August 18, 2009

RIP, Robert Novak

RobertNovakThe story of his passing is here.

Here, in my view, the most direct measure of the man: He never forgot those who worked with him (and I suspect that was the case for those who worked for him).

Proof: He and his partner Rowland Evans were responsible for the Evans-Novak Political Report until Evans died in 2001. Novak never renamed the newsletter.

Wikipedia says of Evans: “He was known best for his decades-long syndicated column and television partnership with Robert Novak, a partnership that endured, if only by way of a joint subscription newsletter, until Evans’s death.”

But Novak obviously didn’t believe that the partnership dissolved when Evans died.

Though he was clearly sufficiently recognizable that he could have renamed the newsletter for himself, its name remained the Evans-Novak Political Report until he wrote its final entry in January of this year:

Dear Reader,

As you may have read in the Evans-Novak Political Report, my recent health issues have forced me to give up active participation in the newsletter. Thankfully, my gifted deputy, Tim Carney, has ably filled the void for the past few months.

However, with the election and the inauguration behind us, and after much thought and deliberation with my publisher, we have decided that it is time to retire the Evans-Novak Political Report.

As you might imagine, this was an extremely difficult decision for me, and one I did not make lightly. It has been an honor to report on American politics for more than five decades, covering eight presidents, 23 Congressional elections and state and countless local elections and issues. I am grateful for your support of the Evans-Novak Political Report over the years, and wish you and your family all the best.

There’s more at that final ENPR entry, written by the editors of Human Events:

In 1967, four years after Rowland Evans and Bob Novak joined forces for a six-times-a-week syndicated newspaper column, the two ace journalists launched a bi-weekly political newsletter with the name, the Evans-Novak Political Report.

While their column was built around unearthing news about those in power and those aspiring to power, Evans and Novak used their newsletter to analyze the political scene, note trends and shifts in the landscape, and forecast elections. While both writers had their own opinions on policies and politicians opinions they shared in columns and television appearances ENPR, in order to be useful to readers trying to understand the political scene, always aimed to set aside political prejudices.

From the start, ENPR succeeded in stirring up strife, landing Evans and Novak on Richard Nixon’s enemies list when an early newsletter drew attention to the disconnect between the President’s demeanor and the real troubles he faced.

Throughout ENPR’s history, dozens of journalists working for or with Evans and Novak have contributed to the newsletter. It was the journalistic training ground of many young journalists including the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, and National Review Online’s David Freddoso. I, too, served as a staff writer, from 2002 through 2004, before returning in 2006 as senior reporter and more recently as editor.

ENPR’s reporters and editors dug into every potentially competitive U.S. House and Senate race, poked their noses around Capitol Hill, and burned up the phone lines to sources in federal agencies, campaigns, and parties all with the aim of providing our readers with the most complete analysis of the political scene.

ENPR was among the first covering each House and Senate race and sizing up all the candidates. Evans and Novak were pioneers in this field, and for an aspiring politician looking to get his name known, trotting into the Evans and Novak offices was the way to show up on the radar.

The reporting of Novak, and of Evans, embodied “fair and balanced” decades before Fox News appropriated the term to itself. It only appeared to lean right to some because the rest of the media routinely tilts so far to the left.

The fact that the establishment media hung the nickname “Prince of Darkness” on him — a name he ultimately took on in good cheer — says volumes more about them than it does about Novak.

May he rest in peace, and condolences to his family and friends.

Cross-posted at


UPDATE: Fellow columnists at Creators Syndicate pay tribute.

‘ObamaCare’: Nothing Has Changed, Except the Superficialities

Filed under: Activism,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:42 am

Regardless of the surgical removals being done on the monstrosity known as ObamaCare, what I wrote here a short time ago about the fundamental moral shortcomings of statist health care still stands:

First — Virtually without exception worldwide, state-run health care has led to rationing of care and long waits for even critical services. This has led to many needless deaths and disabilities, along with greatly diminished quality of life for many who eventually do receive care. Obama and the Congressional majority have presented no evidence indicating that serious rationing will not occur under its plan. In fact, under its progenitor known as CommonwealthCare aka RomneyCare in Massachusetts, serious rationing under the guise of fixed per-patient budgets is already on the horizon. How can any compassionate person claiming to have his or her moral bearings even consider supporting this almost certain result? Update: The Democrats’ response to the administration’s alleged desire to remove the “public option” clearly shows that their primary objective is control and not improvement.

Second — Virtually without exception worldwide, state-run health care has led to denial of care on age-based and so-called qualify of life criteria. The Obama administration and Congress already opened the door for this abomination in the stimulus bill passed in February when it included funding for “comparative effectiveness research.” Michael Barone has accurately portrayed this attempt at final solutions that override doctor-patient decisions as “worse than junk science—it’s inherently deceptive.” How can someone claiming to have his or her moral bearings even consider supporting this? Update: Comparative effectiveness is still the law.

