Thursday, March 3, 2011

Oddities and annoyances

[Another post written a while ago, although it’s not really ancient - it was originally written within the last few months.]

Math is hard

A letter from to its members says in part:

Imagine if someone told you in 2008 that Barack Obama was actually thinking about signing legislation to extend the Bush tax giveaways for the rich. I wouldn’t have believed it.

Now more than ever, we need the Barack Obama we elected in 2008—the smart, tough, hopeful progressive champion who inspired millions of us—to stand up and say “no” to a millionaire bailout.

I’ve seen and heard this particular bait-and-switch before, where $250,000 suddenly becomes $1,000,000. Two-hundred fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money - but it’s not a million. If there are those who think we should raise taxes on millionaires then they should argue for just that: letting the Bush tax cuts expire for those making over $1,000,000 a year. I’ll be a lot more likely to believe someone has the right solutions for our economic woes if he first convinces me he knows his numbers.

Shoulda looked Left

(Because there’s nothing like a dead skunk in the middle of the road.)

In discussing Max Baucus’ rather sad polling number, Jennifer Rubin quotes a poll that says:

At this point pretty much all of his support from Republicans has evaporated with only 13% approving of him and although his numbers with Democrats aren’t bad at 70/21, they’re not nearly as strong as Jon Tester’s which are 87/6.

Baucus’ plight is similar to that of a number of other Senators who tried to have it both ways on health care, watering down the bill but still voting for it in the end.

Rubin’s interpretation of this is:

That is a nice way of saying that while they posed as “moderate” Democrats, they voted like liberals.

Nope. This is a nice way of saying that they refused to fish or cut bait and we ended up with the worst of all possible worlds: no fish and rotten bait. Just as people on the Right believed we needed government to restrict its role in health care to figuring out how to make the free market work better, people on the Left believed we needed government to step up and step in rather than just shoveling business to the insurance companies. ObamaCare did neither. It’s a “compromise” which furthers the worst of both approaches.

Whether you’re a Tea Partier or a Move.Oner, you don’t have to be a genius to figure out that when Big Government gets in bed with Big Business bad things happen to the little people. It’s just that you’ll see different solutions: The Tea Partier’s solution is for government to get out of the way and let business do it; the Move.Oner's solution is for government to just do it. So, no, Democrats aren’t unhappy with Max Baucus because he voted like a liberal; they’re unhappy with him because he didn’t.

Trifles show character

One of the things that helped move me from leaning Left to leaning Right was hearing about George W. Bush from bloggers who didn’t hate him, especially The Anchoress. I discovered that his speeches were often remarkable* which was quite a surprise to me since I found his delivery of them so off-putting I never listened to what he said. And I discovered PEPFAR: the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief. This program was started by President Bush in 2003 to provide funding from the United States to fight AIDS and related conditions, primarily in Africa. It was a source of amazement to me then that I had heard - as far as I could remember - absolutely nothing about this program from bloggers on the Left.

It was PEPFAR as much as anything that made me step back and take another look at Bush. Why would a man who was a racist, homophobic, stupid, war-mongering, isolationist, cowboy even know AIDS relief in Africa was necessary, much less set out to provide it - and in increasing amounts? Hercule Poirot teaches us that if we have constructed a theory and we find a piece of evidence that doesn’t fit, we cannot find the truth by doing what most people do: throw out the evidence that doesn’t fit our theory. Instead, we must develop a new theory that accounts for the new evidence. When George Packer treats Bush’s championing of PEPFAR as simply a weird aberration he does so at his own intellectual peril.



* I found Bush’s May 2008 speech to the Knesset very powerful; you can read it at The Anchoress. Bush’s Sharm El Sheikh speech won my heart by talking about women in the Muslim countries; you can download a pdf of that speech here.



I ran across the John Derbyshire/Peter Wehner discussion (to put it politely) regarding PEPFAR while writing this post. It simply confirmed my distaste for Derbyshire. Here’s Wehner; I’m not linking to anything from Derbyshire.