Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cruising the web

Both Michael Barone and Noemie Emery take on David Brooks' column that criticized the anti-intellectualism he perceived among the tea party crowd and then contrasted that with Obama and the "educated class." Emery's column points out that Obama, for all his education, has made plenty of mistakes in his first year as presidency. All that education didn't seem to help him. Barone makes the salient point that a lot of what made Obama so appealing to the educated class was rather empty rhetoric, but that the tea party protests are actually talking about substantive issues such as government spending and its overreach into every aspect of life.
Remember those rapturous crowds that swooned at Barack Obama's rhetoric. "We are the change we are seeking," he proclaimed. "We will be able to look back and tell our children," that "this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

A lot of style there, but not very much substance. A Brookings Institution scholar who produced nothing more than that would soon be looking for a new job.

In retrospect, the Obama enthusiasts seem to have been motivated by a yearning for a rapturous, nuanced leader. Send that terrible tyrant with his tortured sentences and moral certitude back to Texas and install The One in the White House, and all would be well.

The Obama enthusiasts have achieved that goal, and perhaps it's not surprising that, as polls show, they're not much engaged in the details of the health care bills or cap-and-trade legislation or looming tax increases and the like. They, or at least most of them, were never much interested in those things anyway.

In contrast, the tea party protesters, many of them as fractious and loudmouthed as David Brooks thinks, are interested in substantive political issues. They decry the dangers of expanding the national debt, increasing government spending, and putting government in command of the health care sector.

Their concerns have basis in fact. The national debt is on a trajectory to double as a percentage of the economy over 10 years, and the Democrats' health care bills threaten to bend the cost curve up. Higher taxes could choke off economic recovery and keep unemployment up near double-digit rates for years.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:
Ed Morrissey points out the flip flops that Martha Coakley has made on the death penalty just within this campaign changing her position from the primary to her position now.

Radley Balko looks at Coakley's record as prosecutor, particularly her behavior in the witch-hunt-like cases from the 1980s and early 90s, most notably the Gerald Amirault case where it was so obvious that the poor man had been railroaded to jail with no evidence but flimsy recovered memories from toddlers. The prosecution was shameful and Coakley lobbied against granting him clemency despite the unanimous decision by the parole board. Her political efforts to hide the shame of the attorney general's office in this case should disqualify her from serving in the Senate and, as Balko points out, having a say on legislative matters concerning the judiciary and judicial nominations.

Byron York explains that Massachusetts voters might just be ready to do away with one-party government. As we're seeing from California to Michigan to our federal government, one-party rule doesn't seem to work out that well. Even when the GOP controlled the federal government, they probably would have benefited from a check in one of the houses. It is what our system is designed for. It wasn't designed to do away with the legislative check on the president.

Jim Geraghty summarizes the very bad week that Martha Coakley has had. May it continue one more week.

George Will examines the question of whether or not the mandate to buy health insurance is indeed constitutional.
"Congress can regulate commercial activities in which people choose to engage, but cannot require that they engage in those commercial activities." So says Sen. Orrin Hatch, who also notes that if Congress can mandate particular purchases to help the economy, there was no need for Cash for Clunkers: Congress could have ordered people to buy cars (with subsidies, if necessary). Why not the Anti-Couch Potato Act to Make Calisthenics Mandatory and to Impose a $50 Excise Tax on Cheeseburgers Because Unhealthy Lifestyles Affect Interstate Commerce?

Veronique de Rugy explains how much we will end up paying for trying to reduce almost to zero the amount of money that people have to pay out of their own pockets for health care.

Ouch! Here's Jim Geraghty on Bill Clinton's decision to go campaign for Martha Coakley tomorrow.
Despite his position as United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti, former President Bill Clinton will be in Massachusetts Friday, campaigning with Martha Coakley. I guess we can't blame him; in circumstances like this, the bigger disaster has to take priority.
It also says something on the value of being the UN Special Envoy to anywhere.