Saturday, October 31, 2009

Destructive Governance

Peggy Noonan tries to present herself as an antidote to the hyper-partisan, supercharged rhetoric that pervades much of our current political discourse. She attempts to appear always calm, measured, and reasonable. In today's WSJ, however there's something you rarely see in a Peggy Noonan column - a flash of anger.

When I see those in government, both locally and in Washington, spend and tax and come up each day with new ways to spend and tax—health care, cap and trade, etc.—I think: Why aren't they worried about the impact of what they're doing? Why do they think America is so strong it can take endless abuse?

I think I know part of the answer. It is that they've never seen things go dark. They came of age during the great abundance, circa 1980-2008 (or 1950-2008, take your pick), and they don't have the habit of worry. They talk about their "concerns"—they're big on that word. But they're not really concerned. They think America is the goose that lays the golden egg. Why not? She laid it in their laps. She laid it in grandpa's lap.

We are governed at all levels by America's luckiest children, sons and daughters of the abundance, and they call themselves optimists but they're not optimists—they're unimaginative. They don't have faith, they've just never been foreclosed on. They are stupid and they are callous, and they don't mind it when people become disheartened. They don't even notice.

Apparently, even Peggy Noonan is getting outraged at the antics of Obama, Reid and Pelosi. One thing I think she still gets wrong is her explanation of why they behave the way they do. It's not because of ignorance. They know exactly what they're after. Change. If you accept Jonah Goldberg's definition of patriotism as Love Of Country (and I do), then by definition these people, who are trying to radically change our country, are not patriots. They abuse our country because they want to.

A good column

Friday, October 30, 2009

#%@& Internationalism

In my previous post (or subsequent one, if you're reading top to bottom), I highlighted a critique of U.S. war making policy in the AfPak region made by a member of the "international community" (Philip Alston). What's sort of ironic is that the charges of criminal transgressions are made against our government which is presently headed by an enthusiastic supporter of such international oversight, Barack Obama.
Well, the "international community" has a plethora of similar leftist anti-Western, Anti-American, Anti-Israeli gadflies looking for suitable targets to fire their twisted, pompous declarations of moral certitude at. One such weasel is Richard Goldstone, chairman of the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. This 575 page "report" essentially accuses Israel of committing war crimes in their late 2008, early 2009 offensive against the terrorist outfit Hamas in the Gaza strip. Among all nations, only Israel could be criticized for defending their citizens against ongoing, unprovoked attacks. What follows is Colonel Richard Kemp's welcome testimony against the Goldstone Report at the U.N.

Thank you, Mr. President.

I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee.

Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.
Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media, and international human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.

The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy's hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas’ way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.

Mr. President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.

And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Note that Kemp makes his key statement twice. In case you missed it, here it is again,


Obama's Alternative To Guantanamo

A U.N. human rights investigator warned the United States Tuesday that its use of unmanned warplanes to carry out targeted executions may violate international law. ...
[Philip] Alston, the U.N. Human Rights Council's investigator on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, raised the issue of U.S. Predator drones in a report to the General Assembly's human rights committee and at a news conference afterwards, saying he has become increasingly concerned at the dramatic increase in their use, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan, since June.
He said the U.S. response -- that the Geneva-based council and the General Assembly have no role in relation to killings during an armed conflict -- "is simply untenable." "That would remove the great majority of issues that come before these bodies right now," Alston said. "The onus is really on the government of the United States to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial executions are not, in fact, being carried out through the use of these weapons." ...
"Otherwise, you have the really problematic bottom line -- which is that the Central Intelligence Agency is running a program which is killing significant numbers of people, and there is absolutely no accountability in terms of the relevant international laws," he said.

Will the Nobel Peace Prize decision be rescinded? Will President Obama, Vice-President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton be threatened with indictment for war crimes in the International Criminal Court at the Hague? Will bumper stickers stating, "Impeach War Criminal Obama" begin appearing in Seattle, Berkeley and Ann Arbor? Will the Cubs ever appear in another World Series?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More On Health Care

The quote of the day belongs to Holman Jenkins in today's WSJ.

