Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

The “sort of God” sort of doesn’t believe in transparency. “Since Obama pledged on his first day in office to usher in a ‘new era’ of openness, ‘nothing has changed,’ says David -Sobel, a lawyer who litigates FOIA cases. ‘For a president who said he was going to bring unprecedented transparency to government, you would certainly expect more than the recycling of old Bush secrecy policies.”

Eye-opening: “The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale. Interviews with technology experts in Iran and outside the country say Iranian efforts at monitoring Internet information go well beyond blocking access to Web sites or severing Internet connections.” How many Iranians will die or be imprisoned as a result? Shameful. UPDATE: It seems the Washington Times had this identical story months ago.

What does the president do now? “Iranian government media Sunday launched a campaign against Mir Hussein Mousavi and his supporters, calling the leader of the protests over Iran’s disputed election a ‘criminal’ and comparing demonstrators to members of a hated terrorist group. . . Iranian state television reported that 10 people died and more than 100 were injured Saturday when clashes broke out between security forces and protesters assembling for a pro-Mousavi rally that authorities had banned.”

Fouad Ajami explains that Obama’s straddling hasn’t worked: “That ambivalence at the heart of the Obama diplomacy about freedom has not served American policy well in this crisis. We had tried to ‘cheat’ — an opening to the regime with an obligatory wink to those who took to the streets appalled by their rulers’ cynicism and utter disregard for their people’s intelligence and common sense — and we were caught at it.”

North Korea appears not to be taking the UN sanctions seriously:”A North Korean cargo ship shadowed by a United States Navy destroyer was reportedly steaming toward Myanmar on Sunday, posing what could be the first test of how far the United States and its allies will go under a new United Nations resolution to stop the North’s military shipments.”

John McCain says we should board the ship if we have evidence it has missiles or other material banned by UN resolutions. Is there any possible reason not to?

After reviewing the results of the independent evaluation of the D.C. school voucher program (which found the program “has met a tough standard for efficacy in serving low-income inner-city students”), Joe Lieberman argues: “Support for the voucher program does not hamper the efforts of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and [Chancellor Michelle] Rhee to improve the public schools, and it may help by promoting choice and innovation. We should continue our strategy of meeting the District’s educational challenges on three fronts: by funding public schools, public charter schools and opportunity scholarships.” It’s up to Congress — will those indebted to the teacher’s union nix full re-authorization of a successful program for inner city kids?

Card check isn’t dead yet, but when Sen. Diane Feinstein is iffy it’s not a good sign for its proponents. And what about the White House? “’Nobody’s being called to the White House,’ one congressional aide said. One labor analyst said he believes the Democratic president simply has higher priorities.” Well, he’s not lifting a finger on climate change either, but he’d certainly sign just about anything on these issues which his Democratic Congressional allies passed.

The mainstream media realizes unemployment is at 9.4% and going higher: “Despite signs that the recession gripping the nation’s economy may be easing, the unemployment rate is projected to continue rising for another year before topping out in double digits, a prospect that threatens to slow growth, increase poverty and further complicate the Obama administration’s message of optimism about the economic outlook.” Really? Good thing he didn’t promise to keep unemployment below 8% with a trillion dollar stimulus plan. Oh, wait.

George Will on This Week on the president’s obsession with Fox News: “Well, it’s the discordant note in an otherwise harmonious chorus, I suppose that’s why. But three great love affairs in world history are Abelard and Heloise, Romeo and Juliet, and the American media and this president at the moment. But this doesn’t matter over time. Reality will impinge. If his programs work, he’s fine. If it doesn’t work, all the adulation of journalists in the world won’t help.”