“Actually, one of my favorite moments at Saturday’s event came as I was leaving Parliament in the company of a Danish MP. She said she’d see me at the restaurant but she had to pick up her bicycle and pedal there. That’s right: Danish legislators bicycle to work. I don’t know if they have a 40-man entourage furiously pedaling on tandems behind them, but, if so, I didn’t see any. As I’ve sighed to no effect so many times before, in the US the transformation of citizen-legislators into courtier-dependent Gulf emirs is one of the reasons why America’s political class is so disconnected from the rhythms of ordinary life, and why it seems to attract so many psychologically unhealthy types …and why a nation of 300 million people winds up with an inside-the-bubble election contest between the wife of a previous president and the son and brother of two previous presidents. Indeed, I think the main thing people like about Ben Carson is how normal he seems – which is why saying not a thing in the debates only drives his numbers upward.”
From Kevin D. Williamson:
Every Republican tax-reform plan should be rooted in this reality: If you are going to have federal spending that is 21 percent of GDP, then you can have a.) taxes that are 21 percent of GDP; b.) deficits. There is no c.
If, on the other hand, you have a credible program for reducing spending to 17 or 18 percent of GDP, which is where taxes have been coming in, please do share it.
The problem with the Growth Fairy model of balancing budgets is that while economic growth would certainly reduce federal spending as a share of GDP if spending were kept constant, there is zero evidence that the government of these United States has the will or the inclination to enact serious spending controls when times are good (Uncork the champagne!) or when times are bad (Wicked austerity! We must have stimulus!). So even if we buy Jeb Bush’s happy talk about growth, or Donald Trump’s, the idea that spending is just going to magically sit there, inert, while the economy zips forward and the tax coffers fill up, is delusional.
There are no tax cuts when the government is running deficits, only tax deferrals.
From Christopher Caldwell:
Until mid-September, the half-million migrants who had been marching northwards into central Europe seemed like the Old World equivalent of Hurricane Sandy survivors. Families uprooted by the war in Syria were seeking safety, according to this view of things. It was sad to see little girls sleeping by the side of the road, but inspiring to see European volunteers, with their clipboards and their bags of snacks, their water bottles and Port-a-Potties, showing such compassion and logistical expertise.
German chancellor Angela Merkel never seemed prouder. Her announcement in mid-August that Germany could accept 800,000 refugees—vastly more than anyone had assumed possible—gave momentum to the mass migration. This was the new Europe, one not afraid of showing brotherly love to its Muslim neighbors. “To be honest,” Merkel said, “if we reach the point where we need to apologize for lending a helping hand in time of need, well, that’s not my country any more.” Americans will recognize this rhetorical device as the Barack Obama who-we-are-as-a-people technique, which implicitly threatens anyone who disagrees with the leader with ostracism from the national family.
But on September 15, this picture changed. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary, the easternmost outpost of Europe’s so-called Schengen zone, sought to restore order to his country’s border checkpoints, which had been overrun. New laws required newcomers to file asylum applications, and introduced criminal penalties for those who entered the country unlawfully. Almost immediately, groups of migrants rioted outside the town of Röszke and were driven back only with the help of water cannons. Gone were the little girls—because, however photogenic little girls may be, the lion’s share of the travelers are young men, and now they were heaving rocks at the authorities and showing up on YouTube videos shouting Allahu Akbar. Gone, too, were the stories of Syria—because only a fifth of those coming to Germany are from Syria in the first place. The rest are from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and other places, and they are following a route on which large-scale smuggling operations have carried all sorts of migrants for months and even years.
Two visions of Europe’s place in the world are clashing. For Merkel, the migration looks like a charitable opportunity. For Orbán, it looks like a portable intifada. In mid-September, it was Orbán’s assumptions that were being borne out.