It's no exaggeration to say the Senate health-care bill taking shape is the equivalent of climbing aboard a train about to plunge into a canyon and deciding what it really needs is a bomb on board. (The metaphorical train, of course, being our debt-ridden economy).

Current estimates for the ten year cost of the plan run between $800 billion to $1 trillion. And this is only the direct cost to the government. It doesn't include extra costs to the states (state funded Medicaid increases are a major part of the plan), businesses, insurance companies, doctors, hospitals and patients having to satisfy the new rules and mandates. But even that sum, exhorbitant as it is, is wildly optimistic.
Mona Charen points out the following.

In 1965, when Medicaid was enacted, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that first year costs would amount to about $238 million. The actual price was $1 billion. The program now costs $251 billion annually and is climbing fast. The record is similar for Medicare. In 1965, Congress predicted that by 1990, Medicare would be costing $12 billion. The actual cost -- $90 billion.

History tells us the costs will start at the muti-trillion dollar level and they will increase sharply from there.

Ah, but President Obama reassures us by saying cost cutting measures will reduce the burden. For example as Charen explains,

Starting during the campaign, President Obama touted digital medical records to reduce errors, improve care, and cut costs. More than $19 billion of stimulus funds were earmarked for it.

But, she continues,

...when the Washington Post examined the matter, they discovered that digital records not only fail to produce the promised benefits, they actually reduce efficiency and cause errors. The digital systems currently available give physicians too much information. Pages upon pages of digital information document every conceivable ailment a patient might have. Doctors have difficulty wading through all of the unnecessary data to reach the critical information. One emergency room physician at a hospital that had adopted a digital system complained, "It's been a complete nightmare. I can't see my patients because I'm at a screen entering data . ... Physician productivity and satisfaction have fallen off a cliff." Some hospitals have adopted digital systems only to abandon them.

The Democrats have disseminated much misinformation in their push to socialize our health care system. Among the most blatant is the idea that opponents of Obamacare oppose health care reform. Even the left leaning Chicago Tribune editorializes that this is a lie. (As noted by Kathryn Jean Lopez on NRO).

Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate have spent the spring, summer and fall grappling with how to fix the health care system. They're still trying to craft a bill they can sell to Americans — or even explain in plain English.
And the Republicans? Well, as the minority party, they're mainly on the sidelines. They've become the party of "no," sniping at every Democratic health care reform idea without promoting any of their own. Right?
Not entirely.
Over the summer and fall, Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced six — yes, six — health care reform proposals. You didn't hear? Well, those plans didn't produce much of a ripple because Democrats dominate the Congress.
But now Republicans are weighing a shift in strategy. Instead of taking more potshots, some Republicans say their party should present a coherent alternative to whatever final Democratic plans emerge in the House and Senate. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee reportedly are drafting legislation the GOP could introduce when Democrats bring their proposals to the floor.

And finally, there's Ann Coulter explaining one important reason for the shortcomings in our health care system.

The reason you can't buy health insurance as easily and cheaply as you can buy car insurance -- or a million other products and services available on the free market -- is that during World War II, FDR imposed wage and price controls. Employers couldn't bid for employees with higher wages, so they bid for them by adding health insurance to the overall compensation package.
Although employees were paying for their own health insurance in lower wages and salaries, their health insurance premiums never passed through their bank accounts, so it seemed like employer-provided health insurance was free.
Employers were writing off their employee insurance plans as a business expense, but when the IRS caught on to what employers were doing, they tried to tax employer-provided health insurance as wages. But, by then, workers liked their "free" health insurance, voters rebelled, and the IRS backed down.
So now, employer-provided health insurance is subsidized not only by the employees themselves through lower wages and salaries, but also by all taxpayers who have to make up the difference for this massive tax deduction.

And she concludes with,

Almost everything wrong with our health care system comes from government interference with the free market. If the health care system is broken, then fix it. Don't try to invent a new one premised on all the bad ideas that are causing problems in the first place.

I'm flattered that Ann's been reading my blog.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Disputing Conventional Wisdom

An interesting man, Conrad Black, author of voluminous biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, has a very interesting column on NRO.

