Actor Larry Hagman passed away last night of complications from throat cancer. He was 81.
The son of actress Mary Martin, Hagman gained fame in his own right in the mid-1960s co-starring with Barbara Eden on I Dream of Jeannie which aired on NBC.
But Hagman was, of course, best known for playing J.R. Ewing on the long running CBS series Dallas. Hagman reached the height of his fame in 1980 after J.R. was shot at the end of the third season which prompted the question, “Who Shot J.R.?” not just in America, but all over the world. The first episode of the fourth season was the highest rated TV program in history until the airing of the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983. Dallas remained on the air until 1991. Hagman reprised the role of J.R. Ewing earlier this year in the relaunching of Dallas on TNT.
A longtime member of the far-left Peace and Freedom Party, Hagman made headlines in 2003 when he criticized President George W. Bush shortly before the beginning of the War in Iraq. He claimed that Bush was “a sad figure: not too well educated, who doesn’t get out of America much. He’s leading the country towards fascism.”
The last vestiges of the Arab Spring ended in Egypt yesterday as President Mohamed Morsi gave himself absolute power to rule by decree until a new constitution is in place. His decisions are not subject to question. Don’t expect a new constitution to come to pass anytime soon.
Egyptians responded by demonstrating in Tahrir Square where they were repelled by tear gas. In Alexandria, protesters stormed and burned down part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters.
As Pete Townshend wrote, “Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.”
Then again, the new boss is probably worse because he will get away with it. The Obama Administration is in love with him because of his role in negotiating a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. As a result they can live with a few cracked heads. Perhaps worst of all, the Obama Administraton sees Morsi as a peacemaker when in reality he wants to help Hamas bide its time in its mission to destroy Israel.
Mohamed el-Baradei calls Morsi “Egypt’s new Pharoah.” I would call him an Ayatollah.
In raw vote total. Read about it here.
This story says that young Mr. Jackson was too emotionally fragile to stand before the press to discuss his resignation. If the man broke the law, he should be punished according to law. If he betrayed his family, he should make amends. But there does seem to be evidence of mental illness, which is a physical condition, not a moral failing. And Jackson always has struck me as somebody who wanted to do good, even if he was woefully misguided about what the good consists of. So, as I have written before, her merits our prayers for recovery from his illness, and for God’s grace. Humans are frail creatures. May God grant that Jesse Jackson Jr.’s frailties not be the last word.
One thing I guarantee your friends will never say to you at dinner time is, “Lets go out for some English.” Anyone faced with the challenge of keeping body and soul together while on a visit to the auld sod will know why. So it’s particularly odd that “Sir” Paul McCartney (apparently all superannuated rockers in the UK now carry the appellation “Sir” before their names) has urged Americans not to eat turkey for Thanksgiving, but instead to substitute tofu and yard clippings.
Our Paul, a vegetarian himself, put his message in the form of an ad for the upscale animal worship cult, PETA. I don’t know what would make McCartney think Americans would take his advice and forswear turkey today. We had a chance to reject a national turkey on Nov. 6, but didn’t take it.
One more thing to be thankful for today is that nutters like McCartney aren’t setting the national menu. Yet. But look for Nanny Bloomberg to hire McCartney as a dietary consultant.
I read Robert Taylor’s piece on British Prime Minister David Cameron and how Republicans ought to draw inspiration from the Tories.
From where I sit, Cameron and the Tories are about the last folks the GOP should be looking to emulate. Yes, Cameron was elected Prime Minister in 2010 but the Labour Party were sitting ducks under Gordon Brown. The writing was on the wall and nearly a third of the Parliamentary Labour Party did not stand for re-election. But despite this, Cameron could not lead the Tories to a majority and had to invite the surging Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg to form a coalition government.
Taylor writes, “Cameron’s Conservatives have proven far from perfect. Yet, despite missteps along the way, Britain has had a Conservative Prime Minister for the last two and a half years, and barring a political catastrophe, will have one until at least 2015.”
