Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 3, 2013

Obama Doubles Down on Egypt Folly

Late Wednesday afternoon, the silence from the White House about events in Egypt finally ended. In a statement, President Obama claimed that he is neutral on the question of who controls Egypt but wishes to uphold certain principles. The text contains anodyne proclamations about democracy and the participation of all groups in the government of Egypt that are unexceptionable. But it also clearly states that the president is “deeply concerned” about the ouster of Morsi and the suspension of the Egyptian constitution that brought him to power, calls upon the military not to arrest the deposed leader or other Muslim Brotherhood officials, and then pointedly says that he has “directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.”

In other words, you don’t have to read too closely between the lines to understand that Obama is angrier about regime change in Cairo than he ever was about the Islamist attempt to remake Egypt in their own image.

Read More

Late Wednesday afternoon, the silence from the White House about events in Egypt finally ended. In a statement, President Obama claimed that he is neutral on the question of who controls Egypt but wishes to uphold certain principles. The text contains anodyne proclamations about democracy and the participation of all groups in the government of Egypt that are unexceptionable. But it also clearly states that the president is “deeply concerned” about the ouster of Morsi and the suspension of the Egyptian constitution that brought him to power, calls upon the military not to arrest the deposed leader or other Muslim Brotherhood officials, and then pointedly says that he has “directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.”

In other words, you don’t have to read too closely between the lines to understand that Obama is angrier about regime change in Cairo than he ever was about the Islamist attempt to remake Egypt in their own image.

President Obama stood by passively for a year as Morsi and the Brotherhood began to seize total power, repress critics and pave the way for a complete transformation of Egypt into an Islamist state without threatening a cutoff of U.S. aid. Now Obama has finally found the guts to use America’s leverage over the country but only to register his protest against the downfall of the Brotherhood.

This will do nothing to help Morsi and the rest of his authoritarian crew that had already topped the excesses of the Mubarak regime in only a year. The Egyptian military knows–despite the attempt of the Brotherhood to sell the West on the myth that a fascist-style movement like their brand of Islamistm is democratic in nature–that the only way to prevent it from fomenting violence is to use the same tactics it wanted to employ against Morsi’s critics.

But by doing so in this manner, the president has made it clear again to the Egyptian people that his sympathies are not with those who want a government that doesn’t wish to impose Islamism on the country or the minority that actually want democracy but with Morsi and the Brotherhood. Rather than repair the damage he has done in the last three years, the president sounds as if he is determined to double down on his mistakes.

Read Less

The End of Obama’s Brotherhood Crush

There is bad news, good news and better news coming out of Egypt today. First let’s discuss the good news.

The end of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt is a blow to the cause of radical Islam. The rise of the Brotherhood and the now deposed President Mohamed Morsi was a disaster for Egypt as well as for the West. Had Morsi and his party been left in place to continue their drive to impose their Islamist vision on the world’s most populous Arab country it might have been impossible to depose them, thus locking Egypt into the same nightmare scenario of theocratic tyranny that we have seen unfold in Iran in the last generation.

The even better news is that the Egyptian Army didn’t listen to the Obama administration when it asked them not to launch what is, for all intents and purposes, a military coup that toppled a democratically elected government. The embrace of Morsi and the Brotherhood by President Obama and his foreign policy over the last year has further poisoned Egyptian public opinion against the United States as well as strengthened the confidence of Islamists that America will not oppose their efforts to transform the region. After having been intimidated by U.S. pressure aimed at ensuring that the military would not prevent Morsi’s election, the military ran the risk that this time Obama meant what he said about using the billions in aid Egypt gets from the United States to prevent them from stopping the Brotherhood’s push for power. The willingness of the Egyptian army to step in and stop the confrontation in the streets not only avoided clashes that might have produced unimaginable casualties but also kept open the possibility that a new government could emerge in Cairo without having to fight a civil war in order to survive.

However, the bad news is twofold. First, the series of events leading up to the ouster illustrates the utter bankruptcy of American foreign policy under Barack Obama. The second is that there should be no blind confidence that what will follow will make Egypt more stable or prosperous, let alone free. The United States should oppose the rise of Islamists, but none of the possible outcomes of the conflict playing out between them and the military and secular Egyptians is likely to produce a liberal democracy or a nation that is likely to be a force for peace in the region.

