A conservative group calling itself American Doctors for Truth is launching a new ad campaign in Florida and Texas tomorrow that’s sure to get some attention. Mirroring the controversial liberal ad last year that showed Rep. Paul Ryan shoving an old woman in a wheelchair off a cliff, this one has President Obama pushing the wheelchair instead. Over the top? Absolutely, but that’s clearly the point.
While last year’s anti-Ryan ad slammed the GOP for wanting to give Medicare beneficiaries private vouchers for coverage, the American Doctors for Truth ad depicts the cost-cutting measures of ObamaCare as the cause of Grandma’s demise. Specifically, the ad targets the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a board that would oversee Medicare, which conservatives say will lead to health-care rationing and government control over the personal medical care of Medicare recipients.
Fittingly, the ad campaign is launching the same day Rep. Ryan is set to unveil his latest budget proposal, which was the catalyst for the provocative Granny-off-the-cliff ad last year. Ryan’s new budget is expected to include many of the same Medicare reforms, and Democrats are no doubt relishing the idea of Medi-scaring the elderly during an election year.
Last summer, a brief stir was caused when a book published by New York Times reporter Janny Scott uncovered an uncomfortable fact about President Obama: He had been lying about his mother’s health insurance problems. During the 2008 campaign and throughout the subsequent debate over his signature health care legislation, the president used his mother’s experience as a cancer patient fighting to get coverage to pay for treatment for what her insurer said was a pre-existing condition as an emotional argument to sway skeptics. But as Scott discovered during the course of writing her biography of Anne Dunham, A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother, it turned out that her correspondence showed that “the 1995 dispute concerned a Cigna disability insurance policy and that her actual health insurer had apparently reimbursed most of her medical expenses without argument.”
At the time the White House chose not to dispute Ms. Scott’s findings. But apparently the Obama campaign thinks the public’s memory is mighty short. As Glenn Kessler writes today in the Washington Post’s Fact Checker column, the president’s much ballyhooed campaign biography film “The Road We’ve Traveled,” narrated by Tom Hanks repeats the same line that Scott debunked. Though the film’s script tries to avoid repeating the president’s false claims from 2008, as Kessler says, any reasonable person would infer from the movie that the president’s mother died because her insurance was denied.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on President Obama’s health care law next week, and still an overwhelming majority of Americans say that the court should either scrap the mandate or the entire law:
This ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that Americans oppose the law overall by 52-41 percent. And 67 percent believe the high court should either ditch the law or at least the portion that requires nearly all Americans to have coverage.
The high court opens hearings on the law’s constitutionality a week from today.
The law has never earned majority support in ABC/Post polls – and this update, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds a strong sense its critics are dominating the debate. Seventy percent of Americans report hearing mainly negative things about the law lately; just 19 percent say the buzz has been positive. Even among its supporters, 53 percent are hearing more negatives than positives. Among opponents this soars to 88 percent.
As Chris Cillizza reports, Americans are set in their opinions on ObamaCare, which may be the big reason why Obama rarely talks about it in the context of his reelection.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) is the signature domestic achievement of the Obama administration. And so it can’t be good news that according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) say the Supreme Court should throw out either the individual mandate or the law in its entirety. (The Supreme Court opens hearings on the law’s constitutionality a week from today.)
The poll finds that Americans oppose the law overall by 52-41 percent.
The day after being embarrassed by Mitt Romney in Puerto Rico, Rick Santorum was taking tough in Illinois about a brokered Republican convention. Blasting the frontrunners as a “Massachusetts moderate,” Santorum vowed the convention would nominate a conservative, meaning that he would fight to the last ditch and last delegate to prevent a Romney nomination. But if the latest polls indicating a substantial Romney victory in Illinois are true, then perhaps Santorum will be singing a different tune in the upcoming weeks.
We’ve spent the last couple of weeks monitoring Newt Gingrich’s campaign for signals that he was about to pull out possibly in favor of Santorum. The Pennsylvanian can look forward to a possible victory in Louisiana this coming weekend. But after that, despite all of the brave talk coming from his campaign, the list of states that he can win is not that long. So if Santorum falls short tomorrow in Illinois as he did in Michigan and Ohio or, even worse, gets badly beaten there in the popular vote as well as in the individual delegate contests, it might be time for him to start reassessing his own options.
