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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cruising the Web

Here's a sign that Biden is running for the presidency - he's changing his story on the raid to kill Osama bin Laden.
Vice President Biden seemed to change his account on Tuesday of the role he played in the White House debate surrounding the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. This time he recalled telling President Obama that he strongly supported sending in a team of Navy SEALs into Pakistan to kill or capture the al-Qaeda leader.

"As we walked out of the room, walked upstairs, I told him my opinion: I thought he should go, but follow his own instincts," Biden said Tuesday at a George Washington University forum.

With Biden mulling a run for the presidency, his latest account seems designed to buttress his qualifications to serve as commander-in-chief. But the vice president, who has a reputation as a voice of caution when it comes to committing American forces, seems to have contradicted his earlier memories of the final meeting before the bin Laden raid.

Biden's revised account puts him in the same camp as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama's former secretary of state and Biden's chief rival if he runs, who has long said that she supported sending in special operations forces to raid bin Laden's Abbottabad compound in Pakistan....

Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley backed up a key element of Biden's account. "I think the way he articulated it was absolutely the truth. I was in the room and I saw him walk out with the president," said Daley, who wasn't part of their private, post-meeting conversation.

In 2012 remarks at a Democratic congressional retreat, Biden suggested that he had been against launching the raid until there was better intelligence about bin Laden's whereabouts. "Every single person in that room hedged their bet except Leon Panetta," Biden said, according to 2012 ABC News report. "He got to me. He said, 'Joe, what do you think?' And I said, 'You know, I didn't know we had so many economists around the table.' I said, 'We owe the man a direct answer. Mr. President, my suggestion is, don't go. We have to do two more things to see if he's there.'"

Biden gave a slightly fuzzier accounting to NBC News's "Meet the Press" a few months later. The vice president recalled Obama taking a "roll call" of his top national security advisers: "The only guy who had a full-throated ' go, Mr. President,' was Leon Panetta," Biden told NBC. He said he held back his advice until he and the president were alone and then counseled: "Follow your instincts, Mr. President. Your instincts have been close to unerring; follow your instincts."

Biden's memory is directly at odds with at least one other account of the lead up to the historic raid. Then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recalled the same meeting in his book, "Duty," and described Biden as being staunchly opposed to launching the commandos. “Biden was against the operation," Gates writes. "[Gen. James] Cartwright and I supported the drone option. Panetta was in favor of the raid. Everyone else acknowledged it was a close call but also supported the raid.”
Just what we need - another candidate with a slippery handle on the truth.

Sean Trende puts forth his explanation for why Biden has waited so long to get in the race.
Biden is simply intent on avoiding the errors that plagued previous late entrants. If he does end up running, I’d say this was certainly the case....

One of your demons, however, gives you great pause. Like all demons, it goes by many names. Sometimes it calls itself Fred Thompson. At other times it goes by Wesley Clark, while Rick Perry is the name preferred at other times. It represents the late entrants of the past decade, who all flamed out.

Now, you’re fundamentally different from these candidates in that you’re a sitting vice president, not a retired general or a former senator who ran his last campaign a decade earlier. But their candidacies all collapsed for the same reasons: some combination of not being prepared on the issues, not having adequate funds, or simply peaking too soon.

Given all of this, what’s the best way to avoid becoming like them? You have a two-pronged strategy. You keep leaking news about potential announcements, so that the press keeps covering you. That keeps interest up, as the press would love a real race to cover on the Democratic side. You go on late-night talk shows to humanize yourself.

That’s the public face. Behind the scenes, you work like a madman. You get the fundraising team in place, so you have quick commitments to put to rest any doubts that you will be able to compete going forward. You have your major field teams on standby. You know the issues pretty well – you’re a sitting vice president, after all – but you work to familiarize yourself on the price of arugula and develop a crisp message. In the meantime, you watch the frontrunner struggle with the news media and enjoy her declining poll numbers.

In other words, I think there’s a third possibility out there: Joe Biden has, in fact, been running for president for a couple months. But rather than distract from Hillary Clinton’s troubles, and to avoid being the flawed, late entrant, he has been doing his work behind the scenes. If this is right and Biden declares, he’ll have a well-oiled machine ready to hit the ground running.

