Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 23, 2010

ObamaCare and Political Theater

The health-care summit on Thursday will garner a huge amount of media attention — and its effect on the health-care debate will be negligible to nonexistent. It is simple political theater, a transparent public-relations game. No one believes anything important will be done, any serious negotiations will take place, any concessions will be given, any significant compromises struck. All it will do is place a debate we’ve been engaged in for the better part of a year on another stage.

The important news from this week has to do not with political “summits” but political substance — and the Obama administration’s stunning decision to double down on health care. I say stunning because ObamaCare is doing to the Democratic party what a wrecking ball does to a condemned building.

ObamaCare is, for one thing, hugely unpopular. David Brooks reports that if you average the last 10 polls, 38 percent of voters support the reform plans and 53 percent oppose. Obama’s reform is more unpopular than Bill Clinton’s was as it died, Brooks points out. And of course the intensity of opposition to the plan is far more than the intensity of support. Health care also set the context for Democratic losses in New Jersey, in Virginia, and in Massachusetts. Yet, according to press reports, “after initially reeling from the surprise election of Republican Scott Brown to the Senate in Massachusetts, Obama’s chief political strategists came to believe that voters would punish Democrats more severely in this year’s elections for failing to try [to pass health care legislation], they said.”

Liberals like E.J. Dionne Jr. and Ezra Klein of the Washington Post argue that if Obama fails to pass health-care reform, his presidency will be crippled — but if he passes reform, it will be salvaged. “This week will determine the shape of American politics for the next three years,” Dionne wrote on Monday. “No, that’s not one of those journalistic exaggerations intended to catch your attention. … It’s an accurate description of the stakes at the health care summit President Obama has called for Thursday. The issue is whether the summit proves to be the turning point in a political year that, at the moment, is moving decisively in the Republicans’ direction. If the summit fails to shake things up and does not lead to the passage of a comprehensive health care bill, Democrats and Obama are in for a miserable time for the rest of his term.”

This strikes me as perfectly wrong. After a year of intense debate, the public has reacted to ObamaCare the way the human body reacts to food poisoning. It is rejecting it, utterly and completely. For Obama and the White House to convince themselves to ram through legislation that is, if anything, worse than the original House and Senate bills is an act of madness.

I rather doubt it will succeed. For one thing, there are now at least three people who voted for the House version of the bill who will not vote for a reconciliation bill (the late John Murtha, Bart Stupak, and Joseph Cao). For another, the Democrats plan is more unpopular now than it was when it passed in the House last year (by a vote of 220-215). We are also in an election year, when the Democrats are desperate to turn attention from health care to jobs. And finally, we live in a post–Scott Brown election world. Democrats have seen that ObamaCare is political hemlock. It is a cup Democrats would rather have pass from their lips.

No one is arguing that not passing Obama’s signature domestic initiative would reflect well on the president. A failure of this magnitude will undoubtedly damage him. But in this instance, with the White House having acted so ineptly, failing to pass ObamaCare is the best of bad options. Obstinacy on behalf of a bad and unpopular idea is a road to political ruin.

In redoubling his efforts to pass health-care legislation, Obama will be rejected — not simply by Republicans and the public but also, I suspect, by members of his own party. This in turn will further weaken his political standing. He will have looked obsessively out of touch, selfish, and narcissistic. But in the highly unlikely event that Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Harry Reid succeed in passing health-care legislation through the reconciliation process — if Democrats in the House are foolish enough to hitch their hopes to this liberal troika — there will be an even more fearsome political price to pay.

Some Democrats may believe things can’t possibly get worse, so they may as well pass ObamaCare. They are wrong. As one of my least favorite political philosophers, Mao Zedong, said, “It’s always darkest before it’s totally black.”

The health-care summit on Thursday will garner a huge amount of media attention — and its effect on the health-care debate will be negligible to nonexistent. It is simple political theater, a transparent public-relations game. No one believes anything important will be done, any serious negotiations will take place, any concessions will be given, any significant compromises struck. All it will do is place a debate we’ve been engaged in for the better part of a year on another stage.

The important news from this week has to do not with political “summits” but political substance — and the Obama administration’s stunning decision to double down on health care. I say stunning because ObamaCare is doing to the Democratic party what a wrecking ball does to a condemned building.

ObamaCare is, for one thing, hugely unpopular. David Brooks reports that if you average the last 10 polls, 38 percent of voters support the reform plans and 53 percent oppose. Obama’s reform is more unpopular than Bill Clinton’s was as it died, Brooks points out. And of course the intensity of opposition to the plan is far more than the intensity of support. Health care also set the context for Democratic losses in New Jersey, in Virginia, and in Massachusetts. Yet, according to press reports, “after initially reeling from the surprise election of Republican Scott Brown to the Senate in Massachusetts, Obama’s chief political strategists came to believe that voters would punish Democrats more severely in this year’s elections for failing to try [to pass health care legislation], they said.”

Liberals like E.J. Dionne Jr. and Ezra Klein of the Washington Post argue that if Obama fails to pass health-care reform, his presidency will be crippled — but if he passes reform, it will be salvaged. “This week will determine the shape of American politics for the next three years,” Dionne wrote on Monday. “No, that’s not one of those journalistic exaggerations intended to catch your attention. … It’s an accurate description of the stakes at the health care summit President Obama has called for Thursday. The issue is whether the summit proves to be the turning point in a political year that, at the moment, is moving decisively in the Republicans’ direction. If the summit fails to shake things up and does not lead to the passage of a comprehensive health care bill, Democrats and Obama are in for a miserable time for the rest of his term.”

This strikes me as perfectly wrong. After a year of intense debate, the public has reacted to ObamaCare the way the human body reacts to food poisoning. It is rejecting it, utterly and completely. For Obama and the White House to convince themselves to ram through legislation that is, if anything, worse than the original House and Senate bills is an act of madness.

I rather doubt it will succeed. For one thing, there are now at least three people who voted for the House version of the bill who will not vote for a reconciliation bill (the late John Murtha, Bart Stupak, and Joseph Cao). For another, the Democrats plan is more unpopular now than it was when it passed in the House last year (by a vote of 220-215). We are also in an election year, when the Democrats are desperate to turn attention from health care to jobs. And finally, we live in a post–Scott Brown election world. Democrats have seen that ObamaCare is political hemlock. It is a cup Democrats would rather have pass from their lips.

No one is arguing that not passing Obama’s signature domestic initiative would reflect well on the president. A failure of this magnitude will undoubtedly damage him. But in this instance, with the White House having acted so ineptly, failing to pass ObamaCare is the best of bad options. Obstinacy on behalf of a bad and unpopular idea is a road to political ruin.

In redoubling his efforts to pass health-care legislation, Obama will be rejected — not simply by Republicans and the public but also, I suspect, by members of his own party. This in turn will further weaken his political standing. He will have looked obsessively out of touch, selfish, and narcissistic. But in the highly unlikely event that Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Harry Reid succeed in passing health-care legislation through the reconciliation process — if Democrats in the House are foolish enough to hitch their hopes to this liberal troika — there will be an even more fearsome political price to pay.

Some Democrats may believe things can’t possibly get worse, so they may as well pass ObamaCare. They are wrong. As one of my least favorite political philosophers, Mao Zedong, said, “It’s always darkest before it’s totally black.”

Read Less

President Obama, Meet Reality

AP reports: “Democratic congressional leaders confronted the reality Tuesday that they may not be able to pass the comprehensive health care overhaul sought by President Barack Obama. Republican leaders prepared to do everything in their power to make sure they can’t.” It seems that unlike Nancy Pelosi and the president, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — who just might be the minority leader after 2010, forced to clean up the pieces of his smashed Democratic caucus — is hinting that this may be the end of the road:

“We may not be able to do all. I hope we can do all, a comprehensive piece of legislation that will provide affordable, accessible, quality health care to all Americans,” Hoyer said at his weekly media briefing. “But having said that, if we can’t, then you know me — if you can’t do a whole, doing part is also good. I mean there are a number of things I think we can agree on.”

It sounds like he’s been reading the polls, which still show the public overwhelmingly opposed to ObamaCare II – because it’s so much like ObamaCare I. The voters want Obama to start over, but he wants to ram home the essentially same monstrosity the public has already rejected. But the immediate concern for Obama and Pelosi is the eroding support among House Democrats:

Some rank-and-file Democrats were openly skeptical that the White House and congressional leaders could pull it off. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., a moderate who opposed the health legislation when it passed the House, questioned whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi could hang on to the votes that allowed her to get the bill through 220-215 in November. Since then a couple of Democrats have left the House, and Pelosi may also lose votes from anti-abortion Democrats who oppose the less restrictive abortion language in the Senate bill, which Obama kept in his plan.

“Is she going to be able to hold everybody that was for it before?” Altmire asked. “What about the marginal members in the middle who got hammered over this vote and would love a second chance to perhaps go against it?”

Well, let’s see if a health-care summit will magically change the hearts and minds of voters and House Democrats. If not, Obama will learn the hard way that it matters what you are proposing, not how many times you propose it.

AP reports: “Democratic congressional leaders confronted the reality Tuesday that they may not be able to pass the comprehensive health care overhaul sought by President Barack Obama. Republican leaders prepared to do everything in their power to make sure they can’t.” It seems that unlike Nancy Pelosi and the president, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — who just might be the minority leader after 2010, forced to clean up the pieces of his smashed Democratic caucus — is hinting that this may be the end of the road:

“We may not be able to do all. I hope we can do all, a comprehensive piece of legislation that will provide affordable, accessible, quality health care to all Americans,” Hoyer said at his weekly media briefing. “But having said that, if we can’t, then you know me — if you can’t do a whole, doing part is also good. I mean there are a number of things I think we can agree on.”