Among the politically incorrect assertions Black makes include,

Nixon’s only full term was, except for Lincoln’s one and FDR’s first and third, the most successful in history...

Watergate was nonsense.

Along with Truman, Nixon and Reagan did more than anyone else to win the Cold War, the greatest and most bloodless strategic victory in the history of the nation-state.

...the indigestible fact is that Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are closer to it (the truth) than the New York Times and the traditional networks.

And he concludes that our current polarized political environment was fundamentally created by the liberals with their

...demonization of Nixon and the myths of Vietnam.

It's interesting that Black marks the point at which our current supercharged partisanship (if there is one - some people dispute this) began in the late sixties, early seventies. This was also the time that the neo-conservative movement took hold. Some formerly liberal Democrats began breaking their affiliation, repulsed by their party's embrace of values espoused by its George McGovern wing as explained by Norman Podhoretz in "Why Are Jews Liberals?"

...whereas the Democratic Party since Roosevelt had stood for internationalism in foreign affairs, McGovernism (as heralded by the campaign slogan “Come Home, America”) was isolationist in all but name;
whereas the Democrats had believed in treating individuals as individuals without regard to “race, creed, color, or country of national origin,” McGovernism’s embrace of quotas translated into treating individuals entirely with regard to race, creed, and color;
and whereas the Democrats had interpreted the idea of equality as meaning of opportunity for individuals, McGovernism took it to mean equality of results for groups.

The neocons didn't change so much as the Democratic party changed and since then, the party has, if anything, become more entrenched in the McGovern philosophy.

The Vietnam era was the inflection point for both Black's polarization and Podhoretz' neocon emergence and the war was the driving force for both. The upheaval was caused by the different interpretations of the lessons of Vietnam. Black points out that the liberals succeeded in getting their (mythical) version incorporated in the history books. He provides an alternative narrative.

In April 1972, between Nixon’s historic visits to China and the USSR, the South Vietnamese defeated the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong invasion and offensive, with no U.S. ground support but with heavy air support. This formula might have kept South Vietnam afloat for 15 years, until international Communism collapsed. In his Silent Majority speech of November 1969, Nixon said that North Vietnam could not “defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.” This is what happened, and the Democrats and the national media have been in steadily more implausible denial for over 30 years.

Black's article

Sunday, October 25, 2009

NR - 11/2/09

The current issue of National Review (11/2/2009) has a multitude of worthwhile items. Tops among these is Jonah Goldberg's essay on the unseriousness (to use a favorite word of Charles Krauthammer) and the illiberalism inherent in the left's approach to foreign policy. One example Goldberg cites is Darfur.

To see the enervating effects of this new idealism, consider Darfur. The genocide there was so bad it distracted George Clooney from supermodels. But what, exactly, does George Clooney want America to do? If you visit the website of “Not On Our Watch” — an organization founded by Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and other very concerned attractive people — you’ll be hard pressed to find an answer. “Not On Our Watch is committed to robust international advocacy and humanitarian assistance. . . . We encourage governing bodies to take meaningful, immediate action to protect the vulnerable, marginalized, and displaced.” Let’s form a committee! Darfur activists implore Obama to “find” a “resolution” to the Darfur problem, as if such a resolution were like a lost cufflink. Just find it! In the meantime, what can you do? Well, Not On Our Watch says you can “stay informed” and tell your representative that you are concerned. You can give money to relief groups. You can “take a stand.” But once you get beyond the high-school-oral-report rhetoric, you’ll discover that taking a stand means asking the U.N. to adopt a binding resolution to form an ad hoc committee on stand-taking. The U.S. government — run entirely by the group’s fellow liberals — isn’t to be part of the solution at all. Last year, at the U.N. ceremony for Clooney’s anointment as a “Messenger of Peace with a special focus on peacekeeping,” Clooney recounted his most recent visit to Darfur. The people there “see these bright blue hats and they feel a new energy in the air. They feel for the first time that this is the moment that the rest of the world, all the nations united, are stepping in to help them. There is only one chance to get this right. They believe you when you tell them that hope is coming. They know that only the United Nations can help on this scale. They know it, and you know it.”
Of course, whether Clooney knows it or not, this is laughable jackassery. The U.N.’s record of stopping ethnic cleansing and genocide is on par with its record of supporting winning NASCAR teams. That’s why Clinton “illegally” ignored the U.N. to intervene in Kosovo. In 1994, genuinely heroic U.N. blue helmets from Belgium were asked to maintain stability in Rwanda. Ten of them were captured by Hutu soldiers (some reports say they voluntarily handed over their weapons per U.N. guidelines). The Belgian paratroopers were mutilated and tortured to death. After this atrocity, the Belgian blue helmets quickly left Rwanda and the genocide commenced. U.N. failures — of either resolve or ability — can also be catalogued in East Timor and Iraq.
Likewise, there will never be an effective multinational U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur, not least because the Russians and the Chinese represent two Sudanese vetoes on the Security Council. Indeed, as Mark Steyn noted in 2004, at precisely the moment the Sudanese Janjaweed intensified their slaughter at home, the Sudanese cookie-pushers at Turtle Bay were accepting a three-year stint on the Human Rights Commission (that was before it became a “Council,” by the way — and who among us doubts that the name change will make all the difference in the world?). The first task for the Sudanese “human-rights commissioners”? Denouncing Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and Israel, Israel, Israel.

There can never be too much disparagement of that worthless, corrupt outfit, the U.N.

Along the same lines, Keith B. Payne exposes the dangerous irrationality behind President Obama's campaign linking nuclear disarmament with nuclear non-proliferation.

There's Jay Nordlinger telling of an Everett, Washington school district prohibiting the performance of a (wordless) musical piece during a high school graduation ceremony simply because it was titled Ave Maria and thus had religious connotations. (It wasn't the Ave Maria by Schubert, but a modern piece by Franz Biebl). The possibility of having this music performed at a tax supported school brought this hysterical reaction from one letter writer (who confuses the work with its better known namesake).

“That melody is very familiar to all of us, and when we hear the instruments play, the words are immediately heard in our brains. ...Now we are in the vicinity of thought-crime: We may not be singing about God, and we may not be hearing words about God, but the notes make us think of God, which is verboten at graduation.
...If secular people of all stripes, whether atheist, agnostic, skeptic or freethinker, don’t speak out about these abuses . . . we will be no better than the Islamic jihadists.”

To which Nordlinger, who besides being a political commentator is a music critic, responds,

That is a near-perfect expression of “liberal” opinion in the United States today. And it is mean, ignorant, and illiberal.

Part of the fun reading Rob Long's spoofs is deciphering the comedic vehicle he's using. This time he describes the Nobel Peace Prize committee debating Obama's qualifications for the Prize in a series of back and forth e-mails. The members correspond in a kind of broken phonetic English-Norwegian hybrid. Very funny. A sample.

Vell, dis is noot an easy-peasy kine off decision. Onde won hant, high iss de newe presidenk op de Yuhnyted Statesen. Alsø, high is vury vury blekke. Vell, not vury vury blekke, but from de Norweege perspekteeve, a lewtle blekke is a løtte blekke.
Onde udder hant, high hass bane de presidenk voor, vhat? Noot even wone mond? Vat hass de manne døne? No-fink, ip du åske may.
Vee neede tew my-bay haf a Skype call aboot dis. Iss vury vury delicat.

And of course there's Mark Steyn this time with a perfect fit for Philip K. Howard's, The Death of Common Sense. Steyn tells of elementary school students punished for bringing knives to school to use as utensils (one 6 year old was sent to reform school for 45 days). However, there are exceptions to the rigid rules as Steyn notes,

Unless, of course, you’re a Sikh. Sikhs like to carry their traditional kirpans — knives up to eight inches — and the New York City Board of Education and the Supreme Court of Canada, among many others, have ruled that boys are permitted to take them to school. Why? Because, in the ideological hierarchy, multiculturalism trumps “safety.” A cake knife is a “deadly weapon” but a deadly weapon is merely the Sikh symbol for “the power of truth to cut through untruth.” If that isn’t reason to ban it from public schools, I don’t know what is.

