Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A new poll from ABC News shows support for incumbents is at the lowest level since 1994. Of course, you remember what happened in November, 1994, don't you?

Walter Russell Mead writes about the financial crisis in Europe. I was always skeptical about the European Union in general, and the Euro in particular, and it seems Mead shares that skepticism. An essential part of the success of the United States of America is the shared language, culture and history that led people in the early Republic to accept a sense of 'American' nationhood. Only the divisive nature of slavery and the differences that institution created between the Northern and Southern cultures kept the U.S. from an even stronger sense of shared identity. Of course, the Civil War ended that division, as references to the United States went from plural to singular (e.g., documents before the war referred to 'these United States' and after the war 'the United States'). On the other hand, there can be no such thing as 'The United States of Europe', as this new financial crisis once again affirms. The language and culture of Greece is far different than that of Germany, and it is folly to expect the two peoples to run their affairs the same way. The educated elites of Europe convinced themselves that the only way to prevent a recurrence of the disastrous European wars of the early 2oth century was to create an economic union, which would be followed by a political one. What they have created, though, will simply lead to economic disasters, which may very well be followed by political upheaval and war.

Here are the nuts and bolts of the European crisis as it stands at the moment.

Benny Avni writes about the continued dithering at the United Nations concerning sanctions against Iran for their continued intransigence concerning their nuclear program. The Iranian leaders understand that time is on their side, so expect more stonewalling.

George Will thinks the new law in Arizona that allows local police officers to check on the residency status of people is something the folks down there can live with. I don't like it much (it is very, well, 'European', for local police to ask to see your papers), but I understand the frustration of people in the Southwest. This is a loud and clear cry for the federal government to do something about our porous borders.

Katrina vanden Heuvel likes the ascension of Nick Clegg and the Liberal Party in British politics. Clegg was once an intern at vanden Heuvel's magazine, The Nation, back in 1990.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Daniel Henninger writes about new poll data that shows the Democrats at the edge of a cliff. These numbers reflect the core truth of what is happening across the country. Ordinary Americans have become alarmed by the enormous size of government, and the reach of government into our lives at every level. It started to reach critical mass with the bank bailouts, then came the automakers, the stimulus bill (which no one can detect in their own lives) and now health care. Middle-of-the-road voters who went for the Democrats in 2006 and 2008 are, I think, now mostly in the anti-government camp. They may not like the GOP much, which is one reason why these Tea Party rallies are doing so well, but they certainly are not going to support the pro-big government party in November. The President hopes he can rally African-Americans and Hispanics to turn out in the Fall, but even if he succeeds in pushing turnout for those groups close to 2008 levels, I suspect the loss of centrist, white, working and middle class voters will be so great as to make minority turnout irrelevant (not even considering the fact that gerrymandering of districts has concentrated those voters into fewer districts as it is).

Pat Buchanan believes China is following the same path that led the United States to the top of the global heap. Buchanan has always believed that a protectionist trade policy, aggressive guardianship of a coherent ethnic and cultural identity, and a firm commitment to a strong defense without imperial entanglements is the way to achieve greatness as a nation. Agree or disagree, he remains pretty consistent along these lines, and I think he is right to believe that the Chinese leadership is following his prescription.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Kevin Williamson explains something we conservatives need to here...which is that tax cuts alone will not solve our debt and deficit problems, we need to CUT SPENDING. Unfortunately, as a political matter, it is easier to win elections promising that tax cuts alone will solve all problems than to tell people the truth.

We are already seeing some signs that Obamacare will not work. If Republicans have the courage to advocate repeal, they can do well on this issue.

Even The New York Times can see that the Democrats are in trouble.

Stephen Hawking has a warning for us. Don't talk to aliens.

Robert J. Samuelson is skeptical about the new financial regulations being debated in Congress.

The Washington Post takes notice of our congressional races here in New Hampshire.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

China continues to expand its naval power, while we continue to shrink our defense budget. At some point, and this is beginning to happen, the other nations in the region will have to expand their own naval capability, especially Japan and Australia.

Of course, a big reason why our actual defense capability is eroding is our continued insistence on throwing good money after bad in Afghanistan. Ralph Peters writes again about our lack of a clear strategy, despite the fact that a few people, including our ambassador in Kabul, understand the problems we face.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A deadly fungus spreads in North America. Fortunately, freezing weather kills it, but it has a disturbingly high mortality rate.

The debt crisis in Greece worsens.

An experimental U.S. Air Force space vehicle is launched, leading to much speculation about its purpose. I love reading the comments at the bottom of these types of articles, as it reveals the thinking of so many of the deluded people in the world. I often wonder if it might not have been better to leave Western Europe in Stalin's hands.

