Date ►►► September 30, 2009

Withdrawing from Afghanistan, Plus Future Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Pinch Me, I'm Dreaming

Hatched by Dafydd

I just heard Bill Kristol on the Hugh Hewitt show dropping a couple of political bombshells:

  1. First, Kristol now believes for the first time that President Barack H. Obama is paving the groundwork for rejecting Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendation of a COIN strategy for Afghanistan, including increasing troop levels.

Note that it was the Obamacle Himself who appointed McChrystal to head up his present commands, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), just three months ago; and he it was who ordered McChrystal to undertake a complete review of the Afghanistan policy.

I suspect Obama expected McChrystal to recommend declaring defeat and pulling out. But in response to Obama's order, McChrystal released a 66-page report to continuing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that called for significantly increasing troop levels there and redeploying the force in a counterinsurgency mode, similar to Iraq.

Ever since, as several bloggers have argued (notably John Hinderaker at Power Line), Obama has acted like a man who deeply regrets having picked an actual fighting general in the first place -- and who wants to prepare the American people for the complete rejection of his own appointee's report, in favor of a phased withdrawal from "the war we should be fighting," as some guy named Barack Obama called it during the campaign (in contrast to Iraq, the war we were supposed to lose, one presumes).

  1. Second, and far more shocking, is some political intel that Kristol received from a person who is in "cose contact" with top Defense officials: That holdover George W. Bush Defense Secretary Bob Gates will be asked by Obama to step down at the end of the year... and that Obama plans to name former senator Chuck Hagel, who never met a war he didn't want us to withdraw from, as his new Secretary of Retreat and Defeat.

Hagel was an infantry grunt in Vietnam for two years, leaving shortly after the Tet Offensive; that experience seems to have colored his attitude towards all subsequent conflicts: He sometimes votes for them (as for example the Iraq war); but as soon as the going gets tough, Hagel demands an immediate and aggressive surrender.

  • He was one of only four Republicans in July 2007 who voted in favor of cloture on a bill to force withdrawal from Iraq starting 120 days from that vote; the other three were Olympia Snowe (ME, 12%), Susan Collins (ME, 20%), and Gordon Smith of Oregon, liberals all.
  • In railing against the Iraq COIN strategy of Gen. David Petraeus, Hagel called it "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out." (I don't recall Hagel ever issuing an apology, or even a statement, after the Petraeus strategy proved decisive in our victory in Iraq.)
  • Speaking about Israeli's incursion into Lebanon to stop Hezbollah's rocket attacks on their northern cities, Hagel blurted out:

    "The sickening slaughter on both sides must end and it must end now.... President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop."...

    "How do we realistically believe that a continuation of the systematic destruction of an American friend -- the country and people of Lebanon -- is going to enhance America's image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East?" asked Hagel, the No. 2 Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Yes, the perfect man to defend America -- Barack Obama style. I can just picture the furious and manly letters of strong disapproval Hagel will shoot off whenever some dictator funds and gives safe haven to a terrorist group while they blow up another American embassy.

Currently, Chuck Hagel is Chairman of the Board of the Atlantic Council, a foreign-policy think tank cum policy advocacy group that appears to lean heavily towards diplomacy above everything -- talking loudly and forgetting to bring any stick at all, big or small. (E.g., its International Advisory Board is headed by Brent Scowcroft and includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Edelman, Lawrence H. Summers, and a huge inflation of bankers and CEOs of vast multinational corporations.)

Hagel replaced outgoing Chairman Jim Jones, who was tapped to serve as Obama's National Security Advisor; Jones was last seen offering what we called "the weirdest explanation to date for cancelling the long-range ballistic-missile defense system in Eastern Europe -- while simultaneously betraying our allies, Poland and the Czech Republic."

Since the Jim Jones appointment as security sock puppet worked out so well for Obama, it certainly seems plausible that he would go back to the same well to draw out a bucketful of Defense Secretary. Admittedly, Kristol just lost his father, Irving Kristol; but it was hardly the sort of shocking or unanticipated demise that might throw William Kristol into a blue funk and darken his normal optimism.

The threatened appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense would be catastrophic for the war efforts, all of them: Iraq, Afghanistan, the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis, intelligence gathering, interrogations, dealing with Pakistan, North Korea, China, Russia... and of course, Hagel would be a disaster for Israel, as he would almost certainly back Obama to the hilt in the latter's quest to force Israel back to the indefensible borders of the pre-Six Day War era. (In exchange for the Palestinian's promise that they might seriously consider deciding whether or not to recognize Israel sometime in the distant and not very likely future.)

Appointing Hagel would seriously diminish our ability to protect our allies or even defend ourselves, and in general would signal the end of American power and leadership in the world, at least for a while (say until 2013). Therefore, I conclude that Obama is already plotting to make the appointment.

I must also conclude that the Senate will swiftly approve the nominee; Hagel was once one of them... therefore, "comity of the Senate" and all that, Republicans will probably support him, though he rarely supported them while in that august body.

And there you have it, your recommended minimum daily allowance of political pessimism and national-defense despair.

Cross-posted (of course) to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 30, 2009, at the time of 5:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 29, 2009

The Key to the Mystery of Democratic Perversion

Hatched by Dafydd

I quote now from an interview given by Roman Polanski to the novelist Martin Amis (son of Kingsley) in 1979, the year after Polanski fled the United States and went on the lam to avoid serving the additional 48 days in jail that the judge threatened (bringing his total up to 90 days) -- for orally, vaginally, and anally raping a thirteen year old girl (hat tip to Patterico).

You will note I have asterisked out a particular word; but it's obvious what is found in the original interview:

If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… f***ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f*** young girls. Juries want to f*** young girls. Everyone wants to f*** young girls!

For the record, when Polanski ejaculates "Everyone wants to f*** young girls!", what he means is, "Everyone wants to drug a thirteen year old girl and force her first to engage in fellatio, then intercourse, then anal intercourse, all against her will and out of sheer terror."

This illustrates one of the most important points to understand about liberals: They project their own evil and perversion on the rest of us, so that they will not feel uniquely vile and disgusting:

  • Liberals tend to be extraordinarily racist; they believe racial minorities are incapable of succeeding without special government help, and they insist that all racial minorities follow the rules set for their race by white liberals. They realize what they really feel about blacks, Hispanics, and other "funny colored people," but they don't want to think they're uniquely racist.

    So they accused everyone else of being racist too.

  • They're just as sexist as they are racist; women are just PLTs who need help from Big Daddy government to achieve even a modest level of success. But they feel creepy harboring such thoughts -- and enabling such sexual predators as Teddy Kennedy, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT, 100%), and their "waitress sandwich" sexual assaults -- and don't want to think they're uniquely misogynist.

    So they accuse everyone else of being sexist too.

  • Liberals, who have a deep-rooted sense of entitlement and no compunction against enjoying the privileges of power, tend to engage in the most brazen and extraordinary acts of corruption; most recently, witness the Countrywide plc sweetheart mortgage scandal for "Friends of Angelo". But with all the vicious rhetoric they spew against unbridled greed and the moral immunity bought by power, they don't want to think that they themselves are the real exemplars of such corruption.

    So they call everyone else corrupt as well.

This is the standard liberal pattern: They project their own sins on the rest of us to "spread the guilt around," to paraphrase the Guiltmonger in Chief. So when Polanski says "Everyone wants to f*** young girls," we should conclude that he understands, in some dark depth of his soul (such as it is), that his tastes are not merely perverted but horribly so. Yet because he doesn't want to believe that his amorality is uniquely eldritch, he accuses everyone else of likewise being a child rapist at heart -- "See? It's not just me!"

(One of the segments of the 1993 movie Shortcuts, directed by the depraved Robert Altman, has an eerily similar theme of expiation by super-projection.)

This is the liberal way. And now we have Barack H. Obama as president -- a man who swam in exactly such currents of hatred, false witness, slander, and anti-Americanism his entire adult life, in the bear pits of Chicago's progressive "salons" -- and its Trinity United Church of Christ. Who will Obama accuse of his own projected sins, just to assuage his own gnawing sense of secret guilt?

God help the United States of America.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 29, 2009, at the time of 9:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Life Without Defensive Medicine

Hatched by Dafydd

Back in 1996, Philip K. Howard wrote one of the most extraordinary books I've ever read: the Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America. This year, he published Life Without Lawyers: Liberating Americans from Too Much Law (he has written books in between those, too).

Howard has an opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal (I don't believe a subscription is required) revealing the dark secret behind the adamant refusal of Democrats even to consider any significant curtailing of medical-malpractice lawsuits. Of course, it's not really a secret; it's just "common sense": The Democrats' most reliable fundraising allies in the nation are the trial lawyers; and to a man (or woman), it seems, trial lawyers like the current system of vaguely written "jackpot justice" just fine:

Eliminating defensive medicine could save upwards of $200 billion in health-care costs annually, according to estimates by the American Medical Association and others. The cure is a reliable medical malpractice system that patients, doctors and the general public can trust.

But this is the one reform Washington will not seriously consider. That's because the trial lawyers, among the largest contributors to the Democratic Party, thrive on the unreliable justice system we have now.

It's a spectacular column, just as the Death of Common Sense is spectacular (I haven't read Life Without Lawyers yet). I urge you all to click through immediately and read the whole thing... gosh, I've always wanted to say that! Since I began by quoting the lede, I'll conclude by quoting the final paragraph, which sums up the in-depth article quite succinctly:

Trial lawyers often claim that any alternative to the current medical malpractice justice system, such as specialized health courts, will only make it more difficult for injured patients to seek justice. But that's why you start with a pilot project. If these courts are unfair they will be rejected. But if they succeed -- that is, are fairer to patients and doctors -- they could provide a solid foundation for rebuilding an effective, less costly health-care system than we have today.

Now if only we had a president and majority party honestly interested in lowering the staggering cost of health care, rather than using the high price (and some number of people unable to get insurance) as the "crisis" that Rahm Emanuel urges them not to let go to waste.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 29, 2009, at the time of 7:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 28, 2009

No, the Other Cheney Daughter

Hatched by Dafydd

Very nice profile of Liz Cheney -- no, not that Cheney daughter; the older one -- in the New York Times. Not a single snarky comment, and they take her conservatism (or as some would have it, her neoconservatism) completely seriously:

Like her father, Ms. Cheney speaks in understated, almost academic cadences, head veering down into her notes. She also shares his willingness to pummel President Obama in stark, disdainful tones, not so much criticizing as taunting him.

“Mr. President, in a ticking time-bomb scenario, with American lives at stake,” she said, “are you really unwilling to subject a terrorist to enhanced interrogation to get information that would prevent an attack?”

By speech’s end, the crowd was standing, and the former vice president’s daughter was being mobbed for photos and hounded to run for office.

Liz Cheney is “a red state rock star,” declared Rebecca Wales, one of the organizers of this event, the “Smart Girls Summit.”

Maybe the Times, it is a changin'? (Nah; but occasionally, just for a change.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 28, 2009, at the time of 3:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Backyard Barbecue

Hatched by Dafydd

Okay, this is the story:

Venezuela's science and technology minister said his country is working with Russia to detect deposits of uranium but withdrew an earlier denial that the country was also working with Iran....

Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said Friday Iran is helping Venezuela to detect uranium deposits and that initial evaluations suggest reserves are significant. His announcement was made the same day world leaders criticized the Islamic republic for secretly building a uranium-enrichment plant that could be used to make an atomic bomb.

Sanz declined to respond to reporters when questioned Saturday about Chacon's remarks. President Hugo Chavez said only that Venezuela "has a lot of uranium."

Oogo + Putin + Ahmadinejad, all cozying up in our own backyard. What could possibly go wrong?

Asked about how Venezuela will use its uranium reserves, Chacon said that they would be exploited to develop "nuclear energy for medicinal purposes, for peaceful purposes."

Huh, there's that dad-burned déjà vu feeling again.

Asked about how Venezuela will use its uranium reserves, Chacon said that they would be exploited to develop "nuclear energy for medicinal purposes, for peaceful purposes."

Huh, there's that dad-burned déjà vu feeling again.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly has said U.S. officials have "concerns" about the possible exchange of nuclear material between Venezuela and Iran. But analysts say Iran, which has its own uranium deposits, doesn't have any immediate need to import the metal.

Ah... am I the only one who thinks that Yahoo News is missing the point here? No danger, Iran's already got plenty of uranium; they don't need to import yellowcake from Venezuela to fuel their nuclear technology.

But has nobody in the Department of Neutralizing Hillary thought that maybe, just maybe, the arrow of causality is pointing in the opposite direction? That rather than Venezuela exporting uranium to Iran, Iran and Russia might be interested in exporting nuclear technology to Venezuela, to exploit Oogo's already existing stockpiles of nuclear materials? Cargo ships do travel both directions across the Atlantic, to the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal, down the Red Sea, to the Arabian Sea, around Yemen and Oman, and into the Persian Gulf.

Of course, none dare suggest that the next time there is a serious conflict between the goals of an American president and the aspirations of President for Life Oogo Chavez, a nuclear armed Venezuela might threaten to barbecue us. True, we wouldn't have any ballistic-missile defense to protect us; but if he ever tried such a thing, then after some American city was incinerated, we could retaliate and really hurt Venezuela right back!

Fortunately, Venezuela doesn't really have the technology to exploit its own uranium and thorium reserves. Yet. They wouldn't be able to develop it for years and years. Venezuela is just too backwards a country. Unless, I don't know, they got help or something.

Chavez's project remains in its planning stages and still faces a host of practical hurdles, likely requiring billions of dollars, as well as technology and expertise that Venezuela lacks.

Russia has offered to help bridge that gap, but Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom, has said there are no concrete projects and that any joint mining of uranium or the radioactive metal thorium is still a long way off.

Any joint mining or transfer of nuclear technology is a long way off. So what could possibly go wrong?

Huh, there's that dad-burned déjà vu feeling again.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 28, 2009, at the time of 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Obamic Record-Setting Achievement

Hatched by Dafydd

In the early days of the presidency of George W. Bush, shortly after 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan a month later, Friend Lee and I speculated how many vile "thugocracies" Bush would manage to overthrow, by hook or by crook -- or at least leash -- during his presidency.

The final count was six, as I recall: Afghanistan (under the Taliban) and Iraq (Saddam Hussein) were invaded and dismantled as terrorist states; Libya was cowed further (building on the hide-tanning that Reagan administered after the Lockerbie terrorist bombing); Syria was muzzled; Iran was kept nervous and fairly quiet -- though they actively participated in killing American soldiers and Marines in Iraq, we also seized a number of Qods Force personnel; and North Korea was pretty much stymied, unable to get extortion negotiations off the ground.

Not too shabby for a supposedly "failed" presidency.

Now we have a new president... and I propose a new game: By the end of Barack H. Obama's (single) term in office, how many thug nations will he have un-leashed? That is, appeased, allowed to go nuclear, and/or let alone to threaten, extort, and even "assimilate" (in a Borg sense) Western nations and allies.

I think B.O. already has George W. Bush "beat" hands down -- and hands up, and hands middle. Consider...

  1. Afghanistan: Obama is dragging his heels deciding whether to accede to Gen. Stanley McChrystal's urgent request to switch to a COIN operation there, and his request for a significant troop increase; if Obama fails to approve this plan, McChrystal more or less says we'll lose the war in Afghanistan, and the Taliban will return in force -- along with al-Qaeda.

    (Recall that this is the war all the Democrats have been saying we should be fighting, instead of Iraq, ever since -- well, since 2003.)

    As Power Line's John Hinderaker concludes, "The moral of the story seems pretty clear: when President Obama announces that he doesn't intend to accept General McChrystal's recommendation, we will all understand that this is the prudent course advocated by most knowledgeable military and civilian leaders" (meaning Obama's own political staff, of course).

  2. Costa Rica: See Honduras.
  3. Georgia: See Russia.
  4. Honduras: If the One has his way, Honduras will cease to be a democratic state and will instead become a "Chavezian" despotic dictatorship, run by delusional socialist thug Manuel "Mel" Zelaya. Costa Rica is already trending that way, as are several other Latin American nations. We'll just stick with these two.
  5. Iran: Obama has strongly signaled to the mullahs and President Ahmadinejad that we not only intend to do nothing to stop them getting nuclear weapons capability, we will eagerly seek their input in what to do with Iraq; we will release all Qods Force operatives captured in Iraq under the Bush "regime;" and our president will crawl on his hands and knees, if that is what it takes to get a desperately desired face-to-face meeting, in order for Obama to appear "presidential" before 2012.
  6. Iraq: Obama still wants a quick pull-out, before the country and its fledgling government is secured against a hostile merger by Iran..
  7. Israel: It seems increasingly clear that Obama, swimming in a sea of Jew hatred since he was a young adult, has decisively sided with the Arabs who call themselves "Palestinians" and against the Jews of Israel.

    He is allowing himself to be pushed by his top Middle-East foreign policy advisors -- the antisemites Samantha Power (of the National Security Council) and former President Jimmy Carter (antisemitic qualifications too numerous to enumerate here), along with such "luminaries" as antisemite Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), who "supervised" the Durbin Jew-bashing hatefest in 2001.

    If they have their way, Israel would be pushed into a catastrophic "peace" treaty with Iran-financed Hamas; this could even lead to the destruction of Israel... an event that would be wildly celebrated by a disturbingly large percentage of Democrats, liberals, and members of the Obama administration.

  8. Lebanon: See Syria.
  9. North Korea: Like Iran, Obama is busy sending signals, communiques, and "gestures" that he has accepted the "inevitability" of a nuclear DPRK. I'm sure the denizens of South Korea are ecstatic.
  10. Russia: As the bear surges under Prime Minister (formerly President) Vlad "the Impaler" Putin, Obama has reneged on the the ballistic missile-defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    This signals the Soviet Union Russia that we have lost all interest in defending the hard-fought freedom of those two countries, along with other border countries that were once utterly dominated by the USSR but became free after the collapse of Russian Communism, including Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Khazakhstan, Uzbekistan -- and perhaps even Hungary, eastern Germany, and Finland. In the interests of brevity, let's just call this a serious threat to the two countries that Russia has invaded or blockaded recently: Georgia and Ukraine.

  11. Syria: President Obama has made it clear we will not pursue the persistent claims and stubborn facts that point to Syria being behind the assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Such discretion is a green light informing Syrian "king" (in all but formal title) Bashar Assad that he has carte blanche to retake Lebanon.
  12. Ukraine: See Russia.
  13. The United States of America: The economy; energy production; health care; taxes; federal regulatory regimes; rule by "Czar," with no meaningful congressional oversight; permanent taxpayer funding of partisan leftist advocates; nationalization of banking, automobile manufacturing, newspapers; federal control of all executive salaries in the United States; a return of Woodrow Wilson's Sedition Act and the criminalization of dissent -- with the eager cooperation of those who dissented against George Bush.

    'Nuff said.

This coven of cravenness is a rather impressive, even remarkable beginning for a community organizer who has only been in office for eight months and eight days. Keep plugging, man! You may yet eclipse the record set by your idol, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who with the stroke of a pen at Yalta consigned hundreds of millions to the famines, tortures, and gulags of the Evil Empire.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 28, 2009, at the time of 1:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 27, 2009

Obamunism Infects the Washington Times

Hatched by Dafydd

When Barack H. Obama was running for president, then after the election, then even after his inauguration, he told us over and over that the Bush doctrine of isolating Iran and refusing its demand for one-on-one talks was churlish and wrongheaded: The only approach that would work, sayeth the new president, was to start over -- to "reset" all foreign policy... not just the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis, but the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Russia, China, North Korea, and indeed every other hot spot around the world.

Summit-level negotiations "without preconditions" was the new way; it would lead to a new world order of peace, understanding, diplomacy, and global cooperation among nations. Imagine, using the golden oratory of the One the World Was Waiting For to talk Iran out of pursuring nuclear weaponty -- nobody had ever tried such a thing before!

(Well, technically true, perhaps; I don't think any previous president was naïve enough to believe that mere talk could persuade enemies to agree to positions that helped the democratic West against the enemy's own interests.)

Included among the assumptions such a policy requires is, quite naturally, that our diplomatic partnets can be trusted. When Obama insisted that he would go anywhere, anytime to have a sit-down and a cuppa with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and just, you know, talk things out, the Obamacle was screaming in subtext that Ahmadinejad could be trusted not to cheat and not to lie: After all, how could we possibly cut a deal with someone who had no intention of abiding by his side of it? In legal terms, there is no "meeting of the minds," hence no contract exists.

So one would think it a staggering blow to the Obamic metapolicy of "diplomacy not defense" (my term) to learn that for years, Ahmadinejad has been playing the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for saps -- lying to the West and lying to America in particular about such a material fact as the existence of another hardened, buried, concealed nuclear enrichment facility in Qom, besides the two known sites: Lashkar Abad (allegedly shut down) and the main uranium-enrichment site at Natanz.

One would think, that is, that the revelation of systematic lying on an international scale (in flagrant violation of international agreements), while building a secret facility that even the Obama administration admits is not suitable for producing fuel for peaceful energy production, might put a crimp in the idea that Iran and its president can be trusted to honor any future international agreements on the very same program.

One might also conclude that, since Obama says he has known about the Iranian deception at least since inauguration and possibly even during the campaign, therefore the One Himself was also lying to the American people and playing us for saps; he knew the Iranians were cheats and liars, but he told us we could trust them to honor agreements and tell the truth.

But one would be wrong... for the Obama administration (and its liberal allies) instead see the entire incident as adding to the luster of the president's foreign-policy acumen. And in a bizarre twist of the tale, so too does the Washington Times, previously thought to be a "conservative" newspaper:

Mr. Obama's disclosure Friday that Iran had a secret nuclear facility and that he had known about it since taking office introduced a new way of looking at many of his decisions since January. [Yes, we now look at his past statements and see that he lied to the American people and misled us to believe we had negotiating partners. -- DaH]

"You have to go back and look at the nine months and all the moves he's made since then, and that he knew Iran was lying to him, and he still went ahead with it," said Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a Washington advocacy group devoted to eliminating nuclear weapons from the world.

"He played Iran perfectly, to isolate Iran, unite all the other countries around him, with an open hand to Iran, and then he springs the trap."

Not only did the president look strong, he looked cunning.

The last line is not in quotation marks; it's the opinion of the reporter, Jon Ward, hence of the Washington Times itself.

More fawning from the Times:

Now, a question for the White House is whether it can capitalize on this moment and direct this sense of momentum toward its domestic agenda, namely health care reform.

The president's top advisers, after returning to Washington from the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh, acknowledged that Mr. Obama had cut a compelling figure during a week of maneuvering to hem in Iran's nuclear program.

"The president played a strong and effective leadership role this week on the world stage, and I think Americans appreciate that," said David Axelrod, one of the president's closest advisers.

Well, I'm certainly impressed that Barack Obama has the vote of confidence of his own closest confidants!

This is the sort of high-RPM spinning I expect from the Washington Post, not Times, as they frantically pirouette and tapdance, trying to make a silk purse out of a pig's breakfast. Note that this story includes no analysis by even a single conservative group or person; just three liberals, including the president's own top advisor, David Axelrod.

Like the elite left media, this fairy tale reads as though it was written by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, under a "nom de rotation."

Yet conservatives have not been silent; they've already opined on what the hasty, overdue revelation means; and any newspaper writer or editor should have been aware of that fact.

After all, the Obama administration is certainly not known for self-effacing modesty; it has never shied from admiring itself the mirror. Maybe, just maybe, Obama's opinion of himself is not particuarly newsworthy.

For just one example, John Hinderaker at Power Line wrote a lengthy post taking a look at how this revelation re-colors a series of inexplicable foreign-policy missteps that now should fairly be seen as direct appeasement of a powerful enemy:

  • Knowing that Iran was lying in its teeth, cheating us and the U.N., and laughing at our unwillingness to hold it accountable in a meaningful way, Obama still begged Ahmadinejad for a face-to-face meeting "without preconditions."
  • Knowing what he knew, he nevertheless betrayed Poland and the Czech Republic by reneging on the missile shield.
  • Knowing what they knew, our allies still refused to join Obama in any tough sanctions regime against Iran.
  • And knowing what everyone but "we the people" knew, and even now after all has been revealed, the president is still publicly dithering about whether to grant the plea of Gen. Stanley McChrystal for a change to a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan that would require more troops.

Rather than making the Obamacle look stronger, this revelation makes his foreign policy look pathetic and limp, almost surreal. We know that Obama rushed to reveal the existence of the Qom nuclear site because he knew Iran itself was about to disclose it:

Mr. Obama’s hand was forced, however, after Iran, apparently learning that the site had been discovered by Western intelligence, delivered a vague, terse letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday disclosing that it was building a second plant, one that it had never mentioned during years of inspections.

Given Obama's earlier willingness to play along with Iran and trick the American people into believing the mullahs and Ahmadinejad were reliable partners, the only rational conclusion is that Obama thought he could better spin the suddenly looming disclosure if he jumped out and did it first himself. Was he hoping the American people would never find out about it, so he could continue his appeasement tour of the Middle East?

And one more question: Is Obama considering rejecting McChrystal's request because he's afraid that when next-door Iran gets its nukes, which likelihood he seems strangely complacent about, they can then hold our entire Afghanistan force hostage?

The Washington Times article ends thus:

The biggest impact of the Iran secret-site announcement may be that in the future, when critics level the boom [sic] on the president for a decision they don't like, they might hesitate for fear that, like the past week, he might have an ace up his sleeve. ["Level the boom" must be a mangling of "level their sights" and "lower the boom"; I'll have to remember that one and steal it later!]

So critics might hesitate to "level the boom" on the One -- because they're worried he might be concealing other material facts from the American people that make him look weak and weird? I'm unfamiliar with this political calculus.

Sadly, but not unpredictably, conservatives seem just as eager as liberals to cooperate in retailing President Obama's paralogical reimaging of his own pratfalls into examples of unalloyed genius. Lying to the American people and trying to trick us into supporting "negotiations" with a "partner" who is utterly untrustworthy is evidently not a bug. It's a feature.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 27, 2009, at the time of 6:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 25, 2009

Quote of the Century (So Far)

Hatched by Dafydd

I snitched it out of a great Beldar post; he's back to classic form after -- well, you know. (We won't go into the whole "lost fortnight" thingie, with the nylons and the egg salad and the dwarf tossing. Don't ask him about it; he'll claim he doesn't remember a bit of it... and odds are he genuinely doesn't.)

Where was I?

Oh the quote. Quotation. Here it is, and it's brilliant:

 

Amateurs. Incompetents. Ideologues. Full-time politicians turned half-wit government officials. Brilliant leftists who, confronted with the real world, are exposed as clueless idiots and children.

 

Scotch tape it to your teevee; you'll refer back to it often.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 25, 2009, at the time of 10:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Maloney Baloney II: Slice It Very, Very Thin

Hatched by Dafydd

Just a snippet from the hearings called by Rep. Carolyn B. "Balarky" Maloney (D-NY, 95%) -- to which "just three of 20 House and Senate members showed up," including the Chairwoman. Here is an urgent plea from one "panelist", a sociology professor from Princeton. (Does panelist rather than "witness" mean he wasn't sworn at by the committee?)

What's more, Paul Starr of Princeton University said, newspapers differ from other corporate interests.

"The press has not been regarded, and should not be regarded, as just another industry. Government has sought to advance it because a democratic political system cannot function without a diverse, free and independent source of news," said Mr. Starr, a professor of sociology and public affairs.

I couldn't agree more; too bad we haven't had a "diverse, free and independent" news medium for decades. Do you think the homogenous, constrained, self-censoring, and blindly liberal nature of newspapers and television "news" shows may be one reason why they're hemorrhaging readers and viewers like the blood gushing from Monty Python's black knight, after King Arthur cut off his right arm and leg?

One more illuminating point, then we MoveOn to more compelling topics; Ms. Maloney excitedly proclaimed:

Unless something is done, and done fast, it's likely that many metropolitan areas may soon have no local daily newspapers, and that would damage our democracy.

The nearest local newspaper to the metropolitan area that includes Lizard Central is the Los Angeles Times. I can only register my heartfelt hope that Maloney is right, and that the Times will soon fold. I strongly suspect that it's the continued existence of such inaptly named "newspapers" that is truly damaging our democracy.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 25, 2009, at the time of 3:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Yes, Virginia, It Really Is a Tax

Hatched by Dafydd

Yesterday, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV, 92%) interrogated one Thomas Barthold, chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation; Ensign wanted to know whether the Internal Revenue Service was responsible for enforcing the ObamaCare provision requiring individuals to pay a "penalty" of $1,900 if they fail to purchase an "approved" health-care plan.

Why is this important? Because if it falls to the IRS to enforce that rule, then both the requirement to purchase and the penalty if you don't are indeed "taxes." Failure to pay the $1,900 penalty gets you a fine of up to $25,000.

(I'm not sure which ObamaCare plan this refers to; the House plan is the only one where a completed bill was actually voted on -- it passed in the House, of course.)

Barthold confirmed that indeed, the IRS will enforce payment of the nineteen hundred smackeroos -- and if you fail to pay it, the IRS will prosecute... and you could even be sent to jail for failing to pay, just as if you failed to pay any other tax. From the first Political post linked above:

Ensign pursued the line of questioning because he said a lot of Americans don't believe the Constitution allows the government to mandate the purchase of insurance.

"We could be subjecting those very people who conscientiously, because they believe in the U.S. Constitution, we could be subjecting them to fines or the interpretation of a judge, all the way up to imprisonment," Ensign said. "That seems to me to be a problem."

