Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Real Hypocrites

There is a “news” piece from the Associated Press written by a reporter, Charles Babington, on the “double standard” of the GOP in the healthcare debate.  The essence of Babington’s so-called “news” piece is that Republicans hypocritically voted FOR a Medicare expansion that includes pharmaceutical drugs back in 2003 when they had control of the US Senate.  The claim is that the addition of drugs to the already existing federally funded health care entitlement added half a trillion in costs all by itself, and is actually “worse than” the current expansion in government run healthcare because the half trillion dollars was “deficit financed” which is purportedly unlike the current deficit financed bill because back in 2003 we had no way to finance the drug benefit expansion, and you see this new government entitlement is paid for (out of Medicare?!?!?)

Anyway, what royals me here is that first of all, this is NOT a news item.  It is pure, unadulterated, left of center biased opinion.

Secondly, there is an answer to this kind of sideswipe.

Mark Steyn says that, unlike the add on of drug benefits to an already existing entitlement, as bad as that may have been perhaps, what the Democrats have done is essentially turned over control of over one-sixth of the US economy to the government, and has placed government in between the patient and the doctor:

The monstrous mountain of toxic pustules sprouting from greasy boils metastasizing from malign carbuncles that passed the Senate on Christmas Eve is not the last word in “health” “care,” but the first. It ensures that this is all we’ll be talking about, now and forever.

Government can’t just annex “one-sixth of the U.S. economy” (i.e., the equivalent of annexing the entire British or French economy, or annexing the entire Indian economy twice over) and then just say: “Okay, what’s next? On to cap-and-trade . . . ” Nations that governmentalize health care soon find themselves talking about little else…

…My Republican friends often seem to miss the point in this debate: The so-called “public option” is not Page 3,079, Section (f), Clause VII. The entire bill is a public option — because that’s where it leads, remorselessly. The so-called “death panel” is not Page 2,721, Paragraph 19, Sub-section (d), but again the entire bill — because it inserts the power of the state between you and your doctor, and in effect assumes jurisdiction over your body. As the savvier Dems have always known, once you’ve crossed the Rubicon, you can endlessly re-reform your health reform until the end of time, and all the stuff you didn’t get this go-round will fall into place, and very quickly.

As I’ve been saying for over a year now, “health care” is the fast-track to a permanent left-of-center political culture. The unlovely Democrats on public display in the week before Christmas may seem like just a bunch of jelly-spined opportunists, grubby wardheelers and rapacious kleptocrats, but the smarter ones are showing great strategic clarity. Alas for the rest of us, Euro-style government on a Harry Reid/Chris Dodd/Ben Nelson scale will lead to ruin.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Church Shares in Blame for Catholics who Publically Support Abortion

The public argument between Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Bishop Tobin in RI begs the question,…

Why do so many Catholic politicians favor “abortion rights” when the Catholic church itself is clearly in support of the life of the unborn?  Many who call themselves Catholic have supported abortion for decades and very publically. Organizations like Catholics for Choice for example, have been around since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.  So why the dichotomy, and how has this odd contradiction survived for so long?

In the early 1970’s, when the court ruled for abortion, Catholic pols often hid behind arguments like “As for me, I am personally opposed to abortion, but I do not favor government coercion of others to follow what I think is a matter of personal faith or conscience.”  Or “I do not wish to ‘force my religion’ upon anyone else.”

Other arguments would be aimed at having the freedom to choose (even though a bad choice which brings harm to another human being), or the rights of the mother to control her own body (at the expense of another).

In reality, Catholics who favor abortion are really political liberals who have “libertarian” views about their personal freedoms to the point of it being at the expense of others.  Such ideas overstep the bounds of personal liberty and the age old maxim that my right to swing my clench fisted arm in the direction of your nose ends a nanosecond from its surface.

One could apply the vain reasoning of these liberal Catholics to a lot of other bad behaviors, which, when attempted, can be plainly seen as patently absurd arguments.  For example, can anyone imagine a leader from the era of the Third Reich saying something like “As for me, I am personally opposed to death camps, but I consider their existence as a moral issue which is a matter of personal faith upon which I refuse to coerce others to follow.”  Or an anti-bellum Slave owner: “I am personally an abolitionist in my heart of hearts, but cannot in good conscience force my fellow plantation owners to give up their free help.”  Or “I should have the personal freedom of choice to decide what I do on my plantation – whether I have slave labor or not.” These arguments are laughable of course, yet we accept them on the subject of abortion all the time and go on our merry way. 

One reason they have survived is that the leaders of the Roman Catholic church have generally acquiesced in them and continue to this day to allow its members who are pro-abortion to remain members or “receive communion.”  In 1973, the Catholic church, had it really had the courage of its conviction, would have begun the wholesale expulsion of politicians and non-politicians alike with such beliefs.  They would have tossed them out the front doors of their cathedrals, and with great fanfare.  The views really cannot coexist.

So why has the Catholic church has been so tolerant? Why has it for the most part turned a blind eye to the masses who continue to support abortion yet continue to fill their pews?  It is in my opinion the church’s support on other so-called “social justice issues.”  The church opposes capital punishment, and it favors a more tolerant position on illegal immigration and the social justice and welfare of the indigent.  Many of these views are charitable at their core, and right for a church to foster, but are often on the very same agenda as the politically liberal social agenda with the only thing missing from that laundry list of social issues being a “woman’s right to choose…”

So what happens?  Those in the Church with the energy and momentum in supporting the churches social agenda are themselves caught up in the whole liberal social agenda. For that reason, the church should have long ago clearly and decisively incised the pro-abortionists from their roles.

