Tuesday, September 29, 2009
By Rich Lowry
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The revelation of an Iranian uranium-enrichment facility buried in a mountain at an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps base near the religious city of Qom might seem ominous. If, that is, the Iranians were determined to develop a nuclear weapon. Fortunately, we are advised that they are not. In November 2007, U.S. intelligence agencies wrote a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concluding, “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.” The intelligence community appears to be sticking by its judgment, which means — cue the sighs of relief — that the Qom facility may be only a strange curiosity.
Apparently, the Iranian regime is an obscurantist theocracy with an unquenchable taste for conducting massive experiments in advanced physics. In secret. In heavily defended facilities. The 2007 NIE had a very circumscribed definition of a weapons program, but it included “covert conversion-related and uranium enrichment-related work.” Exactly what Qom is for. What do the Iranians have to do to convince U.S. intelligence they have a weapons program?
Iran has been very lucky in its watchdogs. The 2007 NIE, which stands exposed as about as worthless as George Tenet’s prewar talk of a “slam-dunk” on Iraq’s WMD, crushed any thought of the politically weakened Bush administration moving against Iran. And the punch-pulling International Atomic Energy Agency has been suppressing damaging material, concerned more with forestalling a conflict over Iran’s nuclear program than forestalling the program itself.
If the mullahs have a sense of humor, they must enjoy the farcical aspect of their showdown with the hapless “international community.” Immediately after Pres. Barack Obama and Co. scolded them over the Qom facility, they test-launched short- and medium-range missiles in an in-your-face military exercise named The Great Prophet IV. The Iranians want to become a nuclear power on the Pyongyang Plan, featuring lots of bluster and lies coupled with interminable negotiations and negotiations over negotiations.
The Qom facility is less a surprise than a confirmation of standard Iranian procedure. In 2002, the Iranians were caught with an undeclared enrichment facility at Natanz. A few years later, they were caught trying to figure out how to get a warhead onto a Shahab missile. Each revelation is followed by international tsk-tsking, while Iran’s program marches on.
In a painfully wishful sentiment, Obama says that gaining a nuclear weapon is not in the Iranians’ interest. But Tehran isn’t so foolish. With a nuke, it knows it will have a deterrent against us; a means to destroy Israel; and an instant boost to its influence and prestige in the region.
The Iranians consider the world order to be deeply unjust, foisted on everyone else by the Jews and the West, using the lie of the Holocaust for leverage. Iranian power is to be the instrument of this order’s reformation. The regime would have to be thoroughly irrational — even on its own apocalyptic terms — to want to give up the prospect of a weapon merely to avoid tougher sanctions that may never arrive.
The notion that a bomb isn’t in the Iranians’ interest feeds the fantasy that they can be coaxed out of it by dialogue. If only they could understand our good intentions, if only we hash out a mutually agreeable accommodation, then they will realize their true interest is in eschewing proliferation. This attitude is about as cleareyed as the 2007 NIE.
The Europeans have been embroiled in negotiations with the Iranians for years, pleading with them to abide by repeated U.N. resolutions urging them to suspend their uranium enrichment. The Iranians have kept going since 2006. Tellingly, they had indeed suspended enrichment back in 2003, after the Europeans told them they risked courting the same fate as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Through the haze of delusion over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, that’s a stark lesson in the persuasive power of fear. But why would anyone who is not an American insurance executive or a highly compensated banker be scared of Barack Obama?
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Polite conservatives grow nervous when their less inhibited brethren suggest that President Barack Obama does not feel warm and fuzzy when contemplating pre-Obama-inauguration America. But considering the mounting evidence, the burden of proof has certainly shifted to the polite group to demonstrate otherwise.
Obama should not get off the hook in just one short news cycle for the shots he took at this nation in his shameful first speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
In his opening salvo, he said, "For those who question the character and cause of my nation, I ask you to look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months." Then he proceeded to tick off those "concrete actions," such as prohibiting torture -- as if to suggest that prior to his ascension, it had been official U.S. policy.
Note that he didn't say, "For those who question America's character, I cite to you our record of international philanthropy, benevolence, peacemaking and peacekeeping, liberating nations from brutal dictators, promoting democracy throughout the world, and leading the world in technological innovation and the very advancement of civilization."
Instead, he made it clear that he shares the view of the world's leftist critics that America has acted "unilaterally without regard for the interests of others," "arrogant" and "sometimes dismissive."
But if you nervous types still believe it is "over the top" to suggest Obama is not particularly fond of America's founding principles and freedom tradition, could you at least concede that he disdains American exceptionalism and prefers that this nation not be the world's sole superpower? Or that he believes Americans possess an immoral amount of the world's wealth and is not especially protective of America's national sovereignty?
Obama isn't content merely engaging in a scheme to radically redistribute the income and wealth of Americans internally (to the tune of some $1 trillion from the top 30 percent of income earners to the lower 70 percent through his proposals on taxes, health care and the environment, according to the Tax Foundation). He also believes Americans should be compelled to redistribute their resources to the world's poor, as well.
Is that over the top, too? Well, do you remember when Obama said the following in Chicago on Oct. 2, 2007? "In the 21st century, progress must mean more than a vote at the ballot box; it must mean freedom from fear and freedom from want. We cannot stand for the freedom of anarchy. Nor can we support the globalization of the empty stomach. We need new approaches to help people to help themselves. The United Nations has embraced the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015. When I'm president, they will be America's goals. The Bush administration tried to keep the U.N. from proclaiming these goals; the Obama administration will double foreign assistance to $50 billion to lead the world to achieve them. In the 21st century, we cannot stand up before the world and say that there's one set of rules for America and another for everyone else."
