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May 24, 2011


I see two problems with Yglesias's statement that the Republican vote for a Medicare reform bill they know is unpopular is "...a fascinating picture of the emergence of very strong party discipline of the sort that hasn’t traditionally existed in the United States and continues not to exist in the Democratic caucus."

1. Yglesias's assertion that the Dems haven't shown comparable unity is contradicted by their suicidal support for Obama's Health Reform bill.

2. Yglesias assumes that popularity and party discipline are the only reasons a Republican might vote for a bill. IMHO some Reps were motivated by a sense of responsibility. After all, on May 13, 2011, the Annual Report of the Social Security Trustees, for the sixth straight year, warned that Medicare and Social Security are on an unsustainable, insolvent path, and without swift attention will leave future generations with broken promises.

(BTW this point runs into a myth. The evidence of Medicare's and Social Security's unsustainablity is at least as strong as the evidence that there were no WMDs in Iraq just before the war. After all, the SS actuaries, who should know, say that these programs are unsustainable. Furthermore, I've seen no responsible argument contradicting them. Yet, many liberals continue to promote the myth that these programs are not unsustainable.)

The WaPo Fact Checker (sic) writes:

Obama comes close to calling for the ouster of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, but does not quite do it: “President Assad now has a choice: he can lead that transition, or get out of the way.” This is similar to language Obama used about Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi — before telling them to step down. So he is clearly moving in that direction.

The language may be similar, but not its impact. Mubarak was a friend of the US. He was more-or-less a client of ours. He faced a more popular uprising than Assad does. And he did not use the most harsh methods to retain power. As a result, Obama's call for Mubarak to step down led to Mubarak stepping down.

Gaddafi also faced a popular, semi-successful uprising. Although he was not an American ally, he had agreed to give up his nuclear program after the overthrow of Saddam.

The Syrian regime is ruthless in retaining power. They have been shooting into crowds of unarmed demonstrators. Assad is our country's enemy. His leadership owes nothing to the US. Given the mess in Libya, IMHO Obama will not go to war in Syria. So if Obama were to call for Assad to step down, his statement would have no impact.

Note that this comparison is an example of Obama treating America's friends worse than America's enemies.

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