Tunku Varadarajan's column at Forbes.com about some of the conservative response -- really, the preemptive reaction -- to President Obama's back-to-school speech today is pretty much spot-on.
Call me naïve, but I believe that Americans ought to accord their president a formal, ex officio respect, irrespective of party affiliation. He is, after all, the president of all of us (whether we like him or not), and it is unseemly that we should withhold civility from him on grounds of political disagreement. As things stand, no blow seems low enough, no criticism off limits, if the president happens to be from the other side. The pursuit of happiness has given way to the pursuit of picayune point-scoring. E Pluribus Unum ... Why do we still bother with that silly foreign phrase? Our great nation has become a Manichaean nation.
I might quibble a little with the phrasing of that second sentence ("...the president of us all..."), but the larger observation is entirely correct. Earlier in the piece, Varadarajan makes the rather obvious point that "Overheated sections of the right -- first the 'birthers,' now the 'speechers' -- are meting out to Obama precisely the sort of disrespectful treatment they execrated when it was directed by the left at President Bush."
To that I would only add that conservatives diminish our already tenuous position as a credible opposition when we overshoot like this. Objecting to the Department of Education lesson plans was an excellent fight to pick. Keeping the kids home from school today? That's just stupid.
As James Taranto observes in Tuesday's Best of the Web:
Under normal circumstances, some of the lines in the speech would merit some gentle mocking. ...Drudge amusingly bannered the president's instruction to WASH YOUR HANDS, or, as the speech puts it, "I hope you'll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don't feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter."
But really, the conservatives are more deserving of mockery in this case. Is it really their position that children should have filthy hands?
I think for few, the answer would be yes. And so it's not just their hands that are dirty. Michelle Malkin and others are wiping the egg of their faces today, saying, "it's not the speech, it's the subtext."
Truth is, it's about picking battles wisely. Again: Hammering the Department of Education lesson plans was the right thing to do. It's possible that the ensuing outcry persuaded the White House to adopt a more moderate tone for Obama's remarks. That's entirely to the good.
I hate it when kids are used as political props or human shields. But my objections are minor compared with, say, our friend Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson, who on Saturday wrote: "(I)t's not a matter of parents all over the country being crazy. It's parents not trusting a president who has put together an eight month track record anyone with cognitive skills would deem as a cause for concern when it comes to their children." Sorry, but for most voters, the link between Obama's insane policy schemes, his extremist hires, and his speech urging kids to study hard and stay in school is not at all obvious. And when Malkin, Generalissimo, et. al., are forced to talk about "subtext," then it's clear they haven't made their case very well.
A very big part of the resistance to this speech is the double standard. And this is important, and not mere grousing. All conservatives know that there would not only be an opt-out if, say, President Bush the Younger had given this speech, but that it would (barely) have been shown at all in the first place.
The sensitivities of liberal parents would have been respected. Not just respected -- those sensitivities would have been dominant, blocking out coverage except for in a small fraction of schools.
On the other hand -- Obama.
Now, what the liberal/governmental establishment wants to tell us here is that we are second class citizens. We have some political rights, but not nearly the full panoply of rights enjoyed by liberals.
And we reject that.
We. Reject. That.
And we're not "crazy" or "stupid" to do so. We are simply tired of the liberal/bureaucratic establishment treating us like second-class citizens of no importance and no account, and of arrogantly treating us as children in constant need of their sage wisdom, lecturing, and hectoring.
Not having it.
I'm not having it, either. But I'm afraid it is grousing. And worse, it puts conservatives in the position of playing the victim over and over again. You are a second-class citizen only if you accept the premise. Liberal hectoring is as inevitable as the tides. So what? They hector. They poke and prod and advance their agendas. And we poke and prod and counter their agendas -- presumably with an agenda of our own.
I wrote last night that I would not prevent my 7-year-old from participating in his school's assembly today to hear the president's speech. I presume the problem isn't with the speech but with what the school's instructors choose to do with it. Moreover, I presume that my children will be exposed to a great deal of nonsense in the coming years -- much worse, certainly, than 20 minutes of banalities and clichés from a second-rate chief magistrate. But then so much of life is nonsense. My role as a father is to do everything I can to help my son and daughter distinguish between good sense and nonsense, legitimate and illegitimate, free and unfree, valuable and worthless, right and wrong, virtue and vice, good and evil.
Sometimes I overreact, so I know what overreaction looks like. We're falling into an obvious and foreseeable trap. "Anger is not a platform," I wrote after the election. "Saying 'Obama isn't my president' -- as some liberals insisted that President Bush was "selected, not elected" -- isn't persuasive. It's petulant. The job of the next four years is to check Obama's worst instincts and hold him accountable for his policies -- without anger or malice, but in the spirit of loyal opposition and cheerful patriotism."
That's even more true today than it was in November.
Do conservatives want to argue that staying in school and studying hard is not a net social good? Really? Really?
No, there is nothing particularly objectionable about Barack Obama encouraging students to study hard, pay attention, and stay in school. The speech is pretty routine stuff -- nothing we haven't heard ten thousand times before. I could pick on a few details. But it's noteworthy mostly because of the source, a man who holds the highest office in the land and has a unique story to tell.
The problem with the president of the United States addressing the nation's schools is the precedent it sets and the habits it encourages. He's the commander-in-chief, not principal-in-chief or the chairman of the school board of America. And schools have always been a local concern, even as the federal government has steadily eroded state and local autonomy in education over the past four decades or so. There's a very real chance that the speech Barack Obama delivers on September 8 will become a post-Labor Day tradition, repeated by this president and his successors for years and decades to come. Obama friends, partisans, and critics have already pointed to the speeches that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush delivered to school kids back when. Like that's an excuse!
