Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 28, 2012

Soros Flip-Flops on Super PACs

After insisting that he wouldn’t violate his principles by contributing to super PACs, billionaire left-wing donor George Soros has reportedly caved, and gave over $1 million to Democrat-supporting groups:

Billionaire financier George Soros has given $1 million to the primary super PAC helping President Obama.

The funding is a boost to Priorities USA Action in the final weeks of the campaign.  …

Soros is also giving $500,000 each to two congressional super PACs, one aimed at protecting the Democratic majority in the Senate and the other dedicated to winning control in the House.

Soros and other Democratic donors are betraying their principles, though I’m sure they make excuses for their hypocrisy. For example, many Americans believe bribery is unethical and is rightfully illegal, but if they suddenly found themselves stuck in a country where bribery was a fact of life, they might grit their teeth and cave. I imagine that’s similar to the way people like Soros justify violating their principles on super PACs — they’re doing this because they feel it’s necessary to compete with Republicans, and maybe even comfort themselves with the thought that Obama will work to put an end to the practice in a second term. (Though that’s not to suggest that super PACs are akin to bribery, which is a common argument on the left. As I’ve written in the past, the Citizens United decision was a matter of free speech).

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After insisting that he wouldn’t violate his principles by contributing to super PACs, billionaire left-wing donor George Soros has reportedly caved, and gave over $1 million to Democrat-supporting groups:

Billionaire financier George Soros has given $1 million to the primary super PAC helping President Obama.

The funding is a boost to Priorities USA Action in the final weeks of the campaign.  …

Soros is also giving $500,000 each to two congressional super PACs, one aimed at protecting the Democratic majority in the Senate and the other dedicated to winning control in the House.

Soros and other Democratic donors are betraying their principles, though I’m sure they make excuses for their hypocrisy. For example, many Americans believe bribery is unethical and is rightfully illegal, but if they suddenly found themselves stuck in a country where bribery was a fact of life, they might grit their teeth and cave. I imagine that’s similar to the way people like Soros justify violating their principles on super PACs — they’re doing this because they feel it’s necessary to compete with Republicans, and maybe even comfort themselves with the thought that Obama will work to put an end to the practice in a second term. (Though that’s not to suggest that super PACs are akin to bribery, which is a common argument on the left. As I’ve written in the past, the Citizens United decision was a matter of free speech).

Still, there’s a difference between theoretically opposing a practice and actively advocating to put an end to it. For example, it would be absurd for an anti-corruption activist in Russia to engage in bribery while lecturing others against.

Soros and advocacy groups he’s financed, like Media Matters and Think Progress, have been out front in the fight against super PACs. It’s immensely hypocritical for Soros and these groups to decry the corruptive influence of unlimited money in politics when Soros is contributing to super PACs. Either you’re against the practice when everybody does it, or you’re not. Someone who actively advocates against Republican super PACs, but supports Democratic super PACs, is not honestly concerned about unlimited political spending — he’s a partisan, pure and simple. It will be interesting to see how this changes the discourse on super PACs on the left. Will Soros-supported groups continue to oppose Citizens United? Or will they stop treating it as a major concern?

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Left Turns Voting Rights Into a Farce

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama sounded a battle cry at a Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner when she said protecting the right to vote is the nation’s most important civil rights issue. If that were true, that would mean there no credible civil rights concerns in the country. What Obama was talking about was the effort by Democrats to prevent the implementation of laws requiring voters to present a photo ID when casting their ballots. The common sense measure has the support of the overwhelming majority of Americans. They understand that cheating is baked into the DNA of our political parties and see nothing unreasonable about requiring someone to do the same thing as when they wish to board a plane, a train, open a bank account or buy a beer or a cigarette: prove they are who they say there are. Mrs. Obama’s attempt to demagogue this issue is the backdrop for false liberal arguments that voter ID legislation is the modern version of the Jim Crow laws of the segregation era. Those claims are currently being adjudicated in Pennsylvania, where a judge has until Tuesday to decide whether the state’s voter ID law should be thrown out.

In August, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson, Jr. threw out the challenge when he said that while he was sympathetic to those who claimed they had difficulty acquiring a photo ID, there was no proof of disenfranchisement. That ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, which has now kicked the case back to him and hearings were again held this week to determine whether the state is acting appropriately. Though the state has loosened the already lenient requirements to get a state card, the judge hinted that he might give in to pressure from liberal groups and grant an injunction to block its implementation. If so, it will undermine attempts to ensure voter integrity.

