Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 17, 2010

RE: Obama Won’t Say Who Killed Daniel Pearl

Jennifer wrote this afternoon, regarding the signing of the bill named for Daniel Pearl, who died a martyr to freedom of the press: “Has Obama made this [freedom of the press] a priority with any thugocracy? No. And when signing a bill in the name of someone who elevated and personified the freedom of expression, Obama at least could have departed from his campaign to delete the name of our enemies from the public lexicon.”

He might also have taken questions from the press. As Chip Reid of CBS points out, the reporters were herded out of the room after the ceremony. “There was some rich irony at the White House today — President Obama signed the Press Freedom Act,” he wrote, “and then promptly refused to take any questions.” This is nothing new: as his presidency has evolved, Obama has become more and more remote from the press, except when he is in total control.

The press has never been so tightly controlled as it is now in the Obama White House. The president hasn’t held a formal press conference since last July 22. Perhaps he felt so badly burned by how that one turned out that he is unwilling to face a repeat. The only thing memorable about that conference, of course, was his coming down hard on the side of Professor Henry Louis Gates regarding his recent confrontation with Cambridge police. Obama said the police had acted stupidly and implied that racial profiling had been at work. It turned out that Obama didn’t know what he was talking about and that it had been Gates who injected race into what had been proper police procedure. He had to work hard to undo the damage.

Shouting questions at presidents is an old American tradition, and one remembers with affection how Ronald Reagan used to answer the ones he wanted to answer and elaborately pretend not to be able to hear those he didn’t want to answer. But then Ronald Reagan was a man of immense charm. Barack Obama is a man with far more self-regard than charm, and it’s really beginning to show.

Jennifer wrote this afternoon, regarding the signing of the bill named for Daniel Pearl, who died a martyr to freedom of the press: “Has Obama made this [freedom of the press] a priority with any thugocracy? No. And when signing a bill in the name of someone who elevated and personified the freedom of expression, Obama at least could have departed from his campaign to delete the name of our enemies from the public lexicon.”

He might also have taken questions from the press. As Chip Reid of CBS points out, the reporters were herded out of the room after the ceremony. “There was some rich irony at the White House today — President Obama signed the Press Freedom Act,” he wrote, “and then promptly refused to take any questions.” This is nothing new: as his presidency has evolved, Obama has become more and more remote from the press, except when he is in total control.

The press has never been so tightly controlled as it is now in the Obama White House. The president hasn’t held a formal press conference since last July 22. Perhaps he felt so badly burned by how that one turned out that he is unwilling to face a repeat. The only thing memorable about that conference, of course, was his coming down hard on the side of Professor Henry Louis Gates regarding his recent confrontation with Cambridge police. Obama said the police had acted stupidly and implied that racial profiling had been at work. It turned out that Obama didn’t know what he was talking about and that it had been Gates who injected race into what had been proper police procedure. He had to work hard to undo the damage.

Shouting questions at presidents is an old American tradition, and one remembers with affection how Ronald Reagan used to answer the ones he wanted to answer and elaborately pretend not to be able to hear those he didn’t want to answer. But then Ronald Reagan was a man of immense charm. Barack Obama is a man with far more self-regard than charm, and it’s really beginning to show.

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The Ideological-Purity Canard

At the conclusion of his column today, the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne Jr. insists:

But all this [races leading up to the 2010 mid-term elections] underscores the real difference between the two parties. The Democrats will remain an intricate coalition that struggles to hold together the left, the center and bits of the right. Republicans, as Arlen Specter could tell you, are the ones opting for ideological purity.

Of course it does. The Democratic Party — led by those three well-known spokesmen for political centrism,  Obama, Pelosi, and Reid — is an extraordinarily intricate coalition characterized by amazing ideological diversity. It is a party that has given us (for starters) nationalized health care; nationalized student loans; record-breaking spending, deficits, and debt; a huge new entitlement program; the federal government essentially owning the nations’ largest bank and largest automaker; a federal “pay czar”; cap-and-trade; higher taxes (with much higher ones on the way); obeisance to labor unions; subsidization of abortions; liberal Supreme Court justices; unparalleled polarization; and unprecedented partisanship. You know, that centrist Democratic Party, that intricate political coalition.

In every election in which Democrats get hammered or are about to get hammered, it seems, liberals like E.J. return to their one-trick pony. They attempt to label the GOP as the party of “ideological purity” and worse. The Democrats are open-minded, flexible, pragmatic, moderate, don’t you know. Republicans, on the other hand, are narrow, dogmatic, mean-spirited, inflexible, rigid. Or so this stale narrative goes.

The truth is that the GOP is riding a fairly remarkable political wave right now, and the polling data tell us why: Obama and the Democrats are seen as profligate, ideological, and out-of-control liberals who need to be stopped. And as I pointed out here, even life-long Democrats, having witnessed Obama and Obamaism up close and personal, are planning to vote Republican.

In the age of Obama, and with astonishing speed, the nation is becoming more conservative and more Republican. Liberals like E.J. Dionne can’t stand this fact and are increasingly unable to process it.

For those of us on the right, it will be a fun few months watching all this play itself out — and it will culminate, I suspect, in a perfectly delightful November. Who knew ideological purity would turn out to be so darn popular?

At the conclusion of his column today, the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne Jr. insists:

But all this [races leading up to the 2010 mid-term elections] underscores the real difference between the two parties. The Democrats will remain an intricate coalition that struggles to hold together the left, the center and bits of the right. Republicans, as Arlen Specter could tell you, are the ones opting for ideological purity.

Of course it does. The Democratic Party — led by those three well-known spokesmen for political centrism,  Obama, Pelosi, and Reid — is an extraordinarily intricate coalition characterized by amazing ideological diversity. It is a party that has given us (for starters) nationalized health care; nationalized student loans; record-breaking spending, deficits, and debt; a huge new entitlement program; the federal government essentially owning the nations’ largest bank and largest automaker; a federal “pay czar”; cap-and-trade; higher taxes (with much higher ones on the way); obeisance to labor unions; subsidization of abortions; liberal Supreme Court justices; unparalleled polarization; and unprecedented partisanship. You know, that centrist Democratic Party, that intricate political coalition.

In every election in which Democrats get hammered or are about to get hammered, it seems, liberals like E.J. return to their one-trick pony. They attempt to label the GOP as the party of “ideological purity” and worse. The Democrats are open-minded, flexible, pragmatic, moderate, don’t you know. Republicans, on the other hand, are narrow, dogmatic, mean-spirited, inflexible, rigid. Or so this stale narrative goes.

The truth is that the GOP is riding a fairly remarkable political wave right now, and the polling data tell us why: Obama and the Democrats are seen as profligate, ideological, and out-of-control liberals who need to be stopped. And as I pointed out here, even life-long Democrats, having witnessed Obama and Obamaism up close and personal, are planning to vote Republican.

In the age of Obama, and with astonishing speed, the nation is becoming more conservative and more Republican. Liberals like E.J. Dionne can’t stand this fact and are increasingly unable to process it.

For those of us on the right, it will be a fun few months watching all this play itself out — and it will culminate, I suspect, in a perfectly delightful November. Who knew ideological purity would turn out to be so darn popular?

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Bullets Over Bangkok

As with most such outbreaks, there are legitimate grievances behind the protests being mounted by the “Red Shirts” of Thailand. That truth renders the events there even more strongly reminiscent than they might otherwise be of similar incidents around the globe during the Cold War. Thailand’s precarious situation could spiral out of control very easily. It is not at present being driven by outside forces or even apparently being exploited by them. But U.S. influence in the region is at stake along with Thai democracy. If a consensual stability is not restored in favor of the status quo long presided over by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, there will be no lack of interested outsiders seeking to shape Thailand’s future.

Most readers are familiar with the basic narrative about populist politician Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted from power in a military coup in 2006 and convicted of corruption charges in 2008. A February 2010 court decision ordering him to return $1.4 billion to the state was ostensibly the precipitating event for this spring’s prolonged protests by his Red Shirt supporters.

But fewer may be aware that Thaksin’s search for quarters in exile landed him this spring in Montenegro, the autonomous coastal province of Serbia that has become famous for its special relationship with Russia. Thaksin now holds a Montenegrin passport and has reportedly visited Russia during this year’s period of Thai unrest. The sitting prime minister of Thailand, for his part, is not leaving Russia uncourted. The Bangkok Post noted last week that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva plans to visit Moscow himself in early June, in spite of having canceled trips to the U.S., Vietnam, and Australia because of the unrest at home.

Russia’s interest is as much in drawing Thailand away from China as it is in cooling the traditional warmth between Bangkok and Washington. The year 2009 saw an unprecedented agreement between China and the Abhisit government to hold a joint military exercise billed as a rival to the “Cobra Gold” series with the U.S., the recurring Thai-hosted war game that draws up to 15,000 troops from the U.S. and East Asian nations. Growing military cooperation between Thailand and China is a continuation of policy inaugurated under Thaksin Shinawatra; efforts to cultivate or preempt such cooperation are in prospect regardless of who comes out on top in Thailand. Meanwhile, Russia’s re-energized ties with Vietnam, which now include a major arms deal and ongoing improvements to the naval base at Cam Ranh Bay, position the Russians next door to Thailand — as well as athwart China’s strategic vista to the south.

Adding to the prospect of instability is the Malay Muslim minority in southern Thailand. The Malay Muslims have taken a back seat to the Red Shirts this year, but their restiveness has by no means subsided. They will seek to take advantage of any evidence of weakness in the regime. The likelihood that they will have outside help is strong if the fate of Thailand is in doubt.

