Monday, November 30, 2009


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Another of Obamacare's hidden expenses is revealed in this analysis by Michael Cannon of the libertarian Cato Institute. (I had already posted (11/23, 11/26) the gimmick that Cannon mentions in his first paragraph).

One gimmick makes the new entitlement spending appear smaller by not opening the spigot until late in the official 10-year budget window (2010–2019). Correcting for that gimmick in the Senate version, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) estimates, “When all this new spending occurs” — i.e., from 2014 through 2023 — “this bill will cost $2.5 trillion over that ten-year period.”
Another gimmick pushes much of the legislation’s costs off the federal budget and onto the private sector by requiring individuals and employers to purchase health insurance. When the bills force somebody to pay $10,000 to the government, the Congressional Budget Office treats that as a tax. When the government then hands that $10,000 to private insurers, the CBO counts that as government spending. But when the bills achieve the exact same outcome by forcing somebody to pay $10,000 directly to a private insurance company, it appears nowhere in the official CBO cost estimates — neither as federal revenues nor federal spending. That’s a sharp departure from how the CBO treated similar mandates in the Clinton health plan. And it hides maybe 60 percent of the legislation’s total costs. When I correct for that gimmick, it brings total costs to roughly $2.5 trillion (i.e., $1 trillion/0.4). …
When we correct for both gimmicks, counting both on- and off-budget costs over the first 10 years of implementation, the total cost of ObamaCare reaches — I’m so sorry about this — $6.25 trillion. That’s not a precise estimate. It’s just far closer to the truth than President Obama and congressional Democrats want the debate to be.

John McCormack of the Weekly Standard points out how silly the mainstream media appears when it colludes with the Democrats and their phony projected numbers. In one article, the Washington Post called the Senate bill a $200 billion a year program while re-stating its $848 billion 10 year cost.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Threats - Imaginary and Real

I don't know which was more predictable. The revelation that scientists have been conspiring to cover up data and silence criticism unfavorable to their increasingly speculative global warming hypothesis. Or, that the mainstream media would essentially ignore the story. Senator Jim Inhofe (R, Okla) has long been a voice of reason in Congress opposing global warming alarmists. He believes that the scandal will put the final nails in the coffin of the movement. Well, maybe, but even if it doesn't, it's been fun watching defenders of the scam squirm as they try to minimize the importance of the revealing e-mails. That Mark Steyn (NRO) is enjoying it too is evident in this typically entertaining column.

Want something really serious to worry about? Cliff May (NRO) has that one covered. WMDs are not just the punchline of a bad Bush joke. May lists nuclear weapons, easily hidden and disseminated biological weapons (smallpox, anthrax, ebola virus, highly contagious HIV), easily constructed "dirty" bombs, cyber attacks and EMP (Elecromagnetic Pulse) attacks as among the most devastating threats we face. Yet, he points out that no "summits" are being organized to address them. May proposes an aggressive strategy to deter would be terrorists.

If we are to prevent our enemies from doing the kind of damage they intend, we must stay on offense. We need to keep our enemies nervous, under pressure, and on the run. We’ll need to go after the bad guys in their training camps, laboratories, and safe houses — wherever those may be. We’ll need to force them to continually look over their shoulders and worry that they may be killed or captured — and being captured should not mean they are rewarded with a global stage to spout their propaganda at American taxpayer expense.

George Orwell articulated a fundamental rule of national security: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Most of the West is now led by people who believe that rule may have once applied but no longer. If that doesn’t keep you awake at night, nothing will.

Dr. Charles' Cure

The Democrats have shown us how not to reform health care. So how can it be done the right way? A sensible, concise explanation is provided, unsurprisingly, by Charles Krauthammer (NRO). His proposal focuses on three areas completely ignored by the Democrats in their more than 4,000 pages of proposed legislation - tort reform, elimination of the prohibition on interstate competition for health insurance, and taxation of employer provided health insurance. The money generated would be more than sufficient to insure the uninsured and the plan would significantly reduce the overall cost of medical care.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"...we're going to let you die"

In his book, "Liberal Fascism", Jonah Goldberg defines fascism as follows.
Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well being, and seeks to impose unitformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the "problem" and therefore defined as the enemy.
Goldberg adds that,
...contemporary American liberalism embodies all these aspects of fascism.

The following is a remarkable speech (though not remarkable enough, apparently, to be widely disseminated by the mainstream media) given by former Clinton Labor Secretary and present Obama economic advisor Robert Reich in September 2007.

I'll actually give you a speech made up entirely, almost on the spur of the moment, of what a candidate for president would say if that candidate did not care about becoming president. In other words, this is what the truth is and a candidate will never say, but what a candidate should say if we were in the kind of democracy where citizens were honored in terms of their practice of citizenship and they were educated in terms of what the issues were and they could separate myth from reality in terms of what candidates would tell them:
"Thank you so much for coming this afternoon. I'm so glad to see you and I would like to be president. Let me tell you a few things on health care. Look, we have the only health care system in the world that is designed to avoid sick people. And that's true and what I'm going to do is that I am going try to reorganize it to be more amenable to treating sick people but that means you, particularly you young people, particularly you young healthy're going to have to pay more.
"Thank you. And by the way, we're going to have to, if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too we're going to let you die."
"Also I'm going to use the bargaining leverage of the federal government in terms of Medicare, Medicaid---we already have a lot of bargaining leverage---to force drug companies and insurance companies and medical suppliers to reduce their costs. What that means, less innovation and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market which means you are probably not going to live much longer than your parents. Thank you."

Reich's speech provides a resounding confirmation of Goldberg's thesis. First he explicitly assumes that the topic of health care is a political issue. (It may seem strange to the progressive mindset, but there is actually a rational case to be made that it shouldn't be). Then he makes a broadly reckless and inaccurate assertion - "we have the only health care system in the world that is designed to avoid sick people". If what Reich says is true then it would not be possible for patients to receive high quality, prompt, urgently needed medical care for life threatening illnesses at substantial discounts from their actual cost (and I mean really substantial, greater than 95%). I am personally aware of more than a few cases where this has happened. Put aside my anecdotal experience - Gallup reports that eighty-three percent of Americans rate the quality of health care they receive as excellent or good, while only 15% say theirs is poor. The system is decidely not "avoiding" these people when they're sick.
Reich's sweeping declaration then becomes the impetus for a complete overhaul of our health care system - an imperative objective of the state. Negative outcomes - and they are exceedingly negative - young people paying more, old people being allowed to die (death panels), the stifling of medical innovation - are all justified to "achieve the common good" of government control of health care. Drug companies and insurance companies and medical suppliers will be "forced" to lower their costs.

Reich's dictatorial tone is reflected in the methodology of the Democrats' efforts to pass their legislation. Compromise and negotiation with those not "aligned with the objective" are rejected. The headlines shout - "Dems willing to go it alone on health care". Unbelievers are trampled. Obama -"I want them just to get out of the way". Grassroots opponents are denigrated with slurs - "teabaggers" - even Bill Clinton used it. (He knows about such things). Pelosi, Hoyer - Protesters "simply un-American". Reich's is a fascist speech mirroring his party's fascist ideology.
Goldberg quotes Mussolini, "The fascisti...proceed unceasingly toward one goal, the future well-being of the...people".

We should be grateful for Reich's brutal honesty. The official progressive line is soothing, opaque and disingenuous. As Reich admits, a real candidate for president would not say these things. Reich has and Obamacare opponents should broadcast his pronouncements nationwide, over and over again. The more effectively this is done, the quicker these atrocious proposals can be deep-sixed. Then maybe we could start over. Revamping one-sixth of our economy should be attempted only after careful deliberation. We could spend three years vigorously debating the issue of health care reform and still have a plan in place in the same time frame as the Democrats' current bills. It's not the sledgehammer, fascistic approach to government now favored by those currently in power. But it's how our American democracy should operate.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Obamacare's Generational Theft

Shown above is a new improved graph detailing the true ten year cost of the Democrats' Senate health care bill. The graph I had posted previously (11/23) included only those costs for expansions in insurance coverage. There are many other costs, including, as noted on the Weekly Standard blogsite,
...spending related to the CLASS Act, risk-adjustment payments, funding for the government-run "public option" (not a cent of which is included in the figure for "expansions in insurance coverage"), and other new federal spending.
Those costs bring the total level of projected expenditures for 2014-2023 to $2.5 trillion, dwarfing the Democrats "official" ten year number of $848 billion, which is a lie twice over. It includes four years of spending from 2010 to 2013, even though benefits from the bill don't begin paying out in earnest until 2014. And it only includes a portion of the bill's total costs. Also, note the upward trajectory of annual outlays. CBO cost projections for the first 15 years are well in excess of $4 trillion. Which only means that the actual cost will ultimately be north of $10 trillion since all initial price tags for federal health care programs are woefully underestimated.
I haven't listened to it but apparently there's an audio recording circulating in which two women waiting in line for unemployment checks in Detroit are asked where they thought the money was coming from. Their answer - from Obama's private stash. That's no doubt how he sees it too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Help Wanted : Academicians, Government Bureaucrats and Lawyers, Community Organizers

An interesting graph appearing on the NRO blog. Interpret as you wish.