Finally — The Obama administration is stacked with czars, Cabinet officials, and others who are enthusiastic supporters of the first two items, and who have frighteningly ghoulish outlooks on life and humanity. Take John Holdren (please). Many of these same people and others with similar “philosophies” would take responsible positions within ObamaCare’s maze, and would no doubt stay on as long as possible regardless of who controls the White House or Congress. How can someone claiming to have his or her moral bearings even consider allowing these people anywhere near the nation’s health care system? Update: Those holding ghoulish outlooks are still around.

That wasn’t difficult, was it?

If ObamaCare is opposed on clear moral grounds, it could go down to a crushing, argument-over defeat. If argued on cost alone, it will more than likely be back to haunt us. I say we bury it once and for all.

There’s no point in discussing what’s in ObamaCare or whatever Obama and his party want to call “Health Care reform” or “Insurance reform” until:

  • The congressional majority produces a bill that does not increase the government’s control over the health care system.
  • The “comparative effectiveness” provisions already passed in the so-called stimulus bill are completed removed, and the President and Congress promise NEVER to bring them up again in any way, shape, or form.
  • Any and all czars and administration officials holding views that are contrary to the Hippocratic Oath — regardless of whether they themselves are doctors — resign or are dismissed.

Any time the Democrats want to bring up freedom-enhancing, free-market solutions to the problems that exist, they’re more than welcome to.

Until then, pass the shovel, and let’s pile on the dirt really, really high. Using Fort Ancient as a model, put ObamaCare’s putrid, statist carcass under a figurative Serpent Mound.

Man vs. Mutt

Filed under: Activism,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 11:17 am

While catching up on a few things, I came across this outstanding piece by Theodore Dalrymple (Anthony Daniels) in the WSJ:

Man vs. Mutt
Theodore Dalrymple on who gets the better treatment, and what this means for U.S. health-care reform.

In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to compare the human and veterinary health services of Great Britain, and on the whole it is better to be a dog.

As a British dog, you get to choose (through an intermediary, I admit) your veterinarian. If you don’t like him, you can pick up your leash and go elsewhere, that very day if necessary. Any vet will see you straight away, there is no delay in such investigations as you may need, and treatment is immediate. There are no waiting lists for dogs, no operations postponed because something more important has come up, no appalling stories of dogs being made to wait for years because other dogs—or hamsters—come first.

The conditions in which you receive your treatment are much more pleasant than British humans have to endure. For one thing, there is no bureaucracy to be negotiated with the skill of a white-water canoeist; above all, the atmosphere is different. There is no tension, no feeling that one more patient will bring the whole system to the point of collapse, and all the staff go off with nervous breakdowns. In the waiting rooms, a perfect calm reigns; the patients’ relatives are not on the verge of hysteria, and do not suspect that the system is cheating their loved one, for economic reasons, of the treatment which he needs. The relatives are united by their concern for the welfare of each other’s loved one. They are not terrified that someone is getting more out of the system than they.

The latter is the fear that also haunts Americans, at least those Americans who think of justice as equality in actual, tangible benefits. That is the ideological driving force of health-care reform in America. Without manifest and undeniable inequalities, the whole question would generate no passion, only dull technical proposals and counterproposals, reported sporadically on the inside pages of newspapers. I have never seen an article on the way veterinary services are arranged in Britain: it is simply not a question.

…The one kind of reform that America should avoid is one that is imposed uniformly upon the whole country, with a vast central bureaucracy. No nation in the world is more fortunate than America in its suitability for testing various possible solutions. The federal government should concern itself very little in health care arrangements, and leave it almost entirely to the states. I don’t want to provoke a new war of secession but surely this is a matter of states’ rights. All judgment, said Doctor Johnson, is comparative; and while comparisons of systems as complex as those of health care are never definitive or indisputable, it is possible to make reasonable global judgments: that the French system is better than the British or Dutch, for example. Only dictators insist they know all the answers in advance of experience. Let 100—or, in the case of the U.S., 50—flowers bloom.

Selfishly, no doubt, I continue to measure the health-care system where I live by what I want for myself and those about me.

And what I want, at least for that part of my time that I spend in England, is to be a dog. I also want, wherever I am, the Americans to go on paying for the great majority of the world’s progress in medical research and technological innovation by the preposterous expense of their system: for it is a truth universally acknowledged that American clinical research has long reigned supreme, so overall, the American health-care system must have been doing something right. The rest of the world soon adopts the progress, without the pain of having had to pay for it.

Read the whole doggone thing here.

Lucid Links (081809, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:16 am

Mona Charen hits the bulls-eye:

President Obama set out to reform health care not because Americans were clamoring to profoundly change our system, but because he wishes to transform the relationship between the individual and the state.


Dennis Prager also hits the center of the target:

…. in the early 1970s, I came to the then-tentative conclusion that I would probably never encounter a morally weaker, more cowardly group of people than college administrators.

…. What prompted this conclusion in the 1970s was seeing a handful of radical students take over classrooms at Columbia and shut down the university while professors and deans, individuals whose lives were supposedly dedicated to the open mind and to learning, did nothing.

…. I came to see the modern university as fraudulent. In theory it stood for learning and opening the mind. In practice it stood for appeasement of bullies.”

