Commentary Magazine


Posts For: April 1, 2010

RE: The Futile Engagement-Pressure-Containment-Engagement Loop

Rick, you make a keen comparison between North Korea and Iran.

Events of last week offered a chilling hypothetical. Last Friday, news broke that a South Korean naval ship sank near the border uneasily shared with North Korea. Immediately, speculation arose that Pyongyang had intentionally attacked the vessel.

This would be less than surprising, considering that within the last year, among other acts of intransigence and aggression, North Korea has conducted nuclear tests, repeatedly threatened attacks against South Korea and the U.S., and captured South Korean fishermen who had crossed into disputed waters. Yet South Korea has since determined that North Korean involvement in the vessel’s sinking is unlikely.

But suppose for a moment that Pyongyang really had attacked. As a former editor of mine pointed out in a conversation over the weekend, the reaction of the international community would have been limited. Precisely because North Korea possesses nuclear arms, South Korea and the world would have been forced to tread cautiously.

It’s also worth noting that six-party talks — a.k.a. engagement — did not prevent Pyongyang from acquiring nuclear weapons.

In July 2006, just as North Korea was testing its rocket-delivery system, I was traveling in South Korea and Japan, two member-countries of the six-party talks. I remember the uneasiness and frustration expressed by several journalists there as the rocket launched. It was odd and frightening to think that, beyond my sight, a rocket was whizzing past, and with it, the international balance was shifting. By October 2006, just three months later, it was too late for the world to do much. North Korea had become the world’s eighth atomic power.

Since then, North Korea has been a constant problem. It has been hard enough to get Pyongyang to merely participate in six-party talks — much less make substantive concessions. In May 2009, the DPRK went so far as to call talks with the United States “meaningless.” Nuclear-weapon status has only emboldened Kim Jong-il and his followers. They are an armed agent of instability in Asia.

The Obama administration should consider the North Korean precedent as it determines how to deal with Iran. One thing is certain: the United States’s problem-solving flexibility will only decrease as Iran approaches nuclear-power status.

Rick, you make a keen comparison between North Korea and Iran.

Events of last week offered a chilling hypothetical. Last Friday, news broke that a South Korean naval ship sank near the border uneasily shared with North Korea. Immediately, speculation arose that Pyongyang had intentionally attacked the vessel.

This would be less than surprising, considering that within the last year, among other acts of intransigence and aggression, North Korea has conducted nuclear tests, repeatedly threatened attacks against South Korea and the U.S., and captured South Korean fishermen who had crossed into disputed waters. Yet South Korea has since determined that North Korean involvement in the vessel’s sinking is unlikely.

But suppose for a moment that Pyongyang really had attacked. As a former editor of mine pointed out in a conversation over the weekend, the reaction of the international community would have been limited. Precisely because North Korea possesses nuclear arms, South Korea and the world would have been forced to tread cautiously.

It’s also worth noting that six-party talks — a.k.a. engagement — did not prevent Pyongyang from acquiring nuclear weapons.

In July 2006, just as North Korea was testing its rocket-delivery system, I was traveling in South Korea and Japan, two member-countries of the six-party talks. I remember the uneasiness and frustration expressed by several journalists there as the rocket launched. It was odd and frightening to think that, beyond my sight, a rocket was whizzing past, and with it, the international balance was shifting. By October 2006, just three months later, it was too late for the world to do much. North Korea had become the world’s eighth atomic power.

Since then, North Korea has been a constant problem. It has been hard enough to get Pyongyang to merely participate in six-party talks — much less make substantive concessions. In May 2009, the DPRK went so far as to call talks with the United States “meaningless.” Nuclear-weapon status has only emboldened Kim Jong-il and his followers. They are an armed agent of instability in Asia.

The Obama administration should consider the North Korean precedent as it determines how to deal with Iran. One thing is certain: the United States’s problem-solving flexibility will only decrease as Iran approaches nuclear-power status.

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China Announcement Means More Stalling on Iran

Yesterday’s announcement that China had agreed to enter talks about the language of a new United Nations resolution about Iran’s nuclear program was hyped by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as evidence that all five Security Council members were “unified” on the issue. Of course, even Clinton conceded that this meant that there would be “a great deal of further consultation” in the weeks and months ahead.

But even before President Obama’s foreign-policy cheering section had a chance to get excited about this supposed breakthrough, the Chinese poured cold water on the president’s expectation that sanctions would happen soon. Today, the New York Times reports that it appears China’s position hasn’t moved at all: “Qin Gang, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, appeared to steer clear from any commitment for sanctions. ‘On the Iranian nuclear issue, China will continue to endeavor toward a peaceful resolution,’ he said during a regular news conference on Thursday, emphasizing that the crisis should be resolved by ‘diplomatic means.’ ”

If this sounds remarkably similar to what China has said before in a series of statements on Iran in the last year, it’s not an accident. This is pretty much what they have been saying all along as they refused to countenance Iranian sanctions that either “bite” or are “crippling,” to use the words Clinton has employed to describe what the United States desires.

So let’s recap the past 15 months of American diplomacy on Iran. After several months of fruitless attempts to “engage” Iran to get them to play nice, the Obama administration set several deadlines that ultimately turned out to be Jan. 1, 2010, for the Iranians to respond. Of course, the Iranians didn’t respond, a development that triggered three months of the United States talking about getting Iran’s defenders on the Security Council — China and Russia — to talk about sanctions. And after this diplomatic offensive, all the Chinese have agreed to do is, you guessed it, talk some more about what eventually might be the language of a resolution. Which means that even if the Chinese aren’t merely stalling, the best we can hope for is several months of negotiations followed by the possible passage of a watered-down UN resolution that will neither “bite” nor “cripple” Iran.

That means that after wasting all 2009 on feckless appeasement and failed diplomacy, the most Obama can possibly hope to show for 2010 will be more failed diplomacy that produces a sanctions resolution that will do nothing to punish Iran or persuade it to back away from its drive for nuclear weapons. While we don’t doubt that the president’s acolytes will trumpet this as a great achievement, it translates into two free years of nuclear development for a regime that, as we learned last weekend, isn’t shy about letting the world know about its plans for developing even more nuclear sites.

Rather than placing pressure on Iran, what Obama has done is to grant it impunity to continue on a path toward nuclear development that will further empower this tyrannical Islamist regime and destabilize the Middle East. Though the administration continues to insist that stopping Iran is a priority, everything it has done has given Tehran confidence to continue toward its nuclear goal. All of which compels us to ask again: is Obama merely an incompetent foreign-policy president, or is he so focused on distancing himself from Israel and outreach to the Muslim world that he is actually prepared to live with a nuclear Iran?

Yesterday’s announcement that China had agreed to enter talks about the language of a new United Nations resolution about Iran’s nuclear program was hyped by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as evidence that all five Security Council members were “unified” on the issue. Of course, even Clinton conceded that this meant that there would be “a great deal of further consultation” in the weeks and months ahead.

But even before President Obama’s foreign-policy cheering section had a chance to get excited about this supposed breakthrough, the Chinese poured cold water on the president’s expectation that sanctions would happen soon. Today, the New York Times reports that it appears China’s position hasn’t moved at all: “Qin Gang, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, appeared to steer clear from any commitment for sanctions. ‘On the Iranian nuclear issue, China will continue to endeavor toward a peaceful resolution,’ he said during a regular news conference on Thursday, emphasizing that the crisis should be resolved by ‘diplomatic means.’ ”

If this sounds remarkably similar to what China has said before in a series of statements on Iran in the last year, it’s not an accident. This is pretty much what they have been saying all along as they refused to countenance Iranian sanctions that either “bite” or are “crippling,” to use the words Clinton has employed to describe what the United States desires.

So let’s recap the past 15 months of American diplomacy on Iran. After several months of fruitless attempts to “engage” Iran to get them to play nice, the Obama administration set several deadlines that ultimately turned out to be Jan. 1, 2010, for the Iranians to respond. Of course, the Iranians didn’t respond, a development that triggered three months of the United States talking about getting Iran’s defenders on the Security Council — China and Russia — to talk about sanctions. And after this diplomatic offensive, all the Chinese have agreed to do is, you guessed it, talk some more about what eventually might be the language of a resolution. Which means that even if the Chinese aren’t merely stalling, the best we can hope for is several months of negotiations followed by the possible passage of a watered-down UN resolution that will neither “bite” nor “cripple” Iran.

That means that after wasting all 2009 on feckless appeasement and failed diplomacy, the most Obama can possibly hope to show for 2010 will be more failed diplomacy that produces a sanctions resolution that will do nothing to punish Iran or persuade it to back away from its drive for nuclear weapons. While we don’t doubt that the president’s acolytes will trumpet this as a great achievement, it translates into two free years of nuclear development for a regime that, as we learned last weekend, isn’t shy about letting the world know about its plans for developing even more nuclear sites.

Rather than placing pressure on Iran, what Obama has done is to grant it impunity to continue on a path toward nuclear development that will further empower this tyrannical Islamist regime and destabilize the Middle East. Though the administration continues to insist that stopping Iran is a priority, everything it has done has given Tehran confidence to continue toward its nuclear goal. All of which compels us to ask again: is Obama merely an incompetent foreign-policy president, or is he so focused on distancing himself from Israel and outreach to the Muslim world that he is actually prepared to live with a nuclear Iran?

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The Futile Engagement-Pressure-Containment-Engagement Loop

At yesterday’s State Department news conference, Acting Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner was asked about President Obama’s statement that UN sanctions on Iran could occur “within weeks.” Toner confirmed there is not yet a draft resolution and cautioned that Obama had “noted that we don’t have international consensus yet.” But as we enter the fourth month after Iran ignored the last of the president’s deadlines, a conference call to pursue lowest-common-denominator sanctions “shows how serious we are.” Toner continued:

What we do have is broad support among the P-5+1 for a dual-track approach. The President was quite clear yesterday in saying that we’ve tried the engagement track and we’re now moving towards the pressure track. The engagement part of it is not off the table, but we’re moving with deliberation on the pressure track now. And we’re consulting, and the P-5+1 call within that context just shows how serious we are.

Haaretz describes the conference call Toner referenced, in which the U.S., Russia, Britain, Germany, France, and China reportedly agreed to begin drafting a UN resolution. “While the agreement seems to be an achievement for the Obama administration, China will agree only to relatively weak sanctions, [Reuters] quoted diplomats as saying.”

The sanctions – which the administration was supposedly working on all last year to prepare for the possibility that engagement might not succeed — will not be crippling; they will “bite” only around Iran’s ankles; and it is unclear, in Sarah Palin’s phrase, whether they will even “nibble.” But after they fail, we will move to containment, and then we will be in the same situation we currently face with North Korea — which Toner also described yesterday:

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton said yesterday at the joint press briefing with G-8 foreign ministers that North Korea already has nuclear weapons. So isn’t [the] new U.S. Government position to acknowledge North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons?

MR. TONER: On North Korea, I would just say that we remain steadfastly committed to getting the Six-Party Talks going again. North Korea knows what it has to do and we’re trying to get them back to the negotiating table.

QUESTION: Yeah, but how about the fact that they already have nuclear weapons? That’s what she mentioned yesterday.

MR. TONER: We’re still – our goal remains the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That’s what we’re trying to achieve through the Six-Party process. So we just urge North Korea to get back to the negotiating table.

Watching U.S. diplomacy with North Korea, Iran can feel some confidence about what will happen if it completes its nuclear-weapons program: undoubtedly, we will still be steadfastly committed to getting talks with Iran going again; we will state that Iran knows what it has to do (let us process their nuclear fuel for them while we talk); we will repeat that our goal remains the denuclearization of the Middle East; and we will urge Iran to return to the negotiating table.

The engagement strategy is a unique contribution to American diplomacy: it is used only on adversaries (allies get less courteous treatment); it is never off the table; it remains there while other options are pursued; it will still be there when they fail; and it will continue even after it is overtaken by events. The Haaretz report ends with a small vignette indicating engagement may be somewhat harder later on:

When a senior representative from Pyongyang was asked in Moscow last month at an international conference on nuclear proliferation what assurances his country needed for its security, he said: “We do not have to talk. We have nuclear weapons.”

At yesterday’s State Department news conference, Acting Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner was asked about President Obama’s statement that UN sanctions on Iran could occur “within weeks.” Toner confirmed there is not yet a draft resolution and cautioned that Obama had “noted that we don’t have international consensus yet.” But as we enter the fourth month after Iran ignored the last of the president’s deadlines, a conference call to pursue lowest-common-denominator sanctions “shows how serious we are.” Toner continued:

What we do have is broad support among the P-5+1 for a dual-track approach. The President was quite clear yesterday in saying that we’ve tried the engagement track and we’re now moving towards the pressure track. The engagement part of it is not off the table, but we’re moving with deliberation on the pressure track now. And we’re consulting, and the P-5+1 call within that context just shows how serious we are.

Haaretz describes the conference call Toner referenced, in which the U.S., Russia, Britain, Germany, France, and China reportedly agreed to begin drafting a UN resolution. “While the agreement seems to be an achievement for the Obama administration, China will agree only to relatively weak sanctions, [Reuters] quoted diplomats as saying.”

The sanctions – which the administration was supposedly working on all last year to prepare for the possibility that engagement might not succeed — will not be crippling; they will “bite” only around Iran’s ankles; and it is unclear, in Sarah Palin’s phrase, whether they will even “nibble.” But after they fail, we will move to containment, and then we will be in the same situation we currently face with North Korea — which Toner also described yesterday:

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton said yesterday at the joint press briefing with G-8 foreign ministers that North Korea already has nuclear weapons. So isn’t [the] new U.S. Government position to acknowledge North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons?

MR. TONER: On North Korea, I would just say that we remain steadfastly committed to getting the Six-Party Talks going again. North Korea knows what it has to do and we’re trying to get them back to the negotiating table.

QUESTION: Yeah, but how about the fact that they already have nuclear weapons? That’s what she mentioned yesterday.

