Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Class Warfare for Republicans. By Joel Kotkin.

Class Warfare for Republicans. By Joel Kotkin. New Geography, April 29, 2013. Also find it here.

The Triumph of Suburbia. By Joel Kotkin. JoelKotkin.com, April 29, 2013. Also find it here.

Megacities And The Density Delusion: Why More People Doesn’t Equal More Wealth. By Joel Kotkin. JoelKotkin.com, April 30, 2013.

Judge Jeanine Pirro Slams Jihad Mom.

Judge Jeanine Pirro Slams Jihad Mom: “Lady, You Shouldn’t Be Allowed Here.” Real Clear Politics, April 27, 2013. YouTubeThe Right Scoop.

The Four Corners of Liberal Deceit. By Rush Limbaugh

The Four Corners of Liberal Deceit: Prominent Liberal Social Psychologist Made It All Up. by Rush Limbaugh. RushLimbaugh.com, April 29, 2013.

The Mind of a Con Man. By Yudhijit Bhattacharjee. New York Times, April 26, 2013.

Downton’s Class System—and Ours. By Tom Bethell.

Downton’s Class System—and Ours. By Tom Bethell. The American Spectator, May 2013.

Niall Ferguson to Paul Krugman: You’re Still Wrong About Government Spending.

Niall Ferguson to Paul Krugman: You’re Still Wrong About Government Spending. By Morgan Korn. The Daily Ticker, April 30, 2013.

The Story of Our Time. By Paul Krugman. New York Times, April 28, 2013.

The Rise and Decline of Nations and Civilizations. Video. Panel with Jared Diamond, Niall Ferguson, James Robinson, and William Bennett. Milken Institute, April 29, 2013. YouTube.

The Reactionary Republicans. By Jeffrey Lord.

The Reactionary Republicans. By Jeffrey Lord. The American Spectator, April 30, 2013. Print View.

Erica DePalo, Former N.J. Teacher, Avoids Prison on Sex Charge with 15-Year-Old.

Erica DePalo, 2011 Essex County, NJ Teacher of the Year, now a convicted sex offender.

Erica DePalo, former N.J. teacher, avoids prison on sex charge with 15-year-old. CBS News, April 30, 2013.

Former West Orange High School teacher, Erica DePalo, sentenced for having sex with student. News 12 New Jersey, April 29, 2013.

Former “Teacher of the Year” who admitted sex with her 15-year-old student gets just parole after revealing she is bi-polar. Daily Mail, April 29, 2013.

Erica DePalo with her Teacher of the Year award.

Former Essex County Teacher of the Year who admitted to sex with student receives parole. By Julia Terruso. New Jersey Star-Ledger, April 29, 2013.

Erica DePalo sentencing, a look at teacher-student sex case stats. By Julia Terruso. New Jersey Star-Ledger, April 29, 2013.

Former West Orange High School Teacher Erica DePalo Receives Parole; School Community Still Struggling. By Cynthia Cumming. The Alternative Press, April 29, 2013.

Erica DePalo at her sentencing as a sex offender.

New Jersey “Teacher Of  The Year” Arrested For Sexual Assault; Erica DePalo “Eccentric,” Student Says. By Steven Hoffer. The Huffington Post, September 5, 2012.

N.J. Teacher of the Year in 2011, Erica DePalo charged with having sexual relationship with 15 year-old student. By Dan Riehl. Riehl World News, September 5, 2012.

Former Teacher of the Year Accepts Plea in Teen Sex Case. By Craig McCarthy. West Orange Patch, February 19, 2013.

District: DePalo Should Have Faced Jail Time. By Craig McCarthy. West Orange Patch, February 19, 2013.

Erica DePalo Honored as Essex County Teacher of the Year. By Craig McCarthy. West Orange Patch, September 20, 2011.

Why Is There a Hookup Culture? By Dennis Prager.

Why Is There a Hookup Culture? By Dennis Prager. Real Clear Politics, April 30, 2013. Also find it here and here.

Give Monogamy a Chance. By Emily Esfahani Smith. Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2013.

A Lesson From Birmingham For the Arabs. By Rami G. Khouri.

A lesson from Birmingham for the Arabs. By Rami G. Khouri. The Daily Star (Lebanon), April 27, 2013.

Feeding the Pyramid Builders. By Noah Wiener.

An image of the OK (Old Kingdom) Corral with the Giza pyramids in the distance. Researchers note that it was large enough to hold 55 cattle with feeding pens. There may also have been areas for slaughter. CREDIT: AERA Inc.

Feeding the Pyramid Builders. By Noah Wiener. Bible History Daily, April 26, 2013.


It takes a lot to build a pyramid that will stand for 4,500 years. An estimated 10,000 workers built Menkaure’s pyramid at Giza. What did they eat?

