A round up of various political items of interest:
1. We lead off with the above video. Contessa Brewer, MSNBC’s representative journalist for the empty-headed bimbo demographic, is just so darned ticked off that the Time’s Square Would Be Bomber turned out to be a jihadist and not, presumably, some more politically correct villain. This perhaps is of limited political significance, other than to demonstrate yet again that MSNBC should only be viewed for purposes of unintentional humor.
2. David Obey (D. WI.) announced his surprise retirement. When Obey was first elected to Congress in 1968 I was 11 years old. Needless to say, it is long past time for him to be moving on to other things after 42 years, but his retirement this late in the campaign season indicates to me that this was not planned far in advance, and probably was due to the fact that he was facing a tough race and the prospect of the House flipping to the Republicans. This is bad news for the Democrats as it puts one more Democrat seat in play and is yet another sign of the political disaster awaiting the Democrats in November.
Mickey Kaus, blogger and writer, is running against Barbara Boxer in the Senate primary in California. I have read with enjoyment his KausFiles for years. Alas, Mr. Kaus is not pro-life. If he were, I could imagine myself possibly voting for him. He is taking on some of the major shibboleths of his party. Here are a few examples:
“Yet the answer of most union leaders to the failure of 1950s unionism has been more 1950s unionism. This isn’t how we’re going to get prosperity back. But it’s the official Democratic Party dogma. No dissent allowed.
Government unions are even more problematic (and as private sector unions have failed in the marketplace, government unions are increasingly dominant). If there are limits on what private unions can demand — when they win too much, as we’ve seen, their employers tend to disappear — there is no such limit on what government unions can demand. They just have to get the politicians to raise your taxes to pay for it, and by funding the Democratic machine they acquire just the politicians they need.
Some Democrats think that the Arizona law cracking down on illegal aliens will save them from electoral disaster in November. They think this will rile up the Hispanics, and to fan the flames a few Democrats are making free with their favorite epithet against those who oppose them, Nazi.
I think that these Democrats are pursuing a losing hand on this issue. Illegal immigration is extremely unpopular in this country and overheated epithets will simply further energize the conservative base. More to the point, this election is going to be fought on the economy and government spending, and the Democrats are in dire shape on both those issues. In regard to the immigration issue, I think there is evidence that some Democrats understand that rather than a gift this could be an electoral landmine. This AP story here indicates that Obama concedes that Congress may not have the political appetite for immigration reform anytime soon, and notes the type of legislation that the Democrats propose eventually may ostensibly put enforcement before amnesty: “An immigration proposal by three Democratic senators calls for more federal enforcement agents and other border security-tightening benchmarks before illegal immigrants could become legal U.S. residents, according to a draft of the legislation obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press. The bill is being developed by Reid of Nevada, Chuck Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.”
In an earlier post this week I quoted my favorite living historian Victor Davis Hanson on the issue of illegal immigration. Here are his current thoughts on immigration as a political issue in the Fall:
A Losing Political Issue
The politics of illegal immigration are a losing proposition for liberals (one can see that in the resort to euphemism), even if they don’t quite see it that way. Here are ten considerations why.
First, there is the simplicity of the argument. One either wishes or does not wish existing law to be enforced. If the answer is no, and citizens can pick and chose which laws they would like to obey, in theory why should we have to pay taxes or respect the speed limit? Note that liberal Democrats do not suggest that we overturn immigration law and de jure open the border — only that we continue to do that de facto. Confusion between legal and illegal immigration is essential for the open borders argument, since a proper distinction between the two makes the present policy indefensible—especially since it discriminates against those waiting in line to come to America legally (e.g., somehow our attention is turned to the illegal alien’s plight and not the burdensome paperwork and government obstacles that the dutiful legal immigrant must face).
Why Wave the Flag of the Country I Don’t Wish to Return To?
Second, often the protests against enforcement of immigration law are strangely couched within a general climate of anger at the U.S. government (and/or the American people) for some such illiberal transgression (review the placards, flags, etc. at May Day immigration rallies). Fairly or not, the anger at the U.S. and the nostalgia for Mexico distill into the absurd, something like either “I am furious at the country I insist on staying in, and fond of the country I most certainly do not wish to return to” or “I am angry at you so you better let angry me stay with you!” Such mixed messages confuse the electorate. As in the case with the Palestinians, there is an effort to graft a foreign policy issue (protecting an international border) onto domestic identity politics, to inject an inflammatory race/class element into the debate by creating oppressors, victims, and grievances along racial divides.
Big Brother Mexico?
Third, Mexico is no help. Now it weighs in with all sorts of moral censure for Arizonians — this from a corrupt government whose very policies are predicated on exporting a million indigenous people a year, while it seeks to lure wealthy “gringos” to invest in second-homes in Baja. The absence of millions from Oaxaca or Chiapas ensures billions in remittances, less expenditures for social services, and fewer dissident citizens. But the construct of Mexico as the concerned parent of its own lost children is by now so implausible that even its sympathizers do not take it seriously. Mexico has lost all credibility on these issues, expressing concern for its own citizens only when they seem to have crossed the border — and left Mexico.
It’s Not a Race Issue
Fourth, there really is a new popular groundswell to close the borders. Most against illegal immigration, especially in the case of minorities and Mexican-American citizens, keep rather mum about their feelings. But that silence should not be interpreted as antagonism to enforcing the law. Many minorities realize that the greatest hindrance to a natural rise in wages for entry level jobs has been the option for an employer to hire illegal aliens, who, at least in their 20s and 30s, will work harder for less pay with fewer complaints (when sick, or disabled, or elderly, the worker is directed by the employer to the social services agencies and replaced by someone younger as a new cycle of exploitation begins). In this context, the old race card is less effective. The general population is beginning to see not that Americans (of all races who oppose illegal immigration) are racist, but that the open borders movement has itself a racially chauvinistic theme to it, albeit articulated honestly only on university campuses and in Chicano-Latino departments, as a sort of “payback” for the Mexican War, where redress for “lost” land is finally to be had through demography.
Get ready for Obama appointment, Round 2.
Not sure how the timing will work on this, especially as Obama and the Democrats try to avoid being too contentious right before the November elections. That might play in our favor as far as getting a more moderate nominee. It will also be interesting to see if the GOP can or will delay the nominee as they have the 41 votes to filibuster.
The names being thrown around are the same ones being thrown around before; we’ll see where he goes with this pick. Time to start praying again.
Simon Heffer of London’s Daily Telegraph wrote this timely piece on President Obama’s inability to govern America. Here are some snippets [emphases mine]:
It is a universal political truth that administrations do not begin to fragment when things are going well: it only happens when they go badly, and those who think they know better begin to attack those who manifestly do not. The descent of Barack Obama’s regime, characterised now by factionalism in the Democratic Party and talk of his being set to emulate Jimmy Carter as a one-term president [We can only hope], has been swift and precipitate. It was just 16 months ago that weeping men and women celebrated his victory over John McCain in the American presidential election. If they weep now, a year and six weeks into his rule, it is for different reasons.
“Obama’s big problem,” a senior Democrat told me, “is that four times as many people watch Fox News as watch CNN.” The Fox network is a remarkable cultural phenomenon which almost shocks those of us from a country where a technical rule of impartiality is applied in the broadcast media [Like the BBC is a bastion of impartiality my left foot]. With little rest, it pours out rage 24 hours a day: its message is of the construction of the socialist state, the hijacking of America by “progressives” who now dominate institutions, the indoctrination of children, the undermining of religion and the expropriation of public money for these nefarious projects. The public loves it, and it is manifestly stirring up political activism against Mr Obama, and also against those in the Republican Party who are not deemed conservatives. However, it is arguable whether the now-reorganising Right is half as effective in its assault on the President as some of Mr Obama’s own party are.
[4 updates at the bottom of this post as of 8:08am CST]
If ObamaCare somehow passes through Congress and signed by President Obama, what can Americans look forward to?
Well the Republican Party’s very own potential presidential candidate Mitt Romney did just that as governor of Massachusetts, passing universal health coverage for the entire state.
The results are mixed at best, and scary at worst.
Here are some highlights from the op-ed titled Romneycare model a dud in the Boston Herald by Michael Graham where Massachusetts is “already glowing in the radioactive haze of Romneycare, aka “ObamaCare: The Beta Version.” [emphases mine]:
Shouldn’t Obama have been bragging yesterday about bringing the benefits of Bay State reform to all of America?
As we prepare to wander into this coming nuclear winter of hyper-partisan politics – one in which we’re almost certain to see widespread political fatalities among congressional Democrats – I have to ask: If bringing Massachusetts-style “universal coverage” to America is worth this terrible price, why doesn’t Obama at least mention us once in awhile?
Maybe he thinks of us as the Manhattan Project of medical insurance reform. Too top secret to discuss. More likely, it has something to do with the nightmare results of this government-run debacle. Here are a few “highlights” of the current status of the Obamacare experiment in Massachusetts:
It’s exploding the budget: Our “universal” health insurance scheme is already $47 million over budget [imagine it in trillions for American tax-payers] for 2010. Romneycare will cost taxpayers more than $900 million next year alone.
This is a clip of Ronald Reagan warning us of socialized medicine, the very same bill that President Obama and the Democratic Party are trying to ram through congress.
Reagan warns us of how people such as six-time presidential Socialist Party candidate Norman Thomas, and many others, explained how to move their agenda of achieving a socialist state by a Foot-in-the-Door policy of socialized medicine. Which is eerily similar to what President Obama and the Democrats are doing, against the will of the people with their European socialized health care bill.
[Updates at the bottom of this post as of 1-27-2010 at 4:20pm CST]
Victimhood personified by a modern liberal of the Democratic Party. Where is Harry “the BUCK stops here” Truman?
Scott Rasmussen, the best political pollster in the country in my opinion, had a stunner yesterday in his latest generic Congressional ballot: the Republicans have a nine point lead, 44% to 35%.
The latest generic ballot numbers highlight a remarkable change in the political environment during 2009. When President Obama was inaugurated, the Democrats enjoyed a seven-point advantage on the Generic Ballot. That means the GOP has made a net gain of 16 percentage points over the course of the year. Support for Democrats has declined eight points since Obama’s inauguration while Republican support is up nine points.
The Republican gains began in February when Republicans in the House unanimously opposed the $787-billion economic stimulus plan proposed by the president and congressional Democrats. At that time, Republican gains came almost entirely from the GOP base. Currently, just 30% of voters believe the stimulus plan helped the economy while 38% believe it hurt.
The two parties were very close on the Generic Ballot throughout the spring, but Republicans pulled ahead for good in late June. Those GOP gains took place after the health care debate began and unaffiliated voters began to shift away from the Democrats. Only 40% of voters currently favor the health care plan, while 55% are opposed. Continue reading
Byron Dorgan, Democrat Senator from North Dakota, decided it was better to retire rather than to be tossed out in November. His retirement is an indication of just how grim the political environment is becoming for Democrats, especially in red states. The news of Dorgan’s exit is sending out shock waves on Capitol Hill among Democrats. Which Democrat Senator will decide next that “retirement” sounds better than “defeated”?
Update I: Politico takes a look here at the sudden wave of Democrats retiring.
(Biretta Tip: Lucianne)
As an Illinois Republican I have little love for the Daley clan of Chicago. However, I have always respected their political acumen. William Daley, Commerce Secretary under Bill Clinton and Al Gore’s campaign chairman in 2000, where he was much too effective for my comfort in what should have been a big Republican year, and brother of Richie the Lesser, current Mayor for Life of the Windy City, has an interesting column today in the Washington Post:
But now they face a grim political fate. On the one hand, centrist Democrats are being vilified by left-wing bloggers, pundits and partisan news outlets for not being sufficiently liberal, “true” Democrats. On the other, Republicans are pounding them for their association with a party that seems to be advancing an agenda far to the left of most voters.
The political dangers of this situation could not be clearer.
Witness the losses in New Jersey and Virginia in this year’s off-year elections. In those gubernatorial contests, the margin of victory was provided to Republicans by independents — many of whom had voted for Obama. Just one year later, they had crossed back to the Republicans by 2-to-1 margins.
Witness the drumbeat of ominous poll results. Obama’s approval rating has fallen below 49 percent overall and is even lower — 41 percent — among independents. On the question of which party is best suited to manage the economy, there has been a 30-point swing toward Republicans since November 2008, according to Ipsos. Gallup’s generic congressional ballot shows Republicans leading Democrats. There is not a hint of silver lining in these numbers. They are the quantitative expression of the swing bloc of American politics slipping away.
And, of course, witness the loss of Rep. Griffith and his fellow moderate Democrats who will retire. They are perhaps the truest canaries in the coal mine.
Despite this raft of bad news, Democrats are not doomed to return to the wilderness. The question is whether the party is prepared to listen carefully to what the American public is saying. Voters are not re-embracing conservative ideology, nor are they falling back in love with the Republican brand. If anything, the Democrats’ salvation may lie in the fact that Republicans seem even more hell-bent on allowing their radical wing to drag the party away from the center.
All that is required for the Democratic Party to recover its political footing is to acknowledge that the agenda of the party’s most liberal supporters has not won the support of a majority of Americans — and, based on that recognition, to steer a more moderate course on the key issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan. (end of column)
Archbishop Raymond Burke has long been held with disdain (or outright revulsion) by liberal Catholics for his penchant to speak bluntly on various issues — from his cautioning the Democrats that they risk becoming “the party of Death” for their grievous stance on bioethical issues), to his disapproval of Obama’s appointment of Kathleen Sebelius to Secretary of Health and Human Services to his weighing in on the matter of reception of communion by publicly disobedient Catholics (see The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin Periodica de Re Canonica vol. 96 (2007)). His appointment by Pope Benedict XVI to the office of Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura was interpreted both as sign of the Pope’s favor (by conservatives) as well as perhaps a “punishment of sorts” by liberals, who hoped that his outspokenness on American political affairs would be muted by geographical distance.
Guess again. From National Catholic Reporter‘s “man in Rome” John Allen Jr. comes the news that, with his Oct. 17 appointment to the powerful Congregation for Bishops, Burke’s influence is set to grow:
When a diocese becomes vacant, it’s the job of the papal nuncio, or ambassador, in that country to solicit input on the needs of that diocese and to work with the local bishops and bishops’ conference to identify potential nominees. The nuncio prepares a terna, or list of three names, which is submitted to the Congregation for Bishops, along with extensive documentation on the candidates.
Members of the congregation are expected to carefully review all the documentation before meetings, and each is expected to offer an opinion about the candidates and the order in which they should be presented to the pope. Ultimately, it’s up to the pope to decide who’s named to any given diocese, but in most cases popes simply sign off on the recommendations made by the congregation.
To be sure, Burke’s nomination doesn’t mean he can single-handedly control who becomes a bishop, whether in the United States or anywhere else. … on the other hand, Burke’s influence may grow with time.
He’s by far the youngest of the current crop of Americans on the congregation (the next youngest, Levada, is 73, and Rigali is 74). Since appointments are for five-year terms and may be renewed until a prelate reaches the age of 80, Burke could be involved in bishops’ appointments for the next two decades. At some point he may well become the senior American in the process, with a correspondingly greater impact.
As Allen concludes: ” If anyone suspected that the decision to bring Burke to Rome last year was a way of muzzling him, or limiting his influence in the United States, it certainly doesn’t seem to be playing out that way.”
For political junkies like me, tomorrow begins the political season for 2010 with gubernatorial elections in Virginia, New Jersey and the special congressional election in New York 23. There is also a special congressional election in California 10, but that is in the San Francisco metro area and everyone, except for the Republican running, David Harmer, believes that is going to be won by the Democrat, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, and I join in that consensus, although I suspect it might be surprisingly close.
In regard to the three competitive races, here are my predictions:
Yesterday The Nation‘s John Nichols wrote a rather scathing piece about President Obama: the piece is entitled “Whiner-in-Chief” and the first line reads, “The Obama administration really needs to get over itself.”
Of course, I tend to agree with perspectives like that. 🙂 But near the end of the piece Nichols tries to argue that the country isn’t as divided as the White House thinks, and along the way, he makes a heckuva non sequitur:
[Updates at the bottom of this posting as of 3:03am CDT on AD 9-10-2009]
President Obama’s speech covered many topics, lets first layout our President’s plan:
I. Keep the health insurance you have now.
1. Pre-existing symptoms or disabilities no longer will disqualify anyone from coverage.
2. No spending caps set by insurance companies.
3. No drop in coverage in the middle of an illness.
4. Limit on out of pocket expense.
5. Minimal requirements of coverage.
II. Public Option & Exchange
1. When losing your job you have the Public Option if you can’t afford insurance.
2. Insurance exchange markets will be required for insurance companies to participate in.
3. Tax credits for small businesses.
4. In theory this will not lead to a government take over.
Blackadder has had a couple very interesting posts lately arguing that a public health insurance program wouldn’t sound the death-knell to private insurance companies (and hence competition for the consumer) which many have been arguing it would.