Of course, there are risks to this strategy: Allowing Clinton to have the debate stage to herself seems to have stanched the bleeding on her poll numbers. The Hamlet act wears thin after a while too. Campaign flacks get tired of sitting around.
All I can think is that, if Biden jumps in as seems to be the way he is leaning according to strategic leaks, things are going to get quite interesting. My students are excited. For their election project to follow an election campaign, I'd had them pick randomly from Clinton and Sanders and the top four Republicans at the time: Trump, Carson, Rubio, and Fiorino. Since they chose, Fiorina's numbers have been sinking and the kids who picked her name were pretty disgusted. When I told them that I would give them the option of switching over to Joe Biden if he got in the room, they were very happy. So, Mr. Biden, make my students' day and jump on in.

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Brit Hume refutes the idea that the Republicans in the House haven't done anything. What they have done is block bills that Obama wished passed.
One reason the job of House Speaker is proving hard to fill is a significant percentage of the Republican base believes that the GOP leadership has been utterly supine, despite its congressional majorities.

This notion is held dear by the Freedom Caucus, who helped force John Boehner out and [blocked] Kevin McCarthy's succession.

A famous claim of their supporters is that the GOP Congress has "given Obama everything he wants."

It is utter nonsense. Here is a partial list of items Mr. Obama has requested from Congress since the GOP took the House back in 2010:

-- The American Jobs Act
-- The Paycheck Fairness Act
-- An increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour
-- An array of gun control measures
-- Universal pre-kindergarten education
-- A week's paid sick leave for all
-- Higher tax rates on the rich
-- A new minimum tax on multinational companies
-- Overhaul and expansion of unemployment benefits

These diverse proposals have one thing in common: they went nowhere because congressional Republicans blocked them all. Of course, with Senate Democrats willing to filibuster, the President with his veto pen and plenty of votes to sustain him, the Republican agenda hasn't gone anywhere either. The House GOP hardliners like to characterize this as "surrender," but a much better word for it would be stalemate.

The House GOP hardliners like to characterize this as surrender, but a much better word for it would be stalemate.
Hume goes on to point out for those who want the President to be forced to veto bills that he was forced to veto a Keystone Pipeline bill and nothing happened. Forcing Democrats to take unpopular votes might be useful for partisan election reasons, but it doesn't accomplish all that much in the long run.

Megan McArdle writes that the Democrats have missed their opportunity to really test Hillary Clinton.
What you did not see on stage, however, was all-out attacks on the front-runner, as you have seen from the Republican side. This makes eminent political sense: Clinton is the probable nominee, which makes it unwise to anger her, and no one else has a sufficiently large following to risk the ire of the base by attacking someone whose approval rating remains high among Democrats. However, this has the effect of making Clinton look stronger than she is.

This has been the story of her career in politics: she has a lot of experience in government, but very little in campaigning for herself. The one time she played against a varsity team, she lost to Barack Obama. In her only successful campaign, she was ushered into Pat Moynihan’s Senate seat by the senator himself, running as the Democratic heir-apparent in a deep-blue state, and facing a Republican opponent of truly startling ineptitude.

Can Clinton survive a race against a more gifted campaigner, in a nation with considerably more conservatives than New York has? Now would be a good time for Democrats to find that out. At least Democrats could see how she performs under pressure from politicians who are out for blood. Instead they mostly treated her like a delicate aunt whose ears must be protected from harsh words.

Lincoln Chafee’s attempt to bring up the e-mail issue was probably the closest they came to the sort of slings she will suffer in the general election campaign, but it was not very close, since he delivered this with the frightened determination of a second-grader given his first speaking role in the Christmas play.

Yet Clinton needs to practice taking punches now, because rest assured, she will be taking a lot of them before November of next year. The no-hopers on stage would have done a service to their party and Clinton if they had tried to land a few blows. But instead they danced around, and so the electorate will have to wait to find out whether Clinton can hit the ropes and come back fighting.