Merkel’s invitation to 800,000 of the Muslim world’s tempest-tossed won her accolades around the Middle East. Arabic social media called her “the compassionate mother”—not an epithet often applied to her last winter, when she was wringing every last obol out of a Greek government that had been bamboozled into a draconian debt-servicing program by European officials. Germany seldom gets credit for its big heart on the world stage, and its citizens reveled in the adulation. The ZDF television chain held a “Germany Helps” telethon. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, enthused that migrants who were ready to pull up stakes and leave behind everything familiar were “exactly the kind of people we’re looking for at Mercedes and everywhere in our country.” Although Merkel got 100 percent of the credit for this generosity, other countries would share the price for the immigrants she lured. Since the signing of the Schengen agreements in 1995, there has been free movement within most of the European Union. Orbán and the leaders of Poland and Slovakia announced themselves unwilling to take extra migrants, adding that they preferred that the ones they took be Christian.
European leaders have generally mocked Orbán for his provincialism, then denounced him for his immorality, and then pursued his policies to the letter:
n In Austria, the Social Democratic premier Werner Faymann likened Orbán to the Nazis. Faymann leads a coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, who joined forces two years ago to keep the hardline anti-immigrant Freedom party (FPÖ) out of power. Now the FPÖ appears to have a shot at winning the municipal elections in Vienna in early October, and Faymann has imposed his own border controls.
n In Croatia, a new EU country not yet in the Schengen zone, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has long professed herself shocked at certain of Orbán’s policies. When Orbán introduced controls at the Hungarian-Serbian border, she offered to let the migrants pass on an alternative route leading through Slovenia. That idea lasted barely a day. As we went to press on September 17, her interior minister said Croatia had reached capacity and could accept no more refugees. Grabar-Kitarovic herself had put the army on alert. (Slovenia closed its own border with Hungary shortly thereafter.)
n But the greatest reversal was in Germany. The Christian Social Union’s leader (and Merkel’s ally) Horst Seehofer had called her invitation a “mistake that will keep Germany busy for a long, long time.” Even the left-wing government of Baden-Württemberg had been urging a three-month limit on asylum stays. Merkel carried on regardless. But on September 12 alone, 10,000 migrants walked out of the Munich train station, and the city was overwhelmed. Merkel’s interior minister Thomas de Maizière announced that Germany was closing its border. (And here we should stress that the borders in question were not the EU’s external borders but internal borders with other EU countries, which have been open for two decades.) As generally happens, Orbán’s vindication only deepened his adversaries’ resentment. Even after closing his own country’s borders, de Maizière was threatening to cut off Hungary’s EU funds should Orbán not agree to a larger refugee quota.
It was one of the bitterest episodes of German-Hungarian squabbling over human rights since 2002, when Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor Imre Kertész won the Nobel Prize for literature. Hungarians resented it when Germans boasted of Kertész’s Berlin domicile as a sign of their country’s moral progress. Hungarians took this bragging for an assertion that their own country had not made such progress. Kertész, though, has made an appearance in the latest migrant controversy, and now it is Hungarians who want to cite him. In The Last Refuge, Kertész’s diaries of 2001-2009 (not translated into English), he wrote a few remarks on Muslim migration that have in recent weeks become staples of political websites, both moderate and extremist. “I would talk,” Kertész wrote,
about how the Muslims are invading, occupying—to put it bluntly, destroying—Europe, and about Europe’s attitude towards that. I would speak, too, about suicidal liberalism and dumb democracy, the kind of democracy that envisions giving chimpanzees the right to vote. [Note: Kertész is referring here to an actual proposal of animal-rights advocates, not likening any group of voters to animals.] This story always ends the same way: Civilization reaches a stage of overripeness where it can no longer defend itself and doesn’t even particularly care to, where, for reasons that are hard to understand, it comes to idolize its own enemies. And, which is worse, where none of this can be said openly.
Orbán’s decision to enforce border controls changed everything, although one should note that Orbán has not acted in a rash or undemocratic way—the legal changes at the border were announced well in advance, and his changes to state of emergency laws were passed through parliament, not asserted by decree. One can, if one wishes, fault Orbán for irrealism, to the extent he believes Hungary’s maintenance of its traditional culture and demography is consistent with EU membership. The EU aims to do away with such considerations.
