“I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists — and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not get a job in my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president. I’m in this race to take those tax breaks away from companies that are moving jobs overseas and put them in the pockets of hard working Americans who deserve it.” – Barack Obama, in a speech to the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, November 10, 2007.
“President Obama’s reelection campaign has hired a former lobbyist to serve as a senior adviser to the 2012 team. The Obama campaign announced Monday the hiring of Broderick Johnson, a veteran of the Clinton White House and Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) 2004 presidential campaign… Johnson is a former partner at the law firm Bryan Cave and was registered to lobby up until April 2011 for several major companies and trade groups, including the Financial Services Forum, Comcast Corporation, and Microsoft, according to lobbying disclosure records…. Johnson was also a lobbyist for AT&T before he joined Bryan Cave, according to lobbying disclosure records.”– The Hill, October 24, 2011.
Israel’s foes understand the greatest obstacle to their efforts is the existence of a broad bipartisan consensus in the United States on behalf of support for the Jewish state of Israel. This fact has inspired conspiracy theories about a vast organized cabal whose goal is to subvert American foreign policy for the sake of the Jews that is a thinly veiled recycled version of traditional anti-Semitism that most Americans rightly reject out of hand. But the existence of this consensus is no reason for friends of Israel to stifle discussion about the alliance or to grant some politicians an exemption from scrutiny about their records on the issue.
Yet unfortunately that appears to be the one of the purposes of a new “National Unity Pledge for Israel” that is being circulated by both the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee. While the cause of Jewish unity is noble and much of the language of the pledge is unexceptionable, certain elements of it as well as the way it has been promoted by ADL head Abe Foxman seems aimed more at silencing any effort to hold the Obama administration accountable for some of its attacks on Israel’s government and determination to tilt the diplomatic playing field in favor of the Palestinians.
One of the GOP presidential candidates (Ron Paul) believes the United States is responsible for triggering the 9/11 attacks. Another (Rick Santorum) has said he would use the presidential bully pulpit to speak out against the dangers of contraception and its role in the moral decline of America (“One of the things that I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the sexual liberty idea and many in the Christian faith have said, you know contraception is OK. It’s not OK because it’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”)
Yet another (Herman Cain), has dramatically shifted his positions on negotiating with terrorists and legalizing abortion within a matter of hours, after having said he would (contra the Constitution) impose a religious test on Muslim Americans. And now Governor Rick Perry has indicated he’s not quite sure whether Barack Obama was born in the USA, citing Donald Trump as an authority.
As President Obama prepares to issue an unspecified executive order on student loan debt – which is now just shy of $1 trillion – Bill Frezza explains why the left is dying for a partisan fight on this issue:
In the realm of economic stimulus proposals, none is as audacious, as Machiavellian, and as transparently designed to buy the votes of a critical electoral demographic than the proposal to forgive all student loans. Even if it fails, as it likely will, the seamless coordination between members of Congress, leftist advocacy groups, and the media to try to sell this idea is a perfect example of how brilliantly certain factions play their hand in the high-stakes game of crafting the dominant political narrative.
As Alana has written, the Obama administration’s announcement that it is implementing new rules that will enable “underwater” homeowners to reduce monthly payments and cheaply refinance their mortgages will probably have a minimal effect on both the housing situation and the economy. It’s all part of an all-out push to circumvent Congress and portray the president as the man trying to help struggling Americans while Republicans are fiddling as the country burns. But as much as helping people avoid foreclosure is an easy win for the Democrats, if we stop and think about it, this is exactly what helped get the country in bad economic shape in the first place.
The 2008 recession was set off, after all, by the floating of too many bad mortgages via heavily subsidized federal loans that were turned into junk securities. Though sympathy for those trying to hold onto their homes in tough times is almost universal, it’s far from clear this extra help will make much of a difference in the long run for many of these mortgages that may be heading inevitably toward foreclosure. The real beneficiary will be the banks — which Obama has been bashing non-stop —holding these potentially bad loans. Though this might give the nation a short-term jolt, it remains to be seen whether Obama’s move towards a more imperial presidency in which he uses regulations to direct more of the economy will benefit the economy or his sinking chances of re-election.
