Commentary Magazine


Topic: healthcare

Morning Commentary

Iranian leaders have cut long-time food and gas subsidies in an attempt to boost the country’s sanctions-stifled economy. The move caused prices on everyday goods to skyrocket, angering an already unhappy citizenry. Truck drivers have been striking for days over gas costs, and it looks like more strikes at the marketplaces are imminent.

Bill Kristol urges conservatives not to get hysterical about the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal. Sure, it wasn’t the outcome that some wanted, but those who believe our troops can’t handle the policy change are seriously underestimating the strength and character of our soldiers: “[Blogger Cassy] Fiano’s advice to conservatives? Cool It. We join in her suggestion. … As Fiano writes, it’s a ‘massive insult to our military’ to assume that soldiers can’t handle the challenge of integrating openly gay troops. True, this is a burden they might have been spared while fighting two wars. But they’ll deal with it,” wrote Kristol.

The Wall Street Journal thinks PolitiFact may need a fact-checker. The media watchdog group recently declared that the phrase “government takeover of healthcare” was the “lie of the year.” Of course, that phrase isn’t so much a “fact” as it is an informed opinion about the recent health-care reforms. As the WSJ editorial board writes, “PolitiFact’s decree is part of a larger journalistic trend that seeks to recast all political debates as matters of lies, misinformation and ‘facts,’ rather than differences of world view or principles. PolitiFact wants to define for everyone else what qualifies as a ‘fact,’ though in political debates the facts are often legitimately in dispute.”

S.E. Cupp wonders how liberals can reconcile the campaign to save polar bears with their reverence for Darwinism. After all, if certain species can’t hack it on their own, should we really be messing with evolution’s master plan? “Maybe we should admit that our science is not as perfect as we would like to believe and that nature is ultimately inexplicable and beyond our control. There is no sense in meddling with the extinction of polar bears, not when so many more pressing human problems await,” argues Cupp.

Have you always wanted to combine the joyful celebration of the holiday season with a blind, irrational hatred for the Jewish state? Well now you can, thanks to the creative types at the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. NGO Monitor reports that “During the 2010 Christmas season, NGOs such as Sabeel, War on Want (UK), Trócaire, and Pax Christi are once again exploiting the holiday for radical attacks against Israel, through politicized Christmas carols, cards, and messages, and calls for donations and gift giving.” Yes, that holiday card featuring the three wise men blocked by an Israeli Apartheid Wall looks like it would be the perfect seasons-greeting for co-workers.

Iranian leaders have cut long-time food and gas subsidies in an attempt to boost the country’s sanctions-stifled economy. The move caused prices on everyday goods to skyrocket, angering an already unhappy citizenry. Truck drivers have been striking for days over gas costs, and it looks like more strikes at the marketplaces are imminent.

Bill Kristol urges conservatives not to get hysterical about the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal. Sure, it wasn’t the outcome that some wanted, but those who believe our troops can’t handle the policy change are seriously underestimating the strength and character of our soldiers: “[Blogger Cassy] Fiano’s advice to conservatives? Cool It. We join in her suggestion. … As Fiano writes, it’s a ‘massive insult to our military’ to assume that soldiers can’t handle the challenge of integrating openly gay troops. True, this is a burden they might have been spared while fighting two wars. But they’ll deal with it,” wrote Kristol.

The Wall Street Journal thinks PolitiFact may need a fact-checker. The media watchdog group recently declared that the phrase “government takeover of healthcare” was the “lie of the year.” Of course, that phrase isn’t so much a “fact” as it is an informed opinion about the recent health-care reforms. As the WSJ editorial board writes, “PolitiFact’s decree is part of a larger journalistic trend that seeks to recast all political debates as matters of lies, misinformation and ‘facts,’ rather than differences of world view or principles. PolitiFact wants to define for everyone else what qualifies as a ‘fact,’ though in political debates the facts are often legitimately in dispute.”

S.E. Cupp wonders how liberals can reconcile the campaign to save polar bears with their reverence for Darwinism. After all, if certain species can’t hack it on their own, should we really be messing with evolution’s master plan? “Maybe we should admit that our science is not as perfect as we would like to believe and that nature is ultimately inexplicable and beyond our control. There is no sense in meddling with the extinction of polar bears, not when so many more pressing human problems await,” argues Cupp.

Have you always wanted to combine the joyful celebration of the holiday season with a blind, irrational hatred for the Jewish state? Well now you can, thanks to the creative types at the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. NGO Monitor reports that “During the 2010 Christmas season, NGOs such as Sabeel, War on Want (UK), Trócaire, and Pax Christi are once again exploiting the holiday for radical attacks against Israel, through politicized Christmas carols, cards, and messages, and calls for donations and gift giving.” Yes, that holiday card featuring the three wise men blocked by an Israeli Apartheid Wall looks like it would be the perfect seasons-greeting for co-workers.

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Morning Commentary

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed by Congress yesterday, but the military says that implementing the new rules will take some time: “Under the expected procedure, the Defense Department will conduct servicewide training and education for all active duty, reserve and national guard forces, and make whatever adjustments in procedures and facilities are necessary. … A servicewide memo will be sent instructing any gay or lesbian servicemembers not to openly declare their sexual orientation because they could potentially be subject to separation from the military.”

And in the aftermath of the DADT repeal, liberals have found a surprising new hero — Joe Lieberman: “‘He’s certainly one of my heroes today,’ said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. ‘His determination, his tenacity has kept this going all year. This would have not happened without Sen. Lieberman.’”

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez is planning to take full advantage of his new “temporary” power to rule by decree: “Venezuela’s lame-duck, pro-government congress has given temporary one-man rule to President Hugo Chavez, less than three weeks before a newly elected National Assembly with enough government foes to hamper some of his socialist initiatives takes office. … Speaking to supporters in a televised address Friday, Chavez left little doubt that he would use his powers to push through a range of economic and political measures that would accelerate the oil-rich country’s transformation into a socialist state.”

A soldier reflects on Time magazine’s Person of the Year: “I am not upset that [war hero and Congressional Medal of Honor winner] Staff Sgt. [Salvatore] Giunta wasn’t selected for the award. I don’t shame the periodical for not putting him on the short list. What makes me cringe is the fact that such heroic acts as Giunta’s in defense of our most beloved nation are still not ‘influential’ enough — not valued enough — to move and inspire us as a country: a country for which so many of us cry fierce patriotism, yet feel so little of its burdens.”

Michael Moore gets burned by WikiLeaks: “[T]he memo reveals that when the film [Sicko, Moore’s fawning documentary about the Cuban health-care system,] was shown to a group of Cuban doctors, some became so ‘disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba that they left the room’. … Castro’s government apparently went on to ban the film because, the leaked cable claims, it ‘knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them.’”

Could government policies make smoking extinct? While laws and taxes have certainly reduced the number of smokers, Kyle Smith argues that the habit is never going to go away completely: “What’s striking about a little volume called ‘The Cigarette Book: The History and Culture of Smoking’ (Skyhorse Publishing), an alphabetical guide to ciggie factoids, is how consistently smoking has been treated as a menace down the centuries. C-sticks were always just about to be hounded out of polite company for 400 years of largely ineffective taxes, warnings and bans. None of it worked.”

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed by Congress yesterday, but the military says that implementing the new rules will take some time: “Under the expected procedure, the Defense Department will conduct servicewide training and education for all active duty, reserve and national guard forces, and make whatever adjustments in procedures and facilities are necessary. … A servicewide memo will be sent instructing any gay or lesbian servicemembers not to openly declare their sexual orientation because they could potentially be subject to separation from the military.”

And in the aftermath of the DADT repeal, liberals have found a surprising new hero — Joe Lieberman: “‘He’s certainly one of my heroes today,’ said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. ‘His determination, his tenacity has kept this going all year. This would have not happened without Sen. Lieberman.’”

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez is planning to take full advantage of his new “temporary” power to rule by decree: “Venezuela’s lame-duck, pro-government congress has given temporary one-man rule to President Hugo Chavez, less than three weeks before a newly elected National Assembly with enough government foes to hamper some of his socialist initiatives takes office. … Speaking to supporters in a televised address Friday, Chavez left little doubt that he would use his powers to push through a range of economic and political measures that would accelerate the oil-rich country’s transformation into a socialist state.”

A soldier reflects on Time magazine’s Person of the Year: “I am not upset that [war hero and Congressional Medal of Honor winner] Staff Sgt. [Salvatore] Giunta wasn’t selected for the award. I don’t shame the periodical for not putting him on the short list. What makes me cringe is the fact that such heroic acts as Giunta’s in defense of our most beloved nation are still not ‘influential’ enough — not valued enough — to move and inspire us as a country: a country for which so many of us cry fierce patriotism, yet feel so little of its burdens.”

Michael Moore gets burned by WikiLeaks: “[T]he memo reveals that when the film [Sicko, Moore’s fawning documentary about the Cuban health-care system,] was shown to a group of Cuban doctors, some became so ‘disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba that they left the room’. … Castro’s government apparently went on to ban the film because, the leaked cable claims, it ‘knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them.’”

Could government policies make smoking extinct? While laws and taxes have certainly reduced the number of smokers, Kyle Smith argues that the habit is never going to go away completely: “What’s striking about a little volume called ‘The Cigarette Book: The History and Culture of Smoking’ (Skyhorse Publishing), an alphabetical guide to ciggie factoids, is how consistently smoking has been treated as a menace down the centuries. C-sticks were always just about to be hounded out of polite company for 400 years of largely ineffective taxes, warnings and bans. None of it worked.”

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Democrats’ Tax Dilemma

Where are we on an extension of the Bush tax cuts? It’s hard to know, given that the Democrats have no game plan at this point:

Obama favors renewing the tax cuts only for those at or below those level, saying the nation cannot afford to renew them for wealthier Americans.

Despite a number of options — including renewing all tax cuts or only those for the middle class or tying any extension to a renewal of jobless benefits — there is no indication a consensus is near.

“How the hell should we know when we will figure this out?” said a senior Senate Democratic aide. “This is the Democratic Party,” long known for internal struggles and diverse views.

