Commentary Magazine


Posts For: March 28, 2010

A Fine Speech in Afghanistan

Barack Obama made an excellent — even inspiring — speech Sunday, before American and other coalition troops in Afghanistan. He expressed a boundless appreciation of our soldiers and a sense of ongoing commitment to the fight there.

The president told the audience in uniform, “You’ve earned your place next to the very greatest of American generations.” That’s more than an expression of gratitude; it’s a declaration that reflects the historic magnitude of their fight.

On winning, Obama said, “I am confident all of you are going to get the job done right here in Afghanistan,” and he described “our mission” to “disrupt and dismantle, defeat and destroy al Qaeda and its extremist allies.” One could quibble with the absence of the word victory, but it hardly seems worth it. After all, as he talks about the “defeat” of our enemies, our own victory is self-evident.

The line that earned the biggest spontaneous show of enthusiasm was about commitment: “The United States of America does not quit once is starts on something. You don’t quit, the American armed services does not quit. We keep at it and we persevere, and together with our partners we will prevail. I am absolutely confident of that.” After the long, uncertain policy-decision period last fall, it’s important that he hammer that message home as frequently as possible.

Obama talked about “bringing hope and opportunity to a people who have known a lot of pain and a lot of suffering.” It would have been nice to hear him mention freedom or consensual governance, but it’s important to remember that this was not a policy speech. It was a morale booster for the men and women fighting abroad.

The president offered his most robust defense of American exceptionalism since his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in December. “In an uncertain world the United States of America will always stand up for the security of nations and the dignity of human beings,” he said. “That is who we are. That is what we do.”

This was a contender for the best speech of Obama’s presidency thus far. May he continue to inspire on Afghanistan. And may some of that inspiration leak into other foreign policy areas, where notions of America’s commitment and the protection of human dignity have been found disgracefully absent.

Barack Obama made an excellent — even inspiring — speech Sunday, before American and other coalition troops in Afghanistan. He expressed a boundless appreciation of our soldiers and a sense of ongoing commitment to the fight there.

The president told the audience in uniform, “You’ve earned your place next to the very greatest of American generations.” That’s more than an expression of gratitude; it’s a declaration that reflects the historic magnitude of their fight.

On winning, Obama said, “I am confident all of you are going to get the job done right here in Afghanistan,” and he described “our mission” to “disrupt and dismantle, defeat and destroy al Qaeda and its extremist allies.” One could quibble with the absence of the word victory, but it hardly seems worth it. After all, as he talks about the “defeat” of our enemies, our own victory is self-evident.

The line that earned the biggest spontaneous show of enthusiasm was about commitment: “The United States of America does not quit once is starts on something. You don’t quit, the American armed services does not quit. We keep at it and we persevere, and together with our partners we will prevail. I am absolutely confident of that.” After the long, uncertain policy-decision period last fall, it’s important that he hammer that message home as frequently as possible.

Obama talked about “bringing hope and opportunity to a people who have known a lot of pain and a lot of suffering.” It would have been nice to hear him mention freedom or consensual governance, but it’s important to remember that this was not a policy speech. It was a morale booster for the men and women fighting abroad.

The president offered his most robust defense of American exceptionalism since his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in December. “In an uncertain world the United States of America will always stand up for the security of nations and the dignity of human beings,” he said. “That is who we are. That is what we do.”

This was a contender for the best speech of Obama’s presidency thus far. May he continue to inspire on Afghanistan. And may some of that inspiration leak into other foreign policy areas, where notions of America’s commitment and the protection of human dignity have been found disgracefully absent.

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“Fierce Debate on Israel Underway Inside Obama Administration”

Laura Rozen:

Sources say within the inter-agency process, White House Middle East strategist Dennis Ross is staking out a position that Washington needs to be sensitive to Netanyahu’s domestic political constraints including over the issue of building in East Jerusalem in order to not raise new Arab demands, while other officials including some aligned with Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell are arguing Washington needs to hold firm in pressing Netanyahu for written commitments to avoid provocations that imperil Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to preserve the Obama administration’s credibility. …

“He [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests,” one U.S. official told POLITICO Saturday. “And he doesn’t seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this Administration.”

What some saw as the suggestion of dual loyalties shows how heated the debate has become.

This tells us several things:

1.) The administration has essentially been winging it, at least on the details. If senior officials are just now debating how to handle the crisis, it means that there wasn’t a particularly coherent or well-considered strategy in the first place — just a generalized desire to knock the Israelis around. Smart power.

2.) Obama’s understanding of credibility is pretty pathetic. Credibility is what you earn when you decide on an intelligent and realistic plan and carry it through to completion. It is not the same as petulance followed by stubbornness, or doubling-down on bad ideas just so you don’t have to admit that you were mistaken.

3.) It’s disturbing to see the vitriol being dumped on Dennis Ross, who may be one of the only voices in the administration with a sophisticated understanding of the issues. And let’s be clear: Ross is a career peace-processor, someone whose instincts and ideas are very much in line with the traditional two-state ethos of contemporary liberal politics. And even he, apparently, is insufficiently hope-‘n’-change-y. His counterparts are giving background comments that essentially accuse him of being a Netanyahu cutout inside the administration. This is poisonous; it’s very bad when the policymaking process acquires the atmospherics of Andrew Sullivan’s blog.

Laura Rozen:

Sources say within the inter-agency process, White House Middle East strategist Dennis Ross is staking out a position that Washington needs to be sensitive to Netanyahu’s domestic political constraints including over the issue of building in East Jerusalem in order to not raise new Arab demands, while other officials including some aligned with Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell are arguing Washington needs to hold firm in pressing Netanyahu for written commitments to avoid provocations that imperil Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to preserve the Obama administration’s credibility. …

“He [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests,” one U.S. official told POLITICO Saturday. “And he doesn’t seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this Administration.”

What some saw as the suggestion of dual loyalties shows how heated the debate has become.

This tells us several things:

1.) The administration has essentially been winging it, at least on the details. If senior officials are just now debating how to handle the crisis, it means that there wasn’t a particularly coherent or well-considered strategy in the first place — just a generalized desire to knock the Israelis around. Smart power.

2.) Obama’s understanding of credibility is pretty pathetic. Credibility is what you earn when you decide on an intelligent and realistic plan and carry it through to completion. It is not the same as petulance followed by stubbornness, or doubling-down on bad ideas just so you don’t have to admit that you were mistaken.

3.) It’s disturbing to see the vitriol being dumped on Dennis Ross, who may be one of the only voices in the administration with a sophisticated understanding of the issues. And let’s be clear: Ross is a career peace-processor, someone whose instincts and ideas are very much in line with the traditional two-state ethos of contemporary liberal politics. And even he, apparently, is insufficiently hope-‘n’-change-y. His counterparts are giving background comments that essentially accuse him of being a Netanyahu cutout inside the administration. This is poisonous; it’s very bad when the policymaking process acquires the atmospherics of Andrew Sullivan’s blog.

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Klein of Arabia (Again)

Joe Klein has a characteristically paranoid post in which he says that the criticisms of Barack Obama lodged by AIPAC and other “American Likudniks… teeter on the brink of treachery.” The AIPAC statement called on the administration “to take immediate steps to defuse the tension” with Israel. This is treachery? What happened to dissent being the highest form of patriotism? Klein adds:

They are making their case in ways that encourage right-wing American extremists who deny the legitimacy of our President. They are walking on very thin ice here.

I’m not sure what he’s getting at here, but it sounds like he’s saying that if something bad happens to Barack Obama, it will be because some Americans criticized the administration’s treatment of Israel, including 327 members of the House of Representatives. Klein is indeed an ugly paranoiac when it comes to American politics. But he is also a high-flying ignoramus about the Middle East. He writes that Hebron is “the largest West Bank city and home to 500,000 Palestinians.” And that:

[Jews who live in Hebron] claim, correctly, that Hebron was a Jewish city 3000 years ago (as, of course, Arabs can claim evidence of their presence throughout the current land of Israel as least as long-standing).

