Tag Archives: Flopping Aces

On A Magic Carpet Ride

Byron York at The Washington Examiner:

In a far-reaching restatement of goals for the nation’s space agency, NASA administrator Charles Bolden says President Obama has ordered him to pursue three new objectives: to “re-inspire children” to study science and math, to “expand our international relationships,” and to “reach out to the Muslim world.”  Of those three goals, Bolden said in a recent interview with al-Jazeera, the mission to reach out to Muslims is “perhaps foremost,” because it will help Islamic nations “feel good” about their scientific accomplishments.

In the same interview, Bolden also said the United States, which first sent men to the moon in 1969, is no longer capable of reaching beyond low earth orbit without help from other nations.

The Jawa Report:

.A couple goals missing from Obama’s new International Social Justice Department (formerly NASA) is anything to do with the atmosphere, space, or aeronautics. This makes sense, especially when considering job creation efforts don’t create jobs and economic stimulus comes closer to invigorating the rear sphincter valve than the economy.

Ed Morrissey:

Hey, maybe that’s why Obama hasn’t taken the Iranian effort to build a nuclear bomb all that seriously until now.  He just wanted Iran to make the Muslim world feel good about their achievements in science!  And it’s hard to do to that unless you talk a lot about outstretched open hands — and ignore a freedom movement that wants to depose the brutal tyrants who are trying to give the Muslim world a new “historic contribution.”

Actually, Muslim nations should be insulted by the idea that the US pays NASA to provide them with paternalistic and patronizing validation and self-esteem boosts. And they probably will be.

The problem Byron uncovers goes farther than just the Muslim outreach, though.  NASA has always inspired children and even bolstered international relations, but not because that was its mission.  It did those things by pursuing solid goals of exploration of space, which is why Congress funds the agency.  Those esteem-boosters came as a secondary result of actual achievement, not as an end in itself.  The Obama administration wants to turn this over onto its head by making NASA a bureaucracy dedicated to self-esteem which might at some point have a goal that has to do with exploration of space.

This is a recipe for failure on an expensive scale.  Congress needs to either get the White House to redefine its mission for NASA or cut off its funds until the self-esteem party is canceled.

John Derbyshire at The Corner:

That’s why we have a government space program! For the kiddies! (Which means, when uttered by a Democratic politician, for the teachers’ unions and ed-biz lobbies.) For our international relationships! (Heaven forbid we should keep to ourselves, for our own nation’s benefit, the technological wonders we develop. We must share them with the whole world!) To help Muslim nations feel good about themselves! (The Muslim world’s self-esteem is in tatters. It’s up to us to repair it! All those centuries of stagnation are probably our fault anyway.)

I had supposed that there were two different approaches to government-funded space exploration.

● There was the Gene Kranz view, as stated above. In this view, it is legitimate to use government money, even in large quantities, to enhance national prestige and pride.

● And then there was the Derb view, expressed to considerable reader outrage on this site here and here. My opinion is that beyond a few legitimate military and meteorological applications, government-funded space exploration is pointless extravagance and folly (even when “a glorious, soul-stirring folly”). Leave it to private enterprise.

Now I see that there is a third view.

● Our government-funded space exploration, as embodied in NASA, can serve the great Obamanian cause of infantilizing and feminizing us. Government funds are wisely and properly used in turning us into obedient elementary-school tots being lectured at by our wise, benevolent moral superiors on the wonders of “diversity,” sensitizing us to the feelings of different-looking peoples in far-away places, softening and erasing our gross brutish impulses to inquire, discover, explore, achieve, master (!), conquer, and win.

American history was, for a couple of centuries there, a contest between the frontiersmen and the schoolmarms. Well, that’s all over. The schoolmarms have won.

Flopping Aces:

What, pray tell, has space technology advancements got to do with Muslim and Islam in general, I ask myself. Why should our federally funded agency specifically reach out to Muslims for our space endeavors? And why should that magically improve relations? Are we assuming that they have a leg up on this technology, strictly because of their religious choice? Well.. yeah… that is if you’re interested in advancing ways to exploring to ways to pray in zero gravity, or eating space meals under Islamic rules, that is.

But then, in a more honest vein, we have the more stellar example of Ahmad Mahmoud, the son of immigrant Eqyptian parents who attended public schools in New Jersey, went on to major in Aerospace Engineering at Rutgers University. Mahmoud was awarded first place for his design project, Multi-surface Adaptable Touch Sensor, from Rutgers. He went on to a NASA internship, and then offered a full time position with the Cryogenics department.

Because he’s Muslim? No… because he’s exceptional in his field.

Scientists of all faiths and nationalities bond together, across the span of political BS, because they share common goals. And, in fact, Islam Online has their own webpage devoted to Muslims and space. There has been no barrier to their contributions in the industry, and indeed their presence in space itself, since man’s first foray’s into space. The first Muslim to crew the Discovery was in 1985 – Prince Sultan bin Salman AbdulAziz Al-Saud from Saudi Arabia, who acted as payload specialist to deliver the ARABSAT 1-B communication satellite into orbit. He was not only the first Muslim in space, but was the first who was royalty.

Why? Because he’s Muslim? Again, no. Because he’s exceptional in his field.

Gee… now how did that happen without this POTUS, exercising squatting rights in the people’s House? sigh… But still, this POTUS persists in playing the class warfare/”social justice” card, as if this is a pressing problem in our world’s aeronautical society. Yet how has this pathetic ploy of bowing, scraping and proffered olive twigs played in the Muslim world? Not much better than it has with our allies, whom this POTUS is busy alienating at every turn.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:

Charles Krauthammer on Obama’s new NASA strategy:

“This is a new of fatuousness. NASA was established to get America into space and to keep us there. This idea of ‘feel good about your past’ scientific achievements is the worst kind of group therapy, psycho-babble, imperial condescension and adolescent diplomacy. If I didn’t know that Obama had told him this, I’d demand the firing of Charles Bolden.”

Don’t hold back, Charles.

Rory Cooper at Heritage Foundation:

Of course, the Democrat Party establishment, via their Media Matters outlet, were quick to point out that this hullabaloo is merely right-wing noise about the word “Muslim” which of course misses the point entirely, and merely tries to drown criticism of Obama with the age-old liberal mantra that everyone who doesn’t share their worldview is a racist. Substitute the word ‘Muslim’ for any other group, ethnicity or religion, and President Obama is still failing to comprehend that this is not what most Americans view as an appropriate role for NASA.