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Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama sounded a battle cry at a Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner when she said protecting the right to vote is the nation’s most important civil rights issue. If that were true, that would mean there no credible civil rights concerns in the country. What Obama was talking about was the effort by Democrats to prevent the implementation of laws requiring voters to present a photo ID when casting their ballots. The common sense measure has the support of the overwhelming majority of Americans. They understand that cheating is baked into the DNA of our political parties and see nothing unreasonable about requiring someone to do the same thing as when they wish to board a plane, a train, open a bank account or buy a beer or a cigarette: prove they are who they say there are. Mrs. Obama’s attempt to demagogue this issue is the backdrop for false liberal arguments that voter ID legislation is the modern version of the Jim Crow laws of the segregation era. Those claims are currently being adjudicated in Pennsylvania, where a judge has until Tuesday to decide whether the state’s voter ID law should be thrown out.

In August, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson, Jr. threw out the challenge when he said that while he was sympathetic to those who claimed they had difficulty acquiring a photo ID, there was no proof of disenfranchisement. That ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, which has now kicked the case back to him and hearings were again held this week to determine whether the state is acting appropriately. Though the state has loosened the already lenient requirements to get a state card, the judge hinted that he might give in to pressure from liberal groups and grant an injunction to block its implementation. If so, it will undermine attempts to ensure voter integrity.

Conspicuous by her absence from the second round in front of Judge Simpson was the lead plaintiff from the initial hearings back during the summer. At that time, opponents of voter ID heralded the participation in their suit of 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite, a woman who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. Ms. Applewhite didn’t have a birth certificate or a drivers license and might have been prevented from voting. But as I wrote last month, Ms. Applewhite subsequently undermined the voter ID challenge by strolling into a Department of Motor Vehicles office, explaining her problem and emerging a short while later proudly displaying her new state photo ID as a somewhat disappointed reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer looked on. The Inquirer had hoped to document the difficulties of getting an ID, but they had instead proved just how easy it was.

Ms. Applewhite incurred the wrath of her erstwhile leftist sympathizers for ditching them but she has been replaced with others with their own exceptional stories to engage the judge’s sympathy. No doubt, they have also been instructed to on no account use some common sense and do as Applewhite did and resolve their problem without the help of liberal lawyers with a political axe to grind.

At stake here is a the principle that voters ought to be able to verify they are who they say there as well as being residents of the district where they seek to cast their ballots, not to mention being citizens. As an elderly African-American like Ms. Applewhite proved, minorities and senior citizens are fully capable of dealing with this challenge and the state has shown it is ready to bend over backwards to help anyone who really wants to vote.

The vast majority of Americans, including most members of minority groups, have photo IDs. Those who don’t can get them free of charge from the state. Those without them can cast provisional ballots that will not be invalidated unless they cannot subsequently prove their identity. The idea that this uncomplicated law is a new version of “Jim Crow” drains that term of any meaning. Liberals have redefined “voting rights” to mean something different from what it did half a century ago. Then it meant depriving people of the right to vote on the basis of race. Now it means defending the right of any person who can’t prove their identities or citizenship to vote illegally. Mrs. Obama and the left have turned a sacred cause into a farce.

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Obama Holding Onto Liberal Jewish Voters Despite Israel, Iran Concerns

American Jews may take a more jaundiced view of the Iranian nuclear threat than the Obama administration, but that doesn’t seem to be affecting their opinions about the presidential race. The latest poll from the American Jewish Committee shows President Obama likely to take a smaller portion of the Jewish vote than he did in 2008 but avoiding the catastrophic decline that Republicans hoped his combative attitude toward Israel would produce. Obama leads Mitt Romney by a 65-24 percent margin among Jewish voters. That represents a marked decline from the 78 percent he got in 2008 (though Democrats now claim the number was only 74 percent). But Romney’s inability to get more than a quarter of the Jewish vote shows that resistance to the GOP among this largely liberal group is still intense.

That still shows a potential loss among Jewish voters for Obama that was larger than his expected decline from the totals he had in 2008 among the rest of the population. That can be reasonably interpreted as a backlash against the administration’s endless rounds of fights with Israel’s government, such as the latest one over Iran that gave the lie to the Democrats’ election-year Jewish charm offensive. But Romney’s failure to make more of this weakness on Obama’s part undermines any scenario by which lost Jewish votes for the Democrats could alter the outcome in swing states like Florida. While the poll shows some progress for the GOP this year, the data show that liberal ideology and partisan affinity for the Democrats still overwhelms any concerns about the Middle East for the majority of Jews.

