Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 12, 2009

The Winner: the Mullahs

After all the speculation about change in Iran, that country’s Interior Ministry and state media are now claiming that 70 percent of the votes counted so far have gone to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This, of course, represents a preposterous margin and is evidence, if any was needed, of the sham that was Friday’s proceedings. The mullahs want Ahmadinejad to stay where he is.

In at least two important and related senses it never mattered who won Friday. First, the nuclear issue: As Max pointed out earlier, the “reformer” candidate Mir-Hossein Moussavi is as intractable on Iran’s enrichment program as is Ahmadinejad. Second, on the prospects for Iranian democracy: the four candidates were pre-approved by the mullahs for their stellar Khomeinist credentials (471 potential candidates were discarded beforehand for not cutting the Revolutionary mustard). Moreover, as the 70 percent “results” show, even a slight move toward true representative government was never in the offing.

From the American standpoint, the most significant development related to the election came from the U.S. itself. Asked about the voting in Iran, Barack Obama said, “Ultimately the election is for the Iranians to decide. You’re seeing people looking at new possibilities. And whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact that there’s been a robust debate hopefully will help advance our ability to engage them in new ways.” For someone who sees false choices everywhere, he sure was snoozing on this one.

Obama’s was a depressingly bad answer. For what does this now say about America’s attitude toward Friday’s insult to democracy? Does the American president really believe that the Iranian public decided the outcome? Does he think that 70 percent of the vote went to Ahmadinejad as the result of a “robust debate”? This will necessarily be received in all the wrong ways by all the wrong parties. The mullahs and Ahmadinejad will see the U.S. as endorsing and legitimizing their democracy fraud. The genuine democrats of Iran will believe Obama is either hopelessly naive about or cynically complicit in their own continued imprisonment.

What’s worse is Obama has handicapped our ability to get on the right side of what seems to be palpable protest in Iran. For Moussavi is also claiming victory. More than that, he’s openly alleging widespread voter fraud and election rigging — and he has an army of supporters. Yet, the most free and powerful democracy on the planet has indicated its support for the legitimacy of Friday’s electoral process. Despite the Left’s straw man about America’s need to see the true pluralistic face of Iran, we’ve long known about Iranians’ frustration with their leadership. If there was ever a chance for organic change to find purchase in Iran, this is it. With record voter turnout and disgust over Tehran’s incompetent leadership at an all-time high, the Iranian public is poised for something truly startling. And here we are, stuck on the wrong side — in the interest of “mutual respect.”

After all the speculation about change in Iran, that country’s Interior Ministry and state media are now claiming that 70 percent of the votes counted so far have gone to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This, of course, represents a preposterous margin and is evidence, if any was needed, of the sham that was Friday’s proceedings. The mullahs want Ahmadinejad to stay where he is.

In at least two important and related senses it never mattered who won Friday. First, the nuclear issue: As Max pointed out earlier, the “reformer” candidate Mir-Hossein Moussavi is as intractable on Iran’s enrichment program as is Ahmadinejad. Second, on the prospects for Iranian democracy: the four candidates were pre-approved by the mullahs for their stellar Khomeinist credentials (471 potential candidates were discarded beforehand for not cutting the Revolutionary mustard). Moreover, as the 70 percent “results” show, even a slight move toward true representative government was never in the offing.

From the American standpoint, the most significant development related to the election came from the U.S. itself. Asked about the voting in Iran, Barack Obama said, “Ultimately the election is for the Iranians to decide. You’re seeing people looking at new possibilities. And whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact that there’s been a robust debate hopefully will help advance our ability to engage them in new ways.” For someone who sees false choices everywhere, he sure was snoozing on this one.

Obama’s was a depressingly bad answer. For what does this now say about America’s attitude toward Friday’s insult to democracy? Does the American president really believe that the Iranian public decided the outcome? Does he think that 70 percent of the vote went to Ahmadinejad as the result of a “robust debate”? This will necessarily be received in all the wrong ways by all the wrong parties. The mullahs and Ahmadinejad will see the U.S. as endorsing and legitimizing their democracy fraud. The genuine democrats of Iran will believe Obama is either hopelessly naive about or cynically complicit in their own continued imprisonment.

What’s worse is Obama has handicapped our ability to get on the right side of what seems to be palpable protest in Iran. For Moussavi is also claiming victory. More than that, he’s openly alleging widespread voter fraud and election rigging — and he has an army of supporters. Yet, the most free and powerful democracy on the planet has indicated its support for the legitimacy of Friday’s electoral process. Despite the Left’s straw man about America’s need to see the true pluralistic face of Iran, we’ve long known about Iranians’ frustration with their leadership. If there was ever a chance for organic change to find purchase in Iran, this is it. With record voter turnout and disgust over Tehran’s incompetent leadership at an all-time high, the Iranian public is poised for something truly startling. And here we are, stuck on the wrong side — in the interest of “mutual respect.”

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Not Very Vigilant After All

Asked to comment on the last vile anti-Semitic outburst from Rev. Wright, the president’s press secretary could only muster up this: “I haven’t talked to (Obama) about these comments. I don’t have any comment about it.”

No comment, eh? Whatever happened to the president’s admonition following the Holocaust Museum shooting (“This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms”)? Perhaps he means we should be vigilant when it doesn’t much interfere with his own political aims and image. For twenty years Obama wasn’t vigilant in his own church, and now he simply can’t be bothered. There’s leadership for you.

Asked to comment on the last vile anti-Semitic outburst from Rev. Wright, the president’s press secretary could only muster up this: “I haven’t talked to (Obama) about these comments. I don’t have any comment about it.”

No comment, eh? Whatever happened to the president’s admonition following the Holocaust Museum shooting (“This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms”)? Perhaps he means we should be vigilant when it doesn’t much interfere with his own political aims and image. For twenty years Obama wasn’t vigilant in his own church, and now he simply can’t be bothered. There’s leadership for you.

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Commentary of the Day

Maine’s Michael, on Jennifer Rubin:

Who vilifies America’s gun culture?

The ‘morally superior’ Europeans who either participated or stood back and watched during the industrial destruction of a people in WW2, and who depended on the force of American arms to pull their asses out of the fire.

The other block that vilifies our gun culture is the American left, for whom the above Europeans represent the paragon of human social development.

As for the rest of the world, most live under the tyranny of rulers who use guns to keep an unarmed population under control. We don’t know what their opinions about America and guns are, and neither should we care, until they can demonstrate they are free peoples.

Growing up in Canada, I was conditioned to consider gun toting Americans as having a serious personality flaw of potentially lethal consequence.

How shocked I was to discover, as an adult, that my father (an ex-IAF officer) had secretly been going to the range and participating in competitions for decades, without my knowing it. He was far from typical tho, in this regard.

After moving to the U.S., and into the rural state of Maine, gun ownership became as natural, if not quite as important, as eating breakfast.

Maine’s Michael, on Jennifer Rubin:

Who vilifies America’s gun culture?

The ‘morally superior’ Europeans who either participated or stood back and watched during the industrial destruction of a people in WW2, and who depended on the force of American arms to pull their asses out of the fire.

The other block that vilifies our gun culture is the American left, for whom the above Europeans represent the paragon of human social development.

As for the rest of the world, most live under the tyranny of rulers who use guns to keep an unarmed population under control. We don’t know what their opinions about America and guns are, and neither should we care, until they can demonstrate they are free peoples.

Growing up in Canada, I was conditioned to consider gun toting Americans as having a serious personality flaw of potentially lethal consequence.

How shocked I was to discover, as an adult, that my father (an ex-IAF officer) had secretly been going to the range and participating in competitions for decades, without my knowing it. He was far from typical tho, in this regard.

After moving to the U.S., and into the rural state of Maine, gun ownership became as natural, if not quite as important, as eating breakfast.

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The Audacity of Bullying

Peter Beinart pens a column in which he, I think inadvertently, suggests just how ill-conceived Obama’s overt hostility toward Israel is. Beinart suggests the president is doing it to show he’s a tough guy, and because he can get away with it. He writes:

By taking on the Israeli government over the issue of settlement growth, Obama is showing that he’s a gambler overseas as well. Despite the conventional wisdom that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is impossible anytime soon, he seems hell-bent on pursuing one. And if he breaks china in the process, so be it.

