Author Archives: Paul Mirengoff

Arne Duncan’s got game

Featured image One of the great things about retirement is that I’m able to do things that previously I couldn’t squeeze into my schedule. Like attending summer basketball league games. The summer league at Georgetown University features a mixture of college players from the D.C. area and/or D.C. area colleges and older players who are still plying their trade or, in some cases, are just competing for the fun of it. The »

The subprime bust tragedy — how government-selected winners turned into losers

Featured image The Washington Post reports that “the implosion of the subprime lending market has left a scar on the finances of black Americans — one that not only has wiped out a generation of economic progress but could leave them at a financial disadvantage for decades.” The problem, of course, is that blacks comprised a disproportionate number of the people who purchased homes they couldn’t afford under traditional lending practices, by »

Still a dead heat

Featured image Two new polls show just how tight the presidential race remains. Rasmussen, in a poll released today, has the race at Romney 46 – Obama 45. Rasmussen puts the president’s approval rating in negative territory: 47-52. Meanwhile, Gallup, in a poll released yesterday, has Obama leading Romney by 47-45. The president’s approval rating is break-even: 46-46. These polls follow ad blizes by Team Obama. If they succeeded in moving the »

Why government bestowal of economic privileges is pathological

Featured image Matt Mitchell, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, has written an important paper called “The Pathology of Privilege: The Economic Consequences of Government Favoritism.” We have discussed such favoritism, which also goes by the names “crony capitalism” and “corporatism,” from time to time. But Mitchell’s paper provides an economic analysis and unified theory of the phenomenon. What are the privileges that governments bestow on particular firms »

This day in baseball history

Featured image On Sunday, July 8, 1962, the Cleveland Indians lost both games of a double-header to the Chicago White Sox. This ended a six game winning streak and dropped the Indians to second place in the American League heading into the All Star break. Still, Indians fans had little to complain about. The previous year, the Indians had finished in fifth place, 30.5 games behind the Yankees and five games under »

On winning Colorado

Featured image If I had to predict the outcome of this year’s presidential race and could be told in advance the outcome in just one state, I’d pick Ohio. Colorado would be my second choice. The Denver Post identifies three counties as the key to winning Colorado — Arapahoe, Jefferson and Larimer. Obama carried all three in 2008; Bush carried all three in 2004. The key in both elections was the unaffiliated »

CastroCare in the time of cholera

Featured image Abe Greenwald cites a report from the Miami Herald that “the first cholera outbreak in Cuba in a century has left at least 15 dead and sent hundreds to hospitals all but sealed off by security agents bent on keeping a lid on the news.” CastroCare is, Greenwald reminds us, Michael Moore’s model heathcare system. Cholera, which was supposed to have been wiped out in Cuba around 1900, is only »

The United States — a nation of takers?

Featured image In a post about the inability of the German national soccer team to win tournaments recently, I wondered whether this failure had something to do with a change in the German ethos. But what about the American ethos? Has it changed? Recently, Nicholas Eberstadt, a distinguished scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, gave a talk in which he suggested that the work ethic in American may be declining as we »

The Obama administration — “foolish and feckless” about Syria

Featured image Hillary Clinton is the latest member of the Obama administration to play the fool when it comes to dealing with Russia over Syria. She joins President Obama, who was rendered almost speechless by Vladimir Putin after the Russian strongman contemptuously rejected Obama’s plea that Russia abandon its long-time ally, Bashar Assad. Clinton, if anything, has come across as even more of a dunce than Obama. A week ago, the Washington »

Toward which candidate is the electoral college biased?

Featured image I’m increasingly preoccupied with this year’s presidential race, yet I don’t spend much time (at least not yet) thinking about the electoral vote. The way I see it, the outcome in the Electoral College has varied from that indicated by the popular vote only once in my lifetime, and never did in the lifetimes of my parents and grandparents. So if Romney wins the popular vote, his odds of becoming »

Zombie economy threatens Obama

Featured image That’s the headline on Politico today. It’s a bit Obama-centric, but has a nice ring. So I stole it. President Obama, of course, is spinning the June jobs report, even though it capped the worst quarter for job creation in two years: We learned this morning that our business created 84,000 new jobs last month and that overall means that businesses have created 4.4 million new jobs over the past »

In Afghanistan, most roads lead to civil war

Featured image Dexter Filkins has lengthy article in the New Yorker about what likely is in store for Afghanistan once the U.S. completes the withdrawal of its combat troops. He writes: After eleven years, nearly two thousand Americans killed, sixteen thousand Americans wounded, nearly four hundred billion dollars spent, and more than twelve thousand Afghan civilians dead since 2007, the war in Afghanistan has come to this: the United States is leaving, »

Should Mitt Romney buy what Tom Rath is selling

Featured image The Washington Post reports that Mitt Romney plans to fortify his communications and messaging team by adding some veteran operatives. However, Romney apparently has no plans to change his inner circle. As longtime senior Romney senior aide Tom Rath put it: I don’t sense any panic. I don’t sense that any heads are going to roll. The idea that this guy at this point having gone through what he’s gone »

Hillary Clinton gives Pakistan an “apology” it accepts

Featured image After months of negotiations, Secretary of State Clinton has issued a statement of regret that satisfies Pakistan regarding the killing by U.S. forces of two dozen Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border fire fight. As a result, Pakistan will re-open the NATO supply line to Afghanistan. Here is the statement Clinton issued to Pakistan: I once again reiterated our deepest regrets for the tragic incident in Salala last November. I offered »

Is wishful thinking about the economy the key to Obama’s reelection chances?

Featured image A new CNN poll indicates that, by a 73-27 percent split, most Americans believe that the state of the American economy is poor rather than good. Yet, by a split of 60-39, most Americans believe the economy will be good in 2013. CNN polled “adult Americans” rather than registered or likely voters. However, given the nature of the question, the small number of non-registered respondents in the poll, and the »

Why doesn’t Germany win soccer tournaments anymore?

Featured image England soccer legend Gary Lineker once quipped: “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” But lately, the Germans haven’t been winning when it counts. In fact, their national team hasn’t won a World or European Cup since 1996. That’s a streak of zero for eight. For many a proud soccer nation, that streak wouldn’t be a »

Bernard Lewis remembers — Ted Kennedy visits Iran

Featured image I have previously recommended Bernard Lewis’s memoir, Notes on a Century, for its wonderful combination of insight and anecdote regarding life, the study of history, and the Middle East. The following anecdote is among my favorites: Sometime in the early 1970s at a time when I was in Tehran, Senator Kennedy suddenly arrived, unannounced and unexpected. The Shah was angry. He felt that a visit by a U.S. Senator, particularly »