28 January 2010

On Obama's 'Partisan, Condescending' State Of The Union Speech

Marc Thiessen was lead writer on President Bush's last two SOTU speeches. He offered his critique of Obama's speech at The Corner and in today's WaPo.
Listening to President Obama's speech, I could not help wondering how different this night would have been had Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's bomb not malfunctioned. Four weeks ago our country was the target of a catastrophic terrorist attack. But for the grace of God, Northwest Flight 253 would have crashed into downtown Detroit, killing thousands. Yet just a month later, it is an afterthought for this president. His only mention of the failed attack was a passing reference that he was responding with "better airline security."

Worse, the president's brief discussion of terrorism focused not on what he was doing to defend the country but was, rather, a vigorous defense of himself. His first words on the subject were a chastisement of those who would dare criticize his handling of terrorism, declaring that "all of us love this country" and warning his Republican critics to "put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough." It's all about him. No acknowledgement of how close we came to disaster or praise for the brave passengers who subdued the terrorist. No, only this message for his critics: If you question the wisdom of telling a captured terrorist "you have the right to remain silent," you are really questioning the president's patriotism and engaging in childish taunts.

The fact is, the American people have real concerns about Obama's approach to terrorism. They do question the wisdom of eliminating CIA interrogations, closing Guantanamo Bay, bringing the terrorists held there to this country, putting Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and his cohorts on trial in civilian courts, and giving captured terrorists Miranda rights after 50 minutes of questioning. Instead of acknowledging these concerns, Obama dismissed them. It was strange, defensive, arrogant -- and un-presidential.
I'm also bothered that Iraq & Afghanistan get such short shrift from this President. I read a lot of military blogs and try and keep on top of what's happening in those places. One of the things that comes across a lot is how frustrated members of the military are with the fact that many Americans both don't know and don't seem to care about what's happening to them wherever they are.

Part of the reason for this has got to be the complete lack of attention given to them by President Obama and the Democrat party. And this was reflected in Obama's SOTU last night.

Ps. Yes, I am also annoyed by the arrogant, lecturing tilt of his head when he speaks.

UPDATE 2:34pm GMT: If you need a palate cleanser, here's President Ronald Reagan's SOTU in 1988. (via Orin Kerr @ The Volokh Conspiracy)

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27 January 2010

Rep. Paul Ryan & 'The Party Of No' Re-Present Their Plan To Restore America's Economic Awesomeness

Seriously, the Democrat party would rather carry on referring to the GOP as the "party of no" (hence the headline) rather than consider Republican proposals like the one put forward by Rep. Ryan.

And that's fine. Let them. Independents and conservatives know better. I'm still holding out hope that the Democrats double down on this health care disaster of theirs and lose big this November.

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25 January 2010

Obama's Spending Spree

Remember back when Democrats used the deficit and the rhetoric of fiscal responsibility to pound on President Bush?

Like their late-found opposition to the Iraq War and the Patriot Act (etc.), that was an act of complete intellectual dishonesty.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what hypocrisy looks like.

And no, Republicans & Democrats aren't just the same.

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22 January 2010

Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of The 1st Amendment, Finally

NRO has started doing a number of daily emails, one of which I highlighted yesterday--Jonah Goldberg's The Goldberg File.

NRO's Jim Geraghty, better known for his coverage of elections, has started something called Morning Jolt. Whatever you think of the respective names of these daily email newsletters, the content is pretty good.

For instance, here's Geraghty's survey of reactions to yesterday's SCOTUS ruling which strikes down key parts of McCain-Feingold (good riddance) and strengthens the 1st Amendment.
AP: "The 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said companies and other outside groups can be prohibited from paying for ads to back or oppose a federal candidate." The guys at Cato are thrilled: "In short, the Citizens United decision has strengthened both the First Amendment and American democracy."

Most conservatives were pretty cheery about the decision; generally on the right folks conclude that you can't restrict political spending without restricting political speech, and if the First Amendment is supposed to mean anything, it's supposed to protect your God-given right to declare as loudly and widely as you want that those who govern you stink to high Heaven. Otherwise, you end up with a First Amendment that somehow protects lap dances but not political advertising close to an election.

Ed Morrissey: "In the first challenges to the BCRA (McCain-Feingold), the earlier court appeared to accept the notion that one has to break a few First Amendment eggs to get a clean-elections omelet. This court has apparently decided that Congress should amend the First Amendment if it has grown tired of it, rather than pass laws that contradict it. The fact that only five of the nine justices could reach that rather obvious conclusion shows how much judicial activism and Congressional overreach have in common -- especially the sense that they can manipulate clear boundaries of power for whatever end they seek."

Michelle Malkin: "Yes, unions will benefit from the ruling and spend more money. But sunlight is the best disinfectant. Full, transparent, accessible disclosure is the ultimate campaign finance reform. As for viewing the decision through the 'political plus' lens: I don't. The Constitution matters more than electoral consequences. Too bad more in Washington don't see it that way."

"With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics," declared President Obama, who was elected with the assistance of hundreds of millions of dollars in donations from unions, trial lawyers, Hollywood, academia, Goldman Sachs, and environmentalists. Despite what you might think from that opening sentence, he disapproves of the decision.

At Bench Memos, Bradley Smith makes short work of the legislative responses introduced by Rep. Alan Grayson, the Floridian who represents Daily Kos in Congress: "That these proposals are clearly unconstitutional doesn't matter much to Mr. Grayson, who only has eleven months left in Congress to make his reputation and gain that slot guest hosting for Keith Olbermann. It's highly doubtful they could ever pass, anyway."

Caleb Howe watches Olbermann so we don't have to, and he finds Keith saying that the Supreme Court decision on campaign finance was "worse than slavery."
Anyone else shocked Keith Olbermann still has a job?

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21 January 2010

From The Goldberg File

This great graph, from the recently-begun The Goldberg File (click to subscribe), was brought to my attention by my brother Matt, natch:
I kind of see the American electorate the same way. We were promised all of this fancy-pants great stuff from the Democrats. Their agenda wasn't going to be left or right, but smart, and pragmatic, and intellectually elegant. It was going to be French! The progs talked endlessly about how we were finally going to have a European-style welfare state while keeping all of our economic dynamism and job growth. The technocrats could pick just the right policies, the way one might select this delicate canapé or that insouciant amuse-bouche.
As Matt wrote, "[what Jonah wrote] agrees nicely and says snarkily what we’ve been saying for a while now.

And by "we" he means all those of us who prefer liberty to the technocrats' centrally planned dystopia.

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'Public Service Unions Are Bleeding This Country Dry'

The central battle in our time is over political primacy. It is a competition between the public sector and the private sector over who defines the work and the institutions that make a nation thrive and grow.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy planted the seeds that grew the modern Democratic Party. That year, JFK signed executive order 10988 allowing the unionization of the federal work force. This changed everything in the American political system. Kennedy's order swung open the door for the inexorable rise of a unionized public work force in many states and cities.

This in turn led to the fantastic growth in membership of the public employee unions—The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the teachers' National Education Association.

They broke the public's bank. More than that, they entrenched a system of taking money from members' dues and spending it on political campaigns. Over time, this transformed the Democratic Party into a public-sector dependency.
I strongly dislike unions. They stand in the way of free trade, choice in education, and myriad other good, liberty-oriented, market-based reforms that could improve the quality of life of everyone in the world.

I do not read the history of labor unions the same way that some people do. I do not think they ever served a useful role.

Many conservatives look at American history and, based on the what they were taught about the "robber barons" by their unionized high school teacher, think that they (unions) were an important push-back against the "exploitative" kings of capitalism.

Here's what they really did: They waged often violent battles to keep other workers (ofttimes new immigrants) out of and away from doing their jobs for cheaper or better and forced their wages up, which in turn raised the costs of everything produced from, for example, steel.

Teachers' unions are to blame for the poor state of American education. Public unions are to blame for the spiraling-out-of-control budgets in states from California to New York.

And because they contribute so much to Democrat Party campaigns, they get special exceptions to rules all the rest of us have to follow.

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19 January 2010

Massa-Freakin'-chusetts Elects Republican, Scott Brown, To The Kennedy Family Senate Seat!!1!!eleventy!!!

Never thought I'd see the day.

A year ago, in the darkness that was the winter after the armageddon of the 2008 elections, all us lonely conservative, John McCain-voting people commiserated and said we'd be back and hopefully sooner than people predicted.

No one predicted this quick of a turnaround.

Nope. Gotta give credit where it's due.

First, I'd like to thank President Obama for deferring to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi on his legislative agenda.

Second, I'd like to thank Martha Coakley for running a bad campaign.

Ditto New Jersey governor Jon Corzine & former Virginia governor-hopeful Creigh Deeds.

Thanks also to Reid & Pelosi for their own special brand of incompetence and idiocy. Couldn't have done it without you two.

2010 is shaping up to be a good year for conservatives & Republicans generally. It is poetic that the cause of liberty vs. tyranny was taken up, once again, in MA--the site of the original tea party.

Obama, Reid, Pelosi, the nutroots--none of them understand what happened last night. They still think people hate GWB and will vote for them accordingly. You know what? I hope the remain in their ignorance. The longer they believe they have all the answers, the longer they'll continue their lemming-like march into irrelevance and the better chance Republicans will have of winning big in November.

Indeed, maybe "dirt moving" Clint Didier has a chance vs. Patty Murray in the Washington Senate race after all.

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Henninger & Stephens On Intelligence, Haiti, & Terrorism: Get 'em While They're Hot

Bret Stephens #1: Can Intelligence Be Intelligent? - It can and it should. Yes, American intelligence services should be reformed. First, we must understand what has been tried (& failed) in the past because, you know, this is how we avoid making the same mistake again in the future.

Daniel Henninger: An Obama-GOP Entente On Terror - Like Henninger, I believe it is more important to support Obama's efforts in Afghanistan rather than call for a retreat now that he is the man at the top--hoping to score political points. His own party will eventually abandon him, despite their insistence that Afghanistan was the "right" war.

We can and ought to critique his approach and when he "dithers," encourage him to hurry up. But we ought not oppose for the sake of party politics, like he and his party did during nearly all of President Bush's term in office.

Bret Stephens #2: To Help Haiti, End Foreign Aid - As I told my brother last night, I'm not cynical about everyone's efforts to "help Haiti(!)," I'm skeptical. I'm skeptical because of many of the things that Stephens outlines in his column and as a result agree with him:

Help Haiti in the immediate aftermath of this crisis, but end foreign aid as we and Jeffrey Sachs know it.

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18 January 2010

Massachusetts Blue Goes Brown: Get Out The Vote For Scott

Barring significant (more than usual) Democratic voter fraud (the dead voting, etc.), Scott Brown has got about a 55% chance of winning the MA senate special election tomorrow. This is the beginning of the Tea Party tidal wave that everyone hopes will bring a sea change to DC this fall.

We'll see.

In the meantime, if you'd like to help Scott Brown get elected because, like me, you think Obamacare is a monstrosity, click this link, register, and start making calls.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

16 January 2010

Glenn Beck: You'll Laugh, You'll Cry, You'll Learn about American History Using Blackboards

I like Glenn Beck. He's sincere and gracious and smart and talented and entertaining.

Like Rush Limbaugh, the majority of the people who don't like Glenn have never listened to or watched his show. I really don't care what those people have to say about Glenn or Rush and neither should you for the simple reason that their opinions about Beck & Limbaugh (& others like them) are based on what they learn from Keith Olbermann. Or Jon Stewart. Or Chris Matthews. Or some other such MSM filter that simply never does justice to the ideas and opinions of conservatives.

(h/t Scott L.)

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14 January 2010

Want To Help The People Of Haiti? Try Donating To This Organization

My problem with most humanitarian relief efforts (& indeed, the ones often sponsored by my classmates & on bookface, etc.) is that I am often unable to find out how much of what I donate actually goes to help people. 25%? 95%?

Many of these organizations have so many paid people on staff, better than half of what they take in goes to cover their salaries.

There's one group I trust to use my money carefully--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Don't worry. They won't use your donations to proselytize--humanitarian aid and the funds used to support those efforts are kept entirely separate and are often done in conjunction with other groups--a tactic that helps them to assure potential non-LDS donors that they are not using aid to get converts.

And see this page for the Church's official press release on their humanitarian involvement and how you can donate.

Mind you, none of this should be taken as an effort to disparage any of the many good groups trying to help Haitians devastated by the earthquake.

This is about finding the most efficient and effective way for those of us thousands of miles away to help the people of Haiti.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

06 January 2010

Bret Stephens' Awesomeness Is Showing, Again

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am an admirer of Bret Stephens, WSJ columnist extraordinaire. While his column is a weekly must-read, sometimes it rises to a level even better than that. Such is the case with this one--Our Incompetent Civilization.
But a civilization becomes incompetent not only when it fails to learn the lessons of its past, but also when it becomes crippled by them. Modern Germany, to pick an example, has learned from its Nazi past to eschew chauvinism and militarism. So far, so good. But today's Multikulti Germany, with its negative birth rate, bloated welfare state and pacifist and ecological obsessions is a dismal rejoinder to its own history. It is conceivable that within a century Germans may actually loathe themselves out of existence.


We can be proud of how deeply we mourn the losses of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. But a nation that mourns too deeply ultimately becomes incapable of conducting a war of any description, whether for honor, interest or survival. We rightly care about the environment. But our neurotic obsession with carbon betrays an inability to distinguish between pollution and the stuff of life itself. We are a country of standards and laws. Yet we are moving perilously in the direction of abolishing notions of discretion and judgment.
I know exactly how ridiculous this will read even before I write it, but, well, here goes: I'm watching Season 7 of 24 with my old man and sister and have been very impressed with some of the dialogue. Yes, much of it is overwrought and over-the-top. But--but--the bits where both sides of the life vs liberty debate air their respective arguments, the parts where the nature and use of "torture" is raised, these bits are very good and for the most part, fair to both sides.

If you've read me for long at all, you will know that I sympathize with the group that thinks that civil liberties aren't worth much if you're dead*.

*My actual position is slightly more nuanced than that.

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04 January 2010

Heather MacDonald: 'Grow Up & Quit Vilifying Capitalism'

The anti-business mindset . . . is worthy of a pampered adolescent who is searching for a cause with which to display his unique moral sensibility. It is not worthy of an adult who should be able to use his imagination, if not actual experience, to appreciate the extraordinary human effort that has gone into creating the delightful tools that we daily take for granted. On my desk sit various humble objects—a tiny clock, a stapler, a paper clip box, a Lucite cook book stand for holding up drafts and other papers while I type. Each object represents a fractal geometry of complexity, composed as it is of parts that themselves require enterprise to manufacture, assemble, and deliver, all born along on waves of energy and infrastructure to which yet another set of entrepreneurs contributed. The fact that all of those distributors and manufacturers tried to make a profit does not detract from the fact that they offered goods which enhance our lives. . . .

It is the ingratitude that kills me the most among anti-business types. The materials that furnish a single room in an American home required daring, perseverance, and organizational skill from millions of individuals over generations. I hope they all got filthy rich.
(via the WSJ)

Oh, and Happy New Year.

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