Had Obama disclosed during the campaign that “broken china” included the Israel-U.S. relationship, one wonders if he would have garnered much support from voters who think the U.S.-Israeli relationship is so precious and valuable that it shouldn’t be discarded in a macho display by a neophyte president who has no game-plan for dealing with real threats to American security. (No, not ad-ons to East Jerusalem settlements, but Russia, North Korea and Iran.)

Beinart never addresses whether it makes sense to strong-arm Netanyahu. He just applauds the effort to, you know, show Israel who’s boss. But he gets several points wrong. He seems to think Netanyahu doesn’t have the domestic support in Israel to defy a bullying U.S. president. But what domestic consensus exists for halting natural growth of existing settlements? None. Even if Netanyahu wanted to, how would he maintain a government and enforce such a decree?

Beinart also seems to think Netanyahu is counting on Obama to come to his aid on Iran:

He knows that sometime in the next year or two, he could well end up paying a visit to the White House to ask for U.S. support for a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program. For an Israeli Prime Minister, alienating a U.S. President is almost always bad politics, but it’s particularly bad politics when you need his help to stop what you’ve called an existential threat.

On this Beinart is simply daft. Netanyahu, of all people, realizes Obama will not support Israel’s military efforts. After all, Obama has already told us that no country has a right to tell Iran it can’t have a nuclear program. Beinart may be under the delusion that Obama hasn’t accepted the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran. Netanyahu is not so dense.

The entire tenor and thrust of Beinart’s piece suggests that Obama is being a bully because he can get away with it. No concern is voiced as to whether there is any rhyme or reason to the bullying. (Where is the Palestinian offer to recognize Israel?) Nary a mention is made of U.S. historical and strategic ties to Israel, or whether such tactics are likely to promote or retard “peace process” efforts. It really doesn’t matter. The important thing is for Obama to be tough. Because when you can’t be tough with Iran, Syria, North Korea or Russia the next best thing is to beat up on Israel, right?

Peter Beinart pens a column in which he, I think inadvertently, suggests just how ill-conceived Obama’s overt hostility toward Israel is. Beinart suggests the president is doing it to show he’s a tough guy, and because he can get away with it. He writes:

By taking on the Israeli government over the issue of settlement growth, Obama is showing that he’s a gambler overseas as well. Despite the conventional wisdom that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is impossible anytime soon, he seems hell-bent on pursuing one. And if he breaks china in the process, so be it.

Had Obama disclosed during the campaign that “broken china” included the Israel-U.S. relationship, one wonders if he would have garnered much support from voters who think the U.S.-Israeli relationship is so precious and valuable that it shouldn’t be discarded in a macho display by a neophyte president who has no game-plan for dealing with real threats to American security. (No, not ad-ons to East Jerusalem settlements, but Russia, North Korea and Iran.)

Beinart never addresses whether it makes sense to strong-arm Netanyahu. He just applauds the effort to, you know, show Israel who’s boss. But he gets several points wrong. He seems to think Netanyahu doesn’t have the domestic support in Israel to defy a bullying U.S. president. But what domestic consensus exists for halting natural growth of existing settlements? None. Even if Netanyahu wanted to, how would he maintain a government and enforce such a decree?

Beinart also seems to think Netanyahu is counting on Obama to come to his aid on Iran:

He knows that sometime in the next year or two, he could well end up paying a visit to the White House to ask for U.S. support for a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program. For an Israeli Prime Minister, alienating a U.S. President is almost always bad politics, but it’s particularly bad politics when you need his help to stop what you’ve called an existential threat.

On this Beinart is simply daft. Netanyahu, of all people, realizes Obama will not support Israel’s military efforts. After all, Obama has already told us that no country has a right to tell Iran it can’t have a nuclear program. Beinart may be under the delusion that Obama hasn’t accepted the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran. Netanyahu is not so dense.

The entire tenor and thrust of Beinart’s piece suggests that Obama is being a bully because he can get away with it. No concern is voiced as to whether there is any rhyme or reason to the bullying. (Where is the Palestinian offer to recognize Israel?) Nary a mention is made of U.S. historical and strategic ties to Israel, or whether such tactics are likely to promote or retard “peace process” efforts. It really doesn’t matter. The important thing is for Obama to be tough. Because when you can’t be tough with Iran, Syria, North Korea or Russia the next best thing is to beat up on Israel, right?

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Will the Press Treat Moussavi Better Than Bibi? Bet On It!

It’s way too early to tell what the ultimate outcome of the Iranian election will be. After everyone there has voted, we’ll have to allow some time for the Islamist government and its supreme council of mullahs to ratify or fix the results more to their liking.

That said, it may well be that the Iranians have decided that they want a more presentable front man for their revolutionary cause and thus threw out Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in favor of “reformer,” Mir Hussein Moussavi. The New York Times blog, the Lede, tells us that Britain’s Channel 4 News has broadcast a story in which: “Lindsey Hilsum says that a source in Tehran has told her that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has had his own private opinion poll conducted and the results suggest that Mir Hussein Moussavi could be on the verge of a broad victory.”

If so, the main problem will be, as Elliott Abrams writes admirably on today’s Times op-ed page, that we will mistake the victory of Iranian “reformers” for a real change in the nature of the regime. The bet here is that, if he wins, Moussavi (who was Iran’s prime minister during the fanatical Islamic Republic’s war with Iraq) will get kid-glove treatment from the international press and be given the sort of deference and understanding that Benjamin Netanyahu, who won a real democratic election in Israel in February (where the candidates were not vetted by a supreme religious council to ensure that no dissent from its absolute rule is tolerated) never gets.

With Netanyahu slated to deliver a major address on foreign policy on Sunday, during which he will give his response to President Obama’s peace overtures, the contrast between the coverage given his peace proposals and the line taken by Moussavi will be significant. After all, why shouldn’t the leader (albeit a more moderate one than his predecessor) of a theocracy bent on nuclear domination of the region be treated better than the democratically-elected leader of a U.S. ally whose existence is threatened by said theocracy?

It’s way too early to tell what the ultimate outcome of the Iranian election will be. After everyone there has voted, we’ll have to allow some time for the Islamist government and its supreme council of mullahs to ratify or fix the results more to their liking.

That said, it may well be that the Iranians have decided that they want a more presentable front man for their revolutionary cause and thus threw out Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in favor of “reformer,” Mir Hussein Moussavi. The New York Times blog, the Lede, tells us that Britain’s Channel 4 News has broadcast a story in which: “Lindsey Hilsum says that a source in Tehran has told her that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has had his own private opinion poll conducted and the results suggest that Mir Hussein Moussavi could be on the verge of a broad victory.”

If so, the main problem will be, as Elliott Abrams writes admirably on today’s Times op-ed page, that we will mistake the victory of Iranian “reformers” for a real change in the nature of the regime. The bet here is that, if he wins, Moussavi (who was Iran’s prime minister during the fanatical Islamic Republic’s war with Iraq) will get kid-glove treatment from the international press and be given the sort of deference and understanding that Benjamin Netanyahu, who won a real democratic election in Israel in February (where the candidates were not vetted by a supreme religious council to ensure that no dissent from its absolute rule is tolerated) never gets.

With Netanyahu slated to deliver a major address on foreign policy on Sunday, during which he will give his response to President Obama’s peace overtures, the contrast between the coverage given his peace proposals and the line taken by Moussavi will be significant. After all, why shouldn’t the leader (albeit a more moderate one than his predecessor) of a theocracy bent on nuclear domination of the region be treated better than the democratically-elected leader of a U.S. ally whose existence is threatened by said theocracy?

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Chocolate Cake and Other Childish Things

On the subject of the proposed pay-as-you-go rules, the Washington Post editors compare the president to a wishful dieter who insists that his “regular consumption includes four gooey slices of chocolate cake daily — which you have no intention of giving up.” They note that the exceptions to PAYGO swallow the rule. It doesn’t include discretionary spending and it has “four whopping exceptions to the pay-as-you-go rule: extending most of the Bush tax cuts, keeping the estate tax at its current level, preventing the alternative minimum tax from hitting more taxpayers, and increasing Medicare payments to doctors. This adds up to a $2.8 trillion loophole over 10 years.” The Post editors are tired of the excuses:

[T]he president’s self-congratulatory back-patting about fiscal rectitude is more than a bit hard to take in light of the huge exceptions he would grant. Yes, the president inherited a budget in arrears, an economy in tatters and a tax system that is unsustainable as written. It was necessary to add to the deficit in the short term to jolt the economy back to life. The House has these four exemptions in its pay-as-you-go rule; even without the Obama exceptions, there was no reasonable hope that these costs would be paid for.

