Sunday, February 28, 2010
Are the Donks prepared to lose this year in order to get Obamacare through?
I generally agree with what appears on NRO, but I think that the anaysis below, while containing some truth, commits the sort of mistake that Leftists usually make: It looks at the group rather than the individual. I have no doubt that the political Left as a whole have an abiding hatred of American success and a yen to destroy it, but the number of Democrat Congresscritters who would voluntarily put themselves out of a job in the service of that hate is surely very small. From all indications, they REALLY LIKE being in Congress and the great majority will do all in their power to stay there: Even to the point of voting down Obama's pride and joy if they think that will help them this November
On Sean's panel last night, when the conversation turned to how nervous Democrats supposedly are over what for now is teeing up like a very bad November, I felt like I was channeling Mark Steyn, Mark Levin and Rush. That is, I think our side is analyzing this all wrong: Today's Democrats are controlled by the radical Left, and it is more important to them to execute the permanent transformation of American society than it is to win the upcoming election cycles. They have already factored in losing in November — even losing big. For them, winning big now outweighs that. I think they're right.
I hear Republicans getting giddy over the fact that "reconciliation," if it comes to that, is a huge political loser. That's the wrong way to look at it. The Democratic leadership has already internalized the inevitablility of taking its political lumps. That makes reconciliation truly scary. Since the Dems know they will have to ram this monstrosity through, they figure it might as well be as monstrous as they can get wavering Democrats to go along with. Clipping the leadership's statist ambitions in order to peel off a few Republicans is not going to work. I'm glad Republicans have held firm, but let's not be under any illusions about what that means. In the Democrat leadership, we are not dealing with conventional politicians for whom the goal of being reelected is paramount and will rein in their radicalism. They want socialized medicine and all it entails about government control even more than they want to win elections. After all, if the party of government transforms the relationship between the citizen and the state, its power over our lives will be vast even in those cycles when it is not in the majority. This is about power, and there is more to power than winning elections, especially if you've calculated that your opposition does not have the gumption to dismantle your ballooning welfare state.
Consequently, the next six weeks, like the next ten months, are going to be worse than we think. We're wired to think that everyone plays by the ususal rules of politics — i.e., if the tide starts to change, the side against whom it has turned modifies its positions in order to stay viable in the next election. But what will happen here will be the opposite. You have a party with the numbers to do anything it puts its mind to, led by movement Leftitsts who see their window of opportunity is closing. We seem to expect them to moderate because that's what everybody in their position does. But they won't. They will put their heads down and go for as much transformation as they can get, figuring that once they get it, it will never be rolled back. The only question is whether there are enough Democrats who are conventional politicians and who care about being reelected, such that they will deny the leadership the numbers it needs. But I don't think we should take much heart in this possibility. Those Democrats may well come to think they are going to lose anyway — that's why so many of them are abandoning ship now. If that's the case, their incentive will be to vote with the leadership.
At the end of the summit debacle, President Obama put the best face on a bad day by indicating that he intended to push ahead with socialized medicine and face the electoral consequences ("that's what elections are for," he concluded). He's right about that. For Republicans, it won't be enough to fight this thing, then deride it if Democrats pull it off, and finally coast to a very likely electoral victory in November. The question is: What are you going to do to roll this back? What is your plan to undo this?
This post from Irwin Stelzer at the Standard caught my eye this morning: "Americans overwhelmingly say that their main concern is jobs, and that they are satisfied with their current health care arrangements. In response, an allegedly chastened President Obama “pivoted,” and says his primary concern from now on will be job creation, which will take priority over his controversial plan to radically change the nation’s health care system. Yet, last week he backed a $15 billion job-creation bill, which passed the Senate, and a $1 trillion health care bill. Since the federal balance sheet is already under huge pressure, this set of priorities tells us that the Obama administration intends to concentrate available resources on transforming the economy — a long-term, permanent restructuring of the health care and energy sectors that was planned long before the failure of Lehman Brothers triggered the financial mess Obama inherited." Yup.
Barack Obama ‘destroys first year in office’
Obama is fixated on health reforms but voters' chief worry is jobs
When Barack Obama took office last year he was compared to Superman, even joking at a dinner that he had been “born on Krypton and sent here ... to save the planet Earth”. Last January he appeared on the cover of Spider-Man. Now, with his legislative agenda in tatters, the president has moved from comic-strip hero to comparisons to one of the great flawed figures of American literature. Ten days ago Charlie Cook, a leading election analyst, compared Obama and his battle to push through healthcare reform to Captain Ahab and his suicidal hunt for the great white whale.
Despite poll after poll showing that Americans’ main priority is jobs, the president has focused on reforming the US healthcare system and extending coverage to the 40m citizens with no insurance. “I think choosing to take a Captain Ahab-like approach to healthcare — I’m going to push for this even in the worst downturn since the Great Depression — is roughly comparable to Bush’s decision to go to war [in Iraq],” Cook told Politico. “It basically destroyed the first year of a presidency.”
Obama made a last-ditch attempt last week to secure opposition support through a seven-hour summit shown live on television. Although he was admired for his unflappable handling of 40 legislators, no progress was made as Republicans called for a clean sheet. “Boy, that didn’t work,” wrote Peggy Noonan, the veteran Republican commentator, in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.
With both sides so entrenched, she was not alone in regarding the summit as a waste of time. CNN described it as “theatre of the absurd”. Dick Morris, political consultant and former adviser to the Clinton administration, said, “I think it’s Romeo and Juliet. The two families fighting.”
Winning over the Republicans may not have been the real objective. “Obama never expected some magical epiphany from the Republicans,” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a political analyst. “He achieved the point, which was to give the message to the nation that we all agree we need healthcare and it is the Republicans obstructing everything, not us.” The president is left with an unenviable choice. Either he moves on to other priorities or he uses what is still the biggest Democrat majority in 30 years to push legislation through, via a process called reconciliation.
“He’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t,” said Douglas Rivers, professor of political science at Stanford University. “If he rams it through it will be perceived as hardball politics. But the alternative of getting nothing through will be viewed as a political catastrophe.”
The irony is that Obama got close to netting his Moby Dick. After months of wrangling, the Senate voted on Christmas Eve to pass a bill for universal coverage. It seemed the best possible Christmas present. The Democrats had already pushed a bill through the House and all that remained was to combine the two into law.
They had barely digested their turkey when the unexpected victory of Scott Brown in the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts in mid-January robbed the Democrats of the 60 votes they need for easy passage in the Senate. Health reform seemed written off, particularly as polls showed Brown’s opposition to the bill was key to his victory. But Obama refused to give up.
Most Americans support the benefits promised in the House and Senate bills. These include banning insurance companies from screening out customers with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes.
The problem is that by equally large margins Americans oppose all the things necessary to pay for these reforms, in particular the $500 billion (£330 billion) cuts in payments to Medicare, the healthcare system for retired people.
Obama’s case was not helped by a last-minute resort to traditional pork-barrel politics to get the Senate bill passed by his own party. Special deals included giving trade unions a tax loophole on their members’ more lavish plans. The crucial vote from Ben Nelson, the Nebraska Democrat, came only after the federal government agreed to pay his state’s extra costs for Medicaid, a health programme that provides limited help for the poor.
After such a struggle, Obama’s team is insistent that it will not give up and has set a time-frame of a month to six weeks to pass legislation. “We are determined that we are going to pass healthcare reform,” vowed Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said Obama will make an announcement this week about the “way forward”. He cited potential areas of agreement with Republicans, such as imposing ceilings on payouts in cases of medical malpractice and curbing Medicare fraud.
In a rare show of bipartisanship last week, a number of Republican senators voted for Obama’s jobs bill. But Republican support for his healthcare reform is something perhaps only Superman could achieve and the president will instead have to rely on rallying his own party. With mid-term elections looming in November and many Democrats’ seats in danger, they will be reluctant to support an unpopular bill.
Obama has said healthcare is so important that he will get it through even if it means he ends up as a one-term president, like Jimmy Carter. He may get his wish. The latest poll by CNN/Opinion Research found 52% of Americans think he should serve only one term.
Undying Creed: The Acceleration of Our Exceptionalism
Many Americans —particularly those involved with the major news media, academia, and the world of policymaking— envision their country becoming an ever more predictable follower of global fashions in everything from health care to climate change, jurisprudence to economic policy. In other words, they look ahead and see a nation that is a somewhat larger version of those that make up the European Union.
But in reality, those who believe that the United States is sliding down from its historical apex —and that we must accordingly downscale our expectations and adopt the assumptions and economy more appropriate to our European friends— are wrong. American exceptionalism has lost none of its momentum, and the United States is becoming more, not less, distinct among the countries of the developed world in its economic, demographic, and cultural evolution.
For at least a generation, the appeal of declinism and the belief that we must embrace foreign models has constituted, in the words of Georgetown University’s Robert Lieber, a kind of “historical chic” both domestically and abroad. “There is much to be said for being a Denmark or Sweden, even a Great Britain, France, or Italy,” Andrew Hacker suggested in 1971. More than thirty-five years later, the same refrain can be heard from author Parag Khanna, who envisions a “shrunken” America lucky to eke out a meager existence between a “triumphant China” and a “retooled Europe.” America, notes Morris Berman, another critic, is simply “running on empty.”
Such assessments consistently underestimate the sources of what the Japanese scholar Fuji Kamiya has described as America’s unique sokojikara, or reserve power. The peculiar demographic, economic, and cultural strengths of this country, Kamiya believes, create a vastly different reality from that of its major competitors.
This fact was largely ignored at the outset of the current financial crisis, which many pundits here and abroad blithely expected to accelerate American decline as other countries adapted more easily to hard times. Yet Japan’s rate of decline in GNP was three times that of the United States, while Germany and Britain contracted by twice as much. Moreover, the current recession has sparked far more overt social unrest in Europe, China, and Russia than in the United States.
America’s unique strengths will not fade quickly, and it’s difficult to see how an aging Europe, with its own ethnic problems, out-migration of skilled workers, weak military, and weaker technological base, could challenge our preeminent position. India and China are more likely long-term competitors, but both suffer from a legacy of poverty and underdevelopment that will take decades, if not generations, to overcome.
In India’s case, per capita income in 2005 ranked just slightly above that of sub-Saharan Africa; it endures chronic ethnic and religious conflict, as well as an ongoing and lethal struggle with Pakistan. Meanwhile China, like America’s former great rival, Russia, lacks the basic environmental protections, reliable legal structures, favorable demographics, and social resiliency of the United States. Inequality, a growing issue in most countries, including America, has been rising even more quickly in theoretically egalitarian China, which could further undermine its long-term social stability. China’s tendency to ascribe superiority to the Han race will also limit its ability to project itself onto a world that will remain predominately non-Chinese.
Perhaps the key distinguishing characteristics of the once and future American exceptionalism derive from the fact that in the coming decades America’s population will grow dramatically, adding at least 100 million people by 2050. This contrasts with more rapidly aging basic rivals in Europe and the Far East, including China....
Much more HERE
Theodore Roosevelt, Big-Government Man
Theodore Roosevelt has been known as “the Good Roosevelt,” “the Republican Roosevelt,” and “the conservative Roosevelt,” as distinguished from his fifth cousin Franklin, who’s credited with ushering in modern American big government.
Yet promoters of big government have long recognized TR as one of their own.
Biographer Frank Freidel wrote that “While at Groton [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] first fell under the spell of his remote cousin Theodore Roosevelt. . . . Theodore Roosevelt believed in using to the utmost the constitutional power of the president. . . . This strong use of government was for the most part appealing to Franklin.” During the Great Depression, FDR promoted “a program emphasizing national planning in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt.” Freidel noted that “in words reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt, FDR declared ‘the duty rests upon the Government to restrict incomes by very high taxes.’”
Historian Eric F. Goldman said that Lyndon Johnson, who simultaneously launched huge domestic entitlement spending programs and escalated the undeclared Vietnam War, admired “the hyperactive White House of Theodore Roosevelt.” LBJ reportedly remarked, “Whenever I pictured Teddy Roosevelt, I saw him running or riding, always moving, his fists clenched, his eyes glaring, speaking out.”
Richard M. Nixon, who dramatically expanded federal regulation of the economy, liked Theodore Roosevelt “because of his great dynamic drive and ability to mobilize a young country.”
In recent years, influential Republicans like Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, and John McCain have gushed with admiration for TR.
For starters, TR reinterpreted the Constitution to permit a vast expansion of executive power. “Congress, he felt, must obey the president,” noted biographer Henry Pringle. Roosevelt wanted the Supreme Court to obey him too. TR ushered in the practice of ruling by executive order, bypassing the congressional process. From Lincoln to TR’s predecessor William McKinley, there were 158 executive orders. TR, during his seven years in office, issued 1,007. He ranks third, behind fellow “progressives” Woodrow Wilson (1,791) and Franklin Roosevelt (3,723) in that category.
Much more HERE. See also here
CNN Poll: Majority says government a threat to citizens' rights: "A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll. Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government's become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree. The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans. According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken - though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what's broken can be fixed.
The American Bar Association exposes its liberal bias once again: "I wrote here about Goodwin Liu, the leftist law professor nominated by President Obama for a spot on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Among my observations was that Liu has only practiced law in earnest for two or three years. The rest of his time since graduating from law school has been spent as a law clerk or a law professor. Moreover, Liu appears to have no trial experience. Nor, as far as I can tell, has he ever argued a case before a court of appeal... Yet the ABA has rated Liu "highly qualified."
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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 10:49 PM