To say that Cameron and the Tories have “proven far from perfect” is quite the understatement. The Tories are massively unpopular and while there will most likely be a Tory at 10 Downing Street until at least 2015 but there’s no guarantee it will be Cameron. London Mayor Boris Johnson is the most popular Tory in the country and overshadowed Cameron at last month’s Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. If things get any worse for Cameron, Johnson might not be content to wait in the wings.
Now Cameron does have time on his side. It is posible he can hold off Johnson and best Labour’s Ed Miliband in the 2015 election.
But Republicans have little in common with Britain’s Tories. If the GOP can learn from Tories it would north of the border rather than across the pond. The electoral successes of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper are probably more germane to the GOP. With that said, I am well aware that the political culture in Canada is vastly different than that of the U.S. If Republicans are to rebound in 2014 and 2016 the answers will be found here rather than abroad.
I wish I could share John Tabin’s optimism about the ceasefire reached between Israel and Hamas.
There are three reasons for my pessimism.
The first reason is that we should never confuse a ceasefire for a meaningful peace. OK, the fighting stops today and maybe tomorrow. But Hamas will be back whether its next week, next month or next year. Hamas’ raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel. Hamas will stop shooting but only so it can regroup, relock and reload. It is not interested in peace with Israel and never will be.
Second, it bothers me to no end that the Obama Administration and most of the international community didn’t give a damn when Hamas began lobbing rockets into Israel in late October. Only when Israel began to defend itself did the Obama Administration and the international community have anything to say about the matter. Only when Israel began to defend itself was the Obama Administration interested in “de-escalating” the situation.
Finally, there is Egypt. Last week, Egypt’s Prime Minister was in Gaza to show solidarity with Hamas’ actions. This week, they brokered the ceasefire. While Egypt is officially at peace with Israel for the moment, let us remember that the Muslim Brotherhood runs the show and Hamas, for all intents and purposes, is the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood. So the Egyptian government is willing to broker a ceasefire not because it wants a genuine peace with Israel but because it wants to give Hamas an opportunity to regroup, relock and reload. As such I cannot stand the Obama Administration’s effusive praise of Egypt for brokering the ceasefire. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt wants Israel’s destruction every bit as much as Hamas and all the sugarcoating by the Obama Administration isn’t going to stop their aspirations.
Sooner or later, Hamas will fire a rocket into Israel. When that happens the Obama Administration and the rest of the international community will not make a sound.
I explain at some length here.
It starts thusly:
At a conference in Colorado earlier this week on defense and foreign-policy issues — a conference sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the El Pomar Foundation — there was plenty of food for thought on a host of topics. But as we move into Thanksgiving, I’ll focus here on how we should give thanks — and more than thanks, give the right sort of assistance — to those, less than 1 percent of the population, who wear this nation’s colors while bearing arms to protect us.
One of the most galvanizing speakers at the conference was Col. David W. Sutherland (Ret.), former special assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and now a full-time advocate for service personnel and veterans.
“We’re not victims,” he said. “We’re veterans. We don’t need pity; we need opportunity.”
But there’s lots more. Please read, and give a hand up and some friendship to a veteran today. And Happy Thanksgiving.
Israel’s tactical victory in Operation Pillar of Defense is fairly straightforward: Hamas’s military infrastructure is significantly degraded, several important leaders of Hamas (as well as Palestinian Islamic Jihad) have been killed, and the Iron Dome missile defense system has proven extremely effective. If the ceasefire announced today in Cairo holds, it’s also a major strategic victory for both Israeli and American interests.
Read Lee Smith’s excellent analysis of the regional implications; written before the ceasefire announcement, it details how successful US diplomacy could force Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi into the role of containing rather than supporting Hamas while simultaneously sending a strong message to Iran about Israel’s ability to act unilaterally with US support. While things could fall apart, the announcement of a ceasefire that is basically on Israeli terms — though the deal may include some easing of the blockade of Gaza, it apparently does not include lifting the blockade as Hamas had been demanding — suggests that this diplomatic success has come to pass.
