Sure, ObamaCare is great for you. So great that the president is now offering 3 million members of his base ObamaClemency:
The Obama Administration has rolled out another 129 waivers to one provision of the new health reform law, with almost half of those new exemptions going to various union groups. The extra waivers bring the total to 1,168. …The waivers now cover almost three million Americans, but the feds argue that is “less than 2 percent of all Americans who have private health insurance.
The waiver gets you out of “a portion of the law that in 2011 requires an annual benefit limit of no less than $750,000.” Sure beats a PBA card.
The left loves to perseverate on the threat to democracy posed by the top one percent of the country’s earners. Wonder if they’ll have any complaints about the two percent of Americans the president has officially exempted from obeying the law of the land.
We are deep in banana- republic territory here. The head of state forces an eccentric law onto his subjects and then lets his closest supporters get out of it so that they alone may continue to prosper. To call this more of the “same old” cynical Washington back-scratch machine is to underestimate the extent of the damage taking place before our eyes.
Those expecting Richard Goldstone’s recantation to be front-page news today were, of course, dreaming. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was above the fold on the front page of the New York Times today, but the stunning news about Goldstone was buried on page ten with only a tiny teaser line underneath the main Middle East story on the cover. That much bigger story was a “diplomatic memo” written by Ethan Bronner of the paper’s Jerusalem bureau. Headlined “In Israel, Time for Peace Offer May Run Out,” Bronner’s story flogged the premise that the Jewish state is heading for a catastrophic diplomatic defeat at the United Nations.
The scenario Bronner sketches out conforms to the one that Jackson Diehl wrote about in the Washington Post last week when he reported that President Obama is trying to force Israel to accept a complete pullback from all of the West Bank and all of eastern Jerusalem as the basis of future peace talks with the Palestinians. In other words, even before negotiations began, Israel would have to concede everything on territory and then, presumably, begin talking about the Palestinian “right of return,” which would doom the Jewish state inside the 1949 armistice lines.
Bronner takes this scenario further. If Israel doesn’t bend to this Palestinian demand, he warns, the General Assembly of the United Nations will vote in September to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem as a member nation.
Sen. John Kerry announced on Friday that he would seek to delay additional funding to the USAID democracy-promotion program in Cuba, because he believes that it has been doing more harm than good.
Kerry asks for a review of the program before funding is continued. Fair enough. But then the senator goes on to blame the pro-democracy program for the arrest of U.S. contractor Alan Gross in 2009: “There is no evidence . . . that the ‘democracy promotion’ programs, which have cost the U.S. taxpayer more than $150 million so far, are helping the Cuban people,” he said in a press statement. “Nor have they achieved much more than provoking the Cuban government to arrest a U.S. government contractor who was distributing satellite communication sets to Cuban contacts.”
Why would Kerry hold a democracy-promotion program responsible for Gross’s arrest instead of Cuba’s Communist government? First of all, Cuba hardly needs an excuse for that sort of crackdown. And second, Cuba’s action spotlights the need for such a program in the first place. You’d think the arrest would be an argument for more funding, not less.
On the cover of today’s New York Times Book Review is “Otto von Bismarck, Master Statesman,” Henry Kissinger’s review of a new Bismarck biography. Kissinger quotes one of Bismarck’s sayings about war: “Woe to the statesman whose arguments for entering a war are not as convincing at its end as they were at the beginning.”
In his Friday column on Barack Obama, David Brooks wrote that he opposes the administration’s publicly-articulated Libyan policy (the days-not-weeks humanitarian mission with an ambiguous ultimate objective), but supports what he calls the unstated actual policy (a “Squeeze and See” strategy of regime change formulated by a “sensitive, idealistic” commander-in-chief who can also “think practically”):
It is tiresome to harp on this sort of thing, but this is an intervention done in the spirit of Reinhold Niebuhr. It is motivated by a noble sentiment, to combat evil, but it is being done without self-righteousness and with a prudent awareness of the limits and the ironies of history.
Brooks is right: it is tiresome. Perhaps we are blessed to have a hugely self-regarding president whose public words are not a reliable guide to his actual policies – continually dragged into last-minute decisions while contemplating the limits and ironies of history. But perhaps we should withhold judgment until we see how well the Niebuhrian spirit combats evil in the shape of Iran.
Two days before Brooks’s column appeared, the administration announced unserious Iran sanctions that reporters saw through immediately and that clearly upset knowledgeable senators. Such sanctions are not likely what Niebuhr (much less Bismarck) would have done.