The Week III

More like “The Month.”  I fell behind and so these GHs are from The Week in the most recent two issues of (biweekly) National Review.

“It’s a very funny magazine.”

Soon the Republicans may be able to claim the first nonwhite Speaker of the House.

The health-care law exemplifies everything voters dislike about the reigning party: its zeal for government, its subordination of economic to ideological objectives, its conviction that it knows better than voters who balk at the imposition of sweeping and ill-considered change. It ought, therefore, to be the Republicans’ top issue this year. Worried Democratic strategists are advising their candidates not to gush about the new health-care law — and not to try to persuade voters that it will reduce the deficit or health-care costs. Instead, Democrats are urged to say that the law “is not perfect” but “does good things” and “we’ll work to improve it.” Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Finance Committee through which the bill passed, tried out the new line: “Mark my words, several years from now you’re going to look back and say, ‘Eh, maybe it isn’t so bad.’” By Election Day, Democrats may have retreated to the claim that it wasn’t the worst bill Congress has ever passed. (Our suggestion for Democrats: Bone up on the Fugitive Slave Law.)

College kids were pretty well sold on Obamacare, and it’s not hard to imagine why: Most probably concluded on some level that they could reap the psychic rewards of supporting, like, more health care for everyone without having actually to sacrifice anything, because college kids do not pay taxes. But someone should have taught them the law of unintended consequences, because universities are now saying they will be forced either to discontinue their student health plans or to raise premiums significantly unless they are granted an exemption from the new law’s strict coverage standards. The bill outlawed cheap, bare-minimum plans for healthy people with the goal of moving toward a one-size-fits-all system in which the young subsidize the old by paying for features that young people don’t need but older people do. We say: No exemptions for the experientially challenged! Forcing young people to live with the consequences of this legislation will provide them with a crash course in economics, while getting them to join the ranks of those calling for the law’s repeal will give them hands-on political-science training. At least they’ll learn something in college.

It is lucky for political arguments that they have no feelings; otherwise they would grow bitter at how cruelly they are abandoned when they become inconvenient. Only six years ago the op-ed pages were full of criticism of the Federal Marriage Amendment, President Bush’s proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The leading complaints: The amendment would infringe on the historic right of the states to set marriage policy, and Bush’s fear that federal judges would set marriage policy was a fantasy. Now two federal courts have ruled that the Constitution requires same-sex marriage — the clear implication being that no state may balk. The defenders of marital federalism have suddenly grown very quiet. Turns out same-sex marriage was their true love all along.

Jennifer Keeton believes that people are born male or female, and that homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle and not a “state of being.” That got her into hot water at Augusta State University, in Georgia — a public institution, please note — where Keeton is enrolled in a master’s-degree program in school counseling. Learning of her views, the college authorities insisted that she submit to a “remediation plan” they developed for her — that she participate in “workshops,” read homosexualist propaganda, write reports on what she had learned, and even attend the local gay-pride parade. They told Keeton she would be expelled if she did not fulfill the requirements of the program. She sued in federal court, arguing that her First Amendment rights were being assaulted. The latest news we have on the case is that the court has denied Keeton a temporary order preventing her expulsion. Should the college get its way, our advice to her would be that she convert to Islam. Then she could happily advocate stoning homosexuals to death, and none would dare call it intolerance. Multiculturalism must be fought on its own ground.

Johnny Rotten, former leader of the Sex Pistols, recently played Tel Aviv with his band, Public Image Ltd. Several other performers have canceled concerts in Israel, but as Mr. Rotten told Britain’s Independent with typical candor, “I really resent the presumption that I’m going there to play to right-wing Nazi Jews. If Elvis-****ing-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he’s suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him. But . . . until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they’re treated.” Even more of a neocon is Harold, guitarist for the hardcore band Mehkago NT, who grew up in Cuba. He told Maximum RocknRoll: “Human rights are being violated all the time in Cuba and most people could give a flying ****! If anything, I hope punks are aware of this and don’t sympathize with that bull**** mentality! For example, people wearing a shirt with Che Guevara’s face on it — do you know what that stands for? Do your ****ing homework!” When you’ve lost the hardcore punks, you’ve lost America.

After all those years promoting rainbows, Jesse Jackson has settled on a color he really likes: green. The green, that is, of environmental faddism, as in “green jobs.” Writing on recently, Jackson expressed the hope that America will “get serious about energy savings and independence from oil. . . . A green economy is not an abstract concept.” A few days later he took this message to a jobs rally in Detroit organized by Bob King, militant president of the United Auto Workers union. Alas, the day after the rally Jackson’s vehicle went missing from a parking lot near his hotel. It was a 2009 Cadillac Escalade SUV — twelve miles per gallon in city driving. So much for the Rev’s dedication to greenery. Police later found the vehicle abandoned and stripped — as Detroit itself has been by decades of solidly Democratic government, and as the domestic auto industry has been by the ever-escalating demands of the UAW.

The incandescent light bulb may be America’s greatest invention: laboriously refined by Thomas Edison; not much changed since early last century, when it embodied the notion of progress for rural dwellers; and still instantly recognizable as the graphic symbol of a good idea. But now the nation’s last major incandescent-light-bulb factory, in Winchester, Va., has shut down, a victim of the enforced switch to more efficient twisted fluorescent bulbs. It’s bad enough that Congress is telling Americans what to light their houses with, but compounding the indignity it is also sending jobs overseas: Manufacture of the new bulbs cannot be automated as easily as that of the old kind, so production has moved to China, where hand labor is cheap. So much for green jobs. Perhaps future cartoonists will use a twisted light bulb to symbolize a poorly thought-out idea with unintended consequences.

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