Almost two years ago, I did a presentation for analysts at the National Counter Terrorism Center looking at determining which Iranian actions may be termed rogue exploits. I’ve since refined that talk, and presented it for a number of carrier strike groups heading to the Persian Gulf. The talk goes into a number of assassinations and terrorist attacks from the early 1980s to the present.
While diplomats and pundits are willing to excuse the worst Iranian actions as simply the act of rogue agents or officers and while the Islamic Republic is happy to maintain its own plausible deniability, without exception it is possible tell which actions were state-sanctioned and which were rogue by looking at their aftermath. In two famous cases—the Mehdi Hashemi affair and the aftermath of the Khorramshahr missile base incident—the perpetrators ended up dead, even though they were politically connected. They had conducted rogue operations and, even when successful, they paid the ultimate price. In other cases—the Qassemlou Affair, the Mykonos Café attack, the AMIA bombings, the British small boat incident, among others—the perpetrator got promoted.
As an out-group in the study, I considered the same trend in Turkey.
President Obama has been backed into a tight political corner over rising gas prices. While it’s true that the president has little control over present gas prices as they currently stand, it’s also true that he’s made some high-profile blunders on energy policy during his first term, which makes him an open target for public blame. The Hill’s latest poll finds that a whopping 58 percent of American voters say Obama’s policies will lead to higher gas prices:
On energy, 58 percent say Obama’s policies will result in gasoline prices increasing, while just 20 percent expect them to cut prices — and by a 46-percent-to-36-percent margin, voters believe they will cause the United States to become even more dependent on foreign oil.
Voters’ wide-ranging pessimism comes as gasoline prices have risen sharply, which often dampens attitudes among U.S. voters toward those in power, and as opinions remain sharply divided on the president’s healthcare law.
Obama is setting out on a campaign tour to defend his energy policies this week, but his tools for dealing with the public anger are minimal. He’s been playing up his support for domestic oil production, but his recent rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline squashes that message. He’s pushing for an end to tax subsidies for oil and gas companies, but that will do nada to reign in gas prices and has more to do with his personal views on “fairness” than anything else. Republicans are also sure to point out that if raising taxes on oil companies has any impact on gas costs whatsoever, it’s more likely to raise the price at the pump.
The murderer who gunned down children and teachers on their way to school at Ozar Hatorah in the French city of Toulouse this morning was acting from “no clear motive,” according to the New York Times. Gil Taieb, a vice president of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France, was only one of many who knew a lie when he heard one. “For someone to locate this school in a place like Toulouse means he knew what he was doing,” Taieb told the Jerusalem Post. “He went there to kill Jews.”
So far four have died in the attack: Yonathan Sandler, a 30-year-old teacher at the school who had recently emigrated from Jerusalem, along with his two children, six-year-old Aryeh and three-year-old Gavriel, and Miriam Monstango, the eight-year-old daughter of Ozar Hatorah’s principal. “At some point, the shooter entered the school and began firing inside,” a witness toldHaaretz. A 17-year-old boy was also seriously wounded, and is said to be hovering between life and death. After the attack, the gunman hopped on a motorbike and sped away. French police and anti-terrorism forces have launched an all-out search for the killer, but so far he has not been found.
Omri ably dismantles the justification for Peter Beinart’s latest back-of-the-classroom arm-waving attempt to get attention by writing in approval of a limited boycott, divestment and sanctions strategy against the Israelis who don’t share his liberal opinions. The most obvious issue is that it is a slippery slope that will never simply remain targeting only settlements. (There are also other very good reasons to oppose the policy, as Omri notes as well.)
But there is another aspect of Beinart’s suggestion that is, like his BDS suggestion, both morally reprehensible and a dangerous slippery slope. That would be Beinart’s suggestion that we divide Israelis between those who live within the 1949 armistice line (good) and those who live beyond it (bad). Here is Beinart:
Instead, we should call the West Bank “nondemocratic Israel.” The phrase suggests that there are today two Israels: a flawed but genuine democracy within the green line and an ethnically-based nondemocracy beyond it. It counters efforts by Israel’s leaders to use the legitimacy of democratic Israel to legitimize the occupation and by Israel’s adversaries to use the illegitimacy of the occupation to delegitimize democratic Israel.
Having made that rhetorical distinction, American Jews should seek every opportunity to reinforce it.
Such list making is an atrocious excuse for reasoned debate, even without the slippery slope that will follow.
The Abu Ghraib scandal—when the 320th Military Police Battalion abused prisoners—was both horrendous and inexcusable in its own right. In addition, treating detainees inhumanely for sport certainly led to vengeance attacks and the deaths of American soldiers and made the U.S. mission more difficult. Those perpetrating the abuse should have suffered far greater penalty. The military, however, dealt admirably when the abuses were bought to their attention. After all, it was not press exposure that forced the military to take action, but rather the military’s own investigation into the issue, which someone leaked to CBS.
The recent shooting at a village near Kandahar is as tragic. It has already sparked retaliatory strikes, and it severely under undermines the U.S. mission. President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, however, have handled the crisis with aplomb. Obama was correct to apologize—and quickly too. None of the excuses the suspect’s lawyers put forward can ever mitigate the alleged perpetrator’s actions.
According to Public Policy Polling’s latest survey today, Mitt Romney is now leading Rick Santorum, 45 percent to 30 percent, in Illinois. And the obstacles aren’t easily surmountable for Santorum. Not only is Romney polling ahead with groups he normally tends to do poorly with – rural voters, for example – but Santorum’s support is lagging with groups he needs to win. In this case, Tea Partiers and values voters:
Santorum’s winning the group he tends to do well with- Tea Partiers, Evangelicals, and those describing themselves as ‘very conservative.’ But he’s not winning them by the kinds of wide margins he would need to take an overall victory- he’s up only 8 with Tea Party voters and 10 with Evangelicals, groups he needs to win by more like 25 points with to hope to win in a northern state.
The Toulouse massacre has hit Jews hard today, though perhaps none so hard as those who, like the kids and adults shot today, go to or work at or send their kids to Jewish day schools. If you live in the world of Jewish education, you’ve gotten used to conversations and briefings on security—what is being done to prevent violence, what will happen if God forbid there is violence, how to find your kids in the aftermath of violence.
Since 9/11, the possibility of staged attacks on Jewish institutions has been a consuming concern, and institutions with resources have spent enormous amounts of money on metal detectors and guards and “man-traps.” And with good reason; in 2006, Naveed Afzal Haq shot six people at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle while shouting “I am a Muslim-American.” One of the busted terrorist plots in recent years involved a planned assault on a JCC in Riverdale, one of the most Jewish neighborhoods in America, just north of Manhattan. One school I know, on an upper floor in a building, is literally locked off during the day; its elevators cannot stop on the floor and it is impossible to enter through the staircase.
All I can say is: It’s a good thing that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who apparently killed 16 Afghan civilians in cold blood, will be tried by a panel of his peers (i.e. fellow soldiers) in a military court-martial rather than by a civilian jury. The latter, I suspect, will be more sympathetic than the former to the media-driven image of him as a poster boy for post-traumatic stress disorder rather than simply judging him to be a murderous fiend.
The New York Times, for example, has a lengthy account todaythat portrays Bales as an all-American type—high school football player, family man, patriotic volunteer—who simply snapped, through no fault of his own, under the weight of four combat deployments combined with marital and money woes. The depiction may be accurate enough, and there is no doubt that PTSD is a real problem and that nonstop combat deployments take a toll, but there is no excuse or justification for the heinous act he is accused of committing.
On Sunday, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired a feature examining the special relationship between Israel and the United States. The special included three academics and John Mearsheimer, of The Israel Lobby fame. Mearsheimer outdid himself.