I have an idea.  Do it now.  Use the Patrick Kennedy public debate as a moment in time where the Church comes forward with a public pronouncement, confesses its error for being so acquiescent in the past, and now sends a clear warning to other politicians and lay people to discontinue their support for government sanctioned abortion or be handed their walking papers.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Tally on the Vote for Obama Care Last Night – The Fight Isn’t Over

Here is the complete tally on the final vote last night in favor of establishing socialized medicine in this country. 

RI’s Langevin and Kennedy, of course, both voted with the slim majority.

Below are some other interesting cuts of the voting data.

The first is from Red Elephant who tracked the Democrats that have the most to lose (and we hope so) for supporting Obamacare.  The number next to their names is the percent of the vote McCain received in their Congressional District in 2008.  The list is also color coded to denote Freshman, 1+ Term and 3+ Term incumbents and includes McCain’s performance in 2008 in that congressional district.

MS-04 Taylor         67
TX-17 Edwards      67
OK-02 Boren         66
TN-04 Davis          64
AL-02 Bright          63
ID-01 Minnick        62
MS-01 Childers      62
TN-06 Gordon       62
AL-05 Griffith         61
LA-03 Melancon    61
MO-04 Skelton      61
AR-01 Berry          59
VA-09 Boucher      59
AR-04 Ross           58
MD-01 Kratovil     58
UT-02 Matheson    57
WV-01 Mollohan   57
GA-08 Marshall     56
TN-08 Tanner        56
WV-03 Rahall        56
KY-06 Chandler   55
PA-04 Altmire        55
AR-02 Snyder        54
AZ-01 Kirkpatrick 54
FL-02 Boyd           54
PA-10 Carney        54
ND-AL Pomeroy    53
SC-05 Spratt          53
AZ-05 Mitchell       52
AZ-08 Giffords       52
NC-07 McIntyre   52
NC-11 Shuler         52
OH-18 Space         52
FL-24 Kosmas       51
IN-08 Ellsworth      51
NY-13 McMahon  51
NY-29 Massa        51
PA-17 Holden        51
VA-05 Perriello      51
CO-03 Salazar       50
CO-04 Markey      50
IN-09 Hill               50
MN-07 Peterson    50
NM-02 Teague      50
OH-06 Wilson       50
OH-16 Boccieri     50
PA-12 Murtha       50

And this is from the Weekly Standard: The thirty-nine Democrats voted against it:

1. Rep. John Adler (NJ)

2. Rep. Jason Altmire (PA)

3. Rep. Brian Baird (WA)

4. Rep. John Barrow (GA)

5. Rep. John Boccieri (OH)

6. Rep. Dan Boren (OK)

7. Rep. Rick Boucher (VA)

8. Rep. Allen Boyd (FL)

9. Rep. Bobby Bright (AL)

10. Rep. Ben Chandler (KT)

11. Rep. Travis Childers (MS)

12. Rep. Artur Davis (AL)

13. Rep. Lincoln Davis (TN)

14. Rep. Chet Edwards (TX)

15. Rep. Bart Gordon (TN)

16. Rep. Parker Griffith (AL)

17. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD)

18. Rep. Tim Holden (PA)

19. Rep. Larry Kissell (NC)

20. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (FL)

21. Rep. Frank Kratovil (MD)

22. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH)

23. Rep. Jim Marshall (GA)

24. Rep. Betsy Markey (CO)

25. Rep. Eric Massa (NY)

26. Rep. Jim Matheson(UT)

27. Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC)

28. Rep. Michael McMahon (NY)

29. Rep. Charlie Melancon (LA)

30. Rep. Walt Minnick (ID)

31. Rep. Scott Murphy (NY)

32. Rep. Glenn Nye (VA)

33. Rep. Collin Peterson (MN)

34. Rep. Mike Ross (AR)

35. Rep. Heath Shuler (NC)

36. Rep. Ike Skelton (MO)

37. Rep. John Tanner (TN)

38. Rep. Gene Taylor (MS)

39. Rep. Harry Teague (NM)

So, for Obamacare to become the law of the land, first the Senate needs to pass a bill, and Harry Reid can't afford to lose a single Democrat if the Republicans stick together. And then the House and Senate would need to reconcile the two bills in conference committee and each vote on the conference report before it goes to Obama's desk. This fight isn't over.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kill this Bill!

To all my friends: Tell Rep. Langevin and Kennedy what’s really in the Pelosi Health Care Bill.  They may vote on it as early as today, Saturday, November 7.  Or over this weekend.

Tell them, if they haven’t the four ream bill, just read this excerpted from the WSJ

Here are some important passages in the 2,000 page legislation.


The health bill that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is bringing to a vote (H.R. 3962) is 1,990 pages. Here are some of the details you need to know.

What the government will require you to do:

• Sec. 202 (p. 91-92) of the bill requires you to enroll in a "qualified plan." If you get your insurance at work, your employer will have a "grace period" to switch you to a "qualified plan," meaning a plan designed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. If you buy your own insurance, there's no grace period. You'll have to enroll in a qualified plan as soon as any term in your contract changes, such as the co-pay, deductible or benefit.