In my post regarding health care reform on Monday (11/23), I wrote, "Reid, Pelosi and Obama are probably willing to sacrifice temporary control of Congress to achieve that holy grail of socialism - permanent government control of health care."

In his WSJ column on the same topic on Tuesday (11/24), William McGurn wrote,

Now he (Joe Lieberman) threatens to filibuster what for many Democrats is the Holy Grail: a vast new health-care entitlement.

In that same post (11/23) I also wrote, "There are two powerful competing forces at work. The Democrats with complete control of the legislative and executive branches versus millions of individuals "standing athwart history, yelling 'stop!'"

In a column discussing the health care debate in NRO today (11/25), Jonah Goldberg had this to say,

Democrats insist they’re pushing for health-care reform against a political headwind because “history” compels them to. Republicans are standing athwart “history” yelling, “Stop!”

Now, I'm not going to flatter myself by believing that those two distinguished gentlemen actually read my posts and used my phrasings for their columns. After all, the Holy Grail is a well worn metaphorical device and William F. Buckley's conservative creed is well known. But it is mildly intriguing that both writers used the same figures of speech in the same context that I had - in the first case that the proposed health care legislation is akin to a holy grail for Democrats (I had said socialists, but same difference), and in the second case that those opposed to the Democrats proposal invoke WFB's slogan. Piquing my curiosity further is that both columns appeared within a day or two of my post.
A couple of similar instances of copycatting the language in my blog has occurred previously. I think I'll continue to make note of them. If they happen often enough I may start demanding acknowledgements.

The Kid Off The Street

One enduring, pernicious myth which has been successfully advanced by Democrats and the mainstream media is that great damage was done to America's prestige and influence around the world during the Bush years. A look at just some of Bush's achievements shows this to be false.
Relations with our important allies in Europe - Britain (Blair), France (Sarkozy), Germany (Merkel) and especially with the former Soviet block countries, were at least as good under Bush as they were under Clinton. The close relationship that was developed with Colombia under Alvaro Uribe provided us with a strong ally to counter the menacing Chavez-Castro block in Latin America. (Democrats are risking that relationship with their failure to finalize the Free Trade Agreement worked out by Bush and Uribe). In the Middle East, Iraq was transformed (at great cost to be sure) from an aggressive, oppressive terrorist state into a non-threatening democratic ally. Among other strategic benefits, this also allowed us to remove our troops stationed in neighboring Saudi Arabia, which had been a major sore point with Muslims. Chastened by the example of Saddam Hussein, Libya's Moammar Khaddafy abruptly ended his nation's surprisingly advanced nuclear weapons program. Our democratic soul mate in the region, and number one ally in the world, Israel, never had a better friend than G. W. Bush. In Asia, Pakistan flipped from a nation abetting terrorism to one taking forceful steps opposing it. The Taliban was removed from power in Afghanistan and al-Queda was pushed into its remote mountain regions. And respect and co-operation between the U.S., India, Japan, and even China was never stronger than during the Bush years. The state of our relations with Asia under Bush is examined in an article by China expert, Ross Terrill in The Weekly Standard. Terrill warns that if his recent trip to the region is any indication, President Obama may ultimately undo much of the progress of his predecessor.

Concerning Obama's Asian photo-op tour, Victor Davis Hanson (NRO) expressed puzzlement over liberal disappointment with the results of the trip. He notes that Obama was merely putting his diplomatic philosophy into practice.

The liberal discontent (even in the New York Times, of all places) is strange, inasmuch as Obama campaigned on exactly this sort of multilateralism and deference to the UN. In this new approach, America doesn't try to "get" anything from anyone, but simply listens, and as a guest abroad defers to its hosts. After all, Obama has rejected in explicit language the notion of American exceptionalism. The Nobel Peace Prize committee correctly sensed Obama's departure from the past and preemptively awarded him the prize, both as praise for his utopian rhetoric and as a reminder than the first multilateral president should govern as if the United States is merely one among many nations in the world.

It's difficult to determine which is worse - Obama's dysfunctional domestic agenda, throwing trillions of taxpayer dollars into new, huge bureaucratic programs, never a good idea but absolutely insane in the midst of a severe economic downturn - Or his ignorant, naive, apologetic, protectionist, genuflecting approach to international diplomacy, disdaining and discouraging allies, favoring and emboldening enemies, and undermining America's crucial leadership role in securing world peace and stability. Obama's abdication of this role has two major beneficiaries - 1) world power wannabes (Russia, China, Iran) looking to fill the vacuum we leave behind and 2) UN and European career diplomats whose stature is enhanced by virtue of representing nations and institutions now considered the equal of the U.S. The Nobush Peace Prize Committee is comprised of these politicians, by the way. (Credit goes to Mark Steyn for the appropriate name adjustment). Obama's declaration of the U.S. as an unexceptional nation also flatters the populations of what were previously regarded as minor countries thus accounting for his high poll numbers abroad. Of course, we're still expected to spend billions providing a defense umbrella for those nations, so as to allow them to prop up their shaky welfare state economies and invest in their infrastructure without fear of attack from large, unsavory predator states. That we provide this service free of charge is a fact not emphasized (to put it mildly) in the president's "we're so sorry for being arrogant" speeches.

Several years ago where I worked, the underlings (or wretches, as we called ourselves) were gathered together to listen to a spiel by management. We were told that company policy was that incoming, newly minted PhDs were to be started at a higher grade level than long time employees holding only Bachelors or Masters degrees. Needless to say, this did not go down well with the B. S. and M. S. veterans among us. One clearly irritated colleague (the company used that term to make us all feel like equals) asked, (and I paraphrase) "Are you saying that you think that a concientious, knowledgeable, experienced worker who's given years of his life to the company is less valuable than...than...some kid off the street?!"

The fundamental problem with Obama (aside from his radicalism) was astutely articulated by radio host Hugh Hewitt - "He doesn't know how to be president". But then, why would he be expected to? As George Will has written, Obama had never run so much as a Dairy Queen before becoming president. Sarah Palin, who was denounced as being too inexperienced for the presidency by the left (and by some on the right), was not actually running for that job. However, having been a mayor and a governor, she was vastly more qualified for it than Obama. He is literally just a kid off the street.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Combatting Terrorists' Enablers

The case for President Bush's wildly successful approach to counter-terrorism can't be stated often enough. Repetition is necessary to counter the torrent of dangerous leftist nonsense about protecting the "civil rights" of illegal enemy combatants. That ACLU-speak garbage was espoused (in a Bill O'Reilly interview) by Scott Fenstermaker, a member of the legal team that will be defending the 9/11 five in civilian court. Spouting self-congratulatory faux moralizations, Fenstermaker is both obscene and evasive. Clear thinkers want to get angry? Watch the interview.

That Fenstermaker and his colleagues will now be allowed to assist mass murderers in making their case against the U.S. government, or rather, the Bush administration, is the wholly intended consequence of the Obama-Holder decision to hold the trial in a civilian court. Indeed, Holder had been one of those colleagues that helped prevent the swift application of justice for the 9/11 terrorists (as the Thiessen article cited below makes clear). Now he hypocritically lays all the blame on Bush for the delay.
Fortunately, we do have vigorous defenders and advocates of just, common sense policies designed to defend American citizens from terrorism. Dick Cheney, for one, has been especially effective in that regard. Another, Marc Thiessen ( details the specific life-saving intelligence that was obtained from Khalid Sheik Mohammed by the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques (aka - waterboarding). The concluding paragraph,

The Bush administration's first priority was not putting KSM on trial; it was getting intelligence so we could save lives. Under Obama and Holder, that is no longer America's first priority. Today, the United States has given up the capability to effectively interrogate terrorists like KSM. We have returned to the failed law enforcement mentality of the 1990s, where we read terrorists their Miranda rights instead of questioning them to stop attacks. We are in greater danger as a result.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Spirit of WFB

(Sorry for the small size. For a larger version see the Weekly Standard's blog site - 11/22).
These data were first revealed in Friday's New York Post and then re-presented on the Weekly Standard website yesterday. There's a reason the Post is John Derbyshire's favorite newspaper. (Well, besides the gossip columns). Those paragons of journalistic integrity, The New York Times and The Washington Post were probably too busy fact checking Sarah Palin's book to investigate this latest massive deception by the Democrats. Anyway what the graph shows is that the $849 billion price tag for the Senate's health care bill is based on ten years beginning in 2010. The plan doesn't start paying out until 2014, so a true 10 year cost, calculated from 2014-2023, is $1.8 trillion, more than twice Harry Reid's phony number. CEOs get thrown in jail for using accounting gimmicks like that. And $1.8 trillion is just the baseline projection. Remember that initial estimates of federally funded health care plans like Medicare and Medicaid were small fractions of their ultimate cost. Take that $1,800,000,000,000 and multiply it by 4 or 5 to get a more realistic price tag. And that's just the cost for the feds portion. The states are going to have to dish out much more in Medicaid payments for the proposed expansion of that program.
So what do we get for this exorbitance? Jeffrey Flier, dean of Harvard Medical School (WSJ - 11/18) says that the Massachusetts experiment offers some insight.

