Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 4, 2009

Not Even Remotely the Whole Truth

One of the more troubling aspects of Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court is the degree to which her testimony attempted to conceal or misrepresent her own record. On the topic of Ricci alone, she repeated again and again two falsehoods. First, she insisted that she had not deprived plaintiffs of their day in court because they had filed for an en banc review. Not so. She is taking credit for the sua sponte action by her colleague Judge Cabranes, who dug the case out and insisted that the full circuit consider the matter. Second, she argued that her decision was determined by Second Circuit precedent. Wrong again.

Stuart Taylor takes us through the applicable case law. He explains:

That’s why Judge Jose Cabranes, in the main dissent from the 2nd Circuit’s 7-6 denial of rehearing en banc, began: “This appeal raises important questions of first impression” — meaning questions not controlled by precedent — “in our circuit and, indeed, in the nation, regarding the application of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and Title VII’s prohibition on discriminatory employment practices.”

[. . .]

Later, in the Supreme Court’s June 29 majority opinion in Ricci, Justice Anthony Kennedy said it was unnecessary to address the firefighters’ constitutional claims because their Title VII claims alone were sufficient to win the case. But Kennedy stressed that there were “few, if any, precedents in the courts of appeals discussing the issue.”

The bottom line is that 2nd Circuit precedents did not make Sotomayor rule as she did. Supreme Court precedent favored the firefighters. Sotomayor’s ruling was her own.

In sum, Sotomayor’s testimony was fundamentally dishonest — an effort to conceal her problematic and highly relevant work as a judge. Those senators who chose to confirm her have reset the bar for Supreme Court nominees to a new and dangerously low level. The message here: if you have enough senators of the president’s party in the Senate, you can spin any story you like and get away with it.

One of the more troubling aspects of Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court is the degree to which her testimony attempted to conceal or misrepresent her own record. On the topic of Ricci alone, she repeated again and again two falsehoods. First, she insisted that she had not deprived plaintiffs of their day in court because they had filed for an en banc review. Not so. She is taking credit for the sua sponte action by her colleague Judge Cabranes, who dug the case out and insisted that the full circuit consider the matter. Second, she argued that her decision was determined by Second Circuit precedent. Wrong again.

Stuart Taylor takes us through the applicable case law. He explains:

That’s why Judge Jose Cabranes, in the main dissent from the 2nd Circuit’s 7-6 denial of rehearing en banc, began: “This appeal raises important questions of first impression” — meaning questions not controlled by precedent — “in our circuit and, indeed, in the nation, regarding the application of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and Title VII’s prohibition on discriminatory employment practices.”

[. . .]

Later, in the Supreme Court’s June 29 majority opinion in Ricci, Justice Anthony Kennedy said it was unnecessary to address the firefighters’ constitutional claims because their Title VII claims alone were sufficient to win the case. But Kennedy stressed that there were “few, if any, precedents in the courts of appeals discussing the issue.”

The bottom line is that 2nd Circuit precedents did not make Sotomayor rule as she did. Supreme Court precedent favored the firefighters. Sotomayor’s ruling was her own.

In sum, Sotomayor’s testimony was fundamentally dishonest — an effort to conceal her problematic and highly relevant work as a judge. Those senators who chose to confirm her have reset the bar for Supreme Court nominees to a new and dangerously low level. The message here: if you have enough senators of the president’s party in the Senate, you can spin any story you like and get away with it.

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Re: Congratulations, President Ahmadinejad

Abe, you have it right, and what’s worst, on the day Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is sworn in for his second term, Iranian protesters are getting tried, a fact unremarked on by the White House. The Wall Street Journal editors observe:

Maybe President Obama will note that his no-meddling stance hasn’t yielded much in the way of humane restraint or political accommodation. All the more reason, then, for Mr. Obama now to denounce the Stalin-style show trial of some 100 leading reformists accused of seeking to overthrow the regime. The detainees were hauled out of prison in their pajamas, brought to court without the aid of defense lawyers, and in some cases forced to deliver publicly televised confessions.

The Washington Post editors are equally angered by the “contemptible show trials” and by Obama’s fantasy-based policy of engagement with the mullahs. They conclude:

The trials have reinforced the image of a regime whose extremely modest tolerance for public dissent has shriveled as its own grip on power has weakened. Opposition protests continue in the streets of Tehran despite a crackdown by hard-line militias loyal to the regime. Public spats are reported between Mr. Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president who was sworn in Monday. These are dangerous days in Tehran, which only underscores the dilemma the Obama administration faces as it clings to a strategy of engaging Iran to contain its nuclear ambitions: Who is there to talk to?

It is more than a dilemma, of course. It is a travesty — exposing the Obama team’s desperation in dealing with anyone they can find and avoiding the hard choices about how to treat a despotic regime. The Obama administration’s willingness — indeed, eagerness — to proceed, no matter what, only convinces the mullahs that they have the upper hand.

The Senate is moving along a bill on gasoline sanctions, perhaps dragging the Obama administration along grudgingly in realizing that pure engagement unaided by the threat of sanctions is folly. But as former UN Ambassador John Bolton explained in an interview on Fox last night, “This would have been a great idea — six years ago.” Time is running out. Perhaps it already has. The Obama administration’s cowering behavior will not strengthen our hand. And it has, as Abe explained, condemned millions to an increasingly repressive regime.

Abe, you have it right, and what’s worst, on the day Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is sworn in for his second term, Iranian protesters are getting tried, a fact unremarked on by the White House. The Wall Street Journal editors observe:

Maybe President Obama will note that his no-meddling stance hasn’t yielded much in the way of humane restraint or political accommodation. All the more reason, then, for Mr. Obama now to denounce the Stalin-style show trial of some 100 leading reformists accused of seeking to overthrow the regime. The detainees were hauled out of prison in their pajamas, brought to court without the aid of defense lawyers, and in some cases forced to deliver publicly televised confessions.

The Washington Post editors are equally angered by the “contemptible show trials” and by Obama’s fantasy-based policy of engagement with the mullahs. They conclude:

The trials have reinforced the image of a regime whose extremely modest tolerance for public dissent has shriveled as its own grip on power has weakened. Opposition protests continue in the streets of Tehran despite a crackdown by hard-line militias loyal to the regime. Public spats are reported between Mr. Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president who was sworn in Monday. These are dangerous days in Tehran, which only underscores the dilemma the Obama administration faces as it clings to a strategy of engaging Iran to contain its nuclear ambitions: Who is there to talk to?

It is more than a dilemma, of course. It is a travesty — exposing the Obama team’s desperation in dealing with anyone they can find and avoiding the hard choices about how to treat a despotic regime. The Obama administration’s willingness — indeed, eagerness — to proceed, no matter what, only convinces the mullahs that they have the upper hand.

The Senate is moving along a bill on gasoline sanctions, perhaps dragging the Obama administration along grudgingly in realizing that pure engagement unaided by the threat of sanctions is folly. But as former UN Ambassador John Bolton explained in an interview on Fox last night, “This would have been a great idea — six years ago.” Time is running out. Perhaps it already has. The Obama administration’s cowering behavior will not strengthen our hand. And it has, as Abe explained, condemned millions to an increasingly repressive regime.

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Plan Still in the Works Despite No-Confidence Vote

The Jerusalem Post reports today that despite the failure of the Obama administration’s envoys to convince the Arab world to reach out to Israel, the State Department still plans to set forth an official Middle East “peace plan” in a few weeks.

Over the past few days, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait have all rejected the confidence-building gestures toward Israel that Obama hoped to extract. Unfortunately for Obama, his decision to confront Israel over settlements hasn’t resulted in any incentives for Arabs to make nice. On the contrary, they see no reason to engage with Israel while Obama is squabbling with it. Therefore, no matter what compromise Israel and the United States eventually reach on a settlement freeze, it’s liable not to be enough to satisfy the Jewish state’s foes.

But that doesn’t appear to be a deterrent to Obama’s hosting of an international peace conference sometime this fall. Yet what could possibly come out of such a conference when the parties remain so far apart? Given the many Clinton-era veterans staffing the Obama administration, doesn’t anyone in a position of authority remember what happened when Bill Clinton, desperate for a Nobel Peace Prize, pushed for a conclave with Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat? The resulting fiasco set the stage for a new round of Palestinian terrorism. Barak’s Camp David offer of a Palestinian state in almost all the West Bank, Gaza, and part of Jerusalem didn’t tempt Arafat, who understood that his legitimacy as the Palestinian dictator was based on his war against Israel, not peace with it.

With the Palestinian leadership now split between the hapless Palestinian Authority led by Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas and the Islamists of Hamas who rule in Gaza, the chances of a deal are far slimmer than they were in the summer of 2000. The State Department is ignoring that basic fact as they trumpet “Palestinian security reforms” as incentives to induce Israel to make further concessions.

For those who cling to the myth of Fatah’s moderation, which is widely circulated by Washington, a visit to the Palestinian Media Watch website takes viewers inside an official Fatah tribute to Palestinian high-school graduates, which took place last week under the auspices of Abbas. At the ceremony, Fatah high-school activists vow to reclaim “Haifa, Acre, Jaffa and our Arab Jerusalem” and vow that “Fatah is with the rifle.” So long as even the “moderate” Palestinians view even the Israel of the 1949 armistice lines as land to be conquered and reclaimed for a Palestinian state, it is hard to imagine that an Obama-sponsored photo-op will help much.

