Posts By Author » Jonah Goldberg
Freedom: The unfolding revolution
14 Jun 2013 12:04 am
“Why are there no libertarian countries?”
In a much-discussed essay for Salon magazine, Michael Lind asks: “If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?”
Such is the philosophical poverty of liberalism today that this stands as a profound question.
Definitions vary, but broadly speaking, libertarianism is the idea that people should be as free as possible from state coercion so long as they don’t …
We can’t trust Obama
12 Jun 2013 12:03 am
The contradictions at the heart of the Obama presidency are finally out in the open. As a result, a man who came into office hell-bent on restoring faith in government is on the verge of inspiring a libertarian revival.
There have always been (at least) two Barack Obamas. There is the man who claims to be a nonideological problem-solver, keen on working with anybody to fix things. And there is The One: the partisan, left-leaning progressive-redeemer.
As E.J. Dionne, a columnist who can usually be counted on to make the case for …
Time to dial up some healthy skepticism
7 Jun 2013 12:04 am
The U.S. government is trying “to create a database of every [phone] call ever made.”
That’s how one informed person described the National Security Agency’s effort to USA Today. That newspaper also confirmed that not only is the government collecting every phone record from Verizon — as first reported by the British newspaper The Guardian — but it’s also collecting similar data from other phone companies.
It’s important to emphasize that the NSA isn’t listening to the content of these calls. Indeed, it couldn’t if it wanted to, given the sheer volume …View More...
Press shield has holes
6 Jun 2013 12:02 am
In response to the acknowledged abuses of his own Justice Department, President Obama has urged Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to reintroduce legislation for a “journalist shield law.” And in typical Washington fashion, the proposed act would do nothing to prevent the abuses that supposedly make the law so necessary.
We saw a similar response to the horrible Connecticut school shootings last December — a raft of laws that wouldn’t have prevented the tragedy in the first place. It seems that whenever government fails to do what it is supposed to do …View More...
Syria’s religious war
5 Jun 2013 12:03 am
If there was a moment when the United States could have productively intervened in Syria, it looks like that moment has passed.
Shiite militants, including Hezbollah — partly at the behest of their paymasters in Iran — are racing to the defense of Bashar Assad’s regime. According to a witness account in the New York Times, there were some 11,000 Hezbollah fighters in the besieged town of Qusair alone.
A Shiite religious student in Najaf, Iraq, told the Times that his colleagues believe the leader of Qatar, a backer of Sunni Syrian …
Dole takes his turn in political parlor game
31 May 2013 12:04 am
“Could people like Bob Dole, even Ronald Reagan — could you make it in today’s Republican Party?” Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday” asked former Senate Majority Leader and 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole.
“I doubt it,” Dole replied. “Reagan wouldn’t have made it. Certainly, Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas and — We might have made it, but I doubt it.”
Let me state up front that I have incredible respect and admiration for Dole. He’s an American hero and was a politician of undisputed integrity. I …
It takes two to end a war
29 May 2013 12:05 am
“This war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”
President Barack Obama at National Defense University, May 23, 2013
They say all is fair in love and war (I’m skeptical), but that doesn’t mean war and love have much in common. When it comes to love, both parties need to be in on it. In war, all it takes is one to tango. Sure, if the non-belligerent party doesn’t want to fight, it can try to talk, or cut a deal, or even surrender. But …View More...
First Amendment clause-trophobia
24 May 2013 12:04 am
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
That’s the full text of the First Amendment. But (with apologies to the old Far Side comic), this is what many in the press, academia and government would hear if you read it aloud: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, blah blah …View More...
Obama’s ‘idiot’ defense
22 May 2013 12:03 am
Although there’s still a great deal to be learned about the scandals and controversies swirling around the White House like so many ominous dorsal fins in the surf, the nature of President Obama’s bind is becoming clear. The best defenses of his administration require undermining the rationale for his presidency.
“We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots. It’s actually closer to us being idiots.” So far, this is the administration’s best defense.
It was offered to CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson by an anonymous aide involved in the White House’s …
IRS follows Obama’s lead
17 May 2013 12:04 am
Of course the president deserves some of the blame.
Yes, it’s extremely unlikely he ordered the IRS to discriminate against tea party, pro-life or Jewish groups opposed to his agenda (though why anyone should take his word for it is beyond me). And his outrage now — however convenient — is appreciated. But when people he views as his “enemies” complained about a politicized IRS, what did he do? Nothing.
Imagine for a moment if black civil rights organizations, gay groups or teachers unions loudly complained to members of Congress and the …View More...