Regional observers think King Bhumibol will have to step in as he did in 1992 and demand that the opposing factions settle their differences. But this very critical view of that option, from Australia’s center-left Sydney Morning Herald, implies a reason (other than his ill health) why he hasn’t done that yet: it might not work. An ineffective royal appeal would be the signal for political chaos.

On the other hand, the status quo in Thailand cannot continue for much longer anyway. Bhumibol is 82, and his oldest son is unpopular. Although this situation is rife with difficult issues, the Obama administration should surely be doing more than closing the U.S. embassy in Bangkok to business, evacuating American personnel, and being “deeply concerned,” as State Department spokesmen have reported in daily briefings for the last six weeks.

It’s worth noting that Russia is not evacuating any diplomatic personnel from Bangkok. Moscow and Beijing are more determined than Obama is to play a major role in restoring stability to Thailand. That will not work in our favor. American influence in Asia is heading the same direction as our influence in the Middle East.

As with most such outbreaks, there are legitimate grievances behind the protests being mounted by the “Red Shirts” of Thailand. That truth renders the events there even more strongly reminiscent than they might otherwise be of similar incidents around the globe during the Cold War. Thailand’s precarious situation could spiral out of control very easily. It is not at present being driven by outside forces or even apparently being exploited by them. But U.S. influence in the region is at stake along with Thai democracy. If a consensual stability is not restored in favor of the status quo long presided over by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, there will be no lack of interested outsiders seeking to shape Thailand’s future.

Most readers are familiar with the basic narrative about populist politician Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted from power in a military coup in 2006 and convicted of corruption charges in 2008. A February 2010 court decision ordering him to return $1.4 billion to the state was ostensibly the precipitating event for this spring’s prolonged protests by his Red Shirt supporters.

But fewer may be aware that Thaksin’s search for quarters in exile landed him this spring in Montenegro, the autonomous coastal province of Serbia that has become famous for its special relationship with Russia. Thaksin now holds a Montenegrin passport and has reportedly visited Russia during this year’s period of Thai unrest. The sitting prime minister of Thailand, for his part, is not leaving Russia uncourted. The Bangkok Post noted last week that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva plans to visit Moscow himself in early June, in spite of having canceled trips to the U.S., Vietnam, and Australia because of the unrest at home.

Russia’s interest is as much in drawing Thailand away from China as it is in cooling the traditional warmth between Bangkok and Washington. The year 2009 saw an unprecedented agreement between China and the Abhisit government to hold a joint military exercise billed as a rival to the “Cobra Gold” series with the U.S., the recurring Thai-hosted war game that draws up to 15,000 troops from the U.S. and East Asian nations. Growing military cooperation between Thailand and China is a continuation of policy inaugurated under Thaksin Shinawatra; efforts to cultivate or preempt such cooperation are in prospect regardless of who comes out on top in Thailand. Meanwhile, Russia’s re-energized ties with Vietnam, which now include a major arms deal and ongoing improvements to the naval base at Cam Ranh Bay, position the Russians next door to Thailand — as well as athwart China’s strategic vista to the south.

Adding to the prospect of instability is the Malay Muslim minority in southern Thailand. The Malay Muslims have taken a back seat to the Red Shirts this year, but their restiveness has by no means subsided. They will seek to take advantage of any evidence of weakness in the regime. The likelihood that they will have outside help is strong if the fate of Thailand is in doubt.

Regional observers think King Bhumibol will have to step in as he did in 1992 and demand that the opposing factions settle their differences. But this very critical view of that option, from Australia’s center-left Sydney Morning Herald, implies a reason (other than his ill health) why he hasn’t done that yet: it might not work. An ineffective royal appeal would be the signal for political chaos.

On the other hand, the status quo in Thailand cannot continue for much longer anyway. Bhumibol is 82, and his oldest son is unpopular. Although this situation is rife with difficult issues, the Obama administration should surely be doing more than closing the U.S. embassy in Bangkok to business, evacuating American personnel, and being “deeply concerned,” as State Department spokesmen have reported in daily briefings for the last six weeks.

It’s worth noting that Russia is not evacuating any diplomatic personnel from Bangkok. Moscow and Beijing are more determined than Obama is to play a major role in restoring stability to Thailand. That will not work in our favor. American influence in Asia is heading the same direction as our influence in the Middle East.

Read Less

Obama Won’t Say Who Killed Daniel Pearl

At a signing ceremony for the Freedom of Press Act, it is ironic and shameful that Obama could not bring himself to identify the killers who beheaded the man who fearlessly reported on the jihadist terrorists. Obama had this to say:

All around the world there are enormously courageous journalists and bloggers who, at great risk to themselves, are trying to shine a light on the critical issues that the people of their country face; who are the frontlines against tyranny and oppression. And obviously the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.

If you didn’t know already, you’d never figure out that he was talking about the Islamic fundamentalists who butchered Pearl. Obama then pronounced:

What this act does is it sends a strong message from the United States government and from the State Department that we are paying attention to how other governments are operating when it comes to the press. It has the State Department each year chronicling how press freedom is operating as one component of our human rights assessment, but it also looks at countries that are — governments that are specifically condoning or facilitating this kind of press repression, singles them out and subjects them to the gaze of world opinion in ways that I think are extraordinarily important.

Oftentimes without this kind of attention, countries and governments feel that they can operate against the press with impunity. And we want to send a message that they can’t.

But of course they can and do, safe in the knowledge that they will pay no price so long as this administration is in power. Has Obama done anything about the suppression of media critics in Egypt (other than prepare a lucrative financial package for the Egyptian government)? Has Obama made this a priority with any thugocracy? No. And when signing a bill in the name of someone who elevated and personified the freedom of expression, Obama at least could have departed from his campaign to delete the name of our enemies from the public lexicon.

At a signing ceremony for the Freedom of Press Act, it is ironic and shameful that Obama could not bring himself to identify the killers who beheaded the man who fearlessly reported on the jihadist terrorists. Obama had this to say:

All around the world there are enormously courageous journalists and bloggers who, at great risk to themselves, are trying to shine a light on the critical issues that the people of their country face; who are the frontlines against tyranny and oppression. And obviously the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.

If you didn’t know already, you’d never figure out that he was talking about the Islamic fundamentalists who butchered Pearl. Obama then pronounced:

What this act does is it sends a strong message from the United States government and from the State Department that we are paying attention to how other governments are operating when it comes to the press. It has the State Department each year chronicling how press freedom is operating as one component of our human rights assessment, but it also looks at countries that are — governments that are specifically condoning or facilitating this kind of press repression, singles them out and subjects them to the gaze of world opinion in ways that I think are extraordinarily important.

Oftentimes without this kind of attention, countries and governments feel that they can operate against the press with impunity. And we want to send a message that they can’t.

But of course they can and do, safe in the knowledge that they will pay no price so long as this administration is in power. Has Obama done anything about the suppression of media critics in Egypt (other than prepare a lucrative financial package for the Egyptian government)? Has Obama made this a priority with any thugocracy? No. And when signing a bill in the name of someone who elevated and personified the freedom of expression, Obama at least could have departed from his campaign to delete the name of our enemies from the public lexicon.

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Economic Uncertainty in China

The almost universal assumption is that China is a rising dragon that someday — perhaps someday soon — will overtake the United States. But notwithstanding China’s impressive growth rates, there is trouble on the horizon — something that is suggested by this New York Times article — which reports on the growing unease among foreign companies trying to do business in China. As the article notes:

Foreign companies doing business in China are increasingly feeling as if the deck is stacked against them.

China has filed more than a dozen trade cases to limit imports, imposed a series of “buy Chinese” measures and limited exports of some minerals to force multinationals to move factories to China.

That echoes the concern of some American businessmen in Tokyo, to whom I talked last week. They complained about how unpredictable business conditions are in China- – subject to the whims of shortsighted, corrupt cadres, who are intent on lining the pockets of well-connected countrymen even at the expense of cheating major investors. Japan, by contrast, has its own barriers to business but, these executives report, is a much more welcoming, less worrisome place in which to grow a business. Another American investor with whom I talked recently mentioned that he had just invested in a major real-estate project in India — something he would not do in China, because he has no confidence in that country’s future.

None of this is meant to dismiss China’s prospects. Wherever I went in Asia there was talk about growing Chinese power especially as manifested in its ever-more-capable armed forces; its naval ships are acting in increasingly aggressive ways toward Japan, the United States, and other states. But the Chinese quest for economic growth — the underpinning of its military power — will be endangered unless it can develop a genuine rule of law that will assure foreign and domestic investors of its long-term prospects.

The almost universal assumption is that China is a rising dragon that someday — perhaps someday soon — will overtake the United States. But notwithstanding China’s impressive growth rates, there is trouble on the horizon — something that is suggested by this New York Times article — which reports on the growing unease among foreign companies trying to do business in China. As the article notes:

Foreign companies doing business in China are increasingly feeling as if the deck is stacked against them.

China has filed more than a dozen trade cases to limit imports, imposed a series of “buy Chinese” measures and limited exports of some minerals to force multinationals to move factories to China.

That echoes the concern of some American businessmen in Tokyo, to whom I talked last week. They complained about how unpredictable business conditions are in China- – subject to the whims of shortsighted, corrupt cadres, who are intent on lining the pockets of well-connected countrymen even at the expense of cheating major investors. Japan, by contrast, has its own barriers to business but, these executives report, is a much more welcoming, less worrisome place in which to grow a business. Another American investor with whom I talked recently mentioned that he had just invested in a major real-estate project in India — something he would not do in China, because he has no confidence in that country’s future.