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American Jews may take a more jaundiced view of the Iranian nuclear threat than the Obama administration, but that doesn’t seem to be affecting their opinions about the presidential race. The latest poll from the American Jewish Committee shows President Obama likely to take a smaller portion of the Jewish vote than he did in 2008 but avoiding the catastrophic decline that Republicans hoped his combative attitude toward Israel would produce. Obama leads Mitt Romney by a 65-24 percent margin among Jewish voters. That represents a marked decline from the 78 percent he got in 2008 (though Democrats now claim the number was only 74 percent). But Romney’s inability to get more than a quarter of the Jewish vote shows that resistance to the GOP among this largely liberal group is still intense.

That still shows a potential loss among Jewish voters for Obama that was larger than his expected decline from the totals he had in 2008 among the rest of the population. That can be reasonably interpreted as a backlash against the administration’s endless rounds of fights with Israel’s government, such as the latest one over Iran that gave the lie to the Democrats’ election-year Jewish charm offensive. But Romney’s failure to make more of this weakness on Obama’s part undermines any scenario by which lost Jewish votes for the Democrats could alter the outcome in swing states like Florida. While the poll shows some progress for the GOP this year, the data show that liberal ideology and partisan affinity for the Democrats still overwhelms any concerns about the Middle East for the majority of Jews.

While previous polls of Jewish voters have encountered skepticism because of sample size, this AJCommittee poll avoids that problem. Though the margin of error is fairly large at five percent, the sample consists of 1,040 Jews rather than the much smaller numbers of previous polls, including one also sponsored by the organization that showed Obama leading by a larger margin in Florida than many though reasonable.

The breakdown by denomination shows the depth of the Republicans’ problem. Obama has large leads among Conservative and Reform Jews as well as those who call themselves “just Jewish.” But Romney has a 54-40 percent edge among Orthodox voters. Given that the survey showed only 8.3 percent of the Jewish voting population were Orthodox, that accounts for the lopsided margin. However, that does give the GOP some hope for improving their lot in the future, since the Orthodox are the fastest growing sector of American Jewry.

Given the ongoing tussle between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu over the former’s refusal to set red lines about the Iranian threat, it is interesting to note that 64 percent of Jewish voters don’t believe the president’s policies of diplomacy and sanctions will stop Iran. An equally large majority — 65 percent — would support U.S. military against Iran with an even larger number backing Israeli action that Obama opposes.

This data can be interpreted in one of two ways. On the one hand, Jewish voters may actually believe Obama will use force in a second term to stop Iran, rather than doubting him as apparently the Israelis do. On the other, it may be more proof that whatever their opinions about Israel or Iran, most Jews simply do not view these issues as priorities when they vote. American Jews are not only not one-issue voters, Israel ranks fairly low in their list of priorities with 61.5 percent listing the economy as the most important issue, 16.1 percent saying health care, 4.7 percent listing abortion and 4.5 percent mentioning U.S.-Israel relations. Only 4.2 percent called it the second most important issue and 6.1 percent said it was the third most important.

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Does Israel Want More Iran Sanctions?

On the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the General Assembly of the United Nations that time was running out to stop Iran’s nuclear program, a leaked report from Israel’s Foreign Ministry is being interpreted in some quarters as contradicting his stand. The report, first published in Haaretz and then recycled in the New York Times, is supposed to say that existing sanctions on Iran have caused a great deal of damage to the country. Combined with the fact that Israel’s diplomats have been campaigning for increasing the sanctions, some are concluding that not only does the document undermine Netanyahu’s warnings but that, contrary to what the prime minister and other Israelis have been saying, it is reasonable to believe that sanctions combined with diplomacy can solve the problem.

But the problem with such a conclusion is that, as even Haaretz notes, even if ordinary Iranians are feeling the economic pain brought on by sanctions, there is no evidence that the resolve of Iran’s leadership to push on with their nuclear project has been altered. Even more to the point, there is no contradiction between Netanyahu’s statements and a desire for increased sanctions. Indeed, his call for Western “red lines” — a point now made famous by his use of an illustration of a cartoon bomb across which he drew a “red line” — only makes sense if the West is ratcheting up sanctions and enforcing them.

