Thursday, January 21, 2010

Political Digest January 21, 2010

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.

The people’s victory in Massachusetts
Sen. Scott Brown was a great candidate. And much credit goes to all his tens of thousands of volunteers, who gave of time, treasure and prayers—including numerous readers of this blog—to make this victory possible. Note that your small money contributions not only add up, but allow the candidate to point out that he has wide support, not just from Fat Cats.

But we also have to credit the arrogance of the statists. The Obama-Reid-Pelosi triumvirate, perhaps the worst governing combination since the second triumvirate in Rome, fair scunnered (as my Scots friends say) independents and many Democrats in Massachusetts, not to mention Republicans. They made disgusting deals to jam a healthcare bill through, which the public opposes. They made all the wrong moves in terrorism, and the KSM trial frightens people. They created the worst deficits in history. Their efforts to nationalize much of the economy scared centrist voters with no evidence they have made the economy better. To them, too, goes the credit for Brown’s victory.

Credit too to the Fat Cates of the Insurance Industry, HMOs, Hospitals and Drug Companies, whose lobbyists held a $10,000 a plate dinner for Coakley the week before the election. The little guy may be dumb, as Democrats think, but not dumb enough to believe the special interests were supporting her to help average Joes.

Déjà Vu all over again
I was pleased to note my old senate district, 4-1 Democrat, went for Brown—think he carried every city and town in it. Brown was great picking up on “The People’s Seat.” It reminded me of 1974, when my re-election flyer had a map of my district and a photo of my chair in the senate. The copy read, “If you live in the Second Worcester District, this is your seat in the Massachusetts Senate. The man who sits here should stand for something.” Not even my name until you opened it.

Brown deals devastating blow to Obama agenda
This Washington Post headline says it all.

New Bumper Sticker suggestion from a Marine buddy
Massachusetts gave me hope for change I can believe in!

The Fix: Democratic blame game in full force in Massachusetts Senate special election
Both right. Excerpt: Less than 24 hours removed from state Attorney General Martha Coakley's (D) stunning loss in the Massachusetts Senate race, Democrats were at daggers-drawn over whose fault it was. Two rival camps quickly emerged: Coakley's campaign (and consultant -- in particular pollster Celinda Lake) versus national Democrats. From a Coakley campaign adviser came a strongly worded memo, arguing that she had consistently raised concern about voter apathy in advance of the special election and asked for fundraising help that she never received from national Democrats. One senior party official dismissed the memo as a "pack of lies" and -- in a memo rebutting the Coakley memo -- made several points including: 1) National Democrats had contacted the campaign on Jan. 2 asking what could be done to help and didn't hear back for four days. 2) The money problems were Coakley's and hers alone; "If the Coakley campaign did have money troubles perhaps it was because the candidate and campaign went on hiatus/vacation for the last 10 days of December," read the memo. 3) "Remember -- the most notable events of the last week had nothing to do with the national Democratic Party -- it was: Schilling is a Yankee, telling voters she didn't need to shake their hands, a Disastrous trip to Washington DC and a terrible debate performance," read the memo. The simple fact -- as we noted last night -- is that everyone from the White House to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to the Coakley campaign deserves their share of blame. It wasn't any one group or groups that cost Democrats this race but rather a confluence of factors: an angry electorate, a skillful Republican message that framed Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R) as the outsider and Coakley as the status quo, a damaged Democratic brand in state politics, a health care bill that remains far less popular than the White House is willing to admit and, yes, a poor candidate who made a series of blunders that reinforced the idea that she was out of touch. Democrats did well in sharing the credit during the ups of 2006 and 2008; they would now do well to share a bit of the blame for this loss.

More from The Fix
Excerpt: As expected, the idea of delaying Brown's seating was quickly washed away amidst his victory. Even before Brown delivered his victory speech, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) put out a statement insisting that "it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated." Brown, for his part, made clear he was ready, willing and able to head to Washington as soon as today. He said that he had spoken to interim Sen. Paul Kirk (D), who drew headlines last week for his insistence that he would vote for final passage of health care regardless of what happened in the special, and that Kirk "welcomes me as soon as I can get there." The truth of the matter on health care is that there are simply no good options out there for the White House and Senate Democrats. As the Post's Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery wrote today: "Unless Democrats can thread a very narrow legislative needle, Republican Scott Brown's upset victory over Martha Coakley in Massachusetts on Tuesday could lead to the collapse of a health-care bill that, only weeks ago, appeared close to becoming law." There seems to be considerable resistance from the House to simply pass the Senate bill and it's hard to imagine that resistance not growing in the wake of the Coakley defeat. An attempt to adjust the bill to attract a moderate Republican -- Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) would seem the most obvious target -- will take both time and some fence mending as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) made clear recently that he didn't believe Snowe was negotiating in good faith. The White House continues to believe that the worst of all worlds is no bill at all and, as a result, are likely to explore all options that will allow the President to sign something. But, for an Administration that made clear they wanted to clear the decks of health care prior to the President's State of the Union address, that idea now seems like a pipe dream.