Benghazi’s smoking guns
15 May 2013 12:03 am
President Obama was asked about the metastasizing Benghazi scandal in a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday. Referring to the Americans who died in Benghazi, the president said, “We dishonor them when we turn things like this into a political circus.” He added that “the whole issue of talking points, throughout this process, frankly, has been a sideshow. … There’s no ‘there’ there.”
He’s half right. The talking points drafted by the State Department, the CIA and the White House and given to congressional Republicans and, …View More...
Bad faith and Benghazi
10 May 2013 12:04 am
“Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference — at this point, what difference does it make?”
That was how then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton famously brushed off the question of when she knew that the attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were, in fact, a terrorist assault and not a “protest” of an anti-Islam video that got …View More...
Niall Ferguson’s blooper
8 May 2013 12:03 am
At an investment conference last week, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson created a huge mess for himself. He glibly speculated that maybe because economist John Maynard Keynes was a childless, “effete” homosexual, he embraced a doctrine that favored immediate economic gratification. Keynes’ bon mot “in the long run, we are all dead” takes on new meaning when you realize he didn’t have kids to worry about.
Following the usual script, but at a much faster clip, an uproar ensued on Twitter and in various blogs. Ferguson quickly offered an apology that rivaled …View More...
Is the American body politic suffering from an autoimmune disease?
3 May 2013 12:04 am
The “hygiene hypothesis” is the scientific theory that the rise in asthma and other autoimmune maladies stems from the fact that babies are born into environments that are too clean. Our immune systems need to be properly educated by being exposed early to germs, dirt, whatever. When you consider that for most of human evolutionary history, we were born under shady trees or, if we were lucky, in caves or huts, you can understand how unnatural Lysol-soaked hospitals and microbially baby-proofed homes are. The point is that growing up in …View More...
Sci-fi worthy of Malthus
1 May 2013 12:03 am
In the new sci-fi movie “Oblivion,” Earth’s most precious resource is Tom Cruise. But running a close second (spoiler alert) is water. Aliens want it. All of it.
This is old hat, science fiction-wise. In “The War of the Worlds,” H.G. Wells had Martians coming to Earth to quench their thirst. The extraterrestrial lizards (cleverly disguised as human catalog models) in the 1980s TV series “V” came here to steal our water too — though they wanted it in part to wash down the meal they intended to make of us. …View More...
‘Right wing’ doesn’t equal ‘terrorist’
24 Apr 2013 12:02 am
“If history were to repeat itself,” warned President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1944 State of the Union address, “and we were to return to the so-called normalcy of the 1920s, then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of fascism here at home.”
The “normalcy” of the 1920s that Roosevelt referred to was a time of peace and prosperity. The decade began with Republican President Warren Harding commuting the sentences of political prisoners jailed …View More...
America’s just not that into Obama
19 Apr 2013 12:04 am
“You know, I actually believe my own bull—-.”
That’s what President Obama once told a reporter. If the man ever uttered a statement that spoke more to his approach to politics, I haven’t heard it.
Whether it stems from a grandiose overconfidence in his own powers of persuasion, or the lessons he took from his years as a community organizer, or his own messianic conviction that he is on the right side of everything, including history itself, the president has operated under the theory that he can move the American people to …
Kermit Gosnell and abortion’s darkest side
17 Apr 2013 12:04 am
If abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell is found guilty of homicide, he will be unique among murderers-for-hire: He set his fees based on weight. “The bigger the baby, the more he charged,” a grand jury explained. It recommended he be charged with eight counts of murder — one patient, seven babies.
Despite what amounted to a blackout at many media outlets until last week, you’ve probably now heard at least some of the details. According to the grand jury report, Gosnell’s Philadelphia “clinic” was a filthy abattoir. It stunk of urine. Flea-ridden …
Conversation starters Paisley, Paul are taking their lumps
12 Apr 2013 12:04 am
Are Brad Paisley and Rand Paul the bravest men in America?
Er, no. At least not by my lights. But maybe the country singer and the first-term senator are contenders for that title according to the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder.
In 2009, Holder famously declared in a speech that America is a “nation of cowards” because it refuses to talk about race “enough.” What constitutes enough race talk in our private time seems like a hard thing to quantify, and I’m not sure Holder has any idea how …
What ‘the Iron Lady’ forged
10 Apr 2013 12:02 am
In 1975, when asked to explain why Margaret Thatcher was poised to take over the Tory Party, the irascible British satirist Malcolm Muggeridge replied that it was all due to television — and the fact that the telegenic Thatcher had a “certain imbecile charm.”
That was one of the nicer things said about an “imbecile” who earned a degree in chemistry from Oxford and became a lawyer while studying at home. (She sent her bar application to the maternity ward while recovering from delivering twins.)
One lesson here is that being underestimated …