Thursday, October 8, 2009

Political Digest October 8, 2009

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Obama and the General (A Must-Read!)
The White House finds a four-star scapegoat for its Afghan jitters.
Excerpt: Democrats have found someone worth fighting in Afghanistan. His name is Stan McChrystal. The other night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went after the commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, "with all due respect," for supposedly disrespecting the chain of command. Around the Congressional Democratic Caucus, we're told Members refer to General McChrystal as "General MacArthur," after the commander in Korea sacked by Harry Truman. White House aides have fanned these flames with recent leaks to the media that "officials are challenging" his assessment asking for more troops. In the last two days, the White House National Security Adviser and the Secretary of Defense have both suggested that the general should keep his mouth shut. President Obama called him in Friday for a talking-to on the tarmac at Copenhagen airport. Though a decorated Army four-star officer, the General's introduction to Beltway warfare is proving to be brutal. To be fair, Gen. McChrystal couldn't know that his Commander in Chief would go wobbly so soon on his commitment to him as well as to his own Afghan strategy when he was tapped for the job in AprilWe're told by people who know him that Gen. McChrystal "feels terrible" and "had no intention whatsoever of trying to lobby and influence" the Administration. His sense of bewilderment makes perfect sense anywhere but in the political battlefield of Washington. He was, after all, following orders. Recall that in March Mr. Obama unveiled his "comprehensive new strategy . . . to reverse the Taliban's gains and promote a more capable and accountable Afghan government." The Commander in Chief pledged to properly resource this "war of necessity," which he also called during the 2008 campaign "the central front on terror." The President then sacked his war commander, who had been chosen by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in favor of Gen. McChrystal, an expert in counterinsurgency….Then Gen. McChrystal gave a speech last Thursday before the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London. It was scheduled and approved by the Pentagon weeks before the Afghan political jitters seized official Washington. The General was hardly incendiary….No commander in uniform should ask his soldiers to die for a strategy he doesn't think is winnable—or for a President who lets his advisers and party blame a general for their own lack of political nerve. (Awkward choice for a scapegoat, since Obama picked him, but it looks to me like McC is toast.)

As Obama Faces Afghanistan Decision, Old Debates - and Dangers – Reemerge
Excerpt: The debate, a defining moment for Obama, will take center stage in Washington again on Tuesday. The president's agenda includes a meeting with more than two dozen congressional leaders from both parties to discuss the war strategy. The group includes his rival from 2008, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the most prominent advocate for sending more troops, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who speaks for a liberal wing of her and Obama's party that is increasingly worried about increasing forces there. Vice President Biden, who has argued against accepting outright the recommendation for more troops from Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the Afghanistan commander, will be at the meeting with congressional leaders. His schedule Tuesday included a breakfast with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Richard Holbrooke, the administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many more meetings could follow before Obama makes a decision. (Then he sent for replacements for his wounded and lame/But the troops that were comin', never came, never came, never came. –Ballad of the Alamo.)

Obama Needs More Than Personality to Win in Afghanistan
Excerpt: But the ultimate in realism is for the president to gauge himself and who he is: Does he have the stomach and commitment for what is likely to continue to be an unpopular war? Will he send additional troops, but hedge by not sending enough -- so that the dying will be in vain? What does he believe, and will he ask Americans to die for it? Only he knows the answers to these questions. But based on his zigzagging so far and the suggestion from the Copenhagen trip that the somber seriousness of the presidency has yet to sink in, we have reason to wonder.

Obama tests political coalition on potential new Afghan war aims
Excerpt: While congressional leaders told President Obama they will back him on Afghanistan, Republicans said they want buy-in from military leaders before they commit. Obama, devising a new way forward in Afghanistan, is looking to piece together a domestic political coalition to get behind his eventual plan. But different options already are drawing their own constituencies, and Obama's slow pace is carrying its own risk. "It's pretty clear that time is not on our side," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said after a 90-minute meeting of lawmakers from both parties with Obama. "We need to act with deliberate haste."

