Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Does Obama know he's President?

Richard Cohen doesn't think so. A Liberal op-ed writer, Coehn's not the sort to nail a guy like Obama for the fallout from his permanent campaign-style. But man, he sure tells it like it is today.
Sooner or later it is going to occur to Barack Obama that he is the president of the United States. As of yet, though, he does not act that way, appearing promiscuously on television and granting interviews like the presidential candidate he no longer is. The election has been held, but the campaign goes on and on. The candidate has yet to become commander in chief. ...

The trouble with Obama is that he gets into the moment and means what he says for that moment only. He meant what he said when he called Afghanistan a "war of necessity" -- and now is not necessarily so sure. He meant what he said about the public option in his health-care plan -- and then again maybe not. He would not prosecute CIA agents for getting rough with detainees -- and then again maybe he would.

Most tellingly, he gave Congress an August deadline for passage of health-care legislation -- "Now, if there are no deadlines, nothing gets done in this town . . . " -- and then let it pass. It seemed not to occur to Obama that a deadline comes with a consequence -- meet it or else.

Obama lost credibility with his deadline-that-never-was, and now he threatens to lose some more with his posturing toward Iran. ...

Obama's the president. Time he understood that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Even folks on the Left notice that Obama looks like he's flailing

People are starting to realize that the Emperor has no clothes. The intro to the article says it all.

It is lovely to feature in other people's dreams. The problem comes when they wake up. Barack Obama is an eloquent, brainy and likeable man with a fascinating biography. He is not George Bush. Those are great qualities. But they are not enough to lead America, let alone the world.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Well, at least they cleaned it up faster than they did at Duke

An 18-year old Hofstra freshman girl had group sex with five guys. Then she lied to her boyfriend about it and said that she was raped to keep him from thinking that she was easy. (This seems like Bill Clinton lying so that people wouldn't think he was dishonest. I don't know this girl personally, so I can't say that she's a slut. I can say that she apparently had no problems acting like a slut with these five guys, though.) Her accusations led them to their imprisonment on rape charges. When new evidence came to light that clearly showed that this girl was a willing participant, the charges were dropped and the men released

At least the folks at Hofstra aren't as slavishly PC and morally deficient as the folks at Duke are, though. Unlike with Duke's response to the accusations against members of their lacrosse team, when it became clear that this freshman's story was totally false the people at Hofstra immediately acted to rectify the situation. The five male students' suspensions were rescinded, and the accuser was suspended. Refreshing to see justice done like that in this kind of situation.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wisdom from an unlikely source

Walter Russell Mead is a stone-cold Liberal, not the type of person one would expect to hear sensible talk about Obama and the Democrats from. Well, life is full of surprises.
But there is, I think, a cold dark fact at the heart of [popular opposition to the agenda of Obama and the Democrats] that means trouble for incumbents of all kinds, but especially for Democrats. The fact is that the liberal society we've built since the New Deal looks less and less capable of honoring its promises. It's not just Medicare and Social Security; there are a lot of state governments out there that have no way of paying for all the pensions they've promised their workers over the years -- and no way to pay for all the services they've promised the voters. Private sector labor unions seem to drive jobs overseas or to saddle their employers with unpayable costs. Public sector unions drive state and local governments into fiscal dead ends as well. People look at public schools and the postal system and they don't see much sign that the old institutions work very well. (I'm not saying this is all 100% true -- only that it looks that way to a lot of people.)

Most voters wish this wasn't true. They would like to vote themselves higher wages, free health care, and higher pensions that kick in at younger ages. Many, perhaps most voters are nostalgic for the time when one breadwinner working 9 to 5 at a secure factory job could keep a family of four in the heart of the middle class. But more and more people think those days are long gone and that there's no going back. And if liberal society can no longer deliver the goods, people don't want to pay its bills.

It's not just the money and it's not just liberals who need to worry. As the promises of the liberal society look increasingly shaky, the experts and the professionals and the think tanks seem less and less worthy of respect. The 'experts' -- including me -- generally supported the war in Iraq. 'Experts' were confident about the New Economy being fail safe and bust-proof. Other 'experts' say that we can handle budget deficits of a trillion plus, that a new health care entitlement will cut costs without trimming services to Medicare patients, that a cap-and-trade bill won't cost jobs, that enlightened immigration reform will work and so on and so on.

