PowerLine -> Why were we in Vietnam? – The Week in Pictures: Hurricane Hillary Edition

Powerline John Hinderaker at HoaxAndChange

PowerLine -> Why were we in Vietnam? – The Week in Pictures: Hurricane Hillary Edition

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Daily Digest


  • Why were we in Vietnam?
  • Associated Press Says: Don’t Cut Taxes!
  • The Week in Pictures: Hurricane Hillary Edition
  • Chuck and Nancy and Donald and Heidi
  • Can Senate Republicans get Obamacare replacement over the finish line?
Why were we in Vietnam?

Posted: 16 Sep 2017 09:09 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

One of my daughters made it to the finals of the Minnesota History Day competition at the University of Minnesota in the fall of 2000, I think, although I might be off by a year. Her presentation was devoted to William Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of blood. It wasn’t a sexy subject, but I thought her presentation had the virtue of accuracy.

I spent the whole day with her as she made it from the initial round to the semifinals and the finals, each time to my surprise. I wouldn’t have been disappointed if she hadn’t made it into the semifinals or the finals. The competition was respectable. It was difficult to distinguish among the presentations by quality.

When the winner was declared, however, I was not happy. The winning presentation, as I recall, addressed the allegedly virtuous effect of television news on our involvement in the Vietnam War. Having followed the events recounted in the presentation as they unfolded in real time and read up on the history subsequently, I thought the presentation flatly erred in critical respects. It made me wonder if it would be possible to understand the era without having lived through it.

Watching Victor Davis Hanson’s PragerU short course on the war (video below) elicited a flood of memories, of which that was not the only one by any means. I recalled the North Vietnamese Army tanks rolling toward Saigon in 1975. I thought that they contradicted one or two of the key talking points I had been taught by the antiwar crowd in the heyday of the movement against the war.

I also recalled the death of my cousin by marriage (Captain) Arthur Pfefer in the fifty-third week of his deployment, on July 25, 1969. Artie was one of the 58,000 Americans lost in the war. What a waste.

The video also prompted me to recall a conversation with Medal of Honor recipient Leo Thorsness about the war after his talk at the Minneapolis Club as a guest of my friend Kirk Kolbo a few years back. He expressed disgust over the constraints under which we had fought. Given the constraints, he didn’t think we should have been there.

Dr. Hanson’s attributes JFK’s decision to make a stand against the Communists in Vietnam to the fear that other dominoes would fall in Southeast Asia. JFK’s decision proved incredibly consequential as it was amplified by LBJ’s massive commitment of troops. In researching the Weekly Standard column “The Kennedy-Khruschchev conference for dummies,” I argued that JFK’s disastrous performance at the conference influenced his decision. He wanted to show Khruschchev that he wasn’t made of marshmallows.

PragerU posted the video this past May. It illustrates some of the many virtues of Dr. Hanson’s approach to history, including his ironic view of history’s twists and turns. The video was brought to my attention by Ed Driscoll writing here yesterday at InstaPundit. Ed was anticipating the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary that kicks off on Monday. I should add that Dr. Hanson’s forthcoming history of World War II is to be published on October 17.

  

Associated Press Says: Don’t Cut Taxes!

Posted: 16 Sep 2017 08:36 AM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

The Associated Press is one of many “news” outlets that has gone into overt opposition, now that we have a Republican rather than a Democrat in the White House. Today’s AP “Top News” feature is headlined: Doubts arise on whether corporate tax cut would boost growth. The passive voice is generally a giveaway. Where, exactly, are doubts “arising”?

Trump insists that slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to as low as 15 percent would free up valuable cash. Companies would use the money to boost investment, increase employees’ pay, accelerate hiring and speed economic growth. What’s more, corporations that now keep trillions overseas to avoid U.S. taxes would bring the money home. American companies could better compete with rivals based in countries with lower tax rates.

“We’re going to have magnificent growth,” Trump declared aboard Air Force One on Thursday. “We’re going to go like a rocket ship.”

Would we? Many economists, tax experts and even some business owners say it’s unlikely. Rather than hire, companies might use much of their tax savings to buy back their stock or increase their dividends to investors. Many companies, they note, have already been able to borrow at historically low rates to expand their businesses yet have chosen not to.

“The mainstream economic evidence is that the bulk of corporate tax cuts go exactly to whom you would expect — which is wealthy investors and executives,” said Chye-Ching Huang, deputy director of federal tax policy at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

News flash for the AP: the “left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities” is in favor of higher taxes, all the time. Their doubts didn’t just “arise.”

The AP acknowledges in passing that many economists agree with Trump, but goes on to make the case against tax cuts. It cites arguments in favor of corporate tax cuts, then goes to a series of liberals to rebut them: the “nonpartisan Tax Policy Center,” which is a joint venture of the liberal Urban Institute and the liberal Brookings Institution; “the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy;” and “Larry Summers, a Democratic former Treasury secretary.”

The Democratic Party is, of course, entitled to oppose corporate tax cuts. But unlike the Republicans, the Democrats get to make their arguments in the guise of news stories promulgated by the “nonpartisan” Associated Press.

  

The Week in Pictures: Hurricane Hillary Edition

Posted: 16 Sep 2017 05:04 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

The hurricane season has several more weeks to run until the oceans cool down, but the boiling ocean that is the Democratic Party will never cool down if the storm system named “Clinton” has its way. Has one person ever wreaked so much destruction on a political party? I hope she stays on the road forever, and keeps hope alive for a 202o campaign.

Already?

Truth.

