“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Baseless Attacks Against Palin

Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal wrote a superb riposte in yesterday's paper to Peggy Noonan's recent castigation of Sarah Palin. His, entitled, "Hatin Palin," reads, in (large) part,

"The abuse being heaped on Sarah Palin is such a cheap shot.

The complaint against the Alaska governor, at its most basic, is that she doesn't qualify for admission to the national political fraternity. Boy, that's rich. Behold the shabby frat house that says it's above her pay grade.

Congress has the lowest approval rating ever registered in the history of polling (12%!).

Sarah Palin didn't design a system of presidential primaries whose length and cost ensures that only the most obsessional personalities will run the gauntlet, while a long list of effective governors don't run.

Out of this process has fallen a Democratic nominee who entered the U.S. Senate in 2005 fresh off a stint in the Illinois state legislature, with next to no record of political accomplishment.

By not bothering to look very deeply at the details beneath either candidate's governing proposals, the media have created a lot of downtime to take free kicks at Gov. Palin. My former colleague, Tunku Varadarajan, has compiled a
glossary of Palin invective, and I've added a few: "Republican blow-up doll," "idiot," "Christian Stepford wife," "Jesus freak," "Caribou Barbie," "a dope," "a fatal cancer to the Republican Party," "liar," "a national disgrace" and "her pretense that she is a woman."

If American politics is at low ebb, it is because so many of its observers enjoy working in its fetid backwash.

The primary discomfort with Gov. Palin is the notion that she doesn't have sufficient experience to be president, that Sen. McCain should have picked a Washington hand seasoned in the ways of the world. Such as? Here's an opinion poll question:

If as Joe Biden suggests the U.S. is likely to be tested by a foreign enemy next year, who of the following would you rather have dealing with it in the Oval Office: Nancy (of Damascus) Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Edwards, Joe (the U.S. drove Hezbollah out of Lebanon) Biden, Mike Huckabee, Geraldine Ferraro, Tom DeLay, Jimmy Carter or Sarah Palin?

My pick? Gov. Palin, surely the most grounded, common-sense person on that list of prime-time politicians.

The stoning of Sarah Palin has exposed enough cultural fissures in American politics to occupy strategists full-time until 2012. We now see there is a left-to-right elite centered in New York, Washington, Hollywood and Silicon Valley who hand down judgments of the nation's mortals from their perch atop the Bell Curve.

It seems only yesterday that the most critical skill in presidential politics was being able to connect to people in places like Bronko's bar or Saddleback Church. When Gov. Palin showed she excelled at that, the goal posts suddenly moved and the new game was being able to talk the talk in London, Paris, Tehran or Moscow. She looks about a half-step behind Sen. Obama on that learning curve.

Lorne Michaels, the executive producer of "Saturday Night Live," lives on the forward wave of American life. This week he gave his view of Sarah Palin to EW.com:

"I think Palin will continue to be underestimated for a while. I watched the way she connected with people, and she's powerful. Her politics aren't my politics. But you can see that she's a very powerful, very disciplined, incredibly gracious woman. This was her first time out and she's had a huge impact. People connect to her." "

I agree with Henninger. Palin is fresh and exciting precisely because she's from outside the usual band of Beltway morons. Blowhards, windbags and too-long-in-place Senators. Or too green, but vetted for their attitude, rather than their accomplishments.

This woman is the single most popular sitting Governor in our 50 states!

The viciousness of the attacks against her tell you how dangerous she is to both Democrats and business-as-usual Republicans.

I find it insightful that someone so successful in the entertainment field, Lorne Michaels, notices her social skills and 'ability to connect.' You have to remember how badly someone from outside the entertainment industry can bomb on a live program like SNL. She performed like she'd done it all her life!

Thanks to Henninger's piece, we can see more clearly how, now, Noonan is part of the national political problem, and no longer part of the fresh solution of the Reagan era, now nearly 30 years ago.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

About Federal Healthcare Programs

The other evening, I attended a cocktail party for a new fitness club in my area.

As you can imagine, the event was full of fit people of many ages- young, middle-aged, and senior citizens.

