Worse and Worser

From Randall Hoven:

Every single proposal from this President makes the budget outlook worse. Much worse. Unprecedented in peacetime worse. Third World basket case, debtor-nation, worse. Can we get anything from this man that is not a 1,000 page piece of legislation that costs $1 trillion and needs a new czar?

Let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that Obama was handed a terrible situation. He was made captain of a ship that was leaking and close to sinking. But instead of patching the leaks, he is taking an ax to everything. He says we can’t live with the status quo.

Can we please not save this country by destroying it?

Entire disturbing essay here

The Vision of the Anointed

From Victor Davis Hanson:

Obama is not a pragmatist, as he insisted, nor even a liberal, as charged. Rather, he is a statist. The president believes that a select group of affluent, highly educated technocrats — cosmopolitan, noble-minded, and properly progressive — supported by a phalanx of whiz-kids fresh out of blue-chip universities with little or no experience in the marketplace, can direct our lives far better than we can ourselves.

Please read the entire essay here


This is just lovely. Cancer-stricken senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) is leaving office. So the Dems that control the Massachusetts state legislature want to change the law requiring his replacement to be determined in a special election so that his replacement would instead be appointed by the governor. This way Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, can appoint another government-worshiping Leftist to the Senate.

Not so bad, I guess, until we learn that gubernatorial appointment was the law prior to 2004. This was until Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) ran for president and the Dems controlling the legislature created the special election requirement to prevent then Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, from appointing a replacement if Kerry won.

Bravo Mr. Mueller

For Immediate Release
August 22, 2009

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

Letter from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, to Scottish Minister Kenny MacAskill

August 21, 2009

The Honorable Kenny MacAskill, MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Justice
Scottish Government
St. Andrew’s House
Regent Road
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Over the years I have been a prosecutor, and recently as the Director of the FBI, I have made it a practice not to comment on the actions of other prosecutors, since only the prosecutor handling the case has all the facts and the law before him in reaching the appropriate decision.

Your decision to release Megrahi causes me to abandon that practice in this case. I do so because I am familiar with the facts, and the law, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the investigation and indictment of Megrahi in 1991. And I do so because I am outraged at your decision, blithely defended on the grounds of “compassion.”

Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law. Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world who now believe that regardless of the quality of the investigation, the conviction by jury after the defendant is given all due process, and sentence appropriate to the crime, the terrorist will be freed by one man’s exercise of “compassion.” Your action rewards a terrorist even though he never admitted to his role in this act of mass murder and even though neither he nor the government of Libya ever disclosed the names and roles of others who were responsible.

Your action makes a mockery of the emotions, passions and pathos of all those affected by the Lockerbie tragedy: the medical personnel who first faced the horror of 270 bodies strewn in the fields around Lockerbie, and in the town of Lockerbie itself; the hundreds of volunteers who walked the fields of Lockerbie to retrieve any piece of debris related to the breakup of the plane; the hundreds of FBI agents and Scottish police who undertook an unprecedented global investigation to identify those responsible; the prosecutors who worked for years–in some cases a full career–to see justice done.

But most importantly, your action makes a mockery of the grief of the families who lost their own on December 21, 1988. You could not have spent much time with the families, certainly not as much time as others involved in the investigation and prosecution. You could not have visited the small wooden warehouse where the personal items of those who perished were gathered for identification–the single sneaker belonging to a teenager; the Syracuse sweatshirt never again to be worn by a college student returning home for the holidays; the toys in a suitcase of a businessman looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and children.

You apparently made this decision without regard to the views of your partners in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the Lockerbie tragedy. Although the FBI and Scottish police, and prosecutors in both countries, worked exceptionally closely to hold those responsible accountable, you never once sought our opinion, preferring to keep your own counsel and hiding behind opaque references to “the need for compassion.”

You have given the family members of those who died continued grief and frustration. You have given those who sought to assure that the persons responsible would be held accountable the back of your hand. You have given Megrahi a “jubilant welcome” in Tripoli, according to the reporting. Where, I ask, is the justice?

Sincerely yours,

Robert S. Mueller, III


Why the Stimulus Flopped

From Mark Steyn:

But the silver-tongued salesman sails on. Why be scared of a government health program? After all, says the president, “Medicare is a government program that works really well,” and if “we’re able to get something right like Medicare,” we should have more “confidence” about being able to do it for everyone.