Recent studies at the workers’ town Heit el-Ghurab suggest that the workers would have had access to sheep, goat and cattle meat on a regular basis. In fact, the diet was likely better than the average diet in Egyptian villages, and may have been an incentive to draw workers to the site. However, it was no easy feat to cater for 10,000 hungry workers. In a recent article in Livescience, Richard Redding, chief research officer at Ancient Egypt Research Associates, puts the food operation in perspective. The estimated herd of 21,900 cattle and 54,750 sheep required to regularly feed the Giza workers would have required 465 square miles of grazing, fallow, waste, built and agricultural land. While the Egyptians put a great deal of effort into feeding their workers, it wasn’t an open buffet; archaeological evidence points to a beef-rich diet for the overseers, while the general workers ate much more sheep and goat meat. Providing meat for the workers was a massive endeavor, even if an estimated half of the workers’ protein came from non-meat sources. These studies were done on workers’ settlements during the construction of Menkaure’s pyramid, the smallest of the three pyramids of Giza. What did Khufu have to do to feed the Great Pyramid’s workers?

Giza Secret Revealed: How 10,000 Pyramid Builders Got Fed. By Owen Jarus. LiveScience, April 23, 2013. Image Gallery.

Pyramids and Protein. By Richard Redding and Brian V. Hunt. AREA.

Egyptian Old Kingdom Patterns of Animal Use and the Value of Faunal Data in Modeling Socioeconomic Systems. By Richard W. Redding. Paléorient, Vol. 18, No. 2 (1992).

Think Again: European Decline. By Mark Leonard and Hans Kundnani.

Think Again: European Decline. By Mark Leonard and Hans Kundnani. Foreign Policy, May/June 2013.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Difference Between Newtown and Boston. By Jonathan S. Tobin.

The Difference Between Newtown and Boston. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, April 28, 2013.

Egyptian Salafi Cleric Says Boston Bombing Was Meant to Deliver a Message.

Egyptian Salafi Cleric Murgan Salem: Boston Bombing Was Meant to Deliver a Message. Al-Tahrir TV (Egypt). Video No. 3807, MEMRI TV, April 16, 2013. YouTube.

Ignoring Jew-Hatred in the Islamic World. By Evelyn Gordon.

Ignoring Jew-Hatred in the Islamic World. By Evelyn Gordon. Commentary, April 26, 2013.

“Explanations” of Islamic Jew-Hatred Reveal Media’s Own Prejudices. By Evelyn Gordon. Commentary, April 29, 2013.

Plumbing the depths of Islamic Jew-hatred. By Tibor Krausz. The Jerusalem Report, April 10, 2013. Also find it here.

Child Preacher Ibrahim Adham Longs for Martyrdom, Fighting alongside the Palestinians. Al-Rahma TV (Egypt). MEMRITV, Video Clip No. 3644, November 16, 2012. YouTube.

Egyptian Cleric Sayyed Azab: The Jews Staged the French and Communist Revolutions to Corrupt the World. Al-Omma TV (Egypt). Video Clip No. 3816, MEMRITV, April 18, 2013. YouTube.

Egyptian Child Preacher Ibrahim Adham Curses Bush and Obama and Prays for the Destruction of Israel. Al-Rahma TV (Egypt). Video Clip No. 3623, MEMRI TV, October 19, 2012. YouTube.

The Twilight of Entitlement. By Robert Samuelson.

The Twilight of Entitlement. By Robert Samuelson. Real Clear Politics, April 29, 2013.


WASHINGTON – We are passing through something more than a period of disappointing economic growth and increasing political polarization. What’s happening is more powerful: the collapse of “entitlement.” By this, I do not mean primarily cuts in specific government benefits, most prominently Social Security, but the demise of a broader mindset – attitudes and beliefs – that, in one form or another, has gripped Americans since the 1960s. The breakdown of these ideas has rattled us psychologically as well as politically and economically.

In my 1995 book, The Good Life and Its Discontents, I defined entitlement as our expectations “about the kind of nation we were creating and what that meant for all of us individually”:

We had a grand vision. We didn’t merely expect things to get better. We expected all social problems to be solved. We expected business cycles, economic insecurity, poverty, and racism to end. We expected almost limitless personal freedom and self-fulfillment. For those who couldn’t live life to its fullest (as a result of old age, disability, or bad luck), we expected a generous social safety net to guarantee decent lives. We blurred the distinction between progress and perfection.

Bill Clinton has a pithier formulation: “If you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll have the freedom and opportunity to pursue your own dreams.” That’s entitlement. “Responsible” Americans should be able to attain realistic ambitions.

No more. Millions of Americans who have “played by the rules” are in distress or fear that they might be. In a new Allstate/National Journal survey, 65 percent of respondents said today’s middle class has less “job and financial security” than their parents’ generation; 52 percent asserted there is less “opportunity to get ahead.” The middle class is “more anxious than aspirational,” concluded the poll’s sponsors. Similarly, the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that only 51 percent of workers are confident they’ll have enough money to retire comfortably, down from 70 percent in 2007.

