Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Archive for November, 2008

Getting to know Larry Summers, again

Posted by sanityinjection on November 26, 2008

Former Clinton Treasury Secretary and Harvard President Larry Summers is going to be President-elect Obama’s top economic advisor. So if you want to know what Obama’s economic policies are probably going to look like, it helps to understand where Summers is on the major economic issues. Thus, the NYT’s David Leonhardt has a helpful piece up doing just that:

Although I don’t always agree with Summers, he’s extremely intelligent and has a fair amount of common sense. He leans left, but he’s not anti-capitalist or anti-free markets. Most importantly of all, he’s a straight talker who is not afraid to confront facts even if they demand a change in his thinking.

So far, I agree with Joe Lieberman that Obama has been making good decisions in putting together his team. I’m curious to hear who he will tap for National Security Advisor, because that person is either going to have to be able to work well with Hillary, or be high enough in their standing with Obama to outflank her, otherwise they will quickly become irrelevant.

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Not-so-thankful Thanksgiving?

Posted by sanityinjection on November 26, 2008

Why is it we can never have a holiday in this country without somebody whining about it?

Our latest tale of woe, dear reader, comes to us from Claremont, California, which for those of you unfamiliar with the area, is like the Cambridge of Cali – an uber-liberal university town. Apparently, there is a long-standing tradition in Claremont that during Thanksgiving Week, the students at the town’s elementary schools dress up in Thanksgiving costumes – Pilgrims and Indians – and get together for a holiday feast.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before some parents decided to rain on the kids’ parade. They objected to the wearing of “Indian” costumes by the children as sterotypical and demeaning to Native American culture:

“It’s demeaning,” Michelle Raheja, the mother of a kindergartner at Condit Elementary School, wrote to her daughter’s teacher. “I’m sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation’s history. There is nothing to be served by dressing up as a racist stereotype,” she said. Raheja, whose mother is a Seneca….an English professor at UC Riverside who specializes in Native American literature, said she met with teachers and administrators in hopes that the district could hold a public forum to discuss alternatives that celebrate thankfulness without “dehumanizing” her daughter’s ancestry.

Naturally, other parents, some of whom have Native American ancestry themselves, objected to their objection, and there was a fun school board meeting at which the school board did what school boards always do in these situations – they caved in and agreed to hold the event sans costumes.

I don’t even know where to start with this one. First of all, someone who is a recognized expert on Native American culture should know better than to lump all Native American tribes together. Thanksgiving commemorates the cooperation between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe. Thus, it has absolutely nothing to do with Ms. Raheja’s family ancestry as a Seneca.

Secondly, comparing the interaction between Europeans and Native Americans to slavery or the Holocaust is a gross and insulting distortion. In the latter cases, a helpless group was systematically persecuted and tortured. Native Americans were far from helpless against the European settlers, and often gave as nasty as they got. There were atrocities and betrayals committed on both sides, but also periods of peace and even friendship. It is historical fact that the Europeans and Native Americans commemorated in the Thanksgiving story did, at least for a time, succeed in getting along peacefully with each other. Isn’t that worth celebrating?

As for the costumes, why is it inherently “demeaning” to dress up like a Native American? Is it demeaning to dress up like a Pilgrim, too? Some Native Americans did indeed wear feather headdresses and beads, and were quite proud to do so. Imagine if Ms. Raheja, instead of going on the warpath (am I allowed to say that?), had offered her expertise in helping to design authentic Wampanoag costumes that reflect positive aspects of Native American culture and leave out the tomahawks or whatever it may be that causes offense? Use the occasion to teach the kids about the troubled history of the relationship between settlers and Indians. The sad story of Squanto, who was kidnapped by Europeans and brought back to live as an outsider among the Wampanoags who were not his tribe, is a microcosm for many lessons.

But instead, the solution is always to eliminate anything that might be controversial – let the children suffer because of the squabbling of the parents. In the immortal words of National Lampoon’s Dean Vernon Wormer: “No more fun of any kind!”

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Gates to stay on as SecDef

Posted by sanityinjection on November 26, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama is going to retain the services of Bush Administration Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who has overseen the successful surge in Iraq. I think this is a very wise move. However, it will probably dismay Obama’s hard-core anti-war supporters, who were no doubt looking for “Change We Can Believe In” in the area of defense policy.

I have been saying all along that Obama is unlikely to try to advance the withdrawal timetable from Iraq before the 2011 deadline envisoned under the US-Iraq agreement now before the Iraqi Parliament for ratification. Gates’ re-appointment reinforces that likelihood. These decisions are and should always be made based on practical considerations which transcend political parties and ideologies. Or, to put it another way, there is an expectation that if you negotiate a treaty with the US, the US will honor that treaty regardless of who wins the election.

