Saturday, October 31, 2009
Mark my words - tomorrow is the game changer! Tune in to hear common sense solutions that bury the false accusations that conscientious members of Congress have no solutions to meet America's health care challenges.
If you're like me, shaking your head wondering why all the miscommunication between Washington and the American people who have been saying, "Please hear what we're saying about our desire for health care reform," then tomorrow will be a refreshing time of clarity for all.
All Americans, and especially colleagues of House Republican Leader John Boehner: please listen to tomorrow's weekly GOP national address. Rep. Boehner will highlight a common sense alternative to Speaker Pelosi's 1,990-page government takeover of health care. I urge you to watch for it. For a preview, go to: http://HealthCare.GOP.gov
You'll hear solutions. You'll hear of real choices based on America's proven free-market principles. You'll know once and for all what the GOP and Independents have been saying all along about alternatives to another big government take over. After tomorrow, you'll know that accusations against the GOP and Independents for not providing solutions are false. Those claims are bogus. There are alternatives. Tune in to Rep. Boehner's address tomorrow to hear them.
I look forward to the game changer!
- Sarah Palin
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Lon Peck , Fulton County GOP Committee (Executive Committee)
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced his plan to include a "public option"—government-run health insurance—in the final version of the Senate health-care bill, despite the fact that he clearly lacks the votes to pass such a bill. So is Harry Reid crazy?
Well, maybe he is—but in this case, at least, he's crazy like a fox. Reid wants to create a big controversy over the public option, then make a show of "compromising" by giving it up. All the while, this fake controversy is supposed to prevent us from learning how awful the rest of the bill is.
As I have argued, the public option is not the essence of the health-care bill. Its real essence is a campaign to destroy the private option, loading so many expensive new regulations and controls onto private health insurance that it will become unaffordable, so that voters will eventually clamor for a government-run plan as the only alternative.
But there is something else in this bill, a provision that strikes to the very core of what it means to be a free person living in a free society: the individual mandate, a government requirement to buy health insurance.
This is not just another government rule taking away your wealth. It has the nefarious distinction of being an entirely new way for government to do so.
Our political leaders have seemingly taxed us for everything: for earning an income, for owning property, for driving a car (and they're not done with that one yet), for buying products they disapprove of. There are sales taxes and port taxes and gas taxes and food taxes and—my favorite—"amusement" taxes.
But the individual mandate is something new. It is a tax for nothing. As the Congressional Budget Office noted in a study of Hillary Clinton's 1994 health-care bill, which also included an individual mandate, this would be "an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States."
This is a whole new evil: a tax levied on you just because you exist. Constitutional scholars are debating the legality of such a tax. It would have to be justified under the much-abused Interstate Commerce Clause—even though Congress already bans individuals from buying health-insurance across state lines.
But we have long ago burst through the restraints that the Constitution places on the power of our government. Now our political leaders are knocking down the very last of these boundaries. They are taxing us for breathing.
That is literally what it is about. The Democrats are proposing to tax you because you are still breathing; this is a tax on one's physical health. The individual mandate is aimed at the young and healthy, who are to be dragooned into paying inflated health-insurance premiums, in order to provide the subsidized health insurance the bill promises to the old and the sick.
This is the end of the most basic freedom of a free society—one appreciated particularly by the young and by scrappy, small-business entrepreneurs. When you are young and strike out on your own—as I did as a free-lance writer at age 25—you may own little else, but you own yourself, and nobody can tax you just for breathing. Well, now they can.
When you're an entrepreneur trying to make it on your own, you can always cut back your expenses—a smaller apartment, a smaller car (or, if you live in the city, no car), and you can even cut back on what you eat. And you can drop your health insurance or go with a cheap, high-deductible plan. I can tell you that for ten years without health insurance, or with high-deductible catastrophic coverage, I spent far less on health care than I would have on premiums. I knew I was taking a risk, but it was mine to take, because it's my body.
Not any more, if congressional Democrats get their way. Now young people are going to be forced to buy health insurance. You'll have to buy it, not because you need it, but because the government needs your healthy body to pad out its risk pool.
The bill combines the individual mandate with "guaranteed issue" and "community rating." What this means is that insurance companies must provide coverage to anyone with a pre-existing medical condition—and they must charge everyone within a given area the same rate. This means that the young and healthy get no advantage for being young and healthy; instead, they will have to pay the inflated rates necessary to cover the expenses of those who are older and sicker. Combine that with new government controls mandating what insurance companies have to cover, which outlaws the kind of low-cost, high-deductible plans that make the most sense for young people with lower incomes and few routine health problems. All of this makes the individual mandate into a massive looting of wealth from the young and healthy, who are targeted because they are young and healthy.
I don't know what's worse: the reasoning behind this mandate, or the fact that the tax is not even big enough to achieve its supposed goal. The fine for failing to buy health insurance is about $1,000 per year—which is cheaper than the cost of buying insurance. I've already pointed out the destruction this will cause to private insurance, which will be forced to take on the extra cost of covering those with pre-existing conditions but won't get an adequate flow of money from young people to make up for it. But the low level of this fine has another, more ominous implication. It means that Congress ultimately doesn't care whether you buy the insurance or not. The real purpose is simply to establish the tax.
The point is to forge the new ground of taxing us simply for existing. How big that tax will be and the other purposes for which it will be used are to be decided later—and if history is any guide, every new kind of tax has started out small and grown.
So this is the new "progressive" future that Barack Obama and the congressional Democrats have planned for us. It is a future in which you won't even own your own body, and you will have no right to draw untaxed the very breath you breathe. Compared to that, who cares about the "public option"?
Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at TIADaily.com. He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and contributor to The Freedom Fighters Journal
Friday, October 30, 2009
'We will raise our voices to protect the unborn and the most vulnerable and to preserve our freedom of conscience'
The E-Mail specifically asks that no parish opt out of this initiative.
Interpreting the Constitution is a serious and crucial task with which the federal courts of this nation have been entrusted under Article III. However, that very same Constitution puts limits on the reach of the federal courts. One of those limits is that the Constitution defines processes through which the President can be removed from office. The Constitution does not include a role for the Court in that process. Plaintiffs have encouraged the Court to ignore these mandates of the Constitution; to disregard the limits on its power put in place by the Constitution; and to effectively overthrow a sitting president who was popularly elected by “We the People”–over sixty-nine million of the people. Plaintiffs have attacked the judiciary, including every prior court that has dismissed their claim, as unpatriotic and even treasonous for refusing to grant their requests and for adhering to the terms of the Constitution which set forth its jurisdiction. Respecting the constitutional role and jurisdiction of this Court is not unpatriotic.
ARTICLE AND COMMENTARY AT FREE REPUBLIC
It’s ALWAYS the left-wing radicals that engage in these assassinations.
From Lee Harvey Oswald to Sirhan Sirhan - they simply have so much hatred in their heart and it’s manifested in violence.
PROSPECTS: This is the biggest question facing the fledgling recovery, given that consumer spending represents 70 percent of total economic activity. Can consumers keep spending with unemployment at a 26-year high of 9.8 percent and expected to keep rising until next summer?
WASHINGTON — Can growth in the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation’s economy, be sustained?
That depends on what caused the components of GDP — things like consumer spending and business investment — to move up or down, and whether the growth was heavily dependent on government programs that are going away.
The 3.5 percent GDP growth rate in the July-to-September quarter represented the first positive growth in the figure after four straight quarters of declines. It was the largest gain in two years. But the concern is that this growth will falter given the huge problems still facing households.
Here is a look at the key components of GDP, showing how much each one contributed or subtracted from growth in the third quarter, along with forecasts for how they will perform going forward.
HOW MUCH IT GREW: 3.4 percent rate in third quarter, best showing since early 2007.
CONTRIBUTION TO OVERALL GDP: 2.36 percentage points of the 3.5 percent third-quarter growth in GDP came from consumer spending. Car sales alone represented 1 percentage point of total growth, reflecting the success of the government’s Cash for Clunkers program.
PROSPECTS: This is the biggest question facing the fledgling recovery, given that consumer spending represents 70 percent of total economic activity. Can consumers keep spending with unemployment at a 26-year high of 9.8 percent and expected to keep rising until next summer?
Economists are split. Some think the end of the Cash for Clunkers program in late August and the waning impact of various one-time tax cuts and individual payments from the $787 billion stimulus program will send consumer spending back into negative territory. That would represent a big blow to prospects for recovery.
Other analysts believe there is enough momentum that consumer spending will keep growing in the months ahead, just not as rapidly as in the third quarter.
HOW MUCH IT GREW: 11.5 percent rate in third quarter, after declining for seven consecutive quarters.
