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Posts For: September 12, 2009

Rope-a-Dope

On Friday, this report suggested that the U.S. was about to get serious with Iran:

U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), speaking Thursday in Washington at the National Jewish Leadership Advocacy Day on Iran, told more than 300 Jewish leaders that he will mark up the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act in October and “begin the process of tightening the screws on Tehran” if Iran “does not reverse course.”

The legislation would allow the sanctioning of companies that help Iran import or produce refined petroleum, which is seen as potentially having a large impact on Iran’s economy because the country imports 40 percent of its refined petroleum.

Berman said the clock has “almost run out” on Iran.

“If the Iranians are going to engage in a meaningful and significant way that will spell the end of their nuclear enrichment program, we’ll open a new chapter with them,” he said. “But let’s clarify ‘meaningful’ — we’re not going to be conned by an Iranian rope-a-dope, its stalling efforts. We have no intention of spending months analyzing old proposals which are offered merely to delay imposition of sanctions.”

The Obama administration has signaled that it will reconsider its efforts to engage Iran on its pursuit of nuclear weapons if no progress has been made by the end of September.

By the end of the day, the administration had announced that September was, well, not really a deadline and that we would be entering into talks despite Iran’s not having agreed to discuss its nuclear program. In fact, Iran had already said the opposite. But we’ll be talking anyway.

One wonders what Rep. Berman thinks now. The administration has made itself, and those who were banking on some onset of diplomatic sobriety, look foolish. Those in Congress who were moving forward with an array of sanctions to enhance Obama’s bargaining position have been undercut by an administration that apparently doesn’t want its bargaining position enhanced.

The administration has prostrated itself before the Iranian regime and afforded it still more time to continue with its nuclear-weapons program. It has signaled that it has neither the will nor the interest to set deadlines or enforce them, and that it has failed to lay the groundwork for sanctions. If this isn’t “rope-a-dope” negotiations, I don’t know what Berman could possibly have had in mind. And in this case, the administration has willingly supplied the rope.

On Friday, this report suggested that the U.S. was about to get serious with Iran:

U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), speaking Thursday in Washington at the National Jewish Leadership Advocacy Day on Iran, told more than 300 Jewish leaders that he will mark up the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act in October and “begin the process of tightening the screws on Tehran” if Iran “does not reverse course.”

The legislation would allow the sanctioning of companies that help Iran import or produce refined petroleum, which is seen as potentially having a large impact on Iran’s economy because the country imports 40 percent of its refined petroleum.

Berman said the clock has “almost run out” on Iran.

“If the Iranians are going to engage in a meaningful and significant way that will spell the end of their nuclear enrichment program, we’ll open a new chapter with them,” he said. “But let’s clarify ‘meaningful’ — we’re not going to be conned by an Iranian rope-a-dope, its stalling efforts. We have no intention of spending months analyzing old proposals which are offered merely to delay imposition of sanctions.”

The Obama administration has signaled that it will reconsider its efforts to engage Iran on its pursuit of nuclear weapons if no progress has been made by the end of September.

By the end of the day, the administration had announced that September was, well, not really a deadline and that we would be entering into talks despite Iran’s not having agreed to discuss its nuclear program. In fact, Iran had already said the opposite. But we’ll be talking anyway.

One wonders what Rep. Berman thinks now. The administration has made itself, and those who were banking on some onset of diplomatic sobriety, look foolish. Those in Congress who were moving forward with an array of sanctions to enhance Obama’s bargaining position have been undercut by an administration that apparently doesn’t want its bargaining position enhanced.

The administration has prostrated itself before the Iranian regime and afforded it still more time to continue with its nuclear-weapons program. It has signaled that it has neither the will nor the interest to set deadlines or enforce them, and that it has failed to lay the groundwork for sanctions. If this isn’t “rope-a-dope” negotiations, I don’t know what Berman could possibly have had in mind. And in this case, the administration has willingly supplied the rope.

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March in September

This report explains:

Conservative activists from around the country are gathering in Washington on Saturday, seeking to continue their momentum in shaping the national debate on everything from health care to White House staffing. The demonstrators, who plan to march up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, are drawing their passion not from Bush-era fights over terrorism or gay marriage, but rather from Reagan-era debates over big government programs. The event comes on the heels of antitax events, dubbed tea parties, in April, and a series of congressional town-hall meetings nationwide last month that elicited angry criticism of health-care proposals favored by President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies.

Just as they feigned ignorance of the April 15 tea parties, the administration claims it is unaware of the horde descending outside its gates:

White House officials on Friday professed to know nothing of the planned demonstrations. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs queried reporters about the planners and their issues. “I don’t know who the group is,” he said with a shrug.

