Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 24, 2009

The UN’s Shame . . . and that of American Jews

Jennifer, you’re right. Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the United Nations today was as eloquent as it was on target with respect to the Holocaust denial and genocidal threats of Iran’s Ahmadinejad as well as the hypocrisy and distortions of the UN’s Human Rights Council and its Goldstone report on the fighting in Gaza last December.

With respect to the threat to humanity posed by the bid for nuclear weapons in the hands of fanatical Islamists, Netanyahu asked if “the UN is up to that” challenge. It’s a good question. But his speech reminded me of another question left unanswered by recent events: whether American Jewry and other friends of Israel here are up to the challenge of speaking out against the Iranian threat and against pressure on Israel to make concessions to Iran’s Islamist allies.

In pointing out the shame of the world body in allowing maniacal anti-Semites such as Ahmadinejad to use its rostrum as a bully pulpit from which to broadcast hate, Netanyahu said he was speaking in the name not just of the people of Israel but of the Jewish people at large as well as decent people everywhere. But there appears to be a sharp division between the sentiments of Israeli Jews who support Netanyahu’s prideful stands against Iran and the pressure President Obama is applying on Jerusalem, and American Jews, the majority of whom seem inclined to back Obama’s “engagement” with Tehran, as well as his inept attempts to strong arm Israel.

There was a time when Israelis such as Abba Eban and Chaim Herzog galvanized American Jewry into action with brilliant speeches. The threat to Israel and the Jewish people—as well as to humanity in general—from the Islamism of Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah is no less dangerous than that posed in Eban’s day by Nasser or in Herzog’s day by Arafat. The main difference is that unlike in that era, there appears to be a growing reluctance on the part of many liberal American Jews to identify with Israel or to oppose its foes. This “count me out” strategy of Jews who not only are lukewarm about their affection for Zion but are actually embarrassed to be caught supporting Israel in front of their fellow liberals was brazenly articulated by Jay Michaelson in a disgraceful column published in the Forward last week.

While I can’t believe that Michaelson, and others who take the point of view that they are in some sense morally superior to Israelis, represents anything more than a troublesome minority of American Jewry, it would be foolish to believe that it is an insignificant group. Even worse is the prospect that those liberal Jews who have the ear of the current resident of the White House are putting this point of view forward.

While many Jews took to the streets today around the UN to protest Iran, it is far from clear that the community is either united on this issue or prepared to put aside political differences in order to make action on the issue a bipartisan priority. With the clock ticking down toward a nuclear Iran, a reluctance to oppose Obama’s policies on any issue, as well as Jewish diffidence with respect to support of Israel, may become crucial factors in the unfolding political drama on this issue. If so, then the question of shame may very well be directed not so much at the circus performers and clowns of the UN but at those of us who fail to act or speak during this historic challenge.

Jennifer, you’re right. Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the United Nations today was as eloquent as it was on target with respect to the Holocaust denial and genocidal threats of Iran’s Ahmadinejad as well as the hypocrisy and distortions of the UN’s Human Rights Council and its Goldstone report on the fighting in Gaza last December.

With respect to the threat to humanity posed by the bid for nuclear weapons in the hands of fanatical Islamists, Netanyahu asked if “the UN is up to that” challenge. It’s a good question. But his speech reminded me of another question left unanswered by recent events: whether American Jewry and other friends of Israel here are up to the challenge of speaking out against the Iranian threat and against pressure on Israel to make concessions to Iran’s Islamist allies.

In pointing out the shame of the world body in allowing maniacal anti-Semites such as Ahmadinejad to use its rostrum as a bully pulpit from which to broadcast hate, Netanyahu said he was speaking in the name not just of the people of Israel but of the Jewish people at large as well as decent people everywhere. But there appears to be a sharp division between the sentiments of Israeli Jews who support Netanyahu’s prideful stands against Iran and the pressure President Obama is applying on Jerusalem, and American Jews, the majority of whom seem inclined to back Obama’s “engagement” with Tehran, as well as his inept attempts to strong arm Israel.

There was a time when Israelis such as Abba Eban and Chaim Herzog galvanized American Jewry into action with brilliant speeches. The threat to Israel and the Jewish people—as well as to humanity in general—from the Islamism of Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah is no less dangerous than that posed in Eban’s day by Nasser or in Herzog’s day by Arafat. The main difference is that unlike in that era, there appears to be a growing reluctance on the part of many liberal American Jews to identify with Israel or to oppose its foes. This “count me out” strategy of Jews who not only are lukewarm about their affection for Zion but are actually embarrassed to be caught supporting Israel in front of their fellow liberals was brazenly articulated by Jay Michaelson in a disgraceful column published in the Forward last week.

While I can’t believe that Michaelson, and others who take the point of view that they are in some sense morally superior to Israelis, represents anything more than a troublesome minority of American Jewry, it would be foolish to believe that it is an insignificant group. Even worse is the prospect that those liberal Jews who have the ear of the current resident of the White House are putting this point of view forward.

While many Jews took to the streets today around the UN to protest Iran, it is far from clear that the community is either united on this issue or prepared to put aside political differences in order to make action on the issue a bipartisan priority. With the clock ticking down toward a nuclear Iran, a reluctance to oppose Obama’s policies on any issue, as well as Jewish diffidence with respect to support of Israel, may become crucial factors in the unfolding political drama on this issue. If so, then the question of shame may very well be directed not so much at the circus performers and clowns of the UN but at those of us who fail to act or speak during this historic challenge.

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Qaddafi: Never Give a Sucker an Even Break

Last night, while other heads of state joined President Obama for a reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Colonel Muammar Qaddafi repaired to the Libyan Mission to attend to diplomatic business. The Swiss premier Hans-Rudolf Merz was paying a visit in an effort to restore normal relations between the two countries.

The fissure began last August, when Muammar’s son Hannibal was arrested in Geneva together with his wife on charges of beating up two of their domestic servants. Like an American government linking foreign policy to human rights, the Libyan regime stood firm on respect for its aristocratic privileges. It conveyed its extreme displeasure, with consequences threatened, to the Swiss government. (Never mind that the central government has little say over the actions of the police and judiciary in an individual canton.) The complaint was soon dropped as the servants received some form of compensation, but that was not the end of the matter.

In retaliation for the initial insult, Libya withdrew assets from Swiss banks, cut off ties with Swiss businesses, and withheld oil deliveries. Shortly thereafter, two Swiss businessmen were detained in Tripoli for holding improper visas. An eye for an eye. After many months of negotiations failed to secure the prisoners’ freedom, Merz traveled personally to Libya in August and apologized to the Libyan people for Hannibal’s arrest. He claims to have been orally promised and to have received some kind of written assurance that this would be enough to get them home. But the Libyan government then declared that it could hardly interfere so brazenly in the legal process; the matter would have to play out in court. The Swiss premier flew back to Bern, his countrymen and his dignity remaining behind.

And so he went again last night to supplicate before Qaddafi in New York, presumably bringing his checkbook and plenty of shoe polish. Just what Merz can hope to get from the meeting is unknown, especially given how jet-lagged the volatile colonel declared himself to be at the beginning of his two-hour address yesterday at the General Assembly. One hopes for the sake of the two prisoners that Merz postdated any payment for after their release.

Message to the State Department: Never pay a Qaddafi today for a hamburger on Tuesday.

Last night, while other heads of state joined President Obama for a reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Colonel Muammar Qaddafi repaired to the Libyan Mission to attend to diplomatic business. The Swiss premier Hans-Rudolf Merz was paying a visit in an effort to restore normal relations between the two countries.

The fissure began last August, when Muammar’s son Hannibal was arrested in Geneva together with his wife on charges of beating up two of their domestic servants. Like an American government linking foreign policy to human rights, the Libyan regime stood firm on respect for its aristocratic privileges. It conveyed its extreme displeasure, with consequences threatened, to the Swiss government. (Never mind that the central government has little say over the actions of the police and judiciary in an individual canton.) The complaint was soon dropped as the servants received some form of compensation, but that was not the end of the matter.

In retaliation for the initial insult, Libya withdrew assets from Swiss banks, cut off ties with Swiss businesses, and withheld oil deliveries. Shortly thereafter, two Swiss businessmen were detained in Tripoli for holding improper visas. An eye for an eye. After many months of negotiations failed to secure the prisoners’ freedom, Merz traveled personally to Libya in August and apologized to the Libyan people for Hannibal’s arrest. He claims to have been orally promised and to have received some kind of written assurance that this would be enough to get them home. But the Libyan government then declared that it could hardly interfere so brazenly in the legal process; the matter would have to play out in court. The Swiss premier flew back to Bern, his countrymen and his dignity remaining behind.

And so he went again last night to supplicate before Qaddafi in New York, presumably bringing his checkbook and plenty of shoe polish. Just what Merz can hope to get from the meeting is unknown, especially given how jet-lagged the volatile colonel declared himself to be at the beginning of his two-hour address yesterday at the General Assembly. One hopes for the sake of the two prisoners that Merz postdated any payment for after their release.

Message to the State Department: Never pay a Qaddafi today for a hamburger on Tuesday.