Local school officials are taking a cautious approach, as they are wont to do. My son's school district put out a robocall from the superintendent over the weekend informing parents that we could opt out of the speech if we so choose. Well, having read the speech, I don't think there is any harm in my 7-year-old son listening to the president. He's a second grader. My guess is he'll be bored to tears. (As Ann Althouse points out, "The kids will need to sit still for 2540 televised words.") I can't wait to ask him.
The Wall Street Journal editorializes on the Van Jones resignation in Tuesday's paper:
No President is responsible for all of the views of his appointees, but the rise and fall of Mr. Jones is one more warning that Mr. Obama can't succeed on his current course of governing from the left. He is running into political trouble not because his own message is unclear, or because his opposition is better organized. Mr. Obama is falling in the polls because last year he didn't tell the American people that the "change" they were asked to believe in included trillions of dollars in new spending, deferring to the most liberal Members of Congress, a government takeover of health care, and appointees with the views of Van Jones.
That dovetails nicely with the point I make in the latest Scripps-Howard column.
Regarding Zaius's observations about Peggy Noonan, I think the fixation on Jones is no longer useful. There's something to be said for continuing to pummel the Washington Post and the New York Times for their insipid and mendacious reporting, but Jones is out. He's an ex-Czar. There are plenty more czars to scrutinize. Noonan may have understated Jones's radicalism and the radicalism of the Obama administration. In general, however, I agree with the idea that this administration is young in office and unacquainted with the sort of resistance it has met since taking the reins in January. That's all.
Not really, of course, but they summarize some of the conservative argument against Obamaism quite well. This is well worth 90 seconds of your time.
Apart from a flirtation with radicalism (you have to hope it did not become a full, deep and continuing relationship), Jones, in February, thoughtfully attempted to capture the essence of the GOP in a speech in Berkeley, Calif. "Republicans are —," he explained.
You have to hope Van Jones didn't establish "a full, deep and continuing relationship" with Marxists? Seriously, Peggy? Have you read anything other than The New York Times, which couldn't bring itself to cover Van Jones? Hoping that Van Jones isn't an unreformed Marxist radical (and somehow not too far off the "mainstream") is like hoping Santa Claus is real. Noonan almost immediately afterward writes:
But Mr. Jones is not my concern.
With all due respect, Peggy, it should be your concern — you primary concern, especially as a former Reaganite. The trouble with Obama's "staffers and appointees" is not that they are "so young and relatively untried," it's that they have matured after years of marinating in the worst elements of hard-left Marxist academia and "activism." Van Jones is 40 and has quite a number of years of public activism behind him. Valerie Jarret, who is 52, praised Jones to the hills, and undoubtedly had a hand in recruiting him to the Obama administration. David Axelrod is 54. David Craig, the White House Counsel, is an old Clinton retread at the age of 64. And the president himself is 48. When do these leftists grow up and leave the socialist utopian politics of their college days behind?
To read the rest of this post, please click "Read more" below
Van Jones may be gone, but the coverage of his departure should not be soon forgotten. Ace of Spades points out the New York Times's lame, ambiguous and sloppy reporting on Jones's departure, specifically Jones's Truther affiliations:
If (the Times) had just quoted the highly-quotable language of the petition -- no Deciding, no Gatekeeping, just the actual words -- this misreading wouldn't be possible at all.
Mickey Kaus slices and dices the Times story, leaving little more than a coarse paste.
I had to read this Firedoglake post a couple of times before I realized that Jane Hamsher isn't actually saying what I thought she was saying -- namely, that nearly two out of five Democrats are (or were) Truthers. To my relief, I realized that she's merely dissembling:
Now (Jones has) been thrown under the bus by the White House for signing his name to a petition expressing something that 35% of all Democrats believed as of 2007 -- that George Bush knew in advance about the attacks of 9/11.
Is that really what Jones "innocently" and ignorantly signed his name to? Here's the petition. Read it for yourself. It posits much, much more insidious stuff than simply claiming Bush "knew in advance about the attacks of 9/11."
In context, Hamsher is lamenting how the liberal establishment that feted Van Jones a year ago has abandoned him now in his hour of need. As it happens, Hamsher peddles this falsehood in the service of a larger and much more explosive truth: The left consists of a bunch of money-grubbing, power-infatuated sellouts:
I heard it over and over again -- if you wanted to criticize the White House on financial issues, your institutional funding would dry up instantly. The Obama campaign successfully telegraphed to donors that they should cut off Fund for America, which famously led to its demise.
It wasn't the last time something like that happened -- just ask those who were receiving institutional money who criticized the White House and saw their funding cut, at the specific request of liberal institutional leaders who now principally occupy their time by brown nosing friends and former co-workers in the White House.
And so the groups in the DC veal pen stay silent. They leadership gets gets bought off by cocktail parties at the White House while the interests of their members get sold out.
Yes, yes, I heard the same thing from some conservatives when Bush was president. But what's so weird about Hamsher's complaint, echoed by others among the "netroots," is that she wants these groups and the White House to go to the wall for an avowed Marxist, a 9/11 Truther, and an outspoken defender of cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal.
R.S. McCain observes the irony in the immolation of the left:
The astounding disproportion between the facts -- who Van Jones is and what got him in trouble -- and the Left's perception tells you a lot about the what's gone wrong in Hopeville. For all the recent uproar about Joseph Farah and "Birthers," it is the Democratic Party which suffers most from the influence of its extremist supporters.
Jane Hamsher, Alan Colmes, and Keith Olbermann apparently live inside an echo chamber where a man who was a leader of a Marxist outfit like STORM, and who subsequently signed a 9/11 Truther petition, is not legitimately controversial.
That's more or less right. (I disagree with McCain re: WorldNetDaily.) Hamsher, et. al., see Jones's resignation as a portent of capitulation on a range of "progressive" policy points, from health care to cap and trade and counterterrorism. "If you can't get it together to at least put out a statement of support for Van Jones and condemn the White House for using him as a sacrificial lamb to right wing extremists that will devour us all if left unchecked," Hamsher writes, "it's time to add 'proudly liberal only when it doesn't matter' to your logo and be done with it."
If sticking up for Van Jones is the litmus test for principled liberalism these days, then I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of liberals really do sit out next year's elections -- just not for the reasons Hamsher and her comrades think.
Well...this was to be expected:
Send Me Everything You Can Find About Glenn Beck
by Keith Olbermann
Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 10:14:03 AM PDT
I don't know why I've got this phrasing in my head, but: Find everything you can about Glenn Beck, Stu Burguiere, and Roger Ailes.
No, even now, I refuse to go all caps. [How kind -Ed.]
No, sending me links to the last two Countdowns with my own de-constructions of his biblical vision quality Communist/Fascist/Socialist/Zimbalist art at Rockefeller Center (where, curiously, he works, Comrade) doesn't count. Nor does sending me links to specious inappropriate point-underscoring prove-you're-innocent made-up rumors.
Tuesday we will expand this to the television audience and have a dedicated email address to accept leads, tips, contacts, on Beck, his radio producer Burguiere, and the chief of his tv enablers, Ailes (even though Ailes' power was desperately undercut when he failed to pull off his phony "truce" push).
This becomes necessary after this in order to prove various cliches about goose and gander, and to remind everybody to walk softly and carry a big popsicle, and most particularly to save this nation from the Oligarhy of The Stupid.
I keep wondering if somewhere somebody named Ollie Garhey thinks he's in charge now. Or, even more entertainingly and societally satisfying, if somebody named Ali Garhi does.
Despite the worn-out snark above, I am in earnest here.
The wacky Glenn Beck is a big-time media personality more than capable of holding his own against the likes of Keith "Sports Guy" Olbermann. So I assume he has prepared for what's coming.
To read the rest of this post, please click "Read more" below
Via Gateway Pundit comes this learned discussion on NBC's Meet the Press about the Internet's role in Van Jones's downfall. I don't know how long that video is going to last, so here is a transcript of Tom Friedman and Tom Brokaw sharing their wisdom with host David Gregory:
To read the rest of this post, please click "Read more" below
Here are two interesting aspects surrounding the departure of Green Jobs "Czar" Van Jones* from the White House this weekend.
As Mickey Kaus observes: "I've been waiting for the day when a prominent pol resigns and for print MSM readers it appears to be out-of-the-blue, though everyone on the Web knows the whole story. But for WaPo's Franke-Ruta and Kornblut, this would be that case."
Here is a clear instance of the Washington Post and the New York Times getting caught flatfooted because the newsroom high-brows didn't want to give that wacky Glenn Beck and the righty blogs the satisfaction. (I like Jonah Goldberg's quip at the Corner: "The New York Times mentions Van Jones. It's a good method. You can save a lot of money covering news stories only at the end.")
To read the rest of this post, please click "Read more" below.
Not that you'd know if you depend on The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times or the nightly newscasts of ABC, CBS, or NBC — but Van Jones, Obama's hand-picked "Green Jobs Czar," resigned Saturday night. The release came on Labor Day weekend, just before midnight Eastern Time on Saturday. Typical, in all ways.
If you want to know why Van Jones resigned, just Google him. I'm as lazy as a network anchor and MSM newspaper reporter and won't bother filling in the details. Short version: The 9/11 Truther legacy of Jones was barely the half of his wackiness.
But I post on this only to share parts of his exit statement:
On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.
I have been inundated with calls — from across the political spectrum — urging me to 'stay and fight.' But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.
Dude (and I can address a fellow Californian like that), you are a "truther." That is not a smear. That's fact. You are a Marxist. That is also a fact. You have stated, publicly, that "white" polluters are poisoning black folks — on purpose. And there's even more crazy stuff you've said, on tape. Them facts are not "smears." In English, that's called the "public record." And how wide is that "political spectrum" from which you've discovered people motivated enough to place personal phone calls to you — assuming they even knew you were in trouble, not likely if they only follow the MSM?
I said when the whole Van Jones flap erupted several days ago: The 9/11 Truther stuff is the least of it. What matters is that Obama — and his most-trusted advisor, Valerie Jarrett — thought it'd be a great way to advance their agenda if they could sneak an avowed Marxist past the goalie.
Van Jones slipping back into the hard-left warrens is the good news. The bad news: There's a lot more where Van Jones came from already ensconced in our government.
... literally. This is old news now, as the cyber-crow flies, but a senior citizen at a pro-Obama health care rally in normally placid Thousand Oaks, CA (a posh suburb north of of Los Angeles in generally Republican Ventura County) had part of his his pinkie bitten off by a MoveOn.org nut job who is apparently a big fan of Hannibal the Cannibal.