True to his word, though barely reported, Obama made this statement in his U.N. speech: "We have fully embraced the Millennium Development Goals." I'm not sure where he got the authority to make that unilateral declaration, but he nonetheless made it. I guess now that he's president, he can sometimes just issue fiats instead of having to deal with the cumbersome legislative process -- such as when he had difficulty as senator getting his Global Poverty Act passed. That bill would have committed the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of the U.S.' gross domestic product on foreign aid, amounting to $845 billion more than the U.S. already spends.
So why do you suppose the evil Bush administration opposed the innocuous-sounding "Millennium Development Goals"?
Well, how about its multi-pronged assault on America's national sovereignty? It commits participating nations to be bound by the International Criminal Court treaty; support regional disarmament measures for small arms and light weapons; and press for the full implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which Wikipedia describes as "an international legally binding treaty" that includes among its goals a "fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources," the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, described as "an international bill of rights for women," and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which purports to be a "legally binding international instrument" that gives children the right to express their own opinions "freely in all matters affecting the child" and requires those opinions be given "due weight."
The Millennium Declaration also affirms the U.N. as "the indispensable common house of the entire human family, through which we will seek to realize our universal aspirations for peace, cooperation and development."
Indeed, under President Obama, "We Are the World."
Monday, September 28, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
It is good that the President has ceased attempting to sell his public option health care initiative on the strength of a comparison to the United States Postal Service. Americans will not soon be convinced of the economic viability of an expansion of public healthcare when it is compared to an entity on track to lose $7 billion this year. This past summer the Government accountability office put the postal service on its high risk list because of its “increasingly shaky financial footing,” and in the spring Post Master General John Potter asked Congress for permission to cut delivery service back to 5 days per week and close 700 offices nation wide. This is not the sort of talk that inspires confidence that a government takeover of the healthcare industry is the answer to our fiscal tribulations.
It is bad that the President, demonstrating what can only be described as intellectual density, has chosen instead to compare his public option to our system of state colleges and universities. This is particularly ironic given the fact that the cost of higher education has been skyrocketing for years and has in fact outpaced that of healthcare. Even more ironic is that according to the College Board's annual tuition survey, the rate of growth of the price of public 4 year colleges has been faster than at private 4 year colleges; a trend that has persisted for 3 decades.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that the California State Board of Regents has asked for an increase in fees for undergraduate residents that would be 44% higher than they were in 2008. In addition they are considering “ideas to reduce freshman enrollment by an additional 2,300 students…and to charge extra fees for some upper division undergraduate majors, such as business and engineering.”
A quick Google search reveals similar stories being reported across the country.
Our public institutions of higher learning struggle with rapidly rising costs and they do so for many of the same reasons as their private competitors, which as it happens are similar to those responsible for increases in the cost of healthcare: inflated demand and over reliance on third party payers and subsidies.
In fairness to the President, one of the points he is trying desperately if unsuccessfully to make is that public and private entities can co-exist. The point his detractors are making with increasing success is that if the problem we are attempting to address is the rising cost of healthcare, a “public option” is not a solution. The presence of a state run university system has not curtailed the rising cost of education in general nor has the “public option” slowed the rise in the cost of Public education specifically.
Of course Obama insists that taxpayers will not be subsidizing his public healthcare option; that it will be “self-sufficient” and “financed solely by the premiums it collects.” Revealing a disturbing lack of economic literacy he insists this can be accomplished because the public option will reduce waste and overhead and will not be burdened by the need to make a profit. (As if profit were some arbitrary and evil charge added onto a product or service. In fact it is the engine that drives the efficiency and cost cutting the president claims to be seeking. If it were not so we would have seen over the years non-profit organizations taking away the customers of profit seeking enterprises. Alas the opposite has been true. But I digress.)
Inquiring minds are dying to know A) why no one else has ever thought to reduce waste and inefficiency and B) what will account for the difference between the true cost of health care services and the price his public option will charge in order to make it “affordable.” Raise your hand if you hear Joe Wilsons voice echoing in the background. Rather like how public universities make higher education affordable to the masses the “public healthcare option” will be subsidized by taxpayers!
And like the public university system, when the government, which will be responsible for setting the price of care (as it sets the price of education at public schools), limits its financial commitment the institution must respond by raising its price and/or cutting and rationing its services. As the price is forced to better reflect the true cost of the service it will become less “affordable,” and like in higher education higher prices will increase the demand for financial aid, which according to both education and health care economists is a major driver of price inflation.
It is not fear of a Black Planet (as has been suggested by several new left apologists) that has sparked public opposition to the President’s ideas for health care reform. For an increasing number of Americans “Obamacare” is analogous with a slow-to-respond or unresponsive bureaucracy, suffering cost over-runs and seeking service reductions, and lay-offs in order to shore up its increasingly “shaky financial footing.”
Monday, September 28, 2009
Irving Kristol, a giant of the 20th century, left us this past week. “Mugged by reality” was his famous description of his personal journey from socialist to liberal to godfather of the neo-conservative movement. That describes what has happened to the American public and, in his waning days, Kristol must have been proud.
Last fall, the American people elected Barack Obama as President. Despite his clear lack of experience he was able to put together a campaign that toppled the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. He then ran a solid campaign against John McCain. At times, Obama appeared to be the grown-up in the campaign as McCain made misstep after misstep. While it is doubtful that Mr. Obama would be president today had it not been for the downfall of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing fiscal crisis, he won the 2008 election fair and square.
