People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When Will The Washington Post Dump Richard Cohen?

Longtime columnist for the Washington Post Richard Cohen is generally accepted in the non-geriatric media as being the most preposterous and incoherent writer serving America today.  If the man hadn't set himself apart from his closest contenders - Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and a host of others too numerous to mention - before, he surely did so on Monday.

I had picked up on some of the ridicule that was being dumped on him that afternoon for his having penned - either wittingly or dimwittedly - "The Myth of American Exceptionalism, an effort on his part to trash America for its being what most of us are ever so proud that it is - exceptional.  In attempting to do so, Cohen (who apparently operates without the guidance of an editor or nanny) makes the following claim:
The huge role of religion in American politics is nothing new but always a matter for concern nonetheless. In the years preceding the Civil War, both sides of the slavery issue claimed the endorsement of God. The 1856 Republican convention concluded with a song that ended like this: “We’ve truth on our side/ We’ve God for our guide.” Within five years, Americans were slaughtering one another on the battlefield.

Therein lies the danger of American exceptionalism. It discourages compromise, for what God has made exceptional, man must not alter.
That's right.  The failure of the anti-slavery crowd to even countenance compromise when it came to the heinous establishment of slavery led to the War Between the States.  Whereas compromise might have kept "the peculiar institution" around - in a compromised state? - even to the present day?  The Civil War was therefore a bad thing?

Is this man mad?

Well, yes, that would be my guess.

Others have similar notions:

Aaron Worthing:

"So Richard Cohen decided to tackle “[t]he myth of American exceptionalism” and well… it goes about as well as you would think it would.  It’s a tour de force of either mind-numbing stupidity or just plain dishonesty."

Warner Todd Huston:

"Richard Cohen is what passes for an opinion editorialist in the Washington Post -- not a learned one, just a bloviating one. Cohen's latest,  "The Myth of American Exceptionalism," is at the same time as self-loathing as it is historically stupid. Not only does this nonsense Cohen ladled out upon us all serve an example that you don't have to actually know anything to be in our modern Old Media establishment, but it is evidence that the profession of editor is long dead.

"Cohen seems to know precisely nothing about history. Further he has no perspective on the history of the rest of the world and does not see the essential greatness that has always guided America to the greater freedom and liberty that has made it the light unto the world."

Ramesh Ponnuru:

"Does Cohen really want to maintain that the Republicans of the 1850s should have been more willing to compromise on slavery? Is this what liberalism has come to?"

Ed Morrissey:

"The concept of natural rights has its roots in religion, but American exceptionalism is the rejection of rule by divine right, not its embrace.  And the pro-slavery religious argument was its opposite.

"Opposition to slavery was one of the most ideal of the manifestations of these principles, and the worthy didn’t believe they could be compromised with a system that resembled Old World serfdom.  Until now, few questioned those motivations, let alone the principles of abolition.  That Cohen could write this drivel — and that the Washington Post would not ask Cohen to rethink it — perhaps indicates just how far we have drifted from the economic and public-policy principles that made us exceptional in the first place."

Can Richard Cohen really be that stupid?

Having studied the man's columns for years, I can confidently say WITHOUT DOUBT.

Do We Want An Obama Clone?

Yeah, he has a business background.  But what good did it do?
Obama's Running Mate
Wall Street Journal

There's a lot to learn from the failure of the ObamaCare model that began in Massachusetts, which is now moving to impose price controls on all hospitals, doctors and other providers.

When Mr. Romney took office in 2003, the state was already enforcing public utility-style regulation of insurers for premiums and multiple benefit mandates. The resulting distortions were increasing rates fast, along with the natural increases from good but expensive Massachusetts medicine.

Mr. Romney applied the approach that succeeded when he was a Bain & Company business consultant: He convened an expert task force. His health-care commission immersed itself in data, crunched the numbers and came up with a technocratic solution.

The conceit was that a universal reform would cover everyone and all but pay for itself by reorganizing the state's health-care finances. Since 1985, Massachusetts footed most of the bill when the uninsured showed up for treatment through a $800 million fund for uncompensated care. That money, along with extra federal Medicaid dollars under a special waiver, would subsidize lower- and middle-income residents.