And we all know how ignoring or denigrating a huge populist outpouring worked this summer, so we can expect the White House’s indifference won’t do much to quell the protestors’ enthusiasm. But most significantly, the message these protestors bring is one very likely to resonate with independent voters and even some conservative Democrats: “The Obama administration and congressional Democrats are spending too much money on programs that insert government too far into people’s lives. And Washington, they say, ignores or vilifies those who object.” Well, they have new evidence for the last item, don’t they?

The long-term consequences of this and the preceding populist gatherings are hard to predict. We may see a more libertarian Republican party. A huge turnout for 2010 may result. New, real outsiders may enter politics. And, of course, these protests may scare the dickens out of lawmakers. But while everyone is decrying the collapse of civility and the resulting harm to the country, it is worth noting that we are witnessing a grassroots outpouring of support for limited government, the rule of law, fiscal sobriety, and generational responsibility. That must be heartening to conservatives, but more than that, it is a tribute to the vitality of our democracy and the energy of its citizenry. And that is a very good thing indeed.

This report explains:

Conservative activists from around the country are gathering in Washington on Saturday, seeking to continue their momentum in shaping the national debate on everything from health care to White House staffing. The demonstrators, who plan to march up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, are drawing their passion not from Bush-era fights over terrorism or gay marriage, but rather from Reagan-era debates over big government programs. The event comes on the heels of antitax events, dubbed tea parties, in April, and a series of congressional town-hall meetings nationwide last month that elicited angry criticism of health-care proposals favored by President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies.

Just as they feigned ignorance of the April 15 tea parties, the administration claims it is unaware of the horde descending outside its gates:

White House officials on Friday professed to know nothing of the planned demonstrations. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs queried reporters about the planners and their issues. “I don’t know who the group is,” he said with a shrug.

And we all know how ignoring or denigrating a huge populist outpouring worked this summer, so we can expect the White House’s indifference won’t do much to quell the protestors’ enthusiasm. But most significantly, the message these protestors bring is one very likely to resonate with independent voters and even some conservative Democrats: “The Obama administration and congressional Democrats are spending too much money on programs that insert government too far into people’s lives. And Washington, they say, ignores or vilifies those who object.” Well, they have new evidence for the last item, don’t they?

The long-term consequences of this and the preceding populist gatherings are hard to predict. We may see a more libertarian Republican party. A huge turnout for 2010 may result. New, real outsiders may enter politics. And, of course, these protests may scare the dickens out of lawmakers. But while everyone is decrying the collapse of civility and the resulting harm to the country, it is worth noting that we are witnessing a grassroots outpouring of support for limited government, the rule of law, fiscal sobriety, and generational responsibility. That must be heartening to conservatives, but more than that, it is a tribute to the vitality of our democracy and the energy of its citizenry. And that is a very good thing indeed.

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Why Egg Him On?

Bill Kristol shares:

The single most damning story about President Obama so far is one we know courtesy of his national security adviser, Jim Jones. Visiting the newly installed military commanders in Afghanistan in late June, Jones told General Stanley McChrystal that if he requested more troops any time soon, Obama would have a “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” (i.e., “What the f–”) moment. Jones then, in an interview, made the claim—denied by everyone else involved—that military leaders had agreed that when the president earlier sent 21,000 troops to Afghanistan, “there would be a year from the time the decision was made before they would ever come back and ask for any more.”

Okay. Jones is in way over his head. And, we gather, he’ll likely be gone by Christmas. But it’s still a remarkable statement by the president’s national security adviser. Afghanistan is a war Obama supported repeatedly as a candidate. One of his first acts as president was to recommit to success in the struggle. Yet Jones was willing to portray his boss, both privately and publicly, as timid and fearful of tough decisions.

This may be the most damning, but not the only, indication that the president doesn’t have his heart in this. There’s the aversion to persusing “victory.” And the leaking game over troop levels and various options also suggests the “do what it takes” sentiment is not in full flower. A robust commitment to military victory does not come naturally to Obama.

This has perversely encouraged the “out of Afghanistan” set on the Right. If Obama’s not serious, then we have to leave, they pronounce. But that’s what the debate is about now—to see if the president can be encouraged and supported to do the right thing. There will be time enough to quibble and, yes, condemn if he fails to fulfill his responsibilities as commander in chief. But it seems like a rigged game to complain that the president is insufficiently resolute—and then egg him on to be less resolute.

And if the neo-isolationists on the Right think there is some political upside to banding together with the far Left to undermine support for the war on terror, they should reconsider. There is little political support among conservative voters for throwing in the towel on the war on terror—wherever it occurs. (Ask Ron Paul if you doubt it.) And moreover, all Americans (even those souring on the war now) will be none too pleased if there is an ignoble retreat and a disastrous aftermath. And they may care who counseled that course of action.

Sometimes good politics and good policy coincide. This is one of those instances.

Bill Kristol shares:

The single most damning story about President Obama so far is one we know courtesy of his national security adviser, Jim Jones. Visiting the newly installed military commanders in Afghanistan in late June, Jones told General Stanley McChrystal that if he requested more troops any time soon, Obama would have a “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” (i.e., “What the f–”) moment. Jones then, in an interview, made the claim—denied by everyone else involved—that military leaders had agreed that when the president earlier sent 21,000 troops to Afghanistan, “there would be a year from the time the decision was made before they would ever come back and ask for any more.”

Okay. Jones is in way over his head. And, we gather, he’ll likely be gone by Christmas. But it’s still a remarkable statement by the president’s national security adviser. Afghanistan is a war Obama supported repeatedly as a candidate. One of his first acts as president was to recommit to success in the struggle. Yet Jones was willing to portray his boss, both privately and publicly, as timid and fearful of tough decisions.

This may be the most damning, but not the only, indication that the president doesn’t have his heart in this. There’s the aversion to persusing “victory.” And the leaking game over troop levels and various options also suggests the “do what it takes” sentiment is not in full flower. A robust commitment to military victory does not come naturally to Obama.

This has perversely encouraged the “out of Afghanistan” set on the Right. If Obama’s not serious, then we have to leave, they pronounce. But that’s what the debate is about now—to see if the president can be encouraged and supported to do the right thing. There will be time enough to quibble and, yes, condemn if he fails to fulfill his responsibilities as commander in chief. But it seems like a rigged game to complain that the president is insufficiently resolute—and then egg him on to be less resolute.

And if the neo-isolationists on the Right think there is some political upside to banding together with the far Left to undermine support for the war on terror, they should reconsider. There is little political support among conservative voters for throwing in the towel on the war on terror—wherever it occurs. (Ask Ron Paul if you doubt it.) And moreover, all Americans (even those souring on the war now) will be none too pleased if there is an ignoble retreat and a disastrous aftermath. And they may care who counseled that course of action.

Sometimes good politics and good policy coincide. This is one of those instances.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

The Obama administration has folded, blowing through its self-imposed deadline and agreeing to “talks” that Iran has declared won’t concern limits on its nuclear program.

Meanwhile: “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in his second address to the nation since the turmoil over the June presidential election, set a tough tone for where the country is heading: No compromises with opponents outside or inside Iran. … Mr. Khamenei reiterated that Iran wouldn’t bend to Western powers when it comes to its nuclear program. To give up rights, ‘whether nuclear right or otherwise, would result in a nation’s demise,’ he said.” One sense that Obama is morphing into Jimmy Carter before our eyes—with potentially more dangerous results.

The Census Bureau is forced to sever—finally—its ties with ACORN after it was caught on video counseling a pimp and prostitute on “how to falsify tax forms and seek illegal benefits for 13 ‘very young’ girls from El Salvador that pair said they wanted to import to work as child prostitutes.”

Larry Summers concedes what conservative economists and pundits have been saying for some time: there will be high unemployment for years and the Obama team has no clue what to do about it. The administration might start by taking business tax hikes and stifling regulations off the table, but they are pushing for tax hikes and more mandates, fees, and regulations. No wonder unemployment is such a “tough nut to crack” for them.

And there is more: “The federal deficit surged higher into record territory in August, hitting $1.38 trillion with one month left in the budget year. The Treasury Department said Friday that last month’s deficit was $111.4 billion, below the $152 billion that economists expected. Still, the imbalance added to a flood of red ink already accumulated through a severe recession and massive spending needed to stabilize the banking system. The soaring deficits have raised worries about the willingness of foreigners to keep purchasing Treasury debt.” You’d think with soaring debt and unemployment we’d be focused on fiscal discipline and pro-growth politics, but the reverse is true.

Bradley Smith: “Do Republicans have a civility problem? They sure do. But what do you expect? As Obama appointee Van Jones points out of Republicans, ‘they’re a bunch of a**holes.’ It’s no wonder former DNC Chairman would say, ‘I hate Republicans.’ Just ask Senator Franken: Republicans are a bunch of ‘ lying liars.’ (Poor Joe Wilson didn’t think to use the redundant form.) Yeah, those Republicans are a particularly nasty bunch.”