• Sec. 224 (p. 118) provides that 18 months after the bill becomes law, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will decide what a "qualified plan" covers and how much you'll be legally required to pay for it. That's like a banker telling you to sign the loan agreement now, then filling in the interest rate and repayment terms 18 months later.

Associated Press

Protestors wave signs in front of the Capitol on Thursday.


On Nov. 2, the Congressional Budget Office estimated what the plans will likely cost. An individual earning $44,000 before taxes who purchases his own insurance will have to pay a $5,300 premium and an estimated $2,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, for a total of $7,300 a year, which is 17% of his pre-tax income. A family earning $102,100 a year before taxes will have to pay a $15,000 premium plus an estimated $5,300 out-of-pocket, for a $20,300 total, or 20% of its pre-tax income. Individuals and families earning less than these amounts will be eligible for subsidies paid directly to their insurer.

• Sec. 303 (pp. 167-168) makes it clear that, although the "qualified plan" is not yet designed, it will be of the "one size fits all" variety. The bill claims to offer choice—basic, enhanced and premium levels—but the benefits are the same. Only the co-pays and deductibles differ. You will have to enroll in the same plan, whether the government is paying for it or you and your employer are footing the bill.

• Sec. 59b (pp. 297-299) says that when you file your taxes, you must include proof that you are in a qualified plan. If not, you will be fined thousands of dollars. Illegal immigrants are exempt from this requirement.

• Sec. 412 (p. 272) says that employers must provide a "qualified plan" for their employees and pay 72.5% of the cost, and a smaller share of family coverage, or incur an 8% payroll tax. Small businesses, with payrolls from $500,000 to $750,000, are fined less.

Eviscerating Medicare:

In addition to reducing future Medicare funding by an estimated $500 billion, the bill fundamentally changes how Medicare pays doctors and hospitals, permitting the government to dictate treatment decisions.

• Sec. 1302 (pp. 672-692) moves Medicare from a fee-for-service payment system, in which patients choose which doctors to see and doctors are paid for each service they provide, toward what's called a "medical home."

The medical home is this decade's version of HMO-restrictions on care. A primary-care provider manages access to costly specialists and diagnostic tests for a flat monthly fee. The bill specifies that patients may have to settle for a nurse practitioner rather than a physician as the primary-care provider. Medical homes begin with demonstration projects, but the HHS secretary is authorized to "disseminate this approach rapidly on a national basis."

A December 2008 Congressional Budget Office report noted that "medical homes" were likely to resemble the unpopular gatekeepers of 20 years ago if cost control was a priority.

• Sec. 1114 (pp. 391-393) replaces physicians with physician assistants in overseeing care for hospice patients.

• Secs. 1158-1160 (pp. 499-520) initiates programs to reduce payments for patient care to what it costs in the lowest cost regions of the country. This will reduce payments for care (and by implication the standard of care) for hospital patients in higher cost areas such as New York and Florida.

• Sec. 1161 (pp. 520-545) cuts payments to Medicare Advantage plans (used by 20% of seniors). Advantage plans have warned this will result in reductions in optional benefits such as vision and dental care.

• Sec. 1402 (p. 756) says that the results of comparative effectiveness research conducted by the government will be delivered to doctors electronically to guide their use of "medical items and services."

Questionable Priorities:

While the bill will slash Medicare funding, it will also direct billions of dollars to numerous inner-city social work and diversity programs with vague standards of accountability.

• Sec. 399V (p. 1422) provides for grants to community "entities" with no required qualifications except having "documented community activity and experience with community healthcare workers" to "educate, guide, and provide experiential learning opportunities" aimed at drug abuse, poor nutrition, smoking and obesity. "Each community health worker program receiving funds under the grant will provide services in the cultural context most appropriate for the individual served by the program."

These programs will "enhance the capacity of individuals to utilize health services and health related social services under Federal, State and local programs by assisting individuals in establishing eligibility . . . and in receiving services and other benefits" including transportation and translation services.

• Sec. 222 (p. 617) provides reimbursement for culturally and linguistically appropriate services. This program will train health-care workers to inform Medicare beneficiaries of their "right" to have an interpreter at all times and with no co-pays for language services.

• Secs. 2521 and 2533 (pp. 1379 and 1437) establishes racial and ethnic preferences in awarding grants for training nurses and creating secondary-school health science programs. For example, grants for nursing schools should "give preference to programs that provide for improving the diversity of new nurse graduates to reflect changes in the demographics of the patient population." And secondary-school grants should go to schools "graduating students from disadvantaged backgrounds including racial and ethnic minorities."

• Sec. 305 (p. 189) Provides for automatic Medicaid enrollment of newborns who do not otherwise have insurance.

For the text of the bill with page numbers, see

Ms. McCaughey is chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and a former Lt. Governor of New York state.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Rod Dreher: Glenn Beck’s world order endangers the right

I usually discover that the Projo is off its rocker.  But here is an op ed piece that appeared in today’s printed version of the Projo that I agree with.  As a conservative, Glenn Beck concerns me when starts heading for deep waters.  Dreher is with the Dallas Morning News, affiliated with the Projo:

YOU CAN SAY THIS for Glenn Beck: He’s charismatic, he was right on ACORN and Van Jones, and he’s correct to point out that the government in Washington doesn’t work for the common good. The affable Beck articulates the legitimate anger and frustration that millions of Americans feel when faced by the fact that the country is in a hot mess of trouble.