...currently proposed federal legislation would undermine any potential for real innovation in insurance and the provision of care. It would do so by overregulating the health-care system in the service of special interests such as insurance companies, hospitals, professional organizations and pharmaceutical companies, rather than the patients who should be our primary concern.
There are important lessons to be learned from recent experience with reform in Massachusetts. Here, insurance mandates similar to those proposed in the federal legislation succeeded in expanding coverage but—despite initial predictions—increased total spending.
A "Special Commission on the Health Care Payment System" recently declared that the Massachusetts health-care payment system must be changed over the next five years, most likely to one involving "capitated" payments instead of the traditional fee-for-service system. Capitation means that newly created organizations of physicians and other health-care providers will be given limited dollars per patient for all of their care, allowing for shared savings if spending is below the targets. Unfortunately, the details of this massive change—necessitated by skyrocketing costs and a desire to improve quality—are completely unspecified by the commission, although a new Massachusetts state bureaucracy clearly will be required.
Yet it's entirely unclear how such unspecified changes would impact physician practices and compensation, hospital organizations and their capacity to invest, and the ability of patients to receive the kind and quality of care they desire. Similar challenges would eventually confront the entire country on a more explosive scale if the current legislation becomes law.

If passed, the bill won't take effect for three years. 2013. (Strange coincidence - it's the year after 2012, when the physician-in-chief will be up for re-election). The Democrats are trying to ram this through now, before American voters can digest the bills' particulars. It's not working. The latest Rasmussen poll shows support down to 38% with 56% opposed. That might not matter. Reid, Pelosi and Obama are probably willing to sacrifice temporary control of Congress to achieve that holy grail of socialism - permanent government control of health care. This will be an interesting test of our democratic process. There are two powerful competing forces at work. The Democrats with complete control of the legislative and executive branches versus millions of individuals "standing athwart history, yelling 'stop!'"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Trenchant Trio

When it comes to detailing the trainwreck that is Barack Obama, unsurpassed is...
1. Charles Krauthammer, as exemplified by his take on Obama's early holiday gift giving. Recipients included are 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, four of his co-conspirators, and murderous anti-American terrorists worldwide. As Jay Nordlinger's National Review piece on Krauthammer explains, no one does it better than Charles. Unless it's...
2. Mark Steyn, whose latest manages hits on Obama's "cringe-making" bows, his self-referential, self-reverential speechifying, his insanely irresponsible fiscal policy, the KSM trial fiasco and his disdain for America's closest allies. (Steyn cites the cover of The London Spectator, above, with its depiction of an empty-suited president). Then, of course there's...
3. Jonah Goldberg, notable Obamaphobe, who this time defers to his colleagues on Obama but instead has some fun with sufferers of Palin Derangement Syndrome. It's hard to believe but apparently PDS is a more serious affliction than BDS.


Nordlinger on Krauthammer



Also, Steyn (on NRO's blog site) suggests that for a look into our nightmarish Obamacare-laden future, watch (or watch again) the Canadian film "The Barbarian Invasions". The Canadian Steyn, who has a friend in the movie, notes that "...(director) M. Arquand is a Québécois leftie of impeccable credentials, and the movie even has a cheap Bush joke, so your liberal pals won't be able to dismiss it as redneck scaremongering."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Obama in Japan

One of the myths that's been sold to the public is that of President Obama's purported "eloquence". When it's required for him to stand up for his country, lacking, as he does, any principled devotion, and without a teleprompter, Obama has nothing to say and says it badly. Watch this video of Obama stumbling through a non-answer to a Japanese questioner on whether or not the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justifiable.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Suicidal PC

It's been almost three years (11/22/2006) since six Muslim clerics were removed from a U.S. Airways flight because passengers were alarmed by their actions - allegedly praying loudly, muttering about politics ("killing Saddam" was heard) and once the six were seated, two in front, two in the middle and two in back, visiting each other to chat. Some asked for seat belt extensions though none of them was obese. This was clearly (it seems to me) a publicity stunt on the Imams part to generate outrage from the Islamic community and the impressionable left. And it succeeded. Investigations were initiated, a lawsuit filed (and settled) and a boycott of U.S. Airways was urged. This had Ann Coulter musing whether U.S. Airways had cooked up the whole affair as an advertising scheme - no Muslims on our airline. Jokes aside, Coulter detailed the blatantly suspicious nature of the clerics behavior. (link below). A reasonable person would not be comfortable taking that flight, or with having a family member taking that flight . (Aside from Coulter's marginally or not so marginally tasteless humor - which by the way is often very funny - she also provides careful research to back up most of her arguments, as she does here).

One of the clerics claimed that their experience would be the equivalent of Roman Catholic bishops being removed from a plane because they wore clerical robes and invoked Jesus Christ in prayers. To which Charles Krauthammer responded that such an action would have been entirely justified if there had been a previous situation where Catholic bishops hid box cutters under their robes and proceeded to hijack planes and fly them into buildings.
But the current politically correct atmosphere prevents justification for recognizing and intervening with a potential terrorist. In what was supposed to be a medical lecture, Major Nidal Malik Hasan gave an hour long harangue on the Koran. He described the punishments to be delivered to nonbelievers — decapitation, having hot oil poured down their throats, eternity in hell. He defended suicide bombing and said that all Muslims should be discharged from the military. Doctors listening to this were reportedly "freaked out". The lecture wasn't Hasan's only incident of bizarre behavior. A colleague was quoted as saying, "he was the kind of guy who the staff actually stood around in the hallway saying: Do you think he’s a terrorist, or is he just weird?”
There were other clues. Intelligence officials discovered that Hasan had numerous communications with Anwar al-Awlaki, a prominent American-born radical cleric now based in Yemen and a known al-Qaeda recruiter. In a piece for The Weekly Standard, Steve Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn detail Awlaki's influence among radicalized Muslims including three of the 9/11 hijackers.

Hasan also reportedly expressed joy over the murder of an Army recruiter in Arkansas. He handed out business cards (business cards!!) calling himself, "Soldier Of Allah". As Mark Steyn points out, "He’d spent most of the last half-decade walking around with a big neon sign on his head saying 'JIHADIST. STAND WELL BACK.'”

And yet nothing was done to stop Hasan. And now that he has acted out his radical inclinations with the murder of 13 people at Ft. Hood, the PC crowd is in full denial mode.

“Told of War Horror, Gunman Feared Deployment.” A NY Times headline explained to its readers.
On MSNBC, Chris Matthews wondered whether we will ever know for sure whether religion was a “factor” in the massacre.
Matthews again. “Apparently he tried to contact al-Qaeda. That’s not a crime to call up al-Qaeda, is it? Is it? I mean, where do you stop the guy?” Matthews hosts a prime time network news program on a major cable TV network. As the "Get Smart" character Harry Hoo would say, "Amazing!"
Newsweek's Evan Thomas worried about the reactionary right. "I cringe that he's a Muslim. I mean, because it just inflames all the fears. I think he's probably just a nut case but, with that label attached to him, it will get the right wing going. And it just, these things are tragic, but that makes it much worse".
Time’s Joe Klein not only denied that Hasan's faith had anything to do with his actions, he blamed Jews for spreading that story. “odious attempts by Jewish extremists . . . to argue that the massacre perpetrated by Nidal Hasan was somehow a direct consequence of his Islamic beliefs.” (If you thought that giving their guy a 57 point plurality in the last presidential election would immunize Jews from antisemitism by liberals, think again. And, yeah, yeah, yeah, Klein is Jewish. Sorry, that's not exculpatory).
Diane Sawyer expressed her wish that Hasan's name was Smith. Hey, Diane. If it was, this wouldn't have happened.
And again the NY Times, Headline - "Little Evidence of Terror Plot in Base Killings", then - "...investigators, working with behavioral experts, suggested that he (Hasan) might have long suffered from emotional problems that were exacerbated by the tensions of his work with veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who returned home with serious psychiatric problems".
The Times is unmatched in trying to manipulate evidence and reasoning to avoid reaching a conclusion that Islamic radicalism may have inspired an act of terrorism. Another Times headline about the arrest of one Mohammed Salameh following the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 stated “Jersey City Man Is Charged in Bombing of Trade Center," as if the suspect's defining characteristic was his place of residence.
George Casey, Chief of Staff of the Army (the Army!!) "...what happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here". (A greater tragedy?!). For some excellent, pointed commentary on Casey's remarks listen to John Derbyshire's latest (11/13) "Radio Derb" on NRO.