Read More

There is bad news, good news and better news coming out of Egypt today. First let’s discuss the good news.

The end of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt is a blow to the cause of radical Islam. The rise of the Brotherhood and the now deposed President Mohamed Morsi was a disaster for Egypt as well as for the West. Had Morsi and his party been left in place to continue their drive to impose their Islamist vision on the world’s most populous Arab country it might have been impossible to depose them, thus locking Egypt into the same nightmare scenario of theocratic tyranny that we have seen unfold in Iran in the last generation.

The even better news is that the Egyptian Army didn’t listen to the Obama administration when it asked them not to launch what is, for all intents and purposes, a military coup that toppled a democratically elected government. The embrace of Morsi and the Brotherhood by President Obama and his foreign policy over the last year has further poisoned Egyptian public opinion against the United States as well as strengthened the confidence of Islamists that America will not oppose their efforts to transform the region. After having been intimidated by U.S. pressure aimed at ensuring that the military would not prevent Morsi’s election, the military ran the risk that this time Obama meant what he said about using the billions in aid Egypt gets from the United States to prevent them from stopping the Brotherhood’s push for power. The willingness of the Egyptian army to step in and stop the confrontation in the streets not only avoided clashes that might have produced unimaginable casualties but also kept open the possibility that a new government could emerge in Cairo without having to fight a civil war in order to survive.

However, the bad news is twofold. First, the series of events leading up to the ouster illustrates the utter bankruptcy of American foreign policy under Barack Obama. The second is that there should be no blind confidence that what will follow will make Egypt more stable or prosperous, let alone free. The United States should oppose the rise of Islamists, but none of the possible outcomes of the conflict playing out between them and the military and secular Egyptians is likely to produce a liberal democracy or a nation that is likely to be a force for peace in the region.

It should be specified that events in Egypt could never be controlled from Washington. But the Obama administration bears a heavy share of the blame for a chain of decisions that first undermined an authoritarian ally in Mubarak and then paved the way for the rise of an equally authoritarian and far more hostile government led by Morsi and the Brotherhood. The identification of the United States with the Brotherhood over the last year was an unforced error on the part of Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her successor John Kerry. The willingness of the administration to buy into the myth that regimes like that of the Brotherhood and their increasingly despotic Islamic allies in Turkey are good allies made a mockery of American values as well as hindering its ability to protect U.S. interests.

Let’s also dispense with the crocodile tears being shed for Egyptian democracy by some Brotherhood apologists today. What has happened in Egypt the past two years has, despite the hopes of many there and in the West, had little to do with democracy. The fall of the Mubarak regime and its replacement by an Islamist movement determined to consolidate power may have involved elections, but democracy requires more than a trip to the ballot box in which a highly organized movement that is actually opposed to freedom wins a vote. While the debate in the United States about the advisability of Americans advocating democracy abroad will continue, the power struggle in Cairo merely illustrates the fact that this cause cannot triumph in a country where the debate is largely conducted between Islamists and secular authoritarians. While we should encourage (as President Bush tried to do) liberal Egyptians to build democratic institutions, in the absence of any national consensus in favor of democracy (as exists in countries like the United States, Israel and the West), freedom doesn’t really have a chance.

It may be that what will happen now in Egypt will be a prolonged struggle involving the Brotherhood that will turn a country that is already a basket case into a place that is an even bigger mess. Nor is there any assurance that the new government backed by the military or the one that will be elected in new elections will be able to govern effectively. While Morsi did not abandon the peace treaty with Israel and the military has no interest in conflict with the Jewish state, there is no telling whether the chaos in the Sinai will grow or whether Hamas, the Brotherhood’s ideological godchild, will seek to heat up the border or make mischief inside Egypt.