There are not 500,000 Palestinians living in Hebron — there are about 163,000, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Klein is confusing the Hebron governorate with the city of Hebron. The Hebron governorate comprises around half the southern territory of the West Bank. This is like confusing the region of southern California with the city of Los Angeles.

But the best Kleinism is the block-quoted text above, in which he says that the Arabs have been in Hebron at least as long as the Jews. He apparently isn’t aware of the Arab conquests. You see, the Arabs originally came from Arabia, and after the death of Mohammad in the 7th century, they emerged from the Arabian peninsula and swept across the Middle East and North Africa, even into Spain, spreading Islam and Arabic in what today Joe Klein would call an illegal preemptive war to spread colonialism and empire.

Perhaps the Arabs were actually the first neocons? Klein surely has an opinion (I think, in keeping with his high political ideals, he should call for the removal of the illegal Arab settlements in Hebron, which are an obstruction to the peace process). But one thing that is not up for debate is how long Jews and Arabs have lived in Hebron: the Jews have been there for over 3,000 years; the Arabs, since the 7th century CE.

When you read Joe Klein, it’s hard to tell which is worse, the sloppiness or the ignorance.

Joe Klein has a characteristically paranoid post in which he says that the criticisms of Barack Obama lodged by AIPAC and other “American Likudniks… teeter on the brink of treachery.” The AIPAC statement called on the administration “to take immediate steps to defuse the tension” with Israel. This is treachery? What happened to dissent being the highest form of patriotism? Klein adds:

They are making their case in ways that encourage right-wing American extremists who deny the legitimacy of our President. They are walking on very thin ice here.

I’m not sure what he’s getting at here, but it sounds like he’s saying that if something bad happens to Barack Obama, it will be because some Americans criticized the administration’s treatment of Israel, including 327 members of the House of Representatives. Klein is indeed an ugly paranoiac when it comes to American politics. But he is also a high-flying ignoramus about the Middle East. He writes that Hebron is “the largest West Bank city and home to 500,000 Palestinians.” And that:

[Jews who live in Hebron] claim, correctly, that Hebron was a Jewish city 3000 years ago (as, of course, Arabs can claim evidence of their presence throughout the current land of Israel as least as long-standing).

There are not 500,000 Palestinians living in Hebron — there are about 163,000, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Klein is confusing the Hebron governorate with the city of Hebron. The Hebron governorate comprises around half the southern territory of the West Bank. This is like confusing the region of southern California with the city of Los Angeles.

But the best Kleinism is the block-quoted text above, in which he says that the Arabs have been in Hebron at least as long as the Jews. He apparently isn’t aware of the Arab conquests. You see, the Arabs originally came from Arabia, and after the death of Mohammad in the 7th century, they emerged from the Arabian peninsula and swept across the Middle East and North Africa, even into Spain, spreading Islam and Arabic in what today Joe Klein would call an illegal preemptive war to spread colonialism and empire.

Perhaps the Arabs were actually the first neocons? Klein surely has an opinion (I think, in keeping with his high political ideals, he should call for the removal of the illegal Arab settlements in Hebron, which are an obstruction to the peace process). But one thing that is not up for debate is how long Jews and Arabs have lived in Hebron: the Jews have been there for over 3,000 years; the Arabs, since the 7th century CE.

When you read Joe Klein, it’s hard to tell which is worse, the sloppiness or the ignorance.

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New World’s Record for Chutzpah: Obama’s Seder

Some 19 years ago, the first president Bush earned the enmity of American Jews with his rant about being “one lone guy” standing up against the horde of AIPAC activists exercising their constitutional right to petition Congress. Bush’s statement symbolized the intolerance and enmity that his administration felt toward Israel and its American friends. But say one thing for that Bush and his secretary of state, James “f@#$ the Jews” Baker: at least they never pretended to be anything but what they were, country-club establishment Republicans who were not comfortable with Israel or Jewish symbols. Not so Barack Hussein Obama.

After a week spent beating up on Israel, blowing a minor gaffe into an international incident, subjecting Israel’s prime minister to unprecedented insults that Obama would never think of trying on even the most humble Third World leader, and establishing the principle that the Jewish presence in eastern Jerusalem — even in existing Jewish neighborhoods — is illegal and an affront to American interests – after all that, Obama plans on spending Monday night mouthing a few lines from the Passover Haggadah at a Seder held in the White House.

According to the New York Times, Obama will take part in a Seder in the Old Family Dining Room along with a band of court Jews such as David Axelrod. The Seder, as the newspaper notes, will end, according to tradition, with the declaration of ‘next year in Jerusalem.’ (Never mind the current chill in the administration’s relationship with Israel.)”

There will, no doubt, be many American Jews who are still so insecure in their place in American society that they will feel flattered that even a president who has proved himself the most hostile chief executive to Israel in a generation will pay lip service to Judaism in this way. No doubt the planting of this sympathetic story on the front page of the Sunday New York Times is calculated to soften the blow of his Jerusalem policy and his disdain for Israel in the eyes of many of Obama’s loyal Jewish supporters.

The vast majority of American Jews are not only liberals; they are, as they say in Texas, “yellow dog Democrats,” meaning they would vote for a yellow dog if it were on the Democratic ticket. But surely a sycophantic article like the Times feature must grate on even their sensibilities. Can any Jew with a smidgeon of self-respect or affection for Israel think that having a president say “Next year in Jerusalem!” while sitting at a table with matzo and macaroons makes up for policies that treat the 200,000 Jews living in the post-1967 Jewish neighborhoods of their own ancient capital as illegal settlers on stolen land?

Perhaps Obama and his coterie of Jewish advisers think they are entitled to expropriate the symbols of Judaism to lend legitimacy to their anti-Israel policies. Of course, if Obama had any real sympathy for the people of Israel or the Jewish people, he might instead spend Monday night reevaluating a policy that appears to concede nuclear weapons to the rabid Jew-haters of Islamist Iran and reinforces the intransigence of the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority and its allies across the Muslim world.

This week, Alan Dershowitz, who still counts himself among Obama’s supporters, warned the president that if he failed on Iran, his legacy would be indistinguishable from that of Neville Chamberlain, who appeased Hitler. He’s right, but it looks as though Chamberlain is becoming Obama’s model because, in addition to employing appeasement strategies, the president’s diktat on Jerusalem and the West Bank is faintly reminiscent of the British White Paper of 1939, which forbade the entrance of more Jewish immigrants into Palestine as the Holocaust loomed and sought to restrict the Jewish presence in most of the country.

But like the elder George Bush, at least Neville Chamberlain had the good manners not to try to portray himself as a friend of the Jews by having a Passover Seder at Number Ten Downing Street while simultaneously pursuing such policies.

Some 19 years ago, the first president Bush earned the enmity of American Jews with his rant about being “one lone guy” standing up against the horde of AIPAC activists exercising their constitutional right to petition Congress. Bush’s statement symbolized the intolerance and enmity that his administration felt toward Israel and its American friends. But say one thing for that Bush and his secretary of state, James “f@#$ the Jews” Baker: at least they never pretended to be anything but what they were, country-club establishment Republicans who were not comfortable with Israel or Jewish symbols. Not so Barack Hussein Obama.

After a week spent beating up on Israel, blowing a minor gaffe into an international incident, subjecting Israel’s prime minister to unprecedented insults that Obama would never think of trying on even the most humble Third World leader, and establishing the principle that the Jewish presence in eastern Jerusalem — even in existing Jewish neighborhoods — is illegal and an affront to American interests – after all that, Obama plans on spending Monday night mouthing a few lines from the Passover Haggadah at a Seder held in the White House.

