Friday, May 31, 2013

Pew Study: Forty Percent of Mothers Are Now the Family Breadwinner.

Megyn Kelly clashes with Lou Dobbs and Erick Erickson over breadwinner moms.

Pew: 40 Percent of Mothers Are Now the Family Breadwinner. By Josh Voorhees. Slate, May 29, 2013.

Breadwinner Moms. By Wendy Wang, Kim Parker, and Paul Taylor. Pew Research Center, May 29, 2013. PDF here and here.

Breadwinner Moms. By Mona Charen. Real Clear Politics, May 31, 2013. Also at National Review Online.

Breadwinning Wives and Nervous Husbands. By Richard H. Thaler. New York Times, June 1, 2013.

Gender identity and relative income within households. By Marianne Bertrand et al. University of Chicago, May 2013.

Gender Differences in Mate Selection: Evidence from a Speed Dating Experiment. By Raymond Fisman et al. Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 121, No. 2 (May 2006).

Women as primary breadwinners. Video Panel. Meet the Press. NBC News, June 2, 2013.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The Downside of Being the Breadwinner. By Margaret Talbot. The New Yorker, May 31, 2013.


There might be something else going on, too. When people talk about the difficulty of rearing children today, they may actually be talking about economics and about work. Life is harder when mothers work outside the home because, obviously, there’s more to do in the same amount of time. That’s an existential reality and it ought to banish forever, please, the wretchedly misleading ideal of “having it all.” (Just when you think it’s finally been cudgelled into submission it pops up again, as yet another panel title or column opener.) But life is also stressful and often demoralizing in twenty-first-century America because we all live under a speeded-up, coercively multitasking, vacation-poor, debt-burdened, harsher, and less forgiving form of capitalism than do the citizens of many other industrial countries, and than we ourselves lived under for much of the late twentieth century. (See George Packer’s new book, “The Unwinding,” for an eloquent treatment of how we got there.)

Manhattan Moment: Another side of “feminist victory.” By Kay Hymowtiz. Washington Examiner, May 30, 2013.

Not All Good News in Breadwinner Mom Study? Video with Kay Hymowitz. Lou Dobbs Tonight. Fox Business, June 5, 2013.

The new F-word: Father. By Kathleen Parker. Washington Post, May 31, 2013.

The Triumph of the Working Mother. By Stephanie Coontz. New York Times, June 1, 2013.

The Truth May Hurt, But Is Not Mean. By Erick Erickson. RedState, May 30, 2013.

Watch the Men of Fox News Freak Out Over Female Breadwinners. By Amanda Marcotte. Slate, May 30, 2013.

Erick Erickson, Meet My Wife. By Jonathan Cohn. The New Republic, May 30, 2013.

Erick Erickson: “Anti-Science” For Men Not To Play “Dominant Role” In Family. Video. Real Clear Politics, May 30, 2013. YouTube.

Fox News Host Megyn Kelly Shreds Lou Dobbs And Erick Erickson Over Women In The Workplace. By Brett LoGiurato. Business Insider, May 31, 2013. With video.

Megyn Kelly Destroys Fox Pundit For Views On Working Moms: “What Makes You Dominant And Me Submissive?” By Rebecca Leber. ThinkProgress, May 31, 2013.

Megyn Kelly slams Erick Erickson, Lou Dobbs over sexist “breadwinners” comments. By Katie McDonough. Salon, May 31, 2013.

Megyn Kelly Demolishes Lou Dobbs, Erick Erickson Over Sexist Comments. By Jack Mirkinson. The Huffington Post, May 31, 2013.

Megyn Kelly Dominates on Fox. By Amy Davidson. The New Yorker, May 31, 2013.

Lou Dobbs, Erick Erickson Attempt to Dominate Megyn Kelly; Fail. Ace of Spades HQ, May 31, 2013.

Neal Dewing Talks About the Importance of Breadwinning. Storify, May 31, 2013.

Ben Domenech Bounds Into the Breadwinner Brouhaha. Storify, May 31, 2013.

Bethany Mandel at Twitter, May 31, 2013:

Please, don’t tell me that my being at home is better for my kid, I already know that. Tell me how that’s financially possible. . . . Don’t tell me that cutting my cable will somehow make up for the loss of my entire income. I’m already crazy thrifty & cheap . . . “Move to Texas.” Great suggestions folks. We’ll leave my husband’s career and our entire families (and their free childcare) for no job. I can do math. . . . Surviving on one income and not sacrificing our entire lives to do it is impossible in modern day America. This is my point.

Kathleen McKinley: Young women see the trophy wives, the divorce left with little, & know it could be them one day. No stigma to that anymore. Twitter, May 31, 2013.

Megyn Lets Loose on Fellow Host, Blogger Over “Offensive” Working Mom Comments. Video. Fox News Insider, May 31, 2013. YouTube.

A Spiritual Way of Seeing. By Peter Gabel.

A Spiritual Way of Seeing. By Peter Gabel. Tikkun, Spring 2013. Also find it here.