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On the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the General Assembly of the United Nations that time was running out to stop Iran’s nuclear program, a leaked report from Israel’s Foreign Ministry is being interpreted in some quarters as contradicting his stand. The report, first published in Haaretz and then recycled in the New York Times, is supposed to say that existing sanctions on Iran have caused a great deal of damage to the country. Combined with the fact that Israel’s diplomats have been campaigning for increasing the sanctions, some are concluding that not only does the document undermine Netanyahu’s warnings but that, contrary to what the prime minister and other Israelis have been saying, it is reasonable to believe that sanctions combined with diplomacy can solve the problem.

But the problem with such a conclusion is that, as even Haaretz notes, even if ordinary Iranians are feeling the economic pain brought on by sanctions, there is no evidence that the resolve of Iran’s leadership to push on with their nuclear project has been altered. Even more to the point, there is no contradiction between Netanyahu’s statements and a desire for increased sanctions. Indeed, his call for Western “red lines” — a point now made famous by his use of an illustration of a cartoon bomb across which he drew a “red line” — only makes sense if the West is ratcheting up sanctions and enforcing them.

It may be that the leak of the report may be the work of some in the Foreign Ministry who don’t like Netanyahu. Perhaps it is a ploy by Foreign Minister Lieberman to cast himself in a more moderate light. But even if that is true, it should be remembered that it has been Netanyahu who has been the principle advocate for tough Iran sanctions for many years. Israel has been begging the West to shut down commerce with Iran and to embargo their oil exports long before the current administration in Washington took office. The problem is that up until this past year the only sanctions the West agreed upon were weak and utterly ineffective. It was only as the alarm felt in Israel about the progress made by the Iranians began to escalate that President Obama reluctantly acceded to tougher measures.

However, even those supposedly “crippling” sanctions have not been fully enforced with some of Iran’s best oil customers granted waivers to continue sending cash to Tehran. Worse than that, Iran’s ability to evade even those restrictions that are allegedly being closed up has been widely reported. Israel wants those loopholes closed and for Western nations to stop granting exemptions and to vigorously prosecute those firms and banks that are laundering money for the Iranians.

In theory, a fully enforced sanctions program could bring Iran to its knees and inflict enough economic pain to make the ayatollahs give up their nuclear dream. But in the absence of enforcement and the tightening of the restrictions, there is no reason to believe that the current slapdash effort, combined with a diplomatic track whose only effect has been to buy the Iranians more time to keep enriching uranium, could possibly work.

It should also be noted that while the Israeli report talks about the impact of the sanctions on the lives of the Iranian people and the dissatisfaction felt with the current despotic government, it would be irresponsible to jump to the conclusion that the Islamist regime is on its last legs. The ayatollahs have shown no hesitance in the path to use whatever force was needed to repress dissent, let alone any signs of regime change. Expecting economic hardships to topple them or even to weaken their commitment to building a bomb, especially when they may be very close to success, is not realistic.

While there are good reasons to doubt that President Obama means what he says about the threat and refusing to contemplate containment of a nuclear Iran, Israel has no choice but to continue to advocate for the sort of tougher sanctions that might enable him to keep his word. But it should also be understood that in the absence of tougher restrictions on commerce with Iran and enforcement of those that already exist, the notion that diplomacy can solve the problem is absurd. If force is to be avoided, it will require both the increased sanctions the Israeli Foreign Ministry favors as well as Netanyahu’s red lines.

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FBI Can’t Get to Benghazi Because of “Security Fears”

President Obama has promised to bring the perpetrators of the Benghazi terrorist attack to justice, but over two weeks after the attack the FBI still hasn’t made it to Benghazi. According to the New York Times, it’s because the security situation in Benghazi is too unstable:

Sixteen days after the death of four Americans in an attack on a United States diplomatic mission here, fears about the near-total lack of security have kept F.B.I. agents from visiting the scene of the killings and forced them to try to piece together the complicated crime from Tripoli, more than 400 miles away.

Investigators are so worried about the tenuous security, people involved in the investigation say, that they have been unwilling to risk taking some potential Libyan witnesses into the American Embassy in Tripoli. Instead, the investigators have resorted to the awkward solution of questioning some witnesses in cars outside the embassy, which is operating under emergency staffing and was evacuated of even more diplomats on Thursday because of a heightened security alert.

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President Obama has promised to bring the perpetrators of the Benghazi terrorist attack to justice, but over two weeks after the attack the FBI still hasn’t made it to Benghazi. According to the New York Times, it’s because the security situation in Benghazi is too unstable:

Sixteen days after the death of four Americans in an attack on a United States diplomatic mission here, fears about the near-total lack of security have kept F.B.I. agents from visiting the scene of the killings and forced them to try to piece together the complicated crime from Tripoli, more than 400 miles away.