I presume the IRS will also enforce the similar provision mandating businesses, including small businesses (even Mom & Pop stores), to offer "approved" health insurance to their employees; I don't know what the penalties are for failing to do so.

In a follow-up Politico post, Barthold confirmed to Ensign that indeed, the possible penalties included jail time:

Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 penalty, Barthold wrote on JCT letterhead. He signed it "Sincerely, Thomas A. Barthold."

The Joint Committee on Taxation has both senators and representatives (which is why they call it a "joint" committee); it's chaired by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY, 100%) and vice-chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT, 80%); the committee comprises three each Democratic senators and representatives, and two each Republican senators and reps.

So the next time some chowderheaded clown -- or the president -- denies that the individual and employer mandates in ObamaCare are massive middle-class tax increases, shove this post in his face and make him read it!

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 25, 2009, at the time of 1:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 24, 2009

It's Official: Massachusetts Democrats Reject Rule of Law

Hatched by Dafydd

The "fix" is now in the books: When a Democrat is governor of Massachusetts, he shall have the power to appoint interim senators or representatives to replace those who quit, are indicted, or die in office.

But when confused voters freak out and elect a Republican governor... why, that power shall quickly be rescinded. Can't have those unpatriotic, evil, racist, Nazi-like conservatives sending one of their own into the U.S. Senate and scuttling the Obamic takeover of health care! Far better to do without a senator for a few months.

Patrick has argued the state stood to suffer without full Senate representation before the special election campaign, but some fellow Democrats have joined Republicans in accusing him of a power grab. Patrick said he was untroubled by criticism from Republican lawmakers.

"I'm quite satisfied that I am both within the law and within tradition," Patrick said.

Absolutely... in the grand tradition of New Jersey, where the Democrats summarily dumped their 2002 senatorial nominee, incumbent Robert Torricelli, because he was losing to Republican Doug Forrester in the polling -- and because evidence of Torricelli's corruption was leaking out (the two reasons may have been related). The Democrats simply erased his name from the ballot and substituted the much more popular retired Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ, 100%)... and the New Jersey Supreme Court said sure, why not? It's Joisey rules!

All right, we always knew it: Boston, Trenton, it's all the same Democratic Party. But it is good that they've finally been forced to rip off the mask and confess who -- and what -- they really are.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 24, 2009, at the time of 5:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Maloney Baloney

Hatched by Dafydd

Congressional hearings begin today on "the impact of the newspaper industry's financial problems." We previously discussed these hearings, and the legislation they're intended to spawn, in Obama Looking Forward to Nationalizing Newspapers.

The hearings are chaired by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY, 95%), Chair of the House Joint Economic Committee. Here is her statement on the purpose of the hearings:

"I am holding the Joint Economic Committee hearing to examine the importance of newspapers to our democracy throughout our nation's history and the treacherous economic landscape they face," Maloney wrote in a statement to E&P. "The witnesses will review alternative funding options for newspapers in our new and ever-changing electronic age. Since the ratification of the Bill of Rights, the federal government has acknowledged that the press is an institution which is afforded special protections by name. In this spirit, I think that the government can help foster solutions for this industry in ways which protect the independence of newspapers and enables their objective reporting to thrive in a new economic and media climate."

Yes, the Divine Ms. M. is correct; our Constitution gives "special protections" to the press... protections against government control and interference. Including, one would presume, government funding of newspapers -- but only those that print "the truth," of course. You certainly wouldn't want us to fund newspapers that printed lies about the president and Congress!

But Maloney's malarky is mindblowing... for in a single breath, she hints at government subsidies to support newspapers -- and declares this would protect their independence!

At least Sarah Palin had to be parodied by somebody else, an actual comedian, Tina Fey. These ultralefties are perfectly capable of parodying themselves.

(Cf. Schoolkids being led in a cultic chant proclaiming "Barack Hussein Obama" America's messiah. I recant my previous sentence; these people are beyond parody.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 24, 2009, at the time of 2:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Meet Manuel Zeloonie-Toons

Hatched by Dafydd

Now that erstwhile Honduran President José Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales appears to have mentally collapsed into paranoid ravings and hysterical delusion, and his brain has turned to lime Jell-O, how long before he gets to see the undercarriage of the Obamabus?

According to the Miami Herald:

It's been 89 days since Manuel Zelaya was booted from power. He's sleeping on chairs, and he claims his throat is sore from toxic gases and "Israeli mercenaries'' are torturing him with high-frequency radiation.

"We are being threatened with death,'' he said in an interview with The Miami Herald, adding that mercenaries were likely to storm the embassy where he has been holed up since Monday and assassinate him.

Darn Jews... they're everywhere!

Our previous spelunking expeditions into the Twilight Zone of the Obamic Honduran policy are legion:

Zelaya was ousted in what it pleases the One (and his Number Two, Hillary Clinton) to call a "coup d'état"... by which they mean having been properly and legally arrested and removed from office for the crime of treason, which in Honduras includes plotting to alter the national constitution to allow the president to serve indefinitely (President for Life Mel Zelaya, like President for Life Fidel Castro and President for Life Oogo Chavez):

[De facto President Roberto] Micheletti took Zelaya's place after the military, executing a Supreme Court arrest warrant, burst into Zelaya's house and forced him into exile. The country's military, congress, Supreme Court and economic leaders have backed the ouster, arguing that Zelaya was bent on conducting an illegal plebiscite that they feared would ultimately lead to his reelection.

Presidential elections are scheduled for November, and Micheletti -- who is a civilian and of the same political party as the ousted Zelaya -- is not even running (I remember the good old days, when a "coup d'état" meant the coup leaders actually, you know, took over). The United Nations, friends of democracy everywhere, is right on the job:

On Wednesday, the U.N. cut off all technical aid that would have supported and given credibility to that presidential race. Conditions do not exist for credible elections, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

Lizardian translation: There is virtually no possibility now that Zelaya, Chavez's "little buddy," will be able to pull off his unfriendly takeover of Honduras and "socialize" it to be more in line with other countries in the region, such as Venezuela (Chavez), Bolivia (Evo Morales), Costa Rica (Oscar Arias), Nicaragua (Sandinista Daniel Ortega), and of course, Cuba (los bros Castro). So what's the point of holding elections, legitimizing some free, democratic, capitalist regime? "That's not the Latin America I know," U.N. Secretary General Nanki-Poo is saying.

So how long will President Barack H. Obama continue to tie his Latin American policy to a guy who thinks Israelis mercenaries are beaming radiation and hallucinagenic gas into his room at the Brazillian embassy in Honduras? On the plus side, as I wrote last time:

The radical Left's bottom line is clear: Zelaya must be returned to full dictatorial control; no matter how he was trying to subvert the Honduran constitution (which constitutes treason in that country), no matter how in bed he was with Venezuelan fascist dictator Oogo Chavez, and no matter that Zelaya personally led a violent mob to attack the customs building to retrieve the illegal ballots that he got his pal Chavez to print in Venezuela; the ballots -- intended by Zelaya to give him cover for rejecting the clause in the Honduran constitution limiting presidents to a single term -- were confiscated by Customs officials when Zelaya tried to smuggle them into Honduras.

On the minus side, this raving, delusional lunatic may not be the Mel Zelaya that Obama knew.

I think I hear that Greyhound bus a rumblin'...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 24, 2009, at the time of 12:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 23, 2009

For the Sarahphobics... Who the Heck Else?

Hatched by Dafydd

I've argued before that I don't think Sarah Palin should run for the presidency in 2012: It's too soon, she's too young, she's only an egg. Rather, I believe she should -- and I suspect she shall -- run for the United States Senate against RINO incrumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK, 58%) -- in the Republican primary, of course, not as a third-party candidate. This would accomplish a hat-trick of improvements to her future presidential ambitions, assuming she has any:

  • It would keep her in the public eye for the next several years;
  • It would give her international "cred" that she currently lacks, having been governor of a small state with little involvement in foreign affairs, compared to the governors of California, Texas, New York, and so forth;
  • And it would allow her, even empower her, to barnstorm the country and even foreign venues speechifying, honing her message, getting comfortable upon the world stage, and debating opponents in front of large audiences, each of which is a vital skill for the President of the United States -- and of course for a presidential candidate as well.

Such a move would be akin to Reagan's stint as spokesman for General Electric, where he spoke all over the world, working on honing his conservative agenda for America.

But all this talk of career strategy begs the real question: Why do I want her eventually to run for the presidency in the first place? Well, she just gave a speech in what used to be the center for Capitalism in the world -- Hong Kong -- that very clearly illustrates why Sarah Palin is the most vital and exciting conservative leader to come along since... well, since RR.

On a completely unrelated note, who does this remind you of?

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, in what was billed as her first public-speaking engagement outside North America, blamed the world financial crisis on government excesses and called for a new round of deregulation and tax cuts for U.S. businesses.

"We got into this mess because of government interference in the first place," the former Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate said Wednesday at a conference sponsored by investment firm CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. "We're not interested in government fixes, we're interested in freedom," she added.

On the foreign-policy front, she told the room full of bankers and executives of the importance of the global fight against terrorism and of finding ways to engage China as a global power. She said China "rightfully makes a lot of people nervous."

There simply is nobody else on the American political stage who is as clear, as blunt and bold, as realistic, and as morally straightforward as Sarah Louise Palin -- not Mitt Romney, not Mike Huckabee, not Michael Steel, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA, 92%), Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and not even Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, who is rather too compromised by political hucksterism during his time as Chairman of the Republican Party. (Ron Paul is "clear, blunt, and bold," but he fails the "realistic" test.) I very much like each of the above -- I even like Ron Paul, just not in public office -- and hope for them to continue rising up the ranks; but no one today comes closer to the Reaganite vision than Mrs. Palin.

So what else did she say? It appears to be a bit uncertain, in a Heisenbergian sense...

Wall Street Journal:

On health care, Ms. Palin defended her previous criticisms that the health-care overhaul proposed by Democrats would lead to health-care rationing and what she called "death panels." "It's just common sense that government attempts to solve problems like health care problem will just create new problems." She called for "market friendly" health care reform that gives tax breaks to individuals to buy health insurance.

New York Times:

She did not repeat her attack from last month that the Obama administration’s health care proposals would create a “death panel” that would allow federal bureaucrats to decide who is “worthy of health care.”

Yes, they're discussing the same speech -- except not really, as any post-modernist would argue that a speech comprises both transmission and reception, what the speaker says and what the listener hears; so in a very real sense, the Times listener heard a different speech than did the Journal listener, even though Palin's actual words were the same:

  • The speech was not open to media, so every reporter had to get all his information from a recording; it's possible the recording for the Times omitted that section of the speech.
  • It's also possible some informant at the speech simply told the Times that she "didn't defend" the death-panels remark... which may be true, depending on what bizarre reimagining the Times writer, Mark McDonald, asked his source about.
  • Most likely, McDonald has confabulated a memory of Palin's earlier charge that owes more to the idiot misinterpretation of Sen. Johnny Isaksen (R-GA, 76%) than what Palin actually wrote on her Facebook page: McDonald probably thought she had earlier claimed that the "end of life" counselors would interview patients, then say, "We don't like you -- so we're going to euthanize you!"

    Instead, he heard the very reasonable, but nevertheless damning charge that Journal journalists Jonathan Cheng and Alex Frangos heard (which is exactly what she said the first time)... and then McDonald said to himself, Oho, changing her tune, eh?

Back on the domestic front, Palin put the root cause of our economic woes as succinctly as I've ever seen it put... another ability she shares with Reagan -- the pithy summation:

The Fed and the government sent a message to companies that “the bigger that you are, the more problems that you get yourself into, the more likely the government is to bail you out,” Palin said in the closed door speech, according to a tape of the event given to Bloomberg News. “Of course the little guys are left out then. We’re left holding the bag, all the moms and pops all over America.”

Like the 40th president, she comes across like a real person, one of us, while still making clear that she has thought deeply about a number of domestic and foreign-policy issues; and she has core principles that she never compromises, even when she is forced to compromise on policy: The legislative deals she's willing to cut always move us towards the same goals -- greater individual liberty, Capitalism, and a secure national defense.

No other GOP leader combines all these virtues; they're either too willing to bargain away vital national principles (such as John McCain throwing free speech under the bus for campaign finance reform, or Bush being willing to accept racial preferences in law-school admissions); or they beep when they talk and just can't connect with ordinary people (Romney); or they're so wrapped up in social conservatism that they're willing to accept out and out socialism, so long as they can get some abortion restrictions in exchange (Huckabee, Buchanan, O'Reilly); or they worship a cranky libertarianism so extreme, they want us to withdraw all our troops home to Fortress America... which is, in my unhumble opinion, utterly insane (Ron Paul, Babar).

She also has a very good eye for the bottom line on China; unlike George W. Bush, she understands that trade and liberty are not two separate issues that can be discussed independently; Capitalism depends upon rule of law, on individual liberty, and on respect for property rights in order to function. From Bloomberg:

“We simply cannot turn a blind eye to China’s policies and actions that could undermine international peace and security. China has some 1,000 missiles aimed at Taiwan and no serious observer believes that it poses a military threat to Beijing,” she said. “Those same Chinese forces made our friends in Japan and Australia kinda nervous. China provides support for some of the most questionable regimes from Sudan to Burma to Zimbabwe....”

Trade with China will grow, including exports of U.S. high- tech goods, though for that to happen “we need China to improve the rule of law and protect intellectual property,” she said. “In the end, though, our economic relationship will truly thrive when Chinese citizens and foreign corporations can hold the Chinese government accountable when their actions are unjust.”

(I also love her sense of humor; when she was asked by someone at the talk how she "balanced" her career with her family, she answered, “I have a husband. I could have used a wife.”)

There is no question she is a polarizing figure; Breitbart reports that she has the highest negatives of any currently political figure, 55%. But much of that, I am convinced, is because she let the Sarahphobes, Democratic and Republican, define her last year. This speech is her first major attempt to define herself.

And she appears to be angering the right people:

Two US delegates left early, with one saying "it was awful, we couldn't stand it any longer". He declined to be identified....

Several delegates saw the speech as a sign of her ambitions to run as a presidential candidate in 2012 and a useful indication of the potential direction of US politics in the future.

"It was fairly right-wing populist stuff,' one US delegate said....

Another from the United States said: "She frightens me because she strikes a chord with a certain segment of the population and I don't like it."

I bet I can guess the political affiliation of these delegates; the wording of their complaints is a dead giveaway.

Reagan was also a polarizing figure, and there were probably times in his political career when he too would have had very high negatives. But he was nevertheless a commanding presence; and of all the conservative politicians romping about America and the world, Sarah Palin is the only one who has, I think, even a prayer of attaining the stature of a Reagan... if she keeps doing what she is doing and doesn't bury her hegemony in a premature run for the White House.

Let her at least wait until she has the opportunity to give a speech like Reagan gave, introducing Barry Goldwater to the 1964 Republican National Convention. Goldwater lost -- but Reagan himself was the big winner that night.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 23, 2009, at the time of 7:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 22, 2009

Darkness at High Noon: the UnAmericanism of an American Icon

Hatched by Dafydd

A comment to the previous blogpost, That Big Ol' NEA Scandal... Just Déjà Vu-Du, has taken issue with my characterization of the seminal film High Noon as a deeply unAmerican, even anti-American movie that slanders the American character... at a time when the only form of unAmericanism that was acceptable to the intelligensia in the United States was Communism -- meaning Stalinism, as Josef "Uncle Joe" Stalin didn't die until 1953, at the ripe old age of 74 (evidently, somebody down there liked him).

I noted to the commenter that this was a deep enough question that it couldn't be answered in the comments section but required a follow-up blogpost. In the process, I hope to demonstrate how to "read" the moral character of a movie... which is a completely different process than simply deciding if it was well crafted.

Like nearly everybody else, I like the movie High Noon. I've seen it maybe half a dozen times. It's well written, well acted, lots of tension. But we must distinguish between liking a movie and approving its message (something neocon Michael Medved never seems able to do). By the same criteria above, I like Triumph of the Will; but I'm repelled by its cosmically evil Nazi message.

This is how I feel about the much subtler, but nevertheless morally corrupted and evil movie High Noon: I admire its artistry but am appalled by its vicious anti-American message.

There is a two-pronged test for art that I read somewhere; it boils down to asking two questions:

  1. What was the artist trying to do?
  2. Did he do it?

But I've always believed that a third question must be asked, one that is more important than the other two:

  1. Was it worth doing?

There is no question that all the films I mentioned in the previous post pass the two-prong test: They all set about doing something and actually pull it off. They are all artistic successes -- unless you apply the third test as well; that's where they break down.

One final caveat: In deference to one of the most famous penitents of Communism, Arthur Koestler, I titled this post Darkness at High Noon.

Before publishing, however, I discovered that CNN had already used that title... but in an Orwellian (or perhaps Dickensian) twist of fate, they used it for a documentary defending Carl Foreman, who wrote the screenplay to High Noon! Indeed, the love-letter to Foreman draws the same parallels to High Noon that I draw myself: that Marshal Will Kane represents Foreman himself and all others who continued to spit defiance at the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities (HUAC) until the bitter end; and that Frank Miller and his mob represent HUAC. (Foreman himself maintained this was what he had in mind.)

The irony, of course, is that Koestler wrote his novel Darkness at Noon two years after quitting the Party (even before the Hitler-Stalin Pact); and the novel is a powerful attack on Communism. It dramatizes the last days of an architect of the 1917 revolution, now imprisoned under sentence of death in a Communist country. To hijack that title for a hagiography of Carl Foreman takes chutzpah indeed.

Thus, in order to reclaim the moral clarity of Arthur Koestler (and also because you can't copyright titles), I shall maintain my title for this blogpost. So there. Now let's dive into the toughest movie position to defend: The case against High Noon for the crime of anti-Americanism. I won't bother footnoting; all of this information is readily available and uncontested: Google it. (Heh, I've always wanted to say that.)

Background

High Noon was always meant to be a parable against "McCarthyism" -- rather, the left-liberal vision of McCarthyism. It was written by Communist Carl Foreman, who was called before HUAC sometime in 1951, while he was actually writing High Noon. In his testimony, he defied the Committee; he admitted to having been a Communist for many years, but he claimed he had become "disillusioned" with it some ten or so years earlier (1942? 1941?). He claimed to have quit, but I don't recall him offering any evidence for this other than his bare claim.

He also refused to name names.

It actually makes a difference when exactly he left the Party, if indeed he ever did; because if he stuck around from 1939 to 1941, then that means he maintained Party discipline even during the Hitler-Stalin Pact, when his beloved Soviet Union was allied with Nazi Germany. I consider anyone who remained in the Party through those two flip-flops -- or who actually joined while the Commies and the Nazis were allied, like Dalton Trumbo -- to be a hard-core Stalinist. It required very nimble mental and moral gymnastics: Before the Pact, Hitler was the devil incarnate; then in 1939, he became the great patriotic ally against decadent Capitalism; and then in 1941, when Hitler invaded the USSR, he went back to being the focus of all evil.

If a man (or woman) can do that, then he has no moral principles and the conscience of a hyena.

At the time Foreman was writing the screenplay, the "Hollywood Party" was reeling; hearings by HUAC had been in full swing since the late 1940s, and the public was waking up to the viper in its bed.

The Party line during this period was that witnesses before the Committee who had always opposed Communism, such as Gary Cooper, Ronald Reagan, and George Murphy (who fought against Communist influence in Hollywood when he was president of SAG, as did his protégé Reagan), and who "named names" of Communist ringleaders in Hollywood, were just sniveling cowards who had been threatened and intimidated by the Committee and by its allies who created an informal blacklist of Reds.

(In a twist of wonderful irony, one of the most steadfast anti-Communists in Hollywood was Gary Cooper, who starred as Howard Roark in Ayn Rand's the Fountainhead; then just three years later, he played the lead in High Noon! Truly, Coop the Dupe was the man for whom the phrase "useful idiot" was coined.)

Those who fought the Committee had nothing but contempt for the "friendly witnesses;" the Left simply could never accept that courageous people of good will could see Communism as an evil that must be rooted out. But this contempt was nothing compared to the rage against the traitors -- those witnesses who had actually been in the Party, had perhaps defied the Committee by refusing to cooperate once, but had since recanted, returned to testify again and name names. Some former fellow travelers also wrote public repudiations of their earlier position.

Humphrey Bogart is the most conspicuous example. He traveled to Washington in 1947 to protest HUAC, as part of the newly formed Committee for the First Amendment, which also included Lauren Bacall, Gene Kelly, John Huston, and others. There, Bogart railed against the investigations and defended the Hollywood Ten (who were then still eleven, as Bertolt Brecht had not yet fled the country). Bogart insisted the Ten were completely innocent... which is what he and the other liberals in that group had been told by the Left.

But after meeting the Ten (and being harrangued by one of them, doctrinaire Communist John Howard Lawson), Bogie recanted; evidence had by then emerged that the Ten were indeed Stalinists, and that they really did have an ongoing program to insert Communist propaganda into their movies and plays. In his article in Photoplay magazine, “I’m No Communist,” Humphrey Bogart admitted he was duped by the Hollywood Left. It was a serious blow to the cause, as were similar articles by John Garfield, Edward G. Robinson, and others.

This must have been much on Foreman's mind while writing High Noon; he later claimed that he saw himself as Marshal Will Kane, the lone man of integrity standing up to both the sin of commission -- the investigations -- and the sin of omission, those who, in Foreman's view, stood idly by out of fear and did nothing to stop HUAC.

This is what was happening on the national stage when Foreman sat down to adapt the short story "the Tin Star," by John W. Cunningham. I haven't been able to find the text of Cunningham's original; I'd love to read it to see how much of the anti-Americanism was his and how much was Foreman's. My guess is they shared the same low opinion of frontier Americans.

Internal evidence of anti-Americanism

The plot of the movie clearly is an allegory on what a (current or former) Party member would imagine McCarthyism to be like; both Left and Right have agreed on that from the beginning. Villain Frank Miller is coming to town (metaphorically Joseph McCarthy; in practice, the members of the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities, as McCarthy was a senator, not a member of the House of Reps), having inexplicably been pardoned just before his hanging; he has sworn vengeance on Will Kane (Carl Foreman). Kane tries to rally the townspeople; they agree to help stop Miller (refuse to cooperate with the Committee), but then one by one they chicken out (recant, name names): They're all too afraid to take a stand against him.

The townsfolk all agree with the marshal (Foreman) that Miller must be stopped; but they're all worried what might happen to them and their families if they stand up to the bully. Those despicable, cowardly friendly witnesses! Eventually, Kane must take on all the bad guys alone, while the townspeople (our American ancestors) quake in their boots and hide under the bed (from the "nonexistent" Red Menace).

One reason it has always seemed so clearly an allegory, which nearly all political critics accept, is that the plot is historically false to the period in which it's set. 1900 was the high point of vigilantism in America; it was commonplace for citizens to band together to hunt down criminal suspects. There were not enough lawmen to act as a "police force," which by then some big cities in the East were hiring; frontiersmen had to take matters into their own hands.

Most middle-aged town citizens in the West in 1900 would have been veterans of the various Indian wars that swept the country after the Civil War, either as regular Army, private scouts working for the Army, local militias, or as members of an ad-hoc posse comitatus that would fight against Indian raiders or raid Indian tribes themselves. Everybody had guns; they were as necessary in that part of the country as water, beef, and coffee. And everybody knew how to use them (hunting probably supplemented nearly everyone's food supply).

So how in the world could a whole town of such hard-bitten survivors be so afraid of four measley guys? Why wouldn't they just take care of the problem, one way or another, as they'd been doing all their lives, against both man and beast?

No, it doesn't fit its time period at all; nor does it fit previous Westerns, where the hero could always round up a posse to help him. But it certainly does fit what liberals and lefties imagined to be the "cowardice" of people during the late forties and early fifties, who refused to stand up to the bully investigators hunting for Communist infiltration of both government and key industries, very much including Hollywood.

Aside from the personal factor, there is also a larger thrust of the movie: It's a direct frontal assault upon one of the central organizing myths of American culture. In this case, "myth" does not mean an incorrect or invalid belief; it means a belief that underlies Americans' "sense of self." The belief in question is that of the rugged individualist.

It's a truism, believed by and large on both sides of our northern border, that the fundamental difference between America and Canada is this: The American frontier was tamed by cantankerous, antisocial, extremely self-reliant individuals who went west to escape the clutches of the "big government" of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries -- which wouldn't look very big to us today but loomed large in the eyes of pioneers from Daniel Boone to Davy Crockett to the classic Western period of about 1870 through 1900.

The Canadian frontier was tamed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Mounties.

Far from being a false myth, rugged individualism is a historically accurate depiction of most settlers of the West in that time: They fended for themselves because they had to; they solved their own problems, scratched for their own seed, raised their own food, and defended themselves. They didn't "call the cops," because by and large, there were none. (Even today, America is woefully under-policed -- by the standards of Europe.)

When one man could not handle a task, he banded together with the smallest number of friends and neighbors to get the job done. Settlers regularly "lit out" from a settlement when they decided it had become "too citified fer fit livin'." There were always those who welcomed the encroach of civilization, of course; they were the majority. But they came by train, long after those who first walked across the Great Plains, even after those who drove Conestoga wagons.

The Law mosied in later and chased out the remaining rugged individualists.

By 1900, such a sense of self-reliance was firmly established as a critical part of the American character, a major reason it was the age of vigilantism: Locals took care of their own problems, for good or ill. They didn't yell for the cops to come rescue them.

High Noon depicts weasley, knee-knocking townsmen pleading with one man, Will Kane, to save them; the movie utterly slanders the American character as no other Western had ever done. It caricatures our ancestors as not the self-reliant individualists with a deep sense of honor we have always thought them, but as whiny, hypocritical, cowardly vermin who were too afraid to confront evil -- even at odds of twenty-five to one! For Pete's sake, there must have been at least 100 adult males in Hadleyville, New Mexico Territory, and only four bad guys.

This is character assassination of the entire United States of America, since the Old West is such an integral part of our national heritage.

A big picture's big picture

This mockery serves not only the narrow agenda of Foreman -- in a snit because the country was turning decisively against Communism in 1951-52, which he probably believed could only be explained by cowardice -- and the cause of dissing our ancestors, but also the larger agenda of the ComIntern (Communist International front). At the very time Foreman was writing the movie, America was engaged in our first true war against Communism, the first real campaign of the Cold War: defending South Korea from invasion by the Communist North.

In 1951-52, victory was still very much uncertain. North Korea had originally been "communized" by the Soviets towards the end of World War II, just like Eastern Europe; by the early 50s, they were allied with Red China as well.

In January 1951, we -- United Nations forces, mostly American -- were nearly driven off the Chosen peninsula; but we rallied and battled our way back north of Seoul. By the end of May, we and the North Korean and Chinese forces were stalemated, neither side being able to oust the other and achieve total control of Korea. (We did, however, ultimately achieve our victory conditions of protecting South Korea.)

Foreman must have intensely followed the back and forth, which occured either during or immediately before he began writing the screenplay. Given his extreme political ideology, he probably was rooting for America to lose... as American lefties have done almost ritualistically ever since the end of the last "good war," when we were allied with the Motherland of Communism. And what could better help "the cause" in Korea than to demoralize the American citizenry and delegitimize the American government?

Some reds from the 1930s used to call themselves "premature anti-fascists;" I maintain that Carl Foreman was a premature Yippie: He unsuccessfully used tactics that would be used to far greater effect just a few years later by the Students for a Democratic Society, the Weather Underground, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and other members of the loose leftist coalition of anti-Vietnam War activists.

The final cut

But the consequences of what Foreman tried to bring about in High Noon were dire; in 1952, fascism had already been thoroughly discredited in the United States... which left Communism as the only viable form of anti-Americanism that was acceptable to the intellectual elite. And Communism then still meant Josef Stalin, who had killed tens of millions and was obsessed with infiltrating and overthrowing democracies around the world, including the United States.

By a direct and logical chain of reason then, High Noon was intended to achieve the following:

  • Vindicate its screenwriter's (Foreman was also associate producer) stand against HUAC;
  • Brand as cowards all those who thwarted the Party's radical agenda;
  • Undercut Americans' sense of themselves as exceptional and different from the corrupt and decadent democracies of Europe, which were toppling to Communism one by one;
  • Fatally damage the morale of American citizens while we were at war with an expansionist Communist dictatorship backed by both the Soviet Union and Red China;
  • Delegitimize our government, which was steadfastly waging that war;
  • And ultimately bring about a Red victory in Korea that would be a stepping stone to the communization of all of Asia.

Draw a loop from Eastern Europe, down around Turkey, the Arab states, around India, south of Indonesia, hooking around the Philippines, encompassing Japan, around Siberia, and back across the north to Eastern Europe; that would likely have been the Communist sphere of influence, had we lost the Korean War.

That would have been significantly larger and more powerful than what historically happened; if Korea were a unified "people's republic," I don't see how Japan, Singapore, and the Philippines could have survived as independent countries, not to mention the British city-state of Hong Kong. Such a military defeat might even have emboldened the ChiComs enough to endanger Australia and New Zealand.

Reds would have given virtually anything to have achieved all that. While I assail Carl Foreman's vile anti-Americanism, it's tough not to admire his nerve.

Foreman came close on many of those points, just as his political co-conspirators today try to degrade and smear America anent the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis. Fortunately, as strong as was the Hollywood Party in the mid-twentieth century -- and the Hollywood Ummah today -- its enemies are stronger... but only because we remain vigilant.