But it was Merkel’s rash invitation that forced Orbán’s hand. Merkel may wind up a kind of twenty-first-century equivalent of Günter Schabowski, the East German functionary who, at a press conference in 1989, misread a list of instructions he had been given and incited the stampede of East Germans who broke through the Berlin Wall. One can blame Merkel for setting millions of migrants on the road to Europe to redeem promises that Europe cannot possibly keep.
The big danger ever since this migration got underway is that it would get stopped up somewhere. The day after Germany closed its border with Austria, there were 20,000 migrants stuck in the Austrian villages of Nickelsdorf and Heiligenkreuz. And the further south you go, the fewer resources residents have to give the travelers a welcome. The migrants are largely young men from rough, tough parts of the Muslim world. There is now a queue of them that stretches all the way east to Bangladesh and beyond, and deep down into sub-Saharan Africa. People have sold cattle, abandoned houses, robbed employers, left wives and children, and burned all sorts of bridges to come. There are now hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of them. Many are war-hardened. They are looking for money, food, and female companionship, and they are convinced that Europeans are gullible sissies. This is where Frau Merkel’s Willkommenskultur has led: With the impending closure of the Croatian border, hundreds of thousands of young Muslim men are about to hit a brick wall in Serbia. Serbia!
From Jason L. Riley:
Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect.
— Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
The great lie of the summer has been the Black Lives Matter movement. It was founded on one falsehood—that a Ferguson, Mo., police officer shot a black suspect who was trying to surrender—and it is perpetuated by another: that trigger-happy cops are filling our morgues with young black men.
The reality is that Michael Brown is dead because he robbed a convenience store, assaulted a uniformed officer and then made a move for the officer’s gun. The reality is that a cop is six times more likely to be killed by someone black than the reverse. The reality is that the Michael Browns are a much bigger threat to black lives than are the police. “Every year, the casualty count of black-on-black crime is twice that of the death toll of 9/11,” wrote former New York City police detective Edward Conlon in a Journal essay on Saturday. “I don’t understand how a movement called ‘Black Lives Matter’ can ignore the leading cause of death among young black men in the U.S., which is homicide by their peers.”
Actually, it’s not hard to understand at all, once you realize that this movement is not about the fate of blacks per se but about scapegoating the police in particular, and white America in general, for antisocial ghetto behavior. It’s about holding whites to a higher standard than the young black men in these neighborhoods hold each other to. Ultimately, it’s a political movement, the inevitable extension of a racial and ethnic spoils system that helps Democrats get elected. The Black Lives Matter narrative may be demonstrably false, but it’s also politically expedient.
It’s the black poor—the primary victims of violent crimes and thus the people most in need of effective policing—who must live with the effects of these falsehoods. As the Black Lives Matter movement has spread, murder rates have climbed in cities across the country, from New Orleans to Baltimore to St. Louis and Chicago. The Washington, D.C., homicide rate is 43% higher than it was a year ago. By the end of August, Milwaukee and New Haven, Conn., both had already seen more murders than in all of 2014.
Publicly, law-enforcement officials have been reluctant to link the movement’s antipolice rhetoric to the spike in violent crime. Privately, they have been echoing South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who said in a speech last week that the movement was harming the very people whose interests it claims to represent. “Most of the people who now live in terror because local police are too intimidated to do their jobs are black,” the governor said. “Black lives do matter, and they have been disgracefully jeopardized by the movement that has laid waste to Ferguson and Baltimore.”
Over a three-day stretch last week, the New York Times ran two heart-wrenching stories about black mothers of murdered children. Tamiko Holmes, a Milwaukee native, has seen two of her five children shot dead this year and a third wounded by gunfire. Sharon Plummer of Brooklyn lost a 16-year-old son on Aug. 30. He was gunned down while standing on a street corner two blocks away from where his 17-year-old brother was shot dead three years earlier. After the older child’s death, Ms. Plummer moved to a safer community, but the younger son repeatedly returned to the old neighborhood to hang out with friends. She didn’t move to escape predatory cops, which is what the Black Lives Matter activists would have us believe. Rather, she moved to protect her children from their predatory peers.
