September 27, 2009
al-Qaida more pressing than Band-Aids or polar bears
See the Michigan Daily, Chris Koslowski: The forgotten fight in Afghanistan,
…If Al-Qaeda perceives weakness in the United States government over the Middle East wars, it will validate their plan to defeat us.
…in a confidential document leaked to the Washington Post this week, General Stanley McChrystal, lead commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the U.S. will lose in Afghanistan unless more troops are brought to the fight. …
Even if you disagree with Obama’s desire to stay in Afghanistan, you should be wondering why his administration was devoting so much attention to health care and climate change with this bombshell sitting on his desk. McChrystal guarantees that a failure to change tactics will result in defeat. Obama should have been acting quickly on the General’s advice or designing a plan to remove our troops before the situation becomes even more deadly.
Obama’s hesitation to address this report as seriously as he has addressed health care sends the wrong message to Al-Qaeda. Maybe the administration will surprise me with news of a well-reasoned troop increase plan within the coming days, but I fear Obama has been purposefully delaying action so as not to alienate Democrat support for the public health insurance option. His support margin is so thin that the risk of an unpopular troop increase driving away potential votes is too great.
Regardless of his behind-the-scene motives, Obama needs to follow in the steps of Dick Cheney and take a strong stand on Afghanistan if he hopes to keep Al-Qaeda and its supporters at bay. Shuffling his feet, especially for political reasons, makes the U.S. appear weak, energizes the opposition and validates their strategy. Obama promised a better future for Afghanistan. Around half of America disagrees with him over health care. Any minuscule impact we could have on the Earth’s climate would take decades to occur. The American and Afghani lives at risk in an extremely unstable situation demand that Obama take action now. It’s about time he gave this issue the attention it deserves.
September 16, 2009
Obama’s horrible hubris, or, Scheer madness
See Bob Scheer on Huffit, Obama’s Presidency Isn’t Too Big to Fail,
A president has only so much capital to expend, both in tax dollars and public tolerance, and Barack Obama is dangerously overdrawn. He has tried to have it all on three fronts, and his administration is in serious danger of going bankrupt. He has blundered into a deepening quagmire in Afghanistan, has continued the Bush policy of buying off Wall Street hustlers instead of confronting them and is now on the cusp of bargaining away the so-called public option, the reform component of his health care program.
Those are not happy sentences to write for one who is still on the e-mail list of campaign supporters urged to back the president in the face of attacks that are stupidly small-minded. But to remain silent about his errors, just because most of his critics are so vile, is hardly an example of constructive concern for him or the country. …
Without a government program as a check on medical costs, Obama will end up with a variant of the Massachusetts program, one that forces consumers to sign up with private insurers and costs 33 percent more than the national average. He will have furthered the Bush legacy of cultivating an ever more expensive big government without improving how the people are served.
Although Scheer may be wrong about whether we should abandon Afghanistan, he is right that O is trying to juggle too much at once. Maybe concentrating on smashing al-Qaida and restoring the economy is more important than binding us over to the insurance companies, whether for a Band-Aid in exchange, or even more than a Band-Aid.
September 6, 2009
Loony thrills at Michael J’s funeral
See Yahoo! News, Michael Jackson mourned by Taylor, other celebs,
…A vivid orange moon, a mark of the devastating wildfire about 10 miles distant, hung over the cemetery. …
“Thriller, in the night…”
September 3, 2009
Netroots nonsense, or, deluded elitist blog mob avoids reality on health care
See Michael Barone in the Detroit News, Netroots put winning ahead of principle,
…Among…optimists are almost all of the Washington press corps and a large proportion of the 53 percent of voters who cast their ballots for Barack Obama last November, as well as some nontrivial proportion of the 46 percent who voted for John McCain.
Foremost among their number are the netroots — the young enthusiasts who flock to the Daily Kos blog and are ready to take direction from MoveOn.org. As my Washington Examiner colleague Byron York reported on Tuesday, the netroots, once almost totally preoccupied with the war in Iraq and suffused with hatred of George W. Bush, have now moved on.
They show little interest in Iraq, now that Obama is seeking (though carefully refraining from using the word) victory there, and little more interest in Afghanistan, where Obama has sent more troops and installed a new commander to pursue a new and, the president hopes, more successful strategy.
Instead, the netroots say their chief goal is “comprehensive health care reform.” No. 2 is “working to elect progressive candidates” in 2010.
To me this looks less like conviction politics and more like team ball. I can’t help doubting that these activists have given long and deep thought to “government option” health insurance or negotiating, as the Obama White House has, nonaggression pacts with pharmaceutical lobbyists and the like.
They sound much more like a crowd at a stadium, eager for a touchdown and not caring much whether it’s accomplished by a quarterback sneak or a runback of a punt. …
But the netroots seem to have cared more about Iraq than they do about health care. It’s plain that the netroots and those millions on the Obama campaign’s e-mail lists have not been motivated enough about health care legislation to show up at town hall meetings in any significant numbers — unless they’re transported by union or Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now buses. They may be optimists — their team has put a lot of points on the scoreboard in recent electoral contests — but they seem puzzled by how hard it suddenly seems to move the ball.
In contrast, those who are opposed are motivated to show up and express their anger, and in far greater numbers than the hapless Republican Party or the various health insurance companies could ever muster. Many denounce Republicans as well as Democrats — they’re not playing team ball. Rather, they seem focused on the ways that public policy will affect their lives and those dear to them. They seem to be pessimists, but pessimists who are determined to resist what looks like a nightmare.
So the fight is between those who care about the specifics of health care policy and those who care more than anything else — as many Americans on all political sides do — about the image and aura of the man who is inevitably the symbol, here and abroad, of the kind of nation we are.
Robert Novak in his half-century of Washington reporting found that the fondest hopes of optimists usually turned out to be unrealistic and that the astringent analysis of pessimists often turned out to be accurate. And, as we are seeing on health care today, though optimists can prevail in a campaign, the pessimists can still affect policy.