It sounds like he’s been reading the polls, which still show the public overwhelmingly opposed to ObamaCare II – because it’s so much like ObamaCare I. The voters want Obama to start over, but he wants to ram home the essentially same monstrosity the public has already rejected. But the immediate concern for Obama and Pelosi is the eroding support among House Democrats:

Some rank-and-file Democrats were openly skeptical that the White House and congressional leaders could pull it off. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., a moderate who opposed the health legislation when it passed the House, questioned whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi could hang on to the votes that allowed her to get the bill through 220-215 in November. Since then a couple of Democrats have left the House, and Pelosi may also lose votes from anti-abortion Democrats who oppose the less restrictive abortion language in the Senate bill, which Obama kept in his plan.

“Is she going to be able to hold everybody that was for it before?” Altmire asked. “What about the marginal members in the middle who got hammered over this vote and would love a second chance to perhaps go against it?”

Well, let’s see if a health-care summit will magically change the hearts and minds of voters and House Democrats. If not, Obama will learn the hard way that it matters what you are proposing, not how many times you propose it.

Read Less

Tom Campbell and Israel (Updated)

Philip Klein’s must-read post details more Tom Campbell comments concerning Israel. There was his remark that “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, but it’s wrong to say it can’t also be the capital of Palestine.”  And there was his comment to Yasser Arafat, following a minor mishap in the West Bank, that “this makes me the first American to have shed blood in your country.” In isolation, this or that comment might not seem extraordinary. But, in addition to his record of anti-Israel votes, Campbell tosses about praise and encouragement to some extreme figures who are hostile to Israel.

A case in point is his praise for Israel-hater and conspiracy-monger Alison Weir. Others have noted that Weir runs an outfit, If Americans Only Knew, that is replete with her calls to cut aid to Israel and her vile anti-Israel bashing, which includes her fanning of the organ-harvesting libel. This escaped the attention of David Frum, who recently rose in support of Tom Campbell. It was just last week that Frum wrote movingly about a Swedish newspaper that saw fit to give space to a freelance journalist, Donald Bostrom, “to charge that the Israeli army regularly harvested organs from the bodies of slain Palestinians.” Frum explained:

After briefly acknowledging that the vast majority of the world’s illegally harvested organs come from China, Pakistan, and the Philippines, Bostrom then hurled this astounding charge: “Palestinians also harbor strong suspicions that young men have been seized, and made to serve as organ reserve, just as in China and Pakistan, before being killed.”

Jewish vampirism is an ancient fantasy, dating back to the Middle Ages. Yet it remains current in the contemporary Middle East. A Syrian film company created a multipart TV drama out of the story in 2003. The drama was broadcast worldwide on Hezbollah’s al-Manar satellite network. Iranian state TV broadcast a drama in 2004 in which the plot turns on an Israeli plan to steal Palestinian children’s eyes.

It’s a winding road from medieval folktales to Hezbollah TV to the New Jersey mob to a Swedish daily to the British House of Lords.

But it’s a road traveled by more and more people. On February 11, Tel Aviv’s Reut Institute presented a paper to the Israeli cabinet warning of “delegitimization” aimed at the Jewish state. As reported by Ha’aretz, the paper warns:

“The ‘delegitimizers’ cooperate with organizations engaging in legitimate criticism of Israel’s policy in the territories such as Amnesty [International] and Human Rights Watch, blurring the line between legitimate censure and delegitimization. … The network’s activists are not mostly Palestinian, Arab or Muslim. Many of them are European and North American left-wing activists,” who portray Israel as a pariah state and deny its right to exist.

It is that very Swedish newspaper report, among many, that Weir touts on her website. Well, I’m sure then Frum would be appalled to learn that Campbell fancies Weir as “an intelligent, careful, and critical” scholar and urges that “American policy makers would benefit greatly from hearing her first-hand observations and attempting to answer the questions she poses.”

Frum also quoted from a recent interview given by Campbell, in which Campbell professes support for Israel. Frum perhaps did not have access to (and hence did not include) the two final questions and responses, which were not included in the web article he cites. However, these have now circulated in the California Jewish community, a copy of which I obtained:

What is Campbellʼs position on his 1990 Jerusalem vote [ opposing support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital]

When George Bush, Sr., was President, then Secretary of State James Baker announced that Israel was not serious about stopping settlements in East Jerusalem, and that when they were serious, they could call the White House. As a rebuke to Secretary Baker, a resolution was introduced by a prominent Democrat in the House recognizing Jerusalem as the undivided, permanent, and not-to-be-shared capital of Israel. The resolution was intended to undermine the position Secretary Baker was attempting to maintain, and which is still official American policy, that the status of Jerusalem is a matter to be resolved between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Declaring all of Jerusalem as sovereign Israeli territory, not to be shared, was equivalent to an endorsement of putting more settlements in the eastern part of Jerusalem. The Bush Administration opposed the resolution, and I voted against it.

What is Campbellʼs position regarding his vote in 1999 against a resolution expressing congressional opposition to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state?

Regarding the resolution disapproving a unilateral declaration of the statehood of Palestine, this was one of those occasions where having taught international law, and studied this particular issue, probably hurt me more than helped me. I know “Wikipedia” is not necessarily the most authoritative source, but look at the selection below dealing with the various legal scholars’ opinions regarding Palestinian statehood. It lays out the complexity of the issue. The international law sources cited support the case that a State of Palestine was already twice declared by the international community, in the Treaty of Lausanne, and then by the UN at the termination of the British Palestinian mandate. Suffice it to say that I could not vote for the proposed resolution, which took absolutely no account of this international history or international law. As things have subsequently worked out, I believe Israel’s official position now is in favor of a State of Palestine.

As to the last answer, I have no idea what Campbell is talking about and how he thinks his opposition to a unilateral declaration of statehood matches Israel’s current position. (Hint: Israel demands the Palestinians actually recognize the Jewish state’s existence and renounce terrorism.)  As one informed staffer and expert on Israel issues put it, “Tom Campbell has the questionable distinction as being the only politician ever to cite the Treaty of Lausanne in order to justify an anti-Israel vote.” And as to his invocation of James “F*** the Jews” Baker and the curious reference to stopping “settlements in East Jerusalem” (What “settlements” is he talking about?), one can only say, as an official of a prominent Jewish organization put it with understated disdain, it suggests “someone with a pronounced anti-Israel perspective.”  (The vote on the measure was not, as Campbell argued, a partisan affair. It passed with 378 votes; Campbell was one of only 34 opposed.) A Jewish official who works on Capitol Hill sums it up:

“I am hard pressed to remember any member of Congress who targeted Israel’s aid to cut, voted the wrong way in an overwhelming bipartisan vote on Jerusalem, supported Hamas terrorist Sami Al-Aryian and others convicted of supporting Islamic Jihad terrorists – even appearing at rallies with Al-Aryian and others as the spewed their anti-Israel bile, took campaign cash from them, wrote letters on Al Ariyan’s behalf, spoke at CAIR events – a group notoriously hostile to Israel and which is at the heart of the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts in America, and publicly supports Alison Weir – lately a purveyor of the organ harvesting blood libel against Israel.  That is quite a public record.  Now maybe Tom Campbell has become more pro-Israel than the Chief Rabbi on Minsk, but that would truly be the world’s most miraculous conversion.  The facts are the facts.  Mr. Campbell’s record speaks for itself and no amount of lipstik can pretty up this pig.”

The voters of California concerned about the candidates’ position on Israel will need to decide for themselves whether Campbell’s record and judgment justify their support. Frankly, he’s got some explaining to do.

UPDATE: Bruce Kesler, who identifies himself as the author of the Tom Campbell  Q&A that David Frum cited, denies that the final two questions and answers I referenced above were part of his interview with Campbell. A document containing those two questions and answers as well as the other questions and answers Kesler did report on his website was circulated in California in the Jewish community by a representative of the Campbell campaign with the purpose of bolstering Campbell’s position on these issues. Campbell’s answers and other materials accompanying the Q&A match other materials that have been sent by the Campbell campaign.

Philip Klein’s must-read post details more Tom Campbell comments concerning Israel. There was his remark that “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, but it’s wrong to say it can’t also be the capital of Palestine.”  And there was his comment to Yasser Arafat, following a minor mishap in the West Bank, that “this makes me the first American to have shed blood in your country.” In isolation, this or that comment might not seem extraordinary. But, in addition to his record of anti-Israel votes, Campbell tosses about praise and encouragement to some extreme figures who are hostile to Israel.

A case in point is his praise for Israel-hater and conspiracy-monger Alison Weir. Others have noted that Weir runs an outfit, If Americans Only Knew, that is replete with her calls to cut aid to Israel and her vile anti-Israel bashing, which includes her fanning of the organ-harvesting libel. This escaped the attention of David Frum, who recently rose in support of Tom Campbell. It was just last week that Frum wrote movingly about a Swedish newspaper that saw fit to give space to a freelance journalist, Donald Bostrom, “to charge that the Israeli army regularly harvested organs from the bodies of slain Palestinians.” Frum explained:

After briefly acknowledging that the vast majority of the world’s illegally harvested organs come from China, Pakistan, and the Philippines, Bostrom then hurled this astounding charge: “Palestinians also harbor strong suspicions that young men have been seized, and made to serve as organ reserve, just as in China and Pakistan, before being killed.”

Jewish vampirism is an ancient fantasy, dating back to the Middle Ages. Yet it remains current in the contemporary Middle East. A Syrian film company created a multipart TV drama out of the story in 2003. The drama was broadcast worldwide on Hezbollah’s al-Manar satellite network. Iranian state TV broadcast a drama in 2004 in which the plot turns on an Israeli plan to steal Palestinian children’s eyes.

It’s a winding road from medieval folktales to Hezbollah TV to the New Jersey mob to a Swedish daily to the British House of Lords.

But it’s a road traveled by more and more people. On February 11, Tel Aviv’s Reut Institute presented a paper to the Israeli cabinet warning of “delegitimization” aimed at the Jewish state. As reported by Ha’aretz, the paper warns:

“The ‘delegitimizers’ cooperate with organizations engaging in legitimate criticism of Israel’s policy in the territories such as Amnesty [International] and Human Rights Watch, blurring the line between legitimate censure and delegitimization. … The network’s activists are not mostly Palestinian, Arab or Muslim. Many of them are European and North American left-wing activists,” who portray Israel as a pariah state and deny its right to exist.