Yet Mr. Obama’s professions of being willing to make hard choices are belied by his failure to adjust his spending plans to budgetary reality. Something will need to give — either raising significantly more revenue or dramatically scaling back government. He doesn’t deserve much credit for a pay-as-you-go proposal that elides this reality instead of confronting it.

What’s more — the president is making it worse on a daily basis. Buying car companies and expanding healthcare coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans is going to make our fiscal picture even bleaker. Again and again we come back to reality. The president projects an aura of “responsibility” and grown-up sobriety, but his actions suggest otherwise. How long before the media stop cooing over his speeches and rhetoric and start asking tough questions? Here’s one: why is he embarking on a $1.2 trillion new healthcare plan when we are already broke?

On the subject of the proposed pay-as-you-go rules, the Washington Post editors compare the president to a wishful dieter who insists that his “regular consumption includes four gooey slices of chocolate cake daily — which you have no intention of giving up.” They note that the exceptions to PAYGO swallow the rule. It doesn’t include discretionary spending and it has “four whopping exceptions to the pay-as-you-go rule: extending most of the Bush tax cuts, keeping the estate tax at its current level, preventing the alternative minimum tax from hitting more taxpayers, and increasing Medicare payments to doctors. This adds up to a $2.8 trillion loophole over 10 years.” The Post editors are tired of the excuses:

[T]he president’s self-congratulatory back-patting about fiscal rectitude is more than a bit hard to take in light of the huge exceptions he would grant. Yes, the president inherited a budget in arrears, an economy in tatters and a tax system that is unsustainable as written. It was necessary to add to the deficit in the short term to jolt the economy back to life. The House has these four exemptions in its pay-as-you-go rule; even without the Obama exceptions, there was no reasonable hope that these costs would be paid for.

Yet Mr. Obama’s professions of being willing to make hard choices are belied by his failure to adjust his spending plans to budgetary reality. Something will need to give — either raising significantly more revenue or dramatically scaling back government. He doesn’t deserve much credit for a pay-as-you-go proposal that elides this reality instead of confronting it.

What’s more — the president is making it worse on a daily basis. Buying car companies and expanding healthcare coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans is going to make our fiscal picture even bleaker. Again and again we come back to reality. The president projects an aura of “responsibility” and grown-up sobriety, but his actions suggest otherwise. How long before the media stop cooing over his speeches and rhetoric and start asking tough questions? Here’s one: why is he embarking on a $1.2 trillion new healthcare plan when we are already broke?

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Taking Time Out to Hate

In today’s New York Times, Paul Krugman takes time out from his calls for more government intervention in the economy to take a shot at hate-mongers. Krugman is not the only left-winger to blame the shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Museum on conservative talk-show hosts and Fox News. But when a fellow who has won a Nobel Prize for Economics (whether he deserved such an honor is another question entirely) uses his regular perch on the most prestigious op-ed page in the country to spout such nonsense, then we have to accept that the culture wars have escalated to a new level of viciousness.

It was one thing to try and pin the tragic and horrendous murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller on the pro-life movement. Polls show that a majority of Americans were, at best, leery about the sort of late-term abortions that Tiller provided. But that does not mean that anyone who opposed Tiller’s work is responsible for the lunatic who killed him acting on his own. Yet, fair or not, it was to be expected that the Left would make a meal of Bill O’Reilly since the Fox personality had targeted Tiller in his coverage of the issue.

But for Krugman and others to seize on the case of neo-Nazi James W. Von Brunn as a rationale for ranting against Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and actor Jon Voight is the height of absurdity. Nothing they have said or done is even remotely connected to this murderous nut or anyone else who might share his anti-Semitic views. Indeed, Von Brunn probably considered that trio to be the enemy as much as Obama, since they are all stalwart supporters of Israel.

But the most egregious aspect of Krugman’s sham case for blaming the political Right for extremist violence is the fact that he and other liberals ignore the third case of political violence that recently occurred in this country: the shooting of two U.S. soldiers in Arkansas by Abdulhakim Muhahid Muhammad — a Muslim extremist who claimed to be taking “revenge” for America’s “crimes” against Muslims. That incident has received paltry coverage by the mainstream media in contrast to the all-out approach to both Tiller’s murder and to the Holocaust Museum shooting. Krugman and company prefer to ignore it because it doesn’t fit into their ideological box, in which everyone who loudly disagrees with Obama or the left can, in some way, be linked to extremist nut jobs.

To leftists like Krugman, the real story of Muslim-inspired terrorism in this country is one that needs to be played down since it reminds everyone about George Bush’s now abandoned “war on terror.” In fact, the Arkansas incident was hardly the only instance of Islamist terror in this country in the last year. Muhammad’s murderous attack fits into a pattern alongside the foiled plots against the soldiers of Fort Dix, New Jersey and synagogues in Riverdale, New York. Anyone who dares to point this out is falsely accused of fomenting hatred against Muslims when, in fact, the real problem is the flood of anti-Semitic and anti-Western propaganda emanating from Arab and Islamic sources.

Everyone who disagrees with Israel or opposed the war in Iraq ought not to be blamed for anti-American terror, even if they have sometimes spoken in a vulgar or extreme fashion. By the same token, the only rationale for trying to tie right-wing talkers to von Brunn is politics pure and simple.  Far right extremism is dangerous but it has as much to do with Limbaugh and Beck as Al Qaeda does with Krugman. The attempt to politicize the Holocaust Museum shooting or even the Tiller murder is shameful. So is the refusal of the media to recognize the even more dangerous threat of Islamist terror.

In today’s New York Times, Paul Krugman takes time out from his calls for more government intervention in the economy to take a shot at hate-mongers. Krugman is not the only left-winger to blame the shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Museum on conservative talk-show hosts and Fox News. But when a fellow who has won a Nobel Prize for Economics (whether he deserved such an honor is another question entirely) uses his regular perch on the most prestigious op-ed page in the country to spout such nonsense, then we have to accept that the culture wars have escalated to a new level of viciousness.

It was one thing to try and pin the tragic and horrendous murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller on the pro-life movement. Polls show that a majority of Americans were, at best, leery about the sort of late-term abortions that Tiller provided. But that does not mean that anyone who opposed Tiller’s work is responsible for the lunatic who killed him acting on his own. Yet, fair or not, it was to be expected that the Left would make a meal of Bill O’Reilly since the Fox personality had targeted Tiller in his coverage of the issue.

But for Krugman and others to seize on the case of neo-Nazi James W. Von Brunn as a rationale for ranting against Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and actor Jon Voight is the height of absurdity. Nothing they have said or done is even remotely connected to this murderous nut or anyone else who might share his anti-Semitic views. Indeed, Von Brunn probably considered that trio to be the enemy as much as Obama, since they are all stalwart supporters of Israel.

But the most egregious aspect of Krugman’s sham case for blaming the political Right for extremist violence is the fact that he and other liberals ignore the third case of political violence that recently occurred in this country: the shooting of two U.S. soldiers in Arkansas by Abdulhakim Muhahid Muhammad — a Muslim extremist who claimed to be taking “revenge” for America’s “crimes” against Muslims. That incident has received paltry coverage by the mainstream media in contrast to the all-out approach to both Tiller’s murder and to the Holocaust Museum shooting. Krugman and company prefer to ignore it because it doesn’t fit into their ideological box, in which everyone who loudly disagrees with Obama or the left can, in some way, be linked to extremist nut jobs.

To leftists like Krugman, the real story of Muslim-inspired terrorism in this country is one that needs to be played down since it reminds everyone about George Bush’s now abandoned “war on terror.” In fact, the Arkansas incident was hardly the only instance of Islamist terror in this country in the last year. Muhammad’s murderous attack fits into a pattern alongside the foiled plots against the soldiers of Fort Dix, New Jersey and synagogues in Riverdale, New York. Anyone who dares to point this out is falsely accused of fomenting hatred against Muslims when, in fact, the real problem is the flood of anti-Semitic and anti-Western propaganda emanating from Arab and Islamic sources.

Everyone who disagrees with Israel or opposed the war in Iraq ought not to be blamed for anti-American terror, even if they have sometimes spoken in a vulgar or extreme fashion. By the same token, the only rationale for trying to tie right-wing talkers to von Brunn is politics pure and simple.  Far right extremism is dangerous but it has as much to do with Limbaugh and Beck as Al Qaeda does with Krugman. The attempt to politicize the Holocaust Museum shooting or even the Tiller murder is shameful. So is the refusal of the media to recognize the even more dangerous threat of Islamist terror.