His victory left him and his team with the impression that he had a mandate -- to make significant changes in public policy. The Obama team felt they could use the cover of the financial crisis to change the dynamics of how our private and public sectors interact. They allied with members of Congress like Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman who have waited a political lifetime to implement fundamental and far-reaching changes that tilt the balance toward the public sector. They had seen it happen in certain European countries and felt that the moment had arrived to achieve it here.
We are now in the midst of the single largest domestic public policy debate in my lifetime. Certainly there were intense debates when Ronald Reagan asserted his positions in the 1980’s. There was also significant discussion during the Clinton years about his proposals for health care and welfare reform. The most heated disputes have occurred around foreign policy issues -- Viet Nam, Iran-Contra and the Iraq War have all raised greater public ire.
However, the size of the current debate generates from the overwhelming magnitude of change in public policy proposed for this country. This includes the stimulus package, the energy bill commonly referred to as “Cap and Trade,” the public takeover of segments of the automobile and finance industry, the huge annual increase in government expenditures and above all the linchpin – health care.
Only twice in our history has domestic policy been as significant. The first was at our inception. That was from utter necessity as people like Alexander Hamilton needed to define the ground rules of our new country. The second was during the Great Depression. The problem is that no matter how bad the current economy is, it is not the second Great Depression. In fact, it appears to be turning out to be a real severe recession akin to the early seventies, but no worse. It may not even be as bad as the conditions at the end of the Carter years.
The American people have evaluated this ideology-driven attempt to restructure their relationship with their government and have risen up with an emphatic “NO!” They have been “mugged by reality.” Their self-realization has made me as proud an American as I have ever been.
From all appearances this has been a grassroots uprising unlike any I have seen since the protests of the Viet Nam war. Certainly, the Republican establishment was in such disarray that it could not have effectively done this. Republicans did not have comparable organizations to MoveOn.org or ANSWER on the left. In fact, Sheldon Adelson and a few other Republican leaders had tried to form such an organization in 2007-8 and it faltered. No matter what Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid want to say with their cute little quip about “Astroturf events,” it just is not true.
So what have these average Americans gotten for actually participating in their government by having “tea parties” and showing up to Congressional Town halls? They have been called names. They have been called wing-nuts, fundamentalists, gun-toting extremists, birthers, paranoid and a whole lot more.
Will I state that there are some less-than-rational people involved in these protests? Absolutely. But there are a whole lot less than there will be in Pittsburgh this week for the G-20 summit or there were in Seattle when they ripped the city apart.
I was recently reminded of a famous statement by Nobel Laureate Friedrich A. Hayek in “The Constitution of Liberty.” He wrote that all political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are ignorant. The Obama Administration and its Congressional allies are not exceptions to this principle. First, they assumed the American people would just roll over and accept these significant policy changes without a fight. Second, as always, they presume to know better what is good for the people and fervently believe that putting decisions in the hands of the governistas would be best for all.
As I said, I have never been prouder to be an American. My fellow citizens have clearly told their public officials that they have gone way too far and they need to roll things back. They don’t want the extreme environment bill, they don’t want governmental hands all over health care and, above all, they don’t want gargantuan deficits whose only result can be sharply higher taxes and/or severe inflation.
The Democrats need to realize that assuming their constituents are ignorant is a falsehood. Americans understand what is being attempted here and have said “No Way!” If the Democrats want to see a Republican landslide in November 2010, then they should continue on their current path. But if they want any hope of maintaining their elected positions, they need to address these issues without extreme solutions.
Unfortunately, the Democratic leaders give every appearance that they are tone-deaf ideologues. Fasten your seat belts my friends - we are in for one heck of a bumpy ride.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
It was the most Obamaesque address to date.
"For those who question the character and cause of my nation," the president pronounced Wednesday, "I ask you to look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months."
America is 233 years old. Some think that there are ample accomplishments speaking to our character and cause that predate Obama's ascension to the presidency.
Feh, Obama seems to be saying. Look instead to our new greatness, for we have elected a man like him!
Having anointed himself America's vindicator and redeemer, Obama's real purpose seems to be to become the leader not of the free world but, simply, the world.
"No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed," Obama said. "No balance of power among nations will hold. The traditional divisions between nations of the South and the North make no sense in an interconnected world; nor do alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long-gone Cold War."
The United Nations is an odd venue to say such things. The Security Council is premised on nothing if not a balance of power, and the U.N.'s roots go nowhere if not deep into the chilled soil of the Cold War. It is odder still for the president of the United States of America to say such things. Is NATO -- currently fighting what until recently Obama defined as a "war of necessity" in Afghanistan -- now obsolete? What do the South Koreans or the Japanese think of such rhetoric?
More important, our alliances weren't merely the balancing of power, they represented a contest of values. The Cold War was informed by America's principled support for free nations over tyrannical ones. Compromises were made, to be sure, but our values were never abandoned.
The president's defenders say that there is realpolitik behind the U.N. boilerplate, that he is pursuing America's interests even if he sounds like he's agreeing with our enemies about pre-Obama America's flaws. Specifically, they argue that he is laying the necessary groundwork to contain and isolate Iran, coaxing the Russians into a new round of sanctions against the Iranians. If he succeeds in that regard, Obama should be congratulated.