Investigators are so worried about the tenuous security, people involved in the investigation say, that they have been unwilling to risk taking some potential Libyan witnesses into the American Embassy in Tripoli. Instead, the investigators have resorted to the awkward solution of questioning some witnesses in cars outside the embassy, which is operating under emergency staffing and was evacuated of even more diplomats on Thursday because of a heightened security alert.

This is mind-boggling. We are talking about a terrorist attack, carried out on American soil, on the anniversary of 9/11. And yet the FBI can’t even carry out a full investigation. The Times reports that even if law enforcement officials are eventually able to make it to the consulate, the unsecured “crime scene” has been so badly trampled that it may be impossible to collect evidence to use against the terrorists.

Why has this failed to register as a major scandal with the political media? There is ample evidence that the Obama administration intentionally misled the public in the days after the attack — while it designated it as a terrorist attack almost immediately, the administration insisted for over a week that it was a spontaneous uprising. The White House vowed bring the perpetrators to justice, and yet they’re slow-walking an FBI investigation that’s hampered by security restrictions and a lack of access to physical evidence.

Then there’s this:

President Obama has said the United States will bring to justice those responsible for the attacks. But there is little appetite in the White House to launch drone strikes or a Special Operations raid, like the one that killed Osama bin Laden, in yet another Muslim country.

American officials would prefer that Libyan officials lead any military or paramilitary operation, or work alongside American investigators, to arrest any suspects. But the transitional Libyan government still does not command a meaningful national army or national police force.

In other words, there’s a good chance many of the perpetrators will walk free. Instead of sending the FBI to sit around in Tripoli and wait for the transitional Libyan government to get its act together, perhaps what is needed is to send in the drones to pick these guys off. By the time the Libyans act, any chance of pinpointing the terrorists (and any evidence that could be used to try them in court) will likely be long gone.

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Guessing Israel’s Iran Plans

Foreign Policy’s website has the article that everyone will be talking about today: a piece by Mark Perry about the American military’s speculation about how Israel might carry out an attack on Iran. There are two important caveats for the article: first, Perry relies on anonymous sources and former officials. Second, the sources admit to Perry that Israel won’t tell the U.S. what plans, if any, they’ve drawn up for such an attack—obviously aware that the Obama administration will leak that information eventually–so the entire article is speculation. The sources are trying to reverse-engineer an Israeli strike based on Israel’s perceived capabilities.

That said, the speculation is divided into the political and military spheres. The military aspect is interesting—it includes what Perry’s sources call the “Entebbe Option,” which would involve special forces instead of an air assault—but doesn’t add much information to what we already know. The political guessing by Perry’s sources actually avoids the major question everyone is wondering at this point.

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Foreign Policy’s website has the article that everyone will be talking about today: a piece by Mark Perry about the American military’s speculation about how Israel might carry out an attack on Iran. There are two important caveats for the article: first, Perry relies on anonymous sources and former officials. Second, the sources admit to Perry that Israel won’t tell the U.S. what plans, if any, they’ve drawn up for such an attack—obviously aware that the Obama administration will leak that information eventually–so the entire article is speculation. The sources are trying to reverse-engineer an Israeli strike based on Israel’s perceived capabilities.

That said, the speculation is divided into the political and military spheres. The military aspect is interesting—it includes what Perry’s sources call the “Entebbe Option,” which would involve special forces instead of an air assault—but doesn’t add much information to what we already know. The political guessing by Perry’s sources actually avoids the major question everyone is wondering at this point.

The idea behind the “Entebbe Option”—one of three options Perry discusses—is that some Pentagon officials don’t believe an Israeli strike could or would be successful, and that Israel must realize this. So they’ll need another option. Here is how Perry’s sources describe the raid:

The Israeli unit would be transported on as few as three and perhaps as many as six C-130 aircraft (which can carry a maximum of 70 troops) that would be protected by a “swarm” of well-armed F16Is, according to the scenario being considered by U.S. military officers. The C-130s would land in the desert near Fordow. The Israeli commandos would then defeat the heavily armed security personnel at the complex, penetrate its barriers and interdict any enemy units nearby, and seize the complex’s uranium for transport back to Israel. Prior to its departure, the commando unit would destroy the complex, obviating the need for any high-level bombing attack. (Senior U.S. military officers say that there are reports that some of the uranium at Fordow is stored as uranium hexafluoride gas, a chemical form used during the enrichment process. In that case, the material may be left in place when the commandos destroy the complex.)