According to the New York Times, Obama will take part in a Seder in the Old Family Dining Room along with a band of court Jews such as David Axelrod. The Seder, as the newspaper notes, will end, according to tradition, with the declaration of ‘next year in Jerusalem.’ (Never mind the current chill in the administration’s relationship with Israel.)”

There will, no doubt, be many American Jews who are still so insecure in their place in American society that they will feel flattered that even a president who has proved himself the most hostile chief executive to Israel in a generation will pay lip service to Judaism in this way. No doubt the planting of this sympathetic story on the front page of the Sunday New York Times is calculated to soften the blow of his Jerusalem policy and his disdain for Israel in the eyes of many of Obama’s loyal Jewish supporters.

The vast majority of American Jews are not only liberals; they are, as they say in Texas, “yellow dog Democrats,” meaning they would vote for a yellow dog if it were on the Democratic ticket. But surely a sycophantic article like the Times feature must grate on even their sensibilities. Can any Jew with a smidgeon of self-respect or affection for Israel think that having a president say “Next year in Jerusalem!” while sitting at a table with matzo and macaroons makes up for policies that treat the 200,000 Jews living in the post-1967 Jewish neighborhoods of their own ancient capital as illegal settlers on stolen land?

Perhaps Obama and his coterie of Jewish advisers think they are entitled to expropriate the symbols of Judaism to lend legitimacy to their anti-Israel policies. Of course, if Obama had any real sympathy for the people of Israel or the Jewish people, he might instead spend Monday night reevaluating a policy that appears to concede nuclear weapons to the rabid Jew-haters of Islamist Iran and reinforces the intransigence of the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority and its allies across the Muslim world.

This week, Alan Dershowitz, who still counts himself among Obama’s supporters, warned the president that if he failed on Iran, his legacy would be indistinguishable from that of Neville Chamberlain, who appeased Hitler. He’s right, but it looks as though Chamberlain is becoming Obama’s model because, in addition to employing appeasement strategies, the president’s diktat on Jerusalem and the West Bank is faintly reminiscent of the British White Paper of 1939, which forbade the entrance of more Jewish immigrants into Palestine as the Holocaust loomed and sought to restrict the Jewish presence in most of the country.

But like the elder George Bush, at least Neville Chamberlain had the good manners not to try to portray himself as a friend of the Jews by having a Passover Seder at Number Ten Downing Street while simultaneously pursuing such policies.

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Racism by Any Other Name

The Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander is out to gently chide his employer for not doing better on “diversity.” In the process, he reveals the discriminatory practices and mindset at the heart of seemingly high-minded “diversity” programs.

First comes the revelation that Post managers are being instructed to hire or consider hiring based on race or suffer adverse treatment themselves: “The Post’s top editors were warned in a memo that they needed to expand newsroom diversity ‘or suffer the consequences.’” It is not legally acceptable to say, “Hire more minorities or your job is in jeopardy,” so it is dressed up in diversity- speak, but the mandate is clear. It’s plain that we’re talking about more than simply removing barriers to hiring minorities or expanding the Post’s hiring beyond mostly white, Ivy League graduates. Alexander fesses up, quoting Peter Perl, who oversees newsroom personnel: “Pools of job candidates must include minorities, he said, adding, ‘It’s a mandate, and every manager here knows it.’” It’s the result — the headcount — that matters:

Minorities are 43 percent of The Post’s circulation area, and a large part of the region is edging toward “majority minority” status. For The Post, being “good on diversity” isn’t enough. [Executive Editor Marcus] Brauchli and his leadership team acknowledged the same in a note to the staff last Monday. “We are in danger of losing ground if we do not consistently try to recruit the best minority journalists,” they wrote.

Sorry guys, but that violates federal  law, which prohibits hiring on the basis of race — no matter what laudatory goal the proponents think they are pursuing.

And next comes the noxious justification for hiring by race:

“You can’t cover your community unless you look like your community,” said Bobbi Bowman, a former Post reporter and editor who is a diversity consultant for ASNE. (Full disclosure: I sit on its board). “If you have a community of basketball players, it’s difficult for a newsroom of opera lovers to cover them.”

The Washington area has an exploding Spanish-speaking population. Yet Hispanics on The Post’s staff include only eight reporters and four supervising editors. Similarly, African Americans account for about 12 percent of the staff, but the African American percentage of the population in parts of The Post’s core circulation area is more than four times greater.

Imagine saying that only whites can cover certain neighborhoods or particular beats. The lawsuits would be flying, and the pickets would be gathering outside the Post’s offices. The Post seems to argue for re-segregation of the news: African American cover “their” neighborhood and whites their own. (And does the Post management actually imagine that only Hispanics can speak Spanish?) This is the voice of “wise Latina” Sonia Sotomayor, who assumes that ability, skills, intellectual perspective, and empathy are determined by race or ethnicity. (“Predictably, what is ‘news’ risks being seen through a white prism.”)

Alexander, seemingly inured to the perniciousness of what he is writing, sums up:

“You use diversity as an advantage in these economic times to get a leg up on the next guy,” said former Post reporter Richard Prince, who writes “Journal-isms,” an online column about minorities and the media. Or you suffer the consequences.

Welcome to the post-racial world in which race is a weapon to be wielded against competitors and a stick with which to beat hiring managers. No, it’s not remotely legal, and it is nothing short of shameful.

The Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander is out to gently chide his employer for not doing better on “diversity.” In the process, he reveals the discriminatory practices and mindset at the heart of seemingly high-minded “diversity” programs.

First comes the revelation that Post managers are being instructed to hire or consider hiring based on race or suffer adverse treatment themselves: “The Post’s top editors were warned in a memo that they needed to expand newsroom diversity ‘or suffer the consequences.’” It is not legally acceptable to say, “Hire more minorities or your job is in jeopardy,” so it is dressed up in diversity- speak, but the mandate is clear. It’s plain that we’re talking about more than simply removing barriers to hiring minorities or expanding the Post’s hiring beyond mostly white, Ivy League graduates. Alexander fesses up, quoting Peter Perl, who oversees newsroom personnel: “Pools of job candidates must include minorities, he said, adding, ‘It’s a mandate, and every manager here knows it.’” It’s the result — the headcount — that matters:

Minorities are 43 percent of The Post’s circulation area, and a large part of the region is edging toward “majority minority” status. For The Post, being “good on diversity” isn’t enough. [Executive Editor Marcus] Brauchli and his leadership team acknowledged the same in a note to the staff last Monday. “We are in danger of losing ground if we do not consistently try to recruit the best minority journalists,” they wrote.

Sorry guys, but that violates federal  law, which prohibits hiring on the basis of race — no matter what laudatory goal the proponents think they are pursuing.

And next comes the noxious justification for hiring by race:

“You can’t cover your community unless you look like your community,” said Bobbi Bowman, a former Post reporter and editor who is a diversity consultant for ASNE. (Full disclosure: I sit on its board). “If you have a community of basketball players, it’s difficult for a newsroom of opera lovers to cover them.”

The Washington area has an exploding Spanish-speaking population. Yet Hispanics on The Post’s staff include only eight reporters and four supervising editors. Similarly, African Americans account for about 12 percent of the staff, but the African American percentage of the population in parts of The Post’s core circulation area is more than four times greater.

Imagine saying that only whites can cover certain neighborhoods or particular beats. The lawsuits would be flying, and the pickets would be gathering outside the Post’s offices. The Post seems to argue for re-segregation of the news: African American cover “their” neighborhood and whites their own. (And does the Post management actually imagine that only Hispanics can speak Spanish?) This is the voice of “wise Latina” Sonia Sotomayor, who assumes that ability, skills, intellectual perspective, and empathy are determined by race or ethnicity. (“Predictably, what is ‘news’ risks being seen through a white prism.”)

