There's a core of a true idea in Dennis Prager's National Review Online column today urging an end to the Los Angeles school district's free-breakfast program. Pause to tally how many nutrition programs there are in the United States:
* Food stamps (known formally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program);
* WIC, a feeding program for expectant mothers;
David Brooks takes off the boxing gloves today.
The opponents of immigration reform have many small complaints, but they really have one core concern. It’s about control. America doesn’t control its borders. Past reform efforts have not established control. Current proposals wouldn’t establish effective control. But the opponents rarely say what exactly it is they are trying to control. They talk about border security and various mechanisms to achieve that, but they rarely go into detail about what we should be so vigilant about restricting. I thought I would spell it out.
What David then spells out is not very flattering. In fact, in his telling, the opponents of the Senate immigration plan seem a bunch of dummies, trying to stop love & prosperity & progress.
I happen to have one of those opponents right with here with me as I write, living conveniently inside my head. And I can tell you what he wants to control: he wants to control the accelerating drift of the United States toward becoming an ever more class-divided, wealth-concentrated society while also preserving the dynamic, private-enterprise character of the American economy.
I'm going to run a useful critique of David's examination of the Heritage Immigration study, and offer a few thoughts of my own along the way.
Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images
The comment comes from "PackerLovingGrrl":
David, I think you are cherry-picking the years of comparison. PRIOR to 1930, you cannot seriously argue that the immigrants coming here were better-educated than the native-born. Just go check out the archives at Ellis Island. Also, too: social benefits basically DIDN'T EXIST before FDR decided that letting 2/3 of the citizenry starve in the streets was a really bad idea, and came up with the NEW DEAL. Oh, and there was this big, honking WAR in there, where we picked up all those refugees from Europe. Medicare didn't exist prior to 1965. And so on and so forth.
On C-SPAN this morning, Daily Beast reporter Eli Lake shut down an anti-Israel conspiracy nutter, who said "Lindsey Graham and John McCain, these are all, pretty much talking heads for the Dick Cheney neocon wing of let’s go to war for the greater glory and good of Israel."
Eli's response is priceless.
Former Republican Michael Bloomberg must have decided the best way to help Republicans take back the Senate is by creating a Democratic Tea Party.
Shannon Stapleton-Pool/Getty Images
As POLITICO reports, gun control groups such as Bloomberg's "Mayors Against Illlegal Guns" are in the process of launching ads against red state Democrats MarkPryor (Arkansas), Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), and Mark Begich* (Alaska).
President Obama's Super PAC, Organizing for Action, is also threatening to go after Democrats who don't toe the line on guns. As POLITICO properly notes, the race to watch is Pryor's, because the Bloomberg attacks could stick.
In a modern social insurance state, all of us are both contributors and beneficiaries.
We pay taxes. We receive schooling, Medicare, and Social Security. We are eligible for Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, low-income housing vouchers, and so on and on.
When the United States chooses to admit somebody as a resident, it accepts a fiscal bargain. The newcomer promises to contribute; the newcomer is entitled to receive.
How will that bargain balance?
The Washington Post reports on an intriguing new study on "ultra-conserved words," holdovers from our common ancestral tongue:
The traditional view is that words can’t survive for more than 8,000 to 9,000 years. Evolution, linguistic “weathering” and the adoption of replacements from other languages eventually drive ancient words to extinction, just like the dinosaurs of the Jurassic era.
A new study, however, suggests that’s not always true. A team of researchers has come up with a list of two dozen “ultraconserved words” that have survived 150 centuries. It includes some predictable entries: “mother,” “not,” “what,” “to hear” and “man.” It also contains surprises: “to flow,” “ashes” and “worm.”
The existence of the long-lived words suggests there was a “proto-Eurasiatic” language that was the common ancestor to about 700 contemporary languages that are the native tongues of more than half the world’s people.
Mother Jones' Timothy Murphy, in an article wondering where the Boston terrorist will be buried, recounts how cities have historically dealth with society's least beloved:
No cemetery in the city of Chicago would allow the four men hanged for their role in the 1886 Haymarket Riot, in which seven police officers and four civilians were killed in a bombing, to be buried within the city limits. Instead, they were relegated to a plot in the suburb of Forest Park. Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who assassinated President William McKinley, was dissolved in sulphuric acid, Breaking Bad-style, to prevent admirers from visiting his grave. Lee Harvey Oswald's corpse was flipped from Dallas cemeteries like a hot potato before finally finding a resting place in Fort Worth.
Chris Christie, the most popular Republican in the United States, finally decided being morbidly obese was unacceptable. Good.
