America does not matter in the Middle East; links

The Guardian had an article this past week about the coming end of Bahar al-Assad in Syria. While the article was mostly focused on the happenings in Syria, there was a nugget buried towards the end that was horrifying to anyone who cares about America's role in the world:

In early March, senior regional figures had been summoned to Riyadh by the newly crowned King Salman to hear his plans for the region. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was one of the first to arrive. Qatari officials and Gulf Co-operation Council leaders soon followed.

His message was threefold: first, there was to be no more division along regional lines, which had seen the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned governments of Turkey and Qatar pour support into allied Syrian groups, while Saudi focused on more mainstream outfits. Second, Riyadh would agree to send gamechanging weaponry to northern Syria in return for guarantees of coordination and discipline. And, finally, the US would not stand in the way. “Quite frankly,” a Saudi official told the Observer, “it would not have bothered us if they had tried to.”

Does the US really matter in the Middle East anymore?
It is my strong belief that the President either does not understand the true nature of global politics, or (more likely) simply does not care for America's historical and essential role in the world. The fact that he would be comfortable being marginalized in such a crucial region is terrifying, and the consequences for the country are dire. As with the militarization of Japan, these responses to America's reticence to be the guarantor of the world makes everyone less safe, including us. 

A Title IX inquisition
After the UVA rape accusations, I shared some commentary about the extra-judicial and horrifying process those facing sexual assault allegations on campus must navigate. Apparently that same, unfair process is being used to go after a college professor who had the audacity to write about sexual issues on campus. I strongly agree with the author's underlying point: today's youth continue to be more entitled and more sensitive than generations before. The obscene level of sensitivity exhibited by these groups is unfair to the public discourse and does them a disservice by deluding them into believing they can simply treat people they don't agree with in this manner. Sexual assault on college campuses is heinous, but solutions that unfairly ruin the lives and careers of the unfairly accused are not productive.

Unions: $15 minimum wage for everyone (except us, of course!)
I am generally opposed to minimum wages as a concept, and am especially incensed about the push to push the minimum wage to a level that simply is not sustainable. What's literally unbelievable to me (as in, I had to find different sources to support this article because I thought it was satire) is that organized labor, after leading the march to a $15 minimum wage, demands to be exempt. Could they be more transparent about their true motivations?

The uneasy marriage of our military and the NFL
The unimitable Charlie Pierce strikes again! The military rah-rah at NFL games has always been strange to me, but I always assumed it was more or less charitable. It turns out the cash flow goes the other way -- to the tune of $600MM in taxpayer money to NFL teams. 

Christian, or "not a Jew?" The end of casual Christianity
A good friend of mine is a Protestant minister and posted this piece wondering whether the time of casual identification as a Christian is at its end. 70% of Americans identify as Christian, but the author asserts that for most of American history that identification was less about an actual belief system and more about identifying ones self as "not a Jew." As attitudes about religions continue to change, the question is: why say you're Christian if you're really not?

Stop driving slowly in the left lane
There is nothing worse than someone who drives slowly in the left lane. I'll never understand why people feel entitled to use that lane to go exactly the speed limit, and I'm glad to see this is not just a pet peeve of my own, but a legitimate safety issue. Next time I'm stuck behind a slow left-lane driver, I'm going to send them this link using morse code in my headlights.

STEM won't make America successful
Through my BSA work, I keep on top of trends in youth education and the kinds of programs parents are looking for. We hear the same thing over and over again: STEM, STEM, STEM. The Washington Post takes a contrarian view to argue that America's diverse, non-STEM and non-test focused curriculum is exactly what has made it so dynamic and successful, and that continued focus on "catching up" to the rest of the world in STEM education isn't a way to stay ahead, but rather a route to falling back with the rest of the pack.