UPDATE: News from Israel at the moment — 3:00 pm EST, 10:00 pm in Israel — is that despite the announcement of a ceasefire beginning at 9:00 pm, the fire hasn’t actually ceased. Take the above analysis as contingent on that happening, obviously.
In a post published yesterday afternoon, Ezra Klein points readers to two graphs. The first relates to the sequestration cuts to defense. The second relates to cuts in non-defense discretionary spending. Klein’s analysis hits some excellent points, but he missed six key components of the debate over cuts to defense and non-defense discretionary spending.
First, Klein’s second graph shows analysis by the Economic Policy Institute on what the Ryan, Obama, and the Simpson-Bowles Commission aimed for in non-defense discretionary spending, as well as what President Obama’s April “framework” would do to such spending. Yet none of these expectations are actually going to become law. Certainly, neither the Ryan or Obama plans is going to get through the Senate and House, respectively, and the Simpson-Bowles recommendations never even became official.
Military health care spending is rising twice as fast as the nation’s overall health care costs, consuming a larger chunk of the defense budget as the Pentagon struggles to pay for two wars, military budget figures show.
The surging costs are prompting the Pentagon and Congress to consider the first hike in out-of-pocket fees for military retirees and some active-duty families in 15 years, said Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy director of TRICARE, the military health care program.
Pentagon spending on health care has increased from $19 billion in 2001 to a projected $50.7 billion in 2011, a 167% increase.
The rapid rise has been driven by a surge in mental health and physical problems for troops who have deployed to war multiple times and by a flood of career military retirees fleeing less-generous civilian health programs, Hunter said.
Aside from hiking the out-of-pocket fees for retirees and some active-duty families, it was also reported that TRICARE will be dropping 171,000 veterans, retirees, and their dependents from TRICARE Prime to Standard coverage. Essentially, this increases the out-of-pocket costs for those affected.
We need to cut the massive fraud, waste, and duplication in the defense budget while drastically reforming the contracting system to better serve the troops and the public. But the fact is that two wars have stretched future health care costs thin, so Klein’s ignorance of this fact is significant.
Third, much of what is spent in non-defense discretionary parts of the budget is unconstitutional, whereas defense spending is directly stated in the Constitution. While the aforementioned cuts to defense spending are essential to help the nation avoid a calamitous fiscal collapse, as well as better serve the troops, the constitutionality of spending has to be accounted for when comparing defense to non-defense discretionary spending.
Fourth, Klein says “non-defense discretionary spending, which doesn’t have nearly as much political protection, is getting gutted…” He then cites the Economic Policy Institute’s graph. According to the defense spending graph, defense is going to take a 31% haircut. However, in averaging the expected cuts in the now-irrelevant Obama and Ryan budget expectations (33% and 55.6%, respectively), non-defense discretionary would be expected to take a 44% cut. Given the rising cost of health care in the military, and how liberals expect our economy to get better under President Obama’s leadership (and thus certain discretionary spending should be expected to go down), Klein’s distinction between “gutting” and “not gutting” is debatable. This is especially true when neither the Obama or Ryan budget is ever going to have the force of law.
Fifth, the comparison between post-Korea and post-Vietnam defense cuts and the sequestration cuts are somewhat invalid given we are still actively engaged in combat in Afghanistan. This was not the case in Korea or Vietnam, our troops on the DMZ line post-cease fire notwithstanding.
Lastly, while he accounts for this in the closing of his piece, most of Klein’s post tackles defense spending in constant dollars. Meanwhile, the non-defense discretionary spending is looked at in a percentage of GDP. They are not comparable graphs, and thus it is at least partially intellectually dishonest to pretend they are an apples-to-apples comparison.
This piece was co-authored by RJ Caster. RJ is a former Hill staffer and District case manager for Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). Casework included veterans issues. He has contributed to www.thelobbyist.net and the Midwest Political Science Association. He currently resides in Austin, Texas.
I didn’t know Jane Fonda was still around either. But sure enough, the soon-to-be-75 actress, left-wing activist, fitness fanatic and general flake is not only sitting up and taking solid food — health food by the look of her, she doesn’t have enough fat on her to make a candle — has just received another award.