The problem with this analysis, however, is that most of what Obama said Wednesday was a repeat of what he has said many times before, on the campaign trail, in Berlin and in Cairo. He has said this stuff so often, some might be forgiven for thinking they are more than just words.
The greatest danger, Obama declared in Berlin, is not terrorism or global warming or even nuclear war. No, the "greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another." This week he rehashed the same rhetoric. "The time," Obama assured us again, "has come for those walls to come down."
Walls often exist for a good reason. They mark clear lines between peoples and nations. The Berlin Wall was not built by us, but by those who could not tolerate liberty. It is good that it came down with our victory in the Cold War. But it would have been better to keep it up than lose that struggle.
Of course, Obama's objection isn't to physical walls but figurative ones. His real point is that the cult of unity that marked the worst excesses of his presidential campaign should go global. "Old arguments are irrelevant to the challenges faced by our people," he says. Rather, "the interests of nations and peoples are shared."
The problem with this notion of shared interests is not that it's untrue, but that it's a half-truth. Some interests are shared, others not. It was in Poland's interest for us to honor our commitment on missile defense. Obama concluded that it was better for us to appease Russia's interests.
A core attitude unites Obama's domestic and foreign-policy visions: Principled disagreements are not legitimate if they do not conform to the president's agenda, be it on health care domestically or global warming and nuclear disarmament internationally. Call it a progressive version of "if you're not with us, you're against us."
According to Obama, a highlight in his nine months of redemptive accomplishments was his decision to join the Human Rights Council, a corrupt, farcically bureaucratic carbuncle designed to vilify Israel and whitewash the abuses of evil regimes. Critics say we should not lend it more authority. But by Obama's logic, such concerns are rooted in old arguments and ancient, irrelevant cleavages.
Meanwhile, 53 paragraphs into a 63-paragraph speech, Obama said that we should not view the principles of democracy as an afterthought.
By Mark Steyn
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Half a decade or so back, I wrote: “It’s a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice-cream and a quart of dog feces and mix ’em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That’s the problem with the U.N.”
Absolutely right, if I do say so myself. When you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn’t that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way. That’s what happened in New York last week. Barack Obama is not to blame for whichever vagary of United Nations protocol resulted in the president of the United States being the warm-up act for the Lunatic-for-Life in charge of Libya. But it is a pitiful reflection upon the state of the last superpower that, when it comes to the transnational mush drooled by the leader of the free world or the conspiracist ramblings of a terrorist pseudo-Bedouin running a one-man psycho-cult of a basket-case state, it’s more or less a toss-up as to which of them is more unreal. To be sure, Colonel Qaddafi peddled his thoughts on the laboratory origins of “swine flu” and the Zionist plot behind the Kennedy assassination. But, on the other hand, President Obama said: “No nation can or should try to dominate another nation.”
Pardon me? Did a professional speechwriter write that? Or did you outsource it to a starry-eyed runner-up in the Miss America pageant? Whether or not any nation “should try” to dominate another, they certainly “can,” and do so with effortless ease, all over the planet and throughout human history.
And how about this passage?
“I have been in office for just nine months — though some days it seems a lot longer. I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world. These expectations are not about me. Rather, they are rooted, I believe, in a discontent with a status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our differences . . . ”
Forget the first part: That’s just his usual narcissistic “But enough about me, let’s talk about what the world thinks of me” shtick. But the second is dangerous in its cowardly evasiveness: For better or worse, we are defined by our differences — and, if Barack Obama doesn’t understand that when he’s at the podium addressing a room filled with representatives of Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Venezuela, and other unlovely polities, the TV audience certainly did when Colonel Qaddafi took to the podium immediately afterwards. They’re both heads of state of sovereign nations. But, if you’re on an Indian Ocean island when the next tsunami hits, try calling Libya instead of the United States and sees where it gets you.
This isn’t a quirk of fate. The global reach that enables America and a handful of others to get to a devastated backwater on the other side of the planet and save lives and restore the water supply isn’t a happy accident but something that derives explicitly from our political systems, economic liberty, traditions of scientific and cultural innovation, and a general understanding that societies advance when their people are able to fulfill their potential in freedom. In other words, America and Libya are defined by their differences.
What happens when you pretend those differences don’t exist? Well, you end up with the distinctively flavored ice cream I mentioned at the beginning. By declining to distinguish between the foreign minister of Slovenia and the foreign minister of, say, Sudan, you normalize not merely the goofier ad libs of a Qaddafi but far darker pathologies. The day after the president of the United States addressed the U.N. General Assembly, the prime minister of Israel took to the podium, and held up a copy of the minutes of the Wansee Conference at which German officials planned the “Final Solution” to their Jewish problem. This is the pathetic state to which the U.N. has been reduced after six decades: The Jew-hatred of Ahmadinejad and others is so routine that a sane man has to stand up in the global parliament and attempt to demonstrate to lunatics that the Holocaust actually happened.
One sympathizes with Benjamin Netanyahu. But he’s missing the point. Ahmadinejad & co aren’t Holocaust deniers because of the dearth of historical documentation. They do so because they can, and because it suits their own interests to do so, and because in the regimes they represent the state lies to its people as a matter of course and to such a degree that there is no longer an objective reality only a self-constructed one. In Libya and Syria and far too many “nations,” truth is simply what the thug in the presidential palace declares it to be. But don’t worry, Obama assures them, we’re not “defined by our differences.” Hey, that’s great, isn’t it? Yet, if you can no longer distinguish between the truth and a lie, why be surprised that the lie metastasizes and becomes, if not yet quite respectable, at least semi-respectable and acceptable in polite society?