None of this is meant to dismiss China’s prospects. Wherever I went in Asia there was talk about growing Chinese power especially as manifested in its ever-more-capable armed forces; its naval ships are acting in increasingly aggressive ways toward Japan, the United States, and other states. But the Chinese quest for economic growth — the underpinning of its military power — will be endangered unless it can develop a genuine rule of law that will assure foreign and domestic investors of its long-term prospects.

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The Short List of Representative Arab States

Rami G. Khouri, writing in the Daily Star in Lebanon, offers a tour d’horizon of the “modern Arab state” — the 22 members of the Arab League:

We also have broken states (Somalia), states that disappeared and/or returned (Kuwait, South Yemen), security-dominated states (Tunisia, Syria, Baathist Iraq under Saddam Hussein), erratic states (Libya), pirate states (Somalia), vulnerable states (Lebanon, Palestine), privatized states in the hands of small ruling elites (most Arab states), states that carry a specific family’s name (Saudi Arabia, Jordan), tribal states (Yemen, Oman), mini-states (Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain), occupied states (Palestine, Iraq to an extent), and various degrees of client and proxy states, rogue states, gangster states, and others that defy description.

Khouri has a succinct description of what is missing from the above list:

Not a single Arab country can say with any certainty that the configuration of the state, the policies and values of the government, or the perpetuation of the incumbent ruling elite have been validated by the citizenry through any kind of credible, transparent, and accountable political process.

Well, there’s one — Iraq, which since 2005 has had successive elections whose outcomes were not preordained, involving a citizenry willing to risk their lives each time to go to the polls. A representative government replacing the most horrific Arab dictator in the region is a historic achievement — even if a fragile one, all the more remarkable in light of Khouri’s description of the other Arab states.

The “state” of “Palestine,” on the other hand, has been a failed one even before it was formed. It has rejected three formal offers of a state in the last decade. Half the putative state is occupied by an Iranian proxy pledged to destroy its neighbor. The other half lacks even the pretense of an elected government: its “president” is currently in the sixth year of his four-year term; its “prime minister” is an unelected appointee chosen by the holdover president; its funding comes primarily from the U.S., the EU, and Japan, not the 21 Arab states that supposedly consider it an urgent priority.

The Obama administration believes our strategic objectives should be to (1) withdraw from Iraq next year, and (2) form a Palestinian state as soon as possible. The first goal puts at risk the one Arab state on Khouri’s list with a representative government; the second seeks to add a 22nd Arab state on the unsupported assumption that it will live in peace with itself and its neighbors, but Khouri’s list suggests that the likely outcome would be otherwise.

Rami G. Khouri, writing in the Daily Star in Lebanon, offers a tour d’horizon of the “modern Arab state” — the 22 members of the Arab League:

We also have broken states (Somalia), states that disappeared and/or returned (Kuwait, South Yemen), security-dominated states (Tunisia, Syria, Baathist Iraq under Saddam Hussein), erratic states (Libya), pirate states (Somalia), vulnerable states (Lebanon, Palestine), privatized states in the hands of small ruling elites (most Arab states), states that carry a specific family’s name (Saudi Arabia, Jordan), tribal states (Yemen, Oman), mini-states (Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain), occupied states (Palestine, Iraq to an extent), and various degrees of client and proxy states, rogue states, gangster states, and others that defy description.

Khouri has a succinct description of what is missing from the above list:

Not a single Arab country can say with any certainty that the configuration of the state, the policies and values of the government, or the perpetuation of the incumbent ruling elite have been validated by the citizenry through any kind of credible, transparent, and accountable political process.

Well, there’s one — Iraq, which since 2005 has had successive elections whose outcomes were not preordained, involving a citizenry willing to risk their lives each time to go to the polls. A representative government replacing the most horrific Arab dictator in the region is a historic achievement — even if a fragile one, all the more remarkable in light of Khouri’s description of the other Arab states.

The “state” of “Palestine,” on the other hand, has been a failed one even before it was formed. It has rejected three formal offers of a state in the last decade. Half the putative state is occupied by an Iranian proxy pledged to destroy its neighbor. The other half lacks even the pretense of an elected government: its “president” is currently in the sixth year of his four-year term; its “prime minister” is an unelected appointee chosen by the holdover president; its funding comes primarily from the U.S., the EU, and Japan, not the 21 Arab states that supposedly consider it an urgent priority.

The Obama administration believes our strategic objectives should be to (1) withdraw from Iraq next year, and (2) form a Palestinian state as soon as possible. The first goal puts at risk the one Arab state on Khouri’s list with a representative government; the second seeks to add a 22nd Arab state on the unsupported assumption that it will live in peace with itself and its neighbors, but Khouri’s list suggests that the likely outcome would be otherwise.

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White House Seriously Considering Ludicrous Iran Agreement

We knew this was coming. The White House has issued a statement — the perfect mix of gobbledygook and bureaucratic-speak. You have to read it in full to fully appreciate Obama’s desperation for a deal — any deal — that would avoid a confrontation with Iran:

We acknowledge the efforts that have been made by Turkey and Brazil. The proposal announced in Tehran must now be conveyed clearly and authoritatively to the IAEA before it can be considered by the international community. Given Iran’s repeated failure to live up to its own commitments, and the need to address fundamental issues related to Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns. While it would be a positive step for Iran to transfer low-enriched uranium off of its soil as it agreed to do last October, Iran said today that it would continue its 20% enrichment, which is a direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions and which the Iranian government originally justified by pointing to the need for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Furthermore, the Joint Declaration issued in Tehran is vague about Iran’s willingness to meet with the P5+1 countries to address international concerns about its nuclear program, as it also agreed to do last October.

The United States will continue to work with our international partners, and through the United Nations Security Council, to make it clear to the Iranian government that it must demonstrate through deeds — and not simply words — its willingness to live up to international obligations or face consequences, including sanctions. Iran must take the steps necessary to assure the international community that its nuclear program is intended exclusively for peaceful purposes, including by complying with UN Security Council resolutions and cooperating fully with the IAEA. We remain committed to a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program, as part of the P5+1 dual track approach, and will be consulting closely with our partners on these developments going forward.

So the deal simply raises “concerns” — and Obama is not giving up on engagement (“a diplomatic solution”). The next phase (it’s really the same phase we’ve been in for the last 16 months — engage and stall) will consist of diplomatic forays to test how “sincere” the mullahs are and whether we can verify the “progress.” Obama, you see, has thrown in the towel on every effective measure (i.e., military action, crippling sanctions, and regime change) that could prevent the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons. Now it’s all about devising a strategy whereby Obama can claim diplomatic “success.”

But here’s the hitch: Israel isn’t going to buy this nonsense. So we return to what is becoming the only meaningful question: will Obama support Israeli military action?  American Jewish “leaders” should press Obama to answer that question now. After all, the survival of the Jewish state hangs in the balance and their muteness, like that of American Jewish leaders of the 1930s, will be remembered quite unkindly by history.

We knew this was coming. The White House has issued a statement — the perfect mix of gobbledygook and bureaucratic-speak. You have to read it in full to fully appreciate Obama’s desperation for a deal — any deal — that would avoid a confrontation with Iran:

We acknowledge the efforts that have been made by Turkey and Brazil. The proposal announced in Tehran must now be conveyed clearly and authoritatively to the IAEA before it can be considered by the international community. Given Iran’s repeated failure to live up to its own commitments, and the need to address fundamental issues related to Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns. While it would be a positive step for Iran to transfer low-enriched uranium off of its soil as it agreed to do last October, Iran said today that it would continue its 20% enrichment, which is a direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions and which the Iranian government originally justified by pointing to the need for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Furthermore, the Joint Declaration issued in Tehran is vague about Iran’s willingness to meet with the P5+1 countries to address international concerns about its nuclear program, as it also agreed to do last October.

The United States will continue to work with our international partners, and through the United Nations Security Council, to make it clear to the Iranian government that it must demonstrate through deeds — and not simply words — its willingness to live up to international obligations or face consequences, including sanctions. Iran must take the steps necessary to assure the international community that its nuclear program is intended exclusively for peaceful purposes, including by complying with UN Security Council resolutions and cooperating fully with the IAEA. We remain committed to a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program, as part of the P5+1 dual track approach, and will be consulting closely with our partners on these developments going forward.

So the deal simply raises “concerns” — and Obama is not giving up on engagement (“a diplomatic solution”). The next phase (it’s really the same phase we’ve been in for the last 16 months — engage and stall) will consist of diplomatic forays to test how “sincere” the mullahs are and whether we can verify the “progress.” Obama, you see, has thrown in the towel on every effective measure (i.e., military action, crippling sanctions, and regime change) that could prevent the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons. Now it’s all about devising a strategy whereby Obama can claim diplomatic “success.”

But here’s the hitch: Israel isn’t going to buy this nonsense. So we return to what is becoming the only meaningful question: will Obama support Israeli military action?  American Jewish “leaders” should press Obama to answer that question now. After all, the survival of the Jewish state hangs in the balance and their muteness, like that of American Jewish leaders of the 1930s, will be remembered quite unkindly by history.

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Specter Loss Anticipated by White House

Via Taegan Goddard we get these snippets predicting doom for Arlen Specter:

We noted earlier that President Obama declined over the weekend to make a last minute campaign appearance for Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in his tough primary fight against Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).

In an interview with WKYW-TV, CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer said, “I have been told on background that the White House is preparing for a Specter loss here, and that the president doesn’t want to be associated with that.”

Greg Sargent: “I’ve also learned that Veep Joe Biden will not be doing any campaign events for Specter in the final stretch, though it’s not immediately clear how significant this is. Last week Biden said he’d be doing events for Specter ‘as needed.’”