That's my story; the prosecution rests. If anyone wants to mount a defense for the movie's moral corruption, be my guest.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery, naturally enough...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 22, 2009, at the time of 7:26 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

That Big Ol' NEA Scandal... Just Déjà Vu-Du

Hatched by Dafydd

Today saw new posts by Power Line and Patterico's Pontifications on the newest Obamic scandal; in this one, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was nabbed red-handed leaning on "artists" -- rather, those who are so unsuccessful that they must suckle at big government's teat -- to promote the partisan agenda of President Barack H. Obama... presumably with the threat of a cut-off of NEA grants as the "stick," and new, juicy buckets o' bucks as the "carrot."

The prime mover in this case is once again Andrew Breitbart, whose site Big Hollywood is breaking the NEA story -- just as Breitbart's Big Government by and large broke the ACORN story by hosting the first videos of James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles earlier this month.

I think there is no question that Breitbart has the goods on the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, its director Valerie Jarrett (a longtime Obamanista), her deputy director Buffy Wicks, and another federal agency, United We Serve. There is no doubt that the Obamacle is misusing and abusing the public trust, peddling propaganda, and using the threat of government power to coerce (and entice) artists into supporting his partisan agenda

And there is every likelihood that members of the Obama administration -- and perhaps the president himself -- have engaged in criminal behavior that, in a more rational and law-abiding era, might even lead to impeachment.

But such an era would surely not have been the 1930s and 1940s; and therein lies the reason why this particular scandal fills me with ennui: For an earlier president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, pioneered this exact tactic: using literary writers, playwrights, screenwriters, movie directors, producers, actors, radio dramatists, painters and sculptors, songwriters, composers, singers and entire orchestras -- and all the trade unions, professional societies, and literary and artistic guilds associated with the arts -- to advance his own leftist agenda for America.

And critics were not only called "unpatriotic," they were subject to arrest... if the mobs fomented by Roosevelt's New Deal cult didn't tear them limb from limb first. Let's see Barack Obama and his puny New Black Panther Party and SEIU unionistas top that.

Throughout the FDR 30s, Hollywood was pressured into making numerous propaganda promos for the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the primary vehicle of New Deal socialism and vicious anti-Capitalism; these promos starred the biggest names in Hollywood and villified the profit motive, competition, individualism, and liberty in practice (while extolling liberty in name only). But there were also a great many major, A-release features that self-consciously pushed Rooseveltianism slyly, as storyline in mere dramas and comedies.

The Communist (read: Stalinist) Left had so taken over Tinseltown that there was a "redlist" long before there was a blacklist. Anti-Communist actors, such as Adolph Menjou, saw their careers severely damaged. By contrast, lefty producers, directors, and screenwriters benefitted tremendously from their Party affiliation.

And not just Hollywood; painters and sculptors were likewise pressed into service to sell the American people on one of the most radical leftist programs ever foisted upon this country. The very reason those Obama posters from last year's election look so familiar is that the heroic-worker style is copied wholesale from the 1930s New Deal posters.

Songwriters were pressured to sell the NRA and rural electrification and Social Security and all of it. Good Lord, Barack Obama is a pathetic, little wannabe huckster compared to the Master of Evil, he with his mile-wide grin and mile-long cigarette holder.

But the corruption sank even deeper, for it wasn't just American leftism that the president was pushing, using the arts and farces as his populist bulldozer: Roosevelt himself personally ordered Jack Warner (an anti-Communist studio head) to produce a sickening, fawning, bootlicking paeon to Josef "Uncle Joe" Stalin torn from the pages of the journal kept by Roosevelt's hand-picked ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph Davies.

The movie was titled Mission to Moscow (1943)... and I rib you not, you cannot possibly believe what I say about it until you actually see it. We learn that peace-loving Uncle Joe has always been a great friend to America; he tried as hard as he could to bring about peace between the allies and the axis. Russia is full of nothing but happy, contented people -- well fed, free and independent, able to speak their minds on any subject with no threat from the government. (This is in stark contrast to Germany, where everybody suffers under the bootheel of oppression by the Nazis.)

Factories are run by the workers, who labor solely for the good of all. Eventually, we get to the infamous show trials... wherein we discover that all those Trotskyites were really just -- Nazi spies!

The Hitler-Stalin pact goes unremarked in the movie, though it had been signed, sealing the alliance between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and finally abrogated two years before the movie was released; nor does the movie (or book) dwell on the dismemberment of Poland by Germany and -- who was that again? -- and the Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik.

But the most jaw-hinging aspect of Mission to Moscow is its provenance: It was made from the allegedly nonfiction book written in 1941 by Ambassador Davies when he returned from his posting to the Soviet Union; and Davies, an attorney who chaired the FTC under Woodrow Wilson, was personally selected by FDR for that "mission." Ye gods, imagine what peril the nation was in, when a man like that could be sent to one of the most delicate, sensitive diplomatic posts in the known universe.

When I decry Roosevelt defiling the arts by drafting them into his leftist political agenda, I'm not talking about movies made simply to help the war effort; that's mere patriotism. But even deep into the 1940s, FDR pushed Hollywood to release movies that went far beyond "demonizing" the Nazis (if such a thing is possible) and the Imperial Japanese or even praising our ally, the Soviet Union... movies like:

  • Keeper of the Flame (1942 -- written by Communist Donald Ogden Stewart in consultation with the Bureau of Motion Pictures in the U.S. Office of War Information): Katherine Hepburn discovers her husband, in concert with a number of veterans, plans a fascist coup d'état. Damn Republicans... they're everywhere!
  • Tender Comrade (1943 -- written by Dalton Trumbo and directed by Edward Dmytryk, both later members of the "Hollywood Ten"): Ginger Rogers and other wives of servicemen discover the joys of living in communal farms -- just like in the Soviet Union! -- while their husbands are off fighting the Nazis. Incidentally, in case anyone is interested, Dalton Trumbo joined the Party during the Hitler-Stalin pact... such much for him merely being a "premature anti-fascist."
  • Song of Russia (1944): An orchestra conductor travels to the USSR shortly before the Nazi invasion -- which means during the pact, of course -- and sees, as Wikipedia so perfectly puts it, "happy, healthy, smiling, free Soviet citizens, blissfully living the Communist dream."

Each of these movies, along with others (e.g., the North Star, 1943) sang the praises not of Russia but of Communism, and worse, of Stalinism. And each of these films was made by studios that were in near constant contact with the U.S. Office of War Information. This was Roosevelt's baby, his conduit to wartime posters, wartime movies, wartime radio, and so on.

It was not used merely to promote patriotism and support for the war; as seen above, it was a powerful federal agency that pushed the graphic arts (fine and pop), literature, movies, drama, and music to support FDR's political agenda and encourage the hysterical Roosevelt-worship that characterized his entire reign. The OWI was established by executive order in 1942 and lasted through the war -- though in 1944, Congress was so disturbed by some of its domestic projects that it defunded, among other elements, the Bureau of Motion Pictures.

But even death did not release the arts community -- not the Bureau's death, nor even FDR's. After Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945, his skeletal hands reached and clutched at we the living; the project continued, and we got movies like It's a Wonderful Life (1946) -- in which we discover that the banks should simply forgive all their loans and redistribute the wealth -- and High Noon (1952) -- all the more corrupt and vile for the sheer artistry of its propaganda, and its duping of dim bulb Gary Cooper: Marshal Will Kane must stand alone against Sen. Joseph McCarthy -- er, I mean outlaw Frank Miller -- and the ravening hordes of HUAC... I mean, his two thugs.

The story of High Noon is set in or about 1900, but it makes not the slightest lick of historical sense; if the town was that worried about Miller, they would simply have formed a committee of vigilance, surrounded the train depot, and either ordered Miller to hop back aboard and ride the iron rail to the end of the line... or just blown him to glory with their own rifles and scatterguns. No need to interrupt the marshal's honeymoon.

When I gaze upon the awe-inspiring majesty of the New Deal's corruption of art for political propaganda, not to promote good citizenship and patriotism but specifically to promote the partisan political projects of Franklin Roosevelt, and the joyous brazenness of FDR's blasphemy and heresy within the chapel of freedom and liberty he inherited -- and then I turn my eye to the insignificant insect bites of Obamunism's own arts project... honest to mercy, I just find that my give-a-damn's busted.

Sorry, no red meat on this one. I'll stick with the much more significant and systematic dismantling of ACORN.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 22, 2009, at the time of 12:14 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 21, 2009

Obama Has a Mandate - but with Whom?

Hatched by Dafydd

President Barack H. Obama was all over the broadcast map yesterday, reading the usual litany of whoppers, floppers, and gobstoppers that flows from the Teleprompter of the United States. (TOTUS -- I picture an object like a Dalek from Dr. Who... "Exterminate! Exterminate!")

Having nothing better to do (I mislaid my toenail clipper), I read an article quoting some of what our august president said this September.

Hot cars and health czars

Here is one of my favorites, where Obama argues in favor of an individual mandate for every American to have health insurance:

"What it's saying is, is that we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you any more than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance," Mr. Obama said on ABC's "This Week." "People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that, if you hit my car, that I'm not covering all the costs."

I have already accepted the arguments against such an individual mandate; but even back when I reluctantly accepted it, I never made an argument as foolish as this one. How dumb is it? Let me count just a few of the ways:

  • No, Mr. President; it's not true that "everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance." Only those people who (a) drive, (b) drive on the public roads, and (c) own a car have to buy auto insurance; that constitutes a lot less than ("everybody" minus "just about"). The remainder (children, non-drivers, those that drive only on private land, those that only borrow other people's cars because they can't afford one of their own) do not have to buy automobile insurance.

    But under ObamaCare, everybody in America must buy insurance (or have it bought for them), no exceptions.

  • Even when you are required to buy auto insurance, you don't have to buy insurance to protect yourself, unless you live in a state that requires vile and disgusting "no fault" insurance. In any other state, you only need to buy insurance for damage you cause to other people. If you don't want to insure against damage to your own car -- or your own body -- that's up to you.

    But under ObamaCare, the mandate applies entirely to insurance to protect you, yourself from damage to you, yourself. It wouldn't cover any damage you cause to someone else... just yourself.

  • Even in states that "require" insurance, you generally can opt out of the insurance mandate by posting a bond of some certain amount.

    But under ObamaCare -- fugeddaboudit. You won't be able to opt out of the mandate just by posting a bond... or having a medical savings account (MSA), or catastrophic care, or what have you. In fact, you (or your employer) will almost certainly have to buy a gold-plated health insurance policy that covers everything, including abortions, fertility treatments, STD treatment, homeopathic treatment, acupuncture, colon cleansing, tooth whitening, and mental health care (which you may need after paying your premium each month).

Note, you won't be able to use any of that stuff, or any other specialized care (including anesthesiology -- what could go wrong?), because of rationing -- cf. Canada. But by golly, at least you'll be covered!

Tax fax

Here's the next burst of risible rhetoric:

And now, the insurance mandate is being criticized by lawmakers and Americans who say that the cost of coverage will amount to a new tax that would violate the president's campaign pledge against imposing new taxes on Americans who make under $250,000....

"My critics say everything is a tax increase," Mr. Obama said on "This Week." "For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase."

Huh; it'll sure feel like a tax. The feds will say, "Either you spend several hundred dollars per year buying the insurance we tell you to buy, or else you pay a fine of several hundred dollars." If it walks and squawks like a tax...

Technically, it's not extortion if Guido says, "You got a nice place here; sure would be a shame if anything happened to it." But I think everybody knows what Guido (and his capo) really mean.

Debates and mandates

Here's the last. It's not exactly an argument about health-care reform but rather about criticism of health-care reform; and it masquerades as a defense of such critics. But its absurdity lies not in the actual words but in the hidden meaning behind them:

Mr. Obama also said Sunday that he doesn't agree with recent comments from former President Jimmy Carter that "an overwhelming portion" of the criticism over health care is based on the president's race.

"This debate that is taking place is not about race. It's about people being worried about how our government should operate," he said. "I do think we all have an obligation to try to conduct this conversation in a very civil way."

Allow me to quote from a very much more reliable narrator, Michael Barone:

I would submit that the president's call for an end to "bickering" and the charges of racism by some of his supporters are the natural reflex of people who are not used to hearing people disagree with them and who are determined to shut them up.

This comes naturally to liberals educated in our great colleges and universities, so many of which have speech codes whose primary aim is to prevent the expression of certain conservative ideas and which are commonly deployed for that purpose....

Similarly, the "mainstream media" -- the old-line broadcast networks, The New York Times, etc. -- present a politically correct picture of the world. The result is that liberals can live in a cocoon, an America in which seldom is heard a discouraging word....

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has warned us that there's a danger that intense rhetoric can provoke violence, and no decent person wants to see harm come to our president or other leaders. But it's interesting that the two most violent incidents at this summer's town hall meetings came when a union thug beat up a 65-year-old black conservative in Missouri and when a liberal protester bit off part of a man's finger in California.

The absurdity of Obama's argument above is that he still maintains the fiction -- delusion? -- that both sides are equally responsible for the "incivility;" I dispute that utterly. One side is saying, "Hey, let's debate this revolutionary rewrite of the entire American health-care system... before Congress votes on it."

The other side is saying something very different: "Shut up," he explained.

Jokeses and hoaxes

It amazes me just how many truly, deeply unintelligent things this alleged genius says -- says and defends, to the bitter end. If I didn't know better, having been instructed by so many important people in government, in the Democrat Party, and in the sundry elite liberal media, I could almost begin to believe that we may not have as bright an Obamacle as we ordered.

Does Amazon have a refund policy on presidential elections?

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 21, 2009, at the time of 4:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 20, 2009

Obama Stands Behind "Prosecutors" - Well...

Hatched by Dafydd

I cannot twitter my thumbs without noting the latest astonishment from the One (hat tip to DJR at Patterico's Pontifications). Here is Barack H. Obama on Deface the Nation, discussing Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to criminally investigate CIA agents who had the temerity to interrogate terrorist suspects about imminent, ongoing attacks:

He's got to make judgment in terms of what has occurred. My understanding is it's not a criminal investigation at this point. They are simply investigating what took place. And I appreciate the former CIA directors wanting to look after an institution that they helped to build. But I continue to believe that nobody's above the law. And I want to make sure that as President of the United States that I'm not asserting in some way that my decisions over rule the decisions of prosecutors who are there to uphold the law.

Thank goodness we finally have a president who is willing to uphold the law, no matter what: Fiat justitia ruat coelum!

(But of course, he's not a fanatic about it.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 20, 2009, at the time of 6:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Obama Looking Forward to Nationalizing Newspapers

Hatched by Dafydd

The nation's top "mainstream" (that is, reliably liberal) newspapers would all become nonprofits -- kind of like PBS:

The president said he is "happy to look at" bills before Congress that would give struggling news organizations tax breaks if they were to restructure as nonprofit businesses.

"I haven't seen detailed proposals yet, but I'll be happy to look at them," Obama told the editors of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Toledo Blade in an interview.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced S. 673, the so-called "Newspaper Revitalization Act," that would give outlets tax deals if they were to restructure as 501(c)(3) corporations. That bill has so far attracted one cosponsor, Cardin's Maryland colleague Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D).

(Actually, they're already nonprofits... but more like Lehman Brothers than PBS. At least they can formalize their status; insolvency -- it's not a bug, it's a feature!)

How did the nation's elite liberal newspapers get into this mess? History is clear:

  • When they shifted from trying to report the news to trying to elect Democrats, they began shedding circulation.
  • When they lost circulation, they lost advertising -- including the critical classified adverts, which were the major source of most newspapers' revenue.
  • As their income tanked, they had to let reporters and editors go. Given their business model, of course they let go all the conservatives and moderates, anyone who might insist upon hard facts instead of "reporting" Democratic spin.
  • Thus, they became even more unilateral and strident, hence lost even more circulation. In various fields of science and maths, this is called a "feedback loop."

But now Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD, 100%) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD, 95%) have proposed a solution to this catastrophic turn of events: These newspapers will henceforth become nonprofit organizations... and will be bailed out via "tax deals." This sounds oddly like a government subsidy.

Freed from the demand that they actually turn a profit, or even retain readership, they can now utterly wallow, like swamp hogs, in the foetid morass of New Left and liberal advocacy. They will no longer be in danger of sinking into the quicksand; the government will keep bailing them out, so long as they continue suckling at Barack H. Obama's breast.

What a cozy, madonna-and-holy-infant relationship.

At last, the only major national newspapers we shall have in future will be directly controlled by the federal government, and wholly dependent upon the president for their subsistence and continued existence -- like in Oogo Chavez's Venezuela. No more of this unpatriotic carping and racist demagoguing of the mitzvahs sloughed off by the Obamacle; the president and the Democrats in Congress will speak ex cathedra, and the church organs will pipe and print the holy writ. We'll finally have all of our drunks in a row.

What could go wrong?

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 20, 2009, at the time of 4:40 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Obama Proves Unable to Walk and Chew Missiles at the Same Time

Hatched by Dafydd

National Security Advisor (and former Marine Corps General) Jim Jones has just offered the weirdest explanation to date for cancelling the long-range ballistic-missile defense system in Eastern Europe -- while simultaneously betraying our allies, Poland and the Czech Republic:

White House National Security Adviser James L. Jones says President Obama's decision to abandon a long-range missile defense site in Eastern Europe was driven by U.S. intelligence concerns that Iran is further along than previously thought in developing medium-range missiles that could strike Western Europe and the Middle East with nuclear warheads.

"We think they are heading toward weaponiz[ing] these missiles, which obviously we want to dissuade them from doing," the retired four-star Marine general told The Washington Times, explaining why U.S. officials dramatically shifted from years of focus on guarding against longer-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)....

In a wide-ranging interview Friday afternoon in his West Wing office, Gen. Jones said the government's top national security leaders met about 50 times since March before unanimously agreeing to scrap a 2006 Bush administration plan to put 10 long-range, ground-based interceptor missiles in Poland and a related radar tracking site in the Czech Republic. They are to be replaced by ship-based radar and interceptors better able to protect Europe from shorter-range missiles, he said.

Note that "the government's top national security leaders" actually means Barack H. Obama's top national-security appointees, so it's hardly of cosmic significance that they were in unanimous agreement. But I digress...

The key driver, he said, was intelligence showing that Iran is stressing development of medium- and intermediate- range missiles that could reach the Middle East or Western Europe and is focusing less on ICBMs with ranges greater than 3,500 miles that might one day reach the United States.

"We concluded, the intelligence community concluded and recommended that the previous threat estimates about Iran's capabilities, vis-a-vis an ICBM, were not as imminent as we thought, which is to say the capability is further out," Gen. Jones said.

"The intermediate-range capability of Iranian technology is higher than we thought, which puts Europe at risk and many of our friends in the Gulf at risk," he said.

By painting the decision as an "either-or," Gen. Jones thus confesses that the Obama administration cannot pursue two BMD programs at the same time; I wonder if he felt acute embarassment making such an admission?

But the most astonishing aspect of this conundrum is that the Navy Aegis BMD system, which is what he says they plan to use instead of the land-based system, has been operational and widely deployed for years! It's so common now that we're even selling and installing such systems on the ships of our allies.

All it takes to deploy it is to station the appropriate cruisers and destroyers in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. Why on earth should this preclude us pursuing defense against long-range missiles as well? It's like saying we must kill development of the Joint Strike Fighter because intelligence reveals that the most imminent enemy air threat can be countered by deploying our existing F/A-18 Hornets... and by golly, we can't do both.

Worse, as the Washington Times notes, we have not had notable success estimating how advanced are the missile designs of our enemies:

The report [by the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center] said Iran could have an ICBM by 2015.

However, two administration officials said the new intelligence is outlined in a May 2009 National Intelligence Estimate that concluded that Iran would not have a long-range missile before 2020.

U.S. estimates of missile threats have been of mixed reliability. In 1998, an intelligence assessment gauged that no nation outside the established nuclear powers would have a long-range missile by 2015. Shortly after the assessment, in August 1998, North Korea test-fired its first intercontinental-range Taepodong missiles....

Efforts by Iran to develop longer-range missiles would be detected, [Gen. Jones] said. "There's not much the Iranians can do in terms of developing an ICBM that we won't know about," he said. "It just requires testing, and you can tell when they get into that envelope."

So the new policy, which the National Security Advisor evidently agrees with, is that we should cease developing a defense against Iranian (and Russian) ICBMs and instead deploy Aegis BMD ships -- which we can of course deploy whenever we want, whether or not we build the interceptor site -- because Iran won't have long-range missiles until 2020... unless they have them sooner. And we'll "detect" the fact that Iran has developed long-range missiles when they test them!

(What if they don't develop ICBMS... but buy them instead from Russia, China, or North Korea? Gen. Jones doesn't even hint at how that would affect our defensive policy.)

Brilliant.

Um... is there perhaps a more plausible explanation? I'm intrigued by this throw-away from Gen. Jones:

Less-capable radar will be deployed some place in the Caucasus region to replace the planned high-powered radar in the Czech Republic, which was troubled by a "public opinion problem," Gen. Jones said.

"Public opinion problem?" I've strained my brain, and I cannot recall any wave of public sentiment against building a purely defensive radar site to allow us to intercept long-range missiles (with or without nuclear warheads) being fired at us by Iran. Or by Russia. Well -- no wave of American public sentiment, I mean, or even mass protests in Europe; I can well imagine public opinion (likely manufactured) running strong in Iran and Russia against the program.

The surreality continues. The Times reports a "subsequent phase" of missile defense, in which we deploy land-based versions of the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) in Poland, then future versions of the SM-3 that can hit long-range missiles, "over the next ten years":

The new plan means that defenses against Iranian missiles can be in place throughout Europe six or seven years sooner than under the abandoned European plan, Gen. Jones said.

But again, we can do this whether or not we build the long-range radar site in Poland and the Czech Republic; the policies are independent of one another (unless... see below). We're just talking about deploying missiles we already have and continuing the SM-3 developments that are already under way.

This entire explanation is one long, bizarre non-sequitur... unless the Obamacle has other plans in mind that would preclude our being able to deploy the old system and develop the new system at the same time. Does the Jones explanation mean that Obama plans a wholesale slashing of military funding, so that we really will have to choose between what soon will be two mutually exclusive policies -- deploying and developing? Is that the broad hint that Gen. James Jones is giving us?

There is no longer any question (Gen. Jones admits it) that one major purpose of this policy change is to appease the Russian bear, in the hopes that he will feel so grateful and magnanimous that he reciprocates by leaning on Iran to quit developing a nuclear bomb. But since we have already given Russia everything it wants, we must rely upon its centuries-long history of good will towards all, especially Eastern Europe.

And in fact, there is another weak link in this chain of Obamic "diplomacy": Who's to say Iran would scrap plans to become a nuclear power even if Russia commands them to? What is Vladimir Putin going to do -- invade Iran? Bomb them? Aid and abet Israel?

More gravely, Obama appears to have politicized the intelligence to get the diplomatic overture he wants:

  • The missile report from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center said Iran could deploy a long-range missile by 2015; that's five years before we estimate we could deploy advanced SM-3s to intercept them.
  • According to Eric Edelman, the undersecretary of defense for policy in the Bush administration who ran the Bush BMD program, Barack Obama promised that we would continue the long-range, ground-based interceptor plan "unless the [intelligence] assessment changed."
  • Lo! A new National Intelligence Estimate sprang forth in May of this year, like Athena from Zeus' brow. It was presumably shepherded by Obama's CIA Director Leon Panetta -- who has no intelligence experience whatsoever but is a long-time liberal Democratic House member... along with the presumed connivance of Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano -- who has no intelligence or military experience whatsoever but is a former liberal Democratic governor and Anita Hill's attorney during l'affaire Clarence Thomas. (Of course, she popularized the new phrase "man-caused disaster" to take the place of "terrorism," so she must know something.)
  • The new NIE changed the intelligence assessment to suggest that Iran cannot develop long-range missiles until 2020... exactly the right time frame for us to have those new, improved SM-3s in place. What a stroke of luck!

It seems impossible not to draw the obvious conclusion of intel-tampering, unless one really, really works at it.

Oh, and this little tidbit is simply delicious:

Politically, the abandonment of the Europe site also set the stage for progress in reaching a new strategic arms agreement with Russia. Moscow vehemently opposed the European missile site as posing a threat to its strategic missile capability and had made canceling the program a precondition for arms talks.

So much for the One's plan to hold summit meetings "without preconditions." I reckon he must have meant only that we would not impose any preconditions ourselves; not that we wouldn't kow-tow to preconditions imposed by other countries!

This series of unfortunate events brings the Obamic national-security policy into sharp focus: Our new defense "posture" will evidently be the foetal position.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 20, 2009, at the time of 2:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 18, 2009

The Forgotten San Franciscan

Hatched by Dafydd

Just a brief, annoying Lizard lecture. Please pay no attention to this post; don't bother reading it. It's a complete waste of your time, I promise.

Ever since yesterday -- when Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) tearfully warned us that Republicans plotted to launch a wave of political violence and assassination, just like in "the late seventies" in California -- I've heard more than a dozen explanatory references to "the assassination of Harvey Milk."

There is absolutely no doubt that Dan White assassinated openly gay San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk. But only after he first assassinated openly straight San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, who was White's primary target.

White was enraged at Mayor Moscone: White had resigned his seat on the Board of Supervisors (due to financial problems); but he was persuaded to change his mind, because Moscone -- who opposed the pro-development position of a one-vote majority of the Board -- planned to appoint a replacement for White who would tip the balance to Moscone's side of the development issue.

So White packed a revolver (he was a former cop), snuck into City Hall via a basement window to avoid the metal detectors, and confronted Moscone in his office. He shot Moscone multiple times, killing him; then he left and headed towards the offices of the Board members, where he met Milk.

Harvey Milk was one of Dan White's two biggest opponents on the Board (the other being Carol Ruth Silver). In White's own office, he shot and killed Milk; then he fled on foot. He eventually turned himself in to a former friend from the police force, homicide Det. Frank Falzon. He was tried for two counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances, charges that could have gotten him the death penalty; but the jury instead convicted him of voluntary manslaughter, and he was sentenced to only seven years. (He was paroled after only five -- then committed suicide two years later.)

The sentence was, of course, a terrible miscarriage of justice... caused by very pro-criminal laws enacted by California liberals. Fortunately, White's defense of "diminished mental capacity" was abolished after, and because of, his trial.

Somehow, George Moscone has become the "forgotten victim" of the Dan White killings. Why? Very simple: As everyone knows, Harvey Milk was one of the very first openly gay elected officials in the United States... so of course, the myth has arisen that White murdered Milk because White was homophobic. (As always, it's all about them.)

Therefore, George Moscone became an annoying distraction to the clear storyline: Right-wing conservative homophobe guns down pioneering gay politician! So Moscone has been by and large erased from the picture.

The "homophobia" interpretation makes no sense:

  • The first person White killed was the mayor, who was heterosexual, married, and had four children.
  • White had severe political differences with Milk, the same as he had with Moscone -- which supply a much more plausible motive than supposed homophobia (the financial motive is also strong, as is the clinical depression... which is not a defense but certainly an explanation).
  • After White was released from prison, he confessed to Falzon that he also intended to kill two other political opponents: Supervisor Carol Ruth Silver (of the anti-growth faction of the Board) and California Assemblyman Willie Brown (later Speaker of the Assembly, later Mayor of San Francisco) -- neither of whom is gay.

I think it very clear that Dan White's motives were (a) politics, (b) money, and (c) clinical depression; I've never seen good evidence that supposed homophobia played a significant role.

Incidentally, White's attorneys never claimed that White had diminished mental capacity because he ate junk food (the infamous "Twinky Defense"). Rather, they argued that he had diminished mental capacity due to clinical depression -- and one piece of evidence of that clinical depression they introduced was that he had started eating huge amounts of junk food. White's defense claimed the junk food was a symptom, not the cause, of his depression.

I believe White should have been executed; he murdered two people with obvious premeditation, for political reasons (that's two separate counts of special circumstances). I'm very glad that we abolished the diminished mental capacity defense shortly thereafter; and I'm also very pleased that White did the honorable thing at the end (even if he was driven to it by other demons).

But it's simply wrong to say that White assassinated Milk because Milk was gay, as well as saying that White's attorneys claimed that eating Twinkies and other junk food drove him crazy.

And can we please remember poor George Moscone -- White's first victim, and the forgotten man of the Dan White murders?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 18, 2009, at the time of 10:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 17, 2009

Gonna Lay Down My Missile Shield

Hatched by Dafydd

In Nukes for Kooks, we noted the mounting cooperation between Putin's Russia and Oogo Chavez's Venezuela, particularly on giving Venezuela nuclear technology... for peaceful purposes, naturally:

Venezuelan fascist dictator Oogo Chavez has just announced a joint venture with the Soviet Union Russia to develop "peaceful" nuclear power. At last, his poor, energy-starved country can stop shivering and provide power for its citizenry.

I suggested the tack that President Barack H. Obama would surely take to deal with this threat to American security:

I'm quite certain that the Obamacle, furthering his standard policy of friendly negotiations with all of our bitterest enemies (while snubbing and working against the interests of our closest allies), will immediately announce a diplomatic initiative to Oogo... run by the WMD Czar, Gary Samore, and a newly appointed Venezuela Czar, Jalapeño Spice, rather than by the Secretary of State (whoever he is).

