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I see from Memorandum that the only people writing about this at the moment are on the left. I sincerely hope that changes because this is a very important story and I would hate to think that a sense of partisanship would intrude on what is a probable violation of the law.

There may be good reason to destroy DVD’s of interrogations. But not when they have probative value in a potential court case nor when they are destroyed to cover up wrong doing by employees of the government:

The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.

The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said.

The C.I.A. said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made “within the C.I.A. itself,” and they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value. The agency was headed at the time by Porter J. Goss. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.

This is bad enough. But what makes this a budding scandal for the CIA is that both the 9/11 Commission and attorneys for Zacarias Moussaoui specifically requested such evidence and the CIA denied they had it:

The recordings were not provided to a federal court hearing the case of the terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui or to the Sept. 11 commission, which had made formal requests to the C.I.A. for transcripts and any other documentary evidence taken from interrogations of agency prisoners.

C.I.A. lawyers told federal prosecutors in 2003 and 2005, who relayed the information to a federal court in the Moussaoui case, that the C.I.A. did not possess recordings of interrogations sought by the judge in the case. It was unclear whether the judge had explicitly sought the videotape depicting the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah.

Granted the judge may not have asked for the specific tapes nor did the 9/11 Commission request anything specific. But if the CIA is going to hang its hat on that defense, damn them. Their failure to turn over potential exculpatory evidence may open an avenue of appeal for Zacarias Moussaoui to at least grant him a new trial. And they impeded the 9/11 investigation by failing to fully cooperate with the Commission’s requests for information.

It is against American law to torture prisoners – even terrorists. And American law’s definition of torture mirrors that of the definition given by the Geneva Convention. The Geneva Convention prohibits the kind of “severe interrogation techniques” that were used on Zubaydah. It’s not a question of whether waterboarding isn’t really “torture” because our special forces guys go through it as part of their training. Or other “stress techniques” aren’t really torture because they leave no marks or don’t really distress the prisoner. The law is the law and these special interrogation techniques are in violation of the Geneva Convention and hence, American law.

If one plus one still equals two, that would mean that the officials who were concerned that the tapes “could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy” and went ahead and destroyed them anyway are up for obstruction charges.

We can argue – and I have in the past on this site – that the Geneva Convention is ridiculously out of date, moldy in its thinking and laughably naive about men at war and the exigencies of the times. And the fact that we and other western countries are the only ones who even make an attempt to conduct ourselves by its rules is patently unfair and revealing of a sickening double standard abroad in the world.

But until and unless it is amended, those officials who authorized the interrogations and who carried them out could be in violation of the law and subject to prosecution. Destroying the tapes therefore is destroying potential evidence in a criminal trial.

I don’t write much about the torture issue anymore because it sickens me to have my friends on the right trying to excuse it and it nauseates me when the left moralizes about it. It is wrong and will come back to haunt us. Not because, as some argue, that it puts our own soldiers in danger. That argument flies in the face of history. We have never fought a war where the enemy we were fighting followed the Geneva Convention. In fact, most of the enemies we have fought have been flagrant violators of human decency in their treatment of prisoners much less paying any attention to the strictures in the GC.

We should not torture because of who we are not because of what the Geneva Convention says, or the left says, or the hypocritical third world moralists say. It is wrong for Americans to do it. And yes, waterboarding is torture. Putting a prisoner in stress positions is torture. Sleep deprivation is torture.

Forget the hysterics from our political opponents and examine the issue not as a partisan but as question of simple human decency. If we Americans have lost that – if we’ve forgotten that we hold ourselves to a higher standard than the brutes we are fighting and their allies in the hypocritical third world, then we will have lost a very important component of what makes us an exceptional nation.

I don’t know if we have the courage to face this issue and bring the violators to some kind of justice. I totally reject the idea of allowing any kind of foreign tribunal to judge Americans for the simple reason I wouldn’t trust them to be fair and objective, anti-Americanism being a dominant ideology in much of the world where the efficacy of such tribunals is acknowledged. And facing the music on torture opens a chasm beneath our feet in that the techniques used on these prisoners were approved at the highest levels of the American government. The idea that these officials will walk away scott free is troubling. But if you put Bush on trial, what does that do as far as limiting the options of his successors? And is it the kind of precedent we really want to set?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. And those on the left, blinded by their unreasoning hatred of this president, are not the ones to judge the best course of action. But there clearly must be some kind of accounting for what has been done in our name. How that plays out will say a lot about us as a nation that purports to stand for the best in humanity and not the worst.


More from the Times here.

And The Blotter is reporting that DCIA Hayden issued a statement to CIA employees before the Times article broke, giving a rather disingenuous reason for the destruction of the tapes:

CIA Director Mike Hayden sent a message to CIA employees today saying “the press has learned” that the CIA videotaped interrogations in 2002 and that the tapes were subsequently destroyed in 2005. The decision to destroy the tapes was made by the CIA, but he says the leaders of the congressional intelligence committees knew about the tapes and the decision to destroy them.

Hayden offers an explanation for why the tapes were destroyed—“no longer of intelligence value and not relevant to any internal, legislative, or judicial inquiries” and offers another defense of the interrogation techniques used by the CIA.

John Sifton, a human rights attorney who is active in cases involving the CIA’s secret prison program, said today that the destruction of the tapes is a scandal.

“This is a major piece of the mosaic of evidence, and now it’s gone,” said Sifton. “They should be ashamed of themselves.”

If the CIA didn’t have a history of stiffing Congressional Committees, judicial proceedings, and special tribunals like the Warren Commission, we might be more inclined to believe General Hayden.

But it is ridiculous for Hayden to say that the decision to destroy them was made in a political vacuum. As the Times article points out, the tapes were destroyed at the height of Congressional interest in the CIA’s interrogation techniques. To then go ahead and destroy a tape that may have been instructive of how the CIA carried out interrogations would seem to infer cover-up rather than some kind of standard operating procedure.

That is, unless you trust what Hayden and others are saying about the subject. And frankly, they lost the right to get the benefit of the doubt long ago.

UPDATE: 12/7:

Jamses Joyner also sees obstruction of justice as a problem for those who ordered the tapes destroyed. He also points out that there was Congressional oversight of a sort in that the Chairmen and Vice Chairs of the House and Senate Intel Committees were informed of the plan to destroy the tapes. (No mention of informing the Speaker and Minority Leader in the House and the Majority/Minority Leader in the Senate which would also be the custom in these cases of limited notification.)

James pretty much takes Hayden at his word as far as why the tapes were destroyed but points out the discrepancies in his explanation. Any way you slice it, someone needs to be held accountable for the tape’s destruction.


At last night’s CNN/YouTube Republican Debate, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee finally came into his own on the national stage. He looked relaxed, in command, and spoke well and forcefully on his issues.

This was a far cry from Huckabee’s first debate where he was seen as an asterisk in the polls and a non-entity on stage. He looked a like deer caught in Romney’s headlights, so lost and forlorn that he appeared to be leaning on Tommy Thompson’s lectern for support.

But last night, the candidate fairly oozed confidence. He was unctuous to the point of oiliness, having developed a rhythm and cadence in his speaking style that demonstrated an attractive bleeding heart compassion with the earnestness of an Eagle Scout combined with the passion of a preacher.

Flash polls afterwards in Iowa and New Hampshire confirmed that Huckabee won in both states handily. The latest Rasmussen Iowa Poll has him surging ahead of Mitt Romney into first place while the latest Florida numbers have him second behind Giuliani. This indicates that not only has the media sat up and begun to notice Huckabee, but the GOP conservatives, casting desperately about for an alternative to Romney/Giuliani may have found their champion after all.

But Mike Huckabee is not a conservative – at least not any kind of conservative that I would recognize as such. His tenure as Arkansas governor was marked by a corn pone populism – part Huey Long and part Jimmy Carter along with a massive increase in the tax burden on the individual taxpayer in his state as well as a sharp rise in spending.