Congress should demand that President Obama and Administrator Bolden directly address questions on the future of NASA and his vision. President George W. Bush’s clearly laid out Vision for Space Exploration is obviously not a part of it. Under President Bush, NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale was charged with ensuring Bush’s vision would achieve his goal of transcending presidents and politics. She failed. Politics has never been more evident at NASA. We’re left with an agency in chaos and a president whose vision of America’s greatness lies in our humility, rather than our shining example.

NASA deserves better. America deserves better. All of mankind, who NASA has inspired for fifty years, deserve better.

Tom Maguire:

In other news, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an interview with Popular Science, explained that chief among her priorities was helping Barack achieve his vision of putting a man on Mars.  Assuming, of course, that Dick Cheney is willing to go.

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Filed under Political Figures, Science

Fly The Friendly Skies With Nancy

Doug Ross:

Meet the Pelosi family! Using Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, Judicial Watch uncovered thousands of pages of travel documents related to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s use of military aircraft.

What hasn’t been revealed so far is that military aircraft are being used to shuttle Pelosi’s kids and grandkids between DC and San Francisco without any Congressional representatives even onboard! Put simply, the United States Air Force is serving as a multi-billion dollar chauffeur- and baby-sitting service for Nancy Pelosi’s kids and grandkids — presumably because commercial travel is beneath the families of the autocrats.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:

Taxpayers are not just paying for Pelosi’s expensive booze and food, they’re paying for the military to play taxi with her kids and grand kids, too.

Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters:

As NewsBusters reported on several occasions this month, CNN’s Jack Cafferty has been blasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for refusing to address the profligate spending by members of Congress at December’s climate change summit in Copenhagen.

On January 12 he called her a “horrible woman,” and followed this up two weeks later by referring to her arrogance as “breathtaking.”

With this in mind, Cafferty should take a look at a report published Thursday by Judicial Watch claiming the Speaker has spent over $2 million flying on the taxpayer aboard military plane

Flopping Aces:

And once the Congressfolk got to Copenhagen they stayed in the lap of luxury in hotel rooms costing over $2,000 a night. You would think that they would be able to get a better deal on Priceline! Here’s a sample of the expense voucher. More at CBS.Com.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin

Dan Riehl

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Kiriakou Changes His Story

Jeff Stein at Foreign Policy:

Well, it’s official now: John Kiriakou, the former CIA operative who affirmed claims that waterboarding quickly unloosed the tongues of hard-core terrorists, says he didn’t know what he was talking about.

Kiriakou, a 15-year veteran of the agency’s intelligence analysis and operations directorates, electrified the hand-wringing national debate over torture in December 2007 when he told ABC’s Brian Ross and Richard Esposito  in a much ballyhooed, exclusive interview that senior al Qaeda commando Abu Zubaydah cracked after only one application of the face cloth and water.

“From that day on, he answered every question,” Kiriakou said. “The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.”

No matter that Kiriakou wearily said he shared the anguish of millions of Americans, not to mention the rest of the world, over the CIA’s application of the medieval confession technique.

The point was that it worked.  And the pro-torture camp was quick to pick up on Kiriakou’s claim.

“It works, is the bottom line,” conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh exclaimed on his radio show the day after Kiriakou’s ABC interview. “Thirty to 35 seconds, and it works.”

A cascade of similar acclamations followed, muffling — to this day — the later revelation that Zubaydah had in fact been waterboarded at least 83 times.

Had Kiriakou left out something the first time?

Now comes John Kiriakou, again, with a wholly different story. On the next-to-last page of a new memoir, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror (written with Michael Ruby), Kiriakou now rather off handedly admits that he basically made it all up.

“What I told Brian Ross in late 2007 was wrong on a couple counts,” he writes. “I suggested that Abu Zubaydah had lasted only thirty or thirty-five seconds during his waterboarding before he begged his interrogators to stop; after that, I said he opened up and gave the agency actionable intelligence.”

But never mind, he says now.

“I wasn’t there when the interrogation took place; instead, I relied on what I’d heard and read inside the agency at the time.”

Michael Scherer at Swampland at Time:

The original ABC News story, meanwhile–with the headline “Coming in From the Cold: CIA Spy Calls Waterboarding Necessary But Torture”–is still running on the ABC News website, effectively unaltered save a small note that says after the third paragraph, “This story has been updated. (see endnote),” with a link to another page, where Kiriakou admits that he was wrong.

As it stands more than two years later, the web story is an embarrassment for ABC News. If the esteemed news organization had reported on election night in 2008 that John McCain had won the presidency, my guess is ABC’s editors would feel obligated to issue a more prominent correction than a blind link to another web page hidden in the text of their original mistake.

Marc Thiessen at The Corner:

The Left will pounce all over this story in Foreign Policy: “CIA Man Retracts Claim on Waterboarding.” It reports that “John Kiriakou, the former CIA operative who affirmed claims that waterboarding quickly unloosed the tongues of hard-core terrorists, says he didn’t know what he was talking about.” In his memoir, Kirakou admits that he was not in the room during the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, who he claimed broke after one application of water and produced vital intelligence. His resistance was, in fact, much greater than that.

As always, the Left will attempt to distort this as proof to back their specious claim that no valuable information came from Zubaydah and other terrorists. But the evidence that the CIA program was effective is not dependent on Kirakou’s testimony.

I have spoken to the people who — unlike Kirakou — were in the room for the interrogations of Zubaydah, KSM and other terrorists held by the CIA. And in Courting Disaster, I meticulousluy document the evidence for the efficacy of the CIA interrogation program — based not on Kirakou’s claims, but on the testimony of the actual interrogators, interivews with top CIA and other intelligence officials, the evidence presented in the CIA inspector general’s report, and other top-secret documents declassified by the Obama administration. I urge you to read it and judge for yourself. The evidence is overwhelming.