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Taking Over GM Is “New,” I Guess

David Brooks assures us that the Obama team is “brimming with good ideas about how to move from a bubble economy to an investment economy.” He continues:

Finding a political strategy to accomplish this, however, is proving to be very difficult. And getting Congress to move in this direction might be impossible. Congressional leaders have been fixated on short-term conventional priorities throughout this entire episode. There is no evidence that the power brokers understand the fundamental transition ahead. They are practicing the same self-indulgence that got us into this mess.

Well, if the Obama administration is brimming with good ideas why haven’t we heard of them? And why is the president out shilling for more of the “self-indulgence that got us into this mess” — like a huge healthcare nationalization plan with no funding mechanism? We didn’t hear any new ideas on the stimulus — a huge, ineffective grab-bag for the Left. We didn’t get brimming new ideas on the supplemental spending bill with 9,000 earmarks. It is hard to understand what they are waiting for — and why they keep indulging Congress, which is doing more of the stuff that got us into this mess.

Frankly, we haven’t heard a single noteworthy new policy idea from this administration. They tried to root out vouchers from D.C. schools. They are recycling Teddy Kennedy’s nationalized healthcare. They found a racial identity, grievance champion for the Supreme Court. And they have spent and spent and spent. What’s new? Taking over failing car companies, telling banks how much to pay their executives, and rolling over the property rights of bondholders are new developments, but I doubt that’s what Brooks has in mind. I think he means intellectually creative and brave. None of those meet such standards.

We are left with two options — either they really don’t have any sparkly, new ideas or they lack the political will and courage to put them out there and fight for them. You don’t think they’ve snowed David Brooks, do you?

David Brooks assures us that the Obama team is “brimming with good ideas about how to move from a bubble economy to an investment economy.” He continues:

Finding a political strategy to accomplish this, however, is proving to be very difficult. And getting Congress to move in this direction might be impossible. Congressional leaders have been fixated on short-term conventional priorities throughout this entire episode. There is no evidence that the power brokers understand the fundamental transition ahead. They are practicing the same self-indulgence that got us into this mess.

Well, if the Obama administration is brimming with good ideas why haven’t we heard of them? And why is the president out shilling for more of the “self-indulgence that got us into this mess” — like a huge healthcare nationalization plan with no funding mechanism? We didn’t hear any new ideas on the stimulus — a huge, ineffective grab-bag for the Left. We didn’t get brimming new ideas on the supplemental spending bill with 9,000 earmarks. It is hard to understand what they are waiting for — and why they keep indulging Congress, which is doing more of the stuff that got us into this mess.

Frankly, we haven’t heard a single noteworthy new policy idea from this administration. They tried to root out vouchers from D.C. schools. They are recycling Teddy Kennedy’s nationalized healthcare. They found a racial identity, grievance champion for the Supreme Court. And they have spent and spent and spent. What’s new? Taking over failing car companies, telling banks how much to pay their executives, and rolling over the property rights of bondholders are new developments, but I doubt that’s what Brooks has in mind. I think he means intellectually creative and brave. None of those meet such standards.

We are left with two options — either they really don’t have any sparkly, new ideas or they lack the political will and courage to put them out there and fight for them. You don’t think they’ve snowed David Brooks, do you?

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Iran’s Elections Are Still Phony

The same western media that has for the past seven years dismissed every genuine throb of freedom in the Middle East is now tripping over itself to praise a prix fixe “election” in a police state that continues to punish dissent with death.

Andrew Sullivan gets the question perfectly inverted when he asks, “Does anyone doubt that if this kid [sic] of peaceful campaigning were happening in Iraq, it would be regarded as a sign of a nascent democracy?” Iraqis could have held a resplendent Obama-McCain-style democracy jubilee and it still would have been yawned off as a sham.

“Peaceful campaigning” can be seen in any backwater dictatorship that tags the words “Democratic Republic of” onto its country name. It’s a cosmetic diversion that often presages phenomena like 100% turnout and 100% support for the incumbent. I’m more impressed with heated campaigning and the kind of defiance Iraqi voters have repeatedly demonstrated in facing down terrorists and making their voices heard on election day — most recently in regional elections that tilted handily toward non-fanatical parties.

Yet, no matter how vital the democratic spirit in Iraq, naysayers like Sullivan dismiss it as an evanescent quirk or a calculated ruse. Which is why he described that last remarkable Iraqi election in this way: “The elections aren’t happening on schedule and the powers that be are doing all they can to disenfranchise the powers that aren’t.”

Sure.

But breathlessness reigns as Iranians go to the polls today to pick one of four candidates who were winnowed down from a pool of 475 by the Guardian Council. Here’s the BBC news gushing over the process:

“There has been a surge of interest recently in Iran’s presidential election, with unprecedented live television debates between the candidates and rallies attended by thousands.

Mr [Kamran] Daneshjoo [election commission chief] has said the turnout could exceed the 1997 election, in which reformist Mohammad Khatami was elected. State-run Irna TV said more than five million people cast their vote in the first four hours of voting.

And here’s Barack Obama celebrating the hand-picked final four as if the Berlin Wall was falling a second time:

“Ultimately the election is for the Iranians to decide,” he said.

“You’re seeing people looking at new possibilities. And whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact that there’s been a robust debate hopefully will help advance our ability to engage them in new ways.”

There are only so many times you can say it, but it bears repeating: the four candidates were winnowed down from a pool of 475 by the Guardian Council. That Iranians “peacefully” embrace this autocratic manipulation as electoral freedom is a sad sign of a beaten down citizenry, not an indication of nascent democracy.

The same western media that has for the past seven years dismissed every genuine throb of freedom in the Middle East is now tripping over itself to praise a prix fixe “election” in a police state that continues to punish dissent with death.

Andrew Sullivan gets the question perfectly inverted when he asks, “Does anyone doubt that if this kid [sic] of peaceful campaigning were happening in Iraq, it would be regarded as a sign of a nascent democracy?” Iraqis could have held a resplendent Obama-McCain-style democracy jubilee and it still would have been yawned off as a sham.

“Peaceful campaigning” can be seen in any backwater dictatorship that tags the words “Democratic Republic of” onto its country name. It’s a cosmetic diversion that often presages phenomena like 100% turnout and 100% support for the incumbent. I’m more impressed with heated campaigning and the kind of defiance Iraqi voters have repeatedly demonstrated in facing down terrorists and making their voices heard on election day — most recently in regional elections that tilted handily toward non-fanatical parties.

Yet, no matter how vital the democratic spirit in Iraq, naysayers like Sullivan dismiss it as an evanescent quirk or a calculated ruse. Which is why he described that last remarkable Iraqi election in this way: “The elections aren’t happening on schedule and the powers that be are doing all they can to disenfranchise the powers that aren’t.”

Sure.

But breathlessness reigns as Iranians go to the polls today to pick one of four candidates who were winnowed down from a pool of 475 by the Guardian Council. Here’s the BBC news gushing over the process:

“There has been a surge of interest recently in Iran’s presidential election, with unprecedented live television debates between the candidates and rallies attended by thousands.

Mr [Kamran] Daneshjoo [election commission chief] has said the turnout could exceed the 1997 election, in which reformist Mohammad Khatami was elected. State-run Irna TV said more than five million people cast their vote in the first four hours of voting.

And here’s Barack Obama celebrating the hand-picked final four as if the Berlin Wall was falling a second time:

“Ultimately the election is for the Iranians to decide,” he said.

“You’re seeing people looking at new possibilities. And whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact that there’s been a robust debate hopefully will help advance our ability to engage them in new ways.”

There are only so many times you can say it, but it bears repeating: the four candidates were winnowed down from a pool of 475 by the Guardian Council. That Iranians “peacefully” embrace this autocratic manipulation as electoral freedom is a sad sign of a beaten down citizenry, not an indication of nascent democracy.

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Stuck on Taxes, Huge Ones

Kimberley Strassel explains why Democrats are having such a hard time nationalizing healthcare. Turns out it costs a fortune. (No, Virginia, there is no Santa and the plan doesn’t “pay for itself.”) And the way to collect enough money — taxing generous employer-provided benefits — has two big problems:

The first is that about 99% of the Democratic Party is on record trashing the idea of taxing health benefits. Trasher-in-chief is none other than President Barack Obama, who mercilessly berated Sen. John McCain for proposing such a change during the 2008 campaign. “Apparently, Senator McCain doesn’t think it’s enough that your health premiums have doubled. He thinks you should have to pay taxes on them, too,” ran one Obama ad. Republicans are, as you read, turning these words into crisp attack ads.