Asked recently about the increase in violent crime, New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said what precious few public officials and commentators have been willing to say. He stated the obvious. “We have, unfortunately, a very large population of many young people who have grown up in an environment in which the . . . traditional norms and values are not there,” Mr. Bratton told MSNBC. The commissioner added that Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1965 report warning that the disintegration of the black family could lead to other social ills had proved prescient. “He was right on the money,” Mr. Bratton said, “the disintegration of family, the disintegration of values. There is something going on in our society and our inner cities.”
But the left has no interest in discussing ghetto pathology. Summer movies like “Straight Outta Compton” are too busy glorifying it, and summer books like Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me” are too busy intellectualizing it. The Black Lives Matter crowd has become an appendage of the civil-rights industry, which uses the black underclass to push an agenda that invariably leaves the supposed beneficiaries worse off.
From David French:
More than 150 kids walked out of Missouri’s Hillsboro High School yesterday. Why? Because a guy calling himself Lila Perry wanted to use the girls’ locker room. They were bursting with common sense:
“Boys needs to have their own locker room. Girls need to have their own locker room and if somebody has mixed feelings where they are, they need to have their own also,” said protester Jeff Childs.
The school had offered just such an accommodation, but that wasn’t enough for Perry:
Perry told News 4 school officials have been accommodating, understanding, and compliant with Title IX. The school offered her a private gender-neutral restroom, which she turned down.
The controversy exploded after a girl at the school reported encountering an “intact male” in the locker room. Exposing a penis to girls in a public high school is generally considered an act of sexual harassment, not part of the sexual revolution. But, sadly, Perry can’t see reality:
“I wasn’t hurting anyone and I didn’t want to feel segregated out. I didn’t want to be in the gender neutral bathroom. I am girl, I shouldn’t be pushed off to another bathroom,” said Perry.
Indecent exposure is hurtful. And I’m sorry, Lila, but you’re not a girl. Anyone who tells you otherwise is deceiving you.
While I feel sorry for a young, confused kid who’s becoming yet another pawn in the Left’s war on decency, I’m deeply heartened that more than 100 of his classmates took a stand for basic biology. Not every Millennial is a sexual revolutionary.
Shortly after the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, Pennsylvanian Republican Alexander McClure met with Abraham Lincoln in the White House urging him to remove Ulysses S. Grant from command:
I appealed to Lincoln for his own sake to remove Grant at once, and, in giving my reasons for it, I simply voiced the admittedly overwhelming protest from the loyal people of the land against Grant’s continuance in command. I could form no judgment during the conversation as to what effect my arguments had upon him beyond the fact that he was greatly distressed at this new complication. When I had said everything that could be said from my standpoint, we lapsed into silence. Lincoln remained silent for what seemed a very long time. He then gathered himself up in his chair and said in a tone of earnestness that I shall never forget: ‘I can’t spare this man; he fights.’
Today, the Republican establishment again wants to remove a fighter.
From Thomas Sowell:
Even those of us who are not supporters of either Donald Trump or Jeb Bush can learn something by comparing how each of these men handled people who tried to disrupt their question-and-answer period after a speech.
After Bush’s speech, hecklers from a group called “Black Lives Matter” caused Bush to simply leave the scene. When Trump opened his question-and-answer period by pointing to someone in the audience who had a question, a Hispanic immigration activist who had not been called on simply stood up and started haranguing.
Trump told the activist to sit down because someone else had been called on. But the harangue continued, until a security guard escorted the disrupter out of the room. And Jeb Bush later criticized Trump for having the disrupter removed!
What kind of president would someone make who caves in to those who act as if what they want automatically overrides other people’s rights — that the rules don’t apply to them?
Trump later allowed the disrupter back in, and answered his questions. Whether Trump’s answers were good, bad or indifferent is irrelevant to the larger issue of rules that apply to everyone. That was not enough to make “The Donald” a good candidate to become President of the United States. He is not. But these revealing incidents raise painful questions about electing Jeb Bush to be leader of the free world. The Republican establishment needs to understand why someone with all Trump’s faults could attract so many people who are sick of the approach that Jeb Bush represents.