The negotiating team (Samantha Power, Van Jones, Sen. Al Franken, and Keith Olbermann) will insist that Venezuela and Russia issue ironclad assurances, written in bold black ink on creamy white paper, that they never, ever, ever will help Oogo Chavez obtain nuclear weapons.

Oogo will be brought to the White House thirty-eight times over the next two years, where he will be feted and wined and dined. Then Obama will bow at the waist, kiss Oogo's Bolivarian hand, and call him "your highness."

In the end, the One will get his agreement, signed at the Western White House (Al Capone's old headquarters in Chicago). He -- Obama, not Capone -- will hold the piece of paper up for CNN to video, and his teleprompter will announce that Obama has achieved "peace in our time." We will then launch a massive foreign-aid money drop into Venezuela, to ensure they have enough aluminum tubing and nuclear-blast analysis software for the venture to succeed.

Well he hasn't yet gotten around to thinking of a response -- to Oogo; and it's puzzling, since our president is known world-wide for the roadrunner-like alacrity with which he responds to crises (such as backloading the recession stimulus plan so that nearly all the spending occurs two, three years out -- rather than, you know, during the recession itself). But at least he believes in firm but fair negotiations with Russia, the other half of the deadly equation; kind of like "tough love":

The Obama administration will scrap the controversial missile defense shield program in Eastern Europe, a senior administration official confirmed to CNN Thursday....

The Bush administration had cited the perceived nuclear threat from Iran as one of the key reasons it wanted to install the missile shield in eastern Europe.

The U.S. reversal is likely to please Russia, which had fiercely opposed the plans.

Our president displays the magnanimity that characterizes the American heart: He did not even demand some equivalent concession from Russia (such as abandoning the Venezuela nuclear deal), as some haggling Republican would have; Obama simply gave generously, as one friend to another, without insisting upon any quid pro quo.

But it's wonderful policy for America as well, dismantling our ability to defend ourselves from missile attack. To explain the deep, thoughtful reasoning behind the abrupt switch in policy to what Vladimir Putin has demanded, in increasingly bellicose tones, B.O. sent out America's top nuclear-policy expert, the man with more experience in the subject than any homo sapiens sapiens since Henry "Hammerin' Hank" Kissinger: Vice President Joe Biden:

Vice President Joe Biden earlier refused to confirm to CNN that the George W. Bush-era plan was being shelved.

But he did explain the logic of doing so, saying Iran -- a key concern for the United States -- was not a threat.

"I think we are fully capable and secure dealing with any present or future potential Iranian threat," he told CNN's Chris Lawrence in Baghdad, where he is on a brief trip.

"The whole purpose of this exercise we are undertaking is to diminish the prospect of the Iranians destabilizing that region in the world. I am less concerned -- much less concerned -- about the Iranian potential. They have no potential at this moment, they have no capacity to launch a missile at the United States of America," he said.

Now crabby, hysterical, Nazi-regalia sporting critics of the One We Have All Been Waiting For might raise the point that the purpose of ballistic missile defense in Eastern Europe is not necessarily to protect us from an Iranian ICBM launched against the continental United States, but rather to protect our European allies from Iranian threats from the intermediate-range ballistic missiles that they already have, ready and waiting for the nuclear warheads that they are so desperately trying to obtain (by hook or by Russian crook).

Those who are simply trying to kill the policy point out (in an enraged and emotional tone of voice) that the flight path from Iran to every country in Western Europe passes very near the Czech Republic or Poland -- or directly over them.

The missile shield was also intended (say those crybaby critics, who are all wee-weed up) to deter Russia itself from trying to reconquer the lands it lost when the Soviet Union collapsed, obliterating (perhaps temporarily) Communism's motherland. There are some loons who still insist, despite all evidence, that Russia herself has access to ICBMs that could be launched towards CONUS.

Such an argument is of course racist, so we need not bother responding.

But in fact, as anyone understands who has been paying attention, Russia has pointed all those missiles away from us and at other, more pressing threats to the Russian republic. I'm thinking Georgia, or maybe Tibet. Therefore, Putin poses even less of a threat to us than Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly refuted the cockamamie right-wing notion that he wants nuclear power for any but peaceful purposes -- just like Oogo.

The decision to unilaterally tear up our agreement with Poland and the Czech Republic shows the Obamacle's mastery of diplomacy, pleasing enemy and ally alike:

Czech Prime minister Jan Fischer said in a statement that U.S. President Barack Obama told him in a Wednesday phone call that the United States was shelving its plans. Fischer did not say what reason Obama gave him for reconsidering.

A spokeswoman at the Polish Ministry of Defense also said the program had been suspended.

"This is catastrophic for Poland," said the spokeswoman, who declined to be named in line with ministry policy....

Poland and the Czech Republic had based much of their future security policy on getting the missile defenses from the United States. The countries share deep concerns of a future military threat from the east -- namely, Russia -- and may now look for other defense assurances from their NATO allies.

Our lifelong, beloved national friend Russia has yet to respond, but we must assume this will cement the alliance between two countries joined by a common goal: the complete transformation of humanity to more closely match the spiritual qualities, ideology, and bipartisan outreach of, well, the One Himself:

By contrast, Russia may view the move as a diplomatic victory after complaining about the program consistently for years.

There was no comment Thursday morning from Russian officials. But the issue has been a sore point in relations between Washington and Moscow, with Russia believing the shield would ultimately erode its own strategic nuclear deterrent.

Any fair-minded supporter of world peace, security, and United Nations hegemony must agree; it's patently obvious that a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic threatens the nuclear deterrent of Russia.

After all, if we had the capability to intercept Russian missiles and prevent them from obliterating American cities, think how that would throw a monkey wrench into their ability to deploy Mutual Assured Destruction -- their only gambit to frighten us out of launching an unprovoked first strike against them. Such a savage and senseless American first strike would kill hundreds of millions of innocent civilians for no reason whatsoever -- beyond the sick love of genocide that riddles American history. And it's very likely, if a Republican ever manages to steal another presidential election, as in 2004, 2000, and 1980.

Thank the One I have seen the light. I shall spread the Good News -- that we finally have a president, the first since Jimmy Carter, who honestly believes in real negotiations (without preconditions) as the only arrow in the quiver of American foreign policy!

Truly we live in the New Millennium of hope and change.

Cross-toasted by Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 17, 2009, at the time of 2:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 16, 2009

Barack H. Obama: Mr. Meter Mover?

Hatched by Dafydd

On Thursday last, September 10th, the day after President Barack H. Obama's grand ObamaCare speech to a session of joint congressmen -- or whatever that was -- I made a bold prediction:

John Hinderaker at Power Line helpfully reports that before President Barack H. Obama's grand address on ObamaCare, the Rasmussen tally stood at 44% of likely voters supporting, 53% opposing....

He makes no predictions, but I'm not gunshy; I say No, Obama's speech last night did not move the meter; we won't see any jump outside the statistical margin of error....

The people have awakened to the fact that there's no "there" there in ObamaCare, and there never was; the drums of August proved that. There are no new arguments or facts under the sun that will help push it; the more people learn about it, the more they hate it; and the president himself has flat run out of charisma-gas.

It's still possible the Democrats will manage a jam-down (though I increasingly think they never will); but if they do, it will not be due to popular demand.

Barack Obama's final, desperate, make-or-break play to stir a populist uprising in favor of ObamaCare has failed. The numbers will not move significantly towards ObamaCare because of this or any future speech.

Well, the numbers are in. It is now exactly a week since the Obamacle spake from on high to the assembled cardinals and bishops -- also broadcast as an extraordinary dispensation to the huddled masses, yearning to breath the government option. During that se'en-night, what happened anent popular support for the plot scheme conspiracy proposal?

Well, on those rare occasions where it's necessary, I'm always big enough to admit I was wrong. I predicted that Obama would not significantly "move the meter" on Rasmussen, but in fact he did; he moved it quite a bit, actually, much more than I thought he could.

Backwards.

As of the Rasmussen release of the 10th, you'll recall -- with all polling conducted before the speech aired -- ObamaCare was supported by 44% of likely voters, with 53% opposing; thus it was losing by 9 points.

Yesterday's release, Tuesday September 15th, shows 42% supporting with 55% opposed, with ObamaCare losing in the poll by 13 points. That's a jump of 4 points, or 44% over the previous gap.

During the interim, support crept up to as high as 51% four days after the speech, with forty six percent opposed; at that momentary peak, ObamaCare was winning by 4 points. But support utterly collapsed in the very next day's release, to 45% support, 52% opposition, with ObamaCare losing by 7 points. That spread worsened in yesterday's release to its current position.

As of now, I'd say my prediction was quite accurate: I of course meant that the speech wouldn't move the meter towards support of ObamaCare (I assume everyone understood that). That it seems to have significantly increased opposition instead (or failed to prevent the increase) is just a bonus.

But it's not just those "right-wing racists" at Rasmussen, who are doubtless straddling the pockets of Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC, 92%), and the entire Fox News Channel (which must be a very uncomfortable straddle spread). Checking the Gallup poll released today, we see no significant movement at all in the unforced opinion, compared to the same poll conducted Aug 31st - September 2nd; and what insignificant movement it shows is, in fact, against ObamaCare.

Bottom line: The Obamic encyclical did absolutely nothing to move the meter towards ObamaCare. POTUS (and TOTUS) utterly failed.

Under the circumstances, I hereby repudiate all my previous begging and pleading for Barack Obama to just shut up about health-care reform (and to shut up shuttin' up, too). Instead, I now encourage him to continue on his "speech a day keeps ObamaCare away" tour. Please be my guest, Mr. President; and... bon appétit!

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 16, 2009, at the time of 4:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Utlimate Democratic Failure

Hatched by Dafydd

The Hill reports that not a single Republican supports the version of ObamaCare crafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT, 80%)... not even Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME, 12%), Chuck Grassley (R-IA, 76%), and Mike Enzi (R-WY, 96%), the three "moderate" Republican Finance Committee members (Grassley is Ranking Minority Member) who form the Republican half of the "Gang of Six," set up by Baucus to try to find a bipartisan alternative to the House ObamaCare bill. (Hat tip to Paul at Power Line.)

(Actually, Mike Enzi is fairly conservative with a 96% rating from the ACU; for some reason, Baucus chose to include him in the pod.)

Baucus' failure to get even one of his three Finance Committee pals to go along with his "bipartisan compromise" augurs badly for the Democrats' ability to pick up even a single Republican in the full Senate to gain the 60 votes required for cloture; thus, the only way they have a chance of passing ObamaCare is to resort to the despicable maneuver of abusing reconciliation -- whose purpose is to hold down spending to reduce the deficit -- to jam through a wholesale rewrite of the entire relationship between doctors, patients, insurers, and government bureaucrats... and to blow the budget deficit through the roof, to boot. We discussed the unlikelihood of success in As the Byrd Rule Flies.

Even more humiliating than not being able to win a cloture vote (and then deciding not to try to ride reconciliation into passage) would be if they did try the reconciliation route -- then actually lost the vote, not being able to get even 50 Democratic senators to vote for it. What are the odds of that happening?

On paper, it's not plausible; the Democratic caucus in the Senate is much more liberal than the Republican conference is conservative; there are no Olympia Snowes or Chuck Grassleys on the left. Even Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85%) is far more liberal than most Senate Republicans are conservative.

The lowest ADA rating for a Democratic senator is 65% -- Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Other than she, there are only four Democrats with ratings in the 70s... and one of them is Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%), whose defection to the Republican side is dubious at best. Even if Sens. Robert Byrd (D-WV, 78%), Ben Nelson (D-NE, 75%), and Evan Bayh (D-IN, 70%) all flip, and even assuming that Lieberman votes against the bill, that would still leave the Democrats with a 55 to 44 majority in favor.

But there is also the possibility that some liberal Democrats might vote against it, on the grounds that it lets a good crisis go to waste by not cramming true single-payer, government-run health care down America's esophagus. For example:

[Baucus'] effort to woo Republicans, however, has alienated liberals. At least one prominent liberal on his committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), plans to vote against Baucus’s plan.

“There is no way in its present form that I will vote for it,” Rockefeller said during a conference call.

But of course, if no Republican is going to vote for it anyway, why not make it full-blown ObamaCare -- perhaps by simply introducing the House version of the bill into the Senate? That would certain resolve the leftist rebellion... but at what cost? I can see even quite liberal-voting Democrats voting against a bill that (a) is a wild, liberal, tax and spend monstrosity in a era of mounting opposition among ordinary Americans, doctors, and townhall attendees; and (b) was brought up for a vote in such a cynical way. It would also make it easy for the three moderate Democrats plus Joe Lieberman to vote against the bill.

All it would take is six more Democrats voting against for varying reasons to drop the vote down to 49 yea, 50 nay, and the bill fails.

What a dilemma for the not quite so liberal Democrats: Either they suck it up, vote for ObamaCare under reconciliation, and have a very good chance of being voted out of office at the next opportunity... or else getting frisky, voting against the bill (and killing it), and then seeing their entire side the aisle taking a walloping in November 2010.

The best outcome for the Democrats would probably be for the bill to fail to break cloture, and then get spiked by Reid. That would be embarassing -- but at least it wouldn't be humiliating, and it wouldn't be enraging.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 16, 2009, at the time of 12:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 15, 2009

Mailed Fist in Lizard-Skin Glove: Lizardian Alternative to Individual Health-Insurance Mandate

Hatched by Dafydd

The more I mull the arguments against the individual health-insurance mandate (hence, I-HIM), the more merit I see in them: It's inevitable that any such mandate, no matter how light the requirement begins, will eventually become a rigid rule that everyone must buy gold-plated ObamaPlans... which themselves are unsustainable and will quickly dissolve into full-blown, United Kingdom style National Health Service, with all the insane medical rationing and treatment denial that entails.

Even if the original mandate is merely for an HSA plus catastrophic care, Big Insurance will push and push, lobby and lobby for mandated coverage for this, required coverage for that; and soon you have the NHS. (The NHS as currently constituted didn't arise overnight either.)

So I bent my mighty reptilian brain -- about the size of a pomegranate seed -- and came up with an alternative that seems more free market, less statist than the I-HIM.

My sticking point in the past has always been the free-rider problem, which I explicated in a previous post. Here's how I described it:

In economics, [we have something] called the "free rider" problem; the classic example is a streetcar with a single driver who is also the ticket-taker, so he really has no ability to extract fares from riders not honest enough to pay voluntarily. These moochers start hopping on the streetcar without buying a ticket; eventually, as more and more people see others riding for free, even ordinarily honest riders start feeling like suckers. When they, too, begin doing the same, the streetcar line goes bankrupt. Then nobody gets the service.

In this case, if we have an unenforced system of health insurance, what happens when somebody without any insurance gets terribly sick or injured -- or worse, his child does. Given that Americans will not stand by and watch someone die from an easily treated disease or injury, the reality is that those free riders will, in fact, be treated. Maybe they'll be billed afterwards, but they can declare bankruptcy and weasel out of even that small bit of personal responsibility.

Similarly, Americans will never countenance senior citizens living on the streets or children growing up illiterate or otherwise uneducated: We have no stomach for willfully forcing people to pay a draconian, perhaps even fatal, price for stupidity... even less for making children pay the price of their parents' stupidity.

Without some solution to the free-rider problem, we cannot move to a system of full liberty. (I'm not saying it's insoluble, only that I personally don't know any solution.) But we can at least significantly pare back government intrusion to the least extent required to still leave nearly everyone covered for old-age health care, retirement, and some standard minimum level of education.

All right; I think I may have, if not a complete solution the free-rider problem (which I believe to be insoluble as a general paradox), then at least something that may mitigate it considerably -- perhaps desisively. I call it the mailed fist in the lizard-skin glove approach:

The problem is in one clause of one sentence above. "Given that Americans will not stand by and watch someone die from an easily treated disease or injury, the reality is that those free riders will, in fact, be treated. Maybe they'll be billed afterwards, but they can declare bankruptcy and weasel out of even that small bit of personal responsibility."

So here's the suggestion:

  1. Amend the bankruptcy rules so that only a certain dollar value of health-care debt, X dollars, can be eliminated via bankruptcy;
  2. Set X high enough to cover the deductable of any reasonable insurance;
  3. But also set X far too low to allow an uninsured patient to shield himself from the consequences of health-care debt by using bankruptcy to wipe it away.

For example, if a typical catastrophic health-care insurance policy had a $5,000 deductable -- normally paid by your health savings account (HSA) -- then X, the dollars of health-care debt you can discharge via bankruptcy, could be set to $5,000. If you have insurance, you're covered; if you only have catastrophic care, but your HSA is depleted (or non-existent), you can declare bankruptcy and discharge $5,000... which is your deductable. That way you won't be socked with life-altering bills, if you're at least somewhat responsible.

But if you've taken no insurance at all -- you're a smart-ass kid who thought he would never need it -- then you may end up with $90,000 of treatment debt, of which only $5,000 can be discharged under bankruptcy. That means you're going to have to agree to some payment plan for the other $85,000, or be taken to court and lose everything you own.

When word got around that you could be absolutely wiped out if you don't get health insurance, perhaps that would get through enough young, thick skulls that most of the free-rider problem would solve itself. As always, the deserving poor who literally cannot pay for health insurance could get federal, state, and local health-insurance subsidies (maybe a Medicaid Advantage program similar to the Medicare Advantage program that Democrats want to destroy).

At least it's something we can offer in place of the I-HIM, to be added to the other market-oriented reforms to produce a solid plan, which we can call the Health Reform Contract With America:

  • Attaching health insurance to the individual, not the employer, so it will be fully portable (and encouraging employers to offer defined contributions towards paying the premiums, if they want);
  • Removing all barriers to insurance companies selling policies of any kind to anybody anywhere;
  • Requiring insurance companies to accept people with pre-existing conditions from an "assigned-risk" pool -- perhaps they don't cover the pre-existing condition for the first six months after coverage begins, and thereafter they do, as with many group plans;
  • Allowing groups to be formed in many different creative ways, from members of a professional guild to subscribers to a particular magazine to membership in a service organization to being active-duty military, in the reserves, in the National Guard, or in the Merchant Marine, and so forth;
  • Allowing tax deductions for much larger HSAs than currently;
  • Allowing all individuals to deduct their health-insurance payments from their taxable income, even if they take the standard deduction (and allowing companies to deduct any payments they make to their employees' personal health-insurance plans);
  • Offering subsidies for the deserving poor to buy health insurance;
  • Amending the bankruptcy law to prevent free-riders from deliberately not buying insurance, gambling that even if they get sick, they'll be treated anyway... then declare bankruptcy to avoid paying for it even after the fact.

Workable? If not, why not? How can it be fixed better?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 15, 2009, at the time of 6:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Democrats, Joe Wilson, Maureen Dowd, and the "R" Word

Hatched by Dafydd

On Dennis Prager's radio show today, he expressed utter befuddlement about the Democratic attack on Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC, 92%), who shouted "You lie!" at President Barack H. Obama during the ObamaCare speech to a joint session of Congress; Prager couldn't understand why the Left would call Wilson racist, and claim his outburst was an act of racism. In particular, Prager was at a loss whether Maureen Dowd, who jumped in front of the parade with her column Saturday, actually believed what she wrote -- that when Wilson yelled "You lie," he really meant "You lie, boy!"

I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer -- the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids -- had much to do with race.

I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids -- from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.

But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president -- no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq -- convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.

("No Democrat ever shouted 'liar' at W.?" Ye flipping gods! What planet does Ms. Dowd hail from?)

Indeed, Prager is not alone: I would say 95% of the Republican Party either cannot fathom how Dowd, et al, could possibly think that opposition to the Obamacle stems entirely from racism, or else flatly believes that Democrats don't believe it but are merely using it as a convenient and effective, if vile, rhetorical device. But conservatives are really being unfair to Democrats: They do, in fact, believe what they say; it's not just a handy stick to bash conservatives... and it's fully consonant with well-articulated liberal orthodoxy going back many decades, to the very cusp of the civil-rights movement itself in 1909.

I'm stunned that conservatives and Republicans fail to grasp, even today, what "affirmative action" actually implies. Haven't we been paying attention?

Left-liberal "affirmative action" was first brought to federal public policy by President John F. Kennedy (which many Republicans, especially neoconservatives, still revere) and perpetuated by Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon (which everybody on both sides the aisle hates). It has always meant going the extra mile (or thousand miles) to establish, encourage, or solidify "diversity"... where diversity means "an increase in the number of non-whites, non-males, and non-heterosexuals in any field of endeavor."

Kennedy seems to have first used the word in Executive Order 10925:

The President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity established by this order is directed immediately to scrutinize and study employment practices of the Government of the United States, and to consider and recommend additional affirmative steps which should be taken by executive departments and agencies to realize more fully the national policy of nondiscrimination within the exeoutive branch of the Government....

The contractor will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin. The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin....

The Committee may direct that any bidder or prospective contractor or subcontractor shall submit, as part of his Compliance Report, a statement in writing, signed by an authorized officer or agent of any labor union or other workers' representative with which the bidder or prospective contractor deals, together with supporting information, to the effect that the said labor union's or representative's practices and policies do not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, creed, or national origin, and that the labor union or representative either will affirmatively cooperate, within the limits of his legal and contractual authority, in the implementation of the policy and provisions of this order or that it consents and agrees that recruitment, employment, and the terms and conditions of employment under the proposed contract shall be in accordance with the purposes and provisions of the order.

Kennedy thus distinguished "affirmative action" from passive non-discrimination: It's not enough, he ordered, that public and private employers and contractors not discriminate against blacks; rather, they must go out of their way to remedy such de facto discrimination, even if unintentional.

As it turns out (and was clear to many from the outset), there is only one way to remedy "racial discrimination" that is neither intentional nor deliberate, but arises from actual differences and personal preferences of individual blacks and whites, men and women; and that is, in fact, to racially and sexually discriminate -- but this time, in favor of anyone who is not a heterosexual white male.

Worse, pesons of all races, both genders, and all sexual preferences must be told they cannot do what they want but must instead do what is best for "diversity." Individual blacks must attend Harvard, even if they would feel much more comfortable at UCLA; every individual woman must become a career politcian, lawyer, or aerospace engineer, even if what she really wants is to marry, keep house, and raise children. And individual gays and lesbians are pressured to marry, even if they reject the monogamous gay lifestyle as too much like heterosexuality.

Thus even from the outset, affirmative action lurched along in opposition to its false-flag, equalitarian rhetoric of treating people as individuals, not representatives of racial, ethinic, sexual, or sexual-preference groups, "without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." Affirmative action has always demanded racial and sexual preferences.

The rhetorical devotion to Martin Luther King, jr.'s "dream" of a time when people "will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" -- has always been in tension against the actual political combat fought to institute programs that intentionally discriminate on the basis of race... but for "the other side" in the putative race wars. Even King himself, for all his lofty, equalitarian rhetoric, advocated programs that today would unquestionably be called "affirmative action," such as Operation Breadbasket ("King staffers gathered data on the hiring patterns of corporations doing business in black communities, and called on companies to rectify disparities").

Even King's words often advocated explicit racial preferences:

  • "Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic."
  • "A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro."
  • "Within common law we have ample precedents for special compensatory programs.... And you will remember that America adopted a policy of special treatment for her millions of veterans after the war."

Politically, Ronald Reagan was right when he said that King was a "near-Communist." It's inarguable that dream or no dream, King was a collectivist, no matter what he said on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

Conservatives and Republicans claim to understand this, but I don't think they've really internalized it... else they would have no difficulty grokking Maureen Dowd's attack on Joe Wilson.

Brilliant feminist writer Christina Hoff Sommers (author of Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women; The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men; and other excellent reads) distinguishes between what she calls "equity feminism" -- the belief that men and women should be given equal opportunity to achieve their goals as their individual talents and perseverence allow -- and "gender feminism," the belief that we should always support women over men. The former is the feminism she grew up believing; the latter is what the feminist movement has degenerated into, she argues. You will be unshocked to learn that Sommers is the bête noire of NOW, NARAL, and other movement organizations.

For clarity, let's adapt those terms to affirmative action in general. We'll speak of equity individualism on the one hand and diversity discrimination on the other... and now at last we can resolve Dennis Prager's dilemma.

Prager kept demanding to know how yelling "You lie!" at the president was a comment on race when it doesn't even mention race; he couldn't understand why Dowd attributed opposition to Obamunism -- including something as innocuous as trying to refuse stimulus money -- to racism, but didn't attribute opposition to George W. Bush (even by blacktivists) to racism. But Prager's confusion comes directly from trying to apply the principles of equity individualism to Maureen Dowd's column... when in fact it stems directly from her real principle, shared by nearly all liberals and Democrats, of diversity discrimination.

Once we understand that, then like a spider's web, the pieces of the "Wilson attack" fit neatly into place: Liberals consider it an act of racism or sexism to treat America's first black president just like any old, previous, white male president... just as they consider it racist to do nothing in the face of de facto racial segregation, even when self selected (e.g., fewer blacks than whites are interested in taking up golf; fewer women than men are interested in becoming physicists and engineers).

Democrats cry racism when Republicans don't extend affirmative action to Barack Obama; when we don't treat him as different and special -- when we don't give him extra deference not extended to George W. Bush (or even to Bill Clinton) -- when we don't cut Obama more slack. That is, when we don't devote our political capital to helping Obama succeed in all his leftist policies, regardless of whether we as individuals support them (unimportant), that itself constitutes racism.

And this is not dishonest partisanship or an ad-hoc position they just now made up; this definition of racism traces directly from a long line of ideology that leads all the way back to the great philosophical war between Booker T. Washington, who championed nondiscrimination and individual black achievement, and W. E. B. Du Bois, who championed collectivist political action. Alas, Du Bois long ago won that argument within the black community, and the larger community of civil-rights advocates, when he co-founded the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People -- rather than the "National Association for the Equal Treatment of All Individuals."

Only recently have significant voices risen within these groups, blacks, women, and civil-rights advocates, to directly challenge the groupthink ideology of diversity discrimination and call for equity individualism instead: Ward Connerly, Thomas Sowell, Justice Clarence Thomas, Larry Elder, Christina Hoff Sommers, Phyllis Schlafly, David Horowitz, the late Charleton Heston, and many others. The trail was blazed by the late and very great Sen. Barry Goldwater, who fought for the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it was nothing but a ban on racial discrimination in government employment and contracting... but then withdrew his support and courageously voted against it when it morphed into a collectivist affirmative-action plan that constrained private individuals' control of their own private property, even for ugly and nefarious ends.

So put the attacks into perspective, please. Dowd, et al, are not claiming that Wilson is actively engaging in segregation, white supremacy, or racism by shouting at the president; they don't think he would be perfectly happy with Obamunism if Obama were white.

Rather, they attack Wilson, et al, for engaging in passive discrimination by not treating Obama with greater deference than they would treat a white liberal president: They're not accusing us of not treating a black president as equal to a white president... they're accusing us of not treating him as "more equal" than a white president. The accusation makes perfect sense -- given the premises of the accusers.

As usual, it all comes down to axioms. Therein lies the great gulf between individualism and collectivism.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 15, 2009, at the time of 1:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 14, 2009

Nukes for Kooks

Hatched by Dafydd

Venezuelan fascist dictator Oogo Chavez has just announced a joint venture with the Soviet Union Russia to develop "peaceful" nuclear power. At last, his poor, energy-starved country can stop shivering and provide power for its citizenry:

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said the South American country plans to develop a nuclear energy program with Russia and doesn’t want to build an atomic bomb....

“We’re not going to make an atomic bomb, so don’t bother us like with Iran,” he said on state television. “We’re going to develop nuclear energy with peaceful purposes.” [Hey, if you can't trust a lying socialist dictator, who can you trust?]

So a Latin American country...

  • In our own backyard --
  • Controlled by a strongman who has made himself "president for life" by winning fantasy elections --
  • Who hates America above all things on this planet --
  • Who has a close working relationship with Iran, a country working feverishly to develop a nuclear weapon --
  • Who has announced his intention to ship gasoline to Iran, so that we cannot use the Herman Option to stop Iran from getting its nukes (though I don't understand why, if we decided to blockade Iran -- which admittedly the current American president would never do -- we couldn't keep Venezuelan oil tankers out as well) --
  • Who has invited Hezbollah, the world's largest and most aggressive Islamist terrorist group, into Venezuela to "counter" American power in the western hemisphere --
  • Who brutally oppresses his own people with fascist policies (nationalizing industries -- both domestic and foreign owned) while spouting pseudo-Marxist rhetoric --
  • Who has exported putative "Bolivarian" revolution to a dozen other Latin American countries --
  • And whose country is swimming in oil and natural gas (which is the only reason it's still in existence, despite its abysmal economy) --

...Now wants nuclear power as well. But it assures us that it's "not going to make an atomic bomb;" and orders our hapless, cringing President Barack H. Obama -- who has just agreed to enter into extortion negotiations with one member of the axis of evil trying to develop nuclear weapons (North Korea), and appears to have utterly capitulated on nuclear weapons for the other remaining member of the axis (Iran) -- not to interfere ("so don’t bother us like with Iran").

I'm quite certain that the Obamacle, furthering his standard policy of friendly negotiations with all of our bitterest enemies (while snubbing and working against the interests of our closest allies), will immediately announce a diplomatic initiative to Oogo... run by the WMD Czar, Gary Samore, and a newly appointed Venezuela Czar, Jalapeño Spice, rather than by the Secretary of State (whoever he is).