Taken together with America’s Arab allies’ no-confidence vote on Obama’s effort, the blind determination to go ahead anyway with a peace conference that promises more danger than opportunity shows that this administration, staffed by so-called realists, has only a tenuous grasp of Middle East realities.

The Jerusalem Post reports today that despite the failure of the Obama administration’s envoys to convince the Arab world to reach out to Israel, the State Department still plans to set forth an official Middle East “peace plan” in a few weeks.

Over the past few days, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait have all rejected the confidence-building gestures toward Israel that Obama hoped to extract. Unfortunately for Obama, his decision to confront Israel over settlements hasn’t resulted in any incentives for Arabs to make nice. On the contrary, they see no reason to engage with Israel while Obama is squabbling with it. Therefore, no matter what compromise Israel and the United States eventually reach on a settlement freeze, it’s liable not to be enough to satisfy the Jewish state’s foes.

But that doesn’t appear to be a deterrent to Obama’s hosting of an international peace conference sometime this fall. Yet what could possibly come out of such a conference when the parties remain so far apart? Given the many Clinton-era veterans staffing the Obama administration, doesn’t anyone in a position of authority remember what happened when Bill Clinton, desperate for a Nobel Peace Prize, pushed for a conclave with Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat? The resulting fiasco set the stage for a new round of Palestinian terrorism. Barak’s Camp David offer of a Palestinian state in almost all the West Bank, Gaza, and part of Jerusalem didn’t tempt Arafat, who understood that his legitimacy as the Palestinian dictator was based on his war against Israel, not peace with it.

With the Palestinian leadership now split between the hapless Palestinian Authority led by Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas and the Islamists of Hamas who rule in Gaza, the chances of a deal are far slimmer than they were in the summer of 2000. The State Department is ignoring that basic fact as they trumpet “Palestinian security reforms” as incentives to induce Israel to make further concessions.

For those who cling to the myth of Fatah’s moderation, which is widely circulated by Washington, a visit to the Palestinian Media Watch website takes viewers inside an official Fatah tribute to Palestinian high-school graduates, which took place last week under the auspices of Abbas. At the ceremony, Fatah high-school activists vow to reclaim “Haifa, Acre, Jaffa and our Arab Jerusalem” and vow that “Fatah is with the rifle.” So long as even the “moderate” Palestinians view even the Israel of the 1949 armistice lines as land to be conquered and reclaimed for a Palestinian state, it is hard to imagine that an Obama-sponsored photo-op will help much.

Taken together with America’s Arab allies’ no-confidence vote on Obama’s effort, the blind determination to go ahead anyway with a peace conference that promises more danger than opportunity shows that this administration, staffed by so-called realists, has only a tenuous grasp of Middle East realities.

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A Study in Contrast

I caught up with Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel, who was on the road, having already started his congressional recess. I asked him about the Mary Robinson award. He replied without hesitation, “It is obviously a mistake.” He said there are “two Mary Robinsons” — one the first woman president of Ireland, and the second who did a “terrible job” and was “biased against Israel” at the UN.

He explained that “she always managed to find a moral equivalence between fighting for your freedom — Israel — and equating that fact with terrorism.” He says this is an unfortunate occurrence on “the far Left.” He added that he did not want to “blow this up” but that she “should not be given any kind of award.” He reiterated that “she epitomizes all that is wrong with the United Nations” as a one-sided and anti-Israel institution.

What should the administration do? Well, he conceded that they are “caught between a rock and a hard place” but encouraged the White House to continue making statements in the same vein as they have started to (e.g., that her statements about Israel are “troubling”). But he concluded, “I just think it was a mistake.”

Engel’s candor and refusal to make excuses for the administration’s atrocious judgment stands in stark contrast to Ira Forman of the NJDC, who seems to think this is no time to talk about Durban I, Mary Robinson, or anything other than the Obama agenda. He remarked: “With a major battle to ensure every American has access to health care, delicate negotiations to further the peace process in the Middle East and the battle to deny Iran a nuclear capacity, don’t we as a community have more critical issues to focus on?” That’s talking truth to power.

Other public figures who present themselves as friends of Israel and opponents of a blame-Israel-and-America-first foreign policy will have to make their choice: Engel or Forman? That should be a no-brainer.

I caught up with Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel, who was on the road, having already started his congressional recess. I asked him about the Mary Robinson award. He replied without hesitation, “It is obviously a mistake.” He said there are “two Mary Robinsons” — one the first woman president of Ireland, and the second who did a “terrible job” and was “biased against Israel” at the UN.

He explained that “she always managed to find a moral equivalence between fighting for your freedom — Israel — and equating that fact with terrorism.” He says this is an unfortunate occurrence on “the far Left.” He added that he did not want to “blow this up” but that she “should not be given any kind of award.” He reiterated that “she epitomizes all that is wrong with the United Nations” as a one-sided and anti-Israel institution.

What should the administration do? Well, he conceded that they are “caught between a rock and a hard place” but encouraged the White House to continue making statements in the same vein as they have started to (e.g., that her statements about Israel are “troubling”). But he concluded, “I just think it was a mistake.”

Engel’s candor and refusal to make excuses for the administration’s atrocious judgment stands in stark contrast to Ira Forman of the NJDC, who seems to think this is no time to talk about Durban I, Mary Robinson, or anything other than the Obama agenda. He remarked: “With a major battle to ensure every American has access to health care, delicate negotiations to further the peace process in the Middle East and the battle to deny Iran a nuclear capacity, don’t we as a community have more critical issues to focus on?” That’s talking truth to power.

Other public figures who present themselves as friends of Israel and opponents of a blame-Israel-and-America-first foreign policy will have to make their choice: Engel or Forman? That should be a no-brainer.

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The White House Non-Responds

Jake Tapper had the following exchange with Robert Gibbs:

TAPPER: OK. And AIPAC just issued a statement saying they’re deeply disappointed by the Obama administration’s choice to award a presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, and they respectfully call on the administration to firmly, fully and publicly repudiate her views on Israel and her long public record of hostility and one-sided bias against the Jewish state. Do you guys have any comment about that or any other protest you’ve heard from Jewish groups?

GIBBS: Well, look, Mary Robinson was the first female president of Ireland, and she is somebody whom we are honoring as a prominent crusader of women’s rights in Ireland and throughout the world. There are statements that obviously that she has made that the president doesn’t agree with, and that’s probably true for a number of the people that the president is recognizing for their lifetime contributions.

Well, that’s not very convincing, is it? The White House’s own description of Mary Robinson in its announcement describes her as follows:

Mary Robinson was the first female President of Ireland (1990 – 1997) and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997 – 2002), a post that required her to end her presidency four months early. Robinson served as a prominent member of the Irish Senate prior to her election as President. She continues to bring attention to international issues as Honorary President of Oxfam International, and Chairs the Board of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI Alliance). Since 2002 she has been President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, based in New York, which is an organization she founded to make human rights the compass which charts a course for globalization that is fair, just and benefits all.

Perhaps Gibbs confused her with Billie Jean King, who was identified as a “champion of gender equality.”

Plainly, this is damage control — hasty and unbelievable. If Obama wanted to find another champion of gender equality, he surely could have come up with someone who was not so offensive to the Jewish community and did not have a track record — not merely “some statements” — that reflects an anti-Israel perspective. And if the Obama administration is claiming to have missed this central facet of her career, then the White House is far more incompetent than we ever suspected.

Jake Tapper had the following exchange with Robert Gibbs:

TAPPER: OK. And AIPAC just issued a statement saying they’re deeply disappointed by the Obama administration’s choice to award a presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, and they respectfully call on the administration to firmly, fully and publicly repudiate her views on Israel and her long public record of hostility and one-sided bias against the Jewish state. Do you guys have any comment about that or any other protest you’ve heard from Jewish groups?

GIBBS: Well, look, Mary Robinson was the first female president of Ireland, and she is somebody whom we are honoring as a prominent crusader of women’s rights in Ireland and throughout the world. There are statements that obviously that she has made that the president doesn’t agree with, and that’s probably true for a number of the people that the president is recognizing for their lifetime contributions.

Well, that’s not very convincing, is it? The White House’s own description of Mary Robinson in its announcement describes her as follows:

Mary Robinson was the first female President of Ireland (1990 – 1997) and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997 – 2002), a post that required her to end her presidency four months early. Robinson served as a prominent member of the Irish Senate prior to her election as President. She continues to bring attention to international issues as Honorary President of Oxfam International, and Chairs the Board of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI Alliance). Since 2002 she has been President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, based in New York, which is an organization she founded to make human rights the compass which charts a course for globalization that is fair, just and benefits all.

Perhaps Gibbs confused her with Billie Jean King, who was identified as a “champion of gender equality.”

Plainly, this is damage control — hasty and unbelievable. If Obama wanted to find another champion of gender equality, he surely could have come up with someone who was not so offensive to the Jewish community and did not have a track record — not merely “some statements” — that reflects an anti-Israel perspective. And if the Obama administration is claiming to have missed this central facet of her career, then the White House is far more incompetent than we ever suspected.

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Our Delicate President

This paragraph appeared as an excerpt in the Washington Post and comes from the new book by Haynes Johnson and the outstanding political reporter Dan Balz, authors of The Battle for America 2008:

Axelrod also warned that Obama’s confessions of youthful drug use, described in his memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” would be used against him. “This is more than an unpleasant inconvenience,” he wrote. “It goes to your willingness and ability to put up with something you have never experienced on a sustained basis: criticism. At the risk of triggering the very reaction that concerns me, I don’t know if you are Muhammad Ali or Floyd Patterson when it comes to taking a punch. You care far too much what is written and said about you. You don’t relish combat when it becomes personal and nasty. When the largely irrelevant Alan Keyes attacked you, you flinched,” he said of Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate opponent.

It’s quite revealing for Obama’s closest aide to admit that the president is so delicate when it comes to criticism, which he has been protected from for most of his life. It certainly helps explain President Obama’s prickliness when he is criticized, especially by Fox News, which he seems to obsess over.

No politician in my lifetime has received more worshipful press coverage than Barack Obama. Yet even such sugary coverage to date appears not to be enough. Obama’s dismissiveness of the press when it covers any mistakes he commits (such as his comments about Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley) is an indication of how much he cares. He has rabbit ears. That’s a bad quality in any politician, especially in a president. Criticism comes with the job — especially when your job performance is falling short of expectations.

This paragraph appeared as an excerpt in the Washington Post and comes from the new book by Haynes Johnson and the outstanding political reporter Dan Balz, authors of The Battle for America 2008:

Axelrod also warned that Obama’s confessions of youthful drug use, described in his memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” would be used against him. “This is more than an unpleasant inconvenience,” he wrote. “It goes to your willingness and ability to put up with something you have never experienced on a sustained basis: criticism. At the risk of triggering the very reaction that concerns me, I don’t know if you are Muhammad Ali or Floyd Patterson when it comes to taking a punch. You care far too much what is written and said about you. You don’t relish combat when it becomes personal and nasty. When the largely irrelevant Alan Keyes attacked you, you flinched,” he said of Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate opponent.

It’s quite revealing for Obama’s closest aide to admit that the president is so delicate when it comes to criticism, which he has been protected from for most of his life. It certainly helps explain President Obama’s prickliness when he is criticized, especially by Fox News, which he seems to obsess over.

No politician in my lifetime has received more worshipful press coverage than Barack Obama. Yet even such sugary coverage to date appears not to be enough. Obama’s dismissiveness of the press when it covers any mistakes he commits (such as his comments about Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley) is an indication of how much he cares. He has rabbit ears. That’s a bad quality in any politician, especially in a president. Criticism comes with the job — especially when your job performance is falling short of expectations.

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Congratulations, President Ahmadinejad

The American administration is now wholly complicit in the brutal travesty that was June 12 in Iran:

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is “the elected leader” of the Islamic republic.

Gibbs was asked Tuesday if the White House recognized Ahmadinejad as the country’s legitimate president.

“He’s the elected leader,” Gibbs responded.

Our elected leader, Barack Obama, vowed to “bear witness” to the Iranian regime’s violent — indeed, homicidal — snuffing out of the collective democratic spirit in Iran. But even that feat of cowardly indifference proved too great a burden in the age of smart power and endless diplomacy. So hear this, all you protesters and sufferers being beaten and corralled into pens in Tehran. Listen up, all you Iranians who say “Neda lives”: President Obama, leader of the most robust democracy in history, says you’re wrong. It turns out that you’re protesting in error. This was an election, not an “election,” after all. In democracies, populations accept fair results, and you are expected to accept this one. We do.

Of course, this has made something of a liar out of Hillary Clinton. On Meet the Press about a week ago, the secretary of state was asked about the unseemliness of the U.S.’s engaging a regime that Iranian democrats sought to overthrow. She answered: “I don’t think so, David, because you can go back in history — and not, you know, very long back — where we have negotiated with many governments who we did not believe represented the will of their people.” She’ll have to take this up with Robert Gibbs, who has now certified that the regime does represent the will of the Iranian people.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter whether the U.S. accommodates vicious autocrats through chilling realism or blunt endorsement. Either way, it makes us liars. American exceptionalism, that concept Obama doesn’t grasp, is founded upon the belief that all people have the right to freedom. It is a conviction consecrated in our founding documents and one that’s been defended with American lives. When we authenticate the rule of freedom’s enemies, we become the hollow jingoists they say we are.

Oh yeah, and it condemns millions to open-ended persecution and suffering.

The American administration is now wholly complicit in the brutal travesty that was June 12 in Iran:

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is “the elected leader” of the Islamic republic.

Gibbs was asked Tuesday if the White House recognized Ahmadinejad as the country’s legitimate president.

“He’s the elected leader,” Gibbs responded.

Our elected leader, Barack Obama, vowed to “bear witness” to the Iranian regime’s violent — indeed, homicidal — snuffing out of the collective democratic spirit in Iran. But even that feat of cowardly indifference proved too great a burden in the age of smart power and endless diplomacy. So hear this, all you protesters and sufferers being beaten and corralled into pens in Tehran. Listen up, all you Iranians who say “Neda lives”: President Obama, leader of the most robust democracy in history, says you’re wrong. It turns out that you’re protesting in error. This was an election, not an “election,” after all. In democracies, populations accept fair results, and you are expected to accept this one. We do.

Of course, this has made something of a liar out of Hillary Clinton. On Meet the Press about a week ago, the secretary of state was asked about the unseemliness of the U.S.’s engaging a regime that Iranian democrats sought to overthrow. She answered: “I don’t think so, David, because you can go back in history — and not, you know, very long back — where we have negotiated with many governments who we did not believe represented the will of their people.” She’ll have to take this up with Robert Gibbs, who has now certified that the regime does represent the will of the Iranian people.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter whether the U.S. accommodates vicious autocrats through chilling realism or blunt endorsement. Either way, it makes us liars. American exceptionalism, that concept Obama doesn’t grasp, is founded upon the belief that all people have the right to freedom. It is a conviction consecrated in our founding documents and one that’s been defended with American lives. When we authenticate the rule of freedom’s enemies, we become the hollow jingoists they say we are.

Oh yeah, and it condemns millions to open-ended persecution and suffering.

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Obama Crashes into Political Reality

Howard Kurtz thinks Cash for Clunkers may be a metaphor — or a warning sign — for health-care reform. He writes:

How can the administration declare the clunkers program a success when a billion-dollar effort that was supposed to last till November ran out of money in five days? Isn’t that a pretty spectacular miscalculation?

Also, isn’t it apparent that the $4,500 payments for older gas-guzzlers was extremely generous? That’s a huge chunk of change to spur people who probably would have bought a new car eventually anyway. It’s a nice short-term boost for the auto industry, and a small boost for fuel efficiency, but is it worth the additional $2 billion that the Senate seems inclined to join the House in approving? Does it further the impression that the administration is just shoveling money out the door?

There was no single day when the Gang of 500 got together and declared health care to be in trouble, but the White House is clearly on the defensive as Congress decamps for August. In retrospect, Obama failed to focus sufficient attention on the what’s-in-it-for-me question for the majority of Americans with insurance. Given the sweep and complexity of the proposals, many folks are skeptical of Obama’s assurances that their coverage will remain unchanged. And with a 1,000-page bill that the Democrats haven’t figured out how to pay for, the whole thing is vulnerable to attacks and distortions, on lots of sections and sub-sections.

Like Fred Barnes and others, Kurtz thinks we are on to “Plan B” — draconian regulation of the insurance industry.

Cash for Clunkers is of course not the first mismanaged, enormously expensive program tried by the Obama administration. It’s the third. First was the non-stimulative stimulus plan. Then there was the now-stuck-in-the-Senate-cap-and-trade plan. All three of these failed efforts share common traits: boundless faith in government, a disdain for the private sector, a disregard for simpler solutions that might have drawn bipartisan support, and neglect for our looming fiscal train wreck. Too big, too expensive, too complex. It’s a pattern, and it’s modern liberalism in its most undiluted state.

And lo and behold, the American people don’t like any of it. Will the Obama administration rethink and reset? Only if they and their congressional allies want to avoid a head-on collision with the voters.

Howard Kurtz thinks Cash for Clunkers may be a metaphor — or a warning sign — for health-care reform. He writes:

How can the administration declare the clunkers program a success when a billion-dollar effort that was supposed to last till November ran out of money in five days? Isn’t that a pretty spectacular miscalculation?

Also, isn’t it apparent that the $4,500 payments for older gas-guzzlers was extremely generous? That’s a huge chunk of change to spur people who probably would have bought a new car eventually anyway. It’s a nice short-term boost for the auto industry, and a small boost for fuel efficiency, but is it worth the additional $2 billion that the Senate seems inclined to join the House in approving? Does it further the impression that the administration is just shoveling money out the door?

