The Problem With Block Grants

January 24, 2017 at 10:19 am

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Instead of just "block grant it to the states," how about the option of "get rid of the program altogether, and if some state or town or county or city wants to tax its people to have the program, good luck to them"? My column this week looks at the limits of the "block grant it to the states" solution often favored by Republicans in Washington. Please check out the full column at the New Boston Post (here), New York Sun (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here).

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Trump Border Tax

January 23, 2017 at 1:56 pm

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President Trump's threatened "border tax" is back in the news today, which makes it a good time to post my column from last week on the topic. Please check the column out at the New York Sun (here) and Newsmax (here).

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Robert Kennedy-Sargent Shriver-Jared Kushner Act

January 23, 2017 at 10:47 am

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Federal anti-nepotism law is the topic of my column for Sunday's Las Vegas Review-Journal, in which I propose the "Robert Kennedy-Sargent Shriver-Jared Kushner Act of 2017." Please check the full column out here.

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Trump Inaugural Address

January 20, 2017 at 2:50 pm

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With President Trump — there, I said it — as with all politicians, you have to pay attention not just to what he says, but to what he does. With that important caveat, my reaction to the inaugural address falls into two broad thematic categories.

The first is globalism versus nationalism. David Brooks brought to my attention Jonathan Haidt's distinction between nationalists and globalists. The 2016 election, roughly drawn, had a left nationalist (Sanders), a left globalist (Clinton), and a right nationalist (Trump). The right globalist quadrant, roughly occupied by George W. Bush (and also by previous Republican nominees Senator McCain and Governor Romney) at the moment stands vacant. Trump's speech was nationalist, not globalist:

The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

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L.L. Bean Boycott

January 16, 2017 at 12:03 am

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The boycott of L.L. Bean for a Bean family member's support for Donald Trump is the topic of my column in Sunday's Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Somehow, the left in 2017 has become a place where doing business with Cuba and Iran is fine, but doing business with L.L. Bean or Simon & Schuster is morally questionable.

Please check the whole column out by clicking here.

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Obama Justice Versus the Democrats

January 15, 2017 at 9:52 pm

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Two articles in Saturday's New York Times underscored how much of the Obama Justice Department's work has been devoted to protecting Americans from Democratic officials at lower levels of government.

The lead article on the Times front page was about a report sharply critical of the Chicago police department. The headline is "Chicago Police Routinely Trampled on Civil Rights, Justice Dept. Says." The mayor of Chicago is Rahm Emanuel, who earlier served as an aide in Bill Clinton's White House, as President Obama's chief of staff, and as a Democratic congressman from Chicago. The Times doesn't say it, but the Democratic Party has controlled the Chicago mayoralty since 1931; perhaps the city's crime problem is evidence that one-party rule makes for poor government.

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The Benefits of Low Expectations

January 12, 2017 at 10:51 am

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Maureen Dowd's long interview with technology investor and Trump supporter Peter Thiel may or may not be worth your time, but I did find one thought in it from Mr. Thiel that I thought was wise: "I always have very low expectations, so I'm rarely disappointed."

The way I have formulated it in conversations with friends about the presidential transition is that President Obama came in and everyone thought he was the messiah, so disappointment was inevitable. With Trump, everyone thinks he's the devil, so at least there's a potential for a surprise on the positive side.

By "everyone," in the preceding paragraph, I mean the coastal academic and media urban elites, which I do realize (even more acutely than I did before the election) is not actually everyone.

Mr. Thiel's idea is an interesting twist on George W. Bush's campaign, in education, against "the soft bigotry of low expectations." Leave it to the contrarian Mr. Thiel to remind us that even low expectations can have their advantages.

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Not All Interests Are Conflicts

January 10, 2017 at 9:46 am

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The political furor over the fact that President-elect Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and some incoming members of his administration have assets is the topic of my column this week. Please check it out at the New York Sun (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here).

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Levine on Cohen

January 9, 2017 at 10:29 am

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At Bloomberg View, Matt Levine has an intelligent take on prosecutors and Steven Cohen:

People mostly think about white-collar enforcement in institutional and symbolic terms. Imprisoning Cohen "would prove that the new billionaires who dominated America's economic and political life were not above the law," writes Kolhatkar. Sure! But there is also, you know, the law, which says that you can't send someone to prison without proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed a crime. You can see why that sometimes makes prosecutors sad! And it's not always great for symbolism. And yet.

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Megyn Kelly, Racist?

January 8, 2017 at 10:10 pm

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My Sunday column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

the idea that Megyn Kelly is basically a Ku Klux Klansman disguised in a sleeveless mini dress turns out, notwithstanding the lack of evidence, to be a widely held belief on the left. It is the latest example of how, in the Trump era, standard liberal anxiety has transmogrified into partisan, paranoid panic, untethered to truth.

Please read the whole thing here.

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Correcting Cotton on Immigration

January 3, 2017 at 10:54 am

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Senator Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, is publicly calling for "a large reduction in legal immigration" on the theory that a reduction in the labor supply will drive up American wages. My latest column is an attempt to respond to his argument. Please check the column out at the New York Sun (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here).

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Office Pool 2017

January 1, 2017 at 8:57 pm

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This year's installment of my annual William Safire-style column of predictions for the year ahead appears in Sunday's Las Vegas Review-Journal. Please check it out by clicking here.

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U.S.-Israel Treaty Would Answer U.N.

December 28, 2016 at 11:35 am

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It's a bit far afield from the usual topics here (though squarely related to the Constitution, which is right in our strike zone), but I nonetheless highly recommend my column this week, which is probably the best thing I've written all year. It's about the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel's settlements and floats the idea of responding to it with a formal U.S.-Israel treaty. You can check it out at the New York Sun (here) and Newsmax (here).

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In One-Party Rule, Power and Peril

December 25, 2016 at 8:23 am

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The precedents for presidents whose political party controls the House and Senate — the position Donald Trump will be in — are the topic of my column in Sunday's Las Vegas Review-Journal. Please check out the full column by clicking the link here.

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Jamie Dimon Interview

December 22, 2016 at 9:10 am

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The CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, has an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek in which he makes some interesting points about infrastructure spending and the tone coming from Washington:

I'm going to oversimplify this, but what happens with infrastructure is that the Democrats say, "Spend money. Just spend money." And, of course, we do a lot of that. A lot of people feel it just goes out to bridges to nowhere. So the Republicans are right to be questioning how the money gets spent. There are a lot of ways to do that. A lot of it, by the way, is to give it back to this mayor who knows how to do it. We don't want Washington to tell the mayor what he needs....

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