Monthly Archives: August 2009

Israel's National Imperative

A Wall Street Journal editorial speaks truth to the in-denial liberal establishment, otherwise known as Obama and Friends, about Israel and Iran:

…The reality that Western leaders don’t want to admit is that preventing Iran from getting the bomb is an Israeli national imperative, not a mere policy choice. That’s a view shared across Israel’s political spectrum, from traditional hawks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to current Defense Minister and former Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Israelis can see the relentless progress Iran is making toward enriching uranium, building a plutonium-breeding facility and improving on its ballistic missiles—all the while violating U.N. sanctions without consequence. Iran’s march to the bomb also alarms its Arab neighbors, but it represents an existential threat to an Israeli nation that Iran has promised to destroy and has waged decades of proxy war against.

This threat has only increased in the wake of Iran’s stolen election and crackdown. The nature of the regime seems to be changing from a revolutionary theocracy to a military-theocratic state that is becoming fascist in operation. The Revolutionary Guard Corps is gaining power at the expense of the traditional military and a divided clerical establishment.

On the weekend, Ahmadinejad called for the arrest and punishment of opposition leaders, and last week he nominated Ahmad Vahidi, a commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, to become defense minister. Vahidi is wanted on an Interpol arrest warrant for his role in masterminding the 1994 attack on a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. That attack killed 85 people and wounded 200 others. Vahidi’s nomination shows that when Ahmadinejad talks of wiping Israel off the map, no Israel leader can afford to dismiss it as a religious allegory.

Israel also looks warily on the Obama Administration’s policy of diplomatic pleading with Iran, which comes after six years of failed diplomatic overtures by the European Union and Bush Administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s suggestion in July that the U.S. would extend a “defense umbrella” over its allies in the Middle East “once [Iranians] have a nuclear weapon” may have been a slip of the lip. But Israelis can be forgiven for wondering if the U.S. would sooner accept a nuclear Iran as a fait accompli than do whatever is necessary to stop it.

It’s no wonder, then, that the Israeli military has been intensively—and very publicly—war-gaming attack scenarios on Iran’s nuclear installations. This has included sending warships through the Suez Canal (with Egypt’s blessing), testing its Arrow antiballistic missile systems and conducting nation-wide emergency drills. U.S. and Israeli military officials we’ve spoken to are confident an Israeli strike could deal a significant blow to Iran’s programs, even if some elements would survive. The longer Israel waits, however, the more steps Iran can take to protect its installations.

The consequences of an Israeli attack are impossible to predict, but there is no doubt they would implicate U.S. interests throughout the Middle East. Iran would accuse the U.S. of complicity, whether or not the U.S. gave its assent to an attack. Iran could also attack U.S. targets, drawing America into a larger Mideast war.

Short of an Islamist revolution in Pakistan, an Israeli strike on Iran would be the most dangerous foreign policy issue President Obama could face, throwing all his diplomatic ambitions into a cocked hat. Yet in its first seven months, the Administration has spent more diplomatic effort warning Israel not to strike than it has rallying the world to stop Iran…

War Is Cruelty; You Cannot Refine It

Why hasn’t the anti-war movement, so incensed over G.W. Bush’s relatively innocuous war in Iraq, deconstructed Abraham Lincoln who is universally revered as our greatest president? Why is it that the American Civil War and the men responsible for its prosecution have not been subjected to the usual revisionism that has been applied to, for example, Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan and the Roosevelt-Churchill decision to fire bomb Dresden?

In recent years, the only leftist criticism of the Great Emancipator has been that even he was insufficiently free of racist attitudes which, so the critics claim, proves that America is an irredeemably racist country. But little is made of the fact that Lincoln’s decisions, his miscalculations and obvious initial mismanagement of the war resulted in the deaths of more than 600,000 young Americans (6 million! in today’s population).

In today’s Wall Street Journal, a review of two books on William Tecumseh Sherman’s scorched earth campaign in the South, meant to end the war as quickly as possible in order to shore up Lincoln’s dismal re-election prospects, shows us that the Civil War was not fought in a manner meant to please liberal sensitivities or “world opinion”:

… Possessed of an incendiary disposition—in more ways than one—Sherman was taken by the notion that the quickest way to win the war would be to march his army straight through the heart of the South, destroying everything in his path. Or, as he put it to his ­commander, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant— to “make Georgia howl.” At the same time, Sherman conceived a plan for the final undoing of Atlanta, which had cost him so much trouble to ­capture.

…One aspect of the Atlanta ­campaign that remains controversial is Sherman’s treatment of civilians and the actual burning of the city. Most people associate the burning of Atlanta with the scene from “Gone With the Wind,” but that was not Sherman’s burning; rather, it was Rebel Gen. Hood’s destruction of his remaining supply trains and ­ammunition—which created a big bang for sure but was nothing ­compared with the conflagration that Sherman left in his wake.

After Hood abandoned the city, Sherman marched his army in and promptly ordered the remaining ­citizens to leave. That was a serious matter in those days, since it wasn’t as if you could just get in your car and drive to a motel. Atlanta had been a city of about 20,000; with winter coming on, the wild countryside would simply not support so many people roaming about with no food or shelter. City officials ­protested, but Sherman was having none of it. “War is cruelty; you ­cannot refine it,” he replied.

What Sherman finally decided on was the annihilation of the city ­itself—an instructive example, as it were, for other Southern cities; or if you will, an act of terrorism. Earlier he had warned Atlantans to “prepare for my coming.” In his written orders he couched the warning in terms of obliterating everything of military value, but, as in so many other places his army visited, the reality was ­destruction of the town by fire—the 19th century’s version of carpet-bombing.

This kind of devastation was ­relatively unprecedented for ­Sherman’s time; the burning and sacking of cities had more or less gone out of fashion as the customs of “civilized” warfare had generally foreclosed the molesting of civilians.

Sherman defied this sense of ­military restraint almost from the ­beginning; in fact, his earliest ­pyromaniacal urges in connection with Southerners and their property seem to have developed in 1862, while he was in charge of the ­recently captured city of Memphis. There, in retaliation for Confederates shooting at Union steamboats from the Arkansas side of the Mississippi, Sherman ordered the torching of all towns, villages, farms and homes for 15 miles up and down the river.

Sherman wrote a letter to one of Lincoln’s cabinet members, ­declaiming that all Southerners—­soldiers and civilians alike—were ­enemies of the Union and ­recommending that they be driven from their homes and treated as “denizens of the land”—whatever that meant. Their holdings, he ­suggested, could be forcibly ­repopulated as the British had done in Northern Ireland.

After the Union capture of ­Vicksburg in the summer of 1863, Sherman had led his army corps in a carnival of destruction and pillage across Mississippi, during which he declared to the prostrated ­Southerners that “all who do not aid us are our enemies, and we will not account to them for our acts.” He further threatened, in writing, “to take every life, every acre of land, and every particle of [your] ­property—You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will,” he said.

Despite these menacing pronouncements, Sherman denied to his dying day that he ever meant for his troops to burn civilian property, but few believed him. Shortly after ­Sherman departed Atlanta for his “March to the Sea,” a Confederate colonel named W.P. Howard inspected the damage and filed a report with the governor of Georgia. The city’s infrastructure was completely ­destroyed, he said—railroads, foundries, shops, mills, schools, hotels and business offices—and “from four to five thousand houses” burned. A mere 400 homes were left standing, Howard wrote. Sherman had watched the scene from horseback as he rode out of town and later remarked: ­”Behind us lay Atlanta, smoldering and in ruins.”

A similar conflagration occurred when Sherman reached Columbia, the capital of South Carolina, but he ­suggested that it was the Southerners themselves who started the fire. The closest he ever came to an ­apology was a line in his after-action report admitting that his men “had done some things they ought not to have done.” Mr. Bonds correctly notes that recent revisionist ­historians have tried to play down or even deny Sherman’s role in the burning, but he acknowledges that the vagueness of the general’s orders left room for misinterpretation.

It is hard to reconcile the peculiar psychology of Sherman’s military ­tactics with the fact that these were his fellow Americans whose homes were being burned—mostly women, children and old men, at that. For ­despite all his hard-bitten ­declarations against the Confederacy and its supporters, Sherman, in his private correspondence, often made a point of expressing an abiding ­fondness for the South and the Southern people.

With his victory at Atlanta, ­Sherman solidified himself as an American hero—in the North, at least—and ensured what Lincoln’s ally Sen. Zachary Chandler called “the most extraordinary change in publick opinion here that ever was known.” The South’s hopes to exploit Northern discontent and wring a ­”political victory” from the war ­vanished.

Eventually, Sherman’s scorched-earth tactics validated a new ­standard for military operations—the notion of “hard war” or “total war,” in which civilians were no longer treated as innocent bystanders and their property became fair game. This policy was incorporated, ­improved and refined over the ­ensuing decades, reaching its most pitiless apogee at Hiroshima in 1945.

Since the ascension of Barry, I’ve found myself muttering again and again the line: What if Bush (or Israel) had done that?

And talking about what neither George nor Israel could get away with, Mark Steyn deconstructs Teddy:

In its coverage of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s passing, America’s TV networks are creepily reminiscent of those plays Sam Shepard used to write about some dysfunctional inbred hardscrabble Appalachian household where there’s a baby buried in the backyard but everyone agreed years ago never to mention it.

In this case, the unmentionable corpse is Mary Jo Kopechne, 1940-1969. If you have to bring up the, ah, circumstances of that year of decease, keep it general, keep it vague. As Kennedy flack Ted Sorensen put it in Time magazine:

“Both a plane crash in Massachusetts in 1964 and the ugly automobile accident on Chappaquiddick Island in 1969 almost cost him his life …”

That’s the way to do it! An “accident,” “ugly” in some unspecified way, just happened to happen – and only to him, nobody else. Ted’s the star, and there’s no room to namecheck the bit players. What befell him was … a thing, a place. As Joan Vennochi wrote in The Boston Globe:

“Like all figures in history – and like those in the Bible, for that matter – Kennedy came with flaws. Moses had a temper. Peter betrayed Jesus. Kennedy had Chappaquiddick, a moment of tremendous moral collapse.”

Actually, Peter denied Jesus, rather than “betrayed” him, but close enough for Catholic-lite Massachusetts. And if Moses having a temper never led him to leave some gal at the bottom of the Red Sea, well, let’s face it, he doesn’t have Ted’s tremendous legislative legacy, does he? Perhaps it’s kinder simply to airbrush out of the record the name of the unfortunate complicating factor on the receiving end of that moment of “tremendous moral collapse.” When Kennedy cheerleaders do get around to mentioning her, it’s usually to add insult to fatal injury. As Teddy’s biographer Adam Clymer wrote, Edward Kennedy’s “achievements as a senator have towered over his time, changing the lives of far more Americans than remember the name Mary Jo Kopechne.”

You can’t make an omelet without breaking chicks, right? I don’t know how many lives the senator changed – he certainly changed Mary Jo’s – but you’re struck less by the precise arithmetic than by the basic equation: How many changed lives justify leaving a human being struggling for breath for up to five hours pressed up against the window in a small, shrinking air pocket in Teddy’s Oldsmobile? If the senator had managed to change the lives of even more Americans, would it have been OK to leave a couple more broads down there? Hey, why not? At the Huffington Post, Melissa Lafsky mused on what Mary Jo “would have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history … Who knows – maybe she’d feel it was worth it.” What true-believing liberal lass wouldn’t be honored to be dispatched by that death panel?

We are all flawed, and most of us are weak, and in hellish moments, at a split-second’s notice, confronting the choice that will define us ever after, many of us will fail the test. Perhaps Mary Jo could have been saved; perhaps she would have died anyway. What is true is that Edward Kennedy made her death a certainty. When a man (if you’ll forgive the expression) confronts the truth of what he has done, what does honor require? Six years before Chappaquiddick, in the wake of Britain’s comparatively very minor “Profumo scandal,” the eponymous John Profumo, Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for War, resigned from the House of Commons and the Queen’s Privy Council and disappeared amid the tenements of the East End to do good works washing dishes and helping with children’s playgroups, in anonymity, for the last 40 years of his life. With the exception of one newspaper article to mark the centenary of his charitable mission, he never uttered another word in public again.

Ted Kennedy went a different route. He got kitted out with a neck brace and went on TV and announced the invention of the “Kennedy curse,” a concept that yoked him to his murdered brothers as a fellow victim – and not, as Mary Jo perhaps realized in those final hours, the perpetrator. He dared us to call his bluff, and, when we didn’t, he made all of us complicit in what he’d done. We are all prey to human frailty, but few of us get to inflict ours on an entire nation.

His defenders would argue that he redeemed himself with his “progressive” agenda, up to and including health care “reform.” It was an odd kind of “redemption”: In a cooing paean to the senator on a cringe-makingly obsequious edition of NPR’s “Diane Rehm Show,” Edward Klein of Newsweek fondly recalled that one of Ted’s “favorite topics of humor was, indeed, Chappaquiddick itself. He would ask people, ‘Have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?'”

Terrific! Who was that lady I saw you with last night?

Beats me!

Why did the Last Lion cross the road?

To sleep it off!

What do you call 200 Kennedy sycophants at the bottom of a Chappaquiddick pond? A great start, but bad news for NPR guest-bookers! “He was a guy’s guy,” chortled Edward Klein. Which is one way of putting it.

When a man is capable of what Ted Kennedy did that night in 1969 and in the weeks afterward, what else is he capable of? An NPR listener said the senator’s passing marked “the end of civility in the U.S. Congress.” Yes, indeed. Who among us does not mourn the lost “civility” of the 1987 Supreme Court hearings? Considering the nomination of Judge Bork, Ted Kennedy rose on the Senate floor and announced that “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit down at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution.”

Whoa! “Liberals” (in the debased contemporary American sense of the term) would have reason to find Borkian jurisprudence uncongenial but to suggest the judge and former solicitor-general favored resegregation of lunch counters is a slander not merely vile but so preposterous that, like his explanation for Chappaquiddick, only a Kennedy could get away with it. If you had to identify a single speech that marked “the end of civility” in American politics, that’s a shoo-in.

If a towering giant cares so much about humanity in general, why get hung up on his carelessness with humans in particular? …

He Paved The Way For OJ

Frank J. Fleming, born in 1979 and thus not exposed to the Kennedy “charisma,” doesn’t get the improbable career of Teddy:

The death of Ted Kennedy is a time to reflect on how utterly insane his political existence was.

He seemed like the type of liberal the older conservatives just made up to scare us — privileged, elite, divorced from reality, amoral, and because he said the right things, it didn’t matter at all to him what his actual deeds or actions were.

But he was real! Liberals actually worshiped him! This is a hundred times more insane than thinking John Edwards was an authentic man of the people.

Am I being too harsh? I was born in 1979, so I didn’t hear much of these details first-hand, but if I understand things correctly … in 1969 he drove off a bridge with another passenger in the car. Instead of trying to rescue her, he fled and didn’t report the incident to police for ten hours.

That’s not just a minor indiscretion. Those are the actions of an irredeemable scumbag, right?

Yet not only was he not imprisoned, he didn’t even lose his Senate seat. In fact, he was reelected seven more times!

I feel like I’m on crazy pills just writing this!

We debate whether an adulterer should resign, but shouldn’t unrepentant manslaughter be beyond debate and partisanship? Wouldn’t someone with even the smallest amount of humanity and humility resign from public life after that? No one could be so egotistical and out of touch as to later run for president thinking: “Wow. The country sure could use someone with my judgment and moral fortitude to run it right now.” Right?

And shouldn’t the entire country have been outraged that he escaped a well-deserved prison sentence because of his wealth and connections? Or at least, you know, have not voted for him?

It should be unquestionable that the majority of people in Massachusetts are amoral, empty-headed scumbags for constantly voting for that man. That’s an objective fact, right? There aren’t some details I’m missing, are there? Like the only other choice besides Ted Kennedy on the ballot each time was a pedophile or an ax murderer?

Unless that was true, the only conclusion is that the majority of the citizens of his state are such mindless partisans that they would vote for someone who raped their sisters if he said the right things about welfare and abortion. That’s indisputable, right? What he did should not have only disqualified him from public office, but just voting for him should be considered a lapse in moral character that gets you shunned from society. It’s up there with being an open racist. How in the world has anyone taken Massachusetts seriously while that guy was their senator?

Many — including some conservatives — are saying that those pointing this out right after Ted Kennedy’s death are just people like me being silly partisans, turning anyone who disagrees with him into a monster. I’m sorry, but what other politicians are there that were this horrible a human being? Are there others who killed people and thought that shouldn’t really damage their political career? Is there a similar Republican example I’m turning a blind eye to?

…People are praising all the great things he’s done, and it’s pure madness. Some are calling him a civil rights champion. What great things has he done? He was in the Senate basically his whole life. All he did was be rich, privileged, and talk his mouth off about whatever was the fashionable subject of the time. That’s something we should strive for? What sacrifice did he make for civil rights (I know of the human sacrifice he made — I’m talking about personal sacrifice)? Wouldn’t someone who understands civil rights not have failed so miserably on the subject of how you treat an individual human being in your own car?

Can you really understand civil rights in the abstract while not knowing how to treat actual people?

And what was his civil rights legacy? He was a rich white guy who killed a woman and got away without consequences, and so paved the way that one day a black man, O.J. Simpson, could do the same?

One I’ve heard from conservatives, struggling to be nice, is that he was someone who stood up for what he believed in. Well, obviously someone who commits manslaughter and still thinks he can run for president doesn’t care what other people say about him. He might have been so beyond normal humanity he didn’t even comprehend it.

Still, people liked the guy, Republicans and Democrats alike. Anyone who worked with him seemed to have nice things to say about him. But I don’t get all the praise about his accomplishments that seems to ignore what a grotesque blemish it was on our country that he was one of our democratically elected officials, and how completely insane it was that such an amoral wretch had any say whatsoever in the lives of other Americans. Is everyone inside the beltway really that out of touch that they don’t realize that to the average American, Ted Kennedy is rightfully nothing more than a punchline?

I feel bad saying this about someone after he died, but I keep taking a dispassionate look at the facts and don’t see how I am in any way overreacting. I just don’t get his existence at all..

.

And according to editor-in-chief of the New York Times Magazine Ed Klein, Teddy was fond of Chappaquiddick jokes. Listen here.

A Waddling Argument For Term Limits

Roger Kimball serves up an inoculation against the coming Teddy-gush from the Democrats:

…Kennedy was a veritable fount of enlightenment. A waddling argument for the wisdom of term limits, he showed the world how, provided you came from a rich and unscrupulous family, you can get caught cheating on a Spanish test at Harvard and still manage to graduate a few years later.

But of course, Ted Kennedy’s most important lesson for the world involved Mary Jo Kopechne, the secretary he let drown in 1969 when he drove his car off a bridge at Chappaquiddick Island late at night after a party. Kennedy said he endeavored to rescue the girl. Maybe. But what we know he did was contact several aides to work out a story. He waited until after the police discovered the car and Kopechne’s body the next morning before informing the police about the incident. He received a two-month suspended sentence for leaving the scene of an accident after causing an injury. Wikipedia calmly notes that “Questions remained about Kennedy’s time line of events that night, about his actions after the accident, and the quality of the investigation and whether official deference was given to a powerful politician and family.” Do you think, just possibly, that unusual deference was shown to Ted Kennedy?

The Kennedy family has issued a eulogistic statement about the death of the Senior Senator from Massachusetts. Right and proper, I suppose, but I couldn’t help recoiling from its lists: “Edward M. Kennedy — the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply — died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port.”

“Edward M. Kennedy,” I heard echoing behind those words, “Liar, cheat, drunk, philanderer, and — let’s not forget — inadvertent murderer.”

The tsunami of sentimental pap about Kennedy is already churning, gushing, rushing to inundate the public with a nauseating and untruthful fairy tale about the “Lion of the Senate.” The Lyin’ in the Senate is more like it. Kennedy was 77 when he was taken off last night, Mary Jo Kopechne had just turned 29 when Kennedy’s car veered off the bridge in Chappaquiddick and he wriggled free and swam to shore, leaving the young woman trapped in the car to drown.

A Doctorate in Doublethink

A Wall Street Journal editorial takes us on a tour of Barry’s doublethink:

…[Barry] likes to start off explaining our catastrophe of a health system. “What is truly scary—what is truly risky—is if we do nothing,” he said in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We can’t “keep the system the way it is right now,” he continued, while his critics are “people who want to keep things the way they are.”

However, his supporters also want to keep things the way they are. “I keep on saying this but somehow folks aren’t listening,” Mr. Obama proclaimed in Grand Junction, Colorado. “If you like your health-care plan, you keep your health-care plan. Nobody is going to force you to leave your health-care plan. If you like your doctor, you keep seeing your doctor. I don’t want government bureaucrats meddling in your health care.”

Mr. Obama couldn’t be more opposed to “some government takeover,” as he put it in Belgrade, Montana. In New Hampshire, he added that people were wrong to worry “that somehow some government bureaucrat out there will be saying, well, you can’t have this test or you can’t have this procedure because some bean-counter decides that this is not a good way to use our health-care dollars.”

So no bureaucrats, no bean-counters. Mr. Obama merely wants to create “a panel of experts, health experts, doctors, who can provide guidelines to doctors and patients about what procedures work best in what situations, and find ways to reduce, for example, the number of tests that people take” (New Hampshire, again). Oh, and your health-care plan? You can keep it, as long your insurance company or employer can meet all the new regulations Mr. Obama favors. His choice of verbs, in Montana, provides a clue about what that will mean: “will be prohibited,” “will no longer be able,” “we’ll require” . . .

Maybe you’re starting to fret about all those bureaucrats and bean-counters again. You shouldn’t, according to Mr. Obama. “The only thing I would point is, is that Medicare is a government program that works really well for our seniors,” he noted in Colorado. After all, as he said in New Hampshire, “If we’re able to get something right like Medicare, then there should be a little more confidence that maybe the government can have a role—not the dominant role, but a role—in making sure the people are treated fairly when it comes to insurance.”

The government didn’t get Medicare right, though: Just ask the President. The entitlement is “going broke” (Colorado) and “unsustainable” and “running out of money” (New Hampshire). And it’s “in deep trouble if we don’t do something, because as you said, money doesn’t grow on trees” (Montana).

So the health-care status quo needs top-to-bottom reform, except for the parts that “you” happen to like. Government won’t interfere with patients and their physicians, considering that the new panel of experts who will make decisions intended to reduce tests and treatments doesn’t count as government. But Medicare shows that government involvement isn’t so bad, aside from the fact that spending is out of control—and that program needs top-to-bottom reform too…

And here is Nat Hentoff, not Sarah Palin, warning us of “death panels” and why for the first time he fears the White House:

I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama’s desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) – as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill – decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It’s already in the stimulus bill signed into law.

The members of that ultimate federal board will themselves not have examined or seen the patient in question. For another example of the growing, tumultuous resistance to “Dr. Obama,” particularly among seniors, there is a July 29 Washington Times editorial citing a line from a report written by a key adviser to Obama on cost-efficient health care, prominent bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel).

Emanuel writes about rationing health care for older Americans that “allocation (of medical care) by age is not invidious discrimination.” (The Lancet, January 2009) He calls this form of rationing – which is fundamental to Obamacare goals – “the complete lives system.” You see, at 65 or older, you’ve had more life years than a 25-year-old. As such, the latter can be more deserving of cost-efficient health care than older folks…

Medical Care and "Social Justice"

Thomas Sowell nails the implications of Barry-Care:

…It is not just a question of what the government will pay for. The logic of [the Obamaites’] collectivist thinking– and the actual practice in some other countries with government-controlled health care– is that you cannot even pay for some medical treatments with your own money, if the powers that be decide that “society” cannot let its resources be used that way, or that it would not be “social justice” for some people to have medical treatments that others cannot get, just because some people “happen to have money.”

The medical care stampede is about much more than medical care, important as that is. It is part of a whole mindset of many on the left who have never reconciled themselves to an economic system in which how much people can withdraw from the resources of the nation depends on how much they have contributed to those resources.

Despite the cleverness of phrases about people who “happen to have money,” very few people just happen to have money. Most people earned their money by supplying other people with goods or services that those people were willing to pay for.

Since it is their own money that they have earned, these people feel free to spend it to give their 80-year-old grandmother another year or two of life, or to pay for a hip replacement operation for their mom or dad, even If some medical “ethicist” might say that the resources of “society” would be better used to allow some 20-year-old to talk over his angst with a shrink.

Barack Obama has talked about the high costs of taking care of elderly or chronically ill patients in terms of “society making those decisions.” But a world in which individuals make their own trade-offs with their own money is fundamentally different from a world where third parties take those decisions out of their hands and impose their own notions of what is best for “society.”

Calling these arbitrary notions “ethics” doesn’t change anything, however effective it may be as political spin.

More is at stake than the outcomes of medical decisions, extremely important as those are. What is also at stake is freedom and the dignity of individuals who do not live their lives as supplicants of puffed-up power holders who are spending the money taken from them in taxes.

One of the many phony arguments for government-controlled medical care is that Americans do not have any longer life expectancy than in other countries, despite much higher medical expenditures.

This argument is phony because longevity depends on health– and “health care” and “medical care” are not the same, no matter how many times the two are confused in the media or in politics. Health care includes things that doctor cannot do much about.

Homicide affects your longevity but there is not much that doctors can do about it when they arrive on the scene after you have been shot through the heart, except fill out the paperwork. Rates of homicide, obesity and narcotics usage are higher here than in many other countries, reducing our longevity.

But in the things that medical care can do something about– like cancer survival rates– the United States ranks at or near the top in the world. But that can change if we give up the real benefits of a top medical system for the visions and rhetoric of politicians.

Promises, Promises

To me, the most annoying thing about Barry is his, let’s call it, disingenuousness. He keeps repeating the following mantra: “If you like your health-care plan, you keep your health-care plan. If you like your doctor, you keep your doctor.”

Sure, there is nothing being considered which explicitly mandates that people be moved to a government plan, but the logic of a “public option” is that over time, most people will be forced out of the health plan they currently like.

Even the Washington Post agrees:

…President Obama promises that, if health-care reform is enacted, people will be able to keep their current coverage.

“I keep on saying this but somehow folks aren’t listening: If you like your health-care plan, you keep your health-care plan. Nobody is going to force you to leave your health-care plan,” he said Saturday in a town hall meeting in Grand Junction, Colo., much as he said Friday in Belgrade, Mont., and earlier in the week in Portsmouth, N.H.

However, under legislation drafted by House and Senate Democrats, that would not necessarily be true.

Legislation written by three House committees and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions would allow eligible employers to move workers into a new marketplace for insurance, where they could choose from various coverage options.

In the marketplace, called an exchange or gateway, employees could end up with more and better options, analysts say. Even a top Republican staffer to the Senate committee, who is not authorized to speak for the record, agrees with that assessment. But Democratic legislative aides said there is no assurance that any of the options offered in the exchange would be the same as employees’ current coverage.

Because coverage offered through an exchange would have to comply with new requirements, it could easily be different.

At a minimum, the exchanges would be open to small employers, but government officials would have the discretion to open the exchanges to larger employers.

“Over time, the Exchange will be opened to additional employers as another choice for covering their employees,” the three House committees said in a July summary of the emerging legislation.

The legislation could also prompt some employers to drop coverage, congressional budget analysts say…

The same thing goes for “death panels.” It is perfectly reasonable to believe that if a public plan is passed, somewhere down the road when the “unfunded liabilities” explode, a government panel will decide who gets to live and who gets to die.

Maybe that’s a reasonable solution to curbing the cost of the ever-increasing number of effective diagnostic and treatment techniques. But at least the politicians and leftist activists should be honest about it and stop dismissing critics as crazies intent on spreading lies.

Wanderin' Around While Jewish

Bob Dylan is “harassed” by Long Branch, New Jersey cops:

…The incident began at 5 p.m. when a resident said a man was wandering around a low-income, predominantly minority neighborhood several blocks from the oceanfront looking at houses.

The police officer drove up to Dylan, who was wearing a blue jacket, and asked him his name. According to [Long Branch business administrator Howard] Woolley, the following exchange ensued:

“What is your name, sir?” the officer asked.

“Bob Dylan,” Dylan said.

“OK, what are you doing here?” the officer asked.

“I’m on tour,” the singer replied.

A second officer, also in his 20s, responded to assist the first officer. He, too, apparently was unfamiliar with Dylan, Woolley said.

The officers asked Dylan for identification. The singer of such classics as “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” said that he didn’t have any ID with him, that he was just walking around looking at houses to pass some time before that night’s show.

The officers asked Dylan, 68, to accompany them back to the Ocean Place Resort and Spa, where the performers were staying. Once there, tour staff vouched for Dylan.

The officers thanked him for his cooperation.

“He couldn’t have been any nicer to them,” Woolley added…

What, no hissy fit about racial profiling and the horror of being a 68 year old Jew in Amerika? No “you don’t know who you’re dealing with” threats?

Instead we learn from a Long Branch official: “”He [Dylan] couldn’t have been any nicer to them[the cops].”

But Dylan was a “victim” of racial profiling. The guy we in the know revere as a legendary singer-songwriter and of course “conscience of his generation” appeared to two young cops to be nothing more than another elderly Jewish hippy wanderin’ around a “predominantly minority neighborhood” probably looking to score some drugs. We who know and love Dylan find it counterintuitive that Dylan, if he wanted drugs, would need to personally walk the streets to find them. But perhaps police officers who don’t know Bob Dylan from Bob Dole should still be held accountable for their apparent “insensitivity” towards the Elderly Jewish Hippy Community.

Now let’s see if Barry has any words of wisdom on Dylan-gate?

Organizing Against The Dear Organizer

Can’t get enough of Mark Steyn:

…The right-wing extremist Republican base is back!” warns the Democratic National Committee. These right-wing extremists have been given their marching orders by their masters: They’ve been directed to show up at “thousands of events,” told to “organize,” “knock on doors” …

No, wait. My mistake. That’s the e-mail I got from Mitch Stewart, Director of “Organizing for America” at BarackObama.com. But that’s the good kind of “organizing.” Obama’s a community organizer. We’re the community. He organizes us. What part of that don’t you get?

When the community starts organizing against the organizer, the whole rigmarole goes to hell. Not that these extremists showing up at town hall meetings are real members of the “community.” Have you noticed how tailored they are? Dissent is now the haut est form of coutur ism. Senator Barbara Boxer has denounced dissenters from Obama’s health care proposals as too “well-dressed” to be genuine. Only the Emperor has new clothes. Everyone knows that.

Thankfully, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has seen through the “manufactured anger” of “the Brooks Brothers brigade.” Did he announce this in a crumpled suit? He’s a Press Secretary who won’t press. Apparently, the health care debate now has a dress code. Soon you won’t be able to get in unless you’re wearing Barack Obama mom-jeans, manufactured at a converted GM plant by an assembly line of retrained insurance salesmen. Any day now, Hollywood will greenlight a new movie in which an insane Sarah Palin figure picks out her outfit for spreading disinformation (The Lyin’, The Witch And The Wardrobe).

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, added her own distinctive wrinkle to the Brooks Brothers menswear. She disdained the anti-Obamacare protests as fake grassroots. “I think they’re AstroTurf,” she declared. “They’re carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care.”

Is this one of those Chinese Whispers things? Obama told Gibbs to tell Boxer to tell Reid, and by the time it reached Pelosi, it came out as uniforms night: Brooks Brothers. Mel Brooks. Springtime for Hitler. Swastikas. Or is the Speaker right to sound the alarm about this army of goosestepping dandies? A veritable Garbstapo jackbooting down the Interstate like it’s a catwalk in Milan.

Fortunately, this president doesn’t fold like a Robert Gibbs suit. He won’t give in to the attire pressure. So, on Monday, the official White House Web site drew attention to the alarming amount of “disinformation about health insurance reform.” “These rumors often travel just below the surface,” warned Macon Phillips, Chief Commissar of the Hopenstasi …whoops, I mean White House Director of New Media, “via chain e-mails or through casual conversation.”

“Casual conversation,” eh? Why can’t these “dissenters” just be like normal people and read off the teleprompter?

“Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help,” continued Commissar Phillips.

“If you get an e-mail or see something on the Web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”

Reporting dissent is the highest form of patriotism! Is your neighbor suspiciously “well-dressed”? Is he mouthing off about cancer survival rates under socialized medical systems while wearing a cravat? Give us his name, and we’ll give you his spats! Just go to flag@whitehouse.gov, not to be confused with flagging@whitehouse.gov., which is the e-mail address for reporting President Obama’s latest approval rating. Go to flay@whitehouse.gov if you’d like Speaker Pelosi to walk across your back as a whip-wielding SS dominatrix barking “Vee hoff vays of making you tokk less casually, dumbkopf!” Go to flange@whitehouse.gov if you need parts for your new government car, or your new government hip replacement. Go to flaunt@whitehouse.gov if you’d like a special preview of President Obama’s latest bare-chested pictorial for Vanity Fair. Go to flatulent@whitehouse.gov if you’d like to report your neighbor’s cow for excessive CO2 emissions.

Better yet, just send everything on everyone to the White House. Unsure about that old hippie artist across the street? The one who said, “Yeah, I voted for Obama ’cause I thought it’d be cool to have an African-American president. But, since the economic downturn, the bottom’s really dropped out of my hemp tapestry market.” He seems to be starting to entertain impure thoughts about the Dear Leader’s plans for us, doesn’t he? And yet, with the best will in the world, one couldn’t really describe him as a snappy dresser, could one? It’s a tough call. So best be on the safe side, and report everyone. The Administration can hire people to sift through it all, and that will stimulate the economy even more than the new cashmere-for-clunkers program: Are you an angry right-wing fop? Why not trade in your frankly effete sweater for an evening with Joe Biden?

The Washington Post’s Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite (not, as far as I know, a Brooks sister to the Brooks Brothers) says “the town hall demolition derby” is “cynically designed and carried out in order to destroy real debate in the public square over health insurance reform.” Decrying the snarling, angry protesters, liberal talk-show host Bill Press (no relation to the Corby Trouser Press) says that “Americans want serious discussion” on health care. If only we’d stuck to the President’s August timetable and passed a gazillion-page health care reform entirely unread by the House of Representatives or the Senate (the world’s greatest deliberative body) in nothing flat, we’d now have all the time in the world to sit around having a “serious discussion” and “real debate” on whatever it was we just did to one-sixth of the economy.

But a sick, deranged, un-American mob has put an end to all that moderate and reasonable steamrollering by showing up and yelling insane, out-of-control questions like, “Awfully sorry to bother you, your Most Excellent Senatorial Eminence, but I was wondering if you could tell me why you don’t read any of the laws you make before you make them into law?”

The community is restless. The firm hand of greater organization is needed.

A Curiously Rahmsian Tone

John Kass, chronicler of the Chicago Way, looks behind the Hope and Change curtain:

…[California Congressman Darrell] Issa is demanding to know who is behind a series of letters sent by several Obama Cabinet secretaries to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer that subtly threaten to withhold federal dollars from the state if Republican critics like Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona don’t shut up. The letters are curiously Rahmsian in tone:

“However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state … please let me know,” wrote Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a former Illinois congressman who is no stranger to how things work in Chicago.

In high school civics, Americans learn that public dissent is noble, a cornerstone of our system of checks and balances, a guarantor of the health of the republic. But in Chicago, dissent is not appreciated. Public criticism is called by another name:

“Beefing.”

And those who engage in “beefing” are described, derisively, as “beefers.” We even have a slogan about it: “Only losers beef.”

But nobody told Issa, the ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“These tactics have been characterized as a ‘fist to the nose’ and a message to ‘back off,’ ” wrote Issa to Emanuel. “While this type of scare tactic might work in Chicago, it will not work to intimidate me or other members of the United States Congress.”

Oh, really?

It’s painfully clear that Republicans don’t know much about the Chicago Way, where citizens, even Republicans, are expected to take what big government gives them. If the political boss suggests that you purchase some expensive wrought-iron fence to decorate your corporate headquarters, and the guy selling insurance to the wrought-iron boys is the boss’ little brother, you write the check.

Otherwise, government inspectors may arrive, demanding to know why your thing-a-ma-bob isn’t coupled with the whoosy-whatsits, in the manner of the prescribed flibber-mcjibbits, as outlined in the appendix of the municipal code. Then you’ve got real problems.

No one knows this better than Emanuel, who was elected to Congress with the help of a gigantic illegal patronage army, run by City Hall’s Water Department boss Don Tomczak, who is now in prison for taking bribes. Emanuel said he didn’t know that Tomczak’s tough guys were working his district. But I insisted on calling him U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Tomczak) anyway.

The national media — and the Republicans — weren’t all that interested in Chicago politics when Obama was campaigning. The pundits were too busy smoking their Hopium. National Republicans made one little commercial about the Chicago machine, but Mayor Daley said there wasn’t any machine, and that was that.

So I called Issa to find out what the heck he thought he was doing, beefing all over America.

“I’m an old Army guy,” said Issa over the phone. “If you can’t see the target, sometimes you fire to keep their heads down, knowing they’ll duck their heads. This letter was sent to Emanuel, but I know that President Obama will have seen it.”

What bothers Issa is all that Chicago-style muscle in the White House.

“They’re taking over the Census, and Cabinet officers threaten to cut funds to states of critics of the president,” Issa said. “Rahm obviously still thinks he’s running Chicago politics in Washington.”

Actually, the guy who runs Chicago is named Daley. Why didn’t Issa just write to Daley, asking the mayor to order the president to get Rahm off his back?

“If I wrote to Richard Daley, I’d likely get a horse’s head in my bed, and I don’t want a horse’s head in my bed,” Issa said, jokingly.

“Chicago is run a certain way, and that’s a decision made by the people of Chicago,” Issa said. “But the United States of America is run with minorities having rights and active dissent. And now people are being silenced. We’re not a country run on patronage, where if you do the right thing, a family member ends up with a political job. That’s not the way the American people expect the country to be run.”

Really?

Americans elected a man from Chicago who would transcend the old politics. But a bunch of guys from City Hall are now in the White House, running things.

So what’s the beef?