The news that the WikiLeaks organization is on the brink of collapse due to financial problems caused by the crackdown against contributions given the group via American financial institutions is ironic indeed. That an anarchist organization would rail at the unwillingness of the economic system to help it subvert western democracies is a delicious paradox that seems to have eluded WikiLeaks’ self-aggrandizing leader Julian Assange at his press conference today.
Having acted throughout its short but destructive life as if no one’s interests — or safety — ought to have any impact on their decisions, WikiLeaks’ whiny cry for help now that their cash flow has been impacted ought to result in nothing but chortles throughout the western world. After undertaking a mission whose purpose is nothing less than the undermining of the ability of government and industry to conduct its business with any degree of legal confidentiality, Assange thinking he is entitled to use the financial system as if he were not a destructive anarchist is more evidence of his distorted vision of reality.
The same day the Washington Post published an unflattering investigation into Obama’s ineffective housing programs, the president announced he will bypass Congress to revamp the government’s mortgage-refinancing program. It’s interesting timing, to say the least:
With recovery in the housing market tied to economic recovery, Obama will today announce what senior officials are calling a “major overhaul” of the government’s underused refinance program for federally guaranteed mortgages, in order to aid homeowners having difficult refinancing their housing loan.
That’s according to the L.A.Times. Apparently, the provision to pay for the medical care of illegal immigrants wasn’t specifically spelled out in RomneyCare, but the law was understood that way by Massachusetts officials. This story pretty much neutralizes Romney’s attack on Perry’s college tuition subsidies for illegal immigrants:
Although [RomneyCare] explicitly bars undocumented immigrants from getting certain health benefits, it does not prohibit them from receiving aid through the Health Safety Net.
Earlier this month, the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to admit “Palestine” as a new member-state. At that time, I wrote this decision provided a major test of the Obama administration’s conflicting loyalties. There has been no bigger supporter of the UN in the White House in decades. But Obama knows if he tries to circumvent the U.S. law that mandates a withdrawal of American funding to UNESCO if it follows through in recognizing the Palestinians as a member-state it will seriously damage his re-election prospects.
But as I feared, a report in the New York Times this morning points to a desperate effort by the administration to try and find a way out of this fix that may send the UN and its anti-Israel majority the wrong message about American resolve. The other problem is that UNESCO and its supporters in the administration — and the press — have embarked on a campaign to portray it as not being part of the UN’s culture of corruption and anti-Semitism, even though the “new” UNESCO is as dedicated to attacking Israel as the “old” one.
So said Egemen Bağış, Turkey’s Minister for European Union Affairs, last night at a British function. There are two problems with this statement, and they say a lot about both Bağış and Turkey.
- What al-Qaeda is to the West, it should also be to Turkey. Alas, Bağış did not misspeak. Cuneyd Zapsu, an adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, donated money to an Al Qaeda financier, whom Erdoğan subsequently endorsed.
- Bağış is a cheerleader for Hamas. It is impossible to define the PKK as a terrorist group and yet exculpate Hamas. Read More
With President Obama announcing a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, what comes next?
The nightmare scenario for me isn’t simply a huge rise in Iranian influence. That’s a given, now that the Iraqis will not be able to balance the Iranians and Americans off each other to preserve space for themselves. Nor is it the simple abandonment of all those who allied themselves with the United States–a mistake, Obama seems determined to emphasize, that no one should ever again make.
During the weekend, Nate Silver chided Mitt Romney for going negative against Rick Perry, thus offering Perry the prized status of Not Romney. In addition, he wrote, “any type of negative campaigning tends to entail more risk than positive campaigning”–something the Romney campaign, currently in the lead, should keep in mind.