And this is exactly how antitrust works:

I think it was Dennis Miller who described Willem Defoe as “Christopher Walken, before you add water.”

Headline of the week (and a likely subject for an upcoming CNN segment with Brooke Baldwin):

And finally. . .

  

Chuck and Nancy and Donald and Heidi

Posted: 15 Sep 2017 08:25 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

President Trump has decided to work with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi because he’s concluded that otherwise he won’t be able to get things done. This begs the question, which is whether the things he can get done with Chuck and Nancy are worth doing.

President Obama didn’t work with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan for the sake of getting things done. But Obama is a principled leftist. Trump is neither principled nor particularly conservative.

There’s also the question of whether getting the requisite Democratic support in the Senate necessitates working with Schumer. In the House, it does not require working with Pelosi as long as Trump has the support of the Freedom Caucus, which he did on Obamacare repeal.

The normal way to muster the requisite Democratic support in the Senate is to pick off the least leftist Dems in the chamber, not to win over the leftist Minority Leader. In Trump’s case, this approach might seem particularly doable given the large number of Senate Democrats running for reelection next year in states Trump carried.

However, Trump may have concluded that picking off the Joe Manchins, Joe Donnellys, and Heidi Heitkamps won’t work. If so, he may be right. First, there may not be enough of them. Second, the combination of party discipline and the prospect of being “primaried” may be enough for Schumer to keep even these Democrats in line.

Trump may also like working with Schumer — fellow New Yorker and fellow jerk. Maybe it’s that simple.

But if Trump is going to work through Schumer, rather than trying to pick off stray Dems like Heitkamp, then why is he embracing Heitkamp, thereby improving her reelection prospects? With Schumer on board, Heitkamp becomes irrelevant when it comes to passing a given piece of legislation.

Yet, as the Washington Post notes, at a recent event in North Dakota, Trump invited Heitkamp onstage and praised her as a “good woman.” The National Republican Senatorial Committee was not amused. Nor should it have been.

If Trump wants to get anything even vaguely conservative done, he should be doing all he can to help defeat Democratic Senate candidates in 2018. Surely he remembers that all but three GOP Senators stood with him on the Obamacare repeal vote. No Democrat did. Not even Heidi Heitkamp.

Trump may figure that staying on the good side of Heitkamp and the few Senate Dems like her will give him greater leverage in striking deals with Schumer. The less confidence Schumer has in his ability to hold his caucus together, the more concessions he may be inclined to make.

As already noted, however, Schumer (1) can lose a few Dems and still block legislation and (2) can maintain discipline through traditional methods, plus the prospect of primary challenges to anyone who breaks ranks.

According to the Post, congressional Republicans are reeling from Trump’s sudden overtures to the Democrats. They are said to be “laboring, sometimes awkwardly, to project leverage.”

I’m not sure how they will be able to project it. Trump may be ineffective when it comes to thwarting Democrats, China, Iran, and North Korea. But when it comes to screwing Republicans, he’s a star.

Some Republican members of Congress may be thinking how much better things would be if Mike Pence were president. Ann Coulter is.

It’s an idle thought right now. But if the Democrats capture the House and Robert Mueller makes certain findings, the thought may take on relevance. In this scenario, Senate Republicans will project plenty of leverage. Unless you believe that Trump’s pals Chuck and Nancy will stand up to their howling base and protect Trump from impeachment and removal.

  

Can Senate Republicans get Obamacare replacement over the finish line?

Posted: 15 Sep 2017 06:20 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

As John noted earlier this week, Obamacare replacement legislation isn’t dead in the U.S. Senate after all. Senators Cassidy, Graham, and Johnson have come up with a bill that partially repeals Obamacare and turns power over to the states.

Their legislation would:

* Repeal Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates.
* Repeal the medical device tax.
* Enhance the states’ ability to waive Obamacare’s regulations.
* Give to the states in block grants dollars that currently are being spent by the federal government in the form of Medicaid expansion, tax credits, cost-sharing subsidies and basic health plans, with these dollars to be devoted to health care, mostly at the states’ discretion.
* Grant federal money to states in proportion to their population of poor people.

The window for passing bills under the reconciliation procedure (i.e., with 50 votes) closes on September 30. Thus, the question isn’t just whether the sponsors can muster 50 votes. It is also whether they can do so by the end of the month.

John noted one obstacle. The CBO might not be able to score the bill in time.

The other obstacle is opposition from the usual GOP suspects. Rand Paul has already said he won’t support the bill because it “redistributes,” rather than repeals, Obamacare.

Thus, the sponsors seemingly can only afford to lose one of the three GOP Senators who opposed “skinny repeal” (and no one, other than Paul, who supported it). The three are Sens. Collins, McCain, and Murkowski.

Collins seems unlikely to back the proposal because it defunds Planned Parenthood. McCainreportedly is well-disposed to the bill, which is sponsored by his pal Lindsey Graham. However, he is said to have cautioned that any repeal effort should go through the regular committee process. We’re already midway through September, which doesn’t leave much time for that.

Murkowski is also known to favor “regular order.” I suspect that, at a minimum, she wants to see the CBO’s analysis of the impact on coverage, dubious though that analysis may be.

Might the Cassidy-Graham-Johnson find support among any Democrats? The only candidate I can think of is Joe Manchin. Unlike the rest of the Democratic caucus, he’s a genuine moderate. Moreover, his state, West Virginia, would be a big winner in a system that grants federal money in proportion to the percentage of poor residents.

Even so, winning over Manchin seems like a long-shot. So time may well run out on the effort to pass this latest incarnation of Obamacare replacement legislation by the end of the month.

  

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