But here’s the thing: Beck is a white Jeremiah Wright, a crazy-pants conspiracy theorist whose world-view is rooted in the paranoid teachings of a far-right Mormon political guru named W. Cleon Skousen. Before signing up as a recruit in Beck’s army, conservative Becketeers had better think long and hard about where their affable leader is taking them.

A few weeks back, the red-hot Fox News Channel phenom spent nine minutes on the air leading a seminar on public artwork in New York City. By the time he was finished, Beck had illuminated a propaganda conspiracy linking communists, fascists, the Soviet Union, the Rockefeller family and the United Nations. This is the sort of weirdo rant you expect to encounter on fringey Web sites. You don’t expect to see it on national television.

But that’s a big part of Beck’s shtick. He’s always carrying on about sinister Obamaite conspiracies threatening to overthrow the constitutional order. On the Fox & Friends morning show, Beck declared: “The Manchurian Candidate couldn’t destroy us faster than Barack Obama. If you were planning a sleeper to come in and become president of the United States, this is how he would do it.”

How is it that a man can call the American president a traitorous subversive and not be laughed, or booed, off the national stage? He’s a happy-go-lucky Howard Beale (from the movie Network). Paddy Chayefsky, you should have lived to see this moment.

Beck’s paranoia doesn’t come from nowhere. His man Skousen was a fanatical Mormon reactionary so far to the right that the Latter-day Saints Church finally felt compelled to distance itself from his teaching.

Beck, an enthusiastic Mormon convert, pushes Skousen’s 1981 book, The 5,000 Year Leap, a tendentious pseudo-history of the U.S. that interprets the founding in religious terms. Texas Gov. Rick Perry recommended it at the recent Values Voter Summit in Washington. And if the pious nationalism of that book were all you knew about Skousen, you would be hard-pressed to see what the big deal was.

But Skousen wrote many less anodyne books about politics — and held views far darker than revealed in the hokey but harmless Leap. In a 1976 lecture, the audio of which is available on the pro-Skousen Web site, Skousen rails like an Old Testament prophet, quoting Mormon scriptures and detailing how Satan is working with “secret combinations” — a Mormon theological term — within political parties, churches, labor unions and the wealthy elite, especially the Rockefeller family, to bring about the “One World Order.”

Skousen, like his follower Beck, is obsessed with the idea that these secret combinations are conniving to overthrow the U.S. Constitution. Though it is not part of official LDS doctrine, some Mormons believe in an apocalyptic prophecy attributed to church founder Joseph Smith, who supposedly taught that the Constitution would one dark day be hanging by a thread and that Mormon elders would rescue it.

The pudgy, sweet-natured Beck offers a more palatable form of this paranoia — but all his fruit and sugar can’t hide the Skousenite firewater. How ironic that conservative Christians who unjustly dunned conventional Mitt Romney because of his LDS faith are uncritically backing the squirrelly Beck, who looks like he’s casting himself as hero of a prophetic Mormon melodrama.

There are conservatives who know perfectly well that Beck is an unhinged buffoon who traffics in crude, ridiculous ideas. But unlike the hapless GOP, he’s popular and effective in the political war against Obama. So these conservative cynics adopt a “no enemies to the right” approach to Beck, even though he’s mainstreaming the ooga-booga worldview of a crank prophet who believed, with the John Birch Society, that Eisenhower was a closet commie.

This is foolish. Not every enemy of Obama is a friend to conservatism. In 1962, in a time when conservatives needed all the help they could get, William F. Buckley nevertheless published in National Review a lengthy denunciation of paranoid Bircher Robert Welch. How long, Buckley asked, can the right tolerate his malicious gibberish without losing credibility? National Review eventually sidelined the Birchers for good over their “psychosis of conspiracy,” thus doing the right an enormous service by making conservatism more credible with the American mainstream.

Today, poor Bill is in the grave, Glenn Beck’s ratings are soaring, and most conservatives don’t see what the problem is. One way or another, they will.

Rod Dreher is a columnist for The Dallas Morning News (

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Iran This Time

Much is being made of the so-called “savvy” of the president in purportedly having known about a second Iranian nuclear site since January – not certain if that was handed off to him by the Bush administration or not – but also Obama’s keeping his cool to spring the revelation at the right place and time, that being at the United Nations conference of despots in Pittsburgh this week.  Supposedly, this was going to embarrass Iran into something.  Submission?

A good deal went into the planning of springing the revelation, including abandoning Poland and Eastern Europe from a prudent missile shield defense, so that the Russians would be willing to come along and play nasty with Iran.  And Russia has followed through for the time being.  Instead of being a steadfast backer of this criminal regime which kills its own freedom loving citizens, Russia is now waggling its finger at Iran too, at least for now.

But what will be achieved?  An editorial in the Washington Times which has been closely monitoring this news complains that Obama is acting more like a global community organizer than a badly needed beat cop.

We’ve been down similar rabbit holes before.

On Monday, the WSJ will mention how the president appreciates “teachable moments,” and how, at the UN, he preached on the prospects of an imaginary “world without [nuclear] weapons,” calling for more of the same, worthless arms control treaties that have never amounted to much, and all the while an enemy thumbs its nose at us and continues “proliferation.”

Standing together before the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh yesterday, Mr. Obama and the French and British leaders put on their game faces, calling for Iran to immediately admit IAEA inspectors. New deadlines were mentioned—talks with Tehran starting October 1, tougher sanctions by December, and so on. "Everything," said France's Nicolas Sarkozy, "must be put on the table now."