Unfortunately, Kiriakou kicked up a lot of dust and created a lot of confusion about the efficacy of torture, a practice that should be abandoned purely on moral grounds, but which also has terrible track record for success compared to more thoughtful interrogation methods.  His mea culpa is too little too late considering the blatant lie he told in the face of actual evidence, and the harm caused.

Of course there is more than meets the eye on this story. The fact of the matter is that Kiriakou says he “didn’t know what he was talking about” because he wasn’t in the room when the waterboarding took place. The whole piece uses over 900 words to assert that the success of waterboarding is in question because Kiriakou used second hand information to come to the conclusion that waterboarding doesn’t work, but completely ignores the fact that the interrogators themselves confirmed KSM broke because of waterboarding and the declassified documents prove that attacks were prevented because of the information that was extracted.


The left can squeal all they want on this matter. KSM broke because of this interrogation method and if this method was not in place at the time we would have suffered more attacks. Now that we read Miranda rights to enemy combatants we should not be surprised when the next attack attempt is successful. Why? Because we will have no idea its coming.

Rachel Slajda at TPM

UPDATE: Annie Lowrey at Foreign Policy with the Colbert Report piece

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Filed under Books, Mainstream, Torture

Prepare For The Igloo Bubble, Stock Market

David Rose at The Daily Mail:

The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.

Their predictions – based on an analysis of natural cycles in water temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs, such as the claim that the North Pole will be free of ice in summer by 2013.

According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 per cent, since 2007 – and even the most committed global warming activists do not dispute this.

The scientists’ predictions also undermine the standard climate computer models, which assert that the warming of the Earth since 1900 has been driven solely by man-made greenhouse gas emissions and will continue as long as carbon dioxide levels rise.

Don Suber:

Professor Mojib Latif, a leading member of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told the newspaper: “A significant share of the warming we saw from 1980 to 2000 and at earlier periods in the 20th Century was due to these cycles – perhaps as much as 50 per cent. They have now gone into reverse, so winters like this one will become much more likely. Summers will also probably be cooler, and all this may well last two decades or longer. The extreme retreats that we have seen in glaciers and sea ice will come to a halt. For the time being, global warming has paused, and there may well be some cooling.”

But global warming lives on. It has more lives than a litter of kittens.

The experts don’t know. Climatology is a budding science. As Rose pointed out, temperatures have risen and fallen before.

But the UN or a Nobel Peace Prize won’t get funding if it says it does not know. And so we get these wild swings — more bipolarity than science.

Tom Maguire:

So what does this mean?  Some possibilities:

(a) It’s a vital reprieve giving us additional time to do things we should have been doing anyway.  For instance, rather than scrapping a perfectly useful coal-fired plant we can replace it at the end of its useful life with newer, greener technology not yet perfected.

(b) it’s a head fake, and when the next mini-warming cycle starts in thirty years we will set heat records all over the world.

(c) it is the death knell for adequate public support for slapping a price on carbon emissions.  Is America, where two thirds of adults are overweight or obese, really going to spend twenty years on an energy diet while temperatures drop?  We aren’t that good at taking the long view, especially when the science is in flux (Not related, yet related –  eventually the rise in autism, obesity, diabetes and other things will be linked to the rise in the use of sunscreen.  Yeah, because we listened to the scientists who told us that sunshine was dangerous.)

I am hoping for (a) but would bet on (c).  But in (c) I do would support a simple revenue neutral carbon tax, not the preposterous cap and trade that Dems are backing as a jobs program for an expanded AFSCME unionized government bureaucracy.

I am hereby taking up a new cause:  the relocation of the US capitol to, say, Raleigh.

Not that I am taking predictions of the weather all that seriously.  ‘Twas but a few months ago when I was reading the climate change community writing that the recent cooling trend had been a fluke, and that we were scheduled to return to record warm temperatures . . . why, this very winter!


Still, it might be worth investing in some long johns . . .

Flopping Aces

Mikkel Fishman at Moderate Voice:

I just saw a piece in The Daily Mail that talked about how an expert “predicts” up to three decades of global cooling. At first I was surprised, but then I saw the name and it all made sense. I’d been debating about whether to write about it, I mean The Daily Mail is just a tabloid, but on the other hand George Will and others have had similar pieces based on the same research. Then Pete had to go and have a post about it which forces my hand.

Personally I think that Dr. Latif should sue for libel. I’m not sure that this is anywhere close to it, but it should be. The opinions ascribed to him are in complete disagreement with his own, and pieces like this are damaging not only to his reputation but more importantly, it helps invalidate his work — which personally would hurt my emotional and mental well being, an aspect of libel laws.

What am I talking about? Well read this interview with him.

UPDATE: Joe Romm at Climate Progress

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Tony! Toni! Toné!

Henry Chu at Los Angeles Times:

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he would have found a justification for invading Iraq even without the now-discredited evidence that Saddam Hussein was trying to produce weapons of mass destruction.

“I would still have thought it right to remove him. I mean, obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat,” Blair told the BBC in an interview to be broadcast this morning.

It was a startling admission from the onetime British leader, who was President Bush’s staunchest ally in the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

Gateway Pundit:

Tony Blair is 100% correct.

Here in the United States the state-run democratic-media complex has successfully influenced enough Americans to believe that the US invaded Iraq only because of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction that he used against his own people.
Of course, there were other factors that were cited by the US Congress as justification to invade Iraq:

The resolution cited many factors to justify the use of military force against Iraq:

* Iraq’s noncompliance with the conditions of the 1991 cease fire, including interference with weapons inspectors.
* Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, and programs to develop such weapons, posed a “threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region.”
* Iraq’s “brutal repression of its civilian population.”
* Iraq’s “capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people”.
* Iraq’s hostility towards the United States as demonstrated by the alleged 1993 assassination attempt of former President George H. W. Bush, and firing on coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones following the 1991 Gulf War.
* Members of al-Qaeda, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq.
* Iraq’s “continu[ing] to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations,” including anti-United States terrorist organizations.
* The efforts by the Congress and the President to fight terrorists, including the September 11th, 2001 terrorists and those who aided or harbored them.
* The authorization by the Constitution and the Congress for the President to fight anti-United States terrorism.
* Citing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, the resolution reiterated that it should be the policy of the United States to remove the Saddam Hussein regime and promote a democratic replacement.

For some strange reason the democrats didn’t ever focus much on these other factors.