President Obama faces some interesting choices as the military presents him with the possibility of a new, very powerful, intercontinental conventional warhead. It seems the Russians don't like it much, even though it seems it would be more useful against folks like the Iranians or North Koreans. Ironically, Obama's own passionate dislike of nuclear weapons could feed his enthusiasm for the program.

David Brooks is feeling a bit low as he contemplates the resurrection of the conflict over the size of government in this country. Sorry, David, but you folks in the middle of the road are bound to get run over.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. writes about the fact that it was Africans who captured and sold the majority of African slaves to the European slave traders who eventually transported them to the New World. This makes the complex idea of reparations even more complex. Gates is optimistic that a man with Obama's unique background is better suited to push the issue forward. I just don't see it, and I think Obama is smart enough to know that it is a political loser as an issue.

A new poll shows some evidence for a restoration of Republicans to New Hampshire's two Congressional seats. If this does turn out to be a "wave" election, with the GOP doing very well across the country, I would be surprised if New Hampshire was not part of that trend.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Some reasons to worry about Nick Clegg, head of Britain's Liberal Party. Once upon a time, the Liberals were the dominant party in the U.K., battling it out with the Conservatives. But the Great Depression and WWII brought the Labor Party to the fore, and for many years the Liberals have seen themselves diminished into a non-factor. But new polls put the Liberals in second place behind the Conservatives. Could a new shift be happening? If you are a political wonk, like me, you might find this stuff fascinating.

George Will praises Chris Christie for telling it like it is in New Jersey.

Robert J. Samuelson tells it like it is about Wall Street.

Another article that puts the Tea Party movement in a bad light. No matter how hard they try, the liberals and their friends in the media will not succeed, primarily because they do not understand that the Tea Party movement is not about its most visible spokespeople, but about the tremendous number of ordinary Americans who share the frustrations of the folks who protest, and those who speak for them and with them.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jonah Goldberg says that many of the Tea Party folks were angry with Bush, too, and for the same reasons they are angry with Obama.

H.D.S. Greenway says we need to learn to live with a nuclear Iran. I don't have a problem with that, since the U.S. can, of course, live with a nuclear Iran so long as it secures its nuclear material and is governed by people who can be deterred by the assurance of a massive nuclear counter-strike. But is Iran governed by rational people? We can take that chance, but can the Israelis?

Ralph Peters praises Bob Gates for his warning about Iran.

For the Democrats, it is the big disconnect.

Scientists are having a tough time predicting the behavior of volcanoes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More trouble for air travellers over Europe as ash from that Icelandic volcano continues to close airspace.

Of course, they could choose to escape the jet age.

Jay Cost examines the potential voting pattern for the 2012 election. There are just too many variables to make any accurate prediction about that election. Which makes sense, since there is no way to make an accurate prediction about the November election, which is only a little more than six months away.

Richard Cohen believes Obama should go to Jerusalem.

A Federal judge rules against segregation in Mississippi.

It is not that American institutions are on the brink of failure, it is that some institutions ought to be allowed to fail, so new ones can take their place.

Wall Street as Big Casino.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Royal Navy is on the way to rescue stranded Britons as that Icelandic volcano continues to erupt, disrupting air travel across Europe.

Meanwhile, some scientists believe we are in for a period of more intense volcanic activity on Iceland that could last for decades.

Benny Avni believes we could be on the road to another war in the Middle East.

Want to close the deficit? Cut spending.

Myths about the VAT tax, the most important being that it will obviate the necessity to cut spending.

Once again, E.J. Dionne represents an accurate barometer of elite, liberal thinking, this time about the Tea Party. His dismissal of the Tea Party movement as a media created phenomenon is, I think, the general consensus among liberal elites, which is why they will be devastated by the election results in November.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fred Barnes interviews the new governor of New Jersey whose blunt talk and tough policy prescriptions may avert fiscal disaster in the Garden State and bring about a renaissance. If he succeeds, Chris Christie may very well be a GOP Presidential front runner sometime in the future.

Sean Trende compares this year to 1974, when a string of Republican defeats in special elections was a harbinger of their disastrous performance that November. Of course, this year it is the Democrats who find themselves on the losing end.

A murder mystery in Washington, DC as a beloved urban school principal is found fatally shot in his home, his car and some other items missing, and no sign of forced entry. Could one of the troubled students he befriended and tried to help be the culprit? No matter who did it, the loss is great for a school system that, like so many of our urban schools, is struggling mightily against the forces of poverty, neglect, drug addiction and violence.

Democratic Governor John Lynch of New Hampshire says he will run for reelection to an unprecedented fourth consecutive term. In New Hampshire, terms for a governor run in two-year increments, so the number of years for Lynch would not be unusual by national standards, but would be for the Granite State. Lynch has, so far, been made of Teflon when it comes to the national anger and disappointment with Democrats in general, but things could change once he has an opponent standing alone against him.

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger faces yet another accusation of sexual assault although, once again, he will not face criminal charges. Counting the woman who says Big Ben raped her, that makes three.

In Massachusetts, some health insurance plans are dropping elite hospitals from their lists of approved providers due to the expense. Just another example of the real problem we face when dealing with health care, which is that costs are going up at a dramatic pace, and the health reform law does nothing about that problem, except make it worse.

Friday, April 16, 2010

As the volcano in Iceland (with a name I cannot spell and will not attempt to pronounce) continues to spew out ash, thousands of people are stranded as airspace is closed and jets sit on the tarmac at airports across Europe. Volcanic ash is very bad for jet engines, so it is prudent to wait it out. My wife has a colleague who is stuck in Ireland (not a bad place to be stuck, for sure, but stuck just the same) as a result of the volcano, and could be there for at least a week.

The modern proliferation of video cameras allows us to see another big meteor, this one streaking across the sky of the American Midwest.

Ralph Peters is extremely impressed with Czar Vladimir Putin's strength of will and skilled strategic and tactical efforts as he runs rings around Western leaders, including our President.

Will Florida Governor Charlie Crist abandon the GOP and run for reelection as an independent? Speculation about such a course grows stronger as Crist vetoes a teacher/school accountability bill backed by the Republican Party in the Sunshine State. Crist is trailing primary opponent Marco Rubio in most polls, but might win a three-way race in the general.

A pair of Democratic pollsters, who previously warned against passing the health reform law, have some ideas on how the Democrats can minimize their losses this November. After reading it through, I am confident that Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress will not listen to them.

Charles Krauthammer writes about the political posturing that was the only result of the recently concluded nuclear summit.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Here is an analysis of the mid-term elections from Sean Trende. He examines polling numbers and historical data and comes to the conclusion that this November could very well be WORSE for the Democrats than 1994. We will have a much better idea, of course, when we get to September and October. How are the job numbers at that point? Our standing in the world, and the general international situation? Will health care be the big issue, or something else? The reason these things are so hard to predict is the same reason why big government programs often cause so many unexpected and unintended consequences, because they are determined by the individual decisions of millions of human beings. Each eligible voter on election day will decide whether or not to go to their polling place, and then cast a ballot, and each will do so for their own reasons, rational or not, emotional or not, carefully considered or not. It is truly an art to understand and predict these things, which is why so few people are really good at it.

Did you know that Texas Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul has a son? Did you know that son, named Rand Paul, is running for U.S. Senate in Kentucky? Here is a story about Rand Paul and the curious coalition he is building in the Bluegrass State.

New polling in Britain shows the Conservatives losing their lead. Once again, the millions will decide, and their verdict will be split.

While U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates does not believe the Iranians will have a nuclear weapon for at least a year, President Obama said the nuclear summit has made the world safer. I hesitate to say that this is one pronouncement that could blow up in his face, because I do not wish to be flippant about something so serious, but it really could blow up in some one's face.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Arthur Herman says the Russian bear is back, and he is skeptical about the plane crash that killed Poland's President.

Ralph Peters says the U.S. is a sucker for strongmen, often to our detriment.

U.S. faces a shortage of doctors.

The Democrats will probably win a special election in Florida today, as the district is populated heavily in their favor.

Fred Barnes says the GOP is now back in the money game, which will help this November.

Why extending unemployment benefits is a bad idea.

A doctor explains what we learned from the first outbreak of the H1N1 virus.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Two ticking time bombs inside the health reform law.

Robert Reich says the employment picture is still bleak.

Victor Davis Hanson takes a tour through America in recession, or at least that part of America called California.

Here is the latest poll on the New Hampshire race for governor, which shows our current governor still in the lead.

George Will writes about the looming crisis regarding public pensions.

Robert J. Samuelson writes about some good economic news.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The President of Poland, his wife, and a number of other Politsh dignitaries were killed in a plane crash just outside of Smolensk, Russia.

Larry Kudlow says conservatives should tell it like it is, which means talking up the V-shaped economic recovery that seems to be on the horizon. If he is right, and we really feel the effects of recovery, including a significant drop in the unemployment rate before November, Democratic losses will be significantly lower.