As if we didn’t have enough economic problems: “President Barack Obama on Friday slapped punitive tariffs on all car and light truck tires entering the United States from China in a decision that could anger the strategically important Asian powerhouse but placate union supporters important to his health care push at home.” It seems a trade war is the only war Obama is unreservedly enthusiastic about.

And this is in a deep Blue State: “14 months out from election day, Democratic Senator Chris Dodd is in a heap of trouble. According to Rasmussen Reports, not only is he below 50%, he is below 40%, and his likely GOP opponent, former Representative Rob Simmons, is almost at 50%. Dodd trails 49%-39%. Dodd trails former ambassador Tom Foley 43%-40%. He leads state Senator Sam Caliguri 43%-40%, and venture capitalist Peter Schiff 42%-40%. His statewide favorables stand at 40%; his unfavorables stand at a whopping 59%.”

Matt Continetti: “The partisan and misleading speech that President Obama delivered to a joint session of Congress last week revealed the president’s preferences—more government mandates, regulations, and taxes—when it comes to refashioning the American health care system. It also showcased the contempt for debate and smug sense of moral and intellectual superiority that is now as much a part of contemporary liberalism as sympathy with the nuclear freeze movement and the RainbowPUSH coalition was two decades ago.”

The Obama administration has folded, blowing through its self-imposed deadline and agreeing to “talks” that Iran has declared won’t concern limits on its nuclear program.

Meanwhile: “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in his second address to the nation since the turmoil over the June presidential election, set a tough tone for where the country is heading: No compromises with opponents outside or inside Iran. … Mr. Khamenei reiterated that Iran wouldn’t bend to Western powers when it comes to its nuclear program. To give up rights, ‘whether nuclear right or otherwise, would result in a nation’s demise,’ he said.” One sense that Obama is morphing into Jimmy Carter before our eyes—with potentially more dangerous results.

The Census Bureau is forced to sever—finally—its ties with ACORN after it was caught on video counseling a pimp and prostitute on “how to falsify tax forms and seek illegal benefits for 13 ‘very young’ girls from El Salvador that pair said they wanted to import to work as child prostitutes.”

Larry Summers concedes what conservative economists and pundits have been saying for some time: there will be high unemployment for years and the Obama team has no clue what to do about it. The administration might start by taking business tax hikes and stifling regulations off the table, but they are pushing for tax hikes and more mandates, fees, and regulations. No wonder unemployment is such a “tough nut to crack” for them.

And there is more: “The federal deficit surged higher into record territory in August, hitting $1.38 trillion with one month left in the budget year. The Treasury Department said Friday that last month’s deficit was $111.4 billion, below the $152 billion that economists expected. Still, the imbalance added to a flood of red ink already accumulated through a severe recession and massive spending needed to stabilize the banking system. The soaring deficits have raised worries about the willingness of foreigners to keep purchasing Treasury debt.” You’d think with soaring debt and unemployment we’d be focused on fiscal discipline and pro-growth politics, but the reverse is true.

Bradley Smith: “Do Republicans have a civility problem? They sure do. But what do you expect? As Obama appointee Van Jones points out of Republicans, ‘they’re a bunch of a**holes.’ It’s no wonder former DNC Chairman would say, ‘I hate Republicans.’ Just ask Senator Franken: Republicans are a bunch of ‘ lying liars.’ (Poor Joe Wilson didn’t think to use the redundant form.) Yeah, those Republicans are a particularly nasty bunch.”

As if we didn’t have enough economic problems: “President Barack Obama on Friday slapped punitive tariffs on all car and light truck tires entering the United States from China in a decision that could anger the strategically important Asian powerhouse but placate union supporters important to his health care push at home.” It seems a trade war is the only war Obama is unreservedly enthusiastic about.

And this is in a deep Blue State: “14 months out from election day, Democratic Senator Chris Dodd is in a heap of trouble. According to Rasmussen Reports, not only is he below 50%, he is below 40%, and his likely GOP opponent, former Representative Rob Simmons, is almost at 50%. Dodd trails 49%-39%. Dodd trails former ambassador Tom Foley 43%-40%. He leads state Senator Sam Caliguri 43%-40%, and venture capitalist Peter Schiff 42%-40%. His statewide favorables stand at 40%; his unfavorables stand at a whopping 59%.”

Matt Continetti: “The partisan and misleading speech that President Obama delivered to a joint session of Congress last week revealed the president’s preferences—more government mandates, regulations, and taxes—when it comes to refashioning the American health care system. It also showcased the contempt for debate and smug sense of moral and intellectual superiority that is now as much a part of contemporary liberalism as sympathy with the nuclear freeze movement and the RainbowPUSH coalition was two decades ago.”

Read Less




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