CONTRIBUTION TO OVERALL GDP: 1.22 percentage points of the 3.5 percent GDP growth came from investment, with nearly half that strength coming from a surge in residential construction, an area that had been plunging since 2006. Business spending on computers and other equipment showed gains but spending on commercial structures such as office buildings and shopping centers continued to decline.
PROSPECTS: Economists believe commercial real estate will continue to suffer, given high office vacancy rates and the difficulty developers are having getting new financing because of rising loan defaults on commercial mortgages. Housing is expected to keep rising, a forecast that is based in part on the expectation that Congress will extend and expand the current $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, which is scheduled to expire on Nov. 30.
Another potentially good sign for economic growth: Businesses are expected to begin rebuilding inventories that have been drawn down sharply during the recession.
INCREASE IN DEFICIT: Widened by $17.9 billion in third quarter compared to second quarter.
CONTRIBUTION TO OVERALL GDP: Reduced GDP by 0.53 percentage points in third quarter.
PROSPECTS: Economists believe that trade, which had been one of the few areas of strength in the past year, will be basically neutral in the coming quarters as the growth in exports will be offset by gains in imports. The gains in exports, however, are expected to help certain industries.
HOW MUCH IT GREW: 2.3 percent rate in third quarter, slowing from 6.3 percent growth rate in second quarter.
CONTRIBUTION TO OVERALL GDP: 0.48 percentage points of GDP growth in third quarter came from the increase in government spending.
PROSPECTS: All the strength in third-quarter government spending came from a 7.9 percent rise in spending at the federal level, reflecting in part the boost from the stimulus program. That offset a 1.1 percent drop in state and local spending, where budgets have been hard-hit by the recession. The expectation is that the stimulus program, which is helping states weather the recession, will keep government spending growing in coming quarters.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: Barack Obama today out at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and he's talking to small business owners about health insurance reform and the economy. I actually think every sentence that he said to these guys began with F-you. They don't know it, but it did. He's out there promising the millionaires, these small business owners, these millionaires, that it won't cost them a dime and all this is going to save them money. He is insulting their intelligence. We have a couple sound bites. Here is number one.
OBAMA: I am gratified that our economy grew in the third quarter of this year. The 3.5% growth in the third quarter is the largest three-month gain we have seen in two years. This is obviously welcome news and an affirmation that this recession is abating and the steps we've taken have made a difference.
RUSH: That's a crock.
OBAMA: While this report today represents real progress --
RUSH: No, it doesn't.
OBAMA: -- the benchmark I use to measure the strength of our economy --
RUSH: Right, yeah.
OBAMA: -- is not just whether our GDP is growing --
RUSH: It's not.
OBAMA: -- but whether we're creating jobs --
RUSH: We're not.
OBAMA: -- whether families are having an easier time paying their bills.
RUSH: They're not. Look, you can try to cover up 10% unemployment all you want with a phony GDP number of 3.5%, you can go out there and say you saved the economy, but there are no jobs. Obama is gratified, but by his own benchmark his economy is still failing. Now, let me see if I can put this GDP number into context for you, 'cause it's phony. It is a fake number. Gross domestic product needs to be understood as the sum of three things: consumption by consumers, investment by business, and spending by government, CIG. Consumption, investment, spending by government. So they say the total GDP went up 3.5%. But was there any new consumption by consumers? No. Was there any new investment by business? No. Was there spending by government? Yes. That's the G. The increase is in G, spending by government.
There was no investment in business. There was no consumption by consumers. You've seen all the numbers. Home sales down; consumer spending down. There was no economic growth. What happened here, you had the Clash for Clunkers fiasco and now the Edmunds.com bunch estimates that that program cost taxpayers $24,000 for every car sold, and then there was that first time home buyers fraud, all kinds of government spending which was government borrowing. So the government spending sector goes up, and they, oh, the economy grew by 3.5%. It did not. Government grew. All that's happened here is that money has been shifted from taxpayers today and tomorrow into Obama approval ratings today.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Harrowing leaked autopsy details show the singer was a virtual skeleton — barely eating and with only pills in his stomach at the time he died.
His hips, thighs and shoulders were riddled with needle wounds — believed to be the result of injections of narcotic painkillers, given three times a day for years.
And a mass of surgery scars were thought to be the legacy of at least 13 cosmetic operations.
Experts found the distressing evidence of Jacko’s physical decline while investigating his startling death in Los Angeles last week.
The examination showed the 5ft 10in star — once famed for his on-stage athleticism — had:
PLUNGED to a “severely emaciated” 8st 1oz. It is understood anorexic Jackson had been eating just one meagre meal a day.
Pathologists found his stomach empty aside from partially-dissolved pills he took before the painkiller injection which stopped his heart. Samples were sent for toxicology tests.
LOST virtually all his hair. The pop pin-up was wearing a wig when he died and pathologists said little more than “peach fuzz” covered his scalp.
A scarred section of skin above his left ear was entirely bald — apparently the result of a 1984 accident when his hair caught fire as he filmed an ad for Pepsi.
SUFFERED several broken ribs as frantic rescuers pumped his chest after he collapsed in cardiac arrest. Four injection sites were found above or near to Jacko’s heart.
All appeared to result from attempts to pump adrenaline directly into the organ in a failed bit to restart it.
Three of the injections had penetrated the heart wall — causing damage — but a fourth missed and hit one of the 50-year-old star’s ribs.
The autopsy also found unexplained BRUISING on Jackson’s knees and on the fronts of both shins. And there were CUTS on his back, indicating a recent fall.
The King of Pop’s once handsome face bore a network of plastic surgery scars, while the bridge to his nose had vanished and its right side had partially collapsed.
As inquiries into the tragedy last night focused on the star’s personal physician Dr Conrad Murray, a source close to the Jackson entourage said: “Michael’s family and fans will be horrified when they realise the appalling state he was in.
“He was skin and bone, his hair had fallen out and had been eating nothing but pills when he died. Injection marks all over his body and the disfigurement caused by years of plastic surgery show he’d been in terminal decline for years.
“His doctors and the hangers-on stood by as he self-destructed. Somebody is going to have to pay.”
Cardiologist Dr Murray was thought to have given Jackson the final injection of painkiller Demerol.
He is facing serious questions about his resuscitation attempts, which began when he started CPR as Jacko lay unconscious on a bed. Basic first aid guidance says patients must be face-up on a hard surface before compressions.
Experts yesterday expressed amazement that a trained cardiologist could have made such an error, potentially wasting vital minutes.
Additional damage was believed to have been caused by oxygen masks and tubing inserted during resuscitation attempts. But in an ironic twist, the probe found Jacko was recovering well from skin cancer — with an op to shave cells from his chest a total success.
A second autopsy demanded by the Jackson family was carried out at a secret location on Saturday after the first ruled out foul play.
Family friend Rev Jesse Jackson said the family were deeply suspicious about what caused his death.
Dr Murray was hired just 11 days ago by AEG Live — the firm masterminding Jacko’s 50-date residency at London’s O2 Arena, which was due to start next month.
Sources claimed the family were preparing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the cardiologist.
Detectives were unable to find the doctor at Jackson’s home and his car was taken away for analysis as police sought him for questioning. He surfaced late on Friday and was quizzed over the weekend.
The Sun told on Saturday how Jacko had developed stage fright for the first time and was terrified of performing the comeback gigs.
Aides claimed the ailing star even believed he would be KILLED if he pulled out on health grounds. We also revealed he was taking a potentially toxic cocktail of drugs.
Sources last night said prescriptions for drugs for patients other than Jacko were found at his home. Those patients were due to be quizzed.
Ringleader in Tennessee Couple's Rape and Murder Convicted, May Get Death Penalty
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. —
The man accused of being the ringleader of a carjacking that turned into the rapes and murders of a Tennessee couple was convicted of the most serious charges and now faces the death penalty.
The jury, which deliberated a little more than 8 hours before returning the verdict against Lemaricus Davidson, 28, Tuesday was hearing evidence Wednesday on whether to sentence him to death.
Davidson was tried on 38 counts, including premeditated murder, felony murder, robbery, kidnapping, rape and theft in the 2007 deaths of University of Tennessee student Channon Christian, 21, and her boyfriend Christopher Newsom, 23.
The only not guilty findings were on three counts relating to the rape of Newsom, and Davidson was found guilty of the lesser crime of facilitation on those counts.
Davidson showed no emotion as he heard the jury's verdict. Newsom's family followed the readings closely but showed little reaction, while Christian's father rocked back and forth and occasionally pumped his fist as guilty verdicts were announced.
Prosecutors contended Davidson was the ringleader in the attack. The defense portrayed him as a drug dealer and bystander to the crimes but not the killer.
