Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 21, 2009

Iceberg Dead Ahead, Captain Orders “All Engines Ahead Full”

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, has an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, in which he predicts — correctly in my opinion — that we are headed for a fiscal iceberg.

Our fiscal situation has deteriorated rapidly in just the past few years. The federal government ran a 2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion — the highest since World War II — as spending reached nearly 25% of GDP and total revenues fell below 15% of GDP. Shortfalls like these have not been seen in more than 50 years.

Going forward, there is no relief in sight, as spending far outpaces revenues and the federal budget is projected to be in enormous deficit every year. Our national debt is projected to stand at $17.1 trillion 10 years from now, or over $50,000 for every American. By 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis of the president’s budget, the deficit will still be roughly $1 trillion, even though the economic situation will have improved and revenues will be above historical norms.

This is also nothing new. The national debt was for most of American history, as Hamilton said it would be, a “national blessing.” It allowed us to fight and win our wars and to relieve suffering in an economic depression far worse than what the country is experiencing now. But in the last thirty years — the most prosperous and relatively peaceful thirty-year period in American history — liberals and “conservatives,” Democrats and Republicans alike in Washington have allowed the debt to explode for their short-term political benefit while they hid the truth with phony accounting.

How bad was it? Consider this: In 1980, the debt was 33.3 percent of the country’s GDP. By 1990 the GDP had increased by 37.6 percent in real terms. But the debt had grown much faster. It was 55.9 percent of the much larger GDP. In the 1990′s GDP increased by 39.7 percent, and the debt more than kept pace. It was 58 percent of GDP in 2000. At the end of 2008, GDP had grown 18.5 percent over 2000, and the debt was fast approaching 80 percent of GDP.  And the debt, being denominated in dollars, is made smaller by inflation while GDP is enlarged.

No one believes that the debt can be kept under 100 percent of GDP in the near future. And if Obamacare gets passed in anything like its present form, it will only makes matters far worse. As Mr. Holtz-Eakin explains, President Obama’s promise not to sign a bill that adds to the deficit is false:

. . . the bills are fiscally dishonest, using every budget gimmick and trick in the book: Leave out inconvenient spending, back-load spending to disguise the true scale, front-load tax revenues, let inflation push up tax revenues, promise spending cuts to doctors and hospitals that have no record of materializing, and so on.

If you’re disturbed by the long-term outlook for the country’s fiscal health, you shouldn’t be. You should be terrified.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, has an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, in which he predicts — correctly in my opinion — that we are headed for a fiscal iceberg.

Our fiscal situation has deteriorated rapidly in just the past few years. The federal government ran a 2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion — the highest since World War II — as spending reached nearly 25% of GDP and total revenues fell below 15% of GDP. Shortfalls like these have not been seen in more than 50 years.

Going forward, there is no relief in sight, as spending far outpaces revenues and the federal budget is projected to be in enormous deficit every year. Our national debt is projected to stand at $17.1 trillion 10 years from now, or over $50,000 for every American. By 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis of the president’s budget, the deficit will still be roughly $1 trillion, even though the economic situation will have improved and revenues will be above historical norms.

This is also nothing new. The national debt was for most of American history, as Hamilton said it would be, a “national blessing.” It allowed us to fight and win our wars and to relieve suffering in an economic depression far worse than what the country is experiencing now. But in the last thirty years — the most prosperous and relatively peaceful thirty-year period in American history — liberals and “conservatives,” Democrats and Republicans alike in Washington have allowed the debt to explode for their short-term political benefit while they hid the truth with phony accounting.

How bad was it? Consider this: In 1980, the debt was 33.3 percent of the country’s GDP. By 1990 the GDP had increased by 37.6 percent in real terms. But the debt had grown much faster. It was 55.9 percent of the much larger GDP. In the 1990′s GDP increased by 39.7 percent, and the debt more than kept pace. It was 58 percent of GDP in 2000. At the end of 2008, GDP had grown 18.5 percent over 2000, and the debt was fast approaching 80 percent of GDP.  And the debt, being denominated in dollars, is made smaller by inflation while GDP is enlarged.

