Monday, August 31, 2009

Will Joe Kennedy run for his uncle's Senate Seat?

I guess enhanced interrogation techniques use on terrorists did work, after all.

My representative in Congress doesn't like the heat at her most recent town hall meeting, so much so that the police removed a man who challenged her.

Robert J. Samuelson is worried about the deficit numbers, and the unwillingness of both Republicans and Democrats to speak honestly about why the numbers are so bad.

Irwin Stelzer also writes about the debt, and how the Chairman of the Federal Reserve might deal with it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tension on the rise between Russia and Ukraine.

Ted Kennedy was a big part of the so-called "War on Cancer" started by President Nixon in 1971, but after forty years and billions of dollars the Senator was done in by a type of brain cancer that is just as deadly now as it was then.

Charles Krauthammer outlines the politically astute way in which the President can get a health reform bill passed, essentially by mandating private insurance coverage for everyone, subsidizing those who cannot afford it, and preventing private insurers from denying coverage. I believe this may very well be the path they eventually choose.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Senator Kennedy will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery near the graves of his brothers. Senator Kennedy is eligible for burial there because of his service in the U.S. Army and in the United States Senate. George Will believes Ted Kennedy was the most important brother.

The path to a GOP revival.

Tropical Storm Danny takes aim at the Northeast.

A Federal Appeals Court rules that the government was wrong to seize the list of MLB players who failed a voluntary drug test.

Amir Taheri says there is a military solution in Afghanistan.

Pat Buchanan writes about the fatal flaw in all democracies, including our own.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Ted Kennedy, dead at 77. It truly marks the end of an era.

The Federal deficit is growing at an eye popping rate under the Obama Administration, with revenue performance worse than anything seen since the Great Depression and spending at a rate not seen since the Korean War. This is unsustainable, which is why people like Joe Lieberman are calling on the President to scale back his health reform plans.

David Gergen is also critical when looking at these deficits and their relation to health reform.

Michael Gerson sees a disconnect when looking at the President and the political realities of health reform.

Jeff Jacoby writes the truth about the 'Cash for Clunkers' program.

Jay Cost looks at Obama's poll numbers and sees reasons why he should be very concerned.

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts strikes a blow for New Hampshire retailers.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ralph Peters says this was a good week for terrorists everywhere, and a bad week for the West.

The Attorney General appoints a special prosecutor to investigate alleged abuse of prisoners by CIA interrogators. If I were a CIA officer, and I watched as some of my fellow officers were investigated and, perhaps, prosecuted for their actions which they thought at the time were covered, then I would be very reluctant to do anything except shuffle paper until I reached retirement.

Highlighting the turmoil this kind of thing produces, there are reports that the Director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, has already threatened to quit.

Meanwhile, Barney Frank is working on a bill that would heavily regulate the financial industry.

The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology have issued a frightening report on the possible extent of the flu pandemic expected to intensify this Fall.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mark Steyn has some thoughts on why the stimulus flopped.

Nouriel Roubini believes the recession may be a double-dipper.

Michael Barone thinks some on the left are AWOL.

The Attorney General is thinking about prosecuting CIA officers for abusing prisoners. Here are some reasons why that is a bad idea.

The military brass believes we do not have enough troops in Afghanistan.

Robert J. Samuelson explains why high speed rail will not work in this country, at least not at an affordable price.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The threat of violence works. Submitted as evidence...the case of the a book called "The Cartoons that Shook the World", which omits the cartoons that shook the world, that is, the ones that insulted Mohammed and caused riots. The publisher insisted that those cartoons not appear in the book, despite the fact that they are THE perfect examples of the theme of the book. They were omitted because the publishers fear, justifiably, violence from Muslim extremists. The lesson? If you wish to stifle the free expression of ideas, kill people or threaten to kill them.

The people who control the government in Iran understand this concept and, according to Amir Taheri, plan to follow through on their crackdown against anti-government protesters by arresting their leaders.

Meanwhile, the President continues to spend money far and away above our ability to cover our bills, with the ten year deficit projection headed for $9 trillion.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Charlie Cook has some chilling news for Democrats. Essentially, the political climate is such that the Democrats may be looking at big losses in 2010. Why? First and foremost, the elderly are being scared out of their wits by the health insurance reform plans which are being hashed out in Congress. Even if the so-called 'death panels' are not really as sinister as the name implies, without a very clear idea of how to lower costs other than to reduce the level of care, it is easy to demagogue this issue. Add to this the fact that the President is stumbling around spending money like a drunken sailor, which is driving independents into the GOP camp, and the sickening level of media adoration that is also stoking conservative anger and independent disgust, you get a perfect political storm. The only thing that the Democrats and the President can hope for going forward is that there is still a lot of time before we get to the 2010 elections, and the economy can revive in that time, and they can retreat from health reform, or do something so inconsequential that it doesn't threaten grandma's Medicare, and so on. Of course, the opposite is also true, as some foreign policy debacle or domestic scandal could bite the President right in the behind.

Here is an example of why there is fear out there about the President's health reform plans.

Charles Krauthammer calls for some honest discussion about end-of-life issues. My guess is that we will not get such discussion, just as we will not get honest discussion about entitlement spending.

Michael Gerson also writes about the dilemmas facing anyone trying to reform our health care system.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sen. Ted Kennedy sends a letter to Massachusetts leaders calling for a change in the the state's senatorial succession law. He wants the law to allow the Governor to appoint an interim Senator to fill the seat before a special election. I will be shocked if they do not comply with his request.

Huge car bombs kill and maim in downtown Baghdad, exposing the weakness of the Iraqi security forces, and the continued strength and determination of the terrorists who wish to bring down the current government. As for the identity of the terrorists, there are a number of likely suspects. Sunni extremists who enjoyed their dominance of the country under Saddam and want it back, Iranian agents who wish to destabilize the country and force the Americans to either ramp up their commitment, or retreat in defeat and disgrace, or Al Qaeda types who also hope for all out civil war in Iraq, or the fall of the government, or American retreat, or all of the above. Unfortunately, I am not optimistic about how things will turn out.

The Obama Administration is having some success in getting commitments from other countries to take those Guantanamo detainees who have been cleared for release, but not so much when it comes to determining what to do with the others. Here is a call for an international tribunal to adjudicate their cases.

Hurricane Bill takes aim at the Canadian Maritimes, but is still far enough away to cause concern for those of us on the East Coast, as the margin of error on a hurricane storm track is rather large.

A doctor tells us some unpleasant truths about our health care system, while David Ignatius wants us to listen to another doctor when we look to reform the system.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bob Novak, dead at 78. I was a fan, of course, having watched him often over the years on cable TV shows like Crossfire, but I was a reader even before then when he co-wrote one of the best and most influential political columns of the time with his colleague Rowland Evans. If you read any of the tributes, like this one from David Broder, you will get the sense that he was well liked by his peers, and respected deeply by them because of his determination to wear out shoe leather to get the story, and get it right. I met him once, back in 2000 when we were both getting made up in the green room CNN was using at it's Manchester, NH broadcast location during the week before the primary. He was open, friendly, and gave not one ounce of the "I am a media big shot" aura. In fact, it was just the opposite, as he chatted with me as if I was a long-time colleague about the ins and outs of the NH primary. Clearly, he cared about getting the story and getting it right and, as any real reporter knows, digging for information from anyone and everyone is a big part of the job. He will be missed.

The Democrats, sensing the GOP is opposed to most of what they are proposing concerning health insurance reform, have decided to try and pass a bill without bipartisan compromise. This may still prove to be a difficult proposition, as I think many members of Congress are becoming convinced that the anger at town hall meetings back in their districts is not simply the product of GOP and right-wing astroturf groups bringing in paid demonstrators but, rather, a real manifestation of public fear and anger over the direction of the debate.

Most of this is Obama's fault, of course. On the campaign trail he said, and he continues to say, that his health reform will allow us all to keep our plans if we want to, keep our doctors if we want to, and it will extend benefits to those who do not have them, improve service to the rest, and all while lowering costs. That is a ridiculous fantasy, as John Stossel points out.

Michael Goodwin believes we are not seeing the Barack Obama we elected. I believe that is the case because the Barack Obama we elected was a politician talking through his hat on the campaign trail, saying whatever was necessary to get elected, but now finding that he cannot govern the same way he campaigned.

Obama's weakness, and his true, ultra-liberal political agenda, is what is driving his poll numbers down.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New survey data shows that people who identify themselves as conservatives outnumber people who identify themselves as liberals in all fifty states, despite the fact that registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in thirty states. Having followed national politics closely for thirty years, this does not surprise me. Reagan won a landslide in 1980 because millions of registered Democrats voted for him. They were conservative, working class white folks by-and-large, disgusted by the weakness and incompetence of Jimmy Carter. While the composition of the nation's population is somewhat different today, the fact remains, and this survey provides evidence for the contention, that this is still a center-right country politically. I suspect that means we will see a backlash against our liberal President and his liberal allies in Congress at the next opportunity, which will happen the first Tuesday of November, 2010.

Peggy Noonan has some thoughts on why the political fortunes of the President seem to be in reverse.

Charles Krauthammer believes the big reason why Obama's health insurance reform plans are falling apart is because his rhetoric about lowering costs does not match the reality of the various plans being generated in Congress.

Robert Kuttner thinks the President's plans are stalled because he refuses to let his Progressive allies fight back.

As I have written and said in the past, the reason the President is losing ground is because he cannot actually reform the system without taking something away from someone, whether it is the benefits being paid to the recipients of care or the income being received by those who provide the care, or the profits of the insurance companies. There will be winners and losers, and everyone fears that they will be in the losers camp. That is a prescription for failure, which is why I still believe nothing of any real substance will be passed on this issue.

Monday, August 17, 2009


The President has abandoned the so-called 'public option' for health insurance reform in a last ditch effort to get something passed. Why is it so difficult to get something done?

First, despite the soothing words of people like Paul Krugman, who assert that the government guaranteed plans in places like Great Britain, France, Canada and Switzerland are all providing better service at lower cost than our system, average Americans aren't buying it, especially the elderly. In fact, as Ross Douthat points out, Republicans are finding it extremely easy to demagogue the issue by scaring seniors into believing that they will be denied care which, of course, is exactly what Democrats did in the past when the GOP tried to reform Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. This is all made much easier to believe when knowledgeable people point out that our system spends more and more money every year on old folks nearing the end of their lives. Why is that?

Because, second, old people vote. Since the President chose to go without a plan but, rather, gave an outline of goals to Congress and had them come up with something, he has allowed people to believe whatever they want to believe.

So, will reform happen this year? I don't think so. A plan without a public option will probably pass the Senate, but may not pass the House. In the end, as in 1993, too much public anger and too much organized opposition will force the President to abandon the effort. It won't do him much good, however, as he will face the same trouble Bill Clinton did in 1994 when voters get a chance to speak their minds at the ballot box.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some suggestions for a more cost effective health care system.

Some perspective on the grandiose claims for the influence of Twitter when dealing with repressive regimes. Someone once said the pen is mightier than the sword. That may be true in some sense when looking at the grand scope of human history. But when faced with a soldier or policeman armed with an automatic weapon and the grim determination to use it, I think a pen, or an electronic communication device, will be insufficient protection against death, injury, or arrest.

Jerry Remy is on the road to recovery. As a Red Sox fan, and a regular viewer of the NESN telecasts of Red Sox games, he can't get back soon enough for me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Molly Ringwald has this well written and poignant op-ed piece about John Hughes in today's New York Times.

Edward Luttwak believes President Obama's strategy regarding Iran will fail.

Charlie Arlinghaus explains why President Obama chose to speak about health care in New Hampshire rather than Maine or Massachusetts.

Harold Meyerson says the U.S. should start making things again.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Some computer problems this week, which is why I have not been posting as regularly as I would like.

Is it possible to compare Sarah Palin with Ronald Reagan? I am skeptical.

The health care debate is really a debate about the role of government in society.

At last, someone makes some sense in a column about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It really won't be resolved with a two-state solution.

Christopher Hitchens believes Bill Clinton's visit to North Korea to gain the release of those two American journalists was a lousy day's work.

Ben Stein explains why he was expelled by The New York Times.

Economist Gregory Clark has this provocative column about why we will need to raise taxes. Some people think he is incredibly confused.

Anne Applebaum says August might be a hot month on the international scene.

Eugene Robinson, who favors a public health care option, still believes the protesters have a point when they worry about cost.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Some news about President Obama, his home state of Hawaii, and that state's problem with certificates (no, not birth certificates).

The GOP in Massachusetts gets feisty.

Paul Krugman thinks the people who are protesting at congressional town hall meetings against the President's health reform plans are really a bunch of racists, when they're not paid right-wing operatives. Stuff like this actually pleases me, since it reflects the elite liberal opinion that is out there, and thus their complete misreading of the public mood, which will hinder their ability to respond to it, which could make for some big gains for the GOP in 2010.

Charles Krauthammer has a simple health care reform plan that calls for an end to the subsidy for employer-provided health insurance (the tax break) and an end to the tort system for medical malpractice as we know it today. I agree with him, since I have long called for severing the link between health insurance and employment. Let's create a market for insurance that is based on individual choice.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Russian subs are patrolling off the East Coast. Just another example of Czar Vladimir's efforts to regain his country's Cold War Superpower status.

The GOP is looking stronger in the upcoming 2010 Senate races.

Republican political fortunes are being driven by growing disillusionment with President Obama. As Obama's handling of the economy is increasingly seen as ineffective, and even harmful, as his policies are revealed to be too far left for the majority of Americans, and as he is seen as weak on the foreign policy stage, dissatisfaction will lead to Republican gains in 2010.

Monday, August 03, 2009

While Paul Krugman points a finger of blame at Wall Street (with some justification) for the financial meltdown and continuing to engage in dangerous practices, Ross Douthat points out that they're having more economic trouble in the high-tax Blue States than in the low-tax Red States.

Robert J. Samuelson points the spotlight on California as a bellwether state for the nation as a whole when considering the confluence of an increasing appetite for government services with a decreasing appetite to pay the taxes that sustain them.

Finally, a reminder that health care is a service, not a right.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A tough day for small businesses in Massachusetts as their sales tax goes up 25%. Of course, here in New Hampshire, where there is no sales tax, it is a good day.

Amir Taheri has this analysis of the upcoming elections in Afghanistan, and why it stands as an opportunity for the Taliban.

In New York, it's been the second coolest Summer on record, without a single 90 degree day in June or July. Here in New Hampshire, we have been seeing the same thing. We've gotten nowhere near 90, with only a few days even getting to 85. Meanwhile, scientists are puzzled by higher than normal tides along the Atlantic coast this Summer.

An analysis of Obama's poll numbers reveals that he has not been outside the historic norm for average Presidents in the modern era, and his numbers are falling. I think a GOP comeback in 2010 is very much a possibility.

Is there anybody out there?