The prosecution presented six days of testimony that linked Davidson to the crime through DNA evidence from semen on Christian's body and fingerprints in her vehicle, on her paycheck stub and on the trash bag where her body was found.
Jurors saw a videotape of police questioning Davidson in which he blamed the murders on others. "Selling dope, that's what I do. I don't kill people."
Christian and Newsom were carjacked by several gun-wielding men during a Saturday night date as they left a friend's apartment. They were taken to Davidson's rental house, beaten, raped and killed over several hours.
A few days later, his naked, bound and shot body was found partially burned along some railroad tracks. Hers was found hog-tied and stuffed in a trash can in Davidson's house. She suffocated in the trash can.
Davidson, who moved to Knoxville after serving a prison sentence for carjacking in western Tennessee, was arrested within days in an abandoned house 10 minutes from the crime scene. Police found Newsom's silver athletic shoes in the house and a .22-caliber pistol.
The bullets were the same type that killed Newsom with an execution-style shot to the head, but forensic experts cannot say the pistol was the murder weapon, Eldridge said.
Davidson's brother Letalvis Cobbins was convicted in August of murder and related counts and sentenced to life in prison without parole. He testified during his trial that he participated in the carjacking and raped Christian but claimed he was going along with the crime out of fear of Davidson.
Another conspirator, Eric Boyd, was convicted in federal court of being an accessory after the fact and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Two others, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman, of Lebanon, Ky., are awaiting trial in state court on murder and related counts.
Do we now live in an Orwellian society where everyone is equal but some are more equal than others? This would certainly seem to be the case in America today where no insult, however minor, by a white towards a black goes unpunished, yet where gangs of drug addicted black thugs seem to believe they have an unquestioned right to rob, rape and murder whites. If the legal theory today is that crimes against a person of a different race should be punished by more severe sanctions in federal court, I would like to know the reason the federal courts refuse to hear this case, which is already a poster (see above) designed to stir racial hatred by whites against blacks.
One thing is for certain -- This story has legs. My humble little blog has received countless visits from people all over the world interested in what happened during those horrible days in Tennessee when two nice, attractive and innocent young people, a boy and girl, went on a date that ended in torture and death for the star crossed lovers.
EARLY NEWS REPORTS AND COMMENTARY:
CNN PRACTICES MAINSTREAM MEDIA SPIN CONTROL
RUSH LIMBAUGH: All right. New York Times today is trying to screw Afghanistan, much as the Kennedy administration attempted to screw South Vietnam. Let me explain this. New York Times story today: "'Brother of Afghan Leader Is Said to Be on CIA. Payroll' -- Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials. The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the CIA’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home. The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House. ... More broadly, some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful figure in a large area of southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, undermines the American push to develop an effective central government."
Now, it is very clear that the New York Times, somebody -- this has gotta come from the White House, the Obama administration -- is trying to make sure that Karzai loses this runoff election. You know, we got rid of Musharraf. This bunch took care of getting Musharraf out of Pakistan, and Pakistan is collapsing, had to get rid of Musharraf. Now they want to get rid of Karzai by saying his brother is on the CIA payroll. But there are two brothers of Hamid Karzai, Ahmed and Mahmoud, and they have both spoken to Gerald Posner who writes to the Daily Beast, and they have denied everything. There is no way, they say, we're not being paid by the CIA. This is totally made up. So they are vociferously denying it. I'll tell you, folks, this has a distinct similarity to what the Democrat administration back in the days did to South Vietnam's Diem.
Now, I'm sure a lot of you do not know this, and those of you who do, do not remember it. "On orders from US President John F. Kennedy, Henry Cabot Lodge, the American ambassador to South Vietnam, refused to meet with Diem. Upon hearing that a coup d'etat was being designed by ARVN generals led by General Duong Van Minh, the United States gave secret assurances to the generals that the US would not interfere. Duong Van Minh and his co-conspirators overthrew the government on November 1, 1963. The coup was very swift. On November 1, 1963, with only the palace guard remaining to defend President Diem and his younger brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, the generals called the palace offering Diem safe exile out of the country if he surrendered. However, that evening, Diem and his entourage escaped via an underground passage to Cholon, where they were captured the following morning, November 2. The brothers were executed in the back of an armored personnel carrier by Captain Nguyen Van Nhung while en route to the Vietnamese Joint General Staff headquarters."
Now, the point here, "Upon learning of Diem’s ouster and death, Ho Chi Minh is reported to have said, 'I can scarcely believe the Americans would be so stupid.' The North Vietnamese Politburo was more explicit, predicting: 'The consequences of the 1 November coup d’etat will be contrary to the calculations of the US imperialists ... Diem was one of the strongest individuals resisting the people and Communism. Everything that could be done in an attempt to crush the revolution was carried out by Diem." Now, after Diem's assassination, which we stood by and let happen because we thought we'd be better off with another guy in there, "South Vietnam was unable to establish a stable government and numerous coups took place during the first several years after his death. While the US continued to influence South Vietnam’s government, the assassination bolstered North Vietnamese attempts to characterize the South Vietnamese as supporters of colonialism," and it went a long way toward harming the south's efforts to get the people in the south on their side.
The whole debacle, the same thing is happening. We're going to throw Afghanistan under the bus, for some reason Karzai is not liked -- probably because he's Bush's guy -- by Obama.
Read the Background Material...
• Sweetness & Light: Dems/NYT Out Karzai's Brother As 'CIA'
• The Daily Beast: The Karzai Brothers Fight Back - Gerald Posner
• New York Times: Brother of Afghan Leader Is Said to Be on C.I.A. Payroll
President Obama has yet to make a decision about what to do in Afghanistan, but presidential aides are beginning to leak a likely scenario—and it still isn't a decision, really.
The president is faced with two options. General McChrystal's comprehensive counter-insurgency strategy focuses on protecting the civilian population so that they will be willing and able to give us the intelligence and support needed to root out the Taliban and keep them out while we focus on building a larger, more effective Afghan army and police force that can take over that job. By contrast, Vice-President Biden's so-called "counter-terrorism" strategy basically advocates abandoning the Afghan countryside to the Taliban, in favor of playing whack-a-mole with precision air strikes against al-Qaeda.
The new scenario doesn't really decide between these two options. It just splits the difference, providing enough troops to apply counter-insurgency principles (more or less) to Afghanistan's urban centers—but not enough to apply counter-insurgency to the countryside, which would be largely abandoned to the Taliban.
The worse part of this idea is the basic reasoning behind it: that victory is not really necessary in Afghanistan.
At the heart of this strategy is the conclusion that the United States cannot completely eradicate the insurgency in a nation where the Taliban is an indigenous force—nor does it need to in order to protect American national security. Instead, the focus would be on preventing Al Qaeda from returning in force while containing and weakening the Taliban long enough to build Afghan security forces that would eventually take over the mission.
This is being described as the "good enough" option, based on comments from Senator John Kerry—who has seemingly been promoted to Obama's shadow Secretary of State, because Hillary Clinton was too forceful in arguing for McChrystal's counter-insurgency campaign.
The irony is that this Obama-Kerry "good enough" strategy sounds a lot like the Rumsfeld-Casey strategy that was tried in Iraq from 2004 through 2006: do just enough to keep a lid on the insurgency, in the hope that eventually the political factions will reconcile or the local security forces will become more effective, and somehow things will get better.
But then again, this could all just be another trial balloon, since my lord Hamlet still hasn't made a decision.
The only good news is that Obama is proving equally ineffective on his main domestic policy priority.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced with great fanfare yesterday that the "public option" would be in the final Senate health-care legislation. As expected, moderate Senate Democrats led by Joe Lieberman rejected the idea today.
But Dick Morris offers an interesting speculation on the political calculation behind Reid's maneuver. He may be trying to introduce the public option, only to drop it in the final bill—then re-introduce it in the "conference committee" that will combine the Senate and House bills. The hope is that moderates who have been strung along to vote for the bill several times without the public option will vote for a final conference-committee version with the public option, rather than kill the bill.
Alternatively (and this sounds much more realistic to me), the strategy could be to focus everyone's attention on a battle over the public option—so that no one is arguing against all of the other awful things in the bill. That is a very dangerous strategy, because it just might work. As I have argued, the public option is not the essence of this bill. Its real essence is a campaign to destroy the private option, making private health insurance so unaffordable that people will eventually clamor for a government-run, government-subsidized plan as the only alternative.
In fact, a new study shows that these other provisions of the bill will cause private health insurance premiums to increase dramatically, as much as tripling in some locations.
So even a bill without the public option would be "good enough" by the Democrats' standards—good enough to destroy the free market and justify the further expansion of government power.
So my advice is: forget about the public option, and focus our efforts on fighting everything else in the Senate bill. Take, for example, the individual mandate, an unconstitutional attempt to impose a fine on every American for the simple fact of existing.