The kicker: The poor guy was not even part of the counter-demonstrators who showed up to heroically (at least it used to be heroic to liberals) present an opposing view. William Rice was just passing by and stumbled into an unfortunate event.
"I didn't go out to demonstrate my beliefs, I happened to be driving by and I stopped to ask people what their purpose was," Rice, 65, said in a telephone interview Thursday. "I had no signs, I was not part of the demonstration."
No matter, he was deformed. Apparently, the monster who bit it clean off did not have the decency to hand it over — a la Bruce Lee when he reaches into your chest, pulls out your heart, and shows it to you. Rice didn't tell reporters what side of the debate he prefers, but did add that rally "very scary." Ya think?!
Ventura County sheriff's spokesman Eric Buschow said a confrontation erupted after the biter crossed from the MoveOn.org side of the street to the counterprotest, where Rice was standing.
So ... counterprotesters were keeping their distance, and the MoveOn.org thug decided to escalate matters.
A loud scuffle ensued, punches were thrown, and the tip of Rice's finger was bitten off, Buschow said. The biter fled before authorities arrived. He could face felony mayhem charges.
Not to mention practicing the services of a butcher without a proper state license. In California, that's probably the more serious offense. Rice seems like a pretty tough and admirable fellow. Asked if his attacker had a "conversation" with him about health care, Rice replied yes: "If you want to call him screaming in my face that I'm an idiot a conversation."
For the record, MoveOn.org spokeswoman Ilyse Hogue said in a written statement that the incident is a "regrettable act of violence" but the group had few facts about the situation. Well done. It would be imprudent to comment further. Maybe Rice had it coming to him, just like Kenneth Gladney, who got the union thug treatment for daring to be a black man trying to make a buck by selling tiny "Don't Tread On Me" flags at a St. Louis town hall meeting.
It's hard to see what's gone on here and not imagine the enormous hue and cry that would be wafting from the MSM and the left if an opponent of Obamacare had not just assaulted a supporter — but bit off a digit. For Pete's sake, citizens showing up at town halls to (gasp!) raise their voices a little bit at the likes of Arlen Specter and John Dingell was portrayed in the MSM as if they were part of a beer hall putsch. People who legally show up at a rally with a firearm are portrayed as the return of the dangerous white-supremacist right-wing militia. And if MSNBC has to crop the video to hide the fact that their glaring example is a black guy, so be it.
Joel, who I like to call our house liberal (as well as a friend), baited me into posting this today with an email. I'd been too busy with paying work to get to it until now. And there are many jokes to be made of this incident, but I'm not really in a joking mood. I wonder what Rachael Maddow and Keith Olbermann — who have had a lot of fun joking about "teabaggers" — have to say about this now. Is even this funny? No. Which is why they will ignore it.
One of the things about the whole scene that has unfolded in the last several months — among many — has been the reflex of liberals who once championed spirited dissent to deride those who do it now. Yes, I've made good sport of the losers who made opposition to the Iraq War into an excuse to engage in bizarro public puppet shows. And I've decried the anarchists and losers who show up at ever G-20 summit to destroy the unfortunate city in which it is held. But if we're keeping score: Right-leaning protesters are not into violence, by and large. Yet obnoxious disruption, and even violence, has long been a key chapter in the left's playbook to bring about "change." And it's ignored. Constantly. To draw attention to violent leftists would do damage to the cause.
Seriously, can you imagine the public outrage — from all sides — if a group of Evangelical Christians went to a rally in support of gay marriage, and beat up one of the people there to sell buttons in opposition to California's Prop 8? Can you imagine if a right-winger went to a MoveOn.org rally, screamed at a senior citizen, started a fight, and then bit his damn finger off? I can.
Unfortunately, I'm not seeing the opposite — the reality — reflected in our media or our culture. That's pretty dammed depressing.
"I'm not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me. And I’m not interested in isolating myself."
It's not exactly a newsflash that Obama is a liberal elitist who believes city life is the best life. This is the man, after all, who in the campaign (when he thought no one was recording his words) told his fellow liberal urban elitists in San Francisco tales of the strange God-and-guns clingers in the far reaches of Pennsylvania where NPR comes in scratchy on the wireless ... if at all.
Now, I've lived everywhere — in the sense that I've spent a good amount of time experiencing life in urban, rural, and suburban settings. All areas have their virtues and drawbacks. And I think I could happily make a life anywhere. "Home is where you make it," and all that.
Driscoll, it seems, raised this point for little reason other than to post a classic James Lileks rant from 2000. The great humorist and rant-maker was riffing on the book: "Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream." I highly recommend you go here to read the whole thing on Driscoll's site, but here are a few great nuggets:
This book regards suburbia as the equivalent of a Chemlawn gulag, a vapid archipelago into which Americans have mutely filed like sheep to the abbatoir. The authors hold up Alexandria, Virginia as a model for urban living – everything’s pedestrian-accessible, human-scaled, with mixed-use blocks and definable urban centers. All true. ... I recall a friend’s apartment – the bedroom had room for the bed. That was it. A bed. Two people could not live in that place – well, they could, but only if no one wore nappy fabrics, because you’d get rugburn from rubbing against each other all the time. ...
Here’s the dilemma: if the suburbs are such a horror, and inner-city life a clearly superior option, why do people live in the burbs? ... In the curious mythology of our freedom-encumbered age, the post-war vision of freeways and big back yards has curdled into a dark plot imposed on people, not an option freely chosen. ...