The lack of agreement is, at bottom, a sign of the mistrust that now characterizes the relationship between Obama and what is left of his Democratic allies in the House and Senate:

“A lot of our guys, the progressives, don’t want to extend these tax cuts for anyone,” said a senior House Democratic aide. “They never liked them in the first place.” The aide said some Democrats are now wary of Obama, who convinced them to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system — a landmark achievement that backfired and hurt them with voters. “Our guys aren’t sure what comes next. Will Obama help them in 2012, or will just be focused on getting himself re-elected?” the aide said.

The liberal pro-tax-hike Democrats can posture all they like, but they don’t seem to have the votes to soak the rich. Sen. Joe Lieberman, the perennial voice of sanity in the Senate, patiently explains to his colleagues that although they might want to raise taxes on the “rich” — investors, small businesses, employers — the fact remains that “the votes are not there to do that.”

Oh, in that case, they might simply kick the can down the road and let the GOP extend all the Bush tax cuts. Well, that wouldn’t make much sense, allowing their opponents to claim credit for keeping voters’ taxes from going up. But these days, the Dems seem to specialize in not making much sense. So don’t bet against their doing just that.

Where are we on an extension of the Bush tax cuts? It’s hard to know, given that the Democrats have no game plan at this point:

Obama favors renewing the tax cuts only for those at or below those level, saying the nation cannot afford to renew them for wealthier Americans.

Despite a number of options — including renewing all tax cuts or only those for the middle class or tying any extension to a renewal of jobless benefits — there is no indication a consensus is near.

“How the hell should we know when we will figure this out?” said a senior Senate Democratic aide. “This is the Democratic Party,” long known for internal struggles and diverse views.

The lack of agreement is, at bottom, a sign of the mistrust that now characterizes the relationship between Obama and what is left of his Democratic allies in the House and Senate:

“A lot of our guys, the progressives, don’t want to extend these tax cuts for anyone,” said a senior House Democratic aide. “They never liked them in the first place.” The aide said some Democrats are now wary of Obama, who convinced them to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system — a landmark achievement that backfired and hurt them with voters. “Our guys aren’t sure what comes next. Will Obama help them in 2012, or will just be focused on getting himself re-elected?” the aide said.

The liberal pro-tax-hike Democrats can posture all they like, but they don’t seem to have the votes to soak the rich. Sen. Joe Lieberman, the perennial voice of sanity in the Senate, patiently explains to his colleagues that although they might want to raise taxes on the “rich” — investors, small businesses, employers — the fact remains that “the votes are not there to do that.”

Oh, in that case, they might simply kick the can down the road and let the GOP extend all the Bush tax cuts. Well, that wouldn’t make much sense, allowing their opponents to claim credit for keeping voters’ taxes from going up. But these days, the Dems seem to specialize in not making much sense. So don’t bet against their doing just that.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Could the 2012 GOP presidential primary start closer to 2012? “Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is letting donors know it’ll be a while before he looks to 2012 — and that any presidential campaign he builds will have a much smaller staff than in 2008 … and no one is in a big hurry. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he’ll wait until after the Indiana legislative term ends in the spring before he decides, and South Dakota Sen. John Thune hasn’t laid out a timeline. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told The New York Times that she’s considering a bid but didn’t elaborate on timing. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s team has alluded to an announcement in the spring.”

Could there be a better formulation of the GOP’s approach than this by Speaker-to-be John Boehner? “We think that Obamacare ruined the best healthcare in the country, we believe it will bankrupt our nation, we believe it needs to be repealed and replaced with commonsense reforms to bring down the cost of health insurance and you’ll see us move quickly enough.” The “how” is still to be determined, but the goal is crystal clear.

Could the Dems be any more tone-deaf? “House Democrats on Thursday shot down a G.O.P. attempt to roll back federal funding to NPR, a move that many Republicans have called for since the  public radio network  fired the analyst Juan Williams last month.” I guess we’ll find out when they vote — or not — on the Bush tax cuts.

Could Haley Barbour be a 2012 contender? A “formidable” one, says the Gray Lady: “Mr. Barbour’s political might was on full display at the Hilton Bayside Hotel here in San Diego this week, where Republican governors met for the first time since the elections. He strode like a popular small-town mayor through the hotel’s wide concourses, attracting a steady crush of corporate contributors, political operatives and reporters. In public sessions and private conversations, his fellow governors lavished praise on him.”

Could they have drained the swamp a little earlier? “A House ethics panel Thursday said senior Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel deserved to be censured — the most severe form of punishment short of expulsion from Congress — for nearly a dozen instances of misconduct as a lawmaker.”

Could there be any reason to give the mullahs assurance that we won’t use force? The Washington Post‘s editors don’t think so: “We agree that the administration should continue to focus for now on non-military strategies such as sanctions and support for the Iranian opposition. But that does not require publicly talking down military action. Mr. Gates’s prediction of how Iranians would react to an attack is speculative, but what we do know for sure is that the last decision Iran made to curb its nuclear program, in 2003, came when the regime feared – reasonably or not – that it could be a target of the U.S. forces that had just destroyed the Iraqi army. As for the effect of the sanctions, Tehran has not shown itself ready to begin serious bargaining about its uranium enrichment.” It is one of their more inexplicable foreign policy fetishes.

Could the Dems benefit from listening to William Galston? You betcha. He tells them that they should have dumped Pelosi: “What’s the logic of patiently rebuilding a Democratic majority—for which Pelosi deserves a considerable share of the credit—only to embark on a strategy seemingly calculated to destroy it? And why should the kinds of Democrats without whom no Democratic majority is possible expect anything better in the future? This decision was the victory of inside baseball over common sense, and no amount of spin can change that.”

Could the 2012 GOP presidential primary start closer to 2012? “Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is letting donors know it’ll be a while before he looks to 2012 — and that any presidential campaign he builds will have a much smaller staff than in 2008 … and no one is in a big hurry. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he’ll wait until after the Indiana legislative term ends in the spring before he decides, and South Dakota Sen. John Thune hasn’t laid out a timeline. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told The New York Times that she’s considering a bid but didn’t elaborate on timing. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s team has alluded to an announcement in the spring.”

Could there be a better formulation of the GOP’s approach than this by Speaker-to-be John Boehner? “We think that Obamacare ruined the best healthcare in the country, we believe it will bankrupt our nation, we believe it needs to be repealed and replaced with commonsense reforms to bring down the cost of health insurance and you’ll see us move quickly enough.” The “how” is still to be determined, but the goal is crystal clear.

Could the Dems be any more tone-deaf? “House Democrats on Thursday shot down a G.O.P. attempt to roll back federal funding to NPR, a move that many Republicans have called for since the  public radio network  fired the analyst Juan Williams last month.” I guess we’ll find out when they vote — or not — on the Bush tax cuts.

Could Haley Barbour be a 2012 contender? A “formidable” one, says the Gray Lady: “Mr. Barbour’s political might was on full display at the Hilton Bayside Hotel here in San Diego this week, where Republican governors met for the first time since the elections. He strode like a popular small-town mayor through the hotel’s wide concourses, attracting a steady crush of corporate contributors, political operatives and reporters. In public sessions and private conversations, his fellow governors lavished praise on him.”

Could they have drained the swamp a little earlier? “A House ethics panel Thursday said senior Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel deserved to be censured — the most severe form of punishment short of expulsion from Congress — for nearly a dozen instances of misconduct as a lawmaker.”

Could there be any reason to give the mullahs assurance that we won’t use force? The Washington Post‘s editors don’t think so: “We agree that the administration should continue to focus for now on non-military strategies such as sanctions and support for the Iranian opposition. But that does not require publicly talking down military action. Mr. Gates’s prediction of how Iranians would react to an attack is speculative, but what we do know for sure is that the last decision Iran made to curb its nuclear program, in 2003, came when the regime feared – reasonably or not – that it could be a target of the U.S. forces that had just destroyed the Iraqi army. As for the effect of the sanctions, Tehran has not shown itself ready to begin serious bargaining about its uranium enrichment.” It is one of their more inexplicable foreign policy fetishes.

Could the Dems benefit from listening to William Galston? You betcha. He tells them that they should have dumped Pelosi: “What’s the logic of patiently rebuilding a Democratic majority—for which Pelosi deserves a considerable share of the credit—only to embark on a strategy seemingly calculated to destroy it? And why should the kinds of Democrats without whom no Democratic majority is possible expect anything better in the future? This decision was the victory of inside baseball over common sense, and no amount of spin can change that.”

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Robert’s Rant

Apropos my posting yesterday, we read this from The Hill:

The White House is simmering with anger at criticism from liberals who say President Obama is more concerned with deal-making than ideological purity.

During an interview with The Hill in his West Wing office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberal naysayers, whom he said would never regard anything the president did as good enough.

“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.”

The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”

Gibbs goes on to say this:

“There’s [sic] 101 things we’ve done,” said Gibbs, who then mentioned both Iraq and healthcare.

Gibbs said the professional left is not representative of the progressives who organized, campaigned, raised money and ultimately voted for Obama.

I’m not fan of the left — but it’s very unwise for President Obama’s notoriously prickly press secretary to publicly vent like this.

Among the many problems Democrats face going into the midterm election is the huge gap in voter intensity. (It favors Republicans by about a two-to-one margin.) Gibbs’ comments will only deflate the Democratic base. But Gibbs, his colleagues, and the president cannot help themselves. They are an extremely thin-skinned lot, prone to lash out at their critics. Doing so is almost always unwise. And in this instance, it is as well.

A fight with the base of the Democratic Party isn’t what Obama or Democratic candidates need right now. But thanks to Mr. Gibbs — who also succeeded in offending Speaker Pelosi recently — that’s just what they have.

Apropos my posting yesterday, we read this from The Hill:

The White House is simmering with anger at criticism from liberals who say President Obama is more concerned with deal-making than ideological purity.

During an interview with The Hill in his West Wing office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberal naysayers, whom he said would never regard anything the president did as good enough.

“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.”

The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”

Gibbs goes on to say this:

“There’s [sic] 101 things we’ve done,” said Gibbs, who then mentioned both Iraq and healthcare.

Gibbs said the professional left is not representative of the progressives who organized, campaigned, raised money and ultimately voted for Obama.

I’m not fan of the left — but it’s very unwise for President Obama’s notoriously prickly press secretary to publicly vent like this.

Among the many problems Democrats face going into the midterm election is the huge gap in voter intensity. (It favors Republicans by about a two-to-one margin.) Gibbs’ comments will only deflate the Democratic base. But Gibbs, his colleagues, and the president cannot help themselves. They are an extremely thin-skinned lot, prone to lash out at their critics. Doing so is almost always unwise. And in this instance, it is as well.