Spencer Ackerman:

I suppose it’s past time to start a fund to create Tony Blair’s headstone, just to have this craven, blithe admission of pretext permanently affixed to his legacy. Yes, Prime Minister, “obviously” once the justification for a war that has killed tens if not hundreds of thousands of people turns out to be disproven, one must pivot to a new rationale for its existence. What one must never do is recognize that the war is in error and work to correct it.

Because for Blair it’s not an error, “obviously.” Whatever he told us is whatever he needed to tell us at that moment, as the war was a fixed idea. I wonder why people occasionally say that Blair was the only one who could have prevented the war from happening. He was an active architect of the invasion. His gaudy and theatrical public pronouncements of doubt are just part of the fucking ruse.

Part of me looks at this horror and can’t wait for this decade to end. But the truth is it will never end, no matter what the calendar says. Only Americans think that the clocks reset and the scales balance because of years that end in a zero. Or elections.

Flopping Aces:

Did he have those nukes when we invaded?


If left untouched could he have had a nuke in a short amount of time?


That’s the point.

He supported terrorists and took every step to ensure that he would have WMD within weeks of sanctions being lifted.

Those are the reasons we invaded and why it was the only right, just and smart thing to do.

Emptywheel at Firedoglake:

What I find really interesting from this story, though, is his further admission–that he supported the invasion because without removing Saddam, it would have been hard to change the region.

“This was obviously the thing that was uppermost in my mind. The threat to the region. Also the fact of how that region was going to change and how in the end it was going to evolve as a region and whilst he was there, I thought and actually still think, it would have been very difficult to have changed it in the right way.”

I really really really hope Fern Britton went on to ask him whether he thinks the catastrophic war against Iraq has, in the end, “changed [the region] in the right way.”

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Filed under History, Iraq, UK

Automatic For The Prisoners

David Alexander:

Interrogators at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay liked to blast rock ‘n’ roll music at inmates to try to induce them to talk.

Now some of the folks that made that rock ‘n’ roll music are blasting back.

Trent Reznor, Tom Morello, Jackson Browne, T-Bone Burnett, Rosanne Cash, Bonnie Raitt, R.E.M., Pearl Jam and other musicians have joined the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo.

The newly formed campaign, led by retired Lieutenant General Robert Gard and retired Brigadier General John Johns among others, is increasing pressure on the Obama administration to move ahead with the president’s pledge to close the prison.

“Guantanamo is known around the world as one of the places where human beings have been tortured,” Morello said in a statement released by the campaign, charging that some inmates had been subjected to loud music for 72 hours in a row.

“Guantanamo may be Dick Cheney’s idea of America, but it’s not mine,” he added. “The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me — we need to end torture and close Guantanamo now.”

John J. Miller at National Review:

If I was planning to torture people with the music of R.E.M., I would play these songs: “Bang and Blame,” “Crush with Eyeliner,” “Orange Crush,” and (of course) “Everybody Hurts.”

Eugene Volokh:

Copyright law gives the owners of copyrights in musical compositions — basically, the lyrics and the tunes — the right to control public performances of the work. (Performances here includes simple playing of CDs and the like.) But it doesn’t give copyright owners the right to control private performances. If the music was played to just one terrorist at a time (or even a few at a time), there’d be no infringement of the public performance right.

If the music was played to the entire prison (which I doubt), that might be a public performance, defined as a performance “at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.” I suspect that the Guantanamo detainees don’t qualify as “a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances.” Then the question would be whether the military has a blanket license for public performances of this music, for instance via ASCAP and BMI — quite possible, given that the military doubtless performs music in other venues, though one would need to see whether that license covers all uses or only particular ones. But even if the military was infringing the copyrights, through an unlicensed public performance (and I stress again that the likely playing of the music was probably in a private setting), the remedies for federal government infringements of copyrights are limited to actual damages — here, probably a modest licensing fees — or the minimum statutory damages of $750/work; and even that could only be collected for infringements within the past three years. (Of course, there would also be the question whether the infringement took place within the U.S., and is therefore governed by U.S. copyright law in the first place; that returns us to the question of whether Guantanamo is U.S. territory, which the Court answered affirmatively as to habeas corpus, but which I’m sure has never been definitively resolved as to copyright law.)

Flopping Aces:

I agree Morello’s music is sickening. But do these moralizers understand what real torture is? And that Guantanamo today is the world’s most humane detention facility, thanks in no small part to their efforts in making it the most heavily scrutinized?

Admittedly, in its early days, Guantanamo had its share of problems. But that doesn’t hold true, today; nor has it been the case for quite some time, thanks to media sensationalism and world opinion outrage that did shed some light on some problems; and put the facility under a microscope.

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker:

Dozens of musicians and bands—R.E.M., Rosanne Cash, Trent Reznor—are backing a Freedom of Information Act suit to find out if their songs were among those used to torture prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. The suit was filed by the National Security Archive, and the list of records it seeks runs the gamut from Aerosmith to Tupac Shakur, by way of Pink, Prince, and Queen. From the A.P.:

“Based on documents that already have been made public and interviews with former detainees, the archive says the playlist featured cuts from AC/DC, Britney Spears, the Bee Gees, Marilyn Manson and many other groups. The Meow mix cat food jingle, the Barney theme song and an assortment of Sesame Street tunes also were pumped into detainee cells.”So we need to add the corruption of “Sesame Street” to the crimes of Guantánamo? They better not have messed with “Monster in the Mirror.” Perhaps Jon Stewart’s Gitmo muppet is not even a parody. (As for the Meow Mix jingle—did they use the actual commercial, or the Homer Simpson re-meow mix?) But the list of musicians is so ecumenical that it can’t even be used to tease anyone about his musical tastes—Britney Spears may be an instrument of torture, but James Taylor and Matchbox Twenty are there, too. Music as torture is not about bad music: it’s about volume, disorientation, and, above all, about control, or lack of control (a person who can’t turn the music off, or even pick Prince over Pink, is powerless). The practice supposedly ended before the Bush Administration left office; according to the Washington Post, the musicians, for the moment, just want to find out if their songs were among those played:

“They say they will explore legal options once the songs are known. It is unclear what, if any, recourse they may have.”Could they be owed royalties? Does the Pentagon have an iTunes account, or does the C.I.A., or were these songs downloaded illegally?