Unfortunately for Democrats, if she can’t, it will then be too late to do anything but gape from the sidelines.
Maybe the entry of Joe Biden into the race will serve to provide Hillary with that practice.

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This is the logical end of the craze for diversity.
The controversy began as soon as the Oct. 9 election results rolled in. Everett’s 36-year-old principal, Lena Van Haren, was disturbed by the lack of diversity among the winners, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The school sits in San Francisco’s Mission District, a historically diverse neighborhood that has recently struggled with both gentrification and gang violence. Everett is as much a melting pot as the community, with 80 percent of its population comprised of students of color. Only 20 percent of students are white, Van Haren told KTVU.

The results of the election, however, gave the principal pause.

Literally.

Students weren’t exactly expecting real-time streaming results, but they were surprised not to learn who had won when they showed up to school the following Monday. By Wednesday, the situation was getting weird.

On Thursday, nearly a week after the election, Van Haren sent out an e-mail to parents explaining her decision to withhold the election results.

“This is complex, but as a parent and a principal, I truly believe it behooves us to be thoughtful about our next steps here so that we can have a diverse student council that is truly representative of all voices at Everett,” she wrote, according to the Chronicle. Van Haren then suggested the school “add positions” to improve diversity, KTVU reported.

And that’s when the civics hit the fan.
What is the point of middle school elections anyway? The whole purpose behind such elections is to teach the kids about democracy and to inculcate the habits of civic participation. The students at this school did their job. It was the principal who figured that she knew better which sorts of candidates should have won the election. What a lesson she's teaching students. Eventually, the principal gave in.
"While there was some diversity among the 10 winners, no English learners were elected, even though they make up about a third of enrollment,” the Chronicle reported. “African American and Latino students were underrepresented, while white, Asian and mixed-race students, who are in the minority at the school, took the top four spots.”

Van Haren also announced on Monday that she never had any intention of nullifying the election results.

“We paused to have a conversation,” she told the Chronicle. “I never, ever said we wouldn’t share the results or they weren’t good enough.

“This is middle school. It’s not a presidential election,” Van Haren added. “It was not about hurting democracy or putting diversity over democracy.”
If democracy doesn't matter, why have elections? Why not appoint a racially approved group of students? There is a reason why schools hold elections. It's part of our responsibility to introduce students to democracy. If the principal doesn't want to fulfill that responsibility, then she should just cancel future elections.

Oh, dear. Charles C. W. Cooke argues that Jeb Bush's presence in the race is having a "malign influence" on the GOP. He is forcing the GOP to have conversations that do nothing to further the hopes of retaking the White House. I've always thought that it would be a lot harder to run against Hillary Clinton as the candidate of yesterday if the Republicans are running the brother and son of former presidents. But, mostly due to Donald Trump, we're now seeing the Republican race being caught up in relitigating 9/11 and the war in Iraq.
What good can it do the Right, I wonder, to get itself bogged down in defenses of the Iraq war?; to become embroiled in personalized debates over Middle Eastern chaos?; to hear repeated vestra culpas apropos 9/11? What benefit will conservatism derive from well-publicized spitting matches between a former president who is trying to help his brother and a new class that is trying to get away from him? How useful can it be to force younger candidates — most of whom missed the Iraq debate entirely — into the same pit as those who have already been tarnished?

I bear Jeb Bush no ill will. Indeed, I must confess that I find the intense opprobrium that has been cast in his direction somewhat perplexing in nature. In another set of circumstances, he would perhaps have been exactly what America needed. But we are not in another set of circumstances; rather, we are in the midst of an election that has taken an extremely peculiar turn, and that seems set to continue to make such turns into the foreseeable future. Life isn’t fair. Events overtake plans. Perhaps the time for well-meaning lightning rods is coming quickly to a close?

Katherine Timpf reports on the language that is now being banned in English schools.
England’s Department of Education is having guidelines sent to every school in the country on Tuesday instructing them to ban “sexist” language — such as “man up” and “cupcake” — in the hopes that these terms will start to be considered as unacceptable as racist ones.

“We have always had clear policies on racist language but now we are making it clear to staff that any kind of sexist language is not acceptable,” Janice Callow, deputy head of Fairfields High School in Bristol (one of the pilot schools) told the Sunday Times.