MR. TONER: We’re still – our goal remains the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That’s what we’re trying to achieve through the Six-Party process. So we just urge North Korea to get back to the negotiating table.

Watching U.S. diplomacy with North Korea, Iran can feel some confidence about what will happen if it completes its nuclear-weapons program: undoubtedly, we will still be steadfastly committed to getting talks with Iran going again; we will state that Iran knows what it has to do (let us process their nuclear fuel for them while we talk); we will repeat that our goal remains the denuclearization of the Middle East; and we will urge Iran to return to the negotiating table.

The engagement strategy is a unique contribution to American diplomacy: it is used only on adversaries (allies get less courteous treatment); it is never off the table; it remains there while other options are pursued; it will still be there when they fail; and it will continue even after it is overtaken by events. The Haaretz report ends with a small vignette indicating engagement may be somewhat harder later on:

When a senior representative from Pyongyang was asked in Moscow last month at an international conference on nuclear proliferation what assurances his country needed for its security, he said: “We do not have to talk. We have nuclear weapons.”

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Pointing the Finger at Big Government

Earlier this week, Peter Wallison presented a contrarian speech at the Hudson Institute, New York, detailing how the financial crisis was caused by government policy — not Wall Street greed, or the interconnectedness of financial institutions, or insufficient regulation, or any of the other political scapegoats blamed promiscuously throughout the collapse. (You can find a more detailed, albeit older, version of Wallison’s argument here.)

Most striking was Wallison’s condemnation of the Community Reinvestment Act and the like, which he says arm-twisted financial institutions into knowingly making bad investments, giving funds (subprime and Alt-A loans) to home buyers who were obviously unlikely to ever pay the money back. Those investments — which substantially underpinned the economy — were almost certain to fail from the beginning.

If Wallison is right, the Community Reinvestment Act is a smoking gun, and the hand holding it belongs to Uncle Sam.

To blame the Community Reinvestment Act is not, by any stretch, a new idea. And, not surprising, it has been disputed by Paul Krugman and economists from the Federal Reserve and the FDIC.

But the idea is worth mentioning because conservatives are unnecessarily losing ground in the public arena. Enemies of the free market have made their case with evocative, emotionally charged talking points. They stir public discontent by showing glamorized men of wealth and taste who travel in private planes, sipping champagne and cognac while America burns.

Blaming regulation is less sexy for sure. It’s also more vague. How much of the public can cite the specific ways the government has meddled in the market? How much of the public knows about encroachments like the Community Reinvestment Act?

But especially after ObamaCare, angry citizens want specific talking points. And overreaching politicians are as provocative and sinister as any Wall Street demon. Wallison also noted that if the government really wanted to subsidize housing, it should have done so honestly — by putting the funds to do so on the budget. Instead, it chose to coerce financial institutions to do its dirty work. Conservatives need to point to the regulatory causes — the Community Reinvestment Act being one of many examples — and make their case.

Wallison’s argument is timely because, as part of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, tasked with exploring the origins of the crisis, he’ll be fighting to present his explanation to Congress on Dec. 15, 2010. He’s outnumbered by Democrats on the commission, who might dominate the written report, in which case his ideas will be presented in dissent.

When Congress considers what caused the financial crisis, conservatives should pay attention. Even if those like Wallison must speak as a dissenting minority, there’s an opportunity to revive dinner-table debate. And as elections approach, it’s important to convince Main Street of the truth Wall Street already knows.

Earlier this week, Peter Wallison presented a contrarian speech at the Hudson Institute, New York, detailing how the financial crisis was caused by government policy — not Wall Street greed, or the interconnectedness of financial institutions, or insufficient regulation, or any of the other political scapegoats blamed promiscuously throughout the collapse. (You can find a more detailed, albeit older, version of Wallison’s argument here.)

Most striking was Wallison’s condemnation of the Community Reinvestment Act and the like, which he says arm-twisted financial institutions into knowingly making bad investments, giving funds (subprime and Alt-A loans) to home buyers who were obviously unlikely to ever pay the money back. Those investments — which substantially underpinned the economy — were almost certain to fail from the beginning.

If Wallison is right, the Community Reinvestment Act is a smoking gun, and the hand holding it belongs to Uncle Sam.

To blame the Community Reinvestment Act is not, by any stretch, a new idea. And, not surprising, it has been disputed by Paul Krugman and economists from the Federal Reserve and the FDIC.

But the idea is worth mentioning because conservatives are unnecessarily losing ground in the public arena. Enemies of the free market have made their case with evocative, emotionally charged talking points. They stir public discontent by showing glamorized men of wealth and taste who travel in private planes, sipping champagne and cognac while America burns.

Blaming regulation is less sexy for sure. It’s also more vague. How much of the public can cite the specific ways the government has meddled in the market? How much of the public knows about encroachments like the Community Reinvestment Act?

But especially after ObamaCare, angry citizens want specific talking points. And overreaching politicians are as provocative and sinister as any Wall Street demon. Wallison also noted that if the government really wanted to subsidize housing, it should have done so honestly — by putting the funds to do so on the budget. Instead, it chose to coerce financial institutions to do its dirty work. Conservatives need to point to the regulatory causes — the Community Reinvestment Act being one of many examples — and make their case.

Wallison’s argument is timely because, as part of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, tasked with exploring the origins of the crisis, he’ll be fighting to present his explanation to Congress on Dec. 15, 2010. He’s outnumbered by Democrats on the commission, who might dominate the written report, in which case his ideas will be presented in dissent.

When Congress considers what caused the financial crisis, conservatives should pay attention. Even if those like Wallison must speak as a dissenting minority, there’s an opportunity to revive dinner-table debate. And as elections approach, it’s important to convince Main Street of the truth Wall Street already knows.

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Hillary Clinton’s Meddling

The ideological extremism of the Obama administration keeps popping up on an almost daily basis, like a game of whack-a-mole. The latest example comes to us courtesy of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in Canada, where she was lecturing Canadians on how they should be more pro-abortion.

Secretary Clinton’s comments were made in the context of the Canadian government’s G8 maternal and child health initiative. According to Clinton: “You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.”

So here’s a question: can you imagine Henry Kissinger or Dean Acheson ever saying such a thing? Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State; she’s not the president of Planned Parenthood. And for an administration that insists it shouldn’t meddle in the internal affairs of other nations — unless it means making life considerably more difficult for our allies like Honduras and Israel — this is quite remarkable.

Or perhaps not. It fits in quite well with those who argue that no administration in history has been quite as radical on quite as many fronts as this one. There have been exceptions, of course, most especially on Obama’s policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. But for the most part, the Obama administration cannot help itself from pushing the most extreme side of a host of issues, whether it comes to spending; or deficits and the debt; or expanding the reach and power of the federal government; or nationalizing health care; or decimating the morale of the CIA; or providing terrorists with unprecedented rights; or bashing our allies; or criticizing America abroad; or promoting abortion in other lands.

All of this is coming together in the minds of the members of the public, which is why November looks like it will be so bad for Democrats, in so many ways.