On the other hand, says the president, Medicare is “unsustainable” and “running out of money.”

By the way, unlike your run-of-the-mill politician’s contradictory statements, these weren’t made a year or even a week apart, but during the same presidential speech in Portsmouth, N.H. At any rate, in order to “control costs” Obama says we need to introduce a new trillion-dollar government entitlement. It’s a good thing he’s the smartest president of all time and the greatest orator since Socrates because otherwise one might easily confuse him with some birdbrained Bush type. But, if we take him at his word, then a trillion-dollar public expenditure that “controls costs” presumably means he’s planning on reducing private health expenditure — such as, say, your insurance plan — by at least a trillion. Or he’ll be raising a trillion dollars’ worth of revenue. Either way, under Obama nothing is certain but death panels and taxes — i.e., a vast enervating statism, and the confiscation of the fruits of your labors required to pay for it.

That’s why the “stimulus” flopped. It didn’t just fail to stimulate, it actively deterred stimulation, because it was the first explicit signal to America and the world that the Democrats’ political priorities overrode everything else. If you’re a business owner, why take on extra employees when cap’n’trade is promising increased regulatory costs and health “reform” wants to stick you with an 8 percent tax for not having a company insurance plan? Obama’s leviathan sends a consistent message to business and consumers alike: When he’s spending this crazy, maybe the smart thing for you to do is hunker down until the dust’s settled and you get a better sense of just how broke he’s going to make you. For this level of “community organization,” there aren’t enough of “the rich” to pay for it. That leaves you.

For Obama, government health care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture in which all elections and most public discourse will be conducted on Democratic terms. It’s no surprise that the president can’t make a coherent economic or medical argument for Obamacare, because that’s not what it’s about — and for all his cool, he can’t quite disguise that. Apropos a new poll, the Associated Press reports that Americans “are losing faith in Barack Obama.”

“Losing faith”? Oh, no! Fall on your knees and beseech the One: “Give me a sign, O Lord!”

But he has. They’re all along empty highways across rural New Hampshire: “This Massive Expansion of Wasteful Statism Brought to You by Obama Marketing, Inc.”

Entire essay here

The Great ‘Prevention’ Myth

From Charles Krauthammer:

Desperation time. What do you do? Sprinkle fairy dust on every health-care plan, and present your deus ex machina: prevention.

Free mammograms and diabetes tests and checkups for all, promise Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, writing in USA Today. Prevention, they assure us, will not just make us healthier, it also “will save money.”

Obama followed suit in his Tuesday New Hampshire town hall, touting prevention as amazingly dual-purpose: “It saves lives. It also saves money.”

Reform proponents repeat this like a mantra. Because it seems so intuitive, it has become conventional wisdom. But like most conventional wisdom, it is wrong. Overall, preventive care increases medical costs.

This inconvenient truth comes, once again, from the CBO. In an Aug. 7 letter to Rep. Nathan Deal, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf writes: “Researchers who have examined the effects of preventive care generally find that the added costs of widespread use of preventive services tend to exceed the savings from averted illness.”

Entire essay here

On Becoming Europe

By Victor Davis Hanson
August 12, 2009

Thoughts of Our European Future to Come

After concluding another 16 days in Europe. I am again reminded how different their form of socialism is, and yet how closely it resembles the model that Obama seeks for America. The vast majority of citizens lives in apartments, even in smaller towns and villages. Cars are tiny. Prices are higher than in the states; income is lower (The government taxes you to pay for things like “free” college, so you won’t have much to spend on antisocial things like your Wal-Mart plastic Christmas Tree or your second K-Mart plasma TV.)

Mass transit is frequent and cheap, but often crowded and occasionally unpleasant. The stifled desire to acquire something—large house, car, deposit account—is of course not quite destroyed by socialism, but rather is channeled into a sort of cynicism and anger, often leading to a hedonism of few children, late and long meals, and disco hours until the early morning. The number of Gucci like stores selling overpriced label junk like 200 Euro eye-glass frames and 1000 Euro leather bags to socialists is quite amazing.

