Archive for April, 2011

In the storms and after: Familiarity, imperfection, kindness

They say a recession is when your neighbor loses his job, and a depression is when you lose yours. Natural disasters seem to work the same way, eliciting empathy in proportion to their proximity.

Why?

Maybe it’s seeing your own city’s name in the corner of the screen, while the weatherman points to a map where a red mass is rubbing against a green mass. And that rubbing and the nine-point-five on the BTI (what’s a BTI?) means tornadoes. And the whole thing is moving toward that corner of the screen at…60 miles an hour. And that corner of the screen is…60 miles away. And that means it’s here in…60 minutes. Or will it turn?

Maybe it’s those other city names on the screen, some you’ve seen on a city limits sign, some you’ve seen on an interstate sign, some that sound so far-fetched (there’s a Margaret in Alabama? I mean, a place named Margaret?) they might not appear on any signs. Some have stronger associations in your mind, like the guys from Euharlee and

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Obama to repeat Reagan’s rebound? Not so fast

It has been easy, to the point of being facile, for Democrats to draw parallels between the first terms of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Both inherited economic troubles and didn’t dispose of them immediately; both took their lumps in the midterms; both had sagging approval ratings the year before standing for re-election.

Reagan won re-election in a 1984 landslide. Ergo, Obama will do the same in 2012.

Obama has the advantage of facing a field of GOP contenders that has yet to impress, although it’s still rounding into shape. But the single biggest factor will be the economy — and on that score, Investors Business Daily has an extremely telling chart:

Reagan recovery vs. Obama recovery

Credit: Investors Business Daily

So, only once in this recovery has quarterly growth topped the worst quarter of the Reagan recovery. And the effects of compounding — with those big gains coming on top of big gains, while our small improvements build on smaller improvements — can’t be ignored. Likewise the very sharp downward …

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By all means, Democrats, follow this advice

Who better than Ralph Nader to give electoral advice that ends up making progressives victorious?

From Politico:

Nader told POLITICO on Wednesday that he is working on bringing together about half a dozen presidential candidates who could “dramatically expand a robust discussion within the Democratic Party and among progressive voters across the country.” Each would focus on a specific issue where the far left says Obama hasn’t done enough, including the environment, labor and health care.

Nader, who has run for president five times as an independent or third party candidate — including his 2000 run on the Green ticket, which some Democrats say cost Al Gore the election — said that for next year, he believes an ideologically based, multi-candidate primary challenge would be the best way to pull Obama to the left ahead of the second term he believes Republicans will not be able to stop.

In an op-ed published Wednesday morning by Bloomberg News, Nader laid out the argument that …

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Prayers, donations, volunteers needed in tornadoes’ wake

We’ll return to regular programming shortly. For now, I urge everyone to say a prayer for the thousands and thousands of people in Georgia and elsewhere who lost their homes, their businesses, much of their towns and in some cases their loved ones in the terrible storms yesterday and last night.

If you’re looking for a place to start helping, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency has a clearinghouse for donations as well as links to other states’ portals and private charity/volunteer websites.

The photos from Ringgold and Rome, from Bartow County, from Griffin, from Madison, from Tuscaloosa, Ala., and elsewhere across the South are heart-breaking.

If you escaped unscathed, please be thankful — and willing to lend a hand to those who didn’t.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Here’s to Will and Kate giving marriage a royal boost

Doing three things will keep you out of poverty in this country, observes William Galston, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton. Finish high school. Wait until you’re at least 20 years old to get married. Wait until you’re married to have children.

Britain’s Prince William and the woman who on Friday will become his wife, Kate Middleton, don’t live in this country. And it’s a rock-solid bet that neither of them will ever live in poverty.

But, oh, how I hope their (mostly) by-the-numbers progression from school to courtship to marriage could set an example for any of their American cousins in danger of failing Galston’s guidelines.

Our culture more than celebrates celebrities. Americans don’t merely consume vast amounts of movies and music, news and gossip, made by celebrities. We emulate them as people: celebrity hairstyles, celebrity fashion, celebrity diets.

And royalty — particularly, for these United States, the British royals — are the original …

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The Obama birth certificate cometh; the madness won’t stoppeth

We finally have the birth certificate — I hope no one has to ask “whose birth certificate?” — long form and all.

So, there you have it.

Do I think this will end the debate? No, because conspiracy theorists generally aren’t persuaded by evidence. This was a ridiculous “debate” in the first place, and I expect it to become simply more ridiculous from here on. In fact, I think this may be good politically for President Obama, because the birthers will seem even crazier now.

As for Donald Trump: The potential presidential candidate is claiming the birth-certificate release as a scalp because he was the one who made a (kind of) mainstream issue of it. I disagree. How does it add luster to a candidate to make an issue of something that turns out to be much ado about nothing?

– By Kyle Wingfield

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The NFL owners’ surprising argument in favor of unions

OK, so we all know that a labor dispute between millionaires and billionaires, as the halting negotiations for a new agreement between the NFL’s players and owners have been described, is a different sort of animal than your typical fight between union workers and company managers. But I didn’t realize just how weird the situation was until I read the argument by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal yesterday.

As you read the following section of the op-ed, keep in mind that Goodell represents the owners (i.e., the capital side of the equation):

In the union lawyers’ world, every player would enter the league as an unrestricted free agent, an independent contractor free to sell his services to any team. Every player would again become an unrestricted free agent each time his contract expired. And each team would be free to spend as much or as little as it wanted on player payroll or on an individual player’s compensation.

Any …

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Haley Barbour and the overgrown presidency

I found Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s announcement yesterday that he’s not running for president surprising but not earth-shattering; I previously explained that I didn’t think Barbour could win the presidency anyway, and nothing in the interim had changed my mind.

That said, I agree with what the Cato Institute’s Roger Pilon wrote about the reason Barbour gave for staying out:

Gov. Barbour’s explanation for why he will not seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — because a candidate today “is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else,” and he cannot make such a commitment — is not only refreshingly candid but points to a much deeper problem.

We are moving inexorably not simply to news but to politics 24/7/365. And what better example than our current part-time president who, with no primary challenger in sight, is already on the campaign trail (did he ever leave it?), when the election is 19 months away. Some …

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RomneyCare’s unhappy birthday, ObamaCare’s bleak future

RomneyCare turned 5 earlier this month. So, given that the White House has portrayed Mitt Romney’s gubernatorial legacy as an inspiration for ObamaCare, how’s the Massachusetts plan doing?

Writing at Forbes, Sally Pipes explains several trends in Massachusetts. You’ll notice that these are the same metrics on which liberals and conservatives, during the health-reform debate, differed on whether ObamaCare would make things better or worse. For now, the answer seems clear.

On expanding insurance coverage versus expanding actual access to health care:

When signing the bill into law, Romney claimed that it would “take about three years to get all of our citizens insured.” In 2006 the number of uninsured in Massachusetts ranged from 372,000 to 618,000. Five years later, over 100,000 remain uninsured.

So more Bay Staters do have insurance. But that doesn’t mean they’ve been able to get care.

The Massachusetts Medical Society found that 56% of physicians are not taking on new …

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Boeing, the NLRB and government’s golden handcuffs

Boeing was the recipient of an outrageous ruling last week by the National Labor Relations Board, which said the aerospace giant couldn’t retaliate against labor-union strikes by moving some manufacturing operations out of union-friendly Washington state to right-to-work South Carolina. The ruling was outrageous on several levels: a federal government entity telling a private company where it can and can’t locate certain operations; the basis for that ruling being the company’s desire to avoid strikes that have cost it millions of dollars in recent years; the federal entity very obviously siding with one state that happens to be a reliable vote for the political party of the current occupant of the White House over another that happens to be a reliable vote for the other major political party.

But…

As the Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney reminds us today, Boeing is in no position to complain about government interference in its operations, given its reliance on government …

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