The negotiating team (Samantha Power, Van Jones, Sen. Al Franken, and Keith Olbermann) will insist that Venezuela and Russia issue ironclad assurances, written in bold black ink on creamy white paper, that they never, ever, ever will help Oogo Chavez obtain nuclear weapons.

Oogo will be brought to the White House thirty-eight times over the next two years, where he will be feted and wined and dined. Then Obama will bow at the waist, kiss Oogo's Bolivarian hand, and call him "your highness."

In the end, the One will get his agreement, signed at the Western White House (Al Capone's old headquarters in Chicago). He -- Obama, not Capone -- will hold the piece of paper up for CNN to video, and his teleprompter will announce that Obama has achieved "peace in our time." We will then launch a massive foreign-aid money drop into Venezuela, to ensure they have enough aluminum tubing and nuclear-blast analysis software for the venture to succeed.

 

 

What could possibly go wrong?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 14, 2009, at the time of 10:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 12, 2009

Once Again, Lizards Proven Smarter Than Democrats!

Hatched by Dafydd

Aeons and millennia ago -- almost a year ago, actually -- we published a piece purporting to explain just what had happened to bring the financial heads to their knees. We discussed sub-prime mortages, how they were repackaged into Mortgage Backed Securities (MBSs) and Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) (turning mortgages into bond-like securities), toxic assets, and so forth. This post spawned numerous others, until we had published literally thousands of words on the original "stimulus package" put together by then-Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson and (still current) Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke (all right, technically, he's "Chairman of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve." Is it really that important?)

Why the financial collapse?

First, what was the original problem? Here is our first cut at describing it, from Democrats Try to Hijack the So-Called "Bailout":

So what started as mortgages -- ranging from very secure prime mortgages, which are doing fine, to lousy subprime mortgages for too much money to borrowers who really didn't have either the credit history or income to justify such loans, many of which are currently in default 60 days or more -- were, by the magic of "securitization," turned into bond-like securities; and in the process, many of the bad and even defaulted loans were transmaugrified into AAA-rated investments....

But defaults, of course, are where the whole pyramid scheme broke down. While housing prices continued to rise, everybody was happy and there were few defaults. But starting a couple of years ago, when the housing bubble burst and the mortgage default rate shot up, a bunch of banks found themselves holding very insecure securities, losing money hand over teakettle. The crash began among the lenders and spread to secondary markets (the MBSs and CDOs) and even tertiary markets (insurance underwriters like AIG). In short order, institutions all over the world found themselves holding pieces of paper whose value was impossible to determine -- which are referred to as toxic assets.

Toxic assets are illiquid, meaning they cannot be bought or sold because nobody knows how much to offer for them; they are frozen. If you hang onto them, they might regain some value later... or they could disappear completely. Worse, illiquid securities see their ratings drop; and current law forbids some types of funds from holding anything but AAAs... which means they may be forced by law to sell -- but unable to sell because of illiquidity!

Not only that, but current law also requires that such securities be "marked to market," meaning they must be valued at the last price offered by some institution that was desperate to sell -- because of the law in the previous paragraph. Thus, even institutions that didn't have to sell their toxic assets had to reprice them; this meant that a number of financial institutions suddenly did not have sufficient reserves for the amount of loans or leveraging they had out. That meant they needed to get hard cash and fast... which meant they would have to panic-sell a bunch of securities, precipitating a new round of re-rating and re-valuating.

Eventually, nobody had a clue what anything was worth anymore; and nearly every financial institution in the world, it seems, was involved up to the fourth cervical vertebra in this mess.

It was that uncertainty that caused the mortgage market to collapse.

We further refined the problem in a later post, Is It Adios to Capitalism - or Only Au Revoir?:

We've all been looking at this problem from the wrong perspective: We keep thinking of the rescue plan as injecting liquidity into the banking system and other credit markets; but the real need is to inject, not liquidity, but information; liquidity is just a seredipitous side effect.

The more I read about the current world fiscal crisis, the more I believe that it's not a market failure, not a credit failure, not a mortgage failure, and not a liquidity failure: Those are all symptoms of the real, underlying failure.

What has actually failed is the world information supply. Simply put, everything related to finance, to trade, to buying and selling -- in short, everything connected with any kind of a market -- depends upon access to timely, honest, accurate, and believable information (hereafter "THABI"). For an example I have used before, you cannot buy a car based solely on a grainy picture in a newspaper, because you cannot put a value on it; does it even have an engine?

You need THABI before you can make an offer. And the same is true for mortgages, mortgage-backed securities (MBS), credit default swaps (CDS), construction loans, business letters of credit (LOC), and so forth. Without sufficient THABI, no seller has any idea what price to ask the buyer, and no buyer has any idea what price to offer the seller. Buyers and sellers cannot come to a "meeting of minds," which means nobody can agree on any contract. And that means no market can exist.

That is exactly what has happened and is still happening today, all around the world: a global shortage of THABI, of timely, honest, accurate, and believable information.

So the problem was that nobody knew how to evaluate those Mortgage Backed Securities (MBSs), because we had a catastrophic and entirely artificial dearth of THABI -- "timely, honest, accurate, and believable information" -- about those MBSs and related securitized mortgages: They could not be valuated because we didn't have a clue what they were really worth.

Therefore, financial institutions didn't know what their own investments were worth, either. They had no idea how much reserves they had, so they had to panic-sell a bunch of their securities to remain within the law. And the feds' insistance on "mark to market" didn't help, since it forced institutions to immediately value their holdings on the basis of the lowest recent bid, even if that meant they valued them far below their actual worth.

Under such circumstances, a free market is impossible. It's as if there were no medium of exchange; how could you buy anything if there were no currency -- or at least, if nobody could agree on the value of a dollar?

Enter Paulson-Bernanke

That was the reason for the original "stimulus" package. It was originally intended to inject, not liquidity, but information into the market. From Democrats Try to Hijack:

So what is to be done? Obviously, since the problem is the inability to set a value for these instruments, which makes them impossible to buy or sell (illiquid), the solution is to find a way to value them. Enter the Paulson-Bernanke emergency rescue plan....

As I understand it, here is the basic plan. Note that I'm drawing this from many sources, it's not yet written in stone -- or even in ink -- and I can't give you sources. If you want more information, you're on your own! But here is what I've been able to glean:

  1. The Treasury is given authority to spend up to $700 billion (outstanding at any particular moment) to buy MBSs, CDOs, and related instruments that have become "illiquid." These "toxic assets" will be purchased from their current owners at a huge discount... meaning the banks and other investors who purchased these pigs in pokes will, in fact, take a significant financial hit... they're not being "bailed out."

So the Treasury can buy up these toxic assets; what do they do with them?

  1. I believe the plan (which has not yet been formalized in legislation) is to create a Treasury owned and managed resolution corporation that will take ownership of these toxic assets. Analysts will then pore through each MBS, determining the status of all the underlying mortgages and making a report publicly available. This will make the opaque assets completely transparent. All the financial fundamentals will be visible, so analysts at private companies can examine all of the securities and decide how much they would pay for each.
  2. The resolution corporation will then auction off each of the the now-transparent MBSs, selling it to the highest bidder; that very action allows the market to reset the value of the security.

That is why I characterize this rescue operation as "pressing the reset button."

HouseGOPs stick in their two cents worth (and that's overvaluing it!)

Then the House Republicans got into the act. They didn't like the idea of Treasury buying toxic assets, so they added one step in between: That the federal government would first try "insuring" the toxics, to see whether that would give them a sufficient base value that they could be valuated by the free market. From the Done Deal - at Least, Very Likely Done:

As we predicted, it is basically the original deal with some of the HRs' proposals rolled in... notably the insurance option, which would be one of the choices that Secretary Henry Paulson has at his disposal and is required to set up and at least attempt before buying the toxic assets on behalf of the government:

At the insistence of House Republicans, who threatened to sidetrack negotiations at midweek, the insurance provision was added as an alternative to having the government buy distressed securities. House Republicans say it will require less taxpayer spending for the bailout.

But the Treasury Department has said the insurance provision would not pump enough money into the financial sector to make credit sufficiently available. The department would decide how to structure the insurance provisions, said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., one of the negotiators.

The final cut: equity stakes in banks

However, the collapse accelerated much more rapidly than expected before the Paulson-Bernanke emergency rescue plan could be implemented, and they decided they needed to inject liquidity directly into the financial institutions. From Is It Adios:

As the market is unable to function without THABI, it cannot function to restore THABI. All that information must come from somewhere else; and the only "somewhere else" that can act quickly enough to stave off a global depression is the State. Because the State functions both within and without the market, it can force changes even when the market is stymied... just as it takes a State to enforce the decisions of a civil-court, because only the State can step outside the market to seize by force the bank accounts of those who flout the court's decision.

The direct injection of liquidity by Treasury buying equity is also outside the market, because that money is extracted from people by force, in the form of taxes. But at the core, even this direct investment is an attempt to buy time to complete the "transparentizing" (horrible neologism, I know) of the toxic assets -- the recreation of the information that was lost by multiple unregulated securitizations of massive collections of mortgages.

Once the THABI has been restored to the mortgage-backed securities and other instruments, the market can reboot itself:

  1. The assets can be valued;
  2. They will all have some nonzero value, because no mortgage is worth nothing (if nothing else, the land itself has value);
  3. All will be saleable, though often not at as high a price as the financial institution purchased them;
  4. Each institution will thus be able to figure out how big a write-down it must take... and whether it can even stay in business or needs to sell itself to another institution.

There... that's a market! With the restoration of the missing THABI information, the market can reboot, and the catastrophe will be averted. So long as partial-nationalization of the banking industry lasts only long enough to retransparentize the toxic assets, thus allowing the market to begin functioning again, it will be an acceptable, even necessary intervention.

Alas, I then made an implied prediction that did not come true:

Bush and Paulson have really worked hard to make it difficult for a future president to use this plan as the camel's nose poking its way under the big top; the plan is designed to sunset automatically, allowing the banks to buy back their equity in no longer than three years, but earlier if both they and the incoming administration agree.

Enter the Obamacle

And that is exactly where the entire scheme broke down, because incoming President Barack H. Obama actually had no intention of allowing this "crisis" to go to waste. From Democrats Channel Hugo Chavez in Rescue Demands:

When people read "fascism," they immediately tend to envision concentration camps, jackboots, and Nazis goosestepping at mass rallies; but the real danger of fascism, especially liberal fascism (fascism with a smiley face, as depicted -- against author Jonah Goldberg's wishes -- on the cover of his book Liberal Fascism), is government control of corporations. The more control is handed over to politicians and bureaucrats who have no hand in actually producing the product (loans and securities, in this case), the more critical decisions will be made on irrelevant political considerations, often leading to financial disaster... and another bailout, leading to even more government control. Eventually, the State completely hijacks the corporation for political purposes... and we're well on our way to Hugo Chavez-land.

Why am I recapping this stream of previous Lizardry? Well, take a look at Thursday's story from Cybercast News Service:

A report issued by the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) tasked with overseeing the implementation of the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) questions whether the Bush and Obama administrations had the legal authority to use TARP funds to bail out General Motors and Chrysler.

The report, issued Wednesday, confirmed what CNSNews.com had previously reported: that the law which created TARP -- the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) -- did not grant the government specific authority to use taxpayers’ funds to rescue the auto industry.

In other words, we're blowing our own forked tongues here: The original stimulus plan, the original Paulson-Bernanke plan, would have restricted that $700 billion to buying toxic assets; the later House Republican version would have also allowed funds to be used to insure toxic assets. And the final Paulson-Bernanke plan would also include using the money to buy equity stakes in the financial institutions themselves, in order to inject liquidity directly.

But under Barack Obama, the government appears to have criminally abused the stimulus bill to buy General Motors and Chrysler stock -- which has absolutely nothing to do with injecting liquidity into the financial markets to stave off collapse... and everything to do with bailing out the auto manufacturers to benefit the United Auto Workers.

So once again, it turns out that Big Lizards was either smarter than the Democrats (in figuring out what we needed to so) -- or at the very least, more honest than the Democrats.

And that's a revelation that must have stunned all of our readers!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 12, 2009, at the time of 10:48 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Pro-Life Protester Shot and Killed by Angry Gunman

Hatched by Dafydd

James Pouillon was shot to death in front of a high school full of kids, as he was protesting against abortion. The man arrested for killing him, Harlan James Drake, also allegedly killed the owner of a local gravel company.

Perhaps some may consider me as rude and impudent as Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC, 92%), but I'm really curious: Will the pro-choice crowd react to this slaying with the same horror and hysteria as they evinced for the equally terroristic slaying of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller?

Because so far, I haven't seen it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 12, 2009, at the time of 7:36 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Obama Admin Begs North Korea for One on One Talks

Hatched by Dafydd

...Just like Bill Clinton did in the 90s!

From Jake Tapper at ABC -- on the eighth anniversary of 9/11:

The US shifted its policy today, saying it is now willing to meet one on one with North Korea if that is helpful to bring Pyongyang back to the nuclear negotiations....

Speaking on background, a senior US official said: “Our assessment, after consulting with the other parties in the six-party process, is that if a bilateral discussion can be an effective mechanism to get North Korea to come back to the six-party process… so that we can remind them of what their obligations are and to push them to take affirmative steps… then that would be a potentially useful step.”

North Korea has recently said it will never return to the nuke talks… so is there an expectation now that they might?

“We’ll wait and see,” the senior official said.

Obamic negotiating will talk the North Koreans out of their nuclear program. Maybe if we, you know, offered them an inducement? Acquiesced to all their demands? Crawled on our hands and knees, if that's what it takes to get them to talk to us?

What could possibly go wrong?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 12, 2009, at the time of 4:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 11, 2009

Thoughts on the Eighth Anniversary of America's Awakening

Hatched by Dafydd

I've never had anything personally stolen from me.

There's a reason for this: When I walk or sit, I am always conscious of who is around me and what he's doing. My optometrist told me (based on marks on my contact lenses) that I actually sleep with my eyes half open.

I've noticed this: I'm almost never fully asleep. If someone enters the room where I'm "sleeping," my eyes open fully and I observe the person. If I know him or her as a non-threat, I go right back into what passes for sleep to the reptilian eye, and usually I don't even remember waking (others tell me what I do). But if it's a stranger or someone I don't trust, I'm awake immediately... watching.

When I'm out and about, and someone begins giving me the fish-eye, I look him back immediately, staring directly at him. Generally he breaks eye-contact and drifts away. Occasionally it's gotten me into trouble (dominance games I'm uninterested in playing), but generally serves me well.

Why am I telling you this? Because in this way, I am America -- as she should be.

I'm wary but never afraid; I won't back down, but in a fight I move well, left and right, forward and back. I stand by my friends, even if I think they were foolish for picking a fight with some troll who can kick their heinies; I'll double the defenders and see what transpires. I don't take crap from people -- but my usual punishment is to ignore them thenceforth. I'd rather not do damage, but I'm not afraid of it, either.

We were all like this during the first half of the twentieth century and earlier; we began to lose our edge sometime after the Korean War, and we hit our nadir towards the end of Vietnam. We weren't defeated; we just lost our nerve, lost our sense of self, lost our belief in our own decency, goodness, and especially in our traditional American principles. Instead of thinking of ourselves as the defenders of the underdog, we began feeling like the underdog ourselves, in a world where being weak invites not allies but attackers.

Ronald Reagan rekindled the American soul, but the flame didn't survive long after he left office. The bitch-slapping of September 11th, 2001 reawakened us. What happened since?

  • Some immediately rolled over and went back to sleep. They're now running the government.
  • Some were awake and vigilant for a while, but then their minds wandered, they drifted, and now they're back somnambulating through life, just as they were on September 10th.
  • But others have stayed vigilant and awake... I think it's enough of us. More than were awake eight years and a day ago.

We won't be hit the same way again; that's for sure. Yet it's equally sure we'll be hit, hurt, hard yet again by some means we haven't thought of yet.

But because of the vigilant ones, the men and women on the wall, our response will be swifter than after 9/11, with less fum-fahing around, less wheel-spinning. The sleeping giant has had his coffee, and he's not ready to drift totally off to the land of Nod just yet.

Go ahead and be proud to be an American; but that's not the important part. It's much more vital that we all understand that to be American is to be the champion eternal of liberty, individualism, and Capitalism -- and that means we must accept our duty, take up the free man's burden, and not allow the half-awake drones to lull us into Europeanism, the belief that there's always Somebody Else who will protect us from blue meanies and green crescent rolls.

The only person who is always there when you're in trouble -- is you, yourself. Always be ready to become an army of one, to defend you and yours... and odds are you won't have to do, because very few Moloch worshippers, human sacrificers, and cannibals really want to attack an army.

They prefer to go after the sleepwalkers.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 11, 2009, at the time of 8:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Reconciliation!" Gushes The Hill

Hatched by Dafydd

It's an article remarkable for its straightforward boosterism of the most extreme congressional tactic Democrats might use to pass ObamaCare.

Today in the Hill -- the largest circulation newspaper written for (and about) Congress -- we read an article (bylined Sam Youngman) that is so enthusiastic about the mounting likelihood that Democrats will try to pass ObamaCare by abusing the reconciliation process, bypassing the Byrd Rule, that -- well, as the title of this post says, the paper positively gushes over the prospect:

By offering Republicans olive branches during his address to Congress on Wednesday, Obama has set up a win-win situation. If GOP lawmakers embrace compromise [by which Youngman means "surrender" -- DaH], a healthcare bill would pass Congress easily. But the more likely scenario is that Republicans will continue to oppose Obama’s plan, and the president later this fall will be able to note he tried to strike a deal with the GOP but could not.

Darn Republicans, refusing to compromise on their "principles" even for the sake of the president! But hey, at least he tried.

Republicans contend that the use of reconciliation would be at odds with Obama’s call for bipartisanship during his 2008 presidential campaign. But Obama has countered that argument in recent days by forcefully resurrecting the anti-Washington rhetoric that got him elected.

He's winning -- he's winning -- he countered their argument!

"The time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed," Obama said. "Now is the season for action."

And there's the rallying cry, baldly stated without comment. Why not go whole hog? Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

The Hill notes not a single substantive reason why reconciliation should not be used in this case; but there are several, as everyone at the paper knows well:

  • It's supposed to be used for noncontroversial changes made to programs to keep them within the bounds set by the budget resolution. But ObamaCare is a wildly controversial, radical rewrite of the entire American health-care system
  • On a related argument, it's unprecedented to use the reconciliation process to establish a huge new government agency -- or series of agencies. That's not what it's for at all, at all.
  • It's not to be used for programs that will add more to the deficit that what is already accounted for in the current budget resolution, which calls for deficit neutral health-care reform; but the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and even estimates by the administration of President Barack H. Obama have admitted that it's likely to add hundreds of billions to more than a trillion dollars to the ten-year deficit. (Obama now says it won't, but that doesn't change the fact that the CBO says it will.)

    Unless the budget resolution instructs the committees to bankrupt the nation, that violates at least two tests of the Byrd Rule prohibiting using reconciliation to sneak budget-busting bills through the Senate without allowing a filibuster.

  • Almost certainly, the combination of Republicans and moderate to conservative Democrats will force a promise from the leadership in both chambers not to use reconciliation to radicalize the program beyond what was sent them. Thus the leadership would have to brazenly deceive its own party members, as well as the opposition, and lie like a dead mongoose as it makes promises it has no intention of keeping.
  • Its use would require a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian that was utterly mendacious: He would have to rule that none of the above was true, knowing his own ruling was as false as a Bernie Madoff investment. Either that, or the Presiding Officer would have to tell the Parliamentarian to go fly a hike on a short pier; then the P.O. just rules however the Democrats want.

Yet the only argument against the reconciliation jam-down that The Hill prints is the feeble, amorphous claim that it would be "at odds with Obama’s call for bipartisanship during his 2008 presidential campaign," which call everyone and his unkey's moncle knows is "no longer operative," as a previous liberal president's aides were fond of saying. The Hill, in other words, is not-so-subtlely implying that (a) the GOP is the only group on Capitol Hill that opposes the idea of abusing reconciliation, and (b) that they have no substantive argument whatsoever against it.

This is a classic technique of supporting one side while paying lip service to bilateralism: "It's not our fault that Republicans have nothing to say in their own defense (that we see fit to print)."

If anyone still thinks The Hill is just telling it like it is, they tip their hand with this one-sentence graf:

Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-S.C.) outburst on Wednesday was an unexpected gift to the White House, accentuating Obama’s point that bitter politics is getting in the way of improving the healthcare of Americans.

Let's review the bidding:

  • Obama said that the government plan would not apply to illegal immigrants.
  • But Wilson (R-SC, 92%) remembers well how he and his Republican colleagues in the House tried several times to enact provisions to ensure that only legal residents received the benefits of the government plan.
  • But House Democrats shot down each and every attempt. So now there is no way, in the House plan that Obama supports, to distinguish or discriminate between those here legally and those here illegally: The Democrats closed off all avenues of enforcement.
  • Thus it is a certainty that illegal immigrants will receive health-care benefits from the government plan, and probably (by law) from all approved private plans as well, if those plans are restricted to the same screening process as the government plan
  • .

  • And it's also a certainty that the president himself knows this. He is certainly keeping close tabs on the progress of ObamaCare through Congress.
  • Thus, regardless of whether it was impudent of Rep. Wilson to point it out during the speech, Barack Obama is, in fact, lying when he says the plan won't cover illegal immigrants; Joe Wilson was rude but right.

The Hill could have noted this rather important point, since it saw fit to bring up Wilson's cri de coeur in the first place; the newspaper, too, could not possibly be unaware of the House Democrats' actions. Yet it failed even to mention Wilson's side, as if he had none and was simply an unruly child making a big noise.

More gushing and ardent support:

The president also said that the White House has made every effort to include Republicans and their ideas in the process, but blamed "unyielding partisanship" for the absence of compromise.

“Part of the frustration I have is, is that on the Republican side there are wonderful people who really operated on the basis of pragmatism and common sense and getting things done,” Obama said. “Those voices have been -- been, I think, shouted down on that side.”

The Hill allows Republicans no defense; had they done so, the GOP -- and Democrats who don't call themselves "progressives," the forgotten members of the anti-ObamaCare alliance -- might have invoked principle as a reason to go against the popular will... even if ObamaCare were according to the popular will, which polling indicates is actually just a liberal fantasy and Obamic talking point.

Pragmatically speaking, we could nationalize all the industries in the United States, sell them to foreign investors, and use the proceeds to mail checks to everyone below the poverty line; it's just common sense! But it would still be a monstrous evil, because of the vital principle of property rights.

And that is one of the very same principles opposing ObamaCare: It would force all responsible Americans to pay a great price in order to benefit a bunch of irresponsible dopes who don't want to buy health insurance, even though they can well afford it... yet who expect still to be given medical treatment if they fall ill or injure themselves. (And pragmatically speaking, their expectation is reasonable, because we've always done so and probably always will.)

But besides property rights, there is also the principle of liberty: People should have the greatest freedom possible within the constrains of living in a society. Even when a problem exists that can only be solved with some degree of collectivism -- for example, those born with pre-existing medical infirmities, such as a congenital heart defect, that would prevent them from being able to buy medical insurance -- the collectivist policy we pursue should be the one that least interferes with the market, allowing the greatest number of Americans to keep as much freedom of choice as possible.

In this case, liberty demands that we either subsidize those deserving unfortunates, or else create an "assigned risk" pool, from which every insurer must accept some money-losing bad risks; rather than radically recreate the entire system with the government controlled (and ultimately government run) scheme of ObamaCare.

But again, The Hill is uninterested in any principled arguments that opponents of ObamaCare care to make; the time for bickering and game-playing is over... we need action, action, action! Pragmatic common sense dictates that we need to get things done.

The president went so far as to warn Republicans that he "will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than improve it."

No comment; I mean that The Hill offers "no comment" on the One's angry dismissal of any dissent to his plan as mere dog-in-the-manger partisanship. The article doesn't even mention another article in Wednesday's The Hill, in which House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH, 92%) says Obama has refused even to meet with Republicans on health-care reform since April:

Boehner told reporters that the president has not invited House GOP leaders to the White House for meetings on healthcare reform since the end of April.

Earlier this year, GOP leaders sent a letter to the president in May stating that they would like to work with the administration to find "common ground" on healthcare reform.

But the administration responded with a tersely worded letter indicating that they had healthcare reform under control.

How might that comport with Obama's accusation that the GOP "have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than improve it?" The article not only doesn't essay an answer, it doesn't even trouble to raise the question.

But to the fair to the article, it does make one weak-tea attempt to allow Republicans to speak for themselves, rather than be interpreted (into nonexistence) by the president. I'm certain it's only the vicissitudes of fate that the GOP side is relegated to the last two paragraphs of the article:

Republicans, predictably wary of Obama's maneuvering, said if Obama is setting up a defense of reconciliation, it will do little to blunt the blowback from both Congress and the American people.

“If Democrats use controversial insider tactics to force a proposal that the majority of Americans disagree with, not only would they guarantee bipartisan opposition, but they would also spark a new level of outrage among a huge majority of people in this country," said a Senate Republican leadership aide.

The same has been said by numerous prominent Republicans who would be only too happy to be named. But I reckon it's easier to dismiss an "anonymous" warning. (Actually, we don't even know whether the aide demanded anonymity; that might have been entirely the decision of the putative journalist, Sam Youngman.)

All in all, this is a disgraceful performance from a newspaper I've always held in high regard. Alas, The Hill is just another casualty in the "progressive" Kulturkampf, where every least element of life must be politicized and partisan-ized. In particular, all sources of information and argument must be squeezed through a totalitarian tunnel, filtering out all opposition thoughts and words, silencing one side and then claiming they have nothing to say.

Or as Robert Anton Wilson wrote once, channeling Lemuel Gulliver:

And so these Learned Men, having Inquir'd into the Case for the Opposition, discover'd that the Opposition had no Case and were Devoid of Merit, which was what they Suspected all along, and they arriv'd at this Happy Conclusion by the most Economical and Nice of all Methods of Enquiry, which was that they did not Invite the Opposition to confuse Matters by Participating in the Discussion.

In other words, "Shut up," he explained.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 11, 2009, at the time of 5:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

As the Byrd Rule Flies: Why Dems Can't Use Reconciliation to Pass Radical ObamaCare

Hatched by Dafydd

...Unless they're willing to immolate themselves in the process -- and probably lose the fight anyway.

Everybody is now slinging around the term "reconciliation process," but I think most of us don't really understand what the heck that means -- other than a sneaky way to pass ObamaCare without having to break a Republican filibuster. So as a public service to all and none, I spent several hours figuring it out. Perhaps you can spend a few minutes reading this post and have at least the gist of it. (Because "the gist" is all that I was able to comprehend in those several hours!)

Note: I am not a lawyer; I may be completely, laughably wrong. If I am, I hope some reader who is a lawyer will comment, and I'll correct any errors. Thanks.

The first question to ask is, what is the budget reconciliation process anyway? It's an optional, speeded-up process to bring spending on federal programs (current or those being created by new legislation) into line -- to reconcile expenditures -- with the current budget resolution (typically one of the first substantive bills passed each year); current and future programs cannot spend more than the budget resolution allows, so they must be changed to conform to it whenever the budget resolution changes or when programs start costing significantly more than anticipated.

The primary purpose of reconciliation is to reduce the budget deficit, though it has sometimes been used to change programs in ways that increased the deficit instead. Still, that is it's supposed purpose.

Congress can skip reconciliation and just pass bills normally; or it can skip passing them normally and use the reocnciliation process instead; they're two different paths to enacting legislation.

When Congress uses reconciliation, rather than the normal process, the final bill is considered on a "expedited" basis: limited debate, restrictions on amendments (they must be "germane"), and in the Senate, no filibusters allowed. But in exchange, there are strict rules on what can and cannot be added into a bill during reconciliation, designed to prevent its abuse in precisely the way the Democratic leadership plans to abuse it.

The budget resolution always includes instructions; the instructions direct various committees in the House and Senate to craft legislation that changes program spending on, or the revenues extracted by, various federal programs. The purpose is to keep the deficit within that allowed by the budget resolution, or better yet to reduce the deficit below that level. The designated committees mark up legislation, which is then submitted to their respective Budget Committees in House and Senate.

The Budget Committees then incorporate all the parts into a single "omnibus budget reconciliation measure." This is sent back to each chamber of Congress, subject to those expedited rules.

So how do Democratic leaders plan to abuse the reconciliation process? Simplified, the Democrats' scheme is to take whatever health-care reform bills they get from House and Senate and send them to reconciliation, to be rewritten by the designated committees.

In those committees, the Democratic leadership plans to reinsert all the socialist elements that the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats forced out (such as the government "option," and federal funding for abortion) and strip out anything the opposition forced in (perhaps tort reform, or some mechanism to prevent illegal immigrants from benefitting). The final bill would then be allowed only limited debate and would not be subject to a filibuster in the Senate, requiring only 51 votes to pass, instead of 60 to invoke cloture.

Can they pull it off? During reconciliation, it's certainly possible for new provisions to be attached to the reconciled bill. What's to stop the majority delegates from adding onerous provisions that have nothing to do with reducing the deficit and may even increase it dramatically?

Enter the Byrd Rule. This legislation -- Section 313 of the Congressional Budget Act (2 U.S.C. 644) -- is named after its sponsor, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV, 79%). The Byrd Rule prevents "extraneous matters" from being added during reconciliation.

If any senator objects to a provision added during reconciliation ( by raising a "point of order"), the Presiding Officer of the Senate must either sustain or overrule the point; he takes his cue from the Senate Parliamentarian, currently Alan Frumin. If the Parliamentarian advises the Presiding Officer that the provision is indeed extraneous, the Presiding Officer will almost always sustain it.

If the point of order is sustained, then the extraneous matter is stricken from the bill... unless 60 senators vote to waive the Byrd Rule in that case, or to sustain an appeal from the ruling of the Presiding Officer (it amounts to the same thing). The upshot is that extraneous matters can only be inserted into the bill if a 60-vote supermajority supports them, the same number required to break a filibuster.

So what are "extraneous matters?" That's the key question. The Byrd Rule defines them, as you can see in the links above. I'll try to interpret them from legalese:

  1. If the provision doesn't change outlays or revenues (the budget), or only in ways incidental to the rest of the bill. (This is actually two tests, so consider this items 1 and 2.)

In other words, you cannot hide behind the budget resolution if the provision has nothing to do with the budget. An example might be a bill authorizing the purchase of a bunch of advanced jet fighters; during reconciliation, delegates reduce the number of fighters purchased to remain under the budget resolution's limit; but they also insert a provision to require all insurance companies to cover abortions. The latter would be considered an extraneous matter; for one reason, it doesn't change either outlays or revenue.

  1. If the provision is outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted it.

In our example above, the abortion clause would violate a second Byrd Rule test, because abortion is outside the juristiction of the legislative committe tasked by the Budget Committee to write and submit the bill, probably the House or Senate Appropriations Committee, or the appropriate Defense subcommittee.)

  1. If the provision increases outlays or decreases revenue (that is, it increases the deficit)... and in addition, the provision as a whole goes against the instructions that the reporting committees sent to the Budget Committees under reconciliation -- generally measures for reducing the deficit.

That is, suppose the Senate reporting committee sends a health-care reform bill to reconciliation to with instructions to reduce federal health-care expenditures; but the legislative committee inserts a provision instead to increase expenditures -- say by implementing a government health-insurance program (or a government-funded co-op) that will operate at a loss, requiring heavy federal subsidies. Then any senator can later rise to a point of order that the added provision is an extraneous matter under test 4 of the Byrd Rule.

  1. If the provision increases outlays or decreases revenue after the fiscal years covered by reconciliation (no more than eleven years, counting the current year), unless the changes as a whole are budget neutral.

If the CBO projects that the added provision would increase the deficit even after ten years forward, then it's considered "extraneous," unless some other added provision balances it out.

  1. If the provision recommends changes to Social Security.

Test 6 has nothing to do with the ObamaCare; it's included only for completeness.

In the present case, if a Budget Committee simply jacks up the original bill's title and runs full-blown ObamaCare underneath it, the Byrd Rule could certainly be invoked for test 5, because adding, e.g., a government option would unquestionably increase federal outlays long after 2019; and it would probably also fail test 4, as I'm sure that Republicans would insist that reporting committee send instructions requiring at least deficit neutrality (since deficit reduction is the purpose of reconciliation)... which means any deficit increase, even within the ten-year window, would violate those instructions.

Note: The 110th Congress, with a Democratic majority following the 2006 elections, enacted a rule in both House and Senate prohibiting budget resolutions that allowed any deficit increase beyond $5 billion in any of four successive decades following 2018; but as this is just a rule, not U.S. Code, I'm assuming that they will just whisk it away if necessary to force ObamaCare on the American people. So let's just pretend their own rules change doesn't exist.

So what are the Democrats threatening? Here is their scheme:

  1. Replace whatever comes out of the House and Senate with full-blown ObamaCare in reconciliation. When some senator raises the obvious point of order, there are two avenues Democrats can take:
  2. They can somehow bribe, bully, or otherwise coerce the Senate Parliamentarian to issue a false ruling that ObamaCare doesn't raise the deficit beyond the ten-year window, and that it doesn't violate the Senate reporting committee's instructions;
  3. Even if the Parliamentarian refuses to go along with the scheme, the Presiding Officer of the Senate can simply reject his decision and overrule the point of order anyway.
  4. At that point, the bill goes back to the Senate requiring only 51 votes for passage -- unless Republicans and Blue Dogs can scrape together 60 Senate votes to sustain an appeal from the Presiding Officer's ruling.

I believe the Democratic attempt will fail.

First, I've never heard anyone suggest that Alan Frumin is so partisan and corrupt tha the would join such a conspiracy; so we're left with tactic 3 above.

Second, the Senate only operates at all because of comity; many ordinary procedures require unanimous consent, which is customarily given. Thus the minority conference and even individual senators have tremendous power to gum up the works and bring the entire body to a standstill, if they choose. But they would only do so under the most dire provocation. But tactic 3, telling the Parliamentarian to go jump in the Potomac and overruling an obviously proper point of order, would certainly qualify.

In fact, third, it might even be a sufficiently egregious violation of Senate protocol that enough Blue Dog or moderate Democrats join Republicans -- and it would be all Republicans at that point, even the liberals -- to prevent the omnibus bill from getting even a bare 51 votes.

There's a very good chance that the Democrats would, in effect, declare all-out war against the Republicans, with all the dreadful consequences that would entail in the Senate... and then lose the critical battle anyway. Since they're not political dunces, they won't even try it if their own headcount, and their own conversations with Frumin, raise even the strong possibility that they will lose.

Which I believe is exactly what they'll find. The Democrats are talking big, hoping to frighten the timid Republicans (or the Blue Dogs) into caving; but when it comes to the wall, I don't think they have the guts to roll the bones for their entire political future.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 11, 2009, at the time of 1:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 10, 2009

Did Obama Move the Meter?

Hatched by Dafydd

John Hinderaker at Power Line helpfully reports that before President Barack H. Obama's grand address on ObamaCare, the Rasmussen tally stood at 44% of likely voters supporting, 53% opposing. John concludes:

Those numbers have been pretty much stable for a while; it will be interesting to see whether and how they move over the next week or two.

He makes no predictions, but I'm not gunshy; I say No, Obama's speech last night did not move the meter; we won't see any jump outside the statistical margin of error. Here's why I so predict:

Self-selected, partisan audience

First, as the enigmatic and mercurial "Karl" reports on Patterico's Pontifications and on Hot Air's rogues' gallery, nobody but diehard Obamaniacs and weed-dwelling political junkies was likely to watch the speech in the first place.

In today's followup, Karl notes how easy it was to predict the media response:

Sure enough, CNN did a flash poll showing that ObamaCare a 14-point gain among speech-watchers. Buried at the end of the story is the fact that the sample of speech-watchers in the poll was 45% Democratic and 18% Republican. For comparison, consider that the most recent Gallup survey of party ID among adults had 35% of Americans as Democrats and 28% as Republicans. A 14-point swing among a sample that skewed to the left is not surprising. Regular tracking polls are unlikely to show anything near it.

If the viewership was heavily skewed towards those who already support Obama, hence likely support ObamaCare as well, that dramatically limits any impact it can have on the real polling. It might increase the enthusiasm of ObamaCare supporters (though I doubt it, considering how little information, how few new arguments he offered); but it's difficult for a speech to Obama's own cheerleaders to increase the number of people who support him.

(Contrariwise, it is always possible to decrease the number who support you, by saying something stupid that alienates your base. I don't believe Obama did so, so don't look for the speech to turn more people against ObamaCare.)

A highly partisan speech

Despite repeated protestations by Obamic apologists that the One "reached out to Republicans," the tone was obvious early in the address:

But what we have also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have toward their own government. Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.

Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. [As another famous leader was fond of remarking, "no more debate, we need action, action, action!" B.M. would be proud of B.O. --DaH]

Any guess who the Obamacle means by "some?" The partisan nature was set in quick-dry cement by the halfway point:

Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

Obama did include a few feeble nods towards the right:

Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care....

Finally, many in this chamber -- particularly on the Republican side of the aisle -- have long insisted that reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care. I don't believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs. So I am proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine. I know that the Bush Administration considered authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these issues. It's a good idea, and I am directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on this initiative today.

But nothing definite, no actual promises, veto threats, or lines in the sand. And of course, again and again, when the TOTUS invites members of Congress to la Casa Blanca to hash out language, he invites only Democrats -- and "progressive" Democrats to boot.

Liberal Democrats might perceive the speech to be even handed; but they already support ObamaCare. Where Obama desperately needs help is among moderate to conservative Democrats and among Republicans; so it's their perceptions that count... and as House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA, 92%) demonstrates, the latter, at least, perceive the speech as entirely unilateral:

CANTOR: Well, listen, I mean, obviously, this was, for an Obama speech, something that I was taken aback by in the partisan nature of the speech. I mean, listen, we all know that the status quo is unacceptable, and the president says the status quo is unacceptable. But when he goes and starts pointing fingers and casting blame, I think it's just a smokescreen, Sean.

Listen, it's not just special interests or Republicans that stand in his way. The Democrats are firmly in control of both bodies in Congress. He's the president. They've just been unable to lead in terms of the type of reform that the American people want to see....

HANNITY: All right, at one point in the president's speech tonight, Congressman, he says, "Instead of honest debate, we've seen scare tactics." And then later in the speech, he goes on to say -- and this is specifically -- "Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing, that the deficit will grow, families will go bankrupt, businesses will close, more Americans will lose their coverage when they need it most, and more will die as a result."

Is that a scare tactic by the president?

CANTOR: I mean, you know, again, I really sat there aghast with those kind of claims and the hyperbole that was used. I mean, we need some adult sense of responsibility here. We need to try and produce the reforms that we know that the American people want.

Republicans and probably non-liberal Democrats tend to tune out when they hear red-meat partisanship for the leftest of the Left.

Logical lacunae

Regardless of the two points above, it might be possible to gain support by such a speech if new arguments or data were presented that were tough to refute. "Facts are stubborn things," as John Adams insisted; and so are valid, compelling conclusions drawn from those stubborn facts.

But Obama presented no new data -- or at least no new accurate data; what data he did offer is ambiguous, to say the least... and a bushel of utter falsehoods, to more accurately characterize. And the arguments that went with the "facts" are disingenuous to the point of being loony. Several examples summed up by National Review Online:

Neither the government-heavy substance nor the dishonest and demagogic tactics have changed. The president denounced "scare tactics" -- in a speech that warned that failure to go along with his plans would cause people to die. He pretended that preventive care will "save money," even though this claim has been authoritatively and repeatedly debunked. He claimed, in defiance of every independent assessment, that the legislation before Congress will reduce costs. He denied that the legislation he supports will spend federal dollars on abortion, which can be true only if he has some private and novel definition of "federal dollars." He denied that it will cover illegal immigrants, even though Democratic congressmen have specifically voted not to require verification of legal residence.

Obama told people with insurance that "nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have." Note the careful formulation, which is technically true but deliberately misleading. The president knows full well that his plan will cause millions of people to lose their current coverage and that they are not going to catch the fact that his statement does not quite deny it. Obama said that "what Americans who have health insurance can expect from this plan" is "more security and stability." Many of them can, in fact, expect to lose their coverage while paying higher premiums and taxes. Many other Americans can expect to lose their jobs thanks to Obama’s "employer mandate."

It should be clear to all that you cannot persuade those who don't already agree with you if they consider your arguments ignorant, mendacious, and laughable. Ronald Reagan succeeded in bringing many people into his camp who had previously been ardent foes of Republicans and conservatives precisely because he was so good at making arguments that even many on the Left found unanswerable.

For example, with the Soviet Union installing thousands of new missiles in Europe, it's tough to argue that it's somehow "destabilizing" for the United States to follow suit. And with America's economy struggling under a Carter-induced malaise, it was hard for even liberals to resist Reagan's call for loosening restrictions, lowering taxes and interest rates, and allowing American ingenuity, creativity, and industry to lead us out of stagflation and recession.

Reagan's arguments compelled because they were (a) logical, and (b) based upon sound evidence that anyone could verify: Was the Soviet Union an evil empire? Was the economy in terrible trouble? Who could deny it, other than those ideologically committed to America's decline and fall?

But Barack Obama's "arguments" for more government control of health care -- and beyond that, for the "fierce urgency of now" (whatever Ted Kennedy meant by that endorsement of Obama last year) that requires Congress to pass ObamaCare so fast they haven't even time to read the bill -- is (a) paralogical, and (b) so dependent upon the fabrication of surreal factoids, invented for the sole purpose of foisting ObamaCare on the American people, that it will drive supporters away, if they have a lick of intelligence and honesty.

Of course, if they had a lick of intelligence and honesty, they wouldn't be ObamaCare supporters, would they?

The messenger is the massage

Finally, a truly charismatic speaker can lull people's good sense and lure them into supporting that which they would ordinarily recoil from in a heartbeat. A "rock star" can overcome all the previous obstacles and still make headway for his cause.

But as all polls show, the president's magical charm is already wearing thin after just eight months in office. He no longer has charisma to squander on a health-reform scheme that most Americans emphatically reject. He is no longer the rock star that some had supposed him... which means he never was one in the first place.

The main criterion for rock stardom is durability: No matter how many missteps, he can still command an audience and lead it into temptation. But when a supposed star flames out so quickly, it's clear he was actually just a one-hit wonder, yesterday's cold pizza: Some may still like it, but it just hasn't the sizzle it had when chef brought it fresh from the oven on a big metal plate.

Obama alone can no longer move mountains; he must rely on more quotidian paths to conversion... paths that are rapidly being reclaimed by the jungle of politics.

Epilogue

The people have awakened to the fact that there's no "there" there in ObamaCare, and there never was; the drums of August proved that. There are no new arguments or facts under the sun that will help push it; the more people learn about it, the more they hate it; and the president himself has flat run out of charisma-gas.

It's still possible the Democrats will manage a jam-down (though I increasingly think they never will); but if they do, it will not be due to popular demand.

Barack Obama's final, desperate, make-or-break play to stir a populist uprising in favor of ObamaCare has failed. The numbers will not move significantly towards ObamaCare because of this or any future speech.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 10, 2009, at the time of 3:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 9, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

Hatched by Dave Ross

So, Michael Moore thinks Capitalism is a bad idea. What a surprise!

Moore has written and directed the ironically titled film: Capitalism: a Love Story. If you have guessed that this movie is not a tribute to Capitalism, give yourself a cigar.

I’m not sure that anyone has ever made this observation before, but Moore’s movie titles are all stupid and irritating. If I were to suggest some titles that might fit Moore’s oeuvre, they might be: Slobbo, Bowling for Calories, Avoirdupois 911 or Marx & Me. His films have always had a yen to bash corporate America, at the same time celebrating corpulent America.

These movies always feature Moore prominently on screen. He is nothing if not self-indulgent, with the unshakable belief, apparently shared by our current president, that people never tire of seeing him. Well, it’s a cinch that when he’s on the screen, they won't see much of anything else, unless it’s the Parthenon; and not much of that if he’s standing in front of it. And I guess he’s right that some people never tire; that is what Capitalism is about: people paying their own money for something that they want. (In the world that Moore evidently prefers, people would pay to see movies they don’t want in the interests of fairness.)

Moore makes his living as a result of the largesse of the capitalist system, which serves the economic ends even of those who would destroy it: Lenin predicted that the last capitalist would sell the rope that would be used to hang him. In a way, Moore is basically an economic illiterate, or else a complete hypocrite. He is one of those artists who, after becoming ridiculously wealthy because Capitalism rewards talent, though not always intelligence or wisdom -- and certainly not virtue! -- spend all their free time biting the multiple hands that feed them.

I have to think that the companies which fund Moore’s so-called documentaries -- out-and-out propaganda, in the grand tradition of Triumph of the Will -- are modern day examples of those rope-selling capitalists that Lenin joked about, if it can ever be said that Lenin joked about anything.

But as Winston Churchill once said of democracy, Capitalism is the worst of all economic systems, except for all the others. As "unfair" as it may be, it's better than the rest because it's based on the idea that freedom, specifically economic freedom, is good.

What people like Moore, and the idiots who worship at his shrine, fail to grasp is that the freedom that allows General Motors to run itself into the ground and throw thousands of employees to the winds of chance is the same freedom that allows you or me to start a small business and turn it into a profitable venture. Or to buy a ranch and raise cattle. Or make movies that Euroweenies line up to watch because they get an electric tingle out of the America bashing. Moore’s movies don’t do quite as well in the U.S., but there’s always someone willing to pay to see them (not me!)

Moore ends his film with this taunt: "I refuse to live in a country like this, and I’m not leaving." Thankfully there are other alternatives, which given Moore’s lifestyle, are more likely to come into play even before President Obama finishes his attempt to destroy Capitalism. If I thought it would help, I'd send him a case of Twinkies.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, September 9, 2009, at the time of 10:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Courageous Stand Against Card Check; but What About the Rest of Us?

Hatched by Dafydd

A large "corporation" has just fought a courageous and ultimately successful battle against union thuggery; amazingly enough, that brave entity is the Legal Services Corporation -- a "private" (public sector) not-for-profit established and funded by Congress to ensure legal representation for the poor.

When the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) tried to "organize" the LSC, they decided to make the fight a ringing victory for the "new" tactic of Card Check (which is not currently allowed by federal labor law); instead of the normal secret ballot, whereby employees get to vote for or against the union without intimidation (since unionistas can never know how a particular employee voted), union agitators demanded that IFPTE be automatically established if they submitted a certain number of cards, supposedly freely signed by employees, representing at least 50%+1 of the particular "labor unit" -- in the LSC case, the entire quasi-private corporation.

They did so, but the very left-leaning LSC rejected the demand, as they are allowed to do under current law... until and unless Big Labor is able to bully Congress into enacting the Orwellianly named Employee Free Choice Act of 2005 2007 2009 (and assuming the EFCA will apply to public- as well as private-sector corporations). Instead, LSC President Helaine Barnett told the union agitators that the LSC would hold a secret ballot -- which evoked howls of outrage and fury from the unionistas and from the ultra-Left in Congress:

Calling himself a longtime supporter of the LSC and its mission, Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, in a letter last week obtained by The Washington Times, said it was "troubling to learn that LSC is now using hard-fought-for taxpayer funds to retain a law firm and engage in a campaign to potentially frustrate employees' desire to exercise their right to join a union...." [Yes, it must be very frustrating when you want to join a union that a majority of your co-workers don't want to join. -- DaH]

Josh Goldstein, a spokesman with American Rights at Work, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, said it probably would be in Ms. Barnett's interest to accept the cards rather than go through a time-consuming election. ["Be a real shame if something were to, you know, happen to this nice place you got here..."]

"The workers would have a union, and they could move forward and get back to the actual work they are supposed to be doing," he said. "Whereas now, even if you go in with the best of intentions, outsiders are going to be coming in to create another step in the process."

Although Helaine Barnett was appointed president of the LSC by President George W. Bush, she's not an anti-LSC (or anti-labor) activist; rather, she is a long-term LSC apparatchik, having served most recently as attorney-in-charge of the Civil Division of the Legal Aid Society of New York City.

That "other step" Josh Goldstein decries is, of course, a chance for workers actually to vote in secret, rather than be brought into the office of the union rep by a couple of apes, given a card, and told, "don't read it -- sign it!"

The surreality of the argument for the EFCA begins with the name: Employees already have a free choice; they can vote in a secret ballot for or against any particular union that wants to represent them. For that matter, private-sector workers can even vote via "card check;" it's already provided for in the law.

The only significant change -- and it's a biggie -- is that under the EFCA, if a majority of workers in a labor unit "sign" cards (whether under duress or even forged), the union is formed immediately upon certification by the Labor Department, which is not exactly a disinterested third party. Thereafter, if the employer and union cannot come to a collective-bargaining agreement within a certain period of time, federal arbiters come in and make the agreement themselves.

Since the arbiters are almost certain to lean strongly towards the union's position on virtually every issue, the net effect is that mere submission of the cards automatically puts the union into place on the union's own terms.

Under current law, if workers "vote" for a union via card check, and the union and employer cannot agree, there is no required federal arbitration; only if the vote is via a federally supervised secret ballot. This gives even the union a great incentive to work through the secret ballot, as otherwise it has no mechanism for force management to come to agreement.

So all that the EFCA does is remove any practical hope workers might have for a secret ballot, if, for example, the shop floor is rife with union thuggery and intimidation (as so many are). The "free choice" offered by the bill is in fact the removal of the free choice to vote in secret, without Guido and Nunzio looming over you, watching narrowly as you sign the card the union rep shoves into your trembling hands.

But the surreality continues. Consider this whiny complaint by the union organizers at LSC:

Employees in LSC oversight offices, with the help of the IFPTE, appealed to LSC President Helaine Barnett in a July 20 letter, asking her to accept authorization cards signed by "an overwhelming majority" of workers signaling their intent to unionize. Ms. Barnett dismissed the request in a July 28 letter, saying that "authorization cards are often an unreliable indicator of support for a union," according to a copy of the correspondence obtained by The Times.

But if "an overwhelming majority" of workers honestly and freely support being represented by the IFPTE, then why the urgency to use card check instead of a secret ballot, already scheduled for this Thursday and Tuesday? The obvious implication is that they really don't have a majority of workers legitimately signed up.

If the LSC holds the election as planned, and if a majority of workers vote for the IFPTE on a secret ballot, then the union and LSC start to negotiate; if they cannot come to agreement, federal arbiters step in, and the union gets more or less everything it wants. In which case, the outcome is the same as if Barnett and the LSC board of directors accepted the cards... no harm done.

But if they hold the election and a majority of voters reject unionization under IFPTE, what would that tell us? First and foremost, it would demonstrate for all the world to see that you cannot rely on signed cards to determine the true desire of the workers for a union. It would be the greatest argument against the EFCA that could possibly be made -- and it would be made by the unionistas themselves.

But there is one more wrinkle to this case: It's telling that the administration of President Barack H. Obama is pulling every trick in the book trying to get the Employee Free Choice Act passed for the private sector; meanwhile, it's being rejected as unrepresentative and unworkable by a corporation that was established by Congress, is funded by Congress, whose board members are appointed by the President subject to Senate confirmation (just like cabinet members -- but with more oversight than Obamic czars), whose most famous board member and board chair was a thirty year old gal named Hillary Rodham, and whose website is http://www.lsc.gov/.

So the operating philosophy appears to be "card check for thee but not for me":

The preference of the LSC, which is legally structured as a nonprofit corporation, for using the secret-ballot election process complies with federal organizing requirements. Federal agency employees, unlike their counterparts in the private sector, aren't permitted to unionize voluntarily using authorization cards.

"They have to go through the secret-ballot election," said Sarah Whittle Spooner, legal counsel for the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which has jurisdiction over government agencies. "There is no process for voluntarily organizing in the federal sector."

Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute, which opposes the Employee Free Choice Act, said this amounted to a double standard.

"It's the height of hypocrisy to say that when [the government's] interests are at stake it's not an accurate way to hold an election, but when it's a [private] company, it is," she said.

However, she said LSC made the right decision. "We totally agree with them: This is not an accurate way to judge support," she said.

I have no idea whether the current version of the EFCA would extend the card-check requirement to public-sector employers; perhaps a reader versed in labor law can take a look and report back. But it is an interesting question... just how far is the Obama administration willing to go to operate under the same restrictions, limitations, and regulations it demands private employers suffer?

Probably not very far, as Obama's answer to the infamous health-reform question implies.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 9, 2009, at the time of 4:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Barack Obama: Laff Riot at the U.N. Circus

Hatched by Dafydd

President Barack H. Obama now embraces the ever-helpful, America-loving United Nations in yet another mirror-reversal of George W. Bush; it seems that all Obama can do is take the polar opposite position from his predecessor -- except when he's following in Bush's footsteps so closely, he leaves no tracks of his own. Either way, everything Obama does is determined by what Bush did, either mimicking or gainsaying.

The Obamacle's enthusiastic predictions of the miracles he will perform, the wonders that will unfold when he, the One Everybody on Planet Earth Has Been Waiting for, takes command of a U.N. Security Council meeting are so surreal and godlike that Michael Jackson might have put such things in one of his music videos. Obama plans to...

  • Disarm the world of nuclear weapons -- after which the ogres of the world, unafraid of defenses or retaliations that no longer exist, will not fall upon the weak like vultures upon the crucified, but rather will embrace their erstwhile enemies and extend the hand of true brotherhood.
  • Conclude a climate deal in Copenhagen in December -- whereupon the Senate will instantly ratify Kyoto II, even though it refused to ratify Kyoto I by a non-binding vote of 95 to 0.
  • Host a meeting (date uncertain) between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of a non-existent but real-sounding "nation" called the Palestinian Authority, bringing about "a breakthrough about a timetable for Middle East peace." The starting gun for the timetable will be the PA recognizing the existence of Israel as a Jewish state... any day now.
  • "Mr Obama gave Tehran a September deadline to reply to his offer of negotiations." ...Which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will gratefully join, negotiate in good faith to dismantle the Iranian WMD programs and terrorist infrastructure, after the golden teleprompter of the One persuades the Shiite revolutionaries to abandon Twelverism and join the community of truly free and democratic nations.
  • After which, Obamoses will part the Red Ink, lead the wage slaves out of America to the promised land (Sweden), heal the sick with the government option, and drown the Republican multitudes beneath the waves.

The most hilarious element of all this hoopla is that Mr. Obama, I am convinced, actually believes that he will accomplish all of this -- probably before the 2010 elections, so that Democrats will actually gain even more seats in Congress: Each new setback seems only to strengthen Obama's grandiosity and megalomania. Soon, Obama will become like unto warty bliggens the toad:

to what act of yours
do you impute
this interest on the part
of the creator
of the universe
i asked him
why is it that you
are so greatly favoured

ask rather
said warty bliggens
what the universe has done to deserve me

When it all comes crashing down around the elephantine ears of B.O., he'll do the manly thing: Blame George W. Bush for "poisoning the well."

As a citizen of the United States, I dread the next two years; as a fictioneer, I can't wait to watch them unravel.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 9, 2009, at the time of 12:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 8, 2009

Schoolhouse Crock

Hatched by Dafydd

Looking at DRJ's post over at Patterico's and Paul's and John's on Power Line, I see that once again, it falls to the lowly Lizard to play the fly in the punchbowl.

Three bottoms

DRJ:

[H]opefully we can agree it’s a good message to tell students they need to work hard and get a good education.

Thankfully, we can't.

Paul:

[T]here is no good reason for Obama not to give his speech.

Yes, Paul, there is.

John:

The Obama administration is off to a horrible start, but it isn't yet a lost cause. If Obama could put aside his dopey left-wing ideology and stick to this kind of positive message, he could yet salvage his Presidency. But I'm afraid he doesn't have it in him to do that.

No, he can simply make himself a laughingstock. (But I do agree with your last sentence.)

The ghost in the machine

What all three are missing is that this speech, or indeed any speech by the President of the United States given (by decree) to all schoolchildren on their first day back -- even if the attempted monopolization was unsuccessful -- causes very real and significant damage to the education of a free, self-reliant citizenry in what should be a nation of liberty.

Oh, come on, Dafydd, where's your sense of proportion? Aren't you taking this much too personally?

No, I'm the only one being honest and realistic on this bus. Hasn't any of you asked yourself why Obama insists upon delivering this speech in the first place? Do you imagine he thinks his little homily will actually turn around the decline in American education over the past few decades? Or is it more likely that he just wants to get his nose in the tent -- so that next time, the precedent having been set, he can say what he really wanted to say this time.

John mentioned "subtext" in his post, but he didn't take that analysis far enough. The systemic subtext of any such speech is that the president is acting within his jurisdiction in talking to other people's children about how they should approach school and life in general... and the only proper response by parents should be to say, "Mr. President, my child's education is none of your damn business."

It may be the business of their state's governor, or perhaps their city's mayor -- or better yet, their kid's principal. It may even be the federal government's business that the states are doing their jobs at least minimally well, so long as those states suckle at the federal teat.

But the subtext of this or any other presidential speech to the nation's schoolkids is that the federal government, and its avatar, the president, stand in loco parentis: "In the position or place of a parent;" and that is simply above the pay grade of the president. It's not Obama's business, especially when his platitudes may well conflict with lessons from the parents he is usurping.

In particular cases, as when a parent is abusing a child, I can see the state, county, or city having authority to become the child's new parent -- though we all know how horribly that power can be abused. But there is no justification possible for the Chief Executive of the United States to usurp parental and local authority of all students, irrespective of how good or bad a job is being done by those he has just elbowed aside.

What's done is done -- and done again, and again, and again

In addition, this speech sets a vile precedent: That anytime the president wants to propagandize the nation's youth (even for "good" propaganda about working hard and doing all their homework), he can henceforth give a speech and demand that teachers and school systems everywhere force students to listen to it.

What life lessons will Obama feel compelled to pass along in 2010, 2011, and 2012?

What if the next president gives a "back to school" speech about the importance of celebrating same-sex marriage, abortion, and socialism? What if the one after that wants to use his by now traditional privilege to force kids to sit still for a lecture on pure laissez-faire Capitalism, the evil of any and all taxes, and the unprovable, fairy tale nature of "Darwinism?"

As a general rule, it's a wretched infringement to teach children to take marching orders from the president. Any president, at any time other than dire national emergency... and even then, they should be skeptical as hell: The Tree of Liberty demands nothing less.

This year's back-to-school speech is seemingly innocuous; I'm utterly convinced that the next will be a little more pointed, however; the third will be outright partisan; and the fourth will exhort all the little Winston Smiths to tattle on their parents' thoughtcrime.

