Monday, July 13, 2009
Palin plans to stay in politics
Brushing aside the criticisms of pundits and politicos, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she plans to jump immediately back into the national political fray — stumping for conservative issues and even Democrats — after she prematurely vacates her elected post at month's end.
The former Republican vice-presidential nominee and heroine to much of the GOP's base said in an interview she views the electorate as embattled and fatigued by nonstop partisanship, and she is eager to campaign for Republicans, independents and even Democrats who share her values on limited government, strong defense and "energy independence."
"I will go around the country on behalf of candidates who believe in the right things, regardless of their party label or affiliation," she said over lunch in her downtown office, 40 miles from her now-famous hometown of Wasilla — population 7,000 — where she began her political career.
"People are so tired of the partisan stuff — even my own son is not a Republican," said Mrs. Palin, who stunned the political world earlier this month with her decision to step down as governor July 26 with 18 months left in her term.
Both her son, Track, 20, an enlisted soldier serving in Iraq, and her husband, Todd, are registered as "nonpartisan" in Alaska.
Mrs. Palin, who vaulted to national prominence when Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, chose her as his running mate last August, left the door open for a future presidential bid.
But she shot down speculation among Republicans that she might challenge incumbent Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski for the party's nomination to the Senate next year, and she blamed her resignation as governor on the nasty, hardball tactics that last year's presidential campaign brought to her state.
"I'm not ruling out anything - it is the way I have lived my life from the youngest age," she said. "Let me peek out there and see if there's an open door somewhere. And if there's even a little crack of light, I'll hope to plow through it."
Bush Deserves More Credit on Iran
By JOHN P. HANNAH
Defying their regime once more, Iranians have renewed their protests in the streets of Tehran. Last month, when the protests began, the New York Times ran a story hinting that Iran's demonstrators may have been inspired by an "Obama factor." The article suggested that President Barack Obama's diplomatic outreach, unlike his predecessor's approach, emboldened Iranians to rise up against their regime, demanding it repair relations with America and the world.
The Times reporter drew a stark contrast between the presidency of George W. Bush and that of Mr. Obama. According to the article, "Iran's regime was able to coalesce support by uniting the country against a common enemy: President Bush, who called Iran a pillar of the 'axis of evil.'" Alarmed by Mr. Bush's hostility, Iranians "swallowed their criticism of [their] hard-line regime and united against the common enemy."
Setting aside the article's claims about an "Obama effect," its characterization of the Bush years is unfair and misleading. As someone who served in Mr. Bush's White House, I can attest that the administration's Iran policy was far from perfect. The Islamic Republic's ongoing nuclear program is proof enough of the policy's serious shortcomings. Yet, in light of recent events, it seems apparent that Mr. Bush got some important things concerning Iran right.
First, some facts. Mr. Bush delivered his infamous "axis of evil" speech in January 2002. On several occasions thereafter he followed up with statements harshly attacking the legitimacy of the Iranian regime. He repeatedly distinguished between the people of Iran and their "unelected rulers."
Did Mr. Bush's confrontational posture really lead Iranians to rally behind the regime? Hardly. In November 2002 and again in June 2003, student-led protests rocked Tehran and other Iranian cities, as the New York Times itself acknowledged at the time. In both cases, demonstrators' demands included sweeping democratic reforms. During the 2002 clashes (which dragged on for weeks), the Times reported that protesters had been "boldly critical of the government, including the supreme religious leader [Ali Khamenei], who is normally beyond criticism." The protestors called for the "secularization of the religious system" -- an end to clerical rule.
Similarly, in June 2003, protesters rapidly focused on the need for fundamental change. A manifesto signed by hundreds of intellectuals and clerics declared that Ayatollah Khamenei's claims to absolute power were "a clear heresy towards God and a clear affront to human dignity." The BBC reported that chants of "Death to Khamenei" were heard at the rallies. More than 4,000 people were arrested before the demonstrations were suppressed.
The reality is that large-scale anti-regime protests erupted on multiple occasions throughout Mr. Bush's first term -- the very moment when his Iran policy was most aggressive. The suggestion that Iranians "swallowed their criticism" of the Islamic regime in an anti-American response to Mr. Bush's tough stance is simply not borne out by the facts.
The current crisis in Iran undermines another conventional wisdom about Mr. Bush's Iran policy. Many believe that his policy was grounded in ideology rather than realism. But Mr. Bush's assessment of Iran has so far proven much more accurate than Mr. Obama's. In his eagerness to draw Iran's rulers into negotiations, Mr. Obama has gone to great lengths to signal his acceptance of the Islamic Republic's legitimacy and permanence. In stark contrast, Mr. Bush always understood that large swaths of Iranian society do not consider their regime to be legitimate. They detest it and yearn for freedom and democracy. Mr. Bush knew that regime change was not the crazed fantasy of a small cabal of American neoconservatives. It was the deepest desire of tens of millions of Iranians.
Iran's recent turmoil also sheds light on Mr. Bush's conviction about pressuring the Iranian regime. Critics warned that Mr. Bush's attempt to isolate Iran diplomatically, sanction it economically, and threaten it militarily would trigger a nationalist backlash against Washington. But Mr. Bush believed that such efforts were essential. They would alert the Iranian people, as well as Iran's elites, to the disastrous consequences of the Islamic Republic's policies.
Today, Iran's burgeoning opposition is clearly angered by the country's dismal economy, ashamed of its status as an international pariah, and alarmed by the growing danger of military conflict. Opposition members will not accept the regime's efforts to scapegoat the U.S. Instead, their fury has been directed inward at the brutality, economic mismanagement, and outrageous behavior of the Islamic regime.
As Mr. Obama reassesses his Iran policy in the wake of the Iranian protests, he could do worse than to incorporate at least a few pointers from Mr. Bush's playbook. That would mean an adjusted Iran strategy that sees the Iranian people as allies of the Free World, not the Islamic Republic. It would also mean spending less time trying to reassure Iran's despotic rulers of the U.S.'s benign intentions. Mr. Obama should instead spend more time on using his enormous international popularity to further mobilize the world against Iran's tyrants.
Putting Liberals on the Couch
by Burt Prelutsky
Being a conservative, I naturally spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to psychoanalyze left-wingers, trying to figure out what makes them tick. God knows I’m not bragging. It is, after all, time I could otherwise devote to alphabetizing my canned goods or trying to make contact with Harry Houdini, but I know from the large number of emails I receive that I’m not alone. The lunacy on the left is enough to turn a lot of us into little Sigmund Freuds.
For instance, why is it that lefties are so puzzled or pretend to be so puzzled that conservatives who are in favor of capital punishment are opposed to abortions -- particularly the 60,000 late-term abortions performed by the late unrepentant serial killer, George Tiller? Even a left-winger should be able to tell the difference between executing a cold-blooded murderer and sucking the brain out of an innocent little human being.
I’m wondering when the Mafia will officially ask for a government subsidy. Yes, I know it’s a criminal organization, but so is ACORN, which faces indictments for voter fraud in several states, and yet Obama and his Democratic cronies are funneling them millions of dollars.
Perhaps if liberals were merely wrong on all the issues, it would be easier to forgive them. But it’s their arrogance and self-righteous attitude that puts them beyond the pale. How often have we heard them claim that they’re being deprived of their right to free speech when what they’re actually complaining about isn’t censorship, but merely that a clear-thinking conservative has refuted some of their inane hogwash? Only liberals actually believe that if you disagree with them, you’re trampling on the 1st Amendment. For good measure, many of them -- including a number of pettifoggers in Congress -- are on an unholy mission to bring back the totalitarian device known as the Fairness Doctrine.
Speaking of fairness, I have come to see that Fox News is something like our own version of Radio Free Europe, getting the truth to those of us behind the Obama Curtain. What is ironic about the way that liberals carry on about TV Free America is that Fox has a large number of liberals on the payroll, including Greta Van Susteren, Bob Beckel, Geraldo Rivera, Alan Colmes, Chris Wallace, Juan Williams, Kirsten Powers and a few others, whereas CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, the NY Times and the Washington Post, collectively, have only one non-liberal on salary and that’s John Stossel, who doesn’t even identify himself as a conservative, but as a libertarian.
A question nobody has ever answered to my satisfaction is how it’s possible that media people such as David Corn, Eleanor Clift and Ellis Henican, who do nothing but parrot the same insipid DNC talking points as Charles Rangel, Barbara Boxer and Patrick Leahy, are able to make a decent living without at least having to run for office and win an election.
I’m not an expert on body language, but my attention has been called to the fact that when he was on the phone with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Obama was photographed with his feet on the desk in the Oval Office, and when he took his photo op tour of Auschwitz with Elie Wiesel, he had his hands in his pockets. Yet in the august presence of King Abdullah, he bowed respectfully.
Finally, we were told that the world’s leaders were going to cooperate with Barack Hussein Obama in a way they never had with his predecessor. Well, so far, they’ve all refused his invitation to send troops to Afghanistan and, just in case he didn’t get the message, they’ve all refused to take 241 Muslim terrorists off his hands.
Now, we have Newsweek’s managing editor, Evan Thomas, grandson of the former grand Poo Bah of the Socialist Party, Norman Thomas, telling us with a straight face that Obama is greater than God. It appears, however, that the world’s leaders don’t even think he’s greater than George W. Bush.
Higher Taxes, Anyone?
by George Will
Economic policy, which became startling when Washington began buying automobile companies, has become surreal now that disappointment with the results of the second stimulus is stirring talk about the need for a ... second stimulus. Elsewhere, it requires centuries to bleach mankind's memory; in Washington, 17 months suffice: In February 2008, President George W. Bush and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who normally were at daggers drawn, agreed that a $168 billion stimulus -- this was Stimulus I -- would be the "booster shot" the economy needed. Unemployment then was 4.8 percent.
In January, the administration, shiny as a new dime and bursting with brains, said that unless another stimulus -- Stimulus II wound up involving $787 billion -- was passed immediately, unemployment, which then was 7.6 percent, would reach 9 percent by 2010. But halfway through 2009, the rate is 9.5. For the first time since the now 16-nation Eurozone was established in 1999, the unemployment rate in America is as high as it is in that region, which Americans once considered a cautionary lesson in the wages of sin, understood as excessive taxation and regulation.
"Everyone guessed wrong" about the economy's weakness, says the vice president, explaining why Stimulus II has not yielded anticipated benefits. Joe Biden is beguiling when unfiltered by calculation, as he often is and as he was when he spoke about guessing ("Meet the Press," June 14) and how everyone "misread" the economy ("This Week," July 5). To be fair, economics is a science of single instances, which means it is hardly a science. And it is least like one when we most crave certainty from it -- when there is a huge and unprecedented event and educated guessing is the best anyone can do.
But before embarking on Stimulus III, note that only about 10 percent of Stimulus II has yet been injected into the economy in 2009. This is not the administration's fault, the administration's defenders say, because government is cumbersome, sluggish and inefficient. But this sunburst of insight comes as the administration toils to enlarge governmental control of health care, energy, finance, education, etc. The administration guesses that these government projects will do better than the Postal Service (its second-quarter loss, $1.9 billion, was 68 percent of its losses for all of 2008) and the government's railroad (Amtrak has had 38 money-losing years and this year's losses are on pace to set a record).
Let's guess: Will a person or institution looking for a place to invest $1 billion seek opportunities in the United States, where policy decisions are deliberately increasing taxes, debt, regulations and the cost of energy, and soon will increase the cost of borrowing and hiring? Or will the investor look at, say, India. It is the least urbanized major country -- 70 percent of Indians live in rural areas, 50 percent on farms -- so the modernizing and productivity-enhancing movement from the countryside to the city is in its infancy. This nation of 1.2 billion people has a savings rate of 25 percent to 30 percent, and fewer than 20 million credit cards. Which nation, India or the United States, is apt to have the higher economic growth over the next decade?
Yet while government diminishes America's comparative advantages, liberals are clamoring for ... higher taxes. Partly because of changes endorsed by presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, approximately 60 percent of taxpayers now pay either no income tax (43 percent) or less than 5 percent of their income. Because one cannot raise significant money by that tax without nicking the middle class, or without bringing millions of people back onto the income tax rolls, attention is turning to a value-added tax.
A VAT is levied at every stage of production. Like the cap-and-trade regime being constructed, a VAT is a liberal politician's delight: It taxes everything, but opaquely.
Before he became an economic adviser in the Obama White House, where wit can be dangerous, Larry Summers said: Liberals oppose a VAT because it is regressive and conservatives oppose it because it is a money machine, but a VAT might come when liberals realize it is a money machine and conservatives realize it is regressive.
At the June 29 White House briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked, with reference to health care legislation, if the president's pledge not to raise taxes on couples making less than $250,000 is "still active." Gibbs answered: "We are going to let the process work its way through." What is your guess?
Rush to vaccinate in Britain: "The NHS is preparing to vaccinate the entire population against swine flu after the disease claimed the life of its first healthy British patient. A new vaccine is expected to arrive in Britain in the next few weeks and could be fast-tracked through regulatory approval in five days. Regulators at the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) said the fast-tracked procedure has involved clinical trials of a “mock-up” vaccine similar to the one that will be used for the biggest mass vaccination programme in generations. It will be introduced into the general population while regulators continue to carry out simultaneous clinical trials. The first patients in the queue for the jab - being supplied to the UK by GSK and Baxter Healthcare - may understandably be a little nervous at any possible side effects. A mass vaccination campaign against swine flu in America was halted in the 1970s after some people suffered Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder of the nervous system. However, regulators said fast-tracking would not be at the expense of patient safety. “The vaccines are authorised with a detailed risk management plan,” the EMEA said. “There is quite a body of evidence regarding safety on the trials of the mock-up, and the actual vaccine could be assessed in five days.” The UK government has ordered enough vaccine to cover the entire population."
More British bungling: "New vehicles purchased to protect British troops in Afghanistan have already been rejected as unsafe by the US military. The vehicles failed basic 'survivability' tests, which showed soldiers would be left vulnerable to roadside bombs, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. But although the Pentagon rejected them, the Ministry of Defence has ordered 262 to replace the controversial Snatch Land Rovers. In contrast, the Americans have now ordered a more robust model - at half the £600,000 cost of the vehicle the British have dubbed the 'Husky'. The disclosure, at the end of the blackest week for British forces in Afghanistan, came as Gordon Brown responded to growing anger over the death toll by promising to improve troops' equipment.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 12:42 AM