The ideological extremism of the Obama administration keeps popping up on an almost daily basis, like a game of whack-a-mole. The latest example comes to us courtesy of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in Canada, where she was lecturing Canadians on how they should be more pro-abortion.

Secretary Clinton’s comments were made in the context of the Canadian government’s G8 maternal and child health initiative. According to Clinton: “You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.”

So here’s a question: can you imagine Henry Kissinger or Dean Acheson ever saying such a thing? Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State; she’s not the president of Planned Parenthood. And for an administration that insists it shouldn’t meddle in the internal affairs of other nations — unless it means making life considerably more difficult for our allies like Honduras and Israel — this is quite remarkable.

Or perhaps not. It fits in quite well with those who argue that no administration in history has been quite as radical on quite as many fronts as this one. There have been exceptions, of course, most especially on Obama’s policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. But for the most part, the Obama administration cannot help itself from pushing the most extreme side of a host of issues, whether it comes to spending; or deficits and the debt; or expanding the reach and power of the federal government; or nationalizing health care; or decimating the morale of the CIA; or providing terrorists with unprecedented rights; or bashing our allies; or criticizing America abroad; or promoting abortion in other lands.

All of this is coming together in the minds of the members of the public, which is why November looks like it will be so bad for Democrats, in so many ways.

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You Don’t Need to Be a Weatherman but It May Help

The supposedly rock-solid consensus among all thinking human beings about the impending catastrophe of global warming has taken another hit from an unlikely villain: your friendly local TV weather forecaster. According to a front-page feature in Monday’s New York Times, some of the biggest global-warming skeptics are precisely those people whom many Americans look to for insight about the weather. The Times reports that a study released this week by George Mason University and the University of Texas reveals that “only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and fewer than a third believed that climate change was caused mostly by human activities.” This is very bad news for environmental extremists, since the public seems to trust the weather guys more than Al Gore.

Apparently there is a real split developing in the world of weather between climatologists and meteorologists, with the latter showing a remarkable disinclination to accept the claims of the former that the planet is melting. But the frame of reference of this piece, like so much of the mainstream media’s coverage of those who raise questions about the alarmist theories of global warming, is not to examine the views and the reasons of the skeptics. Instead, the point of the article is to view it as yet another unfortunate problem to be overcome on the road to eradicating heretical dissent from the global-warming orthodoxy of our time. And since the average American is more likely to hear about the weather from a TV weather forecaster than to be lectured by a climatologist, this is especially dangerous for a field that has been rocked by a series of scandals that have undermined confidence in the honesty and accuracy of global-warming advocates.

For the Times, the problem is primarily one of academic achievement. The climatologists who are promoting fear of global warming—and profiting handsomely from it—are generally affiliated with universities and tend to have advanced degrees whereas many meteorologists do not. For Heidi Cullen, a climatologist who works to promote global-warming hysteria at something called Climate Central, the problem is that the weathermen are just not smart enough to understand her field. Indeed, she says the claim that it will be hotter 50 years from now is as open and shut a case as asserting that August will be warmer than January. But if you think about it, it makes sense that those who work on a day-to-day basis with weather forecasts would have their doubts about computer models about the weather we will get 50 years from now. They know all too well how variable the climate can be and that efforts to project forecasts with certainty, especially those promising apocalyptic disasters, should be taken with a shovel-full of salt.

The response from climatologists is, of course, not to listen to the skeptics or take them seriously, even if the skeptics in question know a thing or two about the weather. Instead, as the Times pompously relates, what the global-warming crowd wants is more “education” and “outreach” designed to squelch doubts about their theories before the debate about the issue—and the dangerous “cap and trade” schemes to handicap our economy to supposedly avert a global-warming disaster—gets out of hand.

As Bob Dylan famously wrote, “You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” But when it comes to bringing some common sense to the “climate change” debate, it apparently helps to be one.

The supposedly rock-solid consensus among all thinking human beings about the impending catastrophe of global warming has taken another hit from an unlikely villain: your friendly local TV weather forecaster. According to a front-page feature in Monday’s New York Times, some of the biggest global-warming skeptics are precisely those people whom many Americans look to for insight about the weather. The Times reports that a study released this week by George Mason University and the University of Texas reveals that “only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and fewer than a third believed that climate change was caused mostly by human activities.” This is very bad news for environmental extremists, since the public seems to trust the weather guys more than Al Gore.

Apparently there is a real split developing in the world of weather between climatologists and meteorologists, with the latter showing a remarkable disinclination to accept the claims of the former that the planet is melting. But the frame of reference of this piece, like so much of the mainstream media’s coverage of those who raise questions about the alarmist theories of global warming, is not to examine the views and the reasons of the skeptics. Instead, the point of the article is to view it as yet another unfortunate problem to be overcome on the road to eradicating heretical dissent from the global-warming orthodoxy of our time. And since the average American is more likely to hear about the weather from a TV weather forecaster than to be lectured by a climatologist, this is especially dangerous for a field that has been rocked by a series of scandals that have undermined confidence in the honesty and accuracy of global-warming advocates.

For the Times, the problem is primarily one of academic achievement. The climatologists who are promoting fear of global warming—and profiting handsomely from it—are generally affiliated with universities and tend to have advanced degrees whereas many meteorologists do not. For Heidi Cullen, a climatologist who works to promote global-warming hysteria at something called Climate Central, the problem is that the weathermen are just not smart enough to understand her field. Indeed, she says the claim that it will be hotter 50 years from now is as open and shut a case as asserting that August will be warmer than January. But if you think about it, it makes sense that those who work on a day-to-day basis with weather forecasts would have their doubts about computer models about the weather we will get 50 years from now. They know all too well how variable the climate can be and that efforts to project forecasts with certainty, especially those promising apocalyptic disasters, should be taken with a shovel-full of salt.

The response from climatologists is, of course, not to listen to the skeptics or take them seriously, even if the skeptics in question know a thing or two about the weather. Instead, as the Times pompously relates, what the global-warming crowd wants is more “education” and “outreach” designed to squelch doubts about their theories before the debate about the issue—and the dangerous “cap and trade” schemes to handicap our economy to supposedly avert a global-warming disaster—gets out of hand.

As Bob Dylan famously wrote, “You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” But when it comes to bringing some common sense to the “climate change” debate, it apparently helps to be one.