What once all knew

I can't believe conservatives still haven't gotten it through their heads that the worst tendencies of people in this fallen world are exaggerated and exacerbated by orders of magnitude when those bad people serve in the government.

But I'm not in the least surprised that the libertarians -- last seen voting for Ron Paul, Babar, or even the One They Were All Waiting For himself -- are nowhere at hand when the State reaches its grubby paws right into every classroom in the most direct and offensive method possible: A presidentially directed national sing-along that simultaneously infantalizes students, emasculates fathers, and marginalizes mothers. Repent, ye natural sons of liberty.

Speaking of tea parties, how would those Boston rapscallions have reacted to a royal decree that some recent "speech of virtues" given by King George III be read aloud to every child in America -- even "innocuous" virtues that in the abstract, they all supported?

In many ways, we were a more sophisticated, intuitive, savvy people 236 years ago.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 8, 2009, at the time of 7:41 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 7, 2009

Health Care: Special Delivery

Hatched by Dave Ross

During the town hall meeting where President Barack Obama compared the post office to Fed Ex and UPS, little did he know that one year later, the U.S. Postal Service would be put in charge of the nation’s first public option medical insurance -- and that its arch enemies would also decide to jump head first into health insurance!

President Obama had started the evening off by launching into his usual spiel about how evil doctors and even more wicked health care companies drive up the cost of premiums.

“Now say that someone bites off your finger and your doctor decides to amputate your thorax because he can get more money --“ He looked down at his leg where a Portuguese Water Dog was whining plaintively. “Now, Bo, stop begging! You can’t have a finger!”

He looked back up at the camera. “Anyway, that’s an example of how unscrupulous doctors inflate the cost of health care. In a government run health care system, you would not only save your finger, you’d get a refreshing spa treatment manicure that would leave your finger better than new! And if Granny needed a new heart we would save money by giving her an aspirin.”

During the question and answer period that followed, the president glanced away from the teleprompter for a split second and quipped that if you want an example of a government run business that does well, you need look no further than the post office. This led to a fateful chain of events…

Obama, of course, never intended that the Postmaster General should become the Postmaster-Surgeon General; however, one night at a Georgetown party, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman were in a bedroom picking up their overcoats when they both leaned over the bed at the same time.

Their heads struck with a loud crack! They awoke several hours later in bed with twin headaches, with Pelosi snoring softly in Waxman’s arms. Both looked over at the same instant. Waxman saw Pelosi’s rictus smile, she saw his gap-toothed grimace. Both drew the same erroneous conclusions, both drew back in horror, and quickly gathered their belongings, muttering and refusing to look at each other as they fled down separate staircases.

The next morning Waxman and Pelosi were haunted by the horror of the night before; so when a computer glitch put language into the omnibus health care reform package that was actually intended to be bailout language for the post office, first Waxman (muttering “The horror! The horror!”) and then Pelosi (still too dazed and haunted to pay much attention) gave their assent.

Over the next few weeks, since no one actually read the 3,000-page bill, the fact that the USPS was put in charge of the public healthcare option was left unnoted.

Pelosi was later treated for post-traumatic stress syndrome. Waxman would have been also, however the waiting period for treatment was two years and he was instead shunted to end of life counseling.

Several months later, just as the public option was about to be unveiled in a White House ceremony, the President’s chief of staff walked into the oval office, bent over the president and whispered.

“Sir, I have some bad news.”

“Has Vice President Biden been appearing on TV again?”

“No sir, it’s worse. The post office has been put in charge of health care.”

“Well, thank God I’ve got my own doctor. Everybody else will just have to make the best of it, though, in the spirit of spreading the wealth around.”

The new Postmaster-Surgeon General, Wilford Higgenlooper, opened his press conference by announcing, “In order for the post office -- public option insurance company to be competitive, we are going to have to stop delivering babies on Saturdays. However, we have been listening to our customers; and we have introduced the “Forever Co-Pay”: You buy a co-pay from us now, and no matter how long you wait to use it, you never have to pay anything more.

“We are also going to introduce the ‘Cash For Tickers’ organ buying program. If you have an old, malfunctioning kidney, or a malfunctioning liver, even a bum heart, we will buy it back from you, as long as you promise to buy a brand new, less polluting organ.”

Because of the same unnoticed loophole in the law that put the post office in charge of health care, UPS and Fed Ex were allowed to compete in that same field.

Soon, Mr. Brown had painted a picture of the Stork on the side of his delivery truck, and had photographed one of its newly hired surgeons in shorts and a white lab coat triumphantly holding up a gall bladder and exclaiming, “When It Absolutely Has To Be Removed Overnight!”

Higgenlooper fought back by pointing out that Americans have long been used to standing in line to buy stamps and send packages, especially during the holidays. “Heck, we know people who held tailgating parties while waiting to buy a stamp. Some have met their life partners, spent enough time together that they were ready for a divorce, and still hadn't mailed their blasted special-delivery letters!”

He urged UPS to not employ unfair businesses practices such as operating more efficiently, then added ominously, “Many of us at the post office have assault rifles and we know how to use them.”

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, September 7, 2009, at the time of 11:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sure, Doc... If'n You Cancel Both Sides of It!

Hatched by Dafydd

Another snide liberal who is too clever by half; this one is a doctor who argues that anyone who opposes ObamaCare should have to forgo Medicare -- hey, that's a government insurance "option," isn't it?

Oppose a government health care plan? A Jackson, Miss., doctor wants you to put your convictions on the line by burning your mother's Medicare card.

It's the reverse of the challenge many citizens have been issuing to their own members of Congress to forgo the health care plans they get by dint of working for the government and buy into the "public option" plan instead.

"I want to have a demonstration -- Boston Tea Party-like -- and burn those cards," said Dr. Aaron Shirley, who has done extensive work in trying to extend health care to the uninsured.

Shirley, you can't be serious, Doc... I would jump on that deal faster than you can cheer a tax increase -- provided, Doc, that in addition to rendering me ineligible for Medicare, you also return all the FICA money and SE tax I've paid into the system since my very first paycheck in 1976 (selling candy and popcorn in the Egyptian movie theater in Hollywood) -- returned with interest, naturally. (I'm willing to accept the normal interest that would have accrued had those dollars been shunted into United States Treasury Bonds all these decades.)

Should be easy to calculate.

In addition to Medicare, the deal would have to apply to all taxes taken from me to pay for Medicaid, SCHIP, and (the biggie) Social Security as well. Give it all back, Mr. Dr. Shirley, with the modest interest I demand above. Then you're welcome to wipe me from the rolls of future beneficiaries forever and a day.

And naturally, I would also be exempt from all future FICA taxation.

Say, Doc; what percentage of Americans do you think would take that same offer you make to me, to wipe them off the books -- and return all the money looted from them over the years, and never to take any more for any of those four programs? 25% perhaps? Maybe 50%? As much as 75%?

You might be shocked, Uncle Aaron; but I sure wouldn't be. Unlike you, I actually know just what a horrible "investment" all those programs have been.

Of course, you would never really make that offer, even if your pal Barack H. Obama appointed you Federal Tax Ponzi Scheme Refund Czar, because the entire country would be bankrupt... the federal treasury no longer has any of that money. It's all been spent, and what hasn't been spent has already been promised. Heck, even what has been spent has also been promised! There's no wherewithal there with all those IOUs.

Nope; all that you're really offering, Doc, is that those of us who are tired of being fleeced by those of you should abstain from all benefits, while still paying all the taxes -- and letting the government keep what it has already stolen. That's the usual liberal counteroffer, isn't it? If we don't like your product, we don't have to buy it... we just have to pay for it.

Shirley, you jest.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 7, 2009, at the time of 9:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Is Obama Forming a "Shadow Government?"

Hatched by Dafydd

Today, President Barack H. Obama appointed yet another "czar", making the announcement at an AFL-CIO Laborious Day picnic in Cincinnati today; Ron Bloom will make the 33rd Obamic Czar, counting Van Jones, who just resigned but will surely be replaced with a less explosive (but every bit as Marxist) appointee, and after Obama taps someone else to fill Bloom's old position as Car Czar.

Thanks to Glenn Beck, who has done a bravura job of journalism, here are the Czars; entries in blue are those Czar positions created expressly by Barack Obama:

  1. Richard Holbrooke -- Afghanistan Czar
  2. Jeffrey Crowley -- AIDS Czar
  3. Ed Montgomery -- Auto Recovery Czar
  4. Alan Bersin -- Border Czar
  5. David J. Hayes -- California Water Czar
  6. Ron Bloom -- Car Czar (moved to Manufacturing Czar today)
  7. Dennis Ross -- Central Region Czar
  8. Todd Stern -- Climate Czar
  9. Lynn Rosenthal -- Domestic Violence Czar
  10. Gil Kerlikowske -- Drug Czar
  11. Paul Volcker -- Economic Czar
  12. Carol Browner -- Energy and Environment Czar
  13. Joshua DuBois -- Faith Based Czar
  14. Jeffrey Zients -- Government Performance Czar
  15. Cameron Davis -- Great Lakes Czar
  16. Van Jones -- Green Jobs Czar (resigned)
  17. Daniel Fried -- Guantanamo Closure Czar
  18. Nancy-Ann DeParle -- Health Czar
  19. Vivek Kundra -- Information Czar
  20. Dennis Blair -- Intelligence Czar
  21. Ron Bloom -- Manufacturing Czar
  22. George Mitchell -- Mideast Peace Czar
  23. Kenneth R. Feinberg -- Pay Czar
  24. Cass R. Sunstein -- Regulatory Czar
  25. John Holdren -- Science Czar
  26. Earl Devaney -- Stimulus Accountability Czar
  27. J. Scott Gration -- Sudan Czar
  28. Herb Allison -- TARP Czar
  29. Aneesh Chopra -- Technology Czar
  30. John Brennan -- Terrorism Czar
  31. Adolfo Carrion Jr. -- Urban Affairs Czar
  32. Ashton Carter -- Weapons Czar
  33. Gary Samore -- WMD Policy Czar

In each case, the One has replaced functions normally carried out by cabinets or other agencies, headed by secretaries and directors who are subject to Senate confirmation (thus accountable to the United States Congress), with unelected, unconfirmed, unaccountable apparatchiks who ultimately answer to only one person: Barack Obama.

The departments raided of their authority in favor of Czars include the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury, Health and Human Services, Labor, Interior, Energy, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) -- that's the entire cabinet except for the Departments of Education, Transportation, and Veterans' Affairs).

Specific sub-cabinet level agencies subject to the Senate's "advise and consent" rules, now looted of their powers by the Obamic Czardines, include the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), National Security Council (NSC).

A less charitable observer might conclude that President Obama is systematically creating a shadow government of special commissars, which will allow Obama to bypass congressional oversight and the checks and balances of "independent" (in a sense) agencies to rule the United States directly by decree.

Every "czar" steals some of the authority that would normally reside in the permanent bureaucracy and instead secretes it behind the impregnable wall of an Executive Order: unquestionable, uninvestigatable, unreviewable, unviewable, and of course, un-overturnable by any other branch of government. In fact, I don't believe Congress can even subpoena a czar to testify before Congress what he's doing and why, since the president can declare the questioning off limits under "executive privilege."

Obama has some precedent on his side: Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt also tried to overthrow our system of constitutional checks and balances, in order to rule by diktat, with some success. Wilson (if I recall correctly) wanted virtually all power invested in the Congress (mostly the House, the "people's legislature"), whereas FDR demanded direct presidential control "for the duration" (of the Depression and World War II -- which between them endured for all twelve years of Roosevelt's tenure -- which gave him a perverse incentive not to solve either "crisis").

Shifting more and more governmental power into the hands of a single man on a white horse, who will personally speak for and on behalf of "the people," is a classical sign of incipient fascism... which, coupled with Obama's nationalization of the banks, of executive pay (even within companies that didn't take a lick of "stimulus" money), energy production and distribution, news reporting and other journalism, labor relations, medical care -- and soon food consumption and the body mass of each American -- makes a chilling portent of what is to come. As one of Obama's predecessors wrote, "Everything inside the state -- nothing outside the state -- nothing against the state."

I wish somebody would tell me how many elements of fascism must come bubbling to the surface of the new administration (not even a year old... seems like a hundred) before we're allowed to suggest that Barack Obama, the head of the fish, must himself be a liberal fascist.

Must we wait until he re-enacts Wilson's sedition act and starts throwing in prison anyone who criticizes the government, the president, or any of the president's policies?

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 7, 2009, at the time of 2:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Lockerbie Bomber Release: What Did Obama Approve, and When Did He Approve It?

Hatched by Dafydd

Blogger DRJ on powerhouse blogsite Patterico's Pontifications links to an important article; but I think she missed one of its major implications.

She linked to an article in the UK Daily Mail, "No.10 turns on Obama and Clinton for criticising decision to release Lockerbie bomber," focusing on the damage this contretemps is doing to our special relationship with the United Kingdom. But there is a deeper and much more disturbing conclusion to be drawn from that piece:

British officials claim Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton were kept informed at all stages of discussions concerning Megrahi’s return.

The officials say the Americans spoke out because they were taken aback by the row over [Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset] Megrahi’s release, not because they did not know it was about to happen.

‘The US was kept fully in touch about everything that was going on with regard to Britain’s discussions with Libya in recent years and about Megrahi,’ said the Whitehall aide.

‘We would never do anything about Lockerbie without discussing it with the US. It is disingenuous of them to act as though Megrahi’s return was out of the blue.

But what is the real implication here? If these "British officials" are truthful and accurate, then President Barack H. Obama has known for months that they were negotiating the unconditional release of Megrahi to the Libyans, with predictable results (the "hero's welcome").

But had Obama put his foot down, perhaps even threatening to go public about the talks (thus scuttling them) -- had he even threatened to reveal the real reason for the amnesty, a massive oil deal for British Petroleum offered as a bribe by Libyan military dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi -- Obama could almost certainly have stopped the release of Megrahi.

Given the reaction not only here but across the Atlantic, such a deal must be negotiated in the dead of night; a credible threat to bring it out into the open before the terms were agreed upon would have meant both Great Britain and Libya would have had to deny and denounce the deal, and it couldn't have happened... not for years, at least, while the furor died down.

And again, the Obamacon must have known this: first and foremost, because he is of course omniscient; just ask any supporter. But beyond that perhaps dubious claim, because Rahm Emanuel would have told him that he had the de facto power to stop the deal, as would neutered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Which leads me to only two possible conclusions:

  • The British officials are either lying or jaw-droppingly misinformed about what Obama knew and when he knew it; or...
  • Obama could have stopped the release but chose, for political reasons, not to do so. To put it another way, if the Brits are correct, then Obama tacitly approved, by deliberate inaction, the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

I lean towards the second conclusion, since it strains my credulity to the snapping point to believe that unnamed, but surely well known to the British press, "officials" would tell a complete cock-and-bull story that could easily be debunked, leading to their own disgrace and ruin within a day or two.

The administration might argue, as a last-ditch defense, that Obama didn't approve the deal; he just couldn't make up his mind whether to go whole hog to prevent it. But not making a decision is making a decision, the decision to do nothing. And when the non-decider has the power to force a moral conclusion but refuses to exercise it, that equates to approval of and support for rank evil: The sin of omission in such a case is functionally identical to the corresponding sin of commission.

These may be the most urgent questions to be asked of the president at this moment, more important than why he hired Van Jones or what his own health-care takeover plan may be:

  1. Mr. Obama, did you have advance knowledge about the release of Abdelbaset Megrahi to Libya after only a few years in prison in Scotland, despite his conviction in Scottish court of the murder of 270 people, including 180 Americans, four American intelligence officers, and children and families of many nationalities?
  2. Given the fact that you allowed the release without blowing its secrecy, at what point did you decide to tacitly acquiesce to that ghoulish decision, whose only justification was a multi hundred million pound bribe (an oil lease) paid by Gaddafi to BP?
  3. And how can you possibly justify your approval of Megrahi's release? To what principle can you appeal beyond pure political opportunism, coupled with depraved indifference to human life?

If Americans understood that, protestations notwithstanding, Barack Obama was in on the deal to release the Lockerbie bomber, I suspect that might be the last straw for a huge chunk of the still undecided voting population.

Obama has buttered his bread, and now he must sleep in it. We must hold his feet to the grindstone on this vile, cynical, and cowardly "non-decision" decision.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 7, 2009, at the time of 12:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 6, 2009

Slapback di Giorno

Hatched by Dafydd

Priceless:

Producer, writer and director David Zucker ("Scary Movie," "Naked Gun," "Airplane!" ) denounced as "left-wing crazies" the individuals who signed a letter called " The Toronto Declaration" to protest Israeli government policies.

Mr. Zucker said he is "outraged" that actors such as Danny Glover and Jane Fonda, along with about 50 other activists, would sign a declaration that condemns Israel as an "apartheid regime" and dismisses the work of Tel Aviv filmmakers as "Israeli propaganda."

The protest of Israel began Aug. 27 when Canadian filmmaker John Greyson released a public letter stating he would withdraw his film from the 10-day festival, which opens Thursday, to protest Israel's "brutal" military assault on Gaza earlier this year....

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici complained that Mr. Greyson is now trying to shut down the voices of filmmakers in the only country in the Middle East that allows free expression.

If Mr. Greyson "were to walk down the streets of Tel Aviv with a sign saying he is a homosexual filmmaker, he would be invited to the Tel Aviv Queer Film Festival. But if he did that in Ramallah or any Palestinian village in the Territories, his films would have to be shown posthumously because they would kill him," said Mr. Jacobovici.

In fact, Mr. Greyson was invited to the Tel Aviv Queer Festival and withdrew another of his films from that event.

Perhaps Mr. Greyson can win some kind of award for the most number of loud, messy, political withdrawals without ever visibly entering...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 6, 2009, at the time of 5:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 5, 2009

Raucous Baucus Caucus

Hatched by Dafydd

In a sure sign of a looming crackup in the health-care reform debacle, Sen Max Baucus (D-MT, 80%) says that he is sick of the deadlock among the putative "Bipartisan Six" senators, and that he is going to circulate a more or less final compromise position; if it fails to get four of the six votes -- as I suspect it will -- it will prove that "further bipartisan negotiations would be futile."

If that happens, I believe it will be the end of any significant health-insurance overhaul, as the Senate does not have sixty Democratic senators willing to vote for a Democrats-only ObamaCare bill; and all the Republicans will vote against cloture (including the Maine twins).

Finally, I do not believe, in the end, that the Democratic leadership will be able to pull off the "reconciliation" trick, where they enact a bill in the Senate that doesn't have, say, the government "option," but then add it in during reconciliation -- and claim that they only need 51 votes to pass the reconciled bill. The Byrd Rule would preclude that; and I believe Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV, 79%) himself would rail against it. A bunch of Blue Dogs would be outraged... particularly since they would be tarred by the bill even if they voted against it. The damage such a maneuver would do to the Democratic caucus itself would shred the party. Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) won't fire that Rubicon.

I think that liberal Democrats and Baucus himself have concluded that there will be no bipartisan compromise: Republicans have no incentive to take the electoral heat off Democrats pushing a wildly unpopular bill that will bankrupt Medicare and put an onerous health-care mandate on all Americans without any significant reforms to lower the costs, such as tort reform, removing barriers on cross-state competition for insurance companies, expanded medical savings accounts (MSAs), health-insurance portability (attaching insurance to the person, not the job), and so forth.

On the other hand, liberal Democrats in safe seats have no incentive to take the heat off their more moderate colleagues to pass a radical government takeover of health care. Instead, both the GOP and the Progressive Caucus see more gain to themselves in blowing up the negotiations than finding a "compromise" that everybody hates: Republicans expect the collapse to hurt Democrats in 2010, while liberals believe that if they agree to a compromise, their radical constituents will abandon them in the election -- whereas their own personal reelection is guaranteed if they hold firm to "progressive" principles, even if that means ObamaCare dies an ugly death.

Baucus sounds desperate:

The chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, signaled his intentions in a telephone conference call with five other committee members who have been struggling for months to forge a bipartisan bill and break a partisan stalemate in Congress, an official familiar with the call said.

The official said Mr. Baucus had told the group that he would circulate a detailed proposal as early as Saturday. In doing so, he would be taking a big step toward forcing a final decision by the group as to whether it sees any realistic prospect of a deal.

Many of the ideas expected to be included in the Baucus plan have been aired for weeks among the negotiators and by other lawmakers. But if Mr. Baucus follows through, it would be the first time he had assembled a complete package, an indication of the pressure he is under to produce an agreement.

It was ever thus: Republicans see American health insurance as mostly in good shape with a few problems that can be handled with minor tweaks; liberal Democrats see a "crisis," whether real or fabricated, that can be whipped into an opportunity to do what they have dreamt of for decades: nationalize American health care, à la the British National Health Service... and they are pushing the Democratic moderates to hold firm, even if it costs them their jobs, to principles they don't even fully support. The negotiators are thus speaking at cross purposes; there is no "meeting of the minds," hence no "contract" is likely.

The Baucus compromise in the Senate Banking Committee gives neither side any of its bottom-line essentials:

  • There is nothing to strengthen or expand the invisible hand of the free market in health insurance, so Republicans will reject it;
  • There is nothing to stick the invisible foot of government into the Capitalist system, so the "progressives" have nothing to gain and everything to lose by supporting it.
  • Thus, only a small handful of actual moderates would support the bowdlerized "compromise."

As I wrote last Tuesday:

Compromise is a great strategy when negotiating the price of a new car, but it makes lousy politics; usually nobody likes the result, and all the collaborators end up running for cover. Far better to compete instead of collaborate... to put our own vision of health reform out there, then let the people decide.

Note that this syllogism applies equally well to the GOP and the Progressive Caucus: Each side is better off rejecting an unworkable sausage of a compromise and instead pushing its own alternative plan, heading into next year's campaign.

La Casa Blanca agrees with this assessment -- gloomy to them, bright and sunny to me and anyone else who supports liberty, Americanism, Capitalism, and the market:

For all the interest on all sides of the debate about what occurred in Friday’s conference call, the White House and Congressional Democrats have already concluded that a bipartisan alternative is probably doomed after recent public attacks from Mr. Grassley and Mr. Enzi.

That leaves the administration with a new and highly charged political dynamic -- balancing the conflicting desires of liberals and moderates in the president’s own party -- as he tries to pass a bill with Democrats’ votes alone, perhaps, and at best one Senate Republican, Ms. Snowe.

But Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME, 12%) supports only a potential government option that would be triggered by absolute private-insurance company intransigence, which is unlikely in the extreme; much more probable is that under such a plan, insurance companies would make some appearance of cooperation, thus avoiding triggering the entrance of government health insurance.

All sides understand that a government option hinging on a trigger is either (a) the same as no government option at all, or (b) equivalent to a full-time public option from Day-0. There will be no "in between" state in which we're already not certain whether the trigger will or will not be squeezed. But the lefties in the Democratic Party won't accept (a), while Snowe and the other moderate Republicans will not accept the latter.

Further, the progressives demand an actual government "option" for health insurance from the git-go; anything less will not allow the destruction of private insurance... thus allowing a good crisis to go to waste. The Left has too much power within the Democratic Party now to be rolled into a compromise that even Snowe could live with.

Similarly, moderate Democrats are balking at the Left's demands:

The president must reach out to moderate-to-conservative Democrats like Senators Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Evan Bayh of Indiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who will continue to push for a measure that spends less and does not include a public insurance option as liberal Democrats demand. The same is true for the Blue Dog Democrats in the House.

But liberal Democrats, who dominate in the House and include Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have become emboldened by the prospect of passing a bill solely with Democratic support.

Bottom line:

  • Moderates may want a compromise, but there aren't enough of them to pass it;
  • Conservatives and liberals alike would much rather have a head to head competition than "compromise" their principles by agreeing to a compromise;
  • Thus never the twain shall meet.

I predict there will be no compromise; rather, one side will win, and the other will lose. And given the mounting skepticism and even downright fear among the electorate about the specifics of radical health-care "reform," there's no doubt in my mind that the winner will be the GOP, the minor loser will be the Progressive Caucus -- and the big, fat, hairy loser will be Barack Obama himself, whose presidency will be gutted in his very first year in office.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 5, 2009, at the time of 9:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Virginia-DC Travelogue 1

Hatched by Dafydd

Sachi has been stuck in Virginia for several weeks now taking a class, one which (we hope!) will lead to a promotion for her. But of course, neither of us is happy with all the traveling she has to do and time apart; so we arranged that I should fly out to stay with her for ten days, then return home to keep the wildfires burning.

We do this often; it's not much of a holiday, since Sachi has to work (or in this case, learn); but we get evenings and week-ends together. And it's relatively inexpensive, since the government is already paying for her hotel room, her rental car, per-diem, and of course for her plane tickets. All we need pay is my own transport plus whatever extra I eat (and any touristy things we do).

I flew out to Virginia Thursday; for some unfathomable reason, SuperShuttle insisted upon getting me to the airport three hours before my thoroughly domestic flight... meaning I had to awaken at six in the morning. I'm a night owl (vampire might be more accurate), and I cannot generally get to sleep before 3:00 am under the best of circs; so that gave me three hours sleep.

The flight wasn't long (less than five hours) and unusually smooth. (Hint: The least bouncy place to sit in a jumbo jet is directly over the wing; even in turbulence, you barely feel it. The worst place is in the back, just forward of the empenage... even in relatively smooth air, you'll feel like you're in an hours-long earthquake that the heirs of Charles Francis Richter would rate a 9.0). Arrived, picked up at Dulles by S., returned to hotel in wee, sleepy little hamlet halfway between D.C. and Richmond, hight Fredericksburg.

The weather was more cooperative than I expected for early September; it's warm during the day, but not killer hot; and it cools off at night. It's a bit humid, especially coming from Southern California, but not muggy.

It being evening -- and the village where we're staying rolling up its sidewalks before we usually even have dinner -- there wasn't much to do... but I did fulfill a longstanding dream of mine...

Growing up in California, barbecue was always synonymous with grilling to me. Even looking up the word in the dictionary usually elicits that false definition: "To roast, broil, or grill (meat or seafood) over live coals or an open fire, often basting with a seasoned sauce;" "A method of cooking by which meat, poultry or fish (either whole or in pieces) or other food is covered and slowly cooked in a pit or on a spit, using hot coals or hardwood as a heat source. The food is basted, usually with a highly seasoned sauce, to keep it moist."

This may have been true once, and it's still true (as a purely descriptive definition of how that word is used) in many parts of the country; but epicures of barbecue in the South and Midwest have decred the definition that barbecuing consists in smoke cooking... that is, cooking the food using smoke heated above 150°F, with the heat source indirect. (If the smoke is cooler than 150°F, it's called "smoking" rather than "barbecuing.")

At least, so sayeth the various barbecue mavins I've read. I first encountered this more refined definition, distinguishing barbecuing from grilling, a number of years ago while watching the Food Channel; since then, I never miss a show on barbecuing, few though they are.

Mind, I've nothing against grilling; I love to grill and eat grill -- steaks, ribs, chicken, cob corn, asparagus, and many other yummies. But I have long longed to try real, honest to Bog BBQ.

The problem is that I cannot find any restaurant in my normal stomping ground that serves it; SoCal is definitely not the haven of hickory or the Mecca of mesquite! Barbecue joints (or more commonly, BBQ) litter the ground like cigarette butts outside a gentleman's club; but inspection of the physical premises invariable discloses a gas grill and cans of liquid smoke flavoring... not a large metal cooking chamber with an external firebox.

I could buy a barbecue, of course; there are even places in California that sell the real thing; or I could buy online, as I increasingly do with many staples, from electronics to books to Bugs Bunny chewable vitamins. But we live in a condo... where on Earth would I put it or use it? We have a tiny balcony, where we have and use our grill -- much to the consternation and annoyance of our condo neighbors, who get nervous when they see a cloud of smoke erupt like Vesuvius from our terrace. But a real barbecue tends either to be much too large... or else so tiny, it wouldn't even hold enough ribs to feed four, as when we entertain.

But back to Virginia; this post is all about Virginia (and Washington D.C.)... remember?

By the time we got back to Fredericksburg, the collection of mud and wattle huts where Sachi's hotel lurks, all the good restaurants were closed. We tried to get to a place called Virginia Barbecue, but we didn't find it -- which may be related to the fact that we turned the wrong way on Highway 1 and set off south when we should have been headed north (all you Rebels out there, cover your eyes!) In any event, when we called them to get straightened out, we discovered they had already closed before we even set out, so it was a bad job all 'round.

We slunk back towards the hotel and our eventual dinner: leftover chicken from the bag of goodies I brought on the plane, so I wouldn't have to eat airline food... worse, nowadays you must pay for the privilege of eating nuked frozen glop only marginally better than Deadly Dennys. But halfway back, a miracle happened, or at least a bit of good fortune: We discovered a restaurant still open for dinner, despite the fact that the sun had set.

Amazingly, it was a barbecue restaurant -- real barbecue! I'm sure it wasn't the greatest exemplar; anyplace called "Dave's Barbecue" can't be all good. But at least we got to taste real barbecue for the first time.

Sachi got the ribs and I the chopped pork; but that was just a formality, as we shared, of course. The smokiness permeated the meat like nothing I'd ever tasted before. I don't normally like what it pleases Southern Californian restaurants and grocers to misleadingly call "smoked turkey," "smoked cheese," and so forth. I love smoked salmon (lox), but it doesn't taste particularly smoky to me; and in any event, that kind of smoking is at the lower temperature (below 150°F).