It is that very Swedish newspaper report, among many, that Weir touts on her website. Well, I’m sure then Frum would be appalled to learn that Campbell fancies Weir as “an intelligent, careful, and critical” scholar and urges that “American policy makers would benefit greatly from hearing her first-hand observations and attempting to answer the questions she poses.”

Frum also quoted from a recent interview given by Campbell, in which Campbell professes support for Israel. Frum perhaps did not have access to (and hence did not include) the two final questions and responses, which were not included in the web article he cites. However, these have now circulated in the California Jewish community, a copy of which I obtained:

What is Campbellʼs position on his 1990 Jerusalem vote [ opposing support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital]

When George Bush, Sr., was President, then Secretary of State James Baker announced that Israel was not serious about stopping settlements in East Jerusalem, and that when they were serious, they could call the White House. As a rebuke to Secretary Baker, a resolution was introduced by a prominent Democrat in the House recognizing Jerusalem as the undivided, permanent, and not-to-be-shared capital of Israel. The resolution was intended to undermine the position Secretary Baker was attempting to maintain, and which is still official American policy, that the status of Jerusalem is a matter to be resolved between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Declaring all of Jerusalem as sovereign Israeli territory, not to be shared, was equivalent to an endorsement of putting more settlements in the eastern part of Jerusalem. The Bush Administration opposed the resolution, and I voted against it.

What is Campbellʼs position regarding his vote in 1999 against a resolution expressing congressional opposition to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state?

Regarding the resolution disapproving a unilateral declaration of the statehood of Palestine, this was one of those occasions where having taught international law, and studied this particular issue, probably hurt me more than helped me. I know “Wikipedia” is not necessarily the most authoritative source, but look at the selection below dealing with the various legal scholars’ opinions regarding Palestinian statehood. It lays out the complexity of the issue. The international law sources cited support the case that a State of Palestine was already twice declared by the international community, in the Treaty of Lausanne, and then by the UN at the termination of the British Palestinian mandate. Suffice it to say that I could not vote for the proposed resolution, which took absolutely no account of this international history or international law. As things have subsequently worked out, I believe Israel’s official position now is in favor of a State of Palestine.

As to the last answer, I have no idea what Campbell is talking about and how he thinks his opposition to a unilateral declaration of statehood matches Israel’s current position. (Hint: Israel demands the Palestinians actually recognize the Jewish state’s existence and renounce terrorism.)  As one informed staffer and expert on Israel issues put it, “Tom Campbell has the questionable distinction as being the only politician ever to cite the Treaty of Lausanne in order to justify an anti-Israel vote.” And as to his invocation of James “F*** the Jews” Baker and the curious reference to stopping “settlements in East Jerusalem” (What “settlements” is he talking about?), one can only say, as an official of a prominent Jewish organization put it with understated disdain, it suggests “someone with a pronounced anti-Israel perspective.”  (The vote on the measure was not, as Campbell argued, a partisan affair. It passed with 378 votes; Campbell was one of only 34 opposed.) A Jewish official who works on Capitol Hill sums it up:

“I am hard pressed to remember any member of Congress who targeted Israel’s aid to cut, voted the wrong way in an overwhelming bipartisan vote on Jerusalem, supported Hamas terrorist Sami Al-Aryian and others convicted of supporting Islamic Jihad terrorists – even appearing at rallies with Al-Aryian and others as the spewed their anti-Israel bile, took campaign cash from them, wrote letters on Al Ariyan’s behalf, spoke at CAIR events – a group notoriously hostile to Israel and which is at the heart of the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts in America, and publicly supports Alison Weir – lately a purveyor of the organ harvesting blood libel against Israel.  That is quite a public record.  Now maybe Tom Campbell has become more pro-Israel than the Chief Rabbi on Minsk, but that would truly be the world’s most miraculous conversion.  The facts are the facts.  Mr. Campbell’s record speaks for itself and no amount of lipstik can pretty up this pig.”

The voters of California concerned about the candidates’ position on Israel will need to decide for themselves whether Campbell’s record and judgment justify their support. Frankly, he’s got some explaining to do.

UPDATE: Bruce Kesler, who identifies himself as the author of the Tom Campbell  Q&A that David Frum cited, denies that the final two questions and answers I referenced above were part of his interview with Campbell. A document containing those two questions and answers as well as the other questions and answers Kesler did report on his website was circulated in California in the Jewish community by a representative of the Campbell campaign with the purpose of bolstering Campbell’s position on these issues. Campbell’s answers and other materials accompanying the Q&A match other materials that have been sent by the Campbell campaign.

Read Less

The Parable of the Senator and the Truck…

From the upcoming New York Times magazine profile of Scott Brown:

He said he took a broad range of courses at Tufts and “enjoyed Yiddish literature.”

How long before Andrew Sullivan calls him a war-mongering Cheneyist?

From the upcoming New York Times magazine profile of Scott Brown:

He said he took a broad range of courses at Tufts and “enjoyed Yiddish literature.”

How long before Andrew Sullivan calls him a war-mongering Cheneyist?

Read Less

Next Up: The Becoming Modesty of Linda Lovelace

Newsweek‘s most popular item today is an article entitled (no, I’m really not joking) “The Quiet Dignity of Rielle Hunter.” Yes, that Rielle Hunter.

Newsweek‘s most popular item today is an article entitled (no, I’m really not joking) “The Quiet Dignity of Rielle Hunter.” Yes, that Rielle Hunter.

Read Less

A Blog Post I Wish I’d Written

On hearing a bon mot from someone, Oscar Wilde responded, “I wish I’d said that.”

“You will, Oscar, you will,” replied his friend James McNeill Whistler.

I know what he meant. I’ve just finished reading Walter Russell Mead’s blog post over at the American Interest on the Tea Party movement. It’s a brilliant piece of work and, indeed, “I wish I’d said that.”

Mead puts the movement firmly in the context of American history, demonstrating the similarity of this movement with previous populist movements in the Jacksonian, Progressive, and New Deal eras. All those movements changed the country profoundly and were anti-elitist in nature. As Mead explains,

The Tea Party movement is the latest upsurge of an American populism that has sometimes sided with the left and sometimes with the right, but which over and over again has upended American elites, restructured our society and forced through the deep political, cultural and institutional changes that from time to time the country needs and which the ruling elites cannot or will not deliver.

While it is way too early to tell how powerful the Tea Party movement will prove to be, it is certainly anti-elitist to the core. But this time, unlike in Jackson’s and Roosevelt’s days, the elite doesn’t really recognize itself as being an elite. They think they are doing the people’s work, even if the people are too stupid to know what’s good for them. Like Mead, I think those elites are soon to find out what the word democracy really means.

As Mead points out, the movement does not yet have its Jackson, Roosevelt, or Reagan to lead and personify it, making it still somewhat inchoate. But great movements make great leaders at least as often as the other way around.

If you want a beautiful example of the power of history to explicate the present, I recommend this brief and profound essay by Walter Russell Mead.

On hearing a bon mot from someone, Oscar Wilde responded, “I wish I’d said that.”

“You will, Oscar, you will,” replied his friend James McNeill Whistler.

I know what he meant. I’ve just finished reading Walter Russell Mead’s blog post over at the American Interest on the Tea Party movement. It’s a brilliant piece of work and, indeed, “I wish I’d said that.”

Mead puts the movement firmly in the context of American history, demonstrating the similarity of this movement with previous populist movements in the Jacksonian, Progressive, and New Deal eras. All those movements changed the country profoundly and were anti-elitist in nature. As Mead explains,

The Tea Party movement is the latest upsurge of an American populism that has sometimes sided with the left and sometimes with the right, but which over and over again has upended American elites, restructured our society and forced through the deep political, cultural and institutional changes that from time to time the country needs and which the ruling elites cannot or will not deliver.

While it is way too early to tell how powerful the Tea Party movement will prove to be, it is certainly anti-elitist to the core. But this time, unlike in Jackson’s and Roosevelt’s days, the elite doesn’t really recognize itself as being an elite. They think they are doing the people’s work, even if the people are too stupid to know what’s good for them. Like Mead, I think those elites are soon to find out what the word democracy really means.

As Mead points out, the movement does not yet have its Jackson, Roosevelt, or Reagan to lead and personify it, making it still somewhat inchoate. But great movements make great leaders at least as often as the other way around.

If you want a beautiful example of the power of history to explicate the present, I recommend this brief and profound essay by Walter Russell Mead.

Read Less

Holder Still Confused

When last we heard about Eric Holder, he was being assigned a “minder” to keep track of him and fine-tune his political radar. You see, the problem in the Obama administration is never what they’re doing; it’s always how they’re talking about it. Holder is out saying silly things again and in the process revealing the utter disarray in which the Obami find their anti-terrorism policies. What’s happening with the KSM trial?

Holder said he has made no decision about where to hold a trial for alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others accusing of plotting that attack. Last November, the attorney general announced plans to put the five on trial in Manhattan, but the administration retreated from that plan after political leaders in the city and the state turned against it.

Well, we did have a place for the trial until New Yorkers screamed, “No way!” Now Holder is searching for some locale in America where the residents are enthusiastic about taking on what New Yorkers will not, namely an expensive security nightmare. He isn’t even saying if this will be a civilian trial, although he chastises conservatives for failing to appreciate the wonders of our judiciary system, which absolutely no-questions-asked is going to convict KSM. Then he spews this gobbledygook:

We need not make more of these people than they are. [They] are thugs. They are people who engaged in criminal warlike activities against the United States but they are people who are not different from people we have shown we have the ability to handle in the past.

Notice the tough-guy talk about “thugs,” perhaps the contribution of the minder. But once again, “thug” conveys a guy with brass knuckles, a two-bit mobster shaking down some local businesses, not the fanatics who want to blow up a city block. And how do you like the phrase “criminal warlike activities.” A keener mind might make the distinction between criminal — a violator of the Penal Code entitled to all constitutional rights — and warlike, meaning engaged in acts of war against the United States. It is the jumble of the two that has gotten Holder and all the Obami tied up in knots. Maybe Holder needs a better minder — or we need a better attorney general.

When last we heard about Eric Holder, he was being assigned a “minder” to keep track of him and fine-tune his political radar. You see, the problem in the Obama administration is never what they’re doing; it’s always how they’re talking about it. Holder is out saying silly things again and in the process revealing the utter disarray in which the Obami find their anti-terrorism policies. What’s happening with the KSM trial?

Holder said he has made no decision about where to hold a trial for alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others accusing of plotting that attack. Last November, the attorney general announced plans to put the five on trial in Manhattan, but the administration retreated from that plan after political leaders in the city and the state turned against it.

Well, we did have a place for the trial until New Yorkers screamed, “No way!” Now Holder is searching for some locale in America where the residents are enthusiastic about taking on what New Yorkers will not, namely an expensive security nightmare. He isn’t even saying if this will be a civilian trial, although he chastises conservatives for failing to appreciate the wonders of our judiciary system, which absolutely no-questions-asked is going to convict KSM. Then he spews this gobbledygook:

We need not make more of these people than they are. [They] are thugs. They are people who engaged in criminal warlike activities against the United States but they are people who are not different from people we have shown we have the ability to handle in the past.

Notice the tough-guy talk about “thugs,” perhaps the contribution of the minder. But once again, “thug” conveys a guy with brass knuckles, a two-bit mobster shaking down some local businesses, not the fanatics who want to blow up a city block. And how do you like the phrase “criminal warlike activities.” A keener mind might make the distinction between criminal — a violator of the Penal Code entitled to all constitutional rights — and warlike, meaning engaged in acts of war against the United States. It is the jumble of the two that has gotten Holder and all the Obami tied up in knots. Maybe Holder needs a better minder — or we need a better attorney general.

Read Less

Less than Meets the Eye — Again

The thing about Obama is that there is always less than meets the eye. He went to Copenhagen twice, each time with spinners expecting the fix was in and Obama could deliver a huge political win; but there was no game plan; there was no Chicago Olympics or global-warming deal. Obama intends to sweep away Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but not really. There is no executive order. There will be a long study and maybe, sometime, there will be congressional action. Obama had a plan for Iran: prove his bona fides by engagement, pivot to crippling sanctions, and hold military force as an option. Instead, he’s been meandering around in engagement and coming up with mini-sanctions. No cleverly devised plan after all.

Now we hear that the proposal to regulate CO2 by bureaucratic fiat is being whittled down to a mini-gambit that won’t go into effect until after 2010, when, by gosh, we’ll have a new Congress:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pledge Monday to move slowly on the implementation of upcoming greenhouse gas rules may give cover to some Capitol Hill Democrats to vote against blocking climate rules entirely, according to lobbyists and activists.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a letter to a group of Senate Democrats on Monday that upcoming rules to limit emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities won’t take effect in 2010. She also told the eight Democrats — who mostly hail from coal-producing or coal-reliant states — that the rules will initially be narrower than EPA had planned.

On one level, this is another exercise in cynicism. You see, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has a plan to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. But the Hill reports, “One environmental lobbyist said EPA’s action ‘absolutely’ gives Democrats cover to vote against [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski’s plan by providing time for work on climate legislation.” On the other hand, it’s evidence that the Obami aren’t really equipped to push through much of their radical agenda, so they must resort once again to delay, misdirection, and half-measures to avoid wigging out their base. Still, the EPA’s newest mini-gambit isn’t enough to win over some Democrats, especially those from energy-producing states:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who led the letter to EPA from the eight Democrats, is preparing a bill that would temporarily prevent EPA rules while Congress works on a broader climate and energy bill. He praised EPA’s action but said it hasn’t changed his mind. “I am glad to see that the EPA is showing some willingness to set their timetable for regulation into the future — this is good progress, but I am concerned it may not go far enough,” Rockefeller said in a prepared statement.

The environmental lobbyists are squawking about the need to “defend science from politics, defend our children’s future from polluters, and defend our economy from the stranglehold of special interests.” Maybe that sort of thing worked better before Climategate, record unemployment, and Obama’s ratings collapse. But now, it reinforces the chasm between Obama’s agenda and his accomplishments. It is further proof that the Obami have a lot of bark and no bite when it comes to reinventing America or putting in a New Foundation, or whatever they call it these days. That’s very good news indeed.

The thing about Obama is that there is always less than meets the eye. He went to Copenhagen twice, each time with spinners expecting the fix was in and Obama could deliver a huge political win; but there was no game plan; there was no Chicago Olympics or global-warming deal. Obama intends to sweep away Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but not really. There is no executive order. There will be a long study and maybe, sometime, there will be congressional action. Obama had a plan for Iran: prove his bona fides by engagement, pivot to crippling sanctions, and hold military force as an option. Instead, he’s been meandering around in engagement and coming up with mini-sanctions. No cleverly devised plan after all.

Now we hear that the proposal to regulate CO2 by bureaucratic fiat is being whittled down to a mini-gambit that won’t go into effect until after 2010, when, by gosh, we’ll have a new Congress:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pledge Monday to move slowly on the implementation of upcoming greenhouse gas rules may give cover to some Capitol Hill Democrats to vote against blocking climate rules entirely, according to lobbyists and activists.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a letter to a group of Senate Democrats on Monday that upcoming rules to limit emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities won’t take effect in 2010. She also told the eight Democrats — who mostly hail from coal-producing or coal-reliant states — that the rules will initially be narrower than EPA had planned.

On one level, this is another exercise in cynicism. You see, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has a plan to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. But the Hill reports, “One environmental lobbyist said EPA’s action ‘absolutely’ gives Democrats cover to vote against [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski’s plan by providing time for work on climate legislation.” On the other hand, it’s evidence that the Obami aren’t really equipped to push through much of their radical agenda, so they must resort once again to delay, misdirection, and half-measures to avoid wigging out their base. Still, the EPA’s newest mini-gambit isn’t enough to win over some Democrats, especially those from energy-producing states:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who led the letter to EPA from the eight Democrats, is preparing a bill that would temporarily prevent EPA rules while Congress works on a broader climate and energy bill. He praised EPA’s action but said it hasn’t changed his mind. “I am glad to see that the EPA is showing some willingness to set their timetable for regulation into the future — this is good progress, but I am concerned it may not go far enough,” Rockefeller said in a prepared statement.

The environmental lobbyists are squawking about the need to “defend science from politics, defend our children’s future from polluters, and defend our economy from the stranglehold of special interests.” Maybe that sort of thing worked better before Climategate, record unemployment, and Obama’s ratings collapse. But now, it reinforces the chasm between Obama’s agenda and his accomplishments. It is further proof that the Obami have a lot of bark and no bite when it comes to reinventing America or putting in a New Foundation, or whatever they call it these days. That’s very good news indeed.

Read Less

A Cure for the China Syndrome

Do you remember The China Syndrome, the 1979 flick starring Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, and Jack Lemmon, about a nuclear-power plant gone fahkahkt whose debut in theaters happened to precede by a matter of days the Three Mile Island nuclear-power-plant disaster, which released deadly radiation into the atmosphere for thousands of miles, killing off plants, animals, trees, bugs, vermin, and hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting Americans busily going about their lives unsuspectingly not suspecting a thing?

Well neither do I. But the synchronicity of those events, I believe, went a long way toward putting the kibosh on nuclear power in this country, opening the doors for decades of nice clean fossil-fuel emissions.

Well, now that the French have paved the way for President Obama to advocate the employment of domestic nuclear power, none other than China Syndrome star Michael Douglas has announced that he supports the president in this. (h/t Big Hollywood)

I wish these people would make up their minds. How am I supposed to know what to hate if these movie-star actor-types can’t stay the course for more than 30 years?

Personally I believe going nuclear is a mistake. Granted, all those alternative forms of energy – wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, thermal, thermals with the feet in them – couldn’t produce enough energy to fuel a haiku. But that may be a blessing in disguise, because fostering the notion that there is a relatively cheap and abundant supply of energy only motivates people to do things, and doing things is the No. 1 cause of all the world’s problems in the first place. Why O why can’t people just stay in their assigned spaces and sit quietly, hands folded?

If only we could encourage people to stop doing things, then our energy-consumption dilemma would solve itself and we wouldn’t have to take our cues from movie-star actor-types to begin with.

Nothing. It’s our only hope.

Do you remember The China Syndrome, the 1979 flick starring Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, and Jack Lemmon, about a nuclear-power plant gone fahkahkt whose debut in theaters happened to precede by a matter of days the Three Mile Island nuclear-power-plant disaster, which released deadly radiation into the atmosphere for thousands of miles, killing off plants, animals, trees, bugs, vermin, and hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting Americans busily going about their lives unsuspectingly not suspecting a thing?

Well neither do I. But the synchronicity of those events, I believe, went a long way toward putting the kibosh on nuclear power in this country, opening the doors for decades of nice clean fossil-fuel emissions.

Well, now that the French have paved the way for President Obama to advocate the employment of domestic nuclear power, none other than China Syndrome star Michael Douglas has announced that he supports the president in this. (h/t Big Hollywood)

I wish these people would make up their minds. How am I supposed to know what to hate if these movie-star actor-types can’t stay the course for more than 30 years?

Personally I believe going nuclear is a mistake. Granted, all those alternative forms of energy – wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, thermal, thermals with the feet in them – couldn’t produce enough energy to fuel a haiku. But that may be a blessing in disguise, because fostering the notion that there is a relatively cheap and abundant supply of energy only motivates people to do things, and doing things is the No. 1 cause of all the world’s problems in the first place. Why O why can’t people just stay in their assigned spaces and sit quietly, hands folded?

If only we could encourage people to stop doing things, then our energy-consumption dilemma would solve itself and we wouldn’t have to take our cues from movie-star actor-types to begin with.

Nothing. It’s our only hope.

Read Less

What’s the Plan?

If you’d like to see just how phony the administration’s latest ploy on health care is, go to the White House website and read this. Under the headline “Will the Republicans Post Their Health Plan… and When?” the White House bemoans the lack of a Republican plan while, not surprisingly, touting its own.

The President believes strongly that Thursday’s bipartisan meeting on health insurance reform will be most productive if both sides come to the table with a unified plan to start discussion – and if the public has the opportunity to inspect those proposals up close before the meeting happens.

That’s why yesterday the White House posted online the President’s proposal for bridging the differences between the Senate- and House-passed health insurance reform bills.

Fair enough. Except that a summary and the full text of the Republican proposed legislation has been posted for months right here.

The New York Times, its staff heavy with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters indefatigable in the search for truth, can’t seem to find that website either. Its page-one story this morning states:

With the two parties scheduled to meet Thursday for a televised session on the health care overhaul, Mr. Obama appeared intent on forcing the Republicans into a choice: either put a specific alternative on the table, giving Democrats a chance to draw pointed contrasts between the parties’ approaches, or be cast as obstructionist and not serious about addressing an issue of great concern to voters.

The President’s tactic, it seems, is to demand that the Republicans put forth a plan, regardless of how often Republicans say, “Here it is!” Obama will just keep demanding that the Republicans put forth a plan. He is confident — obviously with very good reason — that the MSM, in full lapdog mode, will help all it can in convincing the public that the Republicans have no plan.

The cynicism is just stunning.

If you’d like to see just how phony the administration’s latest ploy on health care is, go to the White House website and read this. Under the headline “Will the Republicans Post Their Health Plan… and When?” the White House bemoans the lack of a Republican plan while, not surprisingly, touting its own.

The President believes strongly that Thursday’s bipartisan meeting on health insurance reform will be most productive if both sides come to the table with a unified plan to start discussion – and if the public has the opportunity to inspect those proposals up close before the meeting happens.

That’s why yesterday the White House posted online the President’s proposal for bridging the differences between the Senate- and House-passed health insurance reform bills.

Fair enough. Except that a summary and the full text of the Republican proposed legislation has been posted for months right here.

The New York Times, its staff heavy with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters indefatigable in the search for truth, can’t seem to find that website either. Its page-one story this morning states:

With the two parties scheduled to meet Thursday for a televised session on the health care overhaul, Mr. Obama appeared intent on forcing the Republicans into a choice: either put a specific alternative on the table, giving Democrats a chance to draw pointed contrasts between the parties’ approaches, or be cast as obstructionist and not serious about addressing an issue of great concern to voters.

The President’s tactic, it seems, is to demand that the Republicans put forth a plan, regardless of how often Republicans say, “Here it is!” Obama will just keep demanding that the Republicans put forth a plan. He is confident — obviously with very good reason — that the MSM, in full lapdog mode, will help all it can in convincing the public that the Republicans have no plan.

The cynicism is just stunning.

Read Less

RE: Another Jab at Campbell

Tom Campbell must be sensing a growing storm of controversy over his anti-Israel record. Campbell tells the Daily Caller that he can’t figure out why his opponent Carly Fiorina is attacking his anti-Israel record. He sends a statement, declaring, “Carly Fiorina’s latest attack suggesting that I am anti-Israel and pro-jihadist is desperate and irresponsible.” He insists, “In Congress, I always voted in favor of providing military aid to Israel, and have always supported Israel’s right to defend itself — including taking military action against Iran to prevent its development of nuclear arms.” Well, except for the times he wrote “Campbell Amendments” to cut aid to Israel. He also gets caught fudging the record:

Campbell’s office provided a letter from former Rep. Tom Lantos, California Democrat and Holocaust survivor, to Campbell in 1999, which they said demonstrated his bona fides on the issue of support for Israel.

“Since we first met, I have known of your strong support for the State of Israel and its people. You and I have spoken many times of the need to assure the survival of Israel, as well as to fight against hatred and bias around the world, including here in our own country,” Lantos wrote.

However, Lantos’s words were a preface to concerns he expressed about Campbell’s vote in 1999 against $30 million in economic aid to Israel.

Oops. A top official with a pro-Israel organization in Washington tells me, “During his time in the House, Tom Campbell distinguished himself as no friend of Israel or the pro-Israel community. To suggest otherwise would be dishonest.”

Part of the reason his opponents are having a field day is that Campbell has taken money ($2,000 in his Senate race in 2000, for example) from some very extreme characters, like Nihad Awad, the co-founder of CAIR, who has said things like “I’m in support of the Hamas movement” and (while speaking to the 1999 Islamic Association of Palestine convention) “Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam, that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam.” Most mainstream politicians professing support for Israel wouldn’t take money from such a person or go to the CAIR-headquarters opening.

Voters can decide for themselves whether Campbell’s record matches his rhetoric. But free advice: don’t quote the revered, deceased Tom Lantos for supporting a voting record that was anathema to that true and great friend of Israel.

Tom Campbell must be sensing a growing storm of controversy over his anti-Israel record. Campbell tells the Daily Caller that he can’t figure out why his opponent Carly Fiorina is attacking his anti-Israel record. He sends a statement, declaring, “Carly Fiorina’s latest attack suggesting that I am anti-Israel and pro-jihadist is desperate and irresponsible.” He insists, “In Congress, I always voted in favor of providing military aid to Israel, and have always supported Israel’s right to defend itself — including taking military action against Iran to prevent its development of nuclear arms.” Well, except for the times he wrote “Campbell Amendments” to cut aid to Israel. He also gets caught fudging the record:

Campbell’s office provided a letter from former Rep. Tom Lantos, California Democrat and Holocaust survivor, to Campbell in 1999, which they said demonstrated his bona fides on the issue of support for Israel.

“Since we first met, I have known of your strong support for the State of Israel and its people. You and I have spoken many times of the need to assure the survival of Israel, as well as to fight against hatred and bias around the world, including here in our own country,” Lantos wrote.

However, Lantos’s words were a preface to concerns he expressed about Campbell’s vote in 1999 against $30 million in economic aid to Israel.

Oops. A top official with a pro-Israel organization in Washington tells me, “During his time in the House, Tom Campbell distinguished himself as no friend of Israel or the pro-Israel community. To suggest otherwise would be dishonest.”

Part of the reason his opponents are having a field day is that Campbell has taken money ($2,000 in his Senate race in 2000, for example) from some very extreme characters, like Nihad Awad, the co-founder of CAIR, who has said things like “I’m in support of the Hamas movement” and (while speaking to the 1999 Islamic Association of Palestine convention) “Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam, that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam.” Most mainstream politicians professing support for Israel wouldn’t take money from such a person or go to the CAIR-headquarters opening.

Voters can decide for themselves whether Campbell’s record matches his rhetoric. But free advice: don’t quote the revered, deceased Tom Lantos for supporting a voting record that was anathema to that true and great friend of Israel.

Read Less

Obama’s Medicare Tax “Fairness”

At the secret White House conference committee last month to put the finishing touches on ObamaCare, just days before Scott Brown was elected, one of the proposals reportedly being considered was “boosting the Medicare payroll tax — either by increasing the rate or extending it to unearned income.” The ObamaCare proposal released yesterday by the White House does both.

The proposal would increase the tax rate by 30 percent, from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent, for “high-income households” (defined as those making $250,000 or more, or individuals making $200,000), and extend the tax to their investment income, while not taxing the investment income of others.

The stated rationale is “fairness” — which has become the all-purpose Obama justification for increased taxes. He used it for his disingenuous proposal to raise tax rates to 39.6 percent while limiting deductions to 28 percent; before that he argued fairness requires that capital-gains taxes be increased even while admitting experience shows lower rates produce more revenue overall.

Obama’s Medicare tax proposal is a particularly egregious form of false advertising, because the Medicare tax is not really a tax relating to Medicare. It no longer relates to the Medicare benefits of those who pay it, and the expanded and increased tax would be used not for Medicare but rather to finance legislation that will dramatically reduce Medicare benefits while funding a new entitlement for others.

The tax proposal would require extensive hearings to properly evaluate its revenue and policy aspects. It contemplates a huge transfer of funds from the private sector to the federal government to be spent or redistributed for purposes other than Medicare. It would complete the transformation of the Medicare tax into an add-on income tax that, together with the existing income rates and the even higher ones Obama plans by letting the current rates “expire” at the end of this year, will push the combined state and federal tax up to 50 percent or more.

But the proposal will not be subjected to the scrutiny of a hearing. It will serve instead as a prop for Obama’s televised political theater on Thursday, when he will come out in favor of “fairness.”

At the secret White House conference committee last month to put the finishing touches on ObamaCare, just days before Scott Brown was elected, one of the proposals reportedly being considered was “boosting the Medicare payroll tax — either by increasing the rate or extending it to unearned income.” The ObamaCare proposal released yesterday by the White House does both.

The proposal would increase the tax rate by 30 percent, from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent, for “high-income households” (defined as those making $250,000 or more, or individuals making $200,000), and extend the tax to their investment income, while not taxing the investment income of others.

The stated rationale is “fairness” — which has become the all-purpose Obama justification for increased taxes. He used it for his disingenuous proposal to raise tax rates to 39.6 percent while limiting deductions to 28 percent; before that he argued fairness requires that capital-gains taxes be increased even while admitting experience shows lower rates produce more revenue overall.

Obama’s Medicare tax proposal is a particularly egregious form of false advertising, because the Medicare tax is not really a tax relating to Medicare. It no longer relates to the Medicare benefits of those who pay it, and the expanded and increased tax would be used not for Medicare but rather to finance legislation that will dramatically reduce Medicare benefits while funding a new entitlement for others.

The tax proposal would require extensive hearings to properly evaluate its revenue and policy aspects. It contemplates a huge transfer of funds from the private sector to the federal government to be spent or redistributed for purposes other than Medicare. It would complete the transformation of the Medicare tax into an add-on income tax that, together with the existing income rates and the even higher ones Obama plans by letting the current rates “expire” at the end of this year, will push the combined state and federal tax up to 50 percent or more.