Silver is right that Romney should avoid risky moves, but negative advertising, while sometimes risky, also generally works. Romney understands, as Silver notes, that Perry still poses the biggest threat to Romney’s candidacy. Herman Cain, while still on a hot streak, is likely to fade. But Romney’s campaign also seems to have grasped a key distinction that Silver misses.
Was Saddam’s ouster a good thing? Not according to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Les Gelb, who writes:
Frankly, if anyone lost Iraq to Iran, it was the neocons. It was they who pressed to crush Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and when they did, they destroyed the only regional counterweight to Iran. Take a bow, neocons.
Two of the top grievances of the Occupy Wall Streeters are seemingly contradictory. The first is that it’s not easy enough to obtain a college education – it’s too expensive, the system is stacked against lower income communities, and so on. The second is that it’s too difficult for college graduates to find jobs.
There is some truth in both complaints. But they also clash with each other. If a college degree can’t get you a job, what’s the point of making it easier to get? President Obama has been touting the education systems of countries like South Korea, which have high percentages of college graduates, on his latest jobs tour. But, as Fred Hiatt writes today, South Koreans are finding that there might be such a thing as too many college graduates:
Daniel Pipes observes that Qaddafi is the sixth former tyrant to be tracked down like a common criminal in the past decade – Milosevic, Karadzic, and Mladic from Serbia, Hussein in Iraq, bin Laden in Pakistan, and now Qaddafi. Very true, but what stands out to me about this list is that none of these successes had much to do with Nuremberg-like processes, the International Criminal Court, or the UN, no matter how much responsibility is attributed to them.
In the former Yugoslavia, the U.S. and its allies did not even seek the UN’s sanction; in Libya, they bent it into a mandate for regime change; and in Pakistan, the U.S. acted in response to the attack of 9/11. When the courts got involved (as they did for Milosevic, Hussein, Karadzic, and Mladic) it was to try captives, not to bring down regimes. That work has rested, in all cases, with the armed forces of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the NATO allies.
If there were any establishment conservatives thinking about giving Rick Perry a second look after his improved debate performance last week, he may have just set himself back tremendously with this Parade magazine interview. Most Republicans were relieved to see the birther issue die along with Donald Trump’s political ambitions last spring, and will be unpleasantly surprised to see it resurrected by a top-tier candidate like Perry:
Governor, do you believe that President Barack Obama was born in the United States?
I have no reason to think otherwise.
A part – a considerable part – of me shares the relish that commentators here and elsewhere have shown for the ignominious way that Muammar Qaddafi met his end. The Sun is predictably forthright in its good riddance to the Libyan dictator, seeing his death as revenge for the Lockerbie bombing, among much else. If Lockerbie was the least of his crimes, that would have been bad enough, but since Qaddafi’s regime was brutal, repressive, violent, and malevolent in a way surpassed only by North Korea, he had many more sins on his non-existent conscience.
But the sight of crowds dragging Qaddafi’s corpse does give me pause. In Libya, Qaddafi’s killers are as likely as not to become part of the next Libyan Cabinet, presuming that august body ever comes into existence. Thus, Rich Lowry observes that “the brutal and lawless way he met his end doesn’t bode well for Libya’s future.” And Victor Davis Hanson asks if “the horrific murder of the loathsome Qaddafi is a sign of things to come or an aberration of the mob?”
Candidates seeking to fill the role of conservative alternative to frontrunner Mitt Romney have not been in short supply, but as one by one they fall by the wayside, there always appear to be more waiting for their close-up. If, as expected, Herman Cain’s weak defense of his 9-9-9 plan and his ridiculous confusion about abortion sends his poll numbers plummeting, the question is whether Republicans will decide to give any of the others in the race another look in the upcoming weeks. After Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and then Cain all had their moments in the spotlight, can Rick Santorum actually have a chance?
If so, it will be more the result of his rivals’ failures than anything else. Nevertheless, if Tea Partiers and social conservatives who have rejected the other possibilities but still can’t abide Romney are looking for an alternative, Santorum is hoping his moment is about to arrive.