Asymmetry

From VDH:

Why are charges of racism and political extremism suddenly in the air?

[...]

A largely center-right country that polls consistently conservative apparently is beginning to think it was had in the election of 2008. A weak McCain campaign, weariness after eight years of Bush, fascination with a charismatic African-American landmark candidate, fright after the September 2008 meltdown, and Obama’s centrist “purple” rhetoric all provided the margin of victory, but apparently not the margin for an intended remake of America in which the daily conditions under which we live and see the world (buying a Chevy, going to the mailbox on Saturday, attending the doctor, viewing Israel, making claims on Medicare, paying taxes, trying terrorists, etc.) would be radically altered in just a year.

For the once-giddy Left, which misinterpreted the causes of the Obama landmark victory, the current pushback is seen as somehow terribly unfair, and thus arise both their own furor and their amnesia about their own past attitudes during the Bush years. I think ultimately many “progressives,” adherents to relativism, feel that the past furor over Bush in all its creepy manifestations was justified because of who Bush was; but that a similar methodology (or, in fact, far softer manifestations) of dissent toward Obama is unacceptable because of who Obama is (i.e. one can act rudely toward clearly bad people, but not rudely toward unquestionably “good” people). It is that simple.

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Groupthink

From Michael Fumento:

For three days, James Sikes held America’s highest honor: victim. The nation had been transfixed by his almost half-hour-long 94-mph horror ride in his runaway Toyota Prius. He burned his brakes right down to the metal, unable to even slow the vehicle. Only his prescience in calling 911, followed by a highway patrol officer providing assistance, saved his life.

Then my article “Toyota Hybrid Horror Hoax” at Forbes.com brought it crashing down. But lest you get false impressions from that title, the real hoaxter wasn’t Jim Sikes, but the media. Red flags about his story were popping up from the start. Yet the entire Fourth Estate systematically ignored them.

[...]

Yes, I’m a good investigative reporter. After all, that used to be my job with IBD! But this isn’t rocket science, folks. Reporters trained to think in terms of “if your mother says it, check it out” exchanged that for a new motto: “In Sikes We Trust.”

Conversely, when you read online articles that allow comments to be posted below, almost all of the readers are skeptical. Herewith, representative samples from one site:

  1. Sikes told CNN, “I was afraid to try to (reach) over there and put it in neutral. I was holding onto the steering wheel with both hands.” No, actually he was holding a cell phone in one hand most of the time, but as this image shows, remarkably the Prius can be shifted with both hands on the wheel.
  2. Wow! A car that has an engine more powerful than its braking system. What a crock! He should take his Prius to a tractor pull if he thinks its engine can overcome its brakes.
  3. This driver is a scammer. He repeatedly ignored the operator’s suggestions to put his car into neutral. He’s a liar.
  4. Despite enough time to call 911 and talk over, this old man is really stupid to be not able to kill the engine. So is every other person who agrees with him.
  5. This guy had brakes. I know what wins between the brake pedal & the accelerator every time. THE BRAKE!!!!
  6. This is laughable!!!!
  7. But we know if something’s wrong with the pedal, do not call 911. Just put neutral shift and the car slow down.
  8. Fake fake fake!!!!!!!!!!
  9. Doesn’t pass the smell test.

Some of these people could barely construct a sentence, yet somehow they were smart enough to recognize a scam. Why couldn’t journalism school grads?

Obviously, many did. But the media have been pursuing a Toyota witch hunt regarding unexplained sudden acceleration. The Prius incident fit beautifully. Too beautifully, as it happens. So skepticism got the boot, as indeed it so often does with the media today. As one person put it in an e-mail to me, “I weep for the state of American journalism.”

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Inequality the Left loves

From The Wall Street Journal:

It turns out there really is growing inequality in America. It’s the 45% premium in pay and benefits that government workers receive over the poor saps who create wealth in the private economy.

And the gap is growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from 1998 to 2008 public employee compensation grew by 28.6%, compared with 19.3% for private workers. In the recession year of 2009, with almost no inflation and record budget deficits, more than half the states awarded pay raises to their employees. Even as deficits in state capitals widen and are forcing cuts in services, few politicians are willing to eliminate these pay inequities that enrich the few who wield political power.