Alexander, seemingly inured to the perniciousness of what he is writing, sums up:

“You use diversity as an advantage in these economic times to get a leg up on the next guy,” said former Post reporter Richard Prince, who writes “Journal-isms,” an online column about minorities and the media. Or you suffer the consequences.

Welcome to the post-racial world in which race is a weapon to be wielded against competitors and a stick with which to beat hiring managers. No, it’s not remotely legal, and it is nothing short of shameful.

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ObamaCare Doing Nothing for Democrats’ Political Prospects

We were assured by the White House spin squad that ObamaCare was the solution to the administration’s doldrums and the only way for the Democrats to avoid disaster this November. It doesn’t seem to be working out that way, either for the president or his party.

Obama is geting no lift from ramming through a bill the public dislikes:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 28% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-four percent (44%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -16. . .[H]is Approval Index rating is now back to where it was last Sunday, just before the House voted in favor of his health care plan. All the bouncing of the past week has come among Democrats. There has been virtually no change in the opinions of Republicans and unaffiliated voters.

And while it may be shocking for those buying White House spin, there’s ample evidence that it’s a weight around Democrats’ ankles in key swing states:

Florida voters dislike the new healthcare law so much that President Barack Obama and the state’s top Democrat, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, are paying a hefty political price, according to a new survey and analysis by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. Only 34 percent of Florida voters support the new law while 54 percent are against it, according to the poll. Opposition is significantly strong among two crucial blocs: those older than 65 and voters with no party affiliation. Seniors disfavor the bill by a 65-25 percent margin, while independents oppose the law 62-34.

Nelson isn’t on the ballot this year, but Floridians will have congressional contests as well as one Senate and a gubernatorial race in which to express their sentiments. Unless there’s a remarkable turnaround, it seems that ObamaCare is not proving to be the cure-all the Obami promised to gullible House Democrats.

We were assured by the White House spin squad that ObamaCare was the solution to the administration’s doldrums and the only way for the Democrats to avoid disaster this November. It doesn’t seem to be working out that way, either for the president or his party.

Obama is geting no lift from ramming through a bill the public dislikes:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 28% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-four percent (44%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -16. . .[H]is Approval Index rating is now back to where it was last Sunday, just before the House voted in favor of his health care plan. All the bouncing of the past week has come among Democrats. There has been virtually no change in the opinions of Republicans and unaffiliated voters.

And while it may be shocking for those buying White House spin, there’s ample evidence that it’s a weight around Democrats’ ankles in key swing states:

Florida voters dislike the new healthcare law so much that President Barack Obama and the state’s top Democrat, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, are paying a hefty political price, according to a new survey and analysis by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. Only 34 percent of Florida voters support the new law while 54 percent are against it, according to the poll. Opposition is significantly strong among two crucial blocs: those older than 65 and voters with no party affiliation. Seniors disfavor the bill by a 65-25 percent margin, while independents oppose the law 62-34.

Nelson isn’t on the ballot this year, but Floridians will have congressional contests as well as one Senate and a gubernatorial race in which to express their sentiments. Unless there’s a remarkable turnaround, it seems that ObamaCare is not proving to be the cure-all the Obami promised to gullible House Democrats.

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Strange Herring

Billboard with picture of Jimmy Carter asks “Miss Me Yet?” No.

Reagan Republican gets star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Facebook may cause syphilis, MySpace may cause meningitis, and Leon’s getting la-a-a-r-ger.

24 is officially 0. Jack Bauer to become evangelist.

Iran apparently building two nuclear facilities in order to “explode the sun and unleash a legion of semi-mythical half-beasts to rule the galaxy as an expression of our rage.” UN gives plan the “OK.”

Avatar fans learn Na’vi between therapy sessions. Klingon, Vulcan, and conversational Spanish apparently closed.

Starbucks turns 39. In celebration, the price of a Venti Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino® Blended Crème mocha-choca latte ya-ya, with extra ya-ya, is dropping a dime, to $64.89.

Lady GaGa breaks world record by accumulating one billion hits to her Web video. In other entertainment news, Snooki explores Kierkegaard’s teleological suspension of the ethical as it relates to big hair on this week’s Jersey Shore.

Painters freer than ever to follow their muse. Sad clowns still dominant subject matter, followed by dogs playing poker and Elvis on velvet.

Twenty-five-year-old Frenchman arrested for hacking into Barack Obama’s Twitter account. So no, the president did not Tweet the lyrics to “When Doves Cry” last Thursday.

Silvio Berlusconi calls rival in Italian election ugly, cites Cicero, Machiavelli, and “the tall one” from Laverne and Shirley.

Man sentenced to prison for trying to break into prison after being released from prison. Wreaks havoc with recidivism rates. (“If they put me in general population, I’ll break into solitary confinement,” he warns.)

Steak and deep-fried food prove to be good for you, just as Woody Allen predicted.

British press mocks American animal-rights advocate.

That cutthroat get-ahead-at-any-cost colleague may just be a run-of-the-mill psychopath. Which explains the success of the iPhone.

Sinead O’Connor demands “full criminal investigation of the pope.” Vatican demands full criminal investigation of Throw Down Your Arms.

And finally, Doris Day is America’s No. 1 Favorite Actress. (Oh, so sue me…)

Billboard with picture of Jimmy Carter asks “Miss Me Yet?” No.

Reagan Republican gets star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Facebook may cause syphilis, MySpace may cause meningitis, and Leon’s getting la-a-a-r-ger.

24 is officially 0. Jack Bauer to become evangelist.

Iran apparently building two nuclear facilities in order to “explode the sun and unleash a legion of semi-mythical half-beasts to rule the galaxy as an expression of our rage.” UN gives plan the “OK.”

Avatar fans learn Na’vi between therapy sessions. Klingon, Vulcan, and conversational Spanish apparently closed.

Starbucks turns 39. In celebration, the price of a Venti Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino® Blended Crème mocha-choca latte ya-ya, with extra ya-ya, is dropping a dime, to $64.89.

Lady GaGa breaks world record by accumulating one billion hits to her Web video. In other entertainment news, Snooki explores Kierkegaard’s teleological suspension of the ethical as it relates to big hair on this week’s Jersey Shore.

Painters freer than ever to follow their muse. Sad clowns still dominant subject matter, followed by dogs playing poker and Elvis on velvet.

Twenty-five-year-old Frenchman arrested for hacking into Barack Obama’s Twitter account. So no, the president did not Tweet the lyrics to “When Doves Cry” last Thursday.

Silvio Berlusconi calls rival in Italian election ugly, cites Cicero, Machiavelli, and “the tall one” from Laverne and Shirley.

Man sentenced to prison for trying to break into prison after being released from prison. Wreaks havoc with recidivism rates. (“If they put me in general population, I’ll break into solitary confinement,” he warns.)

Steak and deep-fried food prove to be good for you, just as Woody Allen predicted.

British press mocks American animal-rights advocate.

That cutthroat get-ahead-at-any-cost colleague may just be a run-of-the-mill psychopath. Which explains the success of the iPhone.

Sinead O’Connor demands “full criminal investigation of the pope.” Vatican demands full criminal investigation of Throw Down Your Arms.

And finally, Doris Day is America’s No. 1 Favorite Actress. (Oh, so sue me…)

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Rare Praise for Andrew Sullivan

I don’t often give props these days to Andrew Sullivan, but give credit where it’s due: Andrew is willing to (tacitly) concede error. After accusing me of “glossing over” General Petraeus’s supposed criticisms of Israel, he now links to my Commentary item and to an item I had linked to by Philip Klein of the American Spectator explicating Petraeus’s actual, even-handed position — in the general’s own words. Andrew quotes another commentator acknowledging, “There really does seem to be not very much to the story about Petraeus,” and says the point is well taken.

True, Andrew does make a weak attempt to salvage something out of a story that has not gone his way:

Nonetheless, the paper Petraeus presented made a clear distinction between American interests and Israeli interests in the wider war on Jihadist terrorism. Until recently, Washington polite opinion could not publicly concede that. Now it’s taken for granted.

Whatever. I don’t think even the most rabid pro-Israel partisan would argue that American and Israeli interests are 100 percent the same. For instance, the U.S. had a major interest in toppling Saddam Hussein, whereas most Israelis didn’t care much whether he stayed in power or not. (Putting the lie, incidentally, to the risible Walt-Mearsheimer claims that the Zionist Lobby was behind the Iraq War.)

But in the present instance, Andrew is a model of intellectual honesty compared to Diana West and her acolytes on the extreme Right who continue to fulminate against Petraeus (and me) — see, e.g., this and this – posts that display, as usual with this crowd, an utter disregard for basic facts and the conventions of rational debate. Ironically, after suggesting that Petraeus is an “Islamic tool” and that General Stanley McChrystal is “a zealot” and “a high priest of the multicultural orthodoxy,” La West accuses me of engaging in “ad hominem attacks.” Pot, kettle.

I’ve probably given West and her ilk more attention than they deserve because their work is so utterly inconsequential and uninfluential. But I do believe there is a duty to police one’s own ideological precincts, and because West & Co. claim to be conservatives, I think it is important for conservatives to condemn their extremist rhetoric — as has previously happened with Pat Buchanan, Joe Sobran, and other right-wing embarrassments.

I don’t often give props these days to Andrew Sullivan, but give credit where it’s due: Andrew is willing to (tacitly) concede error. After accusing me of “glossing over” General Petraeus’s supposed criticisms of Israel, he now links to my Commentary item and to an item I had linked to by Philip Klein of the American Spectator explicating Petraeus’s actual, even-handed position — in the general’s own words. Andrew quotes another commentator acknowledging, “There really does seem to be not very much to the story about Petraeus,” and says the point is well taken.

True, Andrew does make a weak attempt to salvage something out of a story that has not gone his way:

Nonetheless, the paper Petraeus presented made a clear distinction between American interests and Israeli interests in the wider war on Jihadist terrorism. Until recently, Washington polite opinion could not publicly concede that. Now it’s taken for granted.

Whatever. I don’t think even the most rabid pro-Israel partisan would argue that American and Israeli interests are 100 percent the same. For instance, the U.S. had a major interest in toppling Saddam Hussein, whereas most Israelis didn’t care much whether he stayed in power or not. (Putting the lie, incidentally, to the risible Walt-Mearsheimer claims that the Zionist Lobby was behind the Iraq War.)

But in the present instance, Andrew is a model of intellectual honesty compared to Diana West and her acolytes on the extreme Right who continue to fulminate against Petraeus (and me) — see, e.g., this and this – posts that display, as usual with this crowd, an utter disregard for basic facts and the conventions of rational debate. Ironically, after suggesting that Petraeus is an “Islamic tool” and that General Stanley McChrystal is “a zealot” and “a high priest of the multicultural orthodoxy,” La West accuses me of engaging in “ad hominem attacks.” Pot, kettle.

I’ve probably given West and her ilk more attention than they deserve because their work is so utterly inconsequential and uninfluential. But I do believe there is a duty to police one’s own ideological precincts, and because West & Co. claim to be conservatives, I think it is important for conservatives to condemn their extremist rhetoric — as has previously happened with Pat Buchanan, Joe Sobran, and other right-wing embarrassments.

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Notes on an Ongoing Process

At Friday’s State Department news conference, one of the reporters asked Asst. Secretary of State P. J. Crowley about stories that the U.S. has watered down the proposals it has put on the table for sanctions. Crowley responded there were “significant inaccuracies” in the reports because… you can’t water down something when there is nothing to water down:

MR. CROWLEY: Clearly, we are consulting broadly as we envision how to put the appropriate level of pressure on the Iranian Government as part of our dual-track strategy. But in order to take something off the table, you have to actually put something on the table. We have not circulated a draft resolution. We are still in the consulting stage. …

But since we have not circulated a draft resolution, it’s hard to say at this point that we’re watering anything down. There’s nothing to water down. There’s nothing to take off the table. So this is an ongoing process.

So the reporter tried again:

QUESTION: Let me ask it a different way. If – understanding that there is no physical text and that nothing has been put on paper, in this idea of trading ideas back and forth on what could be included in an eventual document, would it be fair to say that some ideas have, in fact, been shot down during that process, which it would appear the article (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it’s an ongoing process. So again, I think this whole aspect is fairly premature. I mean, we have our views on what the appropriate measures might be. Other countries have a variety of views of their own, and so this is an ongoing process. …

We want to make sure that our calibration sends the right signal and puts the right pressure on the government, but spares undue hardship on the Iranian people. So there’s as much art to science in this, and this is an ongoing process.

So the reporter tried one more time:

QUESTION: Just one more on it, you did say that there were significant inaccuracies in the stories. Can you be more specific about what you find inaccurate?

MR. CROWLEY: I just think it’s premature.

QUESTION: Was it (inaudible) substantives that they were talking about it or was it the fact that things aren’t on what you call the table?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would say that in the course of this dialogue, certainly we will say what about this, and another country might say, “Nah, I don’t know about that. What about this?” …

Certainly, there are – will all of the ideas that we’ve discussed end up in a final resolution? No. But I think we are seeking a strong resolution with sanctions that have the appropriate bite, have the impact on the Iranian Government that we seek, and hopefully, with no guarantee, that it will cause Iran to reevaluate the course that it’s on.

Nearly a year ago, Hillary Clinton assured the House Foreign Affairs Committee the administration was laying the groundwork for “crippling” sanctions if “our offers are either rejected or the process is inconclusive or unsuccessful.” It is apparent now that the groundwork was not laid last year; crippling sanctions are not currently being discussed; and there is not yet even a draft resolution for sanctions with bite. We are going around saying, “What about this?” And other countries are saying “Nah.”

But it’s an ongoing process. The watering down will come later, when there is something to water down.

At Friday’s State Department news conference, one of the reporters asked Asst. Secretary of State P. J. Crowley about stories that the U.S. has watered down the proposals it has put on the table for sanctions. Crowley responded there were “significant inaccuracies” in the reports because… you can’t water down something when there is nothing to water down:

MR. CROWLEY: Clearly, we are consulting broadly as we envision how to put the appropriate level of pressure on the Iranian Government as part of our dual-track strategy. But in order to take something off the table, you have to actually put something on the table. We have not circulated a draft resolution. We are still in the consulting stage. …

But since we have not circulated a draft resolution, it’s hard to say at this point that we’re watering anything down. There’s nothing to water down. There’s nothing to take off the table. So this is an ongoing process.

So the reporter tried again:

QUESTION: Let me ask it a different way. If – understanding that there is no physical text and that nothing has been put on paper, in this idea of trading ideas back and forth on what could be included in an eventual document, would it be fair to say that some ideas have, in fact, been shot down during that process, which it would appear the article (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it’s an ongoing process. So again, I think this whole aspect is fairly premature. I mean, we have our views on what the appropriate measures might be. Other countries have a variety of views of their own, and so this is an ongoing process. …

We want to make sure that our calibration sends the right signal and puts the right pressure on the government, but spares undue hardship on the Iranian people. So there’s as much art to science in this, and this is an ongoing process.

So the reporter tried one more time:

QUESTION: Just one more on it, you did say that there were significant inaccuracies in the stories. Can you be more specific about what you find inaccurate?

MR. CROWLEY: I just think it’s premature.

QUESTION: Was it (inaudible) substantives that they were talking about it or was it the fact that things aren’t on what you call the table?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would say that in the course of this dialogue, certainly we will say what about this, and another country might say, “Nah, I don’t know about that. What about this?” …

Certainly, there are – will all of the ideas that we’ve discussed end up in a final resolution? No. But I think we are seeking a strong resolution with sanctions that have the appropriate bite, have the impact on the Iranian Government that we seek, and hopefully, with no guarantee, that it will cause Iran to reevaluate the course that it’s on.