“We used to say ‘Man up, cupcake,’” Callows added. “We’ve stopped that. Saying ‘Don’t be a girl’ to a boy if they are being a bit wet is also unacceptable. Language is a very powerful tool. You have to be so conscious of what you are saying to children.”

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Those who call acts of terrorism "senseless" don't really understand terrorists.
The murder of a young Israeli couple, Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henken, in a drive-by terrorist attack leaving behind four orphaned children, has been called “senseless.” It is brutal, violent and barbaric—but hardly senseless.

Terrorism always has been about killing innocents at random, seeking to instill fear because anyone can be a random target. If you are a terrorist, killing a couple in front of their children is what you do because the people you seek to terrorize can identify with the victims and see their own children in the faces of the surviving orphans.

It also sends a message to those who feel powerless—that they too have the power to kill. Killing is empowering.

Terrorism, to the Palestinians, is about the restoration of lost honor. It does not matter that the targets are easy. Shedding blood becomes both exhilarating and affirming; and above all, the political and religious structures of the society praise, affirm, and inculcate it in their children.

Brendan O'Neill is appalled that there are people out there who seem to be perfectly fine with Israeli citizens being murdered.
The response in the West to the spate of foul murders by car, knife and meat cleaver in Israel has been almost as shocking as the killings themselves. Many have stayed silent, a global version of “bystander culture”, where people look awkwardly at the ground as someone is battered in front of them. The Western media is currently a shameless shuffling bystander to murders in Israel.

Others have asked, “Well, what do Israelis expect?” The crashing of cars into rabbis waiting for a bus and the hacking at Israeli citizens doing their weekly shop is treated as a normal response by Palestinians to their woes.

When the Guardian glorifies these killings as a “knife intifada”, and radical writers describe them as a natural kickback against Palestinians’ “ongoing humiliation”, they’re really saying Israeli citizens deserve to be murdered.

It’s understandable. It makes sense. These offerers of chin-stroking explanations for why a rabbi just had to be rammed with a car actually dehumanise both Israelis and Palestinians. They treat Israelis as collectively guilty for what their government does, meaning the old woman on a bus is a legitimate target.

And with their handwringing over “Palestinian despair”, with one writer claiming Palestinians are lashing out with knives because it’s “the only option left to them”, they infantilise Palestinians, reducing them to robotic knife-wielders who aren’t responsible for what they do. They heap contempt on both sides, demonising Israeli citizens and pitying Palestinians so much that they end up seeing them as mentally deficient, with no choice but to hack at the nearest Jew.

Worst of all, some in the West are supporting, implicitly, the killing of Jews with screwdrivers.

This week in New York, I saw what can only be described as a pro-stabbing demo: hundreds of anti-Israel activists hollering about Palestine being free “from the river to the sea, by any means necessary”. “Bombs, guns, knives — resistance is resistance”, said one.

In London, the keffiyeh-wearing, self-hating middle classes of the pro-Palestine lobby gathered to condemn, not the stabbings — don’t be silly! — but their bete noire, the thing they get out of bed every morning to rail against: Israel.

One attendee had a placard saying: “Thieving, murdering ‘Israelis’ go home to Poland, Germany, USA.”

Such anti-Semitism would be shocking at any time. That it appeared now, during this stabbing spree, is truly disturbing. These Western radicals who have gathered to scream about Israel even as its citizens are being stabbed are fashioning a political narrative for the killings, elevating them to the level of a legitimate response to the situation in the Middle East. “Carry on killing” — that’s the implicit message.

Leftists are far more alarmed by Israel’s response to the stabbings than they are by the stabbings themselves. They’ve castigated Israel for putting more soldiers on the streets and for making it easier for citizens to buy guns (nothing freaks out the left more than a Jew with a gun). They seem to expect Israel to leave its citizens open to attack.

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This certainly isn't a story I expected to see.
Reviewing the third quarter presidential campaign filings, one finds that Donald Trump runs his presidential campaign much like he ran his casinos – in the red.