Finally, in the last two years Egypt has been an outstanding example of how U.S. foreign aid is not always dispensed in a manner that furthers American interests. The decision of the Obama administration to threaten the military with an aid cutoff if it opposed the Brotherhood before it took power was absurd. But if President Obama doesn’t see his way to continuing the aid now that the military has ignored his advice about not toppling Morsi, then what he will be doing is to completely alienate the Egyptian people for a generation. Congress, which has rightly been skeptical about allowing billions to flow to an Islamist government, should step back now and not further hamstring Obama and Kerry’s efforts to undo the damage they have done in the last 12 months. Whether any policy reversal on the part of the U.S. that will back the military against the Brotherhood can retrieve America’s tattered reputation remains to be seen. But it is to be hoped that even at this late date, Obama will realize just how wrong he has been about the Brotherhood and start trying to repair the damage.

UPDATE:

Late Wednesday afternoon, the silence from the White House about events in Egypt finally ended. In a statement, President Obama claimed that he is neutral on the question of who controls Egypt but wishes to uphold certain principles. The text contains anodyne proclamations about democracy and the participation of all groups in the government of Egypt that are unexceptionable. But it also clearly states that the president is “deeply concerned” about the ouster of Morsi and the suspension of the Egyptian constitution that brought him to power, calls upon the military not to arrest the deposed leader or other Muslim Brotherhood officials and then pointedly says that he has “directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.”

In other words, you don’t have to read too closely between the lines to understand that Obama is angrier about regime change in Cairo than he ever was about the Islamist attempt to remake Egypt in their own image.

President Obama stood by passively for a year as Morsi and the Brotherhood began to seize total power, repress critics and pave the way for a complete transformation of Egypt into an Islamist state without threatening a cutoff of U.S. aid. Now Obama has finally found the guts to use America’s leverage over the country but only to register his protest against the downfall of the Brotherhood.

This will do nothing to help Morsi and the rest of his authoritarian crew that had already topped the excesses of the Mubarak regime in only a year. The Egyptian military knows despite the attempt of the Brotherhood to sell the West on the myth that a fascist-style movement like theses Islamists is democratic in nature, the only way to prevent it from fomenting violence is to use the same tactics it wanted to employ against Morsi’s critics.

But by doing so in this manner, the president has made it clear again to the Egyptian people that his sympathies are not with those who want a government that doesn’t wish to impose Islamism on the country or the minority that actually want democracy but with Morsi and the Brotherhood. Rather than repair the damage he has done in the last three years, it looks like the president sounds as if he is determined to double down on his mistakes.

Read Less

The Hinge of Fate

On July 4 we celebrate the 237th birthday of the United States. And celebrate it we do—as, indeed, we should—with parties, parades, concerts, fireworks, “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” and flags everywhere.

But we might also remember how close we came to losing it all when the Union nearly tore itself apart in the greatest war this country ever fought, a war with itself.

Read More

On July 4 we celebrate the 237th birthday of the United States. And celebrate it we do—as, indeed, we should—with parties, parades, concerts, fireworks, “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” and flags everywhere.

But we might also remember how close we came to losing it all when the Union nearly tore itself apart in the greatest war this country ever fought, a war with itself.

This week, besides marking the nation’s birthday, also marks the 150th anniversary of the days in early July, 1863, when two great victories for Union forces proved to be the hinge of fate in that war. Before that week, many thought the South was winning. After all, General Robert E. Lee had enjoyed his greatest military triumph at the Battle of Chancellorsville as recently as the first week in May. Abraham Lincoln, upon hearing the news of the Union Army’s rout by a Southern army half its size, said, “My God, my God, what will the country say?” Meanwhile General Ulysses S. Grant had spent months trying to take Vicksburg, Mississippi, a city that sat high on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, its guns commanding that stretch of the river and preventing the passage of Union forces on the river that was otherwise in Union hands.

Lee decided to strike north, into Pennsylvania, hoping both to find food, shoes, and arms for his troops and forage for his horses, and to score a huge propaganda victory by showing that the North could not stop a general many had come to think of as invincible. For three days, July 1, 2, and 3, the two armies slugged it out in the largest battle ever fought in the western hemisphere, at Gettysburg, in the blazing heat of a Pennsylvania summer. After the slaughter of Pickett’s charge on July 3—as ill-conceived a tactical maneuver as any great general has ever ordered—Lee was forced to retreat back across the Potomac River. He would never again be on the offensive.