Popular national goals remain elusive. Poverty is stubborn. Many schools seem inadequate. The “safety net,” private and public, is besieged. Our expansive notion of entitlement rested on optimistic and, ultimately, unrealistic assumptions:

First, that economists knew enough to moderate the business cycle, guaranteeing jobs for most people who wanted them. This seemed true for many years; from 1980 to 2007, the economy created 47 million non-farm jobs. The Great Recession revealed the limits of economic management. The faith in a crude stability vanished.

Second, that large corporations (think: General Motors, AT&T) were so dominant that they could provide secure jobs and generous benefits – health insurance, pensions – for much of the labor force. Deregulation, foreign competition and new technologies changed all this. Companies became more cost-conscious, cutting jobs and squeezing fringe benefits. The private “safety net” has shrunk.

Third, that improvements in economic efficiency (aka, “productivity”) would lift living standards and finance bigger government without steeper taxes. Government could pay for new programs by taking a fixed share of rising incomes. In reality, greater income inequality has dampened middle-class living standards, while existing programs – soaring health costs and the effects of an aging population – have claimed an ever-larger share of taxes.

Fourth, that lifestyle choices – to marry or not, have children, or divorce – would expand individual freedom without inflicting adverse social consequences. Wrong. Family breakdown has deepened poverty and worsened children’s prospects. About 30 percent of children live with either one parent or no parent; on average, their life chances are poorer than those in two-parent households.

Weighed down by these contradictions, entitlement has been slowly crumbling for decades. The Great Recession merely applied the decisive blow. We’re not entitled to many things: not to a dynamic economy; not to secure jobs; not to homeownership; not to ever-more protective government; not to fixed tax burdens; not to a college education. Sooner or later, the programs called “entitlements,” including Social Security, will be trimmed because they’re expensive and some recipients are less deserving than others.

The collision between present realities and past expectations helps explain the public’s extraordinary moodiness. The pandering to the middle class by both parties (and much of the media) represents one crude attempt to muffle the disappointment, a false reassurance that the pleasing past can be reclaimed. It can’t. This does not mean the economy can’t improve. Derek Thompson, writing in The Atlantic, suggests that when “millennials” end their delays in marrying, having children and buying homes, they will administer a welcome stimulus to growth. The trouble is that today’s grievances transcend the economy.

In the post-entitlement era, people’s expectations may be more grounded. But political conflicts – who gets, who gives -- and social resentments will be, as they already are, sharper. Entitlement implied an almost-limitless future. Facing limits is a contentious exercise in making choices.

Judgment Not Included. By Thomas L. Friedman.

Judgment Not Included. By Thomas L. Friedman. New York Times, April 27, 2013.

Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Could Hold the Key to Middle East Peace.

Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Could Hold the Key to Middle East Peace. By Jonathan Freedland. The Guardian, April 26, 2013.

Political Correctness and the Evil in Boston. By Michael Goodwin.

Political Correctness and the Evil in Boston. By Michael Goodwin. New York Post, April 28, 2013.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

America, Land of the Free and Home of the Individual. By Walter Russell Mead.

America, Land of the Free and Home of the Individual. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, April 28, 2013.

The Liberaltarian Democrats. By Ross Douthat. New York Times, April 23, 2013.

Liberaltarians. By Brink Lindsey. The New Republic, December 11, 2006. Also find it here.

Would Justin Amash Really “Tear Down the Left-Right Paradigm”? By Scott Galupo. The American Conservative, April 22, 2013.

Jobs of the Future: Princesses for Hire. By Walter Russell Mead.

Jobs of the Future: Princesses for Hire. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, April 27, 2013.

Julia, Meet Carina. By Abe Greenwald.

Julia, Meet Carina. By Abe Greenwald. Commentary, April 24, 2013.

Denmark Rethinks Its Much Too Generous Welfare State. By Donald Douglas. American Power, April 23, 2013.

Danes Rethink a Welfare State Ample to a Fault. By Suzanne Daley. New York Times, April 20, 2013.

Elsa Walsh’s Journey to Marriage and Motherhood. By Peter Wehner.

Elsa Walsh’s Journey to Marriage and Motherhood. By Peter Wehner. Commentary, April 22, 2013.

Why women should embrace a “good enough” life. By Elsa Walsh. Washington Post, April 18, 2013.

Common Genetic Threads Link Thousands of Years of Jewish Ancestry.

Common Genetic Threads Link Thousands of Years of Jewish Ancestry. ScienceDaily, June 4, 2010.

Studies Show Jews’ Genetic Similarity. By Nicholas Wade. New York Times, June 9, 2010.

Abraham’s Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern Ancestry. By Gil Atzmon et al. The American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 86, No. 6 (June 2010). Also find it here.