Nearly a year ago, Hillary Clinton assured the House Foreign Affairs Committee the administration was laying the groundwork for “crippling” sanctions if “our offers are either rejected or the process is inconclusive or unsuccessful.” It is apparent now that the groundwork was not laid last year; crippling sanctions are not currently being discussed; and there is not yet even a draft resolution for sanctions with bite. We are going around saying, “What about this?” And other countries are saying “Nah.”

But it’s an ongoing process. The watering down will come later, when there is something to water down.

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Obama’s Thugocracy

The White House chests are puffed, and they are marveling at their political muscle. Health care can be rammed through, and Israel can be bullied — so what else to do? Ah, run roughshod over the Senate. The Hill reports:

President Barack Obama on Saturday wielded his recess appointment powers for the first time, clearing 15 nominees to assume posts that have remained vacant for months due to insurmountable congressional roadblocks.

Among the 15 named just days before the Senate departs for Easter recess are Craig Becker and Mark Pearce, the White House’s two, hotly contested nominees for the National Labor Relations Board.

Big Labor bosses will coo approvingly over the NLRB appointments. After all, the SEIU and AFL-CIO’s lawyer is now going to make labor law. Meanwhile, any pretense of bipartisanship or moderation has evaporated:

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) condemned the administration’s move on Saturday, adding that Becker’s appointment “is yet another episode of [the president] choosing a partisan path despite bipartisan opposition.”

“The president previously held that appointing an individual in this manner meant that the nominee would have ‘less credibility,’ and that assessment certainly fits this nomination,” the GOP leader said. “This is a purely partisan move that will make a traditionally bipartisan labor board an unbalanced agenda-driven panel.”

The only surprise: the radical lawyer Dawn Johnsen was not named to the Office of Legal Counsel. Perhaps the Obami have had enough of the accusations that the Justice Department, far from depoliticizing, has become a hotbed of ideologues.

This is the reality of Obama — unbending, ideologically extreme, and contemptuous of the other branches. He has revealed himself to be precisely what liberals used to rail against — until they got the levers of power. The Chicago pols are certainly plying their trade.

The White House chests are puffed, and they are marveling at their political muscle. Health care can be rammed through, and Israel can be bullied — so what else to do? Ah, run roughshod over the Senate. The Hill reports:

President Barack Obama on Saturday wielded his recess appointment powers for the first time, clearing 15 nominees to assume posts that have remained vacant for months due to insurmountable congressional roadblocks.

Among the 15 named just days before the Senate departs for Easter recess are Craig Becker and Mark Pearce, the White House’s two, hotly contested nominees for the National Labor Relations Board.

Big Labor bosses will coo approvingly over the NLRB appointments. After all, the SEIU and AFL-CIO’s lawyer is now going to make labor law. Meanwhile, any pretense of bipartisanship or moderation has evaporated:

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) condemned the administration’s move on Saturday, adding that Becker’s appointment “is yet another episode of [the president] choosing a partisan path despite bipartisan opposition.”

“The president previously held that appointing an individual in this manner meant that the nominee would have ‘less credibility,’ and that assessment certainly fits this nomination,” the GOP leader said. “This is a purely partisan move that will make a traditionally bipartisan labor board an unbalanced agenda-driven panel.”

The only surprise: the radical lawyer Dawn Johnsen was not named to the Office of Legal Counsel. Perhaps the Obami have had enough of the accusations that the Justice Department, far from depoliticizing, has become a hotbed of ideologues.

This is the reality of Obama — unbending, ideologically extreme, and contemptuous of the other branches. He has revealed himself to be precisely what liberals used to rail against — until they got the levers of power. The Chicago pols are certainly plying their trade.

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An Electorate Receptive to “Repeal and Replace”

Yuval Levin explains that ObamaCare is the worst of all health-care reforms — really no health-care reform at all:

In order to gain 60 votes in the Senate last winter, the Democrats were forced to give up on that public insurer, while leaving the other components of their scheme in place. The result is not even a liberal approach to escalating costs but a ticking time bomb: a scheme that will build up pressure in our private insurance system while offering no escape. Rather than reform a system that everyone agrees is unsustainable, it will subsidize that system and compel participation in it — requiring all Americans to pay ever-growing premiums to insurance companies while doing essentially nothing about the underlying causes of those rising costs.

This is why the ideologically honest Left was just as appalled as conservatives by the result. We are herding unwilling customers into the arms of insurers, passing the bill to the taxpayers, and exacerbating the problem at the nub of the health-care-cost problem — consumers do not foot their own bills and have little incentive to spend wisely and monitor costs. Conservatives have further reason to object to the scheme: “It aims to spend a trillion dollars on subsidies to large insurance companies and the expansion of Medicaid, to micromanage the insurance industry in ways likely only to raise premiums further, to cut Medicare benefits without using the money to shore up the program or reduce the deficit, and to raise taxes on employment, investment, and medical research.” In short, there is enough for everyone to hate.

As Levin points out, there is time to act, given the bill’s implementation schedule. (“No significant entitlement benefits will be made available for four years, but some significant taxes and Medicare cuts — as well as regulatory reforms that may begin to push premium prices up, especially in the individual market — will begin before then.”) Although there are some small benefits scheduled this year to entice voters to embrace ObamaCare (e.g., ban on dropping those already insured for pre-existing conditions, requirements to keep twenty-somethings on their parents’ insurance), these are limited and in some cases duplicate existing state regulations. (Moreover, those who already have insurance — some 80 percent of the population — surely are among the most likely voters.)  Meanwhile, employers are taking a hit and informing their shareholders and employees of the perils of ObamaCare, and the cost problem that was the rationale for the bill worsens:

Rather than reducing costs, Obamacare will increase national health expenditures by more than $200 billion, according to the Obama administration’s own HHS actuary. Premiums in the individual market will increase by more than 10 percent very quickly, and middle-class families in the new exchanges (where large numbers of Americans who now receive coverage through their employers will find themselves dumped) will be forced to choose from a very limited menu of government-approved plans, the cheapest of which, CBO estimates, will cost more than $12,000.

Throw in a plethora of new taxes and perverse incentives for employers to drop their employees from coverage, and you can see why it is an “unmitigated disaster — for our health care system, for our fiscal future, and for any notion of limited government.” But there is time to rip it up and start again. There is no shortage of market-based alternative plans from conservatives. But first, the existing one must be abandoned before it can do permanent damage to the health-care system and to our economy. That is the rallying cry for conservatives this year and in 2012 — to prevent the wrecking ball before it hits its target and to offer a better alternative. Rarely is there such a stark choice for voters, but there is no fuzzying up the differences between the two sides on this one. Are you for or against a giant new entitlement program? Do you think individuals should be forced to buy insurance plans they don’t want? Is it smart to levy huge new taxes when the economic recovery is stalled? If framed clearly, the “Repeal and Replace” brigade has a compelling position.

The unfolding debate also comes within a certain context, one the Obama administration chooses to ignore. The public has not, contrary to the Left’s expectations, become enamored of big government in the wake of the financial meltdown. To the contrary, the bailouts and stimulus plan have engendered suspicion and contempt. The “Trust us, it’s working!” rhetoric has contributed to the public’s growing unease with governing elites. And the mound of debt has reinforced the public’s suspicion that the White House and Congress are unserious and ill-equipped to address our fiscal train wreck. In other words, the “Repeal and Replace” contingent will be making its case to an electorate already predisposed to accept much of its argument.

