The Patriot Post® · Friday Digest
“Liberty must at all hazards be supported.” –John Adams
GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Nelson Mandela, RIP
Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who helped end apartheid, died Thursday. He was 95.
Mandela earned respect and praise because he went beyond the African National Congress days of violence to truly advocate for peace, much as MLK did in the 1960s. The difference is that MLK had a national narrative to appeal to, namely “that all men are endowed by their Creator,” but Mandela had no such foundational narrative. In effect, he wrote South Africa’s declaration of Liberty for all people. His 1993 Nobel Prize – shared with his former oppressor, South African President F.W. de Klerk – was earned by both of them.
The Wall Street Journal summed it up: “The bulk of his adult life, Nelson Mandela was a failed Marxist revolutionary and leftist icon, the Che Guevara of Africa. Then in his seventies he had the chance to govern. He chose national reconciliation over reprisal, and he thus made himself an historic and all too rare example of a wise revolutionary leader. … He won the country’s first free presidential elections in 1994 and worked to unite a scarred and anxious nation. He opened up the economy to the world, and a black middle class came to life. After a single term, he voluntarily left power at the height of his popularity. Most African rulers didn’t do that. … Mandela became the biggest of African men by refusing to act like a typical African ‘Big Man.’ He transcended his party’s history of Marxism, tribalism and violence. The continent and world were fortunate to have him.”
Mandela was a symbol of Liberty, which serves as a contrast to our own first black president. Mandela earned his place in the history of advocating for Liberty. Fellow Nobel laureate Obama, on the other hand, has earned nothing, and promotes policies which lead, inevitably, to rule of men not Rule of Law.
ECONOMY, REGS & TAXES
Changing the Subject
When things aren’t going your way, change the subject. That’s what Barack Obama did this week in hopes of grabbing onto something – anything – to distract the American people from the man-caused disaster known as ObamaCare. But is his chosen shiny object, the economy, really his strong suit?
In remarks Wednesday, Obama declared that income inequality is the “defining challenge of our time,” and he promised to focus on it “for the rest of my presidency.” He warned of “a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain – that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead.” What he didn’t mention is the inconvenient truth that inequality has increased more during his presidency than that of any predecessor. Never mind that, though; his mouthpiece, Jay Carney, laid blame for rising inequality at the feet of George W. Bush.
As is his default setting, Obama’s solution is for the government to take away more of your freedom, redistribute more of your income, and mandate a higher minimum wage – all of which inevitably hits the middle class and hinders job growth. Indeed, it’s telling that median middle class household income has actually fallen during the Obama “recovery.”
Speaking of job growth, 203,000 jobs were created in November, dropping the headline unemployment rate from 7.3% to 7%. Of course, a consider measure of that was workers returning from furlough after the government shutdown.
As for the economy, there is some good news out there, if tempered. GDP grew by 3.6% in the third quarter, well above the previous estimate of 2.8% and far outpacing the average of 1.2% over the last three quarters. The only trouble is that much of the growth came from expanding inventories, not consumer demand, and that means fourth-quarter growth could stagnate. Some economists estimate that it will fall to just 1%.
In the end, Obama’s pivot to income inequality may fall on deaf ears. According to Gallup, people who actually think the “gap between rich and poor” is anywhere approaching the “defining challenge of our time” is just 1%. As for the 99%, we’re just worried about the anemic economy.
Syria’s Chemical Weapons to Be Destroyed
Back in September, the Obama administration was still floundering in its dealings with Syria and that nation’s chemical weapons. Obama had unwisely set a “red line” over chemical weapons use, and then didn’t back up his words – well, unless you count Secretary of State John Kerry’s promise of an “unbelievably small” military strike. Vladimir Putin seized the opportunity to broker a deal to destroy those weapons, thus guaranteeing that Russia would control the destiny of their client state.
Fast forward a couple of months, and, ABC News reports, “A U.S. cargo vessel equipped with special gear could be neutralizing some of Syria’s most dangerous chemical weapons at sea come January.” The Pentagon says that it could take 45 to 90 days to complete the neutralizing of some 500 tons of the chemical components used to make mustard and sarin gas. Damascus has declared 1,300 metric tons of weapons and chemicals.
Syria is still in a chaotic civil war, and rebel forces once again accused Bashar al-Assad’s regime of using chemical weapons in an attack Thursday.
CULTURE, SCIENCE & FAITH
Village Academic Curriculum: Is Our Children Learning?
It may seem like the Department of Education has been around forever – at least, it seems like that’s how long we’ve been debating its usefulness. But that’s not the case. In 1980, Jimmy Carter decided that American kids, who were arguably pretty smart already, could be even smarter if the federal government had a cabinet-level education office. Of course, that meant a lot more spending.
A little over three decades (and hundreds of billions of dollars) later our kids are not doing better in school. In fact, according to the National Assessment of Education – also known as the “nation’s report card” – their academic performance has remained stagnant. This is despite the fact that the yearly expenditure for each child has gone from $6,000 to $12,500 (in constant dollars), or a total K-12 investment of $115,000 per student.
Clearly we’re getting a lousy return, though no one is arguing that we shouldn’t continue to invest in our children’s education. However, we do need to adjust the way we invest, as international statistics bear out. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which administers the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test to 15-year-old students from 60 countries, found that American students placed 26th in math and science, behind most developed nations. Americans even placed below Vietnam, a developing nation, in math. Overall, American students are performing on the same level as those in the Slovak Republic, which spends only $53,000 per student for their entire education. Of course, leftists’ perpetual answer to everything is to throw more money at the problem. Yet we know that government-reliance is not the path to success, but its largest impediment.