Freudian narratives, Marxist theory, and the worldview of liberalism are often blind to the spiritual dimension of social life—they fail to perceive the power of humanity’s desire for love and connection with others. Finding a Point by Mel Kadel.

Most critics analyzed Lars von Trier’s Melancholia through a Freudian lens. Here, the character Justine (Kirsten Dunst), her nephew Leo, and her sister Claire await the apocalyptic collision of Earth with an errant planet. Magnolia Pictures.

Why MOOCs Are Like the Music Industry. By Alex Sayf Cummings.

Why MOOCs are Like the Music Industry. By Alex Sayf Cummings. History News Network, May 30, 2013.

Historians at MOOC Partner Schools Say Faculty Not Consulted. By David Austin Walsh. History News Network, May 30, 2013.


What does all this have to do with MOOCs? Everything. Proponents of “massive open online courses” argue that by putting an entire course’s lectures online and letting students anywhere in the world “enroll” for free tears down barriers that keep students out of the college classroom. People who could never have the money or cultural capital to attend MIT can acquire the same knowledge as a coed in Cambridge. In one recent experiment, over 93,000 students participated in Jeremy Adelman’s world history course at Princeton.

MOOCs, then, appear to represent everything democratic, inclusive, and populist about American culture at its best. Knowledge is freed from the halls of academe and anyone can learn – they can even earn credit for taking certain courses, and some traditional colleges, including my own institution, are increasingly willing to accept it.

If we’re being open and inclusive, though, what are we opening and what we including people in? Is watching a series of videos the same thing as taking a course? How can a professor evaluate the performance of 93,000 people? It seems indisputable that tens of thousands of students cannot possibly receive personal feedback and mentoring from one instructor.

As philosophers at San Jose State University argued recently, in a widely circulated letter, the MOOC vision of democratic education raises some serious ethical concerns. Is a lecture recorded in Princeton or Cambridge, for a highly privileged group of students, going to be relevant to diverse, working- and middle-class students at a large public university? Will there become two tracks of education – one for the elite, who get the luxury of having their own, real, live professor, and a system for the masses, where college means watching videos and taking quizzes?

Indeed, at its extreme the MOOC movement threatens the very existence of “professor” as a job, as some scholars are no doubt beginning to realize. If a university can license a MOOC for a few thousand dollars a year, why would they want to give a middle class salary and health benefits to a tenured faculty member? A few institutions might retain a handful of well-known faculty for prestige, but the business of moving students through the system and depositing knowledge in their brains will require far fewer instructors.

In a less dystopian scenario, Coursera could still be a trojan horse for a corporate takeover of higher education: swapping standardized, prepackaged learning for the old model of professors drawing on their own distinctive expertise to teach and guide students.

These concerns have nothing to do with Luddism, and professors are not just worried about their own jobs. MOOCs raise fundamental questions about what education is and what the institutions we care about so deeply ought to do and ought to look like. I don’t see education as merely a transmission of knowledge – a filling of a pail, which can be done individually or en masse – but about the building of skills and capacities, relationships and experiences. Who ever felt the same way about a YouTube video as they did about the great teacher or professor who changed their lives?

The problem is not with the technology, but with scale. Indeed, professors ought to be more open to tools that can enhance their teaching, from posting podcasts of lectures online to piping in experts from around the world to speak with students via videoconference. Where I teach, students of all ages enter the classroom struggling with jobs, kids, and long commutes; hybrid courses that mix in-class experiences with out-of-class projects and modules could make it easier for them to succeed, undeterred by the challenges of making it to campus or finding a sitter. Entirely online classes can achieve a great deal of good too, as long as students are able to interact with each other and instructors are able to provide extensive feedback on student work. Where MOOCs fall short is by making that personal relationship between student and professor next to impossible.

As the New Yorker recently said of MOOCs, “their stated goal is democratic reach.” And many of the impulses behind this movement are laudable. When MIT began posting lectures and course materials online through its OpenCourseWare initiative several years ago, I applauded. MOOCs, like blogs, wikis, and countless other innovations, can open up knowledge to vast numbers of people in ways that were never before possible. Like public libraries, they could be a peerless friend to the autodidact.

But as with any promise of democracy and liberation, we should be cautious about what lies behind the hype. What claims to be leveling and inclusive could be exclusionary, shunting the less privileged into an inferior system; what is meant to empower the masses could end up enriching a small few, like Coursera and Udacity, at the expense of the many. Everyone wants to make college more accessible and ensure all students achieve the greatest possible success. But pretending that watching a bunch of videos is the same thing as a college education seems like a massive betrayal of the technology’s democratic promise.

Iran’s Erotic Revolution. By Afshin Shahi.

Erotic Republic. By Afshin Shahi. Foreign Policy, May 29, 2013.

Iran is in the throes of an unprecedented sexual revolution. Could it eventually shake the regime?

Iranian co-eds.

Nixon: “The Press Is the Enemy.”

President Nixon confers with Henry Kissinger. AP.

Nixon’s the one still preoccupied with enemies. New York Times, December 3, 2008.