The book frowns on gated communities, of course, because they’re exclusionary. Conversely, they praise urban developments with dense housing — which include, I presume, apartment buildings with doormen and security systems. Driving past a guard booth or getting buzzed up via intercom — what’s the difference? "The unity of society is threatened not by the use of gates, but by the uniformity and exclusivity of the people behind them." Oh, blow it out your ass. Doctors will never live next to janitors. ...
This sort of fatuous moralizing can be found at the heart of most anti-suburban tracts, and it’s why I distrust the general idea. There are millions of Americans living happy lives in affluent comfort, never troubled by the aroma of cabbage wafting in from a neighbor’s window, never knowing the communal experience of being awakened at 4 AM by a siren and knowing that everyone else in the building is up as well, and this fact just galls some people. All that space . . . all that room . . . all those things! It just can’t be right.
Amidst the beautiful rant, Lileks makes some great points. It's not enough for liberal elitist snobs to sing the praises of their paradise — the impossibility of expanding one's living space without moving, convenient parking spaces being harder to find than the Ark of the Covenant, not being able to sensibly own a dog bigger than a flower pot. They have to look down their nose at those who freely choose to live a different life. People who may not feel it is one of life's joys to be harassed by smelly, rude panhandlers on the way to the corner store are somehow inferior. They are "isolating" themselves.
This would simply be an annoyance, akin to the traffic jams suburban dwellers endure, if books like "Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream" were not published as often as a Danielle Steele romance novel. The left wants to impose their version of "enlightened" urban life on the rest of us — and we see it in the endless scolding about how suburban and exurban life is harmful to the environment. We need to give up these decadent ways, and soon. Government, through "planning" our lives, must make it so.
Both sets of my grandparents came to this country from Ireland. They settled in cramped, cheap housing in New York City. And every single one of their progeny grew up to leave New York City for the joys of owning (not renting) a real house, a real yard, and a better life — in the suburbs. To have the taking of that opportunity to improve one's lot in life blithely derided as "isolation" is a little offensive.
I wish I could "isolate" myself from Obama by living in the suburbs. No such luck.
This story has been dominating as Drudge's main headline all day. Trouble is, the story isn't exactly new. I wrote a column on this bill — the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 — back in April, which was published in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Go here to read my column, which invokes Jack Bauer.
And go here to see my post on this rather troubling development at the From the Heartland blog.
Libertarian Will Wilkinson, writing at The Week, says that "death panels" are the wrong name for essentially the right idea -- or, at least, the inescapable policy conclusion if the federal government wishes to sustain Medicare, much less create a new "public option" health care plan.
"If most Americans don’t want their government meddling in hard choices about medical care near the end of life, then they don’t want Medicare," Wilkinson writes. "We’ve known that Medicare is unsustainable for a long time now. People flipping their lids about death panels and about government-funded doctors trying to sell seniors on suicide should have been flipping their lids years ago. If these are reasons to kill Obamacare, then, logically, they are also reasons to kill Medicare."
(Hat tip: John Moser at No Left Turns.)
His orders are to weed out all non-hackers:
Troops challenging the legitimacy of President Barack Obama as commander-in-chief -- including at least one who is fighting deployment -- should take heed: Gunnery Sgt. Hartman wants to know your "major malfunction."
R. Lee Ermey, the Marine-turned-actor whose role as drill instructor Gunny Hartman in the late Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" has all but placed the Vietnam veteran in the pantheon of Marine heroes alongside "Chesty" Puller, Smedley Butler and Dan Daly, isn't buying anyone's political objector status.
"I haven't heard about those guys," Ermey told Military.com during an Aug. 21 interview. "If I do run across them though, trust me, I'll square them away."
(Via Big Hollywood)
Here's Jonathan Chait today, wringing his hands over the right-wing crazies befouling the health care debate: "What we are witnessing is the convergence of the mainstream Republican culture with the right-wing political subculture..." etc., etc., blah blah blah.
Here was Jonathan Chait in 2003 (The New Republic's archive is hosed; the link is to some guy's e-mail archive, of all things): "I hate George W. Bush. There, I said it," followed by several hundred words of Chait arguing for, as the New Republic's editors put it, "a rational basis for the deep hatred many liberals feel for President Bush."
In sum: Bush hatred: Rational. Opposition to Obamacare: Crazy talk. Atrios was right. Our discourse really is stupid.
(Hat tip: Victor Davis Hanson at the Corner.)
Peggy Noonan — who's become more readable now that she's shaken off a lot of the "Obama's a great man of history" pollen from her shawl — has penned an interesting column in this week's Wall Street Journal. Her theme is whether Obama will learn humility from the ongoing health care disaster.
Noonan sets up her thesis by noting correctly that Obama's political strategy to get this through has failed — more than that, it has backfired horribly.
Health care as a subject is extraordinarily sticky, messy and confusing. It's inherently complicated, and it's personal. There are land mines all over the place. Don't make the mistake the Clintons made and create a plan that gets picked apart, shot down, and injures the standing of the president. Instead, push it off on Congress. Let them come up with a dozen plans. It will keep them busy. It will convince them yet again of their importance and autonomy. It will allow them to vent, and perhaps even exhaust, their animal spirits. Various items and elements within each bill will get picked off by the public. Fine, that's to be expected. The bills may in fact yield a target-rich environment. Fine again. Maybe health care's foes will get lost in the din and run out of ammo. Maybe they'll exhaust their animal spirits, too.