There was no single day when the Gang of 500 got together and declared health care to be in trouble, but the White House is clearly on the defensive as Congress decamps for August. In retrospect, Obama failed to focus sufficient attention on the what’s-in-it-for-me question for the majority of Americans with insurance. Given the sweep and complexity of the proposals, many folks are skeptical of Obama’s assurances that their coverage will remain unchanged. And with a 1,000-page bill that the Democrats haven’t figured out how to pay for, the whole thing is vulnerable to attacks and distortions, on lots of sections and sub-sections.

Like Fred Barnes and others, Kurtz thinks we are on to “Plan B” — draconian regulation of the insurance industry.

Cash for Clunkers is of course not the first mismanaged, enormously expensive program tried by the Obama administration. It’s the third. First was the non-stimulative stimulus plan. Then there was the now-stuck-in-the-Senate-cap-and-trade plan. All three of these failed efforts share common traits: boundless faith in government, a disdain for the private sector, a disregard for simpler solutions that might have drawn bipartisan support, and neglect for our looming fiscal train wreck. Too big, too expensive, too complex. It’s a pattern, and it’s modern liberalism in its most undiluted state.

And lo and behold, the American people don’t like any of it. Will the Obama administration rethink and reset? Only if they and their congressional allies want to avoid a head-on collision with the voters.

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The Obama Effect?

The president is on the skids, as Pete aptly explained. But his problems may be contagious.

Despite a new desperate ad in which New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine says nothing and stands reverentially next to Obama while a crowd cheers (presumably for the president), the governor now trails by 14 points in his race against Chris Christie. If things were not bleak enough for Corzine, Christie is now zinging Corzine for Moody’s rating of New Jersey’s credit outlook as “negative.” Prediction: Unless Corzine closes to low single digits, you won’t see Obama expend any political capital on this one.

And in Virginia, Bob McDonnell is pulling away; a second poll now shows him up by more than a dozen points. (The same poll had him up just six points four weeks ago.) And the other statewide Republican candidates have large leads as well. Again, is Obama going to help Democrat Creigh Deeds? Well, Deeds would first have to agree to be seen with him, a situation he has so far avoided.

Each of these races has a dynamic of its own, and the respective candidates have their own strengths and weaknesses. But to some degree, this development can been seen as a sign that voters, whose mood has soured on ObamaCare and big spenders in Washington, are registering their disapproval. November is a long way off, but it might be that in just a year, the electorate has decided they have seen quite enough of liberal government.

The president is on the skids, as Pete aptly explained. But his problems may be contagious.

Despite a new desperate ad in which New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine says nothing and stands reverentially next to Obama while a crowd cheers (presumably for the president), the governor now trails by 14 points in his race against Chris Christie. If things were not bleak enough for Corzine, Christie is now zinging Corzine for Moody’s rating of New Jersey’s credit outlook as “negative.” Prediction: Unless Corzine closes to low single digits, you won’t see Obama expend any political capital on this one.

And in Virginia, Bob McDonnell is pulling away; a second poll now shows him up by more than a dozen points. (The same poll had him up just six points four weeks ago.) And the other statewide Republican candidates have large leads as well. Again, is Obama going to help Democrat Creigh Deeds? Well, Deeds would first have to agree to be seen with him, a situation he has so far avoided.

Each of these races has a dynamic of its own, and the respective candidates have their own strengths and weaknesses. But to some degree, this development can been seen as a sign that voters, whose mood has soured on ObamaCare and big spenders in Washington, are registering their disapproval. November is a long way off, but it might be that in just a year, the electorate has decided they have seen quite enough of liberal government.

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AIPAC Speaks Out

AIPAC has now released a statement on Mary Robinson:

AIPAC is deeply disappointed by the Obama administration’s choice to award a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson. AIPAC respectfully calls on the administration to firmly, fully and publicly repudiate her views on Israel and her long public record of hostility and one-sided bias against the Jewish state.

Robinson is widely known for the high-profile role she played in leading the deeply flawed U.N. Human Rights Commission and for presiding over the U.N.’s Durban Conference on Racism, which the Untied States boycotted for its unprecedented hostility to Israel and its final outcome document that equated Zionism with racism.

In a BBC interview following the passage of the “Zionism = Racism” Durban text, Robinson described the outcome as “remarkably good, including on the issues of the Middle East.”

As one of America’s greatest statesman, the late Tom Lantos – a former Congressman, Holocaust survivor, global champion of human rights and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – observed, “Much of the responsibility for the debacle [at Durban] rests on the shoulders of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.”

In his extensive report about the Durban Conference, and about the years of effort on the part of Congress and both Clinton and Bush administrations to support the Conference and its goal of promoting human rights and ending racism and intolerance, Congressman Lantos continues:

Mrs. Robinson’s conduct “left our delegation deeply shocked and saddened. In her remarks, she advocated precisely the opposite course to the one Secretary Powell and I had urged her to take. Namely, she refused to reject the twisted notion that the wrong done to the Jews in the Holocaust was equivalent to the pain suffered by the Palestinians in the Middle East. . . . Instead of condemning the attempt to usurp the conference, she legitimized it.”

In addition to Robinson’s dishonorable role in the Durban debacle, her tenure on the UNHRC was deeply flawed, and her conduct marred by extreme, one-sided anti-Israel sentiment. Among the many outrages was a 2002 vote by the commission under her leadership that sought to condone Palestinian suicide bombings and terrorism as a legitimate means to establish Palestinian statehood. Explaining his nation’s vote against the measure, the German ambassador to the commission noted, “The text contains formulations that might be interpreted as an endorsement of violence [and] no condemnation whatsoever of terrorism.”

There is simply no excuse for the administration’s decision to reward Robinson with the nation’s highest honor. AIPAC and others have now put the ball back in Obama’s court: apologize or dig in? And what possible explanation do they have for their outrageous decision?

UPDATE: Michael Goldfarb explains just how extraordinary it is for AIPAC to go public on an issue such as this.

AIPAC has now released a statement on Mary Robinson:

AIPAC is deeply disappointed by the Obama administration’s choice to award a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson. AIPAC respectfully calls on the administration to firmly, fully and publicly repudiate her views on Israel and her long public record of hostility and one-sided bias against the Jewish state.

Robinson is widely known for the high-profile role she played in leading the deeply flawed U.N. Human Rights Commission and for presiding over the U.N.’s Durban Conference on Racism, which the Untied States boycotted for its unprecedented hostility to Israel and its final outcome document that equated Zionism with racism.

In a BBC interview following the passage of the “Zionism = Racism” Durban text, Robinson described the outcome as “remarkably good, including on the issues of the Middle East.”

As one of America’s greatest statesman, the late Tom Lantos – a former Congressman, Holocaust survivor, global champion of human rights and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – observed, “Much of the responsibility for the debacle [at Durban] rests on the shoulders of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.”

In his extensive report about the Durban Conference, and about the years of effort on the part of Congress and both Clinton and Bush administrations to support the Conference and its goal of promoting human rights and ending racism and intolerance, Congressman Lantos continues:

Mrs. Robinson’s conduct “left our delegation deeply shocked and saddened. In her remarks, she advocated precisely the opposite course to the one Secretary Powell and I had urged her to take. Namely, she refused to reject the twisted notion that the wrong done to the Jews in the Holocaust was equivalent to the pain suffered by the Palestinians in the Middle East. . . . Instead of condemning the attempt to usurp the conference, she legitimized it.”

In addition to Robinson’s dishonorable role in the Durban debacle, her tenure on the UNHRC was deeply flawed, and her conduct marred by extreme, one-sided anti-Israel sentiment. Among the many outrages was a 2002 vote by the commission under her leadership that sought to condone Palestinian suicide bombings and terrorism as a legitimate means to establish Palestinian statehood. Explaining his nation’s vote against the measure, the German ambassador to the commission noted, “The text contains formulations that might be interpreted as an endorsement of violence [and] no condemnation whatsoever of terrorism.”

There is simply no excuse for the administration’s decision to reward Robinson with the nation’s highest honor. AIPAC and others have now put the ball back in Obama’s court: apologize or dig in? And what possible explanation do they have for their outrageous decision?

UPDATE: Michael Goldfarb explains just how extraordinary it is for AIPAC to go public on an issue such as this.

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What Is “Daylight” Good For?

When Obama invited the leaders of American Jewish organizations to the White House a few weeks ago to discuss U.S.-Israel relations, he criticized his predecessor by saying that the lack of “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel had thwarted progress on the peace process. Part of what his administration was doing, Obama said, was assuming a more “evenhanded” position from which the U.S. would be better situated to resolve the conflict.

This allows a basic strategy question: are the Arabs more likely to play ball with the United States the more “daylight” is opened up with Israel? Or does daylight create its own problems? The answers, respectively, are no and yes. Over the past few days, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait have, in quick succession, bowed out of the peace process. No gestures for Israel, no help for Obama.

One reason is that these states are confident Obama won’t criticize them the way he has arrogantly criticized Israel. Obama is so heavily invested in creating good vibes with Muslims that he can’t be seen having a row with them. Good vibes means no criticism.