No one believes that the debt can be kept under 100 percent of GDP in the near future. And if Obamacare gets passed in anything like its present form, it will only makes matters far worse. As Mr. Holtz-Eakin explains, President Obama’s promise not to sign a bill that adds to the deficit is false:

. . . the bills are fiscally dishonest, using every budget gimmick and trick in the book: Leave out inconvenient spending, back-load spending to disguise the true scale, front-load tax revenues, let inflation push up tax revenues, promise spending cuts to doctors and hospitals that have no record of materializing, and so on.

If you’re disturbed by the long-term outlook for the country’s fiscal health, you shouldn’t be. You should be terrified.

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An Afghan Awakening?

Last week a former UN envoy to Afghanistan tried to tell me that average Pashtuns and other Afghans don’t really mind the Taliban and would therefore never side with the U.S. against them. One should show little tolerance for such arguments. They are contradicted by all recent polls of Afghan opinion, and depend on a chilling ignorance of things like this:

Taliban militants fighting the Afghan government in the latest wave of violence have beheaded two civilians in the western Farah province, a local newspaper reported Tuesday.

“The armed Taliban fighters kidnapped five persons in Khak-e-Safid district of Farah district Monday and beheaded two and released the remaining three after a few hours,” Arman-e-Millie said, Xinhua reported.

Evidence of blissful coexistence, no doubt. Here’s more, courtesy of Dexter Filkins in today’s New York Times: “American and Afghan officials have begun helping a number of anti-Taliban militias that have independently taken up arms against insurgents in several parts of Afghanistan, prompting hopes of a large-scale tribal rebellion against the Taliban. . . The plan echoes a similar movement that unfolded in Iraq, beginning in late 2006, in which Sunni tribes turned against Islamist extremists.”

Critics often say there is no clearly defined goal in Afghanistan. I submit that if anti-Taliban sentiment there were parlayed into something that resembles the Sunni Awakening in Iraq, it would mark the achievement of a goal almost too welcome to hope for: Afghanistan’s organic inoculation against the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Here’s the difference between Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, the Sunnis realized that coalition forces were a) the strong horse, and b) sticking around. In Afghanistan, brave civilians taking up arms against the Taliban have no such reassurances. In fact, one hopes they didn’t hear President Obama say he’s “not interested in . . . sending a message that America—is here [in Afghanistan] for— for the duration.” Let’s also hope they didn’t hear Hillary Clinton say that “we have no long-term stake” in Afghanistan. As Gen. Stanley McChrystal put it, “A perception that our resolve is uncertain makes Afghans reluctant to align with us against the insurgents.” If in reality our resolve proves to be uncertain then we will have squandered an invaluable gift.

In any case, let’s stop this talk of tribal peoples who love their tormentors.

Last week a former UN envoy to Afghanistan tried to tell me that average Pashtuns and other Afghans don’t really mind the Taliban and would therefore never side with the U.S. against them. One should show little tolerance for such arguments. They are contradicted by all recent polls of Afghan opinion, and depend on a chilling ignorance of things like this:

Taliban militants fighting the Afghan government in the latest wave of violence have beheaded two civilians in the western Farah province, a local newspaper reported Tuesday.

“The armed Taliban fighters kidnapped five persons in Khak-e-Safid district of Farah district Monday and beheaded two and released the remaining three after a few hours,” Arman-e-Millie said, Xinhua reported.

Evidence of blissful coexistence, no doubt. Here’s more, courtesy of Dexter Filkins in today’s New York Times: “American and Afghan officials have begun helping a number of anti-Taliban militias that have independently taken up arms against insurgents in several parts of Afghanistan, prompting hopes of a large-scale tribal rebellion against the Taliban. . . The plan echoes a similar movement that unfolded in Iraq, beginning in late 2006, in which Sunni tribes turned against Islamist extremists.”

Critics often say there is no clearly defined goal in Afghanistan. I submit that if anti-Taliban sentiment there were parlayed into something that resembles the Sunni Awakening in Iraq, it would mark the achievement of a goal almost too welcome to hope for: Afghanistan’s organic inoculation against the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Here’s the difference between Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, the Sunnis realized that coalition forces were a) the strong horse, and b) sticking around. In Afghanistan, brave civilians taking up arms against the Taliban have no such reassurances. In fact, one hopes they didn’t hear President Obama say he’s “not interested in . . . sending a message that America—is here [in Afghanistan] for— for the duration.” Let’s also hope they didn’t hear Hillary Clinton say that “we have no long-term stake” in Afghanistan. As Gen. Stanley McChrystal put it, “A perception that our resolve is uncertain makes Afghans reluctant to align with us against the insurgents.” If in reality our resolve proves to be uncertain then we will have squandered an invaluable gift.

In any case, let’s stop this talk of tribal peoples who love their tormentors.

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Re: Axis of Uranium Meets Middle East Peace Process

How many Middle Eastern leaders have to visit Brazil in one month for the U.S. State Department to figure out something’s going on? More than three, apparently. After I wrote Friday’s post on the serial visits of Peres, Abbas, and Ahmadinejad, Rick Richman called my attention to the exchange in the State Department briefing on Ahmadinejad’s visit:

QUESTION: Ahmadinejad is going to be visiting Brazil in a couple of days. Is the fact that a friendly government like that welcoming Ahmadinejad – does that tend to dilute international solidarity on the nuclear issue?

MR. WOOD: Well, President Ahmadinejad going to Brazil, that’s an issue between the Government of Brazil and the Government of Iran. What we would hope is that the Government of Brazil would raise some of these concerns that we have, many of which I’ve just laid out here, about Iran in those meetings. But beyond that, I don’t have anything to add to that.

So: Brazil is hosting the three major regional players in Middle Eastern dynamics this month. One of them is the president of Iran, the revolutionary, terrorist-sponsoring state Obama is trying to pressure on its nuclear program. Brazil – a nuclear client of Russia – has been following Venezuela’s path toward “increased economic ties” with Iran, which in literal terms means banking arrangements that circumvent sanctions, plus plenty of “legitimate” manufacturing and container shipping to obscure trade in prohibited goods. And the views of our State Department on these circumstances boil down to an absurdly banal bromide (the Ahmadinejad visit is “an issue between Brazil and Iran”) and a “hope” that Brazil will raise some of our concerns with the Iranian president.

Far from acting as our deputy, Brazil seems to be positioning itself to gain leverage with Iran regardless of how its policies undermine the P5+1’s threat of sanctions. Mahmoud Abbas probably overestimates the leverage Brazil already has with Iran, but in requesting Lula da Silva’s help with discouraging the Iran-Hamas link, he has shown a keener understanding of this month’s diplomatic flurry than Foggy Bottom.

One projection seems sound: if Brazil does go through with a line of credit for Iran, we should expect that move to bring Brazil into conflict with the U.S. Treasury Department, as Venezuela’s similar activities have in the past. What we do about such a financial arrangement between Iran and Brazil will tell both parties – and all our negotiating partners – everything they need to know about the credibility of Obama’s threats of sanctions.

How many Middle Eastern leaders have to visit Brazil in one month for the U.S. State Department to figure out something’s going on? More than three, apparently. After I wrote Friday’s post on the serial visits of Peres, Abbas, and Ahmadinejad, Rick Richman called my attention to the exchange in the State Department briefing on Ahmadinejad’s visit:

QUESTION: Ahmadinejad is going to be visiting Brazil in a couple of days. Is the fact that a friendly government like that welcoming Ahmadinejad – does that tend to dilute international solidarity on the nuclear issue?

MR. WOOD: Well, President Ahmadinejad going to Brazil, that’s an issue between the Government of Brazil and the Government of Iran. What we would hope is that the Government of Brazil would raise some of these concerns that we have, many of which I’ve just laid out here, about Iran in those meetings. But beyond that, I don’t have anything to add to that.

So: Brazil is hosting the three major regional players in Middle Eastern dynamics this month. One of them is the president of Iran, the revolutionary, terrorist-sponsoring state Obama is trying to pressure on its nuclear program. Brazil – a nuclear client of Russia – has been following Venezuela’s path toward “increased economic ties” with Iran, which in literal terms means banking arrangements that circumvent sanctions, plus plenty of “legitimate” manufacturing and container shipping to obscure trade in prohibited goods. And the views of our State Department on these circumstances boil down to an absurdly banal bromide (the Ahmadinejad visit is “an issue between Brazil and Iran”) and a “hope” that Brazil will raise some of our concerns with the Iranian president.

Far from acting as our deputy, Brazil seems to be positioning itself to gain leverage with Iran regardless of how its policies undermine the P5+1’s threat of sanctions. Mahmoud Abbas probably overestimates the leverage Brazil already has with Iran, but in requesting Lula da Silva’s help with discouraging the Iran-Hamas link, he has shown a keener understanding of this month’s diplomatic flurry than Foggy Bottom.

One projection seems sound: if Brazil does go through with a line of credit for Iran, we should expect that move to bring Brazil into conflict with the U.S. Treasury Department, as Venezuela’s similar activities have in the past. What we do about such a financial arrangement between Iran and Brazil will tell both parties – and all our negotiating partners – everything they need to know about the credibility of Obama’s threats of sanctions.

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9/11 Victims and All of Us Deserve Better

The father of 9/11 hero Todd Beamer, like many of us, is appalled by Eric Holder’s performance this week and by his inability to answer probing questions by senators:

The attorney general seemed bewildered in the face of these inquiries. Recurring themes in his responses included “I think,” and “I can’t imagine,” and “I am not an expert in immigration.”

Has our attorney general not considered these issues, or imagined the possible unintended consequences that will arise from his historic decision? It certainly seemed that way. If he had, he would have had better answers.

A second shocker: Mr. Holder said that he and his boss had not spoken in person about this decision. This matter only involves upholding the constitutional rights of Americans, establishing a precedent with battlefield impact, and the safety and security of our citizens in a time of war. What are the criteria to make something a priority with President Barack Obama? How can it be that this matter didn’t make the cut?

There are many other 9/11 families, not to mention millions of Americans, who must be thinking the same thing. The decision to snatch KSM from a confession in a military commission and place him in a civilian courtroom instead was bad enough, but the cavalier attitude and lack of preparedness in defending the decision is, on some level, even more worrisome. It suggests a failure to perceive how out of touch with the country the lefty lawyers in the Justice Department truly are. And it leaves us wondering how seriously the administration really takes the very real potential for a PR bonanza for KSM. One is left mystified. Who is running the show? Is there no one within Justice to raise troubling issues, or have all those who never drank the Kool Aid been banished or intimidated?

The administration badly misjudged the implications of and public reaction to the plan to close Guantanamo. The Obami seem to have learned nothing and instead, with even less preparation and regard for public opinion, have doubled down, perhaps unleashing the wrath of not simply the 9/11 families but also of a large segment of the country. They did not think this through. They — and we — will suffer the consequences.

The father of 9/11 hero Todd Beamer, like many of us, is appalled by Eric Holder’s performance this week and by his inability to answer probing questions by senators:

The attorney general seemed bewildered in the face of these inquiries. Recurring themes in his responses included “I think,” and “I can’t imagine,” and “I am not an expert in immigration.”

Has our attorney general not considered these issues, or imagined the possible unintended consequences that will arise from his historic decision? It certainly seemed that way. If he had, he would have had better answers.

A second shocker: Mr. Holder said that he and his boss had not spoken in person about this decision. This matter only involves upholding the constitutional rights of Americans, establishing a precedent with battlefield impact, and the safety and security of our citizens in a time of war. What are the criteria to make something a priority with President Barack Obama? How can it be that this matter didn’t make the cut?

There are many other 9/11 families, not to mention millions of Americans, who must be thinking the same thing. The decision to snatch KSM from a confession in a military commission and place him in a civilian courtroom instead was bad enough, but the cavalier attitude and lack of preparedness in defending the decision is, on some level, even more worrisome. It suggests a failure to perceive how out of touch with the country the lefty lawyers in the Justice Department truly are. And it leaves us wondering how seriously the administration really takes the very real potential for a PR bonanza for KSM. One is left mystified. Who is running the show? Is there no one within Justice to raise troubling issues, or have all those who never drank the Kool Aid been banished or intimidated?

The administration badly misjudged the implications of and public reaction to the plan to close Guantanamo. The Obami seem to have learned nothing and instead, with even less preparation and regard for public opinion, have doubled down, perhaps unleashing the wrath of not simply the 9/11 families but also of a large segment of the country. They did not think this through. They — and we — will suffer the consequences.

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What Happened?

Plainly, Obama’s poll numbers have hit the skids, as poll after poll registers new lows in approval and new highs in disapproval. More independents now disapprove than approve of his performance. And more voters disapprove of his handling of specific issues such as health care. So what happened, and why now?

Well, it has been a long slide down for Obama; this didn’t all happen in one week or one month. But it is hard to escape the conclusion that something has crystallized over the last few weeks. Perhaps it was the two gubernatorial elections, confirming quiet dissension and suggesting that, yes, things really aren’t going in the right direction. Maybe the plethora of foreign policy debacles — the Middle East, the abject failure at engaging Iran, the dithering on Afghanistan, bowing before yet another monarch — have caught up and shaken Americans. And then there is the mega-error, the decision to try KSM in federal court, which has proved overwhelmingly unpopular. Over on the domestic side, unemployment, the failed stimulus, and the mound of debt suggest that the Obama team frankly hasn’t a clue about how to restore fiscal sanity and growth. There too a crowning insult is in the works — a monstrous health-care bill most voters don’t want.

You simply can’t do all that and expect the country to follow you. The public has, I suspect, started to assess Obama on what he is doing rather than on who he is. Yes, his election was historic. Now what? They didn’t bargain for this, really. The wanted less debt, not more; less spending, not more; and more competence, not less. And they wanted a president who places their safety and security above all else.

And then there is Obama himself. The complaints are familiar – overexposed, too remote, too snippy. And something else may be at work. There is a point at which the rhetoric of a president becomes so divorced from reality that it no longer serves to cushion the blow or distract the public from unpleasant news, but rather to raise questions as to whether he “gets it.” When he says he isn’t dithering but he is, or when he declares himself not to be naive about our enemies but behaves as if he were, the public begins to tune out and wonder,”Who’s he kidding?” There is a point at which voters simply stop believing the president and move on. (For George W. Bush that moment was Katrina.)

It is not then, I think, a single gaffe or one set of bad economic numbers that plagues Obama. It is the growing realization by more and more voters that Obama doesn’t believe in what they believe and lacks basic governing skills. One of those skills is self-awareness. And without that, he’s unlikely to change course or improve his performance.

Plainly, Obama’s poll numbers have hit the skids, as poll after poll registers new lows in approval and new highs in disapproval. More independents now disapprove than approve of his performance. And more voters disapprove of his handling of specific issues such as health care. So what happened, and why now?

Well, it has been a long slide down for Obama; this didn’t all happen in one week or one month. But it is hard to escape the conclusion that something has crystallized over the last few weeks. Perhaps it was the two gubernatorial elections, confirming quiet dissension and suggesting that, yes, things really aren’t going in the right direction. Maybe the plethora of foreign policy debacles — the Middle East, the abject failure at engaging Iran, the dithering on Afghanistan, bowing before yet another monarch — have caught up and shaken Americans. And then there is the mega-error, the decision to try KSM in federal court, which has proved overwhelmingly unpopular. Over on the domestic side, unemployment, the failed stimulus, and the mound of debt suggest that the Obama team frankly hasn’t a clue about how to restore fiscal sanity and growth. There too a crowning insult is in the works — a monstrous health-care bill most voters don’t want.

You simply can’t do all that and expect the country to follow you. The public has, I suspect, started to assess Obama on what he is doing rather than on who he is. Yes, his election was historic. Now what? They didn’t bargain for this, really. The wanted less debt, not more; less spending, not more; and more competence, not less. And they wanted a president who places their safety and security above all else.

And then there is Obama himself. The complaints are familiar – overexposed, too remote, too snippy. And something else may be at work. There is a point at which the rhetoric of a president becomes so divorced from reality that it no longer serves to cushion the blow or distract the public from unpleasant news, but rather to raise questions as to whether he “gets it.” When he says he isn’t dithering but he is, or when he declares himself not to be naive about our enemies but behaves as if he were, the public begins to tune out and wonder,”Who’s he kidding?” There is a point at which voters simply stop believing the president and move on. (For George W. Bush that moment was Katrina.)

It is not then, I think, a single gaffe or one set of bad economic numbers that plagues Obama. It is the growing realization by more and more voters that Obama doesn’t believe in what they believe and lacks basic governing skills. One of those skills is self-awareness. And without that, he’s unlikely to change course or improve his performance.

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Live from the State Department, It’s Friday Afternoon Live!

State Department spokesman Robert Wood began this afternoon’s press conference by providing an update on the P-5+1 meeting from earlier in the day in Brussels. He reread the statement that the P-5+1 had issued on September 23 — in which they had anticipated that the October 1 meeting with Iran would provide an opportunity to seek a “comprehensive, long-term, and appropriate” solution (great adjectives). But unfortunately:

Iran has not engaged in an intensified dialogue and, in particular, has refused to have a new meeting before the end of October to discuss nuclear issues. Iran has not responded positively to the IAEA proposed agreement for the provision of nuclear fuel for its Tehran research reactor.

Given the absence of an intensified dialogue, the refusal to hold a new meeting, and the failure to respond to the IAEA proposal, Wood wanted to convey the U.S. position that Iran should . . . “reconsider the opportunity.”

Message: “Give it to us straight, Mahmoud!”

Wood also announced that the U.S. had agreed that the P-5+1 would hold another meeting shortly to decide about the next steps. One of the reporters mistakenly thought this might be a serious moment, that this might finally be it:

QUESTION: But it sounds like this is a very serious moment then, because you were saying one more meeting, that’s it.

MR. WOOD: No, I didn’t say that at all. I didn’t mean to say that that was it. I said at the next meeting we would take a look at – based on Iran’s response, up until that – at that time, or lack thereof, and take a look and see what new measures we may have to take. But I’m not saying that the next meeting is it – that’s it and then we start moving to the pressure track.

QUESTION: Then why stretch it out? I mean, isn’t it quite clear that they’re not going to do this?

MR. WOOD: Look, we are – we have said from the beginning, we’re willing to go the extra mile with regard to diplomacy. The President and the Secretary have been very clear about that. …

At the next meeting, the P-5+1 may decide that the next step is to ask Mahmoud to give it to them straight.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood began this afternoon’s press conference by providing an update on the P-5+1 meeting from earlier in the day in Brussels. He reread the statement that the P-5+1 had issued on September 23 — in which they had anticipated that the October 1 meeting with Iran would provide an opportunity to seek a “comprehensive, long-term, and appropriate” solution (great adjectives). But unfortunately:

Iran has not engaged in an intensified dialogue and, in particular, has refused to have a new meeting before the end of October to discuss nuclear issues. Iran has not responded positively to the IAEA proposed agreement for the provision of nuclear fuel for its Tehran research reactor.

Given the absence of an intensified dialogue, the refusal to hold a new meeting, and the failure to respond to the IAEA proposal, Wood wanted to convey the U.S. position that Iran should . . . “reconsider the opportunity.”

Message: “Give it to us straight, Mahmoud!”

Wood also announced that the U.S. had agreed that the P-5+1 would hold another meeting shortly to decide about the next steps. One of the reporters mistakenly thought this might be a serious moment, that this might finally be it:

QUESTION: But it sounds like this is a very serious moment then, because you were saying one more meeting, that’s it.

MR. WOOD: No, I didn’t say that at all. I didn’t mean to say that that was it. I said at the next meeting we would take a look at – based on Iran’s response, up until that – at that time, or lack thereof, and take a look and see what new measures we may have to take. But I’m not saying that the next meeting is it – that’s it and then we start moving to the pressure track.

QUESTION: Then why stretch it out? I mean, isn’t it quite clear that they’re not going to do this?

MR. WOOD: Look, we are – we have said from the beginning, we’re willing to go the extra mile with regard to diplomacy. The President and the Secretary have been very clear about that. …

At the next meeting, the P-5+1 may decide that the next step is to ask Mahmoud to give it to them straight.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Obama drops below 50% approval in Gallup.

The cap-and-trade bill is so bad even John McCain opposes it. “McCain refers to the bill as ‘cap and tax,’ calls the climate legislation that passed the House in June ‘a 1,400-page monstrosity’ and dismisses a cap-and-trade proposal included in the White House budget as ‘a government slush fund.’”

A Democrat breaks with the White House on trying KSM in civilian court: “The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee expressed opposition today to Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to give civilian trials to the 9/11 plotters. Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) penned a letter to Holder and Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggesting military trials would be a more appropriate venue for the accused terrorists. ”

Another slighted democratic ally: “Days before India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to be welcomed in the White House for his first state visit with President Obama, two perceived missteps by the Obama administration have concerned Indian officials that New Delhi suddenly has been relegated to the second tier of U.S.-Asian relations.” When is it that we start “restoring” our standing in the world?

Sen. Jon Kyl wants answers from the Justice Department regarding the NIAC.

Trouble in the “permanent majority“: “The Democratic Party’s broad ruling coalition is starting to fracture as lawmakers come under increasing pressure from the left to respond to voter anger over joblessness and Wall Street bailouts. Tensions boiled over this week, with an angry party caucus meeting Monday in the House, and black lawmakers Thursday threatening to block legislation in protest of President Barack Obama’s economic policies.  . . The squabbling is turning up pressure on the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress to respond, a challenge when their focus is on passing a health-care overhaul.” What a difference a year of one-party Democratic liberal rule makes.

Democrats insist that 2010 won’t be another 1994. However, “danger could lurk if turnout is low, factors that hurt Dem GOV candidates in NJ and VA this year.” In other words, if things keep going the way they have been, a lot of Democrats will be in trouble.

She must not have gotten the new script. This week we are being supportive of the Afghan government: “Calling Afghan President Hamid Karzai an ‘unworthy partner,’ a key Democratic leader warned Friday that Congress cannot fund an expanded military mission without a reliable ally in Kabul. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, said moreover she did not think there was political support for sending more US troops to Afghanistan, as President Barack Obama is contemplating.”

The Obama team may not be able to give Big Labor card check but they haven’t run out of goodies: “The National Mediation Board, which oversees labor relations in the air and rail industry, this month moved to overturn 75 years of labor policy. The board plans to stack the deck for organized labor in union elections. Under a proposed rule, unions would no longer have to get the approval of a majority of airline workers to achieve certification. Not even close. Instead, a union could win just by getting a majority of the employees who vote. Thus, if only 1,000 of 10,000 flight attendants vote in a union election, and 501 vote for certification, the other 9,499 become unionized.”

Obama drops below 50% approval in Gallup.

The cap-and-trade bill is so bad even John McCain opposes it. “McCain refers to the bill as ‘cap and tax,’ calls the climate legislation that passed the House in June ‘a 1,400-page monstrosity’ and dismisses a cap-and-trade proposal included in the White House budget as ‘a government slush fund.’”

A Democrat breaks with the White House on trying KSM in civilian court: “The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee expressed opposition today to Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to give civilian trials to the 9/11 plotters. Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) penned a letter to Holder and Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggesting military trials would be a more appropriate venue for the accused terrorists. ”

Another slighted democratic ally: “Days before India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to be welcomed in the White House for his first state visit with President Obama, two perceived missteps by the Obama administration have concerned Indian officials that New Delhi suddenly has been relegated to the second tier of U.S.-Asian relations.” When is it that we start “restoring” our standing in the world?

Sen. Jon Kyl wants answers from the Justice Department regarding the NIAC.

Trouble in the “permanent majority“: “The Democratic Party’s broad ruling coalition is starting to fracture as lawmakers come under increasing pressure from the left to respond to voter anger over joblessness and Wall Street bailouts. Tensions boiled over this week, with an angry party caucus meeting Monday in the House, and black lawmakers Thursday threatening to block legislation in protest of President Barack Obama’s economic policies.  . . The squabbling is turning up pressure on the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress to respond, a challenge when their focus is on passing a health-care overhaul.” What a difference a year of one-party Democratic liberal rule makes.

Democrats insist that 2010 won’t be another 1994. However, “danger could lurk if turnout is low, factors that hurt Dem GOV candidates in NJ and VA this year.” In other words, if things keep going the way they have been, a lot of Democrats will be in trouble.

She must not have gotten the new script. This week we are being supportive of the Afghan government: “Calling Afghan President Hamid Karzai an ‘unworthy partner,’ a key Democratic leader warned Friday that Congress cannot fund an expanded military mission without a reliable ally in Kabul. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, said moreover she did not think there was political support for sending more US troops to Afghanistan, as President Barack Obama is contemplating.”

The Obama team may not be able to give Big Labor card check but they haven’t run out of goodies: “The National Mediation Board, which oversees labor relations in the air and rail industry, this month moved to overturn 75 years of labor policy. The board plans to stack the deck for organized labor in union elections. Under a proposed rule, unions would no longer have to get the approval of a majority of airline workers to achieve certification. Not even close. Instead, a union could win just by getting a majority of the employees who vote. Thus, if only 1,000 of 10,000 flight attendants vote in a union election, and 501 vote for certification, the other 9,499 become unionized.”

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