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images
As the Associated Press reports, Christie had a restrictive band attached to his stomach back in February. He's already lost a reported 40 pounds, and he's projected to lose considerably more. (Given that he was somewhere between 300 and 350 pounds, he's probably got a ways to go.)
This should be cheered for one basic reason: as a huge public figure, Christie's decision to lose weight pushes back at the public health crisis of the 21st century. The United States has had its share of fat presidents, but in today's America, we need leaders who provide a positive example of personal health. The fact that Christie clearly views being fat as an obstacle to the White House is quite heartening, and his example will help show young kids in America that obesity is not a permanent, unchangeable affliction.
Will the Tea Party - the reactionary anti-spending movement that spawned figures like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul - be willing to accept blue and purple state Republicans who have a shot at winning elections?
In Ohio, Tea Party figures want that answer to be a resounding NO.
Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
As Joe Hallet reported this morning for the Columbus Dispatch, long frustrated conservative activists are exploring forming a new party.
The Wall Street Journal reports that coal is not finished yet, not at least in the Midwest.
Last year, overall coal production in the U.S. fell 7% from a year earlier, with the biggest decline in Wyoming's Powder River Basin and in Central Appalachia mines of West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. But in the Illinois Basin, which includes southern Illinois and Indiana and western Kentucky, coal output rose by 10% last year, and the region over the next several years is projected to surpass Central Appalachia in coal output for the first time ever. New technologies are the primary reason for the boom. The Midwest boasts easily accessible deposits of coal that tend to be thicker than the more depleted eastern coal fields. Mining companies long ignored coal in Illinois and surrounding states because of its high sulfur content, but with utilities adding new equipment called scrubbers that remove sulfur to meet emissions standards, they can burn Illinois Basin coal more efficiently. It costs roughly half as much to dig coal out of the ground here as it does in Central Appalachia, industry analysts say
From my CNN column: why jobless Americans shouldn't expect any help from their government. Get well, soon, America -- you are on your own.
The U.S. economy added 165,000 jobs in April. That's not a bad result, except for this fact: Technically speaking, the economy has been in recovery since the summer of 2009. Yet after nearly four years of economic expansion, nearly 12 million people remain unemployed.
If we continue to add jobs every month at the April rate, not until the fall of 2014 will we again have as many people working as we did back in January 2008.
And of course, the American workforce has expanded since January 2008 as young people reach working age and as new immigrants arrive. At present job creation trends, it will take until 2021 to drive the unemployment rate down to a rate that is considered "full employment."
Another Cinco de Mayo anniversary:
On May 5, 1877, Sitting Bull led his warriors to refuge in Canada after the Battle of Little Big Horn. What happened next …
In the fall of 1876, Colonel Nelson A. Miles met with Sitting Bull at a neutral location and tried to talk him into surrendering and relocating to a reservation. Although anxious for peace, Sitting Bull refused. As the victor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Sitting Bull felt he should be dictating terms to Miles, not the other way around.
Angered by what he saw as Sitting Bull's foolish obstinacy, Miles stepped up his campaign of harassment against the chief and his people. Sitting Bull's band continued to roam about Montana in search of increasingly scarce buffalo, but the constant travel, lack of food, and military pressure began to take a toll. On this day in 1877, Sitting Bull abandoned his traditional homeland in Montana and led his people north across the border into Canada.
Enough about Niall Ferguson; let's talk about me. Twenty years ago, I wrote a critique/appreciation of JM Keynes for the New Criterion. The uproar over Ferguson's off-the-cuff quip sent me back to reread it. Parts stand up reasonably well; others not so much. Submitted for your inspection.
Keynes well understood the attractions of Communism to the affluent young. “When Cambridge undergraduates take their inevitable trip to Bolshiedom, are they disillusioned when they find it all dreadfully uncomfortable? Of course not. That is what they are looking for.” In his liberal way, however, he found the conversion to Marxism comical rather than horrifying.
As Keynes’s funny but deadly animadversions on Marxism suggest, much of the impact of his ideas originated in his remarkable personal charm. In a small society like that of interwar England, personality counted. And Keynes’s was evidently delightful. He treated his Bloomsbury friends with extraordinary generosity, generosity that was seldom returned. Cambridge followed his ideas at least in part because it liked him so much. It makes one wonder whether the course of modern economic life would have been different had Ludwig von Mises not been such a pedantic and irascible old man, or if Hayek had been quicker with a joke.
This weekend we posted an item here on Gov. Rick Perry and the University of Texas. The author has accepted a position as a law clerk, and on reflection decided that the expression of such political opinions was inconsistent with his work commitments. The article has been removed.