'We may have to save this president from himself on Afghanistan'
Excerpt: Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards, a vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, attended the premiere of the anti-war film, "Rethink Afghanistan" in Washington last night. In remarks afterward, Edwards quoted a House colleague, whom she did not identify, saying anti-war Democrats must work to rescue President Obama from his commitment to escalate the war in Afghanistan. "As one of my colleagues, who shall remain unnamed, said, 'Indeed, we may have to save this president from himself on Afghanistan,'" Edwards told the audience. "I take that really seriously." Edwards said she believes Obama is "capable of setting aside this language of a campaign" as he decides U.S. policy in Afghanistan. "Even though we talked about Afghanistan as sort of the good war, there is no good in that war," Edwards said. "We have to be vocal and insistent on this administration and this Congress not to fall prey to the language of the good war." "Rethink Afghanistan" is the work of left-wing documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald. Featuring commentary by war critics Juan Cole, Robert Baer, and others, the movie calls for the U.S. military offensive in Afghanistan to be replaced by a large-scale humanitarian effort. Rep. Alan Grayson, the self-styled "Democrat with guts" whom MSNBC host Ed Schultz recently dubbed "the new hero on the lefty block," also attended the showing.

Rangel Evades Taxing Questions Ahead of Calls to Surrender Chairmanship
Excerpt: Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) isn't interested in talking about his tax troubles and the ethical questions they've raised in Congress. Reporters accosted him Monday as he strolled to the podium for a news conference outside a Manhattan subway station, but Rangel, 79, ducked his head and kept moving. "Let me thank you all for coming on this beautiful day," he began when it was his turn at the podium to tout the new subway entrance at 96th and Broadway. "And I would hate to see anyone attempt to mar this with questions that are not related to this exciting event." Everyone obliged, except a guy driving by in his car. "Charlie, pay your taxes! Come on, Charlie, pay your taxes!" the passerby shouted. (How long until he blames “”Racism”?)

Meanwhile, lest we forget, patriots are still dying

Will Media Notice Resolution to Remove Rangel's Chairmanship?
Excerpt: At issue is Rangel's potential tax evasion associated with a rental property he owns in the Dominican Republic that was first reported by the New York Times on September 5, 2008. The following day, the Times further revealed that Rangel was violating House ethics rules by paying no interest on the loan for this property thereby constituting a gift. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) at the time vowed a full ethics investigation; more than thirteen months later, Rangel is still chairman.

The Forest, the Trees and ACORN
Excerpt: Assigned only a minor role in this orgy of blame were ACORN and Lewis herself. "My biggest weakness is a certain naivete about folks coming after you," she said in a moment of self-interested introspection. "I guess maybe others might have known and could have set up some other barriers and could've been better with media and PR." But really, this isn't about PR. Without question, much of the assault on ACORN has been politically motivated, stirred up by conservatives and Republican politicians. Also beyond doubt: That ACORN does some good and important work in poor communities. But Lewis, in playing the victim, is her own worst enemy. Forget the film of the pimp and prostitute: Watching a film of Lewis's performance yesterday would probably be enough to cause lawmakers to cut off ACORN's federal funding.

Firefighters lose large U.S. grant to ACORN
Excerpt: Nearly $1 million in Homeland Security funding typically earmarked for fire departments has been awarded to ACORN, despite a clear signal from Congress that it intends to cut off federal funding to the embattled group. The grant to ACORN's Louisiana office became public on Oct. 2, less than three weeks after the House and Senate voted to cut off ACORN funding after employees were caught on video advising a fake prostitute and pimp on scams. It was one of only three such grants issued to the state and made up almost 80 percent of the firefighting money earmarked for Louisiana, prompting one of the U.S. senators from the state to demand that the funds be taken back. (Rewarding the Obots—your tax dollars at work.)

Paging Doctors (and Nurses)
Excerpt: By putting doctors and nurses so far forward in the final days (weeks?) of the health care fight, Obama is seeking to capitalize on the tremendously positive public perception of those two professions to help vouch for the legislation's necessity and quality. Years of data prove that nurses and doctors are -- far and away -- two of the most admired lines of work in the country. In a late 2008 Gallup survey, 84 percent of respondents said that nurses had either "very high" (24 percent) or "high" honesty and ethical standards while 64 percent said the same of doctors. (Journalists, in case you were wondering, were near the bottom of the charts with just 25 percent of people saying we are honest and ethical. Seems about right.)

The Lesson of State Health-Care Reforms
Excerpt: Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously envisioned the states serving as laboratories, trying "novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country." And on health care, that's just what they've done. Like participants in a national science fair, state governments have tested variants on most of the major components of the health-care reform plans currently being considered in Congress. The results have been dramatically increased premiums in the individual market, spiraling public health-care costs, and reduced access to care. In other words: The reforms have failed.

