Didn't Have To be This Way
Victor Davis Hanson with what might have been, had Barack Obama delivered on what he sold during the campaign.
Victor Davis Hanson with what might have been, had Barack Obama delivered on what he sold during the campaign.
11 minutes of LeBron highlights from his six years as a Cavalier...
How many times do the announcers say "you've got to be kidding me"?
Whew! That was close! We were almost in some serious economic trouble.
Rahm Emanuel tells the NYT that Obama's press conference today will be a "six month report card", and will tell the American people "how we rescued the economy from the worst recession".
I'm certain the American people will take comfort in hearing how the U.S. economy has been rescued from the recession by Obama's policies in his first six months.
I realize that it's fashionable these days to say nice things about Ted Kennedy. Sorry...it's the 40th anniversary this week of more than the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Rich Lowry - An Ideologue in a Hurry
As with the stimulus package, Obamaâ€™s health-care plan depends on speed. More important than any given provision, more important than any principle, more important than sound legislating is the urgent imperative to Do It Now.
Do it now, before anyone can grasp what exactly it is that Congress is passing. Do it now, before the overpromising and the dishonest justifications can be exposed. Do it now, before Obamaâ€™s poll numbers return to Earth and make it impossible to slam through ramshackle government programs concocted on the run. Do it now, because simply growing government is more important than the practicalities of any new program.
The stimulus partly drives the rush on health care. The program was so ill-considered and so festooned with irrelevant liberal priorities as the price of hustling it through Congress that it becomes more of a drag for Obama every day. So health care has to be rushed through before Obama pays the full price for the failure of his previous rush job. Haste â€” and waste â€” makes for more haste.
Obama cultivated an image of cool during the campaign. Unrattled. Deliberate. Cerebral to a fault. Who knew heâ€™d be in a panic to remake one-sixth of the economy by the first week of August of his first year in office?
Ramming through legislation without any assurance that it will work doesnâ€™t seem pragmatic or farsighted. But for Obamaâ€™s purposes, it is. His goal is nothing short of an ideological reorientation of American government. Putting in place the structures to achieve this change in the power and role of government is more important than how precisely it is accomplished.
The stimulus might not do much to stimulate the economy during the recession, but its massive spending creates a new baseline for all future spending. The cap-and-trade bill might not reduce carbon emissions during the next decade, but it creates a mechanism for exerting government control over a huge swath of the economy. Obamacare might not work as advertised, but it will tip more people into government care and create the predicate for rationing and price controls.
RTWT of course.
Obama must feel the growing groundswell in the country against this radical reorganization of the health care system....and he doesn't much care. And much of the resistance is based on the multi-trillion dollar price tag and the tax increases and inflation that will surely result from it....real, pragmatic concerns for real Americans. Just as they have real, pragmatic concerns about what Cap and Trade will do to their energy costs. Obama admits their costs will skyrocket....and pushes on with the agenda.
Any pretense that he is a pragmatist of any stripe is out the window. I don't even hear his supporters sticking to that silliness any longer. Examples abound of ideology trumping pragmatism in the first six months...the shutting down of the successful school choice program in D.C. in deference to the union pressure.....Insisting that even if it resulted in less federal revenue, he would still increase tax rates on private businesses on the basis of "fairness"......Pursuing anti-business policies (EFCA and C&T) and using anti-business rhetoric when the country desperately needs private business to be thriving to feed the leviathan he is busy expanding...In foreign policy, the incessant debasing of America, the enthusiastic outreach to the world's tyrants...it's boilerplate leftism.
They are unapologetic societal levelers, and they are pursuing radical, untested policies to re-engineer society....the very definition of ideologues. Obama's pose as a pragmatist has been reduced to a punch line.
It seems though, that maybe the ideologue has overreached. Opposition grows to seeing the health care and energy sectors join the automotive sector as functions of Obama's re-engineered state. Hope springs.
UPDATE 7/21: Bill McGurn in the WSJ
When unemployment continues rising despite your stimulus package, your energy tax and your health care proposals are both in trouble, and the deficit hits a trillion dollars in the ninth month of the fiscal year....who ya gonna call?
Andy McCarthy - "Another Phoney Scandal"
With Speaker Pelosi caught in the web of her own deceit over what the CIA told her about â€œtorture,â€ and the Obama administration in the middle of its latest 180-degree reversal over CIA interrogators (Attorney General Holder is now considering prosecutions despite Obamaâ€™s promise of no prosecutions), Democrats have trumped up a charge that the CIA, on the orders of Vice President Dick Cheney, failed to notify Congress that it was contemplating â€” not implementing, but essentially brainstorming about â€” plans to kill or capture top al-Qaeda figures.
