Monthly Archives: March 2015

On Ashton Carter and Yale Alumni

1. Andrew Bacevich takes a look at Obama’s new SecDef in an article on fabiusmaximus,com. Greeting him as yet another example of a “defense intellectual” he begins with a historical view of the failure of these experts over the years. It’s an interesting read and Bacevich is not afraid of calling the advice of many “very serious people” just bullshit.

2. Here’s a snippet from the Yale Alumni Magazine that quite surprised me. In 2006 and 2014 they asked a random sample of Yale Alumni to identify themselves as Republicans or Democrats (or other) with the following results:

Year      Democrat      Republican      Other
2006           53%                25%            19%
2014           63%               14%             21%

What is the Grand Old Party coming to? Only 14% of Yalies? 63% Democrats?

 

American Exceptionalism

Pew Research has a report on ways in which the people of the US differ from those in other nations. I’m not sure of the significance but it’s interesting. Here are some results:

Importance of religion in one’s life: In general the percentage of those those saying religion is very important falls as the average per capita  GDP of nations rises. The US however is a big outlier with a relatively high percentage and the highest per capita GDP. (China was also an outlier but in the other direction.)

Is today a good day for you? Again a trend, with percentage having a good day falling with increasing per capita GDP. And again the US is a big outlier with a relatively high percentage for it’s GDP..

 

 

Hawks in the State Department?

I’ve come across two articles that raise serious questions about US foreign policy as viewed from Europe. What really bothers me is that we get no hint of these points of view from the US media.

In his column this week William Pfaff gives his summary of what he calls “Obama’s devastating failure in foreign policy.” Much of his comment on the Middle East is not new  but his views on the Ukraine problem raise issues that are never discussed in the US Press.

A reference to statements by General Breedlove, the US commander of NATO, which are considered inflammatory in Europe but approved by Washington, called my attention to an article in Der Spiegel last week. Here is the summary of that:

US President Obama supports Chancellor Merkel’s efforts at finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. But hawks in Washington seem determined to torpedo Berlin’s approach. And NATO’s top commander in Europe hasn’t been helping either.

The article emphasized the role of Victoria Nuland, the neo-conservatve  Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Interestingly she was described as a likely Secretary of State in a future Republican administration.

I’m not sure what to believe about all this, but it doesn’t hurt to find out what the rest of the world thinks.

The “New” Larry Summers

I have thought of Larry Summers as the epitome of the establishment Democrat, but he seems to have changed his views greatly, as described by Thomas B Edsall in a fascinating NY TImes opinion last week.  It seems that the great shift to greater inequality in the US was as great a surprise to him as it was to me and he readily admits it has changed his views on economic policy.  In particular he has adopted the point of view of Paul Krugman that our economy is stagnating and needs a substantial boost in government investment.

Iran: Friend and Foe

At a time when President Obama is under political pressure from congressional Republicans over negotiations to rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, a startling paradox has emerged: Mr. Obama is becoming increasingly dependent on Iranian fighters as he tries to contain the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria without committing American ground troops.

So begins a news analysis in the NY Times on the increasingly important role of Iran in support of “our side”.  It’s a little confusing at times, but the I suspect that’s true for all of our very serious people in Washington as well. Is the enemy of our enemy our friend? Is the enemy of our friend our enemy?

As to the situation in the Ukraine William Pfaff’s new column suggests that we leave well enough alone.

Reagan and CPAC?

Here’s a quote from Bruce Bartlett, a prominent adviser to Ronnie back in ancient times, commenting on how the current CPAC would have reacted to him:

Last week at CPAC potential Republican candidates were invoking President Ronald Reagan ad-nauseam. Ed Schultz asked Bruce Bartlett, former adviser to Reagan, how would Reagan have been treated at CPAC.

“I think he probably would be booed out of the crowd,” Bruce Bartlett said. “If only because he gave amnesty to illegal aliens back in 1986. Nativists like Representative Steve King routinely denounce Reagan for that. They would have denounced him for raising taxes eleven times. They would have denounced him for raising the debt limit. They would have denounced him for running budget deficits. They would have denounced him for supporting labor unions. … And we are not even getting into all the liberal things that he did as governor such as signing the most liberal abortion law in the United States. I think this guy definitely would not be a favorite of this crowd.”

Ed Schultz then asked if it is that conservatives and CPAC attendees just do not know their history.

“Well, I guess they have completely forgotten about George W. Bush whom they defended to the heavens when he was in office,” Bruce Bartlett said. “But yes, they are really rather stupid and not very well read. To them Reagan is a distant figure in history.”