Huckabee channeled the ghost of Huey Long in his funding of state road improvements – largely through a hefty gas tax increase and a controversial bond issue. He also put a $5.25 premium on nursing home patients and raised the sales tax in the state. The Club for Growth detailed his “conservative” tax policy and ideas:

* Immediately upon taking office, Governor Huckabee signed a sales tax hike in 1996 to fund the Games and Fishing Commission and the Department of Parks and Tourism (Cato Policy Analysis No. 315, 09/03/98).

  • He supported an internet sales tax in 2001 (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07).
  • He publicly opposed the repeal of a sales tax on groceries and medicine in 2002 (Arkansas News Bureau 08/30/02).
  • He signed bills raising taxes on gasoline (1999), cigarettes (2003) (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07), and a $5.25 per day bed-tax on private nursing home patients in 2001 (Arkansas New Bureau 03/01/01).
  • He proposed another sales take hike in 2002 to fund education improvements (Arkansas News Bureau 12/05/02).
  • He opposed a congressional measure to ban internet taxes in 2003 (Arkansas News Bureau 11/21/03).
  • In 2004, he allowed a 17% sales tax increase to become law (The Gurdon Times 03/02/04).

With conservatives like this, who needs Democrats?

In fact, Huckabee actually joined the Democratic chorus against Bush’s tax cuts, saying (he now says he supports the cuts and making them permanent) that the cuts are geared “toward the people at the top end of the economic scale.”

With populists like this, who needs John Edwards?

But it is his record on spending that should give conservatives pause.

Under Governor Huckabee’s watch, state spending increased a whopping 65.3% from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07). The number of state government workers rose 20% during his tenure (Arkansas Leader 04/15/06), and the state’s general obligation debt shot up by almost $1 billion, according to Americans for Tax Reform. The massive increase in government spending is due in part to the number of new programs and expansion of already existing programs initiated by Governor Huckabee, including ARKids First, a multimillion-dollar government program to provide health coverage for thousands of Arkansas’ children (Arkansas News Bureau 04/13/06).

The Club for Growth isn’t the only fiscally conservative group that has looked in askance at Huckabee’s record. The Cato Institute was also unimpressed by Huckabee’s tenure as governor. They gave him an “F” in fiscal policy for 2006.

Hucksterites will point to his $80 million tax cut package he pushed through the legislature that eliminated capital gains taxes on home sales and indexed taxes to the inflation rate.

But that’s just a drop in the bucket. While Huckabee claims to have cut taxes 90 times totaling $378 million, the state’s Department of Finance and Administration says he also raised taxes 21 times that brought in a whopping $883 million. Under his “conservative” governance, the “average Arkansan’s tax burden” went “from $1,969 in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1997, to $2,902 in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2005, including local taxes.”

A liberal couldn’t be prouder of such a record.

Huckabee has now embraced the so-called “Fair Tax” proposal that most experts see as a highly regressive tax that would hit middle income taxpayers with a monstrous increase in the cost of living. Imagine paying 30% more on the price of a new house or on medical care. Those currently paying 17% of their income to the government will find them shelling out 30% extra for every purchase they make.

I find many aspects of the Fair Tax proposal intriguing but am extremely doubtful that it could be made “revenue neutral” in that there is almost a dead certainty from everything I’ve read that there would be either massive cuts in government spending (guess where, my pro-military spending friends) and/or a larger sales tax to offset unanticipated shortfalls. I also believe that it would unfairly increase the tax burden on the lower middle class.

The Fair Taxers say they will offset this by sending a check to each taxpayer every month to even out the burden. Here’s Bruce Bartlett in the Wall Street Journal:

Since sales taxes are regressive—taking more in percentage terms from the incomes of the poor and middle class than the rich—some provision is needed to prevent a vast increase in taxation on the nonwealthy. The FairTax does this by sending monthly checks to every household based on income.

Aside from the incredible complexity and intrusiveness of tracking every American’s monthly income—and creating a de facto national welfare program—the FairTax does not include the cost of this rebate in the tax rate. As noted earlier, the FairTax is designed only to match current revenues and does not cover any increased spending that it may require. Since the rebate will cost at least $600 billion the first year, either federal discretionary spending would have to be cut by 60% or the rate would have to be five percentage points higher than advertised.

Beyond the argument of whether the Fair Tax is truly a conservative notion, there is the reason Huckabee might be supporting the idea; the fact that supporters of the Fair Tax give the Paulbots a run for their money in exhibiting passion for their cause. Huckabee is the only presidential candidate pushing the scheme and he may be riding the wave of Fair Tax supporters endorsements, especially in Iowa. They apparently made an impact for Huckabee at the Ames straw poll last summer and their support in Iowa is no doubt vital to his campaign.

Certainly no one doubts Huckabee’s conservative credentials on social issues. But when it comes to meat and potatoes fiscal issues, Huckabee is a conservative vegan, a “liberal in disguise” according to the Club for Growth.

Couple this with his total lack of military and foreign policy experience and the right might want to ask itself: “Is this the best we can do?”

Fred Thompson is head and shoulders above Mike Huckabee when it comes to having a record of votes on fiscal policy that consistently prove his conservative beliefs. He has also fleshed out his positions on a number of issues with a tax plan and social security white paper that have been praised by conservatives across the country. Get past the charm, the unctuousness, and the corn pone manner and what you have in Huckabee is a big government conservative who looks suspiciously like George Bush did in 1999.

We don’t need another George Bush. We don’t need Mike Huckabee. What we need is someone who will fight for conservative principles in government and wear out a veto pen in nixing excessive spending and any increase in taxes proposed by a Democratic Congress.

Is that man Fred Thompson? I just don’t know about Fred. But I’m sure that if the GOP goes ahead and annoints Huckabee, the conservative movement in America will be set back as our once proud heritage of fiscal responsibility and support for smaller government will be trashed by another wolf in conservative raiment.


Just got this email update from the Romney campaign (who I do not support).

It seems that Arkansas conservatives aren’t convinced of the Hucksters conservative credentials either.

Betsy Hagan, Arkansas Director Of The Eagle Forum: “He Was Pro-Life And Pro-Gun, But Otherwise A Liberal” “Nor am I alone. Betsy Hagan, Arkansas director of the conservative Eagle Forum and a key backer of his early runs for office, was once ‘his No. 1 fan.’ She was bitterly disappointed with his record. ‘He was pro-life and pro-gun, but otherwise a liberal,’ she says. ‘Just like Bill Clinton he will charm you, but don’t be surprised if he takes a completely different turn in office.’” (John Fund, “Another Man From Hope,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/26/07)

Former Republican State Rep. Randy Minton Said That Gov. Huckabee’s Record Will Turn Away Economic Conservatives. “Also that year, the state grappled with an economic downturn and a resulting budget shortfall. ‘Republicans that believe in limited government and lower taxes and fees, they’ll look at his record, and they won’t be satisfied with it,’ said former Republican state Rep. Randy Minton of Ward.” (Daniel Nasaw, “Home Turf Not Rock Solid For Huckabee,” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 10/4/07)

By: Rick Moran at 1:27 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Huckabee's South Carolina Strategy...

This won’t be directed at any one party or media outlet. Nor will it be about one candidate or another from either party or even about the efficacy of one ideology over another, although I suspect the situation I will describe has its roots in new left nanny statism.

No matter. The modern conservative movement is just as guilty as liberalism. I am talking about the babying of the American voter in which all media, parties, ideologies, and candidates insist on engaging. It isn’t just “dumbing down” political messages or coverage of politics that is the issue here, although it is certainly one of the symptoms. What I am talking about goes to the very heart of the relationship between those who govern and those who are governed with the media as a combination intermediary and watchdog and the utter contempt for the intelligence and discernment of the American voter exhibited by these elites who have deliberately infantilized the process of how we elect our leaders.