It isn't a liberal or a conservative thing in the end. It's that the American people are losing faith not only in the promises of the liberal society but in the experts and the professionals who design, administer and explain it. Increasingly, the lower middle class and the middle middle class want to fire the snooty upper middle class know it alls who collectively have gotten the country into such a mess.

Hope for the Dead Island?

Maybe Britain isn't all-dead after all. Maybe Britain is like the mostly-dead Wesley. If so, Peter Davies, newly elected mayor of Doncaster, has officially auditioned for the role of Miracle Max.

In his first week in office [Davies] cut his own salary from £73,000 to £30,000 ... He also scrapped the mayoral limousine. ... He intends now to reduce (that’s right, reduce) council tax by 3 per cent this year.

The “diversity” portfolio has been abolished from the council’s cabinet. From next year no more funding will be given to the town’s “Gay Pride” event, on the grounds that people do not need to parade their sexuality, whatever it may be, at taxpayers’ expense. Black History Month, International Women’s Day and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month are similarly destined to become history.

Council funding of translation services for immigrants has been scrapped because he believes incomers should take the trouble to learn English. ... He is taking advice from the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Campaign Against Political Correctness. ...

He has asked the Electoral Commission to reduce the number of Doncaster’s councillors from 63 to 21 (“If Pittsburgh can manage with nine councillors, why do we need 63?”). ...

The establishment is moving heaven and earth to discredit and obstruct Davies. He is that ultimate embarrassment: the boy who reveals that the Emperor has no clothes. If it is good enough for Doncaster, it is good enough for Britain. Our effete, corrupt, politically correct politicians must be compelled to follow suit.

Amen. Lord, in the words of Jean-Luc Piccard, "Make it so."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Obama gives America the bird

I admire people who have a way with words. I like to write, and I enjoy things that are well written. "Well written" is a broad phrase, though. There's "Cormac McCarthy/Mark Twain/C.S. Lewis" well written and then there's "eye-catching, good PR" well written.

This synopsis of the President's speech on health care last week definitely falls in the latter category.
President Barack Obama showed [Americans critical of health care reform] the policy equivalent of the middle finger Wednesday night. If there was anything bipartisan about the speech it was that he embraced every bad big-government idea from both sides. ...

Obama lambasted the critics who claim his reform plan amounts to a government takeover of the health care system. But the plan he laid out Wednesday night will control every aspect of the medical transaction. It will tell patients when, what and how much coverage they must buy; it will tell sellers when, what and how much coverage they must sell. This is not a government takeover of health care? Then Tony Soprano is just a decent, hard-working businessman.

ACORN: A Criminal Organization, Radical and Nefarious

At least that's what ACORN should stand for.

Don't take my word for it. Take theirs.

Two people, posing as a prostitute and a guy running for office, used a hidden camera to expose ACORN workers breaking the law without hesitation. And not in ways that people don't often care about (like teaching people how to break into their foreclosed homes). They openly asked the ACORN workers to help them traffic 13 under-age El Salvadoran girls into Baltimore to be prostitutes, to help them evade taxes on the "income" that those girls would generate, and then to launder their prostitution money into the man's campaign funds.

The ACORN workers agreed without so much as blinking.

Check out the video of this terrible stuff, and then ponder the words on the screen at the end of the video: "ACORN has received $53,000,000 in federal government, and now stands to receive billions in stimulus money." Then ponder the extent to which Obama & Co. praise the work of ACORN.

Part 1

Part 2

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Joe Wilson: Hero or Zero?

Everyone's talking about Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) today, because of this:

Was Wilson right to call Obama out as a liar? Yes, I definitely think so. Was it appropriate for him to do so in that context? Probably not. Hence, Wilson's apology afterwords.

This isn't the House of Commons. It was inappropriate for him to say what he said. Understandable? Absolutely. Appropriate? Probably not.

But was it fair for him to call Obama out as a liar? In a word, yes.

Obama had just called anyone who claims that "advisory" end-of-life commissions will lead to rationing end-of-life care liars. "This is a lie, plain and simple," were the President's words about that charge. Well, fair is fair. You're calling us liars when we speak the truth, Mr. President, we'll call you a liar when you speak untruths.

Take the claim that preceded Wilson's outburst, that the program Obama proposes won't insure illegal immigrants. It's literally true, but will become false in practice. Democrats have ensured this. Members of the House tried repeatedly to amend the health care reform bills in the House to require insurers to verify the citizenship of recipients of their aid. Those amendments were voted down on party-line votes every time. So, does any of the bills currently in Congress directly give health insurance to illegal immigrants? No. Will any of them end up giving health insurance to illegal immigrants? Almost certainly. Assuming the President isn't a moron, he has to know this. His assurances to the contrary in last night's speech were, then, lies.

So Rep. Wilson was right. Given the vituperatives the man was forced to endure from the President, his response was understandable. Given the President's penchant for pillorying his opponents and calling them liars, Wilson's response was fair. Given the setting, however, his remark was probably inappropriate.

So, is he a hero for calling the President out on his dishonesty, or a zero for trying to turn a Joint Session of Congress into the House of Commons?

To me, he's clearly a hero. I'd rather have a truth-teller who can't keep his mouth shut than a man who is so circumspect he becomes a milquetoast.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What one person can do

Kaleb Eulls is a star defensive end on his high school football team in Mississippi. He's now a local hero because he acted decisively in a dangerous situation.

A girl got on the school bus he and his sisters were on, pulled out a pistol and began threatening everyone. Eulls distracted her and then tackled her, wresting the gun from her hand. Problem solved. What a kid.

One statement in the article stands out to me from the rest, though. It's a statement from the town sheriff: "[Eulls] made the statement to one of my deputies that if she was going to shoot anyone, he would rather she shoot him." That statement shows what one person can do in a situation like that. One person who is willing to risk his life to save others can do tremendous good.

This is something that Liberals, especially Liberals in favor of strict gun control laws, just don't seem to understand.

Take, for example, the "news" program 20/20's anti-gun episode, If I Only Had a Gun. The whole point of If I Only Had a Gun is that guns are too dangerous for anyone to ever use responsibly, so only police should use them. No one else should even try. Over and over again the 20/20 crew presents evidence that using a gun is dangerous and that facing someone with a gun is even more dangerous. And they are right. Their failure to really present the opposite realities, that respect for the dangerous potential of a gun and proper training can ensure that a gun owner is of danger only to criminals, lays bare their anti-gun agenda.

One of other the messages that Dianne Sawyer and the 20/20 crew go out of their way to get across is the utter helplessness of anyone facing gun violence. "You can't do anything to save yourself or anyone else," they basically say. "Run, hide, and wait for the police to save you." But this is just not correct. In fact, it's often the worst thing you can do. Taking charge and attacking one's assailant is often the most effective means of thwarting him. You might not be unscathed; you might die. But everyone else will be saved.

This is why we don't praise the actions of the people of American Airlines Flights 11 and 77, or United Flight 175 on September 11th. We remember and mourn them, yes, but we don't praise them. They, to our knowledge, didn't fight back. They submitted to evil; they didn't try to stop it. The people on United Flight 93, on the other hand, did fight back. They're no less dead than the people on the other three flights, but they ensured that the terrorists on their flight failed. So we "praise them with great praise" as Tolkien would say.

And so we also praise Kaleb Eulls. He showed what one person can do when he disregards deadly Liberal propaganda and acts like a man.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Democrats and authority

In the '60s, so I'm told, some popular slogans of the Leftist counter-culture were "Question authority!" and "Never trust anyone over 30." As the ever-spot-on Camille Pagilla notes, however, those days are loooong gone.

Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers ... They see no danger in expanding government authority and intrusive, wasteful bureaucracy. This is, I submit, a stunning turn away from the anti-authority and anti-establishment principles of authentic 1960s leftism.

But affluent middle-class Democrats now seem to be complacently servile toward authority and automatically believe everything party leaders tell them. Why? Is it because the new professional class is a glossy product of generically institutionalized learning? Independent thought and logical analysis of argument are no longer taught. Elite education in the U.S. has become a frenetic assembly line of competitive college application to schools where ideological brainwashing is so pandemic that it's invisible. The top schools, from the Ivy League on down, promote "critical thinking," which sounds good but is in fact just a style of rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms ("racism, sexism, homophobia") when confronted with any social issue. The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clichés that it's positively pickled.
That last line, "The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clichés that it's positively pickled," is probably the most succinct description of what Alan Bloom observed 20 years ago in The Closing of the American Mind. It's not an exclusive phenomenon of the Left, of course. (I've spent time talking about Creationism and evolution with conservative Christians who would give the Leftist dittoheads a real run for their money in terms of closed-minded ignorant prattle.) But it is explicitly institutionalized on the Left.

This is a point Jonah Goldberg vaguely hints at in his excellent Liberal Fascism. The Right has been forced for the past 50 years to publicly wrestle with the dark aspects of its past. Conservatives who defend states' rights have had to identify the legitimate aspects of that position, apart from the racist arguments state autonomy from Washington was used to justify for generations. This has made conservatism much richer and much deeper as time has gone on, just as a person who's forced to defend (and therefore, to understand) positions he holds will have a much deeper, more mature understanding of those positions as time goes on.

Liberals, as Jonah meticulously points out, have a distressing amount of baggage of their own that one would think they'd feel the need to justify. Instead, however, the Left has avoided doing this precisely by blaming all the baggage of the early-20th century Left on conservatives. Fascism, a distinctly Liberal phenomenon if ever there was one, has been labeled a conservative movement for many years. The evidence that this is not so has stared so many of us in the face for 70 years -- How could a National Socialist Party be anything other than Liberal? -- but many of us didn't see it because we were blinded by the brazen lies of the Left. Liberals today still promote many of the policies that the Fascists of yesterday promoted, but they haven't been called to account for them.

As Camille Pagilla points out, most of them can't account for them. Most of them feel no need, even when the point is painstakingly pointed out to them, to even attempt to account for them. This is sad, but understandably inevitable. The Left as a movement is based on the denial of objective Truth. All that matters in a world of subjective truths is power -- the power to enforce your view of the world on others. Thus Liberals have been conditioned to unquestioningly accept as legitimate the imposition of Leftist worldviews. This is their new worship -- the worship of power. It has rotted their brains.

Monday, September 7, 2009

VDH nails it

I'm not usually a defender of Victor Hanson. He's a neo-con of the rankest kind, and I'm no fan of the neo-cons (who are just Liberals who want to use government power for allegedly conservative ends, instead of for Liberal ends).

He really nails it when talking about the broader implications of the Van Jones scandal for Obama:
The Jones mess brings up a larger issue. Americans were assured that with the ascendance of Barack Obama we would evolve beyond race. Yet in the last ninth months it is almost as if precisely the opposite has occurred — but with a strange twist. The country has been serially lectured about race from some of the most privileged Americans in the country. Columbia law grad elite Eric Holder accused the country of cowardice for its reluctance to speak about race. Harvard-law alum Barack Obama accused the Cambridge police of profiling and acting stupidly in taking elite Harvard professor Skip Gates down to the station after his screaming invective episode. Harvard-law educated Michelle Obama explained Justice Sotomayor’s unease at Princeton by comparing her own ordeal there. Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Charles Rangel who had serially dodged his tax obligations claims that white angst explains his IRS problems. New York governor David Paterson blames his sinking polls on white racism, more prominent than ever in the age of Obama. Now Yale law graduate Van Jones claims smears did him in. The list could be easily expanded. ...

Worse still, we are only in month nine of this new age of Obama — with more than three years to go in his first term — and the country is already tired of the blame-gaming and whining, when officials like Rangel and Jones start to defame others for their own lack of ethics and judgment. This is all very unfortunate, but I predict it will only intensify given the example at the top, and sadly probably result in a polarization that we have not seen in generations.
"[W]e are only in month nine of this new age of Obama ... and the country is already tired of the blame-gaming and whining." A sobering thought, that.

It's going to be a very long 3+ years., that's for sure.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The best diagnosis of what ails America's health care system I've seen

Written by David Goldhill, a businessman in New York City whose father was killed by medical negligence. His death drove Goldhill to figure out what is really wrong with America's health care system. His conclusion, a 6-page article in The Atlantic, is well worth your time. Well worth your time.

I can't say I agree with all of his recommendations at the end of the article, but his diagnosis of the problems ailing America's health care system is the clearest, most comprehensive, most reasonable effort I have ever seen.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ted Kennedy's funeral: another Catholic scandal

This is Phil Lawler's position, anyway, and I'm strongly inclined to agree.

The great, unanswered question hanging over the congregation in Mission Church, and in the minds of the millions who watched the funeral Mass on television, was how the Catholic Church could arrange such a highly public tribute to a man who, over the years, was arguably the most powerful political opponent of the Catholic position on the central moral issue of our time: the battle to protect human life.

Boston's archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, muddled that point in its coverage of Kennedy's death. The Pilot story began:

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who died late Aug. 25 at the age of 77, stood firmly on the side of the Catholic Church on a wide range of issues from immigration reform to the minimum wage during his 47 years as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.