Some western nations walked out of Ahmadinejad’s speech: Canada was first; Austria stuck around; America left somewhere in between. “It is disappointing that Mr. Ahmadinejad has once again chosen to espouse hateful, offensive, and anti-Semitic rhetoric,” huffed U.S. spokesman Mark Kornblau.
Oh, come off it, you ludicrous poseur. President Obama’s position is that he’s anxious to hold talks “without preconditions” with his Iranian colleague. How can you do that if you’re going to flounce out like a big drama queen at the first itsy-bitsy pro-forma judenhass?
Although he affects a president-of-the-world manner, I don’t think Barack Obama cares much about foreign affairs one way or the other. He has a huge transformative domestic agenda designed to leave this country looking much closer to the average Continental social democracy. His principal interest in the rest of the planet is that he doesn’t need some nutjob nuking Cleveland before he’s finished reducing it to a moribund socialist swamp. And so, like many European nations, when it comes to the global scene, President Obama has attitudes rather than policies. If you’re on the receiving end — like Israel, Poland, Honduras — it’s not pleasant, and it’s going to get worse.
It was striking to hear Qaddafi and Chávez profess their admiration for Obama, call him “our son,” and declare their fond hope that he remain president for life. The Chinese and Russians are more circumspect in public, and laughing their heads off in private. As for the saner members of the U.N., many Europeans still think they’ve got the American president they’ve always wanted: They would agree with John Bolton’s indictment — that this was a post-American speech by a post-American president — but mean it as high praise. As the contours of the post-American world emerge, they will have plenty of time to reconsider their enthusiasm.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
In the early 1980s, while planning a vacation in Latin America, I went to bookstores to look for histories of the region. All I could find were Marxist tracts arguing that "the people" were exploited by greedy corporations and military dictators, all propped up by the United States.
Available literature on Latin America today includes much more sensible accounts. But some people, including Barack Obama, whose college thesis written in those years has never been made public, seem stuck in a time warp in which the United States is the bad guy.
That, at least, seems to explain Obama's latest foreign policy moves, starting with Honduras, where the president was ousted by the country's supreme court for violating a constitutional provision that forbids any moves to seek a second term. (Other Latin countries, notably Mexico, have similar constitutional prohibitions.)
The White House immediately interpreted this as a military coup and decided that, this time, the United States would come out on the side of "the people." In fact, we find ourselves siding with a friend of the Iranian mullahs, Hugo Chavez, who swept aside similar constitutional limits in Venezuela, and opposing the elected congress, courts and civil society of Honduras.
Honduras is not the only or, sad to say, most important example of where this administration has come out on the side of our enemies and against our friends. Israel has been told that it must stop all settlement construction, even the adding of spare rooms for newly arrived infants, while nothing is asked of the Palestinians.
In Eastern Europe, Obama acknowledged last spring the importance of placing missile defense installations in our NATO allies Poland and the Czech Republic, then reversed himself this month and cancelled the program.
The president of Poland, which has sent brave and effective troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, was given an after-midnight phone call, which he declined to take. The president of Russia, which has refused to aid our efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons programs, expressed his delight -- and pointedly made no concessions in return.
Neither has Russia made concessions in return for Obama's announced plans to cut back sharply on our nuclear stockpiles. The idea behind this is either that others will make similar cutbacks out of gratitude for our example or, more worryingly, that the possession of so many nukes by the United States is somehow a bad thing.
Then there is Afghanistan. In March, Obama said we must persevere in the struggle there to protect ourselves against terrorists and installed a new general, ahead of schedule, to come up with a counterinsurgency strategy. That general delivered a report on Aug. 30 strongly implying that we must increase troops commitments. But as of Sept. 21, Obama has held only one meeting on the subject, according to The Washington Post's Bob Woodward.
On the Sunday talk shows a day before Woodward's story appeared, Obama said he had not yet decided on a strategy in Afghanistan. "I'm certainly not one who believes in indefinite occupations of other countries," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press," as if the U.S. were occupying a country against the wishes of most of its inhabitants to the detriment of "the people." Shades of those early 1980s Marxist Latin America tracts.
The reaction to the most recent moves has been harsh, and from unexpected quarters. Leslie Gelb, former head of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the editorial writers of The Washington Post have expressed astonishment at Obama's apparent switch on Afghanistan. Edward Lucas, former Eastern European correspondent for The Economist, wrote in the Telegraph of London: "The picture emerging from the White House is a disturbing one, of timidity, clumsiness and short-term calculation. Some say he is the weakest president since Jimmy Carter."
The influential blogger Mickey Kaus argues that "anti-Obama anger" is caused not by his race, but "because he's a relative newcomer, as presidents go -- an unknown quantity, an enigma, with a short track record and patches of that record left fuzzy."
But on foreign policy as his record emerges -- as he reverses himself on missile defense and perhaps on Afghanistan -- his motivating principle seems rooted in an analysis, common in his formative university years, that America has too often been on the side of the bad guys. The response has been to disrespect those who have been our friends and to bow to our enemies.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Two Octobers ago, the Dalai Lama received the Congressional Gold Medal, one of America's highest civilian honors, in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. Speaker Nancy Pelosi talked of a "special relationship between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the United States." Said Sen. Mitch McConnell: "We have reached out in solidarity to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people, and the Chinese government needs to know that we will continue to do so." President George W. Bush urged Chinese leaders "to welcome the Dalai Lama to China. They will find this good man to be a man of peace and reconciliation."