Summer will pass, the fight confined to the public versus Congress. And at the end, in the fall, the beauty part: The president swoops in and saves the day, forcing together an ultimate and more moderate plan that doesn't contain the more controversial elements but does constitute a successful first step toward universal health care.
That's not what happened.
No. That's not what happened, but it's feasible to believe this is the strategy old Clinton hand Rahm Emanuel intended. Trouble is, he and his political team didn't seem to account for Obama's unfounded confidence in his rhetorical talents — and his stubbornness in employing them.
Sure, when Obama's speaking about gauzy concepts like "hope" and "change," he's gold. But by inserting himself into the details-filled health care debate so personally, he turned himself into a salesman of rotten sausage. Though individual members of Congress were being read the riot act about the details in the various health care schemes, Obama made himself the embodiment of the whole bloody mess in the national psyche.
When the contentious townhall is over, Arlen Specter and John Dingell can walk out of the local community center, head on home and pretend it didn't happen — and cancel Thursday's townhall. Obama doesn't have that luxury. He has to — or, more accurately, has chosen to — defend the details of several plans he didn't even write every single day. It's hard to imagine a political and rhetorical strategy more doomed for failure than that.
So, back to Noonan. Among many great points she makes — including how Clinton and the country were blessed by the Gingrich-led Republican revolution in Congress — Noonan is sadly and typically naive. She imagines a world in which Obama will become as humble as JFK after the Bay of Pigs debacle.
In a more beautiful world, the whole health-care chapter could become, for the president, that helpful thing, the teachable moment. The president the past month has been taught a lot by the American people. It's all there in the polls. He could still step back, rethink, say it didn't work, promise to return with something better.
When presidents make clear, with modesty and even some chagrin, that they have made a mistake but that they've learned a lesson and won't be making it again, the American people tend to respond with sympathy. It is our tradition and our impulse.
Such admissions are not a sign of weakness. John F. Kennedy knew this after the Bay of Pigs. He didn't blame his Republican predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, or the agencies that had begun the invasion's tentative planning under Ike. JFK made it clear he'd learned a great deal, which increased confidence in his leadership. His personal popularity rose so high that he later wryly noted that the more mistakes he made, the more popular he became.
I suspect the American people would appreciate seeing Barack Obama learn from this, and keep going.
Oh, Obama will keep going all right. But I doubt it will be with the humility and modesty that turned JFK's presidency around. Audacity defines this president, not humility. And in assessing today's Democratic political dynamic in Washington, Noonan certainly has this right:
It's not especially pleasurable to see history held hostage to ideological vanity, but it's not the first time. And if they keep it up, they'll help solve the president's problem. He'll have a Republican congress soon enough.
We can only hope.
Monkey Robb shared a recap of the ridiculously biased reactions of the local press in his glorious Arizona desert and that of a red-faced, spittle-spraying Chris Matthews. But even MSNBC's news coverage of this "phenomenon" is downright shameful. In the video below, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer does some voice-over for a video clip of a man with a rifle over his shoulder. We cut back to the studio, where she asks her colleagues to comment on the how: "Here you have a man of color in the presidency and white people showing up with guns…"
Trouble is, the man holding that rifle is not a white guy, but a "man of color" — a black guy to be precise.
It is clear that MSNBC doctored that video (it loops jarringly and is cropped close to the rifle and the white shirt) to advance the idea that dangerous white-supremacist militias are getting quite brazen in posing an armed threat to a president who is "a man of color." MSNBC purposely distorted that footage — in a news segment, not one of their prime-time liberal commentary shows — to advance a fictional racist storyline. Since this is the same network that showed footage of a black left-wing Larouche nutter holding an "Obama as Hitler" sign and passed it off as the work of the right, we should hardly be surprised. But it's still an outrage.
As Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air:
MSNBC should fire everyone involved in this deception, in front of the camera and behind it. It has a decision to make as to whether it is a news and opinion channel, or a propaganda outlet for the Left. There is a difference, and this segment crossed it.
Any tiny shred of journalistic integrity left at MSNBC is long gone because, apparently, there will be no firings. Called on this blatant, vicious, and easily proved propaganda job, MSNBC is — as they say in journalism — sticking by their story:
"Contessa was speaking generally and not about that specific person with the automatic weapon."
Pathetic. So, I suppose it's the position of MSNBC that, "generally," the people who show up at rallies with guns — however unwise that may be — wish they could get away with shooting their political opponents, and even the president himself. I'm not saying that, Touré — the hippest-looking dude commenting in that MSNBC clip — predicts it.
This is the same network, mind you, that said nary a peep about these blatant displays by lefty protesters wishing violent death on the previous president. Though we're still waging wars in two theaters, it's not "Bush's War" anymore — so both the protesters and the MSM have put the tools of their trades in storage. Nothing more to see here, I guess.
MSNBC: "The place for
It is now something of a cliché within certain circles that whenever Barack Obama begins a sentence with the words "Let me be clear..." or "As I have said before..." you can be sure he either hasn't said it before, or he's trying to obscure the truth.
Well, as clichés go, if the shoe fits...
Still, you cannot help but admire (almost) the audacity with which Obama contradicts his previous statements. Take this whopper from the president's interview Thursday morning at the White House with talk show host Michael Smerconish:
As far as health care goes, I've consistently said I would love the private marketplace to be handling this without any government intervention. The problem is it's not working. ...