But the proposal will not be subjected to the scrutiny of a hearing. It will serve instead as a prop for Obama’s televised political theater on Thursday, when he will come out in favor of “fairness.”

Read Less

Heading for an Exit on ObamaCare?

James Taranto whimsically notes: “Obama is asking voters to believe that ObamaCare is a good idea and that the reason they think it is a bad idea is that he isn’t good at persuasion. But if he can convince them of that, he can convince them of anything–which means that the claim that he is bad at persuasion is wildly false.” Well, aside from recalling memories of undergraduate philosophy classes, Taranto has a point there: no one is really paying much attention to what Obama says these days.

The formerly sycophantic press has turned grumpy. The AP reports:

Starting over on health care, President Barack Obama knows his chances aren’t looking much more promising. A year after he called for a far-reaching overhaul, Obama unveiled his most detailed plan yet on Monday. Realistically, he’s just hoping to win a big enough slice to silence the talk of a failing presidency.

The 10-year, $1 trillion plan, like the current Democratic version in the Senate, would bring health insurance to more than 31 million Americans who now lack it. Government insurance wouldn’t be included, a problem for Democratic progressives. Republicans are skeptical about where the money would come from — and about Obama’s claim that the plan wouldn’t raise the federal deficit.

It may well be that this is not the opening bid on ObamaCare but the beginning of an exit plan. (“In the end, Americans who have listened to a year of talk about big changes in their health care, may see much smaller changes, if any. The president is likely to have to settle for much less than he wants — small-bore legislation that would smooth the rough edges of today’s system but stop well short of coverage for nearly everyone.”) Might it be that we are heading for a targeted, small-bones plan that lets Obama escape with a face-saving signing ceremony and the rest of us keep the health-care system pretty much the way it is? The Obami deny that this is what they have in mind, but the AP sniffs a sprint for the lifeboats:

If Obama ultimately settles for a pared-down plan, the final bill could look a lot like what Republicans have been calling for over many years. It would include federal funding for high-risk pools that would extend coverage to people denied because of medical problems, a new insurance marketplace for small employers and individuals buying their own policies, as well as tax credits for small businesses.

But we really don’t know what the president has in mind. His plan is 11 pages long and, therefore, can’t be scored by the CBO or tested as to whether it really is deficit neutral. “Also unclear is the extent and impact of new coverage requirements for individuals and businesses.”

That in a nutshell is Obama’s “governance” at work. He spent a year jawboning the issue only to convince most Americans they pretty much like the health-care system the way it is. He decries the lack of ideas on the other side, apparently unaware that they have lots of very detailed plans — and a website too. He then comes out with a not-very-different (except for the noxious federal regulation piece) and not-very-clear version of what voters have already rejected. As Politico reports:

The White House opened its last-ditch push for health reform Monday by releasing a $950 billion plan that signaled a new phase of hands-on presidential involvement. But by day’s end, President Barack Obama was staring down all the same old problems. Republicans called it a retread of the same bills Americans have panned, even though it included some GOP ideas. “Déjà vu all over again,” said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).

And his allies in Congress, who stalled out with ObamaCare and then were “rewarded” with the appearance of Scott Brown as a colleague, are expected to ram it through using a parliamentary trick if the Republicans don’t sign on. Got it? I wonder if Pelosi even has 200 votes for this — whatever “this” is. (House Democrats are already squawking.)

It’s not exactly a moment of great presidential leadership. But it might be the beginning of the end of a disastrous legislative foray for the Democrats. And that would be very good for them and, more important, very good for the entire country.

James Taranto whimsically notes: “Obama is asking voters to believe that ObamaCare is a good idea and that the reason they think it is a bad idea is that he isn’t good at persuasion. But if he can convince them of that, he can convince them of anything–which means that the claim that he is bad at persuasion is wildly false.” Well, aside from recalling memories of undergraduate philosophy classes, Taranto has a point there: no one is really paying much attention to what Obama says these days.

The formerly sycophantic press has turned grumpy. The AP reports:

Starting over on health care, President Barack Obama knows his chances aren’t looking much more promising. A year after he called for a far-reaching overhaul, Obama unveiled his most detailed plan yet on Monday. Realistically, he’s just hoping to win a big enough slice to silence the talk of a failing presidency.

The 10-year, $1 trillion plan, like the current Democratic version in the Senate, would bring health insurance to more than 31 million Americans who now lack it. Government insurance wouldn’t be included, a problem for Democratic progressives. Republicans are skeptical about where the money would come from — and about Obama’s claim that the plan wouldn’t raise the federal deficit.

It may well be that this is not the opening bid on ObamaCare but the beginning of an exit plan. (“In the end, Americans who have listened to a year of talk about big changes in their health care, may see much smaller changes, if any. The president is likely to have to settle for much less than he wants — small-bore legislation that would smooth the rough edges of today’s system but stop well short of coverage for nearly everyone.”) Might it be that we are heading for a targeted, small-bones plan that lets Obama escape with a face-saving signing ceremony and the rest of us keep the health-care system pretty much the way it is? The Obami deny that this is what they have in mind, but the AP sniffs a sprint for the lifeboats:

If Obama ultimately settles for a pared-down plan, the final bill could look a lot like what Republicans have been calling for over many years. It would include federal funding for high-risk pools that would extend coverage to people denied because of medical problems, a new insurance marketplace for small employers and individuals buying their own policies, as well as tax credits for small businesses.

But we really don’t know what the president has in mind. His plan is 11 pages long and, therefore, can’t be scored by the CBO or tested as to whether it really is deficit neutral. “Also unclear is the extent and impact of new coverage requirements for individuals and businesses.”

That in a nutshell is Obama’s “governance” at work. He spent a year jawboning the issue only to convince most Americans they pretty much like the health-care system the way it is. He decries the lack of ideas on the other side, apparently unaware that they have lots of very detailed plans — and a website too. He then comes out with a not-very-different (except for the noxious federal regulation piece) and not-very-clear version of what voters have already rejected. As Politico reports:

The White House opened its last-ditch push for health reform Monday by releasing a $950 billion plan that signaled a new phase of hands-on presidential involvement. But by day’s end, President Barack Obama was staring down all the same old problems. Republicans called it a retread of the same bills Americans have panned, even though it included some GOP ideas. “Déjà vu all over again,” said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).

And his allies in Congress, who stalled out with ObamaCare and then were “rewarded” with the appearance of Scott Brown as a colleague, are expected to ram it through using a parliamentary trick if the Republicans don’t sign on. Got it? I wonder if Pelosi even has 200 votes for this — whatever “this” is. (House Democrats are already squawking.)

It’s not exactly a moment of great presidential leadership. But it might be the beginning of the end of a disastrous legislative foray for the Democrats. And that would be very good for them and, more important, very good for the entire country.

Read Less

More Like This Please

I can understand why Dubai authorities aren’t happy about the killing of Hamas senior military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, presumably by Israeli Mossad agents, in one of the city-state’s hotel rooms last month. More than most countries in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates has stayed out of the Arab-Israeli conflict and would rather it not wash up on the beach.

Even as European Union officials perfunctorily squawk about the use of forged passports by the assassins, few others have grounds to complain. Al-Mabhouh was a terrorist commander on a mission to acquire Iranian weapons for use against civilians. He was a combatant. Unlike his victims, he was fair game. He would have been fair game for even an air strike if he were in Gaza. As he was, instead, in Dubai, he was taken out quietly without even alerting, let alone harming, any of the civilians around him.

If only Israel could fight all its battles this way. It would be the cleanest and least-deadly war in the history of warfare. Even some of Israel’s harshest critics should understand that.

“The Goldstone Report,” Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Jerusalem Post, “suggests that Israel cannot lawfully fight Hamas rockets by wholesale air attacks. Richard Goldstone, in his interviews, has suggested that Israel should protect itself from these unlawful attacks by more proportionate measures, such as commando raids and targeted killing of terrorists engaged in the firing of rockets. Well, there could be no better example of a proportionate and focused attack on a combatant deeply involved in the rocket attacks on Israel than the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.”

Hamas and Hezbollah use civilians as human shields. Hezbollah uses an entire country as a vast human shield. Some critics, for various reasons, are more interested in lambasting Israel than the terrorist organizations it’s fighting. That’s easy when you live in New York or Brussels. People in the Middle East have to live with (or die because of) what happens. How Middle Easterners fight wars isn’t political or academic to me. I’ve never been inside Gaza, but I once lived in Lebanon, I travel there regularly, and there’s a real chance I’ll be there when the next war pops off. I’d rather not be used as a human shield if that’s OK with those who give Hamas and Hezbollah a pass. And I’d much rather read about Hezbollah leaders getting whacked by mysterious assassins with forged passports than dive into a Beirut bomb shelter during Israeli air raids.

But I’m not particularly concerned about my own skin here. Nobody forces me to travel to war zones. I don’t have to visit the Middle East ever again if I don’t want to. Every trip I’ve ever taken has been voluntary, and I can leave whenever I’ve had enough.

A lot of people I care about live in Lebanon, and some of them can’t leave. They never volunteered to be used as human shields by Hezbollah, and in fact had their neighborhood — my old neighborhood — shot up and blown up by Hezbollah gunmen recently. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah doesn’t consult them or their elected officials on his foreign policy and would sooner shoot them than be relieved of his ability to declare war unilaterally or on the orders of Tehran.

It’s unlikely that Israel can avert the next war by assassinating its enemy’s leadership, but it’s always better to take out a high-level target in person whenever possible than with a blockbuster bomb from a distance. I can’t help but wonder if those griping about the recent hit in Dubai — assuming the Mossad actually did it — care less about the lives of real human beings than the latest excuse to bash Israel. If the Arab-Israeli conflict will continue — and it will continue — civilians on both sides should prefer combatants be taken off the board quietly while everyone else goes about their daily business in peace.

I can understand why Dubai authorities aren’t happy about the killing of Hamas senior military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, presumably by Israeli Mossad agents, in one of the city-state’s hotel rooms last month. More than most countries in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates has stayed out of the Arab-Israeli conflict and would rather it not wash up on the beach.

