No Wit, No Will

I didn’t get around to reading it until today, but Mark Helprin has a sobering but worthwhile piece on how both parties have failed us on national security — the Bush administration through incompetent execution of two wars, and the Democrats by failing to recognize the seriousness of the terrorist threat.  “In short, the Right should have had the wit to fight, and the Left should have had the will to fight,” Helprin wrote. “Both failed. The country is exhausted, divided, and improperly protected, and will remain so if the new president and administration are merely another face of the same sterile duality.”

Moving On to Health Care

I received the following email the other day:

Dear MoveOn member,

Hundreds of thousands of us nominated and voted, and now the results are in–we know where to focus MoveOn’s efforts for the next year.

We asked you to vote for your three top goals, but after looking at the results, it’s clear that four rose above and beyond the rest. 

Here’s how it worked out, in descending order:

1. Universal Health Care

2. Economic Recovery and Job Creation

3. Build a Green Economy and Stop Climate Change

4. End the War in Iraq

The full results are here

It’s pretty telling that within the confines of the far left, health care has leapfrogged over Iraq as the most important priority. I’ve been telling people that for all the talk about Barack Obama disappointing progressives, if he gets universal health care done, he could nuke Iran and still be a hero of liberals. 

Will Ferret Man Return As Well

The NY Times reports:

Rudolph W. Giuliani  the former mayor of New York City and a Republican presidential candidate, had been in negotiations with Westwood One for Mr. O’Reilly’s time slot, according to two people with knowledge of the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity because a deal was not struck.

If it ever did pan out and it were anything like his old talk radio show, Rush Limbaugh would have some competition. 

Minnesota Madness, Morning Edition

Norm Coleman’s lead in the recount has now dwindled to a mere five votes as the state Canvassing Board has been rejecting most of Coleman’s challenges to Franken ballots and those ballots have been added to Franken’s vote tally. (When a ballot is being challenged, it’s removed from the stack and considered a non-vote until the Board makes a ruling.) However, there are still thousands of ballots that the campaigns initially challenged, but then withdrew their objection to, and these have not yet been added to the totals. The Coleman campaign thinks that once they are, his numbers will get a boost. 

In another important development likely to yield votes for Franken, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that improperly rejected absentee ballots would have to be counted, though they don’t have to be counted immediately, and the campaigns still have to establish a standard for which ballots will be included. 

Coleman’s move to make sure duplicate ballots do not get double counted is still outstanding.

The bottom line is that at the moment, it appears that Franken has the momentum, but the race is so close, and there are so many uncertainties, that it’s hard to say. 

Labor’s Lady

Over on the main site, Jim has a piece on all of the union love for Barack Obama’s appointment to be Labor Secretary, Rep. Hilda Solis. I’d just also draw your attention to the fact that over the course of her Congressional career, she has received $888,000 from organized labor, according to OpenSecrets — more than double what she received from any other sector. 

Obama Shows Some Love for Big Labor

Nearly every time I heard a Democratic candidate speak to a progressive audience last year, there was a line about how “We need to once again have a Labor Department that is actually pro-labor,” which was typically met with thunderous applause. Well, it looks like Obama has granted progressives’ wishes. The left is absolutely ecstatic over  Obama’s choice of California Rep. Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary. “Hilda Solis is great,” the American Prospect‘s Harold Meyerson beams in a fawning post. SEIU president Andy Stern has declared the pick “extraordinary,” noting that she has stood with big labor on every important issue. And based on her voting record, she has received pristine ratings from virtually every major union, which isn’t surprising, because she owes her Congressional seat to union backing. As Jim wrote in our print edition last year, the Labor Department has been one of the few conservative success stories in the Bush administration, and now it’s looking like it will be a long four to eight years for the business community.

For a taste of what’s to come, here’s a speech she gave in favor of card check legislation that is making the rounds on liberal blogs,in which she discusses coming from a union family:

President Bush: I Believe in Markets Except When I Don’t

“I am a firm believer in markets,” President Bush declared this morning, and then joked that he understands it doesn’t seem that way lately.

Appearing at an American Enterprise Institute event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, Bush fielded questions for about an hour put to him by AEI’s Christopher DeMuth. During his remarks Bush defended adding the prescription drug benefit to Medicare and the recent string of bailouts all the while presenting himself as a champion of the free market.

On Medicare, Bush claimed that he supported the prescription drug plan because it saved money on surgeries by providing senior citizens with preventative medication, and argued that the plan cost 40 percent less than anticipated because he insisted on “market-oriented principles.”

President Bush said he understood the frustration people felt over the financial industry bailouts, but at the time Ben Bernanke had told him that if he didn’t act, there could be an economic crisis greater than the Great Depression.

“I didn’t want to be the president who was there at the beginning of a crisis that is greater than the Great Depression,” he said.

Although he emphasized that a final decision hasn’t been made, Bush spoke as if the auto bailout were a foregone conclusion.

“Under normal circumstances, no question bankruptcy court is the best way to work through credit and debt and restructuring,” Bush said. “These are not normal circumstances. That is the problem.”

Bush argued that we’ll never know what kind of economic catastrophe would have resulted had he not taken the actions he did. He said that all the actions he took should be viewed as “temporary” and he doesn’t believe that government should be running the auto industry or mortgage system over the long run.

“This is a difficult time to be a free market person,” Bush observed at one point in his remarks.

No kidding, Mr. President.