Sunday, February 28, 2010

Republican Reaction To Health Care Summit

Washington News Observer spoke with various outspoken Republicans.  Some Republicans claimed that Republicans came out on top at this summit, while other dismissed it as a waste of time. The following clips feature Reps. Michelle Bachmann, Steve King and Brian Bilbray.
“Well in my opinion I think that we probably will see more substance come out of the Beer Summit at the White House than we will out of the current Health Care Summit today. So I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of productivity unfortunately because it would have been nice if we actually could’ve seen something move down the road. Instead I think what we’re seeing is a President who has dug his heels in and he plans to do nothing but defend his incomprehensible over 2,000 page long plan.

“They want to use the nuclear option on Republicans, and they want to allow Iran to develop nuclear capability. And the conditions that he offered to Ahmadinejad have been denied to Republicans. He insists on keeping his bills on the table; the reconciliation nuclear option on the table. He refuses to open and extend his hand with a blank slate or a blank piece of paper.”

“The Republicans walked into the President’s house and actually gave broadside after broadside and matched him one for one. I think the President realizes that he could not filibuster with the Members.”
Please visit our website for additional interviews and the latest coverage from Washington.

Big Government

The British Aren’t So Special to Obama

Warner Todd  Huston
by Warner Todd Huston
Barack Obama, it was claimed, would “repair” our reputation both with our enemies and our friends. So how has he done? Let’s take Britain for example. Has he “fixed” our special relationship with the British Isles? Well, if by fixed you mean he has fastened that relationship to a negative track, well then “fixed” it is.
Let’s review some of the slights that Barack Obama delivered to our closest allies, the British.
In February, immediately after he entered office, President Obama summarily rejected the most famous bust of Winston Churchill in England loaned to the U.S. for display in the Oval Office by the people of England. The bust was sent to us by the people of the U.K. as a gesture of solidarity and friendship in the aftermath of 9/11. Despite their generosity, Obama returned the generously loaned statuette without alerting the Brits that he intended to do so, blindsiding Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government.
Then in March Obama slighted the British once again by refusing to meet PM Brown at the airport in the previously arranged welcome-to-America press conference when the Brown’s came for a state visit.
During that same visit Obama callously gave Brown, a man who is nearly blind, a set of American DVD movies as an official gift from the U.S.A., movies that won’t even play on English DVD machines (America is “Region 1” while England is “Region 2” in DVD formats). To add insult to injury Mrs. Obama gave the Brown’s boys a few cheap toy helicopters from a Washington gift shop — likely made in China. On the other hand PM Brown gave some significant and thoughtful gifts to the Obama’s and our nation.

For his part, PM Brown gave two symbolic gifts and one that expressed national pride. Brown came bearing a pen holder carved from the timbers of the sister ship of that which gave the wood to create the famous “Resolute Desk,” the desk that has been in America’s charge since 1880. He also gave Obama the framed commission for that famous ship, the HMS Resolute. His third gift was a seven-volume biography of one of England’s greatest leaders, Winston Churchill.
Also during this state visit at least one person in Obama’s administration denigrated the famed “special relationship” that the U.S. and the U.K. have had since WWII. When Brown’s aids tried to interact with Obama’s, one of Obama’s aids reportedly said that there was no special relationship and that the Brits would be treated like any other nation in the age of Obama. Not very diplomatic that.
During March, British officials began to complain that Obama’s administration was neglecting the diplomatic phone calls that British officials were making to try to coordinate international policies. Apparently no one was picking up the phone in Washington when the Brits rang.
Later in April, the Obama’s showed an utter lack of protocol when visiting the Queen of England. Obama’s wife broke protocol by placing her hand upon the Queen’s back, a definite no-no. Michelle, it seems, was entirely too casual about her appearance before the Queen and the British were appalled by Michelle’s lack of respect. By itself this incident might seem small, but taken with all the others it seems apiece with how unimportant the Obama’s consider the British. Even long-standing protocol isn’t important enough to observe as far as the Obama’s are concerned.
Then in May Team Obama left the Queen out of its D-Day memorial plans again showing the Brits that they weren’t important enough for Obama’s attention.
It should be remembered that the D-Day incident occurred around the same time that Obama was bowing in supplication before the Saudi King showing the world that Obama would pay more deference to a repressive regime than any western democracy.
By June the British press was beginning to wonder why Obama hated them so much. Even the New York Times worried that, “on a more basic level, there is a sense that the Obama administration is ignoring the needs and counsel of longtime allies.” And so, during June several other western democracies were pronouncing their disgust at how they were being mistreated or ignored by Obama and his administration. Along with the British, the Germans, the French, and the Israelis were also becoming miffed at their treatment at Obama’s hands.
We should contrast these slights with how Obama had been bowing and scraping (both figuratively and literally) to Saudi Kings, North Korean madmen, dictatorial Iranian regimes, and South American strong men throughout this entire time. Obama was also seen in November bowing nearly to the floor before another national leader, this time before Japan’s Emperor Akihito. The Brits must have really been confused by this one. He bows to a Japanese Emperor — whose predecessor was an enemy to the U.S. — but shows little interest in their Queen — who was herself one of our longest allies and fought with us during WWII?
And now Obama’s upturned nose is again shown England as she fights to retain control of the Falklands. Instead of supporting the Brit’s assertion that the Falklands are their lawful possession Obama ignored the whole question, saying nothing, and leaving the British to twist in the wind lending Argentina’s claims upon the Islands more credence than it otherwise would have had if the U.S. had officially upheld the Brit’s rights to them.
The word in London is that Obama is punishing the British for having released sensitive U.S. intelligence on a terror suspect recently. In retaliation Obama has refused to uphold the U.K.’s long-held sovereignty over the Falklands.
This wasn’t the only punishment Obama dealt the Brits over this incident. Last week Obama also abruptly canceled a planned conference to celebrate 60 years of the two nation’s intelligence sharing arrangement.
In the final analysis it seems that Obama can act tough with the British, can callously dismiss the French and the Germans, but goes all soft in the face of murderous regimes like Iran, the Saudis, and North Korea. One would suspect that Obama hasn’t the spine to deal with real problems but, like the cuckolded hubby, lashes out where he knows its safe to do so but not where some lashing out would do some good.

Big Government

Obama Signs Patriot Act Extension: MSM and the Left Silent

SusanAnne   Hiller
by SusanAnne Hiller
President Obama signed the renewal of the Patriot Act in the quiet of a slow-news Saturday–the Act was set to expire Sunday, February 28–as reported by The Hill.
Photo Credit: AP Photo
Photo Credit: AP Photo
The reauthorization did NOT include any reforms to the current Patriot Act–an odd display of agreement and submission to Bush-era policy–even though the Democrats had the numbers to reform the Act. The continuance of the current Patriot Act signals that Democrats are fearful of further controversary in light of American’s distrust and poor approval ratings of the Democrat-controlled Congress. From the Hill:
The House approved the bill 315-97 on Thursday, a day after the extension passed the Senate.
The provisions, including roving wiretaps, records access and tracking terror suspects not affiliated with any group, were set to expire on Sunday. Democrats opposing the extension were unable to add desired civil-liberties protections.
The Patriot Act was first passed by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as a defense mechanism against terrorists.
The House and the Senate, behind the scenes of the healthcare fervor, quietly passed this bill with little oppostion and outrage. Democrats could have modified the Patriot Act, but didn’t.