Winners and losers in the Massachusetts Election

"[Nancy] Pelosi met with House Democrats yesterday to tell them how the negotiations on a compromise health care bill between the House and Senate were going. As she spoke, one Democratic member whispered to another, 'It's like talking about your date on Friday, but the date's in the emergency room.' ObamaCare went into the emergency room in Massachusetts and didn't make it out alive." --columnist Fred Barnes. The Patriot Post

Martha Coakley Supporters Wrap Cameraman In Sign
Typical Democrat tramp-on-people’s-rights tactic. They are all for free speech and the constitution unless someone else wants to speak—look at the universities.

TSA nominee Erroll Southers withdraws
Another ‘Bama Bum goes down in flames. Too much joy to take in today! Excerpt: President Obama's nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration withdrew from consideration on Wednesday, saying his nomination was "obstructed by political ideology." Erroll Southers had faced fierce opposition from Republicans ever since news surfaced that he may have misled Congress about an incident in the late 1980s involving a background check of the boyfriend of his ex-wife. (Announced when all eyes are on Massachusetts and Haiti.)

Write your Senators and Congressman
If you live in a Democrat district (or Maine), write to your Democrat senators and/or Democrat member of the House with this short message: “If you vote for the healthcare bill, you will be as ‘heartbroken’ at the next election as Martha Coakley.”

Who Really Doesn’t Understand ObamaCare?
Excerpt: From the very moment public opinion started going south on the president’s health plan, the White House and Democrat leaders in Congress began sounding a familiar refrain: The public does not understand the bill; they’ve been lied to, deceived and misled by the opponents; and once they learn how it really works, familiarity will breed…well, something other than contempt. I have four problems with this point of view: If it is sincere, you would think the Obama Administration would have made a major effort to educate the public about how the bill really works; in fact, they have made no effort whatsoever. Since ObamaCare is modeled after the Massachusetts health plan, voters in that state should be better informed than even Obama himself about how it “really works”; yet Massachusetts voters resoundingly rejected the president’s plan in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate election. There was a lot of misleading information flying in all directions at last summer’s town hall meetings; but on balance, the average protestor appeared to be better informed than the average member of Congress. Among the chattering class — who are paid to express informed opinion — the proponents of ObamaCare are far less knowledgeable than the opponents.

Dem leaders scramble to save healthcare reform after Brown win
The voters aren’t angry enough yet. Excerpt: Democratic leaders are scrambling to save healthcare reform legislation in the wake of a shocking Republican victory for the Senate seat held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met Tuesday afternoon to discuss contingency plans in case state Sen. Scott Brown (R) defeated state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D). The House Democratic Caucus then met shortly after 7 pm Tuesday to discuss the progress of healthcare negotiations with the Senate and White House. Democratic leaders told rank-and-file colleagues there would be no caucus-wide discussion of a Plan B for healthcare reform until they knew the results of the special election in Massachusetts.

Republican victory in Massachusetts could affect more than healthcare
Excerpt: Republican Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts could be a game-changer on much more than healthcare. It’s not just that the victory deprives Democrats of the 60 Senate votes necessary to leap procedural hurdles. More importantly, it’s a sign that President Barack Obama’s power has diminished, and that voters are unhappy with at least some of his agenda. The vote could bolster Republicans, who for much of the year have decided that their best strategy is to gather together to vote no against Obama’s agenda. Democrats, already fractious, are likely to be even more on edge. Lawmakers already worried about addressing issues such as climate change and immigration may grow more anxious about taking politically dangerous votes in an election year where voters have suggested they are disillusioned with Washington.

Obama’s Unicorn of Hope and Change Died Under the Weight of Ted Kennedy’s Ego
Worth Reading. Excerpt: There are ten other things to take away from Scott Brown’s victory:

The Ungovernability of the American Republic
Excerpt: When the left starts talking about nations becoming ungovernable, stock up on guns and ammo, because that usually means they’ll start forcefully agitating for a more governable country according to their definition of governability. That is a real and very inconvenient fact of history spread across continents.

Recapturing radical spirit of 1994
Excerpt: Can the Republicans do it again and win the 40 seats necessary to win the House majority in the 112th Congress? The 1994 Republican Revolution had three major components: an unpopular president in Bill Clinton, an unpopular legislative initiative in HillaryCare, and a popular political vision in the Contract with America. Today, like 1994, a new Democrat president is overreaching in an attempt to centralize the nation's health care system in Washington in lockstep with a congressional leadership that is far to the left of the American public. Tax-and-spend legislative agendas bent on income redistribution may sit well with the academics and the beautiful people, but not regular Americans who gets stuck with the bills.

The Massachusetts Health Plan: Much Pain, Little Gain
Excerpt: Using the Current Population Survey data for 2008 to evaluate the Massachusetts law, Yelowitz and Cannon concluded: Massachusetts' individual mandate induces uninsured residents to conceal their true insurance status; even setting that source of bias aside, the official estimate reported by the Commonwealth almost certainly overstates the law's impact on insurance coverage, likely by 45 percent. In contrast to previous studies, there was evidence of substantial crowdout of private coverage among low-income adults and children; the law appears to have compressed self-reported health outcomes, without necessarily improving overall health. More than 60 percent fewer young adults are relocating to Massachusetts as a result of the law. Leading estimates understate the law's cost by at least one third, and likely more.

Democrats find themselves on wrong end of the politics of discontent
Excerpt: President Obama and the Democrats rode a wave of anger aimed at the presidency of George W. Bush to victories in 2006 and 2008. Now, a year to the day after Obama was sworn into office, in a dramatic reversal of fortunes, populist anger has turned sharply against the president and his party. The politics of discontent rolled across Massachusetts in stunning fashion Tuesday, delivering the seat held for more than four decades by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to Republican state Sen. Scott Brown in an upset of historic proportions. Gloomy Democrats were left to wonder whether they and Obama have an answer to that anger that can head off potentially devastating losses in the November midterm elections, and they faced more potential fractures within their ranks.

White House, Democratic lawmakers cut deal on deficit commission
Excerpt: Faced with growing alarm over the nation's soaring debt, the White House and congressional Democrats tentatively agreed Tuesday to create an independent budget commission and to put its recommendations for fiscal solvency to a vote in Congress by the end of this year. Under the agreement, President Obama would issue an executive order to create an 18-member panel that would be granted broad authority to propose changes in the tax code and in the massive federal entitlement programs -- including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- that threaten to drive the nation's debt to levels not seen since World War II.

Why America and China will clash
Excerpt: Google’s clash with China is about much more than the fate of a single, powerful firm. The company’s decision to pull out of China, unless the government there changes its policies on censorship, is a harbinger of increasingly stormy relations between the US and China. The reason that the Google case is so significant is because it suggests that the assumptions on which US policy to China have been based since the Tiananmen massacre of 1989 could be plain wrong. The US has accepted – even welcomed – China’s emergence as a giant economic power because American policymakers convinced themselves that economic opening would lead to political liberalisation in China. If that assumption changes, American policy towards China could change with it. Welcoming the rise of a giant Asian economy that is also turning into a liberal democracy is one thing. Sponsoring the rise of a Leninist one-party state, that is America’s only plausible geopolitical rival, is a different proposition. Combine this political disillusionment with double-digit unemployment in the US that is widely blamed on Chinese currency manipulation, and you have the formula for an anti-China backlash.

The Great D.C. Migration
Americans move to where your money is.
Excerpt: Every day thousands of Americans vote with their feet on the best places to live and work, and these migration patterns can tell a lot about state economies—and economic policies. United Van Lines has released its annual report for 2009, based on those the moving company has relocated across one state line to another, and the winner is . . .But first the biggest loser, which was Michigan for the fourth year in a row. More than two families left the state for every family that moved in. The fall of GM and Chrysler has obviously hurt. But two-term Governor Jennifer Granholm has also made her state the test case for the policy mix of raising taxes on higher incomes, increasing regulation, and steering taxpayer money at favored programs like job retraining and renewable energy. It hasn't worked for Michigan, even with the auto bailouts. Ms. Granholm continues to be a regular economic policy adviser to the White House. Yikes. The next two biggest net losers were Illinois and New Jersey, while California and New York also continued to have far more departures than arrivals.

No one gets prizes
Blacks suffer most, as schools remain ill-equipped and children are ill-taught
Excerpt: SOUTH AFRICA spends a bigger share of its GDP on education than any other country on the continent. Yet its results are among the worst. Fifteen years after apartheid was buried, black children continue to receive an education that is vastly inferior to most of their white peers. Instead of ending inequality, as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) promised, the country’s schools are perpetuating it. (South Africa is descending slowly into chaos, as educated whites and blacks flee the country’s rising violence and crime. Black students suffer most. But liberals get to feel good about opposing apartheid; the actually suffering of black kids is of no matter to them. And it’s no different in Detroit.)

