Chuck Hagel confirmed as Secretary of Defense

The Senate confirmed Chuck Hagel as our new Secretary of Defense.  Though Hagel, a former Senator from Nebraska,  is a Republican, most Republicans opposed him for his criticism of Israel, his rejection of sanctions against Iran, his opposition to nuclear weapons, and other “dovish positions.” Hagel will join John Kerry, confirmed as the new Secretary of State, as key cabinet members in the second Obama administration. [Read more...]

Friday’s spending cut apocalypse

We are facing another financial deadline in Washington in three days.  Not a fiscal cliff, nor a debt ceiling crisis.  On Friday, March 1, if nothing happens, federal spending will automatically be cut by $85.4 billion.  This so-called “sequester” was part of the deal to raise the debt ceiling.   Republicans put in cuts for domestic programs, while Democrats put in cuts for the military.  Both sides assumed that these would never go through, since they go against the respective priorities of each party, but it looks like they will.  The Obama administration is decrying the cuts in apocalyptic terms, saying air traffic control will be shut down, our military will be crippled, the elderly will go hungry, and children will lose their schools.  After the jump, see what will really be affected. [Read more...]

Society has little defense

Not too long ago, both liberals and conservatives were oriented to some kind of common social good.  Liberals pushed for what they considered to be “social justice.”  Conservatives emphasized patriotism and worked for cultural stability.  Today, both sides frame their arguments in terms of personal liberty and individual rights (gay rights, abortion rights, reproductive freedom, etc., vs. parental rights, religious liberty, gun rights, free markets, etc.).

Is that an advance?  Perhaps it is.  But did you notice that when we recently discussed Iceland’s attempt to battle pornography, hardly any of us–social conservatives mostly, me included–were able to come up with any way to oppose it legally.  Even as we were decrying pornography and admitting how socially harmful it is, we could only conceive of the issue in terms of first amendment rights.  On another blog that discussed Iceland’s policies, someone defended pornography on the grounds that we must not interfere with free market economics, that the demand must call forth a supply.

Then I was part of a discussion of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s graduation address at Harvard University in 1978.  In that talk, the exiled Russian author who spent nearly a decade in the Soviet gulag and whose dissident writings helped bring about the fall of Communism, said why he would not recommend that his country, once free, emulate the modern West.  One reason he gave is that western societies have become “legalistic”; that is, our societies have replaced morality with laws.  And societies cannot protect themselves with laws alone. [Read more...]

Unchecked righteousness

Charles Lane of the Washington Post comments on the electric car fiasco, discussing the multiple failures of government investments and the disappointing performance and sales of the vehicles. The occasion is the disastrous roadtrip in a Tesla described by John M. Broder in the New York Times.  What interests me is not electric cars but the category of error that Lane identifies:

I accept the president’s good intentions. He didn’t set out to rip off the public. Nor was the electric-car dream a Democrats-only delusion. Several Republican pols shared it, too.

Rather, the debacle is a case study in unchecked righteousness. The administration assumed the worthiness and urgency of its goals. Americans should want electric cars, and therefore they would, apparently. [Read more...]

The State of the Union & Mardi Gras

OK, this is rather belated, but still. . . .The quite liberal Dana Milbank takes the prize for best comments on the State of the Union Address:

There is something entirely appropriate about holding the State of the Union address on the same day as Mardi Gras.

One is a display of wretched excess, when giddy and rowdy participants give in to reckless and irresponsible behavior.

The other is a street festival in New Orleans. [Read more...]

Deporting homeschoolers

Homeschooling in Germany is illegal and is punished harshly with fines, imprisonment, and even the taking away of children from their families.  A family that suffered that persecutionfor homeschooling their children came to the United States seeking religious freedom, as so many other immigrants have done, and an immigration judge recognized their jeopardy in their home  country and granted them asylum.  But Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Homeland Security are disputing that ruling and are seeking to deport the homeschooling family.  [Read more...]


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