Perry’s sources also keep making similar statements about how the U.S. will not get involved in an Israeli strike unless Iran strikes back at American targets–which American planners expect to happen. In other words, the U.S. military won’t get involved at all in an Israeli strike on Iran … until it does.

But there’s one nagging question throughout an article like this: how much can you trust Perry’s sources? It turns out, about as far as you can throw them. Perry’s sources give readers a window into their thinking process when Perry discusses one of the three Israeli strike options: regime decapitation. He writes:

The downside of a decapitation strike is that it would not end Iran’s nuclear program; the upside is that it would almost certainly trigger an Iranian response targeting U.S. military assets in the region, as it would leave the Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces in charge of the country. It would be the one sure way, U.S. officers with whom I spoke believe, for Israel to get the United States involved in its anti-Iran offensive, with the U.S. mounting operations in a conflict it didn’t start.

Got that? Perry’s sources are operating under the assumption that Israel wants dead Americans. (Perry later adds that the number of American casualties could be as high as in the “hundreds.”) It is at this point that the thinking person thanks Perry and his sources for their suggestions, and—as with any such conspiracy theorists—backs away slowly.

There is one other interesting element to the story, however, and it is what is not said. All Perry’s military sources say the U.S. would not get involved in a joint strike or a backup strike or any other reactionary military operations after Israel takes the lead. But no one actually denies the possibility—indeed, it’s unclear if Perry talked about this with any of them—that the U.S. would strike instead of Israel. If you believe the Obama administration—or, if it’s next year, a possible Romney administration—would lead a strike on Iran, then Perry’s article is encouraging, for the officials he spoke with deny vigorously everything except this possibility.

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Obama E-Card Asks Mom to Pay $18K for Birth Control

It would be hard to dream up a clearer example of an entitlement mentality than this e-card on the Obama campaign website:

Dear Mom,

Mitt Romney says he would repeal the Affordable Care Act. So here’s a quick question: Can I borrow $18,000 to help pay for my birth control?

Thanks!

The e-card is supposed to point out that it’s ridiculous to ask your mother for $18,000 to pay for birth control. True, but that begs the question: wouldn’t it be even more ridiculous to ask a perfect stranger to pay for your birth control? Because that is essentially what Obama’s “free birth control” law does. Pills cost money to make — the materials, the research, the labor, complying with government regulations. It costs money to package and export to pharmacies. It costs money to advertise. It costs money to fight against class-action lawsuits. It costs money for pharmacists to fill the prescription. It costs money for the doctors to write the prescription.

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It would be hard to dream up a clearer example of an entitlement mentality than this e-card on the Obama campaign website:

Dear Mom,

Mitt Romney says he would repeal the Affordable Care Act. So here’s a quick question: Can I borrow $18,000 to help pay for my birth control?

Thanks!

The e-card is supposed to point out that it’s ridiculous to ask your mother for $18,000 to pay for birth control. True, but that begs the question: wouldn’t it be even more ridiculous to ask a perfect stranger to pay for your birth control? Because that is essentially what Obama’s “free birth control” law does. Pills cost money to make — the materials, the research, the labor, complying with government regulations. It costs money to package and export to pharmacies. It costs money to advertise. It costs money to fight against class-action lawsuits. It costs money for pharmacists to fill the prescription. It costs money for the doctors to write the prescription.

Previously, there was a co-pay that helped defray the costs. Now that the co-pay is being abolished by law, who ends up shouldering the cost? The insurance companies? Of course not. It gets passed back to the consumers through higher insurance premiums.

But let’s assume the people cheering on Obama’s “free” birth control law probably won’t think that far into it. What about a more obvious problem: how on earth does birth control cost $18,000? Is that over a lifetime?

The Obama administration has touted its birth control law by saying it will effect 47 million women. We are told by the Obama campaign e-card that birth control costs $18,000 for each of these women.

That would mean $846 billion is being passed along to somebody. For the sake of comparison, the global pharmaceutical market is a $300 billion industry. So, either we have a serious problem here, or the Obama campaign needs to recheck their numbers.

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Vaccines Necessary in the First World, Not Just the Third

Yesterday at the UN several groups, including Rotary International, the World Health Organization, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation met to discuss their commitment to, and the strides made, campaigning to end polio worldwide. Yesterday Rotary announced,

The side event — “Our Commitment to the Next Generation: The Legacy of a Polio-free World” — brought together leaders of the remaining endemic countries, and representatives of donor governments, development agencies, the GPEI partners, and the media to underscore the urgent need to finish the job of global polio eradication. Although the wild poliovirus is endemic only in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria, other countries are still at risk for re-established transmission of the virus through its “importation” from the endemics.

Millions have been pledged towards the effort and we are slowly watching countries become polio-free. Unfortunately, polio and other preventable diseases could (and already are) facing a resurgence thanks to dangerous parenting fads in the West.

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Yesterday at the UN several groups, including Rotary International, the World Health Organization, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation met to discuss their commitment to, and the strides made, campaigning to end polio worldwide. Yesterday Rotary announced,

The side event — “Our Commitment to the Next Generation: The Legacy of a Polio-free World” — brought together leaders of the remaining endemic countries, and representatives of donor governments, development agencies, the GPEI partners, and the media to underscore the urgent need to finish the job of global polio eradication. Although the wild poliovirus is endemic only in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria, other countries are still at risk for re-established transmission of the virus through its “importation” from the endemics.

Millions have been pledged towards the effort and we are slowly watching countries become polio-free. Unfortunately, polio and other preventable diseases could (and already are) facing a resurgence thanks to dangerous parenting fads in the West.

For several years, rumors have spread through all-natural, hippie parenting circles that vaccines contain chemicals that cause autism. They maintain, despite a total lack of scientific evidence, that children have been disabled and incapacitated by mercury and other preservatives in vaccines. The one scientific study that might have made their case was discredited last year and its results thrown out. Despite this, many famous parents, including Jenny McCarthy (of MTV fame) and Mayim Bialik (TV’s Blossom) have publicly lambasted vaccine research while declaring their children to be unvaccinated. Unfortunately, these conspiracy theories have hit the political mainstream as well. During the primaries this year Rep. Michele Bachmann repeated rumors she heard from an audience member at a debate about vaccine safety. In 2008, both candidates for president spread vaccine misinformation, claiming that the science was still undecided on the link between vaccines and autism.

The millions of dollars raised and spent by governments and organizations to end polio worldwide is money well-spent. Unfortunately, one epidemic could undo the decades of work making this vaccine available to every child in the world. We’ve already seen outbreaks of deadly and entirely preventable diseases like whooping cough and the measles, and instances of diseases with vaccines available have increased as immunization opt-outs rise. While it’s admirable that these groups are working to make vaccines available in the most remote villages in the world, parents in Portland and other liberal epicenters are setting medical science back fifty years in the United States.

All children, regardless of their parent’s scientific ignorance, need and deserve access to vaccines that were developed not just for their own sake, but also for the sake of public health. After these groups manage to get vaccines to children in isolated villages in Pakistan, perhaps they should schedule a stop-over in on their way home to explain science to self-described “educated” parents. Public health groups should be emphasizing the importance of vaccines in Pakistan and in Park Slope lest their efforts become undermined by parents in the latter.

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Joint U.S.-Afghan Operations Crucial to Long-Term Security

It is good to hear that most partnering operations between coalition and Afghan forces have resumed after a ten-day pause due to the furor over the anti-Mohammad video and a spat of “green on blue” insider attacks. Such operations are absolutely essential in order to improve the combat effectiveness of the Afghan forces; advisers stuck on giant bases, waving good-bye to Afghan troops as they venture outside the wire, would not be nearly as effective in getting the job done as troops who share the same hardships and risks with their Afghan counterparts. Out in the field, our troops can not only teach the Afghans by example; they can also provide the critical enablers (everything from IED-clearance packages to medevac) that allow the Afghan forces to be more effective.

This decision may, unfortunately, increase the short-term risk to coalition troops–but in the long run it will decrease risk because it is the surest method to bring about a more peaceful Afghanistan. Those who suggest a permanent end to partnering are raising the likelihood that the Afghan security forces will be unable to cope with an insurgency which benefits from bases in Pakistan–and thus raising the likelihood of a larger civil war leading, quite possibly, to the Taliban recapture of significant chunks of the country.

It is good to hear that most partnering operations between coalition and Afghan forces have resumed after a ten-day pause due to the furor over the anti-Mohammad video and a spat of “green on blue” insider attacks. Such operations are absolutely essential in order to improve the combat effectiveness of the Afghan forces; advisers stuck on giant bases, waving good-bye to Afghan troops as they venture outside the wire, would not be nearly as effective in getting the job done as troops who share the same hardships and risks with their Afghan counterparts. Out in the field, our troops can not only teach the Afghans by example; they can also provide the critical enablers (everything from IED-clearance packages to medevac) that allow the Afghan forces to be more effective.