A fight with the base of the Democratic Party isn’t what Obama or Democratic candidates need right now. But thanks to Mr. Gibbs — who also succeeded in offending Speaker Pelosi recently — that’s just what they have.

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Democrats “Too Liberal” — Who Knew?

Gallup reports:

In the past two years, Americans have become increasingly likely to describe the Democratic Party’s views as “too liberal” (49%), and less likely to say its views are “about right” (38%). Americans’ views of the Republican Party, on the other hand, have moderated slightly, with a dip in the percentage saying the GOP is too conservative from 43% last year to 40% today, and an increase in the percentage saying it is about right, from 34% to 41%.

The recent increase in perceptions of the Democratic Party as too liberal could be a response to the expansion in government spending since President Barack Obama took office, most notably regarding the economic stimulus and healthcare legislation.The 49% of Americans who now believe the Democratic Party’s views are too liberal is one percentage point below the 50% Gallup measured after the 1994 elections, the all-time high in the trend question first asked in 1992.

So it’s not those whacky partisans who have gotten Obama “wrong” — mischaracterizing his “moderation” as extremism. It’s the whole country that has woken up to his leftism. In fact the biggest shift in perception is among independent voters. (“Since February 2008, the percentage calling the Democratic Party ‘too liberal’ has increased by 12 points among independents and 8 points among Republicans, with little change among Democrats.”)

The president is not only the chief executive but also the head of his party. In addition to sending his own approval skidding downward, Obama has managed to give his party the labels it has struggled so hard to shed — “weak on national security” and “tax-and-spend liberals.” A majority of the electorate was snookered into believing Obama was a moderate pragmatist. They aren’t likely to make that mistake again — and they are likely first to take it out on the Democrats on the ballot this November.

Gallup reports:

In the past two years, Americans have become increasingly likely to describe the Democratic Party’s views as “too liberal” (49%), and less likely to say its views are “about right” (38%). Americans’ views of the Republican Party, on the other hand, have moderated slightly, with a dip in the percentage saying the GOP is too conservative from 43% last year to 40% today, and an increase in the percentage saying it is about right, from 34% to 41%.

The recent increase in perceptions of the Democratic Party as too liberal could be a response to the expansion in government spending since President Barack Obama took office, most notably regarding the economic stimulus and healthcare legislation.The 49% of Americans who now believe the Democratic Party’s views are too liberal is one percentage point below the 50% Gallup measured after the 1994 elections, the all-time high in the trend question first asked in 1992.

So it’s not those whacky partisans who have gotten Obama “wrong” — mischaracterizing his “moderation” as extremism. It’s the whole country that has woken up to his leftism. In fact the biggest shift in perception is among independent voters. (“Since February 2008, the percentage calling the Democratic Party ‘too liberal’ has increased by 12 points among independents and 8 points among Republicans, with little change among Democrats.”)

The president is not only the chief executive but also the head of his party. In addition to sending his own approval skidding downward, Obama has managed to give his party the labels it has struggled so hard to shed — “weak on national security” and “tax-and-spend liberals.” A majority of the electorate was snookered into believing Obama was a moderate pragmatist. They aren’t likely to make that mistake again — and they are likely first to take it out on the Democrats on the ballot this November.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The Washington Post‘s idea of an “Islamic scholar” was Hitler’s pal and Muslim recruiting officer for the SS.

The issue going forward for Obama’s Israel policy is, as Elliott Abrams puts it, “Do you dig in, or do you try to dig out?”

For now, they are digging in: “Obama reportedly asked Netanyahu to put in writing assurances that Israel would make gestures to the Palestinians in order to coax them back to negotiations, and that Israel would be willing to discuss final-status issues such as Jerusalem and borders during the upcoming round of indirect talks.” More unilateral concessions and final-status issues with the U.S. as the “honest broker” — what’s not for Bibi to like? Everything.

Why it’s fun having Mickey Kaus in the California Democratic Senate primary: “I don’t for one minute believe that the bill’s new, highly subsidized system of insurance ‘exchanges’–allowing millions of less affluent citizens to gain access to ever-more-complicated medical technology–will  ‘bend the curve’ of health care costs downwards or help the nation’s deficit situation.”

A revealing video – the hyper-partisan, pro–individual health-care mandate candidate in the 2008 Democratic primary wasn’t Barack Obama. So when Obama says, “That’s what elections are for,” I suppose the end of that sentence is “so you can win and then do what you really wanted to all along but couldn’t tell the rubes without frightening them.”

Another video points out that you get a much warmer greeting from Obama if you are a despotic thug than if you are the Israeli prime minister.

Charles Krauthammer explains: “They meet for several hours — no press, no pictures, no joint appearances, as if the prime minister of Israel is toxic, as if somehow he represents a pariah state. It feeds into the perception around the world, particularly in the Arab world and in some elements in Europe, of Israel as a pariah state.”

A silver lining? Post-ObamaCare, Sen. Lindsey Graham postulates that “Democrats from conservative states will now be less likely to embrace the climate effort now that they’ve cast a tough vote on healthcare. … ‘Go talk to Blanche Lincoln. Hey, you want to do energy and climate? You want to do immigration? Go talk to [Jon] Tester, to Ben Nelson, give them a shout-out,’ he said. ‘I just think the idea of doing hard things has been tainted because the blowback they are getting on health care has made them risk averse.'”

Phil Gramm joins the “Repeal and Reform” brigade: “Republicans have a job to do. They must make it clear to the American people that this is only the beginning of the debate. There will be two congressional elections and a presidential election before the government takeover is implemented in 2014. I believe that Republicans should take the unequivocal position that if they are given a majority in Congress in November, they will stop the implementation of the government takeover. And if a Republican is elected president in 2012, they will do with Mr. Obama’s health-care bill what the American voters will have done to the Democrats: throw it out.”


The Washington Post‘s idea of an “Islamic scholar” was Hitler’s pal and Muslim recruiting officer for the SS.

The issue going forward for Obama’s Israel policy is, as Elliott Abrams puts it, “Do you dig in, or do you try to dig out?”

For now, they are digging in: “Obama reportedly asked Netanyahu to put in writing assurances that Israel would make gestures to the Palestinians in order to coax them back to negotiations, and that Israel would be willing to discuss final-status issues such as Jerusalem and borders during the upcoming round of indirect talks.” More unilateral concessions and final-status issues with the U.S. as the “honest broker” — what’s not for Bibi to like? Everything.

Why it’s fun having Mickey Kaus in the California Democratic Senate primary: “I don’t for one minute believe that the bill’s new, highly subsidized system of insurance ‘exchanges’–allowing millions of less affluent citizens to gain access to ever-more-complicated medical technology–will  ‘bend the curve’ of health care costs downwards or help the nation’s deficit situation.”

A revealing video – the hyper-partisan, pro–individual health-care mandate candidate in the 2008 Democratic primary wasn’t Barack Obama. So when Obama says, “That’s what elections are for,” I suppose the end of that sentence is “so you can win and then do what you really wanted to all along but couldn’t tell the rubes without frightening them.”

Another video points out that you get a much warmer greeting from Obama if you are a despotic thug than if you are the Israeli prime minister.

Charles Krauthammer explains: “They meet for several hours — no press, no pictures, no joint appearances, as if the prime minister of Israel is toxic, as if somehow he represents a pariah state. It feeds into the perception around the world, particularly in the Arab world and in some elements in Europe, of Israel as a pariah state.”

A silver lining? Post-ObamaCare, Sen. Lindsey Graham postulates that “Democrats from conservative states will now be less likely to embrace the climate effort now that they’ve cast a tough vote on healthcare. … ‘Go talk to Blanche Lincoln. Hey, you want to do energy and climate? You want to do immigration? Go talk to [Jon] Tester, to Ben Nelson, give them a shout-out,’ he said. ‘I just think the idea of doing hard things has been tainted because the blowback they are getting on health care has made them risk averse.'”

Phil Gramm joins the “Repeal and Reform” brigade: “Republicans have a job to do. They must make it clear to the American people that this is only the beginning of the debate. There will be two congressional elections and a presidential election before the government takeover is implemented in 2014. I believe that Republicans should take the unequivocal position that if they are given a majority in Congress in November, they will stop the implementation of the government takeover. And if a Republican is elected president in 2012, they will do with Mr. Obama’s health-care bill what the American voters will have done to the Democrats: throw it out.”


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Flotsam and Jetsam

A pattern? “Attorney General Eric Holder didn’t tell the Senate Judiciary Committee about seven Supreme Court amicus briefs he prepared or supported, his office acknowledged in a letter Friday, including two urging the court to reject the Bush administration’s attempt to try Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant.”
Jamie Fly is worried that the Obama administration won’t stick it out until the job is done in Iraq: “This is a troubling sign that ‘one of the great achievements of this administration’ might be squandered if the going gets tough in Iraq. This seems shortsighted given the thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars the United States has sacrificed in setting Iraq on the path to a secure democratic future. Even setting aside the scale of the U.S. commitment thus far, the United States has a strategic interest in ensuring Iraq’s success and in continuing to remain involved in Iraq’s security.”

The Beagle Blogger is an ignoramus when it comes to the Middle East, according to blogmate Jeffrey Goldberg: “Andrew Sullivan should be thankful that The Atlantic’s fact-checking department has no purview over the magazine’s website. … Andrew is free to publish malicious nonsense, such as the series of maps he published yesterday, maps which purport to show how Jews stole Palestinian land. Andrew does not tell us the source of these maps (in a magazine with standards, the source would be identified), but they were drawn to cast Jews in the most terrible light possible. … ‘Andrew has so many opinions to ventilate, and so little time to think about them’ that the publication of this absurd map on his blog could simply have been a mistake.”

A bad week for Tony Rezko’s former banker: “Democrat candidate Alexi Giannoulias faced a new political hassle in his bid for President Obama’s former Senate seat after a major contributor was arrested Thursday on charges of defrauding banks by writing bad checks.”

A sign of the Red wave from the Democratic Public Policy Polling: “Neither of the top candidates for Governor of Florida is particularly well known or liked but with the national political winds blowing in a Republican direction Bill McCollum has the solid early lead. McCollum’s currently at 44% to 31% for Alex Sink. He leads her 38-25 with independent voters and is winning 20% of the Democratic vote while holding Sink to just 11% of the Republican vote.”

