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8/26/2009
NO DOUBTING TED KENNEDY’S IMPACT ON HISTORY

We will let the New York Times and liberal blogs lionize the man. I assure you there will be enough of that for anyone’s tastes.

Here, I will try to give the unvarnished truth about a person who was indeed, the “liberal lion of the Senate” (take from that what you will), as well as representing the absolute worst of wealth and privilege in the United States.

Ted Kennedy, the rogue son of a rogue family has died of brain cancer at age 77. Oftentimes, liberals like to compare the Kennedy family to that other famous political family that featured presidents, and legislators of note; the Adams family.

Pardon me if my outrage can’t quite be held in check. The man who fought longer and harder for American independence than anyone of his time - John Adams - had it all over Teddy as far as personal moral behavior and principled, pragmatic leadership. His son, John Quincy Adams, took stands against slavery that made any “political courage” shown by Kennedy to be minuscule by comparison.

Suffice it to say, that the difference between the two families couldn’t be more pronounced and referring to the Kennedy’s in the same breath as the Adams’s is a travesty.

No doubt Kennedy the man was a despicable cad, a notorious roue, and, until late in life, a certified drunk. As most conservative blogs are reporting this morning, “Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.” ‘Nuff said about Kennedy the man.

But history is a relentless bitch of a mistress, holding us to standards of truth and accuracy so that even one so vile as Kennedy must be examined not only in the context of his personal peccadilloes but also for his contributions to his times.

And those contributions were awesome.

There is no doubt that the average Joe working American lives a better life today because of Teddy Kennedy. He is safer on the job, his wages are higher (even non-union workers), his children have more educational opportunities, he is healthier, and wealthier than any working American of any other generation in history. We can certainly criticize liberal excesses in much of the legislation that this master parliamentarian guided through the labyrinthine maze of Congress. But no honest appraisal of Kennedy’s career would be complete without referring to the gigantic impact he had on ordinary, blue collar America.

He was at the center of every major legislative initiative that created much of the welfare state, as well as shepherding through Congress important legislation regarding voting rights, health care, labor law, and education. Conservatives like Barry Goldwater and Orrin Hatch found him not only to be a tough enemy but also someone with whom they could negotiate their concerns. He earned the respect of his opponents by having the issues associated with any legislation he was pushing down absolutely stone cold. And his mastery of Roberts Rules of Order made him a formidable presence in any senate debate.

Even historians not enamored of his far left liberalism — a liberalism that seemed to get farther left the older he got — compare him to Henry Clay or John C. Calhoun as far as his impact on the senate. That may be unfair to Clay who sacrificed his chance at the presidency to bring about compromises on the slavery issue. I did not sense such self abnegation in Teddy Kennedy, who viewed his senate seat as something of a patrimony from God. The wealth and privilege he enjoyed that allowed him to escape justice in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, and his family to get out of scrape after scrape with the law highlighted the fact that this was a family not above the law but beyond it. Their money, power, and influence had far too much impact on our national life than is healthy in a republic. And perhaps that’s the key to Kennedy’s psyche.

I believe the guilt of possessing great wealth drove him to compensate for his privileged position by pushing legislation that he believed exonerated him of his family sins. This is not unusual in American history, with industry titans from Astor to Rockefeller giving away much of their fortune prior to their death. But what drove Kennedy was also perhaps the nagging belief that he really wasn’t up to the Kennedy mystique, that he was a fraud compared to his martyred brothers.

The truth is, John Kennedy was no liberal at all (just ask Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.), and Robert Kennedy’s liberalism was far more muscular and more out of the classic school of left wing thought than the New Left activists who tried to adopt him in 1968. Robert’s liberalism was informed by both his Catholicism, and his own personal demons of trying to live up to the heroic image he carried of his brother John.

It took Ted a few years after Robert’s death to be convinced that “carrying on the legacy” of RFK actually meant going beyond his brother’s concerns that welfare was creating a permanent underclass to embracing the welfare state and the left wing agenda that went with it. Perhaps he saw this as the quickest way to the White House, not even able to fathom the damage done to his presidential aspirations by being responsible for Mary Jo Kopechne’s death. Or perhaps, it was indeed guilt that drove him on. Historians will have a field day with his motivations, that’s for sure.

The last of the “original” Kennedy brothers is dead. An age has now passed into history where for “one, brief, shining moment” one American family stood at the apex of power, largely bought for them by their immensely wealthy father. His two brothers who preceded him in death were known for what “might have been,” having been cut down before they could make any lasting impact on the country.

Not so the third Kennedy brother. His legacy will live on in the lives he made better, the lives he made worse - and the life he was responsible for ending.

By: Rick Moran at 9:19 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (38)

8/6/2009
JUST LIKE THE BIRTHERS ONLY WORSE: LIBERAL CONSPIRACIES ABOUT HEALTH CARE REFORM

You can find some wonderful symmetry between the Birther conspiracists and those on the left who have become so paranoid about opposition to Obama that they have invented a “Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory” on health care reform demonstrations.

Both are rooted in denial of facts, refusal to believe evidence right in front of their eyes, the exaggerated build up of the opposition, manufactured (or misinterpreted) evidence, and the unshakable belief that they are right.

The big difference is, on the Democratic side, the conspiracy nuts include:

The President
The Speaker of the House
The Majority Leader of the Senate
The entire DNC
Every major liberal blog

That’s quite a lineup, huh? On the Birther side, you have few nutty congressmen and a whole bunch of fringe kooks who would deny the sun rising in the east and setting in the west if someone presented evidence to the contrary.

So what is the bogus conspiracy theory being pushed by Democrats and the left?

Let’s let the President of the United States - or, perhaps we should start referring to him as the “Kook in Chief” - explain it:

There’s been a lot of media coverage about organized mobs intimidating lawmakers, disrupting town halls, and silencing real discussion about the need for real health insurance reform.

The truth is, it’s a sham. These “grassroots protests” are being organized and largely paid for by Washington special interests and insurance companies who are desperate to block reform. They’re trying to use lies and fear to break the President and his agenda for change.

“Organized mobs?” “Paid for by Washington special interests and insurance companies?” First of all, referring to fellow countrymen who disagree with you as a “mob” is beneath the dignity of the office - not that Obama has necessarily demonstrated that he cares a whit about that kind of thing in the first place - and bespeaks a paranoid outlook regarding your political opposition.

And I don’t know about you, but I sure would like to know specifically which insurance companies and “special interests” - specific lobbying groups and companies - are organizing and paying for these demonstrations? After all, if you’re going to smear the thousands and thousands of people who are opposed to a public policy initiative like health care reform and show up at these congressional town halls, it should be snap to identify those companies who are paying for these protestors to come out and demonstrate, right?

What are their names, Mr. President? How are they paying people to turn out? Are they paying gas money to the demonstrators so that they can drive the few blocks to where these town halls are taking place? Maybe they’re giving a stipend - sort of like strike pay that unions give to members who walk a picket line? (Now that’s grass roots action for ya!)? Just how is all this organized? How deep does this conspiracy go?

ABC News went to one of these town halls where protestors turned out by the hundreds:

There were no lobbyist-funded buses in the parking lot of Mardela Middle and High School on Tuesday evening, and the hundreds of Eastern Maryland residents who packed the school’s auditorium loudly refuted the notion that their anger over the Democrats’ health care reform plans is “manufactured.”

“I went to school in this school,” a man named Bob told me. “I don’t see anyone in this room that isn’t from Mardela Springs right now.”

“We’ve been quiet too long,” said a woman named Joan.

They came to yell at their congressman, freshman Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil, and they were surprised to hear that the “Congress in Your Corner” event to which they had been invited — by a robocall from Kratovil himself — was not to be a public airing of grievances, but instead an opportunity for private, one-on-one sessions with the freshman Democrat.

As the crowd grew, and began venting frustration over the fact they would only be meeting with the congressman behind closed doors, Kratovil’s aides suggested he switch to a town hall format

Obviously, ABC wasn’t looking hard enough for signs of the conspiracy. Our corporate media is covering for the insurance companies, I’m sure.

Or - these really are demonstrations organized at the grass roots and while I abhor the behavior of some (and admire Kratovil for standing up and taking his licks), the fact remains that the only sign of some kind of conspiracy involving big business was that, according to Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, the demonstrators were too well dressed to be “genuine.”

Ed Morrissey:

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) appeared on Hardball last night in support of the Left’s attempt to discredit the people showing up to townhalls in protest of ObamaCare. Boxer says she can tell that they’re fakes, because they’re too well dressed. How does she know that this is a problem? Because well-dressed people apparently told her to get the hell out of Florida in the Bush-Gore recount, too.

If that’s not paranoia, I don’t know what is. Note the forced and bogus connection made between two completely different situations. Birthers do the same thing all the time. And they’re kooks and Boxer is sane?

Then you have liberal blogs and the DNC pushing the theory that a group called Freedom Works is in cahoots with the insurance companies and are directing the demonstrators and orchestrating chaos:

Above-the-fold headlines of the disruptive protests caused the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to accuse Republicans of fueling the anti-Democratic healthcare activists in an attempt to institute “mob rule.”

But Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele denied on Wednesday that the GOP somehow coordinated the protests.

“To sit back and say this is some sort of Republican cabal is some baloney,” Steele said on a conference call with reporters. “And you can substitute [baloney] with something else if you want.”

And Steele argued the protesters have raised questions that the Obama administration deems beneath it to answer.

“This administration has the arrogance to look down their nose” at the protesters, Steele said.