This decision may, unfortunately, increase the short-term risk to coalition troops–but in the long run it will decrease risk because it is the surest method to bring about a more peaceful Afghanistan. Those who suggest a permanent end to partnering are raising the likelihood that the Afghan security forces will be unable to cope with an insurgency which benefits from bases in Pakistan–and thus raising the likelihood of a larger civil war leading, quite possibly, to the Taliban recapture of significant chunks of the country.

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Another Pro-Obama Narrative Gets Busted

The Obama campaign, according to the New York Times, has a very serious honesty problem. And, in a way, it’s Mitt Romney’s fault, they suggest. The old “Republicans made me do it” excuse is often trotted out in an election year. In 2008, when Obama put a stake through the heart of public financing—a cause liberals championed—by promising to use the system and then reneging on that promise when it became clear he would raise far more money than his Republican opponent, the Times bought the explanation that somehow it was the Republicans’ fault. (The Washington Post, to its credit, didn’t.)

But now it turns out that the 2012 Obama campaign has built its argument against the Romney-Ryan ticket on a slew of falsehoods so obvious that the Times seems to openly wonder what Obama could be thinking. The Obama campaign’s claims fall into two main categories, according to the story: (1.) Made up out of whole cloth; and (2.) based on figures the campaign knows aren’t accurate. The story beings with the Obama camp’s claims that Romney would raise taxes on the middle class and that his Medicare plan could raise seniors’ costs by over $6,000. The Times explains:

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The Obama campaign, according to the New York Times, has a very serious honesty problem. And, in a way, it’s Mitt Romney’s fault, they suggest. The old “Republicans made me do it” excuse is often trotted out in an election year. In 2008, when Obama put a stake through the heart of public financing—a cause liberals championed—by promising to use the system and then reneging on that promise when it became clear he would raise far more money than his Republican opponent, the Times bought the explanation that somehow it was the Republicans’ fault. (The Washington Post, to its credit, didn’t.)

But now it turns out that the 2012 Obama campaign has built its argument against the Romney-Ryan ticket on a slew of falsehoods so obvious that the Times seems to openly wonder what Obama could be thinking. The Obama campaign’s claims fall into two main categories, according to the story: (1.) Made up out of whole cloth; and (2.) based on figures the campaign knows aren’t accurate. The story beings with the Obama camp’s claims that Romney would raise taxes on the middle class and that his Medicare plan could raise seniors’ costs by over $6,000. The Times explains:

In making such assertions, the Obama campaign is taking advantage of the many unknown details of Mr. Romney’s policy proposals by filling in the blanks in the least flattering light, often relying on the findings of research organizations. In doing so, the campaign has leveled some charges that are more specific than the known facts warrant and others that are most likely wrong — though Mr. Romney’s decision not to provide more detailed explanations of his Medicare and tax proposals have made it difficult to provide a fuller evaluation of some of the competing assertions.

The outdated charge that future Medicare beneficiaries could face $6,400 in higher costs comes from an analysis of an old proposal by Mr. Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, that has since been revised, a point that President Obama himself acknowledged in a speech last week. And the assertion that Mr. Romney would raise taxes on the middle class — contrary to his oft-repeated pledge not to — is based on an independent analysis of his tax plan that found it was “not mathematically possible” for his plan to achieve all of its goals without raising taxes on the middle class.

Now, as both campaigns prepare for the first Obama-Romney debate next week, Republicans have been signaling that they plan to more aggressively question the accuracy of the Obama campaign’s assertions. The Obama campaign has run ads distorting Mr. Romney’s abortion position; Republicans and some independent groups have questioned the president’s decision to count the savings the come from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan toward deficit reduction; and Mr. Obama recently said incorrectly that Operation Fast and Furious, a botched gun trafficking case, began during George W. Bush’s administration. (A similar program was started under Mr. Bush, but Operation Fast and Furious began in October 2009.)

You have to love the insinuation that Obama wouldn’t have to resort to this if only Romney would release more information. Did Romney put out a plan that would raise taxes on the middle class? No—but that’s just not good enough. You can see how easily this game can slip into the ridiculous.

This destroys a beloved liberal narrative of the election that the Obama campaign has been more honest and high-minded than the Romney campaign. The Obama campaign’s flagrant dishonesty has reached a point at which its defenders are running out of excuses, and fast.

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