- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2009

OMINOUS PROJECT

“The so-called ‘stimulus’ President Obama signed Tuesday is so unwieldy it had to be posted in two PDFs on the House Appropriations Committee’s Web site, along with another two containing an ‘explanatory statement.’ The law totaled 1,071 pages; the explanation, 421,” Terence P. Jeffrey writes at www. cnsnews.com.

“Yet, 216 of the law’s 1,071 pages deal with a project not directly aimed at short-term economic stimulus, and these 216 pages were themselves divided into two distinct parts (139 pages in ‘Division A’ of the law, and 77 pages in ‘Division B’).

“Together, these 216 pages provide the legal framework for collecting every American’s personal medical records into a federally coordinated electronic system.

“As first pointed out in a Feb. 9 Bloomberg.com commentary by former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey it is reasonable to assume that this electronic-records system, together with a provision that creates a ‘Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research,’ sets the stage for the creation of a nationalized health care system that engages in British-style rationing.

“But even if Congress and the president restrain themselves and pass no further law in pursuit of socialized medicine for the United States, the provisions already enacted in this law raise significant questions about the right to privacy and the right of doctors to practice medicine according to their best judgment.”

NO CONSENSUS

“It takes only a few seconds to make history new again,” Amity Shlaes writes at www.bloomberg.com.

“Leaders around the world are talking up economic stimulus, channeling U.S. President Barack Obama, who in turn is channeling Franklin Roosevelt ,” said the writer, author of “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.”

Obama bases his confidence on an old story line with some appealing parallels to today:

“A disastrously high stock market caused by excessive faith in the private sector generated an epic crash. A Republican, Herbert Hoover (George W. Bush), let us down. A new president, FDR (Obama), knew that action was imperative and understood the value in ‘bold persistent experimentation.’

“FDR stimulated the Dow back up, and unemployment down, saving America and democracy. Massive wartime spending solidified the recovery in the 1940s, proving that when it comes to stimulus, more is better.

“So, celebrating the $787 billion stimulus bill Obama signed [Tuesday] depends on ramming through this version of history - and dismissing dissent. That is what Obama did at a news conference when he said those who criticize FDR’s New Deal are ‘fighting battles that I thought were resolved a pretty long time ago.’

“In fact, this battle is far from resolved. Economists are arguing more now about the quality of the Roosevelt programs than they were a decade or two ago. …

“About 15 years ago, Robert Whaples of Wake Forest University put the following proposition to economic historians, some of them trained economists, others trained historians: ‘Taken as a whole, government policies of the New Deal served to lengthen and deepen the Great Depression.’

“Three in four historians disagreed. Economists were split evenly. The consensus just wasn’t there.”

HILLARYLAND

“Huge expectations, big egos, turf wars: Is Clinton’s State Department just like her campaign?” asks Michael Crowleyin the New Republic.

Mrs. Clinton’s soon-to-be chief of staff is Cheryl Mills, Mr. Crowley noted.

“A dogged former White House lawyer and close Hillary confidante, Mills proved her fealty to the Clintons with a fiery 1999 House floor speech during Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in which she hailed the president’s compassion for African Americans like herself. In the late months of Hillary’s 2008 bid for the White House, Mills quietly emerged as de facto campaign manager. …

“What she doesn’t have is foreign policy experience - a reminder of how alien Hillary’s hard-edged political machine is to the diplomatic realm of the State Department. That has some career State-watchers bracing for a culture clash, especially given that Mills is just one of several key members of Hillary’s inner circle, or ‘Hillaryland,’ making the transition to Foggy Bottom.

“They include her longtime personal aide, Huma Abedin (now described as a ‘senior adviser’); her Senate press secretary,Phillipe Reines; longtime speechwriter Lissa Muscatine; foreign policy adviser Andrew Shapiro; and scheduler Lona Valmoro .

“Even Hillary’s close friend Maggie Williams, who joined her struggling presidential campaign in January of last year as a senior aide, has been vetting job applicants in recent weeks. To some, this influx echoes the Hindenburg disaster of Hillary’s run for president, with its clashing egos, awful management, and endless tawdry leaks.”

THOSE ‘COWARDS’

“I haven’t read the whole speech, just some press reports, but I find ‘s Eric Holder’s, comments on race both hackneyed and reprehensible. He says that America is “essentially a nation of cowards” because it doesn’t talk about race enough,” Jonah Goldberg writes in a blog at www.nationalreview.com.

“First, I think this is nonsense as we talk about race a great, great, great deal in this country. Endless courses in colleges and universities, chapters in high school textbooks, movies, documentaries, after-school-specials and so on are devoted to discussing race. We even have something called ‘Black History Month’ - the occasion for Holder’s remarks to begin with - when America is supposed to spend a month talking about the black experience,” Mr. Goldberg said.

“Second, to the extent we don’t talk about race in this country the primary reason is that liberals and racial activists have an annoying habit of attacking anyone who doesn’t read from a liberal script [as] ‘racists’ or, if they’re lucky, ‘insensitive.’

“Thus ‘cowardice’ is defined as refusal to do as your told when that would in fact be the cowardly thing to do.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected] times.com.

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