A Party for Everything

Multiple political parties flourish, all with passionate single agenda constituents. Graffiti is not gang related, but mostly political and nonsensical. Media is divided by politics, a leftwing paper, a rightwing magazine. Unions control almost all government services. And yet class is firmly entrenched and aristocratic snobbery more pronounced. (We already see that strange symbiosis between socialism for everyone else, capitalism for a few, whether in Michelle’s clothes, the Obama’s mansion, the Kerry fortune, the Edwards compound, the Gore appurtenances, the Clinton speaking cash cow, and too many others to list).

Among upper-class Greeks, one is constantly reminded that their grandfather, their cousin, or mother-in-law was this minister once, or that writer years ago, or today a famous diplomat—anything to focus one’s attention beyond the possession of the normal flat in the normal apartment building and the normal tiny Fiat and the normal public education.

Ministries to be Milked

When I talk to well-off Italians and Greeks who have substantial homes by the sea not available to most others, one of three realities leak out: one, they have family money made decades ago by their ancestors that includes ancestral estates permissible before the period of supposed mandated equality of result. In other words, theirs got theirs and then helped make laws so no one else could.

Or, two, people simply cheat on taxes all the time. If you buy something, the offer comes to pay in cash. A Greek explained to me his government job is his official tax-paying day job; the expertise necessary for it is what he farms out at night and on weekends for cash that goes for a second home, a larger car, a vacation abroad.

Egalitarian Vampires

Or, three, the technocrats who run these vast welfare states are not only well paid, but more importantly are able to garner cars, travel, and plush apartments as tax-free job related perks (cf. the current scandal in London). If being a “venture capitalist” is what wannabe Harvard kids in their 20s sought in the 1990s, being a bigwig Minister, with neo-classical office, state Mercedes, and official residence is the perennial European equivalent. This is a continent of Tom Daschles, who win by being exempt from the burden of government that they subject on others, and win again by having the contacts to sort out government contracts to crony-businesses.

My point? The more Europe professes to be egalitarian, the more cynical and conniving the people have become—almost as if the human craving for one’s own property and to make one one’s destiny cannot be denied by the state, but by needs will be channeled into what the state mandates as anti-social for most, but quietly a perk for a few.

Unhappy Socialist Campers

I’ve been reading a lot of commentary in Italian and Greek newspapers these last three weeks and talking to Italians, Greeks, and Turks during two long European lecture tours. Socialism surely does not make one happier, or content knowing that the resulting society is somehow more humane or caring. Instead each faction is constantly on the verge of striking against the public good. There are always the bad “them”, easy-target public enemies among the rich and aristocratic who need to give away more to the “deserving.” The bank workers are in perpetual war against the garbage cleaners who hate the social service workers who whine about the fire and police—each convinced the public must grant more largess on themselves than on like others.

Just as the government is necessary to nanny one and all—and thereby earns both the demands and resentment of the recipient for its caring—so too the United States serves the same role to Europe at large: hated and needed at the same time.

Parents Are Hated by Their Dependents

In Greece, they are being hit by a pandemic of Turkish over-flights in the Aegean, and rather cynical efforts of Turkish money-making smugglers to buy wrecked freighters and beach them with hundreds of aliens from the Middle East on the shores of Aegean—Greece being the gateway to the EU money trough for supposed “political refugees”. Illegal aliens are everywhere in Athens. The country is sort of the front lines of European utopian pretension: what sounds good in Brussels is reified in the here and now in Greece with its porous maritime borders on the Middle East.

I would assume that if there weren’t a US-led NATO, some sort of shooting war would quickly break out over immigrants, Aegean air space, or Cyprus. To suggest that privately to Greeks is to earn a grudging nod; to do so publicly is to get a fiery denunciation and yet another tutorial about the 1967 coup, and the Henry Kissinger intrigue in Cyprus, as prequel to Iraq and Bush.

Thoughts on DMV Health Care in extremis

Because I have traveled a great deal in my life, often recklessly so, alone, and to weird places in search of answers to topographical questions of the ancient Mediterranean world, and first-hand observations about battles and campaigns in out of the way places for several books— I have ended up over the last 36 years in a number of socialist hospitals: E-coli poisoning in Athens from tainted strawberries; a cut tendon on my index finger from a barbed wire fence in Sparta (with reaction to live tetanus vaccination); a severed ureter due to an impacted staghorn calculus kidney stone from dehydration of excavating at Corinth; a light case of malaria at Karnak, Egypt; an out of control, strep throat that turned into something more in Izmir, Turkey; a ruptured appendix, surgery, and peritonitis in Tripolis, Libya, and so on.