But of course Obama can’t help but be associated with a Specter defeat. It’s a direct reflection on him — his ill-conceived gambit to lure Specter to switch parties (rather than remain a permanent source of trouble for the Republicans) — and on the anti-Washington sentiment he and his Democratic allies in Congress have spawned. If Specter goes down to defeat, one can imagine that there will be many Democratic incumbents anxious to distance themselves from Obama. But having rubber-stamped his ultra-liberal and ultra-unpopular agenda, they may find there is no place to hide. And in all those races, Obama isn’t going to be able to avoid being “associated” with defeats for his party.

Via Taegan Goddard we get these snippets predicting doom for Arlen Specter:

We noted earlier that President Obama declined over the weekend to make a last minute campaign appearance for Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in his tough primary fight against Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).

In an interview with WKYW-TV, CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer said, “I have been told on background that the White House is preparing for a Specter loss here, and that the president doesn’t want to be associated with that.”

Greg Sargent: “I’ve also learned that Veep Joe Biden will not be doing any campaign events for Specter in the final stretch, though it’s not immediately clear how significant this is. Last week Biden said he’d be doing events for Specter ‘as needed.’”

But of course Obama can’t help but be associated with a Specter defeat. It’s a direct reflection on him — his ill-conceived gambit to lure Specter to switch parties (rather than remain a permanent source of trouble for the Republicans) — and on the anti-Washington sentiment he and his Democratic allies in Congress have spawned. If Specter goes down to defeat, one can imagine that there will be many Democratic incumbents anxious to distance themselves from Obama. But having rubber-stamped his ultra-liberal and ultra-unpopular agenda, they may find there is no place to hide. And in all those races, Obama isn’t going to be able to avoid being “associated” with defeats for his party.

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Crist Comes Down to Earth

Rasmussen reports:

Charlie Crist received a bounce in the polls when he left the Republican Party to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent. New numbers suggest that the bounce for the governor is over.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Florida finds Republican Marco Rubio with 39% support, while Crist earns 31% of the vote and Democrat Kendrick Meek trails at 18%. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided.

When one considers that he’s lost his professional staff, will have very little money to combat the onslaught of negative ads coming his way, and doesn’t really have a message (other than “I have no principles”), one suspects that it may go downhill from here. The next move for the White House is tricky. Do they stick with the Democrat Meek, who’s plummeting? Or do they try to prop up Crist? It’s not clear that Obama “helps” anyone these days — he surely didn’t do much for Creigh Deeds, Jon Corzine, or Martha Coakley. (And Bill Clinton, not Obama, went into the Pennsylvania 12th district yesterday.) Perhaps Obama will sit this one out — which might make Crist and Meek happy.

Rasmussen reports:

Charlie Crist received a bounce in the polls when he left the Republican Party to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent. New numbers suggest that the bounce for the governor is over.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Florida finds Republican Marco Rubio with 39% support, while Crist earns 31% of the vote and Democrat Kendrick Meek trails at 18%. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided.

When one considers that he’s lost his professional staff, will have very little money to combat the onslaught of negative ads coming his way, and doesn’t really have a message (other than “I have no principles”), one suspects that it may go downhill from here. The next move for the White House is tricky. Do they stick with the Democrat Meek, who’s plummeting? Or do they try to prop up Crist? It’s not clear that Obama “helps” anyone these days — he surely didn’t do much for Creigh Deeds, Jon Corzine, or Martha Coakley. (And Bill Clinton, not Obama, went into the Pennsylvania 12th district yesterday.) Perhaps Obama will sit this one out — which might make Crist and Meek happy.

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Can Specter Buy Pennsylvanians Enough Drinks to Stay in Office?

Those of us who love the classic novels of Anthony Trollope and his tales of the travails of the stump in the rough-and-tumble world of Victorian British politics could not help but smile at the description in today’s New York Times of a campaign stop by Arlen Specter at a pub in Ambler, Pennsylvania. The article described the ambivalence of voters about the 80-year-old’s braggadocio about using his influence and patronage to buy the voters support. But in case anybody didn’t get the point of his campaign, the piece’s final line summed it up:

But Mr. Specter stayed on message at the pub. As he was departing, an aide called out to the crowd of 70 people: “Senator Specter just bought the next round, so hit the bar.”

Just like Trollope’s would-be parliamentarians who trolled for votes in pubs by buying the affection of publicans who served up the free pints to the voters, so too, apparently, must Pennsylvania’s senior senator.

But far from being merely an amusing sidebar to the real issues, Specter’s pose as the source of all sorts of free stuff for Pennsylvanians really is the whole focus of his re-election effort. At a black-church service yesterday, he boasted of intimidating the secretary of agriculture into coughing up more money for a local program. Later at a union rally at Philadelphia’s Marine Terminal along the Delaware River, Specter and his ally Governor Ed Rendell bragged about the money he has squeezed out of the federal budget for the region as well as his support for the patronage that rained down from President Obama’s stimulus bill, which he supported.

In any normal political year, these sorts of accomplishments might foreclose the possibility of defeat for Specter. But this isn’t any normal political year. At a time when voters are fed up with out-of-control government spending, some have begun to ask whose money it is that Specter is doling out in small packages to the public and realizing that the answer is … their own. While his opponent Rep. Joe Sestak may not be a disciple of limited government (that choice will be presented to voters in November, when the all-but-certain Republican nominee Pat Toomey will be on the ballot), the Democratic challenger has a point when he notes that the only job Specter is truly interested in saving is his own.

While one should never underestimate the capacity of Pennsylvania’s pro-Specter Democratic machine to turn out compliant voters when they are determined to do so, it would appear that Specter’s desperate last campaign bears more than a passing resemblance to some of the ones described by Trollope. Like the novelist’s protagonists, the senator may discover tomorrow that there are not enough free drinks in the world to buy an election for a candidate that the public won’t stomach.

Those of us who love the classic novels of Anthony Trollope and his tales of the travails of the stump in the rough-and-tumble world of Victorian British politics could not help but smile at the description in today’s New York Times of a campaign stop by Arlen Specter at a pub in Ambler, Pennsylvania. The article described the ambivalence of voters about the 80-year-old’s braggadocio about using his influence and patronage to buy the voters support. But in case anybody didn’t get the point of his campaign, the piece’s final line summed it up:

But Mr. Specter stayed on message at the pub. As he was departing, an aide called out to the crowd of 70 people: “Senator Specter just bought the next round, so hit the bar.”

Just like Trollope’s would-be parliamentarians who trolled for votes in pubs by buying the affection of publicans who served up the free pints to the voters, so too, apparently, must Pennsylvania’s senior senator.

But far from being merely an amusing sidebar to the real issues, Specter’s pose as the source of all sorts of free stuff for Pennsylvanians really is the whole focus of his re-election effort. At a black-church service yesterday, he boasted of intimidating the secretary of agriculture into coughing up more money for a local program. Later at a union rally at Philadelphia’s Marine Terminal along the Delaware River, Specter and his ally Governor Ed Rendell bragged about the money he has squeezed out of the federal budget for the region as well as his support for the patronage that rained down from President Obama’s stimulus bill, which he supported.

In any normal political year, these sorts of accomplishments might foreclose the possibility of defeat for Specter. But this isn’t any normal political year. At a time when voters are fed up with out-of-control government spending, some have begun to ask whose money it is that Specter is doling out in small packages to the public and realizing that the answer is … their own. While his opponent Rep. Joe Sestak may not be a disciple of limited government (that choice will be presented to voters in November, when the all-but-certain Republican nominee Pat Toomey will be on the ballot), the Democratic challenger has a point when he notes that the only job Specter is truly interested in saving is his own.

While one should never underestimate the capacity of Pennsylvania’s pro-Specter Democratic machine to turn out compliant voters when they are determined to do so, it would appear that Specter’s desperate last campaign bears more than a passing resemblance to some of the ones described by Trollope. Like the novelist’s protagonists, the senator may discover tomorrow that there are not enough free drinks in the world to buy an election for a candidate that the public won’t stomach.

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Iran’s Game of Negotiations

One unanswered question about the nuclear-swap deal: who provides the 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium fuel rods to Iran? Because that is what swapping means — Iran gives Turkey 1,200 kilograms; the 1,200 kilograms sit in Turkey under IAEA, Iranian, and Turkish supervision for a month and then either they are swapped or they return home. Under the original agreement, there was no swapping — Iran would transfer 1,200 kilograms, Russia and France would reprocess them, and the resulting product (20 percent enriched fuel rods) would then return to Iran.

By negotiating a swap with Turkey, Iran adds a step to the process — 1,200 kilograms go to Turkey. They are swapped with 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium fuel rods; the 1,200 kilograms go to Russia and France to be reprocessed and then they return to Iran.

You can see this as a bazaar trick to get a discount — for the same price, now Iran gets 240 kilograms of fuel rods instead of 120. Or you can see it as an exchange of hostages — you take our fuel, we take yours.

Still, the question remains unanswered — who supplies 120 kilograms to Iran within a month of delivery?

Turkey? Brazil? The original Vienna group of France, Russia, and the United States?

And while we are at it: who ensures the safety of the nuclear material once it reaches Turkish territory? Turkey is not known to have the facilities to do so.

So let me make a guess. The deal goes nowhere. It falls through. But for a good six to eight weeks, the Iranians are the good guys, the ball is in the West’s court, the sanctions’ effort in New York loses steam, Turkey and Brazil vote against any sanctions’ resolution, and Moscow urges France and the United States to consider the swap deal as a good bridging proposal to “build upon.”

That’s the beauty of the deal negotiated by Turkey and Brazil. It puts the West into a corner for two reasons: first, because it allows Iran to break its isolation — with Turkey and Brazil now having negotiated a deal independently of the U.S., the Security Council, the IAEA, or the P5+1, it’s the U.S. and the EU that look isolated.