The Post notes that

“Another former prisoner, Binyam Mohamed, told Human Rights Watch that he had been forced to listen to the rapper Eminem’s song “The Real Slim Shady” for 20 days.”The real Binyam Mohamed has stood up—at least, he’s getting closer.

Chris Good at The Atlantic

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Filed under GWOT, Music, Torture

Across The Desert, Listening To The Supremes



Yesterday’s oral arguments did generate a healthy dose of media interest in Salazar v. Buono, which asks whether a cross erected as a memorial within a California national park is constitutional.

In a New York Times piece titled “Religion Largely Absent in Argument About Cross,” Adam Liptak reports that none of the justices except Antonin Scalia pursued the question whether the cross violates the Establishment Clause’s separation of religion and state.  Instead, the discussion revolved around whether the government’s transfer of the land beneath the cross to private hands preempted any constitutional infraction.  Robert Barnes at the Washington Post notes that Salazar is the Court’s first opportunity to weigh in on the Establishment Clause under the leadership of Chief Justice Roberts.  The replacement of retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who grew increasingly protective of the separation of religion and state during her tenure, with Justice Samuel Alito, who at yesterday’s argument seemed to accept the transfer of land beneath the cross to private ownership as a solution to any constitutional problem, could signal a shift in the Court’s stance.  USA Today focuses on a divide revealed during the argument between the most conservative justices on the Court, who seemed satisfied with the government’s proposals, and the most liberal, who remained more skeptical; Justice Kennedy, however, did not “tip his hat.”  The Los Angeles Times and Christian Science Monitor offer their own coverage.  All five of the stories above highlight a testy exchange between Justice Scalia and ACLU lawyer Peter Eliasberg about the symbolism of crosses in general: Scalia remarked that “The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of the dead,” while Eliasberg countered that the cross is “the predominant symbol of Christianity.”  NPR cleanly summarizes the history of the case and the questions at issue.

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate:

There’s just one person at oral argument in Salazar v. Buono this morning who really wants to talk about whether a 5-foot cross on federal government land in the Mojave National Preserve violates the Constitution’s Establishment Clause. But Justice Antonin Scalia really, really wants to talk about it. He looks particularly queasy when Peter Eliasberg—the ACLU lawyer whose client objects to crosses on government land—suggests partway through the morning that perhaps a less controversial World War I memorial might consist of “a statue of a soldier which would honor all of the people who fought for America in World War I and not just the Christians.”

“The cross doesn’t honor non-Christians who fought in the war?” Scalia asks, stunned.

“A cross is the predominant symbol of Christianity, and it signifies that Jesus is the son of God and died to redeem mankind for our sins,” replies Eliasberg, whose father and grandfather are both Jewish war veterans.

“It’s erected as a war memorial!” replies Scalia. “I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead. The cross is the most common symbol of … of … of the resting place of the dead.”

Eliasberg dares to correct him: “The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of Christians. I have been in Jewish cemeteries. There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew.”

“I don’t think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead the cross honors are the Christian war dead,” thunders Scalia. “I think that’s an outrageous conclusion!”

Far less outrageous is the conclusion that religious symbols are not religious. But that’s why these religion cases are always such fun. We believe what we need to believe.

Flopping Aces:

Is anyone really damaged by seeing the 10 Commandments displayed on a government building? Are any of you offended when you see a Christmas tree in a public square? When the White House hosts an Easter egg hunt each year, as well as iftar dinner and menorah lighting? Are your feelings hurt because we have national holidays that are Christian?


Religious expression is part of this nation’s history. The jihadist crusade of the ACLU and militant secular extremists is beyond reason in its successful attacks over the last several decades against public expression of Christian traditions and national heritage that has been a part of this country’s 200-plus year history.

Steve Benen:

This is surprisingly common among conservative Christians who seek government sponsorship. The Ten Commandments, they say, aren’t really religious, so there’s no problem with the government promoting them. Creches (representations of the Nativity) aren’t really religious, so there’s no problem with the government promoting them, either. Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas have been watered down so much, they can be official government holidays without any trouble at all.

The goal, in each instance, is to ensure official, legal support for their faith. If that means stripping the major aspects of Christianity of their spiritual significance, so be it.

UPDATE: Jonathan Kulick

UPDATE #2: Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit


UPDATE #3: Rod Dreher

UPDATE #4: Instapundit

Jason Arvak at Moderate Voice

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I’m Goin’ Down To South Park, Gonna Have Myself A Time

The Russians planned to speak with some American dissidents while here. Bloggers had suggestions…

Andy Heil at Radio Free Europe:

Noam Chomsky — iconic linguist, lecturer, and voice of the left for decades

For: instant cachet among the beard-stroking intellectual elite of any nation
Against: makes Marx look like a reactionary; kind of stingy with his Facebook friendships

Rush Limbaugh — combative radio talk show host of the right

For: millions of fawning American listeners every day
Against: you can’t get a word in edgewise

Michael Moore — documentary filmmaker whose enormous success at Cannes earned him powerful enemies in the U.S.

For: revered in many circles
Against: reviled in nearly all the others

Kanye West — rapper and record producer

For: influential with the young set; feuding with current U.S. president
Against: tends to go off-message

Sarah Palin — former vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor

For: close neighbor of Russia’s; got on great with Pakistan’s president; sees America on the verge of slipping into terminal communism
Against: see McCain/Palin ’08; sees America on the verge of slipping into terminal communism

Reverend Jeremiah Wright — former pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago who famously inveighed “God damn America!” from the pulpit

For: friends in high places
Against: out of step with said friends

Gus Hall — American Communist Party leader who stuck with it through years of persecution and the Soviet collapse

For: though now dead, Hall, too, regarded Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin as “a wrecking crew
Against: symbolic visits to monuments to dead Communists are no longer the preferred Russian photo op

Sean Penn — Oscar-winning actor/director and political activist

For: lots of showbiz friends and a cozy relationship with the Huffington Post
Against: less disgruntled since January

Christopher Hitchens — former flame-breathing Trotskyite turned neocon booster

For: dual nationality lends him trans-Atlantic heft
Against: hard to tell whose side he’s on; interventionist bent and outspoken atheism could backfire on the Russian leader; he laid waste to Mother Teresa, for goodness sake

Eric Cartman — vitriolic “South Park” fourth-grader

For: global recognition and an enemy of political correctness
Against: has variously advocated or committed tyranny, piracy, genocide, pedophilia, murder, misogyny, blackmail, hate crimes, rape, and terrorism

Daniel Drezner at Foreign Policy:

This is an excellent start, but I think we can add a few names to the old dissident list.  Let me think…. who else is railing against the System these days?

