Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Obama’s Legacy: The Evidence Beyond the Punditry

As President Obama’s term draws to a close, every political writer under the sun is offering a hot take on how he’ll be remembered. These can be fun to read, but they don’t tell you very much about what really happened while Barack Obama was president. So today I’d like to look at some of the evidence and data we have on this president. Let’s see how he stacks up next to past presidents and America’s friends and rivals.

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Cory Booker, John Lewis, and Discrimination-Only Democrats

In the last week, two news stories have caught my eye:

  1. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) attempted to draw praise from Democrats when he broke with Senate norms and testified against Jeff Sessions. Yet that very same day, he voted against legislation which would have enabled Americans to purchase less expensive Canadian medicine.
  2. Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) claimed that the president elect is “illegitimate”, drawing the standard Trump Twitter response. Liberal media outlets immediately began publishing posts lionizing Lewis as a civil rights hero, as if this made him immune from criticism concerning his congressional record. In the past, Lewis has misled the public about Bernie Sanders’ policies and record as an activist.

Booker and Lewis are often portrayed as if they were radical progressive or left wing figures because of the strong public stances they have taken and continue to take on racial issues. But this activism on race and social issues belies a creeping disinterest in much of the rest of the left’s platform–Booker and Lewis don’t seem to care about tuition-free college or single payer healthcare. Indeed, Booker doesn’t even believe in lowering drug prices by exposing the American pharmaceutical industry to Canadian competition. What’s going on here?

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Simon Sinek Doesn’t Understand Millennials

I’ve seen another viral video about Millennials doing the rounds. This one features Simon Sinek, a 43 year old who has leveraged a BA in cultural anthropology into a lucrative writing, speaking, and consulting career. Sinek, like so many others, attempts to explain what’s wrong with Millennials. His theory is persuasively presented, but nonetheless makes a series of basic mistakes.

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Fake News is a Symptom of a Larger Problem–We are Destroying Our Own Media

Many people now believe that fake news contributed to Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election. I’ve seen this issue debated a number of times around the web, and whenever it’s discussed there tends to be a great deal of conceptual imprecision. Different people have widely divergent understandings of what constitutes “fake” news. This has led many people to misunderstand what fake news is, why it exists, and what its significance is.

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John Kerry and the UN are Right about Israeli Settlements

The UN Security Council has passed Resolution 2334 by a vote of 14 to zero, with the United States choosing to abstain rather than exercise its veto. The resolution condemns Israel’s construction of settlements within the occupied Palestinian territories. The language is uncharacteristically blunt:

the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace

The 14 member states who voted in favor of the resolution include the remaining permanent members (Britain, France, Russia, and China) and all of the current non-permanent members (Angola, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal, Spain, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Venezuela). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims the resolution is “skewed against Israel” and Donald Trump agreed, tweeting:

But both Trump and Netanyahu are mistaken–not only is Resolution 2334 not skewed against Israel, it is in Israel’s interest to abide by the resolution and abandon its settlements. Here’s why.

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