But the other reason is the role of daylight itself. When the U.S. distances itself from Israel and curries favor with the Arabs, the Arab reaction is not to jump on board with the Americans and present a united front against Israel, the better to extract concessions. Instead, the Arabs respond by increasing their demands and redoubling their intransigence — because the Arab states really have little to gain from a Palestinian state, and actually a lot to lose. The Palestinians and the peace process have always been a tool to be used for beating up on Israel, and nothing else. This has been the cruel Arab game since the 1940s. The president still doesn’t get it.

Memo to the White House press corps: Obama has just been publicly humiliated by three Arab regimes. His signature Middle East initiative, the peace process, is effectively over. Obama will make of this as little as possible, and he will send George Mitchell around to have mock negotiations with people, and that’s perfectly understandable. But the press corps isn’t supposed to help him cover up his failure.

When Obama invited the leaders of American Jewish organizations to the White House a few weeks ago to discuss U.S.-Israel relations, he criticized his predecessor by saying that the lack of “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel had thwarted progress on the peace process. Part of what his administration was doing, Obama said, was assuming a more “evenhanded” position from which the U.S. would be better situated to resolve the conflict.

This allows a basic strategy question: are the Arabs more likely to play ball with the United States the more “daylight” is opened up with Israel? Or does daylight create its own problems? The answers, respectively, are no and yes. Over the past few days, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait have, in quick succession, bowed out of the peace process. No gestures for Israel, no help for Obama.

One reason is that these states are confident Obama won’t criticize them the way he has arrogantly criticized Israel. Obama is so heavily invested in creating good vibes with Muslims that he can’t be seen having a row with them. Good vibes means no criticism.

But the other reason is the role of daylight itself. When the U.S. distances itself from Israel and curries favor with the Arabs, the Arab reaction is not to jump on board with the Americans and present a united front against Israel, the better to extract concessions. Instead, the Arabs respond by increasing their demands and redoubling their intransigence — because the Arab states really have little to gain from a Palestinian state, and actually a lot to lose. The Palestinians and the peace process have always been a tool to be used for beating up on Israel, and nothing else. This has been the cruel Arab game since the 1940s. The president still doesn’t get it.

Memo to the White House press corps: Obama has just been publicly humiliated by three Arab regimes. His signature Middle East initiative, the peace process, is effectively over. Obama will make of this as little as possible, and he will send George Mitchell around to have mock negotiations with people, and that’s perfectly understandable. But the press corps isn’t supposed to help him cover up his failure.

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Pirates Cruising Under the Radar

There are certain costs to be paid for the attention-deficit disorder gripping the American public in the Twitter Age. Issues appear on the public radar screen only to disappear about 30 seconds later — even if the underlying problems haven’t changed a bit. Piracy is a good example. Back in April, the problem of Somali pirates was front-page news after they seized an American cargo vessel, the Maersk Alabama, and briefly held its captain hostage. The whole country applauded the actions of the SEAL snipers who killed three pirates and freed Captain Richard Phillips. Then our attention shifted to more pressing issues — like, for example, the death of a certain allegedly child-molesting singer.

Does this mean that piracy is no longer a problem? If only. Just the other day, I noticed this Reuters report:

Somali pirates holding a German ship with five Germans, three Russians, two Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos on board have received a $2.7 million ransom and are counting it before releasing the ship, a pirate told Reuters. . . . The German-flagged container vessel Hansa Stavanger was captured about 400 miles off the southern Somali port of Kismayu on April 4.

Received $2.7 million? That’s a pretty good payday in a country with a per capita income of $600. The fact that the pirates continue to get such lucrative rewards for their criminal activities means we will see more piracy — and that quite possibly some of the proceeds will wind up in the hands of the Shahab, the fanatical Muslim movement moving to take over Somalia. Yet piracy is off the front pages. It’s not on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox either — at least not that I’ve seen. So there is no pressure for the U.S. or its allies to do anything serious to combat this growing menace.

What would we do if we were serious? This Foreign Affairs article of mine offers some suggestions.

There are certain costs to be paid for the attention-deficit disorder gripping the American public in the Twitter Age. Issues appear on the public radar screen only to disappear about 30 seconds later — even if the underlying problems haven’t changed a bit. Piracy is a good example. Back in April, the problem of Somali pirates was front-page news after they seized an American cargo vessel, the Maersk Alabama, and briefly held its captain hostage. The whole country applauded the actions of the SEAL snipers who killed three pirates and freed Captain Richard Phillips. Then our attention shifted to more pressing issues — like, for example, the death of a certain allegedly child-molesting singer.

Does this mean that piracy is no longer a problem? If only. Just the other day, I noticed this Reuters report:

Somali pirates holding a German ship with five Germans, three Russians, two Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos on board have received a $2.7 million ransom and are counting it before releasing the ship, a pirate told Reuters. . . . The German-flagged container vessel Hansa Stavanger was captured about 400 miles off the southern Somali port of Kismayu on April 4.

Received $2.7 million? That’s a pretty good payday in a country with a per capita income of $600. The fact that the pirates continue to get such lucrative rewards for their criminal activities means we will see more piracy — and that quite possibly some of the proceeds will wind up in the hands of the Shahab, the fanatical Muslim movement moving to take over Somalia. Yet piracy is off the front pages. It’s not on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox either — at least not that I’ve seen. So there is no pressure for the U.S. or its allies to do anything serious to combat this growing menace.

What would we do if we were serious? This Foreign Affairs article of mine offers some suggestions.

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Done In by the Numbers

Support for President Obama’s overhaul of the American health-care system is dropping because he’s not doing enough to “sell” the effort, according to a growing number of liberal voices. The public is deeply sympathetic to what Obama and Democrats want to do; the task for them is simply to instruct the unknowing masses on what is best for them (see Andrea Mitchell’s commentary here). In fact, the problem with Obama’s effort isn’t a failure to communicate; it is his inability to refute health-care facts and figures that, as they become more salient, are undermining his effort.

The most important facts are related to health-care costs. Barack Obama made “bending the curve” the cornerstone of his efforts. The status quo is unacceptable when it comes to the increasing cost of health care, Obama insists; his plan will make health care cheaper. On the contrary, it will dramatically increase costs. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the House bill would cost in excess of $1.2 trillion over the next decade; the Senate Finance Committee bill, around $1 trillion over 10 years. In the words of the CBO, “relative to current law, the [House] proposal would probably generate substantial increases in federal budget deficits during the decade beyond the current 10-year budget window.”

The second set of figures has to do with the number of people insured in America — 85 percent, according to the 2007 Census — and the vast majority’s (83 percent, according to a recent Washington Post–ABC News poll) being either “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with the health care they receive, with 81 percent feeling the same way about their insurance. The same poll also found that 84 percent of respondents said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that reform would increase their health-care costs, 82 percent worried it would reduce their health-insurance coverage, and 81 percent worried it would hurt the quality of their care.

President Obama is predicating his overhaul of health care on the assumption that most people are profoundly unhappy with the health care they are receiving. But when an overwhelming majority of the nation are more or less pleased with the product they are receiving, a radical redesign of the system becomes problematic.

The third set of figures has to do with the uninsured. As George Will pointed out in a recent column, there are 45.7 million uninsured.

But about 21 percent — 9.7 million — of the uninsured are not citizens. Up to 14 million are eligible for existing government programs – Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, veterans’ benefits, etc. — but have not enrolled. And 9.1 million have household incomes of at least $75,000 and could afford to purchase insurance. Those last two cohorts make up more than half of the 45.7 million.

Insuring the perhaps 20 million persons who are protractedly uninsured because they cannot afford insurance is conceptually simple: give them money – (refundable) tax credits or debit cards (which have replaced food stamps) loaded with a particular value. This would empower people rather than render them dependent. Unfortunately, advocates of a government option would see such an outcome as a defect. Which is why the simple idea of the dependency agenda cuts like a razor through the complexities of this debate.

A fourth set of numbers has to do with people who are currently on a private plan but who would — in some cases willingly and, contrary to the assurances of the president, in many cases unwillingly — join a government plan. According to the nonpartisan Lewin Group, a leading national health-care consulting firm, of the 158.1 million Americans with employer-based coverage, 88.1 million people would be shifted out of their current insurance and end up in the public option if the House plan were adopted.

These facts account for a fifth set of numbers. According to the most recent NPR poll, more Americans oppose Obama’s health-care efforts than support them — and more significantly, 39 percent strongly oppose ObamaCare, while only 25 percent strongly support it.

Does all this mean that Obama’s health-care plan is doomed? Not necessarily. Obama and Democrats in Congress, desperate to pass legislation, may well cobble together something they call “health-care reform” — even though it might be a profoundly different, watered-down version of what Obama has in mind.

Much will depend on what members of Congress hear from their constituents during the August recess (if these developments are a foreshadowing of things to come, it will be a hot August for Democrats). Obama and Democrats, knowing that this is the signature issue of the Obama presidency, will pull out all stops to pass health-care reform. This play is only in the second act; a lot has yet to unfold. But what we can say so far is that in the first summer of his presidency, Barack Obama’s effort, predicated on false promises and false figures, is badly faltering.

