I made the mistake last week of turning my attention to the Opinion pages of the March 2 Wall Street Journal. I was suddenly reminded of the newspaper’s common ownership with FOX News.
The top essay, The Decline of US Naval Power, laments our shrinking navy, but fails to make me care. According to the author Mark Helprin, 20 seaward ships at a time are insufficient to “project military power”. Completely ignoring common sense, he implies that a larger navy would have prevented Somali pirates from killing four American tourists. And he declares with surprising certainty that if the trend continues, “China will be driven even faster to construct a navy that can dominate the oceans.” Really? That seems counter-intuitive.
And of course Helprin ignores the issue of cost, except to conclude that, “A technological nation with a GDP of $14 trillion can afford to build a fleet worthy of its past...” Hasn’t he read the news lately? The GDP is large, but we’re running the largest deficit of any nation in history, with enormous, unfunded liabilities looming. How do we afford a shiny new navy?
As a taxpayer I'd much rather see my tax dollars spent on modern warfare such as cyber capabilities. Deploying a cyberworm that undoubtedly cost less than 0.001% of the cost of operating (let alone buying) a single battleship for one year, the US and Israel (allegedly) disabled Iran’s nuclear enrichment facility for three years, and did so without loss of life on either side. By pursuing military objectives using immensely cheaper cyber assets, we can allocate some of that whopping GDP to restore some of our healthcare and education.
The second essay that day was In Defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, which objects to President Obama's recent decision to stop enforcing the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. This Act somehow aimed to revoke the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution when it comes to gay marriage so that the gay marriages are not recognized by the federal government or any states that don't license same sex unions.
According to the essay's authors, the Full Faith and Credit Clause shouldn't apply because "marriage is unlike any other government benefit. License to marry carries with it far more than mere permission...marriage is an affirmative statement of societal approval." And since "large majorities of Americans [sic] still oppose recognition of same-sex marriages," Congress decided that federal law should "clearly establish a preference for traditional marriage."
But don't get the wrong idea -- the authors deny that they are ignorant, homophobic rednecks; they merely insist that Presidents must enforce all laws passed by Congress, no matter how disgusting or obviously unconstitutional.
Funny, though: the Wall Street Journal never published opinion pieces condemning President Bush Sr for declining to enforce affirmative action for broadcast licensing, or President Reagan for declining to enforce the independent counsel law and the law permitting one-house legislative vetoes of executive actions.
And get this -- the co-authors of this opinion piece, Rivkin and Casey, served as attorneys in both the Reagan and Bush Sr administrations. Hey guys, why didn't you complain back then?