. . . is never to admit, never, that the mainstream media are deeply biased in favor of the left -- on politics, culture, economics, and religion. So when CNBC exposed that network's raw, undisguised bias against Republican presidential candidates in early November, our local editorial board -- the wisest and most righteous among us -- faced a conundrum. The secret was out, at least for this one miserable little network. Should the editors defend the hosts? Or throw them under the bus?
ALL ADDICTED POLL-WATCHERS know that Trump is first, Carson second, Rubio third, Cruz fourth, and Bush fifth, with the others fighting for the crumbs.
This is the order at the moment in Real Clear Politics "2016 Republican Presidential Nomination," Unca D's polling report of choice. This "poll of polls" has its technical peculiarities (see below), but it's great at showing trends and is way less volatile than individual polls.
If this stuff interests you, click the link and check the numbers yourself.
Among his other coy evasions, President Obama described tonight's events as "an attack not just on Paris, it's an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all humanity and the universal values we share."
But that's not true, is it? He's right that it's an attack not just on Paris or France. What it is an attack on . . .
(1) FIGHT CRIME. (2) Fight fires. (3) Deliver water. (4) haul away wastes, through trucks and pipes. And build, operate, and maintain (5) roads, (6) parks, and (7) libraries. Every other job is mission creep. This includes housing, after-school programs, and -- through cutouts -- building sports stadia and toy trains.
Which brings us to the so-called equal rights ordinance. Mission creep. Little more than a new program to hire social justice warriors to harass Houston businesses about . . .
. . . and predominantly, a fight over represnentative democracy.
The United States is no longer governed, legislatively, by the House and the Senate. It's governed by the House speaker and Senate majority leader, who negotiate directly with the president, work out deals, and cram them down the throats of their respective houses.
For instance, Congress no longer writes a budget through committees, a quaint process that once involved hearings and members who had a voice in spending taxpayers' money. Instead the speaker, majority leader, and president take last year's budget, bump up all the existing programs, and add whatever new programs the president wants. All this happens behind closed door. No hearings. No voice for the members. No hard-won expertise.
The remedy, besides returning to old-fashioned regular order---bottom-up legislating -- is to cut the power of the House speaker and Senate majority leader.
That is the main goal of the much-maligned Freedom Caucus. The House's most conservative members want a conservative speaker, to be sure. But even more they want to have something to do during the week other than standing around waiting to be summoned to an up-or-down vote on whatever the speaker has hatched up with the president and majority leader.
Ron Brownstein gets this, sort of.
[The] defining characteristic of this congressional era has been a hardening of party discipline enforced by increasingly centralized direction from party leadership.
The uprising among conservative House Republicans, which felled Speaker John Boehner and upended his succession, challenges that dynamic. The conservative insurgents revolving around the . . . Freedom Caucus have sought not only to install an ideologically sympathetic speaker but also to constrain any future speaker's ability to punish dissent. . . .
If the speaker can be turn from a dictator into a traffic cop for legislation, his ideological propensity becomes far less important. At some point, ideology ceases to be relevant at all.
Brownstein gives a good short history of how power was centralized in the House and Senate, beginning in the 1970s, when the seniority system was scrapped and committee leadership was turned over, in effect, to the leaders of the House and Senate. The grip of the leadership tightened in the decades that fallowed, "over appointments, the party message, and the . . . agenda," Brownstein writes.
This shift, together with other factors, combined "to produce the highest level of party-line voting in Congress since the early 20th century, a quasi-parliamentary system that saw the two factors vote in virtual lockstep against each other on most major issues. More discipline within the parties meant more conflict between them."
The Freedom Caucus's fight to liberalize House rules succeeded in bouncing Boehner and his handpicked successor, but it is not clear that the accession of Paul Ryan will be a step in the right direction.
His first demanded more power in the speakership, not less. Front and center was his demand that House rules be changed to prevent members from removing him on a no-confidence rule.
His ideology is more or less okay, but that's far less important than his unseemly hunger for power. He clearly wants to control the members, not to listen to them or to give them a freer rein to represent their constituents.
