Birther of The Nation
You'll never believe how upset the hard left is at President Obama.
By JAMES TARANTO
Yesterday's deal to avert a punishing tax hike in 3½ weeks has to be viewed as a win for President Obama, even though, as the New York Times notes, it "was not a compromise he could relish." The economy will undoubtedly be better going into the 2012 campaign than it would have been had Obama had his way and raised taxes on his class enemies, and that will boost the incumbent's chances of re-election.
Moreover, as the Times adds: "He made clear he was willing to alienate his liberal base in the interest of compromise, more interested in crafting measures that can pass to the benefit of the middle class than waging battle to the end over principle." We'd say "principle" is an overly kind way of describing class warfare, but it is surely true that behaving reasonably will improve the president's standing with the independent voters whose support he'd need to be re-elected.
Those on the right can take satisfaction in having largely prevailed on policy. The deal isn't perfect from their point of view: The tax increase is merely postponed, for two years, rather than canceled entirely, and the deal creates incentives to avoid work and to die quickly: Unemployment benefits are to be extended yet again, and the death tax returns, albeit at a lower rate than would be the case under current law.
There's also a psychic benefit for conservatives: the schadenfreude occasioned by the hard left's anguish. Yesterday Paul Rosenberg of OpenLeft.com scolded his fellow lefties in an essay titled "Barack Obama Is NOT Your Boyfriend. Ergo, He Didn't Dump You." Rosenberg quotes a "TSlavin," who whines:
- Obama cares little or nothing for working people. . . . Obama is quite happy for the government to be on the side of plutocracy at the expense of working people. If Obama cares at all for the middle class, he believes the free market eventually will help the little people by helping first the most advantaged.
- I don't explain complex political positioning in terms of personal relationships.
- Politicians are actors in complex institutional settings, and the actions they take largely reflect the constraints and powers that come with those settings. . . .
- We need to get over him as a love/hate figure. We need to see him as coldly and clearly as possible. He's part of a system, and it's up to us to make that system work as well as possible. Of course, I strongly urge that we need to be working on transforming or replacing that system at the same time. But we don't have the luxury of not doing both at once.
Except for the bit about "transforming or replacing that system"--we like America just fine, thank you--Rosenberg is quite right. It's pathetic and immature, but also hilarious, the way progs moon over Obama and act as if the purpose of public policy is their emotional gratification.
Vanden Heuvel: "Unconscious Kenyan socialism."
One of the most hilarious examples comes from a Steven G. Brant on the Puffington Host. Brant's bio describes him as a "social systems scientist, reporting real solutions to society's problems." Brant compares congressional Republicans to the mad mullahs who overran Iran and held U.S. diplomats hostage in 1979-81. He accuses Obama of departing from "long-standing American policy not to negotiate with hostage-takers," apparently taking his own bad metaphor literally.
The reason Republicans had leverage in the negotiation is because without congressional action, taxes would go up on everybody, not just Obama's class enemies. Brant, addressing the president in the second person, faults him for not just allowing that to happen:
- I heard you say last night that you did what you had to do because the "working families" in America wouldn't be able to survive the extra $3000 in taxes they would have to pay in 2011 compared to 2010. . . .
- What about our spiritual recovery, Mr. President? What about how we feel about being Americans in a country where the very wealthy constantly get their way . . . even after we bailed a lot of them out? . . .
- Mr. President, if you had asked the American people (instead of deciding this question for us), I think you would have found almost unanimous agreement that it was worth spending $3000 over the 12 months of 2011--$250 per month--to break the backs of those who were trying to blackmail you . . . those who were holding our future--as well as yours--hostage.
- But you never asked us, Mr. President. Why? Why did you assume we are so weak that we couldn't tighten our belts for such a very, very good reason?
- Why did you treat us like children rather than adults? . . . Stop thinking you have to be our mommy and daddy, Mr. President.
Folks, we aren't making this up. A guy who publicly fantasizes that the president of the United States wants to be his "mommy" is asking to be treated like an adult. Even more delusional is his assertion that the American people would be in "almost unanimous agreement" that their own taxes should go up "to break the backs" of the Republicans. Uh, Steve, who do you think elected the Republicans?
The best indicator of how unhappy the hard left is, though, may be this passage from Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, in the Washington Post:
- This president has a historic mandate. Just as Abraham Lincoln had to lead the nation from slavery and Franklin Roosevelt from the Depression, this president must lead the nation from the calamitous failures of three decades of conservative dominance. . . .
- This daunting project is not a matter of ambition or appetite--or even unconscious Kenyan socialism.
Kenyan socialism? Wow! The base is so unhappy with Obama that Katrina vanden Heuvel has gone birther.