This battle is not over, and Reid's baroque parliamentary maneuvering indicates that his side is weak. They don't really have the public support to ram this thing through, and only a little extra push on our part could be enough to cause the whole campaign for greater government intervention in health-care to collapse.—RWT
Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at TIADaily.com. He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and contributor to The Freedom Fighters Journal.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The advantages of a strike over force are these:
1. A violent or forceful revolt, or civil war, requires the recruitment of young able-bodied "fighting" men, capable of dealing with both the physical and mental rigors of war and violence. The number of actual active participants is severely limited.
Virtually every producer can participate in a strike. No one has to simply "support" the revolution as a cheer-leading spectator, but can "actively" contribute to the revolution. No one needs to say, "but what can I do?" They can go on strike, and however limited their contribution is as a producer, it will be missed.
2. In a violent revolution, both sides suffer casualties, deaths and the destruction of property.
Because a strike is planned by the producers, they can make preparations to minimize any negative consequences of the revolt; and because they are producers, they are more likely to have the personal resources and competence to supply their own needs. The "sufferers" in this kind of revolt are those who need the producers, that is, the parasites. If there are deaths, or loss of property, it will be those who are incompetent and incapable of making plans, and unable to produce what they need who suffer and die.
3. A violent revolution requires some kind of organizing directing body, a, "chain of command," with some authority to direct the actions of the revolt. A strike is entirely voluntary requiring no authority—think of it as a "free-market" revolution.
4. Because there is no body of leaders or any individuals directing a strike, there is no one individual, or group of individuals, for the government to target. Even if the government thinks some leaders are directing the revolt, going after them will only increase the vehemence of the strike.
5. There is no way for the government to prevent or defend itself against a strike. There is no way to defend against people not acting. The government may try to pass laws, in order force some professions from "striking," but this will only make it more obvious the government views such individuals as "slaves of the state."
THE ARTICLE AND DISCUSSION AT FREE REPUBLIC
What a difference two weeks can make. Toward the end of an Oct. 14 conference call organized by David Keene of the American Conservative Union, congressional candidate Doug Hoffman plaintively asked, "Does anybody know how to get Glenn Beck interested in this?"
Monday afternoon, Hoffman was interviewed on Beck's popular Fox News program, evidence of the surging momentum the Conservative Party candidate has experienced in the three-way special election campaign in update New York's 23rd District.
In the past six days, Hoffman has been endorsed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, former National Republican Congressional Campaign chairmen John Linder and Tom Cole…
The complete list of Hoffman endorsers is a long one, and seems to include nearly every Republican except Newt Gingrich and Dede Scozzafava, the later of whom is Hoffman's opponent, and the former her only prominent supporter. According to the two most recent polls, the liberal Republican Scozzafava is now in third place, while Hoffman has pulled ahead of Democrat Bill Owens.
Both of those latest polls require a grain of salt because they were commissioned by organizations (Club for Growth and Minuteman PAC) that support Hoffman. Polls or no polls, however, there is a strong sense among observers that Hoffman may be on the verge of one of the biggest political upsets of recent years.
The amazing surge of support toward Hoffman is remarkable in several ways. His grassroots campaign pits him against both the Democratic and Republican national campaign machines in a district which, as liberal media have repeatedly emphasized, went 52 percent for President Obama just a year ago. Hoffman's evident success is even more amazing because the candidate himself gives new meaning to the phrase "not a professional politician."
Not only has the bespectacled businessman never sought public office before, but he is far from the ideal candidate in an age where voters expect soundbites delivered by telegenic smoothies. A certified public accountant, Hoffman's un-politician style was clearly evident in the low-key way he gave his laconic answers to Beck during Monday's interview.
"Well, I never thought I'd be in politics, but Glenn, quite frankly, I was fed up," Hoffman said. "I was fed up with what was happening to our country. I was fed up with the out-of-control spending, taxes, government regulations on us and business, and I thought somebody had to step up and do something about it."
His delivery was not slick, but Hoffman's message has clearly resonated with others who are "fed up," including Tea Party activists like Dana Loesch, who created a special blog called "Dump Dede" to protest against the way GOP insiders handpicked Scozzafava as the Republican nominee. Loesch's blog is part of a tide of online activism on Hoffman's behalf that indicates how far the conservative grassroots have come toward closing the "New Media" gap with their liberal counterparts, whose Internet edge helped power Democrat wins in the past two election cycles.
Chief among the online crusaders for the Hoffman campaign has been Erick Erickson of Red State. Long a mainstream figure among Republican bloggers, Erickson has bucked the GOP establishment in recent months, joining the protest against the National Republican Senatorial Committee's early endorsement of Gov. Charlie Crist in Florida's 2010 Senate primary.
Erickson's blog led a push for Hoffman that raised grassroots conservative awareness of the election to replace nine-term Republican Rep. John McHugh, recently confirmed as Obama's Secretary of the Army. With a congressional campaign compressed into five weeks -- New York Gov. David Paterson didn't officially call for the Nov. 3 election until late September -- major national media paid little attention. (It wasn't until Tuesday that the New York Times published its first major front-page article about the upstate contest.)
Less than a dozen conservative bloggers were on the Oct. 14 ACU conference call, but within days, the Hoffman campaign had suddenly "gone viral," as Internet gurus say. The fact that Palin's endorsement was announced on her Facebook page shows just how conservatives have adopted Web 2.0 technology -- and the staggering $116,000 in PayPal contributions generated that day demonstrates what a powerful tool online fundraising can be.
After that Thursday haul, Team Hoffman stopped announcing their fundraising totals -- a good indication that the campaign has overcome the financial crisis that had previously hampered its operation. Conservative volunteers answering the campaign's call for "boots on the ground" are reportedly streaming into the district to help push Hoffman toward the finish line.
No one at Hoffman HQ is counting their chickens yet, of course. The only televised debate to feature all three candidates is scheduled for Thursday, and Hoffman this week has been hit by TV attack ads from both the Democrats and Republicans.
Yet both the campaign staff and their grassroots supporters sense they may be approaching a victory as stunning as the U.S. hockey team's upset of the Soviets in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics for which Hoffman served as chief accountant. As the clock ticked down toward an American victory, ABC's Al Michaels excitedly shouted, "Do you believe in miracles?" before answering his own question with an emphatic, "Yes!"
The clock now ticks down toward Election Day in upstate New York, and the Hoffman campaign is hoping for a similarly miraculous answer.
Did somebody just throw Obama under the bus? Did Harry Reid just kill Obama's health-care bill in a desperate effort to save his own re-election campaign?
That's what it looks like. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just announced that he is including the "public option"—government-run health insurance—in the final Senate version of the health-care bill. But he made the announcement alone, not flanked by the moderate Senate Democrats whose support would actually be needed to pass such a bill. Which means it is highly unlikely Reid can actually get 60 votes, even if he relies only on Democrats.
So why put into the health-care bill a provision that will prevent its passage? As the Washington Post's Dana Milbank notes below, Reid faces the prospect of losing his re-election race next year, so he is backing the public option in a desperate attempt to recruit a base of fanatical support on the far left. He is calculating that even if he loses, he will be a hero to the left because he fought hard for socialized medicine.
Barack Obama is famous for "throwing people under the bus," betraying and disowning former friends and associates—even his own grandmother—when they become inconvenient to his political ambitions. He intended to throw Reid under the bus, too. Obama wanted to quietly let Congress drop the "public option" from the health-care bill, then deflect the disappointment of the far left by blaming Reid.
As one observer notes, Reid's decision "has left the White House, which was hoping Reid would be the fall guy for a bill with no public option, little choice but to smile through gritted teeth. But Reid saw his chance to get away from the speeding bus"—and to throw Obama under it, instead.
"Harry Reid, Shopping for Re-Election Insurance," Dana Milbank, Washington Post, October 27
The Senate majority leader, after haggling behind closed doors with members of his Democratic caucus, realized that he couldn't cobble together the 60 votes he needed to pass health-care legislation with a government-run health plan. So Reid chose another option: He shut down the private talks, booked the Senate TV studio and went public with his own proposal.
"I've concluded," he told the roomful of cameras and reporters, "that the best way to move forward is to include a public option."…
Monday's move made him an instant hero on the left….
Reid, facing a difficult reelection contest next year at home in Nevada, will need such groups to bring Democrats to the polls if he is to survive. But there were a few problems with the leader's solo move. He shifted the public pressure from himself to half a dozen moderates in his caucus. And he defied the Obama White House, which had hoped to keep a bipartisan patina on health-care reform by maintaining the support of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).