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In a separate survey, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis compares the compensation of public versus private workers in each of the 50 states. Perhaps not coincidentally, the pay gap is widest in states that have the biggest budget deficits, such as New Jersey, Nevada and Hawaii. Of the 40 states that have a budget deficit so far this year, 28 would have a balanced budget were it not for the windfall to government workers.

But these current fiscal problems are a picnic compared to the long-term benefit commitments that state and local politicians have made to public retirees. A 2009 study by economists Robert Novy-Marx and Joshua Rauh, published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, estimated that these government pensions are underfunded by $3.2 trillion, or $27,000 for every American household.

The Orange County Register reports that California has 3,000 retired teachers and school administrators, who stopped working as early as age 55, collecting at least $100,000 a year in pensions for the rest of their lives.

Illinois’s pension obligations are so costly the state had to issue $3.5 billion of bonds merely to meet its mandatory contribution to the worker retirement program, which faces $85 billion, or three years of state tax revenues, in unfunded liabilities. Near-bankrupt New Jersey would have to pay $7 billion a year if it properly accounted for its pension and health benefits.

California, Nevada New Jersey and Ohio all allow double dipping, which lets government workers retire in their 50s and then work another full-time job while collecting retirement checks. In Ohio, police, firefighters and teachers can retire after 30 years on the job, collect a full benefit each year and go back to work full-time doing the same job. This is called retire and rehire.

As the Columbus Dispatch reported last year: “Across the state, Ohio’s State Teachers Retirement System paid out more than $741 million in pension benefits last school year to 15,857 faculty and staff members who were still working for school systems and building up a second retirement plan.” Some teachers can earn nearly $200,000 a year in pensions and salaries.

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Distinctions

From Daniel Henninger:

I thought 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday night in Washington was the Republican Party’s finest hour in a long time. When the voting stopped, the screen said the number of Republicans voting for Mr. Obama’s bill was zero. Not one. Nobody.

Pristine opposition is being spun as a Republican liability. It looks to me like a Republican resurrection. The party hasn’t yet discovered what it should be, but this clearly was a party discovering what it cannot be.

Put it this way: If you produce a bill that Olympia Snowe of Maine cannot vote for, you have not produced legislation “for the generations.” You have not even produced legislation that is liberal. You have produced legislation from the left. You have produced once-in-a-lifetime legislation that no Republican from any constituency across America could vote for.

Finally, we are achieving real political definition.

The Democrats are now the party of the state. The 20th century hybrid version of the Democratic Party, which included private-sector industrial unions and Wall Street liberals, is being abandoned by its leadership as unwanted and increasingly unnecessary.

[...]

Liberals in the private sector have to come to grips with the fact that what they do for a living is an abstraction to the people they are sending to Washington. Nobody at the top of the party is much interested in them anymore. House and Senate Democrats hammered insurance, pharma and medical-device makers with taxes and intimidation. It wasn’t just politics. It was belief. With this bill, the party made the transition from market unionism to Alinskyism, from a politics tempered by the marketplace to one that milks the marketplace.

By default more than design, the Republicans now find themselves the party of the private economy. Their members, even in faraway Maine, should figure out how to align themselves with the interests of what is still the world’s most dynamic economy.

The GOP is being counseled to abandon its morning-after impulse to “repeal the bill.” Why do that? This is the first honest emotion the party has had in years. Yes, technical repeal isn’t remotely possible until after 2012. But “Repeal!” is a terrific bumper sticker and campaign slogan for our times. Repeal! ObamaCare is just a start. Can’t repeal the bill yet? Drive people to November’s polls to repeal the Democratic Party and what it has turned into.

On Monday morning, the Service Employees International’s Andy Stern, a big winner, said, “This is not a bad debate to have.” He’s right, and on Sunday the Republican Party found its footing to have that debate. It lost a battle, but with its total rejection of this huge entitlement, it also lost its spendthrift reputation. Now its members need to think hard about an answer for their own good question, What kind of country do we want?