This October, on a scheduled visit to the United States, the Dalai Lama will not be welcomed at the White House. Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett was recently dispatched to Dharamsala -- the Dalai Lama's place of exile in northern India -- to gently deliver the message. The Tibetans took the news, as usual, nonviolently. "A lot of nations are adopting a policy of appeasement (toward China)," observed Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of Tibet's government-in-exile. "I understand why Obama is not meeting with the Dalai Lama before his Chinese trip. It is common sense. Obama should not irritate the Chinese leadership."
The Obama administration has its diplomatic reasons. After the uprisings of 2008, the Chinese government is particularly sensitive on the topic of Tibet. China's President Hu Jintao is a guest in the United States this week. And administration officials hint that Obama will eventually meet with the Dalai Lama, following the president's own visit to China in November.
Yet between the gold medal and the cold shoulder, a large diplomatic signal is being sent.
It is not that Obama is completely unwilling to anger the Chinese. Earlier this month he imposed a 35 percent tariff on tire imports from China, leading to talk of a trade war. The head of the United Steelworkers said the president was willing to "put himself in the line of fire for the jobs of U.S. workers." But Obama is clearly less willing to put himself in the diplomatic line of fire for other, less tangibly political reasons.
In great power politics, morality often gets its hair mussed. Every president needs diplomatic maneuvering room. But the rebuff of the Dalai Lama is part of a pattern. Hillary Clinton has argued that pressing China on human rights "can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis" -- a statement that left Amnesty International "shocked and extremely disappointed." Support for Iranian democrats has been hesitant. Overtures to repressive governments in Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria and Egypt have generally ignored the struggles of dissidents and prisoners in those nations. So far, the Obama era is hardly a high point of human rights solidarity.
Those who donate to Amnesty International and put "Free Tibet" stickers on their Volvos often assume these commitments are served by supporting liberal politicians. But it really depends. On human rights, modern liberalism is a house divided. In a recent, brilliant essay in The New Republic, Richard Just describes the "contradictory impulses of liberal foreign policy: the opposition to imperialism and the devotion to human rights. If liberals view anti-imperialism as their primary philosophical commitment, then they will be reluctant to meddle in the affairs of other countries, even when they are ruled by authoritarian governments ... that abuse their own people. But if liberalism's primary commitment is to human rights, then liberals will be willing to judge, to oppose, and even to undermine such governments."
During the Cold War, Just argues, these impulses were united in opposition to pro-American despots such as Chile's Augusto Pinochet. "But history does not always present such convenient circumstances; and since the end of the Cold War, every time the United States has undertaken a humanitarian intervention -- or, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, interventions with humanitarian implications -- this fundamental split has, in one form or another, returned to the center of the liberal debate."
This split is now evident within the Obama administration. It includes some very principled, liberal defenders of human rights such as U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and National Security Council staffer Samantha Power. But it seems dominated, for the moment, by those who consider the human rights enterprise as morally arrogant and an obstacle to mature diplomacy.
Which raises the question: What is left of foreign policy liberalism when a belief in liberty is removed?
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
During his first year at Humboldt State University (HSU) - as a tenure-track professor in the Psychology Department - faculty and students tried to silence Mark Harwood on a number of occasions. He was hired primarily to teach Human Sexuality—a class he had taught in a variety of settings including a doctoral program in the UC-system, a psychology program in the second highest ranked City College in the nation, and at a private university.
Mark Harwood received excellent reviews from most students; however, with a class as personal as human sexuality, some found a way to be offended. His teaching evaluations were well above average and, in some instances, stellar. His first experience teaching human sexuality at HSU proved to be different. The students in the Master’s program simply couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea that males and females are different. They objected to his emphasis on techniques for treating sexual dysfunction – although this was the primary purpose of the class.
Professor Harwood’s second semester was even more distressing and he almost left HSU to take a position elsewhere. During the spring semester, he taught the undergraduate course in human sexuality. The course was cross-listed with Women’s Studies. Before the semester began, a student from the Women’s Studies department asked if he would allow her to be the T/A for the course. He agreed.
About four weeks into the course, the T/A indicated that she would like Dr. Harwood to cover domestic violence. He replied that because domestic violence isn’t directly related to human sexuality, he had not included it on the syllabus; however, he said that if they covered all the material in the syllabus and had time at the end of class, he would be happy to address this issue. As it turned out, he had the time.
Dr. Harwood sees domestic violence as a complex problem. Overall, he sees it as a relationship problem with both partners contributing to the dysfunctional relationship and one or both of them playing a role in the initiation and maintenance of the violence. This is recognized by virtually all experts in the field of family therapy. But to the Women’s Studies students, domestic violence is always entirely the fault of the male.
During class one day, Dr. Harwood handed out two peer-reviewed articles. The major findings of the articles were:
1. Women are more likely than men to initiate domestic violence.
2. Women are more likely than men to maintain domestic violence.
3. Women are more likely than men to report that they were victims of domestic violence.
4. Women suffer more serious physical injury than men when involved in domestic violence.
5. Women do not fear retaliation for physically abusing their male partner.
Before all the empirically supported findings had been presented, the class erupted with outbursts, primarily from the Women’s Studies students. One actually yelled that Dr. Harwood was a “privileged, rich, white male.”
The Women’s Studies students continued to disrupt class so it was generally unproductive—they simply didn’t want to hear what the researchers had discovered. What angered them the most was the applause Dr. Harwood received at the end of class by a large number of students who appreciated that he presented material most professors would shy away from.