For more than a century, Jews and non-Jews alike have tried to define the relatedness of contemporary Jewish people. Previous genetic studies of blood group and serum markers suggested that Jewish groups had Middle Eastern origin with greater genetic similarity between paired Jewish populations. However, these and successor studies of monoallelic Y chromosomal and mitochondrial genetic markers did not resolve the issues of within and between-group Jewish genetic identity. Here, genome-wide analysis of seven Jewish groups (Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek, and Ashkenazi) and comparison with non-Jewish groups demonstrated distinctive Jewish population clusters, each with shared Middle Eastern ancestry, proximity to contemporary Middle Eastern populations, and variable degrees of European and North African admixture. Two major groups were identified by principal component, phylogenetic, and identity by descent (IBD) analysis: Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews. The IBD segment sharing and the proximity of European Jews to each other and to southern European populations suggested similar origins for European Jewry and refuted large-scale genetic contributions of Central and Eastern European and Slavic populations to the formation of Ashkenazi Jewry. Rapid decay of IBD in Ashkenazi Jewish genomes was consistent with a severe bottleneck followed by large expansion, such as occurred with the so-called demographic miracle of population expansion from 50,000 people at the beginning of the 15th century to 5,000,000 people at the beginning of the 19th century. Thus, this study demonstrates that European/Syrian and Middle Eastern Jews represent a series of geographical isolates or clusters woven together by shared IBD genetic threads.


Jews originated as a national and religious group in the Middle East during the second millennium BCE and have maintained continuous genetic, cultural, and religious traditions since that time, despite a series of Diasporas. Middle Eastern (Iranian and Iraqi) Jews date from communities that were formed in the Babylon and Persian Empires in the fourth to sixth centuries BCE. Jewish communities in the Balkans, Italy, North Africa, and Syria were formed during classical antiquity and then admixed with Sephardic Jews who migrated after their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula in the late 15th century. Ashkenazi Jews are thought to have settled in the Rhine Valley during the first millennium of the Common Era, then to have migrated into Eastern Europe between the 11th and 15th centuries, although alternative theories involving descent from Sorbs (Slavic speakers in Germany) and Khazars have also been proposed. Admixture with surrounding populations had an early role in shaping world Jewry, but, during the past 2000 years, may have been limited by religious law as Judaism evolved from a proselytizing to an inward-looking religion.

Earlier genetic studies on blood groups and serum markers suggested that Jewish Diaspora populations had Middle Eastern origin, with greater genetic similarity between paired Jewish populations than with non-Jewish populations. These studies differed in their interpretation of the degree of admixture with local populations. Recent studies of Y chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA haplotypes have pointed to founder effects of both Middle Eastern and local origin, yet the issue of how to characterize Jewish people as mere coreligionists or as genetic isolates that may be closely or loosely related remains unresolved. To improve the understanding about the relatedness of contemporary Jewish groups, genome-wide analysis and comparison with neighboring populations was performed for representatives of three major groups of the Jewish Diaspora: Eastern European Ashkenazim; Italian, Greek, and Turkish Sephardim; and Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian Mizrahim (Middle Easterners).

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Genomes Reveals Diversity, History. By Quinn Eastman. ScienceDaily, August 27, 2010.

Signatures of founder effects, admixture and selection in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. By Steven M. Bray et al. PNAS, Vol. 107, No. 37 (September 14, 2010). PDF. Also find it here.

New Study Sheds Light On the Origin of the European Jewish Population. ScienceDaily, January 16, 2013.

The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses. By Eran Elhaik. Genome Biology and Evolution, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2013). PDF. Also find it here.


The question of Jewish ancestry has been the subject of controversy for over two centuries and has yet to be resolved. The “Rhineland hypothesis” depicts Eastern European Jews as a “population isolate” that emerged from a small group of German Jews who migrated eastward and expanded rapidly. Alternatively, the “Khazarian hypothesis” suggests that Eastern European Jews descended from the Khazars, an amalgam of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries CE and converted to Judaism in the 8th century. Mesopotamian and Greco–Roman Jews continuously reinforced the Judaized empire until the 13th century. Following the collapse of their empire, the Judeo–Khazars fled to Eastern Europe. The rise of European Jewry is therefore explained by the contribution of the Judeo–Khazars. Thus far, however, the Khazars’ contribution has been estimated only empirically, as the absence of genome-wide data from Caucasus populations precluded testing the Khazarian hypothesis. Recent sequencing of modern Caucasus populations prompted us to revisit the Khazarian hypothesis and compare it with the Rhineland hypothesis. We applied a wide range of population genetic analyses to compare these two hypotheses. Our findings support the Khazarian hypothesis and portray the European Jewish genome as a mosaic of Near Eastern-Caucasus, European, and Semitic ancestries, thereby consolidating previous contradictory reports of Jewish ancestry. We further describe a major difference among Caucasus populations explained by the early presence of Judeans in the Southern and Central Caucasus. Our results have important implications for the demographic forces that shaped the genetic diversity in the Caucasus and for medical studies.

Highlight: Out of Khazaria—Evidence for “Jewish Genome” Lacking. By Danielle Venton. Genome Biology and Evolution, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2013). PDF. Also find it here.

The genome-wide structure of the Jewish people. By Doron M. Behar et al. Nature, Vol. 466, July 8, 2010.

Nearly Half Of Ashkenazi Jews Descended From Four “Founding Mothers.” ScienceDaily, January 17, 2006.

New Light on the Origins of Ashkenazi in Europe. By Nicholas Wade. New York Times, January 14, 2006. Also here.