Mearsheimer’s misreads why successive U.S. administrations embraced Israel from the Kennedy administration onwards. President Eisenhower, of course, sought to cast his lot with the Arabs—handing Arab nationalist leader Gamal Abdul Nasser his greatest victory—but learned quickly that Arab states made poor allies. Israel may have been only one state among many in the Middle East, but each White House quickly learned that against the context of the Cold War, Israel had America’s back.
Today’s terror attack in Toulouse has shocked France as well as the rest of the civilized world. Since the perpetrator escaped the scene of the crime, his identity — or that of any group to which he might belong — remains still unknown. Nevertheless, his purpose was quite clear: to kill as many Jews as possible. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has often spoken out against anti-Semitism, has acted responsibly and we can expect appropriate statements from other world leaders in the wake of the cold-blooded murder of a teacher and three children at a Jewish school.
But it must be understood that such an attack cannot be understood outside of the context of a revival of anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world. This wave of Jew-hatred has been fueled by an unreasoning anger at Israel and a campaign to delegitimize the state as well as its right to self-defense. But while some — including President Obama’s ambassador to Belgium — have attempted to rationalize this trend and to distinguish it from “traditional” anti-Semitism, that is a delusion. There is a very thin line between the efforts of those who seek to brand Israel as a pariah and those who simply wish (as do the Palestinian terrorists European intellectuals honor) to kill Jews. And as the world has just witnessed in Toulouse, that line is getting thinner all the time.
Don’t let the record number of fundraisers President Obama has been attending fool you. The Washington Postreports that Obama is having a difficult time pulling in large donors, a sign that the president may have some serious fundraising problems down the road:
But Obama lags behind Republican front-runner Mitt Romney in finding donors willing to give $2,000 or more — a surprising development for a sitting president, and one that could signal more worrisome financial problems heading into the general election. At this point in the last election cycle, Obama had received such large donations from more than 23,000 supporters, more than double the 11,000 who have given him that much this time. President George W. Bush had more than four times that number of big donations at this point in his reelection.
This would explain why Obama has been frantically jumping from fundraiser to fundraiser, with little to show for it.
These posts, about J Street conference speakers who advocate anti-Israel boycotts and sanctions, are becoming an annual tradition. Last year the ostensibly pro-Israel group hosted BDS advocates from fringe left-wing Jewish groups, raising questions as to why J Street’s commitment to “expanding the debate” over Israel only seems to involve stretching the spectrum to include the anti-Israel side.
This year J Street is hosting the book launch of Peter Beinart who — will wonders never cease — just published an op-ed in the New York Times calling for a “Zionist BDS” campaign that would seek to economically suffocate all Israeli Jews who live beyond the 1948 armistice lines.
Worry over the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon is one issue that has long united the pro-Israel community. The strength of this consensus, which is shared by the majority of Americans, is such that the only real division is over whether it is advisable for Israel or the West to strike Iran relatively soon or to wait a while for crippling sanctions to force a diplomatic solution before force is used. Some on the left continue to weakly argue that Iran doesn’t want to build such a weapon or, alternatively, that a nuclear Iran can be contained. But President Obama’s recent speech to the AIPAC conference in which he reiterated his determination to stop Iran and disavowed a containment strategy, demonstrated that such voices are very much on the margins of public debate, let alone the Jewish community.
However that didn’t stop the New York Timesfrom running an article today on the front page that claimed in the headline in the version published online on Sunday afternoon “Pro-Israel Groups Differ on Iran” (by Monday, the headline had been changed to read “Hawks Steer Debate on How to Take on Iran”). But those readers eager to discover which mainstream Jewish groups were taking a contrary position on Iran were disappointed. The only organizations that the Times could find to back up that headline were J Street and Tikkun. While the former claims to be “pro-Israel” even the latter’s adherents do not attempt to play that game. But however you wish to label them, the idea that disagreement from these two left-wing outliers constitutes any sort of a Jewish debate is comical. Perhaps only in the pages of the New York Times or that of Tikkun itself, could a situation where the opposition of groups as marginal as these be considered a serious news story.