Medicare: Largest Denier of Health Care Claims
Excerpt: According to AMA’s National Health Insurance Report Card, Medicare denies 6.85 percent of its claims, higher than any private insurer (Aetna was second, denying 6.80 percent of its claims), and more than double any private insurer’s average….The Obama administration repeats ad nauseum that we need a government option to “keep insurance companies honest” and to make sure they don’t deny anyone coverage. Well what does one say about the fact that Medicare denies more claims than private insurers?

What We Would Have Told Obama
Dr. Palmisano, president of the American Medical Association from 2003-2004, is spokesman for the Coalition to Protect Patients' Rights, a group of more than 10,000 physicians. Drs. Plested and Johnson were presidents of the American Medical Association from 2006-2007 and 1996-1997 respectively. Excerpt: We aren't among the doctors invited to a Rose Garden event today to "join the President in pushing for health insurance reform this year and [who] have offered their help and support," as a White House press release put it. It's unfortunate only supporters of the president's plans will be there. Mr. Obama has missed an opportunity to learn more about the real issues facing patients and doctors and to formulate a plan that truly puts patients in control with doctors as trusted advisers. The United States has the best health care in the world today, and thanks to the ever-expanding frontiers of science and medical innovation the brightest days are ahead. It is true that there are Americans who fall through the cracks of our medical system every day—and as a caring nation, we must do what we can to expand access to medical care to those who need it. But this can be accomplished without a costly and inefficient government overhaul of the entire system. One easy reform would be to enable individuals to buy policies offered in any state, not just where they live. This will enhance competition. But more government-run health insurance will only lead to disaster. Today, Medicare already reimburses doctors less than what many of their treatments cost to provide. Now the government is saying that additional Medicare cuts are coming—thus forcing doctors to try and make up the difference in volume, by seeing more patients. If you ask patients about this, they understand that more volume means less time with the doctor. That's something that all patients and doctors should oppose. In time, it will be difficult to find a physician.

Can we please read the bill?
Excerpt: It’s such a simple idea. Yet powerful. Compelling. Alluring. Irresistible. And it’s scaring the bejeebies out of the health reform crowd on Capitol Hill. Here it is: Before Congress votes on a final health reform bill, the full text goes up on the Internet for everyone in the nation to read, along with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score — giving the expected price tag and the expected impact on seniors, small business, employer-based coverage, etc. Think about it. For three days and three nights, everybody in the country can read, debate, discuss and give last-minute “up” or “down” input to their congressional representatives. What’s so terrifying about that?

Oh, not if they don’t read it!
"I don't expect to actually read the legislative language [of the health care bill] 'cause reading the legislative language is among the more confusing things I've ever done in my life." --Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE)

Will President Obama Veto Health Reform?
Excerpt: With the Senate Finance Committee poised to pass health care legislation, the final contours of the bill that could come out of Congress are starting to come into focus. The bill will contain new taxes on the middle class. It will add to the deficit. And it will put government bureaucrats between Americans and their doctors, among other things. So it’s not too early to ask the obvious question: Will President Obama veto health care reform? It’s worth asking because so many of the costs to taxpayers the President has repeatedly promised won’t be in the legislation are, and so many of the benefits are not.
(I think you could put a used diaper on Obama’s desk, and if it said “Health Care Reform” on it someplace, he’d sign it.)

Loyal Democrats support Obamacare
Excerpt: The White House made a big deal of the support it has garnered from physicians around the country. Yesterday they even held a doctors’ rally - complete with white smocks - to show support. Yet the physicians in attendance weren’t the disinterested crowd President Obama suggested - many were longtime Democrat donors.
Based on the list of attendees provided to Time, it seems that the crowd was full of ringers. Here is a look at the history of political donations by some in attendance. It is not complete, but this is what I was able to find by searching the database at Congressional Quarterly

Record Teen Unemployment: Only WSJ Seriously Looks At Minimum-Wage Hikes as Cause
Excerpt: Earlier this year, economist David Neumark of the University of California, Irvine, wrote on these pages that the 70-cent-an-hour increase in the minimum wage would cost some 300,000 jobs. Sure enough, the mandated increase to $7.25 took effect in July, and right on cue the August and September jobless numbers confirm the rapid disappearance of jobs for teenagers. The September teen unemployment rate hit 25.9%, the highest rate since World War II and up from 23.8% in July. Some 330,000 teen jobs have vanished in two months..... The biggest explanation is of course the bad economy. But it's precisely when the economy is down and businesses are slashing costs that raising the minimum wage is so destructive to job creation. Congress began raising the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour in July 2007, and there are now 691,000 fewer teens working. (Actions have consequences. So does ignorance of economic principles, which do not care how “compassionate” you intended to be.)