Caroline Glick says Israel is the strong horse, and is still viewed as such by some of her Arab neighbors.

Meanwhile, Fouad Ajami says American credibility continues to drain away in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Bill Kristol says resignations are in the air, and not just of Justice Stevens and Congressman Stupak, but of the President, who is now resigned to a nuclear Iran. The Israelis, of course, cannot resign themselves to a nuclear Iran, and will take action unless explicitly and directly prevented by the United States.

Irwin Stelzer examines the trade relationship between the U.S. and China.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announces he will retire at the end of the Summer term. He turns 90 in 11 days, and he has been hinting that he would retire for some time now. This will create some interesting festivities in the Senate when the President names a successor. The GOP can filibuster, if they can keep all 41 members in line, although it will really depend on the person, as this is not a case of a conservative justice leaving the court, but a liberal one, presumably to be replaced by another liberal.

Another one bites the dust as Rep. Bart Stupak calls it quits. Stupak, of course, is the pro-life Michigan Democrat who was at the center of last minute negotiations over abortion language that eventually led to the removal of a major hurdle in the way of the Obama health reform bill. Of course, pro-life folks called it a sell out by Stupak, and pro-choice partisans called it a sell out by Obama and Pelosi. In any event, Stupak was a big target, and now he puts another seat in play for the GOP.

Jonah Goldberg correctly points out that if we become Europeanized, who will play the role of America?

More and more folks are becoming aware of the tax implications of the new health law, and they don't like it, not one bit.

Which is part of the reason why polls show more people unhappy with the new health law, and want it repealed. Will GOP politicians understand these polls and this attitude, and embrace it without fear? If they do, they will run on the issue of repeal.

The Democrats face a branding issue, with their party in the role of Tylenol after the cyanide scare. Unlike Tylenol, they won't simply be able to pull existing stock off the market, change the packaging, and run an ad campaign without contradiction from their competitors.

Elliot Abrams is critical and skeptical when it comes to the idea of the imposition of a U.S. peace plan on unwilling Israelis and Palestinians.

Will China allow its currency to float just a little? I suspect that, if they do, it will be in a minor way. Remember, always remember, the people who run China will always do what is in their interest, no matter who suffers or gets killed in the process. That, of course, includes Chinese as well as foreigners. Once upon a time we used words like tyrant and despot to describe such people. Just because the leaders of China seem like so many faceless bureaucrats does not make them any less tyrannical or despotic.

Could we be in for a strong economic recovery, even if we don't believe the evidence that one may be on the way? I hope for a strong recovery, but I fear there are still icebergs in the water ahead.

Paul Krugman says we should be careful not to learn the wrong lessons from the Greek financial crisis. Generally, I read Krugman to get a good idea on what we ought NOT to do.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Here is my most recent piece on Associated Content, this one about the upcoming mid-term elections.

The man who helped arm the A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima has died. Only one man is left from the crew of the Enola Gay.

Upheaval in Kyrgyzstan. Will the U.S. be allowed to keep its base? Will the Russians intervene? Stay tuned.

Some psychologists weigh in on the reaction to the strike video that shows Americans killing Iraqi insurgents and two Reuters cameramen, both the reaction of the helicopter crewmen as revealed in their conversation during the action, and the reaction of people watching the video from the safety of their desks. My conclusion remains the same. If we don't want our young men to become cold-blooded killers, don't train them and send them to war. If, however, we believe war is sometimes necessary, then it is necessary to train some of our young men (and young women) to become cold-blooded killers, provide them with the best and most efficient weapons to use in that killing, then turn them loose.

John Stossel examines what it means to be a Libertarian.

A roundup of some recent polls. Notice how the GOP candidates are leading in so many of the races.

After stepping on a land mine he could have avoided, the governor of Virginia amends his Confederate History Month proclamation to include a reference to the evils of slavery. The damage is already done, of course. The good thing is that this will be forgotten by the time he is up for reelection (except by those who are not going to vote for him anyway).

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

In Massachusetts, health insurers stop offering new plans while they argue with the state over rates. I guess they didn't get the memo...they need to shut up and do what the government orders them to do. Where do they think they are? America?

Health costs need to come down, but this prescription won't work.

The Arctic sea ice finally starts melting, at the latest date so far recorded. The global warming folks will find some way to fit it into their narrative, no matter how convoluted.

Yes, there are African-Americans in the GOP, and some of them are running for Congress.

Bill Whittle calls on folks to support the Tea Party movement in their area, and go out to vote in November.

