Perhaps this use of Major Hasan, MD, is a satire on liberalism, but it likely is not. A few thoughts from liberal pundit Robert Wright, who argues that Hasan's behavior shows why our wars abroad will lead to more violence on our soil:
"The Fort Hood shooting, then, is an example of Islamist terrorism being spread partly by the war on terrorism."
"The American right and left reacted to 9/11 differently. Their respective responses were, to oversimplify a bit: 'kill the terrorists' and 'kill the terrorism meme.'" [Wright plays off the notion of an Internet meme, while preserving the notion of a belief system.]
"It's true that Major Hasan was unbalanced and alienated -- and, by my lights, crazy. But what kind of people did conservatives think were susceptible to the terrorism meme?"
"That's a reminder that, contrary to right-wing stereotype, Islam isn't an intrinsically belligerent religion."
"The more Americans denigrate Islam and view Muslims in the workplace with suspicion, the more likely the virus is to spread...."
He's partly right on the last point, but the rest is beyond satire. According to Wright, we're in a war against a "meme." In such a struggle, it should please Wright no end that an Internet-savvy post-modern author is our Commander-in-Chief. (Incidentally, that's pronounced "meem"--not "me-me.") The liberal foreign policy chant (or meme) is to think the enemy may be crazy (and therefore unstoppable but not "intrinsically belligerent"). Does Wright stop to think that maybe 9/11 occurred because the terrorists thought we would be psychologically incapable of defending ourselves?
I understand, indeed share, conservative frustration about the reluctance of Attorney General Holder to investigate Acorn and other supporters of the Democratic Party, but Andrew Breibart goes too far when he says Holder must investiage them or else:
Not only are there more tapes, it's not just ACORN. And this message is to Attorney General Holder: I want you to know that we have more tapes, it's not just ACORN, and we're going to hold out until the next election cycle, or else if you want to do a clean investigation, we will give you the rest of what we have, we will comply with you, we will give you the documentation we have from countless ACORN whistleblowers who want to come forward but are fearful of this organization and the retribution that they fear that this is a dangerous organization. So if you get into an investigation, we will give you the tapes; if you don't give us the tapes, we will revisit these tapes come election time.
It's not the place of a private citizen, even a combative, guerilla journalist, to talk like that.
Charles Krauthammer asks what's the big deal about the possibility that the new national health pannel will recommend not paying for mammograms for women under fifty. They might be right on the science, he notes:
And the problem here is a mammogram is extremely inaccurate. One in ten tests which are returned as cancer are not, so you have a 10 percent false positive, which causes not just anxiety and suffering, but new tests, more [diagnostic] radiation, even a [surgical] procedure, and perhaps other harms.
I won't debate science with Dr. Krauthammer. More interesting to me is his belief that the creation of such a pannel is no big deal:
People are reacting as if we never had a panel or a recommendation before. Years before, we had a recommendation from a panel like this who said start at age 40. Every day the FDA is deciding this new drug is a good one or not -- and if it's not, you don't ever see it.
So it is not as if these kinds of independent commissions don't exist and determine what we get and what we don't. So the issue here is not panels in general or recommendations in general, it's the recommendation in and of itself.
Perhaps. I suspect, however, that Krauthammer is only half correct. On one hand, such independent agencies have become relatively common in the U.S., at all levels of government. Even so, Americans still find them frustrating and often chafe against them. (I would even suggest that part of the frustration we saw in the elections of 2006 and 2008 was due to frustration at such extra-democratic agencies). I would also suggest that was still don't have a constitutional theory, other than the vague idea that the constitution "evolves" which justifies such agencies. Americans still don't like the delegation of legislative power, even if it has, in fact, become part of our government.
Regarding the major global security decision before the two countries today, Kissinger said that troop levels in Afghanistan needed to reflect the conditions on the ground and what is at stake. We must act before we are confronted with far greater challenges. We must not allow Pakistan to become a failed state. If Pakistan should become a failed state, the crisis will quickly spread to India, with its large Muslim population and history of conflicts among groups.