And second, because now President Obama, President Sarkozy, and President Medvedev (or Prime Minister Putin, who knows?) — the original promoters of the transfer deal from last October — will have to say whether they are prepared to go the extra mile and do what Iran demands in exchange for transferring its uranium to Turkey — something they were not prepared to do back in October. My guess is that Russia will go one way, France and the U.S. the opposite way. So here’s the master stroke: in one fell swoop, Iran managed to create a rift inside the UN Security Council and the Vienna Group at the same time.

Give Iran credit then, as Jennifer and Jonathan note — it has just gained another few months.

One unanswered question about the nuclear-swap deal: who provides the 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium fuel rods to Iran? Because that is what swapping means — Iran gives Turkey 1,200 kilograms; the 1,200 kilograms sit in Turkey under IAEA, Iranian, and Turkish supervision for a month and then either they are swapped or they return home. Under the original agreement, there was no swapping — Iran would transfer 1,200 kilograms, Russia and France would reprocess them, and the resulting product (20 percent enriched fuel rods) would then return to Iran.

By negotiating a swap with Turkey, Iran adds a step to the process — 1,200 kilograms go to Turkey. They are swapped with 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium fuel rods; the 1,200 kilograms go to Russia and France to be reprocessed and then they return to Iran.

You can see this as a bazaar trick to get a discount — for the same price, now Iran gets 240 kilograms of fuel rods instead of 120. Or you can see it as an exchange of hostages — you take our fuel, we take yours.

Still, the question remains unanswered — who supplies 120 kilograms to Iran within a month of delivery?

Turkey? Brazil? The original Vienna group of France, Russia, and the United States?

And while we are at it: who ensures the safety of the nuclear material once it reaches Turkish territory? Turkey is not known to have the facilities to do so.

So let me make a guess. The deal goes nowhere. It falls through. But for a good six to eight weeks, the Iranians are the good guys, the ball is in the West’s court, the sanctions’ effort in New York loses steam, Turkey and Brazil vote against any sanctions’ resolution, and Moscow urges France and the United States to consider the swap deal as a good bridging proposal to “build upon.”

That’s the beauty of the deal negotiated by Turkey and Brazil. It puts the West into a corner for two reasons: first, because it allows Iran to break its isolation — with Turkey and Brazil now having negotiated a deal independently of the U.S., the Security Council, the IAEA, or the P5+1, it’s the U.S. and the EU that look isolated.

And second, because now President Obama, President Sarkozy, and President Medvedev (or Prime Minister Putin, who knows?) — the original promoters of the transfer deal from last October — will have to say whether they are prepared to go the extra mile and do what Iran demands in exchange for transferring its uranium to Turkey — something they were not prepared to do back in October. My guess is that Russia will go one way, France and the U.S. the opposite way. So here’s the master stroke: in one fell swoop, Iran managed to create a rift inside the UN Security Council and the Vienna Group at the same time.

Give Iran credit then, as Jennifer and Jonathan note — it has just gained another few months.

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Better Governance Needed in Marjah

How worried should we be by reports, such as this one, that the Taliban continue to terrorize residents of Marjah, the town that was “liberated” by the marines back in February? Moderately worried — but hardly panicking.

The Taliban were smart enough to avoid an all-out fight for Marjah of the kind that Islamic insurgents staged in Iraq to hold on to Fallujah. If they had fought harder, the Taliban could have inflicted more casualties on the marines but would have lost in the end. Knowing that, they decided to adopt the smarter guerrilla tactic of lying low during the initial offensive. Now they reemerge in the dark of night to exert their influence but, for the most part, avoid open clashes with the marines, which they know they would lose. The New York Times quotes one local farmer as saying: “The Taliban are everywhere, they are like scorpions under every stone, and they are stinging all those who get assistance or help the government and the Americans.”

It should still be possible for U.S. and Afghan forces to root out these scorpions over time — but only if two conditions prevail. First, the security forces have to be patient; the population’s confidence cannot be won overnight. Second, the security forces must install a government that wins the people’s trust. Both conditions are hard to meet — the first because of President Obama’s self-imposed deadline for withdrawing our troops beginning next summer and the second because of the rottenness of the Karzai regime. Bringing in Afghan officials or security personnel who are too closely associated with a corrupt central regime will only intensify recruiting for the Taliban. The key to victory is to install local leaders who govern in a fair and enlightened manner. My guess is that this hasn’t happened yet in Marjah, and that is the root cause of the problems.

But better governance is hardly an impossible objective, especially at the local level. It will have to be the focus of American efforts not only in Marjah but, on a much bigger scale, in Kandahar, which is slated to be the next city to be liberated from the Taliban’s grip.

How worried should we be by reports, such as this one, that the Taliban continue to terrorize residents of Marjah, the town that was “liberated” by the marines back in February? Moderately worried — but hardly panicking.

The Taliban were smart enough to avoid an all-out fight for Marjah of the kind that Islamic insurgents staged in Iraq to hold on to Fallujah. If they had fought harder, the Taliban could have inflicted more casualties on the marines but would have lost in the end. Knowing that, they decided to adopt the smarter guerrilla tactic of lying low during the initial offensive. Now they reemerge in the dark of night to exert their influence but, for the most part, avoid open clashes with the marines, which they know they would lose. The New York Times quotes one local farmer as saying: “The Taliban are everywhere, they are like scorpions under every stone, and they are stinging all those who get assistance or help the government and the Americans.”

It should still be possible for U.S. and Afghan forces to root out these scorpions over time — but only if two conditions prevail. First, the security forces have to be patient; the population’s confidence cannot be won overnight. Second, the security forces must install a government that wins the people’s trust. Both conditions are hard to meet — the first because of President Obama’s self-imposed deadline for withdrawing our troops beginning next summer and the second because of the rottenness of the Karzai regime. Bringing in Afghan officials or security personnel who are too closely associated with a corrupt central regime will only intensify recruiting for the Taliban. The key to victory is to install local leaders who govern in a fair and enlightened manner. My guess is that this hasn’t happened yet in Marjah, and that is the root cause of the problems.

But better governance is hardly an impossible objective, especially at the local level. It will have to be the focus of American efforts not only in Marjah but, on a much bigger scale, in Kandahar, which is slated to be the next city to be liberated from the Taliban’s grip.

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A Sea Change on Spending

One of the reasons I’m sanguine about the elections this year is that I sense a sea change in the political climate against spending. I’m hardly the only one. Just for instance, there’s E. Thomas McClanahan of the Kansas City Star. The election of Chris Christie and Scott Brown in deeply blue states argues the same thing. So does the success of the tea parties.

But the Democrats and, especially, the Obama administration are deeply committed to ever greater spending. Even the so-called Blue Dog Democrats, supposedly fiscal hawks, mostly signed on to ObamaCare, which, if fully implemented, will increase federal spending the way the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is increasing pollution.

More, the Obama administration is joined at the hip to the biggest engine of spending in town, the public employees’ unions. Mort Zuckerman details just how destructive the nexus between politicians and public employees’ unions has become. Michael Barone points out that the administration is pushing Congress to spend an additional $23 billion to prevent teacher layoffs this year. This is in addition to the one-third of last year’s stimulus bill that went to prevent layoffs of government workers.

Might this largesse have anything to do with the fact that labor unions gave Democrats $400 million in the last election cycle? Might the Pope be a Catholic? That’s why only Republicans can ride this tide of public anger at spending and public employees’ unions. If they do, it will lead on to fortune.

One of the reasons I’m sanguine about the elections this year is that I sense a sea change in the political climate against spending. I’m hardly the only one. Just for instance, there’s E. Thomas McClanahan of the Kansas City Star. The election of Chris Christie and Scott Brown in deeply blue states argues the same thing. So does the success of the tea parties.

But the Democrats and, especially, the Obama administration are deeply committed to ever greater spending. Even the so-called Blue Dog Democrats, supposedly fiscal hawks, mostly signed on to ObamaCare, which, if fully implemented, will increase federal spending the way the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is increasing pollution.

More, the Obama administration is joined at the hip to the biggest engine of spending in town, the public employees’ unions. Mort Zuckerman details just how destructive the nexus between politicians and public employees’ unions has become. Michael Barone points out that the administration is pushing Congress to spend an additional $23 billion to prevent teacher layoffs this year. This is in addition to the one-third of last year’s stimulus bill that went to prevent layoffs of government workers.

Might this largesse have anything to do with the fact that labor unions gave Democrats $400 million in the last election cycle? Might the Pope be a Catholic? That’s why only Republicans can ride this tide of public anger at spending and public employees’ unions. If they do, it will lead on to fortune.

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The Flight from the Democratic Party

Two different stories — one reporting on last week’s Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll and the other from yesterday’s New York Times — include quotes from voters that underscore just how bad the political environment is for Democrats these days.

From the Journal story — which reports on how Republicans have reassembled their coalition by reconnecting with independents, seniors, blue-collar voters, suburban women, and small-town and rural voters — we read this:

Of those who want to see Republicans control the House, less than one-third said that was because they support the GOP and its candidates.

Rather, nearly two-thirds said they were motivated by opposition to Mr. Obama and Democratic policies.

“Republicans ran us under financially, and the Democrats are worse,” said poll respondent William Lina, 80, of Alden, N.Y., who is a registered Democrat but plans to vote a straight Republican ticket in November.

He cited frustration with the Democrats’ health-care overhaul and the economic stimulus program.

Joe Carter, a 53-year-old Republican from Kingsport, Tenn., who has voted for Democrats in the past, said he, too, would likely vote a straight Republican ticket.

“Both parties do things I disagree with,” Mr. Carter said. “But just to stop what’s going on now, I will vote Republican.”

