After the riots in Athens, the Greek authorities decided to enact new laws to deal with their obvious problems. The new laws, which treat rich and poor alike for the first time, have been seen has harsh. The name of the legislator who wrote the laws is a man called Draco. The date is believed to be 621 B.C. And more than 2,600 years later, the adjectival form of his name -- draconian -- is still tossed around here in Washington anytime someone proposes real budget cuts.
Commentary by Tony Blankley
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Last Sunday, the media were reporting that the Muslim Brotherhood was sitting down with Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman, in a completely unrelated story, the BBC reported that British Prime Minster David Cameron announced that "State multiculturalism has failed": "David Cameron has criticized 'state multiculturalism' in his first speech as prime minister on radicalization and the causes of terrorism.
Whatever may happen in the hours after I write this column, two things are certain: The next chapter in the magnificent and ancient civilization of the Nile will be yet to be known. And the role that America plays in Egypt's great, unfolding story remains also in doubt.
Last week, the president wrote in the Wall Street Journal an article titled "Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System" in which he announced that he had issued an executive order to review all government regulations on a cost-benefit ratio basis. In itself, this is a good idea, although the president makes it explicit that the cost-benefit analysis must take account of -- as benefits -- intangible factors such as "equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts." Plenty of leeway there for career regulators and liberal political appointees to justify almost any oppressive regulation they may stumble over.
What should the congressional GOP's policy objectives be for the next two years regarding federal deficits and prosperity?
In the aftermath of the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and others, it is predictable that some self-centered politicians and political commentators quickly assumed the killer must have been provoked by political comments.
As we begin a new year, it may be useful to look back to one particular piece of advice that George Washington gave us in his farewell address. In paragraph 28, he reminded us that:
"It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?"
Don't believe all the Washington talk that President Obama had a great lame duck session and goes into the new year and the new 112th congress with the whip hand. Utter nonsense.
A few years ago, I was in China and, through the help of a friend, had the chance to spend a few hours with a senior editor of the People's Daily --the Communist Party's voice, and the most influential journal in China.
In the spirit of the Christmas season, let me highlight from last week's confusing Washington rhetoric a statement by the president that was shrewd -- even wise. On behalf of the spirit of compromise, he pointed out that even though, under the original constitutional compromise, he (implicitly, as a black man) "could not have walked through the front door" -- it was worth it because otherwise we would not have gained a union.
In the last week or two, an eccentric debate has been dividing Democratic Party pols and commentators in Washington: In 2011, should President Obama strive to be more like Harry Truman in 1947 or Bill Clinton in 1995?
I suppose it is to be expected that the Great Recession should be accompanied by a sweeping national pessimism in which our purported leaders and commentators express historic despair, while the people and corporations mope about, convinced that the sun will not come up tomorrow.
The administration's Afghanistan War policy seems to be settling into a dismal combination of confusion and cynicism. Before the November elections the administration was adamant that the troops would start coming home by July 2011. This, it is presumed, was to keep the president's liberals calm.
"If only we had sold our stocks a few weeks ago." "If only I'd had the brakes checked before she drove up to the mountains."
Last weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tried his hand at dissecting GOP foreign policy attitudes. I commend the senator for trying to come to grips with this vital question that is getting so little, if any, national discussion.
Removing the snake from the garden with a stick was a rejection of the snake, but should not be seen as particularly an endorsement of the stick -- except as the closest available tool with which to eject the snake.
It's largely going to be gridlock.
In 2011, the two major legislative initiatives of the tea party Congress (pray the voters deliver such a congress) will be to get a grip on the deficit, and to begin to reverse the intrusion of the federal government in American lives and business.
Based on the recent appointments of the two most powerful staff positions in the White House, and on various statements, it would appear that the White House is descending deeper into the bunker in anticipation of the expected shift in congressional majorities next year.
The New York Times has written, in explaining why the political parties have lost the confidence of the public: "Their machinery of intrigue, their shuffling evasions, the dodges, the chicanery and the deception of their leaders have excited universal disgust, and have created a general readiness in the public mind for any new organization that shall promise to shun their vices."