  1. Glenn Beck
  2. U.S. Representative Ron Paul
  3. Glenn Greenwald
  4. Dick Cheney
  5. Serena Williams
  6. U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich
  7. Jimmy Carter
  8. U.S. Representative Joe Wilson
  9. Terrell Owens
  10. Beyonce (OK, technically, she’s not railing against the system — but as much of a jackass as he might have been, Kanye was right:  this is the most awesome video ever.  She was robbed, and I blame The Man).

I’m just trying to imagine Medvedev meeting this crew.

From the comments, baribog:

Proposed amendments to the list:

The “New Black Panther Party”
The Nation of Islam
Immortal Technique
Zack de la Rocha
Mumia Abu Jamal
Leonard Pelletier
Carlos Santana

and last but not least…

Tommy Chong.

I would love to see a meeting between Chong and Ahmadinejad. Who would have known that weed mixed with shisha can taste so good?

Freddy Gray at TAC:

Clearly the Russian President wants to spite Obama for meeting with opposition leaders when he visited Russia. But the GOP doesn’t exactly qualify as “dissident” — at least not as far as the Russians are concerned. Who then? Drezner and Heil have both put forward their comedy top-ten anti-establishmentarians. Let’s have your suggestions…

And in the comments, Matt Swartz:

Besides those named, I think he’d be well-served to talk to:
James Traficant
Andrew Bacevich
Amy Goodman (from Democracy Now!)
Phyllis Schlafly (who is still alive)
Gore Vidal
John Mackey (whole foods CEO)

Flopping Aces

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A Health Care Post With A Bunch Of Pretty Pictures Of Presidents Past Preaching To Politicians Past (Say That Three Times Fast)


So what is Barack Obama going to say tonight? Will there be a public option or no?

Jonathan Weiseman and Janet Adamy in WSJ:

President Barack Obama, in a high-stakes speech Wednesday to Congress and the nation, will press for a government-run insurance option in a proposed overhaul of the U.S. health-care system that has divided lawmakers and voters for months.

White House officials say the president will detail what he wants in the health-care overhaul, as well as say he is open to better ideas on a government plan if lawmakers have them.

Democratic plans call for requiring most Americans to carry health insurance. Failure to comply could cost families as much as $3,800 a year, according to a new Senate proposal.

The president is likely to say that a government-run insurance plan, known as the “public option,” will not provide a level of subsidies that give it an unfair advantage over private insurers, according to aides familiar with the speech preparations.

Matthew Yglesias:

Something I’m not entirely certain public option supporters really understand this, but the President’s not lying when he offers those reassurances to the insurance industry. As I’m watching Senator Ron Wyden explain on television right now, under the House and HELP bills something like 80 to 90 percent of the population wouldn’t actually have the option of enrolling in the public option. And of the minority of people who could enroll in the public option, most won’t, since the public option has been crafted specifically so as to avoid giving it an “unfair” advantage over private health insurance.

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary:

Now perhaps the report has it wrong, and Obama is going to avoid appearing utterly out of touch with the groundswell of opposition to a government takeover of health care. Maybe he’ll not embrace the Left but instead show a hint of recognition that he understands the concerns — and yes, fears — of average Americans who don’t really want the health-care system ripped up by the roots. But then again, Obama is a very arrogant man, convinced that he knows best and that, through the sheer brilliance of his words, can turn public opinion around. So a very arrogant speech may be just what he has in mind.

Carol Platt Liebau in Townhall:

Unfortunately for the President, the government option is nothing but trouble for him.  Republicans say they won’t support a bill with one, liberals say they won’t support a bill without one.  By invoking it tonight, he’ll lose his best opportunity truly to hit the “reset” button in the healthcare debate as far as the GOP goes; by signalling his willingness to bargain it away, he’ll lose the good will of his far-left base (which will no doubt go along with whatever he wants anyway).

Tonight, expect to hear plenty of sad stories about people who are being treated “unfairly” by the current system.  Get ready for the righteous denunciations of “insurance companies.”  And then remember:

More than 80% of Americans are satisfied with both their health care and their health insurance.


However, Mike Allen in Politico:

President Barack Obama plans to give a strong endorsement of a public option – or government health-insurance plan – in his remarks to Congress on Wednesday night but will stop short of an ultimatum, leaving wiggle room for negotiation as the bill moves through Congress, according to sources familiar with his remarks.

Now we hear that in his great moment of presidential leadership, when he is to tell people where he really stands on health care, Obama is going to hedge on the public option.

Karl at Hot Air:

Obama will endorse a government-run insurance plan (as usual), but will not demand one (as usual). Off the record, the White House admits the “public option” is off the table, as House Maj. Ldr. Steny Hoyer and Maj. Whip Jim Clyburn start tiptoeing for the exit. The leaders of the progressive caucus’s reputation continue to demand a “robust” government plan, but the rank and file aren’t necessarily following. In the Senate, even Olympia Snowe seems to be drifting away from the project. Obama may offer a few more details in his speech, but has put off offering his own draft legislation (most likely to extend the news cycle). The legislative process has been headed toward health insurance reforms and an individual mandate for a while, which is why progressives have been preparing to be disappointed with this speech since last week. The Right has little motivation to watch, beyond the prospect of playing Obama Health-Care Speech Bingo.

Mark Impomeni at Redstate:

Mark it down.  President Obama’s “make or break” speech, as the media is portraying it, will be widely viewed as a success among the chattering class.  It will be groundbreaking, visionary, full of clarity, and a “game changer,” as CNN has already labeled it.

But sit tight, that’s just for a while.  Patrick Rufini had it right on Twitter last night.

Tmrw’s speech will be widely praised for resetting the debate on #hcr. And then everything will go back to exactly how it was within 96 hrs

Exactly.  What Patrick realizes, that the MSM does not, is that short term gain is all the president’s speech is intended to do.  If the speech was to be anything like what the media is previewing, the White House would not be making it known that Obama does not plan to offer any real specifics, and plans to be “non-committal” on the central question of the whole debate, the so-called “public option.”


But does the public option really matter?

Ezra Klein:

The end result is that the public plan is unlikely to have a very large customer base, which means it will be unable to use market share to bargain prices far lower than private insurers. That might not matter if the plan could attach itself to the rates that Medicare uses. In the first draft of the House bill, the plan could do that, at least for its first three or four years of existence, after which point it was cut loose from Medicare. But the deal Henry Waxman cut with the Blue Dogs erased that advantage, and now the public plan, even in the House bill, is on its own. That is to say, the plan has neither Medicare bargaining power nor the sort of customer base that gave Medicare its bargaining power.

Is that an argument against the public plan? Nope. There are real advantages to the presence of a public alternative. Competition matters, for one thing, and there are a lot of states where one or two private insurers essentially control the market. Experimentation matters, too, and the public plan could be used alongside Medicare to test payment reforms and disease management programs that could pay off in the long run. The public plan could also usher in a fairly radical level of transparency in pricing and behavior, forcing private insurers to follow suit. And lastly, the public plan is something of a corporate accountability measure. Its presence in the market ensures that health-care reform won’t simply be a large reward to the insurance companies absent any serious changes in their behavior.

These were the original arguments for the public plan, and they’re as strong today as they were then. But they are not the same as cost control. Cost control happens when we use less treatment, need less treatment, or pay less for treatment, and the public plans under consideration don’t really do any of those things. In fact, the bills under consideration don’t do any of those things, though I think they’re a useful first step. This step in health-care reform is largely about expanding coverage and creating a structure — with universality and the exchanges and so forth — that will make cost control easier down the road. None of the bills, on their own, really do all that much to control costs.

Joe Klein in Swampland:

Again, there are two reasons why someone–like me, for example–who supports universal health insurance might oppose a public option:

1. that it sets up an unfair competition with private insurers, leading to a government-provided, rather than just a government-funded insurance system. (I don’t think it’s very likely–it’s the domino theory of health care–but I would be opposed to a system where every doctor and nurse was employed by the government. I do favor a single-payer system where the government uses tax credits to give people the money to buy health insurance.)

2. the right-wing smear campaign has succeeded and moderate Democrats, and a few stray Republicans, who might otherwise vote for health care reform won’t do so…perhaps enough to kill legislation that would make health care more available and affordable for Americans, while prohibiting insurance companies from denying you access because of pre-existing conditions or an increased need for care.

Paul Krugman:

Most arguments against the public option are based either on deliberate misrepresentation of what that option would mean, or on remarkably thorough misunderstanding of the concept, which persists to a frustrating degree: I was really surprised to see Joe Klein worrying about the creation of a system in which doctors work directly for the government, British-style, when that has nothing whatsoever to do with the public option as proposed. (Forty years of Medicare haven’t turned the US into that kind of system — why would having a public plan change that?)

But what is one to make of the practical, political argument from the likes of Ezra Klein, who argue that any public plan actually included in legislation probably wouldn’t make that much difference, and that reform is worth having even without such a plan?

There are three reasons to be suspicious of that argument.

The first is that I suspect that Ezra and others understate the extent to which even a public plan with limited bargaining power will help hold down overall costs. Private insurers do pay providers more than Medicare does — but that’s only part of the reason Medicare has lower costs. There’s also the huge overhead of the private insurers, much of which involves marketing and attempts to cherry-pick clients — and even with community rating, some of that will still go on. A public plan would probably be able to attract clients with much less of that.

Second, a public plan would probably provide the only real competition in many markets.

Mark Thompson at The League:

First, in terms of the overhead issue, Krugman is ignoring that any public option is going to wind up investing pretty heavily in advertising itself if it’s going to be successful.  It has to provide the public with information by which it can let the public know that it’s out there and how to sign up, and how it’s so well-worth signing up for, pretty much like the Post Office, Amtrak, and public universities do.  So it’s difficult to see how the public option would meaningfully result in a reduction of marketing overhead costs.  Meanwhile, although I have no illusions about the bureaucracy that is the health insurance industry, it’s difficult to see how the federal government would be significantly less of a bureaucracy.  The only way I can see this happening is if the public option is set up in a way where it will deny fewer claims; the problem with this is that paying more claims has its own costs associated with it.  This makes it highly likely that any reduction in bureacracy (and I’m skeptical that there would be any reduction) would only have the effect of shifting costs, not reducing them.  To be sure, there may be a strong normative argument for such a cost shift, but I don’t see how it would actually reduce costs overall.

On the second issue – competition, the argument appears to miss some realities about the health insurance industry.  Specifically, the health insurance industry’s relative profitability is surprisingly low – only about 2.2%.  So introducing more competition would seem to have an overall price reduction ceiling of only 2.2% unless you really believe that the government can do exactly what existing insurance companies do in a less bureacratic, more streamlined fashion.


What are the odds of health reform?  Jonathan Cohn at TNR and Marc Ambinder say good, or at least it survived August. Ed Morrissey notes public option backtracking. Nate Silver says the public option is likely popular in Blue Dog districts.

And Sarah Palin in WSJ:

Now look at one way Mr. Obama wants to eliminate inefficiency and waste: He’s asked Congress to create an Independent Medicare Advisory Council—an unelected, largely unaccountable group of experts charged with containing Medicare costs. In an interview with the New York Times in April, the president suggested that such a group, working outside of “normal political channels,” should guide decisions regarding that “huge driver of cost . . . the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives . . . .”

Given such statements, is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats’ proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by—dare I say it—death panels? Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans. Working through “normal political channels,” they made themselves heard, and as a result Congress will likely reject a wrong-headed proposal to authorize end-of-life counseling in this cost-cutting context. But the fact remains that the Democrats’ proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters. Such government overreaching is what we’ve come to expect from this administration.

