For the first time in five years, Ben is taking this week off from writing The Transom, and handing over the duties to a cast of smart, talented writers. Today’s edition is courtesy of Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, who you can follow on Twitter @NewtGingrich, with Ross Worthington, who you can follow @RossaRoony. Enjoy!
HOW WE GOT HERE: A FOREIGN POLICY OF LEFT-WING CLICHÉS:
Today is the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 suicide bomb attacks in London, which killed 52 people and wounded hundreds more. In the decade since, the threat from Islamic supremacists has gotten worse in ways that were almost unimaginable in 2005. Nearly everywhere in the world, the threat of violence is greater than it was a decade ago.
The U.S. has been focused during this period on the terrorist threat, even if there is little progress to show for it. But because the media and political establishments tend to focus on only one problem at a time, it has been easy to miss the rate at which other anti-American threats have been developing during the same period.
We are drifting into a period of extraordinary risk. In the vacuum, foreign powers have become progressively more hostile, capable, and risk-taking. Putin's brazen rule in Russia, an increasingly aggressive Chinese regime, the relentlessly dishonest Iranian dictatorship, and the steady development of nuclear and missile technology in North Korea are emerging threats for which the U.S. currently has no strategy. Worryingly, we have refused to consider that our enemies could coalesce into an anti-American coalition.
President Obama, it is sad to say, has invited many of the risks we face today.
He owes his presidency to opposition, in the far-left of the Democratic Party, to a strong America abroad. Those outside the U.S. saw his election as a victory for that worldview—anti-Americanism combined with anti-capitalism—as indeed it proved to be. The New York Times reported from Gaza the day after his victory that “Mr. Obama’s election offers most non-Americans a sense that the imperial power capable of doing such good and such harm — a country that, they complain, preached justice but tortured its captives, launched a disastrous war in Iraq, turned its back on the environment and greedily dragged the world into economic chaos — saw the errors of its ways over the past eight years and shifted course.”
It wasn’t just non-Americans who viewed Obama’s election that way. Obama himself embraced the role. Among his first acts of foreign policy as president were sending a feel-good YouTube video to the Iranian mullahs (the start of six years of begging), and his European “apology tour,” in which he confessed America’s sins on our behalf—the “times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive,” and “a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world.” It was for this atonement, evidently, that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Those less enamored with ideas like “the European project” and a worldwide environmental regime took a more realistic view of Obama’s promise: impotence, weakness, and timidity, all inherent in the left-wing clichés he and his base espoused. The result has been aggression against the American order everywhere we look.
Putin clearly has contempt for the U.S. administration and is determined to push at the periphery to see if he can break up NATO and reintegrate more of the former Soviet Union back into the Russian Empire. As a KGB trained, would-be tsar, Putin is unlikely to be deterred by words and weakness.
The Chinese could hardly be more open in their determination to change the balance of power in their own favor. It is hard to know which is more threatening: the flagrant hostility of hacking into U.S. government records and stealing 18 million personnel files, or the construction, out of open ocean, of an expansive chain of islands and military bases to enforce a Chinese claim to an enormous territory—crowding Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Indonesia. Both of these actions are potentially acts of war, but the President seems incapable of responding. The possibility that Chinese economic growth is slowing significantly makes that regime more rather than less dangerous.
Having ignored every red line he announced for Syria and Ukraine, President Obama is clearly committed to ignoring his red lines once again for the Iranian dictatorship. No level of Iranian mendacity, no depth of Iranian violation of agreements, no proof of Iranian support for terrorism are sufficient to slow the Obama administration's rush to surrender on Iranian nuclear weapons.
After Russia, China and Iran, there are a number of increasingly threatening realities that the U.S. is avoiding because they so violate the ethos of the current administration. North Korea might have up to 60 nuclear weapons, according to Chinese sources. This is a huge increase from the failed Clinton policies of the 1990s and should serve as a warning about the current negotiations with Iran. Needless to say, it doesn’t.
All the while, we are failing even to contain the threat we are focused on. The attacks last Friday in Tunisia, Kuwait and France (not to mention the ongoing killings in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria) are a reminder that Islamic supremacists are gaining ground. A weak America has been a necessary condition for their progress, too.
This level of decline would have been unthinkable the day terrorists attacked London a decade ago, and tragically, the decline will likely result in more horrible days. The specter of feeble democracies trying to contain evil has not been this bad since the late 1930s. The danger now is that every bad actor in the world will view the next year and a half as their last best chance for aggression. This is what it looks like when left-wing opponents of a strong America get a chance to run our foreign policy.
Have you subscribed to the feed for our daily radio show in iTunes? It’s already in the Top 50 politics shows. http://vlt.tc/1vko Listen live at 4 PM here. http://fdrl.st/radio
Federal minimum wage is killing Puerto Rico’s economy. http://vlt.tc/1zta “The minimum-median ratio in most states is between 35 and 50 percent, as the following chart shows. In Puerto Rico, however, the ratio is 77 percent. That is 24 percentage points higher than Florida, the U.S. state with the highest ratio. Federal labor policy is making vast numbers of Puerto Ricans unemployable… A study by Alida Castillo-Freeman (NBER) and Richard Freeman (Harvard) concluded that subjecting Puerto Rico to the federal minimum wage reduced employment in the territory by 8 to 10 percent. More recently, the inability to find jobs has driven Puerto Ricans to emigrate in search of employment. According to the Pew Research Center, Puerto Rico has experienced net emigration of 144,000 people, equivalent to 13 percent of the labor force, since 2010, with 42 percent of emigrants saying their reason for leaving was ‘job-related.’”
Federal Reserve Bank of New York report finds consumer mortgage, credit card, auto loan decisions are all intertwined. http://vlt.tc/1zt6 “As home equity turns negative, homeowners default on mortgages and [home equity lines of credit] at higher rates, whereas they prioritize repaying credit cards and auto loans. Larger unused credit card limits intensify the preservation of credit cards over housing debt. Although mortgage non-recourse statutes increase default on all types of housing debt, they reduce credit card defaults. Foreclosure delays increase default rates for both housing and non-housing debts.”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf claims privatizing state liquor stores would raise the cost of alcohol, citing Washington State. Shot: http://vlt.tc/1zuw “In the most recent case of another state that pursued the outright privatization of liquor sales, consumers saw higher prices and less selection…Modernization of our state liquor system would provide additional revenues to the Commonwealth and save important, family-sustaining jobs. We can support and bolster consumer convenience without selling an asset and risking higher prices and less selection for consumers.” Chaser: http://vlt.tc/1zuv “The higher prices come from taxes levied through the 2012 ballot initiative itself, including a 10 percent license fee paid by distributors and a 17 percent license fee paid by retailers.”
RELATED: Treasurer admits Puerto Rico can pay debts, doesn’t want to. http://vlt.tc/1ztf Determinants of mortgage default and consumer credit use: The effects of foreclosure laws and foreclosure delays. http://vlt.tc/1zt6 Amazon says new 'Prime Day' will bury Black Friday. http://vlt.tc/1ztc Greece Hits the Self-Destruct Button. http://vlt.tc/1zuo Sugar, flour, rice: panicked Greeks stock up on essentials. http://vlt.tc/1zup Greece’s finance minister resigns. http://vlt.tc/1zuq Greece owes less than Europe says. http://vlt.tc/1zur Jeb and Newt 2011: Let the states go bankrupt. http://vlt.tc/1zuq
RENAME THE WASHINGTON POST?:
Marc Thiessen. http://vlt.tc/1zut “Did you know that this newspaper is named for a slaveholder? It’s right there on our masthead, the name of a man who for 56 years held other human beings in bondage on his Virginia plantation — a man, according to the official Mount Vernon Web site, who ‘frequently utilized harsh punishment against the enslaved population, including whippings.’ This dreaded symbol of oppression is delivered to the doorsteps and inboxes of hundreds of thousands of people each morning… It is time to rename The Washington Post!