The authenticity of the town hall protests, and whether or not they represent real dissatisfaction with Democrats’ healthcare reform proposals, has become a key element of the early August battle.

The White House questioned the authenticity of the rabble-rousers earlier this week.

“I hope people will take a jaundiced eye to what is clearly the AstroTurf nature of so-called grassroots lobbying,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Gibbs and the DNC have taken aim at groups like FreedomWorks, the activist group founded by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), for allegedly facilitating the protests at the behest of corporate interests.

FreedomWorks spokesman Max Pappas said in an interview with CBS that his group simply provides talking points to town hall attendees to engage in “civil” dialogues with lawmakers.

Those talking points from Freedom Works are one of about a thousand such efforts on the web. American Thinker had a series of 7 posts on “What to ask your Congressman” at these town halls while Hot Air just published their own suggestions.

If all these sites are getting paid to publish suggested talking points by evil insurance companies, maybe I should get in on the act. Who do I contact to spread the lies?

Of course, the revelations by Mary Katherine Ham yesterday about the “smoking gun” memo that Think Progress and TPM Muckraker were touting as “proof” of a conspiracy to disrupt town hall meetings, made most of the left look loonier than Orly Taitz:

When the “manufactured” outrage the Left is trying to demonize lines up so inconveniently with public polling, it’s sometimes necessary to create evidence for the “manufactured” storyline.

Enter Think Progress, which unearthed this shocking, secret memo from the leader of a small grassroots conservative organization in Connecticut, which allegedly instructs members on “infiltrating town halls and harassing Democratic members of Congress.”

Right Principles PAC was formed by Bob MacGuffie and four friends in 2008, and has taken in a whopping $5,017 and disbursed $1,777, according to its FEC filing.

“We’re just trying to shake this state up and make a difference up here,” MacGuffie told me during a telephone interview. He’s surprised at his elevation to national rabble-rouser by the Left.

Right Principles has a Facebook group with 23 members and a Twitter account with five followers. MacGuffie describes himself as an “opponent of leftist thinking in America,” and told me he’s “never pulled a lever” for a Republican or Democrat on a federal level. Yet this Connecticut libertarian’s influence over a national, orchestrated Republican health-care push-back is strong, indeed, if you listen to liberal pundits and the Democratic National Committee, who have crafted a nefarious web out of refutable evidence.

Think Progress highlighted his memo’s directives to “‘Yell,’ ‘Stand Up And Shout Out,’ ‘Rattle Him’,” calling it a “right-wing harassment strategy against Dems.” The blog falsely connected MacGuffie to the national conservative group FreedomWorks through the most tenuous of threads. The Think Progress link that purports to establish MacGuffie as a FreedomWorks “volunteer” leads to his one blog posting on a Tea Party website (on the free social networking site, ning.com). Think Progress calls Tea Party Patriots a “FreedomWorks website.”

The problem is it’s not a FreedomWorks site, according to FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon. FreedomWorks is a “coalition partner” of TeaPartyPatriots.org, but does not fund the site in any way.

“There is no formal structural connection,” Brandon told me. “Never has been. Never will be. We’re just fellow travelers in the movement.”

My pet cat Aramas has more influence with tea party protestors than these bushers. And yet, they are the source of the tactics used by opponents of health care reform?

Exaggerating evidence of conspiracy is right out of the Birther handbook. And yet they’re the screwballs and liberal bloggers are members of a “reality based community?” Maybe on the planet Mongol, not here.

From the president on down, Democrats and liberals have become unhinged about opposition to Obama’s agenda. Somehow, it just seems more evil if big business, right wing fanatics, shady Republican operatives, and robot-like conservatives are all involved in this conspiracy to defeat the health care reform monstrosity that no one in Congress has read yet because it hasn’t been written. And citizens are supposed to require lobbyists and political pros to get ginned up about that?

When 71% of the American people believe that Obama is adding to the deficit unnecessarily, do liberals believe that a few thousands of those souls won’t take it upon themselves - with a little encouragement from tea party groups who have been organizing for more than 6 months - to show up and register their unhappiness?

Completely rational, and reasonable explanations for this outpouring of anger and activism are rejected by the left in favor of the elitist idea that ordinary citizens cannot think for themselves and must be told by lobbyists and corporate flaks to go out and demonstrate. And to carry this elitist lunacy even farther, it is intimated that these same ordinary citizens are actually paid for their efforts.

Birthers and lefty conspiracists - peas of a pod, birds of a feather, and partners in kooky lunacy.

By: Rick Moran at 8:38 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (31)

3/2/2009
THE LIMBAUGH-STEELE SIDESHOW

Both of them should stick a sock in it.

When Michael Steele, Chairman of the Republican party, so violently disrespects mega star talk show host Rush Limbaugh, one has to wonder what sh*t for brains political outfit elected this numbskull to any position higher than Front Door Greeter.

Rule #1 in politics; never hand your opponents a club with which to beat you over the head. Rule #2 is “Don’t eat your own.” Steele broke both those rules and a few others by essentially adopting his opponent’s narrative regarding Limbaugh and opening a wound in the party and among conservatives that will not be easy to heal:

“Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh’s whole thing is entertainment,” Steele said. “Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly.”

Last month, Steele, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, was elected chair of the RNC. He is the first African-American to lead the Republican Party. At the time of his election, Steele said that “Rush will say what Rush has to say; we’ll do what we have to do.”

And I’m very happy to report that at least Steele knows who signs his paycheck:

Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele is taking issue with the notion that Rush Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the GOP, calling the conservative radio talk show host an entertainer whose comments can be ugly.

Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in an interview with CNN that he, rather than Limbaugh, is “the de facto leader of the Republican Party.”

Greg Sargent, pushing the newest liberal talking point that Republicans want Obama to fail (while failing to point out that many on the left spent the last 6 years celebrating casualties and hoping for a defeat of American arms in Iraq while gleefully predicting a recession was just around the corner every month) reports that Steele isn’t apologizing:

The problem for Steele, of course, is that by hitting Rush — and provoking a response from the talk show host — he’s left himself in the unenviable position of having to answer Rush’s implicit demand that he say whether he’s With Rush Or Against Him when it comes to Rush’s desire for Obama to fail. It’s not a good position to be in: Either Steele distances himself from Rush and angers the base, or he throws in his lot with the GOP’s pro-failure brigade and makes it easier for Dems to paint the GOP as petulant, partisan obstructionists.

Amusingly, either choice would help Rush: The first gives him a potent rallying point, and the second demonstrates his power over the party. What’s more, all this underscores again the astonishing degree to which the interests of Rush and Democrats are aligned here, since both Rush and Democrats want Steele, and every other Republican, to publicly make exactly the same choice.

This is news. Limbaugh, the meglomaniacal, power hungry entertainer demanding Steele give him a Bushesque statement of being “with him, or against him.” Could that be true?

Only if you’re a liberal and have the mind of sofa. The rest of us prefer reading what Limbaugh actually said:

I hope the RNC chairman will realize he’s not a talking head pundit, that he is supposed to be working on the grassroots and rebuilding it and maybe doing something about our open primary system and fixing it so that Democrats don’t nominate our candidates,” Limbaugh said, his voice rising. “It’s time, Mr. Steele, for you to go behind the scenes and start doing the work that you were elected to do instead of trying to be some talking head media star, which you’re having a tough time pulling off.”

Steele, Limbaugh said, had “taken the bait” by the media.

Limbaugh also offered a harsh assessment on the state of the GOP.

“I’m not in charge of the Republican Party, and I don’t want to be,” he said. ” I would be embarrassed to say that I’m in charge of the Republican Party in the sad-sack state that it’s in. If I were chairman of the Republican Party, given the state that it’s in, I would quit. I might get out the hari-kari knife because I would have presided over a failure that is embarrassing to the Republicans and conservatives who have supported it and invested in it all these years.”

The talk show host also schooled the RNC chairman on political truths - when in the opposition, oppose:

When you send those fundraising requests out, Mr. Steele, make sure you say, we — we — we want Obama to succeed. So people understand your compassion. Republicans, conservatives are sick and tired of being talked down to, sick and tired of being lectured to. And until you show some understanding and respect for who they are, you’re going to have a tough time rebuilding your party.

Allah has the real politik speil on where Steele and Eric Cantor (who also dissed Limbaugh) are coming from:

My point then, and Ace’s point today, is that pandering to centrists is a political fact of life for politicians. Steele and Cantor, when forced to choose between criticizing Limbaugh and having to explain his “I hope he fails” rhetoric over and over again, will take the former every time: Right-wing partisans will turn out against Obama anyway in four years but the middle has to be wooed, and defending a sentiment about failure in the current political climate while The One’s busy framing himself as Mr. Nonpartisan does not a winning “moderate” message make. No wonder Gibbs is urging the media to keep asking Republicans whether they agree with Limbaugh. If they say yes, they’re vindictive partisans and if they say no they’ll get hammered by Rush on his show.

Fine, as far as it goes. The problem is that it isn’t a question of “pandering to centrists” by politicians but perhaps missing an opportunity for a counterattack.

One of the major complaints I heard all week at CPAC was the timidity of Republicans and conservatives in the face of Obama’s political dominance. Limbaugh’s point about “hoping Obama fails” is not that he wishes ill for the country but rather what kind of nation will emerge if he succeeds.

From the Limbaugh CPAC address:

As I say, we want the best: Happiness for everybody. Now, about my still-to-me mysteriously controversial comment that I hope President Obama fails. I was watching the Super Bowl. And as you know, I love the Pittsburgh Steelers. [Cheers and Applause] So they have this miraculous scoring drive that puts them up by four, 15 seconds left. Kurt Warner on the field for the Cardinals. And I sure as heck want you to know I hope he failed. I did not want the Cardinals to win. I wanted Warner to make the biggest fool of himself possible. I wanted a sack, I wanted anything. I wanted the Steelers to win. I wanted to win. I wanted the Cardinals to fail.

This notion that I want the President to fail, folks, this shows you a sign of the problem we’ve got. That’s nothing more than common sense and to not be able to say it, why in the world do I want what we just described, rampant government growth indebtedness, wealth that’s not even being created yet that is being spent, what is in this? What possibly is in this that anybody of us wants to succeed? Did the Democrats want the war on Iraq to fail!

CROWD: Yes!

RUSH: They certainly did. They not only wanted the war in Iraq to fail, they proclaimed it a failure. There’s Dingy Harry Reid waiving a white flag: [doing Harry Reid impression] “This war is lost. This war is” — [Cheers and Applause] They called General Petraeus a liar before he even testified. Mrs. Clinton — [Crowd Booing] — said she had to, willingly suspend disbelief in order to listen to Petraeus. We’re in the process of winning the war. The last thing they wanted was to win. They hoped George Bush failed. So what is so strange about being honest to say that I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation? Why would I want that to succeed? [Applause]

What’s wrong with a comeback when asked if the GOP wants Obama to fail that includes the notion that Republicans want the American people to succeed but think Obama’s policies are dead wrong? How hard is that to explain? Are these guys so inarticulate that they can’t lay down basic Republcan/conservative principles in a couple of well chosen sentences? Jesus Christ! Would someone please get some 3 X 5 note cards and write down basic talking points for these ignoramuses? Makes sure they’re in words of two syllables or less.

Now as my readers know, I am no fan of Limbaugh. His “show biz conservatism” is a mile wide, an inch deep, and takes forms that while not “ugly,” certainly move the idea of hyperpartisanship to a whole other level. And Limbaugh’s response to Steele was a tad overwrought (Allah rightfully points out that Rush should have a thicker skin by now.)

That being said, with Obama’s agenda on the march to permanently alter America, in the only way he knows how, Rush is trying to stop it. And it’s an open question as to how hard Steele is working to block these transformative, risky, adventurous, and ruinously expensive measures coming down the pike.

If Steele wants to lead the GOP, get out front and lead then. Don’t pull rank on Limbaugh because you only magnify his importance - at your expense. If you spent less time on talk shows agreeing with Democrats who are savaging the party you are supposed to be leading and more time, like, you know, actually opposing what they are trying to do, that would prove your qualities to conservatives who are feeling a little put out by being told that their party convention resembled a Nazi gathering.

The country is going to hell in a handbasket economically, the Democrats are tearing at the Founding Fabric of the nation, our grandchildren are going to be working for the federal government with every dime being taken to service an unserviceable debt, and the world’s bad guys are looking at Obama and feeling pretty damned good.

Meanwhile, Steele and Limbaugh act like two little boys in the schoolyard who unzip, whip it out, and claim their’s is bigger.

Great. Just great.

By: Rick Moran at 6:56 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (29)

2/18/2009
DID DEMOCRATS COVER UP BURRIS LIES TO GET STIM BILL PASSED?

My friend Tom Elia at the New Editor raised this question in an email and it bears looking into.

The fact is, if this mess with Burris had been made public back on February 5 when the Illinois senator submitted his “corrected” affadavit to the Democratic Majority Leader, there is a pretty good chance that the Illinois senator would not have been able to vote on the stimulus bill in the senate on the 13th.

Why? Because pressure would have been building - as it is now - for the “lying little sneak” to resign his seat. It seems surreal but Roland Burris has now changed his story about contacts with Governor Blagojevich’s henchmen about the senate seat at least 4 times - twice yesterday alone. If he had been forced to resign in a similar time period that is shaping up now, there would have been no 60th vote on the stimulus bill in the senate, no cloture, and the bill would have been sent back to conference.

So which Democrats knew of this affidavit and why wasn’t it made public immediately? Burris says he sent the affidavit to the chairman of the impeachment committee who then promptly sat on it until the Chicago Sun Times got wind of the story at which point Burris himself gave it to the newspaper. The committee chairman was Barbara Flynn Currie, House Majority Leader.

Barbara Flynn Currie has represented the 25th Congressional district in the Illinois House since 1979. That district includes Hyde Park - former home for many years of President Barack Obama.

Just sayin’.

So what does Rep. Currie say about the affadavit? Not much:

Currie acknowledged receiving Burris’ letter but said she was unfamiliar with its contents.

After being read Burris’ account of his dealings with Robert Blagojevich, Currie said: “Very odd. I don’t know there is anything actionable here, but I would like to check the record.”

“Unfamiliar with its contents?” And we’re expected to believe that the second ranking Democrat in the Illinois House never opened a letter from the junior senator from her state, that there was no cover letter explaining what was inside, and that Burris’s lawyer had not contacted Currie’s office to see what she was going to do?

The chances that there were other Democrats - local and national - who knew of this “corrected” affidavit and what was in it would seem to be pretty good. What would be your first move as a state party leader if you discovered that your junior senator was basically a liar? Or, even putting the best face on it, was going to be involved in a huge political firestorm as a result of a convenient memory loss?

I would think a call to Illinois’ senior senator Dick Durbin might be in order, don’t you? Durbin, the #2 Democrat in the senate, just might have mentioned it in passing to Harry Reid, wouldn’t you think?

Speculation, yes. And logical? You decide.

The point being, Democrats were willing to sit on this story until the stimulus vote was safely passed. The vote in the senate was Friday the 13th and the Sun Times story appeared the next day. But what if the story had broken on February 6th, the day after Burris says he gave the letter to Currie? The story would have been vying with the stim bill for attention and the calls now emanating from Republican quarters in Illinois for Burris to step down would have been huge news. Who knows what national Republicans would have done? They very well may have demanded Burris recuse himself from voting until the matter was cleared up - a perfectly reasonable request. If that had happened - or if Burris had been pressured to step down as he still may do - there would have been no 60th vote for cloture.

This would seem to be a very powerful incentive for Democrats to cover up Burris’s lies, keeping the country, the people of Illinois, and the opposition in the dark about a matter that, if known at the time of his confirmation by the senate, may have resulted in Burris being rejected.

So what to do with Burris? Here’s Harry Reid prior to Burris’s testimony before the impeachment hearing:

After days in which Senate leaders had demonstrated determined resistance to Burris’ appointment to the Senate by scandal-tainted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Reid praised Burris as “candid and forthright.” And he suggested the testimony Burris is to give Thursday before the state legislature’s impeachment committee could be crucial to his prospects of gaining the seat.

“He’s going to go answer any other questions they might have. He’s not trying to avoid any responsibility and trying to hide anything,” said Reid (D-Nev.) “Once that’s done, we’ll be in a different position and see what we are going to do.”

If that testimony - now under investigation for perjury - was “crucial to his prospects of gaining the seat” what say you now, Harry Reid? You have a sitting senator, appointed by a sleazy governor, who quite possibly perjured himself at a hearing you yourself deemed “crucial” to a decision on his fitness for office. Does the Democratic party stand for ethics and transparency? Did you know of Burris’s problems with the truth and sit on the story until after the stimulus bill was passed?

There are few in Illinois who believe Burris outside of the predictable support he is receiving from the African American community. The Chicago Tribune editorial board blog, Vox Pop, is calling on the senator to resign:

The hole just gets deeper and deeper, and Burris keeps digging. He has no credibility.

And many Democrats are losing theirs.

Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), who chaired the impeachment panel, sat on Burris’ amended testimony for more than a week.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed that no Senate appointment by the disgraced Rod Blagojevich would stand—until Blagojevich appointed Burris.

They told Burris to go to the impeachment committee and testify fully and truthfully. And he did not.

And now what? “He went before the state Legislature and he obviously convinced them, but we’ll have to see… I hope he didn’t try to avoid or mislead anyone…” Reid said Tuesday. Durbin is on an overseas trip and hasn’t bothered to comment on the tomfoolery back home. Late Tuesday came word that the Senate Ethics Committee has started a preliminary inquiry.

Finally, remember that Illinois Democrats failed to do right by the people and schedule a special election for this Senate vacancy. If they had done that, voters today might be weighing the lost credibility of candidate Burris, instead of expressing their disgust with Senator Burris.

Disgraceful. Disgraceful all around.

There’s only one honorable action for Burris: resign.

Oh that this all would have been happening last week instead of this week. What might have been…

UPDATE

From commenter Aurelius:

Wasn’t the Senate cloture vote for the stimulus package 61-36 (http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2009/02/09/stimulus_vote/)? So even with Burris out or incapacitated the vote in favor presumably would be 60. That’s still meets the supermajority requirement. Say if Burris resigned and no one was appointed immediately. Then there would be two Senate seats vacant and the supermajority requirement would be reduced to 59 (3/5 of all senators). So Burris resigning even could be a strategy to pass the bill. The only argument that works is whether the problems with Burris make it politically dangerous for the majority party to press cloture and passage of the stimulus.

My response:

Ah - you are correct - I think. And thinking about it, if it was that desperate of a situation, they probably would have wheeled Ted Kennedy in to vote.

Still, when Reid found out about Burris’s lying - if he found out and I think it a good bet he did - the senate vote was in doubt. So the motivation to cover up still would have been there.

UPDATE II

Dan Riehl sends along this old Jim Lindgren post about House Majority Leader Currie. Lindgren is a constituent and thinks quite highly over her. Indeed, Currie has apparently marched to a reformist tune during her career.

But this is a partisan political matter. And, as Lindgren points out, Currie is actually friends with the president. It is not beyond imagining that Currie sat on Burris’s letter so as not to make any trouble for her friend’s efforts to get his stim bill through the senate. Nor is it impossible to imagine Currie ringing up Senator Durkin and relaying the contents of Burris’s “corrected” affidavit and warning of big trouble ahead.

Burris may or may not have affected the outcome of the vote if this scandal had broken a week earlier. But the very fact that the letter was kept quiet shows that the Democrats knew it contained political dynamite and that at the very least, it would have complicated matters in the senate. Reid had no idea when Burris handed in this letter if he had enough votes for cloture. Reason enough to cover up the truth from the people of Illinois and the GOP opposition.

By: Rick Moran at 8:20 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19)

2/5/2009
OF IDEOLOGY AND IDIOCY

Previous to the elevation of Pope Obama I to the throne of St. George, ideological battles were marked by some pretty tough accusations being flung by the right against the hard left. Among the charges were that the hard left was actually praying for failure in Iraq as well as hoping for an economic downturn, believing that this would bring them electoral success.

I know this was a widespread meme on the right because I wrote similar stuff myself. Was it true? On some level, I’m sure it was. The almost gleeful portrayal of our struggles in Iraq - dwelling obsessively on whatever negative news was coming out of that bloody country at the expense of the small steps being taken in the right direction marked most hard left blogs as being uninterested in presenting a balanced and realistic view of the war to their readers but rather a partisan, hateful, picture that included George Bush as a horned devil, our servicemen as barbarians, and Republicans as bloodthirsty war mongers.

There was also a celebratory mood on hard left blogs whenever some piece of dire economic news hit the wires. The belief that the Republicans would be brought down only through failure and tragedy was widespread on the left and even some of the less radical liberal sites were not immune from advancing this theme.

Not that much has changed today: Except, the accusations are now coming from the other side:

It occurred to me while reading Politico’s interview with Dick Cheney, that the GOP’s plan to regain political viability in the short term rests on two disaster scenarios: the failure of the financial rescue efforts (stimulus, TARP, and other bailouts) to stave off complete economic collapse and a new mass casualty terrorist attack — both of which they are positioning themselves to blame Obama for.

Without one of those two, they have to figure it’s going to be a long time wandering in the political wilderness. Now think about the curdling effect, the blight on the soul that comes with rooting for such disasters to befall your country. The rot is now eating at the party’s very core.

The more things change…

As proof that there is so little original thinking on both sides that arguments over policy can be interchangeable with minimal substituting, here is Elana Schor writing at Josh Marshall’s TPMDC on charges made by the right that Obama will “cut” defense spending:

The short answer is no. But conservative columnist Tony Blankley still does his part today to flog an already tired line of faux-skepticism about the Obama administration’s alleged plans to “cut” defense spending in the upcoming budget.

Blankley claims that while total Pentagon spending for next year is in line for an 8% increase, the wild card of continuing Iraq and Afghanistan expenses raises the specter of a defense cut under Obama. It’s almost as if he hasn’t been keeping up with TPM alum Spencer Ackerman, who demolished this talking point as hogwash two days ago.

(Robert Kagan was the first right-leaning pundit out of the gate on this one.)

The tale is a simple one: Pentagon officials, aiming to start budget negotiations from a wildly advantageous point, submitted a spending estimate that wasn’t completely vetted by the departing Bush administration. The Obama folks knocked the number down to a more realistic number — that still reflects a higher military budget.

Sound familiar? Substitute the words “food stamps” for “military spending” and you have the exact same argument being made by Republicans when Democrats accuse them of trying to force the poor to live in the street and eat dog food. “Spending is going up in actual dollars. It’s only the projected increase that is being cut,” was the conservative defense of the meaningless reductions in projected outlays for social programs from Reagan through Bush 43.

It’s eerie, isn’t it? Now that the world has been turned upsisde down and “bottom rail is on the top,” there has been an almost seamless transition to both sides using the same arguments their opponents used in previous years over the same or similar issues. It’s even weirder that the towering irony of the whole thing has gone over the heads of both sides without even musing their hair.

Now, I can be as partisan as the next blogger when the situation calls for it so it’s not like I am washing my hands of responsibility in the matter. I can play the game as well or better than any lefty out there. But besides the bodaciously delicious irony of the whole thing, there is a troubling revelation that needs to be discussed; the paucity of ideas and lack of original thought by both sides in debate over the weighty issues of the day.

Political debate - or what passes for debate in this world of media talking points and one line zingers - accomplishes nothing today. It isn’t just the rancorous partisanship that prevents a serious discussion of the weighty problems that confront us. It is the failure of the political class to project their ideas outside of the extremely superficial and predictable framework of simple minded ideology that has us talking past one another instead of communicating back and forth. There is no effort to stand for a while in our opponent’s shoes or even examine an issue for points of commonality upon which any compromise is to be based.

At bottom, this is a failure of imagination. No one is asking either side to abandon principles or betray one’s party. But what real political debate accomplishes is that both sides must constantly re-examine and justify their positions, bringing fresh insight to bear that might lead to a closing of the gap between the two sides and form the beginnings of a political understanding.

As superficial and half hearted as it has appeared to me, President Obama should still be commended for reaching out to Republicans on his stimulus bill. I think it is not enough but is that his fault? He seems constrained by his own base who view any outreach effort as both a waste of time and dangerously naive. But what Obama appeared to be doing was trying to alter the framework of ideology that grips both parties and makes our politics so poisonously partisan. He opened the door - with the chain still on to be sure - not to give in, not to dictate, but to listen. It seems such a small thing but in the end, it forced him to rethink his own position on the bill and find additional justifications for it. It was a political act that served a higher purpose.

Did it do any good at all? Republicans have their own base to worry about and clearly, there will be little or no middle ground to be found on the stimulus bill. Nor should there be. It would take a great leader to abandon what has been crafted by the president’s allies in Congress and start over. What the Democrats are doing with the stimulus is actually proposing 4 or 5 bills that have been combined for reasons not having to do with legislative logic or stimulating job growth but because the president feels he can leverage his enormous popularity to pass items unrelated to jumpstarting the economy and because those unrelated items would have a hard time being made into law at a later date. The president is using this primal legislative thrust of the stimulus to make an end run around not only the GOP but the American people as well.

But the bill is out there and Obama is committed. And when a president invests as much in something as Obama has invested in the stimulus, he will do everything in his considerable power to pass it. It may end up being an exercise in partisanship but he can’t worry about that now. His credibility as a leader is on the line and any stumble so soon out of the box - as Carter’s stumbles on energy during his first months - could doom his presidency to irrelevancy.

So despite a manful effort to force the GOP to rethink their position on the stimulus, in the end Obama is trapped by history and his own needs as a leader. It will be interesting to see how the president reaches out to Republicans in the future. Will this experience have soured him on the whole idea of “post partisanship?” Or will he gamely make the effort on future issues like health care and card check?

That will depend on how much he really believes that he can change the tone and tenor of debate and get the two sides to listen to one another.

By: Rick Moran at 8:04 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (25)

1/14/2009
INVESTIGATING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION A PARTISAN MINEFIELD

Is there any purpose served by investigating allegations of ordering torture, illegal surveillance, and other sins alleged to have been committed during the years of the Bush Administration?

For those of us on both sides who are slightly less partisan in our view of government and politics, it is a serious question. For those who have already made up their mind on both sides, not so much. While they scream at each other across the great divide in American politics, serious people will have to grapple with the serious questions - legal and constitutional - raised by the actions of the Bush Administration over the years.

As I see it, there are two major roadblocks to investigating previous actions of the administration. The first is that much of what has been alleged involves top secret programs, only parts of which we have been given a glimpse. It is a dead sure bet that no one has seen the legal opinions written by the Justice Department for any of these alleged abuses which makes any charges of illegal or unconstitutional actions by the Bushies even more problematic.

To base an opinion only on what has come out in the press about the Terrorist Surveillance Program, for instance, has always puzzled me. Forming an opinion without all the facts is the definition of “half-assed.” And what information we have as far as the TSP is concerned has come to us largely from anonymous sources who may, or may not, have had sufficient access to information about how the program worked in its entirety, not to mention a question of their knowledge of the legal implications involved. Compartmentalization of information in these top secret programs is a given and the number of people who would have a good overall picture of how they worked would be few indeed.

The only way to find out for sure is to investigate how the program was set up, how it was run, the technical means employed, and the legal justification for them. (Torture is a different matter that I address below.) But is it possible to investigate the workings of a top secret, on-going intelligence program without compromising its effectiveness?

And this brings me to my second major roadblock to investigating alleged abuses in the Bush Administration; the probability that any such investigating will degenerate into a partisan circus.

The Judiciary Committee under John Conyers has written two reports since 2006 that goes into excruciating detail about illegalities and unconstitutional actions by the Bush Administration. The problem is - and Conyers admits it - is that nothing in either report constitutes a finding of fact. This is not surprising given that the overwhelming number of allegations are based on newspaper accounts, studies done by liberal think tanks, or reports from partisan left organizations like Human Rights Watch and the ACLU.

Here’s Conyers from the Forward to today’s release of a 457 page list of allegations against Bush and his Administration. He is quoting from an op-ed he wrote in 2006 after the release of his initial report, “The Constitution in Crisis.” After all that ”investigating,” we are left with little better than a political indictment of actions Conyers and much of the left disagrees with:

The administration’s stonewalling, and the lack of oversight by Congress, have left us to guess whether we are dealing with isolated wrongdoing, or mistakes, or something worse. In my view, the American people deserve answers, not guesses. I have proposed that we obtain these answers in a responsible and bipartisan manner.

It was House Republicans who took power in 1995 with immediate plans to undermine President Bill Clinton by any means necessary, and they did so in the most autocratic, partisan and destructive ways imaginable. If there is any lesson from those “revolutionaries,” it is that partisan vendettas ultimately provoke a public backlash and are never viewed as legitimate. So, rather than seeking impeachment, I have chosen to propose comprehensive oversight of these alleged abuses. The oversight I have suggested would be performed by a select committee made up equally of Democrats and Republicans and chosen by the House speaker and the minority leader.

The committee’s job would be to obtain answers - finally. At the end of the process, if - and only if - the select committee, acting on a bipartisan basis, finds evidence of potentially impeachable offenses, it would forward that information to the Judiciary Committee.

Conyers admits he has no “answers” - only questions. Hence, the idea of some kind of “bi-partisan” committee to look into these allegations (there are hundreds) and discover “the truth.”

The Judiciary reports take issue with the Administration over just about every action they’ve undertaken in 8 years. Signing statements, intelligence, detention policies, rendition (begun under Clinton and expanded under Bush), warrantless searches and surveillance, the Plame Affair, the politicization of the Justice Department, the states attorney imbroglio, and “enhanced interrogation” or torture.

How many are actual allegations of crimes committed and how many are reasonable (or unreasonable) differences of opinion over politics? We won’t know unless someone, somewhere investigates what went on. The question of whether we need answers or not is moot. We do. The problem is who is going to find the answers?

Conyers’ idea of a bi-partisan committee or commission made up equally of members from both sides won’t fly. The Republicans tried it with investigating intelligence leading up to the Iraq War and the Democrats rejected the findings and substituted their own narrative. There was also the 9/11 Commission that degenerated into a partisan tug of war and that failed to assess enough blame to either Clinton or Bush while going easy on Giuliani and the intel agencies. There was also the findings of the WMD Commission most Democrats rejected out of hand.

The fact of the matter is politicians are, well, politicians and asking them to forget that primary fact of their existence is absurd. Hence, Conyers idea of entrusting such a daunting task to Congress is, to my mind, a non-starter. Even beyond the 9/11 Commission or the other investigative committee reports on the war, any body that investigates the president must be beyond partisan suspicion.

The leaves us with two choices; naming a special prosecutor (or several) to impartially investigate potential abuses or, intriguingly, set up a Commission of private citizens a la the South African Truth Commission. The latter idea has some interesting possibilities but at bottom, is a little ridiculous. In South Africa, they were dealing with decades of apartheid as well as political murders and violence. Unless you think Bush is responsible for 9/11 or actually caused Hurricane Katrina, I think some kind of Truth Commission is a just too much drama for what is at stake in any investigation of the Bushies.

A special prosecutor would probably be the fairest and most efficacious way to investigate wrongdoing during the Bush years. I think one should definitely be appointed to address the issue of torture which is not a political issue and represents some of the most serious charges of illegality against the president and his people.

As for the rest of Conyers allegations, I just don’t know. The problem with special prosecutors is that once you appoint one, they are almost duty bound to find illegality come hell or high water (i.e. Scooter Libby, Ken Starr). If it would be possible to narrow the scope of what a special prosecutor might be tasked to investigate, it might be possible that such an examination of Administration actions could rise above partisanship and would be accepted by a large majority.

But perhaps, that is only wishful thinking. Obama himself recognizes the difficulties which is why he would rather “look forward” than behind:

Obama also views waterboarding as torture. To find out who authorized its use in interrogations, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has introduced a bill creating a bipartisan commission with subpoena power. But when Obama was asked on ABC’s This Week whether he’d back such a commission, he was cautiously noncommittal.

“We’re still evaluating how we’re going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions and so forth,” Obama said. “Obviously, we’re going to be looking at past practices and I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward.”

Some Democrats who have strongly opposed the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation practices say they agree with Obama’s cautious approach. Among them is the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin.

“There’s a big debate going on about holding the previous administration accountable for [its] actions, and I would say for the time being that the Obama team is focused properly on the future,” Durbin said. “Our economy is so weak; we’re in desperate need of jobs. Before we start looking at the pages of history in the Bush administration, we should be looking at the obvious need to create jobs and create a new economic climate in this country.”

There’s a good reason both Obama and Durbin are cautious and it has little to do with the state of the economy. Congress or any Commission named can easily carry out its duties. Congress, especially, can do more than one thing at a time.

The danger that both Democratic leaders see is in the extraordinary difficulty in investigating Bush in a non-partisan manner and whose findings would be accepted by a majority of Americans. If the investigation would be seen as a partisan witch hunt, it would not redound to the Democrat’s advantage and might even hurt them at the polls. This would seem to make some kind of a special prosecutor even more likely but even there, Obama and the Democrats will tread cautiously.

Perhaps there will be more of a push for the facts by the American people of what happened during the Bush years than one can currently imagine. But like Obama, Americans tend to be a forward thinking people who tend not to dwell on the past. Except in this case, there may be good reason to find out what went on at the White House during the last 8 years. Whether it can be done believably and fairly is another question entirely.

By: Rick Moran at 2:24 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (33)

12/30/2008
THE GOP BAILOUT CONUNDRUM

Is it smart politics to vote against what will be a wildly popular economic bailout package that may approach a trillion dollars? Further, is it really necessary in order to “save” the economy?

Politicians are always torn between doing what they know is right and what they know is politically safe. Many times, there is a happy convergence between the two schools of thought and the politician comes out a winner. For Republicans, this happens whenever tax cuts are up for a vote or votes on issues like welfare reform or military spending.

But what happens when an issue like the bailout package comes before you - a bill that most GOP conservatives worth their salt know deep down in their gut is the wrong approach to getting the economy out of a recession and will push the federal deficit toward the magic number of a trillion dollars?

To liberals like Paul Krugman (and probably some Republicans), the deficit doesn’t matter:

It’s politically fashionable to rant against government spending and demand fiscal responsibility. But right now, increased government spending is just what the doctor ordered, and concerns about the budget deficit should be put on hold.

Krugman may be half right. Government spending increases during a recession are inevitable and the fall off in revenue due to reduced business activity as well as the increase in the numbers of citizens forced on to the public dole as a result of job loss means a rise in the federal deficit. This much is unavoidable and repeating Herbert Hoover’s mistake in trying to hold the line on spending by increasing taxes is a non-starter. Even Obama knows that much in that he has put his tax increase plans on hold for a couple of years - much to the chagrin of his class warrior base.

But a trillion dollars? And beyond that incomprehensible number is the political fallout that would occur if the GOP were to fight against the stimulus package in the first place.

Such a move might please the Republican base which makes up about 30% of the electorate. But the last I checked it takes more than 50% to be successful in elections. And if the GOP wants to make inroads against the Democrats in the House and Senate, they are going to need considerably more than 50% of the electorate to vote for them in order to climb out of the huge hole they have dug for themselves.

So the smart political move would be to go with the flow and vote for Obama’s giveaway, right? Not so fast, says Nate Silver who lays out the political choices for GOP lawmakers quite nicely:

1) Try to pressure Obama into some kind of compromise, and vote for that compromise;
2) Let the stimulus pass as the Democrats choose to construct it, over your strong objection;
3) Yield to Obama, and vote for the stimulus in the name of national unity.

The third choice probably isn’t very appealing to you. It might be appealing to Newt Gingrich, who is telling you that you don’t have the credibility right now to pick a fight. Better off rebuidling and rebranding the party for the long term. But rebuilding and rebranding means someone other than you is in charge — someone, for example, like Newt Gingirch. So that option is out.

So let’s think through the other couple of choices. First thing first: if the economy improves substantially by the midterm elections, you’re screwed. It won’t matter whether you voted for the stimulus or voted against it, and it won’t matter whether you achieved some kind of compromise or you didn’t. If, by the summer of 2010, GDP growth has miraculously recovered to 4% per year, that’s all the public is going to think about. Obama Save Economy!! Me Vote Democrat!! They aren’t going to care about whether you snuck some sort of capital gains tax cut in there.

But let’s say that the economy still sucks in 2010 — which, frankly, is a pretty good bet. That’s going to work much, much better for you if you’ve voted against the stimulus. Not only can you pin the blame on the donkeys, but you can campaign on tax cutting and fiscal responsibility — the stimulus will “prove”, once and for all, the wisdom of conservative economic principles. And then think about this: the Democrats are going to be trying to spend $800 billion in taxpayer dollars as quickly as they can possibly get away with it. Somewhere along the way, they’re going to wind up funding a Woodstock Museum or a Bridge to Nowhere. Somewhere along the way, an enterprising contractor is going to embezzle a bunch of stimulus money, or cook up some kind of pay-to-play scheme. Maybe if you’re really lucky, this will happen in your Distrct. Better to keep the whole thing at arm’s-length and make sure that Democrats get the blame for that.

The Hobson’s Choice facing Republicans is fighting against a popular president and his very popular giveaway plan in which case if the economy improves by 2010 (more on this later), the GOP is toast or accepting the rationale of the Obama White House and voting in favor of the package in the name of national unity as a result of an “emergency” in which case you will get absolutely no credit from the American people and your base will desert you. The third choice is equally unpalatable; try to inject some sanity in the giveaway by dint of minor amendments, warn of catastrophe, and then vote for it anyway.

In other words, if you stand up for your beliefs and fight the bailout (a certain losing proposition at this point given the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate), your only hope is if the plan doesn’t work and the economy is still in the tank by 2010-12. But if you follow your political instincts and vote in favor of the plan - even if you are able to get Obama to modify some of the parameters - the American people will still see the package as a Democratic triumph. You only consolation by taking door #3 is that the GOP base won’t desert you entirely - probably.

More to the point, can an honorable politician of any ideology or party deny the president what he deems necessary to help people in what his advisors and many experts are telling him is an extremely serious economic crisis? And what does it say about the GOP as a party whose only real hope for gains in 2010 is if the president’s plan doesn’t work and millions suffer the consequences?

Or will they? We are in a serious recession, the depth of which is unknowable at the moment. A Republican Administration has already pumped trillions into the financial sector (without much effect on credit markets and all to the detriment of a free market economy). Few are asking would we have been better off - or just as badly off - if Bush and his gorgon Paulson (and bailout enabler Fed Chair Bernanke) had simply tweaked the system rather than drowning it in money. If the Bushies had allowed several larger Wall Street banks to go under or facilitated some mergers while letting others go down the drain, how much worse off would we be?

Stock market lower? Perhaps. Credit tighter? Hard to see how that would be possible. More job losses? Again, we’re bleeding half a million jobs a month so it would be difficult to imagine that pace getting much worse.

Then there’s all that worthless paper - mortgage backed securities, credit derivatives, and loans that have been foreclosed. There are trillions of dollars of this worthless toilet paper sitting in banks around the world - had been sitting there for months as the housing bubble burst and began to drag the economy toward recession. What changed that caused this bailout mania?

Panic took hold. The Panic of 2008 will be remembered for the scramble to inject “liquidity” into the financial sector so that the business of American business could continue. Gigantic corporations asked the government to sheild them from the results of their poor business decisions and the ebb and flow of the free market by claiming to be “too big to fail” and the government obliged them by throwing trillions of dollars in their direction. No one knows where this money went. No one knows how it was spent. We are told that by saving these companies, we avoided a “meltdown.” If it not be heresy, might I inquire as to just what proponents of these bailouts think we are experiencing now if not a “meltdown?”

In effect, we just spent $7 trillion or so (most of that printed up by the Fed and pumped into the “system” in ways that are so arcane, not even the deacons of high finance can explain it adequately) just to avoid what we are, in fact, going through right now. We don’t know how much worse it would have been without this massive bailout. Such prognostication is impossible. Indeed, even asking the question “How much bang did we get for those $7 trillion bucks?” will bring down criticism for even daring to think that perhaps - just perhaps - much of this massive giveaway was - dare I say it - unnecessary?

But with the GOP’s credibility at close to absolute zero, no one in the Republican party seems willing to make the case that before we pump another trillion dollars into the economy in free money, it might be a good idea to pause and reflect on exactly what we are doing. Forget the deficit for the moment. How is this bailout mania - the result of a feeding frenzy due to the smell of unearned cash available to those who whine the loudest and have the best lobbyists - affecting the ability of the free market to function?

For all the ignorant words written in opposition to the free market in recent months, no one has yet figured out a better way to deliver goods and services to the consumer so cheaply and efficiently, create wealth and jobs, innovate in cutting edge industries like energy, pharma, and bio-tech, while proving itself over time as the most spectacular engine for liberty and the fairest system in the history of industrialized civilization for distributing the economy’s bounty.

No, it is not perfect. Far from it. But this hybrid beast that is emerging as a result of such massive government intervention in the economy is an unknown animal. And if this is to be the end of the “American System” don’t you think we should like, you know, have a debate about it or something? Right now, the new Obama Administration is riding the crest of a wave of panic that gripped this country in late summer and early autumn. And the idea of making nation-changing decisions because Wall Street has been spooked or people are anxious about the future without the benefit of a full fledged debate is even scarier than anything the economy could ever elicit from me.

And now, at the exact moment that this country needs a strong, united Republican party who could come up with free market alternatives to this giveaway society being created by the Democrats and stand up for what they know is right, the GOP is busted, broken, toothless, and out of ideas.

It is not simply going to be good enough to scream “NO” into this hurricane wind of “hope and change.” The GOP must vigorously make the case that the need for this bailout has not been thoroughly examined or thought through adequately. They have a responsibility to try and apply the brakes to this juggernaut that has swept the country over the last few months as politicians have responded to panic by panicking themselves. Most importantly, they must do what minority parties are supposed to do; offer sound, reasonable, achievable ideas to counter what is coming from the majority.

This will not happen to the leaderless, dispirited crew of Republicans on Capitol Hill. In this respect, it won’t matter politically whether they vote for the bailout or not. They have already proven themselves to be emasculated by the voter and their own timidity and cowardice when it comes to standing up for their core principles.

By: Rick Moran at 10:16 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (28)

11/22/2008
WILL NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE KILL CONSERVATISM?

Every once and a while, even smart people say or write stuff that makes them look stupid.

Why, even I myself have fallen victim to these little intellectual hiccups. You don’t write on a blog everyday for 4 years and not, on occasion, come up with some really, really lights out, eye poppingly, drop dead clueless, monumentally ignorant stuff. Any blogger or writer who tells you differently is either a liar or so full of himself that the power of their egos would probably light up Chicago. It is an occupational hazard and is impossible to avoid. (I can’t think of anything offhand but I’m sure there are some intrepid commenters out there who would help me out.)

Of course, there are some bloggers and writers out there who make a career of writing brainless, fatuous, jaw droppingly doltish stuff. Village idiots like TBogg or the folks at Sadly No have taken bathroom humor, playground taunts, and pre-teen sex jokes to a level unseen by most adults. I would add the pathologically bigoted writings of Debbie Schlussel and just about everything written by Robert Kagan as examples on the right of writers who make a living penning witless missives, dopey treatises, and uninformed balderdash.

But even very smart, very witty people can fall victim to the Stupid Virus. Take the delightful CNBC host and commentator James Pethokoukis, who also writes a money blog for US News and World Report. He really caught a virulent form of the disease with his post entitled “How Tom Daschle might kill conservatism.”

The GOP strategist had been joking about the upcoming presidential election and giving his humorous assessments of the candidates. Then he suddenly cut out the schtick and got scary serious. “Let me tell you something, if Democrats take the White House and pass a big-government healthcare plan, that’s it. Game over. Government will dominate the economy like it does in Europe. Conservatives will spend the rest of their lives trying to turn things around and they will fail.”

And it turns out that the fearsome harbinger of free-market doom is the mild-mannered ex-U.S. senator with the little, red glasses, Tom Daschle. He’ll be the guy shepherding President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan through Congress via his probable role as secretary of health and human services. At the core of Daschle’s thinking on the subject is the creation of a “Federal Health Board that would resemble our current Federal Reserve Board” and ensure “harmonization across public programs of health-care protocols, benefits, and transparency.” (Forget secretary of state, Hillary Clinton should shoot for chairman of Fed Health and run one seventh of the U.S. economy.) And the subject of that “harmonization” would be a $100 billion to $150 billion a year plan that would let individuals (and small businesses) buy insurance from private companies or from a government plan.

Daschle and the Obamacrats certainly have the momentum: a near-landslide presidential election victory, at least 58 Democratic votes in the Senate, and a nasty recession that will make many Americans yearn for economic security. Already the health insurance companies seem set back on their heels. The industry’s trade organization now says it would accept new rules requiring them to cover pre-existing conditions as long as there was a universal mandate for all Americans to have health insurance. On top of all that, Obama clearly wants to make healthcare reform a priority in his first term, as evidenced by the selection of a heavy hitter like Daschle. And even if he wasn’t interested, Congress sure is, with Max Baucus and Ted Kennedy readying a plan in the Senate. A few observations:

1) Passage would be a political gamechanger. Recently, I stumbled across this analysis of how nationalized healthcare in Great Britain affected the political environment there. As Norman Markowitz in Political Affairs, a journal of “Marxist thought,” puts it: “After the Labor Party established the National Health Service after World War II, supposedly conservative workers and low-income people under religious and other influences who tended to support the Conservatives were much more likely to vote for the Labor Party when health care, social welfare, education and pro-working class policies were enacted by labor-supported governments.”

Passing Obamacare would be like performing exactly the opposite function of turning people into investors. Whereas the Investor Class is more conservative than the rest of America, creating the Obamacare Class would pull America to the left. Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute, who first found that wonderful Markowitz quote, puts it succinctly in a recent blog post: “Blocking Obama’s health plan is key to the GOP’s survival.”

I’ll go even further and say that passing Obamacare would turn the US from from being the world’s only superpower into a second class backwater with little more influence than France on the world stage. This may happen anyway thanks to the financial meltdown and the subsequent $2 trillion and rising in bailouts. Let’s face it; trillion dollar deficits and half a trillion dollar defense budgets are an impossibility. They cannot exist in the same universe. You can’t cut entitlements in a deep recession and since there is only around $35 billion in real discretionary spending to be cut, something has got to give somewhere. With Democrats in charge, it will be the defense budget.

But would Obamacare “kill” conservatism? That’s something of a nutty idea considering that it comes from an analysis given in a journal devoted to that wildly successful political philosophy known as Marxism. In a deterministic world where we are all happy little Commie robots, we would “vote our interests” and cast our ballot for the politician who promised us the most goodies. Democrats and liberals have been whining for years that Americans in flyover country have been hypnotized or fooled by Republicans into actually voting against politicians who will give them everything necessary to make their lives easier.

But determinism is dead, killed by the reality that people simply don’t act the way the Marxists say we should act. If they did, I guarantee you the old Soviet Union would still be with us while the United States would have gone the way of the Dodo bird. In the aggregate, people do not make decisions for themselves or their families based on what is best for their “class” or even care much about how their lives might be improved at the margins by voting for big government liberals. It has never been that way in America when voting for president and is only partly true when voting for Congressmen and Senators.

A study done earlier this year and published in the Journal of Leadership Studies revealed some of the real reasons people choose one presidential candidate over the other - and it ain’t because one of them will shower them with gifts from the government:

An article to be published in the new Journal of Leadership Studies (Wiley Periodicals, Inc.) on February 28th discusses results of researching and analyzing data from the seven most recent U.S. presidential elections comparing Democratic and Republican Party candidates who were successful in securing votes. The analysis reveals what tipped the scales with voters and how perceptions of leader intelligence, feelings of pride and hope, as well as feelings of fear and anger, were found to impact the decision process, rather than the issues that candidates present.

Researchers M. David Albritton, Sharon L. Oswald and Joseph S. Anderson used data from the National Election Studies (NES) division of the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan to expand upon previous work on voter attitudes, perceptions of leaders, and voter support. They found perceived intelligence, inspirational qualities, and charisma to be key factors in the formation of voter opinion. Instead of the varying positions on issues, voter’s perceptions of these key traits are found to be predictors of whether or not that voter will consider a leader to be of high quality.

How a candidate’s charisma as well as how fear plays into a voter’s evaluation was also examined. Intuitively perhaps, fear played a negative role toward a candidate. Individuals who generated stronger feelings of voter fear were considered “lower quality leaders.” However, fear also helped shape positive behaviors toward a rival candidate. Surprisingly, charisma, traditionally considered an asset, was often viewed negatively when framed in the context of manipulating others toward personal gain.

The vote for president is the most personal political decision most Americans make. Political pros have known for decades, thanks to several landmark social psychology studies, what goes into the decision making process of citizens when they choose a president. First, as with any politician, it is likability that is most translatable into votes. Next comes shared values or comfortability. The third is fear of the alternative. Ideology plays into the comfortability index while positions on the issues and campaign promises are almost always way down the list.

Voting for other federal offices is not quite as personal but for House members especially, it is not national issues as much as it is local concerns that determine competitive races - a dwindling number thanks to finely honed redistricting techniques. More than anything, what will keep Democrats in power will be how the new Congressional district lines will be drawn following the 2010 census.

The Senate is a different story but is still an electoral body dominated by incumbents thanks to their massive advantage in fundraising, name recognition, and their ability to build a sophisticated political ground game over their 6 year term. Here again, likability and shared values mean more than any specific issues.

In the kind of deterministic construct offered by those who believe that Obamacare and other proposed social programs will kill conservatism because people will be so overjoyed that government will offer them “security” that they will vote for big government liberals for the foreseeable future fail to understand that first, we are a different people than the Europeans despite what many on the left who have abandoned the idea of American exceptionalism are telling us; and second, such twaddle reveals a lack of understanding of basic political psychology.

America has been gradually adapting itself to the idea that health care is a right, not a privilege. I would say to my conservative friends that politically - and realistically - we have probably lost this argument. The issue plays to the people’s basic sense of fairness and despite their misgivings about government run boondoggles, would support some kind of national health insurance that guaranteed everyone’s access to at least minimal care.

But I would say to my friends on the left that this doesn’t mean Americans will support the kind of massive intrusion being planned by Kennedy-Baucus or the Obama Administration - especially after conservatives get through informing the public of just what it means to have mandates, “Federal Health Boards” and other cockamamie ideas that limit freedom and choices. There are alternatives - some free market options as well as a mix of government-industry proposals - that would accomplish the goal without having government get on the slippery slope of eventually controlling the entire health care industry.

But even if Kennedy-Baucus were to pass - highly unlikely at this point - would that mean the “death of conservatism?” If Marxism couldn’t be killed off by it’s massive, world wide failures it is extremely difficult to see how conservatism could be executed by the passage of a government program - especially one that would be amenable to alteration once its deficiencies were exposed by its application to the real world. Conservatives may not be able to get rid of national health insurance. But there is no doubt that they will be able to run against its failures by proposing sensible alternatives and reforms.

Conservatism is a philosophy. I have had many arguments with my conservative friends over how to make this philosophy into a real world, governing ideal in a 21st century industrialized democracy. I am unsure if on some level, that “governing ideal” hasn’t run its course and lost its way. Making conservative principles and a conservative approach to issues relevant again will take a careful study of where we went wrong and some fresh ideas of how to translate the principles and values of conservatism into concrete, programmatic proposals that can compete in the great American marketplace of ideas once again.

By: Rick Moran at 11:43 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (39)

11/15/2008
SAVE THE AMERICAN FUR COMPANY!

With all this free money floating around and every CEO worth his salt lining up at the government trough ready to bury their faces and feed heartily on the taxpayer’s generosity, I think it’s time we began to look around and see what other companies - past and present - we should also claim to be “Too Big To Fail!”

For instance, a prime candidate for a government bailout would have to be John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company. Sure it’s been bankrupt for 160 years but I didn’t see any limitation attached to that bailout bill, did you? Hell, if the Medici’s had an American subsidiary we could probably bail out that Renaissance era company too.

The fact is, the American Fur Company failed and it’s your fault. Tell the truth now, when was the last time you bought a beaver hat? Don’t you realize that thousands of fur trappers have been thrown out of work because you selfishly decided to be a slave to fashion rather than thinking of those trappers, trading post managers, export facilitators, dock workers, and ship captains who lost their jobs as a result of the switch from beaver pelts to silk in hat making?

And, of course, you know where that silk is coming from, right? This may have been the first instance of a Chinese attack on our economy. Haberdashers, seduced by cheap imports of silk, ought to be ashamed of themselves. The American Fur Company must be saved else we will lose our competitive edge in the world’s fur trade. Then there are the national security implications which are just too horrible to contemplate.

So we should give some of that $700 billion in bailout money to the descendants of John Jacob Astor and power up the fur trading business again so we can all buy a stinky, misshapen, butt-ugly hat made from the skin of cute little beavers who are trapped in steel jaws that, when sprung, clamp down on their leg, forcing the helpless creatures to either gnaw off their own limb or die a slow death by starvation. But if it will save American jobs, it will be worth it, right?

Similarly, we could save the “Big Three” American automobile manufacturers who have run into a skein of bad luck recently. Of course, that streak of bad luck has lasted 35 years and for all practical (and aesthetic) purposes, the US auto industry has been dead since then. But if we’re going to save The American Fur Company, we might as well try and pump some life into the moribund car manufacturing sector, right?

Actually, this might prove to be a bigger trick than trying to make beaver hats all the rage again. This is because there is a reason that Detroit has lost its positions as the Mecca of car manufacturing; they make sucky cars that no one wants to buy.

The Big Three can complain all they want to about the high cost of union benefits, unfair competition (Translation: It is unfair the Japanese are smarter, more innovative, and more quality conscious than we are.), and “green” regulations that add cost to their products. They are basically calling the American consumer stupid for actually wanting nice looking, trouble free, fully functional, safe, and adequately serviced autos. The gargantuan salaries paid to auto execs have not produced one single model that can outsell the Toyota Corolla.

For all their redesign, retooling, rethinking, and re-inventing the “corporate cultures” in Detroit, they have accomplished nothing in their efforts to compete with Japanese manufacturers. The excuse used to be that their plants were so much newer than ours. That is no longer the case as the average American auto assembly plant is almost just as recently built as the average Japanese plant. It’s not the age of the plant that matters anyway. It’s how the cars are built. And the Japanese have embraced new techniques, new technologies that give them a leg up in the competition.

Then it was the excuse that Japanese workers make much less than American unionized workers. That may have been true at one time but today, it is very close and getting closer all the time. The difference today is almost entirely due to health and pension benefits. But instead of losing market share because of this, the Japanese have been steadily increasing their sales numbers.

Face it. Detroit is in a fix of its own making. Shortsighted managers, unions who still believe that benefit packages should reflect 1970’s realities, a stubborn resistance to higher CAFE standards that would allow them to compete with the fuel efficient Japanese cars, and an inability to figure out how to make a decent profit on smaller cars. The fact that the enormous falloff in sales of SUV’s and other big car, high profit models was entirely predictable, the Big Three got caught with their pants down when gas prices got so high, people were paying a third of their weekly paycheck to fill up.

Despite all - failure at every level including executive, manufacturing, marketing, and labor - we are now supposed to rally around the cry “Too Big to Fail!” and hand these incompetents $25 billion (for now - more later, I promise you).

I say no way.

President-elect Obama wants to nationalize the auto industry:

Top advisers to President-elect Barack Obama are helping to draft an auto industry rescue plan that would bring new government oversight, including the possibility of an auto czar who could ensure the money was being used wisely.

Aides said Obama is also open to an oversight board that would perform the same function as one individual. The proposals come as the estimates of the cost to fix Detroit’s three largest automakers continue to mount.

“Certainly he wouldn’t believe in it being a blank check,” said an Obama adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to not being authorized to speak publicly on the topic. “He wants oversight to be making sure the auto companies have figured out how to become viable, ongoing concerns.”

Let’s be clear here. This would not be a “temporary” solution. Government “ensuring the money is spent wisely” sounds an awful lot like being able to approve or veto business decisions. If that’s the case, why shouldn’t the government be able to fire the boobs who are currently in charge and replace them with people they think could do a better job?

The point isn’t how much money they need or how much government control would be involved. The fact is that these companies are as dead as John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company and for similar reasons; an inability to adapt to changing market conditions and create a product that enough people want to buy in order to make the companies profitable. There’s a reason no one buys beaver hats anymore. And its the same reason that no one wants an underpowered, ugly, cramped Chevrolet Aveo.

I feel sorry for the thousands of workers who would lose their jobs if these companies went belly up. But the fault does not lie with the American taxpayer who those representing the workers and executives of failed companies want to saddle with their inadequacies.

We aren’t going to start the fur trading industry again by asking taxpayers to fund a rebirth. Neither should we try and restart the American automotive industry by asking taxpayers to save something that’s already dead.

By: Rick Moran at 11:28 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (23)

11/14/2008
AMERICA CAN PERFECT SOCIALISM

First, they tried it in Russia. Bread lines, sausage lines, blue jean lines, lines for toilet paper, lines to ask what line to get in so that you could get on a waiting list to stand in another line to get a place of your own and be able to leave the 1 room apartment you were sharing at age 30 with your wife, two kids, mommy and daddy, your no good brother in law, your gramma, and crazy uncle Ivan who liked to re-enact the Battle of Stalingrad at the most inopportune times.

The only things you didn’t have to stand in line for were lard and vodka. This is why they couldn’t make socialism work in Russia; fat, drunk people who were told “If you think you’ve got it bad, you should see how awful it is in the west.”

There were no more surprised people in the history of civilization than the Russian proletariat once satellites began beaming shows like Dallas and Falconcrest through the Iron Curtain. At the time, TASS was still showing film of race riots from the 1960’s and calling it “breaking news.” The big drawback, of course, is that the image that replaced greedy capitalists oppressing workers was that of greedy capitalists playing around on their wives with gorgeous women half their age while trying to cheat their family. A good question could be asked whether it was better to be thought of as Babbitt or J.R. Ewing?

They couldn’t make socialism work in Russia - something in the water probably. Neither could socialism find its legs in Poland, Hungary, and a half dozen other European countries that don’t even exist any more. Shared scarcity does not, it turns out, bring people together in a spirit of socialist brotherhood and comity. In fact, it sets people at each other’s throats, as the battle cry “I will get mine before you get yours and failing that, I will prevent you from enjoying what you get” was heard throughout Mittel Europa.

Making its way eastward, they then tried to impose socialism on a civilization that nearly invented, well, civilization. There are no more practical people on the planet than the Chinese, having gotten that way by outlasting every attempt to govern them effectively over a 3,000 year period. True libertarians, them. Unfortunately, the busybodies of the Chinese nanny state wouldn’t leave the peasants alone who after all, were perfectly happy using an ox to plow their fields and plant their rice by hand rather than do the modernization thing. Some village commissars were surprised to return to farms where they had delivered a shiny new tractor only to discover the peasants having turned the mechanical beast into a distillery.

(What is it about socialism that turns people into raging alcoholics?)

A few years ago, the Chicom thugs gave into the inevitable and decided to go with the flow, acknowledging that the underground capitalist economy was far outperforming the official socialist one which, as usual, was causing the government to rethink their “Five Year Plans” every 6 months or so. The only stipulation the government imposed on would be entrepreneurs was that they pay protection money to the government (both over and under the table).

Even the Chinese People’s Army dove in to the capitalist craze that hit China. They found it efficacious to contribute to certain Democratic presidential candidates in order to get access to technology that could, in a pinch, be used to destroy the very people who were selling the secrets. No doubt the generals who were growing fabulously rich selling stuff to their own government thought that this was a pretty good tradeoff. It’s not everyday you get to make money off your enemy’s foolhardiness.

Western capitalists swarmed the ancient cities with Euro-signs in their eyes. If we thought that a few thousand American and European businessmen bringing ideas like “Free Labor, Free Markets, Free Men” would change a civilization that was inventing block printing when Europeans were still living in dirt hovels, we had another thing coming. The magic of western capitalism and the obscenity of Mao’s socialism did not impress nor did it disturb the rhythms of life that had kept time for several milenia.

The people, having seen it all for 3,000 years shrugged and went back to using ox dung to fertilize their fields and wooden hoes to tend the crops. They’ve learned to use the tractor but last I heard, it still doubles as a still.

One would think that having failed in two of the most populous nations on earth that socialism would have died of natural causes - or been executed for crimes against common sense and humanity. Ah, but you underestimate its adherents. You see, it wasn’t socialism that failed. It was the people who tried to implement it! They are at fault, not the crazy quilt logic, the jaw dropping contradictions, the counterintuitive view of human nature, or the contrived diktats of bureaucrats who think a “market” is some place you go to stand in line for moldy beets.

That is why our friends across the pond in what we used to call western industrialized civilization - now not very western, less industrial, and an open question whether it is still “civilized” in any meaningful sense - decided to dip their toe into the socialist pool and see if they couldn’t make a go of it.

Listening to our own homegrown socialists here talking about how it is over there, you would think that the Europeans had discovered the secret to immortality or at least found the Fountain of Youth so gushy they are about how good the Euros have it. Cradle to grave care, a 36 hour workweek, nearly impossible to get fired, real nice trains, and a list of social services that would make an American’s head swim.

Of course, they also have high suicide, drug addiction, alcoholism, and divorce rates. They don’t have children either because they hate them or think them an impediment to their lifestyle. The vast majority of them live drab, colorless lives with little opportunity to better themselves. And who would want to considering that governments frown on anyone getting too far ahead of their neighbors. They import the colored peoples of the world to do their scut work and then do everything they can to prevent their assimilation by sticking them in immigrant ghettos where hate and resentment against their lovable hosts will almost certainly explode into uncontrollable violence one day.

Other than that - paradise.

The question being asked openly for the first time in my lifetime is can socialism work in America?

Answer: Yes we can!

I say we should ignore what socialism (or the faux variety of the disease that afflicts Europe) has done elsewhere and approach the Bush/Obama socialist takeover of our industries as Americans should - with hope, optimism, a “can-do” attitude, and the desire to make a buck off of it.

I mean, if we can hack a civilization out of a wilderness, defeat the largest army and most powerful military in the world at the time to win our independence, fight a gigantic, continent sized civil war, tame the Spanish, spank the Kaiser, roll over Hitler and Tojo, and make the Soviet Union a memory, we can make socialism work! Yes we can perfect it!

First of all, we have to do something about the inevitable lines that we will be forced to queue up for in order to get any goods or services. Socialism is all about lines, about the orderly distribution of scarcity. Now I don’t know about you but if there is one thing liable to get my dander up it is standing in line - at the grocery store, at the bank, at Madame Crystal’s Pool Hall and Massage Parlor - anywhere.

Why not get the geniuses at Microsoft to work on this problem right away? Put the guys who came up with Vista on it, that would do the trick. Better yet, this sounds more like a marketing challenge to me. We should get in touch with the Coca-Cola Company immediately and find the guys who signed off on the campaign for Coke Zero. Their judgment is exactly what we need to solve this little problem.

You see, it is my contention that by getting utter failures to work on solving our line problem, we can’t go wrong. They are bound to come up with the worst solution imaginable. Hence, by making matters 10 times worse, we realize the full potential of socialism to really screw up our lives.

Next up, planning the economy. For this problem, we must look long and hard for the perfect combination of corruption and ignorance. Congress is too busy so we’ll have to go to the private sector.

We could commute the sentences of those Enron guys. And maybe a few others like the fellows who did such a great job driving Worldcom into the ground. These are the sorts we need to do a really 1st class job of taking the most vibrant, creative, productive economy in the history of the human race and flushing it down the toilet.

The one other area we could perfect that is not necessarily native to socialism but no good socialistic country should be without is the stifling of dissent and the imposition of group-think that would kill independent thought.

Face it, we wouldn’t be very good at this. Americans are just too cranky, too much in love with contrariness, too admiring of the guy who marches to a different drummer that anyone we put in charge of of making this an unquestioning, obedient, robotic thinking society would have their hands full.

As in other nations that have tried this - Soviet Union and China come instantly to mind - it just wouldn’t do to put those who believe in antiquated and outmoded ideas like free markets in jail. They must be shown the error of their ways. They must be given a new vision of the brotherhood of man. They must be led to the idea that forced altruism, insipid do-gooderism, and hectoring moralistic clap trap is the best way to approach life.

They must be beaten over the head early and often in order to show them the error of their ways.

This cannot be done, obviously, in the middle of the street or even in what used to be the privacy of their homes (as you know, it wouldn’t be “their” home anymore, but everybody’s). All that screaming would be bad for socialist morale not to mention dirtying our streets with blood and stuff. Street cleaners are our brothers too and we should only ask them to do what each according to their abilities etc.

I think either Michael Moore or blogger John Avarosis would be good candidates for the top job in our Department of Ideological Reform. Glenn Greenwald would make a good deputy for either man. They all hate conservatives sufficiently that either would be able to adequately carry out the purge of such thought from our national consciousness.

One thing is for sure, we Americans are going to give it our best shot. Once we are resolved to completing a task be it defeating Hitler or perfecting the idiocy that is socialism, I am convinced that we cannot be stopped.

George Bush has made an excellent start and I’m sure Barack Obama is eager to see what he can do to bring about this change that will remake America. What have we got to lose? Let’s get behind our new president and make socialism as synonymous with America as baseball, apple pie, and corrupt Congressmen.

Remember the children…

By: Rick Moran at 1:33 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (18)