In the name of personal responsibility, Mr. Romney also introduced the individual mandate, first in the nation, requiring everyone to buy coverage or else pay a penalty. Free riders, he said, transferred their own costs to others, either through higher premiums or taxes. This is the same argument the Obama Administration is now using to justify the coercion of the individual mandate in the federal courts. Because the states have police powers under the Constitution, Mr. Romney's plan posed no legal problems. His blunder was his philosophy of government.

The only good news we can find is that the uninsured rate has dropped to 2% today from 6% in 2006. Yet four out of five of the newly insured receive low- or no-cost coverage from the government. The subsidies will cost at least $830 million in 2011 and are growing, conservatively measured, at 5.1% a year. Total state health-care spending as a share of the budget has grown from about 16% in the 1980s to 30% in 2006 to 40% today.

Like Mr. Obama's reform, RomneyCare was predicated on the illusion that insurance would be less expensive if everyone were covered. Even if this theory were plausible, it is not true in Massachusetts today. So as costs continue to climb, Mr. Romney's Democratic successor now wants to create a central board of political appointees to decide how much doctors and hospitals should be paid for thousands of services.

The Romney camp blames all this on a failure of execution, not of design. But by this cause-and-effect standard, Mr. Romney could push someone out of an airplane and blame the ground for killing him. Once government takes on the direct or implicit liability of paying for health care for everyone, the only way to afford it is through raw political control of all medical decisions.

Mr. Romney's refusal to appreciate this, then and now, reveals a troubling failure of political understanding and principle. The raucous national debate over health care isn't about this or that technocratic detail, but about basic differences over the role of government. In the current debate over Medicare, Paul Ryan wants to reduce costs by encouraging private competition while Mr. Obama wants the cost-cutting done by a body of unelected experts like the one emerging in Massachusetts.

For a potential President whose core argument is that he knows how to revive free market economic growth, this amounts to a fatal flaw. Presidents lead by offering a vision for the country rooted in certain principles, not by promising a technocracy that runs on "data." Mr. Romney's highest principle seems to be faith in his own expertise.

More immediately for his Republican candidacy, the debate over ObamaCare and the larger entitlement state may be the central question of the 2012 election. On that question, Mr. Romney is compromised and not credible. If he does not change his message, he might as well try to knock off Joe Biden and get on the Obama ticket. [link] [emphasis mine]
This is as stinging a rebuke (of a Republican, no less) as you'll ever read in the Wall Street Journal.  It's startling in its rejection of the GOP's (possible) frontrunner in the upcoming presidential race.  And Romney is every bit deserving of the reproval.

I was no less condemnatory back when he was fashioning this monstrosity that's come to be called RomneyCare in 2005 and 2006.  Top-down management of the vast health care delivery system was - and is - destined to fail.  Horrifically.

It is failing in Massachusetts.  It will soon be failing at a doctor's office and hospital near you.

Cats Can Tell Time?

Okay, this is frightening.  One of Paula's cats is named Lucky (saved from a KFC dumpster in Wytheville a few years ago, thus the name).  Lucky has gotten in the habit of following me into the bathroom in the morning when I get out of bed (we'll skip over that part) and then into my office, where he annoys me for a while and then leaves to annoy Paula. 

Every morning.

Here's the frightening part.  Regular readers know that I get up and get ready for the dawn of a new day around 4 am.  Well, Lucky knows it too.  Yesterday morning he jumped up on the bed and sat on my chest at exactly 4:00.  This morning he must have taken a misguided detour through the dining room or something, delaying his arrival, but he still jumped up and sat on my back at 4:03.

We have a cat who can tell time.

Here I was thinking about eating the little bastard.  Now I may have to adopt him as one of our own.

Are cats that smart?  If so, a host of questions arise.  Starting with: Is there something more to licking one's butt than we've all assumed?

I'm getting really spooked.  What if he starts taking over the chore list that Paula has maintained lo these many years?  What might I be in for?

RPV to Tim Kaine: Show Us What Ya Got, Big Boy

This, my friends, is going to be fun to watch.  Hopefully we'll all learn something in the process about the man who would be our United States senator:
Former DNC Chairman Tim Kaine Says He's Ready to Share Soering Documents
 -- RPV offers to help, provides pre-written records release for Library of Virginia-- 

Openness in government. It's a goal that people of all political persuasions can appreciate. It's also something that should be applauded when it's practiced by politicians, regardless of their party affiliation.

That's why those of us here at RPV were thrilled to hear that former DNC Chairman Tim Kaine is apparently willing to open up his gubernatorial files and share the inner workings of his decision to let convicted double-murderer Jens Soering return to Germany, where he could have been released from his life sentence.

Chairman Kaine's recently said that he has 'no regrets' regarding his decision to allow Soering return to Germany - a decision which was reversed by Gov. Bob McDonnell. A spokeswoman's recent comment that he ""welcomes questions on any part of his record."

We know Tim Kaine is busy with his race for the U.S. Senate. So in the spirit of cooperation, RPV has taken the liberty of preparing a records release request for the former governor.

All Tim Kaine has to do is sign it, put it in the mail, and Virginians will be able to learn much more about just how and why Kaine decided to let a man convicted of killing two people in cold blood return to his home country for possible early release.

The Republican Party of Virginia salutes Tim Kaine, and his new-found commitment to openness and transparency in government!

Letter to Kaine
It's a mystery as to why then-Governor Kaine attempted to release this murderer to the Germans, where the lowlife was sure to be subsequently set free to continue his depredations on other innocent human beings.

Perhaps it'll be a mystery for only a short time longer.

I'll make a prediction: Mr. Openness is going to release those documents the week after the election.  Bank on it.

Still, here's to the Republican Party of Virginia for helping us get to the bottom of this disturbing tale.

Don't Hold Your Breath

The Commonwealth of Virginia took its case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond yesterday, in hopes of having ObamaCare, as law, as it impacts our state, thrown out.  The details:
AG reacts to Fourth Circuit appeal hearing regarding Virginia’s challenge to federal health care act

Richmond, VA (May 10, 2011) – Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli reacted to the appeals hearing today in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, regarding Virginia’s challenge to the constitutionality of the federal health care act.

Cuccinelli’s initial comments from the news conference:

Today we took Step Two in a three-step process.  As Judge Motz noted, the legal questions raised today are questions that will be answered in another court in another time.

I am going to give you an overview of the case as a whole, then I will get to the specifics of today.

Virginia has argued that the mandate that every person must buy government-approved health insurance violates the Constitution.  Using the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to force people to buy a product goes beyond Congress’s power.  This is why I have said all along that this is about liberty, not health care.

The insurance mandate penalizes people for not engaging in commerce.  In other words, you can get fined for doing nothing.

Virginia has also argued that the penalty the government wants to charge if you do not buy health insurance is not a tax.  The government cannot start calling the penalty a tax to try to make it legal under Congress’s taxing authority.  Congress and the president passed it as a penalty, not a tax; it works as a penalty, not as a tax.

The federal government argued in court today that it should have unlimited authority in your lives, including the authority to regulate – i.e. dictate – your decisions, not merely your actions.  The questions from the panel today indicated the judges struggled with this unprecedented exercise of authority.

If we cross this constitutional line with health care now – where the government can force us to buy a private product and say it is for our own good – then we will have given the government the power to force us to buy other private products, such as cars, gym memberships, or even asparagus.  The government’s power to intrude on our lives for our own good will be virtually unlimited.

Virginia is fighting for the system of limited government created by our Founding Fathers.  The Constitution’s limitations on federal power mean something.  Even the president and the Congress must act within the rules set forth in the Constitution.  That separates the American experience from many other countries, and it is a principle worth fighting for.  As attorney general of Virginia, I took an oath to protect the Constitution, and I’m keeping that oath.

You heard about standing today.  The federal government thinks it can tell the states to disregard their own laws – like it is doing with Arizona, but then also says the states do not have the same right to challenge federal laws in court.  That is not how our system of government is set up.  The founders set it up so the states were a check on potentially overreaching federal authority.

Virginia has a law – passed on a strong bipartisan basis – to protect Virginians from an individual insurance mandate.  We are in the Fourth Circuit today because the U.S. Supreme Court has said that every state may defend its code of laws.  In addition to protecting the U.S. Constitution, today we are also fighting to protect Virginia’s Health Care Freedom Act.