Apparently without Bush, the Patriot Act is no longer Orwellian as Michael Moore would have it and the ACLU is now quietly voicing its differences. Even Obama criticized the Act’s compromise in 2006, but had no issue, as President, signing the identical Act he wanted reforms on.  In 2006, Obama stated on the Senate floor:
So, I will be supporting the Patriot Act compromise. But I urge my colleagues to continue working on ways to improve the civil liberties protections in the Patriot Act after it is reauthorized.
The Democrats had the numbers to make changes, but another civil war would have ensued.  In addition, it appears that when these controversial legislative pieces are passed by the Democrats, it makes it all better.  No more outrage from the MSM and the far-left, because the rules of war and engagement are clearly different because, you know, the Democrats are in charge.

Big Government

MSM Televised News Has Long Displayed Its Racial Preference

Posted by Archy Cary Feb 27th 2010 at 4:44 pm in Mainstream Media, Network News, Racism

MSM televised news outlets are fond of tagging conservatives as racists. But they only need to look at their news anchors, past and present, to see their own bias.  For example, recall the three network news anchors that traveled to Baghdad with candidate Barack Obama?
Before those three, there were these three:
In fact, track network anchors back to the infancy of televised news, and, while there’s been occasional gender diversity, the color of the faces, with the brief exception of co-anchor Connie Chung, has been snow white.  Richard Hubbell, Douglas Edwards, Bob Schieffer, Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, John Chancellor, Howard K. Smith, Frank Reynolds, Barbara Walters, and so on…overwhelmingly white folks. And, mostly guys. According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications:
Aside from abortive attempts to team Barbara Walters with Harry Reasoner and more recently, Connie Chung with Dan Rather, national news presenting has been a white male preserve. However, local anchor teams have long represented diversity in the community through a news couple of different race and gender, supplemented by reporters on the sports and weather beat and in the field. Even in the local context, however, gender distinctions are vital. The highly publicized case of Christine Kraft, anchor of KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Missouri illustrates the willingness of executives to dismiss women considered “too old” or “too unattractive” to fill this highly visible role. Such judgments are rarely, if ever, made in cases involving male anchors, who are seen to develop “authority” and “gravity” as their physical glamour fades.
CNN broadcasts news around the clock and, with more on-air opportunities, introduced more diversity (e.g., Bernard Shaw). But even in the post-Obama period, with many more black and brown faces on the air, CNN still has a mostly white cast of teleprompter readers.
Cable network news commentators are mostly white, like Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann. And, cable financial news shows are, by and large, delivered by white faces.
A review of the two FOX News channels is omitted here since the Obama administration doesn’t consider FOX a true member of the TV news journalists’ club.  But isn’t FOX’s Charles Payne the most prominent non-white, business news commentator on TV?
Maybe we need to go to the news services to find diversity. How about the Associated Press? Here’s their President.
Well, Tom’s clearly a white guy. So how about Reuters of Thompson Reuters? Tom Glocer is their CEO. Here he is:
No joy there. Another white Tom.
So what about the President and CEO of PBS? Surely there must be a person of color there.
Paula Kerger? Nope.
So here’s the question: How come the talking heads of the MSM news outlets have often directly and indirectly labeled conservatives, like the Tea Party supporters, as racists?  Have they no mirrors?

Big Journalism

The Left Should Think Twice Before Charging ‘Racism’

Billy HallowellPosted by Billy Hallowell Feb 28th 2010 at 6:03 am in Featured Story, History, Racism 

Without Noah Webster’s knowledge, the definition of a “racist” has been diluted and redefined to mean “a person who disagrees with a liberal,” or in more explicit terms, “any individual who uses logic to divulge evidence of liberal malfeasance.”  For years, the left has used race as a bully tactic to smear and debunk those on the receiving end of the label.  This desperate and exploitative attempt at winning political arguments comes at a great cost to democracy, interpersonal relations and our nation’s internal progress.
The latest James O’Keefe saga exemplifies the left’s common practice of exploiting the issue of race for personal and political gain.  Liberal journalist Max Blumenthal’s devoid-of-logic theoretical construct (that O’Keefe is a racist) exemplifies the desperate measures some will take to avoid the pains of reality.  Blumenthal bases his racism charge on O’Keefe’s alleged disdain for affirmative action, his efforts to expose ACORN and his attendance at an event that featured a “white nationalist.”
The merits of these accusations have already been brilliantly challenged by Larry O’Connor and others, but to quickly provide summary thoughts: Opposition to affirmative action is not inherently racist.  In fact, the majority of Americans oppose affirmative action practices.  Furthermore, even if O’Keefe is a racist (which he’s not), the allegations against ACORN would still be pertinent; the organization is responsible for its behavior regardless of who or what O’Keefe is said to be.  Finally, the “white nationalist” event was essentially a panel discussion on a college campus.  Thousands of universities hold events with controversial speakers and wingnuts (many of these fringe individuals are, themselves, college professors); mere attendance means nothing in itself.
What’s ironic is that those waging extremist charges against O’Keefe are the same individuals who had no problem with Barack Obama’s working relationship with former domestic-terrorist Bill Ayers.  And let’s not forget Obama’s commiserating with Rev. Wright, a radical former pastor who has publicly stated his belief that the U.S. government created AIDS in an effort to murder African Americans.  One would hardly call Ayers’ students (ironically, he’s a professor) unrepentant terrorists merely for showing up to class, nor would one unequivocally compare an attendee’s beliefs to that of the event speaker.  Blumenthal’s weak corroborative evidence is rooted in quicksand.
The logic behind this frequently-used bully tactic is actually quite easy to follow.  When the left starts flinging charges of racism when race plays no legitimate factor in a given situation, it generally means the individual on the receiving end has pinched an ideological nerve.  Rather than debating issues on their merits, “claiming racism” is a strategy through which leftists may turn attention away from viable debate.  This cycle has been standard for decades.
As liberals like Blumenthal continue to exploit race, their hypocrisy is deafening.  The Democrats’ past and current historical constructs expose a party that is more than guilty of the racial charges it so regularly wages.  Consider just a few of the comments, both past and present, that have come from the left:
When speaking about Obama as a potential presidential candidate, Sen. Harry Reid called him:
…a ‘light skinned’ African-American ‘with no Negro dialect,’ unless he wanted to have one.
And who can forget Joe Biden’s eloquent pre-campaign analysis of Obama: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
And then there’s Al Gore’s former campaign manager, Donna Brazile.  According to Brazile:
Republicans bring out Colin Powell and J.C. Watts because they have no program, no policy. They have no love and no joy. They’d rather take pictures with black children than feed them.
Last, but not least, was Lyndon B. Johnson’s alleged statement: “I’ll have those [insert “n-word”] voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”
And these are only a few examples.  When it comes to “claiming racism,” the left needs to stop playing the dangerous game of “kettle or pot.”  History undoubtedly shows the Republican Party’s staunch support for civil rights and the Democratic Party’s startling disregard for these same egalitarian tenets.  After all, it was the GOP’s own Abraham Lincoln who freed the slaves and began the painful process of social reconstruction.  This history is essential to understanding how racial charges based on party affiliation are inaccurate, especially considering the Democratic Party’s dark civil rights history.
Democratic Party And KKK
Take, for instance, the 1860 Republican Party platform, which made significant statements against the spread of slavery.  The following was written in the declaration:
That the normal condition of all the territory of the United States is that of freedom; That as our Republican fathers, when they had abolished Slavery in all our national territory, ordained that “no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” it becomes our duty, by legislation, whenever such legislation is necessary, to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it; and we deny the authority of Congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to Slavery in any Territory of the United States.
Additionally, the platform had the following to say about the African Slave Trade:
…the recent re-opening of the African slave-trade, under the cover of our national flag, aided by perversions of judicial power, as a crime against humanity and a burning shame to our country and age; and we call upon Congress to take prompt and efficient measures for the total and final suppression of that execrable traffic.
These same sentiments are reflected, with stronger emphasis, in the Republicans’ 1984 platform, with the Democrats managing to ignore the words “slave” and “slavery” altogether (their 1860 party platform made no declarative statement to protect the slaves).  Furthermore, it was the Republicans who introduced and ensured passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875.  Perhaps Bruce Bartlett said it best when he wrote the following:
[The Democrats] were openly and explicitly for slavery before the Civil War, supported lynching and “Jim Crow” laws after the war, and regularly defended segregation and white supremacy throughout most of the 20th century.
Undoubtedly, any and all political parties can have racist adherents, as racism crosses cultural and ideological boundaries.  That in mind, both recent and historical events should, at the least, cause liberals to think twice before making hypocritical claims.  Furthermore, Blumenthal and his minions would do well to build arguments based on fact and ideological flow, rather than resorting to base and inflammatory accusations.  Utilizing race as a tool to disarm the opposing party’s micro-arguments is a weak-minded and dangerous strategy.
In terms of contemporary analysis, this piece in no way attempts to support the notion that racism no longer exists; that’s just silly.  American society, both past and present, has been gravely stained by horrific acts of hate and racially-motivated suppression.  That said, the left’s shameful tactics constitute an assault on civility, racial unity and the practice of practical discussion and debate. Shameful, inappropriate and counterproductive.

Big Journalism

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fact-checking Obamacare Summit

We should be thankful for yesterday’s 7-hour health care summit – it was helpful in that it allowed Americans to hear the fundamental differences in approaches to meeting health care challenges. On one side, commonsense conservatives laid out fiscally-sound, free market-based, patient-centered solutions; and on the left’s side we heard about the Democrat’s belief that growing government is the only way to meet challenges.

As the saying goes, “Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not his own facts.” When these “facts” concern one-sixth of our economy and something as important to our personal wellbeing as health care, we’d better make sure they are the real deal.

Please take a look at the compilation below from correcting the top five falsehoods from yesterday’s summit. I appreciate their research and revelations compiled here.

- Sarah Palin


If Democrats Would Start Listening To The American People, They’d Stop Telling Falsehoods


Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) Claims “No One Has Talked About Reconciliation.” “No one has said -- I read what the President has online -- no one has talked about reconciliation but that's what you folks have talked about ever since that came out, as if it's something that has never been done before.” (“Transcript: White House Health Summit, Morning Session,” Kaiser Health News, 2/25/10)

But Reid Himself Is Talking About Reconciliation. “Harry Reid’s got a gift for hyperbole – and it keeps on giving. The Senate majority leader’s latest gem came in response to hints that Democrats might try to use the fast-track budget ‘reconciliation’ to bypass a Republican filibuster of President Obama’s health care plan. After advising Republicans on Tuesday to ‘stop crying over reconciliation as if it’s never been done before,’ he ticked off a list of legislative feats he contends were accomplished through the filibuster-busting process: ‘Contract [with] America was done with reconciliation. Tax cuts, done with reconciliation. Medicare, done with reconciliation.’” (Jonathan Allen, “Hyperbolic Harry,” Politico’s “Live Pulse” Blog, 2/24/10)

“For Some Bizarre Reason, During His Initial Presentation, Sen. Reid Said That ‘No One Has Talked About Reconciliation,’ … But That's Obviously Not True. Everybody's Talking About It. And A Lot Of Dems Would Be Pretty Upset If They Weren't Talking About It.” (Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo’s “Editors Blog” Blog, 2/25/10)

  • “A Number Of Democratic Senators Have Signed A Letter Urging Reid To Use Reconciliation To Pass The Public Option.” (Eric Zimmermann, “Reid: 'No One Has Talked About Reconciliation,’” The Hill’s “Briefing Room” Blog, 2/25/10)

Obama Health Reform Advisor Says The Door Is Open For Reconciliation. “Linda Douglass, the communications director of the White House Office of Health Reform, left reconciliation on the table as an option for passing a health care bill if Democrats and Republicans don't reach consensus during Thursday's summit. … ‘Certainly if that were not to be the case, he would be asking for a simple up or down majority vote and would certainly hope that the Republicans would not try to block that simple up or down majority vote.’” (Carol Lee & Patrick O’Connor, “Douglass Open To Reconciliation,” Politico’s “44” Blog, 2/25/10)


Obama Claims Americans Don’t Care About Reconciliation. “You know, this issue of reconciliation has been brought up. Again I think the American people aren't always all that interested in procedures inside the Senate. I do think they want a vote on how we’re going to move this forward.” (President Obama, Health Care Summit, Washington, DC, 2/25/10)

But 52% Of Americans Don’t Want The Democrats To Use Reconciliation To Pass Their Government-Run Health Care Experiment. “In the survey, Americans by 52%-39% oppose Senate Democrats using the procedure, which allows a bill to pass with a 51-vote majority rather than the 60 votes needed to end debate.” (Susan Page, “Poll: Expectations Low On Health Summit,” USA Today, 2/25/10)


President Obama Claimed CBO Determined His Plan Would Lower Premiums. PRESIDENT OBAMA: “It's not factually accurate. Here's what the Congressional Budget Office says. The costs for families for the same type of coverage that they're currently receiving would go down 14 percent to 20 percent.” SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): “The Congressional Budget Office report says that premiums will rise in the individual market as a result of the Senate bill.” PRESIDENT OBAMA: “No, no, no, no. Let me -- and this is an example of where we've got to get our facts straight.” ALEXANDER: “That's my point.” OBAMA: “Well, exactly, so let me -- let me respond to what you just said, Lamar, because it's not factually accurate. Here's what the Congressional Budget Office says. The costs for families for the same type of coverage that they're currently receiving would go down 14 percent to 20 percent.” (President Obama, Health Care Summit, Washington, DC, 2/25/10)

But Actually, CBO Determined The Bill Would Raise Premiums For Americans Purchasing Insurance Individually. “CBO and JCT estimate that the average premium per person covered (including dependents) for new nongroup policies would be about 10 percent to 13 percent higher in 2016 than the average premium for nongroup coverage in that same year under current law.” (Douglas W. Elmendorf, Letter To Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), 11/30/09)


Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “[I]naction And Incrementalism Are Simply Unacceptable.” (Mike Allen, “Will Dr. Obama Go For Plan B-1, Or Plan B-2? -- Dems' Post-Summit Message: POTUS Was 'Thoughtful, Comprehensive,' Rs 'Insulted The Summit' -- New NYT Expose May Finish Gov. Paterson,” Politico’s “Playbook,” 2/25/10)

But 56.4 Percent Of Americans Prefer An Incremental Approach. “Moreover, 56.4 percent of people indicated they would prefer Congress to tackle healthcare reform on a step-by-step basis, not take the comprehensive approach as embodied in the legislation that passed the House and Senate last year but has stalled for the past month.” (Jeffrey Young, “Poll: Most Americans Think Congress Should Start Over On Healthcare,” The Hill’s “Briefing Room” Blog, 2/16/10)


Pelosi Said Abortion Wouldn’t Be Funded Under The Plan. “The law of the land is there is no public funding of abortion and there is no public funding of abortion in these bills and I don't want our listeners or viewers to get the wrong impression from what you said.” (Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Health Care Summit, Washington, DC, 2/25/10)

But The Bill Allows Federally Funded Abortions. “Under the new abortion provisions, states can opt out of allowing plans to cover abortion in the insurance exchanges the bill would set up. The exchanges are designed to serve individuals who lack coverage through their jobs, with most receiving federal subsidies to buy insurance. Enrollees in plans that cover abortion procedures would pay with separate checks -- one for abortion, one for any other health-care services.” (Paul Kane, “To Sway Nelson, A Hard-Won Compromise On Abortion Issue,” The Washington Post, 12/20/10)

Pro-Life Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) Calls Obama’s Abortion Language “Unacceptable.” “Unfortunately, the president’s proposal encompasses the senate language allowing public funding of abortion. The senate language is a significant departure from current law and is unacceptable.” (Ben Smith,” Stupak: “Unacceptable,” Politico’s “Live Pulse” Blog, 2/23/10)

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) Says 15 To 20 House Dems Who Can’t Support Obama’s Proposal. “Rep. Bart Stupak, the Michigan Democrat who led efforts to tighten abortion language in the House health care bill, said Wednesday morning there are 15 to 20 House Democrats who cannot support President Barack Obama’s effort to bridge the gap between the House and Senate health plans. … He said well over a dozen House members will likely balk, not just on abortion but on the residual tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which he said the House had already rejected.” (“Stupak: 15-20 Dems Can’t Back Obama Health Plan,” The Wall Street Journal’s “Washington Wire” Blog, 2/24/10)

Sarah's Facebook Notes

While You Are Distracted by the Summit, Obama Democrats Are Targeting the CIA

Andy McCarthy
Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Obama Democrats have outdone themselves.

While the country and the Congress have their eyes on today’s dog-and-pony show on socialized medicine, House Democrats last night stashed a new provision in the intelligence bill which is to be voted on today.  It is an attack on the CIA: the enactment of a criminal statute that would ban “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” (See here, scoll to p. 32.)

The provision is impossibly vague — who knows what “degrading” means? Proponents will say that they have itemized conduct that would trigger the statute (I’ll get to that in a second), but it is not true. The proposal says the conduct reached by the statute “includes but is not limited to” the itemized conduct. (My italics.) That means any interrogation tactic that a prosecutor subjectively believes is “degrading” (e.g., subjecting a Muslim detainee to interrogation by a female CIA officer) could be the basis for indicting a CIA interrogator.

The act goes on to make it a crime to use tactics that have been shown to be effective in obtaining life saving information and that are far removed from torture.

“Waterboarding” is specified. In one sense, I’m glad they’ve done this because it proves a point I’ve been making all along. Waterboarding, as it was practiced by the CIA, is not torture and was never illegal under U.S. law.  The reason the Democrats are reduced to doing this is: what they’ve been saying is not true — waterboarding was not a crime and it was fully supported by congressional leaders of both parties, who were told about it while it was being done. On that score, it is interesting to note that while Democrats secretly tucked this provision into an important bill, hoping no one would notice until it was too late, they failed to include in the bill a proposed Republican amendment that would have required full and complete disclosure of records describing the briefings members of Congress received about the Bush CIA’s enhanced interrogation program. Those briefings, of course, would establish that Speaker Pelosi and others knew all about the program and lodged no objections. Naturally, members of Congress are not targeted by this criminal statute — only the CIA.

More to the point, this shows how politicized law-enforcement has become under the Obama Democrats. They could have criminalized waterboarding at any time since Jan. 20, 2009. But they waited until now. Why? Because if they had tried to do it before now, it would have been a tacit admission that waterboarding was not illegal when the Bush CIA was using it. That would have harmed the politicized witch-hunt against John Yoo and Jay Bybee, a key component of which was the assumption that waterboarding and the other tactics they authorizied were illegal. Only now, when that witch-hunt has collapsed, have the Democrats moved to criminalize these tactics. It is transparently partisan.

In any event, waterboarding is not defined in the bill. As Marc Thiessen has repeatedly demonstrated, there is a world of difference between the tactic as administered by the CIA and the types of water-torture methods that have been used throughout history. The waterboarding method used by the CIA involved neither severe pain nor prolonged mental harm. But it was highly unpleasant and led especially hard cases like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (i.e., well-trained, committed, America-hating terrorists) to give us information that saved American lives. The method was used sparingly — on only three individuals, and not in the last seven years. The American people broadly support the availability of this non-torture tactic in a dire emergency. Yet Democrats not only want to make it unavailable; they want to subject to 15 years’ imprisonment any interrogator who uses it.

What’s more, the proposed bill is directed at “any officer or employee of the intelligence community” conducting a “covered interrogation.” The definition of “covered interrogation” is sweeping — including any interrogation done outside the U.S., in the course of a person’s official duties on behalf of the government. Thus, if the CIA used waterboarding in training its officers or military officers outside the U.S., this would theoretically be indictable conduct under the statute.

Waterboarding is not all. The Democrats’ bill would prohibit — with a penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment — the following tactics, among others:

- “Exploiting the phobias of the individual”
- Stress positions and the threatened use of force to maintain stress positions
- “Depriving the individual of necessary food, water, sleep, or medical care”
- Forced nudity
- Using military working dogs (i.e., any use of them — not having them attack or menace the individual; just the mere presence of the dog if it might unnerve the detainee and, of course, “exploit his phobias”)
- Coercing the individual to blaspheme or violate his religious beliefs (I wonder if Democrats understand the breadth of seemingly innocuous matters that jihadists take to be violations of their religious beliefs)
- Exposure to “excessive” cold, heat or “cramped confinement” (excessive and cramped are not defined)
- “Prolonged isolation”
- “Placing hoods or sacks over the head of the individual”

Naturally, all of these tactics are interspersed with such acts as forcing the performance of sexual acts, beatings, electric shock, burns, inducing hypothermia or heat injury — as if all these acts were functionally equivalent.

In true Alinskyite fashion, Democrats begin this attack on the CIA by saluting “the courageous men and women who serve honorably as intelligence personnel and as members of our nation’s Armed Forces” who “deserve the full support of the United States Congress.” Then, Democrats self-servingly tell us that Congress “shows true support” by providing “clear legislation relating to standards for interrogation techniques.” I’m sure the intelligence community will be duly grateful.

Democrats also offer “findings” that the tactics they aim to prohibit cause terrorism by fueling recruitment (we are never supposed to discuss the Islamist ideology that actually causes terrorist recruitment, only the terrible things America does to provide pretexts for those spurred by that ideology). These “findings” repeat the canards that these tactics don’t work; that they place our captured forces in greater danger (the truth is our forces captured by terrorists will be abused and probably killed no matter what we do, while our enemies captured in a conventional war will be bound to adhere to their Geneva Convention commitments — and will have the incentive to do so because they will want us to do the same); and that “their use runs counter to our identity and values as a nation.”

Unmentioned by the Obama Democrats is that officers of the executive branch have a solemn moral duty to honor their commitment to protect the American people from attack by America’s enemies. If there are non-torture tactics that can get a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to give us information that saves American lives, how is the use of them inconsistent with our values?

Here is the fact: Democrats are saying they would prefer to see tens of thousands of Americans die than to see a KSM subjected to sleep-deprivation or to have his “phobias exploited.” I doubt that this reflects the values of most Americans.

Someone Needs to Tell the President His Health Care Plan is Dead

Posted February 26th, 2010 at 9:29am in Health Care

The day before yesterday’s White House health care summit, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) told reporters: “The only way this works is for the House to pass the Senate bill and then, depending on what the package is, the reconciliation provision that moves first through the House and then comes here.” When Conrad was reminded that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has repeatedly insisted that the House will not pass the Senate bill until the Senate passes a second bill that fixes the first, Conrad replied: “Fine, then it’s dead.”
This was the dynamic that President Barack Obama was trying to alter with his eventually-seven-hour meeting. And judging by pretty much every major news outlet, he completely failed. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), who is one of the 39 House Democrats that the White House needs to switch from a “no” the first time around to a “yes” this time, told The New York Times: “I don’t see very many at all who voted no who are going to switch their votes unless there are substantial changes in the bill.”
And that reality is already spreading throughout Capitol Hill. Politico reports that while Democrats were hoping to pass Obamacare by Easter, “there were signs Thursday night that the schedule was slipping. One Democratic lawmaker involved in the negotiations, who asked not to be identified to speak candidly of the process, said the party would not, in fact, start down the path of reconciliation next week.”
That is some rare great news for the American people. As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) ably explained yesterday, Americans do not want Washington dictating their health care decisions to them, and that is exactly what Obamacare would do:
The difference is this: We don’t think all the answers lie in Washington regulating all of this. … if the National Restaurant Association or the National Federation of Independent Business, on behalf of their members, wants to set up an association health plan, we think they’ll probably do a good job on behalf of their members. Let them decide to do that instead of restricting insurance competition by federalizing the regulation of insurance, and by mandating exactly how it will work, you make it more expensive and you reduce the competition among insurers for people’s business. We want to decentralize the system, give more power to small businesses, more power to individuals, and make insurers compete more. But if you federalize it and standardize it and mandate it, you do not achieve that. And that’s the big difference we have.
President Obama bristled at this analysis, responding: “Can I just say that, at this point, any time that a question is phrased as, “Does Washington know better,” I think we’re kind of tipping the scales a little bit there since we all know that everybody is angry at Washington right now.”
The President seems to understand that the American people do not want bureaucrats in Washington controlling their health care decisions, but then he seems completely oblivious to the fact that increasing bureaucratic control at the expense of every American’s ability to make their own choices is exactly what his plan does.
The American people know this. That is why support for the President’s health care plan has been steadily declining. That is why the most recent CBS News/New York Times Poll shows 53% of Americans say the United States cannot afford to fix health care at this time. It is why 52% of Americans tell Gallup they do not want to see Obamacare pass with only 50 Senators in support (Vice President Joe Biden casting the 51st vote). That is why 59% of registered voters tell Fox News they want the President to start over.
And he should. If the President truly wants to enact historic bipartisan and lasting health care reform, he needs to admit this version of Obamacare is dead. In 2011, when there is likely to be a more centrist Congress in place, then Obama should come back and start again.


Corralling Crime on Horseback

February 26, 2010 - 9:09 AM | by: Adam Housley

Illuminated by the faint light of a golden moon, saguaro cactus, multi-stemmed ocotillo and sagebrush whizz past. Donkey has decided to make a run and agents on the back of three other horses bolt across the Sonoran Desert just ahead. We had only been in the Border Patrol truck for about 15 minutes, horses and trailer in tow, when the call came. Seven men seen through night vision goggles hiking across the remote desert, huge packs of drugs on their backs, now agents ride full speed dodging stuff. Half the time you can't even make it all out.
Brian Reed, Travis Johnson and Juan Claudio form the team that I have tagged along with on this night. All told, there are 14 agents on the Ajo horse team and these three have handed me the reins of a horse known as 'Donkey.' Captured from smugglers several years back, the ten year-old gelding gets complimented as the "Cadillac of the herd" and I quickly understand why while trying to feel the difference between his trot and gallop. His gait can only be described as smooth and from the outset I realize this horse likes to lead.
I have ridden before and have a paint horse of my own, but other than riding 150 years ago with a gang of outlaws, nothing can really prepare someone for what lies ahead. Even so, before the sun went down agents put me through a test to ensure I wouldn't put them, or me, in a dangerous situation. I pass, likely more due to horse than the rider.
Back to the action…simply put, Donkey gets up and goes. He easily races through the organ pipe and sage to keep up with the others, only slowing to traverse through washes and other barely seen marks in the desert. I am following the team leader Brian, at this point, doing my best to stay out of the way. Travis and Juan have taken off in a different direction and the thundering of hooves of their horses galloping along can be heard off to my right-hand side.
As Donkey picks up considerable speed, I pull back on the reigns. Verbal queues are avoided since it might tip off the smugglers easier than just hearing the echo of horseshoes on the desert floor. Minutes later, about 30 yards away, I hear Juan yelling in Spanish for someone to get down on the ground and I rein Donkey in that direction and we again begin the race across the desert. I am here to document, so out of my jacket I grab my flashlight and camera, Juan and his horse are now just feet away. One smuggler staggering from a fall stumbles into my horse and then follows directions in Spanish and lies face first on the desert. Other yelling can now be heard, so I switch my light from hard-to-see red to white, which better lights up the darkened and arid scenery. Two more men being led by agents on horses, each carrying massive sacks of dope. They too join the line-up, laying flat on the ground as the dope gets piled nearby.
Travis then heads out to scout a bit in the area, while Juan and Brian control the scene. Other agents from the Ajo station arrive in SUVs on a rugged dirt road about 150 yards away and with them our photographer Scott King and producer Ron Ralston. They jog across the landscape and once on site, their lights also help show quite a haul. More than 350 pounds of marijuana with a street value of roughly $250,000…and the night has only just begun.
“We can get there quicker…the horses can see in the dark, so we can ride up within feet. The aliens think it is just another horse walking around in the desert,” says Brian. Juan tells me when drug smugglers are involved there's always the likelihood of more danger because many are armed as the mostly fight each other and other cartels trying to control the operations. I am told by both men drug busts numbers have skyrocketed in this remote wildland in the last year.
The men dismount and then use the horses to pack the drugs over to the road. The three suspects are led in front, a few others would be captured later by another group of border agents.
Once back to the roadway and the drugs and smugglers loaded into the back of the trucks, the team mounts up and heads back to the trailer for yet more calls. Forty illegals seen through night vision and radar walking about 15 miles away. Then another group of 50 heading toward the hills and a group of fifteen about 30 miles south. The hunt to protect our borders consumes every second as there is an obvious mix of new and old, horses and technology.
On horseback, ATV, SUV, foot and even in helicopters, the desert comes alive at night. As Ajo Field Ops Supervisor Cesar Acosta tells me, they do their best to be less intrusive to such a beautiful landscape and that's yet another reason why the horses are so valuable. Technology can point out trouble and horses with riders can get there safest and cleanest. He says, “In mixing the new technology, which is the mobile systems (the MSS) and the horse patrol, makes a faster or quicker means for us to apprehend or interdict a group of illegals crossing the border or drugs crossing the border.”
Once loaded back into the trailer, the team races again down crusty, rugged roads heading towards the group of 40. Another horse team has gotten there first and has the group seated in two lines when we ride up. Clearly these immigrants are looking for work, as drug bundles are nowhere to be seen. One tells us he had work already set up for him at a winery in Napa Valley. Another tells me he is from the state of Michoacan and apologizes for being caught. I am told 30-40 percent of those caught like this end up having criminal records of some sort once fingerprints are run, but one in the group catches my eye.
He sits behind his father, or so it seems. He can't be any older than 8 or 9 and from my perch aboard Donkey, he looks even smaller. In 8 years of covering this border for Fox News, this always gets me. I have seen kids captured before and in years past watched on the Mexican side as they bought water and prepared to cross with their families. Your heart sinks for what they have been through and seen already at such a young age. The men tell me they have walked nearly 30 miles through this harsh desert over the course of the last couple of days and this boy has been with them.
It is still many hours before light will peak above the mountains in the eastern sky, yet both of these horse teams are done in the field. They have hours of reports and processing of drugs and people ahead. Donkey and I ride just off to the side and watch as the people are walked towards the highway and a number of SUV's now parked alongside. Once everyone gets loaded, I take out his bridle and load him into the trailer with the others.
The horses in so many ways provide the advantage here in this western outpost as they have been for generations. They see better at night, move swifter and quieter through the desert than any other vehicle and as Brian tells me, “When the illegals see a horse they say aah I am not going to run. With an ATV out in the dark, they can hear the ATV coming they can start scattering before the group even gets there. With a horse we can get right up on them, they see the horse, they relate it’s a horse and it’s an animal and he’s just doing his job and they don’t want to hurt the horse, so it makes everything a lot easier.”
But nothing is truly easy in this neck of the woods…for everyone and everything involved.
Photo Gallery
Agents Bring in the Drugs taken by Agent Eric Cantu
Image 1 of 9

Why Obama defies the public on health care

 By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent 
February 26, 2010
"There have been a lot of comments from every Republican about the polls," President Obama said near the end of the mind-numbing White House summit on health care reform. "What's interesting is when you poll people about the individual elements in each of these bills, they're all for them."
What Obama was addressing was a dilemma that drives Democrats crazy. Polls show the public supports some parts of the Democratic national health care reform plan, but adamantly opposes the comprehensive bill now dying a slow death on Capitol Hill.
Just look at the latest survey from CNN and Opinion Research. When asked if they support "preventing health insurance companies from dropping coverage for people who become seriously ill," 62 percent say yes. When asked whether they support "requiring all large and midsized businesses to provide health insurance for their employees," 72 percent say yes. And when asked if they support "preventing health insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions," 58 percent say yes.
On the other hand, asked what Congress should do on health care -- pass the current bill, start work on an entirely new bill, or stop working on the issue altogether -- a huge majority opposes the Democratic proposal now on the table. Just 25 percent of those surveyed want to see the bill passed. Forty-eight percent want Congress to start over, and 25 percent want lawmakers to stop working on health care altogether. Put those last two together, and an overwhelming majority of 73 percent do not want Congress to pass the current bill.
The White House is cherry-picking the news it likes; that's what Obama was doing when he said the public is "all for" elements of the bill. But bring up the polls showing people just don't want the current bill, and the administration gets a little dodgy.
"Who knows what is in those polls, how they were taken, when they were taken?" White House health care spokeswoman Linda Douglass told Fox News during a break in the summit.
But why do people support some elements of the bill while opposing the bill overall? Some Democrats blame Republican misinformation. Some believe it's because the bill isn't yet a reality, and people would love it, if it were only passed. Others say the public is just stupid.
Few Democrats can accept the possibility that voters are telling them their whole approach is wrong. Big, comprehensive legislative proposals just make people nervous.
"We don't do comprehensive well," Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said at the health summit. "We've watched the comprehensive, economywide, cap and trade. We've watched the comprehensive immigration bill ... we've watched the comprehensive health care bill. And they fall of their own weight."
That's what's happening now. And it's something Democrats would know, if they had listened to one of their leading pollsters.
Back during the 2004 presidential race, there was a debate going on inside the John Kerry campaign. Should the Democratic candidate push bold, far-reaching proposals, or should he balance boldness with more modest initiatives?
Pollster Stanley Greenberg did some research. He found that, when considered individually, Kerry's most sweeping plans were more popular with voters than his more modest ones. "Voters are ready to respond to new ideas, particularly bold ones," Greenberg wrote.
To further test the idea, Greenberg put together a hypothetical Kerry agenda -- he called it "Bold Kerry" -- which included all of the candidate's bold ideas.
Voters balked. They were uneasy with the big agenda, even though they liked some elements of it. "While voters are clearly open to bold initiatives to major problems, they may be less attracted to the candidate who wants to act boldly in every area, without exception," Greenberg concluded. "All together, that may have suggested an expanding scope for government beyond what people felt they could trust."
And that is what is happening now with health care. Ever since Inauguration Day, the White House has acted on the assumption that, because voters elected Barack Obama, they want "Bold Obama." All the evidence suggests that is wrong.
At the end of the summit, Obama said that if he can't reach an agreement with Republicans -- and there's no chance if the existing bill stays on the table -- then "we've got to go ahead and make some decisions." That means jamming the bill through Congress against the public's wishes. And if there's still dispute, Obama said, "that's what elections are for."
He's right. This is an issue that won't be fully settled until November.

‘Health Care’ Summit/Photo Op Overnight Thread: So How’d He Do?

Posted by Frank Ross Feb 25th 2010 at 7:11 pm in Healthcare, Politics

You know you’ve just had a bad day when the apostle of Washington Conventional Wisdom, David “Teddy Kennedy’s seat” Gergen puts on his serious mien (does he have any other?) and pronounces upon the weighty matters of the day.

Yes, when Gergen speaks, people not only listen — they’ve already heard it all before!  In fact, it’s what everybody else is already thinking!  By the time it gets to Gergen’s lips, God long ago changed the channel to re-runs of Happy Days.
So what do you think?  How did POTUS do, sans TOTUS — commanding college professor (okay, “senior lecturer”) or tongue-tied, smirking, classless community organizer?  Mr. Smile and a Shoeshine, or an anxious, cantankerous former wonder boy/palooka who can’t figure out why this particular fight wasn’t properly fixed by David “Jake Lingle” Axelrod, like all his others? A strike, or a gutter ball?
And what about the Republicans?  Spineless, craven cowards or forceful members of the loyal opposition?  Are Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor rising stars in the conservative movement or just more soon-to-be-coopted Rotary Club members-in-waiting?
And has this guy been right all along?
Let’s have your thoughts.

Big Journalism

Palin v. Obama: ‘Real’ American v. the ‘Citizen of the World’

Kyle-Anne ShiverPosted by Kyle-Anne Shiver Feb 26th 2010 at 10:18 am in Featured Story, Obama, Sarah Palin 
 Perhaps never before in American history have two individuals so captured the hearts, minds and imaginations of such a wide proportion of the citizenry as have Sarah Palin and Barack Obama.  Both are charismatic, charming in their own ways, in dramatic, stand-above-the-crowd fashion.  Both have written best-selling autobiographies, which have mesmerized large swaths of the American public.
There, however, the similarities end.
One has been adored by the leftist-activist media brigade, which gleefully tossed away its fabled “objectivity” in order to get the candidate with whom it was both in love and in sync elected.  The other has been veritably loathed by the same Ivy League-centric mandarin class which long ago forsook its working-class roots and is now actively ashamed of them.
One represents academic elitism.  The other comes from a standard state university background.
One uses a teleprompter for nearly every spoken word, often flailing, repeating sentences due to electronic glitches and mispronouncing even those words that seem simple to the average American:
The other uses a few broad-topic scribbles on her hand for prompts.
One is the darling of Hollywood; the other is the butt of crass celebrity jokes.
Pundits see this pair in purely political dimension of left vs. right.
What we have here, however, is far, far more fundamental than a left vs. right spectacle, performed by two adroit representatives.
It’s far more meaty than the little tit for tats among the leftist literati and their adversaries, the conservative commoners.
No, what we have here are two philosophies fighting to the death for the soul of America, each represented by one phenomenal public figure.
Barack Obama, in keeping with international socialists throughout the last century, has proclaimed himself loudly-and-clearly a “citizen of the world.”  He conducted his entire campaign as a lecture to greedy, over-consuming Americans on the necessity of propping up the lagging third world and the inherent goodness of his redistributive plans for government.
That this message was apparently lost by mainstream American voters in the haze of media sycophancy, is a sad commentary on both our presumed independent press and the attention span of voters.  Nevertheless, Barack Obama’s message was clear to sentient observers from the start of his campaign.
Whether he was explaining the necessity for putting the coal business out of business for the good of global climate goals or telling people they couldn’t just drive their SUVs anywhere they wanted to go and expect the people in the rest of the world to just go along, he made his message clear.
We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen.
To Obama, America is the problem to the world, not the solution.  He hammered away consistently at his intention to divvy up the American “pie” in international-socialist fashion, even while disingenuously peppering his talk with Reaganite calls for lowering taxes on the middle-class.
Even if folks missed some of his intentions, it should have been clear to all but the proverbial ostriches among us that Obama was declaring himself a citizen of the world when he actually made his “citizen-of-the-world” speech in Berlin.  Thronged by ogling, drooling, chanting Europeans on a celebrity campaign tour, Obama took great pains to paint himself as post-American.
And his first year in the presidency has demonstrated beyond doubt that Barack Obama is indeed anything but an all-American president.  From his obsequious bowing, his kumbayah-to-the-world speech at the UN and his magnanimous granting of American civil rights to foreign terrorists, he has demonstrated again and again that America is nothing to him but a member state of the morally superior global community.
Which brings us to Sarah Palin, his arch-foe in the public psyche.
No, Mrs. Palin holds no public office.  She wields no genuine power in terms of armies or bureaucracies.  She is merely a private citizen.
But Sarah Palin has arisen from the ashes of electoral defeat as the embodiment of archetypal American values, beliefs, hopes and dreams.
At present, with a “post-American” president at the helm, Sarah Palin carries the torch of liberty and American exceptionalism in the palm of her lovely hand.  She is the surviving embodiment of the spirit of 1776 and the Reagan reformation.
She is at once the American phoenix and the shining city on the hill, captured in the imaginations of a people still yearning to be free and determined to strive for greatness, even if the rest of the world prefers to drown in mediocrity, corruption and defeatist socialist uniformity.
While it is easy to see Barack Obama and Sarah Palin as nothing but political adversaries in a nation grown weary with partisanship, that explanation defies the reality we see exhibited in the passions of their respective followers.
Whichever side one is on, the stakes are clear.  Nothing less than the soul of America is on the line.
Will we give up forever on the American dream and become nothing more than footnotes in the annals of failed international socialism?
Leipzig, Germany
Or will we see an American reformation that reestablishes individual liberty and ingenuity as moral imperatives worth fighting for and preserving for our progeny?
The stakes could not be higher.  And the archetypes, Palin and Obama, could not be clearer.
These two torch-bearers define an era in which fence-sitting is beyond the bounds of reason.
Two opposing world views are colliding.
And only one side can prevail.

Big Journalism

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Highlights: The best freak-show moments from the health-care freak show

posted at 5:02 pm on February 25, 2010 by Allahpundit

Did I miss anything here? We’ve got the Perpetual Campaigner reminding McCain that the campaign is over; The One declaring his entitlement to extra speaking time based on the fact that he is, after all, The One; and Tom Harkin lamenting the malevolent Jim Crow dynamic involved in charging higher premiums to people who incur greater health costs. Thanks to the Breitbart folks and our pal Greg Hengler for the vids.
I watched five minutes this morning and thought it would backfire on both parties. Everyone knew it was theater (well, 77 percent), everyone knew nothing would come of it, yet the premise seemed to be that the public might be gullible enough to believe they were negotiating in earnest. “We think you’re stupid” is rarely a winning slogan, least of all in this political climate. I actually laughed out loud when Politico put out that story announcing the Dems’ plan to go it alone on Obama’s bill when there were still, oh, around four hours or so left in the Summit That Saved America. But after watching a bit longer, I came around to Jay Nordlinger’s view:
This health-care summit was a bad idea for the Democrats for this reason: They have long benefited from a perception — a perception greatly abetted by the media: The Republicans don’t care about health care, they don’t know about health care, they are the Party of No. All the ideas and caring are on the Democratic side.
It is not so, and it has never been so. And now everybody knows it.
Yeah. The flaw in the Democrats’ bipartisan kabuki is that they’ve invested so much time in painting the GOP as brainless and feckless that the media — and public — almost can’t help but be pleasantly surprised. Yuval Levin’s also right that it’s not to Zeus’s advantage to descend from Mt. Olympus, because the lesser gods that surround him on his side of the aisle are … what’s the word? Ah yes — unappealing losers.
Third, an important part of the Democrats’ problem is that Obama himself is their only star, and this format is not working for him. He certainly seems engaged and well informed (even given a few misstatements of fact, at least one of which John Kyl made very clear.) But he doesn’t seem like the President of the United States—more like a slightly cranky committee chairman or a patronizing professor who thinks that saying something is “a legitimate argument” is a way to avoid having an argument. He is diminished by the circumstances, he’s cranky and prickly when challenged, and he’s got no one to help him. The other Democrats around the table have been worse than unimpressive. The Republicans seem genuinely well-prepared, seem to have thought through the question of who should speak about what rather carefully, and several of them have done quite a good job making their case against the Democrats’ approach. If we were to judge by debating points, Republicans certainly won the morning handily.
For once, I think Slow Joe got it right: “This could end up being not good.” A few moments for your amusement here of how not good it was.

Hot Air

Paul Ryan slams the Health Care Bill – Obama has no answer

Posted by therightscoop in Politics on Feb 25th, 2010
Paul Ryan artfully and expertly exposes all of the gimmicks in the Democratic health care bill and how does the President respond? Well, he doesn’t really want to get bogged down in numbers.

Yeah he’s got nothin’.

The Right Scoop

Why Dems' Health Care Bill is Stalled

By George Will
WASHINGTON -- Today's health policy "summit" comes at a moment when, as happens with metronomic regularity, Washington is reverberating with lamentations about government being "broken." Such talk occurs only when the left's agenda is stalled. Do you remember mournful editorials and somber seminars about "dysfunctional" government when liberals defeated George W. Bush's Social Security reforms?
The summit's predictable failure will be a pretext for trying to ram health legislation through the Senate by misusing "reconciliation," which prevents filibusters. If the Senate parliamentarian rules, as he should, that most of the legislation is ineligible for enactment under reconciliation, the vice president, as Senate president, can overrule the parliamentarian. This has not happened since 1975, but liberals say desperate times require desperate measures.
Today's desperation? Democracy's majoritarian ethic is, liberals say, being violated by the filibuster that prevents their enacting health legislation opposed by an American majority.
Some liberals argue that the Constitution is unconstitutional, for two reasons, the first of which is a non sequitur: The Constitution empowers each chamber to "determine the rules of its proceedings." It requires five supermajorities (for ratifying treaties, endorsing constitutional amendments, overriding vetoes, expelling members and impeachment convictions). Therefore it does not permit requiring a sixth, to end filibusters.
The second reason filibusters are supposedly unconstitutional is that they exacerbate the Senate's flaw as "inherently unrepresentative." That is, the Founders -- who liberals evidently believe were dolts or knaves -- designed it to represent states rather than, as the House does, population.
Liberals fret: 41 senators from the 21 smallest states, with barely 10 percent of the population, could block a bill. But Matthew Franck of Radford University counters that if cloture were blocked by 41 senators from the 21 largest states, the 41 would represent 77.4 percent of the nation's population. Anyway, senators are never so tidily sorted, so consider today's health impasse: The 59 Democratic senators come from 36 states containing 74.9 percent of the population, while the 41 Republicans come from 27 states -- a majority -- containing 48.7 percent. (Thirteen states have senators from each party.)
Since there have been 50 states, Republicans have never had 60 senators. There were 60 or more Democratic senators after seven elections -- 1960 (64), 1962 (66), 1964 (68), 1966 (64), 1974 (61), 1976 (62) and 2008 (60, following Arlen Specter's discovery that he is a Democrat, and the protracted Minnesota recount). But both parties have been situational ethicists regarding filibusters.
In 2005, many Republicans, frustrated by Democrats blocking confirmation votes, wanted to ban filibusters of judicial nominees. They said such filibusters unconstitutionally prevent the president from doing his constitutional duty of staffing the judiciary. But this is not just the president's duty; the Senate has the constitutional role of consenting -- or not -- to nominations.
"Great innovations," said Jefferson, "should not be forced on slender majorities." Hence Barack Obama recently embraced a supermajority mechanism: The 18-member commission he created to recommend measures to reduce the deficit requires that any recommendation be endorsed by 14 members.
Filibusters are devices for registering intensity rather than mere numbers -- government by adding machine. Besides, has a filibuster ever prevented eventual enactment of anything significant that an American majority has desired, strongly and protractedly?
Liberals say filibusters confuse and frustrate the public. The public does indeed mistakenly believe government is designed to act quickly in compliance with presidential wishes. But most ideas incubated in the political cauldron of grasping factions are deplorable. Therefore, serving the public involves -- mostly involves -- saying "No." The Bill of Rights, like traditional conservatism, effectively pronounces the lovely word "no" regarding many possible government undertakings -- establishment of religion, unreasonable searches and seizures, etc.
The fiction that government is "paralyzed" by partisanship is regularly refuted. Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Bush reached across party lines in 1986, 1996 and 2001 to pass tax reform, welfare reform and No Child Left Behind, respectively. The $700 billion TARP legislation and the $862 billion stimulus were enacted with injudicious speed.
Liberals are deeply disappointed with the public, which fails to fathom the excellence of their agenda. But their real complaint is with the government's structure. And with the nature of the politics this structure presupposes in a continental nation wary of government and replete with rival factions. Liberals have met their enemy and he is the diminutive "father of the Constitution," of whom it was said that never had there been such a high ratio of mind to mass: James Madison.
Real Clear Politics