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The stomach for repeal

From Robert Costa:

On Wednesday, Jeffrey H. Anderson, in a blog post for National Review Online, argued that Republicans should take a hard line on repealing Obamacare in coming months. In his piece, Anderson criticized a recent comment by Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.), the GOP whip:

Sen. Jon Kyl said, “I would guess probably more realistically would be a potential repeal of pieces of the bill.” It lights the fire in the belly, doesn’t it?

With all due respect, Kyl tells NRO that he disagrees with Anderson’s conclusion, and that he “has the stomach” to fight to repeal Obamacare. “We have to be careful in suggesting that a full repeal is a realistic short-term goal,” he says. “That plays into the hands of the president, who is urging us to go ahead and try. It would be foolish, and a waste of time, to suggest to people that we can do a full repeal in coming months. We’ve got to be honest with people so they don’t become dispirited when that doesn’t happen. Nonetheless, while we may not be able to dismantle it entirely with this president in office, we just might be able to slice off pieces.”

Kyl says the GOP’s amendments during the recent Senate reconciliation process are a good indicator of issues under Republican consideration — ammunition for upcoming battles, he says, in what will be a longer repeal war. “We’re looking for every opportunity to change it, to repeal pieces, and to defund it. We don’t have the numbers now, but after the next election, we hopefully can start to effectively fight the appropriations measures. Other aspects may take two cycles, but however long it takes, repeal and replace is our goal. Will it happen tomorrow? No. But we will have members sign pledges to support repeal efforts.”

Making the argument to replace Obamacare is the key challenge. Kyl says it would be “disingenuous” to only hammer Democrats about repeal. “We need to let people know what we’d like to put in its place and remind people of the ideas we had,” he says. “Our purpose is not to offer nothing — we want to get into the kind of reforms we believe are best, talk about our ideas, and, of course, about how to get rid of this. Just as liberals have built up the social-welfare system brick by brick over the past 50 years, it’s not a bad strategy to begin to dismantle it brick by brick, like we did with welfare reform, while hoping to slice off major pieces.”

Republicans, Kyl says, will begin to map out a repeal-and-replace strategy over the upcoming Easter break. “We’re focusing on it,” he says. “To say we’re not, or to infer that none of us want to stop this, is just silly. While Obama is president, he’ll veto any major effort, so we need to be smart in looking at how we can win some votes to repeal pieces of the bill. We’re already highlighting some areas where we think Democrats will have a tough time voting against us.”

Obama, Kyl concludes, “has a great deal of hubris” to think that Obamacare is here to stay, and that the GOP will fumble in its opposition efforts. “I hope members get an earful over the break,” he says. “People are still upset. The polls reflect that. The president has misread American public opinion on this issue, as well as Americans’ willingness to endure the consequences of this legislation over time.”

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The mal-conception of income

A little candor from Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT):

The health care bill is an income shift, it is a shift, a leveling to help lower income, middle income Americans. Too often, much of late, the last couple, three years, the mal-distribution of income in America is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind. Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America. This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America.

This is what Barack Obama believes, this is what Nancy Pelosi believes, and this is what most Congressional Democrats believe. To them, income is not earned, it is unfairly distributed. To which the remedy is the mal-distribution of power into their hands.

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H/T: Jim Hoft

The ultimate legislation test

What’s the best way to tell whether a piece of legislation is going to be beneficial of harmful? Ask Fidel:

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Thursday declared passage of American health care reform “a miracle” and a major victory for Obama’s presidency, but couldn’t help chide the United States for taking so long to enact what communist Cuba achieved decades ago.

One small thumbs up from Fidel means one giant leap down the road to serfdom for the United States.

The AP also includes this little unbiased morsel in its article:

Cuba provides free health care and education to all its citizens, and heavily subsidizes food, housing, utilities and transportation, policies that have earned it global praise.

That’s sort of correct: the outdoor prison known as Cuba has definitely earned global praise— global praise from Leftists.

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H/T: Ace of Spades