Tricky Dicky: Nixon recordings confirm popular view. By Dan Glaister. The Guardian, December 3, 2008.

Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum Releases Additional 198 Hours of Tapes from Fifth Chronological Tape Release.

Nixon to Henry Kissinger, December 14, 1972. Audio excerpt.


Henry, remember. We’re going to be around and outlive our enemies. And also never forget: The press is the enemy. The press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy. Professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times and never forget it.

Why the Jihadis Fight. By Clifford D. May.

Why They Fight and What Democracy Demands. By Clifford D. May. National Review Online, May 30, 2013.

President Obama’s Speech on Counterterrorism Strategy at National Defense University. NJBR, May 25, 2013. With related articles.


In his 6,000-word speech at the National Defense University last week, President Obama devoted only one paragraph to the ideology of those who proclaim themselves America’s enemies. But those 101 words are worth a closer look.

“Most, though not all, of the terrorism we face is fueled by a common ideology,” the president began. Quite right: Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Iran’s rulers, Hezbollah, Hamas, and many others who utilize terrorism do indeed see the world through similar lenses. The president did not name their ideology, but most of us have come to employ such terms as “jihadism,” “Islamism,” “political Islam,” and “radical Islam.”

The president described this ideology as “a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West.” This, too, is accurate. If you read the writings of Osama bin Laden, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and such Muslim Brotherhood intellectuals as Sayyid Qutb and Hassan al-Banna, there can be no doubt that, by their lights, this conflict is inevitable.

The extremists also believe, Obama continued, “that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause.” He refrained from defining that cause, though earlier in the speech he did mention that “deranged or alienated individuals” have been “inspired by larger notions of violent jihad.”

More specifically, they believe that Muslims have been divinely commanded to wage war against those who refuse to accept Allah as the supreme authority of the universe; Mohammed as Allah’s prophet; the Koran as the revealed and unchanging word of Allah; and sharia as the law that mankind must obey.

They believe, too, that the world is divided between the Dar al-Islam, the lands where Muslims rule, and the Dar al-Harb, the lands where infidels rule. They reject the possibility that the two realms can — or should — peacefully coexist. On the contrary, the Dar al-Islam must do whatever is necessary to defeat and destroy the Dar al-Harb.

Many Westerners find it difficult to comprehend that people actually hold such beliefs. These Westerners — there is no tactful way to say this — are ignorant of world history, the millennia of conflicts in which one group after another has attempted to impose its language, culture, religion, and DNA on others.

The use of religion or ideology to justify such aggression and domination is hardly new. Contrary to much wishful thinking, “conflict resolution,” tolerance, multiculturalism, and similar newfangled Western ideas have not been universally embraced.

Next, the president said: “Of course, this ideology is based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam.” That is something of a non sequitur: As noted above, a central tenet of the ideology he’s discussing holds that Islam is at war with the United States and other nations that persist in rejecting Islam’s message — and that the conflict must continue until the infidels submit.

Further: “And this ideology is rejected by the vast majority of Muslims.” Here, Obama returns to solid ground. Most Muslims have no wish to wage jihad against non-Muslims, no desire to strap their children into bomb vests or even to give money to the Islamic “charities” that support such missions. But if only 5 or 10 percent of the world’s more than a billion Muslims do see such efforts as virtuous, we’re still looking at an enormous movement — one lavishly funded by the plentiful oil under lands ruled by Muslims.

The president noted that Muslims “are the most frequent victims of terrorist attacks.” There can be no question about that — in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, and many other corners of the world. What’s more, the extremists reserve their most vehement hatred for fellow Muslims who reject their ideology, who — as they see it — have abandoned the true faith in favor of a watered-down interpretation of Islam. They call such Muslims apostates, and the punishment for apostasy is death. This is among the reasons so few Muslims dare speak out against the fundamentalists.

Obama concluded his single-paragraph disquisition with this: “Nevertheless, this ideology persists.” Yes, it does, and that raises the key strategic question: What is to be done? The president answers: “This war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”

Wars do end — but rarely because one side declares them over unless, of course, that side is prepared to accept defeat. Imagine President Roosevelt, circa 1943, deciding it was time to end the “wars” in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, even as German and Japanese troops continued to spread fascism. Imagine President Kennedy saying it was time to wind down the Cold War even as the Soviets were expanding the frontiers of Communism. The ideology that confronts us today is no less totalitarian, no less supremacist, and no less bellicose.

Surely, what history advises is that appeasement is a policy certain to fail. Surely, what democracy demands is that we stand up to those who threaten our freedom — even if that means paying the price and bearing the burden of a long war.

The End of the Old Order. By Victor Davis Hanson.

The End of the Old Order. By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, May 30, 2013.

The well-intentioned social programs of the 1960s make no sense today.


The now-aging idealists of the 1960s long ago promised us that a uniformly degreed citizenry — shepherded by Ivy League–branded technocrats — would make America better by sorting us out by differences in age, gender, education, and race. It is now past time to end that ossified dream before it becomes our collective nightmare.

Woolwich: Underclass Meets Islam. By Theodore Dalrymple.