The Democrats’ other problem is that the usual populist line won’t fly. The party would like to be able to protect itself by saying that only those who now receive the most generous benefits will face taxes. Then again, the Americans who now have the Cadillacs (or, in these post-bailout-days, the Swedish sports car Koenigsegg CCXs) of health-care coverage are union workers. Union workers “would be stuck footing more of the bill than others,” says Paul Fronstin, a senior research associate with the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

As to the first, it is true that Obama has reversed his position on a long list of items, with little embarrassment. But to be certain, Obama demogogued the issue in the campaign because people don’t want to be taxed for something they’ve been getting for “free.” And at least McCain was offering them a tax credit to buy their own insurance. Obama would simply be raising millions of people’s taxes.

And the second is a knotty one. With a plurality of voters thinking Obma already favors Big Labor too much, he’s going to have one heck of a time explaining why his campaign sponsors get special treatment. (It will also remind voters that the new wards of the state at GM and Chrysler are the recipients of benefits they can only dream of.)

So what does Obama do? Strassel wryly remarks: “The president may well be attracted to the dollars of a benefit tax, but he’s waiting to see if he can blame Congress for dragging him into it.” There is something to that. It is a strange phenomenon that on the president’s single biggest legislative priority, he never came up with his own comprehensive plan. It’s that darn governing thing. After all the dog-and-pony shows, the campaign-style events, the shows of “solidarity” with interest groups, and the platitudinous  speeches, you have to come up with something that at least seems it could work. And that’s plainly not the administration’s strong suit.

Kimberley Strassel explains why Democrats are having such a hard time nationalizing healthcare. Turns out it costs a fortune. (No, Virginia, there is no Santa and the plan doesn’t “pay for itself.”) And the way to collect enough money — taxing generous employer-provided benefits — has two big problems:

The first is that about 99% of the Democratic Party is on record trashing the idea of taxing health benefits. Trasher-in-chief is none other than President Barack Obama, who mercilessly berated Sen. John McCain for proposing such a change during the 2008 campaign. “Apparently, Senator McCain doesn’t think it’s enough that your health premiums have doubled. He thinks you should have to pay taxes on them, too,” ran one Obama ad. Republicans are, as you read, turning these words into crisp attack ads.

The Democrats’ other problem is that the usual populist line won’t fly. The party would like to be able to protect itself by saying that only those who now receive the most generous benefits will face taxes. Then again, the Americans who now have the Cadillacs (or, in these post-bailout-days, the Swedish sports car Koenigsegg CCXs) of health-care coverage are union workers. Union workers “would be stuck footing more of the bill than others,” says Paul Fronstin, a senior research associate with the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

As to the first, it is true that Obama has reversed his position on a long list of items, with little embarrassment. But to be certain, Obama demogogued the issue in the campaign because people don’t want to be taxed for something they’ve been getting for “free.” And at least McCain was offering them a tax credit to buy their own insurance. Obama would simply be raising millions of people’s taxes.

And the second is a knotty one. With a plurality of voters thinking Obma already favors Big Labor too much, he’s going to have one heck of a time explaining why his campaign sponsors get special treatment. (It will also remind voters that the new wards of the state at GM and Chrysler are the recipients of benefits they can only dream of.)

So what does Obama do? Strassel wryly remarks: “The president may well be attracted to the dollars of a benefit tax, but he’s waiting to see if he can blame Congress for dragging him into it.” There is something to that. It is a strange phenomenon that on the president’s single biggest legislative priority, he never came up with his own comprehensive plan. It’s that darn governing thing. After all the dog-and-pony shows, the campaign-style events, the shows of “solidarity” with interest groups, and the platitudinous  speeches, you have to come up with something that at least seems it could work. And that’s plainly not the administration’s strong suit.

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The Gaza Pit

Recently, the Jerusalem Post has published two articles about the Gaza Strip that paint remarkably compelling and enlightening pictures of the region.

The first was a reminiscence from Eliezer Whartman, who entered the strip after Israel captured it from Egypt in the Six Day War. He saw, first hand, what it had been like for the Arabs living there for almost two decades under Egyptian rule. After almost four decades the Israelis turned power over to the Palestinian Authority in 1994 and withdrew fully in 2005, a process that culminated in Hamas winning elections and taking power in 2007.

With the strip firmly in the hands of a terrorist organization whose declared purpose is the destruction of Israel and in the wake of an endless barrage of terrorist attacks and bombardment by rockets and mortars, Israel has had to flex its muscles and keep the assaults down to a dull roar. Naturally, this is denounced by much of the world as a form of “genocide” and even “a Holocaust.” Oddly enough, many of those making those comparisons also deny the original Holocaust — “the Jews are acting just like Nazis, who really weren’t so bad!”

Every now and then, stories like this second one from the Jerusalem Post sneak out and they should cause the world to do a rethink. While Israel complains about Palestinians digging tunnels under their borders to smuggle weapons (from Egypt into Gaza as well as from Gaza into Israel proper), it’s cooperating with Palestinians to dig a tunnel that will supply fuel and cooking oil from Israel into the Gaza Strip. And while Israel is stringing up wire to keep out Palestinians, it is also stringing up wire to carry electricity to them.

Naturally, this story ruins the popular narrative, so it won’t get the coverage it deserves.

Recently, the Jerusalem Post has published two articles about the Gaza Strip that paint remarkably compelling and enlightening pictures of the region.

The first was a reminiscence from Eliezer Whartman, who entered the strip after Israel captured it from Egypt in the Six Day War. He saw, first hand, what it had been like for the Arabs living there for almost two decades under Egyptian rule. After almost four decades the Israelis turned power over to the Palestinian Authority in 1994 and withdrew fully in 2005, a process that culminated in Hamas winning elections and taking power in 2007.

With the strip firmly in the hands of a terrorist organization whose declared purpose is the destruction of Israel and in the wake of an endless barrage of terrorist attacks and bombardment by rockets and mortars, Israel has had to flex its muscles and keep the assaults down to a dull roar. Naturally, this is denounced by much of the world as a form of “genocide” and even “a Holocaust.” Oddly enough, many of those making those comparisons also deny the original Holocaust — “the Jews are acting just like Nazis, who really weren’t so bad!”

Every now and then, stories like this second one from the Jerusalem Post sneak out and they should cause the world to do a rethink. While Israel complains about Palestinians digging tunnels under their borders to smuggle weapons (from Egypt into Gaza as well as from Gaza into Israel proper), it’s cooperating with Palestinians to dig a tunnel that will supply fuel and cooking oil from Israel into the Gaza Strip. And while Israel is stringing up wire to keep out Palestinians, it is also stringing up wire to carry electricity to them.

Naturally, this story ruins the popular narrative, so it won’t get the coverage it deserves.

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“You’re going to have to convince people, not kill them.”

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new commander in Afghanistan, is a widely acclaimed veteran of the Special Operations community. In Iraq he led the Joint Special Operations Command, which was in charge of hunting down high-value targets. He is generally acknowledged to be a brilliant, driven officer. The only doubt about his appointment has been: Will he be overly focused on taking down terrorist kingpins in Afghanistan? That strategy has never produced success in a counterinsurgency, which requires using plain old conventional troops to produce a sense of security among the populace. In this Wall Street Journal interview, he lays those doubts to rest. The key quotes:

After watching the U.S. try and fail for years to put down insurgencies in both countries, Gen. McChrystal said he believes that to win in Afghanistan, “You’re going to have to convince people, not kill them.”

“Since 9/11, I have watched as America tried to first put out this fire with a hammer, and it doesn’t work,” he said last week at his home at Fort McNair in Washington. “Decapitation strategies don’t work”….

“I know that I want it to be an effective traditional or classic counterinsurgency campaign by getting people down in among the population.”