On July 4, Grant, having invested Vicksburg from the rear, a dangerous and risky maneuver, accepted the surrender of the city. In Lincoln’s words, “The Father of Waters flows once more unvexed to the sea.” It was a huge victory for the North because it cut Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana off from the rest of the Confederacy, which was thereby denied the resources of those states, a third of the Confederacy.

The war would last almost another two years, but the tide had now turned decisively. Lee suffered as many as 28,000 casualties at Gettysburg, a third of his army. Union losses were only slightly smaller. At Vicksburg, casualties were less, about 10,000 for the Union, 9,000 for the Confederacy. (Although Grant took an entire Confederate army, about 30,000 men, prisoner, he paroled most of them, and they were able to soon rejoin the Confederate forces).

So this week, as you down your third hot dog and look forward to the strawberry shortcake and fireworks, pause for a moment to remember those who made this 237th birthday possible: those who gave their lives at Gettysburg and Vicksburg 150 years ago so that this nation might live.

Read Less

The Extraordinary Lincoln

Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, is the author of a excellent new biography, Lincoln Unbounded: How An Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream–And How We Can Do It Again.

The first thing to note about the book is that it is elegantly written. It also does an excellent job capturing Lincoln’s personality and industriousness, his burning ambition and integrity, and his incomparable mind and rhetoric. We’re told about Lincoln’s devotion to Henry Clay, the role of the Whig Party in 19th century America (and what attracted Lincoln to it), why Stephen Douglas was a formidable opponent and why the Declaration of Independence “became a field of battle in the fight over slavery.” And the book is graced with paragraphs like this:

Lincoln sought to recapture what seemed to be slipping away, to catch the falling flag of our patriotic patrimony. “He endeavored to bring back things to the old land marks,” Joseph Gillespie wrote [William] Herndon, “but he never would have attempted to invent and compose new systems. He had boldness enough when he found the building racked and going to decay to restore it to its original design but not to contrive a new & distinct edifice.” Lincoln wanted to “re-adopt,” as he said at Peoria, the Declaration. The road to salvation ran through 1776, he argued in a gorgeous passage: “Our republican robe is soiled, and trailed in the dust. Let us re-purify it. Let us turn and wash it white, in the spirit, if not the blood, of the Revolution.” 

Lincoln believed that this renewal is exactly the purpose for which the Declaration had been intended. He had complicated feelings about Thomas Jefferson. …. Lincoln had no use for Jefferson the aristocrat, the hypocritical slaveholder and celebrant — like Andrew Jackson — of yeoman agriculture. It was Jefferson’s Declaration he adored.

Read More

Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, is the author of a excellent new biography, Lincoln Unbounded: How An Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream–And How We Can Do It Again.

The first thing to note about the book is that it is elegantly written. It also does an excellent job capturing Lincoln’s personality and industriousness, his burning ambition and integrity, and his incomparable mind and rhetoric. We’re told about Lincoln’s devotion to Henry Clay, the role of the Whig Party in 19th century America (and what attracted Lincoln to it), why Stephen Douglas was a formidable opponent and why the Declaration of Independence “became a field of battle in the fight over slavery.” And the book is graced with paragraphs like this:

Lincoln sought to recapture what seemed to be slipping away, to catch the falling flag of our patriotic patrimony. “He endeavored to bring back things to the old land marks,” Joseph Gillespie wrote [William] Herndon, “but he never would have attempted to invent and compose new systems. He had boldness enough when he found the building racked and going to decay to restore it to its original design but not to contrive a new & distinct edifice.” Lincoln wanted to “re-adopt,” as he said at Peoria, the Declaration. The road to salvation ran through 1776, he argued in a gorgeous passage: “Our republican robe is soiled, and trailed in the dust. Let us re-purify it. Let us turn and wash it white, in the spirit, if not the blood, of the Revolution.” 

Lincoln believed that this renewal is exactly the purpose for which the Declaration had been intended. He had complicated feelings about Thomas Jefferson. …. Lincoln had no use for Jefferson the aristocrat, the hypocritical slaveholder and celebrant — like Andrew Jackson — of yeoman agriculture. It was Jefferson’s Declaration he adored.

But what Lowry’s book does that sets it apart from many others is to remind us of Lincoln’s belief that America is, by birthright and through its free institutions, a nation of aspiration; that America exists to give all people the chance to rise; and that his “animating purpose” was to enhance individual opportunity. “Lincoln’s critique of the Slave South is inseparable from his view of the free economy as the field for self-improvement,” according to Lowry. Lincoln was a great champion of upward mobility and modernization, of individual initiative and enjoying the fruit of one’s own labor. It is astonishing how relevant Lincoln is to the here and now.

Abraham Lincoln is not only the most consequential and impressive figure in American history; he is the most nearly impossible-to-comprehend one as well. He was a man of so many different parts which somehow all fit together. Generation after generation of Americans seem to know intuitively that to understand Lincoln is, in some deep way, to understand ourselves, or at least our better selves. Rich Lowry’s book is the most recent and welcome link in a wonderful chain.

Read Less

Surprise! Israeli “Racism” Is Waning

Reading certain papers (the New York Times and Haaretz come to mind), one could easily conclude that racism is spreading like a plague through Israeli society. So it’s worth listening to what an expert had to say on the subject this week–and according to Prof. Sammy Smooha, it’s all bunk. In fact, Smooha said, the opposite is true: Israeli Jews have grown more tolerant of Israeli Arabs even though the latter have become more extreme.

Smooha has published an annual Index of Arab-Jewish relations in Israel since 2003, in conjunction with the Israel Democracy Institute. The 2012 index came out last week, and here’s its conclusion: “In contrast to the marked toughening of Arab attitudes, there was no similar change in Jewish attitudes over the years [since 2003], but rather stability and even some moderation prevailed.” Smooha reiterated that conclusion at an IDI roundtable this week: “Whatever the media thinks, Jews have not become more extreme. The processes that have made Arabs more extreme have not affected Jewish opinions.”

Read More

Reading certain papers (the New York Times and Haaretz come to mind), one could easily conclude that racism is spreading like a plague through Israeli society. So it’s worth listening to what an expert had to say on the subject this week–and according to Prof. Sammy Smooha, it’s all bunk. In fact, Smooha said, the opposite is true: Israeli Jews have grown more tolerant of Israeli Arabs even though the latter have become more extreme.

Smooha has published an annual Index of Arab-Jewish relations in Israel since 2003, in conjunction with the Israel Democracy Institute. The 2012 index came out last week, and here’s its conclusion: “In contrast to the marked toughening of Arab attitudes, there was no similar change in Jewish attitudes over the years [since 2003], but rather stability and even some moderation prevailed.” Smooha reiterated that conclusion at an IDI roundtable this week: “Whatever the media thinks, Jews have not become more extreme. The processes that have made Arabs more extreme have not affected Jewish opinions.”

Indeed, compared to 2003, the survey found that fewer Israeli Jews now object to Arab neighbors or to Arab students in Jewish schools (universities are integrated, but most Arabs prefer to send their children to Arabic-speaking primary and secondary schools). In addition, more are prepared to accept Arab parties in government coalitions, and most think Israeli Arabs should be allowed “to self-administer their religious, cultural, and educational institutions.”

Clearly, some racism still exists, as it does in every society. What the study demonstrates, however, is not just that the allegations of metastasizing racism are overblown, but that some of what outsiders deem “racism” is actually an understandable response to growing Arab extremism.

For instance, 59 percent of Arab respondents said Palestinians would be justified in launching another intifada if the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate continues, while 58 percent considered it “justified that Arab citizens in Israel begin an Intifada of their own if their situation does not improve significantly.” Lest anyone has forgotten, the last intifada was a bloody terrorist war that killed over 1,000 Israelis, most of them civilians. And while terrorist organizations perpetrated most of the attacks, sometimes, individual Arabs simply turned on the nearest Jew. Given this, one can understand why some Jews remain reluctant to have Arab neighbors or hire Arab employees: They don’t want to be convenient targets if an Israeli Arab intifada erupts.

Similarly, when 70 percent of Israeli Arabs think Israel has no right to maintain a Jewish majority, one can understand why almost half of Israeli Jews still oppose having Arab parties in the government: They don’t want a government comprised of parties that oppose fundamental elements of Zionism like the Law of Return, which has played a major role in maintaining Israel’s Jewish majority by enabling any Jew to immigrate. As Smooha noted, there’s “a deep divide over the very nature of the state.”

Thus the best way to moderate Israeli Jewish “racism” would be to moderate Israeli Arab extremism. But unfortunately, many well-meaning American Jews are doing the opposite: Via organizations like the New Israel Fund, they finance Israeli Arab groups that actively promote extremist views–like Adalah, which demands that Israel replace the Law of Return with a Palestinian “right of return” to Israel. And they are thereby distancing rather than promoting the more tolerant Israel they claim to want.

Read Less

Delay Can’t Avert ObamaCare Crackup

After years of critics predicting that ObamaCare was too cumbersome and intrusive to implement without causing major dislocations for the American economy and workers, that opinion was finally confirmed by what we in the media would, in another context, probably term a highly placed government source: the Obama administration. Yesterday afternoon’s announcement that implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to require businesses with more than 50 employees to offer them health insurance or face crippling fines will be put off for a full year until 2015 rather than being rolled out in January 2014 is the first official signal that even the White House is now aware that ObamaCare is a disaster that can only be managed rather than averted. Though the administration says the rest of the president’s signature health care plan—including the individual mandate to buy insurance and the creation of state insurance exchanges—will still be put into effect on schedule, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that even its supporters are coming to grips with the fact that the law is a mess.

It should be remembered that the original schedule for ObamaCare implementation was wisely crafted with an eye on the president’s reelection. Though passed in 2010, the law was not to be put into effect until after President Obama was safely reelected in 2012, meaning that the devastating impact on employment and on the cost of insurance for many Americans was not an issue last year. Instead, Obama was able to claim that he had merely pushed for a measure that would ensure more people were insured without having to be held accountable for the impact this system had on everyone else. The same political motivation appears to be behind the decision to put off the business mandate since a postponement will make it harder for Republican critics to claim that ObamaCare is sinking the economy and causing layoffs during next year’s midterm elections.

It’s not clear whether that will help many Democrats next year. Nor can we be certain just how effective a campaign focused on stopping ObamaCare will be for the GOP. But we do know that the ObamaCare crackup is inevitable and will be felt throughout the economy once it is in place. What this first official indication of distress tells us is that no delay in implementation will be long enough to avert the looming economic disaster that is ObamaCare.

Read More

After years of critics predicting that ObamaCare was too cumbersome and intrusive to implement without causing major dislocations for the American economy and workers, that opinion was finally confirmed by what we in the media would, in another context, probably term a highly placed government source: the Obama administration. Yesterday afternoon’s announcement that implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to require businesses with more than 50 employees to offer them health insurance or face crippling fines will be put off for a full year until 2015 rather than being rolled out in January 2014 is the first official signal that even the White House is now aware that ObamaCare is a disaster that can only be managed rather than averted. Though the administration says the rest of the president’s signature health care plan—including the individual mandate to buy insurance and the creation of state insurance exchanges—will still be put into effect on schedule, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that even its supporters are coming to grips with the fact that the law is a mess.

It should be remembered that the original schedule for ObamaCare implementation was wisely crafted with an eye on the president’s reelection. Though passed in 2010, the law was not to be put into effect until after President Obama was safely reelected in 2012, meaning that the devastating impact on employment and on the cost of insurance for many Americans was not an issue last year. Instead, Obama was able to claim that he had merely pushed for a measure that would ensure more people were insured without having to be held accountable for the impact this system had on everyone else. The same political motivation appears to be behind the decision to put off the business mandate since a postponement will make it harder for Republican critics to claim that ObamaCare is sinking the economy and causing layoffs during next year’s midterm elections.

It’s not clear whether that will help many Democrats next year. Nor can we be certain just how effective a campaign focused on stopping ObamaCare will be for the GOP. But we do know that the ObamaCare crackup is inevitable and will be felt throughout the economy once it is in place. What this first official indication of distress tells us is that no delay in implementation will be long enough to avert the looming economic disaster that is ObamaCare.

