Friday, April 27, 2012

Top 10 Reads of the Week - April 27, 2012

Ed Note: Throughout the week we post links to interesting articles and columns that don't quite make the Top 10 on our Facebook Page. Keep up by "liking" us here, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter (@Critimass). 

The President's Incoherent Economic 'Philosophy' - James Capretta [National Review Online]
...When you strip out all of the excessive and grandiose rhetoric, what the president is attempting to argue in these speeches is that the keys to higher economic growth in the United States are higher marginal tax rates on the successful, no reforms to entitlement programs, and more government spending on selected “investments.” To say that this is a pathetic plan for growth would be to give it too much credit.
It is important to note here that the president is not arguing at this point that we need more government spending for stimulus reasons. His budget plan is to raise taxes sufficiently to cover additional spending, with only a modest increase in the deficit in 2013 compared to current law.
No, his argument at this point is that the government spending he has in mind is so essential that the American economy simply can’t live without it. This is absurd... Read the Rest

President Romney - William Kristol [Weekly Standard]
Here’s how Reuters recently summed up the race for the White House: “The 2012 presidential election is more than six months away, but here is what we know so far: It is going to be close, it is going to be nasty, and the outcome could turn on a series of unpredictable events.” The argument that followed was balanced and intelligent, and nicely captured today’s conventional wisdom.
But the conventional wisdom may well be wrong. We don’t in fact “know” that the election will be close. Nor do we know that it will be nasty, or that it will turn on unpredictable events. To the contrary, if I had to put money down now, I’d bet that Mitt Romney will win an easy victory after a relatively predictable, issue-focused, and not-too-nasty campaign. Indeed, I’d bet Romney will win precisely if he runs such a campaign. But if he allows the race to degenerate into name-calling and gotcha gimmicks, he could lose. Democrats are better than Republicans at the small and nasty stuff... Read the Rest
In Afghanistan, underground girls' school defies Taliban edict, threats - Kevin Sieff [Washington Post]
Every morning in this mountain village in eastern Afghanistan, four dozen girls sneak through a square opening in a mud-baked wall, defying a Taliban edict.
A U.S.-funded girls school about a mile away was shuttered by insurgents in 2007, two years after it opened. They warned residents that despite a new government in Kabul and an international aid effort focused on female education, the daughters of Spina were to stay home. For a while, they all did.
Then two brothers, among the few literate men in the village, began quietly teaching math, reading and writing to their female relatives in a living room on the edge of town. They wanted to keep the classes small, they said, to stay off the Taliban’s radar. That turned out to be impossible... Read the Rest
Mitt the moderate - John Feehery [The Hill]
...President Obama has attempted to position himself as the populist candidate, but all too often he has taken a traditional left-wing philosophy to problem-solving. Indeed, if there has been one theme that has resonated from the White House over the last year and a half, it is that the rich aren’t paying enough in taxes and that Republicans don’t want to spend enough money. But tax-and-spend doesn’t work with voters who are troubled by government waste and highly distrustful of any programs emanating from Washington. His largest accomplishment — ObamaCare — is also his most unpopular accomplishment with a sizable majority of the country.
Obama’s also hasn’t settled on a compelling rationale for his reelection. Woodrow Wilson had “He kept us out of war.” Ronald Reagan had “Morning in America.” Richard Nixon had “Now more than ever.” Bill Clinton had “Bridge to the 21st century.”
What does Obama have? “Mitt Romney is a right-wing extremist”? It just doesn’t add up... Read the Rest
Empowering Individuals, Or Bureaucrats? - Rep Paul Ryan [American Spectator]
In March, as the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of President Obama's partisan health care law, the American people saw an event that could mark the end of bureaucrat-controlled health care. At the same time, just across the street in the halls of Congress, they witnessed a powerful reaffirmation of the American Idea as the House of Representatives passed the Path to Prosperity—a budget for the federal government.
The interconnectedness of these two events cannot be understated. Taken together, they have refocused a long-overdue debate about the proper role and scope of the federal government. This debate will undoubtedly continue in the months ahead and build to a crescendo in November, when the American people will have the opportunity to make a defining choice about what kind of nation we will be in the 21st century... Read the Rest

Public Sector Unions Bring Back Tammany Hall - Daniel DiSalvo [The Examiner]
James Madison believed that constitutional government was a matter of balance. As he put it: "You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."
Today, few people worry about government's ability to control the governed. But the politicization of government workers, especially at the state and local level, has made it increasingly difficult for the government to control itself.
From the 1830s to the 1950s, the central problem was the patronage system ruled by machine bosses and ward heelers. "To the victor belong the spoils of the enemy," New York Senator William Marcy said in 1832 -- the spoils in this case being government jobs. By prioritizing political connections over merit, the patronage system weakened the quality of government services, as many government workers spent more time on party politics than their nominal jobs... Read the Rest

Shrinking Problem: Illegal Immigration From Mexico - Michael Barone [Real Clear Politics]
The illegal immigration problem is going away.
That's the conclusion I draw from the latest report of the Pew Hispanic Center on Mexican immigration to the United States.
Pew's demographers have carefully combed through statistics compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Homeland Security and the Mexican government, and have come up with estimates of the flow of migrants from and back to Mexico. Their work seems to be as close to definitive as possible... Read the Rest
Freshman Class President - Editors [Wall Street Journal]
This week President Obama toured college campuses in states critical to his re-election. And thanks to an aggressive interpretation of federal law, he managed to get taxpayers to pick up the tab. But it was the content of his message that will really cost Americans: a demand that Congress cut the rates on federal student loans for the next academic year. Congress seems willing to oblige, which means taxpayers appear headed for another painful lesson in government lending.
The obvious political play is to shore up support among the college-age voters who went overwhelmingly for Mr. Obama in 2008 but are understandably less enthusiastic in 2012. So Mr. Obama is trying to cheer up these kids by freezing the current 3.4% fixed rate on the government's subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduates... Read the Rest
As California Collapses, Obama Follows Its Lead - Joel Kotkin [Daily Beast]
Barack Obama learned the rough sport of politics in Chicago, but his domestic policies have been shaped by California’s progressive creed. As the Golden State crumbles, its troubles point to those America may confront in a second Obama term.
From his first days in office, the president has held up California as a model state. In 2009, he praised itsgreen-tinged energy policies as a blueprint for the nation. He staffed his administration with Californians like Energy Secretary Steve Chu—an open advocate of high energy prices who’s lavished government funding on “green” dodos like solar-panel maker Solyndra, and luxury electric carmaker Fisker—andCommerce Secretary John Bryson, who thrived as CEO of a regulated utility which raised energy costs for millions of consumers, sometimes to finance “green” ideals... Read the Rest
A Bush League President - Peggy Noonan [Wall Street Journal]
There is every reason to be deeply skeptical of President Obama's prospects in November.
Republicans feel an understandable anxiety about Mr. Obama's coming campaign: It will be all slice and dice, divide and conquer, break the country into little pieces and pick up as many as you can. He'll try to pick up college students one day and solidify environmentalist support the next, he'll valorize this group and demonize the other. He means to gather in and hold onto all the pieces he needs, and turn them into a jagged, jangly coalition that will win it for him in November and not begin making individual demands until December.
But it still matters that the president doesn't have a coherent agenda, or a political philosophy that is really clear to people. To the extent he has a philosophy it, tends to pop up furtively in stray comments and then go away. This is to a unique degree a presidency of inference, its overall meaning never vividly declared. In some eras, that may be a plus. In this one?... Read the Rest
The Funniest Thing I Saw This Week

Obama's Approval Rating Down After Photos Surface Of Him Eating Big Sandwich All Alone

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