This is their most ludicrous gambit in a long time â€” and thatâ€™s saying something. Given their eight years of complaints about President Bushâ€™s failure to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, and given President Clintonâ€™s indignant insistence (against the weight of the evidence) that he absolutely wanted the CIA to kill bin Laden, one is moved to ask: What did Democrats think the CIA was doing for the last eight years?
And if Democrats did not believe the CIA was considering plans to kill or capture bin Laden, why werenâ€™t they screaming from the rafters about such a lapse?
Of course the CIA has been trying to figure out how to take out top al-Qaeda leaders. One assumes â€” one hopes â€” they are also brainstorming about wiping out the Taliban, overthrowing the Iranian regime, undermining Kim Jong Ilâ€™s nuclear program, disrupting Syrian support of Hezbollah, and tackling all manner of threats to the United States. But there is no law that requires, or could practically require, the CIA to brief Congress every time some agency component considers the feasibility of some security initiative.
The former CIA chief says in an NPR interview that he was never directed by Cheney to withhold any information from Congress, contrary to what Leon Panetta has said.
...let me make sure I'm not missing something. Cheney ordered the CIA to look into sending out squads to kill al-Qaeda leaders after 9/11. Call me crazy, but thatâ€™s what I assumed theyâ€™d been doing all along. Iâ€™m far more scandalized that such plans havenâ€™t been up and running for eight years than I am by the fact that Congress wasnâ€™t briefed on a plan that had never been put into action. (I can only hope the plans were tabled because it was determined that cruise missiles and UAVs worked better than CIA assassins)
So what exactly is the fuss about? Cheney, with the backing of Congress, looked into killing people â€” who were very much in need of being killed â€” but the program was never operationalized and Congress is P.O.â€™d that they werenâ€™t briefed further on a program that wasnâ€™t operational?
Please donâ€™t look at the socialized medicine in the corner; weâ€™re hunting Cheneys.
Andrew Breitbart says that when a Philadelphia swim club denied access to a group of young minority students, "Facebook and Twitter, powerful social media tools, worked so quickly that Mr. Sharpton and Mr Jackson didn't have time to book their flights to Pennsylvania." More from Breitbart...
Whenever legitimate acts of bigotry occur, they should be exposed to the light of day. The media and the legal system - fueled by public outrage - can do the rest. In this case, substantial national and even international news coverage of the Valley Club incident is beginning the process of making the campers whole.
Racism is so unwelcome in America these days, government is no longer the most effective mechanism to thwart it. The common sense of good-hearted citizens is enough to shame culprits to relent. Modern institutions have filled the void where organizations like the NAACP have become more and more irrelevant - and hopelessly partisan - in confronting bigotry.
The union is leaning on TV stations to remove an anti-EFCA ad they don't like. It must help to know the President's got their back, along with the power of the FCC.
Here's the ad
Here's the letter stations are getting.
You might say it's union men strong-arming in protest over their depiction as strong-arming union men in a political advertisement. Yes, the ad is a bit over the top, but how exactly does that distinguish it from many others?
A rash of articles on organ donation in the last week or so, (coinciding roughly with the announcement of Steve Jobs' successful kidney transplant) focused mostly on how transplant organ demand far exceeds supply, and on the practical and ethical questions involved in proposals to address the shortage. Legalizing compensation for donors has been proposed, as have some other, more coercive programs.
Jeff Jacoby is an advocate for the former.
The same economic system that generally makes good healthcare available to all does price certain products and services high enough that only the wealthy can afford them. It isnâ€™t news that the worldâ€™s finest surgeon commands a high fee, or that the latest â€œmiracleâ€™â€™ drugs tend to be expensive, or that billionaires can afford things that mere mortals canâ€™t.
Yet when it comes to the donation of human organs, countless people believe that the market must be prevented from functioning.
Under current law, an organ may be transplanted to save a patientâ€™s life only if it was donated for free. Federal law makes it â€œunlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human organ for valuable consideration for use in human transplantation.â€™â€™ The surgeon who performed Jobsâ€™s liver transplant, the hepatologist who diagnosed him, the anesthesiologist who managed his pain, the nurse who assisted, the medical center that provided the facilities, the pharmacy that supplied his medications, even the driver who brought him to the hospital - all of them were paid for the benefits they rendered. Only the organ donor (or the donorâ€™s family, if the liver came from a cadaver) could receive nothing except the satisfaction that comes from performing an act of kindness.
That, many say, is as it should be: Organs should be donated out of goodness alone; otherwise the rich might exploit the poor. Others flatly oppose any hint of commerce in human organs. Opening the door to â€œfinancial incentives,â€™â€™ declared the Institute of Medicine in 2006, could â€œlead people to view organs as commodities and diminish donations from altruistic motives.â€™â€™
...do read it all.
Then there's this semi-serious NYT op-ed by Daniel Asa Rose, a guy who I guess is qualified to write an op-ed for the Times because he went to China with his cousin to get him a kidney transplant, and then wrote a book about it. Rose favors a change to a "presumed consent" system, under which you must specifically opt out of being an organ donor, instead of voluntarily opting in. They're trying it in Europe, after all. I don't have a dog in the fight, being a card-carrying organ donor, but that strikes me as a little heavy-handed.
Rose goes on to claim that if we would just "better finance" stem cell research, so that "we could start simply growing kidneys", and create better mechanical organs, no one would have to wait more than a year for a kidney. Hmmm....is that all? I hope he's aware of the credible evidence that the Chinese supply of available organs for highly profitable transplants for foreigners may include organs removed from unwilling, innocent Falun Gong detainees. Maybe that would matter to him.
Virginia Postrel at The Atlantic has a more serious treatment of the topic. Postrel is herself a kidney donor, though she declines to mention it in this article, so she has been through the system. I won't even try to pull excerpts. It's a great read, and you need to do it all.
As Postrel details with well-thought out policy proposals for managing donor compensation (all via insurance payments), there are ways, at least in our society, to prevent attempts to abuse the system. But as the Chinese example linked above shows, when human body parts take on six-figure dollar values, per body, and large numbers of people are controlled by those with little regard for human life, man is capable of monstrous things.
UPDATE: Ethan Gutmann, who wrote an exposé last November on the organ harvesting in China, has an article in the new print issue of NR (NAWS) saying that his research indicates over 10,000 Falun Gong detainees have been murdered by the Chinese government for their organs. As with everything about this gruesome story, it is almost too horrible to contemplate, and as such, the natural human tendency is to disbelieve it. But as Jay Nordlinger said of this situation three years ago, "sometimes the unthinkable needs to be thought about."
There's lots of Ohio State football propaganda at the TheClevelandFan Buckeyes page.
My esteemed colleague Jesse Lamovsky has begun a series on the six undefeated Ohio State teams, and he has a two-part piece on the Buckeyes 10 best wins since '84 - (#10 thru #6). YouTube links. Good fun. UPDATE: Here's #5 thru #1.
Update: Jesse gives up at least one of the top five with this vid of the '87 Cotton Bowl, featuring Cris Carter in his last game:
Carter's son Duron is a freshman receiver for the 2009 Buckeyes. See if he isn't the spittin' image of his dad.
Stephen Spruiell and Kevin Williamson detail 50 things about the Waxman-Markey legislation that the House might have been aware of, had they read the bill before passing it.
The stimulus bill was the legislative equivalent of the famous cantina scene from Star Wars, an eye-popping collection of the freakish and exotic, gathered for dubious purposes. The Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, known as ACES (the American Clean Energy and Security Act), is more like the third panel in Hieronymus Boschâ€™s Garden of Earthly Delights â€” a hellscape that disturbs the sleep of anybody who contemplates it carefully.
Two main things to understand about Waxman-Markey: First, it will not reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, at least not at any point in the near future. The inclusion of carbon offsets, which can be manufactured out of thin air and political imagination, will eliminate most of the demands that the legislation puts on industry, though in doing so it will manage to drive up the prices consumers pay for every product that requires energy for its manufacture â€” which is to say, for everything. Second, it represents a worse abuse of the public trust and purse than the stimulus and the bailouts put together. Waxman-Markey creates a permanent new regime in which environmental romanticism and corporate welfare are mixed together to form political poison. From comic bureaucratic power grabs (check out the section of the bill on candelabras) to the creation of new welfare programs for Democratic constituencies to, above all, massive giveaways for every financial, industrial, and political lobby imaginable, this bill would permanently deform American politics and economic life.
The House of Representatives, famously, did not read this bill before passing it, which is testament to either Nancy Pelosiâ€™s managerial incompetency or her political wile, or possibly both. If you take the time to read the legislation, youâ€™ll discover four major themes: special-interest giveaways, regulatory mandates unrelated to climate change, fanciful technological programs worthy of The Jetsons, and assorted left-wing wish fulfillment.
What follows are 50 items contained in the legislation, some of which will curl your hair. Please read it, and consider calling your Senator's office if you don't like what you see.