Thoughts on Woolwich. By Theodore Dalrymple. City Journal, May 28, 2013.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Palestinians Want U.S. Cash, Not Peace. By Jonathan S. Tobin.

Palestinians Want U.S. Cash, Not Peace. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, May 28, 2013.

The Palestinian Excuse Machine. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, May 30, 2013.

Tobin (Cash, Not Peace):

While this is another humiliating setback for Kerry, it’s actually far more significant than that. It exposes the fallacy at the heart of most efforts to create peace between Jews and Arabs for the last century.

Almost from the beginning of the Jewish return to their ancient homeland, many Zionists as well as their foreign friends thought the Arabs inside the country as well as those in neighboring lands would be won over to the new reality once they realized that the Jews brought development and prosperity with them. The influx into the country created tremendous growth even as the conflict escalated over the course of the first half of the 20th century. Throughout this era, Labor Zionists who combined a desire to rebuild the Jewish presence with socialist ideology believed Arab rejectionism was a function of the exploitation of the masses by an elite that profited from conflict. They thought once it was understood that all would benefit from peace and reconciliation, Palestinian Arab workers and peasants would welcome the Jews. Even hardheaded pragmatists like David Ben Gurion thought this way for a long time. They were wrong.

The Palestinian rejection of the Jews might have been exacerbated by the displacement of some Arab peasants whose landlords sold to Jews but the underlying animosity was always based in a refusal to accept the legitimacy of the idea that Jews would now be equal partners, let alone have sovereignty over part of the land. Only a few Jewish leaders, like Ben Gurion’s nationalist rival, Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky understood that the Arabs could not be bought with prosperity. For them the conflict was about honor and religion, not money. He predicted that only when they gave up their last hope that the Jews could be pushed out or reduced to Dhimmi status would they ever make peace.

But the naïve misconception that the Arabs would realize that coexistence would be good for all persisted long after Israel was born in 1948 amid wars that would continue for decades. Shimon Peres launched the effort that led to the Oslo Peace Accords in large measure on the belief that an agreement would lead to a “New Middle East” where Israel and its Arab neighbors would come to resemble a Mediterranean version of the wealthy Benelux countries. But as Israelis who greeted Oslo with euphoria learned to their sorrow, the Palestinians didn’t care about becoming part of a new Benelux. They embraced terror because they valued the campaign to destroy Israel over their own economic well-being and even the lives of their children.

The last and perhaps most pathetic proof that the conflict isn’t about money came in 2005 when American philanthropists purchased the green houses of Israeli settlers in Gaza at the time of Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal from the strip in order to hand them over to the Palestinians. But rather than become the new owners of a prosperous agricultural infrastructure, the Palestinians destroyed the green houses in a fit of anger that encapsulated their hatred for the Jews.

The same spirit is very much alive today in the West Bank where Palestinian reformer Salam Fayyad remains a man without a party or a constituency because his people value the violence of Fatah and Hamas over his program of good governance and development. Logically the Palestinians should have embraced Kerry’s offer since it promises to boost Palestinian employment by two-thirds and raise wages by 40 percent. But it remains a loser in a political culture in which any plan that would recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders would be drawn remains anathema.

The moral of the story is that it doesn’t matter how high a priority either the United States or Israel places on peace or how much an agreement would be to the Palestinians material advantage. They continue to regard economic incentives as merely yet another Western attempt to “buy” their birthright that they reject. They might like the cash — which will hopefully not be wasted or go into the pockets of the Fatah-run kleptocracy in the West Bank that has gobbled so many billions donated to their people in the last 20 years. But it won’t lead to peace. It’s a simple lesson but one which idealistic and foolish Westerners and Jews have refused to learn.

The Genetic Legacy of Niall of the Nine Hostages.

A Y-Chromosome Signature of Hegemony in Gaelic Ireland. By Laoise T. Moore et al. American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 78 No. 2 (February 2006). Also here and here.

Are you a descendant of Irish King Niall of the Nine Hostages. Florida Irish Heritage Center, August 19, 2011.

Medieval Irish warlord boasts three million descendants. New Scientist, January 18, 2006.

High King Niall: The most fertile man in Ireland. By Jan Battles. Sunday Times of London, January 15, 2006.

Niall of the Nine Hostages: DNA meets a legend. Irish Genealogy Toolkit.

The Death of Niall of the Nine Hostages. Celtic Literature Collective.

Niall of the Nine Hostages. Wikipedia.

Annals of the Four Masters. CELT.

List of High Kings of Ireland. Wikipedia.

The Death of Niall of the Nine Hostages

Nicole Brannock Gross, Victim in Iconic Boston Bombing Photo, Tells Her Story For First Time.

Nicole Brannock Gross was cheering for her mother near the Boston Marathon’s finish line when a bomb went off. John Tlumacki’s now iconic photo.

Nicole Brannock Gross, victim in iconic Boston bombing photo, tells her story for first time. CBS This Morning, May 29, 2013. Also find video here.

Nicole Brannock Gross, Victim In Boston Marathon Bombing Photo, Gives CBS Interview With Family. The Huffington Post, May 29, 2013.

Marathon victims and sisters Nicole Gross and Erika Brannock give each other support. By Bella English. Boston Globe, May 10, 2013.

Boston bomb survivor whose sister was pictured in iconic photo reveals how she suffered nightmares while recovering from amputated leg in same hospital as attacker. By Lydia Warren. Daily Mail, May 29, 2013.

Symbol of Boston tragedy revealed: Womanin the iconic image the Boston Marathon bombings is identified as Nicole Gross. By Jonathan Lemire. New York Daily News, April 16, 2013.

More on Boston bombing here, here, here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here,

Ashley Jessica, Student Activist, Says She Was Violated During TSA Pat-Down.

Ashley Jessica, Student Activist, Says She Was Violated During TSA Pat-Down (with video). The Huffington Post, May 29, 2013. Video at YouTube.

Vagina Pat-Down at SoCal Airport Goes Viral (with video). By Dennis Romero. LA Weekly, May 29, 2013.

Ashley Jessica Twitter.

More Peace, Less Process. By Ben Cohen.

More Peace, Less Process: The Key to Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations. By Ben Cohen. The Algemeiner, May 28, 2013.

Buidling the Positive Peace: The Urgent Need to Bring the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Back to Basics. By Kobi Michael and Joel Fishman. Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 24, Nos. 3-4 (Fall 2012). Also find it here.

Is Jerusalem Really Negotiable? An Analysis of Jerusalem’s Place in the Peace Process. By Alan Baker. Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 24, Nos. 3-4 (Fall 2012). Also find it here.

Indivisible Jerusalem. Video. TheJeruaslemCenter, April 14, 2012. YouTube.

U.S. Meritocracy Has Given Way to Aristocracy. By Erick Erickson.

Go Big or Go Home. By Erick Erickson. RedState, May 29, 2013.

The Path Forward for Conservative Reform. By Ben Domenech. Real Clear Politics, May 28, 2013.

The GOP Coalition Wants More Than Just Limited Government. By Conor Friedersdorf. The Atlantic, May 30, 2013.

The Importance of the Limited Government Brand. By Ben Domenech. Real Clear Politics, May 31, 2013.

A Note on Bridging the Gap Between Conservative Theory and Pracitce. By Jake (Diary). RedState, May 31, 2013.


In truth, I think it will take a magnetic personality to pull the GOP out of the gutter. We live in an age of personality politics. But that personality will have to have a message that resonates with the American public. What resonates right now with the American public is a deep-seated distrust of government. Any Republican way forward must capitalize on this. In other words, the faces in Washington who can play the role are very limited to people like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and — if immigration can go away as an issue and the base forgives him — Marco Rubio.

The message to seize on is pretty straight forward. Under Republican and Democrat policies in Washington, particularly accelerated in the past five years, the United States meritocracy has given way to an aristocracy.

Only those of means can get ahead. Increasingly, they view their role as making life comfortable for the less well off instead of enabling the less well off to become well off. Wall Street, banks, major corporations, politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, and the rich are the only ones who can prosper because they are the only ones who can either navigate the system or afford to pay others who can figure out how to navigate the system.

For the rest of Americans, from small business to the middle class, the only path is one of dependence on a governmental structure too byzantine to figure out and, should one be smart enough to figure out, too costly through litigation, regulation, and complication to navigate through.

An America where, as Lincoln said, every man can make himself, is replaced by an America where men are made by how the government takes care of their individual circumstances. Students are no longer trained to be creative, entrepreneurial citizens, but to be workers for others. The self-employed are encumbered to the point of needing to be employees of others. The nuclear family is disincentivized and destabilized.

The America where one could work hard and get ahead is less and less possible because Democrats wish to force us all onto a safety net on which all are entangled, ensnared, and punished if we escape. Republicans, for fear of being disliked, would rather nibble at numbers than paint a picture of a better America for everyone.

Just one fact worth noting: under the present system, enabled by Republican and Democrat alike, a single mother on $29,000.00 a year and government benefits would have to get to $60,000.00 in salary to make it worth her getting off the safety net. This is a bipartisan construct, but one only an outsider conservative can build a campaign around fixing to the betterment of the single mom and everyone else.

But, to begin, the Republicans must be able to relate. With distrust in government at an all time high, a relatable Republican is probably going to be a guy who hates the status quo, not one who talks Washington wonkspeak.


There is a healthy acceptance on the part of a significant number of influential intellectual and policy elites that the state of conservatism is not strong, and that it requires reform. But do they understand why that reform is necessary? It is because the Republican Party has failed to connect with people, has failed to meet the test of competency, and has failed to live up to its promises.

Justice Scalia once wrote, “Campaign promises are—by long democratic tradition—the least binding form of human commitment.” One could explain much about what the Republican Party has done over the past fifteen years, and even earlier, as an effort to prove Scalia thoroughly correct. The goals of limited government, fiscal responsibility, traditional values, and strong defense have been an ever-present litany of bullet points from Republican politicians – but talking about limited government and actually delivering on it are two very different things. As the representatives of conservatism in the political square, the Republican Party has proved to be an abject failure at delivering to the people what they promised.