The Trump campaign ended the third quarter with $254,772.88 of cash on-hand, which is about 48 percent less than the $487,736.16 with which it started the quarter. Trump is therefore spending money at a faster clip than he’s raising it. Moreover, the campaign also has incurred more than $1.8 million of debts and obligations – no doubt, many of them to Trump himself (he’s billed the campaign $700,000 for the use of his jet). That leaves the campaign with negative cash, which should be a familiar position for the real estate magnate whose companies have declared bankruptcy four times.

What makes this particularly strange is that Trump has done relatively little actual campaigning. He’s gotten by thus far on an enormous amount of free media. He makes public appearances in large venues, but hasn’t done nearly the same amount of flesh pressing that the other candidates have. His campaign expenses thus should be fairly lean. Yet he’s burning through money at a fairly brisk rate....

Thus, we see that, in fact, George Pataki and Rick Santorum are already bust. But they are just a little in the red. The Donald is YOOOGELY in the red.
I thought his whole selling point as to what a great businessman he is and how he doesn't need donations because he's self-funding. So why is he billing his campaign for the use of his plane?

Well, this is interesting - do appearances by candidates on SNL trigger the FCC equal-time provisions for NBC?
hy does the FCC care? Because that scripted appearance probably triggers the "equal opportunity" clause of federal communications law.

Sure enough, long-shot Democratic candidate -- and law professor -- Larry Lessig has already sent a letter to NBC affiliates demanding an equal opportunity to appear on their stations under that provision. The law states that if a candidate is allowed to use a broadcast station, the station must "afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station." That doesn't hold for "bona fide" news programs, like Donald Trump's infinite Sunday morning interviews, but probably holds for something like a scripted appearance on SNL.

Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, explains that this is a slightly murky area.

"There have been enough instances where you have seen a walk-on at something like 'Saturday Night Live' where I don't think the equal opportunity was claimed," she said. "But you can make a pretty good argument that there's no aspect of this that's a bona fide news program." As the media have gotten more diverse in their formats, the "boundaries of what triggers equal opportunity have grown over the years," McGehee said. Things like "The Daily Show," which mix comedy and interviews, helped shift precedent with the FCC.

So McGehee thinks Lessig probably has a good argument. But this thing goes in a lot of different directions very quickly.

First, every station independently is affected. "The requirement is at the station level; it's not at the network," McGehee said. So if Bernie Sanders demanded three minutes of sketch comedy on every NBC affiliate that aired Clinton's SNL sketch across the country, he'd have a good case. (How the station and the candidate sort out meeting that requirement, shy of a showing up on SNL, is apparently negotiable.)

Second, it applies only to broadcast networks. Note that this is an FCC rule, not a Federal Elections Commission one. The rule exists because TV stations are granted broadcast licenses by the government. If NBC wanted to stream an SNL sketch online and only online, that would be different.

Third, it applies to every qualified candidate in a race. So if there were, say, 15 Republicans running for president and, say, one of them was offered the opportunity to host "Saturday Night Live," that would open a can of worms.

Oh, right. Donald Trump is hosting on Nov. 7.

"If I were an affiliate of NBC," McGehee said, "I would be saying: 'Hey, guys, wait a minute. You realize the obligation you're imposing on us for the rest of these candidates?'" The obligation is potentially substantial: Trump's appearance would be hard to defend as being oriented around a bona fide news broadcast or interview, and there are at least 14 other Republicans who could make a claim to however long Trump appears onscreen.

For a host, that's a few sketches and the opening monologue, at least. When he was on SNL in 2004, Trump appeared in at least 23 minutes of programming. Twenty-three minutes times 14 candidates is nearly five and a half hours of broadcast time. For however many of the hundreds of NBC affiliates that air the show.

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Hillary Clinton has said that she'll be able to limit cost increases on pharmaceuticals. Well, this isn't the first time the Clintons have tried this.
Biotechnology stocks fell: Investors remembered what happened the last time Clinton went on a price-control mission.

But not everyone does. To refresh:As first lady and in charge of the Bill Clinton administration’s health-care reform effort, Hillary accused “greedy” drug companies of exorbitant price increases for vaccines. In 1993, she first proposed nationalizing the vaccine industry. She settled for a Vaccines for Children Program that saw the federal government buy up over half of all available vaccines at government-set prices.