Then there was the small matter of lacking the votes to pass the public option. "Do you feel 100 percent sure right now that you have the 60 votes?" CNN's Dana Bash inquired. Reid looked down at the lectern. He looked up at the ceiling. He chuckled. He put his palms together as if in prayer. Then he spoke. "My caucus believes strongly there should be health-care reform" was the non sequitur he offered….
Of course, everybody knew that Reid didn't have the votes. That's why he was standing there alone, a Gang of One. As Democratic aides described it, the moment had less to do with health-care policy than with Nevada politics—and one vulnerable senator's justifiable fear of liberal anger. Now, if the public option unexpectedly survives in the Senate, Reid keeps his hero status on the left. If it fails, he at least gets credit for trying. By the Nobel committee's revised standards, his aspirations might even earn him the prizes in medicine and economics.
2. Tea Party Politics, Part 1
Harry Reid's attempt to curry favor with the far left is another example of the pressure pushing congressional Democrats to pass legislation that is unpopular with the broader public. They know they got elected thanks to the fanaticism of their far-left base, and they risk losing that support if they disappoint their base—as Republicans repeatedly did throughout the Bush years.
Thus, for example, see Massachusetts Senator Barney Frank's defensive response to far-left icon Ralph Nader, who pushes Frank to declare that Democrats are "trying on every front to increase the role of government."
The problem for Democrats is that the really strong political momentum this year is coming from the opposite direction: the "tea party" movement is a reaction against precisely these attempts to expand government. That movement will probably result in a massive electoral backlash against Democrats in the 2010 congressional elections.
But I have been predicting that the politics of the tea party movement will hit Republicans first—and that's happening a little bit earlier than I expected. I expected the tea party rebellion to be felt in Republican primaries early next year, as the grass roots rejects pragmatist incumbents and pro-big-government "moderates."
But that is already happening, in an extraordinary special election in New York's 23rd congressional district.
Local Republican leaders selected squishy moderate Dede Scozzafava, who was then backed by the national Republican establishment. But Scozzafava began to lose support to the grassroots campaign of a much more conservative third-party challenger, Doug Hoffman. Then, in the last week, Hoffman got the endorsements of a string of (more or less) pro-small government conservative celebrities—Steve Forbes, Fred Thompson, Sarah Palin.
At first, this grass-roots uprising split the Republican vote and put the Democratic candidate in the lead. But the latest polls show Scozzafava collapsing and Hoffman taking the lead.
In NY-23, the Republican establishment has been put on notice that it dare not put forward squishy, pro-big-government "moderates"—or it will face the wrath of the tea party movement.
"New York Race at Epicenter of a GOP Mutiny," Janet Hook, Los Angeles Times, October 27
Johnson and many other conservatives want to use a Nov. 3 special election to teach the GOP a lesson about sticking to conservative values—even though that lesson could mean the party loses a House seat it has held for decades. The conservatives are backing a third-party candidate, splitting the Republican vote and giving the Democrat a lead in some recent opinion polls.
"Both parties seem to be more for big government," said Johnson, a probation clerk in Fulton, NY. "The Republicans need to learn that the people they are running [for office] do not represent the views of the people."
The conservative rebellion in northern New York is showing that the anger among disaffected voters, which became prominent this summer during the "tea party" anti-spending rally in Washington and at town hall meetings on healthcare, has become a baffling political force that even Republicans are having a hard time harnessing….
The party establishment has tended to choose middle-of-the-road candidates, like moderate Gov. Charlie Crist in Florida. But conservatives have responded by raising money and building up the candidacy of conservative Marco Rubio, former speaker of the Florida House.
For now, major GOP figures are using New York's special House election to send a signal that they want the party to turn toward the right.
Palin herself has rebuffed the Republican candidate, who was hand-picked by local GOP leaders and who supports abortion rights and gay marriage. Instead, Palin has endorsed the conservative alternative, Doug Hoffman. So have former House Republican leader Dick Armey of Texas and former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes….
[P]olls indicate that dwindling enthusiasm for Obama and his policies is not translating readily into increased support for the GOP.
Recent surveys show Republican Party identification dropping this year, even as the share of Americans who say they are independent has jumped.
In another greatly watched 2009 political campaign, for governor of New Jersey, a wide swath of alienated voters is turning away from both political parties: An independent candidate is showing surprising strength against Democratic incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine and his Republican opponent, Chris Christie.
3. Tea Party Politics, Part 2
The tea party movement is turning out to be the voice of a broader shift to the right, as revealed in a new Gallup poll that shows political independents shifting against Obama and the Democrats.
There is always a backlash any time the political system swings in any given direction, but as Byron York notes below, the speed of this shift back to the right is unusual. In my view, this implies that it is not accurate to describe this is a shift to the right.
Previous polls have shown that the American people have steadily remained right of center in their basic convictions—a fact that was merely masked for the past three years by voters' dissatisfaction with Bush's initial failure in Iraq and with the runaway spending of congressional Republicans.
The irony—whether it is more tragic or amusing remains to be seen—is that this is precisely the opposite of the calculation made by congressional Democrats and the Obama administration. They really believed that the American people had shifted far to the left, and that miscalculation is causing them to charge over a cliff, all the while thinking they are on solid ground.
"Obama's Big Change: He Moves America to the Right," Byron York, Washington Examiner, October 27
As promised, Barack Obama is bringing change to America. He's making it more Republican.
It's not that more people are actually becoming Republicans or calling themselves Republicans—the number of voters who formally identify with the party is at its lowest point in years. But we appear to be in the early stages of a shift in which political independents, people who not too long ago were sick of Republicans, are now leaning toward GOP positions on some key issues….
For example, in a private poll done recently for the House GOP leadership, voters were asked whether they think the economic stimulus package is working. The two parties were on opposite sides of the question—60 percent of Democrats said the stimulus is working, and 79 percent of Republicans said it's not. But among independents, 57 percent said the stimulus is not working—a number much closer to the Republican than the Democratic position.
When you look at public attitudes toward the budget, health care, the environment, and other top issues, you see a similar picture: Republicans and Democrats are on either end of the spectrum, but independents aren't exactly in the middle. They're leaning a little bit right….
On a related issue, the Gallup organization is finding a new trend toward conservatism…. The change is entirely attributable to movement among independents….
It's no surprise that opinion moves back and forth. What is surprising is that it is starting so quickly. Not very long ago, we heard pundits tell us that our politics had changed, that we were entering an age of Obama, that the sun had set on the Republicans' cherished notion of America as a center-right country.
It turns out America is a center-right country after all. It was just tired of George Bush and the GOP leadership.
4. The Failure of "Too Big to Fail"
Congressional Democrats are currently working on a whole string of regulations on financial institutions, on the rationale that the government has to protect itself from the liability it incurs when it comes in to bail them out later on.
But of course, the actual solution is not to bail them out—a policy which would, in fact, strongly discourage much of the risk-taking behavior that caused the recent financial crisis. Forced to raise money from the private markets without any implicit or explicit guarantee of government backing, financial institutions would have to place a higher emphasis on the safety and caution of their investments.
That argument is now starting to make some traction, thanks in part to Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, who points to the "moral hazard" that causes the failure of the doctrine of "too big to fail."
"Mervyn King's Wisdom," Wall Street Journal, October 23
As the US political class blames banker pay for the panic, we'd like to salute Bank of England Governor Mervyn King for speaking a larger truth….
One can disagree with Governor King's contention Tuesday that the banking system, and the economy, would be better served by a stricter division between investment banking and commercial or retail banking. But more important than Mr. King's solution was his diagnosis of the problem, which shows more understanding of what caused last year's panic than the usual pabulum about bonuses.
"Why," Mr. King asked, "were banks willing to take risks that proved so damaging both to themselves and the rest of the economy?" His answer: "One of the key reasons...is that the incentives to manage risk and to increase leverage were distorted by the implicit support or guarantee provided by government to creditors of banks that were seen as 'too important to fail.'" Politicians—and US Federal Reserve Chairmen—hate hearing that it was their subsidies for credit and for the biggest banks that contributed to the problem.
Mr. King wasn't done: "Such banks could raise funding more cheaply and expand faster than other institutions. They had less incentive than others to guard against tail risk. Banks and their creditors knew that if they were sufficiently important to the economy or the rest of the financial system, and things went wrong, the government would always stand behind them." He concluded: "And they were right."
5. Iran's Intifada
A few weeks ago, Jack Wakeland sent me some links about a potential new terrorist campaign being incited among Palestinians in Jerusalem. Now that this incitement seems to be resulting in a broader, extended prelude to a new Palestinian uprising, I thought I should pass on Jack's earlier comments, along with the updated AP report linked to and excerpted below. Jack wrote:
"The Palestinian Authority has been inciting riots at the Temple Mount to 'defend' the al Aqsa mosque. This is more than a one-weekend stunt, but it is too early to tell if it is going to fizzle out by the end of the month.
"It looks like the Fatah-dominated PA on the West Bank is either trying in earnest to relight the Al-Aqsa Intifada or they're toying around with the idea in order to appropriate credit for leading it, just in case it does start up.
"It is possible the whole thing is the brain child of Islamists in Iran and Syria who are attempting to incite an intifada against Israel from Damascus and Tehran.
"If any of these forces succeed and expand this campaign of little riots at Jerusalem's Temple Mount, mobs of stone-throwing youths may be joined by suicide bombers, Hezbollah rocket barrages, Hamas tunnel mines, and some kind of barbaric action launched from outside southern Lebanon and the Palestinian territories—action sponsored by Iran."
But don't worry, because Barack Obama just won the Nobel Peace Prize.
"Israeli Police Storm Jerusalem Holy Site," AP via MSNBC, October 25
Israeli police firing stun grenades faced off Sunday against masked Palestinian protesters hurling stones and plastic chairs outside the Holy Land's most volatile shrine, where past violence has escalated into prolonged conflict.
A wall of Israeli riot police behind plexiglass shields marched toward young men covering their faces with T-shirts and scarves, sending many of them running for cover into the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of the Islamic structures in the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary….
Sunday's disturbances were rooted in calls from Muslim leaders for their followers to protect the Islamic sites from what they said were Israeli plots to damage them or let Jews pray in the compound…. Israel has controlled the site since 1967, but has left day-to-day administration in the hands of a Muslim clerical body, the Waqf. Israelis and tourists can visit the compound at certain times, but only Muslims are permitted to pray there.
6. Friend of Tyrants
Regular readers of TIA Daily will notice that I never refer to leftists as "liberals," because today's left doesn't earn any part of that term. "Liberal" comes from the Latin word for freedom, and the old-fashioned liberals of the pre-Vietnam, pre-New Left era—there were still a significant number of them left when I was young—still had the distinction of opposing Soviet tyranny and often speaking eloquently against dictatorship. They stood for freedom to that extent, even if they wanted to expand government at home.
But the contemporary leftist is an outright friend of dictatorship, and there is no better example of this than Barack Obama. As Bret Stephens notes below, President Obama's record in foreign policy shows an unmistakable trend of aid and support for every dictatorship on earth. It represents a funeral for the old liberalism—and it is a frightening indication of how little Obama must value our liberties here at home.
"Does Obama Believe in Human Rights?" Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, October 19
To this day, the fall of the Berlin Wall on the night of Nov. 9, 1989, remains a high-water mark in the march of human freedom. It's a march to which candidate Obama paid rich (if solipsistic) tribute in last year's big Berlin speech. "At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning—his dream—required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West," waxed Mr. Obama to the assembled thousands. "This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom."
Those were the words. What's been the record?
In February, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Beijing with a conciliating message about the country's human-rights record. "Our pressing on those [human-rights] issues can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis," she said.
In fact, there has been no pressing whatsoever on human rights….
Yesterday, the State Department rolled out its new policy toward Sudan, based on "a menu of incentives and disincentives" for the genocidal Sudanese government of Omar Bashir. It's the kind of menu Mr. Bashir will languidly pick his way through till he dies comfortably in his bed….
Earlier this year, the State Department denied a grant request for New Haven, Conn.-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. The Center maintains perhaps the most extensive record anywhere of Iran's 30-year history of brutality. The grant denial was part of a pattern: The administration also abruptly ended funding for Freedom House's Gozaar project, an online Farsi- and English-language forum for discussing political issues….
It also takes a remarkable degree of cynicism—or perhaps cowardice—to treat human rights as something that "interferes" with America's purposes in the world, rather than as the very thing that ought to define them. Yet that is exactly the record of Mr. Obama's time thus far in office.
Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at TIADaily.com. He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and contributor to The Freedom Fighters Journal.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Conservatives (Patriots) Maintain Edge as Top Ideological Group
Conservatives continue to outnumber moderates and liberals in the American populace in 2009, confirming a finding that Gallup first noted in June. Forty percent of Americans describe their political views as conservative, 36% as moderate, and 20% as liberal. This marks a shift from 2005 through 2008, when moderates were tied with conservatives as the most prevalent group.
It’s a nine-percent bump in the two weeks since Anita Dunn’s whine heard ’round the world — in terms of overall audience. Among the coveted 25-54 demographic? A 14-percent bump. Good work, Barry. People keep telling me that this PR offensive by the White House benefits both sides but I don’t see how that’s true. If the goal is to contain Fox by framing the stories it breaks — Van Jones, ACORN, etc — as somehow illegitimate, then every tenth of a point that Fox’s ratings go up undermines that goal. There will come a point where other news nets will follow Fox’s lead simply for business reasons, ideology or no ideology; follow the link, eyeball the list of top 20 news shows, and ask yourself how far we are from that point, really. To put it in perspective: “Red Eye,” at 3 a.m., is beating Campbell Brown at 8 p.m. on CNN in the demo. (Worse, perhaps: Anderson Cooper is getting beat by … re-runs of Nancy Grace.) CNN’s made a noble attempt at semi-objective coverage in primetime while FNC and MSNBC resort to bombthrowers, but this experiment must be near its end. I wonder what they’ll end up putting in the 8 p.m. slot. Some sort of updated version of “Crossfire,” perhaps, with a new, younger, edgier cast? Andrea Tantaros versus Meghan McCain on a nightly basis? I’d watch.
Here’s a quote to ponder. Remember, when they say “last,” they mean out of four networks — CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and Headline News. Quote: “The only CNN show from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. that did not finish last was Larry King, which was third, ahead of the new Joy Behar show on HLN.” Exit question one: How long before CNN’s getting beat by Joy Behar? Exit question two: Glenn Beck is number two in cable news — at 5 p.m. How long before Ailes moves him to primetime?
Hoffman Surges Into Lead in NY-23
New CFG Poll shows Hoffman 31.3%, Owens 27.0%, Scozzafava 19.7%
Washington - A poll released today by the Club for Growth shows Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman surging into the lead in the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district to replace John McHugh, the former congressman who recently became Secretary of the Army.
The poll of 300 likely voters, conducted October 24-25, 2009, shows Conservative Doug Hoffman at 31.3%, Democrat Bill Owens at 27.0%, Republican Dede Scozzafava at 19.7%, and 22% undecided. The poll's margin of error is +/- 5.66%. No information was provided about any of the candidates prior to the ballot question.
This is the third poll done for the Club for Growth in the NY-23 special election, and Doug Hoffman is the only candidate to show an increase in his support levels in each successive poll. The momentum in the race is clearly with Hoffman.
"Hoffman now has a wide lead among both Republicans and Independents, while Owens has a wide lead among Democrats. Dede Scozzafava's support continues to collapse, making this essentially a two-candidate race between Hoffman and Owens in the final week," concluded Basswood Research's pollster Jon Lerner, who conducted the poll for the Club.
As I put it recently, the big message of Obama's two months (and counting) of dithering on Afghanistan is that the office of commander-in-chief is empty. So is the position of "leader of the free world," the unofficial but indispensable role served by American presidents since 1948.
Instead, Barack Obama is turning out to be the follower of the free world. He has delayed so long in making a decision on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan that our European allies are trying to push him into it. European defense ministers just held a meeting to hear from General McChrystal, to endorse his plan for Afghanistan—and to convey that endorsement to our Secretary of Defense.
Heck, even the main Afghan opposition candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, has endorsed the Afghan "surge." Abdullah will be Hamid Karzai's opponent in a run-off election, and he looks to be a very acceptable alternative—a preferable one, actually, from the standpoint of counterinsurgency, since he has greater legitimacy than Karzai, who has come to be associated with official corruption and election fraud.
What Obama is ensuring is that, even if he ends up making the right decision on Afghanistan and committing the forces we need, he will get no credit for it. He will look like he was forced into it by political opponents and by our allies. The decision—which will be Obama's only good decision so far, if he makes it—will look like what it is: the second-handed reaction of an empty suit.
"NATO Ministers Endorse Wider Afghan Effort," Thom Shanker and Mark Landler, New York Times, October 23
Defense ministers from NATO on Friday endorsed the ambitious counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan proposed by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, giving new impetus to his recommendation to pour more troops into the eight-year-old war.
General McChrystal, the senior American and allied commander in Afghanistan, made an unannounced appearance here on Friday to brief the defense ministers on his strategic review of a war in which the American-led campaign has lost momentum to a tenacious Taliban insurgency….
The acceptance by NATO defense ministers of General McChrystal's approach did not include a decision on new troops, and it was not clear that their judgment would translate into increased willingness by their governments, many of which have been seeking to reduce their military presence in Afghanistan, to contribute further forces to the war.
But it was another in a series of judgments that success there could not be achieved by a narrower effort that did not increase troop levels in Afghanistan substantially and focused more on capturing and killing terrorists linked to Al Qaeda—a counterterrorism strategy identified with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr....
NATO's support got no official reaction from the White House. But an administration official noted that an endorsement by defense ministers was not the same as an endorsement by the alliance's political leadership. Other officials were emphatic that Mr. Obama would not be stampeded in his deliberations and suggested that the NATO statement should not be taken as evidence that the White House had made a decision about how to proceed….
NATO officials assessing the potential for allied troop contributions said that delicate negotiations were under way, and that NATO capitals were watching the Obama administration for signals even while they sent signals of their own.
2. "Crimes That Would Make the Shah Look Good"
Jack Wakeland just sent me a collection of links to articles like this one (on an American military official's statement that the US would join an Israeli air assault on Iran's nuclear program), which he describes as "more useless—but amusing—speculation about an air campaign against Iran that Obama won't ever approve."
Jack and I used to take this kind of report seriously, before President Bush blinked on Iran in the summer of 2006. Then we took them semi-seriously—until President Obama took office. But it is now clear what is actually happening with all of these rumors and speculations. Jack describes it well:
What is actually going on here is a dance—a confused and uncoordinated pose-off—in which Israel and the West are attempting to establish nuclear deterrence against Iran, and Iran is attempting to establish as much power and standing as it can from its impending nuclear threats.
The US is technologically and politically limiting Israel's capacity to act against Iran independently so as to maintain control over the West's half of the situation, but it is doing so in a totally uncoordinated fashion that undermines the West's deterrent posture every two months, requiring that posture to be bucked up by radical statements from the White House, Foggy Bottom, and the Pentagon, as well as from Tel Aviv—statements that then have to be partially withdrawn and corrected so that Iran doesn't think an attack is already underway.
A new Cold War, complete with a nuclear standoff, is already well underway. This Cold War dance of threats and counter-threats started in earnest back in the spring of 2006.
But the overall picture, as Jack has argued recently, is that the Obama administration is actively abetting Iran's nuclear program by endorsing a Russian offer that would help Iran overcome a technical hurdle by removing contaminants from their low-enriched uranium. Here is how he put it last week:
In my October 15 column for TIA Daily, I noted that the Russians would return the highly enriched fuel back to Iran in the form of uranium oxide. It turns out the Russian-purified and Russian-enriched fuel is metallic fuel for Iran's little medical isotope reactor.
So not only will the 19.75% enriched uranium get Iran past a chemical stumbling block they haven't been able to resolve in their uranium bomb program; it will get them metallic fuel that can be converted back to highly purified uranium hexafluoride gas very, very easily.
I was happy to see this passage from TIA Daily picked up by Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post (thanks to TIA Daily reader James Grabowsky for catching this), and also to see that the same point has been figured out elsewhere. The Wall Street Journal notes:
"With 19.75 enriched feed"—as opposed to the 3.5% that Iran now manages—"the level of effort or time Iran would need to make weapons grade uranium would drop very significantly," from roughly five months today "down to something slightly less than four weeks," says Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.
Iran may also welcome the Russian-enriched uranium because its own technology is less advanced. The October 8 edition of the trade journal Nucleonics Week reports that Iran's low-enriched uranium appears to have "impurities" that "could cause centrifuges to fail" if Iran itself tried to enrich uranium to weapons-grade—which would mean above 20% and ideally up to 90%. In this scenario, the West would be decontaminating the uranium for Iran.
So that means our only hope for stopping Iran is that the regime will collapse from within. And there the news has not been good. The regime seems to have been able, so far, to suppress the opposition—though at the cost of putting itself in a state of permanent warfare against its own population. This temporary victory has been achieved by brutality—most recently the death sentences handed down against dissidents.
But the opposition has not disappeared, and since this is a new Cold War, there will be new dissidents—people so convinced of the evil of the regime they are facing that they will speak out against it whatever the personal cost. The New York Times article below profiles one such person, Mehdi Karroubi, who seems to have taken over from Mir Hossein Moussavi as the leading voice of the Iranian opposition.
"A Lone Cleric Is Loudly Defying Iran's Leaders," Michael Slackman, New York Times, October 22
Once a second-tier opposition figure operating in the shadow of Mir Hussein Moussavi, his fellow challenger in Iran's discredited presidential election in June, Mr. Karroubi has emerged in recent months as the last and most defiant opponent of the country's leadership….
[F]or all its success at preserving authority, the government has been unable to silence or intimidate Mr. Karroubi, its most tenacious and, in many ways, most problematic critic. While other opposition figures, including Mr. Moussavi and two former presidents, Mohammad Khatami and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, are seldom heard now, Mr. Karroubi has been unsparing and highly vocal in his criticism of the government, which he feels has lost all legitimacy.
Last week, a special court for the clergy began to consider whether Mr. Karroubi, 72, should face charges.…
"His potential arrest is an acid test of the internal meltdown of the upper echelon of the regime and the final breakdown in its legitimacy facade," said Hamid Dabashi, a professor of Iranian studies at Columbia University. "We had heard that revolutions eat their own children, but his seems to be a case of revolutionary parricide."…
After the overthrow of the shah, Ayatollah Khomeini put Mr. Karroubi in charge of the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee and the Martyrs Foundation, two of the nation's most important and wealthiest institutions. He also served twice as speaker of Parliament, where he earned a reputation as a conciliator; served on the powerful Expediency Council; and was appointed adviser to the subsequent supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei….
If Mr. Karroubi had restricted his complaints to the vote tally, he might have been ignored. But he has gone far beyond that with his accusations that state security officers raped, sodomized and tortured men and women who were arrested for taking part in the protests. The allegations have unnerved the leadership, threatening its legitimacy and religious standing far more than images of the police beating protesters in the streets.
After the government dismissed those allegations last month, Mr. Karroubi was summoned to appear before a three-judge panel investigating his actions. He welcomed the invitation. "It will be a good opportunity for me to talk again about crimes that would make the shah look good," he said, according to the Green Freedom Wave Web site.
3. State-Owned Media
Barack Obama has no interest in confronting America's enemies abroad—but his administration has declared war against Fox News Channel, with Obama's top aides describing it as "not really a news station" and trying to flatter and cajole other news organization into ignoring stories that originate with Fox.
Why? Because Fox has gotten the scoop on all of the scandals involving Communists and other unsavory types within the administration, as well as the criminal activities of ACORN, Barack Obama's old "community organizer" racket.
Charles Krauthammer describes the overall meaning of this despicable, illiberal campaign to destroy the opposition press. But he doesn't name a point made by blogger Donald Sensing: the target of this campaign is not Fox News—it's the entire press corps. In attempting to block out his most effective critic, Obama is sending the message to other news organizations that they had better fall in with the party line and stay "in the tank" for Obama.
So far, fortunately, it's not working. The other big news organizations have apparently figured out what's at stake and have made a notable attempt to resist Obama's blacklisting of Fox News. The administration made its "pay czar" available to the White House press pool—a consortium of the big three broadcast networks and the big two cable news channels, CNN and Fox—but then tried to block Fox's reporter from the interview. The other networks refused, and the White House backed down.
As Jennifer Rubin points out, all of this, combined with further administration whining about how they are just trying to "clean up someone else's mess" and can't be held responsible for anything, makes the administration look small, petty, weak—and scared.
But there is a very serious issue behind all of this. Seth Lipsky, publisher of the late and very much lamented New York Sun, warns about a campaign to provide government subsidies for failing newspapers. President Obama is already trying to treat a free and independent press as if it were the state-owned media of a banana republic. It will get even worse if that media actually does become state-subsidized.
"Fox Wars," Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, October 23
The White House has declared war on Fox News. White House communications director Anita Dunn said that Fox is "opinion journalism masquerading as news." Patting rival networks on the head for their authenticity (read: docility), senior adviser David Axelrod declared Fox "not really a news station." And Chief of Staff Emanuel told (warned?) the other networks not to "be led [by] and following Fox."
Meaning? If Fox runs a story critical of the administration—from exposing "green jobs" czar Van Jones as a loony 9/11 "truther" to exhaustively examining the mathematical chicanery and hidden loopholes in proposed health-care legislation—the other news organizations should think twice before following the lead….
At first, there was little reaction from other media. Then on Thursday, the administration tried to make them complicit in an actual boycott of Fox. The Treasury Department made available Ken Feinberg, the executive pay czar, for interviews with the White House "pool" news organizations—except Fox. The other networks admirably refused, saying they would not interview Feinberg unless Fox was permitted to as well. The administration backed down.