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Encouraging Palestinian Rejectionism

How’s Obama’s Jerusalem gambit working out? (By the way, note to White House: don’t assail Israel by concocting an international incident centered on Jerusalem, the most emotional symbol of the Jewish people, in the weeks before Pesach — it gets even liberal Jews very riled up.) Well, as anyone who has been following Palestinian rejectionism and victimology for the past few decades anticipated (no, this doesn’t include the Obami), the Palestinians now perceive an opportunity to extract even more concessions from Israel and to gin up the violence:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction on Wednesday called for escalating the “popular struggle” against the security barrier and the settlements in the West Bank. … Veteran members of the Fatah Central Committee, including Nabil Shaath, Mahmoud al-Aloul, Muhammad Dahlan, Hussein al-Sheikh and Jibril Rajoub, said that the decision to escalate popular protests against the security fence and settlements was part of the faction’s political platform

They said the Sixth General Assembly of Fatah, which met last year in Bethlehem for the first time in over 20 years, had endorsed “popular resistance” as a means of confronting Israel’s measures in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

By seizing upon and escalating an issue on which no Israeli government could relent, the Obami have made clear that the “game” here is not compromise or resolution but rather high-pressure tactics directed against the Israeli government. The Obami holler while the PA throws stones. The aim of  both is to squeeze the Netanyahu government to the breaking point and shift the focus away from the Palestinians’ inability to enter into any meaningful peace deal (or, for that matter, even to come face-to-face with their Israel counterparts). The Palestinians now are certain that they can have both violence and a “peace process” in which the administration can be counted on to browbeat the Israelis into providing more concessions:

Shaath, a former PA foreign minister, said that peaceful protests were now a popular demand to confront Israel’s policies in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

“We need to strengthen and back this option in the face of the Israeli occupation’s policies,” he said. “We can’t return to the negotiations unless Israel halts all settlement construction in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.”

Shaath urged the US administration to pressure Israel to stop its policy of settlement construction, which, he claimed, jeopardized US interests in the region.

The results of the Obami’s handiwork once again suggest that “realism” is not the animating rationale behind their Middle East policy. In their animosity toward Israel and obsession with aligning themselves with the Palestinian bargaining position, the Obami have reinforced the Palestinians’ worst tendencies and convinced Israel (not to mention other nervous allies) that this administration is not to be trusted. In their frenzy to separate the U.S. from Israel and impress their Palestinian clients (who could hardly expect a more sympathetic ear and more overtly sympathetic approach than what this administration is delivering), the Obami have succeeded only in encouraging violence and postponing the hard work Palestinians must do if they are ever to achieve statehood. Perhaps the Obami should stop worrying about the collapse of the proximity talks and start worrying about the intifada their actions are helping to promote.

How’s Obama’s Jerusalem gambit working out? (By the way, note to White House: don’t assail Israel by concocting an international incident centered on Jerusalem, the most emotional symbol of the Jewish people, in the weeks before Pesach — it gets even liberal Jews very riled up.) Well, as anyone who has been following Palestinian rejectionism and victimology for the past few decades anticipated (no, this doesn’t include the Obami), the Palestinians now perceive an opportunity to extract even more concessions from Israel and to gin up the violence:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction on Wednesday called for escalating the “popular struggle” against the security barrier and the settlements in the West Bank. … Veteran members of the Fatah Central Committee, including Nabil Shaath, Mahmoud al-Aloul, Muhammad Dahlan, Hussein al-Sheikh and Jibril Rajoub, said that the decision to escalate popular protests against the security fence and settlements was part of the faction’s political platform

They said the Sixth General Assembly of Fatah, which met last year in Bethlehem for the first time in over 20 years, had endorsed “popular resistance” as a means of confronting Israel’s measures in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

By seizing upon and escalating an issue on which no Israeli government could relent, the Obami have made clear that the “game” here is not compromise or resolution but rather high-pressure tactics directed against the Israeli government. The Obami holler while the PA throws stones. The aim of  both is to squeeze the Netanyahu government to the breaking point and shift the focus away from the Palestinians’ inability to enter into any meaningful peace deal (or, for that matter, even to come face-to-face with their Israel counterparts). The Palestinians now are certain that they can have both violence and a “peace process” in which the administration can be counted on to browbeat the Israelis into providing more concessions:

Shaath, a former PA foreign minister, said that peaceful protests were now a popular demand to confront Israel’s policies in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

“We need to strengthen and back this option in the face of the Israeli occupation’s policies,” he said. “We can’t return to the negotiations unless Israel halts all settlement construction in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.”

Shaath urged the US administration to pressure Israel to stop its policy of settlement construction, which, he claimed, jeopardized US interests in the region.

The results of the Obami’s handiwork once again suggest that “realism” is not the animating rationale behind their Middle East policy. In their animosity toward Israel and obsession with aligning themselves with the Palestinian bargaining position, the Obami have reinforced the Palestinians’ worst tendencies and convinced Israel (not to mention other nervous allies) that this administration is not to be trusted. In their frenzy to separate the U.S. from Israel and impress their Palestinian clients (who could hardly expect a more sympathetic ear and more overtly sympathetic approach than what this administration is delivering), the Obami have succeeded only in encouraging violence and postponing the hard work Palestinians must do if they are ever to achieve statehood. Perhaps the Obami should stop worrying about the collapse of the proximity talks and start worrying about the intifada their actions are helping to promote.

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Democrats Freak Over ObamaCare Opposition

The Obami spinners can’t quite decide whether to exaggerate or ignore the backlash to ObamaCare. On one hand, they seize upon random lunatics (well, not so much with regard to the Democratic donor who went after Eric Cantor, spouting anti-Semitic venom: “Remember Eric … our judgment time, the final Yom Kippur has been given. You are a liar, you’re a Lucifer, you’re a pig, a greedy f—— pig, you’re an abomination, you receive my bullets”) in order to paint an atmosphere of violence perpetrated by unhinged extremists who dare demean the wonders of ObamaCare. But then again, they don’t want to make such a big deal of the opposition because, well, the legislation is historic! As to the latter reaction, Daniel Henninger comments:

In his “Today Show” interview this week, Mr. Obama with his characteristic empathy acknowledged there are “folks who have legitimate concerns … that the federal government may be taking on too much.”

My reading of the American public is that they have moved past “concerns.” Somewhere inside the programmatic details of ObamaCare and the methods that the president, Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Reid used to pass it, something went terribly wrong. Just as something has gone terribly wrong inside the governments of states like California, New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Massachusetts.

The 10th Amendment tumult does not mean anyone is going to secede. It doesn’t mean “nullification” is coming back. We are not going to refight the Civil War or the Voting Rights Act. Richard Russell isn’t rising from his Georgia grave.

But we are witnessing a populist movement and a potential wave election, both of which are legitimate and heartfelt expressions of disgust and horror directed at the liberal elites. So the Democrats are in a bind — excoriate the opposition or win them over? Prepare the troops for a drubbing or pretend as if everything is going according to plan? If they seem a bit schizophrenic these days — alternately alarmist and oblivious — it is the outward manifestation of the contradiction at the heart of their agenda. They defied the will of the public, reveling in their political “courage.” But, alas, they have not quite come to terms with the consequences of that decision, namely that they face a thumping at the polls and a repudiation of their handiwork. There is, after all, a price to be paid for brazen contempt for the will of the voters.

The Obami spinners can’t quite decide whether to exaggerate or ignore the backlash to ObamaCare. On one hand, they seize upon random lunatics (well, not so much with regard to the Democratic donor who went after Eric Cantor, spouting anti-Semitic venom: “Remember Eric … our judgment time, the final Yom Kippur has been given. You are a liar, you’re a Lucifer, you’re a pig, a greedy f—— pig, you’re an abomination, you receive my bullets”) in order to paint an atmosphere of violence perpetrated by unhinged extremists who dare demean the wonders of ObamaCare. But then again, they don’t want to make such a big deal of the opposition because, well, the legislation is historic! As to the latter reaction, Daniel Henninger comments:

In his “Today Show” interview this week, Mr. Obama with his characteristic empathy acknowledged there are “folks who have legitimate concerns … that the federal government may be taking on too much.”

