Monday, January 30, 2006
Thursday, January 26, 2006
AN AUDIT of US reconstruction spending in Iraq has uncovered spectacular misuse of tens of millions of dollars in cash, including bundles of money stashed in filing cabinets, a US soldier who gambled away thousands and stacks of newly minted notes distributed without receipts.
The audit, released yesterday by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, describes a country in the months after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein awash with dollars, and a Wild West atmosphere where even multimillion-dollar contracts were paid for in cash.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
AND LET'S NOT DISREGARD the looming (and increasingly inevitable) financial disaster that will strike when swarms of baby boomers storm the pay window to collect what they've been promised. The politicians in Washington and American interest groups spent the first half of 2005 debating the creeping crisis as it relates to Social Security and whether we can or should do anything about it. President Bush and some Republicans wanted to introduce personal retirement accounts. Democrats (sadly with the help of more than a few RINO's) demonized the plan. But what is most notable about the debate is that the Democrats' official position was that we had nothing to worry about. Don't be fooled by Republican tricks, they told Americans. Everything is going to be just fine.
This false sense of, ahem, security, over the years has resulted in millions of soon-to-be-on-the-dole Boomers making the disastrous decision to not put money away for themselves. And so now we have the most prosperous generation in human history prepared to retire without a penny to their names, fully convinced that the government checks are on their way; "guaranteed" in a "lock box," as the liberal parlance goes.
So the mean Dems, who opposed the President's plans to "reform" Social Security in 2005 are responsible for boomers who failed to plan for retirement over the last forty years. I could ask how anyone could possibly trust the Bush administration to reform Social Security after their disasterous prescription drug plan, but that would be mean.
Monday, January 23, 2006
FOR THE LAST few weeks, Democrats in Washington have been thrashing about in search of some way to make the Republican corruption scandals relevant to the broader public. Meanwhile, the public seems much more concerned about the Medicare prescription drug plan, which, with its horror stories of bureaucratic bungling, has turned out to be the Hurricane Katrina of entitlement programs.
It's the corruption! It's the Medicare drug plan! Wait a second -- is it me, or did the answer to the Democrats' dilemma just fall right into their lap?
The Medicare drug plan is the perfect issue for Democrats to run on. It perfectly encapsulates the corruption of Republican Washington, and it's a concrete thing that voters can relate to. Running on this issue makes so much sense that naturally the Democrats won't do it.
I don't really have a dog in this fight. I don't care much for Dean, Clinton and Pelosi; although I can't see how they could be more corrupt or dishonest or incompetent the Bush, Cheney, Delay, Rumsfeld . . .
Friday, January 20, 2006
Yesterday here at the Dallas Morning News, we met with a group of local folks that included Margaret Keliher, the Dallas County Judge . . .. Keliher is a Republican, and she's also taken the lead in fighting for cleaner air in north Texas. Dallas has filthy air, in part because of cement plants just south of the city, and we're under federal government sanction to clean it up. In north Texas, the environment is not really a liberal vs. conservative issue, but a civic issue
. . . If I were sitting at the RNC in Washington right now, thinking about this fall's election, I'd spend a half hour on the phone with Judge Keliher and talk about this stuff. It's foolish to let the Democrats have this issue all to themselves--and by the way, enlightened environmentalists are starting to realize how foolish they've been to put all their hopes on the Democratic Party, and are now reaching out to conservatives. All to the good, say I.
This led to a series of snarky comments by Ramesh Ponnuru (who eventually made a peace offering) and others; along with rejoinders from Dreher. Perhaps the most obtuse comment came from (who else?) John Podheretz. The Birthright Pundit sneered, "In fact, I believe the rise in diagnosed asthma cases is a nationwide phenomenon of the past three or four decades, and nobody knows the cause. Except, it appears, a few judges in Texas, who got it all figgered out. I wasn't aware that degrees in epidemiology, cardiology, and pulmonology accompanied election to judgeships around Dallas, but now that I know, I'll be sure to consult your new friends about these matters."
That this mild suggestion that Republicans work on being less beholden to the interests of polluters and more to the interests of breathers is so controversial shows how screwed up the right is these days. Dreher is one of the few people involved with NR who is actually worth reading. I have a feeling he the he will not last there much longer and in a few years the onetime serious publication will become the exclusive preserve of mediocrities such as Podheretz.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Whatever the reason, most authors of these political tracts lack the wit and subtlety of Jack T. Chick. They all make valid points. I agree with Ann Coulter that some of the mockery of Dan Quayle was unfair though I am not nearly upset about it as she is. And I'm sure that many on the left are as Unhinged as Michelle Malkin believes them to be, though I would take her more seriously is she didn't seem so unhinged herself and didn't link to patently looney rightwing nutcases such as the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.
This description by Frank probably applies to them all:
This is a book that scarcely requires an author. You could have assembled it yourself, with an afternoon's browsing of the major right-wing websites and a copy of the collected speeches of Spiro Agnew for stylistic guidance. And yet it stubbornly remained on the bestseller list for weeks. Why?
Perhaps it is the literary equivalent of one of those K-Tel albums from the Seventies: the greatest, most irritating hits of the decade.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Monday, January 09, 2006
In Look Homeward, America, Bill Kauffman introduces us to the reactionary radicals, front-porch anarchists, and traditionalist rebels who give American culture and politics its pith, vim, and life. Blending history, memoir, digressive literariness, and polemic, Kauffman provides fresh portaiture of such American originals as Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, regionalist painter Grant Wood, farmer-writer Wendell Berry, publisher Henry Regnery, maverick U.S. senators Eugene McCarthy and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and other Americans who can't-- or shouldn't -- be filed away in the usual boxes labeled "liberal" and "conservative." Ranging from Millard Fillmore to Easy Rider, from Robert Frost to Mother Jones, Kauffman limns an alternative America that draws its breath from local cultures, traditional liberties, small-scale institutions, and neighborliness. There is an America left that is worth saving: these are its paragons, its poets, its pantheon.
I can't wait.
P.S. Here is my review of his last book.
I think we will be seeing more screeds like Babbins because the right will become more and more desparate. They have dragged the country into an unnecessary and unwinnable war in Iraq, and now the Abramoff/DeLay scandal is exposing the seamy underside of the party that was supposed to "reform" Washington when it came to power in 1994. In order to maintain their hold on power, or in Babbin's case, their proximity to it; the Right must shift the blame for their domestic and foreign scandals onto others.
UPDATE: One of the letters in response to Babbin hits upon an issue that the Liberal Media refuses to cover. Perhaps Pajamas will take up the slack:
A good place to start in pushing back might be for someone to suggest that John Murtha release his military medical records so we can all see what got him his two Purple Hearts. (Another Hero Mystery.) I have read in only one place that Mr. Murtha shares the military modesty of John Kerry in this regard. Do we need a group comparable to the Swifties to ask this reasonable question? After all, Mr. Murtha has enjoyed wounded hero status for some years.