I have said all along that this lawsuit is not about health care.  It is about liberty.  At the same time, I understand that people want more affordable health care, and I sympathize with people who honestly cannot afford it.  As a state senator, that was a problem I tried to address by trying to pass a law to allow our citizens to buy better or cheaper plans in other states.
But as someone who has sworn to uphold the law, I cannot endorse taking away the rights of all so that government can provide health care to some. 

Yes, parts of our health care system need to be fixed.  Yes, expenses are out of control.  Yes, not everyone’s needs are being met.  But there are better solutions than giving up our freedom.

With this ongoing court battle, there is a great deal of uncertainty for states, individuals, and businesses as to whether this law will be around two years from now or not.  We need this resolved as quickly as possible – for the good of our people and our economy.  We want to know where Virginia and the nation stand as soon as possible and before billions are spent complying with a law that we clearly think is unconstitutional.

We hope to hear from the Fourth Circuit sometime this summer.  Then, we hope to move on to the Supreme Court.

Case Number:  11-1057, Commonwealth of Virginia v. Kathleen Sebelius
Here's the problem General Cuccinelli and the Commonwealth face - if the information Rush Limbaugh imparted on his radio show yesterday is accurate: Of the three judges who are hearing the case, Barack Obama appointed two and Bill Clinton the third. So don't expect much help here in getting the feds off our backs and out of our bedpans when their ruling is released.  It's likely that the Court of Appeals will determine that its perfectly Constitutional for the United States government to require that we all buy insurance, whether we like it or not.  It's to be found in that storied document ... somewhere, you can bet on that.

So we'll take our fight over ObamaCare back to Congress, where it belongs.  Where, after we've made some changes to the Senate's membership in 2012, we'll repeal the damn thing before it does grievous harm.

For more information on Cuccinelli's fight go to http://www.vaag.com/PRESS_RELEASES/index.html

Out of the Dark Ages

This is interesting, if only because the underlying factors represent a time in Virginia's history that is long past - the days of segregation:
Attorney General Cuccinelli seeks pre-clearance approval of new General Assembly district lines under the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Richmond (May 10, 2011) – Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli today announced that he has filed a pre-clearance suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, as permitted by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He also submitted the new Virginia General Assembly district lines to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval, inviting them to moot the suit through prompt administrative approval.

“It is important that the new district lines be submitted and reviewed promptly, so this fall’s General Assembly elections will proceed as scheduled,” said Cuccinelli.

Virginia is one of 16 states required to pre-clear changes in voting practices or procedures with the Justice Department.

Pursuant to Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1973c, and its implementing regulations at 28 C.F.R. Sec. 51.28(g), Cuccinelli invites public comment on the pre-clearance submission. Public comment may be directed to the Office of the Attorney General, 900 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219, or to the U.S. Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001.

A copy of the pre-clearance submission is available for public inspection at the Virginia Division of Legislative Services at the General Assembly Building, 9th & Broad Streets, Richmond.
The Commonwealth of Virginia was in big trouble - nearly half a century ago - for a pattern it developed that discriminated against African-Americans, a pattern that was deemed by the U.S. Department of Justice to be in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  Particularly as it pertained to legislative redistricting, but having as well to do with voting procedures, election schedules, and such.  There have been a number of challenges to Virginia's voting processes in the ensuing years - particularly having to do with redistricting (those screwy boundary lines we all love to hate), demographics, and election results (believe it or not) (and with the fact that felons are barred from voting).

The days when all this was important are long gone. Challenges to Virginia redistricting today come on the margins and are, in all reality, meaningless to all but the most entrenched in the "civil rights" "community."  But the law exists.  And Virginia is bound by it to submit for federal approval any changes it makes that might alter the force and implementation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

So Ken Cuccinelli goes through this wasteful exercise.

As will his successor.

And his successor's successor.

And his or her successor.

And ...

Original announcement, received via email, can be accessed at www.vaag.com.

War? What War?

From the liberal group whose last successful assault was on its own pilots (see "Tailhook") comes this:

A memo from the admirals who command our nation's mighty fleets to the sailors and marines who guard our shores and protect us from harm: Love.  All we need is love.  Love is all we need.  Put down those weapons and give one another a great big HUG!

For ... the ... love ... of ... God.