There are numerous reasons for this. Under President Bush, it was largely because the core of his policy team never believed in limited government anyway, and the challenge of an unexpected terrorist attack and their subsequent push into security buildout and two wars pushed any limited government efforts beyond the initial tax reform to the side. The failure of the Bush administration to meet its core conservative promise led to dissatisfaction in the limited government ranks, and the failure of Republican competency – not just in war, but in disaster relief, and in character – led to the 2006 rebuff. The response to the financial crisis made this frustration explode in an organic outpouring of disgust and distrust toward government institutions which led directly to the rise of the Tea Party.

As Sean Trende has pointed out on numerous occasions, the Republican Party has won not so much when it was conservative as when it was populist, the Contract With America being the most prominent modern example of a government reform agenda packaged for a dissatisfied electorate. The Tea Party kept this trend alive: this movement dramatically altered the makeup of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill: today, the overwhelming majority of House Republicans arrived after the 2006 election, and half the caucus came from 2010 on. It had an enormous impact on the governorships of major states as well. These are politicians who have fewer establishment credentials – some of them not even a college degree – and tend to be far more libertarian-leaning than preceding classes. But they are also far more populist, and more averse to negotiation on matters of principle, which they view as a betrayal of the base which put them in power. That’s why things like sequestration, a nightmare for the Washington elites, have actually happened: this crew wants, more than anything, to live up to their promises.

The choice for the Republican Party is whether to invest more in the 2010 strategy of this populist strain, to refine it and connect more policy proposals to it . . . or to embark on an effort to restore the party’s standing as the adult in the room – the competent, clean cut, good-government technocracy that sees the chief appeal of Republican politicians as combining agencies and seeking out efficiencies rather than rolling back government power and draining bureaucratic swamps. The GOP swung back to this technocratic approach on a national scale in 2012, and let’s just say the electoral results left much to be desired.
. . . .

The Republican Party needs to understand that shrinking its policy aims to more modest solutions is not going to be rewarded by the electorate. Yes, they need to tailor their message better and find policy wedges which peel off chunks of the Democratic base (winning political strategy is built on an understanding that every drama needs a hero, a martyr, and a villain). But what’s truly essential is that the party leadership rid themselves of the notion that politeness, great hair, and reform for efficiency’s sake is a ballot box winner, and understand instead that politicians who can connect with the people and deliver on their limited government promises – not ones who back away from them under pressure – represent the path forward.

How to Get a Job. By Thomas L. Friedman.

How to Get a Job. By Thomas L. Friedman. New York Times, May 28, 2013.

Friedman on Jobs. Video. Meet the Press. NBC News, June 2, 2013.

Video transcript:

FRIEDMAN: Well, that’s the tragedy for him. It’s a tragedy for all of us. Because we are in the middle, I would argue, David, of a huge inflection where two points I would make about this moment. One is that the – the thing that sustained the American middle class for 50 years was something called high wage middle skill jobs. There is no such thing anymore as a high wage middle skill job. There’s only going to be a high wage high skill job. So every decent middle class job today is actually being pulled in three directions at once. It’s being pulled higher. It takes more skill to have. It’s being pulled out. More software, robots, automation and people around the world can compete for it. And it’s being pulled down. It’s being outsourced to history, to the past, being made obsolete faster.

I had an experience a couple of weeks ago. I had to deal with Hertz for a pretty complicated change in reservation. For the first time I did the entire transaction with Hertz without any human interaction. This was a complicated interaction I had. It really made a point of that. So what’s been happening to blue collar jobs, that kind of Pac-man of automation outsourcing and digitization is now coming after white collar jobs as well. This requires a huge strategic response from the country.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Egypt’s Summer of Discontent. By Eric Trager.

Egypt’s Summer of Discontent. By Eric Trager. Real Clear World, May 29, 2013. Also at The Washington Institute.

North Korea’s All-Girl Pop Band.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has his own popband. By Greta Van Susteren. GretaWire, May 29, 2013.

Meet North Korea’s new girl band: five girls who just wanna have state-sanctioned fun. By Tim Stanley. The Telegraph, May 29, 2013.

Moranbong Music Band: Let’s Study! DPRKMusicChannel, March 5, 2013. YouTube.

Israel’s Religious Zionist Kids Growing Up In a World Where Females Are Taboo. By Tamar Rotem.

Israel’s religious Zionist kids growing up in a world where females are taboo. By Tamar Rotem. Haaretz, May 27, 2013.

Asi and Tuvia. Video. machonmeir, November 3, 2008. YouTube. In Hebrew.

Terror Overwhelming Western Intelligence. By Ely Karmon.

London, Boston, Toulouse: Terror overwhelming Western intelligence. By Ely Karmon. Haaretz, May 26, 2013.

Western Cultural Suicide. By Victor Davis Hanson.

Western Cultural Suicide. By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, May 29, 2013.


