April 26, 2012
Life Imitates ThreeSources
Quick follow-up on our great guest post on the 16th. A good friend of this blog, who works in the financial sector, disputed Secretary Geithner's claim of "profit" from TARP.
Now I see the claim has also been disputed by some right wing hack somewhere -- no, wait! It has been disputed by Christy Romero, the newly installed special inspector general for TARP.
Similar to her predecessor Neil Barofsky, Romero seems to be saying (indirectly, of course!) the Treasury Department -- and Geithner -- have been misleading the American public about the costs of TARP. While that's impossible to prove, there has been a concerted effort by Treasury to paint the program in the best possible light. (Reason.com has compiled a timeline of such statements, for those who want to check the record.)
July 22, 2010
I had to go searching for the President Bush categories. Ahh, happy times (by comparison at least).
Professor Reynolds gets ten points for a TS Elliot reference: "BUSH-ERA “SCANDAL” OVER FIRED U.S. ATTORNEYS ends with a whimper."
Well, guess what - the Obama-Holder Justice Department has, according to AP, decided not to file any charges against any Bush appointees in connection with the DA firings. Now that the news is breaking, however, don't be surprised if somebody decides to reverse the decision, go after different charges, or otherwise seek to bring some sort of legal opprobrium on the former Bush appointees.
Unfortunate -- as with so much of this era and administration -- that the New Black Panther contretemps ended up as a racial discussion. But the real question is the level of political control exercised over the DOJ.
January 20, 2009
Blog Brother AlexC finds a cool slideshow on the WSJ site that graphically tracks presidential approval ratings from Truman through W:
December 27, 2008
More From The Telegraph
Will Fleet Street burst into flames? TWO complementary articles about our departing President in as many weeks! Today, they run a piece by Nile Gardiner, Director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC. And the chattering classes shall surely burst.
Much of the condemnation of his policies though is driven by a venomous hatred of Bush’s personality and leadership style, rather than an objective assessment of his achievements. Ten or twenty years from now, historians will view Bush’s actions on the world stage in a more favourable light. America’s 43rd president did after all directly liberate more people (over 60 million) from tyranny than any leader since Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
My blog brother jg and treasured common-tater tg both say no "worst presidents list" would be complete without him. Reason devoted a special issue to ensuring that he did not leave office without some sneering contempt from his intellectual betters on the right. Gene Healy's Cult of the Presidency and David Boaz's Politics of Freedom devote multiple chapters to blistering attacks. A good lefty friend says that it will take several presidencies to undo all the Bush and Cheney evil.
I don't think I'm a cheerleader at the end of term two. But I am not going to do an Andrew Sullivan on y'all and decide that the Bush Presidency that I cheered was a disaster. He leaves us with a solid Supreme Court, seven years of safety in a troubled world, and two democracies in the Middle East.
Even Sharansky turned on him at the end. I will not
Hat-tip: Jules Crittenden, who adds:
Because war and the defense of freedom, contrary to the misty Hallmark rearview of people unwilling to take any action to do so, is not a pretty or an easy thing. I’d add that it is with tremendous grace that George Bush has accepted his designated role as villain, fall guy, punching bag, even as president-elect Barack Obama picks up where Bush is leaving off. Maybe someday they’ll look back at that small footnote, Bush’s magnanimous handling of the not-so-friendly fire, as another sign of his great statesmanship. Much as Lincoln, revealed as an “ape” by lesser pols and small opinionmongers in his time, is today the statesman, commander in chief and champion of freedom everyone wants to be compared to.
December 15, 2008
No Shoes Were Harmed in Making Thnis Video
I've seen the shoe-throwing video a few times and cannot fault any news director anywhere for showing it. But if anybody is looking for a little balance:
while they were sneering Iraq has inched forward toward a democracy. It’s even turning into a (somewhat) decent place to live. That buffoon-like shoe chucker - his name is Muntazer al-Zaidi from Al-Baghdadia channel which broadcasts from Cairo - proved it. No matter what happens to al-Zaidi now (and it won't be much if anything), it will be nothing like what would have happened to him if he had hurled a shoe at the president during the previous Iraqi administration of Saddam Hussein.
August 30, 2008
Bush 43: History's First Review
Between convention fever and a certain candidate's brilliant choice of a capitalist running dog running mate, I don't want to let this slip away.
Gaddis talks about history's rehabilitating Presidential reputations even when they leave office in unpopularity. I've remained certain that President Bush is due for some better press in the history books than he got in the NY Times. And Gaddis may be a step toward the rehabilitation.
Presidential revisionism tends to begin with small surprises. How, for instance, could a Missouri politician like Truman who never went to college get along so well with a Yale-educated dandy like Acheson? How could Eisenhower, who spoke so poorly, write so well? How could Reagan, the prototypical hawk, want to abolish nuclear weapons? Answering such questions caused historians to challenge conventional wisdom about these Presidents, revealing the extent to which stereotypes had misled their contemporaries.
Excuse me? President Bush recommending books to a Yale History Professor? Don't let that one get out, man, you'll ruin his reputation.
The whole (magazine-length) article is superb. Does anybody recognize this magazine? Is it British? It looks pretty good. (UPDATE: No, not UK based. The masthead lists Francis Fukuyama, Walter Russell Mead & Josef Joffe and an eclectic list of contributors.)
August 10, 2008
It's Good to be the President...
June 16, 2008
Not the Only One Who Will Miss This Guy
I had wanted to link to this post last week. It seems we may be down to single digits (not percent -- actually fewer than ten people) who still have a fondness for our 43rd President. But I count myself in that number -- and Terri does too (at least last Thursday, they're dropping like flies...)
Natan Sharansky, the patron saint of this blog, puts the President's farewell European tour in historical perspective:
But while Mr. Bush is widely seen by Europeans as a religious cowboy with a Manichean view on the world, Europe's growing rift with America predates the current occupant of the White House. When a French foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, declared that his country "cannot accept a politically unipolar world, nor a culturally uniform world, nor the unilateralism of a single hyper power," President Clinton was in the seventh year of his presidency and Mr. Bush was still governor of Texas.
The title of the guest editorial is "Democracies Can't Compromise on Core Values." Whoever wins in November, I suspect 1600 Pennsylvania will be populated by someone far more likely than President Bush to compromise on core democratic values.
March 14, 2008
Say It Ain't So!
"Jimmy P" previews a bit of Larry Kudlow's interview with President Bush tonight, and it is not good news:
But just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians during financial crises, at least not if it's their dough at stake. And while there are plenty of economists out there who are advocating a hands-off approach to the credit crisis and housing implosion—echoing Andrew Mellon's infamous advocacy of "liquidate...liquidate...liquidate"—they will be disappointed. Uncle Sam will probably continue to intervene during this financial turmoil.
And --as Bluto said, "This calls for a pointless gesture!"
I easily scored a new loan for my new Condo the other day. I have approval but have not locked the rate or selected the exact vehicle. I am thinking I should get a 2-year ARM and wait for our new Democratic overlords to pay it (Sorry for the density of pop culture references, I'm pretty upset.)
I look forward to watching the interview (5 PM EST on CNBC). I doubt Larry will let that go easily.
February 19, 2008
We're Gonna Miss This Guy
William McGurn has a guest editorial in the WSJ today, recounting his experience on both sides of the Press Corps vs. White House contretemps. McGurn says in three years "You see who's a straight shooter, and who's full of snark. You see who's smart, and whose outrageous behavior would have made its way to Drudge had it involved White House staffers instead of White House correspondents." He chooses three things where President Bush was right and persevered.
Of course, if you are one of those experts who reassured us that a "well managed defeat" in Iraq was the way for America to go, you don't like hearing the president use plain words like "win" and "victory." Then again, you're not the audience George W. Bush worries about. During one of my first meetings in the Oval Office, the president told me and my fellow speechwriters that we must always be mindful of how his words would sound to the enemy -- and how they would sound to the young Marine risking his life against that enemy in some dusty town in Afghanistan or Iraq.
I have had my differences with W over the years (fewer than most around here) but think we will all recognize, as Jay Nordlinger said, we are going to miss this guy.
Posted by John Kranz at 3:50 PM
December 19, 2007
A Tale of Two Tales on the Omnibus Spending Bill
First, as is my custom, I read the Wall Street Journal. The Editorial page offers "One Budget Cheer" for the President. (free link)
As we at the Journal debated Washington's latest spending deal yesterday, one of our tribe noted that it is the best budget of the Bush Presidency. To which someone else quipped that that was "the soft bigotry of low expectations."
They enumerate the good, bad and ugly
The good news is that Democrats conceded to Mr. Bush's spending cap of $933 billion in domestic discretionary spending for 2008--or $22 billion less than Democrats proposed in their spring budget resolution. Over five years, that $22 billion will save about $205 billion because it won't become part of the annual "baseline" that the pols use as a starting point for next year's automatic budget increases. This is a modest but real victory.
And pork, pork, pork.
I was planning to post this with a contrarian pragmatist commentary, even though I got "bit in the ass" a couple of days ago. We have two houses of Democrats, the President needs to fund the war, I figured this as a pretty good day's work. But I'm still a little sore form that bite.
Don Luskin gives me cover. He calls it Sweet Victory and says that the good guys are going to win.
Following repeated veto threats, the compromise now -- approved 76-17 by the Senate -- cuts $17.5 billion from prior House-passed bills or about 80% of what Democrats once hoped to add to the president's top line.
And offers "frosting on the cake:"
The Democrats’ yearlong fight to boost federal spending on children’s health insurance ended with a whimper Tuesday.
Ten points for a T.S. Eliot allusion, and 20 for the Congressional GOP. The SCHIP defeat is important in a way that cutting pork is not. I'd love a lean budget, I'd love last year's levels, I'd love to have Mitt Romney's hair.
The war is important. The SCHIP battle was important. The Democrats control both houses. Most Republicans are completely worthless. Factor all this in, and count me in the victory party with Mr. Luskin.
UPDATE: Make that Three Americas. The Club for Growth won't go as far as the WSJ. They list the no votes with congrats.
Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 PM
December 6, 2007
a hearty, quarter cheer for Sec. Paulson
The lead editorial (paid link) in the WSJ today has a funny, self deprecating lede:
The next time we suggest that the government give advice to the private sector, tie us down until the fever passes. A couple months ago, we endorsed the idea of mortgage service companies voluntarily negotiating with subprime borrowers and investors to avoid a wave of defaults next year. Now come the politicians to wrap their arms around the idea, and maybe give the U.S. a reputation for forcibly rewriting financial contracts. Don't cry for us, Argentina?
They then get a little more serious, and question just how "voluntary" a plan is when it is negotiated by the US Treasury Department.
We wonder what these parties really think. Offering free advice is one thing. But when the feds sit down as a negotiating partner, the line between moral suasion and coercion starts to blur. Companies begin to think they're hearing an offer they can't refuse. So perhaps we should call it the Not Paulson bailout.
This plan seems to have it all: moral hazard, tax subsidies (States can issue tax free bonds to facilitate refinancing), and plenty of blood in the water to attract the tort bar:
The U.S. economic and legal systems are built on the sanctity of contract, and even the hint that government is compelling investors who now own these mortgages (the banks having sold them as bundled securities) to take less money puts the U.S. on a very dangerous road. At a minimum, it will raise the future risk premium that investors will demand for investing in U.S. real estate, which means it will be costlier to get a mortgage in the future.
What's so good about this plan? The Democratic House has one that is much worse, as does Senator Clinton:
Many in the Bush Administration and mortgage industry privately agree that this is dubious policy, but they plead that it's better than the alternatives being offered on Capitol Hill. These include "antipredatory lending" laws and new bankruptcy provisions that are punitive and would delay any recovery in the mortgage market. Right on time, Hillary Clinton weighed in with the truly awful idea of freezing subprime mortgage rates for five years -- presumably, through the end of her re-election campaign in 2012. She'd combine price controls and contract repudiation -- an Argentina double.
Doing nothing is proudly suggested by my wingnut friends at the WSJ Ed Page, but everybody knows it is not an option. In a choice between the lame "Not Paulson Bailout" and a new SarbOx for lenders, it's easy to choose sides:
go president bush, go secretary paulson. yaay.
Posted by John Kranz at 11:26 AM
December 1, 2007
Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err shares my appreciation for press secratery Dana Perino, bringing us this exchange with Helen Thomas:
Q Why should we depend on him?
Someday, won't even the press corps become embarassed with Ms. Thomas?
Posted by John Kranz at 3:47 PM
November 28, 2007
Kind Words for a Bush Appointee
Gregory Mankiw says choosing Keith Hennessey to replace Al Hubbard as the head of the National Economic Council is "an excellent choice."
Posted by John Kranz at 5:59 PM
September 2, 2007
Can we take up a collection and give this guy a million dollars to stick around through the end of the term?
Duane R. Patterson, on Hugh Hewitt’s blog, shares this:
Posted by John Kranz at 6:52 PM
August 17, 2007
Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson pens a nice piece about "the architect."
But in several years as a colleague, I found Rove to be the most unusual political operative I have ever known; so exceptional he doesn't belong in the category. His most passionate, obsessive love -- after his wife -- is American history. He visits its shrines and collects its scraps -- carefully archived pictures of President William McKinley's funeral, original ballots from the 1860 election. And from American history Rove knows: Events are not moved primarily by techniques; they are moved by ideas.
Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM
August 9, 2007
Lame Duck This!
Please oh please oh please let this bylined story in the WaPo be true.
President Bush said yesterday that he is considering a fresh plan to cut tax rates for U.S. corporations to make them more competitive around the world, an initiative that could further inflame a battle with the Democratic Congress over spending and taxes and help define the remainder of his tenure.
That would be a good fight to spend the balance of his tenure upon. It's a good story, covering Bush's tough stance on letting his signature tax cuts expire, and the fight over whether a Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bailout is the best solution for the "subprime-lending-crisis." Senator Schumer and Congressman Frank, mirabile non dictu, think that's a good idea.
Thankfully, for a year and a half, we have the right person in the White House.
Posted by John Kranz at 11:39 AM
July 11, 2007
WASHINGTON -- The White House's deficit forecast for the current fiscal year has narrowed to $205 billion, an administration official said Wednesday.
There was some chatter on Kudlow the other day that Rep Nussle may be able to communicate the success of the Bush tax cuts better than Mr. Portman. I was sorry he was stolen from TeamRudy2088! but wish him success.
July 9, 2007
Part D Medicare Open Thread
My ruthless SQL script closes comments on all entries older than seven days. This is about the time they roll off the front page. If anybody wants that policy amended, I'm all ears.
A running thread about President Bush, the "ownership society," and political pragmatism has spanned a few entries and inspired thoughtful comments from Perry Eidlebus (Eidelblog) and Terri (I think (^link) therefore I err). Perry suggests that he is not done, and I'm always game. Consider this an invitation to seven more days.
I'll briefly recap my position. President Bush's "ownership society" initiatives are disconcerting to small government types (among whom I normally number myself). They do NOT reduce the size, cost or influence of the Federal government. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) greatly expands Federal influence in education, contravening the spirit and likely the letter of the Ninth Amendment. Medicare Part D (Prescription drug benefit) was a huge, new entitlement and future liability. The private Social Security accounts did not proceed too far through legislative process, but would likely have been larded up with additional benefits to secure passage.
I contend that all of these had -- as a redeeming factor -- a "seed crystal" of a market mechanism: NCLB called for testing of schools and vouchers to help those in the worst schools escape. Part D did not set up the government as the purchaser and payer for drugs, but required participants to select a private insurer through whom prescriptions would be purchased.
You hear many tepid qualifiers in my non-fulsome defense. It scares me to expand government and the President likely gave up too much on all of them. But, in the absence of these programs, there would have been calls for less market-friendly solutions to the same problems. as we hear in the Democratic debates.
Fundamentally, I remind those who abhor these compromises that we're on the same side. I'm a bad warrior because I see that we do not have the political strength to prevail. I remain happy to get pieces of what I want in bad, ugly packages.
Let the games begin!
[D]id you close comments in that other thread from late June? We're not done talking about Part D, and I'm not done with Terri. I genuinely am a nice guy, but I have this tendency to be merciless. Or we could continue things on my blog, but if Terri doesn't join in, it wouldn't be as fun for me.
April 15, 2007
Tax Day Coffee Smelling
Officially, tax day isn't until Tuesday (due to the 15th being on a Sunday and the 16th being an official holiday in D.C.) but the well known and lamented date of April 15th mustn't go by without some discussion of the state of taxation in America.
"Work hard. Be faithful. You'll get your just reward."
Those words appear on a statuette my father was given on the occasion of the closing of the College of Engineering at the University of Denver, where he had tenure. (The statuette was of a conscientious gentleman with a giant blue screw through his torso.) They can just as well be applied to American taxpayers who have earned a high school diploma or better in their educational career.
The preceeding chart comes from a fascinating April 4, 2007 study report by Robert Rector et. al. of The Heritage Foundation entitled, 'The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Households to the U.S. Taxpayer.' The report summarizes the chart this way:
Chart 7 compares households headed by persons without a high school diploma to households headed by persons with a high school diploma or better. Whereas the dropout-headed household paid only $9,689 in taxes in FY 2004, the higher-skill households paid $34,629— more than three times as much. While dropout-headed households received from $32,138 to $43,084 in benefits, high-skill households received less: $21,520 to $30,819. The difference in government benefits was due largely to the greater amount of means-tested aid received by low-skill households.
OK, so you're probably wondering, what's new? What's new is the trend in dropout households in the U.S. According to the World Net Daily article that cites the study:
About two-thirds of illegal alien households are headed by someone without a high school degree. Only 10 percent of native-born Americans fit into that category.
I have advocated on these pages (and stand by it today) that immigration should be free and unlimited to non-criminal aliens, provided that citizenship (and voting rights) must still be earned and that entitlement programs that make immigrants a burden on the taxpayer are first reduced or eliminated.
The Rector report explains the realities we face.
Politically feasible changes in government policy will have little effect on the level of fiscal deficit generated by most low-skill households for decades. For example, to make the average low-skill household fiscally neutral (taxes paid equaling immediate benefits received plus interest on government debt), it would be necessary to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, all 60 means-tested aid programs and cut the cost of public education in half. It seems certain that, on average, low-skill households will generate deep fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future.
Hat tip: The Canadian Sentinel
Click continue reading to see the report's conclusion in its entirety.
Households headed by persons without a high school diploma are roughly 15 percent of all U.S. households. Overall, these households impose a significant fiscal burden on other taxpayers: The cost of the government benefits they consume greatly exceeds the taxes they pay to government. Before government undertakes to transfer even more economic resources to these households, it should have a very clear account of the magnitude of the economic transfers that already occur.
The substantial net tax burden imposed by low-skill U.S. households also suggests lessons for immigration policy. Recently proposed immigration legislation would greatly increase the number of poorly educated immigrants entering and living in the United States. Before this policy is adopted, Congress should examine carefully the potential negative fiscal effects of low-skill immigrant households receiving services.
Politically feasible changes in government policy will have little effect on the level of fiscal deficit generated by most low-skill households for decades. For example, to make the average low-skill household fiscally neutral (taxes paid equaling immediate benefits received plus interest on government debt), it would be necessary to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, all 60 means-tested aid programs and cut the cost of public education in half. It seems certain that, on average, low-skill households will generate deep fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future. Policies that reduce the future number of high school dropouts and other policies affecting future generations could reduce long-term costs.
Future government policies that would expand entitlement programs such as Medicaid would increase future deficits at the margin. Policies that reduced the out-of-wedlock childbearing rate or which increased the real educational attainments and wages of future low-skill workers could reduce deficits somewhat in the long run.
Changes to immigration policy could have a much larger effect on the fiscal deficits generated by low-skill families. Policies which would substantially increase the inflow of low-skill immigrant workers receiving services would dramatically increase the fiscal deficits described in this paper and impose substantial costs on U.S. taxpayers.
March 29, 2007
The Real Front Line in the Iraq War
I place great importance on the lessons of history. Unfortunately, having lived only since the early sixties (and having a mediocre public school education influenced by John Dewey) I wasn't aware of a counterinsurgency war in the fifties - fought by France and the Algerian government against Muslim extremists in that country - until today.
Arthur Herman, retired professor of History at George Mason and Georgetown Universities, explains on today's WSJ Ed page how the French ultimately defeated the combatants on foreign soil but were ultimately forced to surrender to them anyway.
What happened was this: while the French military had been concentrating on fighting the insurgency in the streets and mountains in Algeria, an intellectual and cultural insurgency at home, led by the French left and the media, had been scoring its own succession of victories.
The "surge" is underway in Iraq. While long overdue it is, as Herman describes earlier in the piece, showing remarkable progress. [Read the whole thing.] But to avoid the same fate described above, America's domestic leaders need to initiate an intellectual surge on the home front. The survival of Iraqi patriots, and of America's ability to champion liberty anywhere in the world, hang in the balance.
January 27, 2007
Responding to the Response
Hugh Hewitt brings us "An essay from an active duty officer with more than 25 years of service, addressed to his fellow USNA alum, Senator James Webb."
The essay is serious and forthright. Those who opposed Webb's Senate election and disagreed with his SOTU response will enjoy it. I know I did. One could criticize it for a bit of "SwiftBoating." I don't use that word as pejoratively as Senator Kerry, but I think that O'Neill and the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth erred when they mixed personal and trivial allegations with those that were far more serious.
In this essay (the officer is active duty and the piece is anonymous), the suggestion is made that the prickly, angry, ex-Republican, ex-SecNavy is still nursing a grudge over a "brigades" boxing match he lost to LTC Oliver North. It's an interesting bit of history and a better bit of gossip, seconded by another "boat school" alum who thought the same.
In the end, that critique has a little too much Oprah in it. I don't think it is fair to psychoanalyze Webb over the TV. Yet the same article makes serious points about the history of war from Thucydides and the history of the Democrats from the Civil War:
What we are witnessing today is the return of the worst hits of the Democratic Party. Going back to the American Civil War, Democrats were against THAT war and tried mightily to undermine President Lincoln. Those Democrats became known as Copperheads or Peace Democrats and, these were labels of which they were proud. They wanted the president to negotiate a peace with the Confederates and put an end to a far more bloody war than the war in Iraq when things were going so very wrong for the Union. So there is a long history of this behavior in the Democratic Party. There was a time they could only envision defeat, not victory. This was NOT true during WW I or WW II, but now the Democrats love to bring up Vietnam and the loss suffered there, and it remains for them the measuring stick against which all US military action MUST be compared. James Webb is a product of that policy failure and he is clearly embittered by it.
A great weekend-length read. As one commenter said:
Remind me NEVER to cross a Naval officer or Marine.
You'd think some folks would learn...
January 25, 2007
Senatorial Surrender Monkeys
First the Democrats...
US Senate panel opposes plan to send more troops to Iraq
Then the Republicans...
Senate showdown looms for troop buildup in Iraq
Key GOP senator opposes Bush's Iraq plan
War stage set: Congress v Bush
All of this about-facing and navel gazing is nauseating, and unseemly for a stately body such as the United States Senate. But it does remind me of the way I felt back in 2003 when another group of surrender monkeys was wringing its hands. Here's what I said then and here's
Posted by JohnGalt at 7:44 PM
January 24, 2007
The Best Line
I forgot it, but Larry Kudlow did not:
"A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy – and that is what we have. We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth – in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs ... so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. This economy is on the move – and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government but with more enterprise." - President Bush in last night's State of the Union
Posted by John Kranz at 3:39 PM
The health care proposal is "Dead On Arrival" says Nina Easton of FORTUNE Magazine on FOXNews, according to her sources and no one disagrees. Arnold Kling gave it an A+, the Dems a DOA+. It is safe to say he doesn't have a chance in hell of getting it, but it might be something the GOP could build on for 2008. The health care hybrid is broken. The Democrats want to make it more collectivist, the Republicans more free market. That's a good fight.
Yes, he said "confront the serious problem of global warming." He gave it away, too. Not in trade for policy -- it was a throw away line. Does he expect the enviros will love him now? Get ready to hear "Even President Bush says..." many times. He sold the skeptics out for nothing. Even a crack whore commands some remuneration, Mr. President. The only serious flaw in the speech. It could have been worse. I suppose.
Was it me or was Senator Grassley weeping tears of joy when the President suggested more ethanol subsidies. The dude was crying! I suppose Senator Harkin was just too disheveled to actually show on TV.
The foreign policy pitch was perfect. Like Bill Kristol, I liked the attribution of setbacks in 2006 to our enemies' successes instead of our failures. I also was relieved by the clear dividing line of the Samara Mosque bombing. War opponents act like things have been in the toilet for four years; no, things were picking up and they took a bathroom-fixture-swirly direction when the Sunnis blew up a sacred Shia site. I tell people that all the time (for which I have few friends left) and was glad to hear the President underscore it.
More money for AIDS and Malaria in Africa. We can hope that we help only a few fewer than we hurt, but it polls well.
The pitch to :"Madame Speaker" at the beginning was perfect, as was the salute to Dad. He pulled up just in time before it went too far. The language was good. Since Gersten and Frum are gone, you don't hear many good turns of phrase but last night had a few: "Putting in earmarks when even C-Span isn't watching," "You didn't vote for defeat," "we will show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory."
My brother-in-law called at the end and said he'd give it a B+. I'd certainly go there. Without the global warming sop, it would have been an A-.
UPDATE:I mistakenly cited Nina Easton as being from Forbes magazine. She is the Washington Bureau Chief for FORTUNE. I corrected the post and ThreeSources regrets the error.
Posted by John Kranz at 11:20 AM
January 23, 2007
Larry's Pretty Upbeat
All bad news this afternoon: AMD and Yahoo earnings disappoint, Hezbollah has Beirut in flames, Bush approval ratings actually go negative (okay, I made the last one up, but barely).
When you need a ray of sunshine, Larry Kudlow's blog is rarely a bad place to look. Today, he offers his An Excellent Economic State of the Union It's a long post, full of good signs, but I liked the end: something to remember about our so called beleaguered President.
As President George W. Bush takes the podium tonight for his seventh State of the Union message, his policy of lower marginal tax rates and a general absence of overregulation (with the exception of Sarbox, but including the opposition to carbon caps) has succeeded in nurturing low inflation and entrepreneurial economic growth.
Posted by John Kranz at 6:23 PM
January 22, 2007
W Gets an A+
It's not everyday the President gets an A+ from Arnold Kling, but he has today. In Capping a Bad Tax Break Kling applauds the prereleased details of the President's Health Care plan.
I would grade this as "A ". The question is whether he can get any Democratic support. My guess is that some of the most extravagant health insurance plans come from unions. The fact that the President's proposal is much more "progressive" than the status quo (as it stands now, the "rich" benefit the most from not having to declare the cost of gold-plated health plans as income) will not get any support from "progressives."
Hat-tip to Josh at Everyday Economist, who has some kind words for it as well.
I was concerned that the reduced deductibility was a tax increase for the rich, perversely telling employers that they cannot provide too much health care. Yet I am conceding to my economic superiors: Hendrickson, Kling, and Mankiw.
The plan would break the perverse incentive structure which allows employers to provide comprehensive care disguised as insurance as a tax-free benefit, indirectly righting the broken incentive of overusing health care because it's paid for by another.
The President gets his share of abuse on these pages (not from me, don't send the jackbooted thugs to my address Mr. Gonzales) but we do a disservice to ignore the positive features of "compassionate conservatism" where President Bush does seek to repair broken incentives.
January 11, 2007
The Surge II
I have been suffering from gross punditry deficiency. My Satellite is still snowed in and can see the local channels but not FOXNews, CNBC (A week without Kudlow & Company", send rations!) I watched the President's Speech last night without the usual fire hose of opinion.
I thought it was a very good speech. Not much rhetorical flourish, but serious and forthright. The troop surge on which all the preliminary punditry focused is likely not the important change. The big change is that the US military is going to be set loose on the Mahdi Army and Sadr militia elements. I know whom I'd bet on.
I like that Bush had nice words for the Baker-Hamilton Commission while he ignores many of their most ridiculous ideas. One of the big strategic changes is the change of CENTCOM Command. Ralph Peters asks and answers:
Why put a swabbie in charge of grunt operations?
President Bush is still playing to win and I am not betting against the free world's armed forces.
January 3, 2007
Today's Tony Snow Moment
A continuing series at Extreme Mortman:
There seems to be a lot of concern about the last two minutes of Saddam Hussein’s life and less about the first 69 in which he murdered hundreds of thousands of people. That’s why he was executed.
Posted by John Kranz at 7:00 PM
November 9, 2006
I know I will miss the SecDef's pres conferences, and I suspect that the troops will miss the SecDef. I won't comment of the President's decision to change. His cabinet serves at his discretion.
I will not stand still for the Senator Durbin's of the world to imply that he leaves as a failure. I could not remember where I read this. When I went back to blog it, I couldn't find it:
"The Military cannot change itself, no organization can do that. Imagine your company or organization suddenly saying that it needs to change to meet business challenges because that's what the CEO read in a magazine over the weekend. How's that work? You spend months on 'Mission statements' and going on useless employee retreats and in the end, the same lame-o fatass managers run the same asininely redundant departments only with different titles and cost centers. How do you get a company to change? You don't change because you want to, you change because the competition forces you to change. You get creamed in a quarterly result, or you get merged with the competition. So what happens to us if our Military gets creamed in combat or 'Merged'? In that respect, Rumsfelds transformation doest seem so bad now does it?
It was in a letter to Glenn Reynolds that was published on Instapundit. It is now revived in a TCS Daily column by Josh Manchester.
I tell people I like capitalism because of tortilla packages with ZipLock(r) closures built in (now you know why I'm so pro-Immigration). I tell people that no company would go through the difficult and expensive process of changing to more expensive packaging -- except, if they thought they could increase sales. Or if they were losing sales to a competitor who did.
Change sucks. Mr. Schumpeter. It's difficult and we kind of like the way things are now. Rumsfeld turned the Schumpeterian fans on full blast and pointed the breeze at some comfortable Generals.
He wears the antipathy as a badge of honor. He should. Good luck to Mr. Gates, but Secretary Rumsfeld, you leave Washington as hero.
UPDATE: Treat yourself to reading his excellent speech at Kansas State University.
In 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower, spoke to the nation for the last time as President. He warned of a long struggle ahead. He said:
October 16, 2006
Palestinians and Founders
You need a to have a lobotomy before become Secretary of State?
"I should never have grown up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama to become the secretary of state of the United States of America," Rice said, adding that eventually, once these visions do come true, "we wonder why did anyone ever doubt that it was possible."
Remind me again of who plays the role of George Washington, Patrick Henry, Martin Luther King? I guess the by any means necessary Malcolm X strategy is evident. Benedict Arnold?
Flashback: Some Condi '08 debate here.
(tip to HotAir)
September 12, 2006
Who saw it?
I didn't find any discussion of the President's speech. Glenn was busy recording a podcast, even Hugh Hewitt was AWOL.
I loved it. I thought it conveyed a nice balance of tribute for the fallen with resolve to win the War on Terror. Mort Kondracke on FOXNews called it "almost Churchillian" and I'd have to agree. Most notably, the President has not lost his Sharanskyism. He believes that freedom for the MidEast is the answer.
While we've come to a bumpy patch, I'd like to ask his opponents what other choices exist? If we're going to shrink from the hard work of spreading freedom, what else will prevent attacks from Islamofascists? We can hunker down, we can play complete defense, I suppose we could all convert and trade Madisonian Democracy for shar'ia.
The President was clear, resolved, and compassionate. A badly needed home run late in the eighth. I'm just worried that nobody was watching.
September 4, 2006
Another One Bites the Dust!
"And another one's gone, and another one's gone. Doop doop doop da doop!"
US and Iraqi forces have arrested the second most senior figure of al-Qaida in Iraq and killed 20 fellow militants.
I had to scroll through the "all 825 news articles" Google link to find one from Australia in order to avoid liberal media bias in the report. For example, the ITV [Britain] version that I took the photo from waited until the fifth of seven paragraphs before mentioning the captured man's name, and even then did it thusly:
Hours after an "embarrassed" US military again postponed a ceremony to hand command of Iraqi troops to the government, the national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie summoned reporters to a news conference to announce that Hamid Juma Faris al-Suaidi had been seized some days ago.
So after starting the story with, "Security officials [no mention of whose] claim [as it's apparently in dispute] to have arrested the second-in-command of the terror [what, no scare quotes?] group al-Qaeda in Iraq," they morphed this news item into a slanted report on the so-called occupation of Iraq by the US military. In the process they inplicity question Washington's sincerity to "let Americans go home."
If you still wonder why the majority public opinion is that things are going "badly" in Iraq, here's your answer.
July 19, 2006
Glenn Reynolds said it best. The good news is that we finally have a presidential veto. The bad news is that it is on stem-cell research.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush will use his first veto on Wednesday to stop legislation to expand embryonic stem cell research championed by top scientists and desired by most Americans.
JohnGalt was biting his tongue in a comment below, as we both praised President Bush for his muscular reaction to terrorism and his refusal to ask Israel for a cease fire.
Unclench your jaw my friend. This issue is complex. I am guessing that we are on the same side in a way. Using a pro-life argument to block scientific research rubs me the wrong way, and I'm guessing that is what disturbs you.
On the other hand, kimosabe, we are talking about Federal funding of research. Private companies can do what they want. Applying limits to Federal Funding seems very legitimate even if don't happen to agree with the reason. I'll allow you to make the case for Federal funding.
As a pragmatist, I just want to crawl back into bed. I work at home now and the temptation is always there. The GOP leadership was both foolish and myopic to allow this to transpire. This puts the President in a very bad light and will hurt Republicans.
The Glenn Reynolds argument will seize the issue. Every bill that he did not veto is now suitable for highlight. The farm bill, porcine appropriations: every bill is now subject to the question why X was okay but Y was worth a veto.
The Senate did not have time to pass a resolution supporting Israel, but we can embarrass the President with a little political gamesmanship. A bad, bad day to be a Republican.
July 16, 2006
Iranian Nukes? We'll Soon Know
We knew this was coming sooner rather than later when we witnessed the "elections" of Ahmadinejad in Iran and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. When the "imperialist" American administration and the "Hitler" and "Ghengis Khan" like Israelis did nothing to provoke open warfare with Iran, those swell Iranian mullahs grew tired of waiting. As Robert Tracinski writes, "If, in the face of repeated threats and provocation by an aggressive dictatorship, you refuse to go to war, the war will eventually come to you." Two years after the 'forward strategy of freedom' swept the Syrian army out of Lebanon, Hezbollah was under growing pressure to leave as well. No reasonable person should have expected them to leave peacefully. (What do you think they are, pluralistic democrats? No, they're Islamofascists you fools!)
A timely example of such a fool is Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, who said on Fox News Sunday this morning that, essentially, it's Bush's fault! Dodd attributes the military action in south Lebanon to diplomatic failure:
"It seems to be that you have to go beyond just understanding the friendship, which is important, but for Israel's benefit and our own, we have missed, I think over the last number of years, the ability to really engage in the kind of diplomatic efforts in the middle east. From 1967 up until the end of the Clinton administration, every administration has remained very, very engaged in the middle east. This administration unfortunately has seen the word diplomacy and negotiation as somehow a favor to your enemies. I think unfortunately we've allowed this time to elapse over the last several years, the resolution 1559 was adopted two years ago, and the administration's done nothing in my view to really insist that the Lebanese rid southern Lebanon of Hezbollah and so this time has gone through without really engaging in the process thus we find ourselves today, Israel certainly has the right to defend itself. What it's doing is absolutely necessary. If Lebanon and Syria will recognize that those soldiers need to be returned and also Hezbollah has to get out of southern Lebanon then I think you could bring a cease-fire about."
To be fair, it has been nearly five years since Islamofascists unilaterally slaughtered 3000 American civilians with airliners. But despite this, why is Dodd still endorsing the realpolitik appeasement cum stability strategy of the past thirty years? Does he genuinely believe that it will lead to regional and worldwide peace if we just give it another decade or three to work itself out?
I can't say whether it is a symptom or a cause of America's confusion in general, or Dodd's in particular, but there is clearly a filter in place between the events of the mideast and the front pages of America's news media. Compare some recent news excerpts in America to those in, notably, Australia:
WSJ- 'World Leadership Reacts To Escalating Mideast Violence'
AP (via Houston Chronicle)- 'Hezbollah rocket barrage kills 8 in Haifa'
And, in the most offensive of my three examples,
Chigago Tribune- '2 dead on Israeli warship; jets attack Lebanon anew'
Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes renewed attacks on Lebanon early Saturday, targeting bridges, fuel depots and gas stations in the east and south, security officials said."
""You wanted an open war and we are ready for an open war," Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in a taped statement broadcast Friday. He vowed to strike even deeper into Israel with rockets."
The clear message to American voters: The "cycle of violence" continues and Hezbollah/Lebanon are defending their sovereignty from Israeli aggression.
In contrast, Australians read the following headlines:
The Australian- 'Militants' missile hits ship with Iranian troops' help'
"A military official said the group was also believed to have longer-range projectiles that could hit the Israeli commercial hub of Tel Aviv."
The Australian- 'Strikes to intensify in four-stage strategy'
Fifty caches, some hidden underground and in private homes, were reportedly destroyed. It is unclear what percentage of the 13,000 missiles known to be in Hezbollah hands that accounts for."
"In the second stage, which began early on Friday, warplanes attacked the heart of Hezbollah power, shattering high-rise buildings in south Beirut housing the militia's command structure as well as the home of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who was reportedly trapped for a while in the underground command centre when the building above it collapsed."
"The third and fourth stages are still secret. However, the sources said the operation calls for each of the four stages to be more powerful than the previous one."
"Israeli officials say the international community will not force Israel to stop before its goals are achieved."
Sydney Morning Herald- 'With US backing, Israel determined to go for the kill'
Whatever the outrage on the Arab streets, Washington believes it has strong behind-the-scenes support among key Arab leaders also nervous about the populist militants - with a tacit agreement that the timing is right to strike."
"Israel and the US would like to hold out until Hezbollah is crippled. "It seems like we will go to the end now," said Israel's ambassador to the US, Daniel Ayalon. "We will not go part way and be held hostage again. We'll have to go for the kill - Hezbollah's neutralisation."
These stories give a far different perspective on the current munitions exchanges: Israel is under attack by Iran-sponsored terrorists embedded in a third nation, Lebanon. Hezbollah rockets target Israeli civilians while Israeli laser-guided bombs target, Hezbollah rockets. Contrary to the protestations and accusations of one Christopher Dodd, the Bush adminstration has clearly been working in concert with regional and world governments to lay the groundwork for Israel to help Lebanon exorcise Hezbollah from its cities and countryside without manic diplomatic attempts to protect the terrorists.
Dodd warns that, "This could spin out of control to such a degree that we have a major, major war in the middle east." The reality is that the cold phase of that war has been raging since at least 1979, with Iran's Islamic revolution. Iran has decided it is time to turn up the heat on this war and it certainly appears that Israel, the Bush adminstration and key western governments anticipated it, were prepared for it, and are in the process of winning it.
There is little reason for concern that Israel's defense forces will fail in this effort. The two areas of concern are that diplomatic failures will allow allies like France and Russia to reverse course and, more ominously, that Iran's threat that attacking Syria " ... will definitely face the Zionist regime with unimaginable damages" portends their possession and imminent detonation of a nuclear bomb. Let us hope that western intelligence and military authorities have this matter as well in hand as they appear to have Hezbollah's rockets.
June 8, 2006
“In today’s political climate, daily headlines and fast-moving events make it easy to lose the forest for the trees,” Bush counselor Dan Bartlett wrote in a memo this week. “But there is a clear tide of positive developments that reflect the president’s ability to get things done.”
Bartlett’s memo was dismissed as “happy talk” by Mark Halperin, political director of ABC News. And White House correspondent Ken Herman of Cox Newspapers noted that Barlett “found reason for optimism in Iraq ... on a day when gunmen rounded up 56 people at a Baghdad bus stop.”
Yet the White House remains convinced it is not getting a fair shake from the mainstream media.
“We hear a great deal about the problems we face,” Bush aide Peter Wehner wrote in an op-ed published Monday by the Washington Post. “We hear hardly anything about encouraging developments.
“Off-key as it may sound in the current environment, a strong case can be made that in a number of areas there are positive trends and considerable progress,” he added.
I suspect history will be much kinder to Bush 43 than the first draft is.
Posted by AlexC at 12:26 AM
May 16, 2006
The Speech Is Polling Well
Insty links to a Corner post:
David Frum, the smartest man I know, got it wrong. CNN has a poll just up, and the results are staggeringly in the president's favor. 79 percent of those who watched had a very favorable or favorable view of the speech, and those who support the president's policies rose in number from 42 to 67 percent.
I shared my disillusion with a friend via email. He missed the speech, AlexC "had it on." I heard some grumbling from all the populists (Michelle Malkin enjoyed watching the President and making fun of the speech with that towering mind of GOP politics, Rep Tom Tancredo). Hugh Hewitt was measured -- even Bill O'Reilly was cautiously optimistic. But I heard and read so little from Administration supporters.
Folks, the President knocked one out of the park last night. He addressed the nation (even the broadcast networks covered it) and he addressed the topic that every pollster says is driving his approval ratings down. He discussed the issue that is dividing the Republican voters of ThreeSources. He delivered a great speech on an important topic. He outlined a compromise: comprehensive reform that most folks should be able to live with. I really expected the ThreeSourcers to rally together around this plan as good policy and good politics.
Posted by John Kranz at 7:28 PM
April 27, 2006
I disagree with most all of this TNR Editorial. Yet, sometimes you must appreciate the rhetoric of the other side. The Editors call President Bush the lamest duck since James Buchanan, which I refute, but I loved the next line:
Second-term presidents often see their agenda stalled by gridlock. But haggling over substance at least has the excitement value of conflict and opposition. Bush, on the other hand, has seen his agenda die from within, of its own accord. The last years of Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Reagan were like watching an angry traffic snarl. The last years of George W. Bush's presidency are like watching a car resting on cement blocks in the front yard.
Posted by John Kranz at 12:44 PM
April 25, 2006
AlexC Gets Results
CNN is reporting that Tony Snow will likely take the job as White House press secretary. This is a good thing. Snow is a strong, smart, savvy and principled person. He is also a remarkable human being.
March 20, 2006
Sec. Snow Fires Back
It astounds me -- and Larry Kudlow -- that the Bush administration seems to allow others to frame the debate on the economy, in short that they never fight back. Secretary Snow, in an interview in the Wall Street Journal news pages, does just that.
"What's been happening in the United States for about 20 years is [a] long-term trend to differentiate compensation," Mr. Snow said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last week. "Look at the Harvard economics faculty, look at doctors over here at George Washington University...look at baseball players, look at football players. We've moved into a star system for some reason which is not fully understood. Across virtually all professions, there have been growing gaps."
Wow! defending wage disparity as the product of an efficient market. I must be dreaming or something.
As hard as I have been on the Bush administration lately, it occurs to me that in the recent differences between the President and Congressional Republicans, I have been on the side of Mr. Bush. He was right on the Dubai ports deal, right on the need for a guest worker program, right on the need to extend the tax cuts. My brother-in-law said "count me in with the 38% who are still with him." Me too.
The Journal piece (remember that their news pages are pretty liberal) suggests that averages distort the picture for middle class Americans. Mirabile non dictu, I disagree. I think the naysayers are cherry-picking negative data -- and that it is getting harder and harder to find it.
An efficient economy will always have uncertainty. Buggy whip manufacturers will need to worry (unless they live in France...) but Snow had good news to share.
Mr. Snow distributed a fact sheet that showed after-tax income per person, adjusted for inflation, rose 8.2% from January 2001, when George W. Bush took office as president, through January 2006. The sheet also showed that per-person net worth -- total assets minus debt -- rose 24%, unadjusted for inflation, from early 2001 to the end of 2005. "People have more money in their pocket" and in their bank accounts, he said.
Put that in your opium pipe and smoke it, Keynesians!
Posted by John Kranz at 10:44 AM
March 3, 2006
Correcting the Record
Remember when the AP breathlessly reported that Bush Knew about the levees and Katrina?
Oops... They're correcting the record.
The Army Corps of Engineers considers a breach a hole developing in a levee rather than an overrun. The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaking.
The day before the storm hit, Bush was told there were grave concerns that the levees could be overrun. It wasn't until the next morning, as the storm was hitting, that Michael Brown, then head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Bush had inquired about reports of breaches. Bush did not participate in that briefing.
Powerline and RedState both throw a few punches in.
Anyone who was paying attention and wanted to deal honestly with the story actually knew that. At no time in the video was the President warned of a levee breach. Despite that, the AP ran with the story that the President had been warned of a breach.
So what did the AP do? It waited two whole days, let the story fester, and then on Friday at 7 p.m., after the evening news programs that had run the previous story concluded for the week, ran a "clarification."
When the story broke, I said...
Well, the story is the AP throwing out crap hoping some would stick. ... and well, it worked.
March 2, 2006
Remember the breathless stories from the media about roving gangs of rapists and murders in the New Orleans Superdome? Anarchy reigned in the streets of the Big Easy.
It was terrible.
... and then remember how it didn't happen?
Fool me once...
Now here's another story. George Bush knew New Orleans was going to be destroyed.
And he did NOTHING to stop it.
Somehow I suspect once to full story of these FEMA / DHS meetings is released, we'll all go, "Huh? Where's the story?"
Oh, and Mayor Ray Nagin is the victim here. He had no idea New Orleans was vulnerable. Evacuating a city? That's the President's job!
Posted by AlexC at 2:40 PM
February 17, 2006
Word of the Day
Condign: adj., deserved, adequate.
The WSJ Ed page says, in Chertoff's Penance: "It sounds like the man has actually thought about this, which is more than most of Congress has done. Rather than replace [Michael Chertoff] with some other punching bag, a more condign punishment for Katrina would be to insist that he stick around and finish the job".
Posted by John Kranz at 1:38 PM
February 13, 2006
I've been pretty down on my homestate's Senator Arlen Specter lately. [lately? how about always? -ed.] I don't need to list the reasons. However, he did make up for it a bit with his effort during the Alito hearings.
So here's another chance.
Senator Spector should head up a commission to determine exactly what happened on the Cheney Quail Hunt and it's attempt to hide the truth from the Washington Press Corp.
Posted by AlexC at 6:26 PM
February 6, 2006
Bigger than ever.
Posted by AlexC at 8:45 PM
February 1, 2006
If Cosmo can post on NRO Corner, jk's dog Skylark wants a spot at ThreeSources.
It seems there was a heroic German Shepherd in the gallery last night. Rex, a guest of the first lady:
How Rex landed such a coveted seat — actually a spot in the aisle labeled "Rex" on the official seating chart — is quite a tale.
That's an earmark we can all support. Not smelly like those pig's ears...
Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM
I always like to post on a speech before I am ruined by the punditry I read.
I come across a Bush lackey to some, but I thought it was a very good speech last night and it was one of his better deliveries. Our president has learned to give a domestic speech and use a TelePrompTer; I am so proud.
The foreign policy segment was perfect. He praised the troops, defended the mission, laid out the stakes, and asserted the need for Executive authority in combating terrorism. Pitch perfect.
The domestic stuff doesn't resonate with me but I believe that he believes it. He really thinks that government has a place in improving education - he's not just saying it for votes. I do not share that view. I will try to be open minded when he unfurls additional detail, but that was a hard part of the speech for me. (We discussed Spinach vs. Ice Cream, this was a dentist drill).
As blog pragmatist, though, I am not gonna let it ruin my SOTU experience. I liked the speech and am proud of my efforts to reelect him.
Partisan gripe: the best achievement the Democrats could trumpet was the fact that they halted any effort to fix Social Security. No they didn't pass their plan, no they didn't influence the GOP plan, they just blocked any reform so that the problem can fester. And that was the only thing they felt worthy of a Dem-only standing ovation.
I guess Gov. Kaine did pretty well in the rebuttal. I am a tough sell. He says "there's a better way" but I notice the Democrats never really mention one. He called for more bipartisanship in problem solving; I certainly haven't seen the Democrats as being open to it.
It was good that they kept Sense. Kerry and Kennedy under wraps and showed a moderate voice. Do you figure Rahm Emmanuel had Cindy Sheehan arrested? That worked out pretty well.
January 30, 2006
I'm not a big fan of polling. But it's always an easy news story and generally blog fodder.
The President earns approval from 82% of Republicans, 25% of Democrats, and 41% of those not affiliated with either major political party.
He's actually up for the month.
I heard this last night radio news.
The line? "Bush prepares for State of the Union, as polls show his approval rating down 12 points from a year ago."
December 7, 2005
Bias By The Numbers
The President delivers a speech (which I have not seen yet) and the AP has posted a bylined article describing it.
The AP piece opens with a bit of commentary:
WASHINGTON - Trying to build support for his Iraq war strategy, President Bush acknowledged Wednesday that reconstruction has proceeded with "fits and starts" but asserted that economic progress is lifting hopes for a democratic future.
"Trying to build support..." okay. That would be contrary to most political speeches which are purely informative. She then gives three short paragraphs to the speech, two of which are positive.
Then a paragraph about violence in Iraq.
Then a paragraph about Rep. Murtha
A response from the Pentagon about Mutha's charge that $100 billion will be requested.
Two paragraphs about Rep. Nancy Pelosi
Two more on Murtha
A paragraph on Senator Reid's response.
A paragraph on the tepid reaction the speech received.
A paragraph on the President's low poll numbers.
A quote from the speech [!!!]
Critics of the administration's reconstruction strategy in Iraq say...
Three paragraphs about a report Senate Democrats critical of Iraqi reconstruction progress.
Bias by the numbers:
4 paragraphs with quotes
This in a story supposedly about the speech.
Churlish of me to keep score?
Bush Admits 'Fits and Starts' in Iraq Plan By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Trying to build support for his Iraq war strategy, President Bush acknowledged Wednesday that reconstruction has proceeded with "fits and starts" but asserted that economic progress is lifting hopes for a democratic future.
There's still plenty of work to do in cities like Najaf and Mosul, he said.
"Like most of Iraq, the reconstruction in Najaf has proceeded with fits and starts since liberation," Bush said. "It's been uneven. Sustaining electric power remains a major challenge. ... Security in Najaf has improved substantially but threats remain. There are still kidnappings and militias and armed gangs are exerting more influence than they should in a free society."
Bush's speech came amid new violence in Iraq. Gunmen killed three police officers in the northern city of Kirkuk and freed a wounded man who had been arrested for plotting to kill a judge in the Saddam Hussein trial. A day earlier, two suicide bombers detonated explosives inside Baghdad's main police academy, killing at least 43 people and wounding more than 70.
Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the military has told him it plans to ask for $100 billion more for the war next year. That's in addition to the $50 billion that Congress is expected to approve for this year before adjourning, and the $200 billion that lawmakers already have given the president for Iraq since 2003.
Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said "it would be premature" to discuss next year's budget, which the administration has not completed but will submit in February. Military commanders have told the administration the next $50 billion should last through Memorial Day.
"The president says the security situation on the ground is better. It is not," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "More of the same in Iraq is not making us safer."
After a caucus meeting on Iraq, she and other Democrats in leadership sought to project a unified front on the war, even though they disagree over just when U.S. troops should return home.
Murtha criticized the way the president and his administration have handled Iraq, and said Bush lacked credibility.
"It's been poor planning from the start," said Murtha, a Vietnam war veteran, who added that as far as he can tell, Bush's plan is "stay the course and hope."
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Bush failed to provide a strategy for success or speak honestly about the failures in rebuilding Iraq and the challenges ahead. "Instead, he cherry picked isolated examples of Iraq's reconstruction from two cities that provide an inaccurate and incomplete picture of the situation on the ground for most Iraqis," Reid said.
Bush's speech, hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, was the second in a series of four to answer criticism and questions about the U.S. presence more two and a half years after the war started. He spoke to a group of foreign policy experts, many of whom have been critical of his policies. They gave him a cool reception. Some in the audience interrupted to applaud when Bush said the U.S. would not run from Iraq, but most sat stoically during the entire speech.
Bush is shouldering the lowest job approval rating of his presidency, and the latest series of speeches amount to a public relations campaign to respond to political pressure that has mounted as U.S. deaths have eclipsed 2,100. He and other administration officials are working to shore up slumping public support for the war in the run-up to the Dec. 15 vote in Iraq to create a democratically elected government that will run the country for the next four years.
While Bush talked about reconstruction projects and the reopening of schools, markets and hospitals, the upgrading of roads and the growth of construction jobs in some cities, he also acknowledged that both cities still face challenges.
"Iraqis are beginning to see that a free life will be a better life," Bush said. "Reconstruction has not always gone as well as we had hoped, primarily because of the security challenges on the ground. Rebuilding a nation devastated by a dictator is a large undertaking."
Critics of the administration's reconstruction strategy in Iraq say not enough has been done since the U.S.-led invasion to reduce unemployment, step up oil production and keep the lights on.
Senate Democrats issued a report saying the U.S. faces a reconstruction gap. While the administration cites the number of new schools built, roads paved and businesses created, "the simple fact is that basic needs — jobs, essential services, health care — remain unmet," according to the report obtained by The Associated Press.
"Iraq's economic progress has fallen significantly short of administration's goals," the Democratic report said. "Clearly, efforts to grow Iraq's economy have been challenging because Saddam Hussein left his nation's economic infrastructure in shambles. However, the Bush administration has exacerbated the challenge by its poor planning and policies."
Billions of dollars have been lost waste, fraud and abuse, the report said.
Posted by John Kranz at 7:10 PM
November 30, 2005
Thanks to digital recorders (I have the DishNetwork PVR) I was able to watch the President's speech tonight.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - President Bush gave an unflinching defense of his war strategy on Wednesday, refusing to set a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals and asserting that once-shaky Iraqi troops are proving increasingly capable. Democrats dismissed his words as a stay-the-course speech with no real strategy for success.
I thought it was very good. Not flowery or especially powerful, but very forceful, cogent arguments against the most popular criticisms
1) Quagmire? No. Significant progress in the political, economic, and security fronts. Quantitative analysis of the training of Iraqis.
2) No Plan? He's put one on the web if you don't get it. Ten points to Senator Lieberman for saying that there is a plan and it is working. I wish we had ten more Joe Lieberman's in the Democratic Senate.
3) Stubborn refusal to adapt? No, several examples of things we have changed -- no teary mea culpas, but examples of adaptation to field exigencies.
4) Pull-out? Timetables? No. Victory. Achieve our goals and bring the troops home to heroes' welcome.
Well done, Mr. President! The Democratic rebuttals seem hollow and defeatist. Leader Pelosi has endorsed Rep. John Murtha's pullout. Do they really want to be the party of defeat?
October 6, 2005
I have to put the Miers discussion away for a moment, even though it is getting very interesting around here.
I think I am the only blog in the country discussing the President's speech at the National Endowment for Democracy
Don't Google that -- I don't want to know. But the blogs I read are on full-tilt Miers duty and are allowing a very good and amazingly serious foreign policy speech to slide.
It is more of a textbook than a poem. It is long and even wonkinsh me was losing focus. Yet it had its moments of singing oratory, and it said some things that needed to be said. One of my favorites was the Sharanskyesque comparison of Islamofascism (a term he actually used!) to Communism:
The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that his -- that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride.
The speech is viewable from the White House website but I don't see it rerunning on CSPAN or anything (I have it TiVo'd). It is sad that this will not get the viewing it deserves. It is a good and serious speech.
September 22, 2005
Counter Conventional Wisdom. It is what blogs excel at. I posted about a Nick Danger piece on RedState.org the other day that defied CW.
Today, Larry Kudlow linked to and agreed with that article, and this one about the President's response to Katrina.
In this piece, Thomas Lifson says that W has been misunderestimated again and puts the big spending response in context.
[an] important lesson the President learned at Harvard Business School is to embrace a finite number of strategic goals, and to make each one of those goals serve as many desirable ends as possible.
Lifson then shows how the President’s response serves these goals.
September 16, 2005
Larry's On Board
Larry Kudlow echoes my belief that there is good polity in the President's speech from New Orleans last night. It's perhaps packed in with a lot of spending, but it is not "LBJ or FDR" as a lot on the right have protested:
So while Congress will flesh out the legislative details, it looks like private capital formation, business creation, and homeownership are key free enterprise approaches chosen by Mr. Bush to revive the Gulf Coast. This is very good. Perhaps Congress will waive any capital gains tax burdens to further attract capital. But certainly Bush has chosen not to create a new New Deal or a new WPA. There will be a lot of federal spending, but there will also be a large private sector component to the recovery plan.
Posted by John Kranz at 3:33 PM
I have been trying to absorb some punditry this morning. I sometimes change my position on a Bush speech up or down, but not today, I'm going with initial reaction.
It has surprised me how all-over-the-map the response has been. On FOXNews (Rupert Murdoch -- boo hiss!!!) after the speech, W got pretty good marks from Mort Kondracke, Nina Easton (Boston Globe) and Charles Krauthammer. Speakers Gingrich and Livingstone were both positive, as was Sen. John Breaux.
Then, I clicked over to MSNBC and you'd've thought the President spent a half hour killing puppies. Conservatives Tony Blankley, Tucker Carlson and host Joe Scarborough were excoriating the President. Former Clinton Aide Dee Dee Meyers had the sense to step back end say "if you guys don't like it..."
The jk position:
He also put his other agenda items back on track, with a comprehensive and sober speech. The imagery of Jackson Square was brilliant. Over one shoulder, St. Peter's, President Jackson over the other. General Jackson would not give up, would not rebuild an American City. And our nation’s religious heritage stands for rebuilding and redemption.
I give it a B+
Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM
September 15, 2005
Bush and Katrina
Peggy Noonan writes a great column today. I have been such a fan of hers for so many years but lately have failed to connect with her ideas and her lyricism. A friend has emailed after a few of her columns "She's on the crack pipe, again!"
Put today starts out with a poignant look at 9/11 which was legitimately personal for her. Her book, "A Cross, A Heart and A Flag," includes some of her best work. Then a perfect segue to Katrina and a realistic assessment of the damage done to the Bush Presidency. She has more and better perspective than me, but we share one idea I had this morning.
A couple of hours before reading Ms. Noonan, I thought: "This is W's first objective failure. He's done a dozen things that I’ve disliked, and a thousand things that Silence has disliked, but those are up for discussion. Yet NOBODY can completely defend the Federal response."
It might be "blood on the floor" as Jack Welch said yesterday, but nobody will defend Mike Brown. I wrote an essay once, saying that the best thing about W was the CEO Presidency, with serious achievers in important posts rather than political hacks. Noonan reminds all of us that Brown was a political hack, He surely gave money or knew somebody, he did not earn the job by competence.
I will go with Margaret that the second term is recoverable, and hope with my friends at the WSJ Ed Page that some enlightened thought is bought to the relief efforts: more Enterprise Zones and less WPA.
Mostly, it is just a great column. I did not excerpt a word, you can read it all here.
Posted by John Kranz at 11:35 AM
September 14, 2005
W: 2, UN: 0
I posted a very somber look at the rest of the Bush Presidency. As some of the waters recede and some polls improve, I'll back off of my most portentous predictions, but I'm still not up to sanguine.
Yet, I gotta say I still love this guy. President Bush addressed the UN and called for End of Trade Tariffs, Subsidies
UNITED NATIONS - Saying poverty breeds terrorism and despair, President Bush challenged world leaders on Wednesday to abolish all trade tariffs and subsidies — worth hundreds of billions of dollars — to promote prosperity and opportunity in struggling nations.
Yes, I get down on the failures of a governing GOP majority. But I will give the President credit for deft and firm handling of the UN, from exposing their pusillanimity on Iraq to sending John Bolton over on a recess appointment.
I may not be the happiest boy in town, but at least we're not watching President Kerry bowing and scraping to Secretary Annan.
SIDE-NOTE: Hop in on a very intelligent conversation among Andrew Ferguson, Ramesh Ponnuru, Scott Johnson and Russ Douthat about whether years of governing power has advanced conservatism.
Posted by John Kranz at 5:06 PM
September 13, 2005
Bush Doesn't Care About Black People
The poll found that six in 10 blacks interviewed said the federal government was slow in rescuing those stranded in New Orleans after Katrina because many of the people in the Louisiana city were black. But only about one in eight white respondents shared that view.
The numbers were similar on whether the rescues were slower because the victims were poor, with 63 percent of blacks blaming poverty and 21 percent of whites doing so.
I'm going to guess there are more black people per capita in Africa and the Carribean than New Orleans. So how do you explain this?
"Any delay in increased funding means more lives lost and an even bigger cheque in the future."
The singer says the US needs to spend $2.5bn (£1.5bn) out of this year's budget to help tackle the Aids crisis.
He said Europe must also match the US contribution.
But he said the American donation was a big step in the right direction.
"The president's emphasis upon anti-retroviral treatment represents a true paradigm shift and is to be wholly welcomed," he said.
I guess Secretaries Powell, Rice and Paige were unavailable for comment.
Given that the GOP is aggressively courting black voters, and the GOPers are politicians foremost, why would they do something that would be against their interests?
It smells like nearly three weeks of the "Bush & Feds f'd up" drumbeat from the MSM and Democrats is finally sinking in.
I am completely down in the dumps. Partly from the Broncos' performance in Miami last Sunday, but no, it's political. We lost.
By "we," kimosabe, I mean all of those who would like to see some serious reform of tax policy and Social Security. The bloggers and commenters around here don't all agree on the particulars or the color of sky, but I think we all would like to see some bold discussions of flat-tax, fair-tax, Social Security accounts. All are legislative long-shots, but any one would be almost as exciting as privatizing the post office.
The Democrats, however, with the help of the media, have successfully stalled the President's agenda. He might come through on the Supreme Court nominations (or might not) but he will not be able to mount any bold domestic or foreign policy initiatives. The Katrina cloud will hang over the administration for a year or more and after that, it will be the last session and general lame-duckness will set in.
The Democrats already think that Katrina means that Judge Roberts will have to be examined more closely. And we cannot possibly cut taxes when our neighbors are living in shelters:
The estate tax seemed to be cruising toward inevitable demise. A Senate vote was expected around Labor Day, and the GOP appeared close to the 60 votes needed to permanently abolish taxes on inheritances. Katrina has set the vote back by at least a few weeks, as the Senate attends instead to legislation authorizing relief funds to the Gulf Coast. The hurricane has also provided an argument against repeal to Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. He compared beneficiaries of repeal with hurricane victims, asking, "Shall we give [the estate tax revenues] to the wealthiest people in the country, or should we rebuild New Orleans?" The argument is a progressive classic: Not taxing the rich is the same as taking from the poor.
This is, sadly, going to work.
Federalism is dead too. As certainly as all the Federal failures will prevent making the extremely successful tax cuts permanent, all of the local and state failures will usher in sweeping new Federal powers. FEMA will now decide whether a tornado shelter is built in Lafayette, Colorado. The state national guards might be shifted under federal control so that incompetent governors will not slow rescue efforts. And very few people will take any notice of the liberties we will be handing over.
When the Abu Ghraib story broke, a Marine friend of mine called the miscreants “the six f***s who lost the war.” All wars and all politics are fought out in a media environment that is neither clever nor fair. Did the war effort yet recover from Abu Ghraib? Will the second Bush term recover from Katrina?
UPDATE: Mark Steyn disagrees:
Unlike other dead horses flogged by the media - Cindy Sheehan, torture at Guantanamo, etc - this was at one point a real story: an actual hurricane, people dying, things going wrong. But that wasn't good enough, and the more they tossed in to damage Bush, the more they drowned any real controversy in the usual dreary pseudo-controversy. After watching Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu threatening to punch out the President, a reader e-mailed me Kipling: "If you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you."
Posted by John Kranz at 12:38 PM
September 11, 2005
Bush Panders to Blacks
I don't blog surf enough to know if my comment was an original one, but on Friday I wrote (third comment) that the Democrat charges of "FEMA failure" and "Bush doesn't like black people" were calculated to influence the extent of federal aid sent to hurricane victims by the administration - particularly the black, inner city victims. The LA Times has noticed what's going on too. They call it, "A Comeback for Big Government."
Indeed, it is the size of the administration's relief plan that has taken conservatives and others by surprise. At more than $62 billion and counting, the effort invited comparison with such undertakings as the government's Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe after World War II.
What's noteworthy, however, is that the Times trumpets the president's spending spree, contrasts it with his planned agenda, seemingly confident that the president has no choice but to dole out the tax dollars. Nothing but this wishful thought from a Heritage Foundation fellow suggests that the spending might be reigned in: "Once the emotional waters recede, then [the administration] will get down to the brass tacks of saying no." The problem with that scenario, however, is that once the "Mardi Gras Marshall Plan" gets rolling it will be damn near impossible to stop. No, the Times understands how the game of "blame the rich" is played, and they know the president has already lost the battle over how much the American taxpayer will have to shell out for the poor blacks of New Orleans' slums.
What's my better idea, you ask? Cut taxes and suspend regulations in the disaster zone.
August 29, 2005
Border Controls: About F'ing Time
It's about time Mr President.
Bush, a former Texas governor, told a crowd dominated by retirees that he will work with Gov. Janet Napolitano and other border governors to address the problem, declaring: "We have an obligation to enforce the borders."
More people, detention space and resources will be made available in border areas, Bush said.
Of course, it's easy to say something, another to do it.
Let's get on with it.
"I have no doubt that he is clearly at this point strongly embracing immigration reform that would secure our borders," Franks said.
The issue of security should be addressed first, he said, and after that, questions about guest worker programs, illegal immigrants who are already here and employer sanctions can be addressed.
"Until we secure the borders, we cannot even begin that debate," Franks said.
Exactly right. However, Bush hasn't recieved the credit, because NOTHING has been done.
July 2, 2005
Rove as Plame Source
MSNBC's psychotic blowhard Lawrence O'Donnell says Karl Rove outed Valerie Plame.
"And I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source of...for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time magazine's going to do with the grand jury."
Other panelists then joined in discussing whether, if true, this would suggest a perjury rap for Rove, if he told the grand jury he did not leak to Cooper.
Cooper and New York Times reporter Judith Miller, held in contempt for refusing to name sources, tried Friday to stay out of jail by arguing for home detention instead after Time Inc. surrendered its reporter's notes to a prosecutor.
You might remember Lawrence O'Donnell's on screen breakdown.
In any case, let's bring it out. Let's see who the source is.
And what if it's not Karl Rove? Will O'Donnell publically recant?
Why would someone from Time magazine tell Larry O'Donnell anything? I suspect it's just his case of BDS flaring up again.
If the source is not Karl Rove, this might be another example of his evil genius. Why in the world would the Bush administration controlled Justice Department be after getting the info? Why not just let it go? Let it get buried under the freedom of the press?
And if it was Karl Rove, why wouldn't the Time magazine type just say so? Are they suddenly on the President's side and willing to go jail? To protect Karl Rove? Are you kidding me?
What would that revelation say about Time in the eyes of the "liberal adoration"/"bush is evil" brigade?
Posted by AlexC at 1:00 PM
June 29, 2005
The gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic standing, increased at an annual rate of 3.8 percent from January through March, according to revised figures released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday.
That compared with a 3.5 percent growth rate estimated a month ago and matched the showing over the final three months of 2004.
GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States. In the opening quarter of 2005, it climbed to $11.1 trillion on an annualized basis, adjusted for inflation.
Brisk spending on housing projects, more investment by business in equipment and software, and a trade deficit that was less of a drag on economic growth all played a role in the higher first-quarter GDP reading.
"The economy is performing well. Sturdy growth with modest inflation," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com.
Incredibly there weren't that many "buts" in the whole thing.
What's going on?
(hint, it's not an election year)
May 27, 2005
Janice Rogers Brown STILL Rocks!
As I read JK's post on the "Great Fillibuster Compromise of 2005" I was a little concerned about TNR's reference to "higher law than the Constitution" on the part of Bush judicial nominee Janice Rogers Brown.
Loyal readers will recall my May 18 posting, All Hail: Janice Rogers Brown, wherein I praised the jurist vociferously for her individual rights views while expressing uncertainty about her social sensibilities (i.e. should the government tell people how, when and why they may reproduce.) These two factors compelled me to learn more about the woman's judicial philosophy.
I googled the "Janice Rogers Brown" search results for "higher law" and found two articles of interest. From the conservative point-of-view, FrontPage Magazine tells us:
Brown's judicial philosophy amounts to what is sometimes called the "Madisonian" view, because it reflects the allegiance to higher law and transcendent rights embraced by the "Father of the Constitution." Not everything is open to majority rule, and courts must ensure that the majority does not run roughshod over groups that are unpopular or lack political power. As Brown put it in another dissenting opinion, "Courts must be especially vigilant, must vigorously resist encroachments that heighten the potential for arbitrary government action."
Very well. So far, so good.
Then I found this whining essay on something called "counterpunch" that characterized Rogers Brown's legal philosophy as "bizarre."
Virtually every court that has considered the matter has concluded that racist speech can create a hostile, abusive and discriminatory work environment, and that when it does so, a court can stop it. No court in recent decades has held that the First Amendment gives people the right to use speech to harass fellow workers on racial or religious grounds at work.
How very matter-of-factly this liberal corpuscle tramples the boundary between speech and action, and denies freedom of speech as a right to those whose speech he disagrees with. A "whites only" sign is speech, but its removal is predicated on the presumption that discriminatory action will follow. The entire post-modern notion of "hate speech" as an act of agressive physical violence is preposterous.
But I digress. Here is the corpuscle's passage on higher law:
Justice Brown's bizarre view that this social contract constitutes "collectivism" is much more than a curiosity because her appointment to the important D.C. Circuit (and possibly thereafter to the U.S. Supreme Court) would give her the power to try to reverse these "socialist" triumphs.
Well bully once again. Brown adheres to an individual's natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and apparently manages to say so without mentioning "God" or "Creator." This Supreme Court Justice from the Golden State is my kind of girl!
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:19 PM
May 18, 2005
All Hail: Janice Rogers Brown
JK brought us Glenn Reynolds attitude on the Senate confimation battle over Federal judges today: "If I thought that Bush were likely to nominate actual small-government strict constructionists to the Supreme Court, perhaps I'd care more, but I've seen no sign that he's likely to do that."
I'll admit to a certain apathy as this week's showdown approached. "Who are these judicial nominees" I wondered. "Do the liberals oppose them because they want to overturn Roe or because they want to roll back the welfare state?" In one instance I would be supportive, but in the other I'd probably side with the fillibusterers. In the four years since the disputed nominees were first presented I don't recall seeing or hearing much about their views. There was much about who liked them and who didn't, but little by the way of describing why.
Right on cue, it's Rush Limbaugh to the rescue. On his show today he read aloud from the transcript of a speech to the Federalist Society in Chicago. To wit:
The great innovation of this millennium was equality before the law. The greatest fiasco — the attempt to guarantee equal outcomes for all people. Tom Bethell notes that the security of property — a security our Constitution sought to ensure — had to be devalued in order for collectivism to come of age. The founders viewed private property as "the guardian of every other right."9 But, "by 1890 we find Alfred Marshall, the teacher of John Maynard Keynes making the astounding claim that the need for private property reaches no deeper than the qualities of human nature."10 A hundred years later came Milton Friedman's laconic reply: " 'I would say that goes pretty deep.'"11 In between, came the reign of socialism. "Starting with the formation of the Fabian Society and ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall, its ambitious project was the reformation of human nature. Intellectuals visualized a planned life without private property, mediated by the New Man."12 He never arrived. As John McGinnis persuasively argues: "There is simply a mismatch between collectivism on any large and enduring scale and our evolved nature. As Edward O. Wilson, the world's foremost expert on ants, remarked about Marxism, 'Wonderful theory. Wrong species.'"13
For a reason I could only speculate, Rush skipped the middle paragraph that cited Rand. The important thing is, Brown didn't.
The rest of this speech is insightful, intelligent and witty. She even references Procol Harum! I can't wait to read it in its entirety. More importantly, upon brief review Janice Rogers Brown appears to be a perfect choice for the federal bench and, ultimately, the Supreme Court.
May 5, 2005
Chuck Pennachio press release...
Isn't that in New Jersey? He's running Pa, last I checked.
I'm sure the two Senators are friends. He's got that right.
Here's where he goes wrong.
Nominees to the federal bench have never been filibustered. Held up in the Judiciary committeee, yes. Filibustered on the floor of the Senate? No.
Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, both "evil conservatives," never faced a filibuster. Fair and square vote in the full Senate. Up or down.
"Over two centuries"? I beg to differ.
There was a legitimate offer by the GOP to end the impasse. One hundred hours of debate. One hour per Senator. Surely the Democrats would be able to convince everyone in 45 of them that these nominees should not be seated.
Except that the Dems offered a deal where they would pass five, if Bush dropped two names.
So they're obviously qualified. So why hold them up?
Some interesting history I came across...
In 1917, isolationist Republicans used the filibuster to make it more difficult to President Woodrow Wilson to prepare for war. Using the threat of eliminating the filibuster rules altogether, a compromise change in rules was agreed to. Two-thirds of the members of the Senate could vote "cloture" to end the filibuster.
But wait! There's more.
I'll be damned. Robert Byrd, historian of the Senate, doesn't remember changing the rules?
I'm going to guess the Democrats were in the majority in 1975.
Just a guess.
May 4, 2005
Oil For Food Scandal Increases in scope
Claudia Rosett is on the case again. It now seems the amounts are in the $470 million range, that a French Bank was used (Mon Dieu!) and that the accounting was seriously shady:
Mr. Schenk further noted that some of the third-party payments went to companies, or to "affiliates" of companies, authorized by the United Nations via separate contracts to sell goods to Saddam's regime under oil for food, and that BNP had relied on the United Nations to vet such companies. He added, "We do not believe that any of these departures from procedures that we've identified today have caused or contributed to corruption under the program."
It's dull as bilgewater but you have to read the whole thing. Then try to imagine that John Bolton might not be nice enough or diplomatic enough to represent our interests to this corrupt institution.
Hat-tip: Larry Kudlow, who says not only "Kofi Must Go!" but now "Volcker must Go!"
May 1, 2005
SS: Private Accounts through Benefit Cuts
Having watched the President's news conference Thursday night, I wanted to blog its most important element - a suggestion to cut SS benefits in order to mitigate the transition cost to private accounts. Before I could do so, I received a TIA Daily email from Robert Tracinski (I subscribe to his print publication, but not the email service) with a thorough treatment of the event. On the subject of benefit cuts Tracinski said:
The news from the press conference is that Bush has fully embraced "progressive indexing," an idea put forward by economist Robert Pozen (see http://tinyurl.com/dekan). The idea is to increase Social Security benefits at the current, higher rate (indexed to growth in wage rates) for low-income retirees, while increasing benefits at a lower rate (indexed to keep pace with inflation) for higher-income retirees.[Remainder reprinted in "Continue reading."]
To this I will add that the important change is reduction in benefits (in conjunction with private accounts, of course) and not the way in which the reductions are structured. Yes, the egalitarian element of this proposal is objectively immoral, but as a political tactic to compel Democrats to accede to benefit cuts it is masterful. (As is Senator Grassley's appeal to altruism, referenced by Tracinski above. In context, he directed it toward those who oppose reform.)
And the value of private accounts more than outweighs the reduction in benefit growth as proposed. To the extent that our tax policies are compromised philosophically and can only change incrementally, the President's reform plan is a substantial increment of change in the proper direction - toward individual liberty.
UPDATE: May 2, 2005 - The WSJ editorial page makes a similar observation this morning. 'President Bush calls the Democrats' bluff on Social Security.'
Top News Stories:
The biggest news today is the president's press conference from last night, and there is a great deal in it that is worth commenting on. So all five news links today will be items from this transcript. (First, an apology: in yesterday's TIA Daily, I passed on an Associated Press report that the president's press conference would be held at 8:30; it actually started at 8:00. I will be less trusting of AP in the future.)
Bush offered fewer specifics than expected. One commentator, at http://tinyurl.com/93mnn, offers a good guess as to why: offering a specific plan allows Democrats to claim they oppose it because of a flaw in the plan. Offering a general direction but no specifics means that the Democrats come across (accurately) as being "obstructionists," dogmatically opposed to any change to Social Security.
The news from the press conference is that Bush has fully embraced "progressive indexing," an idea put forward by economist Robert Pozen (see http://tinyurl.com/dekan). The idea is to increase Social Security benefits at the current, higher rate (indexed to growth in wage rates) for low-income retirees, while increasing benefits at a lower rate (indexed to keep pace with inflation) for higher-income retirees.
On the negative side, this is an appeal to altruism (as when Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley admonishes retirees not to be "selfish"; see http://tinyurl.com/a8bqp, and thanks to TIA Daily reader Erich Veyhl for sending me this link). But over decades, Social Security payments will become relatively insignificant for most workers, making it an expensive, onerous, and (it is hoped) unpopular welfare program for the poor.
Combine that with House legislation in the works that increases 401(k)-style investment programs and which Rep. Bill Thomas describes as "a retirement bill" and not "just" a Social Security bill (see http://tinyurl.com/8yxep), and what do you get? You get a proposal to phase out Social Security--over a period of 30 to 70 years. It looks like that's the boldest thinking we'll get from our leaders at this time.
"Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference," New York Times, April 28
"Our duty to save Social Security begins with making the system permanently solvent, but our duty does not end there. We also have a responsibility to improve Social Security by directing extra help to those most in need.... I believe a reformed system should protect those who depend on Social Security the most. So I propose a Social Security system in the future where benefits for low-income workers will grow faster than benefits for people who are better off. By providing more generous benefits for low-income retirees, we'll make this commitment: If you work hard and pay into Social Security your entire life, you will not retire into poverty. This reform would solve most of the funding challenges facing Social Security.... [I]n terms of the definition of whose benefits would rise faster and whose wouldn't, that's going to be part of the negotiation process with the United States Congress. As a Democrat economist [a reference to Robert Pozen] had a very--he put forth this i!
The other half of any presidential press conference is the games the White House press corps play to try to push their own agenda. The most obvious game was a concerted effort to prevent President Bush from talking about Social Security by asking him about Iraq and al Qaeda--an attempt to push the discussion into the familiar "quagmire" territory that the mainstream press prefers.
The first two question were about public opinion polls, the third was about Iraq, and it wasn't until the eighth question (asked by conservative reporter Bill Sammon) that the discussion briefly returned to Social Security--then the next question immediately steered back to Iraq. Some reporters criticized Bush later for offering few specifics on Social Security--so why didn't they press him for details at the press conference?
But the most interesting trend was a series of questions and answers in which Bush explained how he was pursing plans (on gasoline and Iraq) that would lead to success over the long term--explanations the reporters brushed off impatiently while demanding to know what effect those plans would have today--which, come to think of it, integrates with the reporters' obsession with the very latest public opinion polls.
"Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference," New York Times, April 28
"BUSH: The legislative process is just getting started, and I'm optimistic we'll get something done.
"QUESTION: Polls... (OFF-MIKE)
"BUSH: Polls? You know, if a president tries to govern based on polls, you're kind of like a dog chasing your tail. I don't think you can make good, sound decisions based upon polls. And I don't think the American people want a president who relies upon polls and focus groups to make decisions for the American people....
"QUESTION: Can you explain for us how, if it were passed soon after it were introduced, the energy bill would have an effect on the current record price of oil that we're seeing out there?
"BUSH: Actually, I said in my opening statement that the best way to affect the current price of gasoline is to encourage producing nations to put more crude oil on the market.... But, listen, the energy bill is certainly no quick fix. You can't wave a magic wand. I wish I could.... It just doesn't work that way. This is a problem that's been a long time in coming. We haven't had an energy policy in this country. And it's going to take us awhile to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy.... So these are longer-term projects, all aimed at making us become less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
"QUESTION: Do I read you correctly that the energy bill would not have had an affect on today's high gasoline and oil prices?
"BUSH: It would have 10 years ago.... It's taken us a while to get there, it's going to take us a while to get out....
"In the long run, like I said earlier, the way to defeat terror, though, is to spread freedom and democracy. It's really the only way in the long term. In the short term we'll use our troops and assets and agents to find these people and to protect American. But in the long term, we must defeat the hopelessness that allows them to recruit by spreading freedom and democracy. But we're making progress.
"QUESTION: So in the near term you think there will be more attacks and more people dying?"
President Bush is certainly sympathetic to the religious right, giving it crucial aid and comfort, as when he flew back from Texas last month to sign the unconstitutional edict about Terri Schiavo. But when he is asked directly about his views on religion in politics, what he has to say is often, paradoxically, quite good--as in this answer that ought to (but won't) put the kibosh on what I have dubbed the Jihad on the Judiciary.
"Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference," New York Times, April 28
"QUESTION: Mr. President, recently the head of the Family Research Council said that judicial filibusters are an attack against people of faith. And I wonder whether you believe that, in fact, that is what is motivating Democrats who oppose your judicial choices. And I wonder what you think, generally, about the role that faith is playing, how it's being used in our political debates right now.
"BUSH: I think people are opposing my nominees because they don't like the judicial philosophy of the people I've nominated. And some would like to see judges legislate from the bench. That's not my view of the proper role of a judge....
"Role of religion in our society? I view religion as a personal matter. I think a person ought to be judged on how he or she lives his life or lives her life. And that's how I've tried to live my life: through example. Faith plays an important part in my life individually. But I don't ascribe a person's opposing my nominations to an issue of faith.
"QUESTION: Do you think that's an inappropriate statement?
"BUSH: No. I think people oppose my nominees because of judicial philosophy.
"QUESTION: Sir, I asked you about what you think of...the way faith is being used in our political debates, not just in society generally.
"BUSH: Well, I can only speak to myself. And I am mindful that people in political office shouldn't say to somebody, You're not equally American if you don't happen to agree with my view of religion. As I said, I think faith is a personal issue. And I take great strength from my faith. But I don't condemn somebody in the political process because they may not agree with me on religion. The great thing about America is that you should be allowed to worship any way you want. And if you chose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship. And if you choose to worship, you're equally American if you're a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim. And that's the wonderful thing about our country and that's the way it should be."
I hate to admit it, but occasionally I learn something from President Bush. One little-noted point that he made last night speaks to a profound insight in his thinking on the war: that success against terrorism cannot be achieved merely through a negative--through the destruction of existing terrorist groups--but has to be achieved through a positive: the spread of opposing political (and, I would add, philosophical) ideals.
His approach to this positive goal (as to the necessary but "negative" tasks of "homeland defense" and killing terrorists overseas) is riddled with errors. But it is, nonetheless, an important truth.
"Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference," New York Times, April 28
"QUESTION: Mr. President, your State Department has reported that terrorist attacks around the world are at an all-time high. If we're winning the war on terrorism, as you say, how do you explain that more people are dying in terrorist attacks on your watch than ever before?
"BUSH: Well, we've made the decision to defeat the terrorists abroad so we don't have to face them here at home. And when you engage the terrorists abroad, it causes activity and action. And we're relentless--we, America and our coalition partners. We understand the stakes. And they're very high, because there are people still out there that would like to do harm to the American people.
"But our strategy is stay on the offense, is to keep the pressure on these people, is to cut off their money and to share intelligence and to find them where they hide. And we are making good progress. The al Qaeda network that attacked the United States has been severely diminished. We are slowly but surely dismantling that organization. In the long run, like I said earlier, the way to defeat terror, though, is to spread freedom and democracy. It's really the only way in the long term.
"In the short term we'll use our troops and assets and agents to find these people and to protect American. But in the long term, we must defeat the hopelessness that allows them to recruit by spreading freedom and democracy."
The reason President Bush's push for a partial quasi-privatization of Social Security is faltering is that he has not challenged the altruist morality behind the system--indeed, he has embraced that morality. So the only hope of passing his plan will be if he can make headway on a new theme he has been emphasizing recently: the metaphysics of Social Security.
He certainly doesn't put it this way, but there is a clear, deliberate trend in his statements of emphasizing the fact that Social Security represents "promises" and "a filing cabinet full of IOUs"--while private accounts represent "real assets" that won't "just go away" because of an arcane government rule (as Social Security benefits do when a spouse dies before age 62).
"Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference," New York Times, April 28
"BUSH: I feel strongly that there needs to be voluntary personal savings accounts as a part of the Social Security system. I mean, it's got to be a part of the comprehensive package. And the reason I feel strongly about that is that we got a lot of debt out there, a lot of unfunded liabilities, and our workers need to be able to earn a better rate of return on their money to help deal with that debt.... Now, it's very important for our fellow citizens to understand there is not a bank account here in Washington, DC, where we take your payroll taxes and hold it for you and then give it back to you when you retire. Our system is called pay as you go. You pay into the system through your payroll taxes and the government spends it. It spends the money on the current retirees and with the money left over, it funds other government programs. And all that's left behind is file cabinets full of IOUs.
"The reason I believe that this ought to work is not only should a worker get a better rate of return, not only should we encourage ownership, but I want people to have real assets in the system. I want people to be able to say, Here is my mix of bonds and stocks that I own, and I can leave it whomever I want....
"One other point on Social Security that people have got to understand is that the system of today is not fair for a person whose spouse has died early. In other words, if you're a two-working family, like a lot of families are here in America, and two people working in your family, and the spouse dies early--before 62, for example--all of the money that the spouse has put into the system is held there, and then when the other spouse retires, he or she gets to choose the benefits from his or her own work or the other spouse's benefits, whichever is higher, but not both. See what I'm saying? Somebody who's worked all their life, the money they put into the system just goes away.... If you have a voluntary personal savings account and you die early, that's an asset you can leave to your spouse or to your children."
April 27, 2005
My mentor and hero, Larry Kudlow is concerned that Senator Chuck Grassley is discussing a Social Security reform plan that would restore solvency, “with, or without, private accounts.”
Respectfully, I would suggest to Mr. Grassley, and to the White House, that you cannot solve the pending financial storm in social security without personal savings accounts.
As usual with economic issues, Mr. Kudlow is spot on. Politically it has been pointed out that freedom is more desirable than solvency. Private accounts are part and parcel of the ownership society and the President should not proceed without them.
April 25, 2005
It would be funny if there weren't serious and responsible adults involved.
Bolton has declined to comment on allegations during the confirmation process.
The State Department would not comment last night. But Friday, spokesman Adam Ereli said once the allegations are explored, it will lead to the ''inescapable conclusion that Mr. Bolton would be an excellent ambassador."
Finney, a therapist who has written about ''recovered memories" in childhood sex-abuse cases, said Bolton was not allowed to fire her, but he moved her to a basement office in retaliation. She said that the top USAID administrator at the time, Peter McPherson, came by after the clash to assure her that her career wasn't over.
That event happened in 1982 or 1983!
In related news, in 1974, Hillary Rodham Clinton allegedly called a campaign worker "a f*cking Jew b*astard."
Like the Bolton-Finney allegation, there are also a number of witnesses to that event. There was also an alleged First Lady lamp-throwing incident early in the Clinton White House.
House Majority Whip Senator Mitch McConnell (R - Kentucky) counted the votes, and thinks that they can end the filibuster, and miraculously Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) thinks the Senate can to make a deal.
Apparently, all but two have evolved into human beings, with only two remaining in their pre-historic non-evolved form.
April 23, 2005
Blogging For Bolton
Here's a blog dedicated to getting John Bolton confirmed as an ambassador to the United Nations.
The Democrats strategy on blocking Bolton is an interesting one, only because it's stunningly weak.
Step one was to block him because he's got beef with the UN.
No. They should be pro-American interests.
Maybe chemotherapy is what the United Nations needs. From his rhetoric, John Bolton appears to be the guy to give it.
That strategy didn't seem to work. So on to plan B.
Step two is to block him because he's allegedly mean to his subordinates. Which is pretty weak. But currently it's all they got.
As brought up on Powerline thursday,
And the answer...
Well, I guess there is another difference, too. Bolton had reason to be upset with under-performing employees. Hillary just wanted to install her own cronies.
Put him in.
Maybe someone will then say, "Hey.. Libya shouldn't be on the human rights commission."
The question to ask now is, will step two work? Well, it's appears to sticking right now. Senator Voinovich came out of nowhere to hold things up. I guess we'll see.
It's funny that during the Condi Rice hearings, the argument from the Democrats was that the Secretary of State should question the President's policies. That a Secretary of State should not tow the line... Suddenly, here's a candidate for an office that will *question* the status-quo and question the direction of the United Nations, yet somehow this is not a good thing.
The Democrats are not a party of ideas and positive direction. The Democrats have become a party of "We're not George Bush, and we'll do the opposite."
It's a shame.
April 14, 2005
The Elephant in the Room
Being otherwise occupied (My wife is doing pretty well, thanks!) I did not subject myself to the Senate preening session known in some circles as John Bolton's confirmation hearing.
But I'll bet Larry Kudlow is not far off the mark with his critique of the Democrats. In their rush to slam a Bush appointee, they ignored the fact that, er , maybe the UN needs a tough ambassador?
What is utterly astonishing is the failure of the Democrats to even discuss the scandal-ridden Kofi Annan regime at the UN. Not just oil-for-food, which is bad enough, but also the sexual misconduct charges, the institutional corruption, and of course the ultimate issue which is the disproportionate power held by totalitarian states under current UN rules. The UN should be run by democracies, not terrorist dictatorships. What is more, so far I haven’t heard any Democrats acknowledge that it was John Bolton as a State Department official who succeeded in overturning the anti-Israel zionism is racism resolution that stood for so many years. Bolton did this. An incredible accomplishment. Where are the Democrats on this issue now as they attempt to derail Bolton’s bid?
Another great comment is to remember that our ambassador represents us to the UN, not the other way around.
Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM
March 22, 2005
Wrong Man for a Column
Peter Beinart says that John Bolton is the Wrong Man for This U.N. Writing in the WaPo today, he seems to imply that Senator Moynihan was the "first neo-con."
In 1975, when anti-Americanism was on the march, Gerald Ford chose a distinctly undiplomatic diplomat, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to represent the United States at the United Nations. Unlike his predecessors, who had listened politely while America was defamed, Moynihan denounced the tin-pot dictatorships running wild at the United Nations. And a new movement called neoconservatism -- of which Moynihan was a leading voice -- made its entrance onto the international stage. Six years later, Ronald Reagan gave the U.N. job to another prominent neocon, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and she proved equally blunt.
It took me a moment to shake that unconventional labeling off. The rest of the piece doesn't improve too much. Beinart is a responsible thinker and a very good writer. But this one is a swing-and-a-miss.
Problem is, the history's misleading. Moynihan and Kirkpatrick were effective because their oppositional styles suited the time -- a time when there was little the United States could do at the United Nations other than oppose. Today the United States has an opportunity to lead. And by choosing Bolton, the Bush administration may be squandering it.
Sorry, Pete, we may have a rare chance to lead at the U.N., but it won't occur with another striped-pants get along guy from State. We have just as much to assert to the U.N. as Moynihan did in the 70s or Kirkpatrick in the 80s.
A much more cogent assessment can be found in Amity Shlaes column on TCS:
Multilateralists around the globe ought to be thrilled about these choices. These men are not going to endanger the future of the UN or the World Bank. Those futures are already in danger. Rather, the new candidates may turn out to be the institutions' salvation. For both men are strong enough to bring about change when change is necessary.
Posted by John Kranz at 1:21 PM
The CEO Presidency, Part Deux
"The CEO Presidency" was a popular moniker early in the first term. President Bush, it was said, was bringing his Harvard MBA skills to the Oval Office. His appointments were less political and his work hours were less frenetic than those of his predecessor.
I applauded and confirmed those observations back then, but I am now convinced that they apply better to the second term. For the second term, W has staffed important positions with those who share his vision and have the tenacity to pursue it.
Fred Barnes writes a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today (click away, it's on the free site) looking at the appointments of Wolfowitz, Bolton, and Hughes not as separate events, but as a coalescing of an administration devoted to Sharansky-esque ideals of freedom.
[...]But in jobs he views as critical, especially in foreign affairs, he prefers a known quantity, usually a tough, loyal administration veteran with an agenda. His agenda. Two other Bush nominees, John Bolton as ambassador to the U.N. and Karen Hughes as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, are also in the agenda category.
This man is putting a team together to change the world. I even read (I'll keep looking for a link) that he is "talkin' less Texan now that he don't gotta face re-elecshun..." He is planning, CEO-style for a consequential second term. No wonder his detractors are worried...
Posted by John Kranz at 10:47 AM
March 17, 2005
Bad Bush Appointment
I go out of my to support this administration, even on some topics about which I am skeptical. But -- holy cow -- NO!
The media is busily distracted by the Wolfowitz World Bank appointment. Though I backed Carly Fiorina, I support that appointment. But nobody noticed the new FCC Chairman to replace Michael Powell was Powell's nemesis, Kevin Martin.
Martin was the FCC answer to Jim Jeffords, a soi-disant GOPer who opposed free market reform and created a de facto Democrat majority (Hey French and Latin in one sentence -- what a pedant!) and precluded real regulatory reform.
Like Senator Specter, the administration rewards its enemies with public support and a lemon poppy seed cake. I'm not sure about the cake, but the appointment is astonishing. The WSJ Ed Page is cautiously going to give him a chance:
The White House is counting on its next chairman to put his considerable political adeptness to use creating working majorities to continue down Mr. Powell's deregulatory path. This is especially important with regard to broadband deployment. We're not sure that the Bush Administration fully appreciates the extent to which high-speed communication networks drive competition, productivity and ultimately GDP. But Mr. Martin is well aware of broadband's potential, and we hope he has learned enough from the past four years to do the right thing.
Well, yeah, and Nancy Pelosi may find her inner-free-marketeer as well, but let's not make her Ways-and-Means Chairman.
This assures the world that the technologically gifted USA will be hard pressed to hang onto its thirteenth place showing in broadband adoption. I'm not sure a President Kerry could have done much worse.
Posted by John Kranz at 10:40 AM
March 7, 2005
Bolton Gets High Marks
When I saw the AP Headline "Bolton Named Ambassador," I of course hoped that President Bush was sending Michael Bolton to some backwater where he would be unable to record.
I didn't know anything about John Bolton before today. But Larry Kudlow likes him
Congratulations to John Bolton for his appointment to be US Ambassador to the UN. Bolton is a tough player who strongly believes in President Bush’s new foreign policy of freedom and democratization worldwide. He has a distinguished track record on security and proliferation matters who helped lead the American withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. He has never been bashful about blasting North Korea. He also criticized China for selling missile technology to Iran and other rogue states. This is an excellent appointment.
Better still, it seems that Kofi Annan doesn't. Now that's a good appointment.
February 25, 2005
Bush's Europe Trip
Larry Kudlow posts a complimentary report of the President's European trip and speech in Brussels.
He compliments the Sharanskyesque focus on Democracy, the nod to the Slovakian flat tax -- all worthy of high marks.
He then closes with W's view on climate change, praising his Schumpeterian approach over the European regulatory method.
Then Bush shows his hand on global climate change. But it is not the Kyoto version, which would punish economic growth and drive up unemployment. Instead, the President relies on “Emerging technologies, such as hydrogen-powered vehicles, electricity from renewable energy sources, clean coal technology, will encourage economic growth that is environmentally responsible.”
Posted by John Kranz at 7:10 PM
February 23, 2005
The Social Security Debate
From Daily Kos:
Today, I picketed at one of Rick Santorum's Privatization town hall meetings at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Anti-privatization forces and Drexel Dems out-numbered Pro-privatization forces and College Repubs. 6 to 1. There were about 40 of us total -- but CNN, the Washington Post, ABC were all covering our anti-privatization protest.
CNN started filming, so we started to chant "Hey-Hey Ho-Ho, Rick Santorum has got to go!" In response, the Drexel Republicans retorted with their own chant: "Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Social Security has got to go!" Our jaws just about jawed as CNN continued to film. We stopped our chant, and let the Repubs take over -- they were doing our job for us!
Who has been feeding Drexel Repubs the lead paint???
Well, at least they are honest. Ha.
Of course it's about ending Social Security. As we know it. You really can't chant that, I suppose.
Ulitimately, it's quite simple. With George Bush's ownership society idea, we'll start putting more of our own money into more of our accounts. Sure, now it's 1/3 (or 2/3 depending on your point of view), but sooner or later as the personalization catches on, it'll ratchet up to 4/5, 9/10s, maybe even 100%. At that point, Social Security would become a government mandated personal retirement account.
Despite my conservative neoliberalism (government is not always the best answer), it has to be government mandated because there's always going to be a knucklehead NOT saving for the future and we'll end up footing his bill anyway. Tragedy of the Commons in a way.
I'm a bit of a pessimist, so we should really account for future governments screwing it up, but that's the direction we're heading in right now; and it's a good thing.
Now, if your view of Social Security is a massive government run safety net for all individuals to contribute, and only some to collect from, then yes, Social Security is going to end. But fear not, fellow compassionate American, we're always going to support the handicapped or the infirm, or the tragically wronged with government funds. That's not going away. The ponzi scheme called Social Security is.
One question I'm left with is more of a meta-question.
February 22, 2005
I have a new favorite magazine. A few years ago, it was "National Review." Then "The Weekly Standard" overtook it. Now, I gotta say I get pretty excited when a new "The American Enterprise" rolls in.
It only publishes eight times a year, so it lacks the news quality of the other two. Yet TAE takes one topic on per issue and brings a dozen great thinkers and writers together to really flesh it out. Then the "Bird's Eye" column contextualizes all of them.
The March 2005 issue, From Alms to Ownership, is a perfect example. Social Security reform is examined from a market perspective by James Glassman, historical perspective by Stephen Moore et al, and a philosophical perspective by William Tucker.
The "Bird's eye" overview is interesting as it describes the America of 1935, giving us perspective on when the plan was engineered. "What a year," it starts out:
The world's first full-color feature film has just been released. Now there are whispers of special-effects-laden Hollywood blockbusters to come over the next several years. Two projects thought to be gestating: an adaptation of a much-anticipated new book called Gone With the Wind, and some kind of musical based on the Wizard of Oz children's stories. More films are also expected from the sensationally popular new comedy team that debuted last year: The Three Stooges.
And while America is wiring itself for majority telephone ownership, it is deeply into economic depression and as yet-undiscredited Stalinism holds sway as the wave of the future.
So: Do you want to base your security in old age on a program engineered at the same time as the Model A and the vacuum-tube radio? Has work changed much since the era when slopping pigs for Auntie Em was a typical job? Does the boundary between state and individual look different now that the USSR has gone from progressive polestar to oppressive flop? Has American finance advanced from the decades when the only choices for ordinary savers were the passbook, the mason jar, or the mattress? Are the retirement goals of Americans still the same as in the days when the Bambino retired? Or is it time for Social Security to enjoy a major-league update?
This is the big domestic political issue for this next Congress and this Presidential term. You can read a sampling of these articles online but I would encourage anybody to purchase and read this issue cover-to-cover. You will not see a better exegesis on the conservative position on Social Security reform anywhere.
Threesources regulars: holler and I'll buy it for you or take you out to lunch when you're finished so we can discuss it.
February 20, 2005
Will Europe warm up to Bush climate change?
Don't ice it, Mark, tell us how you feel!
Posted by John Kranz at 2:18 PM
February 18, 2005
A Win! (I Think)
We're all jawing about Social Security and permanent tax cuts, but we should take a moment to celebrate a win.
Bush Signs Bill Curbing Class-Action Suits
This was an important part of the second term agenda and those of us rooting for the President should be glad for the win.
My sole concern is how happy I am about an anti-Federalist measure. Class action suits are national in scope and clearly belong in Federal court. I am not keen on the good folks of Beaverditch, Mississippi shutting down a major pharmaceutical firm.
And yet, celebrating the motion of authority from state to federal seems importune.
February 15, 2005
I don't do it often, but if I ever blog an NRO piece I feel like I'm trespassing on JK's turf. Forgive me, JK.
William F. Buckley, in atypical brevity, lays out the interests of the Six Parties of Asia-Pacific nuclear detente. In a nutshell, America has much to lose from a North Korean nuclear first strike, but our friends in South Korea and Japan, and our "friends" in China and Russia have much more at stake. You see, while the American heartland is some 10,000 miles from the potentially charred and radiating remains of North Korea's industrial and population centers, the other four parties are not.
This is encouraging for America's safety, and does much to explain why W can afford to direct his attention toward Iran and Syria while Baby Kim dithers and babbles. But there's another tactic Mr. Bush may be applying, most likely in private, with the Chinese. If not then Jonah Goldberg suggests in today's Corner he give it some thought. Borrowing from a 2003 Charles Krauthammer column:
What to do when your hand is so poor? Play the trump. We do have one, but we dare not speak its name: a nuclear Japan. Japan cannot long tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea. Having once lobbed a missile over Japan, North Korea could easily hit any city in Japan with a nuclear-tipped weapon. Japan does not want to live under that threat.
The War on Terror is a global campaign and it's time the Chinese started pulling their weight.
February 7, 2005
Kudlow on Condi
It's great when your heroes support each other. Larry Kudlow writes a fantastic and well deserved paean to out new Secretary of State. I have to reproduce it in full:
Sec. of State Condi Rice is fast becoming my new hero. News reports of her earliest public diplomacy during her trip to London, Europe, Turkey and Israel show clearly that she is following Pres. Bush's vision of freedom, democraticization and liberty in her conduct of US foreign policy. She chided Russian backsliding. Also cited Ukraine, Afghanistan, Georgia and Iraq as places that were building the institutions of democracy. She also said America and Europe should work together in "the great cause of the spread of freedom and liberty."
We talked about Ms. Noonan before. Sugarchuck and I are convinced that she is indeed smoking crack...
Posted by John Kranz at 2:08 PM
February 3, 2005
In all, the President's State of the Union Address was a stunning model of a better future for America and the world. For nearly an hour on Wednesday night, George Bush outlined his vision of reforms in taxation, regulation, health care, torts, Social Security, immigration, government spending (finally!) and more.
While I strongly support and endorse meaningful reforms in all these areas, the most striking words I heard were the ones that challenged our "allies" in the middle east to increase liberty in their own societies.
"To promote peace and stability in the broader Middle East, the United States will work with our friends in the region to fight the common threat of terror, while we encourage a higher standard of freedom. Hopeful reform is already taking hold in an arc from Morocco to Jordan to Bahrain. The government of Saudi Arabia can demonstrate its leadership in the region by expanding the role of its people in determining their future. And the great and proud nation of Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East."
And his warning to hostile regimes in the region:
"To promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder. Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region. You have passed, and we are applying, the Syrian Accountability Act -- and we expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom.
Like the man said, "Talk is cheap" but this is the kind of talk that I once feared I'd never hear from an American president in my lifetime. It appears the successes in Iraq have given him the confidence to press on with his ambitious agenda. An agenda that, if successful, is destined to make him one of the greatest presidents in history.
January 31, 2005
The Inaugural Speech IV
I've always been a big Peggy Noonan fan. Her (old now) book, "What I Saw at the Revolution" is the book I would give a serious minded liberal.
Larry Kudlow agrees, but he has taken her to task for her criticism of the second inaugural address.
Noonan, David Frum, and others make the argument that the Bush speechwriting team should have thrown itself in front of the oncoming train of the inaugural address. This was a familiar refrain during the 1980s, when many of Reagan’s advisors tried to stop him from calling the Soviets an evil empire, or telling the Russians to tear down that wall. Yet Natan Sharansky, in his new book The Case for Democracy, relates that it was exactly these visionary Reagan declarations that gave the Gulag-imprisoned refuseniks great hope -- indeed all the oppressed peoples of the former Soviet empire great hope -- that freedom-loving help was on the way.
Posted by John Kranz at 5:32 PM
January 26, 2005
I like this headline:
January 24, 2005
MSM is obviously going to give Senator "Crazy old Aunt in The Attic" Byrd a pass on this. To be fair, they were going to give Senator "Insert favorite Lott jibe here" Lott a pass as well. But the blogosphere, led by Andrew Sullivan, would not let the story die.
I wouldn't mind breathing a little life into this story either. President Bush nominates the first female African-American Secretary of State. And his nominee is a brilliant person and passionate spokesperson for liberty.
If Senator Boxer wants to attack her, that's fair. Senator Kerry, go ahead. That will play to their constituents. But who's runnin' the D's PR? Byrd? Kennedy? (Taranto says when Senator Kennedy means to "sink a woman" the threat should be carefully considered...)
It's a shame that her nomination was not advised-and-consented in time for either the US or Ukraine Inaugurations, but -- like the Zarqawi tape -- I am glad to see somebody show their true colors.
So, I will show mine: Rice in 2008!
UPDATE: I was premature but accurate: Confirmed: 85 to 13
Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM
January 25, 2005
The Inaugural Speech III
"Iranian's Cheer Massively Mr. Bush's Inaugural Address" reads the headline at SMCCDI. In other words, the audience for this speech was the Iranian democracy movement -- and they got it!
Reports from across Iran are stating about the massive welcoming of President George W. Bush's inaugural speech and his promise of helping to bring down the last outposts of tyranny.
I have my last Orange shirt on today for the Ukrainian inauguration, but as a commenter on Pejmanesque says:
It is already being planned.
Let Freedom Reign!
Posted by John Kranz at 2:58 PM
January 24, 2005
The Inaugural Speech II
I finished Sharansky's book on Saturday and I considered myself fortunate to be in the middle of it during President Bush's second inaugural address. It is clearly a source. LyingInPonds notes the similarity:
I finally had the chance to view President Bush's Second Inaugural Address, this evening, and I was struck by how familiar it was.
Jim Geraghty says "I think that speech is going to do wonders for Natan Sharansky's book sales." But he also points out something:
Still, this speech is being intensely analyzed and discussed far beyond the Beltway - in Pyongyang, Riyadh, Tehran, and in other unfriendly foreign capitals. While some conservatives might have a quibble or a question or two, this speech will be despised by all the right people.
Amen. I'm very sorry that Frum, Noonan, and a lot of speechwriters that I trust did not like it. I enjoyed reading it better than hearing it (My President is not the best orator...) but I thought that it was important, that democrats in Tehran would be passing it around their jail cells. That it would make the right enemies.
I heard on FoxNewsSunday that it may have made the right friends. Bill Kristol told that Sharansky himself had watched the speech, that the tough man's voice broke a little as he said "I only wish Sakharov were alive to hear an American President give this speech."
Posted by John Kranz at 1:11 PM
January 21, 2005
Losing a Great One at FCC
The Wall Street Journal Ed Page breaks some bad news today:
Michael Powell, one of Washington's better bureaucrats, is calling it quits today after four years at the helm of the Federal Communications Commission. You read it here first.
Powell is a true free market force in Government. I wrote an essay on his contributions to the public sector. I wish him good luck on new challenges but he will be sorely missed at the FCC.
Posted by John Kranz at 12:44 AM
January 20, 2005
The Inaugural Speech
"From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?"
I was excited to launch this blog on the day of President Bush's second inauguration. The name of this blog and the heart of the speech are both Sharansky's book.
Did our character give credit to the cause? The transformative effects of freedom and democracy is at the heart of this blog and the second Bush term.
Posted by John Kranz at 11:53 PM
Larry Kudlow points out that the reports of Dr. Rice's diplomacy that focus on fence-mending with Old Europe are only half right.
As more of the story emerges, it appears that Condi Rice's "public diplomacy" involves more than just fence-mending with France and Germany -- she is very serious about advancing Bush's vision of the transformative power of democracy as the best solution to our problems in Iraq and elsewhere. She, too, is a believer in Natan Sharansky's "town square" test.
Posted by John Kranz at 12:43 PM