I’ve often thought that one reason Americans don’t trust their government is that their government doesn’t trust the American people very much. This goes double for the mass media whose sneering contempt for much of their audience is made abundantly clear in the way they cover politics and issues as well as what they choose to program as entertainment on their networks.

Even the 24 hours news nets – with rare exceptions – waste most of the day on trivialities. A story involving some pretty, blond, white woman who disappears or is murdered by her husband will get more attention for days or weeks at a time than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or issues of war and peace with Iran, North Korea, China, Russia, or any other place in the world where informing the people would mean spending more than 3 minutes with both sides shouting back and forth about who is at fault.

The bottom line is that even with 24 hours of programming to fill, the promise of all news networks to greatly enhance our knowledge base about the world at home and abroad has been miserably wasted as a result of a deliberate decision to make their broadcasts as a whole appeal to the lowest common denominator. And the problem there is that most media executives have such a titanically low opinion of the average American voter, that they inevitably find not the lowest common denominator but rather the lowest denominator period. A half wit would understand more nuance and depth than that given on most news broadcasts.

It’s all for our own good, of course. Witness last night’s Democratic debate where ordinary people simply weren’t trusted to ask decent questions of the candidates. The sponsoring network had to vet and approve all questions prior to their going on the air:

Maria Luisa, the UNLV student who asked Hillary Clinton whether she preferred “diamonds or pearls” at last night’s debate wrote on her MySpace page this morning that CNN forced her to ask the frilly question instead of a pre-approved query about the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

“Every single question asked during the debate by the audience had to be approved by CNN,” Luisa writes. “I was asked to submit questions including “lighthearted/fun” questions. I submitted more than five questions on issues important to me. I did a policy memo on Yucca Mountain a year ago and was the finalist for the Truman Scholarship. For sure, I thought I would get to ask the Yucca question that was APPROVED by CNN days in advance.”

CNN’s condescending explanation:

Sam Feist, the executive producer of the debate, said that the student was asked to choose another question because the candidates had already spent about ten minutes discussing Yucca Mountain.

“When her Yucca mountain question was asked, she was given the opportunity to ask another question, and my understand is that the [diamond v. pearls] questions was her other question,” Feist said. “She probably was disappointed, but we spent a lot of time with a bunch of different candidates on Yucca Mountain, and we were at the end of the debate.”

Note the tone: “She was given the opportunity to ask another question…” as if the most important thing in the world was face time on TV for Luisa. And given the extraordinary importance that the nuclear waste issue to the people of Nevada, who the hell is this guy Feist to say that they talked enough about it and it was time to move on to something else?

What he’s really saying is that this affects only the people in Nevada and the ignorant rubes in other parts of the country aren’t interested. The fact is that there is the real possibility that the nuclear power issue will once again be of overriding national importance very soon. There are plans to start building more reactors so the equally vital issue of what to do with waste from the new plants will have a direct bearing on the Yucca Mountain project which was, after all, conceived as a large part of the solution to the problem of spent fuel.

It seems to me that Feist and CNN had their heads so far up their large intestine about the “entertainment value” of their show that they missed the staggering implications of talking about Yucca Mountain as much as possible in order to inform the rest of us about an issue that will be of seminal importance in the near future.

CNN is not the only network whose arrogance causes them to treat the American people as if they were three year olds. Fox and MSNBC are equally guilty of supplying coverage of politics and issues that will fit in 3-5 minute segments and are more likely to offer “opposing viewpoints” on a candidate or an issue that accomplishes absolutely nothing except proving which side has the more colorful invective they can hurl at each other.

It is a matter of informing the public of the issues. Yes they are complex and can’t be broken down easily. But there is a real hunger for information in this country. Otherwise, people wouldn’t tune in as often as they do during the day. Nor would they be abandoning TV altogether in order to get their news on the internet where on line newspapers, blogs, and other publications devote considerably more time and space to giving information and offering informed opinion.

But that internet audience, compared the the electorate as a whole, is still relatively tiny. And here is where the candidates and parties fail to pick up the slack and force the issue of treating voters as adults and not children to be led around by the nose.

Candidates are more apt today to simply sound off on their positions on issues without giving any background to their thinking of how they arrived at a particular conclusion. The only candidate who is doing this today seems to be Barack Obama who takes great pains to talk about his position on the Iraq War and how he arrived at his anti-war position. I don’t agree with him but you can certainly respect someone who obviously gave the matter a great deal of thought.

It is clear that Obama trusts the voter more than most candidates. Not so his Democratic or Republican rivals who rarely delve into the meat of their positions and cite reasons why they think the way they do.

The reason they don’t is that it is too revealing. They are afraid that we, the ignorant voter, might get the wrong idea or more likely, lose track of where a candidate’s position shifted or was changed by the acquisition of new information and simply believe the simplistic mantra thrown out by his opponent that he is a “flip-flopper.”

The media plays along with this little game, dutifully reporting the idiotic charge and counter-charge with little effort to give context or meaning to the smears. It is politics as mud wrestling. And while there is a long, storied history of it in America, it appears to me that this something into which all politics has morphed; a slugfest that is as bereft of ideas and substance. Politicians have simply given up trying to explain themselves and have decided that going for the jugular is the best way to win.

It didn’t used to be this way. Read the campaign speeches of Eisenhower or Kennedy and prepare to be shocked. Sure there was plenty of fluff. But both men were fully prepared to have a conversation with the American people about their candidacy. They didn’t shrink from complex issues nor did they “dumb down” their positions and treat the voters as if they were 3 year old children whose diaper needed changing.

I realize I’m rambling a bit but I hate the feeling of being talked down to and treated by the media and candidates as if I wasn’t smart enough to make my decision on who to vote for and base that decision not on the treacle that passes for media coverage of a candidate or a candidate’s own cynical attempts to manipulate my emotions but rather on the candidates well thought out stands on the issues.

I am not naive. There has always been a certain amount of manipulation of voter emotions in politics. But one of the reasons for the extraordinary polarization today has got to be the demonization of the other side and fear mongering the notion that electing them will be the end of the world. This simplistic formulation for victory began in the 1970’s and gets worse every election cycle.

We enter an extraordinarily dangerous period in our history hopelessly divided and completely unable to work together on issues vital to our security and economic well being. And fully half of all registered voters will probably not vote in 2008 – mostly out of disgust and loathing for this state of affairs. There is plenty of fault to go around. The problem did not arise on January 20, 2001 nor will it end on January 20, 2009. The question isn’t “Who’s to blame” but rather “What do we do about it?”

We can start by demanding that the elites in media and politics begin to treat the American voter with more respect. A candidate and a government that starts to trust the people a little more will help. But given all that I’ve seen and heard, that day is a long way off.

By: Rick Moran at 3:45 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

J's Cafe Nette linked with The dumbing-down of American politics...
CATEGORY: Government, History

Ever since George Tenet won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the award seems to have lost some of its luster. It’s much like the Nobel Peace Prize; once you have given the award to someone who exhibits the exact opposite qualities that should be recognized, all credibility in the prize is lost.

In the case of the mis-named Peace Prize, you can point to several recipients in the last quarter century who have been named champions of peace but were actually murderers and thugs. Yassar Arafat comes immediately to mind. Then there were to enablers of murderous thugs like Kofi Anan and Jimmy Carter. The moral universe inhabited by the Nobel Committee is not the same one you and I live in. They have forever cheapened an award that at one time, was recognized as a singular honor.

The same holds true for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2004, the “Triumvirate of Failure” that included Tenet, Paul Bremer, and Tommy Franks all won the award. Bremer’s incompetence in Iraq has been well documented as has Frank’s wrong headed insistence on pursuing strategies that helped turn the population of Iraq against us and fire up the insurgency.