Multiculturalism — as opposed to the notion of a multiracial society united by a single culture — has become an abject contradiction in the modern Western world. Romance for a culture in the abstract that one has rejected in the concrete makes little sense. Multiculturalists talk grandly of Africa, Latin America, and Asia, usually in contrast to the core values of the United States and Europe. Certainly, in terms of food, fashion, music, art, and architecture, the Western paradigm is enriched from other cultures. But the reason that millions cross the Mediterranean to Europe or the Rio Grande to the United States is for something more that transcends the periphery and involves fundamental values — consensual government, free-market capitalism, the freedom of the individual, religious tolerance, equality between the sexes, rights of dissent, and a society governed by rationalism divorced from religious stricture. Somehow that obvious message has now been abandoned, as Western hosts lost confidence in the very society that gives us the wealth and leisure to ignore or caricature its foundations. The result is that millions of immigrants flock to the West, enjoy its material security, and yet feel little need to bond with their adopted culture, given that their hosts themselves are ambiguous about what others desperately seek out.

Why did the family of the Boston bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, even wish to come to Boston? If they really were in danger back home in the Islamic regions within Russia, why would members of the family return to the source of their supposed dangers? And if the city of Boston, the state of Massachusetts, and the federal government of the United States extended the Tsarnaevs years’ worth of public assistance, why would such largesse incur such hatred of the United States in the hearts of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar? Obviously, the Tsarnaevs had some sense that the United States was a freer, more humane, and more prosperous place than the Russia they left, but they also felt no love for it, felt no pressure from their hosts to cultivate such love — and believed that they could continue to live as Russian Muslims inside the United States. Did not the Tsarnaevs flee the Muslim hinterlands of Russia because they did not like the thought of things like pressure cookers full of ball bearings exploding and killing and maiming the innocent on the street?

Why for that matter did Major Nidal Hasan, a Palestinian-American citizen whose family was welcomed into the United States from the war-torn West Bank, so detest his adopted country that he would kill 13 fellow Americans and injure 32 others rather than just return in disillusionment to the land of his forefathers? Was it the idea that he could square the circle of being a radical anti-American Muslim, but with the advantages of subsidized education, material security, and freedom of expression unknown in Jericho? When General George Casey worried that the army’s diversity program might be imperiled after the slaughter, did the general ever express commensurate concern that Hasan apparently had never taken, as part of his military training, any course on the Constitution and American history, one that would have reminded him why he was sworn to defend his singular country’s values and history?

Why would Anwar al-Awlaki, another U.S. citizen, whose family was welcomed to the United States for sanctuary from the misery and violence of Yemen, grow to despise America and devote the latter part of his adult life to terrorizing the United States? He certainly need not have conducted his hatred from a Virginia mosque when all of the Middle East was ripe for his activism. Was Awlaki ever reminded in school or by any religious figure why exactly America was more tolerant of Muslims than Yemen was of Christians? Or did he hate his country because it treated Muslims humanely in a way that he would never treat Christians? Why did Mohamed Morsi wish to go to university in the U.S. or teach in the California State University system — given that California values were antithetical to his own Muslim Brotherhood strictures? Was it because Morsi understood that American education would not do to him what he will soon do to Egyptian education?

The United Kingdom is currently reeling from the beheading of a British soldier by two British subjects whose fathers had fled from violence-prone Nigeria. Why did they not return to Nigeria, carve out new lives there, and find their roots? Is it because there are too many in Nigeria like themselves who take machetes to the streets? For that matter, why do some Pakistani immigrants in cold, foggy Britain brag of establishing Sharia there? Is it because they wish to follow their version of Sharia in a liberal Western society that is more accommodating than are the radical Islamists whom they so often praise from afar?

Is Britain to be run in the shadows by some diehard Western traditionalists pulling the levers of free-market capitalism, democracy, and freedom of the individual, so that in its plazas and squares others have the freedom and wherewithal to damn just those values? In Britain, as in the West in general, deportation is a fossilized concept. Unity is passé. Patriotism is long suspect. The hip metrosexual cultures of the urban West strain to find fault in their inheritance, and seem to appreciate those who do that in the most cool fashion — but always with the expectation that there will be some poor blokes who, in terms of clean water, medical care, free speech, and dependable electricity, ensure that London is not Lagos, that Stockholm is not Damascus, and that Los Angeles is not Nuevo Laredo.

These cultural hypocrisies are not always violent, and they do not always involve fundamentalist Muslims waging jihad against their own adopted nations. In June 2011 the United States national soccer team played the Mexican national team in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena before a supposedly “home” crowd. Instead, the Americans were continually booed by the pro-Mexican fans of Pasadena. The L.A. Times account of the event quoted U.S. resident Victor Sanchez explaining the booing of Americans by fellow U.S. residents in this way: “I love this country, it has given me everything that I have, and I’m proud to be part of it. But yet, I didn’t have a choice to come here, I was born in Mexico, and that is where my heart will always be.” But obviously Mr. Sanchez as an adult residing in a free country does have a choice — he could return to Mexico, where his heart could at last find rest. Was Mr. Sanchez’s problem that once he had screamed for the Mexican national team while in Oaxaca, he would still have been in Oaxaca?

