From November, 2013

Congratulations to North Korea!

Those of us who hope for the downfall of the North Korean regime are forced nevertheless to tip our hats to the skill and resourcefulness of the regime’s internal security forces. They have captured Merrill Newman, an 85 year old American veteran of the Korean War, and have convicted him for “hostile acts.” Why, they have even televised his confession–one freely given, I am sure–so the North Korean allegations against Mr. Newman must be true. Reading the story, one readily sees how much of a threat to North Korean peace and security Mr. Newman must have been. The North Koreans really…

On Obamacare “Improvements”

Before reading this story and the excerpt that immediately follows, ensure first that your expectations are as low as they can possibly be. Done? Good. Now read: Administration officials are preparing to announce Sunday that they have met their Saturday deadline for improving HealthCare.gov, according to government officials, in part by expanding the site’s capacity so that it can handle 50,000 users at once. But they have yet to meet all their internal goals for repairing the federal health-care site, and it will not become clear how many consumers it can accommodate until more people try to use it. Government and…

A Friendly Note to the Obama Administration

Not that you aren’t aware of this, guys (at least, I hope that you are aware of this), but the Chinese are testing you. Try not to fail the test by actually allowing the Chinese to expand their air defense zone. Rather, inform the Chinese–quietly but firmly–that the United States will not recognize the expansion of the zone by filing any flight plans with the Chinese, and state that the Chinese will be responsible for any and all confrontations that may occur in the future. Additionally, let it be noted that there is absolutely no need whatsoever to inform others…

The Semi-Autobiography of Walter Bagehot

It comes highly recommended. And it now goes on my must-read list. A taste of what one might expect: The tragedy is that Bagehot, in the vast range of his writings, left no autobiography. But that lacuna has been splendidly filled by an American scholar of Britain, Frank Prochaska, who has taught at Yale and at Oxford, where he was a visiting fellow at All Souls College. He has written on the British monarchy, and on women and philanthropy and Christianity in Victorian England, and has immersed himself so deeply in the life and times of Bagehot that the man’s…

Your Government at Work

The next time someone tells you that a larger, more intrusive federal bureaucracy is just what the doctor ordered, refer that someone to this: Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George Cohen is resigning only days after learning he is a target of a congressional inquiry spurred by a Washington Examiner series. The Examiner series reported that FMCS employees spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on luxuries and that top officials retaliated against employees who questioned the spending. “I have notified President Obama that I intend to resign as Director, effective December 31, 2013,” Cohen told employees in a memo obtained by the Examiner. “I am…

An Absolute Coincidence, I’m Sure

There is no way–none whatsoever–that there could be any kind of low political cunning behind this: The new U.S. Treasury/Internal Revenue Service rules aimed at clarifying what constitutes political activity for tax-exempt “social welfare” organizations are likely to give more heartburn to conservative groups than their liberal counterparts. In 2012, conservatives pumped nearly eight times the money through their 501 (c) groups than liberals did, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org website. (CRP has a handy description of what the different advocacy groups are legally allowed to do.) CRP reported that conservatives spent $265.2 million through 501 (c) groups compared to…

Green Shoots of Sanity

There is plenty of craziness in the world; including, among other things, war, famine, corruption, broken political systems, and a botched healthcare rollout. So when a story comes along about obsessive fans of the Dutch masters, it actually serves to restore my faith in humanity. In writing that, I don’t pretend to opine on behalf of anyone other than myself, and of course, I recognize that for some, the thought of arranging jobs, vacations, lists of friends and entire personal lives around the viewing of a certain set of paintings might sound more than a bit crazy. But all it…

Plaintive Plea of the Day (Part Deux)

Can we please stop pretending that China is the equal of the United States on the world stage? Because it’s just not true: Many people around the world believe that China’s rise to the role of dominant global player is inevitable. A Pew Research Center survey released earlier this year found that in 23 of 39 countries surveyed, a majority of respondents said China is already, or will soon become, the “world’s leading superpower.” Even in America, just 47 percent told Pew they believe the United States will remain in that role, and the survey was conducted before Washington’s recent…