But the youngest son of one of the nation's most famous Catholic families ran into criticism from leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church for his stand on abortion.

That story is misleading in two important respects. First, there is no single Catholic position on questions like immigration reform and the minimum wage; these are issues on which loyal Catholics can and do differ. Second, regarding the clear moral issue of abortion, the Pilot story does not forthrightly say that Kennedy's stand was tragically wrong, but only that he "ran into criticism." Thus the archdiocesan newspaper almost trivialized the problem. But the millions of observers who watched the funeral did not make the same mistake. All America saw that the Catholic Church was prepared to honor a politician who flouted clear, direct, and repeated public statements from the hierarchy.

"All America saw that the Catholic Church was prepared to honor a politician who flouted clear, direct, and repeated public statements from the hierarchy. " What a damning assessment. How can any faithful Catholic support it?

As Lawler points out in his follow up to this article, this is the sort of moral capitulation that provides ammunition to cynics and convinces people to leave the Church. Given the massive moral failings of the Church over the past 50 years, it hardly needs to give its critics more ammunition.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Feds to slash Medicare for heart patients by $1.4 billion

The federal government already controls Medicare and (to a lesser extent) Medicaid. Doctor reimbursements for those programs are abysmally low, and fewer providers are accepting Medicare/Medicaid patients.

Now it turns out that the Feds are set to make Medicare an even worse deal for cardiac doctors, by slashing $1.4 billion in reimbursement. This is the stuff that state-run health care is made of, folks. The private sector can always create wealth, but the state has a fixed amount of money to work with. State monies are always zero-sum.

This kind of thing will happen more and more, regardless of whether ObamaCare is passed, so long as the government runs or funds health care. That's just a fact.

Mussolini, eat your heart out.

Social media sites are trying to drum up support for Obama.

The language is creepy: "I pledge to serve Barack Obama." Isn't he supposed to serve us? He's our president, after all. That would be like my boss taking a pledge to serve me. It only works if you buy into the Obama personality cult.

Well, a fascist state needs a strongman to idolize. The US long ago became comfortably ensconced within the boundaries of fascism. We had FDR as a strongman. Kennedy auditioned for the role. Now folks on the Left are trying to give us the Great (half) White Hope as strongman.

My guess is there's been nary a peep about this in the MSM. Can you imagine the howling there'd be if someone tried to extol the virtues of being mindless dittohead for W.?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Hampshire is officially dead

A 10-year old New Hampshire girl has been ordered to stop being home-schooled and to attend public school, for no other reason than that the court disapproved of her mother's inclusion of Christian faith in her education. Seriously.
Although the marital master making recommendations to the court agreed the child is “well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level” and that “it is clear that the home schooling...has more than kept up with the academic requirements of the...public school system,” he nonetheless proposed that the Christian girl be ordered into a government-run school after considering “the impact of [her religious] beliefs on her interaction with others.” The court approved the order.
In other words, "Even though we can't find any legitimate academic or school-related reason to keep this girl from being home-schooled, we're ordering her to go to the public schools anyway." Is there any honest justification for this decision, apart from anti-religious sentiments?

I can't believe it. I'm serious. I could believe that something like this could have happened in a Leftist regime like Massachusetts, or California, or New York. But New Hampshire? New Hampshire?! The "Live free or die" state?

I'm despondent right now. I grew up in New Hampshire. In my late 20s, after I began to escape the haze of Leftist thought I'd spent the previous 7-8 years in, I came to really appreciate my home state's historically libertarian bent. New Hampshire has no sales tax or income tax. It has no paid legislature. It has no seat belt laws or helmet laws. It has, hands down, the greatest state motto ever -- Live free or die -- and for at least 200 years, it lived up to that motto.

Then, in the late 70s, southern New Hampshire started to become a bedroom community for Boston. By the late 80s, it seemed like close to half of the people living in southern New Hampshire worked in Massachusetts. By that time, many people from Massachusetts had started moving to New Hampshire -- bringing with them their Massachusetts sensibilities and values, which, in the proper role of government, often clashed with New Hampshire values. Now it seems that they've begun to tip the balance. This court decision would have been unthinkable in New Hampshire even 10 years ago.

What happened to the state I grew up in -- the one where people actually appreciated and understood freedom? It seems to have died.

This is a very sad day.