Rep. Bart Stupak on the House leadership’s determination to protect abortion subsidies in ObamaCare: “The House Democratic leaders think they have the votes to pass the Senate’s health-care bill without us. At this point, there is no doubt that they’ve been able to peel off one or two of my twelve. And even if they don’t have the votes, it’s been made clear to us that they won’t insert our language on the abortion issue.”

They better have a bunch of votes in reserve: “House Democrats are ready to ‘forge ahead’ on healthcare without a deal on abortion, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Friday. Hoyer said hopes for a deal have all but evaporated with a dozen Democrats who want tougher restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion services than are included in the Senate’s healthcare bill.”

Hillary Clinton joins the Israel-bashing extravaganza — because really, U.S.-Israeli relations aren’t strained enough.

A pattern? “Attorney General Eric Holder didn’t tell the Senate Judiciary Committee about seven Supreme Court amicus briefs he prepared or supported, his office acknowledged in a letter Friday, including two urging the court to reject the Bush administration’s attempt to try Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant.”
Jamie Fly is worried that the Obama administration won’t stick it out until the job is done in Iraq: “This is a troubling sign that ‘one of the great achievements of this administration’ might be squandered if the going gets tough in Iraq. This seems shortsighted given the thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars the United States has sacrificed in setting Iraq on the path to a secure democratic future. Even setting aside the scale of the U.S. commitment thus far, the United States has a strategic interest in ensuring Iraq’s success and in continuing to remain involved in Iraq’s security.”

The Beagle Blogger is an ignoramus when it comes to the Middle East, according to blogmate Jeffrey Goldberg: “Andrew Sullivan should be thankful that The Atlantic’s fact-checking department has no purview over the magazine’s website. … Andrew is free to publish malicious nonsense, such as the series of maps he published yesterday, maps which purport to show how Jews stole Palestinian land. Andrew does not tell us the source of these maps (in a magazine with standards, the source would be identified), but they were drawn to cast Jews in the most terrible light possible. … ‘Andrew has so many opinions to ventilate, and so little time to think about them’ that the publication of this absurd map on his blog could simply have been a mistake.”

A bad week for Tony Rezko’s former banker: “Democrat candidate Alexi Giannoulias faced a new political hassle in his bid for President Obama’s former Senate seat after a major contributor was arrested Thursday on charges of defrauding banks by writing bad checks.”

A sign of the Red wave from the Democratic Public Policy Polling: “Neither of the top candidates for Governor of Florida is particularly well known or liked but with the national political winds blowing in a Republican direction Bill McCollum has the solid early lead. McCollum’s currently at 44% to 31% for Alex Sink. He leads her 38-25 with independent voters and is winning 20% of the Democratic vote while holding Sink to just 11% of the Republican vote.”

Rep. Bart Stupak on the House leadership’s determination to protect abortion subsidies in ObamaCare: “The House Democratic leaders think they have the votes to pass the Senate’s health-care bill without us. At this point, there is no doubt that they’ve been able to peel off one or two of my twelve. And even if they don’t have the votes, it’s been made clear to us that they won’t insert our language on the abortion issue.”

They better have a bunch of votes in reserve: “House Democrats are ready to ‘forge ahead’ on healthcare without a deal on abortion, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Friday. Hoyer said hopes for a deal have all but evaporated with a dozen Democrats who want tougher restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion services than are included in the Senate’s healthcare bill.”

Hillary Clinton joins the Israel-bashing extravaganza — because really, U.S.-Israeli relations aren’t strained enough.

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Not Popular Outside the Beltway

The Obama-Reid-Pelosi troika keeps telling us (and their nervous members) that ObamaCare must be passed in order to prevent an election debacle. Candidates running for office feel differently. The Hill reports:

Hardly any Democrat running for Congress seems to want to talk about healthcare. Of the 26 leading Democratic House candidates contacted by The Hill, only one would commit to voting for the Senate healthcare bill if and when it comes to the House floor. Out of the more than two dozen Democratic challengers and open-seat House candidates, only 10 commented for this story. Eight outright declined to comment. Eight more didn’t respond to several days’ worth of requests via phone and e-mail.

Could it be that the bill pushed by the Democratic legislature is toxic out there on the stump? Indeed, it might just be that the very mention of health-care reform by candidates conveys an obtuseness concerning the voters’ concerns. Many voters remain puzzled, if not downright frustrated, that the entire political establishment is focused on something low on their list of priorities.

Unfortunately for members of Congress, they can’t vote “no comment.” They will need to let their constituents know soon enough whether a monstrous tax-and-spend entitlement scheme is really what the country needs right now (or ever).

The Obama-Reid-Pelosi troika keeps telling us (and their nervous members) that ObamaCare must be passed in order to prevent an election debacle. Candidates running for office feel differently. The Hill reports:

Hardly any Democrat running for Congress seems to want to talk about healthcare. Of the 26 leading Democratic House candidates contacted by The Hill, only one would commit to voting for the Senate healthcare bill if and when it comes to the House floor. Out of the more than two dozen Democratic challengers and open-seat House candidates, only 10 commented for this story. Eight outright declined to comment. Eight more didn’t respond to several days’ worth of requests via phone and e-mail.

Could it be that the bill pushed by the Democratic legislature is toxic out there on the stump? Indeed, it might just be that the very mention of health-care reform by candidates conveys an obtuseness concerning the voters’ concerns. Many voters remain puzzled, if not downright frustrated, that the entire political establishment is focused on something low on their list of priorities.

Unfortunately for members of Congress, they can’t vote “no comment.” They will need to let their constituents know soon enough whether a monstrous tax-and-spend entitlement scheme is really what the country needs right now (or ever).

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Howard Fineman gives credit where credit is due: “In a city obsessed with visibility and celebrity, it largely goes overlooked that the plodding, unglamorous [Mitch] McConnell is Obama’s most powerful foe—the man he must outmaneuver, or at least neutralize, if he wants to reach the sunny uplands of (bipartisan) legislative accomplishment, not to mention a second term in 2012. It will not be easy.”

CONTENTIONS’s Pete Wehner writes: “Republican officeholders and candidates need to make specific, detailed criticisms of Obama’s agenda without being personally nasty toward or disrespectful of Obama himself. … To the GOP’s credit, much of this is already going on. We’ve seen it in the campaigns run by Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Scott Brown in Massachusetts, which will be models for others to follow; in the governing record of Indiana’s Mitch Daniels; and in the health care and budget plans put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.” The Left keeps rooting for that GOP “civil war” to break out, but so far no luck.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon on J Street: “The thing that troubles me is that they don’t present themselves as to what they really are. They should not call themselves pro-Israeli.” Actually, even the J Street gang is nervous about the “pro-Israeli” label.

CNN’s latest: “According to the poll, 44 percent of registered voters say Obama deserves re-election, with 52 percent saying the president does not deserve a second term in office. The survey also indicates that 49 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama’s doing as president, with half of the public disapproving of his job in the White House.” Congress does worse: “Fifty-six percent of people questioned in the survey say that most Democrats in Congress do not deserve to be re-elected. An equal amount also say that most congressional Republicans don’t deserve re-election.” Republicans lead in the generic polling in this survey, 47 to 45 percent, an eight-point swing their way since November.

More bad polling news the Obami will no doubt ignore: “In a brutal assessment of the Democratically authored healthcare reform bills pending in Congress and the party’s approach to healthcare, more than half of the respondents to a new Zogby International-University of Texas Health Science Center poll said that lawmakers should start from scratch.”

A fine idea that conservatives should embrace: “The Obama administration, advancing nuclear power use to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, will announce on Tuesday an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help Southern Co. build two reactors, a government official told Reuters.” Now if we can agree on domestic oil and gas development, there could be a real bipartisan energy policy.

Even California is less Blue than it used to be: “Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman now runs dead even with likely Democratic nominee Jerry Brown in California’s gubernatorial contest.”

Hispanics aren’t thrilled with the Democrats either. Almost like there’s a wave building.

Not even Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal wants Obama’s help — in Connecticut. Well, if he doesn’t help in Massachusetts, you can understand.

James Taranto relays that Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, “admits that the periods 1860-80 and 1910-40 saw global warming on a similar scale to the 1975-98 period, that there has been no significant warming since 1995, and that the so-called Medieval Warm Period calls into question whether the currently observed warming is unprecedented. … So ‘the vast majority of climate scientists’ don’t think the debate is over? Someone had better tell the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee and most of our colleagues in the media, who have long been insisting otherwise–and indeed, who continue to do so.”

Howard Fineman gives credit where credit is due: “In a city obsessed with visibility and celebrity, it largely goes overlooked that the plodding, unglamorous [Mitch] McConnell is Obama’s most powerful foe—the man he must outmaneuver, or at least neutralize, if he wants to reach the sunny uplands of (bipartisan) legislative accomplishment, not to mention a second term in 2012. It will not be easy.”

CONTENTIONS’s Pete Wehner writes: “Republican officeholders and candidates need to make specific, detailed criticisms of Obama’s agenda without being personally nasty toward or disrespectful of Obama himself. … To the GOP’s credit, much of this is already going on. We’ve seen it in the campaigns run by Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Scott Brown in Massachusetts, which will be models for others to follow; in the governing record of Indiana’s Mitch Daniels; and in the health care and budget plans put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.” The Left keeps rooting for that GOP “civil war” to break out, but so far no luck.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon on J Street: “The thing that troubles me is that they don’t present themselves as to what they really are. They should not call themselves pro-Israeli.” Actually, even the J Street gang is nervous about the “pro-Israeli” label.

CNN’s latest: “According to the poll, 44 percent of registered voters say Obama deserves re-election, with 52 percent saying the president does not deserve a second term in office. The survey also indicates that 49 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama’s doing as president, with half of the public disapproving of his job in the White House.” Congress does worse: “Fifty-six percent of people questioned in the survey say that most Democrats in Congress do not deserve to be re-elected. An equal amount also say that most congressional Republicans don’t deserve re-election.” Republicans lead in the generic polling in this survey, 47 to 45 percent, an eight-point swing their way since November.

More bad polling news the Obami will no doubt ignore: “In a brutal assessment of the Democratically authored healthcare reform bills pending in Congress and the party’s approach to healthcare, more than half of the respondents to a new Zogby International-University of Texas Health Science Center poll said that lawmakers should start from scratch.”

A fine idea that conservatives should embrace: “The Obama administration, advancing nuclear power use to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, will announce on Tuesday an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help Southern Co. build two reactors, a government official told Reuters.” Now if we can agree on domestic oil and gas development, there could be a real bipartisan energy policy.

Even California is less Blue than it used to be: “Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman now runs dead even with likely Democratic nominee Jerry Brown in California’s gubernatorial contest.”

Hispanics aren’t thrilled with the Democrats either. Almost like there’s a wave building.

Not even Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal wants Obama’s help — in Connecticut. Well, if he doesn’t help in Massachusetts, you can understand.

James Taranto relays that Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, “admits that the periods 1860-80 and 1910-40 saw global warming on a similar scale to the 1975-98 period, that there has been no significant warming since 1995, and that the so-called Medieval Warm Period calls into question whether the currently observed warming is unprecedented. … So ‘the vast majority of climate scientists’ don’t think the debate is over? Someone had better tell the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee and most of our colleagues in the media, who have long been insisting otherwise–and indeed, who continue to do so.”

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If the Czar Only Knew

Democrats are loath to say outright what a political disaster Obama has been for their party. So they have seized upon his right-hand man:

Democrats in Congress are holding White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel accountable for his part in the collapse of healthcare reform.The emerging consensus among critics in both chambers is that Emanuel’s lack of Senate experience slowed President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.

The share of the blame comes as cracks are beginning to show in Emanuel’s once-impregnable political armor. Last week he had to apologize after a report surfaced that he called liberal groups “retarded” in a private meeting.

He had to apologize because some liberal in that meeting ratted him out, counting on the political-correctness industry to storm into action. (Little did those liberals know that their arch-villainess of the Right would help them by calling for Emanuel’s firing.) The Democrats’ criticisms are admittedly contradictory. Liberals think Emanuel sold them out on the public option and health care, while Senate insiders think he blew it by playing to the Left. (“‘Their plan was to keep all the Democrats together and work like hell to get Snowe and Collins. The Senate doesn’t work that way. You need a radius of 10 to 12 from the other side if you’re going to have a shot.'”)

That’s not to say that Emanuel doesn’t deserve criticism. He is the chief of staff in an administration sinking below the waterline. He reportedly mucked around in the Afghan war-strategy process, prolonging it and causing the president to look irresolute and weak. He has been front and center in the “bully Israel” approach to the Middle East, which ranks up there with the most lame-brained ideas of this administration. And he has set a tone of crass partisanship, arrogance, and plain mean-spiritedness that has not served the administration well.

But let’s face it: the president is thrilled with him. If David Brooks has it right, it’s a lovefest over at the White House. Everyone is on the same page, and nary a word of internal dissention is heard. (“Yet the atmosphere in the White House appears surprisingly tranquil. Emanuel is serving as a lighting rod for the president but remains crisply confident in his role as chief of staff.”) But that bit of Obama insidery might not be all that helpful in the long run. It undermines the theory — and the hope of Democrats — that the extreme policy, the tone deafness, and the ham-handedness are not Obama’s doing or his fault. You see, there’s little room for Obama to maneuver, shift the blame to errant aides, and maintain his deity-like status if all of this left-wing policy and the political faux pas festival stem from Obama’s policy vision and reflect his political instincts. Oops. Maybe not the most helpful column, after all.

Let’s get real. An administration reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the president. He sets the tone and controls policy. If Democrats and the country at large are unhappy with the results, there is only one person responsible. And it’s not Rahm Emanuel.

Democrats are loath to say outright what a political disaster Obama has been for their party. So they have seized upon his right-hand man:

Democrats in Congress are holding White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel accountable for his part in the collapse of healthcare reform.The emerging consensus among critics in both chambers is that Emanuel’s lack of Senate experience slowed President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.

The share of the blame comes as cracks are beginning to show in Emanuel’s once-impregnable political armor. Last week he had to apologize after a report surfaced that he called liberal groups “retarded” in a private meeting.

He had to apologize because some liberal in that meeting ratted him out, counting on the political-correctness industry to storm into action. (Little did those liberals know that their arch-villainess of the Right would help them by calling for Emanuel’s firing.) The Democrats’ criticisms are admittedly contradictory. Liberals think Emanuel sold them out on the public option and health care, while Senate insiders think he blew it by playing to the Left. (“‘Their plan was to keep all the Democrats together and work like hell to get Snowe and Collins. The Senate doesn’t work that way. You need a radius of 10 to 12 from the other side if you’re going to have a shot.'”)

That’s not to say that Emanuel doesn’t deserve criticism. He is the chief of staff in an administration sinking below the waterline. He reportedly mucked around in the Afghan war-strategy process, prolonging it and causing the president to look irresolute and weak. He has been front and center in the “bully Israel” approach to the Middle East, which ranks up there with the most lame-brained ideas of this administration. And he has set a tone of crass partisanship, arrogance, and plain mean-spiritedness that has not served the administration well.

But let’s face it: the president is thrilled with him. If David Brooks has it right, it’s a lovefest over at the White House. Everyone is on the same page, and nary a word of internal dissention is heard. (“Yet the atmosphere in the White House appears surprisingly tranquil. Emanuel is serving as a lighting rod for the president but remains crisply confident in his role as chief of staff.”) But that bit of Obama insidery might not be all that helpful in the long run. It undermines the theory — and the hope of Democrats — that the extreme policy, the tone deafness, and the ham-handedness are not Obama’s doing or his fault. You see, there’s little room for Obama to maneuver, shift the blame to errant aides, and maintain his deity-like status if all of this left-wing policy and the political faux pas festival stem from Obama’s policy vision and reflect his political instincts. Oops. Maybe not the most helpful column, after all.

Let’s get real. An administration reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the president. He sets the tone and controls policy. If Democrats and the country at large are unhappy with the results, there is only one person responsible. And it’s not Rahm Emanuel.

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The Blame Israel Firsters

Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street, James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, and five other “peace” organizations sent a joint letter to President Obama today — to “echo” the McDermott-Ellison letter sent last week by 54 Democrats to the president, blaming Israel for holding Gaza “hostage”:

We are aware that the [sic] Israel links its closure to a cease-fire and release of Gilad Shalit, which Egypt has been pursuing with Hamas. Nevertheless, we urge that, while supporting these efforts, the U.S. should oppose holding Gazans’ right to food, shelter, healthcare, education, and travel hostage to these issues.

Hamas currently rules over Gaza as a result of a military coup; it prefers to hold Gilad Shalit and continue its war against Israel rather than see the closure of Gaza lifted; it has sacrificed the Gazans’ right to food, shelter, health care, education, and travel to its own genocidal goals; it cannot make peace even with the Palestinian Authority, much less with Israel; it caused a war from the relentless firing of rockets year after year into Israel, after Israel removed every settler and soldier; no nation – and certainly not one under existential threat – can reasonably be expected to open its borders to a declared enemy, particularly one currently arming itself for another war. And these seven organizations blame the situation on . . . Israel.

The Obama administration is a firm opponent of military coups (even when they take the form of the “coup” in Honduras), so we can presume the administration will not adopt the suggestion of these organizations to blame Israel for the situation Hamas has caused, or pressure Israel to jeopardize its self-defense. The letter is a useful reminder, however, that even if an organization advertises itself as “pro-Israel and pro-peace,” it is not necessarily either one.

Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street, James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, and five other “peace” organizations sent a joint letter to President Obama today — to “echo” the McDermott-Ellison letter sent last week by 54 Democrats to the president, blaming Israel for holding Gaza “hostage”:

We are aware that the [sic] Israel links its closure to a cease-fire and release of Gilad Shalit, which Egypt has been pursuing with Hamas. Nevertheless, we urge that, while supporting these efforts, the U.S. should oppose holding Gazans’ right to food, shelter, healthcare, education, and travel hostage to these issues.

Hamas currently rules over Gaza as a result of a military coup; it prefers to hold Gilad Shalit and continue its war against Israel rather than see the closure of Gaza lifted; it has sacrificed the Gazans’ right to food, shelter, health care, education, and travel to its own genocidal goals; it cannot make peace even with the Palestinian Authority, much less with Israel; it caused a war from the relentless firing of rockets year after year into Israel, after Israel removed every settler and soldier; no nation – and certainly not one under existential threat – can reasonably be expected to open its borders to a declared enemy, particularly one currently arming itself for another war. And these seven organizations blame the situation on . . . Israel.

The Obama administration is a firm opponent of military coups (even when they take the form of the “coup” in Honduras), so we can presume the administration will not adopt the suggestion of these organizations to blame Israel for the situation Hamas has caused, or pressure Israel to jeopardize its self-defense. The letter is a useful reminder, however, that even if an organization advertises itself as “pro-Israel and pro-peace,” it is not necessarily either one.

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Democrats at Risk

Jonathan Martin reports:

A tactic that would have seemed far-fetched a year ago, when the new president was sworn in with a 67 percent job approval rating, is now emerging as a key component of the GOP strategy: Tie Democratic opponents to Obama and make them answer for some of the unpopular policies associated with the chief executive.

This is, of course, the mirror image of what occurred in 2006, when Democrats ran against George W. Bush. Martin adds: “The challenge will be to link Democrats with the administration on such issues as spending, bailouts, healthcare and cap-and-trade while not personally attacking Obama, who remains personally well-liked even as his standing erodes.” It’s not much of a challenge, really; all Republicans need to do is look at the campaigns of Bob McDonnell and Scott Brown, who ran against Obama policies but made no personal attacks on the president.

Frankly, in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts, Obama showed himself not much of an aid in motivating his own troops. The Left has become peeved with the underachieving president, who has been unable to deliver much of consequence on their policy wish list. So it’s not surprising that Republicans are starting to cheer Obama appearances in their state.  Martin explains of Colorado and Wisconsin, two states previously thought to be securely Democratic:

It was [in Colorado] where Democrats enjoyed resurgence in recent years, resulting in scores of stories about the Rocky Mountain West turning, if not blue, at least purple. But now, with the appointed Bennet facing the threat of a primary and a tough GOP challenge, an incumbent governor whose numbers were so poor he couldn’t even run for re-election and at least two Democratic-held House seats potentially imperiled, those analyses look premature.

Republicans in the Badger State think two long-time Democrats could pay a price for backing much of Obama’s agenda.