Conformity kills: success vs. innovation.
Interesting article. Nothing the statists hate like individualism and non-conformity. Excerpt: A new paper in the journal, "Evolution and Human Behavior," suggests that societies may engage in such self-destructive conformity when they face unexpected environmental crises. (Great old folk song, link below: “And they're all nonconformists, And they all dress just the same.”)

Vietnam convicts democracy activists of subversion
The results of a leftist Congress in 1975 pulling support from S. Vietnam to allow the tyrants to win. Excerpt: HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (AP) - Vietnam convicted four democracy activists of trying to overthrow the communist government on Wednesday and sentenced them to up to 16 years in prison for promoting multiparty democracy.

Vice President Biden v Senator Biden on Filibuster
Excerpt: The left is organizing a public relations campaign to rid the Senate of the filibuster rule and they intend on using a strong arm tactic to exterminate dissent and debate. With a simple majority vote, many of the same Democrats who were apoplectic about Republican plans to rid the Senate of the filibuster for judicial nominees in 2005, are readying a parliamentary maneuver that they denounced during the Bush presidency. Consistency is not a strong point of politicians and Vice President Joe Biden has completed a flip flop on the filibuster than will make your head spin.

Are Republicans "Due"?: Part II Thomas Sowell
If Sowell’s name is on it, it’s a must read. Always. Excerpt: Data on income differences, for example, are presented in a way that suggests that the different income brackets represent enduring classes of people over time, when in fact other studies show that the vast majority of people in the lowest income brackets as of a given time rise out of those brackets over time. More people from the bottom fifth end up in the top fifth than remain at the bottom. Household income data are presented in ways which suggest that there is very little real improvement in the American people's standard of living over time, and innumerable editorials and television commentaries have elaborated that theme. But per capita income data show far more improvement over time. The difference is that households have been getting smaller but one person always means one person. Just by deciding what kind of data to present in what way, the Census Bureau has become, in effect, an adjunct of the liberal establishment, even when conservative Republicans are in control of the federal government. This is not necessarily deliberate political sabotage, just liberals being liberals. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation has for years repeatedly exposed the fallacies of the inferences drawn from Census data. Yet when Republicans controlled the federal government-- as they did for 12 consecutive years, beginning in 1981-- did they try to appoint someone like Robert Rector to a position where they could put an end to tendentious statistics that promote misconceptions with political implications? Not at all.

Haiti's Avoidable Death Toll
Excerpt: As tragic as the Haitian calamity is, it is merely symptomatic of a far deeper tragedy that's completely ignored, namely self-inflicted poverty. The reason why natural disasters take fewer lives in our country is because we have greater wealth. It's our wealth that permits us to build stronger homes and office buildings. When a natural disaster hits us, our wealth provides the emergency personnel, heavy machinery and medical services to reduce the death toll and suffering. Haitians cannot afford the life-saving tools that we Americans take for granted. President Barack Obama called the quake "especially cruel and incomprehensible." He would be closer to the truth if he had said that the Haitian political and economic climate that make Haitians helpless in the face of natural disasters are "especially cruel and incomprehensible."

Stealth Propaganda
Excerpt: An obscure 2008 academic article gained traction with bloggers over the weekend. The article was written by the head of Obama's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein. He’s a good friend of the president and the promoter the contradictory idea: "libertarian paternalism". In the article, he muses about what government can do to combat "conspiracy" theories: ...we suggest a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies ... will undermine the crippled epistemology of those who subscribe to such theories. They do so by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity. That's right. Obama's Regulation Czar is so concerned about citizens thinking the wrong way that he proposed sending government agents to "infiltrate" these groups and manipulate them. This reads like an Onion article: Powerful government official proposes to combat paranoid conspiracy groups that believe the government is out to get proving that they really are out to get them. Did nothing of what Sunstein was writing strike him as...I don't know...crazy? "Cognitive infiltration" of extremist groups by government agents? "Stylized facts"? Was "truthiness" too pedantic?

China removed as top priority for spies
Excerpt: The White House National Security Council recently directed U.S. spy agencies to lower the priority placed on intelligence collection for China, amid opposition to the policy change from senior intelligence leaders who feared it would hamper efforts to obtain secrets about Beijing's military and its cyber-attacks. The downgrading of intelligence gathering on China was challenged by Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair and CIA Director Leon E. Panetta after it was first proposed in interagency memorandums in October, current and former intelligence officials said. The decision downgrades China from "Priority 1" status, alongside Iran and North Korea, to "Priority 2," which covers specific events such as the humanitarian crisis after the Haitian earthquake or tensions between India and Pakistan.

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