But there is something about barbecuing that impregnates the smoke flavor all the way to the bone; I now know viscerally (literally) what I only knew intellectually day before yesterday: That I had never before tasted actual barbecue. We plan on buying a house soon, to take advantage of the collapse in real-estate prices and the low interest rates; and when we do, the very fourth thing I do will be to buy a bona-fide barbecue, probably the kind made from a split 55-gallon drum.

(The first three things will be to replace the flooring with hardwood, replace all the plumbing fixtures, and install a water filtration system at the main -- Aqua Systems, Culligan, something like that. After the barbecue, the next thing will be a professional quality oven-stove.)

The meat was barbecued with just a spice rub; they added some kind of moisturizing baste right at the end. They also had several kinds of sweet, homemade dipping sauces, all of which I tried. The one I liked best was called "Devil's Spit," but its hotitude was disappointingly mild. I think I prefer salty sauce better anyway, though I've only tried Stubbs. That's another reason to look forward to my own barbecue: I can really start experimenting with rubs, bastes, and sauces.

Next day (Friday), while Sachi was at class, I drove around and located Virginia BBQ (which I think is probably just on a par with Dave's), as well as Allman's, which I found out via interrogation and waterboarding is the place where all the locals go. But we didn't have time to sample, as Sachi wanted to leave for Washington as soon as she got back from class, to avoid the traffic.

Actually, as I predicted, it wasn't too bad; Laborious Day week-end does not generally produce a massive influx into the city; it's the exodus outbound that is of Biblical proportions. In fact, traffic exiting D.C. was at a virtual standstill for mile after mile, while the only time we had to slow down headed north into the District was when an accident caused a brief (less than one mile) ball-up.

We arrived at our D.C. hotel in good time -- Courtyard by Marriott Embassy Row; it's a nice hotel, especially as it's free: Sachi stays in so many Marriott hotels during the year that she has accumulated enough frequent sleeper miles that we were able to "pay" for the entire stay with otherwise worthless units of unmoney... which may shortly be an equally apt description of U.S. Federal Reserve notes, if Barack H. Obama has anything to say about it.

Washington is rather muggier than Fredericksburg, but still not dreadful. The traffic is light, because everyone has already fled (supra). We have a car and several maps, but we're going to walk as much as possible (and use the Metro for longer trips), because the hotel parks and retrieves all cars via varlet parking, requiring twenty minutes notice... just like in Perry Mason, in which the Beldar of the days of yore is always telling Della Street to "call for my car!"

Paul Mirengoff, the "Ringo Starr" of Power Line, who works in D.C. during the day (I think he camps on the street during the hours of darkness), recommended a restaurant called Grillfish, where we ate last night -- Sachi and I, not Paul; he and his brood wisely skipped town, ostensibly because it was a holiday week-end, but possibly also so as not to be harrangued for hours on end by the Lizards on obscure and wearying political topics.

Paul recommended wisely: We got the mixed seafood grill for two, with Sachi getting the side pasta and I the house salad. The food was excellent; I thought the balsamic vinigrette on my salad especially enticing, much superior to what's usually passed off as restaurant house dressing. The grill comprised shrimp, scallops, salmon, seabass, and some other fish I neither recognized nor remember from the menu description.

The grill marks were nicely colored, but I found out some time ago that "grill" in this sense generally means a couple of minutes on a real grill to "mark" the food, followed by oven cooking; 100% grilling tends to take so long that the food dries out. Regardless, it tasted very good: The fish was firm but not chewy, the shrimps crispy, the scallops -- well, not quite buttery, but certainly a long cry from the deep-fried wads of mullosk-flavored batter that you get at Red Mobster or Outhouse Steakhouse -- we won't even mention Chizzler in polite company. (Alas, there are no good American seafood places within easy driving distance of our home in California; there is an excellent Chinese seafood restaurant in Monterey Park, though that's about a half-hour away.)

As you might guess from the foregoing, when Sachi and I travel, food is a primary object: We especially love eating dishes we've never before sampled... which means that so far, the holiday is going swimmingly... and we haven't even hit the National Mall, the National Gallery (which is on the N.M.), or Mount Vernon yet!

Must finish this off now, as we're headed off to do those very things. Until next installment, adieu, adios, and arrivederci.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 5, 2009, at the time of 5:45 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 4, 2009

Judicial Home Invasion

Hatched by Dafydd

This story utterly nonplusses me; not that a judge would want to make a bigotted, anti-Christian decision -- I expect that -- but that she would have the reasonable belief that she'd be allowed to do so by the appellate courts in New Hampshire, or any other state. (Full disclosure: I am not now, nor have I ever been a Christian, a religious or observant Jew, or even a believer in God; nor am I a disbeliever.)

If this story in the Washington Times is at all accurate, a judge has just ruled that a little girl must be removed from homeschooling and sent to a government school -- because the judge hoped that would cause her to lose her religious faith:

A New Hampshire court ordered a home-schooled Christian girl to attend a public school this week after a judge criticized the "rigidity" of her mother's religious views and said the 10-year-old needed to consider other worldviews as she matures....

On Tuesday, the girl, Amanda Kurowski, started fifth grade at an elementary school in Meredith, N.H., under court order. Amanda's "vigorous defense of her religious beliefs ... suggests strongly that she has not had the opportunity to seriously consider any other point of view," District Court Judge Lucinda V. Sadler said.

Perhaps the Times got some elements wrong; but unless reporter Julia Duin fabricated the tale out of thin cloth, which is possible but very improbable, there's no way to spin this decision as other than appalling. None of the normal confounding factors appear to apply here; Judge Sadler herself ruled that the child was well-adjusted, academically ahead of her grade level, and not isolated from other children:

The course load, except for the Bible study, is similar to what public students get and the mother's home schooling has "more than kept up with the academic requirements of the [local] school system," the judge's statement said. The child also takes supplemental public school classes in art, Spanish, theater and physical education and is involved in extracurricular sports such as gymnastics, horseback riding, softball and basketball.

I must assume that each of these extracurriculars involves interacting with other children and with adults who may not share Amanda's and her mother's religion and religiosity, giving Amanda plenty of opportunity to seriously consider other religious points of view. But even if she did not have such activities, what business is it of a judge to judge that element of their religion? Would Judge Sadler order a Moslem girl not to wear a veil, or a Hassidic boy not to wear the distinctive clothing, hat, and hairstyle of that sect of Judaism? Yet such religious uniforms not only have the effect of isolating believers from infidels or goyim, that is the whole idea.

If I understand this ruling, Judge Lucinda Sadler would have been perfectly happy with Amanda's homeschooling if the religious instruction hadn't "taken," if Amanda rejected her mother's Christianity and become a Moslem, Jew, or atheist. For that would prove that Amanda had "considered [another] point of view," you see.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution begins, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This fundamental right has absolutely, "no bout adout it," been incorporated to the states, meaning that state law cannot violate it anymore than can Congress.

Is this not a textbook example of a state judge prohibiting the free exercise not only of Mom's religion, but of Amanda's as well? Even ten year old children have that right, so long as the belief does not physically endanger them (rejecting urgent medical treatment, for example). Nothing of the sort is involved in this case. One would imagine that a judge in a state whose very motto is "Live free or die" would think a second time before ordering a child into the government schools precisely in order to diminish her religious faith.

And by the way, isn't it an eye-blowing admission against liberal interest that one of the functions of the government school system, deliberate or incidental, is to damage the religious faith of its students? Were I an advocate of compulsory government educational propaganda (which you may infer from my phraseology I am not), I would be aghast that some dork of judge came right out and let the beans out of the bag.

Lest anyone mistake Judge Sadler's motivation, she made it even more explicit, if that's possible:

"[Mr. Kurowski] believes that exposure to other points of view will decrease Amanda's rigid adherence to her mother's religious beliefs and increase her ability to get along with others and to function in a world which requires some element of independent thinking and tolerance for different points of view," Judge Sadler's ruling said.

The ruling quoted Mrs. [Janice] McLaughlin [court appointed "guardian of the child's legal interests"] as saying the child "appeared to reflect the mother's rigidity on questions of faith." The child would "be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior," it added.

How thoughtful of the court (a previous court) to pick a guardian of Amanda's "interests" who is clearly in complete disagreement with her over those interests. Perhaps if I were in a coma, and some wacko relative was suing to pull the plug so he could collect the insurance, the court would appoint the president of the Hemlock Society to speak for me.

I cannot imagine a state appellate court allowing this ruling to stand; in fact, I suspect it will end up in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit for a ruling on the First Amendment question. And I wonder... is it possible this case will come up in the First Circus shortly before the 2010 elections?

If so, Democrats across the country will be forced to take a stand on federal control of religion -- to supplement federal control of banking, the auto industry, energy, and health care. (Republicans too; but it will be a lot harder for Democrats to avoid infuriating either the liberal nutroots or real Americans.) The Squeaker, the Majority Leader, the chairmen of the two Judiciary Committees, and even the Big B.O., Barack H. Obama himself, will have to opine for the record.

To maintain party discipline and solidarity against homeschooling (which liberals despise, as it interferes with "proper socialization" of children), Democrats will have to tell American parents that their children's religion will henceforth be controlled by the federal government -- and convince them that this is for their own good.

What could possibly go wrong?

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 4, 2009, at the time of 9:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 2, 2009

Where There's a Will, There's a Whine - UPDATED

Hatched by Dafydd

I rarely fisk anything; too often, it's like shooting drunks in a barrel. But I simply couldn't resist this David Harsanyi column... it's such a target-rich environment.

I looked him up in Wikipedia and discovered he's a movement libertarian and an atheist; dang, you could have knocked me over with a wrecking ball: There is a certain je ne sais quoi about many contemporary libertarians and the "arguments" they propound. Oh, wait, I do know "what": smirkiness; that and a fantasy vision of the world that is naive to the point of delusional.

In the good old days of Ludwig van Mises and Fredrich van Hayek, Albert J. Nock and Milton and Rose Friedman, you could get some deep economic and philosophical ideation; some of the libertarian elders (defined as "making libertarian arguments in print before I knew what the word means") can still string thoughts and facts and rules of inference together for something that is truly worth pondering: I find examples in Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, William F. Buckley, jr. (well, when he was still sucking air), and even my erstwhile partner in crime (and especially punishment), Bradford S. Linaweaver. I even used to call myself a libertarian; my principles haven't changed, but the big-L backdrop has been repainted in Day-Glo pink, so I'm often too embarassed to admit my perverse predelictions anymore.

If you ask why I'm so down on the typical yute who thrusts out a beligerant lower lip and truculently declares himself a libertarian (he just discovered L. Neil Smith's books in the dorm library, thinks Bill Maher is a libertarian, and is still shaky about the precise difference between libertarian and libertine)... well, this post should loudly defend me.

In the instant case, Mr. Harsanyi joins the long line of people (two, counting Harsanyi) rushing to the aide of George Will's suggestion that we simply declare defeat in Afghanistan and pull out, leaving the country to the Taliban; and incidently handing the greatest terrorism victory ever to al-Qaeda -- by default. We join our broadside already in progress:

Tossing around the words "retreat" and "defeat"... is the rhetorical equivalent of the vacuous "chicken hawk" charge leveled at any civilian who supports military action. It's emotive and hyperbolic, and I probably have used it myself, but it's not an effective argument.

Oh, good. Let's all play Spot the Effective Argument in the Harsanyi harangue.

Judging from their harsh reaction to Will, it's not clear when, if ever, some conservatives believe the U.S. should withdraw from Afghanistan.

Now there's an original idea: Let's set a "date certain" for withdrawal from Afghanistan! (Why do I feel a sudden rush of déjà vu?)

As I patiently explained to the lefties who demanded to know exactly when we would just up stakes and pull out of Iraq, you cannot set a specific departure date and expect victory -- because the bad guys will just wait you out. What we need instead is an intelligent set of victory conditions, after which we phase out out engagement.

Even less clear is how the victory narrative is supposed to play out. Does this triumphant day arrive when every Islamic radical in the region has met his virgins? If so, after eight years of American lives lost, the goal seems farther away than ever.

I said an intelligent set of victory conditions, not a snide and risible straw man.

Or is victory achieved when we finally usher this primitive tribal culture, with its violent warlords and religious extremism, from the eighth century all the way to modernity?

Two.

If the goal is to establish a stable government to fill the vacuum created by our ousting of the Taliban and al-Qaida, we've done quite a job. Most Americans can accept a Marine's risking life and limb to safeguard our freedoms. But when that Marine is protector of a corrupt and depraved foreign parliament -- one that recently legalized marital rape and demands women ask permission from male relatives to leave their homes -- it is not a victory worth celebrating.

Sorry, Mac; three snides and yer out.

Why don't we see if we can construct a somewhat less hysterical (and more honest and heartfelt) set of victory conditions? How about a government that:

  • Does not support jihadist attacks against the United States or our allies;
  • Is strong enough to prevent its territory from being used to plot and train for such attacks;
  • Is honest and democratic enough that it's not in imminent danger of collapse;
  • And is not so depraved that we find ourselves supporting "honor" killers and marital rapers.

You know, kind of like we achieved in the Philippines in the early twentieth century against the Moros. And like we had achieved in Iraq by the end of the Bush administration, but might be poised to give back to the terrorists now under President Barack H. Obama.

These victory conditions are just a skosh more realistic and achievable than Harsanyi's accumulation of straw men -- so thick on the floor that I worry the fire marshal might show up. Why don't we run with them?

You know, idealism regarding Afghanistan's future begins to dissipate the first time we read the words "why don't we negotiate with the moderate Taliban?"

Funny, I've only read that in two places: (a) on lefty blogs, and (b) in this very Harsanyi column.

But while strict Shariah law is acceptable, illicit drugs are not. If most of us agree that America has no business foisting its notions of wrong and right on other cultures, why, then, did we spend hundreds of millions of dollars eradicating poppy crops (one of the only productive crops of the Afghan farmers)? Was it because our own war on drugs has gone so splendidly?
  1. Sharia law is not acceptable.

Nobody today holds up the Karzai government as an example of the kind of government that makes us feel secure about leaving. Or hadn't you noticed people like Gen. Stanley McChrystal arguing that Afghanistan is not yet transformed sufficiently that we can just leave?

  1. Most of us don't agree that "America has no business foisting its notions of wrong and right on other cultures."

Most of us don't even believe in absolute cultural relativism, and neither did Mises or Hayek; they had this cockamamie notion that a culture of liberty, Capitalism, and the rule of law was objectively better than a culture of oppression, slavery, socialism, and rule by whim.

That's why we were meddling in Hitler's dreams of a "tausendjähriges Reich" even before Hitler declared war on us (and why he did); that's why we fought the Evil Empire and broke its back; that's why we support democracy movements all around the globe -- which, one must conclude, Harsanyi thinks is arrogant and bullying... just as contemporary liberals think. (Does anyone detect a pattern here?)

Again, scratch a young, contemporary, metrosexual, atheist libertarian -- find a... a what?

  1. Finally, the reason we're trying to eradicate the poppy crop to defund the Taliban, not that we're torqued that Afghans are getting stoned.

Or didn't Harsanyi know that the Taliban forces Aghan farmers to grow opium poppies, seizes the crop (paying the farmer next to nothing), and sells the opium and heroin to finance bloody Islamic revolution and terrorism around the world? There was a time when libertarians at least rejected the use of naked force to seize money and power; but the lib times, they are a-changin'.

It is perplexing that advocates of a long-term engagement in Afghanistan -- folks who often reject social engineering as a tool of public policy -- accept the idea that a nation with scores of ethnic groups, widespread corruption, no industry and no bonding of language or nationality can be coaxed into constructing a stable and lasting democratic society.

Yes... like Turkey. Or India. Or the United States, for that matter. Now me, I find it perplexing that a libertarian would consider some people genetically incapable of building a reasonably stable, reasonably honest, and reasonably decent society. But perhaps I'm being un-Reason-able.

I also find it sad when libertarians consider an engagement of, say, five or six more years to be "long term." Helping the Filippinos suppress the Moslem terrorists took about a dozen years, and I consider even that to be short term. Long term is more like the British Raj, which lasted 89 years; or the Ottoman Empire, which limped along for more than six centuries, from about 1300 to its death and dismemberment in 1918. Backed the wrong horse in the Great War.

And if you once supported Operation Enduring Freedom, you apparently have cast your lot with Kabul forever.

Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky. But we do expect an attention span a whit longer than that of the caffeinated squirrel in Over the Hedge (the movie).

...Cast your lot with Kabul forever. Which makes sense, because it's going to take that long for American troops to find a puppet Islamic state that pretends to value any enduring freedoms.

We're not looking for "enduring freedoms," the futile quest for which seems to be the theme of the day with liberal anti-war activists -- and David Harsanyi. We only need stable and not externally aggressive... and there are a number of examples of that even among Islamic countries.

We'll try reforming the Karzai government. If that doesn't work, we'll try shaking it until a better steward falls out. If that doesn't work, maybe we need to restructure the country for them -- at least enough to crush the corrupters and awaken the latent desire in all tribes and cultures not to have to live like Klingons in the original (Kirk/Spock) Star Trek.

But if every military engagement includes an open-ended plan for nation building that pins our fortunes on the predilections of a backward nation, we are, indeed, setting ourselves up for failure.

Some "lightswitchers" live permanently on the extremes: Everything is either all one way or all the opposite way. If we have nation-building, it must necessarily be "open ended," meaning it could last a thousand years -- a million -- a quadrillion!

Yes, we've had many "military engagements" even just since September 11th. Such combat, patrolling, or liasing with local military or militia units happen constantly, year in and year out; if you don't believe me, pick up Imperial Grunts (2005), by Robert Kaplan (a fairly liberal journalist, by the way). Yet only two of our many military engagements require a small commitment to nation building.

What Harsanyi actually appears to be saying is that every military engagement that caught his attention for including nation building -- included nation building. This is a true, yet trivial, statement which he sees as profound and unanswerable. And I suppose it is... unanswerable, I mean.

And that concludes this rare display of Lizardian scorn and mockery. Oh, I almost forgot: Did anyone out there spot a bona-fide "effective argument" from Mr. H.?

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Instant update: Perhaps I should be more explicit why I write posts such as this: I am driven to a frenzy by vapid, lawyerly arguments that ignore substance for style; churlish, precious nitpickery; hysterical overreaction in one direction, followed in nigh bipolar extreme by an overreaction in the other; the inability to discover nuance or a gradient between black and white; fannish smugness; and the narcissistic certainty that the arguer is the smartest ass in the room. I had quite enough of such in my youth in science-fiction fandom, thankyouverymuch.

I associate such rhetorical self-pleasuring with liberals -- or with teenagers arguing that "you can't drive the car for two weeks" means it's all right to drive somebody else's car tomorrow.

I'm annoyed when liberals use such teen logic; but I'm infuriated when libertarians follow suit. Why the discrimination? Because I anticipate nothing better from liberals, so they only live down to my expectations; but I have much higher standards for people who call their magazine Reason, whose books use the word "Skeptical" in the title, who pose as eminently logical, level-headed, businesslike, and grounded in the real world.

I especially despise such arguments when in service to a position I hold myself... it cheapens my own hard-fought conclusion, much like "affirmative action" throws dirt on the real achievements of minorities and women who score in the 95th percentile all on their own, without getting freebie points due to skin color or reproductive organs.

I'm sure someone could make a strong, logical, and interesting case against nation-building; but it's too easy to make the lazy argument, the mocking thrust, so people just don't bother to do the heavy lifting anymore. I'm on a solitary crusade against intellectual mush and piggybacking on the tactics of Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden.

Brad rails against much of what I rant against here, though he prefers to apply it to knee-jerk social-conservatives than knee-jerk libertarians. He calls it the "Horowitz effect," after erstwhile radical leftie and Ramparts editor David Horowitz -- who converted to conservatism, yet carried all his old radical games and fancy dances to the new cause.

Brad swings too far in the other direction, however; he focuses so relentlessly on absolute internal consistency that he loses sight of the real world, which is messy -- yet remains the standard for truth against which all theory must be tested and survive.

All right, I'm finally done.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 2, 2009, at the time of 9:36 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Date ►►► September 1, 2009

Epiphany at Last

Hatched by Dafydd

I just realized that Paul Mirengoff, born in 1949, is the oldest member of Power Line; John Hinderaker was born in 1950, while Scott Johnson is the baby, hatched in 1951.

But on the other hand, Paul didn't actually join Power Line until August 20th, 2002 -- more than three months after its debut on May 5th. Until then, Power Line comprised only Hinderaker and Johnson. Thus, in a different sense, Paul is the youngest member of that blog.

...So it's official: Paul "Deacon" Mirengoff is the Ringo Starr of Power Line.

Scott "Big Johnson" Trunk would of course be the George Harrison; and I can't say whether John "Hindrocket" Hinderaker would be the John or the Paul.

~

I was sometimes called the "fifth Power Liner," but I was never actually a member, of course... simply viewed with alarm by one and all. Thus, I can only be the Yoko Ono of Power Line.

Hrm, maybe I should never have brought up this sordid subject in the first place...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 1, 2009, at the time of 9:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

And Besides, Obama Is Doing Much Better Than Bush Against Terrorists!

Hatched by Dafydd

Anybody remember that line I keep quoting from Man of La Mancha about hearing the cuckoo singing in the cuckooberry tree? Barack H. Obama's National Security Advisor explains (in the subtlely titled article "ABC News Exclusive: National Security Adviser Says President Obama Is Having Greater Success Taking Terrorists Out of Commission Than Bush Did") why Obama has actually been far more successful than Bush on all measures of counterterrorism... except for those measures we can actually produce in evidence:

Responding to criticism from former Vice President Cheney that President Obama is making the nation more vulnerable to terrorism, the president’s National Security Adviser, Gen. Jim Jones (Ret.), told ABC News in an exclusive interview that actually the reverse is true: President Obama’s greater success with international relations has meant more terrorists put out of commission.

“This type of radical fundamentalism or terrorism is a threat not only to the United States but to the global community,” Jones said. “The world is coming together on this matter now that President Obama has taken the leadership on it and is approaching it in a slightly different way -- actually a radically different way -- to discuss things with other rulers to enhance the working relationships with law enforcement agencies – both national and international."

Jones said that “we are seeing results that indicate more captures, more deaths of radical leaders and a kind of a global coming-together by the fact that this is a threat to not only the United States but to the world at-large and the world is moving toward doing something about it.”

Ah... I don't know how to measure a "global coming-together," but at least National Security Advisor and former Commandant of the Marine Corps Jim Jones surely can release statistics and evidence of the easily measured "more captures, more deaths" claim. Right?

The former Marine General didn't provide any specific numbers to back up his claim, but he said “there is an increasing trend and I think we seen that in different parts of the world over the last few months for sure.” He added that he was not “making a tally sheet saying we are killing more people, capturing more people than they did -- that is not the issue.”

It isn't? Then why bring it up?

I swear on a stack of Heinlein novels, this administration is the most self-absorbed, competitive (in a schoolyard sense), and envious presidential administration of my lifetime and likely even longer. It seems that President Obama is utterly obsessed with proving that he's much better than that awful Bush fellow.

By the way, if you're interested in specifics of the new political regime of the Obamacon, which has produced such tangible (if strangely invisible) improvements in our counterterrorism campaign, here is a tantalizing tip:

But the numbers are going up, he said. “The numbers of high value targets that we are successfully reaching out to or identifying through good intelligence” from both the CIA and intelligence agencies from US allies has made the difference, he said.

So we're "reaching out" to high-value targets. What could go wrong?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 1, 2009, at the time of 7:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

WWRD?

Hatched by Dafydd

Leonard Burman, writing in the Washington Times, warns Republicans that they cannot petulantly shoot down health reform and offer nothing in its place.

Well, that's true... but which Republican jackass is doing that? All the Republicans I've seen are pushing various reforms of their own, "to get universal access to health insurance that harnesses market forces to slow the growth of health care costs" -- exactly the attempt at bipartisanship that Burman hectors them for rejecting.

He's pointing his finger at the wrong miscreant.

Burman's thesis appears to be that the Democrats are aching for real, honest compromise with the GOP; but in fact, it's the Democratic supermajority that smirks it can go it alone; that refuses to allow Republican alternatives even to be presented for a vote in Congress; and it's the Democratic president's own very "progressive" Chief of Staff who said -- in a moment of candor he surely regrets -- that "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

So why is Burman directing his ire at the Right instead of the Left? Probably because he realizes at some deeper level of beingness that it is the Left that rejects any collaboration... including the sort urged by Mr. Burman. So why bother talking to people who announce in advance they won't listen?

Instead, Burman turns to the one side that might listen to him, might even take his suggestions seriously; he gives the Democrats a pass for their bullying and swagger, and shouts at the only side that won't just laugh at him... which happens to be the side that is innocent of the charges he hurls. Thus, just like the Palestinians, absolute intransigence is rewarded, while no good deed goes unpunished.

I completely disagree that this is the time for Republicans to become beggars at the banquet, bowing and scraping before their liberal masters, hoping to be noticed, maybe even patted on the head and thrown a Scooby Snack. That was never the approach of Ronald Reagan, whom Burman cites quite indirectly.

Reagan used an entirely different strategy: He crafted a great alternative to the "default liberal" position, one that resolved the problem without accepting any more lashings of socialism... and then he took his case directly to the people.

Let the Left squirm for a change. Let Democrats rush to jump on the caboose as the train chugs out of the station. It worked for Reagan (again and again), and there is no reason to suppose it won't work for today's GOP, if it has but the huevos to give it a try.

Instead of Republicans trying to wheedle their way to a booster seat at the big kids' table -- offering token amendments to ObamaCare so they can get their grimy "fingerprints" (as Burman puts it) onto a bill that the American people despise -- why not caucus by themselves, agree upon an alternative bill that will get nearly unanimous Republican support in both chambers of Congress, and then take that bill to the American voters as the new Health Reform Contract with America?

They could barnstorm the country with stacks of detailed (but readable) 4-page pamphlets, with a few charts and graphs, but mostly just describing the plan in bold, primary colors. Take them to townhall meetings. Mail them to anyone who asks. Put them up on the web. Deputize twenty or fifty Republican pols who can actually hold an audience when they speak and send them on speaking tours across America. Constantly refer to it as the "Health Reform Contract with America" -- and always contrast it to "ObamaCare," to drive home the point that it's Barack H. Obama vs. America.

Compromise is a great strategy when negotiating the price of a new car, but it makes lousy politics; usually nobody likes the result, and all the collaborators end up running for cover. Far better to compete instead of collaborate... to put our own vision of health reform out there, then let the people decide.

I mean, this is a democratic republic, is it not? And Republicans do trust the innate good sense of people... don't they? Or have they learned nothing from two successive spankings?

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 1, 2009, at the time of 5:06 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Day 224... and Yep, You Guessed It

Hatched by Dafydd

All right, here we go; from Reuters, anent Afghanistan:

U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal said the situation was "serious" but the 8-year-old war could still be won. He gave no indication if he would ask for more troops but is widely expected to do so in the coming weeks.

With U.S. and NATO casualties at record levels in Afghanistan and doubts growing about the war in the United States and other NATO nations, McChrystal is under pressure to reverse Western fortunes within months....

"While there's a lot of gloom and doom going around ... I think we have some assets in place and some developments that hold promise," [Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates said on a visit to a Lockheed Martin factory building F-35 fighter jets in Fort Worth, Texas.

And now, the punchline:

The White House sought on Monday to pin the blame for the grave state of the war in Afghanistan on the Bush administration, which made Iraq its top military priority.

"This was underresourced, underfunded, undermanned and ignored for years," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Oddly, during those years of underresourcing (when did "resource" become a verb?), undermanning, and ignorance, Afghanistan was a much more peaceful, anti-Taliban, and pro-American country. But after just eight months of Barack H. Obama, the "bellman," as Commander in Chief... well, everything is going to hell in a hambone.

But Col. David Kilcullen, Gen. David Petraeus' top counterinsurgency aide back when Petraeus was Commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq, has a very different take on the failings:

A top counterinsurgency expert said on Monday Afghanistan's government must fight corruption and quickly deliver services to Afghans because Taliban militants were filling gaps and winning support.

"A government that is losing to a counter-insurgency [sic] isn't being outfought, it is being out-governed. And that's what's happening in Afghanistan," David Kilcullen, a senior adviser to McChrystal, told Australia's National Press Club.

So we're not talking about some failed Bush military policy in Afghanistan after all; according to Col. Kilcullen, it's not the boots on the ground that are failing... it's the suits on the ground, led by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Lt.Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry -- named to the position by Obama nine days after the new president was sworn in.

This is not a Bush holdover, like Defense Secretary Gates; Eikenberry is an Obama man. Curiously, however, while Eikenberry has extensive military experience in Afghanistan -- including as Commander of the Combined Forces Command -- all of his political training and focus appears to have been aimed at making him an expert on China, not Afghanistan: the Hong Kong Chinese Language School (run by Great Britain's Ministry of Defense), thence Nanjing University, and "an advanced degree in Chinese History."

So far as I can see, Eikenberry had no experience as an ambassador or in the State Department -- or in politics at all, other than commanding troops of various nationalities -- before Obama named the student of Chinese history and language Ambassador to Afghanistan, one of the key positions in the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis. Hey, what could go wrong?

Doesn't matter; whatever it is, it's all George W. Bush's fault. (And Yngvi is still a louse!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 1, 2009, at the time of 1:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved