Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 17, 2009

Guilty but with an Explanation

Jacques Ellul wrote that the “goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief.” Or, as Big Daddy put it, “Didn’t you notice the powerful and noxious odor of mendacity in this room?”

Shepard Fairey, the graphic designer responsible for the ubiquitous Obama “Hope” illustration, now admits that the AP was correct when it asserted that he had used as the basis for his image a photo by Mannie Garcia, a photographer working for AP at the time the picture was snapped.

New filings to the court, [Fairey] said, “state for the record that the AP is correct about which photo I used . . . and that I was mistaken. While I initially believed that the photo I referenced was a different one, I discovered early on in the case that I was wrong. In an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images.”

Maybe we should cut the guy some slack. Seems he got caught up in a whirlwind of instant celebrity and didn’t want to come back down to earth — especially when the only thing standing between him and a soft landing was a gaggle of lawyers.

It should also be noted that the actual owner of the copyright remains in dispute. And Fairey remains adamant that, regardless of whose work he co-opted, the “fair use issue should be the same.”

Whatever. Until all the legal eyes are dotted and tees crossed, you might want to pass the time reading “The Art of Obama Worship” for the truth of how reverence for Barack Obama has turned contemporary artists into little more than evangelists for that most fickle of gods — change.

Jacques Ellul wrote that the “goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief.” Or, as Big Daddy put it, “Didn’t you notice the powerful and noxious odor of mendacity in this room?”

Shepard Fairey, the graphic designer responsible for the ubiquitous Obama “Hope” illustration, now admits that the AP was correct when it asserted that he had used as the basis for his image a photo by Mannie Garcia, a photographer working for AP at the time the picture was snapped.

New filings to the court, [Fairey] said, “state for the record that the AP is correct about which photo I used . . . and that I was mistaken. While I initially believed that the photo I referenced was a different one, I discovered early on in the case that I was wrong. In an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images.”

Maybe we should cut the guy some slack. Seems he got caught up in a whirlwind of instant celebrity and didn’t want to come back down to earth — especially when the only thing standing between him and a soft landing was a gaggle of lawyers.

It should also be noted that the actual owner of the copyright remains in dispute. And Fairey remains adamant that, regardless of whose work he co-opted, the “fair use issue should be the same.”

Whatever. Until all the legal eyes are dotted and tees crossed, you might want to pass the time reading “The Art of Obama Worship” for the truth of how reverence for Barack Obama has turned contemporary artists into little more than evangelists for that most fickle of gods — change.

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Looking Better Every Day

After nine months the president has gone a long way toward defining his foreign policy. Earlier in his term experts and pundits debated over whether Obama was seeking the path of least resistance in foreign policy (so as to focus on domestic policy) or whether he was hopelessly naive (believing he could talk Iran out of nukes and Russia out of its belligerence). Some thought he was cynically exploiting his own celebrity status to gain advantage over adversaries. But there is really a much simpler, and disturbingly juvenile explanation for this: he’s continuing the “Not Bush” campaign.

George W. Bush authorized tough interrogation methods to extract life-saving information from terrorists. Obama will do no such thing. Bush was willing to lock up terrorists in a secure off-shore location, indefinitely if needed, to keep America safe. Obama wants to empty Guantanamo. Bush wanted to expand missile defense to protect America and our allies. Obama sneers at the technical accomplishments and wants to cut back. Bush wanted to cement the alliance with Eastern European allies by placing missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. Not Obama. Bush presided over the warmest period in Israeli-U.S. relations; Obama, over the worst.

Bush would never dream about apologizing for America’s record in fighting wars of liberation on behalf of Muslims; Obama has made groveling before the “Muslim World” into an art form. Bush found the very best generals to turn around a losing war, putting the political standing of his own party and presidency in jeopardy. Obama is struggling to marginalize his generals and protect his own electoral fortunes. Bush bluntly attacked the “Axis of Evil.” Obama can’t manage to use the word “evil,” unless he is talking about insurance companies.

Go down the list and it’s a festival of contrarianism. (No, Bush did not manage an effective policy against Iran or North Korea, but he at least resisted any suggestion that we should genuflect before despots.) Perhaps, like the Daily Kos and the Harvard-faculty crowd, Obama has become Bush-obsessed, and simply assumes the key to brilliance in foreign policy involves doing the opposite of whatever Bush did. Or maybe, Obama is engaged in a political calculation — Bush’s foreign policy handed his opponents a stick to beat him with so Obama will avoid doing the same. Whatever the motivation, the result is the same. Not Bush, regardless of the circumstances.

But in the meantime, Obama is reminding us of the very real achievements and admirable qualities of the Bush foreign policy. The Bush team kept us safe for seven and a half years after 9-11, which few thought possible. The Bush team liberated tens of millions of Iraqis from a brutal dictator and when the chattering class clamored for retreat, he put war fighting above politics and avoided a horrible defeat. The Bush team stood squarely on the side of democracy advocates and human-rights dissidents. The Bush team fostered fulsome and productive relations with a wide range of nations — from Israel to India to Poland — who came to rely on the president’s word. The president did not dither or equivocate. History will render its judgment on the Bush administration, but it’s looking better every day. And much of the credit goes to his successor.

After nine months the president has gone a long way toward defining his foreign policy. Earlier in his term experts and pundits debated over whether Obama was seeking the path of least resistance in foreign policy (so as to focus on domestic policy) or whether he was hopelessly naive (believing he could talk Iran out of nukes and Russia out of its belligerence). Some thought he was cynically exploiting his own celebrity status to gain advantage over adversaries. But there is really a much simpler, and disturbingly juvenile explanation for this: he’s continuing the “Not Bush” campaign.

George W. Bush authorized tough interrogation methods to extract life-saving information from terrorists. Obama will do no such thing. Bush was willing to lock up terrorists in a secure off-shore location, indefinitely if needed, to keep America safe. Obama wants to empty Guantanamo. Bush wanted to expand missile defense to protect America and our allies. Obama sneers at the technical accomplishments and wants to cut back. Bush wanted to cement the alliance with Eastern European allies by placing missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. Not Obama. Bush presided over the warmest period in Israeli-U.S. relations; Obama, over the worst.

Bush would never dream about apologizing for America’s record in fighting wars of liberation on behalf of Muslims; Obama has made groveling before the “Muslim World” into an art form. Bush found the very best generals to turn around a losing war, putting the political standing of his own party and presidency in jeopardy. Obama is struggling to marginalize his generals and protect his own electoral fortunes. Bush bluntly attacked the “Axis of Evil.” Obama can’t manage to use the word “evil,” unless he is talking about insurance companies.

Go down the list and it’s a festival of contrarianism. (No, Bush did not manage an effective policy against Iran or North Korea, but he at least resisted any suggestion that we should genuflect before despots.) Perhaps, like the Daily Kos and the Harvard-faculty crowd, Obama has become Bush-obsessed, and simply assumes the key to brilliance in foreign policy involves doing the opposite of whatever Bush did. Or maybe, Obama is engaged in a political calculation — Bush’s foreign policy handed his opponents a stick to beat him with so Obama will avoid doing the same. Whatever the motivation, the result is the same. Not Bush, regardless of the circumstances.

But in the meantime, Obama is reminding us of the very real achievements and admirable qualities of the Bush foreign policy. The Bush team kept us safe for seven and a half years after 9-11, which few thought possible. The Bush team liberated tens of millions of Iraqis from a brutal dictator and when the chattering class clamored for retreat, he put war fighting above politics and avoided a horrible defeat. The Bush team stood squarely on the side of democracy advocates and human-rights dissidents. The Bush team fostered fulsome and productive relations with a wide range of nations — from Israel to India to Poland — who came to rely on the president’s word. The president did not dither or equivocate. History will render its judgment on the Bush administration, but it’s looking better every day. And much of the credit goes to his successor.

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Where Are the Protests?

With the announced intention to take a more accommodating approach to Sudan, the Obama administration is proving to be a disappointment to those who imagined that “hope and change” extended to the world’s oppressed peoples. The New York Times notes that the new soft-pedaling approach may not be well received by the human rights community, which is still trying to come to grips with Obama’s snub of the Dalai Lama:

The new administration policy is likely to inflame an already vociferous chorus of criticism. In advertisements and letters to the White House, legislators, activist groups and Sudanese rebel leaders have accused Mr. Obama of abandoning his promises to make Sudan a priority from his first day in office and to stand tough against President Bashir, whom the International Criminal Court indicted this year for crimes against humanity.

Some critics have expressed outrage over earlier statements by [special envoy General J.Scott] Gration in which he raised questions about the effectiveness of imposing sanctions and suggested that a series of rewards might work better at getting Mr. Bashir’s government in Khartoum to cooperate.

Beyond letter writing and ads, however, what are Richard Gere, Mia Farrow, and the rest of the chic set prepared to do about the administration’s pusillanimous human-rights policy? One would think the people with the “best moral compass” on the planet could bestir themselves to rise up in unified opposition to a policy that amounts to playing footsie with perpetrators of genocide.

The Obama administration’s crouch on human rights on Sudan, Iran, and everywhere else — giving a pass to thugs and spouting cringe-inducing moral equivalency — is of course not simply morally noxious, but also counter-productive. We have assisted the mullahs in establishing international legitimacy. We have taken the heat off of Hugo Chavez. And we now propose to allow Sudan to ooze back in the “international community” with not so much as a traffic ticket for the deaths of hundreds of thousands. In doing so, we have systematically undermined those struggling for democracy and regime change, given breathing room to thugs, and muddied our own position as the world’s leading democracy. The world is less democratic, less free, and less safe as a result.

All of that, one would think, should be cause for alarm and protest. But alas, the plight of Roman Polanski and the vexing issue of Rush Limbaugh’s NFL bid seems to be taking up all the time of the liberal preeners. And besides, it’s not as though it’s George W. Bush’s policies we are talking about. What would be odious coming from a Republican administration elicits only yawns from this one. Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize, so cut him some slack, right? That, tragically, seems to be the prevailing sentiment among those who used to rail that we weren’t doing enough to defend human rights around the world.

With the announced intention to take a more accommodating approach to Sudan, the Obama administration is proving to be a disappointment to those who imagined that “hope and change” extended to the world’s oppressed peoples. The New York Times notes that the new soft-pedaling approach may not be well received by the human rights community, which is still trying to come to grips with Obama’s snub of the Dalai Lama:

The new administration policy is likely to inflame an already vociferous chorus of criticism. In advertisements and letters to the White House, legislators, activist groups and Sudanese rebel leaders have accused Mr. Obama of abandoning his promises to make Sudan a priority from his first day in office and to stand tough against President Bashir, whom the International Criminal Court indicted this year for crimes against humanity.

Some critics have expressed outrage over earlier statements by [special envoy General J.Scott] Gration in which he raised questions about the effectiveness of imposing sanctions and suggested that a series of rewards might work better at getting Mr. Bashir’s government in Khartoum to cooperate.

Beyond letter writing and ads, however, what are Richard Gere, Mia Farrow, and the rest of the chic set prepared to do about the administration’s pusillanimous human-rights policy? One would think the people with the “best moral compass” on the planet could bestir themselves to rise up in unified opposition to a policy that amounts to playing footsie with perpetrators of genocide.

The Obama administration’s crouch on human rights on Sudan, Iran, and everywhere else — giving a pass to thugs and spouting cringe-inducing moral equivalency — is of course not simply morally noxious, but also counter-productive. We have assisted the mullahs in establishing international legitimacy. We have taken the heat off of Hugo Chavez. And we now propose to allow Sudan to ooze back in the “international community” with not so much as a traffic ticket for the deaths of hundreds of thousands. In doing so, we have systematically undermined those struggling for democracy and regime change, given breathing room to thugs, and muddied our own position as the world’s leading democracy. The world is less democratic, less free, and less safe as a result.

All of that, one would think, should be cause for alarm and protest. But alas, the plight of Roman Polanski and the vexing issue of Rush Limbaugh’s NFL bid seems to be taking up all the time of the liberal preeners. And besides, it’s not as though it’s George W. Bush’s policies we are talking about. What would be odious coming from a Republican administration elicits only yawns from this one. Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize, so cut him some slack, right? That, tragically, seems to be the prevailing sentiment among those who used to rail that we weren’t doing enough to defend human rights around the world.

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Time to Answer the Right Question

Rep. Ike Skelton and Sen. Joe Lieberman, who may be among the only occupiers of ground which was once densely filled with “Scoop Jackson” Democrats, remind us that Obama already decided six months ago on a “an integrated counterinsurgency strategy focused on protecting the Afghan population, building up the Afghan national security forces and improving Afghan governance.” So the question, they say, is now whether the president will fully fund and support that strategy. They argue:

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s assessment states that his new strategy requires additional resources and the proper execution of an integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency campaign. To this end, he has reportedly forwarded to the president a range of resource options, each with differing levels of risk to the mission. We hope that President Obama will carefully weigh these recommendations and provide his commander with the necessary forces and civilian resources he needs to properly execute a counterinsurgency campaign.

They make the case that only a “properly resourced counterinsurgency” can defeat the Taliban, encourage the Afghanistan government to build functioning institutions and serve its people, and provide the necessary security to prevent the toppling of a nuclear-armed Pakistan. And as for public opinion, they contend that success will beget support. The bottom line:

The last time they were in power, the Taliban not only brutally suppressed the human rights of their own people, they also welcomed Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network into Afghanistan, refusing to give them up even after Sept. 11, 2001. Allowing the Taliban to return to power would represent a major victory for extremist forces throughout the world, tilt the balance of power in South Asia in their favor and further endanger America’s homeland security from terrorists trained there.

And one wonders: what exactly is the argument on the other side? “We’d rather not enrage the netroots, who didn’t really mean what they said about the ‘good war'” is not a response. It’s an excuse. “We’d rather spend the money on something else” is not a counter-argument either. It’s a dodge, about as responsible as the consumer who doesn’t want to make the payments on the mortgage he signed. “It’ll be a drag on the president’s agenda and re-election prospects” isn’t a point either. Again, it’s not a substantive argument on the merits. It therefore isn’t hard to understand why the political advisers, not the military men, are pushing for the “not McChrystal” option.

There is, however, a greater danger here. It may not be that the only question is how to execute the counterinsurgency strategy which the president laid out. The White House seminars, from what we have heard, are re-examining the strategy itself. Maybe we can clip al-Qaeda’s wings and leave the Taliban out of it. Maybe Afghanistan is too corrupt for us to support. Maybe Pakistan wouldn’t mind the U.S. fighting a remote war.

All of these arguments we now hear re-surfacing, one suspects, because if the president doesn’t like the unanimous answer from his military advisers, then the only thing to do is to change the question. Rather than face the consequences of the answer to the original question (“How do we implement the counterinsurgency to stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan?”), the president would prefer to answer a simpler, but inadequate query (“How can we fight a remote war against al-Qaeda?”).

The president might pass his seminar class if he does that, but he will not have faced the real issues before him as commander in chief. We can only hope that Skelton and Lieberman, along with Sens. Feinstein and Inouye, help the class focus on the real issues and the real risks for failing to do what is needed to prevail in a critical front in the war against Islamic terror.

Rep. Ike Skelton and Sen. Joe Lieberman, who may be among the only occupiers of ground which was once densely filled with “Scoop Jackson” Democrats, remind us that Obama already decided six months ago on a “an integrated counterinsurgency strategy focused on protecting the Afghan population, building up the Afghan national security forces and improving Afghan governance.” So the question, they say, is now whether the president will fully fund and support that strategy. They argue:

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s assessment states that his new strategy requires additional resources and the proper execution of an integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency campaign. To this end, he has reportedly forwarded to the president a range of resource options, each with differing levels of risk to the mission. We hope that President Obama will carefully weigh these recommendations and provide his commander with the necessary forces and civilian resources he needs to properly execute a counterinsurgency campaign.

They make the case that only a “properly resourced counterinsurgency” can defeat the Taliban, encourage the Afghanistan government to build functioning institutions and serve its people, and provide the necessary security to prevent the toppling of a nuclear-armed Pakistan. And as for public opinion, they contend that success will beget support. The bottom line:

The last time they were in power, the Taliban not only brutally suppressed the human rights of their own people, they also welcomed Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network into Afghanistan, refusing to give them up even after Sept. 11, 2001. Allowing the Taliban to return to power would represent a major victory for extremist forces throughout the world, tilt the balance of power in South Asia in their favor and further endanger America’s homeland security from terrorists trained there.

And one wonders: what exactly is the argument on the other side? “We’d rather not enrage the netroots, who didn’t really mean what they said about the ‘good war'” is not a response. It’s an excuse. “We’d rather spend the money on something else” is not a counter-argument either. It’s a dodge, about as responsible as the consumer who doesn’t want to make the payments on the mortgage he signed. “It’ll be a drag on the president’s agenda and re-election prospects” isn’t a point either. Again, it’s not a substantive argument on the merits. It therefore isn’t hard to understand why the political advisers, not the military men, are pushing for the “not McChrystal” option.

There is, however, a greater danger here. It may not be that the only question is how to execute the counterinsurgency strategy which the president laid out. The White House seminars, from what we have heard, are re-examining the strategy itself. Maybe we can clip al-Qaeda’s wings and leave the Taliban out of it. Maybe Afghanistan is too corrupt for us to support. Maybe Pakistan wouldn’t mind the U.S. fighting a remote war.

All of these arguments we now hear re-surfacing, one suspects, because if the president doesn’t like the unanimous answer from his military advisers, then the only thing to do is to change the question. Rather than face the consequences of the answer to the original question (“How do we implement the counterinsurgency to stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan?”), the president would prefer to answer a simpler, but inadequate query (“How can we fight a remote war against al-Qaeda?”).

The president might pass his seminar class if he does that, but he will not have faced the real issues before him as commander in chief. We can only hope that Skelton and Lieberman, along with Sens. Feinstein and Inouye, help the class focus on the real issues and the real risks for failing to do what is needed to prevail in a critical front in the war against Islamic terror.

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What Do We Gain?

Rep. Mark Kirk, candidate for senate, wants to know why we are subsidizing the Israel-bashing UN Human Rights Council. He observes:

The UN Human Rights Council seems more concerned with castigating the State of Israel than ending genocide in Darfur, stopping mass murder in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or ending human rights abuses in countries like Iran and North Korea.

And he asks a pertinent question, given the recent vote on the Goldstone report from that august body: “Given the Human Rights Council’s decision to prioritize the castigation of Israel at the expense of the rights of people in Darfur, North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, the U.S. Administration should reconsider its membership.” Rejoining the Human Rights Council was another bit of “smart diplomacy” by the Obami. But what have we achieved?

We are not able to talk the likes of Chad or Libya out of their Israel bashing. And our presence on the Council dignifies this as a serious group, worthy of attendance. But this is the fundamental flaw in the entire “engagement” theory. We merely bestow legitimacy on and increase visibility for disreputable regimes without gaining any “credit.” And we foot the bill.

Perhaps it’s time to cut the funding for this charade and, as Kirk suggests, end our role in helping that body to make headlines.

Rep. Mark Kirk, candidate for senate, wants to know why we are subsidizing the Israel-bashing UN Human Rights Council. He observes:

The UN Human Rights Council seems more concerned with castigating the State of Israel than ending genocide in Darfur, stopping mass murder in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or ending human rights abuses in countries like Iran and North Korea.

And he asks a pertinent question, given the recent vote on the Goldstone report from that august body: “Given the Human Rights Council’s decision to prioritize the castigation of Israel at the expense of the rights of people in Darfur, North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, the U.S. Administration should reconsider its membership.” Rejoining the Human Rights Council was another bit of “smart diplomacy” by the Obami. But what have we achieved?

We are not able to talk the likes of Chad or Libya out of their Israel bashing. And our presence on the Council dignifies this as a serious group, worthy of attendance. But this is the fundamental flaw in the entire “engagement” theory. We merely bestow legitimacy on and increase visibility for disreputable regimes without gaining any “credit.” And we foot the bill.

Perhaps it’s time to cut the funding for this charade and, as Kirk suggests, end our role in helping that body to make headlines.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The most profligate administration since WWII: “The federal budget deficit has surged to an all-time high of $1.42 trillion as the recession caused tax revenues to plunge while the government was spending massive amounts to stabilize the financial system and jump-start the economy. The 2009 imbalance more than tripled last year’s record, and deficits are projected to total $9.1 trillion over the next decade.”

This is bad: “The upstate New York school superintendent who suspended an Eagle Scout for 20 days for keeping a 2-inch utility knife locked in his car is unwilling to speak to the teen’s family or bend in his ruling.” But it gets worse: “Now that [Matthew Whalen] is getting just 90 minutes a day with a tutor instead of 7 hours of instruction in class, he says he is worried that the suspension will mar his academic record and affect his application to attend the U.S. Military Academy. . . Though the school has branded possession of the knife to be violent conduct, that might be news to Whalen, who was taught as an Eagle Scout how to handle tools including the pocketknife, and actually instructs Boy Scouts how to handle knives as well.” Oh, and Whalen was awarded “a Life-Saving Heroism award for performing CPR on his aunt after she had a seizure.”

A “softer” approach to Sudan? In an administration with a lousy human-rights approach, this takes the cake.

Undo the Medicare cuts or achieve budget neutrality — Congress will have to choose. (Or just fake the budget neutrality, which is the most likely outcome.) Mickey Kaus explains: “Senate Dems quietly move a bill to countermand a 21% cut in Medicare fees for doctors, which will add $247 billion to the deficit over ten years. Of course, the Baucus health-care reform bill achieves its famed deficit neutrality through cuts in Medicare fees, mainly to non-physicians — saving (by my reading of the CBO analysis) at least $184 billion from Medicare over the same period. Plus there is a special panel set up to recommend further cuts.”

Maybe he should give us a list: “Speaking at a community service forum at Texas A&M University, President Obama said that there things government can’t or shouldn’t do — and that engaged citizens need to step in to play a role.” Honestly, is there any significant social or economic activity Obama thinks government shouldn’t be involved in?

For the “here’s how you tell conservatives from liberals” file, Jonathan Chait pronounces: “The Nobel Peace Prize, of course, represents the gold standard of all awards.”

Andrew Breitbart on going after the mainstream media: “I’m not looking to slay the dragon . . . but I wanted to embarrass the dragon into being a more reasonable dragon.”

The angry Left at American Prospect attacks Creigh Deeds: “At its core, Virginia remains a red state, despite the recent Democratic successes in the races for governor, senator, and the surprising Democratic win for president in 2008. But more important, Deeds, a state senator, has been outclassed on the campaign trail by his GOP opponent Bob McDonnell. Deeds has muddled his message, and he has run away from the president and the national Democratic Party. He has been wrong-footed on so many issues that it is amazing that he is still within single digits of McDonnell.” Ouch.

The most profligate administration since WWII: “The federal budget deficit has surged to an all-time high of $1.42 trillion as the recession caused tax revenues to plunge while the government was spending massive amounts to stabilize the financial system and jump-start the economy. The 2009 imbalance more than tripled last year’s record, and deficits are projected to total $9.1 trillion over the next decade.”

This is bad: “The upstate New York school superintendent who suspended an Eagle Scout for 20 days for keeping a 2-inch utility knife locked in his car is unwilling to speak to the teen’s family or bend in his ruling.” But it gets worse: “Now that [Matthew Whalen] is getting just 90 minutes a day with a tutor instead of 7 hours of instruction in class, he says he is worried that the suspension will mar his academic record and affect his application to attend the U.S. Military Academy. . . Though the school has branded possession of the knife to be violent conduct, that might be news to Whalen, who was taught as an Eagle Scout how to handle tools including the pocketknife, and actually instructs Boy Scouts how to handle knives as well.” Oh, and Whalen was awarded “a Life-Saving Heroism award for performing CPR on his aunt after she had a seizure.”

A “softer” approach to Sudan? In an administration with a lousy human-rights approach, this takes the cake.

Undo the Medicare cuts or achieve budget neutrality — Congress will have to choose. (Or just fake the budget neutrality, which is the most likely outcome.) Mickey Kaus explains: “Senate Dems quietly move a bill to countermand a 21% cut in Medicare fees for doctors, which will add $247 billion to the deficit over ten years. Of course, the Baucus health-care reform bill achieves its famed deficit neutrality through cuts in Medicare fees, mainly to non-physicians — saving (by my reading of the CBO analysis) at least $184 billion from Medicare over the same period. Plus there is a special panel set up to recommend further cuts.”

Maybe he should give us a list: “Speaking at a community service forum at Texas A&M University, President Obama said that there things government can’t or shouldn’t do — and that engaged citizens need to step in to play a role.” Honestly, is there any significant social or economic activity Obama thinks government shouldn’t be involved in?

For the “here’s how you tell conservatives from liberals” file, Jonathan Chait pronounces: “The Nobel Peace Prize, of course, represents the gold standard of all awards.”

Andrew Breitbart on going after the mainstream media: “I’m not looking to slay the dragon . . . but I wanted to embarrass the dragon into being a more reasonable dragon.”

The angry Left at American Prospect attacks Creigh Deeds: “At its core, Virginia remains a red state, despite the recent Democratic successes in the races for governor, senator, and the surprising Democratic win for president in 2008. But more important, Deeds, a state senator, has been outclassed on the campaign trail by his GOP opponent Bob McDonnell. Deeds has muddled his message, and he has run away from the president and the national Democratic Party. He has been wrong-footed on so many issues that it is amazing that he is still within single digits of McDonnell.” Ouch.

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