There's also a critique of the Baucus iteration of Obamacare.

The bill is enormously expensive and goes far beyond its advertised $829 billion cost to the federal government. Baucus would tax employers for hiring, insurers for offering plans that he deems too expensive, and medical-device makers for staying in business. His legislation also mandates increased spending by states, businesses, and individuals. Its regulations will surely increase insurance premiums for most people; there is no way to require that insurers charge sick people and healthy people the same rate while avoiding that outcome. Prohibiting insurers from offering no-frills coverage will also raise prices. The legislation will require insurers to offer an expensive product that a lot of people will not want to buy. So Baucus forces them to buy it or pay a fine.
Even the bill’s few spending cuts are perverse. The bill kneecaps the successful Medicare Advantage program, in which senior citizens are allowed to get their benefits from private insurers. Baucus would cut the insurers’ payment rates, forcing them to drop many of their customers even if they are outperforming the federal government.

And a series of energy policy suggestions, the best of which is by Senator Lamar Alexander (R, Tenn.), "Fission, Baby, Fission". Alexander points out that we're already falling way behind the rest of the world in nuclear energy production.

Chinese president Hu Jintao said his country will “vigorously” expand its nuclear production. China started looking at reactors only in 2006 but has 132 on the drawing boards already. Russia has decided to double its nuclear capacity. Japan gets 36 percent of its electricity from nuclear and has two new reactors under construction. France gets nearly 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear and has among the cheapest electricity rates in Western Europe.
The nuclear renaissance is well under way. It just hasn’t reached our shores.

Alexander calls for the building of 100 new nuclear facilities over the next 20 years, a goal he admits looks hopeless.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Whiner In Chief

No public figure, political or otherwise, has ever been as scathingly, viciously, relentlessly and unfairly attacked as was President George W. Bush. (Dick Cheney was a close second). Everyone from Harry Reid to Michael Moore to Sean Penn to Bob Costas (Bob Costas?) have taken cheap, crowd pleasing shots at Bush. Yet through it all he maintained the civility, grace and dignity that he felt was manifested in his office. (Humor, even. Recall his good natured comment about a man giving him the finger. "Not a fan.") Bush never stooped to the level of his detractors by engaging in the gratuitous insult flinging that his opponents did. And he certainly never tried to stifile dissenting voices in the news media or in the general populace.
In contrast our current President has been praised and worshipped beyond all reason - clearly beyond what a radical, Chicago machine politician with no real world experience, talent or accomplishments should expect to be. And when there is one, and only one, network news organization - Fox - that does its job and offers substantive, critical policy analysis of the Obama administration, he goes ballistic. The network is attacked by his cronies and is refused access to policymakers, including the President himself. A childish tantrum by the guy who said in his inaugural address, "the time has come to set aside childish things."

In NRO today, Charles Krauthammer writes of the administration's obsession with Fox News. His final thought was cited on the Weekly Standard website as the quote of the day.

Defend Fox from the likes of Anita Dunn? She’s been attacked for extolling Mao’s political philosophy in a speech at a high-school graduation. But the critics miss the surpassing stupidity of her larger point: She was invoking Mao as support and authority for her impassioned plea for individuality and trusting one’s own choices. Mao as champion of individuality? Mao, the greatest imposer of mass uniformity in modern history, creator of a slave society of a near-billion worker bees wearing Mao suits and waving the Little Red Book?
The White House communications director cannot be trusted to address high schoolers without uttering inanities. She and her cohorts are now to instruct the country on truth and objectivity?

Here's a late addition to this post. (10/24) Mark Steyn weighs in on Obama's whining campaign contrasting his "toughness" regarding his domestic critics with his meek obsequiousness to our true enemies, Russia and Iran. Steyn notes that Britain's Daily Telegraph has taken to calling Obama, “President Pantywaist".

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Two Failed Democrats

In today's WSJ, Bret Stephens details President Obama's deplorable Human Rights record in China, Sudan, Iran and Burma. Stephens concludes with,

In Massachusetts not long ago, I found myself driving behind a car with "Free Tibet," "Save Darfur," and "Obama 08" bumper stickers. I wonder if it will ever dawn on the owner of that car that at least one of those stickers doesn't belong.