“…This impulse to wipe away history is Stalinist…These historical purges are not only wrong, they are also completely unnecessary. If you want to see where race relations are in the South, just look at how the people of Charleston, S.C., reacted to the shootings at Emanuel AME Church. There were no race riots. The city didn’t burn. People came together — black and white — to mourn and heal together…
“Let’s be clear: The recent criticism of the Confederate flag is really not about a flag — it is about the people of the South. It is driven by the notion that most Southerners are a bunch of racists who agree with the Charleston shooter’s murderous actions. As we saw after the shooting, nothing could be further from the truth.”
‘THE CONSERVATIVE PARADOX’:
Arthur Brooks in The Conservative Heart, out next week. http://vlt.tc/1zuu “What explains this discrepancy between the incredible results of free enterprise in the developing world [and] the political unpopularity of conservatives? One answer is simple: The defenders of free enterprise have done a terrible job of telling people how much good the system has done around the world. According to a 2013 survey, 84 percent of Americans are unaware that worldwide deprivation has fallen as dramatically as it has over the past three decades. Indeed, more than two-thirds actually think global hunger has actually gotten worse, in direct contradiction of all the facts. Capitalism has saved a couple of billion people and we have treated this miracle like a state secret.”
The Transom recommends Ledbury shirts. Receive a credit for your first purchase here. http://vlt.tc/16w6
George Weigel: Reality and Public Policy. http://vlt.tc/1zuy
BUILD ME UP, BUTTERCUP:
Mother raccoon teaches baby to climb tree. http://vlt.tc/1zux
Executive Editor – Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity (watchdog.org). http://vlt.tc/1za4
ITEMS OF INTEREST:
Is it all Greek to you? Thank medieval monks, and the Bard, for the phrase. http://vlt.tc/1zt8
Europe wants to punish Greece with exit. http://vlt.tc/1ztd
Putin tells Tsipras he supports Greek people to 'overcome difficulties.’ http://vlt.tc/1zte
U.S. jets intercepted Russian bombers off California, Alaska coasts on July 4. http://vlt.tc/1ztu
Iran lobby threatening Dem opponents of deal. http://vlt.tc/1zue
Iraq military accidentally bombs Baghdad neighborhood. http://vlt.tc/1zt0
Cameron, BBC director in tiff over term for “so-called Islamic State.” http://vlt.tc/1zub
Looted in Syria – and sold in London: the British antiques shops dealing in artifacts smuggled by ISIS. http://vlt.tc/1zsv
Requiem for the Obama doctrine. http://vlt.tc/1zt4
How Republicans hope to turn Virginia red in 2016. http://vlt.tc/1zsy
Cruz campaign has raised 14 million. http://vlt.tc/1zuk
Jeb Bush lays out his foreign policy vision. http://vlt.tc/1zt9
Jeb Bush faults Obama’s “zombie economy.” http://vlt.tc/1ztv
Kasich wields line-item veto on state budget. http://vlt.tc/1zun
81 things that Mike Huckabee has denounced. http://vlt.tc/1zt3
Rubin Navarette, Jr: Mexican elites secretly agree with Donald Trump. http://vlt.tc/1zuc
Pataki challenges Trump to immigration debate. http://vlt.tc/1ztw
Perry says booming economy will help minorities more than identity politics. http://vlt.tc/1zuj
Don’t blame Hillary for the rope-the-dopes media strategy. http://vlt.tc/1zt5
The reporter who will conduct Hillary’s first big interview since announcement just attended Hillary aide’s wedding. http://vlt.tc/1zui