“Democrats in Wisconsin like [Rep.] Dave Obey and [Sen.] Russ Feingold will be especially vulnerable because these two men have voluntarily marched off the cliff with Obama by not only supporting the president’s failed policies but fighting to pass them as well,” said state GOP Chairman Reince Priebus.

We’ll see how long Obama’s downward slide continues and whether unemployment remains high. If Obama doesn’t dash for the Center, and if the economy limps along for the remainder of the year, Colorado and Wisconsin will join a long list of states that are no longer definitely, no-questions-asked safe bets for the Democrats. In the Obama era, no seat is safe for the Democrats, it seems.

Jonathan Martin reports:

A tactic that would have seemed far-fetched a year ago, when the new president was sworn in with a 67 percent job approval rating, is now emerging as a key component of the GOP strategy: Tie Democratic opponents to Obama and make them answer for some of the unpopular policies associated with the chief executive.

This is, of course, the mirror image of what occurred in 2006, when Democrats ran against George W. Bush. Martin adds: “The challenge will be to link Democrats with the administration on such issues as spending, bailouts, healthcare and cap-and-trade while not personally attacking Obama, who remains personally well-liked even as his standing erodes.” It’s not much of a challenge, really; all Republicans need to do is look at the campaigns of Bob McDonnell and Scott Brown, who ran against Obama policies but made no personal attacks on the president.

Frankly, in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts, Obama showed himself not much of an aid in motivating his own troops. The Left has become peeved with the underachieving president, who has been unable to deliver much of consequence on their policy wish list. So it’s not surprising that Republicans are starting to cheer Obama appearances in their state.  Martin explains of Colorado and Wisconsin, two states previously thought to be securely Democratic:

It was [in Colorado] where Democrats enjoyed resurgence in recent years, resulting in scores of stories about the Rocky Mountain West turning, if not blue, at least purple. But now, with the appointed Bennet facing the threat of a primary and a tough GOP challenge, an incumbent governor whose numbers were so poor he couldn’t even run for re-election and at least two Democratic-held House seats potentially imperiled, those analyses look premature.

Republicans in the Badger State think two long-time Democrats could pay a price for backing much of Obama’s agenda.

“Democrats in Wisconsin like [Rep.] Dave Obey and [Sen.] Russ Feingold will be especially vulnerable because these two men have voluntarily marched off the cliff with Obama by not only supporting the president’s failed policies but fighting to pass them as well,” said state GOP Chairman Reince Priebus.

We’ll see how long Obama’s downward slide continues and whether unemployment remains high. If Obama doesn’t dash for the Center, and if the economy limps along for the remainder of the year, Colorado and Wisconsin will join a long list of states that are no longer definitely, no-questions-asked safe bets for the Democrats. In the Obama era, no seat is safe for the Democrats, it seems.

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LIVE BLOG: That Was It?

If the purpose of the speech was to pivot to the center, then he did not accomplish his aim. His laundry list of goverment programs and his double-down statement on healthcare, albeit weak on detail and vauge on timing, do not evidence any concern that his problem has been substantive. Indeed, he says his greatest failing was a communications problem.

But what is most striking was the lack of attention and serious expression on foreign policy and national security. We are at war. We have been attacked. And he gives a remarkably cursory few graphs at the end of a very long speech, practically ignoring the looming Iranian threat. But this is who Obama is and has always been: a statist liberal who cares not so much about foreign policy, only grudingly devoting time and resources when it invades his day. For those perpetually hoping for a different president than the one we have had for a year, they must be disappointed indeed.

If the purpose of the speech was to pivot to the center, then he did not accomplish his aim. His laundry list of goverment programs and his double-down statement on healthcare, albeit weak on detail and vauge on timing, do not evidence any concern that his problem has been substantive. Indeed, he says his greatest failing was a communications problem.

But what is most striking was the lack of attention and serious expression on foreign policy and national security. We are at war. We have been attacked. And he gives a remarkably cursory few graphs at the end of a very long speech, practically ignoring the looming Iranian threat. But this is who Obama is and has always been: a statist liberal who cares not so much about foreign policy, only grudingly devoting time and resources when it invades his day. For those perpetually hoping for a different president than the one we have had for a year, they must be disappointed indeed.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Good for the Senate. The nomination of lefty extremist Dawn Johnsen for the Office of Legal Counsel and two other nominations were returned to the White House. One of those is Mary Smith, nominated to head the tax division. She is not a tax lawyer, has never practiced tax law, and has never even taken continuing legal education in the subject area. But she is a Native American who worked on multiple Democratic campaigns. Perhaps we can finally begin to de-politicize the Justice Department.

Nebraska Gov. David Heineman blasts Sen. Ben Nelson. “The reason he’s in hot water right now is that he’s not listening to Nebraskans – it’s very unusual for him. . . I am shocked.” Sounds like the stump speech for Nelson’s 2012 opponent. But Michael Gerson suggests that Nelson is a sweet man who doesn’t understand what he agreed to on abortion subsidies. Maybe once he finds out, his mind can be changed.

Smart advice on the John Kerry trip to Tehran: “The Kerry mission would also look like a panicky effort to persuade the Ayatollah Ali Khamanei to accept the increasingly plaintive U.S. offers of engagement. Mr. Obama has set the end of this month as his latest deadline for progress on nuclear talks before he says he’ll seek tougher sanctions against Iran at the U.N. . .  The regime would probably exploit the visit for its own domestic purposes, perhaps adding to its P.R. coup by releasing to Mr. Kerry the three hapless American hikers it has promised to put on trial for having ‘suspicious aims’ as they wandered across the border with Iraq.”

Give the military option a chance, suggests Alan Kuperman from the pages of the New York Times: “Incentives and sanctions will not work, but air strikes could degrade and deter Iran’s bomb program at relatively little cost or risk, and therefore are worth a try. They should be precision attacks, aimed only at nuclear facilities, to remind Iran of the many other valuable sites that could be bombed if it were foolish enough to retaliate. . . Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.”

The U.S. launches a successful strike in Yemen, but Major Nadal Hassan’s favorite iman survives. So why is it that we are releasing Guantanamo detainees to a country so stocked with terrorists?

And although the Obami seem not to want to recognize it, we are in a war: “A Nigerian man, claiming to be linked to al-Qaeda, allegedly tried to set off an incendiary device aboard a transatlantic airplane Friday as it descended toward Detroit’s airport in what the White House called an attempted act of terrorism.” This would be the second domestic terrorist attack (Hassan, the first) this year. Oh, and the suspect claims he was given assistance in Yemen.

J Street Board member Hannah Rosenthal, now the Obami’s “anti-semitism czar(ina)” takes a shot at Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren for criticizing her J Street pals.

Jewish organizations respond with surprising vehemence. (Could the days of gritting their teeth over outrageous administration statements may be finally at an end?) The administration responds with a statement: “The Department of State values its close relationship with Ambassador Michael Oren and his staff at the Embassy of Israel in Washington. The United States and Israel enjoy extraordinarily close ties based on shared values, interests, and history, as well as the deep bonds between the Israeli people and the American people.” And so forth. So what about Rosenthal — if she is out of step with those she ostensibly serves (the Obama administration, not the J Street gang) what is she doing there?

Sen. Mark Warner insists he wants to be a radical centrist. But he keeps voting for Obama’s leftwing agenda including the government takeover of healthcare so he’s not doing much to differentiate himself from the run-of-mill liberal Democrats. Virginia voters have figured it out: “An automated poll conducted by SurveyUSA shows that Warner’s approval rating has fallen among independents and Republicans since January.”

Good for the Senate. The nomination of lefty extremist Dawn Johnsen for the Office of Legal Counsel and two other nominations were returned to the White House. One of those is Mary Smith, nominated to head the tax division. She is not a tax lawyer, has never practiced tax law, and has never even taken continuing legal education in the subject area. But she is a Native American who worked on multiple Democratic campaigns. Perhaps we can finally begin to de-politicize the Justice Department.

Nebraska Gov. David Heineman blasts Sen. Ben Nelson. “The reason he’s in hot water right now is that he’s not listening to Nebraskans – it’s very unusual for him. . . I am shocked.” Sounds like the stump speech for Nelson’s 2012 opponent. But Michael Gerson suggests that Nelson is a sweet man who doesn’t understand what he agreed to on abortion subsidies. Maybe once he finds out, his mind can be changed.

Smart advice on the John Kerry trip to Tehran: “The Kerry mission would also look like a panicky effort to persuade the Ayatollah Ali Khamanei to accept the increasingly plaintive U.S. offers of engagement. Mr. Obama has set the end of this month as his latest deadline for progress on nuclear talks before he says he’ll seek tougher sanctions against Iran at the U.N. . .  The regime would probably exploit the visit for its own domestic purposes, perhaps adding to its P.R. coup by releasing to Mr. Kerry the three hapless American hikers it has promised to put on trial for having ‘suspicious aims’ as they wandered across the border with Iraq.”

Give the military option a chance, suggests Alan Kuperman from the pages of the New York Times: “Incentives and sanctions will not work, but air strikes could degrade and deter Iran’s bomb program at relatively little cost or risk, and therefore are worth a try. They should be precision attacks, aimed only at nuclear facilities, to remind Iran of the many other valuable sites that could be bombed if it were foolish enough to retaliate. . . Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.”

The U.S. launches a successful strike in Yemen, but Major Nadal Hassan’s favorite iman survives. So why is it that we are releasing Guantanamo detainees to a country so stocked with terrorists?

And although the Obami seem not to want to recognize it, we are in a war: “A Nigerian man, claiming to be linked to al-Qaeda, allegedly tried to set off an incendiary device aboard a transatlantic airplane Friday as it descended toward Detroit’s airport in what the White House called an attempted act of terrorism.” This would be the second domestic terrorist attack (Hassan, the first) this year. Oh, and the suspect claims he was given assistance in Yemen.

J Street Board member Hannah Rosenthal, now the Obami’s “anti-semitism czar(ina)” takes a shot at Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren for criticizing her J Street pals.

Jewish organizations respond with surprising vehemence. (Could the days of gritting their teeth over outrageous administration statements may be finally at an end?) The administration responds with a statement: “The Department of State values its close relationship with Ambassador Michael Oren and his staff at the Embassy of Israel in Washington. The United States and Israel enjoy extraordinarily close ties based on shared values, interests, and history, as well as the deep bonds between the Israeli people and the American people.” And so forth. So what about Rosenthal — if she is out of step with those she ostensibly serves (the Obama administration, not the J Street gang) what is she doing there?

Sen. Mark Warner insists he wants to be a radical centrist. But he keeps voting for Obama’s leftwing agenda including the government takeover of healthcare so he’s not doing much to differentiate himself from the run-of-mill liberal Democrats. Virginia voters have figured it out: “An automated poll conducted by SurveyUSA shows that Warner’s approval rating has fallen among independents and Republicans since January.”

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The Real Death Panel

Politico’s headline reads “Mammograms as political weapon.” A more accurate headline might have been “Mammogram Advisers Become ObamaCare Death Panel.” It was the pronouncement of that panel — which contained not a single oncologist or radiologist — that provided Americans with a vivid example of what happens when bureaucrats are given authority to insert themselves into health-care decisions previously made on a case-by-case basis by doctors. It has become a “weapon” only in the sense that facts are powerful things, still, in politics. The report explains:

“It resonates with 52 percent of the electorate,” said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor for the Cook Political Report. “You can get yourself in a good bit of trouble being on the wrong side of the issue.” … “There’s sort of a ‘What?’ factor,” said Michael Dimock, a pollster for the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. [T]his struck so many as pulling the rug under people.”

More precisely, it showed people just how the rug is going to get pulled out from many of us once we set in place a government-centric system administered by “effectiveness research” proponents — panels of gurus who turn out to be not really expert in the field but who operate under huge pressure to shave costs by chiseling on care.

The report bends over backward to paint this as some sort of bipartisan problem, as if Republicans are pushing for panels of bureaucrats to run health care. Politico intones that in Virginia, Creigh Deeds “ripped into his opponent for supposedly supporting a policy that would have let the state’s employers drop breast cancer screenings from health plans.” That would be the guy who lost by 20 points. And yes, Jon Corzine tried to use the issue, suggesting that Chris Christie wanted to limit mammograms too. Corzine lost.

What actually happened is that people got a taste of ObamaCare. It’s sent Democrats into a defensive crouch and emboldened Republicans to attack ObamaCare as a threat to Americans’ health. Both Carly Fiorina, who’s running for the Senate in California, and Mark Kirk of Illinois have had an overwhelming response by tying the mammogram-guideline backlash to the larger issue of ObamaCare. (A Kirk message explained, “This Task Force features prominently in the health care legislation being considered by the Senate, and its recommendations will carry tremendous weight under any government takeover of healthcare.”)

In a sense, the mammogram advisers did us all a favor. They reminded us of just how dangerous it can be to turn over your health care to the government.

Politico’s headline reads “Mammograms as political weapon.” A more accurate headline might have been “Mammogram Advisers Become ObamaCare Death Panel.” It was the pronouncement of that panel — which contained not a single oncologist or radiologist — that provided Americans with a vivid example of what happens when bureaucrats are given authority to insert themselves into health-care decisions previously made on a case-by-case basis by doctors. It has become a “weapon” only in the sense that facts are powerful things, still, in politics. The report explains:

“It resonates with 52 percent of the electorate,” said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor for the Cook Political Report. “You can get yourself in a good bit of trouble being on the wrong side of the issue.” … “There’s sort of a ‘What?’ factor,” said Michael Dimock, a pollster for the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. [T]his struck so many as pulling the rug under people.”

More precisely, it showed people just how the rug is going to get pulled out from many of us once we set in place a government-centric system administered by “effectiveness research” proponents — panels of gurus who turn out to be not really expert in the field but who operate under huge pressure to shave costs by chiseling on care.

The report bends over backward to paint this as some sort of bipartisan problem, as if Republicans are pushing for panels of bureaucrats to run health care. Politico intones that in Virginia, Creigh Deeds “ripped into his opponent for supposedly supporting a policy that would have let the state’s employers drop breast cancer screenings from health plans.” That would be the guy who lost by 20 points. And yes, Jon Corzine tried to use the issue, suggesting that Chris Christie wanted to limit mammograms too. Corzine lost.

What actually happened is that people got a taste of ObamaCare. It’s sent Democrats into a defensive crouch and emboldened Republicans to attack ObamaCare as a threat to Americans’ health. Both Carly Fiorina, who’s running for the Senate in California, and Mark Kirk of Illinois have had an overwhelming response by tying the mammogram-guideline backlash to the larger issue of ObamaCare. (A Kirk message explained, “This Task Force features prominently in the health care legislation being considered by the Senate, and its recommendations will carry tremendous weight under any government takeover of healthcare.”)

In a sense, the mammogram advisers did us all a favor. They reminded us of just how dangerous it can be to turn over your health care to the government.

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Blanche Snowe

Sen. Blanche Lincoln is furiously trying to explain how difficult her decisive 60th vote was and what she really doesn’t like so very much about the health-care bill. Uh huh. Lincoln has good reason to be out spinning — she’s up for a tough re-election fight in less than a year, and Arkansas voters hate ObamaCare. All this spells bad news for Lincoln:

In a telephone survey of 501 likely voters in Arkansas, conducted on November 16-17, 2009, voters reported opposing the healthcare changes with only 29% saying they backed it while 64% said they were opposed. Fifty percent of likely voters indicated strong opposition to the plan while only 17% indicated strong support.

In an initial match-up of Lincoln and possible Republican candidate State Senator Gilbert Baker, the incumbent, Lincoln, holds a narrow 41-39 lead. Against another possible GOP contender, State Senator Kim Hendren, Lincoln holds a more substantial 45-29 lead.

And that was before she cast that 60th vote, which raises the issue as to why she drew the short straw as the “deciding vote.” Really, every Democrat’s vote was the deciding one, but apparently they figured out the political ramifications of being tagged as the 60th before she did.

So now Lincoln will have to imitate Olympia Snowe, who is besieged with media attention lauding her willingness to vote to move ObamaCare forward. Lincoln will tell us how hard a decision it was, how committed to “improving the bill” she is, and how she won’t vote for a “bad bill” in the end. Well, maybe that’ll fly in Arkansas — but she could have killed ObamaCare and didn’t. Good luck explaining that to the 64 percent of her constituents who don’t want government-run health care.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln is furiously trying to explain how difficult her decisive 60th vote was and what she really doesn’t like so very much about the health-care bill. Uh huh. Lincoln has good reason to be out spinning — she’s up for a tough re-election fight in less than a year, and Arkansas voters hate ObamaCare. All this spells bad news for Lincoln:

In a telephone survey of 501 likely voters in Arkansas, conducted on November 16-17, 2009, voters reported opposing the healthcare changes with only 29% saying they backed it while 64% said they were opposed. Fifty percent of likely voters indicated strong opposition to the plan while only 17% indicated strong support.

In an initial match-up of Lincoln and possible Republican candidate State Senator Gilbert Baker, the incumbent, Lincoln, holds a narrow 41-39 lead. Against another possible GOP contender, State Senator Kim Hendren, Lincoln holds a more substantial 45-29 lead.

And that was before she cast that 60th vote, which raises the issue as to why she drew the short straw as the “deciding vote.” Really, every Democrat’s vote was the deciding one, but apparently they figured out the political ramifications of being tagged as the 60th before she did.

So now Lincoln will have to imitate Olympia Snowe, who is besieged with media attention lauding her willingness to vote to move ObamaCare forward. Lincoln will tell us how hard a decision it was, how committed to “improving the bill” she is, and how she won’t vote for a “bad bill” in the end. Well, maybe that’ll fly in Arkansas — but she could have killed ObamaCare and didn’t. Good luck explaining that to the 64 percent of her constituents who don’t want government-run health care.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The debate has begun: “Republican senators went on the offensive against the Democratic healthcare initiative the morning after the bill moved forward on a procedural vote, blasting the bill as a job-killer and mechanism of ‘excessive government control.’ … ‘We don’t often ignore the wishes of the American people,’ [Mitch] McConnell (R-Ky.) said, noting ‘it’s hard to handicap’ the outcome.”

Sen. Ben Nelson has started things rolling: “Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who is uncommitted moving forward, said he has delivered two pages of proposed changes to Majority Leader Harry Reid. … ‘There will be a lot of discussion back and forth about what might get enough votes,’ Nelson said after the vote. ‘There will have to be fairly significant changes for others as well, not just me. Nuance will not be enough.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer says there aren’t any new taxes. Sen. Jon Kyl disagrees: “If you have insurance you get taxed. If you don’t have insurance you get taxed. If you need a lifesaving medical device like a stint or a diabetic pump you get taxed. … The Congressional Budget Office says and the Joint Tax Committee says that these taxes imposed on others will be passed through.”

Republicans are focusing on the controversy over mammography guidelines to make their point about ObamaCare: “GOP lawmakers said the Democratic health care plan, which the Senate allowed to inch forward Saturday night and remains President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority, would set the nation toward massive government control. ‘Do these recommendations make sense from a cost standpoint? Absolutely, from a cost standpoint, they’re right,’ said Rep. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who is a medical doctor. ‘From a patient standpoint, they’re atrocious. And that’s the problem with a bureaucracy stepping between a physician and their patient.'”

In case you had any doubt about the three-ring circus: “The five men facing trial in the Sept. 11 attacks will plead not guilty so that they can air their criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, the lawyer for one of the defendants said Sunday. Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but ‘would explain what happened and why they did it.'”

Another new low for Obama in the Gallup poll.

John McCain on cap-and-trade: “‘Their start has been horrendous,’ McCain said Thursday. ‘Obviously, they’re going nowhere.’ McCain has emerged as a vocal opponent of the climate bill — a major reversal for the self-proclaimed maverick who once made defying his party on global warming a signature issue of his career.”

Bradley Smith: “Harry Reid actually said this debate is about whether Americans will live ‘free from the fear of illness and death,’ and says these things can be prevented by the Pelosi/Reid/Obama approach to healthcare. This must be a really good plan! Of course, you won’t be able to live free from the fear of being thrown in jail for buying the wrong health insurance coverage, but hey, there are trade-offs in life.”

Another bad news item on hiring: “Employers already are squeezed by tight credit, rising health care costs, wary consumers and a higher minimum wage. Now, the surging jobless rate is imposing another cost. It’s forcing higher state taxes on companies to pay for unemployment insurance claims. Some employers say the extra costs make them less likely to hire. That could be a worrisome sign for the economic recovery, because small businesses create about 60 percent of new jobs. Other employers say they’ll cut or freeze pay.” Which suggests that we should be lowering, not raising, taxes and reducing mandates, not increasing them, on business.