Something called the L.A. Press Club has bestowed its annual “Visionary Award” on Hanoi Jane. Why? I wondered that too. The club explains that the award is bestowed on someone in the entertainment industry (is Jane still entertaining?) who “uses their (sic) high-profile status to make the world a better place and to spread information about issues of freedom and social importance.”
Dang. You knew it would be something like that. The club didn’t make it clear exactly how our Jane made the world better. Could it have been hamming it up with her North Vietnamese pals on the anti-aircraft gun whose function was to shoot down American fliers? Perhaps it was for divorcing Ted Turner. Who knows exactly what her visionary works were. Most visionaries I’ve encountered have either eaten too little and seen God, or drank too much and seen snakes. Whatever the case with Jane, it is doubtless a left-wing vision. Which I guess is why she appeals to the L.A. Press Club.
Former New Hampshire Republican Senator Warren Rudman passed away last night of lymphoma. He was 82.
Rudman was elected to the Senate during the Reagan Revolution in 1980. Along with Texas Republican Senator Phil Gramm and South Carolina Democrat Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, Rudman co-authored legislation which imposed caps on federal spending which became known as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act.
A moderate Republican, Rudman was instrumental in getting President George H.W. Bush to appoint David Souter to the Supreme Court much to the chagrin of conservatives.
After the 1992 election, Rudman retired from the Senate. From 1998 through 2001, Rudman and former Colorado Democrat Senator Gary Hart co-chaired the United States Commission on National Security/21st Century. Their report, released on March 15, 2001, predicted a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Sadly, less than six months later it would happen.
Rudman was not a conservative but he was a conscientious and diligent public servant who conducted himself honorably.
There are certain things I cannot fathom.
I cannot fathom why teenage girls are reduced to goo in the presence of Justin Bieber.
I cannot fathom why television and newspaper reporters are reduced to goo in the presence of President Obama.
Nor can I fathom why the Toronto Blue Jays are reduced to goo in the presence of John Gibbons.
Today, the Jays re-hired Gibbons to be their next manager. Gibbons managed the Jays between the middle of the 2004 season through the middle of the 2008 season.
Since his dismissal, Gibbons spent three and a half seasons on the Kansas City Royals coaching staff before managing the San Antonio Missions (the Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres) in 2012.
The Jays went 305-305 during his tenure. However, Gibbons was known for his hot temper. I remember when he went all Hal McRae on Ted Lilly a few years back. If you’re picking fights with Lilly then you’ve got problems.
I can’t see Gibbons meshing well with the likes of Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Buehrle. Needless to say, I think Gibbons will be to the Jays in 2013 what Bobby Valentine was to the Red Sox in 2012.
Conservative South Florida Congressman Allen West has conceded defeat in his extremely close race against 29-year-old construction legacy Patrick Murphy. Lieutenant Colonel West has alleged that there was something fishy about the vote in St. Lucie County, but was not able to establish this. So for now he will not, excuse the expression, soldier on.
In his single term in Congress, West was a flamboyant, articulate, and unapologetic advocate of conservative principles, including American strength abroad. But if he is serious about a political career, he needs to get serious about his address. He now hangs his campaign hat (excuse the pun) in Palm Beach Gardens. But South-East Florida is no place for a red meat conservative to run for office. West could represent some congressional district and his country very well. Just not in Baja New Jersey.
Like an all-pro cornerback, George Neumayr is always around the ball. His “Enlightened Bribery” is an articulate antidote to the cowardly calls for the right to compromise and moderate.
For the present and the foreseeable future, the bourgeoisie, patriots, productive sorts, and conservatives are stuck with a watery Republican Party as a political vehicle to advance their causes and way of life. Republican carping about Mitt Romney’s accusations of Democrat bribery during the most recent election again underlines that party’s cowardliness and incompetence. Of course Barack Obama bought votes with boodle. And of course Republicans can’t compete by trying to do the same.