Also in today's WSJ, an editorial examines the results of Governor Jennifer Granholm's "progressive" approach to fixing Michigan's economy. Despite, actually because of, an income tax increase to 4.2% from 3.95% and a business tax surcharge levy of 22%, tax receipts are $1 billion below projections and the state's deficit has risen to $2.8 billion. And jobs continue to evaporate - the unemployment rate reaching 15.2%. No matter. Granholm is proposing more tax increases to pay for her 637,000 public employees. Granholm continues to pay off her union benefactors while her state withers away. The editorial concludes with,

The decline in auto sales has hurt Michigan more than other states, but the state's economy would have been better equipped to cope without Ms. Granholm's policy mix of higher taxes in order to spend more money on favored political and corporate interests. If any larger good can come of the experience, it is that Michigan is teaching other states how not to govern.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fair And Balanced, As Always

A few days ago I was walking around a local Borders book store and flipped open a copy of Norman Podhoretz' new book, "Why Are Jews Liberals?" (All you liberal Jews out there - read it!!). Inserted among the pages (by someone I'm guessing is not a Podhoretz fan) was a printed note referring misguided individuals who believe in left wing media bias to a web site showing that such bias doesn't exist. The note managed to find its way to a trash bin.
Meanwhile Mark Steyn has a column on NRO comparing media treatment of the totally fabricated racist statements attributed to Rush Limbaugh and a statement made to an audience of high-school students by Anita Dunn, the White House communications director. There is indisputable video evidence of the sound bite in which Dunn praises the greatest mass murderer in history, Mao Zedong. The fake Limbaugh quotes saturated the MSM while Dunn's real comment went unreported except by Glenn Beck of Fox News.
Steyn also points out that there's been almost no coverage of the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Iron Curtain.

Why aren’t we making more of the biggest mass liberation in history?
Well, because to celebrate it would involve recognizing it as a victory over Communism. And, after the Left’s long march through the institutions of the West, most are not willing to do that. There’s the bad totalitarianism (Nazism) and the good totalitarianism (Communism), whose apologists and, indeed, fetishists can still be found everywhere, even unto the White House.

No media bias here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Krauthammering Obama

The Obama administration keeps providing new opportunities for Charles Krauthammer to wield his pundit's scalpel and he doesn't disappoint. In today's NRO he vivisects the President's pathetically woeful foreign policy, focusing on his Russia "strategy". Krauthammer concludes with,

Henry Kissinger once said that the main job of Anatoly Dobrynin, the perennial Soviet ambassador to Washington, was to tell the Kremlin leadership that whenever they received a proposal from the United States that appeared disadvantageous to the United States, not to assume it was a trick.
No need for a Dobrynin today. The Russian leadership, hardly believing its luck, needs no interpreter to understand that when the Obama team clownishly rushes in bearing gifts and “reset” buttons, there is nothing ulterior, diabolical, clever, or even serious behind it. It is amateurishness, wrapped in naïveté, inside credulity. In short, the very stuff of Nobels.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fixing Health Care

After political crusades for "affordable housing" ended up ruining the housing market and much of the economy with it, many of the same politicians are now carrying on a crusade for "affordable health care." But what you can afford has absolutely nothing to do with the cost of producing anything. Refusing to pay those costs means that you are just not going to continue getting the same quantity and quality-- regardless of what any politician says or how well he says it.
Thomas Sowell

...the shame of it all is we could actually fix what's broken in health care without breaking what's working, and without creating a huge new entitlement program that will accelerate the bankruptcy of this country.
Rep. Paul Ryan

Despite its problems, the U.S. has the world's best health care system. The problems that do exist are there because of government intereference with the free market system. Reducing this interference is the key to "reform".
Purchasing health care insurance should be the same as purchasing a camera or a computer or even car insurance. It should be possible to compare, side by side, four or five different policies and choose one based on cost and needs. Again, that this can't be done is due to government restrictions, regulations and tax policy.
Some suggestions...