The excuse we’re hearing from the administration is that the extra year will somehow make it easier for businesses to comply with a system that is so complex that few have much confidence that they can navigate it with assurance. Given the potentially catastrophic penalties that the government can assess against a business that it deems to be not in compliance with the law, it is little surprise that many are contemplating changes that may drastically reduce the number of full-time employees, thus dealing a devastating blow to employment in the name of granting insurance to all.

Rather than this move being, as Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett claimed yesterday, merely an effort to “get this right,” there’s little doubt the decision was based on the idea that postponing implementation will function as a reprieve for Democrats next year. Americans are not likely to fully grasp just how intrusive the law is or how badly it will affect the economy until all parts of it are enforced. But whether that realization comes before the midterms or after them, the day when most Americans understand just how badly this massive expansion of government power will impact their lives is not long in coming. Putting off the moment when the backlash against ObamaCare is truly felt in Washington until after 2014 will not make it any less potent.

This move should encourage Republicans to keep chipping away at the law and to try and stop it via funding cuts or any other measure (such as preventing the Internal Revenue Service from being placed in control of much of the penalties to be assessed) they can try to pass. The assumption on the part of the administration has always been that once this law is functioning it will be too late to repeal it no matter how angry it makes some people. But what yesterday’s announcement tells us is that even the White House is starting to understand that they may have made a drastic miscalculation about how awful the reality of life under ObamaCare will be.

Read Less

Bill Gray, RIP

I was saddened to learn that Bill Gray, the former Philadelphia congressman, majority whip and, following his 1991 resignation from Congress, the president of the United Negro College Fund, passed away suddenly yesterday while on vacation in Great Britain.

As a native Philadelphian, I had crossed paths with Bill Gray on a number of occasions. I had sporadically volunteered at his North Philadelphia church, and had also participated in “Operation Understanding,” a program he founded along with the late George Ross, chairman of the board of the Philadelphia chapter of the American Jewish Committee, to encourage greater communication and relations between the black and Jewish communities which had worked so closely during the civil rights era. Indeed, it was largely Bill Gray’s work that kept the Congressional Black Caucus’s support for Israel and many Jewish causes strong during the turbulent 1980s. Operation Understanding still functions, and I’m proud to call myself an alumnus, although I regret that presumably for financial reasons, they no longer take Philadelphia high school students abroad to Senegal, Gambia, and Israel and concentrate instead on black and Jewish history only in the United States.

Read More

I was saddened to learn that Bill Gray, the former Philadelphia congressman, majority whip and, following his 1991 resignation from Congress, the president of the United Negro College Fund, passed away suddenly yesterday while on vacation in Great Britain.

As a native Philadelphian, I had crossed paths with Bill Gray on a number of occasions. I had sporadically volunteered at his North Philadelphia church, and had also participated in “Operation Understanding,” a program he founded along with the late George Ross, chairman of the board of the Philadelphia chapter of the American Jewish Committee, to encourage greater communication and relations between the black and Jewish communities which had worked so closely during the civil rights era. Indeed, it was largely Bill Gray’s work that kept the Congressional Black Caucus’s support for Israel and many Jewish causes strong during the turbulent 1980s. Operation Understanding still functions, and I’m proud to call myself an alumnus, although I regret that presumably for financial reasons, they no longer take Philadelphia high school students abroad to Senegal, Gambia, and Israel and concentrate instead on black and Jewish history only in the United States.

When I entered college in 1990, I was sure I was a liberal; it was only when I got to Yale that I learned that what I considered liberal, the majority of the student body considered more conservative. I was especially reticent about some labor issues and affirmative action, but Bill Gray took me on as an intern anyway. And while we may have disagreed on some policies, I was an intern, so I kept my mouth shut, listened and learned. Bill Gray was certainly dedicated to maximizing educational opportunities for African Americans, but at the same time, he did possess a colorblind streak. That really came home to me in one of my first days in the office when his staff director informed me that I had become a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation fellow for the summer. Evidently, while Gray was unable to pay interns directly, he would seek to match them up with various fellowships and scholarships and had sent my application to the Foundation. They had neither asked, nor did he inform them, that I was not black.

I learned a lot from Bill Gray. He was a good man, dedicated to his family, and passionate about his causes. I certainly mourn his passing. May he rest in peace.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.