The new Republican governor of Virginia issues a proclamation declaring Confederate History Month. Previous Democratic governors had stopped issuing the proclamation, and a previous GOP governor had issued the proclamation with new language concerning slavery, which is not in the current version. I know that a lot of folks in the states of the former Confederacy want to honor the sacrifices of their fallen soldiers from that war, but in my view there is no way to separate out the fact that the war was fought, in large part, to continue the abominable practice of black slavery. As a political matter, this may play well to Governor McDonnell's base, and since African-American support in the GOP is so minimal, perhaps there will be little price to pay. But, as a Union man, and always with respect for the sacrifices people make for their beliefs, some beliefs are wrong and need to be eradicated. The rebellion needed to be crushed, and slavery abolished. All the soldiers in that war, Blue and Gray, fought for their own reasons and beliefs. Most of them shared a belief in White superiority which today we would find offensive. But the fact remains that if the soldiers wearing gray had won, slavery would have continued for many more years than it did.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Michael Barone writes about what the 1946 Republican tsunami can teach us about the 2010 election.

Ralph Peters continues to be exasperated by the behavior of President Karzai of Afghanistan and President Obama of the United States.

President Obama changes the rules on our use of nuclear weapons.

A California case will test the limits of the NFL's liability for dementia that strikes former players.

David Brooks is bullish about America.

Bill Roggio says a video purporting to show American troops murdering a Reuters news crew is not murder, but was well within the rules of engagement for those soldiers who were battling Iraqi insurgents. Watch the video. You can see the camera, but you can also see rifles and an RPG being held by some of the other guys. My bottom line? If we don't want our young men killing people, then don't send them to war, and if journalists don't want to be killed by our young men, then they shouldn't walk among our enemies.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Robert Reich believes the economy is still "wildly out of whack", and he blames Greenspan, Summers and Rubin for the mess.

"You were right about Obama." More anecdotal evidence that looks very bad for the Democrats this November.

The CIA is going after Al Qaeda and Taliban militants with a vengeance in the Pakistani Tribal Areas. Sounds good to me.

Juan Williams warns Democrats that simply writing off the Tea Party folks as a bunch of racist lunatics is a really bad idea. He is quite right. Despite his warning, I expect the Democrats to continue their state of denial about the Tea Party folks, even after they take a pounding this Fall.

Michael Barone links to some polls that show Tea Party folks are quite mainstream in their beliefs. Here is one of the polls.

Glenn Reynolds points out the difficulties involved in a government-run economy.

Friday, April 02, 2010

When the government controls health care--any aspect of health care and any level of government--politics will play a role. Such is the case in Massachusetts. Governor Deval Patrick, facing a tough reelection campaign, has recently been critical of health insurance companies for raising rates on small businesses. Now, the state has rejected almost all the rate hikes requested by those insurers, to their dismay and to the delight of small business owners and the self-insured. This is, of course, good politics. But what are the consequences? Facing smaller profit margins, the insurance companies will look for ways to make up for their inability to raise premiums. They may increase the number of procedures they will not cover, lower their payments to health providers, and the like. Deval Patrick may gain a few more votes, but scores of Massachusetts residents will pay for them in ways they cannot now foresee.

Paul Krugman is calling for a return to old-fashioned banking regulation.

Charles Krauthammer wonders why President Obama seems to be so keen to slap our friends and embrace our enemies. I hope it is a clever plan. I fear it is a result of ideological blindness.

Diane Ravitch, who once supported the No Child Left Behind law, now opposes it, and gives her prescription for education reform. She says testing does not work, and choice does not work, and charter schools do not work. I say let's get rid of the Federal presence in education entirely, and let the states and local districts come up with their solutions. After awhile, we might find some things that work (of course, with the immense power of the teacher's unions, that may not be possible).

Thursday, April 01, 2010

David Mills, one of the men responsible for my favorite TV show, The Wire, died yesterday while working on a new HBO show about post-Katrina New Orleans called Treme. I was looking forward to checking this new show out (created by David Simon, one of the co-creators of The Wire and a long-time friend of Mills). I will, of course, still watch the show, but the creativity and contributions of Mills will be greatly missed.

Michael Barone writes about the frictions between two sets of American ideals and the people that hold those ideals.

Could the relationship between the U.S. and Israel go the same way that the relationship between France and Israel went back in the 1960s? I doubt it, but it is possible.

Two Republican primary campaigns are drawing some interest on The Washington Post op-ed page. E.J. Dionne writes about the Senate contest in Florida between Crist and Rubio, while George Will writes about the Senate contest in Arizona between McCain and Hayworth.

Polls continue to show that the American people want the new health care law repealed. If those polls are correct, and especially if the significant numbers of independents want the law repealed, it bodes very well for the GOP in November.