My reading of the American public is that they have moved past “concerns.” Somewhere inside the programmatic details of ObamaCare and the methods that the president, Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Reid used to pass it, something went terribly wrong. Just as something has gone terribly wrong inside the governments of states like California, New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Massachusetts.

The 10th Amendment tumult does not mean anyone is going to secede. It doesn’t mean “nullification” is coming back. We are not going to refight the Civil War or the Voting Rights Act. Richard Russell isn’t rising from his Georgia grave.

But we are witnessing a populist movement and a potential wave election, both of which are legitimate and heartfelt expressions of disgust and horror directed at the liberal elites. So the Democrats are in a bind — excoriate the opposition or win them over? Prepare the troops for a drubbing or pretend as if everything is going according to plan? If they seem a bit schizophrenic these days — alternately alarmist and oblivious — it is the outward manifestation of the contradiction at the heart of their agenda. They defied the will of the public, reveling in their political “courage.” But, alas, they have not quite come to terms with the consequences of that decision, namely that they face a thumping at the polls and a repudiation of their handiwork. There is, after all, a price to be paid for brazen contempt for the will of the voters.

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Magic 50

ObamaCare is, as any massive and hurriedly constructed government power grab is, fraught with the potential for unintended consequences. As this report explains, small businesses may have every incentive to stay small:

For critics, one of the most troubling aspects of the laws is the fines. Massachusetts has already fined more than 1,000 companies over $18 million for failing to offer medical insurance to their workers. … Such penalties make Doug Newman, owner of Newman Concrete Services in Richmond, Maine, nervous. In the past 18 months, as the economy battered the construction industry, Newman’s work force shrunk from 125 employees to just 25.

He is worried that once the economy turns and he begins to hire back workers, he’ll face a critical decision when he nears the 50-worker mark and is no longer exempt from penalties. Newman now pays 60 percent of his employees’ individual premiums and 40 percent of their family premiums.

“The 51st employee could mean $100,000 in costs. I’ve been calling it the concrete ceiling,” he said. “No employer is going to hire No. 51 if it brings all these mandates down on you, because they’re pretty onerous.”

Every small-business owner will make a similar calculation, and the obvious conclusion for most will be to forgo crossing the 50-employee threshold unless they absolutely need to and are confident of covering the marginal cost of that 51st employee. Mind you, this is at a time when the administration is engaged in massive head-scratching over how to promote job growth. Hint: don’t make it phenomenally expensive to hire that 51st worker. Perhaps if the administration had fewer political consultants and academics and more entrepreneurs they’d think about the impact of their historic handiwork. Small-business owners certainly are:

Don Day is also worried. Day owns eight small businesses in McKinney, Texas, including two restaurants, a boutique hotel and several retail shops. Although he employs 125 workers, he offers health care for just a few key employees. Just an extra $200 a month per employee for health care could set him back hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — a cost he can’t afford. “It’s not just me, it’s every small business across this land,” he said. “A lot of small businesses are going to go out of business.”

Henry Waxman will no doubt start dragging such nonbelievers in front of his committee to excoriate them for their negativity. But one hopes that saner heads will eventually prevail in Washington as ObamaCare begins to take its toll on the people and businesses that invest, hire, and create wealth in this country.

ObamaCare is, as any massive and hurriedly constructed government power grab is, fraught with the potential for unintended consequences. As this report explains, small businesses may have every incentive to stay small:

For critics, one of the most troubling aspects of the laws is the fines. Massachusetts has already fined more than 1,000 companies over $18 million for failing to offer medical insurance to their workers. … Such penalties make Doug Newman, owner of Newman Concrete Services in Richmond, Maine, nervous. In the past 18 months, as the economy battered the construction industry, Newman’s work force shrunk from 125 employees to just 25.

He is worried that once the economy turns and he begins to hire back workers, he’ll face a critical decision when he nears the 50-worker mark and is no longer exempt from penalties. Newman now pays 60 percent of his employees’ individual premiums and 40 percent of their family premiums.

“The 51st employee could mean $100,000 in costs. I’ve been calling it the concrete ceiling,” he said. “No employer is going to hire No. 51 if it brings all these mandates down on you, because they’re pretty onerous.”

Every small-business owner will make a similar calculation, and the obvious conclusion for most will be to forgo crossing the 50-employee threshold unless they absolutely need to and are confident of covering the marginal cost of that 51st employee. Mind you, this is at a time when the administration is engaged in massive head-scratching over how to promote job growth. Hint: don’t make it phenomenally expensive to hire that 51st worker. Perhaps if the administration had fewer political consultants and academics and more entrepreneurs they’d think about the impact of their historic handiwork. Small-business owners certainly are:

Don Day is also worried. Day owns eight small businesses in McKinney, Texas, including two restaurants, a boutique hotel and several retail shops. Although he employs 125 workers, he offers health care for just a few key employees. Just an extra $200 a month per employee for health care could set him back hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — a cost he can’t afford. “It’s not just me, it’s every small business across this land,” he said. “A lot of small businesses are going to go out of business.”

Henry Waxman will no doubt start dragging such nonbelievers in front of his committee to excoriate them for their negativity. But one hopes that saner heads will eventually prevail in Washington as ObamaCare begins to take its toll on the people and businesses that invest, hire, and create wealth in this country.

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It Sure Does Matter How It Is Done

Among the many things Obama said during the health-care debate that simply weren’t so, none was quite so bracing as his repeated assertion that it didn’t matter how the bill was passed, so long as it was passed. He said it, as he does so frequently, with disdain for the sensibilities of the voters (The rubes don’t care about process, silly!) and for constitutional and parliamentary propriety. In fact, it matters a great deal how we do things in a constitutional democracy. It is what keeps tyranny at bay. It is what cements a widespread respect for the law. And it is what provides some continuity as we turn from one administration to another. All that changes if one side doesn’t play by rules generally accepted as fair and straightforward. Noemie Emery writes in this vein:

Before Scott Brown appeared, the bill, while unpopular, was headed on a legitimate path to enactment, by passing the House and the Senate, and going into a conference committee, after which the revised version would be sent for final affirmation to the Senate and House.

After Brown, this couldn’t occur as the Senate would kill it, so it had to sneak by — against the popular will and by bribes, threats and buy-offs — through a loophole for which bills of this import were not intended. Big bills aren’t supposed to squeak by on a simple majority, and under proper procedure, it would not have happened.

It followed the law, while it shattered its intent. The whole country knows it’s a fraud.

As a result, it’s a “law” that the country feels little respect for and feels morally free to resist. It is a law with an asterisk, a law with a stench, a law few regard as conclusive or binding.

Spit on the law and the public, and the public will seek ways to use law to deny you. This fire will burn a long time.