And from the New York Times, we read this:

Sam Boyd has been a Democrat his entire adult life, just like many here in this mostly rural, economically impoverished southwestern corner of the state, where the party’s roots run as deep as the coal underfoot.

But in Tuesday’s closely watched special election to succeed the late Representative John P. Murtha in the state’s 12th Congressional District, Mr. Boyd, 65, is leaning toward casting his vote for the Republican candidate, Tim Burns, a millionaire former software entrepreneur who got involved in politics through the Tea Party movement.

“I’m for Burns for the reason I was for Obama,” said Mr. Boyd, a retired general contractor who served as an unpaid campaign liaison for Mr. Murtha in his county. “I want change.”

Whether or not Mr. Burns pulls off a victory over his Democratic opponent, Mark Critz, in what polls suggest is a competitive race, voters like Mr. Boyd embody the nightmare scenario for Democrats nationally: that even committed Democrats will turn on their part. …

Mr. Boyd, who first joined his local Young Democrats club as a 14-year-old, says he now regrets voting for Mr. Obama, even though he hastened to add that he still found the president personally appealing.

“I just think I bought the sizzle, not the steak,” he said.

These anecdotes, which must be sending shivers up and down the spine of Democrats, reflect what the data overwhelmingly shows the country, including traditional Democrats, are moving away from the Democratic Party at an alarming rate. There are multiple causes for this, but prima inter pares is Barack Obama, liberalism’s “sort of God,” America’s “Black Jesus,” the man who would (by his own account) heal the planet and reverse the ocean tides.

It is an extraordinary political exodus that Mr. Obama is engineering — but, for Democrats, it’s going in all the wrong ways.

With every passing week, Obama’s wings of wax continue to melt. Soon enough — say, round around the first Tuesday in November — a terrible crash will follow. At that point, Democrats will begin to rethink just what Mr. Obama has wrought for his party and for the cause of contemporary liberalism.

Two different stories — one reporting on last week’s Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll and the other from yesterday’s New York Times — include quotes from voters that underscore just how bad the political environment is for Democrats these days.

From the Journal story — which reports on how Republicans have reassembled their coalition by reconnecting with independents, seniors, blue-collar voters, suburban women, and small-town and rural voters — we read this:

Of those who want to see Republicans control the House, less than one-third said that was because they support the GOP and its candidates.

Rather, nearly two-thirds said they were motivated by opposition to Mr. Obama and Democratic policies.

“Republicans ran us under financially, and the Democrats are worse,” said poll respondent William Lina, 80, of Alden, N.Y., who is a registered Democrat but plans to vote a straight Republican ticket in November.

He cited frustration with the Democrats’ health-care overhaul and the economic stimulus program.

Joe Carter, a 53-year-old Republican from Kingsport, Tenn., who has voted for Democrats in the past, said he, too, would likely vote a straight Republican ticket.

“Both parties do things I disagree with,” Mr. Carter said. “But just to stop what’s going on now, I will vote Republican.”

And from the New York Times, we read this:

Sam Boyd has been a Democrat his entire adult life, just like many here in this mostly rural, economically impoverished southwestern corner of the state, where the party’s roots run as deep as the coal underfoot.

But in Tuesday’s closely watched special election to succeed the late Representative John P. Murtha in the state’s 12th Congressional District, Mr. Boyd, 65, is leaning toward casting his vote for the Republican candidate, Tim Burns, a millionaire former software entrepreneur who got involved in politics through the Tea Party movement.

“I’m for Burns for the reason I was for Obama,” said Mr. Boyd, a retired general contractor who served as an unpaid campaign liaison for Mr. Murtha in his county. “I want change.”

Whether or not Mr. Burns pulls off a victory over his Democratic opponent, Mark Critz, in what polls suggest is a competitive race, voters like Mr. Boyd embody the nightmare scenario for Democrats nationally: that even committed Democrats will turn on their part. …

Mr. Boyd, who first joined his local Young Democrats club as a 14-year-old, says he now regrets voting for Mr. Obama, even though he hastened to add that he still found the president personally appealing.

“I just think I bought the sizzle, not the steak,” he said.

These anecdotes, which must be sending shivers up and down the spine of Democrats, reflect what the data overwhelmingly shows the country, including traditional Democrats, are moving away from the Democratic Party at an alarming rate. There are multiple causes for this, but prima inter pares is Barack Obama, liberalism’s “sort of God,” America’s “Black Jesus,” the man who would (by his own account) heal the planet and reverse the ocean tides.

It is an extraordinary political exodus that Mr. Obama is engineering — but, for Democrats, it’s going in all the wrong ways.

With every passing week, Obama’s wings of wax continue to melt. Soon enough — say, round around the first Tuesday in November — a terrible crash will follow. At that point, Democrats will begin to rethink just what Mr. Obama has wrought for his party and for the cause of contemporary liberalism.

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RE: Mullahs Outfox Obama — Again

The Iranian deal to ship some of its nuclear fuel to Turkey is another diplomatic defeat for the Obama administration. The notion that this will somehow allay the justified fears of the West about Iran’s nuclear ambitions is, as Jen writes, “preposterous” but not much more absurd than the deal that the Obama administration was prepared to sign on to last fall before Tehran pulled the proverbial rug out from under the president.

The interesting question today is not whether this latest development means that Iran is genuinely interested in compromise or prepared to abandon its quest for a nuclear weapon. No one but a fool would believe such a thing. Rather, the real question is how an administration that presents itself as having learned from its first year in office will react to this end run around their admittedly lackluster effort to put together an international coalition on behalf of sanctions against Iran.

For the past few months, we’ve heard a great deal about how the Obami have drawn conclusions about the way the Iranians reacted to Washington’s yearlong quest for “engagement.” We’ve been given to understand that the administration wasn’t going to be fooled any longer and was preparing to get tough with the Iranians. Yet the suspicion that the co-sponsorship of this latest Iranian effort to evade sanctions by Turkey and Brazil will deter a stiff American response hangs over all speculation about the next step.

As Michael Slackman writes in the New York Times:

Mr. Obama now faces a vexing choice. If he walks away from this deal, it will look like he is rejecting an agreement similar to one he was willing to sign eight months ago. But if he accepts it, many of the urgent issues he has said will have to be resolved with Iran in coming months — mostly over suspected weapons work — will be put on hold for a year or more. Many American officials believe that is Iran’s most pressing goal.

That’s the bottom line for Iran. If the United States accepts this deal, it will mean giving Iran another year’s grace to work toward its goal of nuclear capability. That will be added to the full year Iran gained from Obama’s feckless engagement and the months wasted dithering about sanctions. After this next year we will have given them, we can expect only another attempt at dissimulation to gain Iran’s program as much time as it needs. In other words, despite the avowed determination by both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton that they will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, this process they have helped create will lead inevitably to just that result.

That’s why if Washington really is serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear program, the only possible response to this deal is all-out opposition by the United States and its allies. If not, then the president will be acquiescing to a process by which Iran has the ability to indefinitely stall an international response. That is to say that America’s policy will be, like it or not, to simply give Iran a pass and move on to other concerns. And from there it is a very short step to acknowledging that the United States is prepared to live with the Islamist regime in Tehran having a nuclear bomb. That will mean that the only possible hope for a check on Tehran will be the possibility of an Israeli military strike to stave off the existential threat to the Jewish state. That’s a scenario that we know the administration is desperate to avoid. But if they are prepared to meekly accept the Turkish agreement, what arguments can they possibly muster to persuade the Israelis to refrain from defending themselves?

The Iranian deal to ship some of its nuclear fuel to Turkey is another diplomatic defeat for the Obama administration. The notion that this will somehow allay the justified fears of the West about Iran’s nuclear ambitions is, as Jen writes, “preposterous” but not much more absurd than the deal that the Obama administration was prepared to sign on to last fall before Tehran pulled the proverbial rug out from under the president.

The interesting question today is not whether this latest development means that Iran is genuinely interested in compromise or prepared to abandon its quest for a nuclear weapon. No one but a fool would believe such a thing. Rather, the real question is how an administration that presents itself as having learned from its first year in office will react to this end run around their admittedly lackluster effort to put together an international coalition on behalf of sanctions against Iran.

For the past few months, we’ve heard a great deal about how the Obami have drawn conclusions about the way the Iranians reacted to Washington’s yearlong quest for “engagement.” We’ve been given to understand that the administration wasn’t going to be fooled any longer and was preparing to get tough with the Iranians. Yet the suspicion that the co-sponsorship of this latest Iranian effort to evade sanctions by Turkey and Brazil will deter a stiff American response hangs over all speculation about the next step.

As Michael Slackman writes in the New York Times:

Mr. Obama now faces a vexing choice. If he walks away from this deal, it will look like he is rejecting an agreement similar to one he was willing to sign eight months ago. But if he accepts it, many of the urgent issues he has said will have to be resolved with Iran in coming months — mostly over suspected weapons work — will be put on hold for a year or more. Many American officials believe that is Iran’s most pressing goal.

That’s the bottom line for Iran. If the United States accepts this deal, it will mean giving Iran another year’s grace to work toward its goal of nuclear capability. That will be added to the full year Iran gained from Obama’s feckless engagement and the months wasted dithering about sanctions. After this next year we will have given them, we can expect only another attempt at dissimulation to gain Iran’s program as much time as it needs. In other words, despite the avowed determination by both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton that they will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, this process they have helped create will lead inevitably to just that result.