But it is Tenet – the most spectacular failure as a DCI in history – who should never have even gotten a whiff of the Medal of Freedom. As DCI, his responsibility was to see that our elected officials had the best intel available in order for them to formulate plans and policies to protect us from foreign threats.;

A glance at Tenet’s record of “surprises” he presented policymakers should make anyone who cares about the Medal of Freedom honorees weep in frustration:

  • Failed – African embassy bombings in 1998
  • Failed – No clue that Pakistan was ready to conduct nuke test – 1998
  • Failed – USS Cole terrorist attack – 2000
  • Failed – September 11, 2001
  • Failed – Iraq WMD

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more screwups that are classified. Blunder after blunder can be laid at the feet of this man and yet, George Bush saw fit to elevate Tenet and place him on the same pedestal as Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, Elmo Zumwalt, Gerry Ford, and Irving Kristol. It was the most incomprehensible choice in the history of the award.

This is the burden recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom must carry this year; the realization that the award has forever been cheapened by naming an incompetent and vindictive public servant as a prize winner.

Be that as it may, there are several deserving individuals on this year’s list. Some of them include:

  • Oscar Elias Biscet, Cuban human rights activist who is serving a 25 year jail term in Castro’s workers’ paradise for “disorderly conduct and counter-revolutionary activities.”
  • Francis S. Collins, director of the Human Genome Project. Collins importance to the project cannot be overstated. He fought long and hard to keep the project out of the hands of for-profit corporations who wanted to patent discoveries made before releasing the information to the scientific community. Collins won out and the spectacular results of his research – sequencing nearly 3 billion base pairs which has resulted in an explosion of knowledge the likes of which has rarely been seen in the history of science – is immediately available to any scientist in the world.
  • Benjamin L. Hooks led the NAACP for more than 15 years. One of the only black leaders to endorse Republican presidential candidates, Hooks nevertheless felt GOP Administrations never did enough for the inner city poor or for public education. His self-help message for African Americans was also a cause of friction with many civil rights leaders. He sought to make the NAACP something more than just another Washington lobbying group by educating young blacks about the struggle in the 1950’s and ‘60’s for civil rights. In the end, he was less than successful in this effort as the NAACP has since become the most prominent proponent of the “victim culture” in the country.
  • Brian Lamb, CEO of C-Span. It can be argued that Lamb’s singular vision of a network that broadcasts what is going on in the people’s house changed our politics forever. It’s not the numbers of people who watch the three C-Span networks that makes Lamb a deserving recipient. It’s the idea that democracy is a participatory form of government and that people must be well informed in order to make decisions on who should lead us. And the fact that C-Span has grown into a forum for not just legislation, but politics, books, film, and culture is a testament to Lamb’s remarkable leadership.

Other recipients of this year’s award can be found here.

By: Rick Moran at 7:03 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)


One of the interesting things about maintaining a blog is that ultimately, it devolves into a conversation with yourself about what you think regarding a variety of subjects. Some liken blogs to “thinking out loud” and that may be true to an extent. But there is a difference between writing and thinking – a very large difference.

I believe, as Sir Francis Bacon did, that “Reading maketh a full man, conference, a ready man, and writing, an exact man.” Writing forces you to condense your thinking, to slough off extraneous concepts not germane to the subject until you are left with the very essence of your thoughts, allowing an examination and ultimately, a judgement regarding their efficacy relating to your own worldview and ideological principles.

In this way, blogs allow both the writer and the reader to trace the growth of ideas and concepts – buttressing some, discarding others, and amending still more while trying to stay true to a coherent set of principles – a set of core beliefs that would require considerably more than atmospheric changes or transient events to alter.

No human mind is capable of being entirely consistent. We are not, after all, machines. Emotions are constantly in play as we wrestle with our consciences while seeking to remain faithful to our own intellectual self-image. Blogs are extremely useful in this regard because they allow the writer to hold up a mirror and examine their reflection over a long period of time. How has our thinking changed? Where have we taken a different road? Are our principles still intact, our beliefs still valid?

I hope you will forgive this rather lengthy digression into esoterica but to me, this is the interesting part of the journey to self-discovery; trying to ascertain how we think as well as discovering what we think is why writing makes us “exact” in our efforts to know ourselves better.

I bring all this up because I have written extensively over the last three years about the nature of modern conservatism and how it is slowly becoming irrelevant to large segments of the American electorate – largely as a result of the unrealistic and indeed, fanciful adherence by conservative politicians, pundits, and even some intellectuals to ideas and principles that have become as outmoded in their own way as Marxism.

Generalizing the problem, many conservatives are mired in a Reaganesque fantasyland where the mantra “small government, low taxes, less regulation, and strong national defense” is repeated ad infinitum as if saying it loud enough and often enough makes it true – despite the fact that except for a strong national defense, the rest of these “principles” are as outdated as central planning and a command economy.

The essence of the problem is that both liberals and conservatives today see government as almost a living thing to be hated or loved depending on one’s point of view. Government is not alive, although it is close to existing as a force of nature so large and nearly uncontrollable it has become. Instead, government should be seen as a utility to be organized as best as can be humanely done so that it becomes a servant of the people and not their master.

Believing that we can roll back the size of government and make it “small” is a pipe dream and, along with the idea that we can demand government do a million things and not raise the taxes to pay for them as well as ask government to protect us from impersonal corporations who seek to destroy competition, exploit workers, endanger our environment, foist their dangerous products on us, and generally wreak havoc on our lives and families without someone looking over their shoulder is absurd.

The idea that the market will fix dangerous working conditions for miners or force companies to end exploitive work rules and policies in service industries is just not tenable in a 21st century industrialized democracy. Neither will the market clean up toxic waste, sensibly protect the environment, establish minimum standards for drinking water and breathable air, or ensure that some of the remaining green places left in the United States can be enjoyed by our grandchildren.

These are not luxuries that we can afford to privatize or do without. They are as vital to our survival as the new Air Force fighter being developed. The question that should occupy conservatives is not whether we should have strict standards for drinking water but rather how do we reconcile conservative principles with the needs of the people in a modern society?

For conservatism to survive and even thrive, a new paradigm must be realized that recognizes we live in a different world than the one inhabited by our ancestors and that many of the old verities we cherished are just no longer relevant to what America has become. For better or worse, the United States is changing – something it has always done and always will do. Without altering most of the core principles of conservatism, it should be possible to change with it, supplying common sense alternatives to liberal panaceas for everything from health care to concerns over climate change.

Obviously, there is no lack of ideas in this regard if you read the policy prescriptions appearing on the pages of Heritage, AEI, Cato, or other places where academics and policy wonks gather to supply these alternatives. But there seems to be a disconnect between the thinkers and the doers – politicians, pundits, and activists. Having read most of the Republican candidates stands on issues, outside of Fred Thompson’s detailed critique of entitlements and his ideas on a muscular kind of federalism, there isn’t much in the way of deep thoughts being generated in this campaign so far. In fact, there appears to be little in the way of original thinking at all; just a rehash or recycling of projects and programs that wouldn’t stand a chance of passage in Congress.

Now I am not saying that conservatives should compromise their principles to gain success in the legislature nor am I saying those principles should be abandoned in order to gain electoral victory. But there is a difference between having a vital conservative movement that shapes and informs government and one that has no relevancy whatsoever to modern America.

This is where my thinking has taken me these last three years – a recognition that conservatism needs to have its best and brightest strike out and find new ways of defining what it means to be a conservative in 21st century America. Obviously, my poor efforts here on this blog amount to little except some relatively unformed, nebulous thoughts on what I see as a need for this change. I make no claim to being an intellectual or even that thoughtful. But where else can you pour your brains out and examine the contents but a blog? That is what I’m doing here and I hope you take it for what it’s worth; the musings of a concerned conservative who is unhappy with the state of the right as it stands now.

Michael Tomasky at the Guardian got me thinking in this direction this morning:

That is, Americans have now experienced a conservative government failing them. But what lesson will they take? That conservatism itself is exhausted and without answers to the problems that confront American and the world today? Or will they conclude that the problem hasn’t been conservatism per se, just Bush, and that a conservatism that is competent and comparatively honest will suit them just fine?