At least the French President tried to sound tough, which isn't hard when you stand next to Mr. Obama.

I don’t know where this lead, but I suspect it will not lead to disarming Iran.  It more likely will lead to a more violent end, and one not very favorable to the free Western nations.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Obama and the Politics of Concession

From the WSJ:

During last year's campaign, Sen. Joe Biden famously remarked that, if his ticket won, it wouldn't be long before "the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy" on foreign affairs. Last week, President Obama, brilliantly wielding the powers of his office, managed to fail that test not just once but twice, buckling in the face of Russian pressure and taking a giant wooden nickel from Iran.

With both a collapsing economy and natural gas reserves sufficient to produce 270 years of electricity, the surplus of which it exports, Iran does not need nuclear electrical generation at a cost many times that of its gas-fired plants. It does, however, have every reason, according to its own lights, to seek nuclear weapons—to deter American intervention; to insure against a resurgent Iraq; to provide some offset to nearby nuclear powers Pakistan, Russia and Israel; to move toward hegemony in the Persian Gulf and address the embarrassment of a more militarily capable Saudi Arabia; to rid the Islamic world of Western domination; to neutralize Israel's nuclear capacity while simultaneously creating the opportunity to destroy it with one shot; and, pertinent to last week's events, by nuclear intimidation to turn Europe entirely against American interests in the Middle East.

Chad Crowe


Some security analysts may comfort themselves with the illusion that soon-to-be nuclear Iran is a rational actor, but no country gripped so intensely by a cult of martyrdom and death that to clear minefields it marched its own children across them can be deemed rational. Even the United States, twice employing nuclear weapons in World War II, seriously contemplated doing so again in Korea and then in Vietnam.

The West may be too pusillanimous to extirpate Iran's nuclear potential directly, but are we so far gone as to foreswear a passive defense? The president would have you think not, but how is that? We will cease developing the ability to intercept, within five years, the ICBMs that in five years Iran is likely to possess, in favor of a sea-based approach suitable only to Iranian missiles that cannot from Iranian soil threaten Rome, Paris, London or Berlin. Although it may be possible for the U.S. to modify Block II Standard Missiles with Advanced Technology Kill Vehicles that could disable Iranian missiles in their boost phase, this would require the Aegis destroyers carrying them to loiter in the confined and shallow waters of the Gulf, where antimissile operations would be subject to Iranian interference and attack.

Interceptors that would effectively cover Western Europe are too big for the vertical launch cells of the Aegis ships, or even their hulls. Thus, in light of the basing difficulties that frustrate a boost-phase kill, to protect Europe and the U.S. Mr. Obama proposes to deploy land-based missiles in Europe at some future date. If he is willing to do this, why not go ahead with the current plans? The answer is that, even if he says so, he will not deploy land-based missiles in Europe in place of the land-based missiles in Europe that he has cancelled because they are land-based in Europe.

What we have here is an inadvertent homage to Lewis Carroll: We are going to cancel a defense that takes five years to mount, because the threat will not materialize for five years. And we will not deploy land-based interceptors in Europe, because our new plan is to deploy land-based interceptors in Europe.

Added to what would be the instability and potentially grave injury following upon the appearance of Iranian nuclear ICBMs are two insults that may be more consequential than the issue from which they arise. Nothing short of force will turn Iran from the acquisition of nuclear weapons, its paramount aim during 25 years of secrecy and stalling. Last fall, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad set three conditions for the U.S.: withdrawal from Iraq, a show of respect for Iran (read "apology"), and taking the nuclear question off the table.

We are now faithfully complying, and last week, after Iran foreclosed discussion of its nuclear program and Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, Mr. Ahmadinejad's chief political adviser, predicted "the defeat and collapse" of Western democracy, the U.S. agreed to enter talks the premise of which, incredibly, is to eliminate American nuclear weapons. Even the zombified press awoke for long enough to harry State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who replied that, as Iran was willing to talk, "We are going to test that proposition, OK?"

Not OK. When Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich at least he thought he had obtained something in return for his appeasement. The new American diplomacy is nothing more than a sentimental flood of unilateral concessions—not least, after some minor Putinesque sabre rattling, to Russia. Canceling the missile deployment within NATO, which Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian ambassador to that body, characterizes as "the Americans . . . simply correcting their own mistake, and we are not duty bound to pay someone for putting their own mistakes right," is to grant Russia a veto over sovereign defensive measures—exactly the opposite of American resolve during the Euro Missile Crisis of 1983, the last and definitive battle of the Cold War.

Stalin tested Truman with the Berlin Blockade, and Truman held fast. Khrushchev tested Kennedy, and in the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy refused to blink. In 1983, Andropov took the measure of Reagan, and, defying millions in the street (who are now the Obama base), Reagan did not blink. Last week, the Iranian president and the Russian prime minister put Mr. Obama to the test, and he blinked not once but twice. The price of such infirmity has always proven immensely high, even if, as is the custom these days, the bill has yet to come.

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among other works, "Winter's Tale" (Harcourt), "A Soldier of the Great War" (Harcourt) and, most recently, "Digital Barbarism" (HarperCollins).

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the UN


Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500 years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland.

I stand here today as the Prime Minister of Israel, the Jewish state, and I speak to you on behalf of my country and my people.

The United Nations was founded after the carnage of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. It was charged with preventing the recurrence of such horrendous events.