. . . a useful quick introduction to Houston's legendary music venue, Anderson Fair? Go to the current issue of Cite, the magazine of the Rice Design Alliance. The theme is "Space City Subversion: 60s & 70s sites of counterculture." And the essay is . . .
The death of Europe is in sight. Still hazy and not yet inevitable, but nevertheless visible and drawing nearer . . . . Europe is reaching its end not because of its sclerotic economy, or stagnant demography, or the dysfunctions of the superstate. Nor is the real cause the massive influx of Middle Eastern and African migrants. Those desperate people are just the latest stiff breeze against the timber of a desiccated civilization.
Recall that it wasn’t long ago that Mr. Obama took a sunnier view of world affairs. The tide of war was receding. Al Qaeda was on a path to defeat. ISIS was “a jayvee team” in "Lakers uniforms.” Iraq was an Obama administration success story. Bashar Assad’s days were numbered. The Arab Spring was a rejoinder to, rather than an opportunity for, Islamist violence. The intervention in Libya was vindication for the “lead from behind” approach to intervention. The reset with Russia was a success, a position he maintained as late as September 2013. In Latin America, the "trend lines are good.”
. . .
It's a remarkable record of prediction. One hundred percent wrong. The professor president who loves to talk about teachable moments is himself unteachable. Why is that?
Mr. Stephens sees a "deep logic" to Mr. Obama's "thinking, starting with ideological necessity."
The president had to declare our foreign policy dilemmas solved so he could focus on his favorite task of “nation-building at home.” A strategy of retreat and accommodation, a bias against intervention, a preference for minimal responses—all this was about getting America off the hook, doing away with the distraction of other people’s tragedies.
When you’ve defined your political task as “fundamentally transforming the United States of America”—as Mr. Obama did on the eve of his election in 2008—then your hands are full. Let other people sort out their own problems.
The second element in the "deeper logic" of the president's view of foreign affairs, according to Mr. Stephens, is Mr. Obama's "overarching moral theory about American power, expressed in his 2009 contention in Prague that 'moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon.'"
At the time, Mr. Obama was speaking about the end of the Cold War—which, he claimed, came about as a result of “peaceful protest”—and of his desire to see a world without nuclear weapons. It didn’t seem to occur to him that the possession of such weapons by the U.S. also had a hand in winning the Cold War.
[Mr. Obama] since he seems to think that seizing the moral high ground is victory enough. Under Mr. Obama, the U.S. is on “the right side of history” when it comes to the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine, or the killing fields in Syria, or the importance of keeping Afghan girls in school.
Having declared our good intentions, why muck it up with the raw and compromising exercise of power? In Mr. Obama’s view, it isn’t the man in the arena who counts. It’s the speaker on the stage.
The third element of the "deeper logic," according to Mr. Stephens, is that "Mr. Obama believes history is going his way."
“What? Me worry?” says the immortal Alfred E. Neuman, and that seems to be the president’s attitude toward Mr. Putin’s interventions in Syria ("doomed to fail") and Ukraine ("not so smart"), to say nothing of his sang-froid when it comes to the rest of his foreign-policy debacles.
In this cheapened Hegelian world view, the U.S. can relax because History is on our side, and the arc of history bends toward justice. Why waste your energies to fulfill a destiny that is already inevitable? And why get in the way of your adversary’s certain doom?
It’s easy to accept this view of life if you owe your accelerated good fortune to a superficial charm and understanding of the way the world works. It’s also easier to lecture than to learn, to preach than to act. History will remember Barack Obama as the president who conducted foreign policy less as a principled exercise in the application of American power than as an extended attempt to justify the evasion of it.
From Aleppo to Donetsk to Kunduz, people are living with the consequences of that evasion.
By "personal" I mean that the problem is not that House Members and Senators are less than perfectly competent, intelligent principled, or honest or anything like that. To a greater lesser extent, depending on the person, they are all less than perfect. Always have been; always will be. That's the only kind of Congress it is possible to have, given the unavoidable necessity of selecting members from among our fellow human beings. (Ditto for the White House and Supreme Court.) Our Founders understood this and set up the House and Senate to function in ways designed to aggregate members' wisdom and reduce their room for mischief.