AEI's John Makin studies the numbers and concludes that the United States has already achieved a sustainable fiscal path for the medium term. There's no need for further near-term spending cuts. Instead, Congress should go to work on longer-term tax and entitlement reform. Here's a quote with permission from an advance copy, the text will be available on the AEI site tomorrow.
The United States has actually made substantial progress toward deficit reduction in 2013 ...
On January 2, as part of an agreement to avert the sharpest austerity that would have been triggered by the “fiscal cliff,” Congress did pass a total of about $180 billion of annual tax increases. The result is that, by the 2014 fiscal year, the fully phased-in sequester, along with the January 2013 tax increases, will cut the US deficit—already on a downward path—from $1,089 billion in 2012 to $845 billion in 2013, and then further to $615 billion in 2014. In terms of the deficit-to-GDP ratio, that is 7 percent in 2012, down to 5 percent in 2013, and down further to 3.7 percent in 2014.
That is substantial progress, especially when compared with the G7 average ratio of deficits-to-GDP projected to be −4.0 for 2014.
What causes second-generation Muslim immigrants to turn to terrorism? In 2007, Britain's Prospect magazine published one of the very most interesting analyses of the question I've ever read, "My Brother the Bomber," based on interviews with the brother of the mastermind of the July 7, 2005, London terror attacks, Mohammed Sidiqui Khan.
[I]t takes about 30 years for a sizeable second generation to establish itself and then become frustrated with its status, both within its own community and the wider society.
This frustration arises in part from a question of identity. Whose culture and values do you affiliate with? Those of your parents or of your friends? Those of your community or of your country?
Hassan Butt, a former recruiter for the British jihadi network (the term violent Islamic extremists in Britain use to describe themselves), who twice met Sidique Khan, says that the reason radical Islamic movements in Britain have been able to recruit thousands of young Muslims is that they have managed to exploit this identity problem. ...
Jihadist terrorism, back in the news:
Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police has arrested two in a plot to bomb a passenger train. While news organizations are reporting police denials that the plot had anything to do with the Boston bombing, the Globe & Mail does add this detail:
The RCMP community outreach team has been in touch with local religious groups in Toronto, sources said.
In Friday's standoff between law enforcement and the Boston bombing suspect, David Henneberry's beloved boat was destroyed by bullet holes, blood, and bad juju. Now, a donation campaign on Crowdtilt is attempting to raise enough money to repair or replace the boat, ironically named the Slipaway II.
As the search for the 2nd bombing suspect raged on in the Boston area, Mr. Henneberry of Watertown noticed that there was someone hiding in his boat. He immediately notified authorities, who were able to capture the suspect alive.
As of 3 p.m., around $6,400 has been donated. The goal is $50,000, which is the value of his 22-foot Seahawk cruiser.
Sorry, Sen. Rand Paul, but this is nonsensical:
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Paul bluntly warned, "We should not proceed until we understand the specific failures of our immigration system. Why did the current system allow two individuals to immigrate to the United States from the Chechen Republic in Russia, an area known as a hotbed of Islamic extremism, who then committed acts of terrorism? Were there any safeguards? Could this have been prevented? Does the immigration reform before us address this?"
Two individuals didn't immigrate to the United States from the Chechen Republican in Russia. A family that included two sons immigrated. This, from CNN, is more accurate:
2002: Parents Anzor Tsarnaev and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva immigrate to the United States with their son, Dzhokhar. Their three other children -- Tamerlan Tsarnaev and two sisters -- stay behind in Kazakhstan with an uncle, his aunt told reporters in Canada this week.
A new sex guide to be published in Hebrew aims at teaching orthodox Jews the basics of sex. How basic? The book goes as far as outlining the anatomical differences between males and females. The author, Dr. David Ribner, has a doctorate in social work and is an ordained Rabbi. He has spent the last 30 years working with orthodox Jews in Israel, who often know absolutely nothing about male-female interactions.
In ultra-Orthodox Jewish society, sex is so taboo that an unmarried man will often keep his hands behind his back when on a date with a perspective bride. While their commitment to abstinence is admirable, it’s a problem when your wedding night is the first time you physically see the difference between men and women. It also means you may not quite understand how intercourse works, even in the most elementary sense. This sex manual aims to combat this problem.
Dr. Ribner’s book is groundbreaking, although it is much tamer than one would expect for a sex education book.
A would-be mass shooter in the Netherlands was thankfully arrested before he could do any harm. Turns out he frightened enough people with his murder manifesto that he published on 4Chan, a site similar to Reddit.
In the post published anonymously, the author stated:
"I will shoot my Dutch teacher and as many students as I can," the message in English read.
"It's at a school in the Dutch city of Leiden and, for more proof, I will be using a 9mm Colt Defender.
The suspected terrorist will receive a criminal, not military, trial, per the Associated Press:
Can the self-styled "liberty caucus," featuring such figures as Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, make America more free from within the GOP? Scott Galupo writes at The American Conservative:
If it does, it will be because both parties will have coalesced around variants of radical individualism. What Amash fails to appreciate, in my view, is the practical interpretation of the Democratic agenda. Where Amash sees collectivism, voters increasingly see a distant and neutral guarantor of personal liberation and self-actualization. Amash sees high taxes, Big Brother, and mass gymnastics; the “coalition of the ascendant” sees government creating “ladders of opportunity” while abjuring moral judgmentalism.
A politics that further marginalizes the Rick Santorums of the world, that elevates individualism at the expense of the party’s waning ethos of communitarianism—and while continuing to frustrate the Koch Brothers’ economic agenda—is not what Justin Amash has in mind.
Yet unwittingly that’s what he’s paving the way for: a shattered left-right paradigm that yields a new left-right fusionism.
Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain drew attention late last week by urging that the suspected terrorist (FYI: sorry for the vague wording, but I refuse to publish his name) be held as an enemy combatant:
In an interview, Mr. Graham acknowledged that if no evidence were to emerge linking Mr. Tsarnaev to Al Qaeda, then he should not continue to be held as an enemy combatant. But he argued that given the need to swiftly find out if Mr. Tsarnaev knew of other planned attacks or terrorist operatives, the government could and should hold him as a combatant while it searched for any such links.
“You can’t hold every person who commits a terrorist attack as an enemy combatant, I agree with that,” Mr. Graham said. “But you have a right, with his radical Islamist ties and the fact that Chechens are all over the world fighting with Al Qaeda — I think you have a reasonable belief to go down that road, and it would be a big mistake not to go down that road. If we didn’t hold him for intelligence-gathering purposes, that would be unconscionable.”
Mr. Graham said 30 days of confinement and interrogation as an enemy combatant would be an appropriate amount of time to allow the government to look for evidence that would justify his continued detention under the law of war. He also said he believed that federal judges would grant the government that amount of leeway.
This bizarre Maureen Dowd column makes me wonder if someone's been marathoning The West Wing (not a bad thing!):
How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost the vote in the Senate? It’s because he doesn’t know how to work the system. And it’s clear now that he doesn’t want to learn, or to even hire some clever people who can tell him how to do it or do it for him.
It’s unbelievable that with 90 percent of Americans on his side, he could get only 54 votes in the Senate. It was a glaring example of his weakness in using leverage to get what he wants. No one on Capitol Hill is scared of him.
Even House Republicans who had no intention of voting for the gun bill marveled privately that the president could not muster 60 votes in a Senate that his party controls.