Saturday, December 26, 2009

Is The Republican Party Doomed?

The Senate passed its version of a health insurance bill just before Christmas. Much of that victory belongs to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who somehow managed to get the 60 votes needed to stop Republican obstructionism. That must have been harder than herding kittens with a stick. There are reports that the senate legislation contains considerable pork benefitting individual senators in exchange for their votes. So be it. That’s how it must be done in a less-than-perfect world. Reid deserves a medal.

On the other hand, what is up with Republicans? Their obstructionist behavior proves that they are motivated to make the Democratic party fail, regardless of what is right or wrong. Not a single Republican vote was cast for health care reform in the Senate. Not one. How can ALL Republicans be in the pocket of insurers? How can every one of them be without compassion? How can 100% of them be contemptuous of the needs of the people they supposedly represent? It is unfathomable. It’s not that they wanted more debate; they wanted to shut down all debate. They are simply petulant obstructionists, like a child who threatens to hold his breath until he gets his way.

The Republican party has become morally, ethically, and intellectually bankrupt. I am sure that as soon as the legislation is reconciled and passed, they will begin campaigning for its repeal. If Dems have any sense of public relations (and they often don’t), they will start framing their victory message now to inoculate the public against the unconscionable Republican hypocrisy inevitably forthcoming.

At some point, even the most ignorant of American voters surely will realize that the Republican party is the party of small-minded greed, selfishness, and immaturity. It will become patently obvious through the party’s bizarre, unjustifiable antics. Won’t it? There must be a bottom to the well of ignorance. This health care reform episode might illuminate that bottom if the Democrats play their P.R. cards right.

I will not be too surprised if, within a decade, the Republican party is defunct, replaced by a new political party, The Conservatives, or something like that, made up of lawmakers who are responsible to the American voters, who do have conscience, ethics, and ideas, but who, unlike Republicans, would like to seriously and honestly engage American voters about important issues such as excessive government spending, and have the courage to stand for election based on their principles. They will become strong. The GOP will be no more.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Killer Joe?

Fox reports that Senator Joseph Lieberman is being called a "killer" because of digging in his heels on the health care debate. (,2933,580229,00.html).

He has vowed that he will not vote for the currently debated health care reform bill if it includes a current proposal to extend Medicare to persons under 65 years of age. Thousands of people without health care will die, and Lieberman is their killer if he doesn't extend healthcare to them, the argument goes.

It's stupid rhetoric. Lieberman is right. The cost of extending Medicare down the age ladder would be too expensive. Medicare is already enormously expensive and inadequately funded. Expanding it makes no sense, especially since the rest of the healthcare reform bill will provide for people under 65 in other ways anyway.

Lieberman is not my favorite senator, by a long shot. But I grudgingly admit he has called this one correctly. Spending is fine. We need to spend on our people. That's what government does. But Harry Reid and the other Democrats can easily go completely bananas with public money if nobody speaks up. There are limits to what is possible. Thanks, Joe.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two Errors in Obama's Nobel Speech

“…Perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars,” said President Obama, accepting the Nobel Prize for Peace on December 10. That fact was a stark incongruity that framed the speech and which made it an almost impossible situation for him. Yet it is that very incongruity that will make the speech endure. School children will read it for generations precisely because it eloquently addresses the inherent tension between peace and war.

He did far better than could have been expected under the circumstance, and delivered a very articulate speech on the topic of peace while commanding armies at war, still, I thought he said two wrong things.

One was his assertion of the universality of American values, which is a myopic, self-centered view. Obama listed “the” iconic American values as if they were automatically universal human truths: defense of human rights, the ideals of liberty, self-determination, equality and the rule of law, and so forth. In fact, not all people and not all governments embrace these values (obviously) which are very far from being universal human values. They just happen to be things that we believe are good. There are other ways to live. Obama does not try to force these values down the throats of others, as G.W. Bush often did, but to list them as universal virtues without qualification is an error that reveals a surprising blind spot.

The second wrong thing Obama said was that “…Evil does exist in the world.” It is true, as he explained, “A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms.” These “small men with outsize rage,” as he called them, cannot be spoken to. Unfortunately they must be killed, in self-defense. That is the sad reality. But that does not imply they are evil. It just means we are unable to talk with them because of utterly incompatible world views.

If a rabid dog attacks you, you may have to kill it, but that does not make the dog evil. It just means that, regrettably, you have no other method of communication. This is a distinction I thought Obama would be familiar with, and I was surprised to hear him invoke the Manichaeism that G.W. was so fond of. It is an erroneous and dangerous way to characterize your enemy.