If there was any doubt that the Obama White House has exactly zero command of the Middle East, it was confirmed when despite their best wishcasting, PM Netanyahu was reelected in Israel. Not only do we have no idea how to manage relationships with our adversaries in the region, but we are now out of touch with our allies as well.
And this criticism is coming from both sides of the isle.
There are no two publications with more disparate world views than Slate and The American Interest. Yet here they are in two separate pieces reaching the same conclusion: the current, sorry state of US-Israeli relations is another example of a poorly executed foreign policy. I'm not a fan of Netanyahu, but to watch him join the ranks of other global leaders who increasingly defy and ignore the United States is depressing.
Why we root for underdogs
I do not watch March Madness. I don't even care for college basketball. But, of course, I do love a great underdog story. Vox has a look at why we're attracted to supporting underdogs, and floats a few different theories ranging from schadenfreude to the desire for justice in the world.
Surprise! The NFL is out of touch
This past week 49'er Chris Borland retired after just one season due to concerns about the long-term health effects of playing football. Instead of seizing on this as a great opportunity to remind the public how seriously the NFL is taking player safety, Commissioner Goodell did what he does best: totally ignored the issue at hand, buried his head in the sand, and released a statement that more or less dismissed a significant issue as irrelevant. I'm really looking forward to the league's next DUI or domestic violence incident.
Philadelphia: immune from recovery (and recession!)
The job market in Philadelphia is growing at a significantly lower rate than the rest of the country. This factoid belies a more interesting trend: the job market in Philadelphia shows much less elasticity than the national as a whole. Jobs here were not lost in the numbers seen elsewhere during the recession, but the city is now being left behind in the recovery as well. This reflects the inefficient, overly bureaucratic poorly managed city I've seen since moving here. The large government rolls keep people employed, but the poor policy making prevents new businesses from calling Philadelphia home they way they are in Boston, New York or DC.
Lessons learned from the shooting of Michael Brown
Jonathan Capehart weighed in this week with the best article I've seen on the aftermath of Ferguson and what it means for the discussion of race in our country. This is a great, balanced look at what happened and it reaches a conclusion people of all sides can and should embrace: the narrative that incited people in the aftermath of Brown's death was almost entirely fabricated and the shooting justified, yet the underlying issues that generated the reaction are not only genuine, but pervasive and incredibly damaging to our country.
Should voting be compulsory?
Unbeknownst to me, voting in Australia is compulsory! Obama briefly (and I don't think completely seriously) suggested this as something America out to look into. My initial reaction was positive, as I see lack of participation in our republic as disappointing. Vox looks at the impact of compulsory voting in Australia, as well as other strategies to increase voter engagement (like Saturday voting or making election day a holiday). The surprising conclusion: people who vote, vote, and making it mandatory or offering little carrots like a day off don't actually do much to increase voter turnout.