That’s why if Washington really is serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear program, the only possible response to this deal is all-out opposition by the United States and its allies. If not, then the president will be acquiescing to a process by which Iran has the ability to indefinitely stall an international response. That is to say that America’s policy will be, like it or not, to simply give Iran a pass and move on to other concerns. And from there it is a very short step to acknowledging that the United States is prepared to live with the Islamist regime in Tehran having a nuclear bomb. That will mean that the only possible hope for a check on Tehran will be the possibility of an Israeli military strike to stave off the existential threat to the Jewish state. That’s a scenario that we know the administration is desperate to avoid. But if they are prepared to meekly accept the Turkish agreement, what arguments can they possibly muster to persuade the Israelis to refrain from defending themselves?

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UAW Enriched, Now What About the Taxpayers?

You might recall that three years ago, GM negotiated wage cuts with the UAW. That was supposed to lower the rate for new hires, to $25.65 per hour, a significant reduction over current rates of approximately $60 per hour. But that was a charade, and GM has yet to cut a single employee’s rate. This report explains:

GM can’t add new workers at the lower wage yet. It still has 5,000 laid-off workers who, under their contract terms, have first crack at any union jobs that the company adds, and most would return to work at the higher pay level. …

“That’s probably one of the reasons the UAW agreed to [the lower wages]. They knew right off the bat there wouldn’t be a lot of leeway for the companies to hire new workers,” said David Whiston, an auto analyst at Morningstar Inc. “There will always be this fundamental difference—that the Detroit companies have union shops” and the U.S. plants of foreign makers don’t.

When might the new, lower wages kick in? Hard to say, GM declares: “As GM’s U.S. sales recover, the company is ramping up production by adding shifts and overtime at several factories. These moves will allow GM to bring back many laid-off workers, but GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said the company doesn’t know when hiring will begin for the lower-wage jobs.”

This is what the taxpayers have been subsidizing. And certainly the safety net supplied by the Obama administration for the benefit of its union patrons prevented any real cuts for UAW workers, which in a non-bailout situation or an ordinary bankruptcy would have been among the first steps GM would have been forced to take.

And now we hear that with GM’s improved fortunes, the administration is considering an IPO to unload the 61 percent of GM shares it holds. How about this? In appreciation for having propped up a losing firm and sustaining the exorbitant compensation of UAW workers, any funds obtained from an IPO should go back to the taxpayers in the form of an income tax rebate. In fact, it sounds like just the sort of issue Republicans should present to the voters in November. One party wants government to keep the money; another wants to return it to the taxpayers. One party has used taxpayer funds to enrich Big Labor; the other wants to put money in everyone’s pocket. Sounds like a defining issue, and a stark reminder that the candidate who talked about fiscal responsibility and taming special interests has not practiced what he preached.

You might recall that three years ago, GM negotiated wage cuts with the UAW. That was supposed to lower the rate for new hires, to $25.65 per hour, a significant reduction over current rates of approximately $60 per hour. But that was a charade, and GM has yet to cut a single employee’s rate. This report explains:

GM can’t add new workers at the lower wage yet. It still has 5,000 laid-off workers who, under their contract terms, have first crack at any union jobs that the company adds, and most would return to work at the higher pay level. …

“That’s probably one of the reasons the UAW agreed to [the lower wages]. They knew right off the bat there wouldn’t be a lot of leeway for the companies to hire new workers,” said David Whiston, an auto analyst at Morningstar Inc. “There will always be this fundamental difference—that the Detroit companies have union shops” and the U.S. plants of foreign makers don’t.

When might the new, lower wages kick in? Hard to say, GM declares: “As GM’s U.S. sales recover, the company is ramping up production by adding shifts and overtime at several factories. These moves will allow GM to bring back many laid-off workers, but GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said the company doesn’t know when hiring will begin for the lower-wage jobs.”

This is what the taxpayers have been subsidizing. And certainly the safety net supplied by the Obama administration for the benefit of its union patrons prevented any real cuts for UAW workers, which in a non-bailout situation or an ordinary bankruptcy would have been among the first steps GM would have been forced to take.

And now we hear that with GM’s improved fortunes, the administration is considering an IPO to unload the 61 percent of GM shares it holds. How about this? In appreciation for having propped up a losing firm and sustaining the exorbitant compensation of UAW workers, any funds obtained from an IPO should go back to the taxpayers in the form of an income tax rebate. In fact, it sounds like just the sort of issue Republicans should present to the voters in November. One party wants government to keep the money; another wants to return it to the taxpayers. One party has used taxpayer funds to enrich Big Labor; the other wants to put money in everyone’s pocket. Sounds like a defining issue, and a stark reminder that the candidate who talked about fiscal responsibility and taming special interests has not practiced what he preached.

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Harvard’s Double Standard on Gay Rights

On FOX News Sunday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, in talking about the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, makes this helpful comparison:

On the one hand, Harvard accepts money from Saudis. Saudi Arabia, by the way, executes homosexuals, Saudi Arabia represses women, Saudi Arabia does not allow Christians or Jews to practice their religion, but Saudi money is fine. The American military didn’t have a policy. The Congress of the United States and the Clinton administration she served in had a policy. And for her to single out the military was an extraordinarily myopic position. And if you read what they said at the time, it was consistently focused on the military, and I just think that at a time when we have two wars, that’s a very inappropriate behavior.

This is a very good point for GOP senators to press Ms. Kagan on during her confirmation hearings. Apparently, accepting the money from a repressive government where sodomy is punishable by death is hunky-dory, but the military, in carrying through on the Clinton administration’s policy, deserves to be singled out for condemnation. (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a “moral injustice of the first order,” according to Kagan.) How exactly does one explain the different Indignation Meters at Harvard Law School?

For the record, it appears that $20 million (and perhaps considerably less) is enough to silence Harvard on the matter of human rights for gays. Here’s a report from 2005:

A Saudi prince has donated $20 million each to Harvard University and Georgetown University to advance Islamic studies and further understanding of the Muslim world. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Alsaud — whom Forbes magazine ranks as the fifth wealthiest person in the world, with assets worth $23.7 billion — is the nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. “Bridging the understanding between East and West is important for peace and tolerance,” Alwaleed said in a statement released by Harvard. At Harvard, the money will fund four new senior staff professorships as well as an endowed chair in the name of the 48-year-old billionaire. Harvard will also use the funds to begin digitizing historically significant Islamic texts and materials, and make them available for research on the Internet. “We are very grateful to Prince Alwaleed for his generous gift to Harvard,” President Lawrence H. Summers said. The gift is considered one of the 25th largest in university history.

Of course, Harvard, ever open-minded, wanted to “bridge the understanding between East and West” in order to advance the cause of “tolerance.” So Harvard, for the right price, can summon tolerance even when it comes to governments’ executing people for sodomy. Yet it showed considerably less tolerance for the United States military on the matter of not allowing openly gay people to serve in the military.

How principled of Harvard.

All this is indicative of a twisted set of priorities by Harvard and worth exploring in some detail.

On FOX News Sunday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, in talking about the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, makes this helpful comparison:

On the one hand, Harvard accepts money from Saudis. Saudi Arabia, by the way, executes homosexuals, Saudi Arabia represses women, Saudi Arabia does not allow Christians or Jews to practice their religion, but Saudi money is fine. The American military didn’t have a policy. The Congress of the United States and the Clinton administration she served in had a policy. And for her to single out the military was an extraordinarily myopic position. And if you read what they said at the time, it was consistently focused on the military, and I just think that at a time when we have two wars, that’s a very inappropriate behavior.

This is a very good point for GOP senators to press Ms. Kagan on during her confirmation hearings. Apparently, accepting the money from a repressive government where sodomy is punishable by death is hunky-dory, but the military, in carrying through on the Clinton administration’s policy, deserves to be singled out for condemnation. (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a “moral injustice of the first order,” according to Kagan.) How exactly does one explain the different Indignation Meters at Harvard Law School?

For the record, it appears that $20 million (and perhaps considerably less) is enough to silence Harvard on the matter of human rights for gays. Here’s a report from 2005:

A Saudi prince has donated $20 million each to Harvard University and Georgetown University to advance Islamic studies and further understanding of the Muslim world. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Alsaud — whom Forbes magazine ranks as the fifth wealthiest person in the world, with assets worth $23.7 billion — is the nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. “Bridging the understanding between East and West is important for peace and tolerance,” Alwaleed said in a statement released by Harvard. At Harvard, the money will fund four new senior staff professorships as well as an endowed chair in the name of the 48-year-old billionaire. Harvard will also use the funds to begin digitizing historically significant Islamic texts and materials, and make them available for research on the Internet. “We are very grateful to Prince Alwaleed for his generous gift to Harvard,” President Lawrence H. Summers said. The gift is considered one of the 25th largest in university history.

Of course, Harvard, ever open-minded, wanted to “bridge the understanding between East and West” in order to advance the cause of “tolerance.” So Harvard, for the right price, can summon tolerance even when it comes to governments’ executing people for sodomy. Yet it showed considerably less tolerance for the United States military on the matter of not allowing openly gay people to serve in the military.

How principled of Harvard.

All this is indicative of a twisted set of priorities by Harvard and worth exploring in some detail.

Read Less

Mullahs Outfox Obama — Again

The Iranian regime at every turn has befuddled and outwitted Obama. The mullahs stole an election and brutally suppressed and murdered protesters while convincing Obama to hush up or risk offending them. They made the most of “engagement.” They got the Americans to buy into a silly agreement in which an unverifiable amount of enriched uranium could be shipped out of the country. And then they nixed the deal, prolonged the pre-sanctions phase, made friends with other anti-Israeli and anti-American regimes, and turned the UN session into a forum for their own propaganda. Now they’ve topped themselves:

Iran said on Monday that it had reached an agreement, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, for a nuclear fuel swap that could undermine efforts in the United Nations to impose new sanctions on the Iranians. Iranian state media quoted senior officials as saying the deal provided for Iran to ship 1,200 kilograms — about 2,600 pounds — of low-enriched uranium to neighboring Turkey in return for 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium. …

There was no immediate response from the United States or other nations in the international group dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. … If the latest agreement meant Iran was now prepared for an exchange outside its own territory, that could represent a potentially significant step, said a diplomat in Vienna who spoke in return for anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters. … It was unclear whether the Obama administration, which has insisted on the need for new sanctions, would take any new iteration of the original United Nations-based deal for a fuel exchange.