“Our liberals can beat their liberals” is not a winning battle cry for Republicans. Either Republicans can embrace and articulate their principles to a majority of voters, or they can climb into the wagon with the rest of the slackers and America will become a very big Belgium (on the bright side, this would put an end to our illegal immigration problem).
Nate Silver on Why Pollsters Failed (Politico)
Illegal Immigrants to Pay In-State Tuition at Mass. State Colleges (NYT)
Charges Filed Against Murdoch Editors Accused of Paying Officials for Information (NPR)
Egyptian President Says Israeli Air Strikes will End in a Few Hours (CNN)
…How The NYT is Covering the Story (NRO)
In the O.C., Immigration Stance of GOP is losing the Votes (LA Times)
UN Peacekeepers Stand By in Congolese Civil War (Reuters)
Yesterday, Senator John McCain suggested that former President Bill Clinton be appointed as an envoy for the Middle East.
Well, I suppose we can be grateful that McCain didn’t suggest Jimmy Carter for the job.
But let’s not forget that Arafat was practically a house guest at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue during Clinton’s two terms in office and still Arafat walked away from peace talks at Camp David in 2000.
Now I’m not blaming Bubba for Arafat’s actions. Arafat didn’t want peace with Israel in 2000 and the Palestinians, be they Fatah or Hamas, don’t want peace with Israel today. It doesn’t matter who we send over there.
You have to love this.
There’s Bill Maher out there, in typical left-wing warm and fuzzy mode, urging Sean Hannity to commit suicide. Really.
You have to love it when Maher realizes the only way he can get an audience is to attack Hannity.
Jonathan Spyer has an interesting analysis at the Weekly Standard on the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. A couple of points to comment on:
1. Spyer is right to draw attention to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as something that partly emboldened the leadership of Hamas in Gaza to renew armed hostility to Israel over the course of this year.
2. I disagree with Spyer that Hamas’ decision-making constituted a “miscalculation” in his assertion that “apparently, the movement assumed that Israel shared its perspective on the changed balance of forces and would acquiesce to Hamas’s allowing and participating in terror attacks on Israel’s south.”
On the contrary, I would argue that Hamas was expecting that Israel would respond at some point and has all along been hoping to use the inevitable consequence — most notably the larger number of Palestinian fatalities as opposed to Israeli losses — to gain a propaganda victory and strengthen its position in Gaza, with one aim being to redirect the already waning support of Arab governments for Fatah and the PA towards the leadership in Gaza by inducing said governments to follow the lead of Turkey and Qatar.
None of that is to overlook the issue of internal Hamas rivalry discussed in my article today.
Marine Corps Forms New Fighter Jet Squadron (Politico)
Sikh Religion gets California University Course (LA Times)
School Vouchers in DC Fund 52 Unique Schools (WaPo)
Columbian Rebels Announce First Ceasefire in a Decade (Reuters)
Europe Seeks More Taxes from U.S. Multinational Corps (NYT)
Shadow Banking Grows. Regulation Caused It, Regulation Will Solve It? (CNN)
‘Faked Research is Endemic in China’ (NewScientist)
How does a Senate Committee get a witness under oath and find out what’s been going on with that witness?
That’s right. One sure-fire way to accomplish this, at least in terms of Benghazi-gate, is for President Obama to nominate Susan Rice for Secretary of State.
The President’s nominee must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Which means she must be confirmed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — and under oath right from the get-go.
Opening Ambassador Rice to any and all imaginable questioning — in public — about Benghazi.
My vote: Beg President Obama to nominate Rice for Secretary of State.
The notion that Rice will be any different than John Kerry or any other Obama nominee for the job is a pipe dream. She, on the other hand, is at the center of Benghazi gate.
And the American public is owed answers.
So. Susan Rice for Secretary of State.
A double-dare, Mr. President.
Cato Institute economist Dan Mitchell has an important note at his web site about how the Congressional Budget Office’s approach to analyzing budget proposals has inherent bias against pro-growth policies. Therefore, Dan argues convincingly, “For the Sake of Intellectual Integrity, Republicans Should Not Cite the CBO When Arguing against Obama’s Proposed Fiscal-Cliff Tax Hike.”
To be sure, the goal of successful politics is not primarily (or perhaps ever) intellectual integrity, a creature as likely to be found under the Capitol dome as an okapi. But when the GOP accepts CBO analysis as nigh-on-gospel, it puts them in a position of being unable to criticize the CBO’s frequent ridiculous conclusions, informed by static modeling and a “slavish devotion to Keynesian theory in the short run.”
(As if on queue, the Washington Times reports today that the CBO claims both sides’ tax plans will add to the deficit.)
From Dan’s note:
But I think the short-run Keynesianism is not CBO’s biggest mistake. In the long-run, CBO wants us to believe that higher tax burdens translate into more growth. Check out this passage, which expresses CBO’s view the economy will be weaker 10 years from now if the tax burden is not increased.
…the agency has estimated the effect on output that would occur in 2022 under the alternative fiscal scenario, which incorporates the assumption that several of the policies are maintained indefinitely. CBO estimates that in 2022, on net, the policies included in the alternative fiscal scenario would reduce real GDP by 0.4 percent and real gross national product (GNP) by 1.7 percent. …the larger budget deficits and rapidly growing federal debt would hamper national saving and investment and thus reduce output and income.
In other words, CBO reflexively makes two bold assumption. First, it assumes higher tax rates generate more money. Second, the bureaucrats assume that politicians will use any new money for deficit reduction. Yeah, good luck with that.
In an e-mail conversation I had with Dan, he offers the following summary of his view:
1. On the rare cases when CBO says the right thing, it’s for the wrong reason.2. CBO’s methodology implies that growth is maximized with 100 percent tax rates.But perhaps the key point is that the GOP shouldn’t take an intellectual shortcut by citing (what they presumably know to be) shoddy analysis. Don’t give CBO any sanction.
After you read Dan’s note — which I highly encourage you to do so that you will better understand the true nature and implications of the important debate we’re about to watch — I also suggest you revisit a recent article of mine in which I lay out some of the key arguments from a paper by Christina Romer, formerly Barack Obama’s chief economic advisor, against tax hikes.
Also, when you hear President Obama and congressional Democrats arguing that tax hikes are needed to help close the deficit, I hope you hear Milton Friedman’s voice in the back of your head. Reiterating from my article noted just above, “As Milton Friedman taught us, tax hikes do not reduce the deficit because “In the long run government will spend whatever the tax system will raise, plus as much more as it can get away with.” (And that is separate from any Laffer Curve effects of higher rates.)”
We simply do not have a revenue problem in this country. We have a spending problem.
From a political point of view, I encourage all of you to let your congressmen know that you know that, and that you oppose raising tax rates. Don’t let them push back with the nonsense of a “balanced” approach. That’s like accepting just a little arsenic in your breakfast cereal. It will just take slightly longer to kill you.
Earlier today, I saw Lincoln. I had originally intended to see it last night but was sold out at two different theaters in Cambridge and at Boston Common. There late showing at a third theater near Fenway Park but would have needed to take a cab home.
Revolving around the passage of the 13th Amendment, Lincoln struck the right balance between drama and comedy. Daniel Day-Lewis was Abe Lincoln. He will undoubtedly receive his fifth Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and third win. I also expect Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner to not only receive Academy Award nominations but to carry home Oscar statues in February.
This is one of the few Hollywood movies where Republicans are the good guys and Democrats are the villains.
Singer-songwriter R.B. Greaves passed away in late September of prostate cancer. He was 68.
I was not aware that he had died until last night when I was watching a YouTube video of him performing his big hit, “Take a Letter Maria” which reached number two on the Billboard charts in 1969.
The nephew of the late Sam Cooke, Greaves also enjoyed minor hits with covers of Bacharach & David’s “Always Something There to Remind Me” (which became a much bigger hit for Naked Eyes in the early 1980s), Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” as well as James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” before disappearing from the public limelight.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?