Here's Steyn (NRO) commenting about the fashionable diversity fetish.

“Diversity” is one of those words designed to absolve you of the need to think. Likewise, a belief in “multiculturalism” doesn’t require you to know anything at all about other cultures, just to feel generally warm and fluffy about them. Heading out from my hotel room the other day, I caught a glimpse of that 7-Eleven video showing Major Hasan wearing “Muslim” garb to buy a coffee on the morning of his murderous rampage. And it wasn’t until I was in the taxi cab that something odd struck me: He was an American of Arab descent. But he was wearing Pakistani dress — that’s to say, a “Punjabi suit,” as they call it in Britain, or the shalwar kameez, to give it its South Asian name. For all the hundreds of talking heads droning on about “diversity” across the TV networks, it was only Tarek Fatah, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, who pointed out that no Arab males wear this get-up — with one exception: Those Arab men who got the jihad fever and went to Afghanistan to sign on with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In other words, Major Hasan’s outfit symbolized the embrace of an explicit political identity entirely unconnected with his ethnic heritage.
Mr. Fatah would seem to be a genuine “multiculturalist”: That’s to say, he’s attuned to often very subtle “diversities” between cultures. Whereas the professional multiculturalist sees the 7-Eleven video and coos, “Aw, look. He’s wearing . . . well, something exotic and colorful, let’s not get hung up on details. Celebrate diversity, right? Can we get him in the front row for the group shot? We may be eligible for a grant.”

Enough "warm and fluffy" diversity speak. Back to the real world. Victor Davis Hanson (NRO) explains the true thread that links Ft. Hood with similar events.

In truth, the Fort Hood murders fit into a now familiar pattern of radical Islam-inspired violence that manifests itself in two principal ways.
First are the formal terrorist plots. Radical Muslims have attempted, in coordinated fashion, to blow up a bridge, explode a train, assault a military base, and topple a high-rise building — in ways al-Qaeda terrorist leaders abroad warned us would follow 9/11.
This year alone, three terrorist plots have been foiled.
Najibullah Zazi was indicted for plans to set off a bomb in New York on the anniversary of 9/11.
Daniel Patrick Boyd and Hysen Sherifi were charged with conspiring to murder U.S. military personnel at the Quantico, Va., military base.
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi — a 19-year-old Jordanian in the U.S. illegally — was arrested after being accused of placing what he thought were explosives near a 60-story office tower in Dallas.
In all these cases, the plotter (or plotters) either had ties to terrorists or voiced Islamic-fueled anger at the U.S.
More than 20 other domestic terrorist plots have been stopped by law enforcement agencies since 9/11. On average, in the 98 months since the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, a radical Islamic-inspired terrorist plot has been uncovered every four months.
There have also been “lone wolf” mass murders in which angry radical Muslims sought to channel their frustrations and failures into violence against their perceived enemies of Islam.
Since September 11, several Muslim men have run over innocent bystanders or shot random people at or near military bases, synagogues, and shopping malls.
After the initial hysteria died down, we were usually told that such acts were isolated incidents, involving personal “issues” rather than radical Islamic hatred of the U.S. Yet a few examples show that was not quite the case.
The just-executed sniper John Allan Muhammad, who, along with an accomplice, killed ten, voiced approval of Osama bin Laden and radical Islamic violence.
Naveed Afzal Haq is currently on trial for going on a murderous rampage at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building. A survivor said Haq stated his attack was a “personal statement against Jews.”
Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar ran over nine students at the University of North Carolina. Officers said he told them afterward he wanted to avenge the deaths of Muslims worldwide.
Omeed Aziz Popal struck 18 pedestrians with his car near a Jewish center in San Francisco. Witnesses say he said, “I am a terrorist,” at the scene.
No doubt in each case, experts could assure us that there were extenuating personal circumstances — stresses and mental illnesses that better explain what happened.

In an NRO column (link below - read it!) Andrew McCarthy, the chief prosecutor in the trial that convicted the blind sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman for his part in the World Trade Center 1993 bombing, warns " prepared for more Fort Hoods. We’re not in September 10 America. We’ve managed to land in a much more dangerous place." To Evan Thomas, McCarthy is probably just another right wing crazy.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I've just watched the Fox News panel as they discussed the Obama administration's latest abomination - the decision to try five 9/11 terrorists in a civilian court in New York. Steve Hayes, Nina Easton and Charles Krauthammer all agreed that it's a horrendous decision. They went through all the obvious drawbacks - the possibility of a terrorist attack on the court, the potential that classified material of value to terrorists could be made public, the near certainty that the defendants will use the trial as a forum to spew their hate-filled ideology, the possibility that there will be a hung jury or even acquittals. And then the real reason for Obama's choice of venue - that the defendants will spotlight how they were treated and interrogated and that the trial will become a trial of the Bush administration. And you can be sure it will attract all the best lefty lawyers in the country - thrilled to do this pro bono for a shot at the evil Bush - Cheney cabal.
This whole thing is a joke. Attorney General Eric Holder was asked what would happen if the defendants were acquitted. His answer was that they won't be. What the hell kind of response is that? Easton said that he might hope for that outcome, but there's no guarantee and there shouldn't be. After all, Obama has now granted these illegal enemy combatants the same constitutional rights every American citizen now enjoys. But in reality, he didn't. Hayes and Krauthammer both pointed out that there's no way these terrorists would ever be released, even if they are acquitted. So what's the effing point? Obviously, a partisan show trial. Krauthammer noted that we're now giving the terrorists their second shot at us. A decade after 9/11, the terrorists will get to hit us again - this time with their vitriolic propaganda. And Barack's providing the stage. They must be doing cartwheels in the caves of the Hindu Kush right now.
I hope this thing blows up in Obama's face. I hope for a PR disaster. I hope for acquittals (just blocks from the scene of the horrific crime). I hope this thing becomes the thing that destroys this worthless, despicable, destructive presidency.

Bush - Before And After

Not a day goes by, it seems, that we hear (usually from President Obama himself) about the mess that was left behind by President Bush for Obama to clean up. Victor Davis Hanson (NRO) presents a short list of just some of the items on Bush's plate when he took office and how they were resolved.

George W. Bush inherited a recession. He also inherited the Iraq no-fly zones, a Middle East boiling after the failed last-minute Clintonian rush for an imposed peace, an intelligence community wedded to the notion of Saddam's WMD proliferation, a Congress on record supporting "regime change" in Iraq, a WMD program in Libya, a Syrian occupation of Lebanon, Osama bin Laden enjoying free rein in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, a renegade Pakistan that had gone nuclear on Clinton's watch with Dr. Khan in full export mode, and a pattern of appeasing radical Islam after its serial attacks (on the World Trade Center, the Khobar Towers, U.S. embassies, and the U.S.S. Cole).

In other words, Bush inherited the regular "stuff" that confronts most presidents when they take office. What is strange is that Obama has established a narrative that he, supposedly unlike any other president, inherited a mess.

At some point, Team Obama might have at least acknowledged that, by January 2009, Iraq was largely quiet; Libya was free of WMD; Syria was out of Lebanon; most of the al-Qaeda leadership had been attrited or was in hiding; a homeland-security protocol was in place to deal with domestic terror plots; European governments were mostly friendly to the U.S. (unlike during the Chirac-Schröder years); and the U.S. enjoyed good relations with one-third of the planet in China and India.

The fact that in the Bush years we were increasingly disliked by Ahmadinejad, Assad, Castro, Chávez, Kim Jong Il, Morales, Ortega, and Putin, may in retrospect seem logical, just as their current warming to the U.S. may prove to be cause for alarm, given the repugnant nature of these strongmen.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaida would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting; this is fundamental to the defense of our people.
President Obama - 8/17/2009

If this is true, why is President Obama hesitating to act on the recommendations of Generals Petraeus and McChrystal to add at least 40,000 troops to the fight? Has the situation changed so dramatically in less than three months? Or is not offending the antiwar left so important that it overrides taking action that "is fundamental to the defense of our people?" Maybe Obama's considering the suggestion of Sun Tzu scholar Joe Biden to wage the war from a distance, with warships a thousand miles away. Fight it using a counter-terrorist approach. The world's foremost counter-terrorist expert, McChrystal, says that won't work. He agrees with the world's foremost counter-insurgency expert, Petraeus, that a similar strategy to the one employed in Iraq has the best chance of success.
This is an important decision and shouldn't be rushed but the generals made their recommendations months ago. And the administration has been deliberating far longer. General McChrystal was given his assignment back in June replacing General David McKiernan as head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Petraeus / McChrystal strategy had been formulated by mid-August.
And this is what National Security Advisor, James Jones said in March, 2009,

...the President announced a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and for Pakistan and, indeed, for the region that is the culmination of a careful 60-day interagency strategic review. During this process, we consulted with not only Afghan authorities and Pakistani authorities – governments, partners, and NATO allies and other donors and international organizations and, of course, here at home, members of Congress.

After a "careful 60-day ineragency review," a strategic decision was made, eight months ago.

But a comprehensive review was available even before then. Stephen Hayes* of the Weekly Standard makes note of this statement by WH Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on October 18, attempting to explain the delay in making a decision.

The president is asking the questions that have never been asked on the civilian side, the political side, the military side, and the strategic side. What is the impact on the region? What can the Afghan government do or not do? Where are we on the police training? Who would be better doing the police training? Could that be something the Europeans do? Should we take the military side? Those are the questions that have not been asked. And before you commit troops  .  .  .  before you make that decision, there's a set of questions that have to have answers that have never been asked. And it's clear after eight years of war, that's basically starting from the beginning, and those questions never got asked.

But Hayes reports that those questions had been asked and answered.

From mid-September to mid-November 2008, a National Security Council team, under the direction of General Doug Lute, conducted an exhaustive review of Afghanistan policy. The interagency group included high-ranking officials from the State Department, the National Security Council, the CIA, the office of the director of national intelligence, the office of the vice president, the Pentagon, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Its objective was to assess U.S. -policy on Afghanistan, integrating a simultaneous military review being conducted by CENTCOM, so as to present President Bush with a series of recommendations on how best to turn around the deteriorating situation there.
The Lute review asked many questions and provided exhaustive answers not only to President Bush, but also to the Obama transition team before the inauguration. "General Jones was briefed on the results of the Lute review, and that review answered many of the questions that Rahm Emanuel says were never asked," says Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley. Jones and Hadley discussed the review, and Lute gave Jones a detailed PowerPoint presentation on his findings. Among the recommendations: a civilian surge of diplomats and other non-military personnel to the country, expedited training for the Afghan National Army, a strong emphasis on governance and credible elections, and, most important, a fully resourced counterinsurgency strategy.
Jones asked Hadley not to release the results of the Lute review so that his boss would have more flexibility when it came time to provide direction for the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Bush officials reasoned that Obama was more likely to heed their advice if he could simply adopt their recommendations without having to acknowledge that they came from the Bush White House. So Hadley agreed.

So, Emanuel's explanation was a lie, and a year ago, even before he took office, Obama had at his disposal a comprehensive report on the situation in Afghanistan.
Obama's dithering is damaging our prospects as military experts, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, the pair that had much to do with the planning and success of the Iraq surge, point out.

General Stanley McChrystal's assessment and force-requirement studies were largely complete by the beginning of August. The White House has stated that the president will not be announcing a decision until the end of November at the earliest. White House officials claim that the delay does not affect the movement of U.S. forces or our prospects for military success next year. These claims are inaccurate. The delay in White House decision-making is protracting and complicating the campaign in Afghanistan and has reduced General McChrystal's ability to prepare for and conduct decisive operations next year.

When McChrystal took command of the Afghan war in June, the White House made it clear that he was expected to make dramatic progress within a year--by the summer of 2010. McChrystal worked quickly both to understand the situation and to develop an appropriate course of action that would meet the goals of the White House strategy. His concept of operations aimed to reverse the enemy's momentum and address important problems in Afghan governance. At the same time, he oversaw the establishment of a new three-star headquarters, the deployment of the last of the additional forces his predecessor had requested for election security, the securing of the elections themselves, and major operations in Helmand and elsewhere. He also made the painful decision to pull U.S. forces back from isolated outposts that required too much manpower and were in danger of being overrun. He sought to create conditions for decisive operations in time to meet the expectations of the White House. He was supported in that effort by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen and by CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus.

The White House has not done its part to allow General McChrystal to meet its own deadline. It was slow to receive and act on the assessment he sent, and it deliberately refused even to review his force recommendations for weeks after they were complete. In the intervening months the White House has held a series of seminars on Afghanistan and the region that should have been conducted before the new strategy was announced in March.

If the White House had immediately received and acted on General McChrystal's recommendations--which were specifically tailored to meet the objectives described in the president's March 27 speech--the following critical initiatives could already be underway:

* Expanding the Afghan National Security Forces as rapidly as possible toward the goal of 400,000 total, a figure agreed-upon by the Afghan Ministers of Defense and Interior and by the U.S. military's own reviews;

* Preparing infrastructure within Afghanistan and the region to accommodate a large and rapid surge of U.S. forces;

* Sending more forces immediately to support ongoing operations in Helmand;

* Issuing orders to deploy all of the forces McChrystal requested as rapidly as possible.

The White House could have begun all of those initiatives and still conducted a thoughtful review over the ensuing weeks.

Last month, even liberal Senator Dianne Feinstein urged Obama to get cracking.

I don’t know how you put somebody in, who is as 'cracker jack' as General McChrystal who gives the president very solid recommendations and not take those recommendations if you are not going to pull out. If you do not want to take the recommendations then you put your people in such jeopardy.

But instead we get this from the AP,
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, pushing instead for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

More than anything else, Obama's indecision over such a critical issue - one with much more urgency than health care reform, or cap and tax - shows that he isn't up to the job.

*Steve Hayes is a very impressive writer and commentator. His area of expertise is in national security and war policy but on the Fox News panel he's also spoken articulately and intelligently on the economy and issues like health care.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ft. Hood, Berlin Wall, Obamacare Candor, Iraqi Progress, Peace Process Failure, Mad Men

The Wall Street Journal opinion pages today cover a wide range of topics currently in the news.

Dorothy Rabinowitz has one of her rare, ever welcome op-eds, this one on (as she puts it) "the growing derangement on all matters involving terrorism and Muslim sensitivities." Discussing the Ft. Hood massacre, she includes some choice words for Dr. Phil.

A shocked Dr. Phil, appalled that the guest had publicly mentioned Maj. Hasan's Islamic identity, went on to present what was, in essence, the case for Maj. Hasan as victim. Victim of deployment, of the Army, of the stresses of a new kind of terrible war unlike any other we have known. Unlike, can he have meant, the kind endured by those lucky Americans who fought and died at Iwo Jima, say, or the Ardennes?

The quality and thrust of this argument was best captured by the impassioned Dr. Phil, who asked us to consider, "how far out of touch with reality do you have to be to kill your fellow Americans . . . this is not a well act." And how far out of touch with reality is such a question, one asks in return—not only of Dr. Phil, but of the legions of commentators like him immersed in the labyrinths of motive hunting even as the details of Maj. Hasan's proclivities became ever clearer and more ominous.

To kill your fellow Americans—as many as possible, unarmed and in the most helpless of circumstances, while shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great), requires, of course, only murderous hatred—the sort of mindset that regularly eludes the Dr. Phils of our world as the motive for mass murder of this kind.

I strongly suspect that if Maj. Hasan were a fundamentalist Christian, there would be no invocation of psychobabble to try to explain away his actions.

Fouad Ajami marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and contrasts the roles played by President Reagan - the major player bringing about the collapse and Mikhail Gorbachev -
"Gorbachev's role, though honorable, has been exaggerated," British historian Norman Davies writes in his monumental book, "Europe: A History." "He was not the architect of East Europe's freedom: he was the lock-keeper who, seeing the dam about to burst, decided to open the floodgates and to let the water flow. The dam burst in any case; but it did so without the threat of a violent catastrophe."

President Obama has been criticized for not attending the commemoration of the event, but I, for one, am glad he stayed away. The collapse of Soviet communism was the result of decades of a principled, determined and forceful dedication to anti-totalitarian values. It was achieved by heroic champions of those values, Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul 2, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman among others. Barack Obama, with his inclination for accomodating tyranny, not fighting it, would only be out of place. As NRO's Rich Lowry pointed out, he's better suited to attending events centerimg around himself, as when he visited Berlin on a campaign stop last July. Literally mailing in his attendance for this year's celebration with a video recording is what Obama is all about. (as NRO pointed out, "change you can rewind").

Yesterday's WSJ carried an op-ed by former Reagan speechwriter Anthony R. Dolan, recounting the process by which Reagan's history altering, "Tear down this wall" speech came to be. It takes a vivid imagination to picture our current president making a similar demand.