This is preposterous given the dispositions of Brazil and Turkey these days, the impossibility of verification, and the likelihood that these nations would return the nuclear material whenever the Iranians wanted it. But it is not significantly less preposterous than the original deal the Obama team gushed over, and the administration may now see this as an escape hatch. (Done! Problem solved!) As the report notes, “the blessing of Turkey and Brazil for such a swap agreement could put the Obama administration in the awkward position of appearing to take an unreasonably hard line.” Because, you see, we wouldn’t want to insist on a “hard line,” namely, that a brutal Islamic fundamentalist state dedicated to the eradication of Israel be forced to forgo a nuclear program or face dire consequences.

The Iranian regime at every turn has befuddled and outwitted Obama. The mullahs stole an election and brutally suppressed and murdered protesters while convincing Obama to hush up or risk offending them. They made the most of “engagement.” They got the Americans to buy into a silly agreement in which an unverifiable amount of enriched uranium could be shipped out of the country. And then they nixed the deal, prolonged the pre-sanctions phase, made friends with other anti-Israeli and anti-American regimes, and turned the UN session into a forum for their own propaganda. Now they’ve topped themselves:

Iran said on Monday that it had reached an agreement, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, for a nuclear fuel swap that could undermine efforts in the United Nations to impose new sanctions on the Iranians. Iranian state media quoted senior officials as saying the deal provided for Iran to ship 1,200 kilograms — about 2,600 pounds — of low-enriched uranium to neighboring Turkey in return for 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium. …

There was no immediate response from the United States or other nations in the international group dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. … If the latest agreement meant Iran was now prepared for an exchange outside its own territory, that could represent a potentially significant step, said a diplomat in Vienna who spoke in return for anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters. … It was unclear whether the Obama administration, which has insisted on the need for new sanctions, would take any new iteration of the original United Nations-based deal for a fuel exchange.

This is preposterous given the dispositions of Brazil and Turkey these days, the impossibility of verification, and the likelihood that these nations would return the nuclear material whenever the Iranians wanted it. But it is not significantly less preposterous than the original deal the Obama team gushed over, and the administration may now see this as an escape hatch. (Done! Problem solved!) As the report notes, “the blessing of Turkey and Brazil for such a swap agreement could put the Obama administration in the awkward position of appearing to take an unreasonably hard line.” Because, you see, we wouldn’t want to insist on a “hard line,” namely, that a brutal Islamic fundamentalist state dedicated to the eradication of Israel be forced to forgo a nuclear program or face dire consequences.

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Obama the Crybaby

Barack Obama is quite a piece of work.

On Friday, in speaking about the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the president said this:

You had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else. The American people could not have been impressed with that display, and I certainly wasn’t.

I understand that there are legal and financial issues involved, and a full investigation will tell us exactly what happened. But it is pretty clear that the system failed, and it failed badly. And for that, there is enough responsibility to go around. And all parties should be willing to accept it.

That includes, by the way, the federal government. For too long, for a decade or more, there has been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill. It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore. To borrow an old phrase, we will trust but we will verify.

Now isn’t that rich? Here we have the most compulsive finger-pointing, blame-shifting, I’m-not-responsible-for-anything-that’s-happening-on-my-watch president imaginable lecturing others about finger-pointing. He’s like an alcoholic who sermonizes to his college-age son for drinking a Bud Light. The man who seemingly cannot go more than five minutes without blaming someone, somewhere, for the problems he faces is now insisting on personal accountability from others.

It gets better, though. Mr. Obama, in saying that the federal government has some responsibility for what went wrong, reverts to his habit by blaming — you guessed it — the prior administration while praising his own. This was too much even for Chip Reid of CBS News, who points out:

“A decade or more” clearly encompasses the Bush Administration, and may include the Clinton years too. But Mr. Obama’s been president for nearly 16 months. Does he get at least a little piece of the blame? Not a bit, he made clear. He portrayed his administration as valiantly fighting the good fight against the oil companies from day one.

Ah, yes, how fortunate we all are to have on our side Barack the Valiant, intrepid fighter of all things evil, at once omnicompetent and all-wise, forever put upon because he must clean up the mistakes of others.

It is all rather childish, this delusional game our president plays. Mr. Obama’s manifest public failures are increasingly having to make room for his private ones. He is a whiner and a crybaby. And he should, for his own sake, cease and desist.

Barack Obama is quite a piece of work.

On Friday, in speaking about the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the president said this:

You had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else. The American people could not have been impressed with that display, and I certainly wasn’t.

I understand that there are legal and financial issues involved, and a full investigation will tell us exactly what happened. But it is pretty clear that the system failed, and it failed badly. And for that, there is enough responsibility to go around. And all parties should be willing to accept it.

That includes, by the way, the federal government. For too long, for a decade or more, there has been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill. It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore. To borrow an old phrase, we will trust but we will verify.

Now isn’t that rich? Here we have the most compulsive finger-pointing, blame-shifting, I’m-not-responsible-for-anything-that’s-happening-on-my-watch president imaginable lecturing others about finger-pointing. He’s like an alcoholic who sermonizes to his college-age son for drinking a Bud Light. The man who seemingly cannot go more than five minutes without blaming someone, somewhere, for the problems he faces is now insisting on personal accountability from others.

It gets better, though. Mr. Obama, in saying that the federal government has some responsibility for what went wrong, reverts to his habit by blaming — you guessed it — the prior administration while praising his own. This was too much even for Chip Reid of CBS News, who points out:

“A decade or more” clearly encompasses the Bush Administration, and may include the Clinton years too. But Mr. Obama’s been president for nearly 16 months. Does he get at least a little piece of the blame? Not a bit, he made clear. He portrayed his administration as valiantly fighting the good fight against the oil companies from day one.

Ah, yes, how fortunate we all are to have on our side Barack the Valiant, intrepid fighter of all things evil, at once omnicompetent and all-wise, forever put upon because he must clean up the mistakes of others.

It is all rather childish, this delusional game our president plays. Mr. Obama’s manifest public failures are increasingly having to make room for his private ones. He is a whiner and a crybaby. And he should, for his own sake, cease and desist.

Read Less

Middle East Democracy Advocates Fed Up with Obama

An Egyptian democracy advocate, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, writes:

One year after President Barack Obama’s highly celebrated speech in Cairo supporting Arab democracy, there is a clear and loud expression of disappointment in the region.

The pathological fear of Islamists coming to power if there were free and fair elections seems to have served Arab dictators well. Although Mr. Obama himself made it clear in Cairo that he does not believe the proposition of incompatibility between Islam and democracy, his administration has clearly opted for a policy favoring regional stability over democratic governance.

Ibrahim reminds us of the list of Obama’s sins of omission regarding Egypt – quietude on the extension of the emergency election laws and slashing of funding for democracy promotion. We can add to that the administration’s muteness on the abuse of Coptic women. And for those on the left, Ibrahim twists the knife:

George W. Bush is missed by activists in Cairo and elsewhere who—despite possible misgivings about his policies in Iraq and Afghanistan—benefited from his firm stance on democratic progress. During the time he kept up pressure on dictators, there were openings for a democratic opposition to flourish. The current Obama policy seems weak and inconsistent by contrast.

Really, who has better claim to being the president of hope and change in the Middle East — the one who liberated Iraq from tyranny and pledged to do the same for Afghanistan, harped on democracy, and refused the entreaties of dictators to shove human rights under the bus, or the one who can’t manage to utter a syllable of criticism of child brides, honor killings, religious persecution (which an ambassador at large would presumably comment on, if Obama had appointed one), and political repression in the region’s Muslim states — and who declines to consider regime change in Iran?

An Egyptian democracy advocate, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, writes:

One year after President Barack Obama’s highly celebrated speech in Cairo supporting Arab democracy, there is a clear and loud expression of disappointment in the region.

The pathological fear of Islamists coming to power if there were free and fair elections seems to have served Arab dictators well. Although Mr. Obama himself made it clear in Cairo that he does not believe the proposition of incompatibility between Islam and democracy, his administration has clearly opted for a policy favoring regional stability over democratic governance.

Ibrahim reminds us of the list of Obama’s sins of omission regarding Egypt – quietude on the extension of the emergency election laws and slashing of funding for democracy promotion. We can add to that the administration’s muteness on the abuse of Coptic women. And for those on the left, Ibrahim twists the knife:

George W. Bush is missed by activists in Cairo and elsewhere who—despite possible misgivings about his policies in Iraq and Afghanistan—benefited from his firm stance on democratic progress. During the time he kept up pressure on dictators, there were openings for a democratic opposition to flourish. The current Obama policy seems weak and inconsistent by contrast.

Really, who has better claim to being the president of hope and change in the Middle East — the one who liberated Iraq from tyranny and pledged to do the same for Afghanistan, harped on democracy, and refused the entreaties of dictators to shove human rights under the bus, or the one who can’t manage to utter a syllable of criticism of child brides, honor killings, religious persecution (which an ambassador at large would presumably comment on, if Obama had appointed one), and political repression in the region’s Muslim states — and who declines to consider regime change in Iran?

Read Less




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