So all we've said is let's keep the private system intact, but let's make sure that people who right now can't get health insurance -- about 46 million -- that they're able to buy into the market.
Of course, that is most certainly not what Obama has "consistently said." Prior to his election, he "consistently said" the exact opposite. Here, for the 1,344,287th time, is Obama's statement on the subject from 2003, which he repeated off and on until late 2007:
I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14% of its gross national product on health care, cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that's what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that's what I'd like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.
Now, it would be one thing if Obama simply said, "I changed my mind," or "Ideally, I would prefer a single-payer system, but the political reality is the American people don't want it." At least he would be honest.
Instead, like Delbert Grady flattering Jack Torrance into doing his dirty work, Obama insists that he's always been in favor of the private health care market and opposed to single-payer. It's crazy, and demonstrably false. But Obama keeps saying it and about half of the country keeps believing him.
I've read, re-read and re-re-read this blog post at National Review and still can't figure out why on earth it was written.
Benjamin Zycher, a fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, starts out by quoting a two-month-old WaPo article...
An article in the Washington Post about two months ago bore this headline: "A First Lady Who Demands Substance."
...proceeds to insult the First Lady's intellect in racial -- let's call it racist -- terms:
Just read her Princeton senior thesis, an intermittently coherent stream-of-consciousness pile of leftist jargon, campus pseudo-seriousness, and racial-identity babble. Can there be any doubt that the Princeton administrators accepted it only because of her skin color?
...and then asks, in insultingly sarcastic terms, why she hasn't weighed in more fully in the health care debate:
But obviously she is capable of giving us more, of moving the debate forward, of using her background in law, public policy, and management to shoot down the spurious arguments of the special interests and the Beltway obstructionists. We need her now. We need her wisdom. We need her analytic rigor.
It's satire, I suppose, but why take health care debate potshots at somebody who -- as Zycher acknowledges -- really isn't participating in the health care debate? Using a months-old article as the peg? It's really perplexing.
The only answer I can come up with is that Michelle Obama hasn't really worked out to be as much of a socialist bogeyman as conservatives -- who spent the 1990s doing the same to Hillary Clinton -- tried so desperately to make her. Maybe Zycher's trying to bait her into the fray.
Or maybe he's just a jerk.
In any case, one wonders if National Review has any editorial standards left. They claim to be upholding the mantle of William F. Buckley, but it seems like all they remember of his legacy is when he called Gore Vidal a "queer" and threatened to punch him in the face. Everything else -- the intelligence (if, to my way of thinking, often wrong), wit and respect for one's ideological opponents -- has been cast aside.
It is obvious that the statist Dems in Congress and their allies have (finally) convinced the president to switch strategies — or, more to the point, lie. No government program ever conceived has become less than what it was at birth. That's why this whole project must be strangled in the crib.
The last two Democratic administrations felt, upon election, that they had a gale at their backs. They felt they had a mandate to impose, without compromise, government-run health care in America. Bill and Hillary Clinton thought so once — and they learned different. If the young Clinton administration's arrogance didn't consume its usually clever political acumen, we'd be half-way to Canada and Britain by now.
This "retreat" is nothing more than Obama realizing that you can't put the frog that is the American people into the already-boiling pot of water. You must dip us into the water first ... then slowly turn up the heat toward state-controlled health care. As Mark Steyn said so well weeks ago:
The president needs to get something passed. Anything. The details don’t matter. Once it’s in place, health-care “reform” can be re-reformed endlessly.
Any "reform" by the lights of the current Congress — in concert with Big Pharma, the AARP, and an insurance industry that cynically jumped in bed with Obama under the philosophy of feeding others to the alligator to save their skins — is taking us down the inevitable road to state-run health care.
One would think it vital for Foster to attend this long-planned townhall, especially when recent events made it obvious that many of his constituents would be so eager to speak to him. Unfortunately, Foster was on a junket to Israel, and left it to one of his trusty aides to sit in the tiger cage with steaks strapped to his body.
The Chronicle — "Serving the Tri-Cities and Kaneland" — took the typical MSM line, depicting those gathered as part of some mob that "hijacked" the meeting. The lead mobster, according to The Chronicle? My man, Ron!
Ronald Lau of North Aurora criticized Foster for being in Israel this week instead of meeting with constituents for a town hall meeting.
"The most important issue to come around and a U.S. congressman does not have the authority to say, 'No, I'm not going. I'm going to talk to the people I work for.' He went to Israel and left us all in the dark," Lau said.
Lau's comments prompted a standing ovation from most of those attending.
Lau criticized Foster's message that he wants people with pre-existing conditions to be covered by insurance, saying federal law already protects them from insurance companies denying them coverage.
"Does he support forcing insurance companies to take on people with pre-existing conditions – without conditions?" Lau asked. "How does any insurance company survive if somebody just waits until they get sick to buy it, and once they're well, just drop it?"
Lau said the only way to have insurance companies to cover everyone is if everyone has insurance – whether they like it or not.
That last bit makes it seem like Ron wants everyone to be forced by the government to buy insurance — "whether they like it or not." I'm certain that's not the point he was trying to make and as you can see in the video below, he doesn't make it. But is sure is some great patriotic theater my old friend helped create (Ron comes in about half-way through, and pretty much dominates the rest of the video — all of which is worth watching ... and he is, in his own words, "silent no more").
By my eyes, that was hardly a "mob scene"— at least by YouTube Townhall Greatest Hits standards. It seemed to me a rather healthy debate, among citizens, about how we should be governed. That said ... those Foster aides have earned a political combat pay bonus from their boss.
