Friday, June 8, 2012

Top 10 Reads of the Week - June 8, 2012

The Boys of Pointe du Hoc - President Ronald Reagan [Real Clear Politics]
We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.
We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, two hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs... Read the Rest

The "People United" Go Down In Flames - Walter Russell Mead [The American Interest]
...The left’s problem in Wisconsin wasn’t that the right had too much money. The left’s problem is that the left’s agenda didn’t have enough support from the public. Poll after poll after poll showed that the public didn’t share the left’s estimation of the Walker reforms. Many thought they were a pretty good idea; many others didn’t much like the reforms but didn’t think they were bad enough or important enough to justify a year of turmoil and a recall election.
The left lost this election because it failed to persuade the people that its analysis was correct. The people weren’t a herd of sheep dazzled by big money campaign ads on TV; the Wisconsin electorate chewed over the issues at leisure, debated them extensively, considered both points of view — and then handed the left a humiliating, stinging and strategic defeat.... Read the Rest
California's Casino Budgeting - Michael Boskin and John Cogan [Wall Street Journal]
California's fiscal and governance crisis careens from bad to worse. The latest blow: a 70% increase in the state's projected budget deficit in Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget, to $16 billion from $9 billion. Meanwhile, S&P warns of a downgrade to the state's bond rating, already the lowest of any state, and the latest CEO survey ranks California's business climate dead last.
Caught in the symbiotic financial embrace of special interests—teacher and other public-employee unions, trial lawyers and environmental extremists—Mr. Brown and the state legislature repeatedly nibble around the edges of the budget broken by costly, ineffective programs, financed by an uncompetitive, volatile tax system... Read the Rest
Are We At A Demographic Inflection Point? - Michael Barone [Real Clear Politics]
Demographic forecasts generally take the form of predicting more of the same.
Old people have been moving to Florida for the past several years, and old people will move there for the next few years. Immigrants have been streaming in from Mexico, and they will continue to do so. You get the idea.
Most of the time these forecasts prove right. But sometimes there are inflection points, times when some trends stop and others begin. My read of recent demographic data suggest we may be at such a point right now... Read the Rest
Why the Chinese Communist Party is Afraid of a Flower - Will Dobson [Slate]

[Ed Note: This timely column is excerpted from Dobson's The Dictator's Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy, released June 5]
Today is June 4, the 23rd anniversary of the Chinese government’s brutal massacre of its own citizens in Tiananmen Square. That means, like all the June 4s since 1989, that today Chinese security forces are on high alert, watchful for anyone who would attempt to use this day as an opportunity to make a political statement or remind people of the night Chinese soldiers fired on fleeing students in the streets near Tiananmen. But, as special a day as June 4 may be for those Chinese who remember what happened, it is not the only day the regime sits on edge.

The longer the Chinese Communist Party stays in power, the more politically sensitive anniversaries the regime accumulates. The calendar has become littered with dates that remind people of the regime’s crimes or serve as potential flash points. A quick rundown of the Chinese political calendar would include March 10 (the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising), May 4 (anniversary of the 1919 May 4 Movement), June 4 (the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre), July 5 (the 2009 suppression of Muslims in Xinjiang), July 22 (the 1999 crackdown on the Falun Gong movement), and Oct. 1 (the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic). Any of these dates are times when the regime must be on the lookout for those who might try to rally people against the Communist Party. Indeed, the fear was great enough in 2009—when many of these dates had important anniversaries—that the party reportedly established a special high-level task force called the 6521 Group. (The numbers 6521 referred to the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic, the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising, the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, and the 10th anniversary of the Falun Gong crackdown.)... Read the Rest

The Myth of European Austerity - Lenwood Brooks [US News]
When French President Nicolas Sarkozy was ousted by his socialist opponent Francois Hollande on May 6, the verdict from opinion leaders was swift and certain: France's election results represented a sure repudiation of Europe's strategy of government budget cutting to restore the economy.
But a closer look at how austerity has actually played out in Europe tells a much different story—and offers a lesson for American policymakers... Read the Rest

Teachers Unions Have A Popularity Problem - Peterson, Howell, and West [Wall Street Journal]
However Wisconsin's recall election turns out on Tuesday, teachers unions already appear to be losing a larger political fight—in public opinion. In our latest annual national survey, we found that the share of the public with a positive view of union impact on local schools has dropped by seven percentage points in the past year. Among teachers, the decline was an even more remarkable 16 points.
On behalf of Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance and the journal Education Next, we have asked the following question since 2009: "Some people say that teacher unions are a stumbling block to school reform. Others say that unions fight for better schools and better teachers. What do you think? Do you think teacher unions have a generally positive effect on schools, or do you think they have a generally negative effect?"... Read the Rest
The Politics Of Loss - Jay Cost [National Affairs]
When political scientist Harold Lasswell, writing in the mid-1930s, defined politics as the decisions society makes about "who gets what, when, and how," he might as well have been describing the debate over taxes and spending in the United States today. Butwhat happens when the focus of the political debate changes from who gets what to who loses what? This concept is unfamiliar to Americans, who have enjoyed more than 100 years of (mostly) uninterrupted economic growth.
The few examples in American history of the politics of loss suggest that the results tend to be explosive. Writing in the aftermath of the 1968 presidential campaign, journalist Theodore White borrowed Lasswell's concept to define the core philosophy of the New Deal Democratic Party as the "share-out," by which he meant "that any Democratic administration would increase or stretch the wealth so that everyone would get his fair share of money, goods and comfort, and thus be content."... Read the Rest
Obama's Debt Boom - Editors [Wall Street Journal]
Remember a week or two ago, when President Obama was claiming to be a fiscal skinflint because some online columnist said so? That was fun. On Tuesday the Congressional Budget Office released a view more tethered to reality, and let's just say this will not be showing up in one of the President's campaign ads.
The CBO's long-term budget outlook notes that federal debt held by the public—the kind we have to pay back—will surge to 70% of the economy by the end of this year. That's the highest share of GDP in U.S. history except World War II, as the nearby chart indicates, higher than during the Civil War or World War I. It's also way up from 40% in 2008 and from the 40-year average of 38%.
And it's rising fast. CBO says that on present trend the national debt will hit 90% of GDP by 2022. It then balloons to 109% by 2026—that would be the all-time WWII peak—and approaches almost 200% of GDP by 2037... Read the Rest
What Wisconsin Means - Charles Krauthammer [Washington Post]
The unions’ defeat marks a historical inflection point. They set out to make an example of Walker. He succeeded in making an example of them as a classic case of reactionary liberalism. An institution founded to protect its members grew in size, wealth, power and arrogance, thanks to decades of symbiotic deals with bought politicians, to the point where it grossly overreached. A half-century later these unions were exercising essential control of everything from wages to work rules in the running of government — something that, in a system of republican governance, is properly the sovereign province of the citizenry.
Why did the unions lose? Because Norma Rae nostalgia is not enough, and it hardly applied to government workers living better than the average taxpayer who supports them... Read the Rest
The Funniest Thing I Saw This Week

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