• Obama's Farewell Address


    “I wasn’t expecting to feel this way, but I’ll miss him,” was something I heard from several Republicans last night after the President’s farewell speech. They hadn’t voted for Obama nor been tempted to, but he had self-control, he kept things on an even keel, and his personal character showed many of the right priorities, starting with how he treated his family. And the way he spoke didn’t insult your intelligence.

    A farewell address is no time to get into policy quarrels, and Obama understood that. His few policy remarks, notably in defense of the Affordable Care Act, were brief, if heartfelt. He let loose with no zingers and named his successor only once. READ MORE...

  • Obama’s Education Legacy: Overreach and Misrule


    When President Obama departs office on January 20, he will leave behind a remarkable legacy in K–12 education, but not the one he seemed to want. Instead of dictating terms to schools, the president and his administration received a historic rebuke of federal power.

    It is possible that since the start of major federal involvement in the mid 1960s, no one person or law — not even George W. Bush or the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) — has centralized education power as much as Obama has. Yet this centralization eventually led to bipartisan rejection of ever-pushier feds. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed in late 2015, reversed the seemingly inexorable sweep of federal education history, returning power to the states and people. READ MORE...

  • Americans Aren't Buying What Fact Checkers Are Selling


    Fact checking must be counted among the many victims of this election season (others include political prognosticators and professional campaign advisers/fundraisers). PolitiFact judged 15 percent of Donald Trump’s statements as True or Mostly True, while 51 percent of his pronouncements were False or “Pants on Fire” False. Trump earned fifty-nine “four Pinocchio” ratings from the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, compared with seven for Hillary Clinton. Trump won the election anyway. READ MORE...

  • Does the U.S. Military Actually Protect Middle East Oil?


    America’s experience in the Middle East over the past fifteen years has been bruising, to say the least. For his part, President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly, if inconsistently, exploited Americans’ frustration with what are widely viewed as foreign policy failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. At a rally last month, Trump promised to “stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about,” adding that “this destructive cycle of intervention and chaos must finally come to an end.” On the other hand, Trump has also used brazenly hawkish rhetoric and has filled his cabinet with people not at all averse to bold U.S. interventionism. READ MORE...

  • Kuwait Needs Economic Reform, but Opponents Dominated National Assembly Election


    Kuwait City, Kuwait—Kuwait is one of the freest nations in the Persian Gulf, as well as one of America’s best friends. Yet its “liberalish” governance, as one Kuwaiti colleague described it, ironically impedes the adoption of market-oriented economic reforms necessary for the country’s prosperity. The latest election for the National Assembly may exacerbate Kuwait’s difficulties.

    Kuwait is one of the Gulf’s petro-states, sitting atop pools of black gold. Except that while the price of real gold is up, the price of oil is down. Last year Kuwait’s government ran its first deficit in 17 years. Revenues dropped by 45 percent, while outlays were cut only 15 percent, creating a $27 billion gap. An even larger deficit, $31 billion, is expected this year. The result has been unusual austerity for people used to living the good life courtesy the world’s once seemingly insatiable demand for energy. READ MORE...

  • Will Trump Turn His Bully Pulpit Rhetoric into Policy?


    For the next four years, I suspect I’m going to suffer a lot of whiplash as I yank myself back and forth, acting as both a critic and supporter of Donald Trump’s policy.

    This happened a lot during the campaign, as Trump would say very good things one day and then say very bad things the next day.

    And now that he’s President-Elect Trump, that pattern is continuing. Consider his approach to American businesses. In the space of just a few minutes, he manages to be a Reaganesque tax cutter and an Obamaesque cronyist. READ MORE...

  • What Trump Should Understand about China and North Korea


    In barely two weeks Americans will learn whether Donald Trump is as smart as he claims. He triumphed over the odds to win the presidency and most of his staff picks so far look serious. But his tweets continue to raise some interesting questions.

    The president-elect’s recent Twitter strike was on China and North Korea. He seems to view the former about as negatively as neoconservatives view Russia, which Trump apparently admires. At least one can blame Vladimir Putin for interfering in other nations, most notably Georgia and Ukraine. Since the dramatic transformation of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing has attacked no one. Maybe it plans to—but then again, it would take a lot to catch up with the United States. READ MORE...

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