Mickey Kaus, who seems to like the idea, alerts us to the extreme delegations of legislaive authority in the latest health care bills:
In general, there is an independent panel ("IMAB"), and if Congress does nothing, its cost-cutting rules take effect. Indeed, its rules take effect unless Congress acts to repudiate it and the President signs on to that repudiation. If that doesn't happen--if Congress doesn't pass what is in effect a new piece of legislation--the panel's rules are implemented, just like the Fed's rules
Kaus points us to a column by David Broder from last summer complaining about such a panel.
If President Obama has his way, another such unelected authority will be created -- a manager and monitor for the vast and expensive American health-care system. As part of his health-reform effort, he is seeking to launch the Independent Medicare Advisory Council, or IMAC, a bland title for a body that could become as much an arbiter of medicine as the Fed is of the economy or the Supreme Court of the law. . . .
But Congress will have to decide if it is willing to yield that degree of control to five unelected IMAC commissioners. And Americans will have to decide if they are comfortable having those commissioners determine how they will be treated when they are ill.
Such is the poverty of our constitutinal discourse that the "dean of the Washington press corps" does not even consider whether such a delegation is constituional. Of course, as I have noted before, once one says that the constitution is a living document, anything might be constitutional.
While he was abroad, there was a palpable sense at home of something gone wrong. A critical mass of influential people who once held big hopes for his presidency began to wonder whether they had misjudged the man. Most significant, these doubters now find themselves with a new reluctance to defend Obama at a phase of his presidency when he needs defenders more urgently than ever.
Drew goes on to say many more harsh things related to what we can learn by the cashiering of White House counsel Greg Craig. This comes on the heels of a similarly harsh judgment from another establishment oracle, David Gergen, a couple days ago. Gergen compares Obama's trip to China to JFK's weak performance in the 1961 Vienna summit with Khrushchev, which had disastrous results:
Why bring up that story now, as President Obama comes home from Asia? Because it has considerable relevance to his meetings in China with President Hu. Obama went into those sessions like Kennedy: with great hope that his charm and appeal to reason - qualities so admired in the United States - would work well with Hu. By numerous accounts, that is not at all what happened: reports from correspondents on the scene are replete with statements that Hu stiffed the President, that he rejected arguments about Chinese human rights and currency behavior while scolding the U.S. for its trade policies, and that he stage-managed the visit so that Obama - unlike Clinton and Bush before him - was unable to reach a large Chinese audience through television.
UPDATE: Oops! I see Peter is on to the same Gergen story below, with much the same point. But wait! My time-stamp is earlier than his. Another internet mystery.
From the first page of today's Wall Street Journal: "The U.S. lags far behind other nations in paid leave and other work benefits, a study at Harvard and McGill found."
Would it not be more objective to say: "The U.S. has different laws than other nations about paid leave and other work benefits," or even, "U.S. policymakers disagree with ther counterparts in other nations about what paid leave and other work benefits ought to be."
The Journal's version is only fair and balanced if one believes that "progress" is always in the direction of socialism.
Literature, Poetry, and Books
James Collins makes the case that "[T]o write brilliant novels was not Jane Austen's foremost goal: What was most important to her was to provide moral instruction." He concludes, "Jane Austen's principles are of transcendent value, they are not 'priggish,' and her novels illustrate and advocate a way of being in the world that is ethical, sensitive and practical."
Over in England, the government is taking children away from their parents and putting them in foster care because, the government says, allowing children to be obese is a form of child abuse.
Overweight children are being placed in foster care on the grounds that they are victims of child abuse.
Experts have warned that feeding youngsters an endless diet of junk food causes serious health problems ? and should be treated in the same way as physical or sexual assault.
Dr Russell Viner, a consultant paediatrician at Great Ormond Street and University College London hospitals, said he knew of 15 cases where children had been taken from their parents because of obesity.