Conservatives and the Republican presidential candidates hope and argue that it’s the latter. They largely endorse and in some cases vow to expand on the Bush administration’s policies – Mitt Romney’s infamous promise to “double” the size of the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, notably. Like Bush, they vow that tax cuts, deregulation and smaller government will solve every domestic problem. Where they try to distinguish themselves from Bush is on competence. Romney talks up his corporate success, Rudy Giuliani his prowess as mayor of New York.

Is it the messenger or the message that’s at fault?

Just asking…

By: Rick Moran at 7:14 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13)


It’s taken a while, but the Democrats have finally gotten around to baiting another trap for conservatives on the S-CHIP program. Another family, another helpless child were convinced to step forward as examples of how the S-CHIP program helps families who can’t afford health insurance from private insurers.

This week, Democrats have brought forth the Wilkerson family, whose two-year old daughter Bethany is covered by SCHIP and had life-saving heart surgery when she was an infant. On Monday the Wilkerson family held a conference call, sponsored by USAction, a liberal grassroots advocacy group lobbying in favor of the $35 billion SCHIP expansion.

For the record, the Bo and Dara Wilkerson say they make $34,000 in combined income from restaurant jobs in St. Petersburg, Fla. They rent their house and the couple owns one car, which Bo calls “a junker.” Malkin and other bloggers have revealed over the past week that the Frost family owned two properties, as well as a couple cars, and had a $45,000 income. The accusation against Democrats, and by extension the Frost family, is that they are too middle class to be granted any subsidized health insurance for their children.

The Wilkersons said they are fully aware of the possibility that their finances and personal lives may be investigated by opponents of the SCHIP bill.

One wonders what took them so long to push another family forward. Was there a lack of volunteers? That last bit about the Wilkerson’s being aware that they “may be investigated” makes me think that the Democrats let their potential poster families in on their strategy this time – unlike the Frosts who obviously were not informed that they were being used as bait to trap opponents of the S-CHIP expansion in a brilliant political ploy where criticism of the program became impossible without criticizing little 12 year old Graeme Frost.

Of course, the strategy of using children as human shields in a political fight received scant attention thanks to the outburst of fake outrage on the left over anyone daring to question anything about the program. Watching them falling over each other trying to outdo one another in the level and originality of their invective for “smearing 12 year old Graeme Frost” – where no smear ever occurred anywhere at anytime by any blogger, pundit, writer, or spokesperson – actually became something of an entertainment – sort of like a bad episode of Days of our Lives where every scene was horribly melodramatic and overdone.

The Democrats just don’t get it. They didn’t get it when questions arose about the Frosts. They don’t get it now. And it is likely they will never get it because they refuse to ask the right questions.

It’s not about income. It’s about choices. It’s about the kind of government we should have. It’s about freedom versus dependence, liberty versus slavery, self-reliance versus serfdom.

And it’s about fairness. In the Frosts case, the consequences of one family’s choices being foisted upon their fellow Americans who may be less well off but are nevertheless asked to pony up to support them.

No one should begrudge the Wilkerson’s their participation in S-CHIP. They are barely above the poverty level and have little in the way of assets. But the Wilkersons and those like them are not the problem and the Democrats know it. Borderline cases like the Wilkerson’s who regularly fall through the cracks of coverage in other government programs are not part of the central criticism against the expansion of S-CHIP. It is subsidizing coverage for those up to 400% above the poverty level that is the basis of conservative opposition to the Democrat’s bill.

Funny how we don’t see any poster families who are 400% above the poverty level being pushed forward as examples of the kinds of people the $35 billion expansion of S-CHIP will help. Why not? Since the original parameters of the S-CHIP program enjoys the overwhelming support of Congress and the President, why trot forward families like the Frosts and the Wilkersons who qualify under the current rules? Why not bring to the fore those families at the high end of the expansion requirements and let the American people decide if they want to subsidize insurance for them?

The answer is obvious; a family living 400% above poverty are not as sympathetic as those, like the Wilkerson’s, who couldn’t get by without S-CHIP. In fact, pushing forward people who make more than 40% of all the families in America as the poster family for S-CHIP expansion would probably torpedo the bill then and there.

I note that this time around, the Democrats were careful to push a family forward whose choices regarding health insurance couldn’t be questioned. In that respect, if they’re waiting for conservatives to attack the Wilkerson’s, they are going to be sorely disappointed. The Democrats just don’t have a clue about the true nature of the opposition to their S-CHIP expansion. For that, they would have to give a fig about the tradeoffs we make between dependency and freedom every time they get some not so bright idea about “helping” those who can usually be counted on to help themselves.


I could easily have excerpted most of this Goldstein post for the simple fact that it reflects my thinking from this morning as well as the post above:

You are dealing with those so impressed with their own presumed genius that they’ve given themselves license to use any means necessary to bring about their desired ends. Using a largely sympathetic press — and casting their political opponents as villains who hate for the simple pleasure of hating (hi, Mr Krugman!) — they are attempting to control public policy by way of rhetorical totalitarianism and cynical manipulation of the un- or ill-informed, a group to whom they both pander and empower.

Of course, once the “progressive” revolution achieves its ends — and soft socialism replaces the liberal democracy the founders envisioned — the “cream” will rise to the top, and a new class of elitist bureaucrats and politicians will take full control of the nannystate, just as they have long believed was their right.

Hell, it’s more than a right. It’s their destiny!

And Malkin keeps the heat on:

If Republicans don’t have the stomach to do battle over fundamental policy questions–like, you know, who deserves government-subsidized health insurance– what are they doing in office? More “partisan bickering” could have spared us McCain-Feingold, No Child Left Behind, and the hugetastic Medicare expansion boondoogle. If not for “partisan bickering,” shamnesty would be the law(lessness) of the land.

We need more “partisan bickering,” not less.

As long as that’s the tactic being used by the otherside, the GOP has little choice. You don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

By: Rick Moran at 4:58 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

CATEGORY: Government, History

There has been a lot of criticism directed against conservatives for their seeming heartlessness when it comes to subsidizing health insurance for children in America regardless of whether their parents can afford paying for a private plan or not.

Leaving aside the obvious political framework in which the criticism is given, perhaps it’s time to have a debate about what kind of government we have, what kind we want, and most importantly, what kind of government we need to insure that liberty is not just something our grandchildren read about in history books. This is a debate conservatives should win every time because at bottom, a majority of people will choose freedom over dependence, liberty over the tyranny of the state every time.

The problem is, the left refuses to debate the question of tyranny or dependence and frames the question of what kind of government we should have in emotional terms instead. “Dependency” becomes “compassion.” “Want” becomes “need.” “Personal responsibility” becomes “selfishness.”

If the left were to debate whether their programs actually serve the cause of liberty or dependency, they would lose. It would be a no contest, slam dunk defeat every time. So we don’t debate the nature of government in a free society but instead argue over whether this government program or that one is good for the children, or old people, or any other group du jour the left seeks to ensnare in their dependency trap.

The left doesn’t want to discuss what we lose when government steps in where the citizen is capable of taking care of themselves. They refuse to acknowledge that every step toward establishing a government giving the people what they want rather than what is needed or desirable is a step back from human liberty and into the trough of virtual slavery.

You can hardly blame liberals in the end. It is extremely seductive (not to mention conducive to winning elections) to promise people that government will relieve the citizen of their burdens and make their lives easier. It is also convenient to then tar your opponents as unfeeling, uncaring monsters. Playing Santa Claus while painting the opposition as Scrooge has been part and parcel of the Democratic electoral game plan since the 1960’s.

But little, if any attention is paid to the idea that every time the government shoulders its way forward to assume part of the responsibility for our own well being, our choices about the direction our lives can take are limited in the process. Sometimes a small wrench thrown into the machinery while other times, an impassable roadblock is the result. Our own preferences are subsumed in favor of the ease or convenience the state can supply.

Is it wrong to oppose this creeping servitude offered by the left? After all, not only do the people want programs such as S-CHIP and like the idea of the government taking these decisions off their hands, but it takes a monumental sort of hubris to believe that you know what is best for everyone else with regards to their own personal freedom. And it takes an equal dollop of chutzpah to argue that people should actually wish for the burden of responsibility to fall upon them and their families when government is sitting out there perfectly capable of doing it for them.

Even if the left gets their way and the people are weighted down with the burgeoning largess government offers them, we will still have the Constitution. American will still be here albeit with a people who are a lot less free than their fathers and grandfathers. What we may lose in freedom of action, we will gain in security and ease.

This is the “perfectibility” of society that progressives have been striving for since the turn of the 20th century. The progressive movement itself was founded on the principle that government could be perfected via the application of scientific principles to the problems in society. By turning social scientists into gurus and Shamans, it was believed that America could become a place free from want.

Recall that at the time the Progressive movement was kindled, much of its impetus was supplied by the horrific conditions of the urban poor and the excesses of capitalism on display in the working conditions for labor as well as the power of the corporate trusts who literally owned Congress. Such conditions cried out for reform and progressives began to apply what they considered sound ideas grounded in the science of observation to these inequities.

From Teddy Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter almost every politician had to pay homage to the idea of government’s “perfectibility.” This was the great consensus that held America together through a depression, a world war, and much of the long, twilight struggle against communism. It was based on that most American of beliefs; that all problems have a solution and if we only tinker long enough with it, an answer will be forthcoming.

The father of modern conservatism (although he eschewed the conservative label for himself) Frederic Hayek rejected the notion that “science” could be applied to something so vague and random as human behavior. He believed that complex phenomena where humans interact cannot be scientifically predicted or even explained except in the grossest, most general way. Any attempts to do so was little better than “cooking the books” because social scientists would use the observational data they collected to formulate solutions based on a false understanding of science.

If Hayek was the father of modern conservatism, John F. Kennedy was the mother of “progressive perfectibility” adherents. Kennedy, himself no liberal, nevertheless brought hundreds of social scientists to Washington to address problems from poverty to nuclear policy. It was perfectibility with a vengeance. If anything, his successor gave the newcomers more power and influence. Originally charged with solving the problems associated with poverty, the perfectibility crowd has branched out since the 1960’s to dominate the agencies and departments of government while finding a comfortable home in the Democratic party. In fact, despite a quarter century of conservatives rising to power and prominence, the progressive notion of society’s “perfectibility” is now so firmly ensconced as writ in government that it’s stranglehold on the minds and souls of our politicians will prove very difficult to break.

Society and indeed government are not “perfectible.” There is no such place as Utopia nor would it even be desirable for free men to achieve creating it. Even those who proclaim that their goal is simply to “make things better” bely that notion by proposing solutions that invariably don’t solve anything or just as likely, create more problems needing to be “made better.”

If this sounds like I have an animus toward government, I would say that this is simply untrue. It is very hard to dislike something that should be seen as a utility. You may hate your cell phone every once and a while but it is a distant, impersonal kind of hate and not directed toward anything specific. My beef is with those who would use government to undermine the foundations of personal liberty by expanding its reach to ensnare those in dependency who are perfectly capable to taking care of themselves. The fact that they use government in this way for the purpose of winning votes is equally reprehensible.

And I include so called conservatives in this criticism as well. For ten years, Republicans in Congress pumped the spigot of government to spend their way to re-election. Paying off constituencies be they lobbyists, campaign contributors, or corporate special interests is as bad as anything the left has done. Earmarks have made thousands of American companies dependent on government for their survival – an intolerable excess in a free market society. Reform requires a cleaning of the house on both sides of the debate.

Today, we are far beyond the point where government programs are designed to only help the needy in society and are now busy establishing new parameters of government beneficence for the middle class and even the wealthy. We’ve had corporate welfare for 3 decades now as the government designs tax policies that restrict competition, incentivize production, or simply fill the coffers of some well heeled companies who happen to have connected lobbyists inside the Beltway.

Lost in all of this has been the belief that freedom is preferable to dependency and that walking away from a society based on self-reliant, rational men and women by infantilizing their lives threatens to change the United States into a far different place than that which was bequeathed to us by our fathers and their fathers before them going back to the beginning.

By: Rick Moran at 12:43 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Transcript: John Boehner on 'FNS'...
CATEGORY: Government, Politics

I believe it entirely appropriate that we conservatives criticize little Graeme Frost – an injured boy of just 12 years old – for…well, I’ll think of it in a minute. I know we should be skewering him for something. Maybe we should go after him for getting in front of the car that caused his injuries? How about for not being born with a silver spoon in his mouth? Perhaps we could come down on him for giving a poor performance during his response to the President for vetoing SCHIP?

I know there’s something that we should be hammering the kid for. After all, if liberals accuse conservatives of something, it’s got to be true. They never exaggerate. They never lie. They never twist words or make outrageously stupid analogies.

The problem as far as I can see it is that conservatives must have erased their blog posts in the middle of the night of all the nasty things they’ve written about little Graeme while no lefties were looking because for the life of me, I can’t seem to find a single example from any conservative blog where one negative word has been written about a 12 year old little boy suffering the pain and trauma from an automobile accident. Not one. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

There has, of course, been plenty written about his parents. Even Rush Limbaugh’s accusations of the kid “lying” are not based on anything the child came up with on his own but rather what he was handed to say. Unless the critics are saying the kid wrote that response all by himself, blowhard Limbaugh (whose shtick is really getting rather tiresome) was spot on. The Democratic response, written we are told by Democratic staffers, was full of lies, exaggerations, and distortions of the conservative position on the issue. This is not the fault of Graeme Frost but of the supposed grown ups – including his parents – who used him as a prop and human shield in their propaganda war against the right.

The point is simple and worth repeating; not one single righty blogger that I have read has criticized a 12 year old boy. Despite all the hand wringing, wailing, fake outrage, and deliberate obfuscation of the truth, to charge conservatives with the crime of piling on an injured child is outrageously false and, since the left knows it’s not true, a blatant lie.

It has, however, given liberals the opportunity to stretch their vocabulary of invectives – including this ignorant analogy drawn by the normally intelligent Ezra Klein:

This is the politics of hate. Screaming, sobbing, inchoate, hate. It would never, not in a million years, occur to me to drive to the home of a Republican small business owner to see if he “really” needed that tax cut. It would never, not in a million years, occur to me to call his family and demand their personal information. It would never occur to me to interrogate his neighbors. It would never occur to me to his smear his children.

I’m glad it would never occur to you Ezra because trying to compare a tax cut to an entitlement program is the most stupefyingly idiotic analogy I have ever seen a lefty make. It’s not even worthy of Oliver Willis. It’s not even comparing apples to oranges – more like peaches to elephants.

But Klein’s analogy is instructive. Not of leftist stupidity although you’d be hardpressed to find a more doltish example of liberal witlessness. Rather, it points up very nicely the difference between a liberal and conservative on the reason and function of government.

Klein has no trouble equating a tax cut with an entitlement program because he sees the tax cut as a gift from government. It is government as daddy giving us a boost in our allowance. More prosaically, it is, like SCHIP, just another responsibility of government – in this case, by “giving money back to the people,” consumerism is encouraged.

But tax cuts have nothing to do with government and everything to do with personal property. That money is the taxpayer’s. It is already in his pocket. A tax cut is nothing more than a law preventing the government from reaching into the taxpayer’s pocket and taking away his property. It is not a gift or a favor or even a responsibility of government. A tax cut has everything to do with expanding personal liberty and nothing whatsoever to do with government being nice to taxpayers.

This simple, basic, liberty loving concept has been forgotten by liberals like Klein who see tax cuts as part of a government “plan” for the economy hence, monies that the government will forgo collecting in order to modify or encourage some kind of economic activity. In short, the money “given back” to taxpayers is really the government’s money to begin with, theirs to do with as they see fit.

To not see how that concept turns the idea of freedom on its head reveals a moral blindness that makes it easy to posit that all property is subject to government approval and control. It justifies eminent domain and host of other egregious threats to human liberty that used to be a concern of liberals but is now seen as an impediment to government management of most every facet of people’s lives.

The struggle here is not over little Graeme Frost who no one has criticized or smeared. The ideological battle over “need” and “want” is what is at issue. Of course the middle class wants SCHIP. Why not? It’s free, isn’t it? But no one is asking if there is a better way to insure those who don’t make a million dollars a year. No one is asking if this expansion of federal largess at the expense of other taxpayers is a good thing or not – certainly no one has queried those taxpayers who are going to foot the bill for families like the Frosts whose situation, while complicated, is not desperate or hopeless where no one would begrudge them the benefit.

But if the left can’t see this fundamental issue as one of taxpayer fairness I don’t hold out much hope for entitlement reform and indeed, see a wild expansion of government programs in the future that would benefit families who aren’t needy but simply don’t want to make the sacrifices other families willingly make in order to get insurance, or send their kids to college, or go on a European vacation for that matter – something I have no doubt the left would use government to subsidize if they thought they could get away with it.

The whole problem with SCHIP and other entitlements is that we have confused “need” and “want” to the point that there is no longer any difference between the two. It is the difference between freedom and capitalism and dependence and socialism. As each incremental increase in government’s ability to make decisions for us becomes law, a corresponding loss of freedom occurs – freedom to make our own decisions about family and our futures. SCHIP does not represent much of a loss as far as our freedom is concerned. Perhaps technically none at all. We simply abrogate responsibility for supplying health care to our loved ones and place the burden on our neighbors.

Compassion has nothing to do with this issue. If it did, liberals would emote just as histrionically for taxpayers. Instead, they obscure the entire issue by hiding behind the problems of a middle class family who have clearly made choices that their neighbors may or may not have made if they were in a similar position. And because of those choices, those same neighbors are footing their health insurance bill.

If it is a socialist state (European model) that is sought by the left, why don’t they come out of the closet and proudly proclaim it to the rest of the country? If not just the needy are to be taken care of by government but also anyone and everyone who has their hand out, why not take your case to the people and run on it?

It won’t happen, of course. And liberals will keep playing Santa Claus while painting conservatives as Scrooge. Damned effective politics, that. Whether it’s the right thing to do as far as maintaining our liberties is concerned just never seems to enter into the discussion. And I have no doubt, we will rue the day that we stopped weighing the consequences of what we give up in freedom for what we gain when abrogating our responsibilities to live as independent, self reliant people.


Two additional posts I believe are well worth reading.

First Michelle Malkin’s thoughts – especially in her syndicated column – touch on some of the themes I’ve written about above.

Appropos of stupid analogies, some idiot published her personal information on their website. I guess the thinking was since she “stalked” the Frosts, someone should do it to her.

I thought that Ezra Klein’s jaw droppingly stupid analogy above was pretty dumb. But whoever pulled that crap is beyond stupid and enters the world of metaphysical mindlessness.

Also, Dan Reihl’s piece from yesterday reflects much of my thinking as well.

I don’t agree with everything either blogger has written in those posts nor do I necessarily subscribe to the tone of their criticism of the Frosts. But that’s a matter of taste. I agree with the idea that the Frosts entered the political fray of their own volition. Ignorance of what might happen to them as far as criticism of the choices they have made is not an excuse.

The Democrats hoped that using the family as I say above as a “human shield” would not only mute criticism of their tactics but also give them a nice juicy opening if anyone had the temerity to criticize the Frosts. In this, they have well and truly succeeded in scoring points against their critics. As I said, damn smart politics.

But I’m not going to sit here and be accused of “smearing” a family when the Democrats believe it is perfectly legitimate political discourse to use the Frosts as a poster family for what is good about SCHIP while not allowing me to use them in the exact same political context to show what is wrong with the program.

UPDATE: 10/11

Reader DC Lemmon points out that SCHIP is not an entitlement but is funded through a block grant to the tstates. My bad. Doesn’t let Klein off the hook for his poor analogy, of course.

This part was precious:

And this doesn’t even address the most insidious thing about this whole
story…..the need to attack this kid. You and your ilk are low life scum for
perpetuating this trash. You should be ashamed, but you’d have to have a
conscience, so I know that’s not an option.

I suggested the gentleman attend a remedial reading course at his local JC. Poor reading comprehension seems to be an epedemic in lefty circles these days.


Here’s an email I received from Marc Marton who is Communications Director for a children’s advocacy group in Georgia. regarding some specifics about the SCHIP program that I neglected to mention as well as some corrections and misstatements I made about the program:

Not only is SCHIP not an entitlement, it requires enrollees to pay a monthly

Opponents of SCHIP, including President Bush, have been mischaracterizing the expansion initiativewith blatant falsehoods. It’s not socialized medicine because most, if not all the each state implementation of the SCHIP program use private insurance companies to manage them. That’s also why most insurance companies support SCHIP.

Families with incomes over $80K are not eligible for SCHIP. That figure was a waiver request from New York to cover families at 400 percent over FPL and was denied.

SCHIP was also not designed to cover children from families who are necessarily poor. Medicaid cover them. SCHIP was intended for working families.

The “crowd out” argument that says parents with access to private insurance will bypass that for better, cheaper SCHIP is also overblown. The vast majority of uninsured children don’t have that luxury.

You can point fingers at Democrats and the lunatic left all you like, but the Republicans and ridiculous right are just as guilty of spreading false information and sliming others.

Mr. Marton makes some good points and I thank him for his corrections.

However, SCHIP is being used not just to insure “children:”

According to the states’ budget projections, 13 will spend more than 44 percent of their SCHIP funds in 2008 on people who are neither children nor pregnant women.

Michigan tops the list with 71.6 percent of its SCHIP money earmarked for adults who have no kids. In New Mexico, 52.3 percent of the state’s SCHIP dollars will be spent on childless adults.

Source: Department of Health and Human Services/CMS Data

And Mr. Marton may accuse Republicans and conservatives of “misrepresenting” many of the facts surrounding the Democrat’s planned expansion of the program, but what does he think about the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office?

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 50 percent of the upper-income enrollees added to SCHIP under the Democrats’ proposal currently have private health insurance but will drop their current health insurance coverage and shift these costs to the taxpayers.

Just sayin…

And what about waiving the requirement that enrollees must prove they’re citizens?

H.R. 976 says that simply writing down a Social Security number is good enough to prove you are a citizen, although the commissioner of the Social Security Administration says emphatically that Social Security numbers are laughable as proof of citizenship because thousands are issued every year to non-citizens. Moreover, the Democrats’ SCHIP bill doesn’t even require that an applicant flash an ID to demonstrate that he or she could be the actual owner of the number.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that erasing the mechanism that reserves welfare for Americans instead of illegal aliens will cost U.S. taxpayers an extra $3.7 billion in federal spending and $2.8 billion in added state spending.

Again, I thank Mr. Marton for pointing out my errors (especially the fact that enrollees pay a premium – something of which I was totally unaware). But there is plenty in this bill to dislike not the least of which it seeks a top down government solution to a problem that should be addressed – along with all other Americans who are unable to afford coverage if they desire it – by reforming many aspects of the insurance and health care industry in order to bring premiums down to a level most Americans (and American employers) can afford.

By: Rick Moran at 12:30 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

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CATEGORY: Government

President George Bush gave his 6th prime time speech since his presidency began in the same cocoon that he has comfortably ensconced himself since the Iraq War began.

The fact that he’s given so few speeches talking to the American people about a cause he himself has identified as vital to the War on Terror, failing spectacularly to explain as honestly and forthrightly as possible where we are, where we need to be, and where we are going in Iraq, guarantees that the American people have stopped listening to him.

In short, his credibility when talking about the war is as low as it could possibly go. It is his own fault. He can command attention whenever he desires it and the news nets must cover what he says. But over the years, his start and stop, herky jerky efforts to rally the American people to his policies has fallen far short of what was needed and necessary. Instead, he allowed his political opponents to define the war, the mission, even the president’s own motives in going to war while substituting a narrative that savaged him and people who supported him.

It would help if the President would give us the castor oil with the honey when he talks about Iraq. He never has. The Iraq he talked about in his speech does not exist. It is not a place of “freedom” or “democracy.” A legitimate argument can be made that it doesn’t even have a government. Holding elections does not define a nation as a democracy. There is no freedom without citizens being secure in their property and lives. The government in Iraq cannot guarantee either and in fact, elements of that government are consciously engaged in activities to dispossess Sunni Muslims of both.

For all the security gains in some of the Sunni provinces and all the good work being done with the tribes in enlisting them to help fight al-Qaeda, there are other areas of the country where the situation on the ground has not gotten any better and is demonstrably worse. As the Brits abandon the south, the militias are taking over and will eventually fight for control, the government in Baghdad be damned. Iran is salivating at the opportunities offered by this “civil war within a civil war” and will only gain in influence whoever comes out on top.

Our friends the Kurds, patiently waiting for the day when they can make a clean break from Iraq and declare their independence (along with fellow Kurds across the border in Iran and Turkey who are carrying out terrorist attacks against civilian targets in those countries) are experiencing hit and run attacks by Shias who seek control of the vital oil center of Kirkuk. Car bombs, suicide bombs, assassinations, and even the occasional firefight has broken out in recent months as both sides gauge the possibilities of an America that is about to pull out.

And Baghdad? No one controls Baghdad. Not the government. Not the militias. Not the criminal gangs that continue to terrorize residents almost as much as the sectarian gangs that are driving people out of their homes and the death squads who still manage a tidy body count every day despite the increased presence of American and Iraqi troops.

The Iraq I have just partially described (don’t get me started on the police, the army, the Council of Representatives, the Interior Ministry, the corruption, or that empty suit of a sectarian gangster Maliki) is Iraq as it is – a morass of security, social, political, economic, and psychic problems that no army on the planet can fix. It is also an Iraq that George Bush didn’t come close to acknowledging as existing in his speech tonight.

We are all big boys and girls. George Bush treats us like children, afraid that telling us the truth of what is going on in Iraq or at least being realistic about describing the situation will scare us or cause us to want to hide under the bed. It is depressing. The disconnect between the Iraq Bush describes and the real thing is not lost on the American people who I believe would respond much more positively to Bush if he didn’t try and sugarcoat the situation.

Even the gains in Anbar and elsewhere have been exaggerated now and war supporters have latched on to them like a dying man grasping a leaky life preserver. Contrast Petraeus’s calmly rational assessment of those gains with many on the right who believe the “Anbar Awakening” is going to sweep across the country and bring “victory.” I may be mistaken but even George Bush has stopped talking about “victory” in Iraq and has substituted the word “success.” Even that term is a stretch. When we depart, I hardly think we will be able to claim the Iraq we leave behind will be a success. It will be a mess. But I think the best we can hope for at this point is that it won’t be an unmitigated disaster. That result is worth fighting for because it is necessary to our national security that Iraq not be a failed state and Iran not be rewarded for its meddling.

I always expect too much from Bush which is why I’m always disappointed. Perhaps because in these perilous times, I think we should expect more from our presidents than the rhetoric of the stump. Bush is not a bad man nor is he stupid. He is simply inadequate.

That may be the most damning thing you can say about any president.


For reaction, I always check Allah first since he’s only half as cynical as I am and half again more brilliant:

Four minutes of highlights for you including the surprise announcement of the night — plans for an “enduring relationship” with Iraq, presumably on the model of South Korea, that will involve a “security engagement that extends beyond my presidency.” That’s an odd thing to announce now, when he’s trying to reap the political benefits of a (very limited) withdrawal, but there you go. It also flies in the face not only of Sadr’s nationalist rhetoric but poll after poll of Iraqi citizens who say they want the United States out (eventually). Bush wants U.S. troops there to keep Tehran on its toes, though, and also to act as a “tripwire” (again, a la South Korea) in case Iranian forces try to assert themselves inside the country. The more menacing Iran is, the more you can expect Iraqis to grudgingly accept the idea, so long as the “security” part of the enduring relationship involves a small number of troops and, in all likelihood, bases in Kurdistan.

The other scoop is that he’s asked Petraeus to give another progress report in March. The Republicans up for re-election next year will have their life vests on and will have already been seated in the lifeboats by then, so unless that report’s as rosy as the desert sun, it’s game over.

I wasn’t as surprised about the “enduring relationship” theme as I was, like Allah, disconcerted by the timing.

And I agree about the Iraqi people’s attitude toward the Iranians. Many on the left have a heart attack every time Maliki and Ahmadinejad meet, breathlessly telling us of the coming Shia convergence between the Iraqis and Iranians.

Both peoples may be Shias. But there was the little matter of the Iran-Iraq War not to mention the historical enmity between Arabs and Persians. The Iraqis don’t trust the Iranians, period.

My own pessimism about the political will necessary to sustain any kind of serious effort in Iraq matches Allah’s own. By March, there will be general agreement to draw down faster than the 5 combat brigades Petraeus has called for. By election day 2008, we’ll have less than half the troops in Iraq that we do now.

By: Rick Moran at 9:50 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)

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John Edwards is a very serious man.

He is very serious about his hair.

He is very serious about doing his part on global warming – adding to it by generating a carbon footprint the size of Rhode Island.

He is very serious about helping the poor – believing that by getting rich using junk science and New Age mumbo jumbo when suing doctors and then plowing his winnings into hedge funds, he can impoverish others thus adding to the poor’s numbers.

He is very serious about running for President. Just exactly who or what he wants to be President of might be a little hazy:

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said on Sunday that his universal health care proposal would require that Americans go to the doctor for preventive care.

“It requires that everybody be covered. It requires that everybody get preventive care,” he told a crowd sitting in lawn chairs in front of the Cedar County Courthouse. “If you are going to be in the system, you can’t choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK.”

He noted, for example, that women would be required to have regular mammograms in an effort to find and treat “the first trace of problem.” Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, announced earlier this year that her breast cancer had returned and spread.

Edwards said his mandatory health care plan would cover preventive, chronic and long-term health care. The plan would include mental health care as well as dental and vision coverage for all Americans.

“The whole idea is a continuum of care, basically from birth to death,” he said.

One can immediately see the problem with this birth to death, “Health Care at the Point of a Bayonet” program the former Senator and Breck Girl has come up with. It’s not the cost of the program itself that would bust the treasury. It’s creating the National Health Care Police Force to make sure his diktats about going to doctors and having your head examined on a regular basis are enforced. Perhaps this is how Silky Pony intends to fight terrorism? Send the Doctor Police overseas and force al-Qaeda recruits to see their local shrink. I’ll bet half of the jihadis are committed on the spot.

I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop in Edwards’ “Gun to Your Head” preventive health care proposal; what will be the penalties for not going to the doctor when Nanny Sam says you must? Perhaps Edwards can come up with something unique and politically viable at the same time. Instead of using animals to test new drugs and new surgical techniques, why not punish American citizens who fail to follow orders about going to the doctor by making them the guinea pigs? Better that scofflaw doctor avoiders suffer the side effects of bad drugs than poor helpless rats. This would please his PETA supporters to no end while being a big help to Big-Pharm who no doubt will embrace any program that puts so many potential customers within spitting distance of a doctor, most of whom received their medical degrees with free drug samples attached.

Althouse has this pegged correctly:

And I predict Edwards will, within a day, chide us for misunderstanding what he meant by “require” and that “require” doesn’t mean you’ll be forced, only that the big bad medical establishment will be required to provide.

Just like “misunderstanding” Jane Hamsher putting Joe Lieberman in black face. We rubes are just too unsophisticated to get all this “nuance” don’t you know?

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