Nothing has undermined that central mission more than the systematic assault on the truth. Yesterday the President of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants. Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.

Last month, I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee. There, on January 20,1942, after a hearty meal, senior Nazi officials met and decided how to exterminate the Jewish people. The detailed minutes of that meeting have been preserved by successive German governments. Here is a copy of those minutes, in which the Nazis issued precise instructions on how to carry out the extermination of the Jews. Is this a lie?

A day before I was in Wannsee, I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Those plans are signed by Hitler’s deputy, Heinrich Himmler himself. Here is a copy of the plans for Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million Jews were murdered. Is this too a lie?

This June, President Obama visited the Buchenwald concentration camp. Did President Obama pay tribute to a lie?

And what of the Auschwitz survivors whose arms still bear the tattooed numbers branded on them by the Nazis? Are those tattoos a lie? One-third of all Jews perished in the conflagration. Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own. My wife's grandparents, her father’s two sisters and three brothers, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins were all murdered by the Nazis. Is that also a lie?

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?

A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state.

What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations! Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You're wrong.

History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.

This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries. In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times.

Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated. The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization.

It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.

The primitivism of the 9th century ought to be no match for the progress of the 21st century. The allure of freedom, the power of technology, the reach of communications should surely win the day. Ultimately, the past cannot triumph over the future. And the future offers all nations magnificent bounties of hope. The pace of progress is growing exponentially.

It took us centuries to get from the printing press to the telephone, decades to get from the telephone to the personal computer, and only a few years to get from the personal computer to the internet.

What seemed impossible a few years ago is already outdated, and we can scarcely fathom the changes that are yet to come. We will crack the genetic code. We will cure the incurable. We will lengthen our lives. We will find a cheap alternative to fossil fuels and clean up the planet.

I am proud that my country Israel is at the forefront of these advances – by leading innovations in science and technology, medicine and biology, agriculture and water, energy and the environment. These innovations the world over offer humanity a sunlit future of unimagined promise.

But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed for a time. And like the belated victory over the Nazis, the forces of progress and freedom will prevail only after an horrific toll of blood and fortune has been exacted from mankind. That is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction.

The most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?

Will it take action against the dictators who stole an election in broad daylight and gunned down Iranian protesters who died in the streets choking in their own blood? Will the international community thwart the world's most pernicious sponsors and practitioners of terrorism?

Above all, will the international community stop the terrorist regime of Iran from developing atomic weapons, thereby endangering the peace of the entire world?

The people of Iran are courageously standing up to this regime. People of goodwill around the world stand with them, as do the thousands who have been protesting outside this hall. Will the United Nations stand by their side?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the jury is still out on the United Nations, and recent signs are not encouraging. Rather than condemning the terrorists and their Iranian patrons, some here have condemned their victims. That is exactly what a recent UN report on Gaza did, falsely equating the terrorists with those they targeted.

For eight long years, Hamas fired from Gaza thousands of missiles, mortars and rockets on nearby Israeli cities. Year after year, as these missiles were deliberately hurled at our civilians, not a single UN resolution was passed condemning those criminal attacks. We heard nothing – absolutely nothing – from the UN Human Rights Council, a misnamed institution if there ever was one.

In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza.

It dismantled 21 settlements and uprooted over 8,000 Israelis. We didn't get peace.

Instead we got an Iranian backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv. Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare. You see, the Hamas rocket attacks not only continued, they increased tenfold. Again, the UN was silent.

Finally, after eight years of this unremitting assault, Israel was finally forced to respond.

But how should we have responded? Well, there is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country's civilian population. It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II. During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties. Israel chose to respond differently. Faced with an enemy committing a double war crime of firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians – Israel sought to conduct surgical strikes against the rocket launchers.

That was no easy task because the terrorists were firing missiles from homes and schools,

using mosques as weapons depots and ferreting explosives in ambulances. Israel, by contrast, tried to minimize casualties by urging Palestinian civilians to vacate the targeted areas.

We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave. Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy's civilian population from harm's way.

Yet faced with such a clear case of aggressor and victim, who did the UN Human Rights Council decide to condemn? Israel. A democracy legitimately defending itself against terror is morally hanged, drawn and quartered, and given an unfair trial to boot.

By these twisted standards, the UN Human Rights Council would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals. What a perversion of truth. What a perversion of justice.

Delegates of the United Nations, will you accept this farce?

Because if you do, the United Nations would revert to its darkest days, when the worst violators of human rights sat in judgment against the law-abiding democracies, when Zionism was equated with racism and when an automatic majority could declare that the earth is flat.

If this body does not reject this report, it would send a message to terrorists everywhere: Terror pays; if you launch your attacks from densely populated areas, you will win immunity. And in condemning Israel, this body would also deal a mortal blow to peace.

Here's why.

When Israel left Gaza, many hoped that the missile attacks would stop. Others believed that at the very least, Israel would have international legitimacy to exercise its right of self-defense. What legitimacy? What self-defense?

The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self defense now accuses us –my people, my country - of war crimes? And for what? For acting responsibly in self-defense. What a travesty!

Israel justly defended itself against terror. This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?

We must know the answer to that question now. Now and not later. Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen, all of Israel wants peace.

Any time an Arab leader genuinely wanted peace with us, we made peace. We made peace with Egypt led by Anwar Sadat. We made peace with Jordan led by King Hussein.