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A Speech for the Ages

If the president’s speech was one of the more embarrassing and shameful displays by a U.S. President before the UN, then today brought a reminder of the power of moral clarity. Bibi Netanyahu delivered a scathing condemnation of those who sat and listened to Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad. And he brought some visual aids:

“Last month I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee,” Netanyahu recalled a visit to the pastoral villa, where over just a few hours on January 20 1942 the Nazis devised the Final Solution—the decision to exterminate the Jews from Europe.

Netanyahu then dramatically showed a facsimile copy of Final Solution documents drafted in Wannsee.

“Is this protocol a lie?” he asked. “Is the German government lying?” “The day before I was in Wannsee,” Netanyahu continued, “I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. “These plans I now hold in my hand,” he said, as he was showing the worn-out blueprints to the assembly. “They contain a signature by Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s deputy.

“Are these plans of the camp where one million Jews were murdered a lie too?” he asked.

Netanyahu then turned to attacking Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying “Yesterday, the man who called the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. For those who refused to come, and those who left in protest—I commend you, you stood up for moral clarity.’

“But for those who stayed—I say on behalf of the Jewish people, my people and decent people everywhere—have you no shame? No decency? What a disgrace, what a mockery of the charter of the UN.”

Netanyahu then told the assembly “perhaps some of you think that this man and his regime threaten only the Jews—well, if you think that—you’re wrong, dead wrong.

“In the past 30 years, this fanaticism spread across the globe with a murderous violence that knows no bounds,” he said, noting that Islamic terrorism hurt Muslims, Christian and Hindus as well as Jews.

“Wherever they can,” the prime minister said of Islamic fanatics, “they enforce a backward system of government.” He called the struggle between the modern world and extremist Islamism a struggle between “the 21st Century and the 9th Century.”

But, he noted, “Ultimately, the past cannot triumph over the future. And our future promises magnificent bounties of hope.”

Naming some of the technological achievements of the last hundred years, Netanyahu finished “We will find an alternative to fossil fuel, and yes, we will clean up the planet. But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history can be reversed” for a lengthy period of time, he warned.

“This is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and weapons of mass destruction.”

“Is the UN up to that?” Netanyahu asked. “Will the international community stand up to the despotism of a government against its own people?” he asked, referring to the recent elections in Iran. “The jury is still out on the UN. Recent signs are not encouraging.”

A more important question is whether the Obama administration is up to that. And again, sadly, the signs are not encouraging.

If the president’s speech was one of the more embarrassing and shameful displays by a U.S. President before the UN, then today brought a reminder of the power of moral clarity. Bibi Netanyahu delivered a scathing condemnation of those who sat and listened to Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad. And he brought some visual aids:

“Last month I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee,” Netanyahu recalled a visit to the pastoral villa, where over just a few hours on January 20 1942 the Nazis devised the Final Solution—the decision to exterminate the Jews from Europe.

Netanyahu then dramatically showed a facsimile copy of Final Solution documents drafted in Wannsee.

“Is this protocol a lie?” he asked. “Is the German government lying?” “The day before I was in Wannsee,” Netanyahu continued, “I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. “These plans I now hold in my hand,” he said, as he was showing the worn-out blueprints to the assembly. “They contain a signature by Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s deputy.

“Are these plans of the camp where one million Jews were murdered a lie too?” he asked.

Netanyahu then turned to attacking Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying “Yesterday, the man who called the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. For those who refused to come, and those who left in protest—I commend you, you stood up for moral clarity.’

“But for those who stayed—I say on behalf of the Jewish people, my people and decent people everywhere—have you no shame? No decency? What a disgrace, what a mockery of the charter of the UN.”

Netanyahu then told the assembly “perhaps some of you think that this man and his regime threaten only the Jews—well, if you think that—you’re wrong, dead wrong.

“In the past 30 years, this fanaticism spread across the globe with a murderous violence that knows no bounds,” he said, noting that Islamic terrorism hurt Muslims, Christian and Hindus as well as Jews.

“Wherever they can,” the prime minister said of Islamic fanatics, “they enforce a backward system of government.” He called the struggle between the modern world and extremist Islamism a struggle between “the 21st Century and the 9th Century.”

But, he noted, “Ultimately, the past cannot triumph over the future. And our future promises magnificent bounties of hope.”

Naming some of the technological achievements of the last hundred years, Netanyahu finished “We will find an alternative to fossil fuel, and yes, we will clean up the planet. But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history can be reversed” for a lengthy period of time, he warned.

“This is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and weapons of mass destruction.”

“Is the UN up to that?” Netanyahu asked. “Will the international community stand up to the despotism of a government against its own people?” he asked, referring to the recent elections in Iran. “The jury is still out on the UN. Recent signs are not encouraging.”

A more important question is whether the Obama administration is up to that. And again, sadly, the signs are not encouraging.

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Obama’s Man

Manuel Zelaya, the expelled (and now returned) Honduran president—who Obama and Hillary Clinton insist must return to power—has proved, once again, just how bad the judgment of his American protectors is. This report explains:

It’s been 89 days since Manuel Zelaya was booted from power. He’s sleeping on chairs, and he claims his throat is sore from toxic gases and “Israeli mercenaries” are torturing him with high-frequency radiation. “We are being threatened with death,” he said in an interview with The Miami Herald, adding that mercenaries were likely to storm the embassy where he has been holed up since Monday and assassinate him.

“I prefer to march on my feet than to live on my knees before a military dictatorship,” Zelaya said in a series of back-to-back interviews.

Honduran and Israeli officials suppressed their guffaws when asked about Zelaya’s claims:

Honduran police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said he knew nothing of any radiation devices being used against the former president.

“He says there are mercenaries against him? Using some kind of apparatus?” Cerrato said. “No, no, no, no. Sincerely: no. The only elements surrounding that embassy are police and military, and they have no such apparatus.”

Police responded to reports of looting throughout the city Tuesday night. Civil disturbances subsided Wednesday afternoon, when a crush of people rushed grocery stores and gas stations in the capital.

Israeli government sources in Miami said they could not confirm the presence of any “Israelis mercenaries” in Honduras.

Well, what say Obama and Clinton now? Perhaps it’s time for both of them to come up with a real plan, other than simply insisting on reinstating the crazy guy (and friend of Hugo Chavez), who was removed from office for violating his country’s constitution.

Manuel Zelaya, the expelled (and now returned) Honduran president—who Obama and Hillary Clinton insist must return to power—has proved, once again, just how bad the judgment of his American protectors is. This report explains:

It’s been 89 days since Manuel Zelaya was booted from power. He’s sleeping on chairs, and he claims his throat is sore from toxic gases and “Israeli mercenaries” are torturing him with high-frequency radiation. “We are being threatened with death,” he said in an interview with The Miami Herald, adding that mercenaries were likely to storm the embassy where he has been holed up since Monday and assassinate him.

“I prefer to march on my feet than to live on my knees before a military dictatorship,” Zelaya said in a series of back-to-back interviews.

Honduran and Israeli officials suppressed their guffaws when asked about Zelaya’s claims:

Honduran police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said he knew nothing of any radiation devices being used against the former president.

“He says there are mercenaries against him? Using some kind of apparatus?” Cerrato said. “No, no, no, no. Sincerely: no. The only elements surrounding that embassy are police and military, and they have no such apparatus.”

Police responded to reports of looting throughout the city Tuesday night. Civil disturbances subsided Wednesday afternoon, when a crush of people rushed grocery stores and gas stations in the capital.

Israeli government sources in Miami said they could not confirm the presence of any “Israelis mercenaries” in Honduras.

Well, what say Obama and Clinton now? Perhaps it’s time for both of them to come up with a real plan, other than simply insisting on reinstating the crazy guy (and friend of Hugo Chavez), who was removed from office for violating his country’s constitution.

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The Endorsement that Wasn’t

Bob McDonnell nabbed another endorsement in the Virginia gubernatorial race, picking up the Fraternal Order of Police. Considering that his opponent gave conflicting answers to the group last week, that comes as no surprise. The shocker, however, was the endorsement that wasn’t:

Former Virginia governor Douglas Wilder announced Thursday that he will not be endorsing a candidate in the Virginia gubernatorial race, while mounting some sharp criticism at Democrat Creigh Deeds over his stance on taxes and guns.

“The requests, made of me, have been to endorse Mr. Deeds, the Democratic Candidate, for Governor. I refrain from doing so and will leave that choice to the voters,” Wilder said in a statement . . . Wilder’s announcement is a significant blow to the Deeds campaign, which had been aggressively courting his support in recent weeks. Even President Obama got involved in the lobbying campaign, making a personal call to Wilder earlier this month asking him to endorse Deeds.

And for good measure, Wilder whacked Deeds on his position on taxes, declaring: “This is not the time in our Commonwealth to talk about any kind of tax increase, especially those that are fundamentally regressive and will hit hardest those who are struggling.” This now becomes campaign-ad material for McDonnell.

This development is further evidence that something is amiss in the already lackluster Deeds campaign. A horrid debate outing in which he gets hammered on taxes, two important endorsements for his opponent, and now this move—one that seems to have blindsided Deeds and his entire campaign. Since June, when Deeds won the primary, he has run one of the worst campaigns in recent memory in Virginia. Democrats in Virginia will certainly be wondering why his campaign—despite Herculean efforts by the Washington Post to cheer for him—has not done much of anything right since upsetting Terry McAuliffe.

