26 June 2009

3 Conservative, Market-Based Steps To Reform Health Care

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Garry Kasparov: 'Citizens Who Once Chanted "Death To America" Now Call For The Blood Of Ayatollah Khamenei'

But what has been flagging so far has been leadership from the United States. Only in his second statement, a week into the crisis, did President Barack Obama underscore the importance of nonviolence, though he still declined to support the Iranian protestors. I understand the reluctance to provide Iranian leaders with the opportunity to smear the protestors as American stooges. But can the leader of the Free World find nothing more intimidating than bearing witness when it is clear that the regime doesn't care who is watching?

Sen. Richard Lugar (R., Ind.) and Fareed Zakaria on CNN, among others, have defended Mr. Obama's extreme caution. Mr. Zakaria even compared the president's actions to how George H.W. Bush responded timidly to the impending collapse of the Soviet Union and its hold on Eastern Europe in 1989. Mr. Zakaria explained, "Those regimes could easily crack down on the protestors and the Soviet Union could send in tanks." True. But the Soviet Union used tanks to quash dissent when it could. Dictatorships use force when they can get away with it, not when a U.S. president makes a strong statement.

President Dwight Eisenhower might have learned that lesson in 1956 when he said nothing and the Soviets sent tanks into Budapest anyway. Likewise, in 1968 the Soviets cracked down in Czechoslovakia even though the West said little. Regardless of what Mr. Obama says, the Iranian leaders will use all the force at their disposal to stay in power.

There is no reason to withhold external pressure that can tip the balance inside Tehran. Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi is not an ideal democrat. But should he and his supporters win power they will owe their authority to an abruptly empowered Iranian electorate. It is reasonable to expect that the people will hold a Mousavi government accountable for delivering the freedoms that they are now risking their lives to attain.

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Milton Friedman Fridays - On The Environment &c.

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Karl Rove: 'From 1998 To 2002 Nearly Twice As Many New Drugs Were Launched In The U.S. As In Europe'

Nearly everyone agrees that some reforms are needed. But it is also vital to protect areas of excellence and innovation. Stanford University professor Scott Atlas points out that from 1998 to 2002 nearly twice as many new drugs were launched in the U.S. as in Europe. According the U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry Report, some 2,900 new drugs are now being researched here. America's five top hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals in any other developed country, according to Mr. Atlas. And a McKinsey Co. study reports that 40% of all medical travelers come to the United States for medical treatment.
These are some of the costs--the unanticipated consequences (diminished drug research)--associated with a single-payer system.

Where's the incentive to develop new drugs if there is no profit to be made? If government is going to pay for research & development of new drugs, well, how is it going to pay for it? And if government does pay for it, who decides which drugs to develop?

When healthcare is rationed, so is R&D for life-saving drugs. And when government controls the R&D decisions, then government picks the R&D "winners."

Who donated the most to a powerful Senator? Here comes your funding. What is the hated disease de jour? Here comes your funding.

Unlike the millions or billions made when government picks the winners (and bankruptcy for the losers) in a financial crisis, in this instance, the losers die.

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25 June 2009

Checking In With Dr. Ronen Bergman Part III

Ed West at the Telegraph (London) met with Dr. Bergman just before the start of the Iranian elections. In the course of his interview, he explored how the BBC was a propaganda tool of Ayatollah Khomeini back in 1979.

Yeah, I know, so what else is new?

When we met in a west London hotel not far from the notorious Iranian embassy, Bergman pointed out: “The BBC gave free hours of free broadcast to Khomeini from Paris. It is unbelievable. Every time there is a person who is fighting ‘royal’ forces, in the sense of their being autocratic, the BBC gives them a free hand and carte blanche, without trying to understand what their views are.
The European Left, he says, have always fallen for any group that is anti-monarchy without understanding their true ideology. The BBC did not realise Khomenei’s true nature, and nor did the socialists and Communists who sided with him.
No prizes for guessing, incidentally, what happened to Iranian Marxists.
The Left and the media (but I repeat myself) have had a long and sordid love affair with nasty elements around the world. I'm sure this example doesn't surprise anyone.

What it should become, however, is the large grain of salt you take when you see the western media sympathize with "freedom fighters" from around the world.

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Checking In With Dr. Ronen Bergman Part II

At the NYT blog, "Room for Debate," they asked several "Middle East experts" for their opinion on the happenings in Iran. Dr. Bergman was one of those they asked.
In Tehran the earth is shaking, but in the Arab world there has been no public official response to the post-elections riots. Bernard Lewis, the renowned orientalist, told me on Monday that this is because Arab governments are concerned about backing the wrong horse.

By contrast, debate is lively in the Arab media and on Arab-language Web sites. But there is one exception: the Palestinians seem almost indifferent to what is going on in Iran. This may seem surprising. After all, the Iranian regime is a major supporter of Palestinian hardliners, providing funding, training and weapons, particularly to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both of whom owe their ability to confront Israel to direct Iranian support. But surfing the major Palestinian Web sites at noon today (Tuesday, Tel Aviv time), reveals very little interest in what is happening in the streets of Tehran.

The most prominent Palestinian to have publicly expressed an opinion on the events is a former Israeli Knesset member, Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel and is wanted for questioning for allegedly spying for Hezbollah.

In an op-ed piece earlier this week in Al Jazeera, Bishara concluded that the events in Iran reflect the views of middle-class Iranians, not those of the majority of the population. And to the extent that Iran becomes more westernized, he stated, this process will result from an ideological clash within the regime itself.

Bishara did not say a word about how all of this might affect the Palestinians. Even when his piece was copied to Hamas’s most active forum, Paldf, it did not give rise to a discussion on what the impact on the Palestinians would be.

Perhaps this is because the Palestinians realize that what happens in Iran — short of a complete overhaul of the regime, which is highly unlikely — is not going to have an effect on the support they receive from the Revolutionary Guards and the Ministry of Intelligence. This is contrary to the view of much the Western media, which sees the events in Iran as a sign of an impending regime change.

The turmoil in Tehran, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, is a dispute between rival political factions; it does not concern them, and it does not interest them.

The Iranian governmental entities in charge of exporting the Islamic revolution will continue to do so under a reformist government just as they do now and just as they did in the past when the reformist Mohammad Khatami was in office. One way or another, the Iranian regime will keep stoking the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Click the link to read the rest as the rest of the experts hold forth on all things Iranian.

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Taxing Your Good Health

That is what will happen if Democrats get their way with single-payer health care--socialized medicine--in this country. And the President admitted as much in his infomercial last night:
As a candidate, then-Sen. Obama bashed his rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, for proposing that Americans be mandated to have health insurance.

"She'd have the government force you to buy health insurance," he said Feb. 23, 2008. "I disagree with that approach. I believe that the reason Americans don't have health care isn't because no one's forced them to buy it, it's because no one's made it affordable."

But now the president is acknowledging that his thinking on the issue has "evolved" and he could support a law mandating that individuals purchase health care coverage, with fines for those who do not.

Obama stressed that there must be some kind of waiver for those who are simply unable to afford it.

"People have made some pretty compelling arguments to me that if we want to have a system that drives down costs for everybody, then we've got to have healthier people not opt out of the system," the president told ABC News.
As he notes, in order for this system to work--to actually drive down costs--you have to include healthy people as well as the sick--everyone is forced into the plan. Many of these healthy people do not have health insurance or carry insurance with really high deductibles because they are healthy and do not need it.

In a single-payer system, the healthy would be forced into the same health plan as the sick--effectively taxing their good health and eliminating all other choices open to them. This is utilitarian leveling at its, well, level-best. In order to reach a more equal outcome for everyone, Obama and co. will tax your health and infringe on your liberty.

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Checking In With Dr. Ronen Bergman Part I

Not personally mind you, but via the web. What can I say? I trust Cambridge-trained historians to get the facts right more than I trust western journalists with an ax to grind.

The first thing I found, from The Jewish Week in NYC, was essentially a recapitulation of what I heard from Dr. Bergman and then put in my notes a couple weeks ago. This part, however, is new:
Q: What can you tell us about Mir Hossein Mousavi, the so-called pro-reform opposition candidate who spearheaded the protests over the election returns?
A: Mousavi was the Iranian connection to the Americans in the Iran-Contra affair, and American and Israeli intelligence said he was the most extreme person they had met. He reminds many of another so-called Iranian moderate, former President Mohammad Khatami. Khatami came in [in 1997] as a great hope and people said he would be the Gorbachev of Iran — that he was going to change Iran. But the big leap forward in the Iranian nuclear project was under Khatami. Khatami cherished suicide bombers in the [Palestinian] territories and twice he called for the destruction of Israel.
Q: If Mousavi became president, could he change anything?
A: No, because I don’t see Mousavi bringing about change. And the fact we see him as a more moderate element of the regime and see him as a reformer, does not mean he is a reformer. He does not call all the shots.
When I say that I support the revolution in Iran, it is with eyes wide open about the political realities of Mousavi's nuclear ambitions. I understand that he is similar to Ahmadinejad in this regard--or rather, that even if he weren't different, he's not the one calling the shots, it's the supreme leader. I get all that.

I support democracy in Iran because I believe that the more democratic Iran becomes, the less likely they are to both build a bomb and use it against their enemies--specifically Israel. I do not believe that the Obama administration's attempts at diplomacy have a snowball's chance of succeeding. What has happened in North Korea is a cautionary tale.

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24 June 2009

Democracy For Democracy's Sake: Obama & Iran

1. He didn't want to give credence to the likely Iranian claim that the protests were the work of American Imperialists & Zionists.

2. Ahmadinejad was going to win anyway and Obama didn't want to do anything to harm his future negotiating posture. And anyway, the other guy wants nukes too, so what's the difference?

Regarding the second point, regardless of Mousavi's similar nuke ambitions, democracy & democratic outcomes are inherently good. And they are particularly good when they push back against a totalitarian regime. A more democratic state is probably the only way Iran gives up its nuclear dream and quits funding world terror.

As unpersuasive (to me, anyway) as these arguments are, they are entirely refuted by the fact that Obama has done a complete about face and dropped a lot of critical rhetoric on the supreme leader, Ahmadinejad, and the rest. Oh, and the Iranian dips are no longer invited to Obama's July 4th weenie roast--or rather, they had the good sense to decline the Obama administration's invitation even if Obama didn't have the decency to rescind it.;

Apart from the fact that his silence last week was wildly unpopular, what about Iran has changed to cause Obama's rhetorical shift?

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Holman Jenkins: 'Our President Is An Object Of Craving Utterly Independent Of The Policies He Pursues'

Mr. Obama, therefore, has an unlikely degree of freedom to throw overboard his agenda and go for growth without fear of his public abandoning him.

From the start, he has seemed uniquely detached and noncommittal about his own policy positions, as if he was entertaining them only to see if they might be useful to him. Let's not underestimate this advantage over lesser politicians, who get trapped by their rhetoric. Let's also hope Mr. Obama takes advantage, becoming the "growth" president and saving the big initiatives for his second term. Otherwise, with the AIG disaster before him, he may be remembered as the president who nonetheless blundered into similar disasters trying to manage Citibank et al.
Don't bet on Obama becoming the "growth" president.

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21 June 2009

Dr. Ronen Bergman On How Israel Views Current Events In Iran

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19 June 2009

Milton Friedman Fridays - On 3rd Party Payment In Healthcare

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18 June 2009

What Market Reform To Health Care Could Look Like Vs. Obama's DMVification Of Healthcare

Two of my three favorite columnists at the WSJ Op-Ed page--Holman Jenkins & Daniel Henninger with Bret Stephens writing about Iran--wrote about healthcare this week and their columns were fantastic.

In his column, Jenkins "reflects," in 2070, about the effects of market reform on healthcare in the United States. This is what we could get, if only Eric Paul, Ryan Cantor, and Kemp Newtley were in charge rather than the Democrats.
And, lo, it proved true, as 100 million intelligent, well-educated employees of Corporate America were allowed to see for the first time what "tax free" health insurance was really costing them. They saw how it distorted their behavior and caused them to allocate far more of their incomes to the medical-industrial complex than they would have chosen for themselves.

Eyes newly opened, they demanded cheaper insurance options, covering fewer services (cancer wigs, family counseling, in-vitro fertilization), and opted for plans with higher deductibles and co-pays in return for much lower monthly rates.

Because consumers were now spending their "own" money on health care, doctors and hospitals found it necessary to publish and even advertise their prices. A hospital that specialized in heart surgery, performing thousands of procedures a year, found it had both the highest quality and lowest cost -- and now marketed itself as such. Ditto specialists in cancer, diabetes and other conditions.

For the first time, Americans spent less and got more. Spending fell overnight by 13%, which happened to be exactly what economists had predicted if the price tags were restored to health care and consumers were allowed to see clearly what they were getting (or not getting) for their money. As predicted, too, spending thereafter rose only in line with incomes.

What's more, many fewer people remained voluntarily uninsured now that health insurance was no longer a gold-plated extravagance affordable only by those in the top brackets who could slough off 40% of the cost on other taxpayers. Existing programs for the needy, in turn, could be downsized and revamped into voucher programs. The federal budget benefited twice over -- from fewer claimants and from medical care that was less costly. Fiscal wreck was avoided.
Bookending this imagined optimism, Henninger reminds us that government always over-promises and under-delivers. He uses the "fearmongering scare tactics" of reviewing the history of Medicaid. The faint of heart would do well to ignore historic reality and read the fawning reviews of the President's healthcare plan written by his fellow travelers in the MSM. Henninger just might persuade them that Obama isn't right all the time.
Whatever Medicaid's merits, this federal health-care program more than any other factor has put California and New York on the brink of fiscal catastrophe. I'd even call it scary.

Spending on health and welfare, largely under Medicaid, makes up one-third of California's budget of some $100 billion. In New York Gov. David Paterson's budget message, he notes that "New York spends more per capital ($2,283) on Medicaid than any other state in the country."

After 45 years, the health-care reform called Medicaid has crushed state budgets. A study by the National Governors Association said a decade ago that because of "new requirements" imposed by federal law -- meaning Congress -- "Medicaid has evolved into a program whose size, cost and significance are far beyond the original vision of its creators."

In his speeches, Mr. Obama makes the original vision of his "public option" insurance plan sound about as simple as driving through toll booths with an electronic pass on your windshield. It's going to be all about "best practices" with patients "reimbursed in a thoughtful way," as if the federal government is about to become just another big Google.

Medicaid is a morass. Since the program's inception, Congress has loaded it up every few years with more notions of what to cover, shifting about 43% of the ever-upward cost onto someone else's tab, mainly the states. A 1988 congressional mandate requires local schools to pay for schooling and related services for disabled children, but because Congress underfunds its mandates, the states pay the rest through Medicaid.

The list of add-ons is endless, and there's little about it that is thoughtful. Why shouldn't one think that, as with Medicare and Medicaid, the Obama Public Option in time will become an impossible fog for patients to navigate? But unto eternity the program's administrative complexity will provide work for bureaucrats, Members of Congress, their staffs, lobbyist spouses and the "health-care" establishment of foundations and economists.
The President's "public option" will cost more in taxes, provide poorer overall medical care and will infringe on individual liberty. These are the facts.

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16 June 2009

'Hey Pop, How 'Bout You Put Down That Plastic Grocery Bag Before I Report You To The Enviro-Cops'

I read Weekly Reader practically every week from the point at which I was able to read through the 5th grade. Everyone at my school did. It was on the pages of the Weekly Reader that I first learned about "CFCs," the melting polar ice caps, global warmism, whales, the rainforest, recycled paper and so on and so forth.

An email with a forwarded article from my brother reminded me of this grade school propagandizing:


This must be how you felt when I'd come home from Ms. [witchy teacher's name redacted]'s class in 2nd grade convinced we needed to save the whales and rainforest. Fortunately I had your skepticism to steer me clear of her environmental sanctimony.

'HELPING Dad become a better man: priceless."

That's the closing line of a new MasterCard commercial. You know those commercials; they've been out for nearly a decade. A typical one goes something like this: "Bric-a-brac: 17 dollars. White elephant: 28 dollars. Getting your wife to remove the restraining order: priceless."

Only this one has a little boy tailing his father--a man who looks like a perpetually adolescent extra from the old sitcom Friends--through a home-improvement store pointing out ways the carbon-profligate old man can reduce his footprint. The boy replaces the usual narrator as well.

"Energy-saving bulb: four dollars," quoth the child. "Reusable bag: two dollars. Helping Dad become a better man: priceless."


There are two kinds of folks in this world: those who find this sort of thing creepy, and pod people. Okay, maybe that's a bit too strong. But how anyone could fail to find this commercial one of the more disturbing convergences of corporate power, advertising, and progressive groupthink is beyond me.

If you can't see why, maybe it will help to look a few spaces ahead of where we are. In Britain, an electric utility launched a website for kids that teaches them how to become "climate cops." Their duty is to keep a "watchful eye" and monitor the "energy crimes" of their family and neighbors, with the ultimate goal of building a "climate-crime case file." Beware that Johnson kid with the clipboard going through your recyclables.

If you still can't see why this kiddie Gestapo stuff is offensive, change the issue from environmentalism to eating habits (you know that's coming, by the way), or religion, or just about any subject where you don't think a six-year-old should be scolding you for weakness of character or informing on you to the authorities.

Now, it's not that I think kids shouldn't be encouraged to be civic-minded. And while I find today's climate obsessions to be suffused with religious hysteria, I don't see anything terrible in encouraging kids, or anyone else, to conserve resources. But that's not the issue here. Nor is environmentalism per se.

It's the kids.

There is something evil about recruiting children to lobby their parents on political causes. Okay, it's not always evil; sometimes it can be funny, like the time in 1965 when Soupy Sales told the children watching his TV show to sneak into their parents' bedrooms and take the "green pieces of paper" from their wallets and send them to him.

Sales apologized for cracking a joke that a few kids took seriously. But no apologies are forthcoming from MasterCard for broadcasting something in earnest that in a healthy society would be seen as a joke. The idea of enlisting children to the Cause is as fashionable today as it was under Robespierre. To crack the bunker walls of the family and seduce the children has always been a top priority of totalitarians, hard and soft. Progressives love to elevate the sagacity of children--Hillary Clinton says some of the best theologians she's ever met have been five-year-olds--because doing so gives children all the more authority when they parrot the talking points of the latest progressive fad.

James Lileks asks about the MasterCard ad: "If the kid didn't learn these steps to righteousness at home, where did he get them?" Precisely. It's not as if normal, uncoached six-year-olds talk about making their fathers "better men."

If the man in the ad were a better father, he would have scolded his kid for the disrespect and demanded to know who was teaching him such crap.
Because you "can't legislate morality" or teach it in public schools, we were taught the morality of the secularists. And it was and remains, environmentalism (along with, of course, relativism and its derivatives, multiculturalism, &c.)

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15 June 2009

My Notes From A Seminar Address By Dr. Ronen Bergman

I was all prepared to type up this information following the Chatham House Rule, but Dr. Ronen Bergman graciously declined to invoke it at the conclusion of his remarks.

Thus, I will tell you, dear reader, forthrightly, that all of this information comes from Dr. Bergman and the opinions are strictly his, based on his experiences interacting with and reporting on events in Israel and the broader Middle East.

In my opinion, Dr. Bergman is the best investigative journalist on Israel-related affairs in the Middle East. Full stop.

[My handwriting is poor and barely legible even to me. Furthermore, my note-taking ability is not great. As a result, please excuse any deficiencies in these notes]
  • role of intelligence in shaping history
  • winning the intelligence battle is not always winning the war
  • you cannot give a talk w/o a good story
  • in 2003, a group of Israeli signals intelligence officers broke an Iranian code from the Iranian ministry of intelligence--a complicated cypher. Super computers cannot crack a code the way they could. It still takes 2-3 years to crack a code. There are different methods. One whole apparatus becomes transparent as a result of cracking this code--the Iranian ministry. Israel couldn't handle al lthe raw intel so they got MI6 involved. They got a profound understanding and lots of actionable intelligence. They let CIA know. CIA head of station in Baghdad met with Ahmed Chalabi while drinking in a pub--he had a job in an Iraqi ministry as a result of American pressure. (Sidenote: "Curveball"--defectors defect because they are defective) Head of Station and Chalabi are talking and the American tells Chalabi that they are reading Iranian stuff. Iran case office doesn't believe Chalabi. They set up a dummy thing in Baghdad. CIA, etc., are smart enough not to act on the intelligence without secondary corroboration so the Iranians think Chalabi is lying to them. Iranian ministry writes up a whole telegram about the lies Chalabi told about their intel being read by Mossad/MI6/CIA. CIA read it. CIA so zealous & political and desirous to embarrass the Department of Defense over Chalabi that they leaked it to the New York Times. Israel tried to get the NYT not to publish. NYT did anyway. Michael Mukaseywrote a letter of apology to Israeli operatives with Dr. Bergman has seen with his own eyes.
  • Dr. Bergman wants to tell us that we, the West, are winning the intel war, but he can't. The last few years have seen recovery. 2002 was crucial. Maj. Gen. Meir Dagan was appointed head of Mossad. Former head of assisnation in Gaza in the 1970s. Sharon appointed him and told him he wanted Mossad with a knife between the teeth [ed. note: much of this part can be found in his WSJ column--though with more detail here]. Degan changed three things 1. the "blanket is too short" to cover all priorities--must narrow task list. 2. Iran/Hezbollah and its proxies & 3. Maj. Gen. Farkash becomes head of Military intelligence. Shifted resources from Syria to Iran and Hezbollah. Understood allocation of resources. As a result of all of this, the Iranians themselves have acknowledged some "strange things." 3 airplanes fell from the skies. Scientists have disappeared. Centrifuges explode. Computers die.
  • July 2007 a miraculous mishap in one of the Iranian nuclear labs
  • September of that year, Israeli jets destroyed the North Korean reactor in Syria--being built unnoticed from 2002-2007. Syrian President and son still believe that all electronic transmission is being intercepted by Israelis. As a result, they have erected and apparatus to bypass traditional communications--courier. Syrians used to find strange objects that would explode when they examined them. They called GRO and asked the Soviets to send experts. KGB came, examined the device and it exploded, killing 12 KGB agents. Syrian filed a complaint with the UN. Now they send communications by packet on motorcycle.
  • April 2007 a joint investigation concludes that Syrian/North Korea are building a reactor to create a bomb. Given two options--tell UN or act. They decided not to give it to inspectors. Decided to strike. Worried Syria would attack. IDF was ordered to prepare for war with Syria to begin in September 2007. This then leaves them with decision of whether or not to take responsibility. The, 'kick the [scatological reference] out of the bully in the daylight or destroy his car in the middle of the night and only you and he know.' Israel called Turkey and had the Turkish minister call President Assad and tell him about this decision. After the fact, Benjamin Netanyahu said, "I don't know what happened, but I supported it." This is the only semi-official Israeli statement acknowledging their participation. Assad did not react.
  • September 2008, someone replaced the back-seat of Imad Mughniyah, one of the leaders of Hezbollah. This was a guy who had been at the top of everyone's terror lists beforeOsama bin-Laden came along.
  • Muhammad Suleiman, security advisor to Assad, went to take a smoke while on vacation. His wife made him step outside. This ended up being the most fatal cigarette he would ever smoke. A sniper from the sea shot him--this was a major loss for President Assad.
  • January 2009, Hamas was surprised that their booby traps prepared in anticipation of Israeli attack/invasion of Gaza were all taken out from the air. One of Hamas's most powerful weapons is their ability to play Israeli public using IDF casualties.
  • In the same period, Israel took out an arms convoy in Sudan that was destined for Hamas/Hezbollah. This was a result of collaboration between Egypt and Mossad.
  • All of this represents a major recovery in the war between Israel and Iran and its proxies. If they hadn't taken out the Syrian reactor, a nuclear Syria would have changed the course of history.
  • IAEA going to release a report next week saying Syria is in breach of non-proliferation.
  • Arms continue to be smuggled through Sinai.
  • In the last 6 months, Iranian nuke program has accelerated and they will soon have enough for a bomb.
  • There is a major dispute about what Obama is saying--it's not very clear. Israeli decision makers want to think Obama is giving a vague signal (regarding their strike options against Iran). Obama told Newsweek he wasn't going to dictate and tell them how to defend themselves. Netanyahu told Obama Israel reserves the right to defend itself. Obama and Sec. Robert Gates agreed. Obama wants this as a threat (and possible Israeli strike) but they also want to be able to say that Israel is crazy/unpredictable (in their negotiations with Iran).
  • Menachem Begin ordered an attack on the Iraqi nuke plant. Sam Lewis, sitting in his office, was in total shock when informed of this attack. An Israeli attack on Iranian nuke facilities probably won't happen in 2009 or during the US-Iran dialogue. But Israel probably still adheres to the Begin doctrine.
  • Must understand the impact of the Holocaust--even to the point of irrationality. Striking the Syrian reactor reflects how Israel will respond to Iran. If Europe/US/UN/etc. don't stop Iran, Netanyahu will order a strike. This will tremendously affect the history of the Middle East and put Israel in the killing zone between Sunni and Shia.
  • General Dagan has established deep cooperation with Europe and the US. They don't care if they share secrets because they face an existential threat. They'll work with former enemies. Jordan & Egypt intel agencies are talking about the Iranian threat the same way as Israeli intel agencies. They are afraid of Iran and want to stop them from getting nukes. There is a lot of hatred of Iran and collaboration/cooperation between Egyptian & Jordanian intel agencies and Mossad as a result. No overt cooperation between Israel and Egypt and Jordan, but covertly, it is happening now.
  • On Obama's speech re: Iran nuclear power: 2 weeks ago, an Israeli delegation came to London to meet with their British counterparts. British official asked Israelis what they thought of US/Iran dialogue. Israel wasn't sure what to think. They are lagging behind US changes in policy. There will be conflict between Netanyahu and Obama about settlements (in the West Bank). Japan is 6 months away (given nuclear power plants) from creating nuclear weapons (if they wanted). Iran wants to be like Japan (possessing nuclear power). US says they can't because they lied about their ambitions in the past, but Obama said in his speech that Iran has the same right to nuclear power. Israel is afraid of dialogue and that they will continue enriching. Israel is most afraid of perceived "success" of the dialogue (by the Obama administration) than failure of the dialogue because the US will be on the wrong side and Iran will continue to enrich in secret.
  • David Ben-Gurion was always afraid that he would have assembled the remnants of the Holocaust and not done everything he could to defend Israel.
  • Legally, Israel submits to 1945 British wartime law and as a result, journalists must submit everything to military censors. They have to say, for instance, that Israel has nuclear weapons "according to non-Israeli sources."
  • Europe says, "we have lived under the Cold War with the nuclear threat and it came out alright." These (Iranians) aren't the same folks. Iran is building the bomb in part (if not solely) to ensure the preservation of the current regime. Cannot make the same assumptions about rationality and state preservation and MAD, etc.
  • November 2007 NIE report--British intelligence went ballistic--report said that Part IV, the weaponizing group ceased its work in 2004. This was a minor and disputed point. They had all the parts, they just hadn't assembled the car. Brits have since persuaded Americans they were wrong.
  • Watch and listen to Iran--they believe they are close.
  • We only know what we know. Israel has a limited capability. Iran is heavily fortified and defended. Israel believes an attack on 3 sites would only delay Iran by 2-3 years.
  • re: Syrian nuke program: What was on their (Syrian leadership's) mind? Syria made the job for attackers easy. Israel was surprised by Syrian--thought they were focused on missiles and chemical weapons. Syrians got 1.5 billion from Iran and paid North Korea after declining the services of A.Q. Khan. Israel is aware of what's going on in Syria.
  • What can Intel do? Raid on Syrian reactor affected history. When it does not deal with social movement or economics, it can have major impact. Voices in Israel want to topple the Iranian regime. Dr. Bergman does not think we should do anything like that.
  • Are you worried about being used by Israeli intelligence agencies? Intel agencies have an agenda and their information should be treated with suspicion. "I (first person) am not the favorite person of Mossad." Was interrogated just last week for having possession of classified documents. Made fun of them for their astute reading of "Top Secret" across the top of the documents included in his book. He has long-time sources he has come to trust.

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Mark Steyn Holds Forth On Socialized Universal Healthcare & The Spread Of Apathy

Look, by historical standards, we’re loaded: We have TVs and iPods and machines to wash our clothes and our dishes. We’re the first society in which a symptom of poverty is obesity: Every man his own William Howard Taft. Of course we’re “vulnerable”: By definition, we always are. But to demand a government organized on the principle of preemptively “taking care” of potential “vulnerabilities” is to make all of us, in the long run, far more vulnerable. A society of children cannot survive, no matter how all-embracing the government nanny.

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12 June 2009

Government In Your Refrigerator: Health Care & Liberty

Safeway CEO Steven Burd has got a great piece in today's WSJ describing his company's market-based reform of their healthcare plan. Effectively, they have incentivized good behavior--not smoking and reducing your weight, for instance--while penalizing the flip side of that coin.

Their costs have remained flat since instituting this plan and now Burd wants to be able to increase the cost penalty of bad behavior/incentive for good behavior to more accurately reflect the real costs.

All of this is fine and innovative for a private company; I do not like the liberty-infringing possibilities of this type of reform coupled with universal health care.

As with anything else, it is one thing for a private entity, which gives employees the choice to work there or somewhere else, to adopt these types of reforms. I don't even really have a problem with Medicare/Medicaid adopting these types of market incentives/penalties.

But this type of response from the Federal Government in a universal healthcare environment is just one example of the loss of individual liberty. Of course the government is going to take an interest in what you eat and smoke when they are the ones footing the bill for your healthcare.

When I pick up the London tabloids to see what's what (not often, obviously) I often read about how some arm of NHS (their universal healthcare agency) is going door to door to take a look-see in people's refrigerators.

At this stage, it's just "taking a look." But the next, logical step is to prohibit consumption of whatever the government deems unhealthful or whatever. It doesn't take a predictive genius to see where this is going: complete government prohibition on whatever is considered "bad" and forced adoption of whatever the latest science considers "good."

And they said you couldn't legislate morality.

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What A Return To The '70's Looks Like

[W]e've largely forgotten our most recent brush with raging peacetime inflation, the 1970s. Although nothing like Germany's in the 1920s, ours was nonetheless powerful enough to be more dispiriting and more transformative of our culture than any stretch of post-World War II recession has been. It's probably not a coincidence that America began its long transformation from a nation of savers to one of consumers and debtors just after the inflation of the 1970s. . . .

To people who've worked their whole lives playing by the rules, that is, to the majority of adult Americans in the early 1970s, inflation at the hands of wayward government policy seemed to be a betrayal. People who had been thriftiest watched down payments for buying a home disappear, college savings accounts shrivel, retirement nest eggs vanish, the value of monthly pension checks shrink. Harvard Business School Professor Samuel Hayes recounted the damage to a relative of his in a magazine story: "He was the epitome of the Protestant ethic. He had inherited money, he had saved, he was very frugal, had a very modest house, had part of his investment money in bonds and short-term securities, had always maintained liquidity. And he came out of the Seventies looking like a fool."
This is no time to be responsible and save money. The Lesson, as always, taken from President Obama, get into as much (cheap) debt as possible and inflate your way out.

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11 June 2009

Arthur Laffer: 'Double Digit Inflation & High Interest Rates'

Some of you can go ahead and throw out the baby with the bath-water on this guy (Arthur Laffer) if you like, but to me, he's making a lot of sense.
Here we stand more than a year into a grave economic crisis with a projected budget deficit of 13% of GDP. That's more than twice the size of the next largest deficit since World War II. And this projected deficit is the culmination of a year when the federal government, at taxpayers' expense, acquired enormous stakes in the banking, auto, mortgage, health-care and insurance industries.

With the crisis, the ill-conceived government reactions, and the ensuing economic downturn, the unfunded liabilities of federal programs -- such as Social Security, civil-service and military pensions, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, Medicare and Medicaid -- are over the $100 trillion mark. With U.S. GDP and federal tax receipts at about $14 trillion and $2.4 trillion respectively, such a debt all but guarantees higher interest rates, massive tax increases, and partial default on government promises.

But as bad as the fiscal picture is, panic-driven monetary policies portend to have even more dire consequences. We can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years, and a concomitant deleterious impact on output and employment not unlike the late 1970s.
Further down in the column, he suggests that the Fed contract the money supply by selling Bonds. Only they can't do it because the Obama administration is having to sell bonds to fund their outrageous expansion in government spending.

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10 June 2009

Shelby Steele On Sotomayor And Racial Politics

But of course "post-racialism" is not a real idea. It is an impression, a chimera that grows out of a very specific racial manipulation that I have called "bargaining." Here the minority makes a bargain with white society: I will not "guilt" you with America's centuries of racism if you will not hold my minority status against me. Whites love this bargain because it allows them to feel above America's racist past and, therefore, immune to charges of racism. By embracing the bargainer they embrace the impression of a world beyond racial division, a world in which whites are innocent and minorities carry no anger. This is the impression that animates bargainers like Mr. Obama or Oprah Winfrey with an irresistible charisma. Even if post-racialism is an obvious illusion -- a bargainer's trick as it were -- whites are flattered by believing in it.

But the Sotomayor nomination shows that Mr. Obama has no idea what a post-racial society would look like. In selling himself as a candidate to the American public he is a gifted bargainer beautifully turned out in post-racial impressionism. But in the real world of Supreme Court nominations, where there is a chance to actually bring some of that idealism down to earth, he chooses a hardened, divisive and race-focused veteran of the culture wars he claims to transcend.
(h/t Matt L.)

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09 June 2009

London Underground Union Will Strike Is Striking, Believes People Are Sympathetic To Their Cause

Yeah, all those people who rely on the Tube for travel are really going to sympathize with union workers demanding increased pay, etc.

I despise unions and am especially disgusted with them when their outsized sense of entitlement causes major disruptions to normal day-to-day activities like public transport in a city. In London, Tube workers are generally acknowledged to have cushy jobs with great pay. Do they really believe that a city with 10.4% unemployment is going to sympathize with their demands for increased pay, more days off, etc.?


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IWHDI: How Many Jobs Have You Saved Or Created Today?

In fact, I'm going to start my own "if Bush had done it file." Sure, after 5+ months in office, there have already been a lot of incidences I could have put in this file. Never fear, the audacity and hubris of the Obama administration will surely give me plenty of opportunity to invoke if W had done it.

William McGurn calls attention (because liberals & the media--but I repeat myself--ignore the ridiculousness of the claim) to Obama's ludicrous claim that he has "created or saved" tens of thousands of jobs.
Now, something's wrong when the president invokes a formula that makes it impossible for him to be wrong and it goes largely unchallenged. It's true that almost any government spending will create some jobs and save others. But as Milton Friedman once pointed out, that doesn't tell you much: The government, after all, can create jobs by hiring people to dig holes and fill them in.

If the "saved or created" formula looks brilliant, it's only because Mr. Obama and his team are not being called on their claims. And don't expect much to change. So long as the news continues to repeat the administration's line that the stimulus has already "saved or created" 150,000 jobs over a time period when the U.S. economy suffered an overall job loss 10 times that number, the White House would be insane to give up a formula that allows them to spin job losses into jobs saved.
These sorts of claims are of a piece with the re-branding of "global warming" as "climate change." What's that you say? Facts don't fit your narrative? No matter. Just change the narrative such that whatever happens, you can claim explanatory foreknowledge.

"Saved or created" & "climate change." Wow. And they say conservatives are gullible and dumb.

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Henninger: Slim Obama's 'Fat Uncle Sam'

From Daniel Henninger's column in last Thursday WSJ:
So far Mr. Obama has used his personally exciting presidency for initiatives that are spending public money on a scale not seen since ancient Egypt. Besides Obama Motors ($60 billion to $100 billion), there is Obama-Care for health insurance ($1.2 trillion over 10 years), the stimulus ($800 billion), a global-warming offensive called cap and trade that hopes to siphon hundreds of billions of dollars from the economy, and a fiscal year 2010 budget of $3.59 trillion. Out of these mists of federal "investment" they promise five million "green collar jobs." Only public-sector lifers could believe, or assert, anything so fantastic.

Then there is the never-ending march of the financial-rescue armies -- TARP, TALF, PIPP, EESA. The Federal Reserve's balance sheet stands at some $2 trillion and growing. Last week Treasury floated the possibility of a single financial regulator for the entire banking system.

All this is the Obama government's idea of innovation. It is all public sector because all any of them know is public sector.

Without exception, the Obama people with responsibility for the private economy come from a lifetime in politics, public administration or academia.

Besides Mr. Obama himself, the list includes Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, Peter Orszag, EPA's Lisa Jackson (16 years with EPA), Commerce's Gary Locke (zero private experience), or Transportation's Ray LaHood (14 years in the House). The bio for Agriculture's Tom Vilsack says he "has served in the public sector at nearly every level of government." How can the private sector -- especially the world of risk capital, sweat equity and start-ups -- be anything but an abstraction for this group?

Many of Mr. Obama's supporters surely thought this young, dynamic generation of public leaders would elevate the hip, cutting edge of the U.S. economy -- nanotechnology, genomics, robotics, even health and medicine technology. Instead, we've gotten the Old Economy on dialysis. General Motors has been commanded to restart aging UAW factories to output product on behalf of the administration's hybrid-car obsession. Where's the New Economy in any of this?

Or ObamaCare. How will a build-out of Medicare (b. 1965) to cover everyone and costing $1.2 trillion over 10 years not kill innovation in medical and health technology by siphoning away growth capital and its potential financial rewards?

All of this seems so out of sync with the persona and promise Barack Obama conveyed in the campaign. A lot of his Web-based supporters probably thought Mr. Obama was going to be about promoting young guns with new ideas seeking risk capital for the next big thing. Instead, it looks as if the Obama years will be about managing soft landings for mature industries and old unions in the American autumn.

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08 June 2009

Lame Labour: Gordon Brown's Dead-Man Walk

In the winter of 2007, I sat in Peter Hennessy's "Hidden Wiring" grad seminar at Queen Mary, University of London, and listened to someone observe that as much as everyone despised Tony Blair for Iraq, they might watch Gordon Brown for a year or 2 and wish Blair were still at 10 Downing Street.

In their wildest dreams, they could not have anticipated the prescience of their statement.

In addition to the right-ward shift in European politics, the recent local & EU elections combined to inflict what can only be described as beating-a-dead-horse blows on Gordon Brown.
Labour suffered its biggest defeat in history last week, when it placed third in local council elections, winning 23% of the vote, behind Conservatives and Liberal Democrats with 38% and 28% respectively. Labour may have fared even worse in the vote for the European Parliament. The final results were published last night after we went to press, but the British media cited Labour officials over the weekend who feared their party would come in behind the Tories and Liberal Democrats, and even the fringe U.K. Independence Party.
Nothing short of an economic miracle will save Gordon Brown and Labour in the next election... and even that might not be enough.

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The True Costs Of 'Protected' Trade... (UPDATED)

...Among other things--increased costs for consumers.

This WSJ op-ed by Don Nicolson is focused on the dairy market, but the larger point it makes about the ills of increased protectionism and the decline of free trade is particularly instructive, given the current climate. Subsidies negatively impact consumers everywhere.
In the U.S., DEIP [the dairy subsidy] means American families pay higher taxes to support subsidized dairy farmers, wiping out any savings they might enjoy from lower dairy prices. As in other countries, subsidies effectively shield farmers from true competition. Higher prices always result, and this price increase is passed straight onto consumers. There's nothing inherently "fair" about any form of subsidy.
Beware calls for trade protection. "Buy American," sounds good--who wouldn't want to "support" as it were, their fellow Americans over someone we don't know in some far off country? The reality is, it increases costs for consumers and hurts unrelated industries in the US whose goods are blocked in retaliatory trade protection moves in that far off country.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act deepened the effects of the Great Depression--not only for Americans, but for people around the world. Reject the calls of the protectionists and remember that free trade benefits our exporting industries as well as keeping consumer costs low.

UPDATE 6:00pm BST: Dan K., Cambridge Econ PhD candidate writes:
Here's Robert Lawrence take on why American car manufacturers became embarrassingly uncompetitive: 40 years of Government protectionism
Although we call the big three automobile companies they have basically specialized in building trucks. This left them utterly unable to respond when high gas prices shifted the market towards hybrids and more fuel efficient cars.
One reason is that Americans like to drive SUVs, minivans and small trucks when gasoline costs $1.50 to $2.00 a gallon. But another is that the profit margins have been much higher on trucks and vans because the US protects its domestic market with a twenty-five percent tariff. By contrast, the import tariff on regular automobiles is just 2.5 percent and US duties from tariffs on all imported goods are just one percent of the overall value of merchandise imports. Since many of the inputs used to assemble trucks are not subject to tariffs anywhere near 25 percent -- US tariffs on all goods average only 3.5 percent -- the effective protection and subsidy equivalent of this policy has been huge.

It is no wonder much of the initial foray by Japanese transplants to the US involved setting up trucks assembly plants, no wonder that Automakers only put three doors on SUVs so they can qualify as vans and no wonder that Detroit is so opposed to the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement that would eventually allow trucks built in Korea Duty-Free access to the US market.
Here's the punch line:
If congress wants an explanation for why the big three have been so uncompetitive it should look first at the disguised largess it has been providing them with for years. It has taken a long time -- nearly 47 years -- but it seems that eventually the chickens have finally come home to roost.
47 years of government failure can't just be erased overnight. Sorry Detroit.

There is a certain irony in that US automakers lobbied for the protectionist policies that would ultimately have a large part in their total collapse.

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Europe Continues March To The Political Right

Remember when everyone said that Europe's politics were a rebuke of the Bush administration?
And then Germany & France, whose leaders opposed Bush, elected conservatives in Merkel and Sarkozy. And Italy elected Berlusconi.

Conservatism is dead, conservatism is dead. Long live conservatism.

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05 June 2009

Charles Krauthammer On Obama's Speech

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04 June 2009

Sen. Tom Coburn On Gitmo, North Korea, Iran, Israel, &c.

These are my (mostly) unedited notes from the just-concluded conference call with Senator Coburn. As much as possible I tried to quote word-for-word but my slow typing sometimes required me to paraphrase.

Notes from the Senator's statement:
  • I've stayed in several prisons, of my own volition, over the years and this is the nicest one. Unique in its position and mission. Don't know where in the world you could locate a prison and accomplish the same purposes.
  • Well run facility. Individuals are being detained in the appropriate manner by high standards. 6000 calories a day. every opportunity to practice religious beliefs and access to medical care.
  • We could contain them elsewhere, the issue is people getting into and making a political statement where the individuals are contained--especially if we moved them to the US. Other terrorists would be able to go there and demonstrate and blow themselves and make statements. In Leavenworth, for instance, there is a rail yard nearby and a school house nearby with many military children. How do you strengthen a facility to keep that from taking place? Guantanamo is the right place.
  • Cost: it will cost hundreds of millions to replicate Gitmo elsewhere in the United States. Frankly, this is an expense we cannot afford at this time. We need to stop needless spending.
  • This would actually slow down the military courts and tribunals if we moved them. It's all set up at Gitmo. You will have to replicate that system with secure video for interviewing witnesses from around the world and handling documents of a classified nature and handling the detainees in a secure way. It would slow down the administration of justice.
  • Obama says they want to close Gitmo because of its "image around the world." it's really the fact that we're detaining them at all--it isn't Gitmo, per se, its that you're detaining them at all. Europe thinks they should have already been tried. If we move them but don't try them, the European objection remains. The Muslim world doesn't think we should be detaining them at all.
  • Move them and the reason for objection remains--you just have a different prison name used as a rallying point.
  • It is not in the best interest of the United States or best global interest to close Gitmo. They continue to fight in prison and if their released we know they'll fight on the battlefield.

Q&A Notes:
  • Will they be confined in solitary or spread their radical jihadism? Geneva convention prohibits holding them near a prison population. This is a fertile ground for them to spread the gospel of terrorism. They'd have to be placed in solitary confinement--worse than Gitmo.
  • On the Gallup poll showing Americans in favor of Gitmo: Americans want them to be held and not allowed back into the battle. Thinks Obama admin should look at the poll and say, "This is what the American people want even if it's not what the Europeans or Muslim world wants. Needs to remember Americans are his constituency and not the world."
  • The Europeans have made such an issue of Gitmo but are unwilling to take the detainees. It's unfair criticism. If you're going to criticize, then what's your solution? Alright, if you're so mad about it, then let's move them to Paris. France took one detainee with some fanfare but it still leaves a lot. These guys want to continue to fight and continue to fight in prison. They are not "rehabilitated." Finally, the administration is backing off of this line.
  • I don't know what they can come up with--certainly not within their time frame--to be able to get funding and move the detainees elsewhere. They needed to get the military commission going much faster if they were going to hit that timeline, but they just barely got it going 3 weeks ago.
  • It's irresponsible for the administration to be trying to move detainees to the US or elsewhere when they have a safe, humane place now.
  • 2 State solution does not provide Israel with a reliable partner--they cannot get security. We've seen what happened when Israel pulled out of Gaza--chaos--and would likely happen again if they pulled out of the West Bank. We need to engage with Jordan and Egypt. The Palestinians may not get what they want--a state--but they would get increased prosperity and security and some chance for political participation--certainly better than what they have now and what they would probably get if, indeed, Israel pulled out of the West Bank.
  • President Obama is a liberal. I hate to state the obvious, but he is. He's probably the most, without question, most fully liberal who has been elected President in a long time--certainly a generation--and you're seeing that expressed in his foreign policy. To harang Israel, our best, democratic ally in a dangerous part of the world, is a mistake from a security perspective. And to suggest that it is OK for Iran to have a nuke program is the height of insecurity for the US and the world and will lead to a new nuke arms race in the Middle East. It has the risk of breaking into a new hot war in the Middle East. It is the height of irresponsibility on the security agenda. Look at the other thing, North Korea is trying two American citizens and preparing a missile which could reach American soil. They have shot a missile over Japan. Has the Obama administration done anything to slow this down or stop it? I've pleaded with them and we'll put it up in the FTA to reestablish N. Korea as a terrorist state. In the shadow of all of these provocative, aggressive acts, the Obama administration has done nothing. We're getting what you always get when appease your foes. The World is safest when America stands strong against these things.
  • No matter what you call the War on Terror, it continues. They still want to fight in Gitmo and they are still fighting elsewhere in the world.
  • I think the Obama administration cares about these things--Iran, N. Korea--but they are naive about it. They think the Bush admin talked to tough and that we just need to have a dialogue to get past our differences. I think it's naive and totally denies history and I think it's dangerous.

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Milwaukee School Vouchers: Democrat Party Kowtows To Another Special Interest

I know lots of teachers. Many of my friends are teachers. They know I am a friend to good teachers everywhere.

I am also, however, an enemy of unions generally and teachers' unions specifically. Their goal is not the improvement of education, but the guarantee of employment and ever-increasing pay and benefits for all teachers, regardless of performance. Additionally, these folks see their union positions as opportunity to exert political influence.

Brendan Miniter called school choice "the new Civil Rights struggle." Indeed, it is. Given the disintegration of low-income families--especially minority families--school choice and the opportunities a good education affords may be the best chance many of these children have.

Democrats and teachers' unions want to kill every voucher, scholarship, school choice program they can. They already did away with the one in Washington DC--a program that helped thousands of low-income students avoid failing schools. Milwaukee's wildly successful voucher program is next on their list.
At the National Press Club last week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that he opposed school choice: “Let me explain why. Vouchers usually serve 1 to 2 percent of the children in a community. . . . But I don’t want to save 1 or 2 percent of children and let 98, 99 percent down.” It was a bizarre statement: Why not simply let more than 1 or 2 percent enjoy the benefits of school choice? In Milwaukee, they actually do. It’s the largest urban school-choice program in the country, dwarfing the size of the one in Washington, D.C., whose de-funding by congressional Democrats has drawn so much criticism. Roughly one in five of Milwaukee’s school-age children receive vouchers. All of them must fall below an income threshold. Researchers say that the program is beginning to show systemic effects. In other words, it doesn’t merely help its participants. It also gives a lift to non-voucher students because the pressure of competition has forced public schools to improve.
The principle is choice--liberty, really--applied to education. When I speak to union-enthusiast teaching friends of mine, they talk endlessly about some new initiative or program that will make public education better.

The point of adding choice and competition to education is that these things will introduce the flexibility and incentive into education that will empower teachers and administrators and parents and students to find the education that best suits them.

One-size-fits-all public education doesn't achieve the egalitarian utopia in which its adherents believe, it holds the smart kids back and leaves those who need extra or specialized attention behind.

If the Democrat party really were, as it says, "for the children," it would resist the influence of campaign contributions from teachers' unions and wholeheartedly endorse choice in education.

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03 June 2009

Compare & Contrast: Democrat Treatment Of Sonia Sotomayor & Miguel Estrada

You may have already read this meme elsewhere in the conservative blogosphere: Democrats rejected Miguel Estrada, a supremely qualified, hispanic jurist, as an Appeals Court nominee in 2001, because they didn't want Republicans being the first party to nominate a hispanic to the Supreme Court. Their treatment of Estrada was of a piece with their treatment of Clarence Thomas when he was nominated for the Supreme Court.

Though both men are racial minorities, they happen to be conservative minorities and as a result, incurred the wrath of liberals.

All of this brings me to one of my favorite games to play with the Democrat party--compare & contrast. Jansen G. emailed me an analysis of this hypocrisy that is better & clearer than any I've read elsewhere:
Does the name Miguel Estrada ring a bell? I came across this insightful article discussing the Democrats voracious opposition to confirming Estrada, a Hispanic lawyer, to the Federal Court of Appeals in 2001. The Democrats opposition was uncharacteristically strong, lasting 28 months and including a 6 month filibuster. As one would expect, part of the issue had to do with Estrada's conservatism. What's so relevant about this story, however, is that Estrada had an even greater rags-to-riches tale than Sotomayor. The irony here is tangible: many of the same Democrats that currently find Sotomayor's tale so compelling, belligerently fought against an equally qualified hispanic nominee with as compelling of a story (and no red flags). Of course, the reasoning for such strong opposition, as the article points out, is that the Democrats wanted to deny the GOP the potential political sway it would recieve among Hispanic voters for placing a Latino on the bench. The point I exrapolate from these two stories is that the Democrats are far more excited about retaining their Hispanic constituents than they're genuinely intrigue by Sotomayor's story. Politics can unfortuantely be so sobering, can't it?
Democrats response to both nominees reflects their opinion of minorities: They are for you so long as you embrace liberal politics. Reject their accepted wisdom and they will reject you--no matter how qualified you may be.

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02 June 2009

Romney in 2012? 'Let Mitt Be Mitt'

Carl Cannon on the possibility of Mitt running for President again in 2012 and his similarities to Ronald Reagan:
As president, the secret to Reagan's success wasn't his consistency; it was his practicality. This was a lesson lost to Reagan's critics as well as his loyalists. In his own White House, the battle cry of conservative purists was "Let Reagan be Reagan." This slogan had the unintended effect of underestimating Reagan's talent, and what it came to symbolize has been the downfall of more than one would-be Reagan imitator. In 2008, Mitt Romney, was one of those candidates who fell into the trap of trying to emulate Reagan rather than rely on his own (considerable) talents.

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01 June 2009

'Phase 1: Elect Barack Obama; Phase 2: ?; Phase 3: Utopia!'

This column is nearly a week old, but it's pretty timeless in the sense that Stephens applies the South Park Gnomes formula to the Obama administration. Or rather, he shows how the Obama administration is applying the South Park Gnome formula to everything they do.

"What," you're asking yourself, "is the South Park Gnomes formula?" Stephens explains:
Consider the 1998 "Gnomes" episode -- possibly surpassing Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose" as the classic defense of capitalism -- in which the children of South Park, Colo., get a lesson in how not to run an enterprise from mysterious little men who go about stealing undergarments from the unsuspecting and collecting them in a huge underground storehouse.

What's the big idea? The gnomes explain:

"Phase One: Collect underpants.

"Phase Two: ?

"Phase Three: Profit."

Lest you think there's a step missing here, that's the whole point. ("What about Phase Two?" asks one of the kids. "Well," answers a gnome, "Phase Three is profits!")
"Profits!" Seems a bit like Obama's GM & Chrysler plans, no? Can't you just feel the money rolling in?

Sorry, my mistake. That sensation you feel is your tax money going to pay back Obama's "grassroots" fundraising/election juggxrnaught, er, the UAW.

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