The debate has begun: “Republican senators went on the offensive against the Democratic healthcare initiative the morning after the bill moved forward on a procedural vote, blasting the bill as a job-killer and mechanism of ‘excessive government control.’ … ‘We don’t often ignore the wishes of the American people,’ [Mitch] McConnell (R-Ky.) said, noting ‘it’s hard to handicap’ the outcome.”

Sen. Ben Nelson has started things rolling: “Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who is uncommitted moving forward, said he has delivered two pages of proposed changes to Majority Leader Harry Reid. … ‘There will be a lot of discussion back and forth about what might get enough votes,’ Nelson said after the vote. ‘There will have to be fairly significant changes for others as well, not just me. Nuance will not be enough.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer says there aren’t any new taxes. Sen. Jon Kyl disagrees: “If you have insurance you get taxed. If you don’t have insurance you get taxed. If you need a lifesaving medical device like a stint or a diabetic pump you get taxed. … The Congressional Budget Office says and the Joint Tax Committee says that these taxes imposed on others will be passed through.”

Republicans are focusing on the controversy over mammography guidelines to make their point about ObamaCare: “GOP lawmakers said the Democratic health care plan, which the Senate allowed to inch forward Saturday night and remains President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority, would set the nation toward massive government control. ‘Do these recommendations make sense from a cost standpoint? Absolutely, from a cost standpoint, they’re right,’ said Rep. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who is a medical doctor. ‘From a patient standpoint, they’re atrocious. And that’s the problem with a bureaucracy stepping between a physician and their patient.'”

In case you had any doubt about the three-ring circus: “The five men facing trial in the Sept. 11 attacks will plead not guilty so that they can air their criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, the lawyer for one of the defendants said Sunday. Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but ‘would explain what happened and why they did it.'”

Another new low for Obama in the Gallup poll.

John McCain on cap-and-trade: “‘Their start has been horrendous,’ McCain said Thursday. ‘Obviously, they’re going nowhere.’ McCain has emerged as a vocal opponent of the climate bill — a major reversal for the self-proclaimed maverick who once made defying his party on global warming a signature issue of his career.”

Bradley Smith: “Harry Reid actually said this debate is about whether Americans will live ‘free from the fear of illness and death,’ and says these things can be prevented by the Pelosi/Reid/Obama approach to healthcare. This must be a really good plan! Of course, you won’t be able to live free from the fear of being thrown in jail for buying the wrong health insurance coverage, but hey, there are trade-offs in life.”

Another bad news item on hiring: “Employers already are squeezed by tight credit, rising health care costs, wary consumers and a higher minimum wage. Now, the surging jobless rate is imposing another cost. It’s forcing higher state taxes on companies to pay for unemployment insurance claims. Some employers say the extra costs make them less likely to hire. That could be a worrisome sign for the economic recovery, because small businesses create about 60 percent of new jobs. Other employers say they’ll cut or freeze pay.” Which suggests that we should be lowering, not raising, taxes and reducing mandates, not increasing them, on business.

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Maybe Doing Nothing Is More Popular After All

The Hill reports:

As Democrats in Congress struggle with a healthcare bill, Democrats running for office are treating it as a political hot potato.

Few Democrats in big races are jumping headlong into supporting the healthcare bill the House passed last weekend. While those running in blue areas or in tough Democratic primaries quibble with its abortion-funding restrictions, those running in red areas worry about the cost of the package.

Has anyone told Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi? They, of course, are operating under the premise that it’s political death for the Democrats to do nothing; fellow Democrats, however, who are facing the wrath of voters see things differently. Democratic candidates are “expressing reservations” or “keeping their powder dry.” They like health-care reform in theory, but few are jumping on the bandwagon. So what then is a Democrat in the Senate or House who doesn’t have a slam-dunk election less than a year from now to do?

We’ve been told for months that health care was building momentum, that with each vote or procedural hurdle we were getting closer to passage of ObamaCare. But is that right? There’s been no rush to embrace it. Quite the opposite. Voters remain opposed to a government takeover of health care and are getting more skeptical of the notion that this is government’s responsibility. As Fred Barnes notes:

What if an undecided Democratic senator, in a private chat with the president, asks about the public’s distaste for liberal health care reform? “Mr. President, how will it help you and Democrats to pass an unpopular bill?” Obama may have a persuasive answer, but I can’t imagine what it might be.

Until Democrats are convinced that the public won’t punish them for ramming through a raft of new taxes and huge Medicare cuts and calling it health-care reform, I would suggest that at least the Obama version is not going to get past the “greatest deliberative body.” The Senate has a way of mulling these things over for a good long time when enough members would rather do nothing at all.

The Hill reports:

As Democrats in Congress struggle with a healthcare bill, Democrats running for office are treating it as a political hot potato.

Few Democrats in big races are jumping headlong into supporting the healthcare bill the House passed last weekend. While those running in blue areas or in tough Democratic primaries quibble with its abortion-funding restrictions, those running in red areas worry about the cost of the package.

Has anyone told Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi? They, of course, are operating under the premise that it’s political death for the Democrats to do nothing; fellow Democrats, however, who are facing the wrath of voters see things differently. Democratic candidates are “expressing reservations” or “keeping their powder dry.” They like health-care reform in theory, but few are jumping on the bandwagon. So what then is a Democrat in the Senate or House who doesn’t have a slam-dunk election less than a year from now to do?

We’ve been told for months that health care was building momentum, that with each vote or procedural hurdle we were getting closer to passage of ObamaCare. But is that right? There’s been no rush to embrace it. Quite the opposite. Voters remain opposed to a government takeover of health care and are getting more skeptical of the notion that this is government’s responsibility. As Fred Barnes notes:

What if an undecided Democratic senator, in a private chat with the president, asks about the public’s distaste for liberal health care reform? “Mr. President, how will it help you and Democrats to pass an unpopular bill?” Obama may have a persuasive answer, but I can’t imagine what it might be.

Until Democrats are convinced that the public won’t punish them for ramming through a raft of new taxes and huge Medicare cuts and calling it health-care reform, I would suggest that at least the Obama version is not going to get past the “greatest deliberative body.” The Senate has a way of mulling these things over for a good long time when enough members would rather do nothing at all.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The guru of conventional Beltway wisdom, David Broder, has had enough: “The more President Obama examines our options in Afghanistan, the less he likes the choices he sees. But, as the old saying goes, to govern is to choose — and he has stretched the internal debate to the breaking point. … The cost of indecision is growing every day. Americans, our allies who have contributed their own troops to the struggle against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and the Afghans and their government are waiting impatiently, while the challenge is getting worse.”

A devastating portrait of Eric Holder: “The dispassion, the self-reverence, the blindness of the man, are marvelous to behold, and so perfectly reflect the president he so perfectly serves. ‘Neutral and detached’ people shall ‘understand the reasons why’ he made those decisions, shall see he has left ‘the politics out of it,’ and shall recognize what’s right — something the rest of us, benighted and bellicose souls that we are, have never managed to do with respect to the disposition of those committing mass murders of Americans in their ongoing war against our civilization.”

Another nail in the coffin of PelosiCare: “The House-approved healthcare overhaul would raise the costs of healthcare by $289 billion over the next 10 years, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan, independent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).”

And that’s not all: “A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending — one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health-care system — would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.”

Surprise, surprise: the Obami are bothered by the cost of winning the war in Afghanistan.

Rep. Peter King: “Like many New Yorkers and members of the families of the nearly 3,000 innocent Americans murdered on that horrific Tuesday morning eight years ago, I’m outraged and insulted by President Obama’s decision to transfer Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to New York City for trial in civilian federal court. The decision will go down in history as one of the worst made by any US president. While it may be hailed by Europeans, the ACLU and the far-left-wing of the Democratic Party, the president’s action actually threatens American lives and weakens US national security.” I wonder what Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will say.

Enough is enough, says Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has blocked the public release of any more pictures of foreign detainees abused by their U.S. captors, saying their release would endanger American soldiers. The Obama administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court late Friday saying that Mr. Gates has invoked new powers blocking the release of the photos.”

Steve Schmidt vs. Sarah Palin. Hmm. Is there any doubt who’s got a better chance of being on a 2012 campaign? It’s one thing to lose a campaign, quite another to go down as the perpetual bad-mouther of your VP candidate.

The guru of conventional Beltway wisdom, David Broder, has had enough: “The more President Obama examines our options in Afghanistan, the less he likes the choices he sees. But, as the old saying goes, to govern is to choose — and he has stretched the internal debate to the breaking point. … The cost of indecision is growing every day. Americans, our allies who have contributed their own troops to the struggle against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and the Afghans and their government are waiting impatiently, while the challenge is getting worse.”

A devastating portrait of Eric Holder: “The dispassion, the self-reverence, the blindness of the man, are marvelous to behold, and so perfectly reflect the president he so perfectly serves. ‘Neutral and detached’ people shall ‘understand the reasons why’ he made those decisions, shall see he has left ‘the politics out of it,’ and shall recognize what’s right — something the rest of us, benighted and bellicose souls that we are, have never managed to do with respect to the disposition of those committing mass murders of Americans in their ongoing war against our civilization.”

Another nail in the coffin of PelosiCare: “The House-approved healthcare overhaul would raise the costs of healthcare by $289 billion over the next 10 years, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan, independent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).”

And that’s not all: “A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending — one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health-care system — would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.”

Surprise, surprise: the Obami are bothered by the cost of winning the war in Afghanistan.

Rep. Peter King: “Like many New Yorkers and members of the families of the nearly 3,000 innocent Americans murdered on that horrific Tuesday morning eight years ago, I’m outraged and insulted by President Obama’s decision to transfer Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to New York City for trial in civilian federal court. The decision will go down in history as one of the worst made by any US president. While it may be hailed by Europeans, the ACLU and the far-left-wing of the Democratic Party, the president’s action actually threatens American lives and weakens US national security.” I wonder what Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will say.

Enough is enough, says Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has blocked the public release of any more pictures of foreign detainees abused by their U.S. captors, saying their release would endanger American soldiers. The Obama administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court late Friday saying that Mr. Gates has invoked new powers blocking the release of the photos.”

Steve Schmidt vs. Sarah Palin. Hmm. Is there any doubt who’s got a better chance of being on a 2012 campaign? It’s one thing to lose a campaign, quite another to go down as the perpetual bad-mouther of your VP candidate.

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