Richard Cohen Discovers Oikophobia
"The left just doesn't get America. I say this as a fellow-traveler of liberalism and as one who recognizes that many liberals fear the heartland. They see it as a dark place of primitive religions and too many guns. . . . The left does not merely disagree with the right; it fears it."--Richard Cohen, Washington Post website, Dec. 6
Why Me? I'm So Complacent!
- In a USA Today op-ed, Tom Krattenmaker of Portland, Ore., "a writer specializing in religion in public life," puzzles over why a terrorist would consider bombing his city:
For several good reasons, many of us Portlanders are having a hard time wrapping our minds around the horrific thought of a 19-year-old from the local suburbs wanting to kill and destroy. Why would Portland, of all places, be the site of a terror attack?
- The "People's Republic of Portland"--so dubbed for its liberal ways--seems so utterly different from New York, Mumbai, London, or the other places that one associates with terrorist attacks. Portland is so much smaller, light years from the figurative front lines. This is a laid-back city where the red-hot rhetoric around terrorism, Islam, the "ground zero mosque," and the like runs cooler. It's a place where a live-and-let-live spirit extends ample latitude to anyone who might otherwise stand out--whether it's for wearing a Santa hat and pedaling around on a unicycle playing bagpipes (which my wife actually witnessed last year), covering every inch of your arm with tattoos, or wearing a head scarf and praying at a mosque rather than a church or synagogue.
This guy really needs to get out more. Portland is liberal, welcoming of weirdos, and munificent toward Muslims, and he thinks that sets it apart--from New York? And how self-absorbed do you have to be to think, almost a decade after 9/11, that terrorists won't target you because of your "live-and-let-live spirit"?
No, We Can't
Remember when Herbert Hoover, still bitter over his loss to Franklin D. Roosevelt, said in 1942 that he thought the Axis would win World War II? Neither do we. Not only was it before our time, but it never happened.
Yesterday, however, PBS's "NewsHour" aired an interview in which a former president predicted the defeat of American troops currently deployed overseas. Here's an excerpt:
- Ray Suarez: What do you make of our prospects there? And is this bound to be a place where great powers come a cropper, because they just underestimate how hard it is to get anything done there?
- Jimmy Carter: Anybody that has ever invaded Afghanistan has come out the loser. And I have serious doubts that we will prevail in Afghanistan, that is, to meet the present goals that we have set for ourselves.
- My belief is that we will constantly reduce our expectations or our goals lower and lower and lower, until we can finally get out without serious embarrassment. But I don't think we have the capability or the will to actually prevail militarily over the Taliban. That seems to me to be an almost hopeless case.
America elected Jimmy Carter more than a third of a century ago, and is still paying the price for its mistake.
How We Arrived at This Moment
"Obama: Shuttle Program to End in 2010"--headline, WKMG-TV website (Orlando, Fla.), Feb. 26, 2009
"NASA Administrator Concerned About Potential Job Losses"--headline, CNN.com, Feb. 6, 2010
"Obama's New Mission for NASA: Reach Out to Muslim World"--headline, Washington Examiner website, July 4, 2010
"Obama Warns of New 'Sputnik Moment' for United States"--headline, Washington Post website, Dec. 6, 2010
Out on a Limb
"Gates Sees Difficult Times Ahead With North Korea"--headline, Associated Press, Dec. 6
Then Again, Bush Has an Easier Job
"Bush Job Approval Rating Higher Than Obama's"--headline, Politico.com, Dec. 7
So Much for the War on Drugs
"Poll: Jimmy Carter Takes Big Hit"--headline, Politico.com, Dec. 6
With DNC in Mind, City Bans Carrying Urine, Feces
"Cayetano Gets Tough on Squatters"--headline, Manila Standard Today, Dec. 6
Must Be a Hijack Russell, or One Man's Terrier Is Another's Freedom Fido
"Airline: Dog on Plane Forces Emergency Landing"--headline, WCBS-TV website, Dec. 6
This Explains Why They Didn't Show Up at Foxborough Last Night
"Jet Lands in Pittsburgh After Dog Bites 2 Aboard"--headline, Associated Press, Dec. 6
'Take Me to Your Teacher'
"Leader From Different World Visits Classroom"--headline, New York Times, Dec. 7
The Lonely Lives of Scientists
"Scientists Dress Up as Giant Pandas"--headline, New York Post, Dec. 6
The Lonely Lives of Police
"Naked Driver Who Touched Himself in Front of Pedestrians Sought by Police"--headline, Orlando Sentinel, Dec. 7
The Lonely Lives of Trout
"Shy Trout Size It Up"--headline, University of Gothenburg press release, Dec. 7
Don't Hang Around 'Cause Two's a Crowd
"GSA's Move to the Cloud to Be Closely Watched"--headline, WFED-AM website (Washington), Dec. 6
Gone to Graveyards Every One
"PRUDEN: Where Have All the Grown-Ups Gone?"--headline, Washington Times, Dec. 7
It's an Enormous Bacteria That's Made of Ice and Floats in the Ocean
"New Species of Rust-Eating Bacteria Destroying Titanic"--headline, MSNBC.com, Dec. 6
'Ow, My Fracas!'