Clunkers in Practice
Excerpt: Remember "cash for clunkers," the program that subsidized Americans to the tune of nearly $3 billion to buy a new car and destroy an old one? Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declared in August that, "This is the one stimulus program that seems to be working better than just about any other program." If that's true, heaven help the other programs. Last week U.S. automakers reported that new car sales for September, the first month since the clunker program expired, sank by 25% from a year earlier. Sales at GM and Chrysler fell by 45% and 42%, respectively. Ford was down about 5%. Some 700,000 cars were sold in the summer under the program as buyers received up to $4,500 to buy a new car they would probably have purchased anyway, so all the program seems to have done is steal those sales from the future. Exactly as critics predicted. Cash for clunkers had two objectives: help the environment by increasing fuel efficiency, and boost car sales to help Detroit and the economy. It achieved neither. According to Hudson Institute economist Irwin Stelzer, at best "the reduction in gasoline consumption will cut our oil consumption by 0.2 percent per year, or less than a single day's gasoline use." Burton Abrams and George Parsons of the University of Delaware added up the total benefits from reduced gas consumption, environmental improvements and the benefit to car buyers and companies, minus the overall cost of cash for clunkers, and found a net cost of roughly $2,000 per vehicle. Rather than stimulating the economy, the program made the nation as a whole $1.4 billion poorer. The basic fallacy of cash for clunkers is that you can somehow create wealth by destroying existing assets that are still productive, in this case cars that still work. (Actions have consequences. So does ignorance of economic principles, which do not care how “compassionate” you intended to be. Oh, wait—I already said that. ~Bob)

Footnotes and Footstools by Mark Steyn
Excerpt: I was overseas when Senator Edward Kennedy died, and a European reporter asked me what my “most vivid memory” of the great man. I didn’t like to say, because it didn’t seem quite the appropriate occasion. But my only close encounter with the Lion of the Senate was many years ago at Logan Airport late one night. A handful of us, tired and bedraggled, were standing on the water shuttle waiting to be ferried across the harbor to downtown Boston. A sixth gentleman hopped aboard, wearing the dark-suited garb of the advance man, and had a word in a crew-member’s ear, and so we waited, and waited, in the chilly Atlantic air, wondering which eminence was the cause of our delay. And suddenly there he was on the quay, looming out of the fog. He stepped aboard. The small launch lurched and rocked, waves splashed the deck, luggage danced in the air, and the five of us all grabbed for whatever rail was to hand as the realization dawned that we’d been signed up for a watery excursion with Senator Kennedy. This was Ted at his most ravaged, big and bloated, before his new wife (also in attendance) had had a chance to get his excesses under control. One of the recurring refrains of the weeks of eulogies was his apparently amazing affinity for “ordinary people”, as if this is now some kind of personal achievement for a United States senator, who after all can’t be expected to have the same careless ease with the common run of humanity as, say, one of the more inbred late Ottoman sultans. But Ted, we were assured, was great with “ordinary people”. Not that night, he wasn’t. He stood in the center and glanced at us, awkwardly, in the way of celebrities who find themselves outside their comfort zone, and aren’t sure the “ordinary people” know quite what the rules are. I assumed he’d offer a casual, “Hey, sorry for keeping you waiting”, and then the roar of the motor would have prevented further conversation. But he said nothing, which, given that the other passengers were his constituents, struck me as a little odd.

Elites and Tyrants
Excerpt: The most authoritative tally of history's most murderous regimes is in a book by University of Hawaii's Professor Rudolph J. Rummel, "Death by Government." Statistics are provided at his website. The Nazis murdered 20 million of their own people and those in nations they captured. Between 1917 and 1987, Stalin and his successors murdered, or were otherwise responsible for the deaths of, 62 million of their own people. Between 1949 and 1987, Mao Tsetung and his successors were responsible for the deaths of 76 million Chinese. Today's leftists, socialists and progressives would bristle at the suggestion that their agenda differs little from Nazism. However, there's little or no distinction between Nazism and socialism. Even the word Nazi is short for National Socialist German Workers Party. The origins of the unspeakable horrors of Nazism, Stalinism and Maoism did not begin in the '20s, '30s and '40s. Those horrors were simply the end result of long evolution of ideas leading to consolidation of power in central government in the quest for "social justice." It was decent but misguided earlier generations of Germans, like many of today's Americans, who would have cringed at the thought of genocide, who built the Trojan horse for Hitler to take over.

Random Thoughts by Dr. Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: After political crusades for "affordable housing" ended up ruining the housing market and much of the economy with it, many of the same politicians are now carrying on a crusade for "affordable health care." But what you can afford has absolutely nothing to do with the cost of producing anything. Refusing to pay those costs means that you are just not going to continue getting the same quantity and quality-- regardless of what any politician says or how well he says it….Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Think things, not words." In words, many see a need for "social justice" to override "the dictates of the market." In reality, what is called "the market" consists of human beings making their own choices at their own cost. What is called "social justice" is government imposition of the notions of third parties, who pay no price for being wrong. Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Muammar Qaddafi and Vladimir Putin have all praised Barack Obama. When enemies of freedom and democracy praise your president, what are you to think? When you add to this Barack Obama's many previous years of associations and alliances with people who hate America-- Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Father Pfleger, etc.-- at what point do you stop denying the obvious and start to connect the dots?

We've Figured Him Out by Ben Stein
Excerpt: The American people in their unimaginable kindness and trust voted for a pig in a poke in 2008. They wanted so much to believe Barack Obama was somehow better and different from other ultra-leftists that they simply took him on faith. They ignored his anti-white writings in his books. They ignored his quiet acceptance of hysterical anti-American diatribes by his minister, Jeremiah Wright. They ignored his refusal to explain years at a time of his life as a student. They ignored his ultra-left record as a "community organizer," Illinois state legislator, and Senator.

Obama Cuts Off Funding for Iranian Human-Rights Documentation
Whose side is he on?

Love Jihad: luring girls online and forcing them to convert to Islam
Excerpt: The High Court of Kerala asks the state police and the Interior Minister in New Delhi to investigate the forced conversion campaign dubbed "Love Jihad" and "Romeo Jihad." Young people attracted by promises of marriage end up in the hands of Islamic organizations. It is feared that there are over 4 thousand cases. For the boys who act as bait there is a reward of 100 thousand rupees.

Dilbert gets it!

Is Moore Anti-Semitic?
Excerpt: I found it unsettling that in attacking the banking system, Moore presented quite a parade of Jewish names and faces. He never says the word “Jewish,” but I think the anti-Semitic theme is there. We receive long lectures about how capitalism is inconsistent with Christianity, followed a heavy-handed array of — it’s up to you to see that they are — Jewish villains.

Great Quotes from The Patriot Post (
"Now that Obama is in the Oval Office, erstwhile Bush bashers want everyone to be a cheerleader. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, for example, has discovered 'the politics of spite' -- and not after looking in the mirror. After eight years of watching some on the left root for defeat in Iraq and snicker at every international slight against Bush, I must admit it is rather special that the left has discovered patriotism -- to such an extent that there now is a duty to root for Chicago to host the [Olympic] Games." --columnist Debra Saunders
"In the Niagara of words spoken and written about the Obamas' trip to Copenhagen, too few have been devoted to the words they spoke there. Their separate speeches to the International Olympic Committee were so dreadful, and in such a characteristic way, that they might be symptomatic of something that has serious implications for American governance. Both Obamas gave heartfelt speeches about ... themselves. Although the working of the committee's mind is murky, it could reasonably have rejected Chicago's bid for the 2016 games on aesthetic grounds -- unless narcissism has suddenly become an Olympic sport." --columnist George Will
"Some of my best memories are sitting on my dad's lap, cheering on Olga and Nadia, Carl Lewis, and others for their brilliance and perfection." --Michelle Obama ("Mrs. Obama was 20 years old when Lewis first competed in the Olympics in 1984." --Michelle Malkin)

"Michael Moore's new movie slamming U.S. capitalism was boycotted by the teachers' union. They say he used a non-union crew to shoot the movie so he could save money and make more profit. Next they'll find out that he shot the whole thing in Vancouver." --comedian Argus Hamilton

No comments:

Post a Comment