Bob McDonnell nabbed another endorsement in the Virginia gubernatorial race, picking up the Fraternal Order of Police. Considering that his opponent gave conflicting answers to the group last week, that comes as no surprise. The shocker, however, was the endorsement that wasn’t:

Former Virginia governor Douglas Wilder announced Thursday that he will not be endorsing a candidate in the Virginia gubernatorial race, while mounting some sharp criticism at Democrat Creigh Deeds over his stance on taxes and guns.

“The requests, made of me, have been to endorse Mr. Deeds, the Democratic Candidate, for Governor. I refrain from doing so and will leave that choice to the voters,” Wilder said in a statement . . . Wilder’s announcement is a significant blow to the Deeds campaign, which had been aggressively courting his support in recent weeks. Even President Obama got involved in the lobbying campaign, making a personal call to Wilder earlier this month asking him to endorse Deeds.

And for good measure, Wilder whacked Deeds on his position on taxes, declaring: “This is not the time in our Commonwealth to talk about any kind of tax increase, especially those that are fundamentally regressive and will hit hardest those who are struggling.” This now becomes campaign-ad material for McDonnell.

This development is further evidence that something is amiss in the already lackluster Deeds campaign. A horrid debate outing in which he gets hammered on taxes, two important endorsements for his opponent, and now this move—one that seems to have blindsided Deeds and his entire campaign. Since June, when Deeds won the primary, he has run one of the worst campaigns in recent memory in Virginia. Democrats in Virginia will certainly be wondering why his campaign—despite Herculean efforts by the Washington Post to cheer for him—has not done much of anything right since upsetting Terry McAuliffe.

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COMMENTARY Seeks Ad Rep

COMMENTARY magazine is seeking a freelance advertising-sales representative to work for both the print magazine and our website. Please send a résumé and cover letter to commenart@gmail.com.

COMMENTARY magazine is seeking a freelance advertising-sales representative to work for both the print magazine and our website. Please send a résumé and cover letter to commenart@gmail.com.

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Money for Nothing

The State Department runs a project in Libya called “Governing Justly and Democratically, Investing in People, and Economic Growth.” Earlier this month, State informed Congress that $2.5 million will be spent in 2009 to advance these goals. But the money will not be directed to, say, groups promoting human rights and private enterprise. Rather, one learns from State’s memo, the lion’s share of the funds will be funneled through agencies of the Libyan government. Then there is $400,000 for a pair of “nongovernmental organizations”—which happen to be run by, respectively, the son Saif and daughter Aisha of President Muammar Qaddafi.

It takes a special kind of earnestness to believe that the Qadaffi regime, which is the supreme authority on all matters and which controls the oil industry that accounts for 95 percent of the country’s exports, will blazon the path to “transparency,” “business ethics,” and “judicial independence,” to take a few of the aims mentioned by State. The charitable explanation for this Orwellian poppycock is that it is euphemism for bribes that are quietly serving American interests. But as Congressman Mark Kirk of Illinois points out in a letter to the President, it was none other than Saif Qadaffi himself, head of the foundation, that negotiated the release of the Lockerbie murderer and escorted him to his hero’s welcome in Tripoli. He must be laughing all the way to the bank.

The State Department runs a project in Libya called “Governing Justly and Democratically, Investing in People, and Economic Growth.” Earlier this month, State informed Congress that $2.5 million will be spent in 2009 to advance these goals. But the money will not be directed to, say, groups promoting human rights and private enterprise. Rather, one learns from State’s memo, the lion’s share of the funds will be funneled through agencies of the Libyan government. Then there is $400,000 for a pair of “nongovernmental organizations”—which happen to be run by, respectively, the son Saif and daughter Aisha of President Muammar Qaddafi.

It takes a special kind of earnestness to believe that the Qadaffi regime, which is the supreme authority on all matters and which controls the oil industry that accounts for 95 percent of the country’s exports, will blazon the path to “transparency,” “business ethics,” and “judicial independence,” to take a few of the aims mentioned by State. The charitable explanation for this Orwellian poppycock is that it is euphemism for bribes that are quietly serving American interests. But as Congressman Mark Kirk of Illinois points out in a letter to the President, it was none other than Saif Qadaffi himself, head of the foundation, that negotiated the release of the Lockerbie murderer and escorted him to his hero’s welcome in Tripoli. He must be laughing all the way to the bank.

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The Times Waddles in on Another Big Story

As Jonathan Tobin noted last evening, the New York Times ran a story that has been big news across the blogosphere for quite a while but not, until yesterday, fit to print: global temperatures have been steady for the past decade, not rising inexorably toward a climatic Armageddon. Many scientists even think they will decline over the next few years.

Today, the Times is at it again, running an above-the-fold story on how this has been a banner year for oil exploration. Major strikes have been found in Iraq, Australia, Ghana, Brazil, Russia, Norway, and Sierra Leone. BP has hit what may turn out to be the largest field yet found in the Gulf of Mexico, currently estimated at 4 billion to 6 billion barrels. Even Israel has struck oil, in the Dead Sea area. Indeed, oil companies have found more oil in the past two years than they have extracted. So much for the we’re-inevitably-running-out-of-oil-and-soon meme so popular on the Left.

Little of this new oil is cheap to extract, to be sure. The BP well in the Gulf of Mexico is beneath 4,000 feet of water and is 35,000 feet deep. Much will be uneconomic to extract unless the price of oil stays above $70. But that also puts a cap on the price of oil in the near future. What produced this gusher of new oil, of course, was the run up in the price of oil in recent years.

Naturally, the Times, still the Paper of Record for the liberal elite if not many others, remains adamantly opposed to oil exploration—even just finding out if the oil is there, let alone extracting it—in most of the most promising areas in the United States and its offshore waters.

As Jonathan Tobin noted last evening, the New York Times ran a story that has been big news across the blogosphere for quite a while but not, until yesterday, fit to print: global temperatures have been steady for the past decade, not rising inexorably toward a climatic Armageddon. Many scientists even think they will decline over the next few years.

Today, the Times is at it again, running an above-the-fold story on how this has been a banner year for oil exploration. Major strikes have been found in Iraq, Australia, Ghana, Brazil, Russia, Norway, and Sierra Leone. BP has hit what may turn out to be the largest field yet found in the Gulf of Mexico, currently estimated at 4 billion to 6 billion barrels. Even Israel has struck oil, in the Dead Sea area. Indeed, oil companies have found more oil in the past two years than they have extracted. So much for the we’re-inevitably-running-out-of-oil-and-soon meme so popular on the Left.

Little of this new oil is cheap to extract, to be sure. The BP well in the Gulf of Mexico is beneath 4,000 feet of water and is 35,000 feet deep. Much will be uneconomic to extract unless the price of oil stays above $70. But that also puts a cap on the price of oil in the near future. What produced this gusher of new oil, of course, was the run up in the price of oil in recent years.

Naturally, the Times, still the Paper of Record for the liberal elite if not many others, remains adamantly opposed to oil exploration—even just finding out if the oil is there, let alone extracting it—in most of the most promising areas in the United States and its offshore waters.

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Re: In Case You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse

The seeming about-face on the administration’s willingness to block further action on the Goldstone report has left many scratching their heads. Did the National Security Council’s Dan Shapiro really “misspeak,” or did someone change the administration’s policy? The original news report suggested that the Obama administration would take affirmative action to block consideration of the report at the International Criminal Court, of which the U.S. is not a member. The ICC is independent of the UN, but there is a provision in the ICC’s governing document that allows the Security Council by resolution to delay the ICC from considering a matter for 12 months. So it was conceivable (although no easy undertaking) that the U.S. would use that mechanism or other influence to stop the Goldstone report in its tracks.

But one person with knowledge of the Wednesday call says that wasn’t exactly how it went down: “I don’t think Dan was ‘misspeaking.’ I think he was telling us their real thinking — let it burn out in Geneva and not allow it to go further.” This person speculates that Shapiro hadn’t expected the “off-the-record” call to be leaked, causing the administration embarrassment and publicly elevating its “let’s bury” plan. This person expressed dismay that someone on the call leaked, thereby causing the administration to scurry away from its plan, such as it was, to let it all wither away in Geneva.

But wait. How naive could Shapiro and others in the administration possibly be to believe that, excuse me, a call of multiple Jewish leaders with thousands upon thousands of connections to the media and an acute interest both in the topic and in being seen as “in the know” could be kept quiet? Pretty naive. And if, in fact, Shapiro didn’t have the complete support of everyone in the administration, including Un Ambassador Susan Rice, what was he doing talking to these people anyway? It’s mind-boggling really.

Each day brings the same query—is the administration indifferent (or actually hostile) to Israel’s concerns, or is it simply inept beyond words? Today the pendulum is swinging toward the latter explanation. But, of course, both may be true.

The seeming about-face on the administration’s willingness to block further action on the Goldstone report has left many scratching their heads. Did the National Security Council’s Dan Shapiro really “misspeak,” or did someone change the administration’s policy? The original news report suggested that the Obama administration would take affirmative action to block consideration of the report at the International Criminal Court, of which the U.S. is not a member. The ICC is independent of the UN, but there is a provision in the ICC’s governing document that allows the Security Council by resolution to delay the ICC from considering a matter for 12 months. So it was conceivable (although no easy undertaking) that the U.S. would use that mechanism or other influence to stop the Goldstone report in its tracks.

But one person with knowledge of the Wednesday call says that wasn’t exactly how it went down: “I don’t think Dan was ‘misspeaking.’ I think he was telling us their real thinking — let it burn out in Geneva and not allow it to go further.” This person speculates that Shapiro hadn’t expected the “off-the-record” call to be leaked, causing the administration embarrassment and publicly elevating its “let’s bury” plan. This person expressed dismay that someone on the call leaked, thereby causing the administration to scurry away from its plan, such as it was, to let it all wither away in Geneva.

But wait. How naive could Shapiro and others in the administration possibly be to believe that, excuse me, a call of multiple Jewish leaders with thousands upon thousands of connections to the media and an acute interest both in the topic and in being seen as “in the know” could be kept quiet? Pretty naive. And if, in fact, Shapiro didn’t have the complete support of everyone in the administration, including Un Ambassador Susan Rice, what was he doing talking to these people anyway? It’s mind-boggling really.

Each day brings the same query—is the administration indifferent (or actually hostile) to Israel’s concerns, or is it simply inept beyond words? Today the pendulum is swinging toward the latter explanation. But, of course, both may be true.

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No Cheers for Democracy

Daniel Levy has a long, rambling piece over at Foreign Policy that claims that there is a sophisticated strategy lurking behind the facade of disorder and incompetence that outwardly characterizes the Obama peace process.

I won’t bore you with Levy’s argument, because there isn’t much of one. But he does say something very important about where his faction—call it the barely Zionist Left—stands on the question of Israeli democracy:

America will have to recognize that it is dealing on the Israeli and Palestinian sides, for all their differences, with two deeply dysfunctional polities. The parties simply cannot do this of their own volition, and this is too important for them and for America for it to be left to the mercy of the vicissitudes of their respective domestic politics. America will have to create the incentives and also the disincentives.

It is not a question of wanting this more or less than the parties themselves. It is about who is best placed to carry this effort over the finishing line — and only determined American leadership with international support can achieve that. [Emphasis mine]

It has been interesting over the past couple of years to observe an important shift in the hard-Left, soi-disant Zionist stance toward Israel. The Beilinists have seen every one of their strategies discredited, from Oslo to the peace process to unilateral disengagement. Beilenism is a politically bankrupt force that retains a small constituency in the United States—primarily consisting of people who have never had to experience the consequences of its failures—and a minuscule one in Israel (the Meretz party holds three out of 120 seats in the Knesset). And because of the hemorrhaging of its political support, the remaining stalwarts have followed the logic chain to its natural conclusion: they have become anti-democratic.

As Levy writes, Israel’s democracy, with its high voter turnout, its Knesset, its vibrant political culture, its think tanks and NGOs, and its rollickingly free press, is as “deeply dysfunctional” as the corrupt, violent, autocratic Palestinian Authority. Why? Because the voters don’t think much of Daniel Levy’s prescription for their country.

So let them eat hummus. Daniel Levy wants Obama to simply impose policies on them. The issues are “too important,” he says, to be left to “domestic politics.” His colleague, Jeremy Ben-Ami, articulated the same idea when he told Newsweek last year that “it’s time [for the U.S.] to act like the big brother or the parent and to say ‘enough is enough and we’re going to take the car keys if you don’t stop driving drunk.’”

Levy and his cohort of committed leftists want an Imperial America to dominate other countries, dictate terms, and impose “solutions.” Didn’t Levy spend most of the Bush administration condemning exactly such an American approach to the world? And what does it say about the sclerotic and increasingly deranged politics of the barely Zionists that the central tenet of their movement is the demand that the United States overrule the democratic choices of the Israeli electorate?

Daniel Levy has a long, rambling piece over at Foreign Policy that claims that there is a sophisticated strategy lurking behind the facade of disorder and incompetence that outwardly characterizes the Obama peace process.

I won’t bore you with Levy’s argument, because there isn’t much of one. But he does say something very important about where his faction—call it the barely Zionist Left—stands on the question of Israeli democracy:

America will have to recognize that it is dealing on the Israeli and Palestinian sides, for all their differences, with two deeply dysfunctional polities. The parties simply cannot do this of their own volition, and this is too important for them and for America for it to be left to the mercy of the vicissitudes of their respective domestic politics. America will have to create the incentives and also the disincentives.

It is not a question of wanting this more or less than the parties themselves. It is about who is best placed to carry this effort over the finishing line — and only determined American leadership with international support can achieve that. [Emphasis mine]

It has been interesting over the past couple of years to observe an important shift in the hard-Left, soi-disant Zionist stance toward Israel. The Beilinists have seen every one of their strategies discredited, from Oslo to the peace process to unilateral disengagement. Beilenism is a politically bankrupt force that retains a small constituency in the United States—primarily consisting of people who have never had to experience the consequences of its failures—and a minuscule one in Israel (the Meretz party holds three out of 120 seats in the Knesset). And because of the hemorrhaging of its political support, the remaining stalwarts have followed the logic chain to its natural conclusion: they have become anti-democratic.

As Levy writes, Israel’s democracy, with its high voter turnout, its Knesset, its vibrant political culture, its think tanks and NGOs, and its rollickingly free press, is as “deeply dysfunctional” as the corrupt, violent, autocratic Palestinian Authority. Why? Because the voters don’t think much of Daniel Levy’s prescription for their country.

So let them eat hummus. Daniel Levy wants Obama to simply impose policies on them. The issues are “too important,” he says, to be left to “domestic politics.” His colleague, Jeremy Ben-Ami, articulated the same idea when he told Newsweek last year that “it’s time [for the U.S.] to act like the big brother or the parent and to say ‘enough is enough and we’re going to take the car keys if you don’t stop driving drunk.’”

Levy and his cohort of committed leftists want an Imperial America to dominate other countries, dictate terms, and impose “solutions.” Didn’t Levy spend most of the Bush administration condemning exactly such an American approach to the world? And what does it say about the sclerotic and increasingly deranged politics of the barely Zionists that the central tenet of their movement is the demand that the United States overrule the democratic choices of the Israeli electorate?

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Another Election

Mickey Kaus writes:

OMB Director Peter Orszag didn’t really predict a health care law in six weeks—he said “The goal would be, yes, over the next six weeks or so, maybe sooner.” We know all about “goals.” But the 6-week frame is not an accident, because something happens in 6 weeks: elections. If Democrats lose big gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, that could produce a new wave of jitters among already skittish Congressional swing Democrats. That’s one of the extraneous factors left out of some sophisticated positive assessments of the bill’s chances.

It does seem that the administration is sitting next to a row of dominoes. If the elections go poorly for the Democrats in November (is that one or two losses?) and health-care reform isn’t yet completed, does the bottom finally fall out of the Democrats’ effort to construct one enormous reform package? And then what happens to Afghanistan, which seems to have been snarled up in the domestic-policy debate? Maybe a win on health care emboldens the president to take on his base, which he no longer “needs”—or the opposite may be true (i.e., a defeat on health care makes preventing a foreign-policy debacle even more essential).

But you do get the sense that, with this crew, nothing is really ever decided on the merits. What can sell and what the political impact will be on the president are the overriding, perhaps the sole, concerns. Politics is nothing new in the White House, of course. But it is more than ironic that the team so devoted (they told us) to simply getting the “best” ideas enacted and discarding political baggage is so weighted down by the latter.

When do they ever stop campaigning? Never, of course, because there is always another election around the corner.

Mickey Kaus writes:

OMB Director Peter Orszag didn’t really predict a health care law in six weeks—he said “The goal would be, yes, over the next six weeks or so, maybe sooner.” We know all about “goals.” But the 6-week frame is not an accident, because something happens in 6 weeks: elections. If Democrats lose big gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, that could produce a new wave of jitters among already skittish Congressional swing Democrats. That’s one of the extraneous factors left out of some sophisticated positive assessments of the bill’s chances.

It does seem that the administration is sitting next to a row of dominoes. If the elections go poorly for the Democrats in November (is that one or two losses?) and health-care reform isn’t yet completed, does the bottom finally fall out of the Democrats’ effort to construct one enormous reform package? And then what happens to Afghanistan, which seems to have been snarled up in the domestic-policy debate? Maybe a win on health care emboldens the president to take on his base, which he no longer “needs”—or the opposite may be true (i.e., a defeat on health care makes preventing a foreign-policy debacle even more essential).

But you do get the sense that, with this crew, nothing is really ever decided on the merits. What can sell and what the political impact will be on the president are the overriding, perhaps the sole, concerns. Politics is nothing new in the White House, of course. But it is more than ironic that the team so devoted (they told us) to simply getting the “best” ideas enacted and discarding political baggage is so weighted down by the latter.

When do they ever stop campaigning? Never, of course, because there is always another election around the corner.

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Congressional Nerves

Democratic members of  Congress in unsafe seats are getting nervous:

Politically vulnerable Democrats say Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders aren’t offering them the protection from tough votes that they did in the last Congress.

Conservative Democrats fear that dozens of members could be swept out of their districts in the midterm election next year, and that fear has been intensifying in recent weeks.

Between a tough vote on a climate change bill that many don’t expect to become law and a leftward push on healthcare legislation, Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) critics within her caucus say she’s left the so-called “majority makers” exposed.

And now she’s going to force them to vote on an ultra-liberal health-care bill that will be fodder for Democratic opponents in 2010. Several congressmen are trying to sound the alarm:

“She keeps trying to push an unpopular package,” said Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), a centrist Blue Dog Democrat, referring to healthcare. “I think it’s fair to say they were better at it before.” Another Blue Dog lawmaker put it more bluntly. “They’re seriously endangering their majority,” said the Blue Dog, who requested anonymity. “With the increased margin and a [Democratic] president, there seems to be a different feeling.”

And that political sage Joe Biden, fresh from his day job as counterinsurgency guru, helpfully tells us that it’s not just a bunch of Democratic seats that are at risk in 2010 but that it’s also “the end of the road for what Barack and I are trying to do.” Well, yes, but it’s not wise to say so.

The congressional elections are more than a year away, a lifetime in politics. But we certainly aren’t talking about a permanent Democratic majority anymore. Once again, the political gurus discover that nothing is permanent in politics and that sometimes the worse thing for a party’s leadership is to have all the levers of power—especially if they lack any sense of self-restraint.

Democratic members of  Congress in unsafe seats are getting nervous:

Politically vulnerable Democrats say Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders aren’t offering them the protection from tough votes that they did in the last Congress.

Conservative Democrats fear that dozens of members could be swept out of their districts in the midterm election next year, and that fear has been intensifying in recent weeks.

Between a tough vote on a climate change bill that many don’t expect to become law and a leftward push on healthcare legislation, Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) critics within her caucus say she’s left the so-called “majority makers” exposed.

And now she’s going to force them to vote on an ultra-liberal health-care bill that will be fodder for Democratic opponents in 2010. Several congressmen are trying to sound the alarm:

“She keeps trying to push an unpopular package,” said Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), a centrist Blue Dog Democrat, referring to healthcare. “I think it’s fair to say they were better at it before.” Another Blue Dog lawmaker put it more bluntly. “They’re seriously endangering their majority,” said the Blue Dog, who requested anonymity. “With the increased margin and a [Democratic] president, there seems to be a different feeling.”

And that political sage Joe Biden, fresh from his day job as counterinsurgency guru, helpfully tells us that it’s not just a bunch of Democratic seats that are at risk in 2010 but that it’s also “the end of the road for what Barack and I are trying to do.” Well, yes, but it’s not wise to say so.

The congressional elections are more than a year away, a lifetime in politics. But we certainly aren’t talking about a permanent Democratic majority anymore. Once again, the political gurus discover that nothing is permanent in politics and that sometimes the worse thing for a party’s leadership is to have all the levers of power—especially if they lack any sense of self-restraint.

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Not Just Silly

Rich Lowry asks of the Obama UN speech: “Has an American president ever expressed such implicit hostility toward his own nation’s pre-eminence in world affairs? Or so relished in recalling its failings, or so readily elevated himself and his own virtues over those of his country?” Plainly not. As Lowry points out, Obama sees himself as the referee between the U.S. and the world, missing no chance to remind others of America’s sins. His worldview suggests that of a Rodney King–like (or is it Miss America?) hopefulness that we all “just get along”—as if North Korea, Iran, and Russia share our values and our interests. Lowry writes:

Obama’s mistake is in believing “the interests of nations and peoples are shared.” They aren’t. Georgia has an interest in becoming a strong nation capable of defending itself; Russia has an interest in quashing it. China has an interest in dominating all of East Asia; Japan and other neighbors have an interest in containing it.

Iran has an interest in gaining a nuclear weapon; Israel — and the United States — has an interest in stopping it.

On the latter, Obama was shockingly weak, if his weakness still retained the capacity to shock. He outlined with great specificity what the United States will do to reduce its own nuclear arsenal. We’ll pursue a nuclear agreement with the Russians, move on ratifying the Test Ban Treaty, complete a Nuclear Posture Review, etc.

Obama hastens in these settings to add that he’s not “naive.” No, he’s simply wrong—about America’s historic role in the world, about the lack of fundamental conflicts that exist, about his ability to charm adversaries out of their interests, and about the actual dangers to the US and the West. And his rhetoric, combined with unilateral concessions and waffling on the Afghanistan war, only invites the contempt of our foes and strikes fear into our allies. They must be asking whether he’s actually serious about defending American interests or is resigned to allowing other powers to run amok as long as they don’t disrupt the health-care debate.

But what motivates him is not the furtherance of American power or security but a world reordering in which rich countries limit economic output in the name of saving the planet and those peoples who can paint themselves as “victims” (long-suffering Palestinians and aggrieved Russians) get a boost.

The photo of Obama sitting contentedly and smugly before his peer group at the UN tells us much. This is his milieu. Unlike George W. Bush, who always seemed ready to bolt for the exits and couldn’t manage to disguise his disdain for the institution, Obama is at home at the UN — where democracy, human rights, property rights, the rule of law, and most everything else are subordinated to the task of providing economic goodies and political prestige to those who could not otherwise obtain them. And Obama is just the figure to help those folks get what they want.

Rich Lowry asks of the Obama UN speech: “Has an American president ever expressed such implicit hostility toward his own nation’s pre-eminence in world affairs? Or so relished in recalling its failings, or so readily elevated himself and his own virtues over those of his country?” Plainly not. As Lowry points out, Obama sees himself as the referee between the U.S. and the world, missing no chance to remind others of America’s sins. His worldview suggests that of a Rodney King–like (or is it Miss America?) hopefulness that we all “just get along”—as if North Korea, Iran, and Russia share our values and our interests. Lowry writes:

Obama’s mistake is in believing “the interests of nations and peoples are shared.” They aren’t. Georgia has an interest in becoming a strong nation capable of defending itself; Russia has an interest in quashing it. China has an interest in dominating all of East Asia; Japan and other neighbors have an interest in containing it.

Iran has an interest in gaining a nuclear weapon; Israel — and the United States — has an interest in stopping it.

On the latter, Obama was shockingly weak, if his weakness still retained the capacity to shock. He outlined with great specificity what the United States will do to reduce its own nuclear arsenal. We’ll pursue a nuclear agreement with the Russians, move on ratifying the Test Ban Treaty, complete a Nuclear Posture Review, etc.

Obama hastens in these settings to add that he’s not “naive.” No, he’s simply wrong—about America’s historic role in the world, about the lack of fundamental conflicts that exist, about his ability to charm adversaries out of their interests, and about the actual dangers to the US and the West. And his rhetoric, combined with unilateral concessions and waffling on the Afghanistan war, only invites the contempt of our foes and strikes fear into our allies. They must be asking whether he’s actually serious about defending American interests or is resigned to allowing other powers to run amok as long as they don’t disrupt the health-care debate.

But what motivates him is not the furtherance of American power or security but a world reordering in which rich countries limit economic output in the name of saving the planet and those peoples who can paint themselves as “victims” (long-suffering Palestinians and aggrieved Russians) get a boost.

The photo of Obama sitting contentedly and smugly before his peer group at the UN tells us much. This is his milieu. Unlike George W. Bush, who always seemed ready to bolt for the exits and couldn’t manage to disguise his disdain for the institution, Obama is at home at the UN — where democracy, human rights, property rights, the rule of law, and most everything else are subordinated to the task of providing economic goodies and political prestige to those who could not otherwise obtain them. And Obama is just the figure to help those folks get what they want.

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The Obama Administration’s Gag Order

The decision to try to gag all Medicare providers who spill the beans about plans to slash the Medicare Advantage program is a perfect illustration of the Obama team’s difficulties in ramming through its health-care vision. The move came across as defensive and ham-handed and only cemented the suspicion that the administration is hiding the ball from the public.

The story isn’t complicated:

The federal government resorted to bullying tactics when it ordered an investigation of Humana — one of the country’s biggest private insurers — for its decision to send customers a letter alerting them about pending health reform legislation, a leading Republican charged Wednesday.

U.S. health officials launched the probe after the Louisville-based company mailed a letter to patients enrolled in its Medicare Advantage plans — private options that replace standard Medicare — warning that President Obama’s health overhaul could eliminate important benefits of the program.

Humana said in its letter that if Medicare Advantage funding gets cut, “millions of seniors and disabled individuals . . . could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable.” . . . The investigation was first suggested by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, whose committee has jurisdiction over Medicare. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) — which officiates over the Medicare program for seniors and Medicare Advantage options — ordered a “cease and desist” order on all of Humana’s health care mailings until the investigation is concluded.

Baucus has called the Humana letter a “scare tactic” meant to distort the current reforms under consideration. The CMS alleges that Humana’s letter may have violated federal regulations, but the information distributed by the health provider was supported by the nonpartisan, independent analysis of the Congressional Budget Office.