This was an important defeat because there's a principle at stake here. While government can and should debate and criticize opposition voices, the current White House goes beyond that. It wants to delegitimize any significant dissent. The objective is no secret. White House aides openly told Politico that they're engaged in a deliberate campaign to marginalize and ostracize recalcitrants, from Fox to health insurers to the US Chamber of Commerce.
4. "The Brains of the Machine"
The administration's attempt to dictate what is and is not a legitimate news organization is just part—the most ominous part—of the overall dictatorial feel of this administration. The other big part is the extent to which this administration is using the bailouts and the stimulus as a tool to reach into private businesses and control every little detail of their management.
The latest example is a decree from the federal "pay czar" dictating the salaries of all the top talent at firms that have received federal bailout funds—coordinated with an announcement by the Federal Reserve that its regulators will be dictating executive compensation at all financial institutions, even if they didn't take government money.
An article in the Wall Street Journal notes that previous government intervention in executive compensation helped create the very problems the new regulations are supposed to solve, while the article below describes the predictable consequence of arbitrary limits on executive pay: a "brain drain" from the financial industry as top talent goes where it will be rewarded.
But note the scariest sentence in the report below: "Feinberg did say exceptions were made 'where necessary to retain talent and protect taxpayer interests.'" So there will be strict limits on corporate pay—except for those the "pay czar" considers to be special exceptions. The new Fed regulations are similarly arbitrary.
Consider the potential for political manipulation: if you take orders from the White House and go along with its agenda—backing Obama's health-care bill, for example, or withdrawing from the Chamber of Commerce when it opposes cap-and-trade—then maybe you will be considered an exception, and it will be in the "public interest" to pay you a higher salary. Do something the administration doesn't like—say, advertising on Fox News Channel—and you can guarantee that the rules will be applied against you in their most draconian form.
This is what economic dictatorship on the fascist model—businesses are nominally private but are actually controlled by the state—looks like.
"Limits on Exec Pay Cause Worries of Brain Drain," Rachel Beck, AP via MSNBC, October 22
The Obama administration's decision to cut the pay of top executives at companies on taxpayer life support will help quiet the popular outrage over excessive compensation. But it introduces a new concern: brain drain.
The 175 executives targeted by "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg are not only the highest-paid but also considered among the most talented and productive. And competitors outside the restrictions are likely to woo them, recruiters and compensation expects say.
Losses like that could be devastating to the very companies the government spent so much money to save.
"These people are considered the brains of the machine. They are who can pull you through the tough times," said Steven Hall, who runs an executive compensation firm that bears his name. "This will give them reason to leave."
Feinberg announced Thursday that he has ordered seven companies that have received billions of dollars in taxpayer money to slash the base salaries of their top executives by an average of 90 percent and cut total compensation—cash, stock and perks—in half.
That applies to the five top executives and the next 20 highest-paid employees at Bank of America Corp., American International Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., General Motors, GMAC, Chrysler and Chrysler Financial….
Those facing pay restrictions outside the executive suite hold leadership positions in areas like finance and investment banking at the banks, and in manufacturing, brand management and design at the auto companies….
Feinberg will limit cash salaries to $500,000. Executives who had been guaranteed certain compensation will have those payments made in company stock to be held over the long term….
Feinberg did say exceptions were made "where necessary to retain talent and protect taxpayer interests."
5. The Health-Care Horse Race
We're in an odd gray zone right now in the struggle over Obama's health-care bill. The public clearly opposes the bill—yet it is still making its way, inch by inch, through Congress. Why?
The tea party protests and town hall uprisings of the summer have subsided, not because they were ineffectual, but because they have already had their main impact. They galvanized opposition on the pro-free-market, "small government" right and among persuadable independents, which is what flipped the poll numbers against ObamaCare.
But that won't move many Democrats in Congress, who come from left-leaning districts or who were elected through the grass-roots effort of leftist activists. These members of Congress are just as afraid that their leftist backers will turn against them, costing them the support of their "base." So they are actually mounting an effort to push the bill further to the left, resurrecting the "public option" of government-run health insurance.
Nancy Pelosi has already tried to get the votes for this option in the House and failed—but rather than giving up, she is now trying harder, and Majority Leader Harry Reid is also pushing for the "public option" in the Senate.
I tend to agree with the article below, however, that this resurrection of the public option indicates desperation rather than some kind of unstoppable momentum. The article below does a good job of showing the inescapable, relentless mathematics that could kill any version of ObamaCare. Congress doesn't have the guts to imposes the taxes (directly or indirectly) to pay for a government takeover of health care—but they can't hide the costs, either.
What will break the current pattern? I agree with Dick Morris's analysis: the public currently opposes ObamaCare, but not by a big enough margin to stop it cold in Congress. If public support drops by another 5 to 10 percentage points, the bill will die. And Morris identifies the most likely target audience to achieve that goal: uninformed young people who will bear the fines and taxes to pay for ObamaCare—that is, the victims of the bill's ruthless mathematics.
"Public Option Revival Not a Sign of Strength," Chris Stirewalt, Washington Examiner, October 26
[W]hile it may be cause to raise a glass of carbon-neutral pinot noir in Berkeley and on the Upper West Side, the renewed talk of a government-run insurance program is a sign of weakness, not strength, for President Obama's health plan.
The president and his team have put the insurance industry at the top of their ever-lengthening list of enemies and are now threatening to cut them out of the great health care takeover.
But the plan until recently was to turn the health insurance industry into a public utility: Americans would have no choice but to buy their products, but the feds would set rates and coverage rules….
As the legislation was being brewed up, though, lawmakers flinched at imposing coercive fines for failing to buy insurance.
Trouble is, as long as it's substantially cheaper to pay the fine than buy insurance, millions will still choose to roll the dice on their good health. Plus, if insurance companies will be forced to accept people with pre-existing conditions, why not wait until you get sick to start paying?
A weak mandate means higher premiums for responsible customers and takes coverage out of reach of millions more middle-class families.
One way around the problems caused by low fines is to put additional billions into subsidies. Rather than offering free coverage for a family of three that earns $40,000 a year, make the threshold $60,000.
It's just that doing so would drive costs into the stratosphere….
As they run out of options, the president and majority leader are trying old ingredients in different proportions.
But the votes are not there in the Senate, and maybe not even the House, for a public option strong enough to really stick it to the insurance industry.
6. Intellectual Climate Change
A much as I am outraged by this administration's attempts to "control" news reporting and the public debate, I also think Obama's people are deluding themselves if they believe they actually have the power to do it.
The health-care debate was a good example. Over the summer, the more the president talked about his health-care bill, the more people hated it—despite the efforts of the lapdog media, including an ABC News propaganda special broadcast from within the White House.
And there has been no cultural propaganda campaign more uniform and far-reaching than the global-warming campaign—yet the latest polls, reported below, show a drop in the public's acceptance of global warming claims.
Note specifically that the number of people who believe global warming is caused by human activity has fallen to 35%. And while it may seem odd that support for "cap-and-trade" energy rationing is still above 50%, note that this high approval is among people who largely say that they know nothing about the legislation. Those who describe themselves as knowing "a lot" about cap-and-trade oppose it by a two-to-one margin.
This is the power of a free society in which the truth can still get a hearing, no matter how much would-be tyrants want to declare that the debate is over.
" Fewer Americans See Solid Evidence of Global Warming," The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, October 22
There has been a sharp decline over the past year in the percentage of Americans who say there is solid evidence that global temperatures are rising. And fewer also see global warming as a very serious problem–35% say that today, down from 44% in April 2008.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 4 among 1,500 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, finds that 57% think there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades. In April 2008, 71% said there was solid evidence of rising global temperatures.
Over the same period, there has been a comparable decline in the proportion of Americans who say global temperatures are rising as a result of human activity, such as burning fossil fuels. Just 36% say that currently, down from 47% last year.
The decline in the belief in solid evidence of global warming has come across the political spectrum, but has been particularly pronounced among independents. Just 53% of independents now see solid evidence of global warming, compared with 75% who did so in April 2008. Republicans, who already were highly skeptical of the evidence of global warming, have become even more so: just 35% of Republicans now see solid evidence of rising global temperatures, down from 49% in 2008 and 62% in 2007. Fewer Democrats also express this view–75% today compared with 83% last year.
Despite the growing public skepticism about global warming, the survey finds more support than opposition for a policy to set limits on carbon emissions…. Just 14% say they have heard a lot about the so-called "cap and trade" policy that would set carbon dioxide emissions limits; another 30% say they have heard a little about the policy, while a majority (55%) has heard nothing at all.
The small minority that has heard a lot about the issue opposes carbon emissions limits by two-to-one (64% to 32%).
Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at TIADaily.com. He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and contributor to The Freedom Fighters Journal.