Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, in a broader piece debunking American stereotypes about the French daycare system, makes the case for Americans to be more like the French when it comes to bipartisan support for helping parents raise kids:
There is an overwhelming [French] commitment, from elites and the political class on down, to enacting policies that help families raise children. Along with healthcare and welfare transfers, the politique familiale is one of the pillars of the French welfare state.
This commitment is lacking in American politics. Oh sure, you can’t swing a cat in a Congress session without hitting a politician who has nice things to say about “family”, but there is a certain extent to which the socially liberal Left and the economically libertarian Right have a problem with the idea of helping families qua families, and being a parent qua being a parent (as opposed to simply, say, improving schools). It doesn’t help that the Left’s ideas on that are rooted in big government ideology.
Reform conservatives have proposed many ideas for a while now, from pro-family tax reform to credits for child care to more flexible labor markets to better monetary policy to more affordable housing and better infrastructure (spending that 3 hour commute with your kids instead should be a family value!) that seem to comport with the American framework much better than copying-and-pasting ideas that already don’t work well in Europe and would do even worse in the American context–ideas that, judging by the latest France-worshipping blog-fest, aren’t just ignored by Republican politicians but also by left-of-center wonks.
Israel's ambassador to Poland opened a 3D show of Warsaw ghetto photos on Wednesday as part of observances marking the 70th anniversary of the ghetto's ill-fated revolt against Nazi Germans.
The forty-eight pictures on show at Warsaw's Fotoplastikon are images of people walking or begging in the streets, street vendors, and the Jewish cemetery. Most of them were taken between 1940, when the ghetto was set up, and 1945, when almost nothing remained of Warsaw's Jewish district. Some of the images are very poignant, like the one of a boy searching for lice in his clothes. ... The 2D photos were supplied by the family of a Polish photographer and turned into stereoscopic images that, when viewed through binoculars, offer a 3D effect.
Luisa Estella Morales, the Supreme Tribunal chief in Venezuela, has issued arrest warrants against Henrique Cabriles, the loser of Sunday's presidential election, and members of Voluntad Popular for instigation to commit crimes.
In addition to Cabriles, Chief Morales has also issued arrest warrants for members of Cabriles' team, as well as Leopoldo López, the leader of Voluntad Popular.
All of this comes after the election results sparked massive protests accross the country with claims that the election was fixed. Since then, Chief Morales has stated that there will be a manual recount of the election results. The official results of Monday's election was 50.8% to 49%, in favor of Hugo Chavez protégé, Nicolas Maduro.
Matt Yglesias visits the world of Westeros to make a brilliant point about why tangible goods are so much more important than gold:
[I]n Westeros, the Lannisters have the cube of gold and the Tyrells with the rich farmland of the Reach have the real resources. You can’t eat gold. You can’t feed it to your horse either. Gold doesn’t keep you warm during those lengthy winters. Gold is useful primarily because it’s a convenient medium of exchange (who wants to carry all that wheat around) and a durable store of value (keeping a whole bunch of horses alive and healthy is itself a resource intensive process). So people with claims over valuable real resources will often end up accumulating gold. But though the Lannisters have more gold than anyone else, that’s not how they got their gold. They just own gold mines.
Now don’t get me wrong, you’d rather own gold mines than not own them. But the ability to pull shiny metal out of the ground is trivial compared to the power of a well-fed army. Imagine a scenario in which the Westerlands are out of food, and the Reach is out of gold. The Tyrells and their bannermen will need to curtail their consumption of luxury goods until they can manage to sell food for gold, but the austerity will be survivable if a bit unpleasant. The Lannisters, by contrast, are going to find that if they try to trade a whole big pile of gold for a whole big pile of food that the price of food will skyrocket. The illusion of Lannister wealthy is based on the idea that we can take the marginal price of an ounce of gold, then multiply that by the total quantity of the Lannister gold supply, and then conclude that the Lannisters are hyper-wealthy. In reality, any effort to mobilize all that metallic wealth will lead to inflation rather than the ability to mobilize vast quantities of real resources.
Same-sex marriage passed in New Zealand today. Watch what happened immediately after:
Since the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed their ban on LGBT scouts and Scoutmasters, some parents have made the decision to pull their boys from the group and find an alternative program that does not have discriminative policies.
One such program, Navigators USA (a co-ed organization), has seen its membership double in the past year.
On their website, Navigators USA states:
It's amazing how a life spent buying and selling works of art tends to bring out the very worst in people. The Nahmad family are well known in the art world.