Support for President Obama’s overhaul of the American health-care system is dropping because he’s not doing enough to “sell” the effort, according to a growing number of liberal voices. The public is deeply sympathetic to what Obama and Democrats want to do; the task for them is simply to instruct the unknowing masses on what is best for them (see Andrea Mitchell’s commentary here). In fact, the problem with Obama’s effort isn’t a failure to communicate; it is his inability to refute health-care facts and figures that, as they become more salient, are undermining his effort.

The most important facts are related to health-care costs. Barack Obama made “bending the curve” the cornerstone of his efforts. The status quo is unacceptable when it comes to the increasing cost of health care, Obama insists; his plan will make health care cheaper. On the contrary, it will dramatically increase costs. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the House bill would cost in excess of $1.2 trillion over the next decade; the Senate Finance Committee bill, around $1 trillion over 10 years. In the words of the CBO, “relative to current law, the [House] proposal would probably generate substantial increases in federal budget deficits during the decade beyond the current 10-year budget window.”

The second set of figures has to do with the number of people insured in America — 85 percent, according to the 2007 Census — and the vast majority’s (83 percent, according to a recent Washington Post–ABC News poll) being either “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with the health care they receive, with 81 percent feeling the same way about their insurance. The same poll also found that 84 percent of respondents said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that reform would increase their health-care costs, 82 percent worried it would reduce their health-insurance coverage, and 81 percent worried it would hurt the quality of their care.

President Obama is predicating his overhaul of health care on the assumption that most people are profoundly unhappy with the health care they are receiving. But when an overwhelming majority of the nation are more or less pleased with the product they are receiving, a radical redesign of the system becomes problematic.

The third set of figures has to do with the uninsured. As George Will pointed out in a recent column, there are 45.7 million uninsured.

But about 21 percent — 9.7 million — of the uninsured are not citizens. Up to 14 million are eligible for existing government programs – Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, veterans’ benefits, etc. — but have not enrolled. And 9.1 million have household incomes of at least $75,000 and could afford to purchase insurance. Those last two cohorts make up more than half of the 45.7 million.

Insuring the perhaps 20 million persons who are protractedly uninsured because they cannot afford insurance is conceptually simple: give them money – (refundable) tax credits or debit cards (which have replaced food stamps) loaded with a particular value. This would empower people rather than render them dependent. Unfortunately, advocates of a government option would see such an outcome as a defect. Which is why the simple idea of the dependency agenda cuts like a razor through the complexities of this debate.

A fourth set of numbers has to do with people who are currently on a private plan but who would — in some cases willingly and, contrary to the assurances of the president, in many cases unwillingly — join a government plan. According to the nonpartisan Lewin Group, a leading national health-care consulting firm, of the 158.1 million Americans with employer-based coverage, 88.1 million people would be shifted out of their current insurance and end up in the public option if the House plan were adopted.

These facts account for a fifth set of numbers. According to the most recent NPR poll, more Americans oppose Obama’s health-care efforts than support them — and more significantly, 39 percent strongly oppose ObamaCare, while only 25 percent strongly support it.

Does all this mean that Obama’s health-care plan is doomed? Not necessarily. Obama and Democrats in Congress, desperate to pass legislation, may well cobble together something they call “health-care reform” — even though it might be a profoundly different, watered-down version of what Obama has in mind.

Much will depend on what members of Congress hear from their constituents during the August recess (if these developments are a foreshadowing of things to come, it will be a hot August for Democrats). Obama and Democrats, knowing that this is the signature issue of the Obama presidency, will pull out all stops to pass health-care reform. This play is only in the second act; a lot has yet to unfold. But what we can say so far is that in the first summer of his presidency, Barack Obama’s effort, predicated on false promises and false figures, is badly faltering.

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Intelligence, Flambéed

The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report on Iran continues to distort public debate and understanding. As Emanuele points out in discussing a Times of London article on Iran’s progress toward a weapon, the 2007 NIE was designed to make the 2003 suspension of Iran’s weaponization program its memorable point. Little else that it said made an impression on the public — either its slip to “moderate confidence” on whether Iran had resumed weaponization activity since 2003 or its assessment that Iran suspended the weaponization effort “in response to international pressure . . . guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs.” The intelligence community may consider itself fortunate that this analysis was so forgettable. Shortly after its release, John Bolton wrote a comprehensive takedown of it from a uniquely relevant perspective, which included this passage:

[The NIE] implies that Iran is susceptible to diplomatic persuasion and pressure, yet the only event in 2003 that might have affected Iran was our invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, not exactly a diplomatic pas de deux. As undersecretary of state for arms control in 2003, I know we were nowhere near exerting any significant diplomatic pressure on Iran. Nowhere does the NIE explain its logic on this critical point.

“Moreover,” Bolton continued, “the risks and returns of pursuing a diplomatic strategy are policy calculations, not intelligence judgments.” That truth has been at the heart of the public confusion over Iran’s nuclear programs. The character of what we know about them has not, in fact, changed significantly over the past eight years. Rather, the orientation of the U.S. intelligence community to administration policy has shifted.

Based on information recovered in 2004 and subsequent foreign intelligence available to the public in early 2008 (shortly after the NIE’s release), it has been possible for several years now to assess the extent of Iran’s progress over weaponization — independently of what activities were ongoing — and therefore to estimate the worst-case (shortest) time line to a bomb. Revelations of illegal Iranian procurement efforts reinforce pessimistic assessments. If, as the Times of London suggests, Iran has already achieved success with a “multi-point initiation” system in warhead design, it is a finding that fits with other intelligence sources and bolsters current estimates, rather than refuting them.

It is a painful rebuke to the 2007 NIE that after creating a single, crucially misleading impression, its baseline estimate for when Iran could bring together the three elements of a nuclear weapon — fissile material, warhead design, delivery system — looks likely to prove accurate. The 2007 NIE’s projection of 2010-15 for this consummation did not change from its 2005 estimate and has been increasingly corroborated by IAEA-documented Iranian activity and emerging intelligence from multiple sources. But the public remembers only the misleading impression, and U.S. policy has been impeded by it. As Emanuele says, there is “no time left for engagement” — and our running out of time is the 2007 NIE’s legacy.

The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report on Iran continues to distort public debate and understanding. As Emanuele points out in discussing a Times of London article on Iran’s progress toward a weapon, the 2007 NIE was designed to make the 2003 suspension of Iran’s weaponization program its memorable point. Little else that it said made an impression on the public — either its slip to “moderate confidence” on whether Iran had resumed weaponization activity since 2003 or its assessment that Iran suspended the weaponization effort “in response to international pressure . . . guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs.” The intelligence community may consider itself fortunate that this analysis was so forgettable. Shortly after its release, John Bolton wrote a comprehensive takedown of it from a uniquely relevant perspective, which included this passage:

[The NIE] implies that Iran is susceptible to diplomatic persuasion and pressure, yet the only event in 2003 that might have affected Iran was our invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, not exactly a diplomatic pas de deux. As undersecretary of state for arms control in 2003, I know we were nowhere near exerting any significant diplomatic pressure on Iran. Nowhere does the NIE explain its logic on this critical point.

“Moreover,” Bolton continued, “the risks and returns of pursuing a diplomatic strategy are policy calculations, not intelligence judgments.” That truth has been at the heart of the public confusion over Iran’s nuclear programs. The character of what we know about them has not, in fact, changed significantly over the past eight years. Rather, the orientation of the U.S. intelligence community to administration policy has shifted.

Based on information recovered in 2004 and subsequent foreign intelligence available to the public in early 2008 (shortly after the NIE’s release), it has been possible for several years now to assess the extent of Iran’s progress over weaponization — independently of what activities were ongoing — and therefore to estimate the worst-case (shortest) time line to a bomb. Revelations of illegal Iranian procurement efforts reinforce pessimistic assessments. If, as the Times of London suggests, Iran has already achieved success with a “multi-point initiation” system in warhead design, it is a finding that fits with other intelligence sources and bolsters current estimates, rather than refuting them.

It is a painful rebuke to the 2007 NIE that after creating a single, crucially misleading impression, its baseline estimate for when Iran could bring together the three elements of a nuclear weapon — fissile material, warhead design, delivery system — looks likely to prove accurate. The 2007 NIE’s projection of 2010-15 for this consummation did not change from its 2005 estimate and has been increasingly corroborated by IAEA-documented Iranian activity and emerging intelligence from multiple sources. But the public remembers only the misleading impression, and U.S. policy has been impeded by it. As Emanuele says, there is “no time left for engagement” — and our running out of time is the 2007 NIE’s legacy.

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Robinson: A Window into Obama’s Worldview

The Mary Robinson debacle continues. Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition has released a statement that reads, in part:

Mary Robinson, who was one of the people responsible for the 2001 Durban conference against racism descending into an anti-Israel propaganda forum, is not an appropriate recipient for one of our nation’s highest honors. In fact, awarding the Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson does great dishonor to the many outstanding men and women who have received it in the past.

[. . .]

The choice of Mary Robinson for this award calls into serious question the White House vetting process, given Robinson’s well-known record, particularly with regard to the 2001 Durban conference. The U.S. boycotted the conference and it was the subject of intense public discussion. If the White House staff passed on Robinson’s name knowing how controversial and troubling the choice would be, that’s wrong in and of itself. If Robinson’s name made it onto the Medal of Freedom list because the White House staff was unaware of how controversial she was, that’s even worse.

And in the New York Post today, Tevi and Gil Troy’s op-ed makes a key point: This is not simply a slap to Israel. They explain that she is “a symbol of all that’s wrong in the human-rights community and the United Nations — of the tendency to appease dictatorships, rationalize terrorism and bash the West.” In addition to her despicable performance at and following Durban I, the Troys remind us:

Robinson has criticized US foreign policy throughout her career. Since 9/11, she has blasted the United States for losing the “moral high ground” — as if she’s more focused on trying to win the “minds and hearts” of unrepentant terrorists than on the dilemmas that democracies face in fighting terror.

She also blasted the United States for objecting to the new UN Human Rights Council in 2006 — even though America was rightly protesting the power the forum granted to human-rights-abusing dictatorships such as Libya and Sudan.

They conclude that “it seems Obama doesn’t mind celebrating a symbol of Western weakness and appeasement of anti-Semitism at a time when the world’s dictators and terrorists are deciding what to think of him.”

One is left with two options in assessing the Obama administration’s decision: either a colossal error in vetting or a deliberate effort – which meshes perfectly with his Cairo speech’s theme and his admonition that “daylight” is required between the U.S. and Israel — in order to ingratiate himself with the Palestinian cause. What better way to flaunt his disdain for Israel’s sensibilities — and for American voters who support Israel — than to pick the villain of Durban? And while he is continuing his worldwide effort to denigrate American exceptionalism and give credence to the blame-America-first crowd, there could be no more fitting honoree than Robinson.

The Mary Robinson debacle continues. Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition has released a statement that reads, in part:

Mary Robinson, who was one of the people responsible for the 2001 Durban conference against racism descending into an anti-Israel propaganda forum, is not an appropriate recipient for one of our nation’s highest honors. In fact, awarding the Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson does great dishonor to the many outstanding men and women who have received it in the past.

[. . .]

The choice of Mary Robinson for this award calls into serious question the White House vetting process, given Robinson’s well-known record, particularly with regard to the 2001 Durban conference. The U.S. boycotted the conference and it was the subject of intense public discussion. If the White House staff passed on Robinson’s name knowing how controversial and troubling the choice would be, that’s wrong in and of itself. If Robinson’s name made it onto the Medal of Freedom list because the White House staff was unaware of how controversial she was, that’s even worse.

And in the New York Post today, Tevi and Gil Troy’s op-ed makes a key point: This is not simply a slap to Israel. They explain that she is “a symbol of all that’s wrong in the human-rights community and the United Nations — of the tendency to appease dictatorships, rationalize terrorism and bash the West.” In addition to her despicable performance at and following Durban I, the Troys remind us:

Robinson has criticized US foreign policy throughout her career. Since 9/11, she has blasted the United States for losing the “moral high ground” — as if she’s more focused on trying to win the “minds and hearts” of unrepentant terrorists than on the dilemmas that democracies face in fighting terror.

She also blasted the United States for objecting to the new UN Human Rights Council in 2006 — even though America was rightly protesting the power the forum granted to human-rights-abusing dictatorships such as Libya and Sudan.

They conclude that “it seems Obama doesn’t mind celebrating a symbol of Western weakness and appeasement of anti-Semitism at a time when the world’s dictators and terrorists are deciding what to think of him.”

One is left with two options in assessing the Obama administration’s decision: either a colossal error in vetting or a deliberate effort – which meshes perfectly with his Cairo speech’s theme and his admonition that “daylight” is required between the U.S. and Israel — in order to ingratiate himself with the Palestinian cause. What better way to flaunt his disdain for Israel’s sensibilities — and for American voters who support Israel — than to pick the villain of Durban? And while he is continuing his worldwide effort to denigrate American exceptionalism and give credence to the blame-America-first crowd, there could be no more fitting honoree than Robinson.

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Civis Americanus Sum

In 1847, David Pacifico, a Jew who had been born in British-held Gibraltar and was therefore a British subject, had his house burned down in Athens by an anti-Semitic mob. The Greek government refused to protect him or provide any restitution. Lord Palmerston, Britain’s foreign secretary, sent the Royal Navy to blockade Greece until it paid Pacifico’s demands.

Critics charged that Palmerston was overreacting. The House of Lords even voted to censure him. But in the House of Commons, Palmerston carried the day with a magnificent five-hour oration in which he declared: “As the Roman, in days of old, held himself free from indignity, when he could say, Civis Romanus sum [I am a Roman citizen], so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him from injustice and wrong.”

Theodore Roosevelt struck a similar tone in 1904 after Ion Perdicaris, a Greek-American living in Morocco, was kidnapped by the bandit chief Ahmed al-Raisuli. His Secretary of State John Hay drove the 1904 Republican Convention into a frenzy of approbation when he made it known that an American naval squadron had been sent to Morocco to demand “Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.” (It later turned out that Perdicaris was no longer an American citizen, but that was a mere detail compared to the principle Roosevelt espoused.)

I recount these tidbits of ancient history to show how far we have come over the past century — in the wrong direction. Today the United States is the mightiest nation in the world — far stronger than Britain was in its 19th-century heyday or than we ourselves were in 1904. Yet what happens today to those who dare take our citizens hostage? Umm, pretty much nothing.

Ace columnist Jeff Jacoby reminds us that two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were seized by North Korea five months ago and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. More recently, three young Americans have been detained by Iran after being accused of wandering into its territory.

Far from issuing thunderous demands for “Ling and Lee Alive or Kim Jong Il dead,” the U.S. government is reacting with the kind of caution we have come to expect ever since the Iranian hostage crisis, which made the seizure of American hostages a matter for diplomatic confabs rather than military movements. As Jacoby notes: “There has been no public condemnation of North Korea’s thuggish behavior, only a request that the women be granted ‘amnesty’ and set free. At the State Department’s insistence, a mild congressional resolution urging the journalists’ release was withdrawn by its sponsor, Representative Adam Schiff of California.”

Granted, there are good reasons not to launch a war against North Korea or Iran over the fate of these hostages. North Korea, after all, has something that the Moroccans and Greeks didn’t — nuclear weapons. Still, it’s an outrage that there isn’t more outrage, either in the U.S. government or the country at large, over the fate of our fellow citizens who are held hostage by thugs. We could use a “Civis Americanus Sum” doctrine today.

In 1847, David Pacifico, a Jew who had been born in British-held Gibraltar and was therefore a British subject, had his house burned down in Athens by an anti-Semitic mob. The Greek government refused to protect him or provide any restitution. Lord Palmerston, Britain’s foreign secretary, sent the Royal Navy to blockade Greece until it paid Pacifico’s demands.

Critics charged that Palmerston was overreacting. The House of Lords even voted to censure him. But in the House of Commons, Palmerston carried the day with a magnificent five-hour oration in which he declared: “As the Roman, in days of old, held himself free from indignity, when he could say, Civis Romanus sum [I am a Roman citizen], so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him from injustice and wrong.”

Theodore Roosevelt struck a similar tone in 1904 after Ion Perdicaris, a Greek-American living in Morocco, was kidnapped by the bandit chief Ahmed al-Raisuli. His Secretary of State John Hay drove the 1904 Republican Convention into a frenzy of approbation when he made it known that an American naval squadron had been sent to Morocco to demand “Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.” (It later turned out that Perdicaris was no longer an American citizen, but that was a mere detail compared to the principle Roosevelt espoused.)

I recount these tidbits of ancient history to show how far we have come over the past century — in the wrong direction. Today the United States is the mightiest nation in the world — far stronger than Britain was in its 19th-century heyday or than we ourselves were in 1904. Yet what happens today to those who dare take our citizens hostage? Umm, pretty much nothing.

Ace columnist Jeff Jacoby reminds us that two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were seized by North Korea five months ago and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. More recently, three young Americans have been detained by Iran after being accused of wandering into its territory.

Far from issuing thunderous demands for “Ling and Lee Alive or Kim Jong Il dead,” the U.S. government is reacting with the kind of caution we have come to expect ever since the Iranian hostage crisis, which made the seizure of American hostages a matter for diplomatic confabs rather than military movements. As Jacoby notes: “There has been no public condemnation of North Korea’s thuggish behavior, only a request that the women be granted ‘amnesty’ and set free. At the State Department’s insistence, a mild congressional resolution urging the journalists’ release was withdrawn by its sponsor, Representative Adam Schiff of California.”

Granted, there are good reasons not to launch a war against North Korea or Iran over the fate of these hostages. North Korea, after all, has something that the Moroccans and Greeks didn’t — nuclear weapons. Still, it’s an outrage that there isn’t more outrage, either in the U.S. government or the country at large, over the fate of our fellow citizens who are held hostage by thugs. We could use a “Civis Americanus Sum” doctrine today.

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Facing the Angry Voters

Conservatives are coming out in force to oppose ObamaCare — and it’s only the first week of August. The New York Times reports:

Senator Arlen Specter and the health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, were heckled and booed in Philadelphia on Sunday.

In Austin on Saturday, a throng of protesters enveloped Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, at a supermarket where he was trying to meet constituents. They carried signs that said “No Socialized Health Care” and chanted “Just say no!”

And in Morrisville, Pa., Representative Patrick J. Murphy, a Democrat, expected 25 people at a “Congressman on Your Corner” event on Saturday. Instead he was met by a boisterous crowd of about 150 and a barrage of questions on health care.

The protests, organized by loose-knit coalition of conservative voters and advocacy groups, were a raucous start to what is expected to be weeks of political and ideological clashes over the health care overhaul President Obama is trying to push through Congress.

I think this is called community-organizing. But the Obama spinners are beside themselves. Greg Sargent demands to know if Republicans approve of “loud and angry mob hecklings.” Yes, this is democracy in all its messy glory — holding legislators accountable, demanding to know why they haven’t read legislation they are voting on, and asking impertinent questions. Next thing you know they will be marching, signing petitions, and running for office. The horror of it all.

But this is the reason Obama and the congressional leadership didn’t want to face the voters before the deal was struck on health care. Those Blue Dogs might be emboldened to hold the line, and all those freshmen lawmakers might get the idea that their political careers could end in a little over a year if they come back with some monstrous bill that raises taxes and messes with the health insurance that most of their constituents actually like.

Conservatives are coming out in force to oppose ObamaCare — and it’s only the first week of August. The New York Times reports:

Senator Arlen Specter and the health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, were heckled and booed in Philadelphia on Sunday.

In Austin on Saturday, a throng of protesters enveloped Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, at a supermarket where he was trying to meet constituents. They carried signs that said “No Socialized Health Care” and chanted “Just say no!”

And in Morrisville, Pa., Representative Patrick J. Murphy, a Democrat, expected 25 people at a “Congressman on Your Corner” event on Saturday. Instead he was met by a boisterous crowd of about 150 and a barrage of questions on health care.

The protests, organized by loose-knit coalition of conservative voters and advocacy groups, were a raucous start to what is expected to be weeks of political and ideological clashes over the health care overhaul President Obama is trying to push through Congress.

I think this is called community-organizing. But the Obama spinners are beside themselves. Greg Sargent demands to know if Republicans approve of “loud and angry mob hecklings.” Yes, this is democracy in all its messy glory — holding legislators accountable, demanding to know why they haven’t read legislation they are voting on, and asking impertinent questions. Next thing you know they will be marching, signing petitions, and running for office. The horror of it all.

But this is the reason Obama and the congressional leadership didn’t want to face the voters before the deal was struck on health care. Those Blue Dogs might be emboldened to hold the line, and all those freshmen lawmakers might get the idea that their political careers could end in a little over a year if they come back with some monstrous bill that raises taxes and messes with the health insurance that most of their constituents actually like.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

John McCain comes out against Sonia Sotomayor.

A very impressive Liz Cheney dissects Obama’s foreign policy at a RedState gathering.

Gregory Craig, whose advice on everything from release of the detainee-abuse photos to Guantanamo to Hugo Chavez has landed the administration in hot water, may be out.

Maybe they should just stick to saying “soon”: “Don’t back Sen. Mike Enzi into a corner with a health care deadline. Blowing off the latest target date, the Wyoming Republican, a top negotiator on the Senate health care bill, says a Sept. 15 deadline set by Senate Democrats for the stalled Finance Committee bill is bogus.”

Now even liberal lawmakers are miffed at Nancy Pelosi over health care.

Ira Forman, head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, weighs in on “birthers,” but he won’t answer a query about Mary Robinson. When the Medal of Freedom winners were announced, the NJDC noted the two Jewish recipients but was entirely mute on Robinson.

Richard Cohen doesn’t think much of “hate crime” legislation: “The real purpose of hate-crime laws is to reassure politically significant groups — blacks, Hispanics, Jews, gays, etc. — that someone cares about them and takes their fears seriously. That’s nice. It does not change the fact, though, that what’s being punished is thought or speech.”

Rahm Emanuel pressured the networks to carry the president’s prime-time press conference even though the nets would lose money. The Obama spinners say the networks carry him because he’s “good for ratings.” Hmm. No. That’s why Emanuel had to strong-arm them. Someone should bring it up in a shareholders’ meeting — doesn’t sound like the network brass is looking after the bottom line.

Robert Gibbs says no middle-class tax hike. But who believes that? “The undeniable reality is that you can’t run a European-style welfare-entitlement state without European-style levels of taxation on the middle class (and eventually without low European-style growth and high jobless rates). It’s looking more and more like Mr. Obama’s no-middle-class-tax pledge was one of the greatest confidence tricks in American political history.”

All that “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel for nothing: “Jordan on Monday joined Saudi Arabia in publicly rejecting U.S. appeals to improve relations with Israel to help restart Middle East peace talks, throwing a damper on the Obama administration’s push for Arab support behind new negotiations.”

And here’s the real lesson: “David Makovsky, co-author of the book of the Middle East ‘Myths, Illusions and Peace,’ assessed that the US focus on the ‘perfect’ — a complete freeze — instead of the more doable ‘good’ of halting settlement expansion had raised Arab expectations to the extent that now they don’t want to negotiate with Israel, as it is resisting the freeze. ‘It’s hard to ask the Arabs to be more Zionist that the US on settlements,’ he said. ‘We can’t meet those expectations, and instead of facilitating an early resumption of talks, we’re totally blocked.’” In short: Obama has made things worse.

A Saudi-funded school was granted permission to expand a facility in northern Virginia. Don’t worry: “The stuff about killing, it’s not there anymore.” Well, yes, the textbooks “clearly remain guided by Wahhabism, the fundamentalist school of Sunni Islam that is dominant in Saudi Arabia. [Critics] object particularly to some references to the marriage of children and say other concerns remain.”

John McCain comes out against Sonia Sotomayor.

A very impressive Liz Cheney dissects Obama’s foreign policy at a RedState gathering.

Gregory Craig, whose advice on everything from release of the detainee-abuse photos to Guantanamo to Hugo Chavez has landed the administration in hot water, may be out.

Maybe they should just stick to saying “soon”: “Don’t back Sen. Mike Enzi into a corner with a health care deadline. Blowing off the latest target date, the Wyoming Republican, a top negotiator on the Senate health care bill, says a Sept. 15 deadline set by Senate Democrats for the stalled Finance Committee bill is bogus.”

Now even liberal lawmakers are miffed at Nancy Pelosi over health care.

Ira Forman, head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, weighs in on “birthers,” but he won’t answer a query about Mary Robinson. When the Medal of Freedom winners were announced, the NJDC noted the two Jewish recipients but was entirely mute on Robinson.

Richard Cohen doesn’t think much of “hate crime” legislation: “The real purpose of hate-crime laws is to reassure politically significant groups — blacks, Hispanics, Jews, gays, etc. — that someone cares about them and takes their fears seriously. That’s nice. It does not change the fact, though, that what’s being punished is thought or speech.”

Rahm Emanuel pressured the networks to carry the president’s prime-time press conference even though the nets would lose money. The Obama spinners say the networks carry him because he’s “good for ratings.” Hmm. No. That’s why Emanuel had to strong-arm them. Someone should bring it up in a shareholders’ meeting — doesn’t sound like the network brass is looking after the bottom line.

Robert Gibbs says no middle-class tax hike. But who believes that? “The undeniable reality is that you can’t run a European-style welfare-entitlement state without European-style levels of taxation on the middle class (and eventually without low European-style growth and high jobless rates). It’s looking more and more like Mr. Obama’s no-middle-class-tax pledge was one of the greatest confidence tricks in American political history.”

All that “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel for nothing: “Jordan on Monday joined Saudi Arabia in publicly rejecting U.S. appeals to improve relations with Israel to help restart Middle East peace talks, throwing a damper on the Obama administration’s push for Arab support behind new negotiations.”

And here’s the real lesson: “David Makovsky, co-author of the book of the Middle East ‘Myths, Illusions and Peace,’ assessed that the US focus on the ‘perfect’ — a complete freeze — instead of the more doable ‘good’ of halting settlement expansion had raised Arab expectations to the extent that now they don’t want to negotiate with Israel, as it is resisting the freeze. ‘It’s hard to ask the Arabs to be more Zionist that the US on settlements,’ he said. ‘We can’t meet those expectations, and instead of facilitating an early resumption of talks, we’re totally blocked.’” In short: Obama has made things worse.

A Saudi-funded school was granted permission to expand a facility in northern Virginia. Don’t worry: “The stuff about killing, it’s not there anymore.” Well, yes, the textbooks “clearly remain guided by Wahhabism, the fundamentalist school of Sunni Islam that is dominant in Saudi Arabia. [Critics] object particularly to some references to the marriage of children and say other concerns remain.”

Read Less




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