And if the Palestinians truly want peace, I and my government, and the people of Israel, will make peace. But we want a genuine peace, a defensible peace, a permanent peace. In 1947, this body voted to establish two states for two peoples – a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews accepted that resolution. The Arabs rejected it.

We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state. Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people.

The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the Land of Israel. This is the land of our forefathers.

Inscribed on the walls outside this building is the great Biblical vision of peace: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. They shall learn war no more." These words were spoken by the Jewish prophet Isaiah 2,800 years ago as he walked in my country, in my city, in the hills of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem.

We are not strangers to this land. It is our homeland. As deeply connected as we are to this land, we recognize that the Palestinians also live there and want a home of their own.

We want to live side by side with them, two free peoples living in peace, prosperity and dignity.

But we must have security. The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except those handful of powers that could endanger Israel.

That is why a Palestinian state must be effectively demilitarized. We don't want another Gaza, another Iranian backed terror base abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometers from Tel Aviv.

We want peace.

I believe such a peace can be achieved. But only if we roll back the forces of terror, led by Iran, that seek to destroy peace, eliminate Israel and overthrow the world order. The question facing the international community is whether it is prepared to confront those forces or accommodate them.

Over seventy years ago, Winston Churchill lamented what he called the "confirmed unteachability of mankind," the unfortunate habit of civilized societies to sleep until danger nearly overtakes them.

Churchill bemoaned what he called the "want of foresight, the unwillingness to act when action will be simple and effective, the lack of clear thinking, the confusion of counsel

until emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong.”

I speak here today in the hope that Churchill's assessment of the "unteachability of mankind" is for once proven wrong.

I speak here today in the hope that we can learn from history -- that we can prevent danger in time.

In the spirit of the timeless words spoken to Joshua over 3,000 years ago, let us be strong and of good courage. Let us confront this peril, secure our future and, God willing, forge an enduring peace for generations to come.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meg Rogers: Whitehouse’s indefensible ACORN vote

From the September 20 printed version of the Projo Letter to Editor (online September 17):

By Meg Rogers of Narragansett, RI:

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse tries to explain his vote to keep funding ACORN by stating "if we tried to shut down every organization, nonprofit, or company that was embarrassed by the actions of a few employees, we wouldn’t have many left.” You are in denial, Senator.

Apparently the senator is unaware that two months ago, Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued issued a 88-page report on ACORN’s activities.  The report states that "ACORN has repeatedly and and deliberately engaged in systemic fraud."

"Both structurally and operationally, Acorn hides behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal conspiracy on the part of its directors, to launder federal money in order to pursue a partisan political agenda and to manipulate the American public."

With the recent exposure of ACORN advising people how to defraud the government in furtherance of child prostitution and human trafficking, ACORN itself has called the actions of "some of its employees "indefensible" and ACORN chief executive Bertha Lewis said she is "ordering a halt to any new intakes into ACORN’s service programs until completion of an independent review."

Senator Whitehouse takes pride in extolling his ability to root out corruption and extols his virtue in being a crime fighter.  His vote to keep funding ACORN’s questionable and most likely criminal activities is proof that he can no longer be taken seriously.  His vote is a disservice to the people of Rhode Island and our nation. Shame on you, Senator. Your vote is indefensible!

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Concerned Women for America supports Rhode Island House bill H5044A

HT: Donna Hughes from the University of Rhode Island:

Concerned Women for America supports Rhode Island House bill H5044A and urges lawmakers to pass it in order to close the loophole that allows indoor prostitution in Rhode Island. Prostitution, whether it occurs indoors or outdoors, is devastating to those exploited by it, the community exposed to it and the culture that glamorizes it.

The House bill leaves in place the existing laws against pandering and the recruitment and transportation of people for prostitution while defining prostitution to include indoor venues.  It goes a step further by adding an affirmative defense for a prostituted person who was forced to commit a commercial sex act.  The House bill will enable the police to investigate possible crimes because the offenses are misdemeanors. 

The Senate bill makes the first offenses for prostitutes and johns a violation.  According to the Rhode Island Office of the Public Defender’s website,  “There are several types of offenses, some of which are relatively trivial. First, there are offenses called VIOLATIONS which are not considered ‘crimes’ in the ordinary use of the word.”  Some of the examples they cite as violations are parking tickets, broken headlights and illegal shell fishing.  The website says, ‘MISDEMEANOR offenses are more serious than violations.’  The examples of misdemeanors given are driving while intoxicated, stealing property worth less than $500, and simple assault.

The House bill recognizes the buying and selling of sex as a crime worthy of police attention and investigation and that the prostituted are frequently victims of those who pimp them and purchase them.  The Senate bill deems buying and selling access to orifices for periods of time as no worse than parking at an expired meter. 

Prostitution crimes are not found in a vacuum.  Where there is prostitution there are other crimes, the worst of which are child sexual exploitation and sexual trafficking.  Please support H5044A to give the victims of the commercial sex industry a fighting chance to be rescued and have their dignity restored and law enforcement the ability to investigate these crimes.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Projo’s Mindlessness on Obama Care

I’m upset with the Providence Journal’s Editorial page today.  Maybe I have been like the proverbial frog in the pot on the stove when it comes to their editorializing, and have not yet noticed the water temperature rising to the boiling point, but I have always thought of the Projo as at least moderate to liberal, but not so way far off to the left.

The unsigned writer of this piece thinks Obama’s health plan is a panacea.  Haven’t they been listening to the debate?