Speaking of government overreaching, how will the Democrats’ proposals affect the deficit? The CBO estimates that the current House proposal not only won’t reduce the deficit but will actually increase it by $239 billion over 10 years. Only in Washington could a plan that adds hundreds of billions to the deficit be hailed as a cost-cutting measure.

Flopping Aces:

With each article former Gov. Palin is rapidly rebuilding her reputation (which suffered from one of the worst smear campaigns by Democrats in history) for common sense and sound judgement that so many of us recognized from her first introduction onto the national stage at the GOP convention last year.

Whether that means she will have rebuilt her reputation sufficiently to run for president in 2012 remains to be seen. But I look forward to her becoming a growing presence in future policy debates over the coming years. She’s already suffered the worst of what Dems can throw at her and has no place to go but up!

Karen Tumulty at Swampland:

It’s still a lie.

Sarah Palin is back on “death panels” in the Wall Street Journal.

UPDATE: Worth reading her circular logic in this justification for making things up. Apparently, it was okay to spread a falsehood, because people actually believed it: Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans.

Moe Lane:

Former governor and VP candidate Sarah Palin wrote a pretty good op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on the health care situation – one where she points out, repeatedly, that we’re being asked to blindly fund a government program that will affect every aspect of our life and will not save us money in either the short or long term.  As Ace of Spades notes, this is not going to cover new ground for the people already intimately familiar with the debate – but for those who aren’t, it will give a good idea of conservative objections to Obamacare, not to mention providing the alternatives that the Democrats are pretending that the Republicans aren’t providing.  All in all, useful and timely.

I’m sure there will be more on any one of this topics later.


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The Year Of The Tiger May Bring Elephants To The District


Josh Kraushaar at Politico:

After an August recess marked by raucous town halls, troubling polling data and widespread anecdotal evidence of a volatile electorate, the small universe of political analysts who closely follow House races is predicting moderate to heavy Democratic losses in 2010.

Some of the most prominent and respected handicappers can now envision an election in which Democrats suffer double-digit losses in the House — not enough to provide the 40 seats necessary to return the GOP to power but enough to put them within striking distance.

Top political analyst Charlie Cook, in a special August 20 update to subscribers, wrote that “the situation this summer has slipped completely out of control for President Obama and congressional Democrats.”

“Many veteran congressional election watchers, including Democratic ones, report an eerie sense of déjà vu, with a consensus forming that the chances of Democratic losses going higher than 20 seats is just as good as the chances of Democratic losses going lower than 20 seats,” he wrote.

At the mid-August Netroots Nation convention, Nate Silver, a Democratic analyst whose uncannily accurate, stat-driven predictions have made his website FiveThirtyEight.com a must read among political junkies, predicted that Republicans will win between 20 and 50 seats next year. He further alarmed an audience of progressive activists by arguing that the GOP has between a 25 and 33 percent chance of winning back control of the House.

Is Silver being an alarmist or is there really a 1 in 4 or 1 in 3 chance that the GOP can pull off a shocker?

If history is any guide, Nate may have something there. Opposition gains in off year elections are a tradition in American politics with the party out of power winning back seats in 10 of the last 12 such elections. (The average gain has been about 13 seats).

But realistically, there would have to be a huge backlash – even bigger than 1994 – for Republicans to regain control of the House. The re-election rate for modern gerrymandered congressional districts tops 98% and the GOP would have to knock that percentage down to 90% in order to gain back the House.

A tall order, that. But the Democrats did it in 2006. And given the volatility of the current political climate, it is not beyond imagining, although Silver’s estimate of Republican chances to regain control is not shared by other seasoned pros.

I think that Nate is being deliberately provocative. The stars would have to align just right for a GOP takeover of the House to materialize. A perfect storm of failed health care reform, a double dip recession, and perhaps higher than expected inflation could combine to cause the kind of collapse in the political fortunes of Democrats that would give the GOP control of the House. I would place the chances of this occurring somewhere between “Impossible” and “Highly Improbable” – say, from zero to 5%.

David N. Bass at The American Spectator:

The political climate next year could influence the Left’s fortunes on the issue. It’s early days, but indications are that the midterms will be tough for Democrats. The Politico has some observations on that, pointing out that historic trends “point to Republican House gains … particularly after facing two brutal election cycles where the party lost seats in every region and even in some of the most conservative states in the nation.”

If de-stimulus, cap-and-trade, cash for clunkers, and a health-care takeover, et al., are enough to get out more conservative voters and peel away some independents and moderate Democrats, a ballot initiative legalizing gay marriage is going to be a tough sell in 2010, even in deep blue California.

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary:

We are more than a year away from the 2010 elections, but the cumulative impact of this data will be felt by critical swing-state senators, vulnerable House members, and nearly every freshman lawmakers. If Obama is now perceived as a drag on their own election prospects, it’s every lawmaker for himself. Forget about “winning one for Teddy”; they have to save themselves.

The result may be a health-care debate that stalls before it starts. Perhaps the safest course is a slower, more deliberative one with full-blown hearings. That’s what some of the lawmakers from less secure districts and states are urging. Obama might do well to listen to the nervous congressmen and senators from his own party—or he’ll have a lot fewer of them for the last two years of his term.

Allah Pundit on Zogby showing Obama at 42%

Doesn’t this foretell a shift left, to win back Democrats, when he finally returns to D.C.? He’s already lost any little amount of trust conservatives and right-leaning independents might ever have had in him; just too much government, too soon, and no compromise “health-care co-op” is going to change that. All it’ll do is leave the left feeling they can’t trust him either, which means no money or organization next year and no one except wary centrists even somewhat pleased with health care. The smartest available move, it seems increasingly to me, is to push for a public option, make the left happy, and then throw the full weight of your propaganda machine into convincing centrists before the midterms that government health care is a genius idea. Sure, it’ll mean sacrificing a few Blue Dog seats to the GOP next year, but it looks like that’s a fait accompli anyway. And even if Republicans take back the House, they won’t have a veto-proof majority (or even control of the Senate) that they’d need to repeal ObamaCare, so the deed will be done. If you’re Barry O, you might as well get what you want, keep part of the public excited about you, and take your chances.


A savvy friend thinks 2010 will be a repeat of 1994. It’s obviously too early to say that, but these numbers can’t be encouraging for the Administration.

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