For the Record
Historian Victor Davis Hanson: “Soviet strongman Joseph Stalin toyed with the idea of boxing in Nazi Germany by joining with democratic France and Britain. When that gambit did not work out, Stalin suddenly flipped and came to terms with Hitler himself through the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact in August 1939. Stalin also later cut a similar deal with his former Japanese enemies in April 1941. … [The pact] turned both tyrannies loose to gang up on Poland and begin World War II. Russia got a free hand to invade Finland. With his eastern border temporarily quiet, Hitler turned west to attack France and bomb Britain. Once the Japanese signed on with Stalin to secure their own rear in Manchuria and Korea, they simply redirected their war efforts to attack Pearl Harbor and further expand the conflict. … [A] now heady Iran will use its diplomatic exemption to fund more terrorism and offer more provocation to Israel and the Sunni Gulf states. … The tough sanctions against Iran were finally beginning to work. The regime was getting desperate and running out of money to fund its bomb program and terrorist appendages. Then, suddenly, we caved – allowing Iran both a nuclear program and normal commerce.”
Re: The Left
Columnist Ann Coulter: “In Slate, Emma Roller wearily recounted other episodes of black-on-white violence in order to announce: ‘The 'Knockout Game’ is a myth.‘ … So you see, stupid right-wingers, young black males have always been violent, so what’s the big deal about the Knockout Game? Your honor, my client’s not a killer; he’s a serial killer. … According to the FBI, between 1976 and 2005, blacks, who are about 12 percent of the population, committed 53 percent of all felony murders and 56 percent of non-felony murders. … But if liberals took the first step toward sanity and admitted that young black men commit an awful lot of violent crime, they might have to ask why that is. That’s a dangerous question for people who refuse to acknowledge the devastation of fatherless boys caused by liberal welfare policies.”
Faith and Family
Columnist Jonah Goldberg: “[C]onsider last week’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to consider two cases stemming from Obamacare: Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius and Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores. … What both … object to is paying for abortifacients – drugs that terminate a pregnancy rather than prevent one. … All they are asking is that the people using such drugs pay for them themselves rather than force employers and co-workers to share the cost. … You may have no moral objection to such things, but millions of people do. By what right are liberals seeking to impose their values on everyone else? Isn’t that something they denounce conservatives for? They could have allowed for plans that exclude controversial forms of birth control – or even uncontroversial ones – which would have lowered premium costs and expanded health care coverage to more poor people. But Democrats wanted a wedge issue to drum up a new battle in the culture war – a war in which liberals have always been the aggressors.”
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WSJ’s James Taranto: “NBC’s Michael O'Brien had some fun … paraphrasing President Obama’s latest infliction on the ears of America: 'Obama said his signature health care reform law is going nowhere as long as he’s in office.’ ‘Going nowhere’ could mean either ‘here to stay’ or ‘unable to progress.’ A look at the text of the president’s remarks makes clear, as if you have any doubt, that he means it in the former sense: ‘We’re not repealing it as long as I’m president, and I want everybody to be clear about that. … We’re not going to walk away from it.’ I’m not a crook. I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
Belly Laugh of the Week
Barack Obama: “The interesting thing about now having been president for five years is it makes you humbler as opposed to cockier.”
The BIG Lie
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “What [Obama] said was true: If you want to keep the insurance you have, you can keep it. The problem is we did not put the bill into effect that way. There’s a lot of administrative fixes [that] kicked in, and there have been three changes in anyone’s policy since then. It’s not the same policy.”
Non Compos Mentis
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver: “Republicans saw a calamity in every glitch [on Healthcare.gov]. And, you know, I’ve got a one-year-old granddaughter, and even on Thanksgiving Day she had a number of little glitches, but we’re not ready to throw her away because of a glitch here and there. Most things in the beginning stages are going to be difficult to pull off.”
MSNBC’s Ed Schultz: “I’ll tell you what I think God thinks of the Affordable Care Act. It’s a big amen!”
Barack Obama on unemployment “insurance”: “Christmas time is no time for Congress to tell more than one million … Americans that they have lost their … insurance, which is what will happen if Congress does not act before they leave on their holiday vacation.”
“Twerking” twit Miley Cyrus: “I’m proud of the person I’ve become. Not what people think I’ve turned myself into, but who I’ve actually become, which is a happier person. … I said 2013 was going to be the best year of my life, and I think what you put out into the universe you get back. I proved that to myself this year.”
Barack Obama: “[Income inequality] is the defining challenge of our time. … And while we don’t promise equal outcomes, we have strived to deliver equal opportunity – the idea that success doesn’t depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit. … Together, we forged a New Deal, declared a War on Poverty in a great society. We built a ladder of opportunity to climb, and stretched out a safety net beneath so that if we fell, it wouldn’t be too far, and we could bounce back. And as a result, America built the largest middle class the world has ever known. … Look, I’ve never believed that government can solve every problem or should – and neither do you. … But government can’t stand on the sidelines in our efforts. Because government is us.”
Humorist Frank J. Fleming: “Are we talking about making income equality within America or within the whole world? I don’t think I can live on $12k a year.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
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