An editorial spotlights a liberal journalist, John Cassidy of The New Yorker, candidly betraying the truth behind the push for government controlled health care.

"Let's not pretend that it isn't a big deal, or that it will be self-financing, or that it will work out exactly as planned. It won't. What is really unfolding, I suspect, is the scenario that many conservatives feared. The Obama Administration . . . is creating a new entitlement program, which, once established, will be virtually impossible to rescind."
Why are they doing it? Because, according to Mr. Cassidy, ObamaCare serves the twin goals of "making the United States a more equitable country" and furthering the Democrats' "political calculus." In other words, the purpose is to further redistribute income by putting health care further under government control, and in the process making the middle class more dependent on government. As the party of government, Democrats will benefit over the long run.

And more good news from Iraq as its parliament agreed on an election arrangement for the country's January 21 national referendum, the first since 2005.

"There was a lot of discussion, a lot of arguing, but we finally were forced to listen to each other," Kurdish lawmaker Ala Talabani told the Washington Post. "It's a nice feeling—that we're on the path of real democracy."
Disputes among the three largest Iraqi communities—Kurd, Shiite and Sunni—can be bitterly fought. But now the setting is usually in the halls of parliament or Iraq's many media outlets, and these fights don't pose a danger to a unified Iraq.

Assuming Obama doesn't screw it up, (and it's a shaky assumption - see my next item), Iraq is slowly, but inexorably building itself up as the model Arab/Muslim democracy in the Middle East - peaceful, tolerant and enduring. What a glorious, revolutionary outcome that would be! What a remarkable change from the murderous, oppressive and above all, dangerous regime that nation harbored not all that long ago.

Not in the WSJ but on NRO, Elliott Abrams details the mess that Obama and his diplomats have made of the Mideast "peace process". As long as the Palestinians are ruled by a terrorist group, nothing good was ever going to come out of it anyway, but the administration's incoherence and incompetence does much to extend its growing reputation as a bunch of bungling neophytes.

The net result of the administration’s approach is a massive policy failure. The Obama administration has weakened the Palestinian leadership it meant to strengthen, weakened the alliance with Israel by its hostility to Israel’s government, weakened its own reputation in Arab capitals for strength and reliability, and painted itself into a policy corner. For where does it go now?

And finally, the recognition that the final episode of this season's "Mad Men" was the best one to date, maybe even the best single TV episode I've ever seen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Bjorn Lomborg continues his crusade addressing the criminal misallocation of the world's resources. His article in the WSJ today centers on a destitute Bangladeshi family living in a refugee camp and the irrelevance global warming programs have for them and billions of others around the globe.

Getting basic sanitation and safe drinking water to the three billion people around the world who do not have it now would cost nearly $4 billion a year. By contrast, cuts in global carbon emissions that aim to limit global temperature increases to less than two degrees Celsius over the next century would cost $40 trillion a year by 2100. These cuts will do nothing to increase the number of people with access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Cutting carbon emissions will likely increase water scarcity, because global warming is expected to increase average rainfall levels around the world.
For Mrs. Begum, the choice is simple. After global warming was explained to her, she said: "When my kids haven't got enough to eat, I don't think global warming will be an issue I will be thinking about."

The whole global warming meshegas is speculative at best and (my view) a massive, exploitative, anti-capitalist hoax at worst. But even those wringing their hands over the phantom human misery to come seem blissfully disinterested in the real widespread misery that exists right now. If Al Gore really wanted to "save the world" he would advocate for programs to provide the poor with adequate sanitation and clean water (and several other humanitarian measures - for details check out Lomborg's, "Global Crises, Global Solutions"). But then he wouldn't be able to prosper from the trading of carbon offsets or bask in the praise and admiration of the world's intellectual elite for his slick, deceptive propaganda productions.

Keep in mind that Lomborg accepts the basic global warming narrative - humans are responsible for excessive atmospheric CO2 which is the principal cause of global warming and this, in turn, will cause overall negative natural effects worldwide. He rejects the catastrophic scenarios being promoted by fear mongering climate change profiteers. And he disagrees vehemently on how to counter those negative effects, arguing that simpler, much more efficient measures than cutting carbon emissions are available. Measures that would produce more effective results at a fraction of the cost.

I've noted this before, but for an entertaining thirty minutes (Lomborg is a very good speaker) go to the website and watch his talk delivered 12/8/2008. There are other Lomborg videos on the site, but this is a particularly good one.

Also (again previously noted) if you can find a copy of "The Great Global Warming Swindle" watch it to see and hear a strong counter argument to the current "consensus" on climate change.

OK. Switching gears. Why am I bringing this up again now? Well, there was the Lomborg article that appeared today and I wanted to comment on that. But aside from that, there's this.

It seems to me that the approach to problem solving taken by whatever term you wish to use - progressives, activists, liberals - follows a typical pattern. First, the claim that the problem is of such large magnitude that only an effort of similar magnitude will suffice in addressing it. Then the creation of a crisis atmosphere - if the problem is not fixed soon, there'll be grievous, possibly apocalyptic consequences. Then the proposal to construct a large, complex, expensive architecture involving a vast public bureaucracy to manage the situation. And, finally, bringing private enterprise into the public sphere so that it can be closely regulated and utilized as a source of funding.

This is the mechanism by which environmental activists justify and plan to undo much of the world's industrial machinery and replace it with a 19th century counterpart. It's what compels legislators to construct an 800 billion dollar, thousand page morass of busywork (and constituency pleasing) projects that make up a "stimulus" package.

One doesn't have to be overly cynical to notice that almost any problem, or imagined problem, could be transmogrified into a crisis to provide an excuse to implement a radical solution. Or that progressives are not really interested in correcting systemic flaws but in overhauling the entire system itself. Does any intelligent person seriously believe that it takes a two thousand page bill costing trillions of dollars to raise the proportion of the medically insured from 83% to 96%?

So you might ask, what about the two landmark social projects of the twentieth century, FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society, as examples of progressive problem solving? Well, both those projects had numerous, extensive and damaging flaws and for arguments showcasing them, see, for example, Amity Schlaes', "The Forgotten Man" or Jim Powell's, "FDR's Folly", and Thomas Sowell's, "Economic Facts and Fallacies" (or any of his other numerous essays on the causes and cures of poverty). But even if these efforts produced some good, and they did, the question is not whether we should have undertaken them or done nothing at all. This is the false dichotomy that President Obama frequently presents when pushing his agenda. The question is rather, whether we should have taken more limited and focused approaches to fixing what was broken than by radically and (in many cases) permanently altering the system.

Deaths by infection at hospitals dropped dramatically when doctors, nurses and other health personnel began the practice of fastidiously washing their hands. It's very often the simplest measure that provides a solution to even the most seemingly intractable problem. Alas, pursuing the goal of a sparsely populated, egalitarian paradise, powered by low carbon emission fuels, is the unattainable, undesirable objective of the activists inhabiting our political, scientific and academic institutions, not problem solving. Unfortunately, we're often left with the disastrous results.

Just as an aside, speaking of the unattainable.
The other day after the unemployment numbers were released President Obama made the statement that "I will not rest until every American who wants a job can get a job."
There are three possible rational reactions to this statement.
1. Uh Oh.
2, Why didn't he just say, "I will not rest."
3. Why does Barack Obama, more so than even the most shameless, self-promoting, self-absorbed politician, come out with the most mind-numbingly asinine pronouncements thinking that he'll appear concerned for the common folk with whom he has nothing in common, and for whom he cares even less, when he is obviously just a preening phony.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Island Of Sanity

While much of the rest of the country appears to be going off the deep end, there's at least solace in the return to normalcy in the baseball world as the New York Yankees regained the world championship for the first time in nine years.
On his latest "Radio Derb" audio program, NRO's John Derbyshire commented on the team's accomplishment. He noted that he's been a long time Yankee fan and even once had a cat named "Thurman"*. I'm always (pleasantly) surprised when a transplanted Brit (or any other nationality) becomes enamored of that most American of pastimes.

*For non-aficianados, the late Thurman Munson was a catcher for the Yankees in the 1970s.

A Democrat For democrats

As if in response to my post about Iran the other day, there's a fairly decent article in this Sunday's Parade magazine written by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The Clinton appointee emphasizes the importance of democracy to peace, properity and stability. She writes, "While the United States cannot determine the outcome of every confrontation, our preference for democrats over dictators should never be in doubt."
Remember that it was Albright who called the United States, "the indispensable nation." Contrast that with President Obama's response to whether he believed in American exceptionalism, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism”. (In other words, "no"). An example of how badly the Democrats have continued to degenerate over the past decade.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Evil Alien Invaders

It appears that this graph will be a regular feature in the WSJ every month the day after the unemployment numbers come out. The White House must be shocked and deeply disappointed that their projections were off by so much, especially since the "stimulus" package has "created" or "saved" 640,000 jobs. As to the accuracy of that number, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard shares these factoids.