The Matrilineal Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jewry: Portrait of a Recent Founder Event. By Doron M. Behar et al. The American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 78, No. 3 (March 2006).

Founding Mothers of Jewish Communities: Geographically Separated Jewish Groups Were Independently Founded by Very Few Female Ancestors. By Mark G. Thomas et al. The American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 70, No. 6 (June 2002).

Jewish Priesthood Has Multiple Lineages, New Genetic Research Indicates. ScienceDaily, September 25, 2009.

Extended Y chromosome haplotypes resolve multiple and unique lineages of the Jewish priesthood. By Michael F. Hammer et al. Human Genetics, Vol. 126, No. 5 (November 2009).

Origins of Old Testament Priests. By Mark G. Thomas et al. Nature, Vol. 394, July 9, 1998. Also find it here.

Y Chromosomes of Jewish Priests. By Karl Skorecki et al. Nature, Vol. 385, January 2, 1997.

Y-chromosomal Aaron. Wikipedia. With links to some journal article sources.

Israelites. Wikipedia.

The Origin of Palestinians and Their Genetic Relatedness With Other Mediterranean Populations. By Antonio Arnaiz-Villena et al. Human Immunology, Vol. 62, No. 9 (September 2001). Also here and here.

High-resolution Y chromosome haplotypes of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs reveal geographic substructure and substantial overlap with haplotypes of Jews. By Almut Nebel et al. Human Genetics, Vol. 107, No. 6 (December 2000).

The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East. By Almut Nebel et al. American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 69, No. 5 (November 2001).

Journal axes gene research on Jews and Palestinians. By Robin McKie. The Observer. Guardian.co.uk, November 25, 2001.

Politicizing Science: The Genetic Code of Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Muslims. By Pamela Geller. Atlas Shrugs, February 26, 2010.

Illegal knowledge: Palestinians and Jews are relatives. By Benno Hansen. Newsvine, September 3, 2006.

The Cana’anite Factor: (Un) Defining Religious Identities in Palestine and Israel. By Basem L. Ra’ad. Palestine-Israel Journal, Vols. 8/9, Nos. 4/1 (2002). Also here.

Ancient DNA Reveals Europe’s Dynamic Genetic History.

Ancient DNA Reveals Europe’s Dynamic Genetic History. ScienceDaily, April 23, 2013. Also find it here.

Neolithic mitochondrial haplogroup H genomes and the genetic origins of Europeans. By Paul Brotherton et al. Nature Communications Vol. 4, April 23, 2013.

The Bush Legacy. By Charles Krauthammer.

The Bush Legacy. By Charles Krauthammer. National Review Online, April 25, 2013. Also at the Washington Post.

He left behind an inconclusive war, but he made ultimate victory possible.


Clare Boothe Luce liked to say that “a great man is one sentence.” Presidents, in particular. The most common “one sentence” for George W. Bush (whose legacy is being reassessed as his presidential library opens) is: “He kept us safe.”

Not quite right. He did not just keep us safe. He created the entire anti-terror infrastructure that continues to keep us safe.

That homage was paid, wordlessly, by Barack Obama, who vilified Bush’s anti-terror policies as a candidate, then continued them as president: indefinite detention, rendition, warrantless wiretaps, special forces and drone warfare, and, most notoriously, Guantanamo, which Obama so ostentatiously denounced — until he found it indispensable.

Quite a list. Which is why there was not one successful terror bombing on U.S. soil from 9/11 until last week. The Boston Marathon attack was an obvious security failure, but there is a difference between 3,000 dead and three. And on the other side of the ledger are the innumerable plots broken up since 9/11.

Moreover, Bush’s achievement was not just infrastructure. It was war. The Afghan campaign overthrew the Taliban, decimated al-Qaeda, and expelled it from its haven. Yet that success is today derogated with the cheap and lazy catchphrase — “He got us into two wars” — intended to spread to Afghanistan the opprobrium associated with Iraq.

As if Afghanistan was some unilateral Bush adventure foisted on the American people. As if Obama himself did not call it a “war of necessity”; and Joe Biden, the most just war since World War II.

The dilemma in Afghanistan was what to do after the brilliant, nine-week victory? There was no good answer. Even with the benefit of seven years’ grinding experience under his predecessor, Obama got it wrong. His Afghan “surge” cost hundreds of American lives without having changed the country’s prospects.

It turned out to be a land too primitive to democratize, too fractured to unify. The final withdrawal will come after Obama’s own six years of futility.

Iraq was, of course, far more problematic. Critics conveniently forget that the invasion had broad support from the public and Congress, including from those who became the highest foreign-policy figures in the Obama administration — Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and Biden.

And they forget the context — crumbling sanctions that would in short order have restored Saddam Hussein to full economic and regional power, well positioning him, post-sanctions, to again threaten his neighbors and restart his WMD program.

Was the war worth it? Inconclusive wars never yield a good answer. Was Korea worth it? It ended with a restoration of the status quo ante. Now 60 years later, we face nuclear threats from the same regime that was not defeated in a war that cost ten times as many American lives as Iraq.