Yuval Levin explains that ObamaCare is the worst of all health-care reforms — really no health-care reform at all:

In order to gain 60 votes in the Senate last winter, the Democrats were forced to give up on that public insurer, while leaving the other components of their scheme in place. The result is not even a liberal approach to escalating costs but a ticking time bomb: a scheme that will build up pressure in our private insurance system while offering no escape. Rather than reform a system that everyone agrees is unsustainable, it will subsidize that system and compel participation in it — requiring all Americans to pay ever-growing premiums to insurance companies while doing essentially nothing about the underlying causes of those rising costs.

This is why the ideologically honest Left was just as appalled as conservatives by the result. We are herding unwilling customers into the arms of insurers, passing the bill to the taxpayers, and exacerbating the problem at the nub of the health-care-cost problem — consumers do not foot their own bills and have little incentive to spend wisely and monitor costs. Conservatives have further reason to object to the scheme: “It aims to spend a trillion dollars on subsidies to large insurance companies and the expansion of Medicaid, to micromanage the insurance industry in ways likely only to raise premiums further, to cut Medicare benefits without using the money to shore up the program or reduce the deficit, and to raise taxes on employment, investment, and medical research.” In short, there is enough for everyone to hate.

As Levin points out, there is time to act, given the bill’s implementation schedule. (“No significant entitlement benefits will be made available for four years, but some significant taxes and Medicare cuts — as well as regulatory reforms that may begin to push premium prices up, especially in the individual market — will begin before then.”) Although there are some small benefits scheduled this year to entice voters to embrace ObamaCare (e.g., ban on dropping those already insured for pre-existing conditions, requirements to keep twenty-somethings on their parents’ insurance), these are limited and in some cases duplicate existing state regulations. (Moreover, those who already have insurance — some 80 percent of the population — surely are among the most likely voters.)  Meanwhile, employers are taking a hit and informing their shareholders and employees of the perils of ObamaCare, and the cost problem that was the rationale for the bill worsens:

Rather than reducing costs, Obamacare will increase national health expenditures by more than $200 billion, according to the Obama administration’s own HHS actuary. Premiums in the individual market will increase by more than 10 percent very quickly, and middle-class families in the new exchanges (where large numbers of Americans who now receive coverage through their employers will find themselves dumped) will be forced to choose from a very limited menu of government-approved plans, the cheapest of which, CBO estimates, will cost more than $12,000.

Throw in a plethora of new taxes and perverse incentives for employers to drop their employees from coverage, and you can see why it is an “unmitigated disaster — for our health care system, for our fiscal future, and for any notion of limited government.” But there is time to rip it up and start again. There is no shortage of market-based alternative plans from conservatives. But first, the existing one must be abandoned before it can do permanent damage to the health-care system and to our economy. That is the rallying cry for conservatives this year and in 2012 — to prevent the wrecking ball before it hits its target and to offer a better alternative. Rarely is there such a stark choice for voters, but there is no fuzzying up the differences between the two sides on this one. Are you for or against a giant new entitlement program? Do you think individuals should be forced to buy insurance plans they don’t want? Is it smart to levy huge new taxes when the economic recovery is stalled? If framed clearly, the “Repeal and Replace” brigade has a compelling position.

The unfolding debate also comes within a certain context, one the Obama administration chooses to ignore. The public has not, contrary to the Left’s expectations, become enamored of big government in the wake of the financial meltdown. To the contrary, the bailouts and stimulus plan have engendered suspicion and contempt. The “Trust us, it’s working!” rhetoric has contributed to the public’s growing unease with governing elites. And the mound of debt has reinforced the public’s suspicion that the White House and Congress are unserious and ill-equipped to address our fiscal train wreck. In other words, the “Repeal and Replace” contingent will be making its case to an electorate already predisposed to accept much of its argument.

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Hostility to Israel Plays out

Given the Obami’s assault on Israel’s building in its eternal capital, this should come as no surprise:

The chief of the Arab League warned Saturday that Israel’s actions could bring about a final end to the Middle East peace process. Amr Moussa urged an Arab leadership summit in Libya on Saturday to forge a new strategy to pressure Israel, saying the peace process could not be “an open ended process.”

“We must prepare for the possibility that the peace process will be a complete failure,” Moussa said. “This is the time to stand up to Israel. We must find alternative options, because the situation appears to have reached a turning point.”

Speaking at the event, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said there would be no peace agreement without ending the occupation of Palestinian land, first and foremost east Jerusalem. He accused Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu’s government of trying to create a de facto situation in Jerusalem that would torpedo any future peace settlement.

Then the increasingly Islamic-tilting Turkish government gets into the act:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a guest at the summit, said in his speech that the Israeli “violation” of peace in Jerusalem and Muslim holy sites was unacceptable. Erdogan said that the Israeli position defining the whole of Jerusalem as its united capital was “madness.” Israeli construction in east Jerusalem was completely unjustified, he said

The UN, of course, can’t be left out of the Israel bash-a-thon. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pipes up:

Ban called for the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip which has created an “unacceptable and unsustainable” situation on the ground.Ban reiterated his condemnation of settlement activity in east Jerusalem, describing the settlements as “illegal.” “Like all of you, I was deeply dismayed when Israel advanced planning to build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem. There are several other recent unilateral actions as well,” Ban said noting Israel”s recent announcement of plans to construct another 20 dwellings and tensions surrounding the Al-Aqsa mosque, among others.

This is not only predictable; it is frankly by design — the Obami’s bully-boy pressure tactics encourage others to pile on. Obama thereby endears (he supposes) the U.S. administration to the “international community” — which, of course, seeks not a secure and peaceful Israel but a hamstrung and delegitimized (if not entirely eradicated) one.

As Bill Kristol explains, the Obami’s anti-Israel bent is no accident but part of his larger approach, which seeks realignment in Middle East policy as Obama becomes not the leader of a single nation or even of the alliance of democracies but the wise mediator for all humanity:

And there’s no better way to be a leader of humanity than to show disapproval of the Jewish state. Sure, Obama’s turn against Israel will make it less likely that Palestinians will negotiate seriously with her. Sure, it will embolden radical Arabs and Muslims against those who would like their nations to take a different, more responsible, course. Sure, it’s a distraction from the real challenge of Iran. But the turn against Israel is ultimately a key part of what Obamaism is all about. That’s why there’s been so little attempt by the administration to reassure friends of Israel that Obama has been acting more in sorrow than in anger. Obama’s proud of his anger at the stiff-necked Jewish state. It puts him in sync with the rest of the world.

In this, we see the intersection of Obama’s multilateralism, his aversion to American exceptionalism, his fetish with his own international popularity, his obsession with engaging despots, his disinterest in promoting human rights, and his hostility toward the Jewish state. They are interlocking pieces in the greater Obama vision — each reenforces the other and makes more precarious the security of not only Israel but also the United States. Obama may suppose he is making America more popular or reducing conflict with rogue states, but instead, he is fueling the ambitions of aggressive despots and frittering away America’s moral standing. We are abetting an international free-for-all as the world’s bullies look for openings to assert themselves and to show just how dangerous it is to be a small democratic ally of the U.S.

Given the Obami’s assault on Israel’s building in its eternal capital, this should come as no surprise:

The chief of the Arab League warned Saturday that Israel’s actions could bring about a final end to the Middle East peace process. Amr Moussa urged an Arab leadership summit in Libya on Saturday to forge a new strategy to pressure Israel, saying the peace process could not be “an open ended process.”

“We must prepare for the possibility that the peace process will be a complete failure,” Moussa said. “This is the time to stand up to Israel. We must find alternative options, because the situation appears to have reached a turning point.”

Speaking at the event, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said there would be no peace agreement without ending the occupation of Palestinian land, first and foremost east Jerusalem. He accused Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu’s government of trying to create a de facto situation in Jerusalem that would torpedo any future peace settlement.