It was a similarly mistaken tactic of the pro-choice movement — an end around the legislative process and a monopolization of the relevant legal terrain by the courts — that spurned not simply a robust pro-life movement but also a legal conservative movement that seized on the impropriety, the illegitimacy, of the power grab. But in that case, the road to revenge is long and arduous and requires numerous judicial appointments and a reworking of 30 years of constitutional  precedent. In the case of ObamaCare, the sense of grievance has a quick and easy outlet — the elections of 2o10 and 2012. The determination not simply to reverse bad policy but also to rebuff the arrogance of governing elites will not be easily diverted. And Obama’s jeering at the public’s concern for legislative and constitutional propriety should be a constant reminder of the dangers of undivided government.

Among the many things Obama said during the health-care debate that simply weren’t so, none was quite so bracing as his repeated assertion that it didn’t matter how the bill was passed, so long as it was passed. He said it, as he does so frequently, with disdain for the sensibilities of the voters (The rubes don’t care about process, silly!) and for constitutional and parliamentary propriety. In fact, it matters a great deal how we do things in a constitutional democracy. It is what keeps tyranny at bay. It is what cements a widespread respect for the law. And it is what provides some continuity as we turn from one administration to another. All that changes if one side doesn’t play by rules generally accepted as fair and straightforward. Noemie Emery writes in this vein:

Before Scott Brown appeared, the bill, while unpopular, was headed on a legitimate path to enactment, by passing the House and the Senate, and going into a conference committee, after which the revised version would be sent for final affirmation to the Senate and House.

After Brown, this couldn’t occur as the Senate would kill it, so it had to sneak by — against the popular will and by bribes, threats and buy-offs — through a loophole for which bills of this import were not intended. Big bills aren’t supposed to squeak by on a simple majority, and under proper procedure, it would not have happened.

It followed the law, while it shattered its intent. The whole country knows it’s a fraud.

As a result, it’s a “law” that the country feels little respect for and feels morally free to resist. It is a law with an asterisk, a law with a stench, a law few regard as conclusive or binding.

Spit on the law and the public, and the public will seek ways to use law to deny you. This fire will burn a long time.

It was a similarly mistaken tactic of the pro-choice movement — an end around the legislative process and a monopolization of the relevant legal terrain by the courts — that spurned not simply a robust pro-life movement but also a legal conservative movement that seized on the impropriety, the illegitimacy, of the power grab. But in that case, the road to revenge is long and arduous and requires numerous judicial appointments and a reworking of 30 years of constitutional  precedent. In the case of ObamaCare, the sense of grievance has a quick and easy outlet — the elections of 2o10 and 2012. The determination not simply to reverse bad policy but also to rebuff the arrogance of governing elites will not be easily diverted. And Obama’s jeering at the public’s concern for legislative and constitutional propriety should be a constant reminder of the dangers of undivided government.

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Obama’s Bad Bet

It seems ObamaCare was not the panacea it was cracked up to be. Sam Stein reports:

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, Stan Greenberg — alongside his fellow strategist and party adviser James Carville — said that the signs of electoral bloodbath exist today, though not quite as strongly as they did 16 years ago.

“We are on the edge of it, but we are not there,” Greenberg said, at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “If the election were now, we would have a change election; we would have a 1994.”

In particular, both strategists noted that the sense of economic stagnation which is depressing voters today very much resembles the political hurdle that nearly derailed Clinton (and cost Greenberg his job) during his first term in office. …

“The good news for Democrats is that, after health care passed, the Democratic intensity number went up. It still doesn’t match the Republican intensity number,” said Carville. “Now if the intensity numbers were the same in November as they are now, it does not bode well for Democrats. But if they continue to improve for Democrats, it would be better news. They are not going to pick up seats. That’s a given. But how many they lose is quite open.”

At least for now, Republicans are leading in generic polling – a rarity by historic standards. It seems that rather than endear voters to the House majority, the passage of the “historic” bill by a narrow partisan vote has only solidified opposition and alienated independents. The unpleasant task of soothing Obama’s congressional allies now falls to House leaders, who just recently were telling their colleagues what a boon ObamaCare would be to their electoral prospects:

Rep. Chris Van Hollen is seeking both to calm and unify his party as it enters what he calls “dangerous waters ahead.” With healthcare reform now  law, Democratic leaders are shifting into a new phase, reassuring and advising nervous members who have huge targets on their backs. …

With his two leadership roles, Van Hollen found himself in an unusual position on the healthcare bill. Noting Democrats had to show they can govern, Van Hollen worked hard to pass the bill, but also understood more than most Democrats why some of his colleagues opposed it.

“I’ve made it clear many times that I’m not the whip,” he said with a laugh.

But Obama’s bet — sacrifice handfuls of congressional Democrats to achieve his aim — may not be a wise one. His calculation rests on his ability to hold down the losses, maintain some semblance of support for his agenda, and defuse the opposition to his signature accomplishment and his party, which threatens to repeal and replace his legislation. Without a remarkable shift in opinion and a significant improvement in the economic picture (especially in the jobs outlook), that gamble may very well not pay off.

It seems ObamaCare was not the panacea it was cracked up to be. Sam Stein reports:

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, Stan Greenberg — alongside his fellow strategist and party adviser James Carville — said that the signs of electoral bloodbath exist today, though not quite as strongly as they did 16 years ago.

“We are on the edge of it, but we are not there,” Greenberg said, at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “If the election were now, we would have a change election; we would have a 1994.”

In particular, both strategists noted that the sense of economic stagnation which is depressing voters today very much resembles the political hurdle that nearly derailed Clinton (and cost Greenberg his job) during his first term in office. …

“The good news for Democrats is that, after health care passed, the Democratic intensity number went up. It still doesn’t match the Republican intensity number,” said Carville. “Now if the intensity numbers were the same in November as they are now, it does not bode well for Democrats. But if they continue to improve for Democrats, it would be better news. They are not going to pick up seats. That’s a given. But how many they lose is quite open.”

At least for now, Republicans are leading in generic polling – a rarity by historic standards. It seems that rather than endear voters to the House majority, the passage of the “historic” bill by a narrow partisan vote has only solidified opposition and alienated independents. The unpleasant task of soothing Obama’s congressional allies now falls to House leaders, who just recently were telling their colleagues what a boon ObamaCare would be to their electoral prospects:

Rep. Chris Van Hollen is seeking both to calm and unify his party as it enters what he calls “dangerous waters ahead.” With healthcare reform now  law, Democratic leaders are shifting into a new phase, reassuring and advising nervous members who have huge targets on their backs. …

With his two leadership roles, Van Hollen found himself in an unusual position on the healthcare bill. Noting Democrats had to show they can govern, Van Hollen worked hard to pass the bill, but also understood more than most Democrats why some of his colleagues opposed it.

“I’ve made it clear many times that I’m not the whip,” he said with a laugh.