The Iraq War had three parts. The initial toppling of the regime was a remarkable success — like Afghanistan, rapid and with relatively few U.S. casualties.

The occupation was a disaster, rooted in the fundamental contradiction between means and ends, between the “light footprint” chosen by General George Casey and the grand reformation attempted by Paul Bremer, who tried to change everything down to the coinage.

Finally, the surge, a courageous Bush decision taken against near-universal opposition, that produced the greatest U.S. military turnaround since the Inchon landing. And inflicted the single most significant defeat for al-Qaeda (save Afghanistan) — a humiliating rout at the hands of Iraqi Sunnis fighting side by side with the American infidel.

As with Lincoln, it took Bush years of agonizing bloody stalemate before he finally found his general and his strategy. Yet, for all the terrible cost, Bush bequeathed to Obama a strategically won war. Obama had one task: Conclude a status-of-forces agreement and thus secure Iraq as a major regional ally. He failed utterly. Iraq today is more fragile, sectarian, and Iranian-influenced than it was when Bush left office — and than it had to be.

Like Bush, Harry Truman left office widely scorned, largely because of the inconclusive war he left behind. In time, however, Korea came to be seen as but one battle in a much larger Cold War that Truman was instrumental in winning. He established the institutional and policy infrastructure (CIA, NATO, Truman Doctrine, etc.) that made possible ultimate victory almost a half-century later. I suspect history will similarly see Bush as the man who, by trial and error but also with prescience and principle, established the structures that will take us through another long twilight struggle, and enable us to prevail.

Looking for Our Prehistoric Mother. By Meg Bortin.

Looking for Our Prehistoric Mother. By Meg Bortin. New York Times, April 25, 2013.

Worldwide Human Relationships Inferred from Genome-Wide Patterns of Variation. By Jun Z. Li et al. Science, Vol. 319, February 22, 2008. Also find it here.

The Druze: A Population Genetic Refugium of the Near East. By Liran I. Shlush et al. PLoS ONE, Vol. 3 No. 5 (May 2008).

Genetics Confirm Oral Traditions of Druze in Israel. ScienceDaily, May 12, 2008.

The Awlaki/Tsarnaev Connection. By Daniel Klaidman.

The Awlaki/Tsarnaev Connection. By Daniel Klaidman. The Daily Beast, April 26, 2013.

Grieving Mother or Islamic Militant. By Margery Eagan. The Boston Herald, April 27, 2013.

In Defense of Henry Kissinger. By Robert Kaplan.

In Defense of Henry Kissinger. By Robert Kaplan. The Atlantic, May 2013. Also find it here.

The Morality of Kissinger’s Realism. By Robert W. Merry. The National Interest, April 25, 2013.

The Trial of Robert D. Kaplan. The Atlantic’s absurd defense of Henry Kissinger. By Isaac Chotiner. The New Republic, April 25, 2013.

Red Dates, Blue Dates. By Naomi Schaefer Riley.

Red dates, blue dates. By Naomi Schaefer Riley. USA Today, April 25, 2013.

We’re more likely to date and marry outside our faiths than our political parties.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Donald Kagan’s Last Stand for Western Civilization. By Matthew Kaminski.

“Democracy May Have Had Its Day.” By Matthew Kaminski. Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2013.

Donald Kagan, Yale’s great classicist gives his final lecture, fighting as ever for Western civilization.

Donald Kagan: Lion in Winter. By Bruce Fellman. Yale Alumni Magazine, April 2002.

An Address to the Class of 1994. By Donald Kagan. Commentary, January 1991.

Stephanie Decker, Indiana Mom Who Lost Her Legs in a Tornado, Pushes Forward.

Brave mother who lost her legs protecting her children from a tornado shows off her astonishing recovery exactly a year on as her family rebuilds their home. Daily Mail, March 5, 2013.

Tornado survivor Stephanie Decker offers support to Boston amputees. By Peter Smith. Louisville Courier-Journal, April 16, 2013.

Stephanie Decker website.

Stephanie Decker. My U of L Health Care Story. Video. uoflhealthcare, October 15, 2012. YouTube.

Astonishing Hero Mom Takes First Steps. Video. The Ellen Show, May 24, 2012. YouTube.

The Middle East’s New Map. By Robert Kaplan.

The Middle East’s New Map. By Robert Kaplan. Real Clear Politics, April 25, 2013.

The American Dream, Downsized. By Amy Sullivan.

The American Dream, Downsized. By Amy Sullivan. National Journal, April 25, 2013.

The middle class now worries more about holding on for dear life than about climbing the ladder to riches.


The Grain Exchange Room in Milwaukee’s old Chamber of Commerce building is a dazzling display of Gilded Age opulence. Its ornate faux-marble columns soar three stories high, and an intricately carved balcony overlooks what is believed to have been the world’s first commodities-exchange trading pit. This temple to business and success was a fitting location for Mitt Romney’s victory speech after the Wisconsin primary a year ago, on the night he eclipsed his last remaining rival for the Republican presidential nomination.