What's also interesting about this whole story is that Foster replaced the retired former Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert with 52 percent of the vote in special election 2008. I think, therefore, it's safe to say this is a still a swing district — which was reflected in the fact that both supporters and opponents of ObamaCare were present and made their views known.
I don't know if any Republican plans to challenge Foster in 2010, but this is almost a certainty: A clip Ron Lau's spirited criticism of government-run health care and Foster's junket-fused absence from his townhall meeting should be featured in any ad aimed at his defeat.
Way to go, buddy!
At Montour High School, our mascot is the Spartans. So put some stylish facial hair on Ron, get him in the gym with a maniacal personal trainer for about a year ... and this is him — saying the only line missing from his righteous speech.
Whole Foods founder John Mackey wrote a great op-ed this week published in The Wall Street Journal from a business-owner's perspective on the current health care debate. Mackey is a libertarian (not, as one might guess, some statist hippie) and he's serious about his views.
He sees, rightly, that America's health care payment system needs a radical overhaul — but not in the radical statist direction President Obama wishes to take it. Mackey makes great points in his op-ed, the crux of which is that the way Americans pay for health care is among the most inefficient imaginable. In short, the dollar held by the consumer is miles away from where it eventually ends up — and in between are miles of inefficiencies, mostly created by government meddling and mandates, that increase the costs for everyone. And Mackey backs up his philosophy by giving all of his employees health savings accounts, so at least the people who work for him make their health care decisions more rationally.
FEH! ... I say.
We have a Whole Foods near our house, and our family visits infrequently. It's a great place to treat yourself to a great cut of meat or some tasty exotic organic veggies. But if you're looking for standard fare (such as a jar of Nathan's mustard or for ... well ... a junk food fix) that's not the place to go. And while just about every trip to any grocery store is filled with annoyances — shoppers hogging the aisle, standing obliviously in your way, taking forever at the check-out counter, all-but-encouraging a child to act like a rabid and screeching monkey — the typical Whole Foods shopper I encounter is at least 10 times more insufferable.
Yet I now pledge to endure 10 times the aggravation (and the additional cost of groceries) more often now after hearing of this affront to an independent thinker.
Conservative arugula eaters UNITE!
A woman named Roxana Mayer stood up at Jackson-Lee's town hall with some critical things to say about America's health care system. She said she was a "primary care physician." Jackson-Lee congratulated her for choosing that profession and noting that we need more of them (the audience applauds). A few seconds later, Jackson-Lee asks Mayer how long she's been practicing. The reply is "four years." More applause.
Patterico and The Lone Star Times tracked her down and asked her if she was, in fact, a doctor. She admitted that she was not — but has friends who are — and though that claiming to be a doctor would give her more credibility.
Here's a screen shot of a Houston Chronicle photo erroneously identifying Mayer as a doctor:
What is the background of Ms. Mayer? She was an Obama delegate. Looks like Democratic versions of grassroots actually grow up to be plants.
Now, if this was a Republican activist pretending to be a doctor to run down Obamacare, do you think it might be a bigger story? Do you think the Houston Chronicle, instead of just expunging away the "doctor" label from an updated Web version of the story, might add "falsely identified herself as a doctor" — if not run an entirely new story about the fraudulent representation?
As far as I'm concerned: (1) it is important to point out this fraud, and (2) let that be the end of it. Unlike the left, which tried to destroy Joe the Plumber, I see no reason to dig further into her background looking for dirt — even though Joe didn't lie about who he was and was approached by Obama, not the other way around.
Private citizens, even ones who attempt to pull a fast one on the media and the public, don't deserve to be victims of the kind of hateful smear campaigns that the left has perfected over the years.
Let there be no doubt where this MSNBC host stands. These demonstrators don't really care about deficits or taxes or constitutionally suspect government overreach. It's all about a black man in the White House.
And they say conservatives hold simplistic views about the world. Enjoy!
I'd like to throw glommer-on Joe Biden into this mess, too. But he imbibed a waste-of-time non-alcoholic beer at the most boring picnic on the White House lawn since the Tyler administration. So Biden doesn't rate, even if Obama brought him along to be his wing man. (C'mon, Joe. If you're not into adult beverages, just order a Coke like a normal person).
Anyway, we've gone over this subject more than enough. For sure. Joel, the house liberal, was even kind enough to suggest our own beer summit. And I'm game. But before we crack open a few cold ones, I couldn't help but share what I consider a great "last word" on this whole troubling affair. Paul Mirengoff at Power Line, says it well:
As "race men" go, Gates has always been viewed as relatively sensible, as opposed to, say, Cornel West. Indeed, as E.J. Dionne reminds us in a worthwhile column, Gates once criticized "race politics" as a "court of the imagination wherein blacks seek to punish whites for their misdeeds and whites seek to punish blacks for theirs, and an infinite regress of score settling ensues."
Barack Obama, for his part, was going to be a post-racial president. As such he would lead us out of the "race politics" Gates (and the rest of us) finds so sterile and counterproductive.
Yet when the rubber met the road, Gates didn't hesitate to level baseless charges of racism in an extremely aggressive manner. And Obama didn't hesitate to attack the white police officer before he had the facts.
This suggests to me that, as far as African-Americans are concerned, "race politics" will continue unabated, as if Obama had never been elected president.
And that, long after anyone cares about who's version of events was most correct, is what matters — and why it ended up being so important. At least to me.