But Obama’s bet — sacrifice handfuls of congressional Democrats to achieve his aim — may not be a wise one. His calculation rests on his ability to hold down the losses, maintain some semblance of support for his agenda, and defuse the opposition to his signature accomplishment and his party, which threatens to repeal and replace his legislation. Without a remarkable shift in opinion and a significant improvement in the economic picture (especially in the jobs outlook), that gamble may very well not pay off.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

But it was supposed to help the Democrats: “Gallup’s most recent polling of the generic ballot shows a net five-point bounce for the Republicans, post-health care passage. The poll of registered voters now shows a lead of 47%-44%; Republicans had trailed by a similar 47%-44% margin in the first and second weeks of March, and by a 47%-45% margin in last week’s tracking results.  The loss for the Democrats comes mostly from independent voters; the gain for Republicans comes from Republican and Democratic voters turning toward the GOP.”

But it hasn’t, explains Jeffrey Anderson: “The Democrats had optimistically claimed that turning a deaf ear to the American people and passing their unpopular bill would make it popular. But Scott Rasmussen observes that ‘the overriding tone of the data is that passage of the legislation has not changed anything. Those who opposed it before now want to repeal it. Those who supported the legislation oppose repealing it.’ Unfortunately for the Democrats, the former number is a lot bigger than the latter one.”

But Obama said voters would learn to love it once it passed: “In addition to sharing Republicans’ and Democrats’ concerns about the bill’s failure to address healthcare costs, and sharing Republicans’ concerns about government intervention and costs, the majority of independents agree with Democrats that the bill doesn’t do enough to regulate the healthcare industry. As a result, independents concur with four of the five critiques tested, one more than members of either political party do.”

But Obama said voters didn’t care about “process”: Gallup asked “whether Americans believe the methods Democratic leaders used to secure passage of the bill represented ‘an abuse of power’ or ‘an appropriate use’ of the majority party’s power in Congress. Nearly 9 in 10 Republicans see it as abuse of power, whereas a smaller majority of Democrats (70%) call it an appropriate use of power. The majority of independents agree with most Republicans on this question.”

But the Republican insiders told us that Charlie Crist was the “safe” choice: “Former FL GOP chair Jim Greer is the subject of a criminal investigation after an audit showed he may have profited from party activity, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. … Under pressure from major donors and party elders, Greer announced in early Jan. he would resign in Feb. Donors had been upset with his stewardship of party finances, and with spending many saw as beneficial to Gov. Charlie Crist (R), Greer’s major backer when he became chair. Greer is supporting Crist in the primary against ex-FL House Speaker Marco Rubio (R), which did not sit well with the state’s activist base.”

But don’t they know that Henry Waxman will haul them in front of his committee to read them the riot act? “Boeing Co. will take a charge of $150 million due to the recent health care overhaul legislation, the aircraft maker said Wednesday. The charge will hurt earnings by 20 cents per share in the first quarter of 2010. In 2013 Boeing will no longer be able to claim an income tax deduction related to certain prescription drug benefits for retirees. Accounting rules require that the company take the charge during the period the legislation is enacted. Several other companies have said they will take accounting charges due to the health care reform bill including AT&T, AK Steel Corp., Caterpillar Inc. and 3M Co.”

But what about the rest of the country? “The top House Republican says the White House’s decision to begin offshore drilling across huge expanses of ocean is a ‘positive step,’ but he’s still blasting the Obama administration for keeping areas on the West Coast closed to such exploration. House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said that the administration ‘continues to defy the will of the American people,’ who he says supported a 2008 congressional decision to allow oil exploration off the Pacific Coast and Alaska.”

But Obama was going to keep unemployment at 8 percent and “pivot” from ObamaCare to job creation: “Private-sector employers unexpectedly shed 23,000 jobs in March, according to a measure of private-sector employment released this morning, reminding us of the very choppy nature of this recovery.”

But it was supposed to help the Democrats: “Gallup’s most recent polling of the generic ballot shows a net five-point bounce for the Republicans, post-health care passage. The poll of registered voters now shows a lead of 47%-44%; Republicans had trailed by a similar 47%-44% margin in the first and second weeks of March, and by a 47%-45% margin in last week’s tracking results.  The loss for the Democrats comes mostly from independent voters; the gain for Republicans comes from Republican and Democratic voters turning toward the GOP.”

But it hasn’t, explains Jeffrey Anderson: “The Democrats had optimistically claimed that turning a deaf ear to the American people and passing their unpopular bill would make it popular. But Scott Rasmussen observes that ‘the overriding tone of the data is that passage of the legislation has not changed anything. Those who opposed it before now want to repeal it. Those who supported the legislation oppose repealing it.’ Unfortunately for the Democrats, the former number is a lot bigger than the latter one.”

But Obama said voters would learn to love it once it passed: “In addition to sharing Republicans’ and Democrats’ concerns about the bill’s failure to address healthcare costs, and sharing Republicans’ concerns about government intervention and costs, the majority of independents agree with Democrats that the bill doesn’t do enough to regulate the healthcare industry. As a result, independents concur with four of the five critiques tested, one more than members of either political party do.”

But Obama said voters didn’t care about “process”: Gallup asked “whether Americans believe the methods Democratic leaders used to secure passage of the bill represented ‘an abuse of power’ or ‘an appropriate use’ of the majority party’s power in Congress. Nearly 9 in 10 Republicans see it as abuse of power, whereas a smaller majority of Democrats (70%) call it an appropriate use of power. The majority of independents agree with most Republicans on this question.”

But the Republican insiders told us that Charlie Crist was the “safe” choice: “Former FL GOP chair Jim Greer is the subject of a criminal investigation after an audit showed he may have profited from party activity, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. … Under pressure from major donors and party elders, Greer announced in early Jan. he would resign in Feb. Donors had been upset with his stewardship of party finances, and with spending many saw as beneficial to Gov. Charlie Crist (R), Greer’s major backer when he became chair. Greer is supporting Crist in the primary against ex-FL House Speaker Marco Rubio (R), which did not sit well with the state’s activist base.”

But don’t they know that Henry Waxman will haul them in front of his committee to read them the riot act? “Boeing Co. will take a charge of $150 million due to the recent health care overhaul legislation, the aircraft maker said Wednesday. The charge will hurt earnings by 20 cents per share in the first quarter of 2010. In 2013 Boeing will no longer be able to claim an income tax deduction related to certain prescription drug benefits for retirees. Accounting rules require that the company take the charge during the period the legislation is enacted. Several other companies have said they will take accounting charges due to the health care reform bill including AT&T, AK Steel Corp., Caterpillar Inc. and 3M Co.”

But what about the rest of the country? “The top House Republican says the White House’s decision to begin offshore drilling across huge expanses of ocean is a ‘positive step,’ but he’s still blasting the Obama administration for keeping areas on the West Coast closed to such exploration. House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said that the administration ‘continues to defy the will of the American people,’ who he says supported a 2008 congressional decision to allow oil exploration off the Pacific Coast and Alaska.”

But Obama was going to keep unemployment at 8 percent and “pivot” from ObamaCare to job creation: “Private-sector employers unexpectedly shed 23,000 jobs in March, according to a measure of private-sector employment released this morning, reminding us of the very choppy nature of this recovery.”

Read Less




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