NYT: Presidential candidate who calls himself a socialist is, in fact, a socialist. http://vlt.tc/1ztx
Lawmakers want Internet sites to flag ‘terrorist activity’ to law enforcement. http://vlt.tc/1ztb
Juan Williams thinks Dems can use green issues to make Republicans unacceptable. http://vlt.tc/1zu0
Poverty: TX vs. California in one chart. http://vlt.tc/1zs8
Heather Higgins finds silver linings in King v. Burwell. http://vlt.tc/1zty
Chicago saw a lot of red with the white and blue this holiday weekend—7 dead, 40 injured. http://vlt.tc/1ztt
Oregon wants to tax hybrid & electric drivers by the mile. http://vlt.tc/1ztn
NYPD allegedly destroyed evidence it issued 850k bogus summonses to meet quota. http://vlt.tc/1ztz
NASA loses contact with New Horizons; Pluto spacecraft enters ‘safe mode.’ http://vlt.tc/1zsw
Signs of life on the Philae comet. http://vlt.tc/1ztk
Relationships between guards and prisoners common. “There’s a story like this in every prison.” http://vlt.tc/1zu1
What history should an American know? http://vlt.tc/1zt7
Hayek for Everybody. http://vlt.tc/1zu2
FDA reform bill delayed on offset concerns. http://vlt.tc/1zsr
Newt: Double the NIH budget. http://vlt.tc/1zu5
In health law, a boon for diet clinics. http://vlt.tc/1zss
Insurance premiums spark new front in Obamacare war. http://vlt.tc/1zsu
Scott Gottlieb on how ACA is reducing competition—insurance mergers. http://vlt.tc/1zu3
Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes on new Arizona lab test freedom law. http://vlt.tc/1zu4
Cures bill stalled on offset concerns. http://vlt.tc/1zsq
Child screen addiction a real thing. http://vlt.tc/1zul
“Will anti-gay Christians be politically and socially ostracized? I sure hope so.” http://vlt.tc/1zu6
The rise of Christianity in China. http://vlt.tc/1zsz
Jonah Goldberg: You can’t compromise with the culture warriors. http://vlt.tc/1zum
“Marriage equality” becomes “shut up and obey.” http://vlt.tc/1zsx
Atlanta fire chief fired for ‘anti-gay’ views ‘absolutely’ wants his job back. http://vlt.tc/1zt2
“Conscience is the new color blindness.” http://vlt.tc/1zu7
The wind won’t stop messing with Pope Francis’s look. http://vlt.tc/1zuh
“The idea of Concorde was bigger than Concorde itself.” http://vlt.tc/1zoc
"Chipotle mania" finally dying down? http://vlt.tc/1ztl
World’s tallest cow dies after lifetime of Photoshop accusations. http://vlt.tc/1zua
Sexts, Hugs and Rock and Roll: On the road with the teen social-media sensations of DigiTour. http://vlt.tc/1zuf
How much would it cost to buy Wikipedia in book form? http://vlt.tc/1zu9
Noted historian on 5 myths about the founders. http://vlt.tc/1zu8
'Reddit Revolution' continues, next target the CEO. http://vlt.tc/1ztp
Serena beats Venus to advance in Wimbledon. http://vlt.tc/1ztm
Word Cup ratings set records overnight in U.S. http://vlt.tc/1zto
Review: Martin Edwards, ‘The Golden Age of Murder.’ http://vlt.tc/1zst
Another Kardashian split? Kourtney and Scott call it quits. http://vlt.tc/1zts
Female pleasure looks mighty odd in Magic Mike XXL. http://vlt.tc/1zt1
Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events trailer. http://vlt.tc/1ztq
Netflix recommendations rely on human “taggers.” http://vlt.tc/1zug
Robert Tracinski on the Rules of the Culture War 4.0. http://vlt.tc/1zuz
“I touched the face of midnight once”. http://vlt.tc/1zv0
“We’re permanent adolescents…Satisfy our demands, and we’ve got twelve more. The more demands you satisfy, the more we got.” – Jerry Rubin