We understand the notions of both ethnic pride and hyphenated Americanism, but many of us are still bewildered about contradictory impulses: the emotional need to display Mexican decals on cars and hang Mexican flags on houses and businesses — or boo an American team at a soccer match — coupled with equally heated expressions of outrage that anyone might suggest that those who broke American law in coming to the United States would ever have to return where their hearts would “always be.” That paradox is the most disturbing — and ignored — aspect of the immigration debate: the contradictory impulse to fault the United States for a litany of sins (exploitation, racism, xenophobia, nativism) without commensurate attention to why any newcomer would wish to reside in a place that is so clearly culpable. Has anyone ever heard an immigration activist, as part of his argument for amnesty, explain why so many Mexicans do not like living in Mexico and must leave their homeland, or, alternatively, why the United States is such an attractive alternative that it demands such existential risks to reach it? How strange that most of the elites who resent ideas like the melting pot and assimilation are often those who most successfully have abandoned the protocols of the way life is lived in Mexico.

America was born as an immigrant nation. It went through many periods of nearly unlimited immigration, coupled with xenophobic backlashes when particular groups — Germans, Jews, Irish, Mexicans, or Poles — came in such numbers and so abruptly that the traditional powers of assimilation were for a time overwhelmed. But the eras of ethnic ghettoes and tribal separatism were usually brief, given the inclusive popular culture and official government efforts to overwhelm identification with the home country. Yet now, when we talk grandly of the “Latino vote,” are we assuming something in perpetuity that will not go the way of the Civil War–era “German vote” or the turn-of-the-century “Irish vote” — because the United States will no longer insist on full assimilation, or because immigration from Latin America will continue to be massive and in contradiction of federal immigration law?

Sociologists and psychologists can adduce all sorts of reasons for an immigrant’s contradictory behavior, whether the lethal kind of the Tsarnaevs or the more benign expression of the tens of thousands in the Rose Bowl. It is tough being a newcomer in any country, and tribal or religious affinities serve to offer familiarity and by extension pride to one who is otherwise alienated from contemporary culture.

More practically, in the last half-century, having some identity other than white Christian made one a member of a growing “Other” that could level grievances against the surrounding culture that might result in advantages in hiring or college admission — or at least in a trendy ethnic cachet.

What happened to create such fissures among America’s diverse tribes? At no time in our history have so many Americans been foreign born. Never have so many foreign nationals resided in America, and never have so many done so illegally. Yet at just such a critical time, in our universities and bureaucracies, the pressures to assimilate in melting-pot fashion have been replaced by salad-bowl separatism — as if the individual can pick and choose which elements of his adopted culture he will embrace, which he will reject, as one might croutons or tomatoes. But ultimately he can do that because he senses that the American government, people, press, and culture reward such opportunism and have no desire, need, or ability to defend the very inherited culture that has given them the leeway to ignore it and so attracted others from otherwise antithetical paradigms.

That is a prescription for cultural suicide, if not by beheading or by a pressure cooker full of ball bearings, at least by making the West into something that no one would find very different from his homeland.

Is not that the ultimate paradox: The solution to the sort of violence we saw in Britain and Sweden the past week, or to the endless acrimony over “comprehensive immigration reform,” is that the Western hosts will so accede to multiculturalism that the West will be no longer unique — and therefore no longer a uniquely desirable refuge for its present legions of schizophrenic admiring critics. If the immigrant from Oaxaca can recreate Oaxaca in Tulare, or the Pakistani second-generation British subject can carve out Sharia in the London boroughs, or a suburb of Stockholm is to be like in one in Damascus, then would there be any reason to flee to Tulare, London, or Stockholm?

The World’s Oldest Torah Scroll Found in Bologna University Library.

The world’s oldest complete Torah scroll has been found in a university archive in Bologna.

University’s rare complete Torah scroll turns out to be the world’s oldest after professor discovers it is 500 years older than anyone realized. By Anna Edwards. Daily Mail, May 29, 2013.

“World’s oldest Torah” found at world’s oldest university. By Nick Squires. The Telegraph, May 29, 2013.

World’s Oldest Torah Believed Found In Bologna University Library, Scroll Overlooked For Years. By Meredith Bennett-Smith. The Huffington Post, May 29, 2013.

“World’s oldest Torah” scroll found in Italy. BBC News, May 28, 2013.

Italy professor says has found world’s oldest complete Torah. By Philip Pullella. Reuters, May 29, 2013.

A Sefer Torah in the Bologna Library May Be the Oldest Known Torah Scroll. By Noah Wiener. Bible History Daily, May 30, 2013.

World’s Oldest Torah Scroll: University of Bologna says Jewish scroll is more than 850 years old. Video. JewishNewsOne, May 29, 2013. YouTube.

Hebrew manuscript published online by Bodleian Library. BBC News, September 19, 2011.

Female Torah scribe observes and battles tradition. By Dina Newman. BBC News, January 5, 2011.

Avielah Barclay, female Torah scribe.