A day or two after the class, Dr. Harwood received a call from the Chair of the Women’s Studies department, Kim Berry. She wanted to meet with him and the department Chair to discuss the complaints she received from some of her students.
Based on the complaints from some students, she decided that the way Harwood presented the research was improper. Berry did not bother to get feedback from the students who applauded after the lecture. Mark Harwood replied to Kim Berry saying that his time was limited. A meeting never took place. Instead, she called his department chair and insisted that he never be allowed to teach the class again. She threatened that she would not allow her Women’s Studies students to take the class if he taught it.
Dr. Harwood’s department capitulated to her demands.
I wish I could say that the story ends here. But HSU is a relatively small institution and rumors can be spread quickly, especially among the radical feminist students who constitute a large percentage of the student body. It was soon evident that a concerted effort to have Harwood dismissed was underway.
Near the end of his time at HSU, before he received tenure, Dr. Harwood was asked to attend a thesis proposal meeting for a student who was doing research on domestic violence. He had been asked to be on her committee almost two years earlier and, upon accepting, gave her copies of the aforementioned articles and instructed her to make sure these seminal studies were included in her literature review.
He was appalled to find that they were not mentioned anywhere in the literature review or thesis. Instead, junk research, “studies” from non-scientific organizations, and propaganda permeated the literature review.
Dr. Harwood was confident that the Chair for the thesis committee, Bettye Elmore, a full professor, would recognize the importance of including an unbiased treatment of the literature; however, he was wrong. The student and the professor became angry when he stated that these studies must be included in the literature review and the non-peer reviewed garbage that comprised the bulk of the review should be removed.
Elmore refused to read the research articles Harwood handed to her, and denied that they could be true. She went on to state that her ex-husband had depleted her savings and run off.
An hour later, the third committee member, a sociology professor arrived. The Chair then announced that Dr. Harwood had said women are more physically violent than men in domestic relationships. Harwood was surprised when he said, “Of course they are—we have known this for years”.
In Seattle, domestic violence calls were so frequent that a policy was instituted that stated when an officer arrives on the scene of a domestic violence call, someone must be arrested. It turned out, that in the very first year that the policy was in place, women were arrested for domestic violence 51% of the time. Upon hearing this, Elmore was visibly embarrassed and the student was angry. Harwood was later asked to relinquish his position as part of the thesis committee.
Once, when teaching a graduate class, Dr. Harwood used the symbol for male and female to designate the two groups and provide information under the categories. A female student became angered at the male symbol and erased the “arrow” that had an upward trajectory. She replaced it with an arrow that pointed down. Dr. Harwood asked if she was intimidated by male genitalia. He also asked if the Penis Monologues would offend her. Finally, he asked whether it would matter to her if all the males in the class began chanting “penis.” She filed a complaint with her department Chair.
Mark Harwood eventually left HSU because he realized he was in a dysfunctional intellectual relationship. And he knows feminists don’t fear retaliation for abusing their intellectual superiors. He now teaches at Wheaton College.
By Patrick J. Michaels
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Imagine if there were no reliable records of global surface temperature. Raucous policy debates such as cap-and-trade would have no scientific basis, Al Gore would at this point be little more than a historical footnote, and President Obama would not be spending this U.N. session talking up a (likely unattainable) international climate deal in Copenhagen in December.
Steel yourself for the new reality, because the data needed to verify the gloom-and-doom warming forecasts have disappeared.
Or so it seems. Apparently, they were either lost or purged from some discarded computer. Only a very few people know what really happened, and they aren’t talking much. And what little they are saying makes no sense.
In the early 1980s, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, scientists at the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia established the Climate Research Unit (CRU) to produce the world’s first comprehensive history of surface temperature. It’s known in the trade as the “Jones and Wigley” record for its authors, Phil Jones and Tom Wigley, and it served as the primary reference standard for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) until 2007. It was this record that prompted the IPCC to claim a “discernible human influence on global climate.”
Putting together such a record isn’t at all easy. Weather stations weren’t really designed to monitor global climate. Long-standing ones were usually established at points of commerce, which tend to grow into cities that induce spurious warming trends in their records. Trees grow up around thermometers and lower the afternoon temperature. Further, as documented by the University of Colorado’s Roger Pielke Sr., many of the stations themselves are placed in locations, such as in parking lots or near heat vents, where artificially high temperatures are bound to be recorded.
So the weather data that go into the historical climate records that are required to verify models of global warming aren’t the original records at all. Jones and Wigley, however, weren’t specific about what was done to which station in order to produce their record, which, according to the IPCC, showed a warming of 0.6° +/– 0.2°C in the 20th century.
Now begins the fun. Warwick Hughes, an Australian scientist, wondered where that “+/–” came from, so he politely wrote Phil Jones in early 2005, asking for the original data. Jones’s response to a fellow scientist attempting to replicate his work was, “We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”
Reread that statement, for it is breathtaking in its anti-scientific thrust. In fact, the entire purpose of replication is to “try and find something wrong.” The ultimate objective of science is to do things so well that, indeed, nothing is wrong.
Then the story changed. In June 2009, Georgia Tech’s Peter Webster told Canadian researcher Stephen McIntyre that he had requested raw data, and Jones freely gave it to him. So McIntyre promptly filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the same data. Despite having been invited by the National Academy of Sciences to present his analyses of millennial temperatures, McIntyre was told that he couldn’t have the data because he wasn’t an “academic.” So his colleague Ross McKitrick, an economist at the University of Guelph, asked for the data. He was turned down, too.