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is among those screaming foul over the “outrage”:

“For explaining to seniors how legislation might affect them, the federal government has now issued a gag order on that company, and any other company that communicates with clients on the issue, telling them to shut up — or else. This is precisely the kind of thing Americans are worried about with the administration’s health care plan. They’re worried that government agencies which were created to enforce violations even-handedly will instead be used against those who voice a different point of view.”

First Amendment? Bah! There is a health-care bill to be passed. And now millions are hearing about the administration’s thuggery—as well as the plan to strangle the popular Medicare Advantage program. The administration once again—as it did in insulting town-hall attendees and calling on Americans to report “misinformation”—seems unable to shed the stereotypical image of the authoritarian, bullying statist.

They simply can’t help themselves, for this is how the Left operates. They know best, the full power of government is to be deployed to further its agenda (whether at the NEA or the Medicare offices), critics need to be silenced—and in the end, the people will thank them, reason the perpetrators, because this is all to help the little guy too enfeebled and too easily confused to figure his needs out for himself. This is precisely why Americans are so wary of big-government power grabs and the politicians who try to sweet-talk them into giving them more and more power. Those pols have quite enough, and what they have, they are inclined to abuse.

The decision to try to gag all Medicare providers who spill the beans about plans to slash the Medicare Advantage program is a perfect illustration of the Obama team’s difficulties in ramming through its health-care vision. The move came across as defensive and ham-handed and only cemented the suspicion that the administration is hiding the ball from the public.

The story isn’t complicated:

The federal government resorted to bullying tactics when it ordered an investigation of Humana — one of the country’s biggest private insurers — for its decision to send customers a letter alerting them about pending health reform legislation, a leading Republican charged Wednesday.

U.S. health officials launched the probe after the Louisville-based company mailed a letter to patients enrolled in its Medicare Advantage plans — private options that replace standard Medicare — warning that President Obama’s health overhaul could eliminate important benefits of the program.

Humana said in its letter that if Medicare Advantage funding gets cut, “millions of seniors and disabled individuals . . . could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable.” . . . The investigation was first suggested by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, whose committee has jurisdiction over Medicare. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) — which officiates over the Medicare program for seniors and Medicare Advantage options — ordered a “cease and desist” order on all of Humana’s health care mailings until the investigation is concluded.

Baucus has called the Humana letter a “scare tactic” meant to distort the current reforms under consideration. The CMS alleges that Humana’s letter may have violated federal regulations, but the information distributed by the health provider was supported by the nonpartisan, independent analysis of the Congressional Budget Office.

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is among those screaming foul over the “outrage”:

“For explaining to seniors how legislation might affect them, the federal government has now issued a gag order on that company, and any other company that communicates with clients on the issue, telling them to shut up — or else. This is precisely the kind of thing Americans are worried about with the administration’s health care plan. They’re worried that government agencies which were created to enforce violations even-handedly will instead be used against those who voice a different point of view.”

First Amendment? Bah! There is a health-care bill to be passed. And now millions are hearing about the administration’s thuggery—as well as the plan to strangle the popular Medicare Advantage program. The administration once again—as it did in insulting town-hall attendees and calling on Americans to report “misinformation”—seems unable to shed the stereotypical image of the authoritarian, bullying statist.

They simply can’t help themselves, for this is how the Left operates. They know best, the full power of government is to be deployed to further its agenda (whether at the NEA or the Medicare offices), critics need to be silenced—and in the end, the people will thank them, reason the perpetrators, because this is all to help the little guy too enfeebled and too easily confused to figure his needs out for himself. This is precisely why Americans are so wary of big-government power grabs and the politicians who try to sweet-talk them into giving them more and more power. Those pols have quite enough, and what they have, they are inclined to abuse.

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“We Always Want to Stand with Democracy”

As the tension in Honduras grows, it may be useful to recall how we started down a road placing us in opposition not only to the Honduran Supreme Court and the Honduran Congress but also to the Honduran people—since the State Department has indicated we will not accept the results of the November Honduran election to resolve the situation.

How did the restoration of Manuel Zelaya, supposedly for just a few more months, supposedly simply to leave office after the election, become more important than moving the country toward an orderly presidential election to succeed the interim government chosen by the Honduran Congress?

U.S. policy was set the day after Zelaya was removed, when President Obama was asked at a press conference about the “coup in Honduras.” He gave this response:

President Zelaya was democratically elected. He had not yet completed his term. We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the President of Honduras, the democratically elected President there. . . .

It would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections. . . . The United States has not always stood as it should with some of these fledgling democracies, but over the last several years, I think both Republicans and Democrats in the United States have recognized that we always want to stand with democracy.

Obama’s statement that there was a “military coup” that was “not legal” has been contradicted by rulings of the Honduran Supreme Court, actions of the Honduran Congress, the State Department’s failure to find there was a “military” coup requiring termination of aid under U.S. law (but terminating aid anyway), and the recent U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) report finding that Zelaya was removed after refusing to accept a Supreme Court ruling that his scheduled referendum relating to presidential succession was unconstitutional. And all this was amid rumors he was “planning an institutional coup” involving the dissolution of Congress and an immediate national assembly to amend the constitution so he could remain in office.

The CRS report noted that Zelaya’s proposed referendum had “drawn the opposition of the legislature, the judiciary, the Attorney General, the Human Rights Ombudsman, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, evangelical groups, business associations, and four of the five political parties [the fifth was the “small leftist Democratic Unification party”] . . . including Zelaya’s own [political party].”

Obama thus slandered a democratic ally that sought to enforce its own constitution (and avoid what had happened to democracy in Venezuela), placed the U.S. in opposition to a democratically elected Honduran legislature and its judiciary, converted an erroneous statement of Honduran law into a foreign-policy position, cut off millions of dollars in aid to one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, removed visas from the Supreme Court justices who found that Zelaya had violated the constitution, and preemptively rejected the results of the coming Honduran election lest the people decide the issue themselves.

The maraschino cherry on this foreign-policy fiasco is that it began with Obama’s apologetic remark that the U.S. did not always “stand as it should” with fledgling democracies—back in the bad old pre-Obama days—and that “we always want to stand with democracy.”

As the tension in Honduras grows, it may be useful to recall how we started down a road placing us in opposition not only to the Honduran Supreme Court and the Honduran Congress but also to the Honduran people—since the State Department has indicated we will not accept the results of the November Honduran election to resolve the situation.

How did the restoration of Manuel Zelaya, supposedly for just a few more months, supposedly simply to leave office after the election, become more important than moving the country toward an orderly presidential election to succeed the interim government chosen by the Honduran Congress?

U.S. policy was set the day after Zelaya was removed, when President Obama was asked at a press conference about the “coup in Honduras.” He gave this response:

President Zelaya was democratically elected. He had not yet completed his term. We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the President of Honduras, the democratically elected President there. . . .

It would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections. . . . The United States has not always stood as it should with some of these fledgling democracies, but over the last several years, I think both Republicans and Democrats in the United States have recognized that we always want to stand with democracy.

Obama’s statement that there was a “military coup” that was “not legal” has been contradicted by rulings of the Honduran Supreme Court, actions of the Honduran Congress, the State Department’s failure to find there was a “military” coup requiring termination of aid under U.S. law (but terminating aid anyway), and the recent U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) report finding that Zelaya was removed after refusing to accept a Supreme Court ruling that his scheduled referendum relating to presidential succession was unconstitutional. And all this was amid rumors he was “planning an institutional coup” involving the dissolution of Congress and an immediate national assembly to amend the constitution so he could remain in office.

The CRS report noted that Zelaya’s proposed referendum had “drawn the opposition of the legislature, the judiciary, the Attorney General, the Human Rights Ombudsman, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, evangelical groups, business associations, and four of the five political parties [the fifth was the “small leftist Democratic Unification party”] . . . including Zelaya’s own [political party].”

Obama thus slandered a democratic ally that sought to enforce its own constitution (and avoid what had happened to democracy in Venezuela), placed the U.S. in opposition to a democratically elected Honduran legislature and its judiciary, converted an erroneous statement of Honduran law into a foreign-policy position, cut off millions of dollars in aid to one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, removed visas from the Supreme Court justices who found that Zelaya had violated the constitution, and preemptively rejected the results of the coming Honduran election lest the people decide the issue themselves.

The maraschino cherry on this foreign-policy fiasco is that it began with Obama’s apologetic remark that the U.S. did not always “stand as it should” with fledgling democracies—back in the bad old pre-Obama days—and that “we always want to stand with democracy.”

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In Case You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse

The Goldstone report can’t even get a stamp of approval from Mary Robinson. (I bet it’ll make the Osama bin Laden reading list, however.) We noted last week the rather tepid response from Ambassador Susan Rice. Then it appeared that the U.S. was actually going to step in to block further action on the report—almost like it was defending an ally who had been unjustly accused by ideologically craven opponents. But that, it turns out, was a mistake, a misstatement, a gaffe. The Obama administration wouldn’t dream of such a thing. This report explains:

A White House official “misspoke” when he said the Obama administration would not allow the Goldstone report recommendations on Israel’s conduct in the Gaza war to reach the International Criminal Court. A top White House official told Jewish organizational leaders in an off-the-record phone call Wednesday that the U.S. strategy was to “quickly” bring the report—commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council and carried out by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone—to its “natural conclusion” within the Human Rights Council and not to allow it to go further, Jewish participants in the call told JTA.

Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, called JTA later to say the official “misspoke” and that administration policy on the Goldstone report remains as articulated last week by Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador.

Rice described the UNHRC mandate as “unbalanced, one sided and basically unacceptable. We have very serious concerns about many of the recommendations in the report. We will expect and believe that the appropriate venue for this report to be considered is the Human Rights Council and that is our strong view.”

She did not mention what the United States would do were the report to be referred to the ICC.

Well this is pretty much par for the course in the hapless and comically inept Obama foreign-policy operation. It’s bad enough to pull out on missile defense, but then we call allies in the middle of the night and announce the news on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland. It’s bad enough that we don’t put an end to the Goldstone travesty, but first we say we will—before we say we won’t.

Implementation and execution matter in foreign policy, as the Obama campaign reminded us continually. They assured us that they would be smart, adept, subtle, and sophisticated—and oh so worldly. The reality is a shocking display of amateurism and disdain for our allies. The Obama team was supposed to “restore” our place in the world; instead we are transforming friends into embittered former allies.

It makes one long for the “clumsy” cowboy diplomacy of George Bush. You remember—when Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, Honduras, and human-rights activists felt they had a friend in the White House and when the administration’s pronouncements weren’t always popular but didn’t require an errata sheet.

The Goldstone report can’t even get a stamp of approval from Mary Robinson. (I bet it’ll make the Osama bin Laden reading list, however.) We noted last week the rather tepid response from Ambassador Susan Rice. Then it appeared that the U.S. was actually going to step in to block further action on the report—almost like it was defending an ally who had been unjustly accused by ideologically craven opponents. But that, it turns out, was a mistake, a misstatement, a gaffe. The Obama administration wouldn’t dream of such a thing. This report explains:

A White House official “misspoke” when he said the Obama administration would not allow the Goldstone report recommendations on Israel’s conduct in the Gaza war to reach the International Criminal Court. A top White House official told Jewish organizational leaders in an off-the-record phone call Wednesday that the U.S. strategy was to “quickly” bring the report—commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council and carried out by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone—to its “natural conclusion” within the Human Rights Council and not to allow it to go further, Jewish participants in the call told JTA.

Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, called JTA later to say the official “misspoke” and that administration policy on the Goldstone report remains as articulated last week by Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador.

Rice described the UNHRC mandate as “unbalanced, one sided and basically unacceptable. We have very serious concerns about many of the recommendations in the report. We will expect and believe that the appropriate venue for this report to be considered is the Human Rights Council and that is our strong view.”

She did not mention what the United States would do were the report to be referred to the ICC.

Well this is pretty much par for the course in the hapless and comically inept Obama foreign-policy operation. It’s bad enough to pull out on missile defense, but then we call allies in the middle of the night and announce the news on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland. It’s bad enough that we don’t put an end to the Goldstone travesty, but first we say we will—before we say we won’t.

Implementation and execution matter in foreign policy, as the Obama campaign reminded us continually. They assured us that they would be smart, adept, subtle, and sophisticated—and oh so worldly. The reality is a shocking display of amateurism and disdain for our allies. The Obama team was supposed to “restore” our place in the world; instead we are transforming friends into embittered former allies.

It makes one long for the “clumsy” cowboy diplomacy of George Bush. You remember—when Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, Honduras, and human-rights activists felt they had a friend in the White House and when the administration’s pronouncements weren’t always popular but didn’t require an errata sheet.

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Who Says?

Obama and his aide de camp/military strategist Joe Biden are struggling to find a way to explain why Gen. Stanley McChrystal is wrong in his assessment that a fully funded and robust counterinsurgency effort is needed to avoid defeat in Afghanistan. But it isn’t just McChrystal. This report makes clear:

The head of the U.S. Central Command, Army General David Petraeus, said on Wednesday that both he and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen had endorsed an assessment by the top commander in Afghanistan that says more troops would be needed.

“Obviously I endorsed, the chairman endorsed . . . Gen. (Stanley) McChrystal’s assessment and description,” Petraeus said at a counterinsurgency conference in Washington.

I don’t suppose Biden is a lecturer at that counterinsurgency conference. And after all, what is going on here is not a true battle of strategic thinkers but a dance, a dangerous minuet in which the Obama team attempts to scurry away from its own strategic objectives without losing all credibility—or perhaps just tries to convince its supporters that it has exhausted all options.

Now, the Obama team was never fond of the “other” war, that “bad” war in Iraq. But surely they have learned (albeit in retrospect) that fancy ideas (divide it in three!) and high-tech gadgetry are not a substitute for adequately sized forces on the ground, holding and securing territory, and protecting civilians. Obama would do well not to risk an open breach with his military commanders on an issue in which they occupy the high ground and possess both expertise and the respect of the public. I would venture a guess that, in a test of credibility, he would come up short.

And it is equally true that Obama’s military commanders want to avoid such a rupture. Certainly they want to succeed—which means convincing the commander in chief to act on their recommendations. In an interview in the New York Times, Gen. McChrystal denies any tension and that he’s thinking of resigning. As for the time factor, his response is equally measured: “Obviously, from a strictly military standpoint, time is always important, but it also is relative in this case.” Nevertheless, the fact that he feels compelled to comment on both an apparent rift and his own potential resignation suggests the precarious position in which the administration and military now find themselves.

George W. Bush was accused of not listening to his generals, but his generals were failing, and so he got new ones who succeeded. Obama has his generals, and the time is fast approaching for him to decide whether to take their advice or incur a firestorm of controversy should he reject the counsel of some of the most respected and successful military men this country has ever produced.

Obama and his aide de camp/military strategist Joe Biden are struggling to find a way to explain why Gen. Stanley McChrystal is wrong in his assessment that a fully funded and robust counterinsurgency effort is needed to avoid defeat in Afghanistan. But it isn’t just McChrystal. This report makes clear:

The head of the U.S. Central Command, Army General David Petraeus, said on Wednesday that both he and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen had endorsed an assessment by the top commander in Afghanistan that says more troops would be needed.

“Obviously I endorsed, the chairman endorsed . . . Gen. (Stanley) McChrystal’s assessment and description,” Petraeus said at a counterinsurgency conference in Washington.

I don’t suppose Biden is a lecturer at that counterinsurgency conference. And after all, what is going on here is not a true battle of strategic thinkers but a dance, a dangerous minuet in which the Obama team attempts to scurry away from its own strategic objectives without losing all credibility—or perhaps just tries to convince its supporters that it has exhausted all options.

Now, the Obama team was never fond of the “other” war, that “bad” war in Iraq. But surely they have learned (albeit in retrospect) that fancy ideas (divide it in three!) and high-tech gadgetry are not a substitute for adequately sized forces on the ground, holding and securing territory, and protecting civilians. Obama would do well not to risk an open breach with his military commanders on an issue in which they occupy the high ground and possess both expertise and the respect of the public. I would venture a guess that, in a test of credibility, he would come up short.

And it is equally true that Obama’s military commanders want to avoid such a rupture. Certainly they want to succeed—which means convincing the commander in chief to act on their recommendations. In an interview in the New York Times, Gen. McChrystal denies any tension and that he’s thinking of resigning. As for the time factor, his response is equally measured: “Obviously, from a strictly military standpoint, time is always important, but it also is relative in this case.” Nevertheless, the fact that he feels compelled to comment on both an apparent rift and his own potential resignation suggests the precarious position in which the administration and military now find themselves.

George W. Bush was accused of not listening to his generals, but his generals were failing, and so he got new ones who succeeded. Obama has his generals, and the time is fast approaching for him to decide whether to take their advice or incur a firestorm of controversy should he reject the counsel of some of the most respected and successful military men this country has ever produced.

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Not Doing Much for Average Americans

Give Robert Reich credit for honesty. He notes the uptick in the stock market and bank profits and correctly observes that the “government’s advance into the market” (including massive federal spending and creative activity by the Fed) is behind it. But he isn’t so blinded by administration spin as to believe that this is a solution to our more endemic economic problems, especially high unemployment. He writes:

The problem is, our newly expanded government isn’t doing much for average working Americans who continue to lose their jobs and whose belts continue to tighten, and who are getting almost nothing out of the rising Dow because they own few if any shares of stock. Despite the happy Dow and notwithstanding the upbeat corporate earnings, most corporations are still shedding workers and slashing payrolls. And the big banks still aren’t lending to Main Street.

It would be a gross understatement to note that Obama’s entire approach isn’t very pro-worker or pro–middle class. And that’s quite a change from the norm for a Democrat. Hasn’t the Democratic party prided itself on being the defender of the little guy and always decried “jobless recoveries”? It was, after all, the party that brought us the Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment Act.

There is more at stake than simply the 2010 elections or the president’s poll numbers. If those in power are viewed as indifferent to job creation or worse, anti-jobs (like cap-and-trade and the mandate-laden health-care bill are), the potential damage to the image of their party and for a shift in political loyalties of working- and middle-class voters is great. Ronald Reagan captured blue-collar workers (later dubbed “Reagan Democrats”) in large part because of social issues (e.g., crime, busing) but also because the Democratic party was viewed as economically incompetent and peddling a “learn to live with less” philosophy that was abhorrent to those voters.