More than $4.7 million in federal stimulus aid so far has been funneled to schools in North Chicago, and state and federal officials say that money has saved the jobs of 473 teachers.
Problem is, the district employs only 290 teachers.
In the official report, Wilmette Public Schools District 39 was credited with 166 jobs saved by stimulus aid. Superintendent Raymond Lechner said the number should be zero.
At Dolton-Riverdale School District 148, stimulus funds were said to have saved the equivalent of 382 full-time teaching jobs -- 142 more than the district actually has.
A similar discrepancy was found in data for Kankakee School District 111, where the stimulus report logged the equivalent of 665 full-time jobs saved. "That's impossible," a top Kankakee school official said, adding that the entire payroll -- full and part time -- is 600 workers.

Some of the mistakes, however, might point in the other direction. According to the government tally, here were no jobs "saved or created" in Chicago public schools, something that seems unlikely after the district received $293 million in stimulus funding. But, as many experts predicted in advance, most of the money went to the state for help on budget shortfalls.
It appears the state treasury -- not students or school districts -- was the prime beneficiary of the education stimulus jackpot in Illinois. In great measure, funds simply were used to replace general aid payments already owed to local districts by the state. That gave Gov. Pat Quinn breathing room in his struggle to rein in a whopping two-year budget deficit of more than $10 billion.

A stimulus job report that says more than 10,000 jobs were saved or created in Wisconsin is rife with errors, double counting and inflated numbers based more on satisfying federal formulas than creating real jobs, a Journal Sentinel review has found.
In one case, five jobs were mistakenly listed as 50 - and then counted twice. In another, pay raises to workers were listed as saving more than 100 jobs. And in another, jobs were listed as saved even though the money had not been received and no work on the project had begun.
The problems mirror those surfacing around the country, as the federal numbers claiming 640,000 jobs created or saved by stimulus money are being scrutinized.

Among the Journal Sentinel's findings:

Double-counted jobs: About $7.3 million of federal money will flow to the Parkland Sanitary District in Douglas County to replace its sewer system, a project listed as creating or saving 100 jobs even though work won't start until this spring, federal recovery data shows.

But that number is inflated by 95 jobs, Parkland Sanitary District treasurer Eric Shaffer admitted.

When reporting to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's online reporting system, Schaffer meant to type "5" but mistakenly added a zero - and that 50-job figure appears twice in the federal data because it was a combined grant and loan. He tried to correct the error, but was told it was too late for the federal reporting deadline.

I think it's safe to assume that any estimate, projection, or other statistical "report" released by the Obama administration has little or no basis in reality. That includes, but is far from confined to, budget deficits, the national debt, and the cost of the health care bill.
As for the overall economy, things are going to get worse. We're about to get hit with the biggest tax increase in history as the 2003 Bush tax cuts expire. On top of that, businesses are going to be punished for hiring workers to help pay for the multi trillion dollar health care monstrosity making its way through Congress. Potential investors and entrepreneurs will have their capital depleted to fund that bill. On top of that, we're going to get hit with higher energy expenses to pay for the execrable cap and tax scheme. And all of that is on top of the 2010 federal budget of $3,550,000,000,000 just to fund the everyday operations of the government. (A 14.5% increase over 2009).
And what is the Democrats' response to their floundering economic strategy? More of the same, of course. There's been an extention of the fraud infested first time home buyers tax credit and yet another extention of unemployment benefits. Incredibly, there's talk of another "stimulus" package. As the WSJ points out, a familiar definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.
I don't watch any TV series (with the one exception of "Mad Men") but I understand there's a new science fiction show, "V", which has been likened to the current ongoing situation in Washington. Wikipedia describes "V" as "the arrival to Earth of a technologically advanced alien species who ostensibly come in peace but actually have sinister motives." That sounds about right.

Friday, November 6, 2009

In Praise Of Charles

The outstanding cover of the latest issue of National Review. Can't wait to get it. (I can read the stories online but prefer the hard copy).

Legislating Unemployment

Just a comment about the unemployment situation. It was announced today that the overall rate for October rose to 10.2%, higher than the 9.9% that was forecast and the highest since 1983. One telling statistic is that the unemployment rate among teenagers rose 1.8% to a dismal 27.6%. This disproportionate rise is a direct result of the ever increasing minimum wage, which was raised to $7.25/hr from $6.55/hr in July. (And it's scheduled to rise again next year to $8.25/hr). Less than three years ago it was $5.15/hr. Efforts to guarantee all American workers a "living wage" is instead providing many with the absolute minimum wage, $0.00/hr.
Of course, Democrats push for higher minimum wages not to improve the lives of low income workers but to reward the party's union benefactors. (And to appear compassionate). Unions like higher minimum wages not because it increases the wages of its members - most union members already earn wages well above the minimum - but to reduce competition for unskilled and low skilled labor. Republicans (like President Bush) support higher minimum wages because to oppose them appears "mean", when in fact the opposite is true.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Obama's Disdain For (small d) democrats

Leonard Bernstein, when asked which of Mozart piano concertos was his favorite, answered that it was whichever one he was listening to at the time. It's impossible to set one masterpiece above all the others. In a reverse sort of way I feel the same about President Obama's policy positions. The worst one is the one you're presently focusing on. They're just all so bad.

Consider his Iran policy.
Following the tainted "re-election" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iranian president in June, protesters of the result chanted o ba ma, a Farsi play on words meaning "He with us." Now counter-demonstrators to the Iranian regime's staged celebration of the 30th anniversary of the hostage taking of American Embassy personnel chant, obama ya ba oona ya ba ma - Obama, either you're with them or with us. And Obama's choice is clear. Initiating a "dialogue" with the theocratic fascists who rule Iran takes precedent over supporting the Iranian "street" which the WSJ calls "arguably the most pro-American place in the world". Obama's apology for the U.S. role in the 1953 overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq was an unnecessary act of groveling to the mullahs. The Iranian people have already forgiven us. And Obama got nothing in return for his obsequiousness. Certainly not an apology from the mullahs for killing American servicemen in Iraq. Only scorn. Here's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khatami responding to Obama's overtures.

“What we have witnessed is completely the opposite of what they have been saying and claiming. On the face of things, they say, ‘Let’s negotiate.’ But alongside this, they threaten us and say that if these negotiations do not achieve a desirable result, they will do this and that. … Whenever they smile at the officials of the Islamic revolution, when we carefully look at the situation, we notice that they are hiding a dagger behind their back,” he said. “They have not changed their intentions.”

Meanwhile, the Iranian people admire us and seek to emulate our government. They yearn for freedom and democracy - America's values, its brands. It is perverse that the administration is reaching out to their opponents.
The Associated Press yesterday reported the following.

The White House is calling for an end to violence in Iran as security forces there crack down on anti-government protesters.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that Obama administration leaders are following reports of the unrest and "hope greatly that violence will not spread."

To which, Iran expert, NRO's Michael Ledeen retorted,

Personally, I hope the demonstrations spread like wildfire until the regime burns and crashes.

Ledeen believes that U.S. support of the opposition could have collapsed the regime long ago. And such support would be the polar opposite of the action we took in '53, when we helped to engineer a military coup to overthrow a popularly elected government. Far from coming back to haunt us, a strategy of undermining an unpopular, tyrannical government, if successful, would leave a grateful populace. It would provide us with another allied Islamic nation in the Mideast. (Though Obama's neglect of Iraq may end up eventually distancing that country from us, negating much of what we fought so hard to attain).
There are no downsides to supporting the democrats. We'll be accused of meddling? The thugs do that anyway. Let's give them something to cry about. "Negotiations" to end Iran's nuclear threat will be derailed? Exactly.

And there are many potential upsides - The end of Iran's nuclear threat and with it the elimination of the greatest threat to Israel's existence; The removal of Hamas' and Hezbollah's main sponsor and with that the diminishment of the biggest impediment to peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs; Silent gratitude from neighboring Arab countries, fearful of Iran's nuclear ambitions; Greater energy security.
In the October 19 issue of National Review, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton detailed the four options for dealing with the Iranian regime's quest for nuclear weapons. Let them have them - the worst option; Negotiate with them - essentially the same as option one; Support regime change, and; A military attack - another bad option. Bolton agrees that the best option is regime change but doesn't believe it can be accomplished in the necessary time frame. The ongoing massive street protests show that he may be too pessimistic.

So what would Bush do? In his second inaugural address, he proclaimed, " is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

And in an earlier speech he said, "For decades, free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice, this approach brought little stability and much oppression, so I have changed this policy."