Even as European Union officials perfunctorily squawk about the use of forged passports by the assassins, few others have grounds to complain. Al-Mabhouh was a terrorist commander on a mission to acquire Iranian weapons for use against civilians. He was a combatant. Unlike his victims, he was fair game. He would have been fair game for even an air strike if he were in Gaza. As he was, instead, in Dubai, he was taken out quietly without even alerting, let alone harming, any of the civilians around him.

If only Israel could fight all its battles this way. It would be the cleanest and least-deadly war in the history of warfare. Even some of Israel’s harshest critics should understand that.

“The Goldstone Report,” Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Jerusalem Post, “suggests that Israel cannot lawfully fight Hamas rockets by wholesale air attacks. Richard Goldstone, in his interviews, has suggested that Israel should protect itself from these unlawful attacks by more proportionate measures, such as commando raids and targeted killing of terrorists engaged in the firing of rockets. Well, there could be no better example of a proportionate and focused attack on a combatant deeply involved in the rocket attacks on Israel than the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.”

Hamas and Hezbollah use civilians as human shields. Hezbollah uses an entire country as a vast human shield. Some critics, for various reasons, are more interested in lambasting Israel than the terrorist organizations it’s fighting. That’s easy when you live in New York or Brussels. People in the Middle East have to live with (or die because of) what happens. How Middle Easterners fight wars isn’t political or academic to me. I’ve never been inside Gaza, but I once lived in Lebanon, I travel there regularly, and there’s a real chance I’ll be there when the next war pops off. I’d rather not be used as a human shield if that’s OK with those who give Hamas and Hezbollah a pass. And I’d much rather read about Hezbollah leaders getting whacked by mysterious assassins with forged passports than dive into a Beirut bomb shelter during Israeli air raids.

But I’m not particularly concerned about my own skin here. Nobody forces me to travel to war zones. I don’t have to visit the Middle East ever again if I don’t want to. Every trip I’ve ever taken has been voluntary, and I can leave whenever I’ve had enough.

A lot of people I care about live in Lebanon, and some of them can’t leave. They never volunteered to be used as human shields by Hezbollah, and in fact had their neighborhood — my old neighborhood — shot up and blown up by Hezbollah gunmen recently. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah doesn’t consult them or their elected officials on his foreign policy and would sooner shoot them than be relieved of his ability to declare war unilaterally or on the orders of Tehran.

It’s unlikely that Israel can avert the next war by assassinating its enemy’s leadership, but it’s always better to take out a high-level target in person whenever possible than with a blockbuster bomb from a distance. I can’t help but wonder if those griping about the recent hit in Dubai — assuming the Mossad actually did it — care less about the lives of real human beings than the latest excuse to bash Israel. If the Arab-Israeli conflict will continue — and it will continue — civilians on both sides should prefer combatants be taken off the board quietly while everyone else goes about their daily business in peace.

Read Less

Who’s Crazy?

I suppose we’ve reached a breakthrough on Iran when liberal pundits start invoking Richard Nixon — with fondness. Richard Cohen does so by way of considering whether Ahmadinejad is crazy/insane or crazy/dangerous, and whether it isn’t a good idea to upend the Iranian regime’s plans to acquire nuclear weapons. You know, maybe we should give the Iranians the idea that we might do something Nixonesque — like knock out some sites or embargo the country. He observes:

Israel, of all countries, has little faith in the rationality of mankind. It simply knows better. So the question of whether Ahmadinejad is playing the madman or really is a madman is not an academic exercise. It has a real and frightening immediacy that too often, in too many precincts, gets belittled as a form of paranoia. For instance, when Israeli leaders warn that they might take preemptive action against Iran — say, an attempt to bomb its nuclear facilities as they did in Iraq in 1981 — it is dismissed as irresponsible saber-rattling. Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski even suggested that if Israel tried such a thing, the United States might have to back it down with force. The Brzezinski Doctrine is refreshing in its perverse boldness: We shoot our friends to defend our enemies.

The Obami’s policy, insofar we know they have one, hasn’t gone that far, though they speak quite openly of the risks of an attack and seem quite focused on making sure the Israelis don’t do anything as rash as preemptively removing a threat to the existence of the Jewish state. But what is crazy, even to the likes of Cohen, is the notion that we can learn to live with a nuclear-armed Iran:

It would upend the balance of power throughout the Middle East and encourage radical/terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas to ratchet up their war against Israel. Other Middle East nations, not content to rely on an American nuclear umbrella, would seek their own bombs. An unstable region would go nuclear. (It speaks volumes about Middle Eastern reality and hypocrisy that Egypt serenely lives with an Israeli bomb but breaks out in diplomatic hives at the prospect of an Iranian one.)

And it is equally clear that, as Cohen acknowledges, the Obami have done nothing to dissuade the Iranian regime from pursuing its goal of joining the nuclear weapons club.
The Obama team likes to talk about creating consensus on Iran. Now everyone knows they’re bad guys, Hillary Clinton tells us — as if the  stolen election, the murders, the censorship, the brutality, the hidden nuclear sites, and the vows to exterminate Israel weren’t enough. But instead, the consensus has developed that Obama has behaved irresponsibly and in a very real sense irrationally. He expected a despotic regime to welcome cordial relations with the West, and he imagined that democracy protesters were an encumbrance rather than a remarkable opportunity for Iran and the West.

After a year, liberals and conservatives are reaching a consensus: Obama’s Iran policy is a dangerous flop. I suppose that’s an achievement of sorts.

I suppose we’ve reached a breakthrough on Iran when liberal pundits start invoking Richard Nixon — with fondness. Richard Cohen does so by way of considering whether Ahmadinejad is crazy/insane or crazy/dangerous, and whether it isn’t a good idea to upend the Iranian regime’s plans to acquire nuclear weapons. You know, maybe we should give the Iranians the idea that we might do something Nixonesque — like knock out some sites or embargo the country. He observes:

Israel, of all countries, has little faith in the rationality of mankind. It simply knows better. So the question of whether Ahmadinejad is playing the madman or really is a madman is not an academic exercise. It has a real and frightening immediacy that too often, in too many precincts, gets belittled as a form of paranoia. For instance, when Israeli leaders warn that they might take preemptive action against Iran — say, an attempt to bomb its nuclear facilities as they did in Iraq in 1981 — it is dismissed as irresponsible saber-rattling. Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski even suggested that if Israel tried such a thing, the United States might have to back it down with force. The Brzezinski Doctrine is refreshing in its perverse boldness: We shoot our friends to defend our enemies.

The Obami’s policy, insofar we know they have one, hasn’t gone that far, though they speak quite openly of the risks of an attack and seem quite focused on making sure the Israelis don’t do anything as rash as preemptively removing a threat to the existence of the Jewish state. But what is crazy, even to the likes of Cohen, is the notion that we can learn to live with a nuclear-armed Iran:

It would upend the balance of power throughout the Middle East and encourage radical/terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas to ratchet up their war against Israel. Other Middle East nations, not content to rely on an American nuclear umbrella, would seek their own bombs. An unstable region would go nuclear. (It speaks volumes about Middle Eastern reality and hypocrisy that Egypt serenely lives with an Israeli bomb but breaks out in diplomatic hives at the prospect of an Iranian one.)

And it is equally clear that, as Cohen acknowledges, the Obami have done nothing to dissuade the Iranian regime from pursuing its goal of joining the nuclear weapons club.
The Obama team likes to talk about creating consensus on Iran. Now everyone knows they’re bad guys, Hillary Clinton tells us — as if the  stolen election, the murders, the censorship, the brutality, the hidden nuclear sites, and the vows to exterminate Israel weren’t enough. But instead, the consensus has developed that Obama has behaved irresponsibly and in a very real sense irrationally. He expected a despotic regime to welcome cordial relations with the West, and he imagined that democracy protesters were an encumbrance rather than a remarkable opportunity for Iran and the West.

After a year, liberals and conservatives are reaching a consensus: Obama’s Iran policy is a dangerous flop. I suppose that’s an achievement of sorts.

Read Less

RE: Defending the Gaza 54

A reader of Jeffrey Goldberg argues that Israel’s government shouldn’t have “snubbed” J Street’s sponsored delegation of congressmen, arguing that this is somehow an embarrassment for Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. (Why? Because five congressmen who call for lifting the Gaza blockade and who reflexively vote against Israel should be rewarded with attention?) The reader, however, then makes a U-turn toward reason, arguing:

There’s a fine line between pushing a friend to do something that you believe is in her best interest and taking pleasure in sticking your finger in the eye of someone who has the audacity not to see the correctness of your position. I believe that J-Street crosses that line. So while I couldn’t claim that they are anti-Israel — not like, say, Syria — I certainly don’t see them as friends of mine. And especially now, with Israel’s precarious diplomatic position, we could use less “friends” causing us harm (like being the catalyst of the stir with the congressmen in the first place) in the name of friendship.

So if J Street is no friend of “ours” — presumably, friends of Israel — then why should Israel meet and greet with its handpicked congressional delegation? Israel is not obligated to bolster the credibility of those who take positions antagonistic to its interests. The congressmen do not represent the official position of the U.S. government nor are they offering Israel anything of benefit. (Unlike an Arab state, J Street doesn’t really have anything Israel might be remotely be interested in obtaining or discussing.)

The J Streeters are there to create the appearance that J Street is something that it is not (supportive of Israel’s fundamental interests) and that it is able to influence American and Israeli decision makers. Israeli leaders have figured out, just as Goldberg’s reader has, that the J Street gang is causing harm (to the extent the group is relevant at all) “in the name of friendship.” J Street can take whatever positions it wants. It can call itself pro-Israel or pro-anti-mullah or anti-neocon or anything else it chooses. But Israel doesn’t have to buy it and doesn’t have to encourage the pantomime of those who always seem to be on the side of those seeking to enfeeble the Jewish state.

A reader of Jeffrey Goldberg argues that Israel’s government shouldn’t have “snubbed” J Street’s sponsored delegation of congressmen, arguing that this is somehow an embarrassment for Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. (Why? Because five congressmen who call for lifting the Gaza blockade and who reflexively vote against Israel should be rewarded with attention?) The reader, however, then makes a U-turn toward reason, arguing:

There’s a fine line between pushing a friend to do something that you believe is in her best interest and taking pleasure in sticking your finger in the eye of someone who has the audacity not to see the correctness of your position. I believe that J-Street crosses that line. So while I couldn’t claim that they are anti-Israel — not like, say, Syria — I certainly don’t see them as friends of mine. And especially now, with Israel’s precarious diplomatic position, we could use less “friends” causing us harm (like being the catalyst of the stir with the congressmen in the first place) in the name of friendship.

So if J Street is no friend of “ours” — presumably, friends of Israel — then why should Israel meet and greet with its handpicked congressional delegation? Israel is not obligated to bolster the credibility of those who take positions antagonistic to its interests. The congressmen do not represent the official position of the U.S. government nor are they offering Israel anything of benefit. (Unlike an Arab state, J Street doesn’t really have anything Israel might be remotely be interested in obtaining or discussing.)

The J Streeters are there to create the appearance that J Street is something that it is not (supportive of Israel’s fundamental interests) and that it is able to influence American and Israeli decision makers. Israeli leaders have figured out, just as Goldberg’s reader has, that the J Street gang is causing harm (to the extent the group is relevant at all) “in the name of friendship.” J Street can take whatever positions it wants. It can call itself pro-Israel or pro-anti-mullah or anti-neocon or anything else it chooses. But Israel doesn’t have to buy it and doesn’t have to encourage the pantomime of those who always seem to be on the side of those seeking to enfeeble the Jewish state.

Read Less

RE: Personal Popularity ≠ Effectiveness

Max, you put your finger on one, but not the only, flaw in Obama’s worldview. He believes his own presence and words are sufficient tools of national security. He further imagines that his aura will be enough to trump national self-interests and fundamental conflicts between the West and our foes.

Obama and his spinners remain convinced that the Cairo speech was a seminal moment, a turning point, and a triumph. Why do they think this? What evidence is there that this affected the “peace process” (except negatively)? It is scant. Obama imagines that ingratiating himself with the Chinese would draw them to our side on sanctions against Iran. It’s done nothing of the kind. He’s “reset” our relations with Russia, again by ingratiation, and again without results.

There is in all this, and in nearly every other aspect of Obama’s foreign policy, a tendency to exaggerate his own importance, soft-pedal “hard power” (the exception being his largely cogent, if much delayed, Afghanistan policy), and diminish the very real factors at the root of conflicts. Some might call that foolhardy or naive. Others might call it narcissism or egocentrism. Whatever the definition, it’s largely not working.

Max, you put your finger on one, but not the only, flaw in Obama’s worldview. He believes his own presence and words are sufficient tools of national security. He further imagines that his aura will be enough to trump national self-interests and fundamental conflicts between the West and our foes.

Obama and his spinners remain convinced that the Cairo speech was a seminal moment, a turning point, and a triumph. Why do they think this? What evidence is there that this affected the “peace process” (except negatively)? It is scant. Obama imagines that ingratiating himself with the Chinese would draw them to our side on sanctions against Iran. It’s done nothing of the kind. He’s “reset” our relations with Russia, again by ingratiation, and again without results.

There is in all this, and in nearly every other aspect of Obama’s foreign policy, a tendency to exaggerate his own importance, soft-pedal “hard power” (the exception being his largely cogent, if much delayed, Afghanistan policy), and diminish the very real factors at the root of conflicts. Some might call that foolhardy or naive. Others might call it narcissism or egocentrism. Whatever the definition, it’s largely not working.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

A good question triggered by the assassination of the Hamas terrorist in Dubai and our decision to send an ambassador to Syria: “Will the safe haven Damascus continues to provide terrorists such as Mabhouh, who would erase Israel from the Middle-Eastern map—to say nothing of the foreign fighters trained by al Qaeda and/or armed by Iran who are still entering Iraq across the Syrian border to kill American soldiers—be a subject of discussion for America’s newly appointed ambassador to Syria once he’s presented his credentials?”

If you thought the Ivy League–educated Oval Office occupier Obama’s populism was fake: “If last year’s bailout of the financial industry caused you to start muttering words like investment banker and robber baron in the same sentence, it may cheer you to know that Timothy Geithner, the man responsible for crafting much of that bailout, agrees with you. ‘I am,’ he says, seated in his Washington, D.C., office, an intimidatingly ornate room worthy of a Hogwarts headmaster, ‘incredibly angry at what happened to our country.'”

A lot of people excited about a potential 2012 run by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will be excited to hear this: “During an interview at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association here over the weekend, Daniels said he has now been persuaded to keep open the door to a possible candidacy.”

Is Marco Rubio running away with the GOP Senate primary race? The latest Rasmussen poll has him up by 18 points.

Democrats are on the defensive in Illinois: “Illinois’ Republican Party is keeping up a steady drumbeat of pressure on Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias to answer questions about his family’s Broadway Bank. ‘Why is Alexi hiding?’ the party asked in an e-mail to reporters a week after the election and after news conferences Giannoulias had held in Chicago and Springfield. … In at least 10 e-mails sent out since the election, the party says Giannoulias is ducking questions about loans he authorized four years ago as vice-president of his family’s Broadway Bank and about the bank’s current troubled financial state.”

CATO’s Michael Tanner on the latest version of ObamaCare: “Faced with public opinion polls showing that 58 percent of the public are opposed to his health care proposal, President Obama has gone back to the drawing board and brought forth a new health care plan that looks almost exactly like his old health care bill. Actually that’s not quite true. This proposal is more expensive, pushing its cost up close to $1 trillion in the first 10 years, and raising taxes by some $629 billion.”

Some are in a tizzy: “Critics left and right are accusing Rahm Emanuel of disloyalty-by-proxy after a Dana Milbank column in Sunday’s Washington Post defended the White House chief of staff — while trashing reputed Emanuel rivals Valerie Jarrett and Robert Gibbs. ” Actually, he’s been leaking his opposition to the entire anti-terrorism approach for some time, so this should come as no shock.

Thanks to the teachers’ union, the Los Angeles Unified School District has given up trying to fire bad teachers.

Oh good grief: “Last August, former Iowa Republican congressman Jim Leach took office as the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  What exactly were his qualifications for this post, other than being an Obamaphile Republican and thus a safely ‘bipartisan’ appointment, was and remains a mystery. Since his appointment, unsurprisingly, Leach has appeared to take little interest in the actual work of the NEH—support for research, publication, and education in the humanities—and instead has been gallivanting around the country on a 50-state ‘civility tour,’ giving mostly forgettable speeches … whose goal seems to be to get Americans to stop criticizing Barack Obama in terms that offend Chairman Leach.”

A good question triggered by the assassination of the Hamas terrorist in Dubai and our decision to send an ambassador to Syria: “Will the safe haven Damascus continues to provide terrorists such as Mabhouh, who would erase Israel from the Middle-Eastern map—to say nothing of the foreign fighters trained by al Qaeda and/or armed by Iran who are still entering Iraq across the Syrian border to kill American soldiers—be a subject of discussion for America’s newly appointed ambassador to Syria once he’s presented his credentials?”

If you thought the Ivy League–educated Oval Office occupier Obama’s populism was fake: “If last year’s bailout of the financial industry caused you to start muttering words like investment banker and robber baron in the same sentence, it may cheer you to know that Timothy Geithner, the man responsible for crafting much of that bailout, agrees with you. ‘I am,’ he says, seated in his Washington, D.C., office, an intimidatingly ornate room worthy of a Hogwarts headmaster, ‘incredibly angry at what happened to our country.'”

A lot of people excited about a potential 2012 run by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will be excited to hear this: “During an interview at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association here over the weekend, Daniels said he has now been persuaded to keep open the door to a possible candidacy.”

Is Marco Rubio running away with the GOP Senate primary race? The latest Rasmussen poll has him up by 18 points.

Democrats are on the defensive in Illinois: “Illinois’ Republican Party is keeping up a steady drumbeat of pressure on Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias to answer questions about his family’s Broadway Bank. ‘Why is Alexi hiding?’ the party asked in an e-mail to reporters a week after the election and after news conferences Giannoulias had held in Chicago and Springfield. … In at least 10 e-mails sent out since the election, the party says Giannoulias is ducking questions about loans he authorized four years ago as vice-president of his family’s Broadway Bank and about the bank’s current troubled financial state.”

CATO’s Michael Tanner on the latest version of ObamaCare: “Faced with public opinion polls showing that 58 percent of the public are opposed to his health care proposal, President Obama has gone back to the drawing board and brought forth a new health care plan that looks almost exactly like his old health care bill. Actually that’s not quite true. This proposal is more expensive, pushing its cost up close to $1 trillion in the first 10 years, and raising taxes by some $629 billion.”

Some are in a tizzy: “Critics left and right are accusing Rahm Emanuel of disloyalty-by-proxy after a Dana Milbank column in Sunday’s Washington Post defended the White House chief of staff — while trashing reputed Emanuel rivals Valerie Jarrett and Robert Gibbs. ” Actually, he’s been leaking his opposition to the entire anti-terrorism approach for some time, so this should come as no shock.

Thanks to the teachers’ union, the Los Angeles Unified School District has given up trying to fire bad teachers.

Oh good grief: “Last August, former Iowa Republican congressman Jim Leach took office as the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  What exactly were his qualifications for this post, other than being an Obamaphile Republican and thus a safely ‘bipartisan’ appointment, was and remains a mystery. Since his appointment, unsurprisingly, Leach has appeared to take little interest in the actual work of the NEH—support for research, publication, and education in the humanities—and instead has been gallivanting around the country on a 50-state ‘civility tour,’ giving mostly forgettable speeches … whose goal seems to be to get Americans to stop criticizing Barack Obama in terms that offend Chairman Leach.”

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.