Scrap Medicare which is responsible for much of the high cost of our health care. Aside from the waste, fraud and abuse that even Democrats admit exists, it underpays doctors and hospitals increasing the cost for everyone else. It's basically a redistribution of wealth to the wealthiest group (seniors, mostly non-working) from everyone else (workers <65).

Eliminate the employer based tax break and replace it with a tax subsidy for all individuals purchasing health insurance. Start at say $10,000 ($12,000?, $15,000?) for low income earners, phasing out to zero at say the $200,000 income level. (The actual numbers to be determined).

Allow insurance policies to be purchased across state lines.

DO NOT mandate health insurance coverage. DO NOT mandate what coverage an individual may select.

To cover patients with pre-existing conditions, create a pool of money funded by insurance companies, much like businesses currently fund unemployment insurance. Insurers should be required to cover anyone who wants insurance and that pool will pay for those high risk individuals.

Serious health care reform cannot be achieved without tort reform. Create a tort review board comprised of medical experts - doctors, hospital administrators, insurers, patient advocates, even a lawyer or two. The board will be required to follow nationwide standards for determining the validity of lawsuits and the amounts of monetary awards dished out by juries.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Choosing Decline

I don't have anything to add to the numerous expressions of derision heaped upon the farcical choice of President Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize. Rather, I'd like to cite the essay written by Charles Krauthammer for the current issue of The Weekly Standard analyzing how the current left-liberal approach to foreign policy is a conscious choice to effect and expedite America's decline. The piece is a comprehensive look at the worldview that values governance by a "consensus" of "the community of nations" - a ridiculous and dangerous mindset that explains the Nobel committee's choice as well as anything.

Incidentally, Krauthammer is becoming as close to being a rock star among conservative commentators as one can get. Even though he wasn't scheduled to appear on the Fox News panel to discuss the Nobel committee's choice, the clamor from viewers convinced the network to get his reaction anyway which they broadcast during the panel segment.
Also, NRO now regularly publishes Krauthammer's Fox panel comments in its web briefing section.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vain, Vacuous, Vapid, Verbose

For anyone who still gets a chill up his (or her) leg every time President Obama speaks, there's this from George Will, spotlighting the inane, narcissistic blather he (and his wife) routinely spews. Will muses that it's no wonder the IOC rejected Chicago for the 2016 Olympics after listening to their self absorbed, greeting card inspired claptrap.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More Feckless Than...The French?!?!

“President Obama, I support the Americans’ outstretched hand. But what did the international community gain from these offers of dialogue? Nothing.” — French president Nicolas Sarkozy, September 24.
When France chides you for appeasement, you know you’re scraping bottom.

That's how Charles Krauthammer (NRO) began his latest column ridiculing Obama's fantasy land diplomacy at the U.N. He goes on to explain the reason for Sarkozy's frustration.

(Sarkozy) could not conceal his astonishment at Obama’s naïveté. On September 24, Obama ostentatiously presided over the Security Council. With 14 heads of state (or government) at the table, with an American president in the chair for the first time ever, with every news camera in the world trained on the meeting, it would garner unprecedented worldwide attention.

Unknown to the world, Obama had in his pocket explosive revelations about an illegal uranium-enrichment facility that the Iranians had been hiding near Qom. The French and the British were urging him to use this most dramatic of settings to stun the world with the revelation and to call for immediate action.

Obama refused. Not only did he say nothing about it, but, reports Le Monde, Sarkozy was forced to scrap the Qom section of his speech. Obama held the news until a day later — in Pittsburgh. I’ve got nothing against Pittsburgh (site of the G-20 summit), but a stacked-with-world-leaders Security Council chamber, it is not.

Why forgo the opportunity? Because Obama wanted the Security Council meeting to be about his own dream of a nuclear-free world. The president, reports the New York Times, citing “White House officials,” did not want to “dilute” his disarmament resolution “by diverting to Iran.”

Diversion? It’s the most serious security issue in the world. A diversion from what? From a worthless U.N. disarmament resolution?

Yes. And from Obama’s star turn as planetary visionary: “The administration told the French,” reports the Wall Street Journal, “that it didn’t want to ‘spoil the image of success’ for Mr. Obama’s debut at the U.N.”