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On Hiatus

Posted by sanityinjection on November 19, 2008

Your Sanity Injection is on hiatus for a much-deserved vacation. I might have something up for you middle of next week, then we will be back full blast in December.

Thanks to all my readers and commenters! Till next time, find your sanity where you can 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Let GM die!

Posted by sanityinjection on November 17, 2008

Michael Levine writes in the Wall Street Journal to explain why GM is failing and will continue to fail if the federal government hands them billions in bailout money. The best solution is to allow GM to go into bankruptcy, which will force them to renegotiate bad deals and cut dead weight:

The bankruptcy process would slim GM down to a potentially viable entity that might actually be worth spending some federal dollars to support at that point.

Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Sage advice for President-Elect Obama

Posted by sanityinjection on November 14, 2008

The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson has penned a terrific op-ed warning President-Elect Obama against making the kind of early mistakes that haunted the Clinton presidency:

I can add nothing to this excellent piece other than to wholeheartedly endorse Mr. Gerson’s comments as a genuine Sanity Injection.

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Brits carry their share of the load, yet again

Posted by sanityinjection on November 12, 2008

It’s nice to know we have at least one ally that is willing to do its share to combat lawlessness and terror:

Of course, had this been an action by the American Navy, Democrats in Congress would be screaming that we “violated the civil rights of innocent Africans with our warmongering” and were “seeking to use military force to impose our Western values on other cultures”. Then they would explain that the pirates are only there as a protest against US policy in the Middle East, and recommend immediate withdrawal of all US forces from the region as a “gesture of goodwill”.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Great op-ed: Pass the Colombia Free Trade bill

Posted by sanityinjection on November 12, 2008

Great op-ed from the Los Angeles Times explaining succinctly why Congress should ratify the free trade agreement with Colombia:,0,1648910.story

Posted in Foreign Affairs, Politics | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

To the victor goes not just the spoils, but also the cover.

Posted by sanityinjection on November 12, 2008

In the wake of President-Elect Obama’s campaign which raised more money, and documented it more poorly, than any campaign in American history, guess whose campaign is going to be audited by the FEC? McCain’s.

What’s that you say? Doesn’t make sense? Surely the undocumented sources of funding for Obama, some of which are alleged to be illegal foreign funding, deserve at least an audit? And why audit one side’s campaign and not the other? Especially since an audit requires the campaign to spend millions more to defend itself.

First, the FEC is auditing McCain’s campaign because they have to, by law. McCain accepted public funds for the general election which automatically triggers an audit. This is as it should be – American taxpayers have the right to insist that their money is spent legally and properly. McCain’s already raised about $9 million in a special fund to cover the cost of defending the audit.

So the question is, why isn’t Obama’s campaign being audited? There is no legal requirement to do so, but there have certainly been plenty of complaints filed with the FEC reagrding improprieties. The answer we are getting is that the alleged improprieties don’t rise to the level of an audit because they are dwarfed by the huge total that Obama raised. In other words, anything that was done wrong was a drop in the bucket.

I can accept that in principle, but it just seems odd for the FEC to make the loser of the election pay a $9 million penalty that the winner doesn’t have to pay. How about if, in exchange for not being audited, the Obama campaign pays the McCain campaign’s defense costs? Wouldn’t that be a nice bipartisan gesture?

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Bait and switch on the financial bailout we’re paying for!

Posted by sanityinjection on November 12, 2008

Remember the bipartisan legislation passed several weeks ago to spend $700 billion on a financial bailout package? The centerpiece of the package was a proposal by the administration to buy up bad mortgage-backed assets in order to heal the credit marekt. That was the basic plan that everybody voted for.

Well, today Treasury Secretary Paulson has announced that they’re not going to spend the $700 billion on mortgage-backed assets. Instead of doing what the legislation tells them to do, they’re going to do what *they* want to do with the money, without specifying what that is.

Well, I can tell you what they’ll do with the money. They’re going to hand some of it to the domestic automakers, who are in danger of going bankrupt if they don’t get an infusion of cash. And some of it will be used to bolster the finanical markets in other ways that the Treasury Department thinks best.

Seems to me, that’s not what Congress voted for. But it’s the Democrats in Congress that are pushing to divert money to the automakers. So both parties are to blame on this one.

The moral of this story is, don’t believe the federal government when they tell you what they need money for. Once they get it they will use it for whatever they want. That is why raising taxes to give the government more money to play with is a stupendously bad idea, no matter what wonderful things they promise you they are going to do with it.

I’ve learned my lesson…have you?

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »