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MONDAY, MARCH 8, 2010
DOES THIS SCHOOL HAVE A FOOTBALL TEAM? – AT 8:14 P.M. ET: The Dems are setting up a little academy. From The Politico:
House Democrats have found a way to address Republicans’ polling advantage on national security: Teach candidates a better way to talk about the issue.
While President Barack Obama still outpolls congressional Republicans on national security, a new Third Way/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll out Monday gives the GOP the edge in a generic Republican vs. Democrat matchup on the issue. And the problem is particularly acute for Democratic women: A study to be published in the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy shows support for Democratic women drops 11 percent when public fear of terrorism is high.
To combat the problem, House Democrats have asked Third Way, the centrist Democratic think tank, and California Rep. Jane Harman, a leader on intelligence issues in the House, to help lead training sessions on the issue.
Will there be grades? Term papers? Graduation with those flat hats?
What's hilarious here is that the centrists have been asked to do the teaching. Earth to Dems: Your problem is that the party is run by leftists, who despise the centrists. Whatever gets taught here will probably be dumped by the left wing. The issue is the policies. Americans understandably don't have much faith in a party that has a clear cultural problem with national defense. No amount of coaching will overcome that.
March 8, 2010 Permalink
GRACIOUSNESS AND WARMTH – AT 7:33 P.M. ET: Another Democratic congressman bites the dust, but goes out in a blaze of fury. No quiet withdrawal "to be with my family" for this worthy. From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Representative Eric J. Massa, a New York Democrat accused of sexually harassing a male aide, has charged that Democratic Party leaders were behind an effort to drive him out of office and called the White House chief of staff the “son of the devil’s spawn.”
Problem is, Rahm Emanuel probably thinks that's a compliment.
In a radio interview on Sunday, Mr. Massa also provided his first detailed account his interaction with the male aide whose accusations are being investigated by the House ethics committee.
Mr. Massa said that he made an inappropriate remark to the male aide during another staff member’s wedding in January while the two were sitting at a table. He said he grabbed the aide, joked about having sexual relations with him and mussed his hair before getting up and leaving.
Since it was Washington, it was the hair mussing that probably got him into trouble.
Mr. Massa said that Democratic leaders, including White House officials, had orchestrated a campaign against him because of his opposition to health care legislation in the House.
“Mine is now the deciding vote on the health care bill,” he said, “and this administration and this House leadership have said, quote-unquote, they will stop at nothing to pass this health care bill, and now they’ve gotten rid of me and it will pass. You connect the dots.”
Mr. Massa singled out Rahm Emanuel, the powerful White House chief of staff, for criticism, calling him the “son of the devil’s spawn” and “an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote.”
In Washington that's called a fair trade.
COMMENT: And just last week, after forcing Charlie Rangel out of the chairman's chair at the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Dems refused to let the next guy in line, Pete Stark of California, take the job because he's too volatile.
What a party! These guys must have a lot of fun when they go on those retreats.
In New York, we still have a death watch over our corrupt governor, David Paterson. Indictments may come down.
March 8, 2010 Permalink
WHY ARE THEY HERE? – AT 7:10 P.M. ET: A remarkable case of immigration fraud is emerging on the West Coast. It may go beyond fraud, as immigration officials want to know why certain individuals are actually in this country. From Fox;
Daniel Higgins doesn't look like a Middle Eastern student, but officials say he routinely portrayed himself as one for almost a decade, getting paid up to $1,500 per student to attend their classes and take exams so they could keep their visas current and remain in the U.S.
Officials say that records seized from Higgins' home in Laguna Niguel, Calif., show that more than 100 students from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Lebanon, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates hired him to do their classwork and take their tests.
Higgins, 46, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit immigration fraud when he appeared in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana on Monday.
Six others -- Mohammed Alnuaim, Abdullah Alhogail, Khalid Almenaibi, Saeed Alfalahi, Ibrahim Almansoori and Mohamed Almehairi -- were also arrested Monday and appeared with Higgins before a U.S. magistrate. All were charged with immigration fraud.
"This is unique and not something we have seen in the past," said Jorge Guzman, a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "We don't know the motive of these men coming from these countries, why they were here or why they were not attending classes."
Sources said they do not know if any of the men are considered national security threats, but several are "persons of interest."
COMMENT: This is certainly worth following. Recall that the terrorists who plunged planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9-11 went to flight schools in the United States, and asked for instruction in flying, but not in takeoffs or landings. Now we have guys from the Middle East who come here for degrees, yet don't want to go to class or take tests. Hmm. Requires investigation.
March 8, 2010 Permalink
HE SHOULD STICK TO READING OTHER PEOPLE'S WORDS – AT 6:36 P.M. ET: Actor Sean Penn reminds us of everything we find revolting in today's Hollywood. Friends might advise him to shut up. From Fox:
First Amendment be damned . . . If Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn had his way, any journalist who called Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a dictator would quickly find himself behind bars.
Penn, appearing on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Friday, defended Chavez during a segment in which he detailed his work with the JP Haitian Relief Organization, which he co-founded.
"Every day, this elected leader is called a dictator here, and we just accept it, and accept it" said Penn, winner of two Best Actor Academy Awards. "And this is mainstream media, who should -- truly, there should be a bar by which one goes to prison for these kinds of lies."
In Sean Penn's ideal society, a lot of actors would also probably find themselves in jail.
It was just the beginning of a busy weekend for Penn. When asked on CBS' "Sunday Morning" about those who question his motives for his humanitarian work in Haiti, he said:
"Do I hope that those people die screaming of rectal cancer? Yeah. You know, but I'm not going to spend a lot of energy on it."
Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News' senior judicial analyst, said the same constitutional protection that applies to journalists also applies to Penn, who can say pretty much anything he wants in the "political arena" -- aside from an immediate incitement of violence.
COMMENT: Penn isn't the first actor to make a fool of himself by fronting for a thug. Stalin had his Tinseltown groupies as well. What's annoying is that Penn gets so much air time, whereas the opponents of Chavez's regime of fear get very little chance on American TV or in the American press to make their case.
March 8, 2010 Permalink
MITCH – AT 6:08 P.M. ET: I went to a Hudson New York lunch today. Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana, spoke.
Daniels is significant because he's considered, by government experts far beyond the Republican Party, as a superb governor. He's being mentioned more and more as a presidential candidate for 2012. He's a slight man, with an uncanny resemblance to another famous son of Indiana, the World War II correspondent, Ernie Pyle.
Daniels is clearly knowledgeable, but I'm afraid his speech today was ineffective. He's not a dynamic speaker, and his remarks were not well organized. Most people in the audience seemed disappointed. He might well make a good president, but you've got to get the job first. His performance today was not, in that regard, encouraging.
If Daniels runs, he's got to sharpen his speaking abilities. Laid back and folksy is fine, but you've still got to grab the audience. I was not grabbed.
March 8, 2010 Permalink
OBAMA HURTING IN RASMUSSEN POLL AGAIN – AT 9:37 A.M. ET: After some days of slight improvement, President Obama is down again in the Rasmussen daily tracker:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 22% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-one percent (41%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -19.
Overall, 46% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance. Fifty-four percent (54%) disapprove.
In addition, Rasmussen reports that 42% favor the president's health plan, whereas 53% are opposed.
Not a great way for Mr. Obama to start his week.
March 8, 2010 Permalink
GOOD ADVICE FROM THE OTHER SIDE – AT 7:46 A.M. ET: As the Democrats wallow in their scandals, more and more each delightful week, the health "reform" package they've dropped on us moves forward. President Obama seems determined to get it through, no matter what it takes or who it hurts. But a Republican is giving him good advice. From Roll Call:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) predicted dire consequences for the Senate if Democrats move forward with a tentative plan to try shut down GOP amendments during this month’s expected debate on a health care reconciliation bill.
Saying the move would be “catastrophic for the Senate,” Graham in an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation pleaded with Democrats: “Please don’t do this. Just please.”
Very shrewd. Republicans are focusing on the fact that Dems plan to go around Senate rules, and hoping this will outrage the public. There are signs in polling that these Republicans are right. Graham isn't being kind. He's being smart, something that's nice to see on our side.
But retiring Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) acknowledged that Democrats are seriously considering using a rarely used Senate rule prohibiting “dilatory amendments” against Republicans when the reconciliation bill, which otherwise cannot be filibustered, comes up for debate.
Though the Senate overcame a GOP filibuster of its comprehensive health care reform bill and passed a bill Christmas Eve 2009, Democrats lost their filibuster-proof 60-vote supermajority when Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) won a special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).
As Mark Steyn pointed out in a column we quoted yesterday, the Democrats have become fanatical on this. They'd rather go down politically in 2010 and have this huge bureaucratic monument to their presence, hoping it can never be repealed.
House Democrats have indicated a willingness to pass the Senate measure, but only if separate budget reconciliation measure is passed by both chambers to make changes to the Senate bill.
COMMENT: Obama says he wants a vote by March 18th, and he may get it. No one really knows what will happen. There's a general feeling that Nancy of Frisco doesn't have the votes in the House, but arm twisting works very well on recalcitrant Democrats.
We'll follow this closely – one of the most profound political dramas of our time, and one that can change one sixth of the nation's economy, essentially placing it under government control.
March 8, 2010 Permalink
POLITICAL HARLEM – AT 7:23 A.M. ET: Harlem has, over time, come to symbolize America's African-American community. You say "Harlem," and everyone knows where it is and what you're talking about. Harlem is politically critical as it often guides, in subtle ways, the African-American political class.
But Harlem is numb these days, as two of its favorite sons, Governor David Paterson of New York and Congressman Charles Rangel, essentially sink under the weight of ethics charges. And Harlem's adopted son, President Barack Obama, is doing poorly, both in policy and politics.
It is a complete reversal from Harlem's ecstasy on election night, 2008, and residents are starting to ask some questions, as The Washington Post notes:
"I think it's been catastrophic for the black community in America and particularly in Harlem," said Bill Lynch, a political consultant who played a major role in Dinkins's historic 1989 election victory. "Harlem's seeing their political favorite sons go down. And what I'm worried about is that this could set our community back decades."
Question: Did the election of Barack Obama have exactly the reverse of the effect that black Americans thought it would have? When America elected Obama, it removed a stain from its past. But it also placed African American politicians in a different class, and much more vulnerable to criticism. Gone is much of the patronization of the past, the looking the other way because these people are "oppressed." The New York Times, the citadel of journalistic liberalism, has actually been leading the charge against both Paterson and Rangel, even on its very leftish editorial page. This would have been unthinkable not too long ago.
Obama's election may well have freed whites to criticize, where criticism is due.
One could roam around the wind-whipped avenues and boulevards of Harlem in the wake of it all and sense a grave uncertainty about the political future. Emotions ranged from shame to embarrassment to pity. From stoop to street corner, from office tower to diner, from living room to the famed Showman's Cafe, the mood was alternately one of anger, defiance and soul-searching.
One fascinating psychological aspect of this is that Harlem is seen differently, and is becoming different, ever since a certain political figure moved in. One black woman comments:
She scans the street and says what many have been saying for years: Harlem is more multicultural than ever. The gentrification alarms her and some others. "Ever since Clinton came to Harlem," she said about the former president, who has an office on 125th Street, "the well-to-do have taken over. I loves me some Clinton. Cotton comes to Harlem. But where does all this leave the rest of us -- especially if Rangel and Paterson leave?"
And, a very thoughtful observation:
The young haberdasher at B. Oyama was expecting a visitor last week. It's where Paterson shops. (He didn't show.) "So many people were looking for Paterson to be a hero," said Damien Brown, 20. "People wanted to see him have a long and successful career. It's all so shocking. Why is it that it's always the people who are closest to you who will bring you down?"
That is so true. Sometimes, if a politician is "one of our own," we tend to trust him or her. And sometimes that trust is misplaced. Rudy Giuliani, as mayor of New York, was intensely disliked by blacks because he was never close to them, and treated their leaders with disdain. But the reforms he brought saved more blacks from criminal predators than all previous mayors of New York combined. He did this while those black "leaders" wouldn't lift a finger to help.
This is an absolutely fascinating story, and raises a question, one with profound political implications: Will the people of Harlem, and, by extension, African-Americans generally, now realize that there's another political party, the party of Lincoln, and give that party a chance? The answer to that question could change the American political landscape.
March 8, 2010 Permalink
IRAQ VOTES – AT 7:08 A.M. ET: Those two words alone – Iraq votes – are historic.
Iraq voted in a nationwide election yesterday. It was played down by the Democratic administration in Washington, which doesn't place too much emphasis on this democracy stuff. But millions of Iraqis went to the polls, despite explosions and threats, as The New York Times reports:
BAGHDAD — Defying a sustained barrage of mortars and rockets in Baghdad and other cities, Iraqis went to the polls in strength on Sunday to choose a new Parliament meant to outlast the American military presence here.
“Iraqis are not afraid of bombs anymore,” said Maliq Bedawi, 45, defiantly waving his finger, stained with purple ink, to indicate he had voted, as he stood near the rubble of an apartment building in Baghdad hit by a huge rocket in the deadliest attack of the day.
Insurgents here vowed to disrupt the election, and the concerted wave of attacks — as many as 100 thunderous blasts in the capital alone starting just before the polls opened — did frighten voters away, but only initially.
The short and fierce political campaign could end up either solidifying Iraq’s nascent democracy or leaving the country fractured along ethnic and sectarian lines. But it was arguably the most open, most competitive election in the nation’s long history of colonial rule, dictatorship and war.
Fair enough. Of course, no one gave credit to President Bush. President Obama made a boilerplate statement and could have praised his predecessor for his vision, but, once again, being a small timer, refused to do so. Even Richard Nixon, when Americans went to the moon, reminded the nation that it was John F. Kennedy who set us on course for the moon flight.
Iraq will still be a struggle. There are no guarantees. But we hope that Obama does not pull the plug too soon, and leave Iraq the way we disgracefully left Vietnam in 1975.
March 8, 2010 Permalink
OSCAR AT 6:50 A.M. ET: Well, I did break down and watch the last half hour or so of the Oscars, which haven't been fun since Billy Crystal stopped hosting them. Earlier, as we reported last night, the first segment of the Oscarcast had been blacked out because of a dispute between ABC and Cablevision, which services our area. Apparently, a deal was made at the last moment.
I was pleased that "The Hurt Locker" won for best picture. While it's controversial among military personnel, at least it doesn't portray American troops as occupying monsters. We didn't get the usual left-wing bath. Kathryn Bigelow, the movie's director, became the first woman to win the best director prize, and conducted herself with great dignity. Wonderful. She had kind words for the armed forces. Even better. And the audience applauded those words.
As the camera swept the audience, there were so many people I didn't recognize. It's a new industry. It needs a great deal of improvement, and needs to show a renewed respect for real talent, great stories, and the American character. A good start was made with "The Hurt Locker," whatever its flaws. Maybe there's hope.
March 8, 2010 Permalink
SUNDAY, MARCH 7, 2010
ABC has now returned to the air, or the cable, in the Cablevision section of New York. Apparently, some deal was made. See our 7:57 post. Do I have to watch? I'm pondering.
WHAT WOULD REAGAN DO? – AT 9:34 P.M. ET: It's what Republicans always ask. Steven F. Hayward, a historian of the Reagan presidential years, asks the question in today's Washington Post, and comes up with some intriguing answers:
Reagan was the most popular and successful Republican president of the past century, so it makes sense that he would be the shining model for conservatives, just as FDR has been the gold standard for liberals. (No small irony, since Reagan voted for FDR four times and modeled his statecraft after the Democrat's.) But as the current occupant of the White House could warn, measuring yourself against historical icons is a recipe for disappointment. These days, President Obama is more likely to draw comparisons to Jimmy Carter than to Lincoln or FDR.
And those comparisons are accurate.
Hayward holds that there are two elements of Reagan's statecraft that those who wish to emulate him might want to study:
The first is the deliberate but unseen crafting of Reagan's public profile. As we have come to learn with the opening over the past decade of Reagan's personal papers, his public style was a product of enormous discipline, hard work and calculation. Long before Palin was ridiculed for writing reminders on her hand, Reagan was derided as the 3-by-5 note card candidate (actually, he used 4-by-6 cards) -- but his cards were his means of staying succinctly on point and delivering his message in a compelling way. Reagan's speeches, including his State of the Union addresses, were typically much shorter than average. He knew from show business the power of leaving your audience wanting more. Is there a politician today who you wish gave longer speeches?
The second underappreciated aspect of Reagan's statecraft is his idiosyncratic ideology -- entirely a product of his self-study, much of which he concealed. Some of it was orthodox, small-government conservatism (he once stated that "the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism"), but it was leavened with an older liberalism, part of which he inherited from FDR.
This is the complex part of Reagan. He was, unlike some grim conservatives, very much an idealist. He grew up during the Depression. He understood suffering. He'd experienced it. He was a conservative with a warm heart, which is why many Americans, even those who disagreed with him on many things, came to admire him. His arch-opponent, Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, described him as "a beautiful man." Hayward cautions:
...his belief in America's dynamism was at the core of his optimism, and that dynamism can have profoundly un-conservative effects.
Don't sweat it. Great presidents all have a bit of the opposition in them. Roosevelt the liberal did more to save capitalism than most of its practitioners. Lincoln, who fought the civil war, had "Dixie" played at the White House when victory came.
I am certain that Reagan would have been an enthusiastic supporter of the tea party movement. While the tea partiers confuse the media and annoy the establishments of both political parties, Reagan would have seen them as reviving the embers of what he called the "prairie fire" of populist resistance against centralized big government -- resistance that helped touch off the tax revolt of the 1970s.
And who might be able to tap into the potent brew of the tea party? Right now the leading candidate is undoubtedly Palin, whom Reagan would probably have cheered on and surely would have had no problem voting for should she secure the GOP presidential nomination.
Okay, we can debate that, but hear the man out:
Virtually all the criticisms of Palin -- calling her an anti-intellectual lightweight who can't name a magazine she reads or a founding father she admires -- were lobbed at Reagan before and during his time in the White House, and the critics hailed from both sides of the aisle. The GOP establishment was very uncomfortable with Reagan, even after he'd won two presidential elections in landslides -- and who can forget Clark Clifford's "amiable dunce" label?
But while the parallels between them are evident, it is far from clear that Palin appreciates Reagan's discipline and substantive grand strategy. In many of her speeches and media appearances she tends to ramble on, with none of the crispness and rhetorical force of Reagan's formulas.
I'm afraid that's right.
Wittingly or not, Palin hit the nail on the head in her keynote address at the Tea Party Convention last month: "Let us not get bogged down in the small squabbles; let us get caught up in the big ideas. To do so would be a fitting tribute to Ronald Reagan." Meaningful limits on the size of government is one such idea, and it offers a substantive opening for Palin and other would-be heirs to Reagan. To pull it off, one thing above all is required: Do your homework. Reagan did his.
COMMENT: We tend to forget how controversial Reagan was, even within his own party. When he was nominated in 1980, many Republicans urged him to take former President Gerald Ford as his vice president, and pledge a "co-presidency." It was an absurd idea, but it reflected the establishment's uneasiness with Reagan.
In 2012, Republicans have a shot at the White House. But Barack Obama, if he runs again, may well be much more difficult to defeat than was Jimmah Carter in 1980. Carter was an unpleasant man, a scold. It was hard to think of anyone marrying him.
Try to read Hayward's entire piece. The man makes a lot of sense.
March 7, 2010 Permalink
OH, COME ON – AT 8:07 P.M. ET: Wow. Here's a real case of the pot calling the kettle black, or of color, or whatever you prefer. From, yes, Al-Jazeerah:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, today expressed concern about the reported rise in the number of anti-government and anti-immigrant extremist groups during the past year.
[Become a Fan of CAIR on Facebook.]
CAIR cited a report released today by the respected Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). That report, titled "Rage on the Right," states in part:
"Furious anti-immigrant vigilante groups soared by nearly 80%, adding some 136 new groups during 2009. And, most remarkably of all, so-called 'Patriot' groups -- militias and other organizations that see the federal government as part of a plot to impose 'one-world government' on liberty-loving Americans -- came roaring back after years out of the limelight... The 'tea parties' and similar groups that have sprung up in recent months cannot fairly be considered extremist groups, but they are shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism."
SEE: Rage on the Right -- The Year in Hate and Extremism Anti-Government Groups Show Surge, Watchdog Warns (AOL News)
"American Muslims are concerned that groups expressing extremist anti-immigrant and anti-government views are the same ones that promote anti-Muslim bigotry," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. "Whenever extremism of any kind flourishes, all those who seek to preserve our nation's cherished values of tolerance and inclusion must speak out."
COMMENT: Look, no sane person wants to see the rise of extremist militia groups, no matter what side they're on. And there is reason for concern, although the Southern Poverty Law Center has a very definite leftist point of view, and its reports require verification.
But CAIR might put its own house in order first. Too many people who've been associated with CAIR have, in the view of many expert observers, troubling backgrounds.
March 7, 2010 Permalink
WRONG GUY – AT 7:57 P.M. ET: No Oscar tonight for Pakistani media:
An "important Taliban militant" was arrested today in Pakistan. But that is where the confusion started.
Earlier it was reported by Pakistani media that intelligence agents had arrested Adam Gadahn, the American-born spokesman for al Qaeda, in an operation in the southern city of Karachi.
It was further reported by the Associated Press and Reuters that Gadahn had been arrested, sourcing security officials.
We wondered about it. The first story we posted this morning had Gadahn praising the Fort Hood shooter.
CBS News was told by sources in the Pakistan government that it was Gadahn, even after U.S. officials refused to confirm it was the California native for whom a $1 million reward has been posted.
Now, CBS News' Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad writes that earlier reports the detained individual was Gadahn proved false. According to a Pakistan security official who spoke with CBS News on condition of anonymity, the arrested individual is in fact "a Taliban militant leader who is known as Abu Yahya."
The official said evidence compiled from an interrogation of the suspect and information exchanged with U.S. officials verified the man's identify.
COMMENT: Capturing Gadahn would have been a real coup. It also would have presented the Obama administration with a dilemma. Gadahn has been charged in absentia with treason, the first American so charged in decades. Would the Obamans have seen the case through on a treason charge, which could prove explosive to its leftist supporters and some of the leftists brought into the Justice Department by Eric Holder? We'll apparently have to wait for the answer.
March 7, 2010 Permalink
WHAT A RELIEF – AT 7:49 P.M. ET: It's Oscar night. I actually thought I'd feel obligated to watch the Oscars. What a miserable prospect. What a bore.
But I've been saved, o yea! We live in the area of New York served by Cablevision, which also provides the internet connection for Urgent Agenda. Cablevision and ABC have been in a contract dispute, and, just last night, ABC pulled its signal from Cablevision. No ABC, no Oscars. There is great agitation throughout this area. But not in front of my TV. I am saved, I am saved.
Imagine the satisfaction of tuning to ABC and getting a message from Cablevision explaining its woes, and urging viewers to flood ABC with complaints.
And so, for best performance in providing audience relief, the Oscar goes to...Cablevision. I'm sure their board of directors will thank the academy.
March 7, 2010 Permalink
IS THE PRESIDENT SELF-DESTRUCTIVE? – AT 12:40 P.M. ET: People ask why Obama is trying to push through an unpopular health-care bill, possibly committing political suicide. Mark Steyn, in a superb analysis, has a very persuasive answer:
Why is he doing this? Why let "health" "care" "reform" stagger on like the rotting husk in a low-grade creature feature who refuses to stay dead no matter how many stakes you pound through his chest?
Because it's worth it. Big time. I've been saying in this space for two years that the governmentalization of health care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture. It redefines the relationship between the citizen and the state in fundamental ways that make limited government all but impossible. In most of the rest of the Western world, there are still nominally "conservative" parties, and they even win elections occasionally, but not to any great effect (Let's not forget that Jacques Chirac was, in French terms, a "conservative").
The result is a kind of two-party one-party state: Right-of-center parties will once in a while be in office, but never in power, merely presiding over vast left-wing bureaucracies that cruise on regardless.
Once the state swells to a certain size, the people available to fill the ever-expanding number of government jobs will be statists – sometimes hard-core Marxist statists, sometimes social-engineering multiculti statists, sometimes fluffily "compassionate" statists, but always statists. The short history of the post-war welfare state is that you don't need a president-for-life if you've got a bureaucracy-for-life.
...government health care is not about health care, it's about government. Once you look at it that way, what the Dems are doing makes perfect sense. For them.
COMMENT: Steyn is right. Put the structure in place, especially a structure that people come to depend on, and it's almost impossible to remove that structure.
The Democratic Party is far to the left of where it was decades ago. It has a dream of an even larger government. It has a dream of a "bad" United States being curtailed internationally. Both those dreams may be realized unless this train can be stopped.
March 7, 2010 Permalink
UGLY GUY WANTED – AT 10:52 A.M. ET: Tony Harnden, of London's Telegraph, looking ahead to 2012, prescribes the kind of president he thinks America may want:
You could call it the revenge of the ugly white guys. After electing a handsome sleek, biracial - and untested - man as President last time, Americans may well be ready for something entirely different in 2012.
Remember that you heard it here first: make way for the short, pudgy, balding white fellow who's been there and got the scars - and the results - to prove it.
In many respects, Barack Obama was the ultimate candidate for the television age. He looked fantastic and sounded wonderful. He soared above politics and made people feel better about themselves.
Ability to get things done? Track record? Such petty considerations seemed beside the point in 2008 for Obama was the very culmination of history. It was almost as if the then Senator for Illinois symbolised the end of politics, the point at which the perfect candidate drew a line under grubby partisanship.
Now, Americans have woken up from that dream and are living with the hangover. Neither history nor politics ended when Obama's ascended to the Oval Office.
Very well stated. And whom does Harnden have in mind?
Mitch Daniels, described by the "Washington Post" as Indiana's "diminutive governor" sports what looks suspiciously like a combover...
... Daniels has been a quiet star, securing bipartisan support for a Healthy Indiana programme Indiana that provides health insurance for blue collar workers, cutting property taxes and turning an $800 billion deficit into a surplus.
I'm going to a Hudson New York lunch with Daniels tomorrow. I'll tell you what I think.
Haley Barbour has more hair than Daniels but isn't much taller and if elected would be the most portly president since William Howard Taft, who occupied the White House from 1909 to 1913.
The Mississippi governor has a certain rumpled panache and Southern charm. I first bumped into him in a casino in his home state - where he later came to personify executive competence as he dealt masterfully with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina while neighbouring Louisiana lurched towards catastrophe.
Barbour is a master at politics. Like Mitch Daniels, he's run a successful government, something Barack Obama has never done. He has some political problems, not the least of which is "Mississippi." It's unfair, but that state is still stamped with the "racist" label, even though it has made remarkable racial progress, and has had some fine, modern governors.
But I think Harnden is right. In 2012, Americans might just be looking for a capable, balding guy like Eisenhower instead of another Mr. Excitement. We've had all the excitement we can handle. Besides, Sammy Davis Jr. did it better.
March 7, 2010 Permalink
ANOTHER DYNAMIC SHOW OF WEAKNESS – AT 10:37 A.M. ET: The great Ed Lasky of American Thinker alerts us to a New York Times piece exposing the holes in American policy toward Iran:
The federal government has awarded more than $107 billion in contract payments, grants and other benefits over the past decade to foreign and multinational American companies while they were doing business in Iran, despite Washington’s efforts to discourage investment there, records show.
Here, blame must be directed at both the Bush and Obama administrations.
That includes nearly $15 billion paid to companies that defied American sanctions law by making large investments that helped Iran develop its vast oil and gas reserves.
For years, the United States has been pressing other nations to join its efforts to squeeze the Iranian economy, in hopes of reining in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Now, with the nuclear standoff hardening and Iran rebuffing American diplomatic outreach, the Obama administration is trying to win a tough new round of United Nations sanctions.
But a New York Times analysis of federal records, company reports and other documents shows that both the Obama and Bush administrations have sent mixed messages to the corporate world when it comes to doing business in Iran, rewarding companies whose commercial interests conflict with American security goals.
This is absolutely disgraceful, and cries out for a Congressional investigation. But which liberal Democratic committee chairman will order such a probe?
Many of those companies are enmeshed in the most vital elements of Iran’s economy. More than two-thirds of the government money went to companies doing business in Iran’s energy industry — a huge source of revenue for the Iranian government and a stronghold of the increasingly powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a primary focus of the Obama administration’s proposed sanctions because it oversees Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.
COMMENT: We recall that, before World War II, the United States sold scrap iron to Japan, despite overwhelming evidence of Japan's military buildup. The scrap iron was returned to us in the form of warships, planes, artillery pieces and ammunition.
History doesn't repeat itself, but the psychology of history repeats itself.
March 7, 2010 Permalink
LATEST FROM THE MISUNDERSTOOD FOLKS WITH LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES – AT 10:28 A.M. ET – From AP:
CAIRO – Al-Qaida's American-born spokesman on Sunday called on Muslims serving in the U.S. armed forces to emulate the Army major charged with killing 13 people in Fort Hood.
In a 25-minute video posted on militant Web sites, Adam Gadahn described Maj. Nidal Hasan as a pioneer who should serve as a role model for other Muslims, especially those serving Western militaries.
"Brother Nidal is the ideal role-model for every repentant Muslim in the armies of the unbelievers and apostate regimes," he said.
Gadahn, also known as Azzam al-Amriki, was dressed in white robes and wearing a white turban as he called for attacks on what he described as "high-value targets."
Gadahn grew up on a goat farm in Riverside County, California, and converted to Islam at a mosque in nearby Orange County.
"You shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that military bases are the only high-value targets in America and the West. On the contrary, there are countless other strategic places, institutions and installations which, by striking, the Muslim can do major damage," he said, an assault rifle leaning up against a wall next to him.
COMMENT: Please remember this story the next time some "commentator" tells you that Hasan's attack had nothing to do with his beliefs, that he was simply "stressed."
March 7, 2010 Permalink