In each case, the care was terrible. A sole lonely doctor or maverick nurse in two cases saved my life, but on the average the facilities were filthy, and the employees akin to those in the government-run post office or bank. And a strange thing occurred as well: often the staff became mad at the patient: “Why did you come here with an appendix problem?”; You should have not let your strep get out of control!”; “If you don’t drink water, what do you expect!”; “See what happens when you don’t take all your quinine pills!”.

Socialism will always blame the patient (just watch when it comes here), I suppose for drawing on collective resources, and to focus on public enemies whose weight, smoking, or lifestyle (I do not smoke or drink, but exercise and am of reasonable weight) have betrayed the public ideal. (Fat people, and smokers (except our President) will soon become as hated in the socialist mind as jet skis, those in their 80s who want a bypass, Yukons, Tahoes and investment bankers.)

Europe is Europe, Because America is Not?

No, Europe should not only not be our model, but Euros know it should not be our model. A few brilliant Europeans whisper, “Of course, it is lost here, since no addict insidiously hooked on government entitlement ever gives such largess up. But you over there still have a chance.” For a few Europeans, America’s military (drawing on fewer people and less territory and GDP than the expanded EU) is the only hope for Western defense. It’s where most life-saving drugs will emerge, new technologies are birthed, and huge sophisticated markets grow for European goods. So they have a stake in not allowing us to become like them.

The Not-so-Kind Face of Socialism

One final thought: I’ve never met a beatific equality-of-result person. They are usually grim and angry warriors determined to right cosmic wrongs, eager to demonize those who ‘have too much’, convinced that the divine ends justify the demonic means.

In that regard, despite the hope and change rhetoric, when Obama went down that ‘spread the wealth’ path, I feared that we would get the Rev. Wright race talk. It is no surprise that Obama invokes the constant bogeymen who do all sorts of terrible things, among them most prominently the Orwellian Goldstein figure of George W. Bush. There are no legitimate critics, only those Obama & Co. claim are shills for the insurance industries, who unfairly attack the Canadian health system, the greedy who go to Vegas and the Super Bowl, the Neanderthal who cling to their guns, the dissidents known as Nazis, stooges, mobs, and the well-dressed who dare to become rude to the Congresspeople.

The road to socialism is not natural. It must be paved with the hard work of class envy, demonization of the successful, and obfuscation that each new massive spending program that will raise both taxes and deficits (that’s the point, after all, to create so much red ink that we must raise taxes and redefine what constitutes income) must be passed immediately, without delay, now-or-never to stave off Biblical hunger, plague, and flood.

Or else!


Obama’s Tone-Deaf Health Campaign

From Dorothy Rabinowitz:

That treatment, or rather its memory—like the adulation of his great mass of voters—has had its effect on this president, and not all to the good. The election over, the warming glow of those armies of supporters gone, his capacity to tolerate criticism and dissent from his policies grows thinner apace. His lectures, explaining his health-care proposals, and why they’ll be good for everybody, are clearly not going down well with his national audience.

This would have to do with the fact that the real Barack Obama—product of the academic left, social reformer with a program, is now before that audience, and what they hear in this lecture about one of the central concerns in their lives—his message freighted with generalities—they are not prepared to buy. They are not prepared to believe that our first most important concern now is health-care reform or all will go under.

The president has a problem. For, despite a great election victory, Mr. Obama, it becomes ever clearer, knows little about Americans. He knows the crowds—he is at home with those. He is a stranger to the country’s heart and character.

He seems unable to grasp what runs counter to its nature. That Americans don’t take well, for instance, to bullying, especially of the moralizing kind, implicit in those speeches on health care for everybody. Neither do they wish to be taken where they don’t know they want to go and being told it’s good for them.

Who would have believed that this politician celebrated, above all, for his eloquence and capacity to connect with voters would end up as president proving so profoundly tone deaf? A great many people is the answer—the same who listened to those speeches of his during the campaign, searching for their meaning.

It took this battle over health care to reveal the bloom coming off this rose, but that was coming. It began with the spectacle of the president, impelled to go abroad to apologize for his nation—repeatedly. It is not, in the end, the demonstrators in those town-hall meetings or the agitations of his political enemies that Mr. Obama should fear. It is the judgment of those Americans who have been sitting quietly in their homes, listening to him.

Entire essay here