Category: Wall Street Journal

Israel, Hamas, Iran and Biden

As the latest war between Hamas and Israel enters its second week, the narrative is following a familiar script. Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities, Israel retaliates by bombing the source of the rockets in Gaza, Hamas plays up the civilian casualties, and the world leans on Israel to stop defending itself.

Let’s hope this isn’t the trap the Biden Administration falls into as the fighting continues. So far the White House has supported Israel’s right to self-defense.

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Electoral College Lessons for Latins

American progressives want to do away with the Electoral College. They say it’s undemocratic because a candidate who gets the most electoral votes can win the presidency without winning the most votes cast by citizens.

Yet the genius of the U.S. political system is that it puts the brakes on both majoritarianism and the concentration of power. The Electoral College doesn’t eliminate such risks to domestic peace, but it tempers them.

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Automated Luxury Communism?

At first I thought it was a joke. I still do. A couple of years ago, there was a stir around Aaron Bastani’s book “Fully Automated Luxury Communism.” It’s a manifesto for the “postwork” movement. Technology will “liberate us from work” and automation is “the path to a world of liberty, luxury and happiness—for everyone,” the book advertises. Cue rainbow-belching unicorns. The Atlantic wrote that “the vision is compelling.” The New York Times helped promote it. And it sure feels like the Biden administration is trying to implement it.

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The Rise of Inflation Expectations

You’ve heard it a thousand times: Inflation expectations remain “well-anchored.” So goes one of the mantras used by Chairman Jerome Powell and the Federal Reserve to explain its monetary adventurism of the last decade or so.

For many years this proved to be correct, as the Fed benefited from the lessons of the central bank’s performance in the 1980s in breaking the great inflation of the 1970s. Even then it took years for consumers and businesses to adjust and trust that inflation wouldn’t return.

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Moderation on Masks Might Make More Get a Shot

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance advising vaccinated Americans that it is safe to shed their masks is a milestone. The prevalence of Covid-19 is declining rapidly; older Americans are largely vaccinated. The task now is to learn to live with Covid. The virus won’t threaten America in the same way again, though neither will it disappear. Forbearance and persuasion will be essential.

Soon preventive measures won’t be prescribed by governors or mayors. People and businesses will decide what risks they are comfortable with.

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The Ethanol Gasoline Tax

Gasoline prices hit a six-year high this week amid the Colonial Pipeline shutdown and a rebound in demand as more people hit the road. But one overlooked cause of higher prices at the pump is Congress’s ethanol mandate.

Economists aren’t the best at predicting how markets or technologies will evolve, but politicians are worse. In the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, Congress required gasoline sold in the U.S. to contain increasing volumes of “renewable” fuel—i.e., ethanol from corn, algae and cellulosic waste.

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Russia’s Hackers Unwisely Mess With U.S. Gas Prices

Newt Gingrich would like to send SEAL Team Six busting through the doors of whoever authorized the Colonial Pipeline hack. Or maybe a Hellfire missile through the sunroof of some hacker godfather’s Lexus. Many Americans would likely agree and favor similar treatment for robocallers and email spammers, which sounds good until you remember that this would involve U.S. troops carrying out military actions on the soil of Russia or its satellites.

One universal prescription for every kind of mishap is resilience.

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The GOP’s Post-Trump Trauma

What is to become of the Republican Party? It will either break up or hold together. If the latter, it will require time to work through divisions; there will be state fights and losses as the party stumbles through cycle to cycle. But in time one side or general tendency will win and define the party. Splits get resolved when somebody wins big and nationally. Eisenhower’s landslides in 1952 and ’56 announced to the party that it was moderate. Reagan’s in 1980 and ’84 revealed it was conservative.

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A Police Union Coverup in Boston

Bostonians were shocked last summer when the former chief of the Boston police union, Patrick Rose, was arrested on 33 counts of sexually abusing children. The dismay has grown as it’s become clear that Mr. Rose’s behavior was known for years and that officials helped to keep it secret. That may have included Marty Walsh, the former union chief, former mayor of Boston and now U.S. secretary of Labor.

Mr. Rose served 24 years in the Boston Police Department before his arrest, including three years as the head of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association.

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The Justice Department’s Resident Conspiracist

House Democrats in February stripped Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments, punishment for promoting conspiracy theories. Democrats this week rewarded their own conspiracy theorist with a powerful position at the Justice Department. Anyone miss William Barr yet?

Lawfare Executive Editor Susan Hennessey announced this week she’s taking a job at the department’s National Security Division, reportedly as senior counsel.

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Randi Weingarten Sees the Light

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Thursday hopped onto the caboose that has already left the station. “There is no doubt: Schools must be open. In person. Five days a week,” the teachers’ union chief declared in a speech.

That’s nice of her to say now that nearly all school districts have announced plans to return to in-person learning five days a week next fall amid growing pressure from parents. Countless studies have shown that schools aren’t major causes of Covid spread, and younger children are unlikely to transmit the virus.

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Modi Declared Victory, Then Covid Struck Back With a Vengeance

Is Narendra Modi to blame for the carnage that Covid has wrought in India? It may be too soon to predict how voters will respond, but it’s not too soon to assess the evidence. Any prime minister would likely have struggled to cope with the pandemic’s brutal second wave, but Mr. Modi’s overweening vanity, overly centralized style of governance, and relentless focus on electoral advantage made him particularly unsuited to the task.

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