On the on-line version, and as of this morning, there are two, excellent and cogent rebuttals from readers.  One making the point as to why there is a vulnerability in the House version that opens the door for coverage to illegal aliens.  To wit:

What the editorial fails to note (and the source of Mr. Wilson's outburst) is that there is no requirement to prove citizenship and there is no specific provision for enforcement. So the editorial presents a half-truth. In fact, several attempts were made to amend the bill to include these provisions and they amendments were dismissed out of hand….Put another way, the provisions currently in the bill are feel-good provisions with no teeth.

And another on Obama’s in-your-face approach to governing:

Obama's "my way or the highway" proposal that he shares with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid IS the problem. No thinking American isn't in favor of enhancing our healthcare. But the current "shove it down America's throat" attitude of the Obama Administration, and their "lip service" on bi-partisanship doesn't sit well with most Americans as recent opinion polls show.

The Projo just increased their home delivery subscription rate by 50%.  If they keep writing garbage like this, I’m gone.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Have We Abandoned the Victims of 9/11?

A lot of chatter today about the President’s speech last night, where Congressman Joe Wilson sounded his barbaric yawp, which he simply could not bring himself to hold back, and lots of other noise-worthy items in the news, but for me today was a day to begin quiet reflection.

You see, tomorrow is September 11.  A day of reverence and remembrance.  It is the eighth anniversary of that Awful day.

Recently I had the good fortune to visit the Newseum in Washington, DC.  I highly recommend it, by the way.  They have a little pavilion there honoring those who lived and died through 9/11, showing a very fine, respectful, short film on the events of that day.  There is a riveting scene when the second plane, almost as if in a violent defiance, plunges before our eyes, into the second tower, deliberately angled so as to create the most damage.  It was at that moment that the scales fell off.  We knew for certain that we were attacked by vicious fiends.

There were other vivid scenes.  A memorable one of the people in the towers at the windows considering their fates.  We know now that many of them were more at ease to plunge to their deaths than to await the flames or what eventually would be the pulverization of the buildings as they collapsed, elevator style, into a sea of powder and debris, upending lower Manhattan, and our fanciful and free pre-September 11 world.

My heart broke again for those poor, innocent people who needlessly died that day, and for the brave men and women who rescued hundreds, many of whom gave their lives that day.

I was both forlorn and proud of and for my fellow Americans who bravely and gracefully arose as on eagles wings that day.

So why have we abandoned the fight?  We have not yet vanquished this enemy.  In fact, the enemy continues to thumb its nose at us.  Our enemies hate our institutions.  They are haters of freedom.  They scorn those who love liberty.  They are schoolyard bullies who need their noses bashed in, as the holders of  the strings in Washington attempt to whistle past them in the hopes they may somehow, someway evaporate.  But they won’t until we take them down.

I fear for a future with no purpose.  Fibrillation.  No clear direction, and so we dither.  Like we did in Vietnam under a  vigorous, intelligent, young Democrat President, a mere fifty years ago.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who [died in the towers on 9/11] so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be …dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…”

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Let’s Pick our Fights

I had my apprehensions about conservative protestations of the president’s planned chat with school children.  I was afraid it was going to end up a no-win situation where the major MSN outlets (I just listened to NPR and the syrup was very thick) do their best to make conservatives look like kooks; and it looks like they be pulling it off.  In the mean time, hearing all the noise, the president had time to take the initiative to significantly dial down what he really wanted to say to the school kids today.  SO maybe not a total loss.

The complaints of the president’s chat is really an outgrowth of a welling up of the realization that Obama is not the moderate he led the masses to believe during his campaign.  That realization is being met with a wall of town hall protests, and now everything Obama says and does is being reviewed under a middle class, middle America microscope – and rightfully so.  As a result, there is a lot of legitimate skepticism of the president, his choices, actions and speeches.  We’re not fools.  Many of us noticed a consistency in the kind of regular acquaintances Obama has had.  We can now make a long list of radical left wing kooks – legitimate kooks – with whom he has a “what, me worry?” approach to introducing into his administration – or defending when they pull stunts like Professor Gates’.

My view is that there is no need to fight every fight, especially when an obvious trap can be set that reduces the credibility of the protestors.  If we conservatives play their cards right and come up with a viable candidate in 2012 (and I believe we can) – Obama can end up like Woodrow Wilson, an intellectual with excellent communicating skills who serves only one term as president.  And without our protestations, for the most part, the president acts on things nearly every day that makes that outcome a higher probability of reaching reality.  We have to “wait for it,” like a fine wine.

It is when we protest issues like his speaking to school kids, like a lot presidents have done before, that we lose credibility while he actually gains ground.

Since I am of the school that wants to boot out this radical left socialist who misrepresented himself in 2008, I don’t want to have anything get in the way of  spoiling our excellent chances to wave sayonara to him in 2012. 

Let’s do a better job at picking our fights.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Why Is Capitalism So Unpopular?

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Hidden Cost of Clunkers

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Happy Anniversary Senescent Old Man

This month marks the fifth anniversary of The Senescent Man Blog.  We began the blog around the third anniversary of the September 11 attacks.  We have moved to this new blogger format to stay up with the times – the new blogger format will more efficiently connect to twitter and other networking tools, and the software is much easier to work with than the old.  We are hopeful that you and others that have been most loyal to us will continue to follow, and that we’ll add many others.

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