The result? Companies stopped producing and investing in vaccines. The United States started experiencing vaccine shortages.

In 1994, the Health Security Act called for the federal government to deny coverage for Medicare patients using drugs deemed “excessively priced” by a public commission. Under the Clinton plan, physicians or pharmacists had to obtain prior approval from the government before prescribing or dispensing to Medicare patients a drug deemed not cost-effective.

Back then, Hillary’s advisers — doctors pretending to be economists — told biotech startups to focus on big targets like heart attacks instead of on rare illnesses like cystic fibrosis and Gaucher’s disease. You see, these “experts” were confident that the government and insurers could come up with “reasonable” prices for new medicines and determine which ones were really necessary.

The biotechnology industry took years to recover.

As a dry run for these price controls, the Clinton administration supported a “reasonable pricing clause” that required companies that collaborated with scientists from the National Institutes of Health to limit the initial price of breakthrough drugs. The clause required the NIH to base prices on future profits and the amount companies spent on research and development. As a result, private industry partnerships with NIH were cut by 70 percent.

The vaccine price controls were scrapped. So were the restrictions on companies doing business with the NIH. The government price commission was mothballed.

Since then, vaccines have become a platform technology for treating all types of diseases, including cancer and rare pediatric diseases, as well as delivering stem cells. Biotech investment started to increase again. In recent years a steady stream of new medicines to treat HIV, hepatitis C, cancer, cystic fibrosis and heart disease have become available.

Countries with price controls haven’t made as much progress against such illnesses. And we don’t have to go overseas to see the impact of Clinton’s prescriptions: The role model for HillaryCare was the Veterans Administration. Now the VA is the unfunniest joke in America’s health-care system. Its approach to drug access and pricing has ensured veterans are sicker and die sooner than people whose drug prices and utilization aren’t controlled.
If Hillary's plans were fulfilled, one day we'll be asking shy we don't have vaccines for diseases and only those who have paying attention will understand.

Cybersecurity for our government's business has been a real problem under Obama.
Under continued fire for her use of a private, unsecured email account to conduct official State Department business, Hillary Clinton now faces charges that cybersecurity suffered at the State Department during her time as secretary.

The Associated Press gathered various internal audits over the years, and found that the department's compliance with federal cybersecurity standards "grew worse each year of her tenure."

As the AP notes, the department's inspector general repeatedly warned top officials that these lapses posed a significant risk to the department's network. And, in fact, Russian hackers broke into its email system in 2014, which a National Security Agency assessment concluded was "significant and severe."

AP also notes that State got a score of 42 out of 100 on a federal cybersecurity report card, worse than all but two other agencies — Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development.

Meanwhile, the Daily Caller reports that Clinton, along with just about every other top official at State, repeatedly blew off mandatory "security awareness training."

If this problem were isolated to the State Department, it would be bad enough. But it is endemic in this administration, despite promises by President Obama that he would beef it up. And in every case, auditors have issued warning after warning only to see agency officials brush them off.

In addition to the massive OPM hack, which comprised detailed personnel files on millions of government employees, the IRS has been hacked, the White House has been hacked, the Weather and Postal Services have been hacked. The private email account of the CIA director was reportedly hacked.

Various audits have pointed to vulnerabilities at the Healthcare.gov site, putting personal information on millions of ObamaCare enrollees at risk.

Auditors have issued multiple warnings that the FAA's air traffic control system is at risk . A Government Accountability Office report earlier this year that "significant security control weaknesses" threaten the FAA's ability to "ensure safe and uninterrupted operation" of its air traffic control system.

Just a few weeks ago, USA Today reported that the Department of Energy had been hacked 159 times in Obama's first term, despite repeated warnings. And 19 of them involved the National Nuclear Security Administration.

There's a cyberwar underway, and the nation's enemies grow more sophisticated every day. It would be nice if Commander-in-Chief Obama acted like he notices.
How can this go on after all the warnings we've had? It's just astounding. I just get the feeling that our government has trouble doing anything that relies on computer technology.

Rich Lowry explains why Sweden should stand in as an example of the success of social democracy.
No one remembers, but Scandinavia wasn’t always a watchword for social democracy. Indeed, Sweden was such a free-market success story that Republicans should be citing it in their debates. It started as a poor country in the late 19th century, then achieved takeoff under a dynamic capitalist system into the middle of the 20th century. Its boom coincided with the time when its taxes were lower than in the U.S. and the rest of Europe.

When Bernie Sanders and his ilk hold up Scandinavia as an exemplar, they are really thinking of a couple of decades beginning in the early 1970s when Sweden and others got their full Sanders on.

In Sweden, the effective marginal tax rate topped 100 percent in some circumstances. There is a reason that IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad fled the country in 1973. Sweden instituted a scheme to confiscate corporate profits and hand them over to labor unions. The idea was, in the words of a Swedish economist, to have “a market economy without individual capitalists and entrepreneurs.”

This was about as logical as it sounded — and delivered predictable results. The socialist golden years weren’t so golden for economic performance. Entrepreneurship plummeted. Job creation and wages sputtered.

The Scandinavian story the past few decades has been a turn against socialism. Taxes have fallen, and markets have been liberalized. Kamprad returned to Sweden.

It became obvious that generous-enough welfare benefits can undermine the initiative of even the heartiest Scandinavian stock, and these countries have been adjusting accordingly. An article in the New York Times a couple of years ago recounted the backlash against welfare dependence in Denmark. It cited a study that projected in 2013 that only three of 98 municipalities would have a majority of residents working.

If no one will mistake these countries for Texas, they allow enough economic openness to stay vibrant. “Scandinavian countries,” Sanandaji writes, “compensate for high taxes and labor market rigidities by following liberal policies in other areas, such as business freedom and openness to trade.” Denmark, of all places, is ranked 11th on the Heritage Foundation’s index of economic freedom, right above the United States.

Nothing will undermine the Left’s faith in the Scandinavian model, but Bernie Sanders could learn a thing or two from the reformers in the countries that he so admires.

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Byron York considers whether plans by GOP groups such as the Club for Growth to attack Donald Trump for his apostasy on conservative principles will work since lots of his supporters aren't really conservatives.
The short version of the problem could be this: An attack ad says Trump is not a conservative. Trump supporters — and other possible GOP voters, as well — say, that's OK, we're not conservatives, either.

A just-released Wall Street Journal-NBC poll has some evidence to support that possibility. The poll divided the Republican electorate into those who described themselves as very conservative, those who described themselves as somewhat conservative, and those who described themselves as moderate, or even liberal. (That last group makes up about 30 percent of the GOP electorate.) Trump has significantly higher support among moderate Republicans than among conservatives; he is the candidate of 31 percent of moderates, versus only 20 percent of those who call themselves very conservative. (Ben Carson, in contrast, is the choice of just 14 percent of GOP moderates, and 28 percent of those who call themselves very conservative.)

National Journal's Josh Kraushaar has noted that Trump's voters "aren't Republican rank-and-file," and are "more moderate, more secular, [and] more blue collar." Which means, according to Kraushaar:
There's good reason why Trump has run on a non-traditional Republican platform, one that is skeptical of military intervention, hostile to illegal immigration, and opposed to free trade deals. Last week, he even attacked former President George W. Bush for not anticipating the 9/11 attacks. Trump has been advocating hiking taxes on wealthy corporations and individuals. His past support of abortion rights, and admission that he hasn't sought forgiveness from God, don't endear him to evangelicals. But those positions match the ideological profile of his supporters. Trump is no dummy; he's running a campaign geared towards voters that many Republican candidates, with their emphases on tax cuts, free trade, and immigration reform, have perennially ignored.

2 comments:

Gahrie said...

Forcing Democrats to take unpopular votes might be useful for partisan election reasons, but it doesn't accomplish all that much in the long run.

...Except give a reason for Conservatives to support establishment Republicans instead of oppose them. We don't expect Republicans to win every time, but we do expect them to fight.

tfhr said...

Gahrie,

Well said.