American Greatness Will Withstand Biden Blunder

August 19, 2021 at 8:11 am

The Kabul debacle in perspective is the topic of my latest New York Sun column, which unearths Biden's view of Reagan's deployment of Marines in Lebanon. Please check out the full column at the New York Sun, where it appears under the headline "American Greatness, History Suggests, Towers Over Our Blunders," or at Newsmax, where the headline is "Strength, Greatness in American Foreign Policy Need Restoration."

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Headline of the Day

August 17, 2021 at 7:56 am

Even the news section of the New York Times is reporting "Biden's Tough Position on Antitrust Could Chill Legitimate Deal-Making." To the hardliners on these issues, "legitimate dealmaking" is an oxymoron, but it is nice to see the New York Times headline writers haven't yielded to that extreme view.

Online, the headline was hedged with attribution as "The Biden administration's tough antitrust stance could chill-dealmaking, some fear." But the "some fear" was absent in my print newspaper.

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A Trump Afghanistan Anecdote

August 15, 2021 at 11:05 am

For some reason the New York Times has a too-long profile of Senator Lindsey Graham on its front page today. It is probably not worth your time, but buried in it was this kernel that seemed relevant to the news of the day:

the senator was one of the few people who could get away with taking on Mr. Trump and his temper.

The most common source of flare-ups was Afghanistan. During one golf outing, the two men got into a screaming match after Mr. Graham said he would rather deal with a bomb killing civilians in Kabul "than in Times Square."

Mr. Trump barked an expletive, shouted, "You guys have been wrong for 20 years," and stomped off, according to a person who witnessed the exchange.

President Biden basically seems to agree with Trump on this one.

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Private Operators Improve Public Housing, New York Times Concedes

August 12, 2021 at 8:09 pm

Even the New York Times can see, with a side-by-side comparison, that a housing project operated by private developers is better than one operated by a government agency. "Public-private partnerships, done properly, vigilantly overseen by city officials, at appropriate sites like Baychester, can work," the Times concedes, though that concession is bracketed by a lot of apologetic breast-beating. A side-by-side comparison of one government-operated project and another operated by "a cohort of private developers — Camber Property Group, MBD Community Housing Corporation and L+M Development Partners"—makes it clear: "Side by side, the two projects make a textbook before-and-after comparison, one derelict, the other refurbished."

Amazing how that works.

My preference would be to have the property fully sold (perhaps even to the tenants, a la Margaret Thatcher and the council flats), but short of that, private operation is at least a step above what even the Times describes as "derelict."

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Harris, Biden Clash on Jobs

August 12, 2021 at 7:30 pm

President Biden wants companies to keep jobs here in the USA and create more of them. Vice President wants companies to invest in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The apparent conflict was the topic of a recent column of mine. Please check out the full column at the New York Sun ("Hello 2024: Biden, Harris Head Off in Opposite Directions on Trade, Jobs") and at Newsmax ("Biden-Harris Can't Send Clear Message on 'Buy American'").

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Donald Kagan on a Liberal Education

August 11, 2021 at 8:11 pm

On news of the death of longtime Yale professor Donald Kagan, Education Next has excerpts of a farewell talk he gave, and Eliana Johnson has a remembrance up at Politico.

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Ben & Jerry's West Bank Boycott Is "Stakeholder Capitalism" in Action

August 11, 2021 at 8:04 pm

"Most of the reaction to Ben & Jerry's decision to stop selling its ice cream in what it calls the 'Occupied Palestinian Territories' has focused on what it might mean for Middle East politics. The more interesting and significant question may be what it means for capitalism." That's the beginning of my column for this week. Please check out the full column at the New York Sun ("Ben & Jerry's Offers Textbook Case of the Consequences of 'Stakeholder Capitalism'") and at Newsmax ("Ben & Jerry's 'Stakeholder Capitalism' Threatens Free Enterprise").

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Afghanistan Exit

July 28, 2021 at 8:10 am

Press pleas for help from President Biden in evacuating personnel from Afghanistan are the topic of my column this week. Please check out the full column at Newsmax ("Media's Pleas for Afghan Colleagues Rescue Forgets Millions of Others") and at the New York Sun ("Afghanistan: Times Begs for Help Escaping Consequences of Retreat It Sought").

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To Free Cuba, Turn Guantanamo into a New Ellis Island

July 20, 2021 at 9:22 am

President Biden's maladroit handling of the pro-democracy protests in Cuba is the topic of my latest column, in which I suggest a possible solution. Please check out the full column at Newsmax ("Free Cuba: Make Guantanamo the New Ellis Island") and at the New York Sun ("To Free Cuba, Make Guantanamo the New Ellis Island").

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Eric Nelson Interview

July 13, 2021 at 8:53 am

Slate has an interview with conservative book publisher Eric Nelson that made me chuckle:

Broadside publishes Ben Shapiro's book. What has the response to that been?

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Biden Tries "You're Fired" on Social Security Chief, Triggering Test of Power

July 13, 2021 at 8:42 am

President Biden's firing of Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul, who insists that Biden lacks the power to get rid of him, is the topic of my column this week. Please check out the full column at Newsmax ("Biden Tries 'You're Fired' With Social Security Chief") and at the New York Sun ("Biden Lurks Well Within His Powers to Fire Social Security Boss").

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Hong Kong Outcome Was Entirely Predicted, and Carries a Caution for Biden

July 6, 2021 at 5:37 pm

Breathtaking, in retrospect, is the clarity with which the Wall Street Journal, in the 1980s, warned of what is happening now in Hong Kong. The treaty that led to the outcome a stain on Margaret Thatcher's record, and on Ronald Reagan's. Please read my full column on this topic at Newsmax ("Early Warnings on Hong Kong Should Be Words of Caution to Biden") and at the New York Sun ("How One Newspaper Called the Hong Kong Story Right From the Start.")

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Andreessen on the Collapse of Civil Order in San Francisco

July 1, 2021 at 9:05 pm

Venture capitalist and tech pioneer Marc Andreessen appeared on the "Invest Like the Best" Podcast. From the transcript:

you have just this general collapse of civil order and this incredible spike in crime. Decided to turn our superstar cities into Gotham for some reason. Except apparently with no Batman. It's like a running joke out here. I have all these friends who like live in San Francisco, and I've been teasing them for years. It's just like, okay. I've been accusing my friends who live in San Francisco, specifically, the specific city of San Francisco. I've been telling my friends for years, you only live in San Francisco for the stories. You want the crazy stories.

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Donald Rumsfeld

June 30, 2021 at 7:44 pm

News of the death of Donald Rumsfeld sent me to the glass-fronted bookcase where I keep some signed, rare, or otherwise special volumes, including Rumsfeld: A Personal Portrait, by Midge Decter.

For me the book is a reminder of how quickly someone can go from hero to goat. In 2003, when the book came out, Rumsfeld was a hero, widely admired, as this passage suggests:

Before long, though, Rumsfeld was widely despised. By 2004, even neoconservative hawks like William Kristol of the Weekly Standard were calling for his ouster; Rumsfeld eventually did resign after voters punished Republicans for the Iraq War in the 2006 congressional elections.

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Capitalism's Long-Term Incentives

June 30, 2021 at 8:18 am

From a Wall Street Journal news article about how some new-car dealers are selling cars for prices significantly higher than the manufacturer's suggested retail price:

Some dealers say they avoid asking for more than the sticker price because it can be a turnoff for buyers and hurt existing customer relationships.

"It's a short-term benefit for a long-term detriment," said Earl Stewart, a Toyota dealer in Florida. "You might sell them one car today, but you won't ever sell them another car," he said.

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