Over the years the family has amassed an estimated 300 Picassos worth $900 million, and about 4,500 other works by artists including Monet and Miró, many secreted in a duty-free warehouse near the Geneva airport. It is a treasure that Forbes estimated to be worth over $3 billion. Before this week, Hillel Nahmad’s gallery was a cynosure of refinement and wealth, with masters like Wassily Kandinsky and Francis Bacon on the walls.
But now this:
[O]n Tuesday, the family’s New York flagship gallery, the Helly Nahmad Gallery, at the opulent Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, was filled with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducting a raid.
Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana offers this comment on Rep. Dana Rohrbacher's proposal for marijuana legalization:
"Mr Rohrbacher's latest attempt to legalize marijuana will likely suffer the same fate as his several previous failed attempts have over the past decade. The Pew poll was just that -- one poll. It reflects, more than anything, the lopsided discussion about legalization in this country. I'd like to know how how many of those who said they supported legalization also realized that we are going to have a Big Marijuana marketing their products to kids just like Big Tobacco did for 80 years.
How many of those polled realized that, like alcohol and tobacco, society won't come close to generating new tax revenue due to increased social costs from legalization? How many people realized that legalized marijuana would not put a dent in the incarceration rate? Two states out of 5 have legalized marijuana (Oregon failed in 2012; CA failed in 2010; Nevada failed in 2006).
When today's 20-somethings start to have kids and realize they don't want mental illness, learning dysfunction, car crashes, and lower IQs in their families, they might well change their minds about this issue just like Baby Boomer's did in the 1970s."
If you haven't acquainted yourself with the saga of Reinhart-Rogoff, read this post by Mike Konczal. According to Konczal, an error in the Excel coding of Reinhart-Rogoff's major study on public debt casts the entire study into doubt (and it was quite an error.)
The American Enterprise Institute's James Pethokoukis highlights Reinhart-Rogoff's response to Konczal, and then offers his own thoughts on what these new findings mean for long term debt management. Key quote:
The tipping-point argument is a distraction from more important macro fiscal issues: a) Higher debt can hurt growth by crowding out private investment, b) nations with larger public sectors tend to grow more slowly, and c) the coming wave of entitlement spending risks driving US debt to unsustainable levels. All these argue for a long-term debt plan instituted ASAP. I have argued that reducing debt/GDP by half over the next two decades might be a reasonable goal.
Economists use the term "revealed preference" as a technical substitute for "watch what we say, not what we do."
Here's what is revealed by the Gang of Eight immigration compromise:
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
1) Republicans want to postpone voting rights for illegal immigrants as long as possible. Unlike some of the more gullible right-wing pundits, congressional Republicans hold few illusions about how the present-day illegals will vote. Under the deal, voting rights wouldn't begin to arrive until 2027.
Three theories about Marco Rubio:
1) He has made a cold-eyed calculation that the approval of big Republican donors and Rupert Murdoch will matter more than the disapproval of talk radio and the conservative activist base;
2) He got played;
3) He was never really that excited about immigration enforcement in the first place: that message was for 2010, and this is now.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas has proposed an amendment to the current gun-control legislation that forces any state without a concealed carry ban to recognize the permits of all other states.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), center, speaks to the press with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), right, and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) after the weekly Senate Republicans policy luncheon on March 19, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
In other words, states with stricter gun laws like California and New York would be forced to allow visitors out of state to practice concealed carry.
This, to put it mildly, is a mistake and a violation of the basic right of states to set laws within their own borders.
The full text of the Gang of Eight's proposed immigration reform can be read below. It's 844 pages, and I will be reading it all over the next few days (busy blogging bee), but in the meantime, take a look and let me know if you spot anything odd or troubling.
While not a novel idea, new research suggests that drinking even as little as a sip of beer can trigger a feeling of happiness.
[F]or some people, intoxication isn’t necessary: Simply the taste of beer alone can provoke a release of the neurotransmitter within minutes. ...
A group of researchers led by David Kareken of Indiana University came to the finding, published today in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, by giving tiny amounts of beer to 49 adult men and tracking changes in their brain chemistry with a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, which measures levels of various molecules in the brain. ...
The effect was significant. When the men tasted the beer, their brains released much higher levels of dopamine within minutes, compared to when the same test was conducted on the subjects at other times with both water and Gatorade. They were also asked to rate how much they “craved” a beer at several points during the experiment, and perhaps less surprisingly, their cravings were generally much higher after tasting beer than Gatorade or water.