That’s a pretty stunning — and encouraging — statement coming from the former JSOC commander whose job was to pursue a “decapitation strategy” in Iraq by killing Abu Musab al Zarqawi, capturing Saddam Hussein, and other high-profile coups. But it’s a testament to McChrystal’s depth of strategic vision that he realizes something more is called for to win the war in Afghanistan. Whether he will be able to successfully carry out this strategy is another question; but at least he’s on the right track.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new commander in Afghanistan, is a widely acclaimed veteran of the Special Operations community. In Iraq he led the Joint Special Operations Command, which was in charge of hunting down high-value targets. He is generally acknowledged to be a brilliant, driven officer. The only doubt about his appointment has been: Will he be overly focused on taking down terrorist kingpins in Afghanistan? That strategy has never produced success in a counterinsurgency, which requires using plain old conventional troops to produce a sense of security among the populace. In this Wall Street Journal interview, he lays those doubts to rest. The key quotes:

After watching the U.S. try and fail for years to put down insurgencies in both countries, Gen. McChrystal said he believes that to win in Afghanistan, “You’re going to have to convince people, not kill them.”

“Since 9/11, I have watched as America tried to first put out this fire with a hammer, and it doesn’t work,” he said last week at his home at Fort McNair in Washington. “Decapitation strategies don’t work”….

“I know that I want it to be an effective traditional or classic counterinsurgency campaign by getting people down in among the population.”

That’s a pretty stunning — and encouraging — statement coming from the former JSOC commander whose job was to pursue a “decapitation strategy” in Iraq by killing Abu Musab al Zarqawi, capturing Saddam Hussein, and other high-profile coups. But it’s a testament to McChrystal’s depth of strategic vision that he realizes something more is called for to win the war in Afghanistan. Whether he will be able to successfully carry out this strategy is another question; but at least he’s on the right track.

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Taking Anti-Semitism Seriously

President of the Israel Project Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi has released a statement explaining that she previously complained about hate material dropped in her driveway in 2005 from The National Alliance, a group the Holocaust Museum shooter James von Brunn was associated with. She states:

The material from National Alliance – all 22 pages of it – was rolled up in a plastic bag and lying next to my local paper. On the outside of the handouts appeared a photo of a blond-haired, blue-eyed child with the headline “Missing” blown up and written in bold. When I saw it, I opened the material thinking it was to help an innocent child. However, what I saw were the words “A Future For White Children Is Missing.” Within the pages, Jews were described as “kikes” with “hook noses” beneath headlines like, “When The Goddamn Jews Take Over America!”

[. . .]

I believe that if my report to the police in December of 2005 had been taken more seriously, perhaps the attack on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum yesterday – where a good and innocent man was murdered – could have been averted.

We’ll see in the days and weeks ahead what associations von Brunn had and whether law enforcement officials ever investigated complaints about him. (We already know he received a paltry 6 1/2 year sentence for threatening to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve.) But the message is an important one: when people commit themselves to eradicating Jews, denying the Holocaust, or rooting out nefarious Jewish control of America, we should perk up.

President of the Israel Project Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi has released a statement explaining that she previously complained about hate material dropped in her driveway in 2005 from The National Alliance, a group the Holocaust Museum shooter James von Brunn was associated with. She states:

The material from National Alliance – all 22 pages of it – was rolled up in a plastic bag and lying next to my local paper. On the outside of the handouts appeared a photo of a blond-haired, blue-eyed child with the headline “Missing” blown up and written in bold. When I saw it, I opened the material thinking it was to help an innocent child. However, what I saw were the words “A Future For White Children Is Missing.” Within the pages, Jews were described as “kikes” with “hook noses” beneath headlines like, “When The Goddamn Jews Take Over America!”

[. . .]

I believe that if my report to the police in December of 2005 had been taken more seriously, perhaps the attack on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum yesterday – where a good and innocent man was murdered – could have been averted.

We’ll see in the days and weeks ahead what associations von Brunn had and whether law enforcement officials ever investigated complaints about him. (We already know he received a paltry 6 1/2 year sentence for threatening to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve.) But the message is an important one: when people commit themselves to eradicating Jews, denying the Holocaust, or rooting out nefarious Jewish control of America, we should perk up.

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Iran’s Nuclear “Moderate”

With the press all aflutter about the possibility of “reform” and “change” in Iran as a result of its presidential elections, Rep. Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois (and a naval reserve officer), provides a useful corrective with a “Dear Colleague” letter he has just sent around the House. He makes the point about how close Iran is to producing nuclear weapons, citing reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Just as importantly, he points out that even if Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the supposed “reformer,” wins the election, little is likely to change with regard to Iran’s  nuclear program. The key points:

On April 27, 2009, Mr. Mousavi told Der Spiegel, “We will not abandon the great achievements of Iranian scientists. I too will not suspend uranium enrichment.” Der Spiegel asked if he would at least consider the outsourcing of uranium enrichment, as proposed by Russia. Mr. Mousavi responded simply, “No.”

On April 13, 2009, Mr. Mousavi told the Financial Times, “No one in Iran would accept suspension. Progress in nuclear technology and its peaceful use is the right of all countries and nations. This is what we have painfully achieved with our own efforts. No one will retreat.”

On April 6, 2009, according to the Associated Press, Mr. Mousavi said, “We have to have the technology,” adding that “the consequences of giving up the country’s nuclear program would be ‘irreparable’ and that the Iranian people support the nuclear program.”

On March 11, 2009, the Washington Post quoted Mr. Mousavi as saying, “The nuclear technology is one of the examples of the achievements of our youth.”

In any case, even if Moussavi wanted to stop the nuclear program, he couldn’t. As Elliott Abrams points out in this New York Times op-ed, “Mr. Ahmadinejad’s defeat would probably be welcomed abroad as a sign that Iran is moving away from his policies, but Iran’s policies aren’t his — they are dictated by Ayatollah Khamenei and his supporters in the Revolutionary Guard and Basij paramilitary.”

So please let’s put a moratorium on talk about Iranian moderates. We’ve heard it all before.

With the press all aflutter about the possibility of “reform” and “change” in Iran as a result of its presidential elections, Rep. Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois (and a naval reserve officer), provides a useful corrective with a “Dear Colleague” letter he has just sent around the House. He makes the point about how close Iran is to producing nuclear weapons, citing reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Just as importantly, he points out that even if Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the supposed “reformer,” wins the election, little is likely to change with regard to Iran’s  nuclear program. The key points:

On April 27, 2009, Mr. Mousavi told Der Spiegel, “We will not abandon the great achievements of Iranian scientists. I too will not suspend uranium enrichment.” Der Spiegel asked if he would at least consider the outsourcing of uranium enrichment, as proposed by Russia. Mr. Mousavi responded simply, “No.”

On April 13, 2009, Mr. Mousavi told the Financial Times, “No one in Iran would accept suspension. Progress in nuclear technology and its peaceful use is the right of all countries and nations. This is what we have painfully achieved with our own efforts. No one will retreat.”

On April 6, 2009, according to the Associated Press, Mr. Mousavi said, “We have to have the technology,” adding that “the consequences of giving up the country’s nuclear program would be ‘irreparable’ and that the Iranian people support the nuclear program.”

On March 11, 2009, the Washington Post quoted Mr. Mousavi as saying, “The nuclear technology is one of the examples of the achievements of our youth.”

In any case, even if Moussavi wanted to stop the nuclear program, he couldn’t. As Elliott Abrams points out in this New York Times op-ed, “Mr. Ahmadinejad’s defeat would probably be welcomed abroad as a sign that Iran is moving away from his policies, but Iran’s policies aren’t his — they are dictated by Ayatollah Khamenei and his supporters in the Revolutionary Guard and Basij paramilitary.”

So please let’s put a moratorium on talk about Iranian moderates. We’ve heard it all before.

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Are We Done Then?

The Washington Post reports:

The Obama administration has all but abandoned plans to allow Guantanamo Bay detainees who have been cleared for release to live in the United States, administration officials said yesterday, a decision that reflects bipartisan congressional opposition to admitting such prisoners but complicates efforts to convince European allies to accept them.

Well, we pawned a few Uighurs off on Bermuda to the chagrin of the British government. (Special relationship? Feh!) And for a few hundred million dollars more, we sent some to Palau. And there’s this:

“It could be a big week for Gitmo,” said a second administration official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, adding that there is a possibility that as many as four more detainees could be transferred in the next couple of days. The administration is also finalizing a deal with Saudi Arabia to accept some of the nearly 100 Yemenis who are among the 232 detainees remaining at Guantanamo, U.S. and Saudi officials said.

The friends and families of the U.S.S. Cole victims (and the bombing survivors) and those who doubt the rehabilitative abilities of the Saudis will be chagrined about that.