Image? Success? Sarkozy could hardly contain himself. At the council table, with Obama at the chair, he reminded Obama that “we live in a real world, not a virtual world.”

He explained: “President Obama has even said, ‘I dream of a world without (nuclear weapons).’ Yet before our very eyes, two countries are currently doing the exact opposite.”

Sarkozy’s unspoken words? “And yet, sacre bleu, he’s sitting on Qom!”

At the time, we had no idea what Sarkozy was fuming about. Now we do. Although he could hardly have been surprised by Obama’s fecklessness. After all, just a day earlier in addressing the General Assembly, Obama actually said, “No one nation can . . . dominate another nation.” That adolescent mindlessness was followed with the declaration that “alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long-gone Cold War” in fact “make no sense in an interconnected world.” NATO, our alliances with Japan and South Korea, our umbrella over Taiwan, are senseless? What do our allies think when they hear such nonsense?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Usual Suspects

The list of supporters of the pedophilic rapist Roman Polanski reads like a who's who of out of touch, narcissistic, liberal Hollywood types. Woody Allen, Jonathan Demme, Michael Mann, Sam Mendes, Mike Nichols, Martin Scorsese, Whoopi Goldberg, Harvey Weinstein, Steven Soderbergh, etc.

Mark Steyn (NRO) has best take on the story with Joe Morgenstern (WSJ) a close second.



"The Conscience Of A Capitalist"

Some leftists began boycotting Whole Foods in August after its CEO, John Mackey, posted an op-ed in the WSJ discussing alternatives to the socialist health care proposals pushed by Democrats. Clearly, most of them hadn't even read the article. Open minded liberals - I know, an oxymoron - would do well to actually read it and also to read the interview that appears in today's WSJ.
In today's paper Mackey mentions health care, but opines more extensively on capitalism in general. (For a more thorough discussion of his health care recommendations see the first link below).

A few excerpts from the interiew.

"President Obama called for constructive suggestions for health-care reform," he explains. "I took him at his word." Mr. Mackey continues: "It just seems to me there are some fundamental reforms that we've adopted at Whole Foods that would make health care much more affordable for the uninsured."

"Before I started my business, my political philosophy was that business is evil and government is good. I think I just breathed it in with the culture. Businesses, they're selfish because they're trying to make money."
At age 25, John Mackey was mugged by reality. "Once you start meeting a payroll you have a little different attitude about those things." This insight explains why he thinks it's a shame that so few elected officials have ever run a business. "Most are lawyers," he says, which is why Washington treats companies like cash dispensers.

Mackey is certainly referring to lower level government officials without extensive business experience. An untested novice with no executive experience could never rise to a level of leadership in our government.

"I think that business has a noble purpose. It's not that there's anything wrong with making money. It's one of the important things that business contributes to society. But it's not the sole reason that businesses exist."
What does he mean by a "noble purpose"? "It means that just like every other profession, business serves society. They produce goods and services that make people's lives better. Doctors heal the sick. Teachers educate people. Architects design buildings. Lawyers promote justice. Whole Foods puts food on people's tables and we improve people's health."
Then he adds: "And we provide jobs. And we provide capital through profits that spur improvements in the world. And we're good citizens in our communities, and we take our citizenship very seriously at Whole Foods."

He might have added that Whole Foods is hardly unique in this regard.

Progressive? No.

If your goal was to prevent young, minority, low income, largely unskilled and uneducated individuals from entering the workforce and gaining invaluable experience (not to mention much needed income), you could not devise a more effective scheme than the minimum wage. And to ensure its efficacy, you would keep raising it, especially in tough economic times. Do Democrats (and - "compassionate" conservatives like President Bush - obsequious on domestic issues) purposely support this regressive policy to oppress the disadvantaged? Well, maybe the Democrats do, to advance the perception that the free market system doesn't work. But their overriding purpose is to protect one of their key constituencies, the labor unions, from lower cost labor and in turn, competition.
Today a Wall Street Journal editorial points out the deleterious effect of the ever increasing minimum wage on teenage employment.