boxer of California that bails out the highway trust fund with general revenues, including some $12 billion for such nonessentials as the National Endowment for the Oceans and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The bill requires little or no reform. The prevailing Senate view is the more concrete that gets poured, the more jobs back home. So more "shovel-ready" nonstimulus... Read the Rest
The Power of New Orleans School Reform - Jim Stergios [Boston.com / Pioneer Institute]
For all the talk about a big national education agenda, the fact is that little implementation of the national standards is actually going on. Lots of talk, lots of money being spent, but business as usual on the federal front.
In a number of states, and without any connection to the federal ed department’s lumbering efforts, there’s been a tsunami of school choice programs... Read the Rest

Illinois Shows What Not To Do - Steven Malanga [City Journal]
In January 2011, facing a forbidding budget deficit and a backlog of unpaid bills, Illinois officials decided that a massive tax increase would lay the groundwork for the state’s recovery. As Barbara Flynn Currie, the majority leader in the state house of representatives, said at the time, the nearly $7 billion in new revenues would allow Illinois to “pay our old bills and deal with the structural deficit.” The taxes passed with little controversy. Several weeks later, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker proposed fixing state and local fiscal problems by narrowing public-sector workers’ collective bargaining rights and requiring them to contribute more to their pension and health-care benefits. His reforms, which took months to become law, provoked an occupation of the capitol and set off a national debate.
Little more than a year has passed, and Illinois is right back where it started: the state’s unpaid bills now top $9 billion. Meantime, Wisconsin’s state and local governments have made substantial strides toward long-term budget stability. The different fiscal outlooks of the neighboring states illustrate a crucial fact in today’s budget wars: you can’t tax your way to a better future. That’s because the promises made by previous generations of politicians to public employees and special interests have become, as one northeastern mayor colorfully put it, the “Pac-Man” of budgets, gobbling up revenues faster than governments can raise them... Read the Rest

Why Medical Bills Are A Mystery - Robert Kaplan and Michael Porter [New York Times]
RISING health care costs are busting the federal budget as well as those of states, counties and municipalities. Policy makers and health care leaders have spent decades trying to figure out what to do about this.
Yet their solutions are failing because of a fundamental and largely unrecognized problem: We don’t know what it costs to deliver health care to individual patients, much less how those costs compare to the outcomes achieved... Read the Rest
Why Democrats Won't Vote On A Budget - Editors [Washington Examiner]
Households make budgets. So do businesses and nonprofits. There was also a time when Congress made them, but those days are long gone -- 1,086 days gone, to be precise. That's the last time Democrats, who have controlled one or both houses of Congress this whole time, passed a budget resolution through either the House or the Senate.
On April 15, 2010, both houses failed to meet the statutory deadline for passing a budget for the first time ever. Although the Senate Budget Committee would later pass a plan out of committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., blocked it from the floor, going so far as to prevent even a debate about the budget.
Asked to explain this bicameral failure in the face of trillion-dollar deficits, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, "It's difficult to pass budgets in election years." Turns out, it is also difficult to get re-elected when you don't pass budgets. Later that same year, House Democrats lost 63 seats... Read the Rest
From Hope to Hardball - Noam Scheiber [The New Republic]
Though it was obvious to almost no one at the time, Thursday, April 5, may have certified a momentous change in contemporary politics. It was that day when Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus was quoted saying that the Republican “war on women,” a favorite liberal talking point, was a creation of Democrats and the media—no more reality-based than a Republican “war on caterpillars.” It probably wasn’t the most outlandish comment a GOP operative uttered that hour. Yet, by lunchtime, Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter had denounced Priebus for suggesting that reproductive-health issues had all the cosmic significance of larva. Soon Cutter’s aggrieved response was all over the Internet and cable television. When I spoke with one strategist close to the White House the next day, he was utterly disbelieving: “The-war-on-caterpillars thing, I’m shocked it’s getting any legs.”
Welcome to the Obama campaign, version 2.0. If, as Mario Cuomo once said, you campaign in poetry and govern in prose, then running for reelection may be something akin to grunting at regular intervals. In 2008, Obamaland prided itself on rejecting such brass-knuckle politicking, much of it perfected by Bill Clinton. “We don’t do war rooms,” was a Team Obama mantra, as one veteran of the campaign and the administration recalls. These days, by contrast, there are dozens of operatives raring to pounce on the slightest Republican misstep... Read the Rest
 Manufactured 'Mommy War'? - Jonah Goldberg [National Review Online]
It’s going to be bait and switch for as far as the eye can see. 
That’s how it looks now that the smoke has cleared after the recent “Mommy War” skirmish over Democratic operative Hilary Rosen’s comment that mother of five Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life.” 
There’s no need to litigate all of that again. If Rosen apologized any more she’d have to sever a digit Yakuza-style. And the White House couldn’t distance itself more if they dispatched the Secret Service to burn down Rosen’s house and salt the earth for good measure. Fortunately, the Secret Service is too busy with other things... Read the Rest
The Funniest Thing I Saw This Week


Report: Every Potential 2040 President Already Unelectable Due To Facebook

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