And when we are all done with that, we still have the worst-of-the-worst in Guantanamo. Isn’t the jig now up? “According to Sarah Mendelson, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who authored a report on closing Guantanamo, ‘Once it becomes clear no detainees will be settled in the U.S., potentially you could hear doors slamming all over Europe.'” So does Obama now admit failure or tell us Guantanamo wasn’t so bad after all?

We’ve spent hundreds of millions in bribes to Palau, annoyed the British, and sent Yemenis for faux rehabilitation in the land of  Wahhabism. Can we be done now before we spend hundreds of millions more (who authorized that money to be spent, by the way?), release any more potential recidivists, and offend any more allies?

The Washington Post reports:

The Obama administration has all but abandoned plans to allow Guantanamo Bay detainees who have been cleared for release to live in the United States, administration officials said yesterday, a decision that reflects bipartisan congressional opposition to admitting such prisoners but complicates efforts to convince European allies to accept them.

Well, we pawned a few Uighurs off on Bermuda to the chagrin of the British government. (Special relationship? Feh!) And for a few hundred million dollars more, we sent some to Palau. And there’s this:

“It could be a big week for Gitmo,” said a second administration official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, adding that there is a possibility that as many as four more detainees could be transferred in the next couple of days. The administration is also finalizing a deal with Saudi Arabia to accept some of the nearly 100 Yemenis who are among the 232 detainees remaining at Guantanamo, U.S. and Saudi officials said.

The friends and families of the U.S.S. Cole victims (and the bombing survivors) and those who doubt the rehabilitative abilities of the Saudis will be chagrined about that.

And when we are all done with that, we still have the worst-of-the-worst in Guantanamo. Isn’t the jig now up? “According to Sarah Mendelson, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who authored a report on closing Guantanamo, ‘Once it becomes clear no detainees will be settled in the U.S., potentially you could hear doors slamming all over Europe.'” So does Obama now admit failure or tell us Guantanamo wasn’t so bad after all?

We’ve spent hundreds of millions in bribes to Palau, annoyed the British, and sent Yemenis for faux rehabilitation in the land of  Wahhabism. Can we be done now before we spend hundreds of millions more (who authorized that money to be spent, by the way?), release any more potential recidivists, and offend any more allies?

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Birds of a Feather

Charles Krauthammer has had it with the holier-than-thou act from Obama:

Not that Obama considers himself divine. (He sees himself as merely messianic, or, at worst, apostolic.) But he does position himself as hovering above mere mortals, mere country, to gaze benignly upon the darkling plain beneath him where ignorant armies clash by night, blind to the common humanity that only he can see. Traveling the world, he brings the gospel of understanding and godly forbearance. We have all sinned against each other. We must now look beyond that and walk together to the sunny uplands of comity and understanding. He shall guide you.

It is not merely the condescension to which Krauthammer objects, but the simple-minded falsification of reality to suit the trope of moral equivalence:

For all of his philosophy, the philosopher-king protests too much. Obama undoubtedly thinks he is demonstrating historical magnanimity with all these moral equivalencies and self-flagellating apologetics. On the contrary. He’s showing cheap condescension, an unseemly hunger for applause and a willingness to distort history for political effect.

Distorting history is not truth-telling but the telling of soft lies. Creating false equivalencies is not moral leadership but moral abdication. And hovering above it all, above country and history, is a sign not of transcendence but of a disturbing ambivalence toward one’s own country.

No wonder the media revels in this president — no parochial loyalty, no crass patriotism, no American boosterism. Obama’s media cheering section embodies the worst of  academic elitism — a disdain for country and indeed for the West. And Obama acts accordingly, shaping narratives that don’t match up to reality. Women’s rights receive infinitely greater protection in the West than in the Middle East (excluding Israel), yet the president is forced to fabricate and the media to avert its eyes. No stoning stories of accused Saudi women made it into the Cairo speech and few if any will make it onto the front page of the New York Times. Palestinians, unlike enslaved American blacks, have repeatedly been offered their own state. But to say so would suggest that the partiess conduct in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not equal, and therefore cannot be resolved so easily by a “let’s get along” admonition from the American president.

But the question remains: if Obama isn’t going to take sides don’t we need an American president? After all, all the other countries have advocates, defenders, and boosters. It seems we could use one too. We already have quite enough liberal media pundits willing to excoriate American for distant and slight sins, a UN bubbling over with anti-Americanism, and legions of snooty academics and Europeans to finger-wag at America and the West. We don’t really need the U.S. President for that, do we?

Charles Krauthammer has had it with the holier-than-thou act from Obama:

Not that Obama considers himself divine. (He sees himself as merely messianic, or, at worst, apostolic.) But he does position himself as hovering above mere mortals, mere country, to gaze benignly upon the darkling plain beneath him where ignorant armies clash by night, blind to the common humanity that only he can see. Traveling the world, he brings the gospel of understanding and godly forbearance. We have all sinned against each other. We must now look beyond that and walk together to the sunny uplands of comity and understanding. He shall guide you.

It is not merely the condescension to which Krauthammer objects, but the simple-minded falsification of reality to suit the trope of moral equivalence:

For all of his philosophy, the philosopher-king protests too much. Obama undoubtedly thinks he is demonstrating historical magnanimity with all these moral equivalencies and self-flagellating apologetics. On the contrary. He’s showing cheap condescension, an unseemly hunger for applause and a willingness to distort history for political effect.

Distorting history is not truth-telling but the telling of soft lies. Creating false equivalencies is not moral leadership but moral abdication. And hovering above it all, above country and history, is a sign not of transcendence but of a disturbing ambivalence toward one’s own country.

No wonder the media revels in this president — no parochial loyalty, no crass patriotism, no American boosterism. Obama’s media cheering section embodies the worst of  academic elitism — a disdain for country and indeed for the West. And Obama acts accordingly, shaping narratives that don’t match up to reality. Women’s rights receive infinitely greater protection in the West than in the Middle East (excluding Israel), yet the president is forced to fabricate and the media to avert its eyes. No stoning stories of accused Saudi women made it into the Cairo speech and few if any will make it onto the front page of the New York Times. Palestinians, unlike enslaved American blacks, have repeatedly been offered their own state. But to say so would suggest that the partiess conduct in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not equal, and therefore cannot be resolved so easily by a “let’s get along” admonition from the American president.

But the question remains: if Obama isn’t going to take sides don’t we need an American president? After all, all the other countries have advocates, defenders, and boosters. It seems we could use one too. We already have quite enough liberal media pundits willing to excoriate American for distant and slight sins, a UN bubbling over with anti-Americanism, and legions of snooty academics and Europeans to finger-wag at America and the West. We don’t really need the U.S. President for that, do we?

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Decoding Obama

In the course of only five months, President Obama has reached into his bag and pulled out a dazzling number of misleading rhetorical tricks.

Let’s begin with his much-touted claim that his Administration is responsible for having “saved or created” at least 150,000 American jobs, even though we have shed well over a million jobs since Obama took office. Jesus may have turned water into wine – but even He did not claim to have turned job losses into job gains. That is the picture Obama is trying to portray. Of course, to place an empirical figure on the number of jobs Obama has “saved” is risible; if Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush had tried to get away with such a stunt, they would have been ridiculed and criticized mercilessly. Among the largely supine and compliant Obama press corps, however, the claim is reported as if it were written on tablets of stone.

Obama’s “saved and created” claim is cousin to the contention by Obama that his Administration – you know, the one which would put an end to “phony accounting” – had identified $2 trillion in savings in his budget. It turns out, though, that $1.6 trillion of this amount qualifies as “savings” under the assumption that the surge in Iraq would have continued for 10 more years. The problem is that Obama made this savings claim despite having already declared that our combat mission in Iraq will end by August 31, 2010 – and despite the fact that the Status of Forces Agreement calls for all U.S. forces to be out of Iraq by December 2011.

The President assures us that his budget moves America “from an era of borrow and spend” to one of “save and invest.” He speaks about our responsibility to our children “to ensure that we do not pass on to them a debt they cannot pay.” Yet according to the Congressional Budget Office, on Obama’s watch the national debt will double in six years and nearly triple it in 10 years. (This year alone federal spending will top $4 trillion, which equals more than 28 percent of the GDP, a level exceeded only at the height of World War II; the deficit for this fiscal year is projected to be more than $1.8 trillion; and the deficit as a percentage of the GDP, which was less than 1.2 percent in 2007, will be almost 13 percent this year.)

Click here to read the rest of this COMMENTARY Web Exclusive.

In the course of only five months, President Obama has reached into his bag and pulled out a dazzling number of misleading rhetorical tricks.

Let’s begin with his much-touted claim that his Administration is responsible for having “saved or created” at least 150,000 American jobs, even though we have shed well over a million jobs since Obama took office. Jesus may have turned water into wine – but even He did not claim to have turned job losses into job gains. That is the picture Obama is trying to portray. Of course, to place an empirical figure on the number of jobs Obama has “saved” is risible; if Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush had tried to get away with such a stunt, they would have been ridiculed and criticized mercilessly. Among the largely supine and compliant Obama press corps, however, the claim is reported as if it were written on tablets of stone.

Obama’s “saved and created” claim is cousin to the contention by Obama that his Administration – you know, the one which would put an end to “phony accounting” – had identified $2 trillion in savings in his budget. It turns out, though, that $1.6 trillion of this amount qualifies as “savings” under the assumption that the surge in Iraq would have continued for 10 more years. The problem is that Obama made this savings claim despite having already declared that our combat mission in Iraq will end by August 31, 2010 – and despite the fact that the Status of Forces Agreement calls for all U.S. forces to be out of Iraq by December 2011.

The President assures us that his budget moves America “from an era of borrow and spend” to one of “save and invest.” He speaks about our responsibility to our children “to ensure that we do not pass on to them a debt they cannot pay.” Yet according to the Congressional Budget Office, on Obama’s watch the national debt will double in six years and nearly triple it in 10 years. (This year alone federal spending will top $4 trillion, which equals more than 28 percent of the GDP, a level exceeded only at the height of World War II; the deficit for this fiscal year is projected to be more than $1.8 trillion; and the deficit as a percentage of the GDP, which was less than 1.2 percent in 2007, will be almost 13 percent this year.)

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Flotsam and Jetsam

A guide to all the things Jon Corzine has to worry about.

These people are no fools: “China will not make a binding commitment to reduce carbon emissions, putting in jeopardy the prospects for a global pact on climate change. Officials from Beijing told a UN conference in Bonn yesterday that China would increase its emissions to develop its economy rather than sign up to mandatory cuts.” Increase, mind you. But not our Congress and president. What’s wrong with this picture?

It took David Letterman to get NOW to speak up for Sarah Palin and her family.

In an effort to improve our image around the world by closing Guantanamo, Obama has angered the British, our closest ally, by going behind theirs backs to cut a deal with Bermuda. Is this even about America’s image anymore or is it about Obama’s credentials with the American Left?

More reason for the profligate spenders to worry: “Most voters (53%) believe increases in government spending hurt the economy, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. . . Just 27% now say increased government spending helps the economy, and 10% say it has no impact.” And that includes 57% of Independents who think spending hurts the economy.

Maybe nationalized healthcare isn’t inevitable. James Capretta writes: “Reality is starting to sink in. It’s one thing to promise massive new subsidies for insurance. It is quite another to put together a realistic plan to pay for the program, especially on a partisan basis. There is simply no politically easy or safe way to raise $1.5 trillion for a government takeover of American health care. Rank-and-file Democrats are starting to find that out.”

Former Democratic Congressmen Martin Frost: “It is an enormous mistake for the government to become involved in setting executive pay levels for privately held businesses. If the government owns the majority of the shares in any company, the government should elect a majority of the board of directors and let the board set compensation levels. It should not be done as a matter of course by a government official just because the government has some stake in a company. Put me down on the side of pro-free enterprise Democrats.” Wow. .  . “pro-free enterprise Democrats.” We finally found a group smaller than Scoop Jackson Democrats.

Michael Goldfarb debunks the notion that Ahmadinejad’s opponent is a “reformist candidate.”

Michael Gerson probes why anti-Semitism is an enduring evil. He writes: “But we do know that anti-Semitism has always been a kind of test — a reliable measure of a nation’s moral and social health. When the rights of Jews are violated, all human rights are insecure. When Jews and Jewish institutions are targeted, all minorities have reason for fear. And by this standard, America has cause for introspection.” As to the last point, yes and no. No non-Jewish nation has every been as accepting and as safe for Jews as America. But the degree to which anti-Semitism weaves itself, not only into sporadic violence and the vile verbiage from the likes of the Reverend Wrights, but into 24/7 blogspheric dialogue and “polite” society is shocking and deeply disturbing.

Jeffrey Goldberg makes the case that Jews need to get over their gun aversion: “I think the Jewish community should take this as a lesson, in particular those institutions that are only ‘protected’ by unarmed guards. You can’t fight a rifle or a shotgun with a stick, or a whistle, or good intentions. Only armed guards are at all capable of stopping an attack. American Jews — and this is broad generalization here — are queasy around weapons. This queasiness is rooted in our urban and suburban existence. But one of the lessons of the Holocaust to me — I said this in my book, Prisoners, to some criticism — is that it is more difficult to kill an armed Jew than an unarmed Jew.”

Sure enough the defense supplemental funding bill nearly unraveled – and the president sorta, kinda seemed to say if needed to he would sign an executive order to prevent release of the detainee abuse photos. Why didn’t he do this up front? Rather hide behind the courts or Congress if he possibly can, it seems. There’s a leader for you.

A guide to all the things Jon Corzine has to worry about.

These people are no fools: “China will not make a binding commitment to reduce carbon emissions, putting in jeopardy the prospects for a global pact on climate change. Officials from Beijing told a UN conference in Bonn yesterday that China would increase its emissions to develop its economy rather than sign up to mandatory cuts.” Increase, mind you. But not our Congress and president. What’s wrong with this picture?

It took David Letterman to get NOW to speak up for Sarah Palin and her family.

In an effort to improve our image around the world by closing Guantanamo, Obama has angered the British, our closest ally, by going behind theirs backs to cut a deal with Bermuda. Is this even about America’s image anymore or is it about Obama’s credentials with the American Left?

More reason for the profligate spenders to worry: “Most voters (53%) believe increases in government spending hurt the economy, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. . . Just 27% now say increased government spending helps the economy, and 10% say it has no impact.” And that includes 57% of Independents who think spending hurts the economy.

Maybe nationalized healthcare isn’t inevitable. James Capretta writes: “Reality is starting to sink in. It’s one thing to promise massive new subsidies for insurance. It is quite another to put together a realistic plan to pay for the program, especially on a partisan basis. There is simply no politically easy or safe way to raise $1.5 trillion for a government takeover of American health care. Rank-and-file Democrats are starting to find that out.”

Former Democratic Congressmen Martin Frost: “It is an enormous mistake for the government to become involved in setting executive pay levels for privately held businesses. If the government owns the majority of the shares in any company, the government should elect a majority of the board of directors and let the board set compensation levels. It should not be done as a matter of course by a government official just because the government has some stake in a company. Put me down on the side of pro-free enterprise Democrats.” Wow. .  . “pro-free enterprise Democrats.” We finally found a group smaller than Scoop Jackson Democrats.

Michael Goldfarb debunks the notion that Ahmadinejad’s opponent is a “reformist candidate.”

Michael Gerson probes why anti-Semitism is an enduring evil. He writes: “But we do know that anti-Semitism has always been a kind of test — a reliable measure of a nation’s moral and social health. When the rights of Jews are violated, all human rights are insecure. When Jews and Jewish institutions are targeted, all minorities have reason for fear. And by this standard, America has cause for introspection.” As to the last point, yes and no. No non-Jewish nation has every been as accepting and as safe for Jews as America. But the degree to which anti-Semitism weaves itself, not only into sporadic violence and the vile verbiage from the likes of the Reverend Wrights, but into 24/7 blogspheric dialogue and “polite” society is shocking and deeply disturbing.

Jeffrey Goldberg makes the case that Jews need to get over their gun aversion: “I think the Jewish community should take this as a lesson, in particular those institutions that are only ‘protected’ by unarmed guards. You can’t fight a rifle or a shotgun with a stick, or a whistle, or good intentions. Only armed guards are at all capable of stopping an attack. American Jews — and this is broad generalization here — are queasy around weapons. This queasiness is rooted in our urban and suburban existence. But one of the lessons of the Holocaust to me — I said this in my book, Prisoners, to some criticism — is that it is more difficult to kill an armed Jew than an unarmed Jew.”

Sure enough the defense supplemental funding bill nearly unraveled – and the president sorta, kinda seemed to say if needed to he would sign an executive order to prevent release of the detainee abuse photos. Why didn’t he do this up front? Rather hide behind the courts or Congress if he possibly can, it seems. There’s a leader for you.

Read Less




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