But Bush hedged this stance in his second term, opting for much the same approach toward Iran (and North Korea) that Obama is committed to now. Indeed, Bolton excoriates both Bush (his former boss) and Obama for getting us where we are today. But unlike Obama, Bush, as evidenced by the above statements, understood the primacy of the role that freedom and democracy play in advancing stability and peace. He would not disregard the courageous efforts of the opponents of Iran's theocratic regime. I strongly suspect he would encourage them, with words certainly and possibly with deeds.

But Obama says, "We do not interfere in Iran's internal affairs". No we don't - to our everlasting disgrace.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Not At All

From the U.S. News and World Report website :
Democrats: Elections Not a Referendum on Obama

Analyzing Dementia, Noonan, U.N. Condemnation, The Liberal GOP

John Steele Gordon's op-ed in the WSJ today attempts to explain why liberals support the policies they do. He interprets their puzzling behavior with a paradigm of sheep, wolves and shepherds - sheep being the large majority of oppressed common folk; wolves being the ruthless, uncaring capitalists that oppress them; and shepherds being the small group of enlightened liberals who selflessly try to lead the sheep out of their misery. Gordon goes on to show how this silly mindset is roughly a century out of date.

In today's issue, there's also this comment by a reader, referring to the Peggy Noonan column I wrote about a few days ago.

I am overjoyed to see that the real Peggy Noonan is back after her swoon over Barack Obama.

It would have been better if she (and countless other normally rational thinkers) hadn't been hoodwinked in the first place.

It's gratifying that the House of Representatives has overwhelmingly condemned the Goldstone Report (see my post 10/30) by a vote of 344 to 36. Not surprisingly, 33 of the 36 (92%) of those supporting the pro-terrorist report were Democrats. (And one of the 3 Republican votes was the loony Ron Paul). In addition, 20 Democrats (and 2 Republicans) abstained.

And one last item, Jonah Goldberg's latest column on NRO.

Goldberg argues that the Republican Party, far from being run by wild-eyed reactionaries, has actually been too ideologically mushy. Here he gives just some examples of George W. Bush's liberal activism.

Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” was promoted as an alternative to traditional conservatism. Bush promised to be a “different kind of Republican,” and he kept that promise. He advocated government activism, and he put our money where his mouth was. He federalized education with No Child Left Behind — co-sponsored by Teddy Kennedy — and oversaw the biggest increase in education spending in history (58 percent faster than inflation), according to the Heritage Foundation, while doing next to nothing to advance the conservative idea known as school choice.
With the prescription-drug benefit, he created the biggest new entitlement since the Great Society (Obama is poised to topple that record). Bush increased spending on the National Institutes of Health by 36 percent and international aid by 74 percent, according to Heritage. He oversaw the largest, most porktacular farm bills ever. He signed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a massive new regulation of Wall Street. His administration defended affirmative action before the Supreme Court.
He pushed amnesty for immigrants, imposed steel tariffs, supported Title IX, and signed the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance-reform legislation.
Oh, and he, not Obama, initiated the first bailouts and TARP.
Not all of these positions were wrong or indefensible. But the notion that Bush pursued conservative ideas with “dogmatic fixity” is dogmatic nonsense.
...In short, conservatives have had to not only put up with a lot of moderation and ideological flexibility, we’ve had to endure nearly a decade of taunting from gargoyles insisting that the GOP is run by crazed radicals.

Goldberg thinks it's time to give true conservatism a chance. And that means not having the GOP nominating far left candidates for public office like Dede Scozzafava.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lipton Liberals

Jay Nordlinger (NRO) writes of the continuing use by the liberal media of the term "teabaggers" to describe anti-Obama protesters. The epithet was first used by by that esteemed and respected CNN anchorman Anderson Cooper.

Nordlinger quotes David Shuster of MSNBC, a real class act.

“For most Americans, Wednesday April 15 will be Tax Day, but . . . it’s going to be Teabagging Day for the right wing, and they’re going nuts for it. Thousands of them whipped out the festivities early this past weekend, and while the parties are officially toothless, the teabaggers are full-throated about their goals. They want to give President Obama a strong tongue-lashing and lick government spending.”
Shuster said that Fox News personalities were “looking forward to an up-close-and-personal taste of teabagging.” Etc., etc., etc. And, all the while, MSNBC had on the screen “TEABAG MOUTHPIECES.”
Shuster’s performance “was mellow compared to Rachel Maddow’s April 9 program.” Maddow is another MSNBC figure. “Air America radio contributor Ana Marie Cox, who also appeared on that program, and Maddow teamed up to use the word ‘teabag’ at least 51 times in a 13-minute-long segment.”

Nordlinger names George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Gwen Ifill of PBS, Sam Tanenhaus, Paul Krugman, both of the New York Times, as users of the term as well as Democratic politicians and of course, Hollywood types.
(Remember that Ifill was the "neutral" moderator of the Vice-Presidential debate who somehow failed to ask any questions regarding energy policy, Sarah Palin's area of expertise).
Some of the perpetrators are news correspondents, not just opinion journalists like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly. Not that those three Fox News commentators would ever stoop as low as the likes of Ifill, Stephanopolis or Anderson. To think of Fox News correspondents like Carl Cameron, Bret Baier, Wendell Goler or Jim Angle using the crude, vulgar language of the liberal media is beyond imagination. Yet Fox News is targeted by the President (the President!) as a biased, opinionated organization, not worthy of being called serious. A letter writer to the WSJ noted that the best left wing commentary is to be found on Fox News since liberals can't getting away with talking the way they do on the other networks. Pundits like Bob Beckel, Kirsten Powers, Lanny Davis and Juan Williams need to defend their positions rationally without resorting to name calling.

Nordlinger suggests a good response to someone using the term "teabagger" is to ask him (or her) to describe the practice.

Fight The Powers That Be

I haven't seen the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode in which Larry David accidentally urinates on a picture of Jesus and the droplets are mistaken for tears which is then seen as a sign of a miracle. From a purely comedic standpoint, this actually sounds pretty funny, satirizing the desire of some fervent Christians to (mis)interpret seemingly innocent, explainable images or events as proof that Christ was indeed an immortal savior.
Of course, David isn't only going for laughs here. He's trying to be provocative and sacrilegious, targeting that large demographic that the left disdains so profoundly, the "Religious Right". He's also trying to show that he's a brave, outspoken critic of a powerful political force, willing to risk his career to speak "the truth".
It brings to mind when Jonah Goldberg some time ago mocked Americans who say, "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." as something one says to establish one's courageous free speech bona fides without actually having to be courageous. It takes bravery to make that statement in, say, Iran, but certainly not in the U.S.
Mark Steyn's latest column on NRO makes the point that if David really wanted to be seen as a brave, transgressive artist he'd go after a true reactionary entity.

As many commentators pointed out, Mr. David’s splashy stunt is a dreary provocation: It’s easy to be provocative with people who can’t be provoked. If he were to start urinating in a more Mecca-ly direction, he’d find an entirely more motivated crowd waiting for him at the stage door.

Steyn also suggests that David try focusing his satirical wit on another crowd that doesn't take kindly to criticism.

But I liked the point made by the Anchoress, a writer at the magazine First Things: Putting Mohammed et al aside, if Larry David had a yen to urinate hither and yon, wouldn’t it have been “braver” to have done it to the religious icon du jour? That’s to say, Barack Obama. And then maybe Ashton Kutcher could have marveled at how even Obama’s image was empathizing tearily with all 687 million Americans without health insurance. Or, alternatively, dribbling warm champagne from his Norwegian Nobel banquet toast. C’mon, Larry. Sure, you might not have a career afterward, but, unlike any Islamo-provocations, you’re not gonna get killed. Just fired, and probably damned as a racist. But at least you wouldn’t be a simpering suck-up to power like (National Endowment For The Arts Chief) Rocco Landesman and the other creeps.

Besides the case of Larry David, Steyn notes the absurdity of someone like Valerie Jarrett speaking "truth to power".

Who’s Valerie Jarrett? She’s “Senior Advisor” to the president of the United States — i.e., the leader of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth. You would think the most powerful man in the most powerful nation would find a hard job finding anyone on the planet to “speak truth to power” to.

...“I think that what the administration has said very clearly is that we’re going to speak truth to power. When we saw all of the distortions in the course of the summer, when people were coming down to town-hall meetings and putting up signs that were scaring seniors to death. . . . ”

Ah, right. People “putting up signs.” Can’t have that, can we? The most powerful woman in the inner circle of the most powerful man on earth has decided to speak truth to powerful people standing in the street with handwritten placards saying “THIS GRAN’MA ISN’T SHOVEL READY.”

Vintage Steyn