The Unified Field Theory of George Soros
Conservative pundits thought they'd struck conspiracy-theory gold when the federal government raided the Florida headquarters of WellCare Health Plans in October. The Florida Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit was after WellCare for appearing to turn a healthy profit on ailing poor and old people. The St. Petersburg Times article included one line on the raid that mentioned that WellCare was a "slow-growing" company until 1992, when its owner sold it to a New York investment group led by George Soros.
Ah, blame it on George. Last summer, it was anti-Sorostic Marty Peretz attacking Soros, who has a stake in JetBlue, for that airline's flight delays. This fall, right wingers took the St. Pete Times piece as proof positive that America's ills can be laid at the probably cloven feet of this sinister international Jewish banker. "Welcome to George Soros's America," concluded Michelle Malkin. Never mind that Soros' company sold off all its shares last year, and that both WellCare's current chief executive and its finance director were Bush Pioneers in 2004. (In the past year, the company and its affiliates have channeled $105,000 to the Florida Republican Party, and their PAC gave $66,000 to federal candidates in 2006 -- all Republicans.) Never mind: There is evil in the world, and if George Soros isn't responsible for it, well, by every right-wing theory, he should be.
What You Can't Say
A recent lunch at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life provided John Kerry with a forum to say all kinds of revealing things he felt he couldn't say during his 2004 campaign for president. Kerry Unbound believes that, when it comes to making abortion safe, legal, and rare, "rare has been missing from the debate." Kerry Unbound has problems with those who claim to be most religious but who are dismissive of the real teachings of the church on poverty and peace.
This prompted discussion moderator E.J. Dionne to ask why Kerry couldn't have given similar speeches while running for president about how, in Kerry's words, "religion has to inform who you are or you're not religious."
"The time to do it is not in the heat of the last three months of the presidential race," Kerry replied. No matter what he said during a presidential contest on the more religious and values-oriented topics he now discusses freely, he added, it would have been seen as craven. He's got a point: Thinking back to the controversy Hillary Clinton engendered in 2005 when she called abortion "a tragic choice," Kerry's blunt assertion that there are "too many" abortions in this country every year would likely have caused months of controversy.
Who Did What?
In an editorial in the Nov. 5 issue of The Weekly Standard, Fred Kagan celebrated the success of the surge, a plan he helped devise, in routing al-Qaeda from safe havens throughout Iraq. Since the surge bore no relation to the tribal revolt that has resulted in al-Qaeda's recent defeats, this is a bit like Captain Ahab claiming victory as Moby Dick lies dying of lung cancer. Truth be told, the revolt was unforeseen by any of the surge's proponents, and had begun to weaken al-Qaeda before the surge forces themselves were even in place. Then there's the conundrum that empowering Sunni militias against al-Qaeda has also undercut the U.S.' strategic goal of a unified, centrally governed Iraq. Still, allowing for the facts that it wasn't really us who did it and that what got done has a downside as well as an up: We did it!
Old and White Look-Alike
On Jan. 3, Iowans will bestir themselves from New Year's slumbers and head over to some neighbors' living room to take part in the age-old caucus procedure. The candidates will have spent more than a year talking up their love of corn, eating at local diners, and patting the heads of the state's small children, all in preparation for the day when Iowans will get the first crack at selecting a presidential candidate. That is, the 6 percent to 10 percent of Iowans who actually participate in an average caucus year.
And just who are these Iowa caucus-goers whose decisions outweigh those of their fellow Americans? Well, according to the 2004 exit polls, they're white (about 95 percent of them). They're grown-up and then some (27 percent are over 65, more than twice the percentage of seniors in the U.S. population). And if that's not quite the most representative group of Americans (much less, Democrats) we could find to select our presidents, well, that's part of the reason, both ostensible and real, why some other states bumped themselves up in this year's primary parade. Unfortunately, instead of creating a more representative electorate, what they crafted was the most chaotic calendar American politics has ever seen. We've said it before and we'll say it again: You don't have to be a New Deal nostalgic to recognize that our primary process is badly in need of genuine national planning.
In mid-October, the pope came out for a living wage and job security. Cheapo contract labor, said Benedict XVI, is one of our times' "ethical and social emergencies capable of undermining the stability [of society] and seriously compromising its future" since it does "not permit young people to build a family." The Church, of course, has long been cool to laissez-faire capitalism, which is one reason why Europe's Old Right has the economics of America's Old Left. And if the pope isn't an authority on job security, who is?
By T.A. Frank
"Well, there are public-health benefits to climate change, as well."
-- White House Press Secretary Dana Perino
Game: Identify which global-warming benefits are direct quotations about the benefits of global warming from arti-cles by Thomas Gale Moore, author of Climate of Fear: Why We Shouldn't Worry About Global Warming, and which are quotations about the benefits of global warming from T.A. Frank, author of Climate of Fear: Why Polar Bears Frighten Me and Must Go.
Benefits of Global Warming:
1. "Reduced outlays for clothing"
2. "Realizing the goal of no more fur-based coats, and no more fur-based animals"
3. "Less snow shoveling"
4. "Welcome eradication of 'snow penis' sculptures"
5. "Fewer days of driving on icy roads"
6. "Fewer 'sled rage' incidents"
7. "Might reduce medical costs by about $20 billion annually"
8. "Might reduce medical costs by $4 trillion, make that $4 zillion, annually"
9. "Plant life would become more vigorous."
10. "Texas would be flooded, scorched, and possibly removed from the map altogether."
11. "More food for animals and humans"
12. "Inuit housing oversupply would naturally evaporate."
13. "Retirees, at least, find that higher temperatures improve their welfare."
14. "Goodbye, little sheep. Goodbye."
15. "Plants will do better in a CO2-rich environment."
16. "An overdue penguin inferno"
17. "People prefer warm climates."
18. "I like redheads."
19. "Would cut the number of deaths in the U.S. by about 40,000 per year"
20. "Might kill off the Togolese once and for all"
Answer key: Odd numbers, Thomas Gale More; even numbers, T.A. Frank