Seeing so many healthy people- of many ages- got me to thinking of the diseases and conditions which I, and probably many of those people, won't likely endure. Conditions and diseases I see in so many commercials:


heart disease/attack



-lung cancer


-sclerosis of the liver

-respiratory diseases from smoking


-high blood pressure

That's quite a list right there. But, since I don't smoke or drink, and exercise nearly daily, and sometimes more than once in a day, I have a lower-than-average risk of requiring treatment for any of those diseases.

So, I would guess, do most of the people I saw at that party last night. It's rare that dedicated fitness club members smoke. Most are probably lighter drinkers of alcohol than non-exercising people. There were no more than perhaps one or two overweight people at last night's function, out of several hundred.

What does this have to do with healthcare programs? Well, it doesn't take a genius to begin to relate lifestyle to healthcare costs. Or, considering liberal Democrats who are constantly pushing for universal, Federally-paid healthcare, maybe it does take a genius.

If someone smokes, drinks excessively, is chronically overweight or obese, why do I, as a voter, want my government, i.e., me, to underwrite that person's medical expenses?

I'd prefer that, as a taxpayer, I only pay for lower-than-average risks.

How about government vouchers for those citizens who score above a certain minimum on various lifestyle aspects. It would be voluntary, but the result of 'passing' the test would be a direct offset to either health insurance, medical expenses, or some sort of MSA.

Now, to me, that makes sense.

Seeing all those fit, health-conscious people caused me to realize just how crucial lifestyle is as a precursor to any serious discussion of Federal involvement in the cost of medical treatment and insurance for US citizens.

Combine this sort of Federal contribution to medical expenses with the right to cross state lines and buy insurance/medical coverage from any vendor, and allow vendors to create packages irrespective of 'mandated minimum services,' and you have a recipe for successful healthcare reform.

But anything that fails to motivate people to reform their own lifestyles and become healthier to start with is going to result in higher costs and a larger mess.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Colin Powell's Endorsement

Colin Powell's endorsement of the rookie Senator from Illinois came as no surprise to me.

As Bret Stephens editorialized in today's Wall Street Journal, Powell has always been a rather moderate Republican. Or, perhaps one should say, has been affiliated with Republicans. It's not so clear how wedded he's been to party principles, such as those may be.

What I find shocking is how Powell, a combat veteran with a career of senior military posts, including chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Secretary of State, can actually claim to trust his endorsee on the subject of being fit to make Presidential decisions.

You'd think someone with Powell's experience would value it in others. And withhold his backing of a totally inexperienced candidate.

Which is what Obama is.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Peggy Noonan's Latest Blathering

Peggy Noonan has, I think, finally gone around the bend and become completely irrelevant. Her column in this weekend's Wall Street Journal demonstrated, for anyone still in doubt, how entrenched and narrow-minded she has become as a Washington insider, in perspective, if not geographically.

Among the nastier passages regarding Sarah Palin, the focus of her "Palin's Failin'" editorial, are these,

"There has never been a second's debate among liberals, to use an old-fashioned word that may yet return to vogue, over Mrs. Palin: She was a dope and unqualified from the start. Conservatives and Republicans, on the other hand, continue to battle it out: Was her choice a success or a disaster? And if one holds negative views, should one say so? For conservatives in general, but certainly for writers, the answer is a variation on Edmund Burke: You owe your readers not your industry only but your judgment, and you betray instead of serve them if you sacrifice it to what may or may not be their opinion.

But we have seen Mrs. Palin on the national stage for seven weeks now, and there is little sign that she has the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office. She is a person of great ambition, but the question remains: What is the purpose of the ambition?

Her supporters accuse her critics of snobbery: Maybe she's not a big "egghead" but she has brilliant instincts and inner toughness. But what instincts?

In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It's no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain, against his judgment and idealism."

In my opinion, Noonan is simply off her rocker. Why Noonan wrote glowingly of Harry Truman, but savages the equally-unknown and inexpressive Palin is beyond me. Except, of course, if you simply write Noonan off as a beltway veteran.

And I do.

After all, nobod knew who Truman was upon his nomination. Roosevelt never even spoke with him personally. Truman's only managerial experience was his failed clothing store in Kansas City.

How else to explain her preference for that idiot, "Lying Joe" Biden, over Palin, as a potential President?

Biden has been a wrong-headed moron with too many years in our temple to Windbaggery, the US Senate. He's done nothing.

Palin has been an executive of real governments. One municipal, one state. Hard work, if you want it.

In case Noonan has forgotten, Vice-Presidents are typically chosen for a reason other than being qualified to be President. Like it or not, that's the truth.

The first reason is typically to attract a key segment of the voting population which eludes the Presidential candidate. The next reason would be some particular theme, as in Palin's case.

Noonan simply dismisses anything outside the Beltway now. Even the freshman Senator from Illinois is okay with her, evidently because he stumbled into a Senate seat only two years ago.

How can anyone criticize Palin as unfit to be President, yet give the Illinois rookie a pass?

This, alone, I contend, marks Noonan as a washed-up has been in business of political commentary. If she's not biased, then she's just lost all perspective, judgment and common sense.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Perspectives On The US Presidency

Sometimes I wonder how so many Americans can take leave of their senses, forget their civics lessons, and come to believe in the omnipotence and omniscient genius of the man- or woman- they are electing or have elected as President.

Does anyone remember those two thorns in the Presidential side, the House of Representatives, and the Senate?

As a recent Wall Street Journal editorialist, whose name escapes me now, from the Cato Institute noted, a person who is simply one citizen among many becomes, when elected President, seemingly elevated to some higher level of knowledge and wisdom.

Let's face it, it isn't so.

John McCain is a guy of average intellect. Many of his legislative initiatives, especially his McCain-Feingold bill, are terrible laws that have made bad situations worse.

His opponent, the rookie Senator from Illinois, has zero meaningful accomplishments to his name, other than graduating from an Ivy League institution. I've done that. So have tens of thousands of other Americans.

In fact, of the two, the Illinois first-termer is by far the emptier suit. You, I, or anyone could theoretically recruit staffers and 'idea men,' dream up a program or plan for every imaginable ill the country might, or allegedly does, face, and then sell the beejezuz out of it.

But, having no actual accomplishments to his credit- successfully running a company, creating meaningful, effective and positively-life-changing legislation, doing successful trial work as an attorney, or breaking new legal ground as a professor- I'd think the Democratic candidate has less to recommend himself.

Because, in the end, so much of what a President can do comes down to character and decisiveness.

Our current President came into office in 2000 on voter preference for his view of domestic policy. Yet his two terms have largely dealt with successfully conducting a war against global terrorism. His decisiveness and determination have earned him enmity on the left, but kept us safe.

There's absolutely no question his opponents- Gore and Kerry- had little to recommend them in the way of character or determination to pursue a tough goal and achieve it.

On domestic policy, Bush has actually accomplished less than he planned, or hoped, due to a cowardly Republican Congress. A group which, for their lack of conviction and loss of moral compass, lost their majorities in both houses two years ago.

In our current election, let's not lose sight of the fact that whichever candidate wins, the best he can do is thwart Congress' worst ideas, plead for his own good ones, and hope to position America globally to not become less powerful or influential.

Reaching back to Eisenhower, remarkably few Presidents really left their unique mark, for good, on America.

Ike built the Interstate highway system and started the space program. Kennedy, aside from the moonshot and a brief tax cut, accomplished very little. Johnson did a lot, but, fortunately, we've managed to reverse much of the damage. Especially in the economic sector.

Nixon's accomplishments were in foreign policy, where he was relatively unfettered by Congress.

Reagan followed Carter's disastrous term with real, productive, lasting change that spurred nearly a quarter century of economic prosperity and growth in political power, in part by pushing the USSR into dissolution.

That's about it.

Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Clinton, Bush41 and Bush 43 haven't really left significant imprints on the Republic which are likely to last beyond them by a very long time.

That's not to say Bush43 hasn't accomplished a great deal in terms of fighting global terrorism. But that's not a lasting effect, so much as a good job during his term.

It's probably not far wrong to predict that, whichever candidate wins the Oval Office next month, he'll be neutered within 24 months by a Democratic Congress, should that party retain and add to its majorities.

So much for either candidate's thick spiral notebooks of programs, policy initiatives and bright ideas across a wide spectrum of American life.

Truth is, President's rarely have anything near the affect they hope on the nation over which they were elected to preside for such a brief time. For those of us who prefer McCain, that's probably not so bad. Especially if he loses.