"Qualls said the police found two fans who had been stabbed in the fracas, one of them eight times in the back, another in the cheek."--Los Angeles Times, Dec. 5
Who Is Jack Nicholson?
"A 73-Year-Old Man With a Mild Headache"--headline, Medscape.com, Nov. 24
Hey, Kids! What Time Is It?
"It's Time to Put Up or Shut Up, Senator Kerry"--headline, Boston Herald, Dec. 7
Questions Nobody Is Asking
"Whatever Happened to Moses Mendelssohn?"--headline, JewishIdeasDaily.com, Dec. 6
"What if the Secrets Stayed Secret?"--headline, New York Times, Dec. 5
"If an Island State Vanishes, Is It Still a Nation?"--headline, Associated Press, Dec. 5
Answers to Questions Nobody Is Asking
"Why Fabio Is Plugging Plug-Ins [sic] Vehicles"--video title, FoxNews.com, Dec. 6
"Why Our Country Has a Leadership Deficit"--headline, FoxNews.com, Dec. 6
"Why LinkedIn Is the Social Network That Will Never Die"--headline, AdAge.com, Dec. 6
"Why All's Not Well in the World of Martha Stewart"--headline, Time.com, Dec. 6
"Julian Assange Answers Your Questions"--headline, Guardian website (London), Dec. 3
House to Ask Ethics Committee to Investigate Waters--Now That Would Be News
"TRENDING: Waters to Ask House to Investigate Ethics Committee"--headline, CNN.com, Dec. 7
It's Always in the Last Place You Look
"Two Unusual Albino Blue-Winged Kookaburra Chicks Found in Queensland, Australia"--headline, Los Angeles Times website, Dec. 7
Too Much Information
"Clinton Moves to Ease Tensions on Kyrgyz Base"--headline, New York Times, Dec. 3
"I Thought I Loved My BlackBerry Before, but HuffPost's New App Takes Things to a Whole New Level"--headline, Puffington Host, Dec. 7
Everything Seemingly Is Spinning Out of Control
"Mel Gibson Seeks to Relaunch Career With Talking Beaver Hand Puppet"--headline, Daily Telegraph (London), Dec. 6
"David Lynch Branches Out Into Music"--headline, National (Abu Dhabi), Dec. 6
"George Lucas Wants to Resuscitate Dead Actors Using Computers"--headline, KNTV website (San Jose, Calif.), Dec. 7
News of the Tautological
"Many Species Use Hibernation to Survive the Rigors of Winter"--headline, Washington Post, Dec. 7
"Dwindling Number of Pearl Harbor Survivors After 69 Years"--headline Reuters, Dec. 6
News You Can Use
"WikiLeaks Is a Free Speech Case Study Mormons and Others Should Examine"--headline, Mormon Times, Dec. 6
"People Are Nicer to You 'if They Think You Are Jealous of Them' "--headline, Daily Mail (London), Dec. 6
Bottom Stories of the Day
"Business Broken Into, Nothing Stolen"--headline, Huntsville (Ala.) Times, Dec. 7
"Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Blames Natural Disasters on Capitalism"--headline, Guardian website (London), Dec. 5
Science Marches On
"California has purchased a large supply of a drug used in executions from a British pharmaceutical company, according to a spokeswoman with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation," The Wall Street Journal reports:
- The state ordered the drug before the U.K. last month said it planned to limits [sic] exports of the drug, thiopental sodium, because of the U.K.'s "moral opposition to the death penalty."
- Prison officials in various states have sought to obtain thiopental overseas owing to a shortage of the drug in the U.S., which has caused executions to be delayed across the country. . . .
- Death-penalty lawyers still could challenge whether the use of foreign-made thiopental violates California inmates' constitutional right to be executed in a relatively safe, painless manner.
- "There are still a lot of unanswered questions," said Natasha Minsker, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of North California. "Do these [foreign] drugs work the same as the American version? Do they have the same efficacy?"
Minsker raises a good point. To make sure the foreign thiopental works as well as the domestic stuff, California should conduct a clinical trial on death-row inmates.