Unless Obama can address the very real problem Reich identifies and redirect his agenda to focus on jobs and restoring the private sector’s vitality (rather than piling burden after burden upon employers), he risks alienating workers and the middle class. After all, liberals like Thomas Franks spent years pleading that working-class Americans should vote based on economic self-interest. The danger for the Democrats is that they might do just that.

Give Robert Reich credit for honesty. He notes the uptick in the stock market and bank profits and correctly observes that the “government’s advance into the market” (including massive federal spending and creative activity by the Fed) is behind it. But he isn’t so blinded by administration spin as to believe that this is a solution to our more endemic economic problems, especially high unemployment. He writes:

The problem is, our newly expanded government isn’t doing much for average working Americans who continue to lose their jobs and whose belts continue to tighten, and who are getting almost nothing out of the rising Dow because they own few if any shares of stock. Despite the happy Dow and notwithstanding the upbeat corporate earnings, most corporations are still shedding workers and slashing payrolls. And the big banks still aren’t lending to Main Street.

It would be a gross understatement to note that Obama’s entire approach isn’t very pro-worker or pro–middle class. And that’s quite a change from the norm for a Democrat. Hasn’t the Democratic party prided itself on being the defender of the little guy and always decried “jobless recoveries”? It was, after all, the party that brought us the Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment Act.

There is more at stake than simply the 2010 elections or the president’s poll numbers. If those in power are viewed as indifferent to job creation or worse, anti-jobs (like cap-and-trade and the mandate-laden health-care bill are), the potential damage to the image of their party and for a shift in political loyalties of working- and middle-class voters is great. Ronald Reagan captured blue-collar workers (later dubbed “Reagan Democrats”) in large part because of social issues (e.g., crime, busing) but also because the Democratic party was viewed as economically incompetent and peddling a “learn to live with less” philosophy that was abhorrent to those voters.

Unless Obama can address the very real problem Reich identifies and redirect his agenda to focus on jobs and restoring the private sector’s vitality (rather than piling burden after burden upon employers), he risks alienating workers and the middle class. After all, liberals like Thomas Franks spent years pleading that working-class Americans should vote based on economic self-interest. The danger for the Democrats is that they might do just that.

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McDonnell Gets an Assist

The Chamber of Commerce of Fairfax County—the largest and most populous in the state—has endorsed Robert McDonnell, giving some indication that, at least in the northern Virginia business community, Democrat Creigh Deeds is not duplicating the success of moderate Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Warner, who got the group’s nod in 2001. The chamber specifically cited McDonnell’s transportation plan as the reason for the endorsement. (Deeds, you may recall, tied himself up in knots at a recent debate on how to pay for transportation improvements.)

How significant is this? Well, in 2005 the chamber endorsed Republican Jerry Kilgore, who went on to lose by a solid margin. But McDonnell will no doubt point to this as evidence that his emphasis on policy proposals is bearing fruits—and that his opponent’s frantic effort to make the race about something other than bread-and-butter issues is ultimately a losing gambit. At the very least, it’s one bit of data to suggest that “thesis-gate” may have run its course. It turns out that Virginia voters, at least some very politically active ones, care about issues.

The Chamber of Commerce of Fairfax County—the largest and most populous in the state—has endorsed Robert McDonnell, giving some indication that, at least in the northern Virginia business community, Democrat Creigh Deeds is not duplicating the success of moderate Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Warner, who got the group’s nod in 2001. The chamber specifically cited McDonnell’s transportation plan as the reason for the endorsement. (Deeds, you may recall, tied himself up in knots at a recent debate on how to pay for transportation improvements.)

How significant is this? Well, in 2005 the chamber endorsed Republican Jerry Kilgore, who went on to lose by a solid margin. But McDonnell will no doubt point to this as evidence that his emphasis on policy proposals is bearing fruits—and that his opponent’s frantic effort to make the race about something other than bread-and-butter issues is ultimately a losing gambit. At the very least, it’s one bit of data to suggest that “thesis-gate” may have run its course. It turns out that Virginia voters, at least some very politically active ones, care about issues.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

What comes from Obama’s not-so-smart diplomacy: “Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya hunkered down in the Brazilian Embassy here on Wednesday for what could be a long standoff with the interim government, while roving bands of his supporters set up roadblocks around the capital, smashed windows, and engaged in sporadic battles with police and army troops.”

A classic tweet from Jake Tapper: “POTUS called for the UN to get serious and get to work. He’s followed by Qadaffi.”

No one can claim that the Libyan leader didn’t make an impression.

David Broder is citing the new conservative quarterly National Affairs regarding Obama’s infatuation with highly complex, national solutions—and how these things rarely work out as planned. “Historically, that approach has not worked. The progressives failed to gain more than brief ascendancy, and the Carter and Clinton presidencies were marked by striking policy failures.”

Anne Bayefsky on Obama’s UN speech: “The president played to his audience, which was largely an undemocratic one. . . . In that way, he succeeded.” His pronouncement on Israel’s return to pre-1967 borders was likewise a big hit. America and its allies, she says, should be “fully apprised that they have the weakest president in modern times ensconced in Washington, a man who will run away from saying what has to be said, if it doesn’t appeal to an audience with so many demagogues.” In case anyone still had doubts about that.

Andrew Breitbart’s winning streak continues—ACORN sues him, cementing his role as conservatives’ favorite media warrior.

Karl Rove has this wacky idea that there is more to the presidency than just going on Sunday talk shows: “Americans have taken the measure of Mr. Obama’s health-care plan and, as his falling poll numbers attest, increasingly don’t like it. His health-care initiative is not only losing public support on its own merits; it is diminishing Mr. Obama’s credibility. Most amazing of all, the president’s constant chattering runs the risk of making him boring and stale. His magic dissipates as he becomes less interesting. Mr. Obama doesn’t need more TV time. He needs a new health-care plan that comes from actual bipartisan negotiation and compromise—one that most Americans see as something that will actually improve their health care. He needs his facts to align with reality.”

A warning memo goes out to Democrats: “Republicans lag far behind Democrats on virtually [every] issue in the poll, often with numbers as low as Bush and Cheney. Yet the generic ballot for 2010 elections has the Democratic lead down to a margin of 3 percent, 43-40.What this tells me is, no matter many voters believe the president is a likable, charming, good man, and no matter how low the Republicans sink on literally every major issue, the voters increasingly want the party other than the president’s to control Congress.”

And this chart measuring Obama’s approval ratings on health care won’t cheer up Democrats either—after all the TV appearances, a plurality still disapprove .

What comes from Obama’s not-so-smart diplomacy: “Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya hunkered down in the Brazilian Embassy here on Wednesday for what could be a long standoff with the interim government, while roving bands of his supporters set up roadblocks around the capital, smashed windows, and engaged in sporadic battles with police and army troops.”

A classic tweet from Jake Tapper: “POTUS called for the UN to get serious and get to work. He’s followed by Qadaffi.”

No one can claim that the Libyan leader didn’t make an impression.

David Broder is citing the new conservative quarterly National Affairs regarding Obama’s infatuation with highly complex, national solutions—and how these things rarely work out as planned. “Historically, that approach has not worked. The progressives failed to gain more than brief ascendancy, and the Carter and Clinton presidencies were marked by striking policy failures.”

Anne Bayefsky on Obama’s UN speech: “The president played to his audience, which was largely an undemocratic one. . . . In that way, he succeeded.” His pronouncement on Israel’s return to pre-1967 borders was likewise a big hit. America and its allies, she says, should be “fully apprised that they have the weakest president in modern times ensconced in Washington, a man who will run away from saying what has to be said, if it doesn’t appeal to an audience with so many demagogues.” In case anyone still had doubts about that.

Andrew Breitbart’s winning streak continues—ACORN sues him, cementing his role as conservatives’ favorite media warrior.

Karl Rove has this wacky idea that there is more to the presidency than just going on Sunday talk shows: “Americans have taken the measure of Mr. Obama’s health-care plan and, as his falling poll numbers attest, increasingly don’t like it. His health-care initiative is not only losing public support on its own merits; it is diminishing Mr. Obama’s credibility. Most amazing of all, the president’s constant chattering runs the risk of making him boring and stale. His magic dissipates as he becomes less interesting. Mr. Obama doesn’t need more TV time. He needs a new health-care plan that comes from actual bipartisan negotiation and compromise—one that most Americans see as something that will actually improve their health care. He needs his facts to align with reality.”

A warning memo goes out to Democrats: “Republicans lag far behind Democrats on virtually [every] issue in the poll, often with numbers as low as Bush and Cheney. Yet the generic ballot for 2010 elections has the Democratic lead down to a margin of 3 percent, 43-40.What this tells me is, no matter many voters believe the president is a likable, charming, good man, and no matter how low the Republicans sink on literally every major issue, the voters increasingly want the party other than the president’s to control Congress.”

And this chart measuring Obama’s approval ratings on health care won’t cheer up Democrats either—after all the TV appearances, a plurality still disapprove .

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