Then the increasingly Islamic-tilting Turkish government gets into the act:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a guest at the summit, said in his speech that the Israeli “violation” of peace in Jerusalem and Muslim holy sites was unacceptable. Erdogan said that the Israeli position defining the whole of Jerusalem as its united capital was “madness.” Israeli construction in east Jerusalem was completely unjustified, he said

The UN, of course, can’t be left out of the Israel bash-a-thon. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pipes up:

Ban called for the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip which has created an “unacceptable and unsustainable” situation on the ground.Ban reiterated his condemnation of settlement activity in east Jerusalem, describing the settlements as “illegal.” “Like all of you, I was deeply dismayed when Israel advanced planning to build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem. There are several other recent unilateral actions as well,” Ban said noting Israel”s recent announcement of plans to construct another 20 dwellings and tensions surrounding the Al-Aqsa mosque, among others.

This is not only predictable; it is frankly by design — the Obami’s bully-boy pressure tactics encourage others to pile on. Obama thereby endears (he supposes) the U.S. administration to the “international community” — which, of course, seeks not a secure and peaceful Israel but a hamstrung and delegitimized (if not entirely eradicated) one.

As Bill Kristol explains, the Obami’s anti-Israel bent is no accident but part of his larger approach, which seeks realignment in Middle East policy as Obama becomes not the leader of a single nation or even of the alliance of democracies but the wise mediator for all humanity:

And there’s no better way to be a leader of humanity than to show disapproval of the Jewish state. Sure, Obama’s turn against Israel will make it less likely that Palestinians will negotiate seriously with her. Sure, it will embolden radical Arabs and Muslims against those who would like their nations to take a different, more responsible, course. Sure, it’s a distraction from the real challenge of Iran. But the turn against Israel is ultimately a key part of what Obamaism is all about. That’s why there’s been so little attempt by the administration to reassure friends of Israel that Obama has been acting more in sorrow than in anger. Obama’s proud of his anger at the stiff-necked Jewish state. It puts him in sync with the rest of the world.

In this, we see the intersection of Obama’s multilateralism, his aversion to American exceptionalism, his fetish with his own international popularity, his obsession with engaging despots, his disinterest in promoting human rights, and his hostility toward the Jewish state. They are interlocking pieces in the greater Obama vision — each reenforces the other and makes more precarious the security of not only Israel but also the United States. Obama may suppose he is making America more popular or reducing conflict with rogue states, but instead, he is fueling the ambitions of aggressive despots and frittering away America’s moral standing. We are abetting an international free-for-all as the world’s bullies look for openings to assert themselves and to show just how dangerous it is to be a small democratic ally of the U.S.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Congressional candidate Doug Pike explains why he’s dumping J Street and sending its money back: “I am also troubled by J Street’s position that Israel needs to end construction of any new housing units in East Jerusalem — an issue inflamed by the recent ill-timed announcement of a go-head for a 1600-unit project there. While this might seem an acceptable price for getting the Palestinians back to the bargaining table, underlying it is the Palestinians’ unrealistic hope of retaking control of East Jerusalem. Because I see Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, I do not like to hear loud voices in Washington — including top administration officials and J Street’s leadership — demanding an end to all housing construction in East Jerusalem.”

The Obami are uninterested in the really crippling sanctions (e.g., petroleum), so how much can Congress really do? Not much: “Rules without enforcement don’t mean much. That’s the new tone the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its supporters on Capitol Hill are taking when it comes to Iran sanctions. This week, congressional appropriators close to AIPAC moved to introduce enforcement language that would penalize federal agencies that contract with companies doing business with the Islamic Republic.”

And while we dawdle: “Six months after the revelation of a secret nuclear enrichment site in Iran, international inspectors and Western intelligence agencies say they suspect that Tehran is preparing to build more sites in defiance of United Nations demands. The United Nations inspectors assigned to monitor Iran’s nuclear program are now searching for evidence of two such sites, prompted by recent comments by a top Iranian official that drew little attention in the West, and are looking into a mystery about the whereabouts of recently manufactured uranium.”

Obama imagines he’s moving toward a nuclear-free world with a new START deal. Jamie Fly says there’s less than meets the eye: “In reality, the new agreement doesn’t achieve much — the Russians, unable to pay for their current nuclear forces, have already of their own volition cut the number of launchers to the treaty’s new level. The reductions of strategic deployed nuclear weapons are not that far below the levels obtained under the 2002 Moscow Treaty. The treaty also faces an uncertain future in the Senate. It is uncertain in part because the administration has only released limited information about the treaty’s details.”

Kathleen Parker gets this right on ObamaCare’s impact on abortion funding: “Prediction: Abortions will be performed at community health centers. You can bet your foreclosed mortgage on that. There was always a will by this administration, and now there’s a way.”

Another dose of ObamaCare reality: “Across the country, state officials are wading through the minutiae of the health care overhaul to understand just how their governments will be affected. Even with much still to be digested, it is clear the law may be as much of a burden to some state budgets as it is a boon to uninsured consumers.”

Whatever bounce Obama got in his approval ratings from passage of his signature legislative issue seems to have fizzled. But that’s nothing compared to the ratings for Congress – Pollster.com’s average pegs it at 78.1 percent disapproval and 11.7 percent approval. That’s worse than Gov. David Paterson.

Congressional candidate Doug Pike explains why he’s dumping J Street and sending its money back: “I am also troubled by J Street’s position that Israel needs to end construction of any new housing units in East Jerusalem — an issue inflamed by the recent ill-timed announcement of a go-head for a 1600-unit project there. While this might seem an acceptable price for getting the Palestinians back to the bargaining table, underlying it is the Palestinians’ unrealistic hope of retaking control of East Jerusalem. Because I see Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, I do not like to hear loud voices in Washington — including top administration officials and J Street’s leadership — demanding an end to all housing construction in East Jerusalem.”

The Obami are uninterested in the really crippling sanctions (e.g., petroleum), so how much can Congress really do? Not much: “Rules without enforcement don’t mean much. That’s the new tone the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its supporters on Capitol Hill are taking when it comes to Iran sanctions. This week, congressional appropriators close to AIPAC moved to introduce enforcement language that would penalize federal agencies that contract with companies doing business with the Islamic Republic.”

And while we dawdle: “Six months after the revelation of a secret nuclear enrichment site in Iran, international inspectors and Western intelligence agencies say they suspect that Tehran is preparing to build more sites in defiance of United Nations demands. The United Nations inspectors assigned to monitor Iran’s nuclear program are now searching for evidence of two such sites, prompted by recent comments by a top Iranian official that drew little attention in the West, and are looking into a mystery about the whereabouts of recently manufactured uranium.”

Obama imagines he’s moving toward a nuclear-free world with a new START deal. Jamie Fly says there’s less than meets the eye: “In reality, the new agreement doesn’t achieve much — the Russians, unable to pay for their current nuclear forces, have already of their own volition cut the number of launchers to the treaty’s new level. The reductions of strategic deployed nuclear weapons are not that far below the levels obtained under the 2002 Moscow Treaty. The treaty also faces an uncertain future in the Senate. It is uncertain in part because the administration has only released limited information about the treaty’s details.”

Kathleen Parker gets this right on ObamaCare’s impact on abortion funding: “Prediction: Abortions will be performed at community health centers. You can bet your foreclosed mortgage on that. There was always a will by this administration, and now there’s a way.”

Another dose of ObamaCare reality: “Across the country, state officials are wading through the minutiae of the health care overhaul to understand just how their governments will be affected. Even with much still to be digested, it is clear the law may be as much of a burden to some state budgets as it is a boon to uninsured consumers.”

Whatever bounce Obama got in his approval ratings from passage of his signature legislative issue seems to have fizzled. But that’s nothing compared to the ratings for Congress – Pollster.com’s average pegs it at 78.1 percent disapproval and 11.7 percent approval. That’s worse than Gov. David Paterson.

Read Less




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