This news (“Yale Press Bans Images of Muhammad in New Book”) clearly justifies that sad assessment.


Valid point (HT to an e-mailer) on town hall consistency:

My own representative, and the House Minority Leader, John Boehner is not holding any townhalls. Add to that the district directly south of me, OH-02, which is represented by Jean Schmidt (R), and our Republican Senator George Voinovich.

The justification I’ve heard from Jean Schmidt’s communications director — that there is no one plan out there to talk about, so there’s no common frame of reference — is very weak. Why not hold a meeting that would lay out what Ms. Schmidt (and, separately, Mr. Boehner) would do to improve the system, which, despite being the best in the world, needs freedom-enhancing work?

If you’re concerned about disruptors (and there’s plenty of justification for that concern), hire security. If you’re concerned about unanticipated crowds, take advance (free) reservations limited to a reasonably-sized room on a first-come, first-served basis. I also don’t think there would be anything wrong with a “no signs” rule enforced across the board.

I think Schmidt, Boehner, and others are missing a golden opportunity to distinguish their conduct from that of the potted planters — both congressional and presidential — on the other side of the aisle.


Cal Thomas, on how Brits are rushing to the defense of their National Health Service (NHS):

The British media are conflicted. They patriotically defend the NHS, while simultaneously acknowledging its serious shortcomings. One example: A recent Daily Mail editorial praised the NHS for its free care and universal availability, but then added, “Our survival rates for breast, prostate, ovarian and lung cancers are among the worst in Europe, despite huge additional expenditures.” Free is nice, but best is better.

And of course, it’s really anything but free, even if you callously consider lower survival rates a “cost of doing business.” If that seems an unfair characterization, then try to justify what Britain’s naughty NICE board does to ill British patients all the time.



After insisting no one was receiving unsolicited e-mails from the White House, officials reversed their story Monday night and blamed outside political groups for the unwanted messages from the tech-savvy operation.

Uh, doesn’t this sort of show that the White House’s geniuses aren’t as tech-savvy as advertised?

It’s never their fault.

Note that the name of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who tried (and failed) to ridicule, intimidate, and cut off Fox’s Major Garrett for bringing the issue up, is nowhere to be found in AP’s coverage.

Here’s the exchange between Garrett and Gibbs, which heats up at about 1:00 (Update: The original vid was taken down; I have replaced with one from Fox, which should stay up for at least a while):

Given the result, Gibbs was “pwned,” and owes Garrett an apology that will surely never arrive.

If this had occurred under Bush 43, we’d be hearing about this one for days, and Nancy Pelosi would be at the head of a long line calling for an investigation. It has already been forgotten by the establishment media, and the Congressional leadership could care less.

Drake’s Pa. oil well idea changed world in 1859

Filed under: Economy,Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Titusville, PA:

The oil boom that began 150 years ago in this small northwestern Pennsylvania town changed the world and made countless people rich, but not the man who found the way to successfully extract black gold from the earth.

Edwin Laurentine Drake died an invalid, confined to a wheelchair and virtually penniless. In his later years, he relied on the goodwill of friends and a state pension given late in life to recognize the millions of dollars in tax revenue Pennsylvania made from his drilling method.

“As they say, sometimes the good we do benefits others and not ourselves because he certainly benefited others from his work,” said William Brice, a University of Pittsburgh professor emeritus, author of a book on Drake and the early oil industry. His “Myth, Legend, Reality, Edwin L. Drake and the Early Oil Industry” will be published this year.

Drake’s genius was to drive pipe into the ground so debris wouldn’t clog the drill hole. On Aug. 27, 1859, the method proved successful when his driller struck oil 69 1/2 feet below ground.

Brice said he’s sure that, while Drake didn’t invent the concept, he came up with it independently.

Drake, who had no drilling or engineering background, had been hired by the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Co. to oversee drilling primarily because he was a retired railroad conductor and could ride trains for free, thereby saving the company money. He’d been forced to retire in his mid-30s because of ill health and was working as a hotel clerk in New Haven, Conn., where he met James Townsend, an investor in the company. He was given the title colonel to impress Titusville residents.

The presence of oil around Titusville, then a lumber town of several hundred people, had long been known. Native Americans used it for medicinal purposes, and by the mid-19th century, it was being refined into kerosene for lamp oil.

But extracting it proved vexing. Early efforts involved digging trenches along Oil Creek or collecting it from seeps in the ground.

Drake’s early effort brought ridicule and was known derisively as “Drake’s folly,” as townsfolk doubted it would work. Eventually, he hired “Uncle” Billy Smith, an experienced saltwater driller from Tarentum, near Pittsburgh.

They started drilling in early August 1859. They drove pipe 49 feet into the ground until they struck bedrock and began percussion drilling – using a steam engine to drive a heavy iron bit into the ground to break the rock.

The work was slow going, just a couple of feet a day.

On Aug. 27, they quit for the day. The next day was a Sunday, and Drake, a devout Episcopalian, did not work. Smith stopped by the well and saw liquid. He lowered a can down the well and pulled up oil.

Soon, the valley sprouted scores of derricks. The oil boom was on.

Go here for the rest of the story.