Romney used the occasion to lay out his vision of an “opportunity society led by free people and free enterprises.” Barack Obama, he charged, didn’t believe in opportunity: When the president went after the “1 percent,” he wanted only to turn the United States into “one of those societies that attack success.” Romney’s supporters cheered.

In Chicago, the Obama team cheered, too.

Led by Obama’s chief pollster, Joel Benenson, the campaign had spent 2011 examining Americans’ views on economic security and the American Dream. They concluded that something fundamental had changed. It used to be political gospel that a candidate couldn’t risk talking about inequality because such a stance was so easily caricatured as an attack on the rich and because even working-class Americans believed they had an opportunity to be rich someday. But as Benenson explained in a recent interview, “There has been a recalibration of the American mind-set when it comes to economic change.”

What his polling found is that middle-class Americans are much more concerned about holding onto what they’ve got than in pursuing more. The Pew Economic Mobility project, the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll, and other studies have arrived at similar conclusions. When Pew asked Americans in 2011 if they preferred financial stability or moving up the income ladder, 85 percent of respondents chose the safer, surer future.

If that seems like a defensive crouch, it is. The American middle class is broadly defined as households earning two-thirds to twice the median income, or about $35,000 to $100,000 a year. The beginning of the 21st century was a “lost decade” for the middle class, Harvard economist Lawrence Katz said, but the decline has been under way for decades. In the early 1970s, middle-class households earned 62 percent of the national income; today, they bring in just 45 percent. These households are more vulnerable, economists say, than at any time since World War II.

The Great Recession exacerbated this decline. Sixty percent of the job losses in those years occurred in middle-income jobs. The recovery, instead of restoring those jobs, has replaced them with low-wage positions. And the middle class, which once drove American prosperity with its purchasing power and stability, is shrinking. Middle-class households make up barely half the population today, down from 61 percent in 1971. People aiming to reach the middle class, or to stay there, have ample reason to worry.

Middle-class Americans’ anxieties and the shift in how they define the American Dream had consequences for the 2012 election. Romney spoke in the language of economic risk: “The promise of America has always been that if you worked hard, had the right values, took some risks, that there was an opportunity to build a better life for your family and for your next generation.” Compare that with Obama describing the “basic bargain in America,” a formulation he has used since his U.S. Senate campaign in 2004: “If you’re willing to work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to find a good job, feel secure in your community, and support a family.” So, which guy won?

But if the American Dream, and the understanding of what it means to be middle class, is changing, the reverberations will go far beyond a single election. They speak to the very story Americans tell about themselves. We were once a nation of strivers, raised on Horatio Alger and Bill Gates, confident of the possibility of moving upward. If Americans now aim simply to avoid slipping backward, they will have decided that the American Dream is but a reverie.

. . . .

If these changes in American attitudes and behaviors merely dated to the Great Recession, they might not last. But the recession simply punctuated a set of underlying economic trends that were several decades in the making. That may be why, even as the economy has recovered, insecurity hasn’t subsided much. As in earlier business cycles, employers aren’t hiring many workers as their profits bounce back; many are looking to downsize further and scale back employee benefits.

Above all, the recession made clear that the old rules—work hard and you will be rewarded with a comfortable, stable life—are no longer in effect. “This was a dramatic event that caused a lot of upheaval, not just financially and economically, but in terms of how they viewed the American economy overall,” Obama pollster Benenson said. “One of the big sources of concern for the people we talked with was that they didn’t recognize any new rules in this environment. All of the rules they had learned about how you succeed, how you get ahead—those rules no longer apply, and they didn’t feel there was a set of new rules.”

No wonder Americans are skeptical that their children will be better off than they are—a core element in the American Dream. A startling 59 percent of respondents to a 2011 Pew survey said it would be harder for their children to move up the income ladder than it was for them. The path to rising higher isn’t as clear as it was.

The older, ambitious model of the American Dream has even drawn some critiques. In the 1990s, the Clinton administration said Washington should “attempt to help all American households become homeowners.” After the housing market collapsed, the Treasury Department declared in 2011 that the Obama administration’s policy “does not mean all Americans should become homeowners.”

A similar downsizing of dreams popped up in last year’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, when former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania called Obama a “snob” for thinking everyone should attend college. (Obama jumped to clarify that he meant community colleges and job training, too.) Economic research shows the advantage of a college diploma; a Georgetown University study last summer found that the unemployment rate for recent graduates of four-year colleges was 6.8 percent, compared with nearly 25 percent for recent high school grads. Even so, a majority of Americans tell pollsters (54 percent in last fall’s Heartland Monitor survey) they are skeptical that a college education is worth the burden of student loans.

Reducing one’s risk in pursuit of housing or education isn’t necessarily irrational. But a middle class that is increasingly characterized by risk aversion essentially rewrites our national narrative, the one that highlights ordinary people who take risks and create new opportunities and industries.

Scaling back may also mean accepting that people who haven’t yet made it into the middle class never will. “A growing body of evidence suggests that the United States, far from being the land of opportunity celebrated in our history and our literature,” economist Isabel Sawhill has written, “is instead a country where class matters after all, where upward mobility is constrained, especially among those born into the bottom ranks.” That isn’t a phrase likely to be inscribed on a national monument anytime soon, but for millions of Americans, it’s the new reality–and it hurts.

Being In the Middle Class Means Worrying About Falling Behind. By Ronald Brownstein. National Journal, April 25, 2013.

The Next Economy. A Joint Project of The Atlantic and National Journal.

Still the Land of Opportunity? By Isabel V. Sawhill. Urban Institute, May 1, 1999.

Five Myths About Our Land of Opportunity. By Ron Haskins and Isabel V. Sawhill. Brookings, November 1, 2009.

Interview with Amy Sullivan. National Journal, April 26, 2013.

First Punic War Battle Rams Uncovered Off the Coast of Sicily. By Noah Wiener.

Winged Victory. One of the rams discovered from the final battle of the First Punic War. RPM Nautical Foundation.

First Punic War Battle Rams Uncovered Off the Coast of Sicily. By Noah Wiener. Bible History Daily, April 25, 2013.


In the third and second centuries B.C.E., Rome and Carthage struggled for control of the western Mediterranean in series of conflicts that lasted over 100 years. The First Punic War ended in 241 after Rome defeated the Carthaginian navy near the Aegadian (Egadi) Islands off the coast of Sicily. Maritime archaeological surveys conducted by the RPM Nautical Foundation located the site—the oldest archaeologically-located naval battle landscape—and uncovered ten bronze rams from the ancient warships.

Oxford University recently held a one-day colloquium analyzing the rare finds, which would have been mounted on the prow of the warships. Bearing legible Latin and Punic inscriptions, the bronze rams—weighing over 250 pounds each—are extraordinarily rare in the archaeological record. An Oxford University press release notes that there are “thought to be only four other ships’ rams in total from all of antiquity. These rams are the first to be found in an archaeological context.” In addition to the rams, archaeologists uncovered bronze helmets as well as Roman and Carthaginian pottery and other small finds. The discoveries are part of a large underwater survey project that has mapped over 100 square miles of the sea floor.

Rare bronze rams excavated from site of the final battle of the First Punic War. Oxford University Press Release, April 5, 2013.

RPM Nautical Foundation.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Adrianne Haslet-Davis Vows to Dance Again.

Adrianne Haslet, a a professional ballroom dancer injured by one of the bombs that exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line, lifts her bandaged left leg in her bed at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Haslet, who lost her left foot and part of her lower leg, vows that she will dance again. (AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye).

Boston Marathon bombings survivor Adrianne Haslet-Davis to be honored by “Dancing With the Stars.” By Ethan Sacks. New York Daily News, April 26, 2013.

Dancer Who Lost Foot in Boston Marathon Bombing Vows to Take to the Floor Again. By Gio Benitez. ABC News, April 22, 2013.

Dancer, 32, who lost leg in Boston bombings to appear on Dancing With The Stars as she says she’s “not afraid” to perform again. By Sara Smyth. Daily Mail, April 25, 2013.

Boston bomb victim who had part of leg blown off to dance on TV show and run marathon again. By Chris Bucktin. Daily Mirror, April 25, 2013.

Boston Marathon victims vow to dance, to run again. By Bridget Murphy. AP. Yahoo News, April 25, 2013. Photos.

Boston Dancer To Keep Dancing After Losing Foot In Boston Bombing, Adrianne Haslet-Davis Will Appear On “Dancing With The Stars.” By Charles Poladian. International Business Times, April 25, 2013.

Mom tells bomb victim: Your foot is gone. Video. CNN, April 22, 2013. YouTube.

Marathon Bombing Victim Vows to Dance Again. Video. Associated Press, April 24, 2013. YouTube.

How to Stop Terrorists Before They Kill. By Judith Miller.

How to Stop Terrorists Before They Kill. By Judith Miller. Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2013. Also at City Journal.

Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat. By Mitchell D. Silber and Arvin Bhatt. NYPD Intelligence Division, 2007.

Will $20 Million Be Enough for Injured Boston Marathon Victims. By Lindsey Tanner.

One Fund Boston Raises More Than $20 Million, But Will It Be Enough For Injured Marathon Victims? By Lindsey Tanner. The Huffington Post, April 25, 2013.

Islamic Extremists vs. White Supremacists. By Mona Charen.

Islamic Extremists vs. White Supremacists. By Mona Charen. National Review Online, April 26, 2013.

What Conservatives Are For. By Yuval Levin.

What Conservatives Are For. By Yuval Levin. National Review Online, April 23, 2013.

More Than Dependency. By Yuval Levin. National Review Online, April 23, 2013.

Senator Mike Lee on Conservatism and Community. By Rush Limbaugh. RushLimbaugh.com, May 1, 2013.

What Conservatives are For. Remarks to the Heritage Foundation, April 22, 2013. By Senator Mike Lee. Mike Lee website. YouTube. Heritage.