Faced with a growing number of such requests, Jones refused them all, saying that there were “confidentiality” agreements regarding the data between CRU and nations that supplied the data. McIntyre’s blog readers then requested those agreements, country by country, but only a handful turned out to exist, mainly from Third World countries and written in very vague language.
It’s worth noting that McKitrick and I had published papers demonstrating that the quality of land-based records is so poor that the warming trend estimated since 1979 (the first year for which we could compare those records to independent data from satellites) may have been overestimated by 50 percent. Webster, who received the CRU data, published studies linking changes in hurricane patterns to warming (while others have found otherwise).
Enter the dog that ate global warming.
Roger Pielke Jr., an esteemed professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, then requested the raw data from Jones. Jones responded:
Since the 1980s, we have merged the data we have received into existing series or begun new ones, so it is impossible to say if all stations within a particular country or if all of an individual record should be freely available. Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e., quality controlled and homogenized) data.The statement about “data storage” is balderdash. They got the records from somewhere. The files went onto a computer. All of the original data could easily fit on the 9-inch tape drives common in the mid-1980s. I had all of the world’s surface barometric pressure data on one such tape in 1979.
If we are to believe Jones’s note to the younger Pielke, CRU adjusted the original data and then lost or destroyed them over twenty years ago. The letter to Warwick Hughes may have been an outright lie. After all, Peter Webster received some of the data this year. So the question remains: What was destroyed or lost, when was it destroyed or lost, and why?
All of this is much more than an academic spat. It now appears likely that the U.S. Senate will drop cap-and-trade climate legislation from its docket this fall — whereupon the Obama Environmental Protection Agency is going to step in and issue regulations on carbon-dioxide emissions. Unlike a law, which can’t be challenged on a scientific basis, a regulation can. If there are no data, there’s no science. U.S. taxpayers deserve to know the answer to the question posed above.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Our international institutions are irredeemably corrupted. From the United Nations to the International Criminal Court and their affiliate and subordinate bodies, these institutions are rotten at their core.
It isn't that they don't function. They function just fine. The problem is that through their regular functioning, they advance goals antithetical to those they were established to achieve. Instead of promoting global security, human rights, freedom and international peace, they facilitate war and aggression, human suffering and tyranny.
The UN General Assembly is now convening its 64th session. As they do every year, heads of state from across the globe are descending on the Big Apple to participate in the proceedings. As they convene, their agenda will demonstrate the failings of the UN. On the one hand, they will consider the UN Human Rights Council's latest broadside against Israel, which comes this week in the form of the UNHRC's 575-page report of its probe of Israel's behavior in its military campaign against the Hamas terror regime in Gaza this past December and January.
On the other hand, they will not give the slightest consideration to the fact that Iran is about to become a nuclear power, in contempt of its international obligations, and so is poised to become the gravest threat to international security in the past 25 years. Moreover, they will pay no attention to the fact that as it sprints toward the nuclear finishing line, the Iranian regime is engaged in a systematic and brutal repression of its political opponents, who since the stolen June 12 presidential election have been clamoring for freedom and democracy.
Both in its treatment of Israel and in its treatment of the Iranian regime, the UN demonstrates that its practices are an inversion of its stated mission. Despite its leaders' and supporters' repeated claims to the contrary, the UN stands shoulder to shoulder with tyrants and aggressors against democrats and democracies seeking to advance the causes of freedom, human rights and international security.
MANY ISRAELIS reacted angrily to the UNHRC's probe of Israel's prosecution of Operation Cast Lead, claiming that its final report presents Israel - a liberal democracy - as the moral equivalent of Hamas - an illegal terrorist organization dedicated to the commission of genocide against Israelis. Yet in their anger, they missed the real problem with the report.
As Prof. Avi Bell from Bar Ilan University law school notes, Richard Goldstone's report does not present Israel and Hamas as moral equivalents. Rather, it presents Israel as terrorist and Hamas as a legitimate government.
The Goldstone Report does not accept as fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization and that consequently, in accordance with binding UN Security Council resolutions, all UN member states are required to work to disband it and give no quarter to its members and supporters. Instead it treats Hamas - which is charter-bound to a policy of genocide against Jews and rose to power through a campaign of murder and intimidation - as the legitimate governing authority in Gaza, which, the report's authors irrationally claim, is simultaneously governed by an Israeli occupation four years after Israel withdrew its civilians and military forces from the area. In the UNHRC's parallel universe, Hamas is the only lawful actor in town. Israel - and the Palestinian Authority under Fatah - are guilty of illegally persecuting Hamas by arresting its members.
Hamas, which is working to establish a terrorist Islamic theocracy in Gaza, is not seen as systematically violating human rights and freedom. Israel is. Since it downplayed the 12,000 rockets, mortars and missiles that Hamas and its terror affiliates in Gaza have shelled southern Israel with during the eight years preceding Operation Cast Lead, the Goldstone Commission was unable to understand the overwhelming popularity the operation enjoyed among the Israeli public. Consequently, their report attributed that public support to Israel's abrogation of the civil liberties of the operation's opponents.
In contrast, the Goldstone Report downplays the importance of Hamas's systematic persecution of women, Christians and its political opponents.
And so it goes. For 575 pages, rather than promote the cause of human rights as one would expect from the UN's Human Rights Council, the Goldstone Report promotes a fiction of Israeli criminality and Hamas victimization. That is, it promotes the cause of human rights abusers against human rights defenders.
Many Israelis have expressed disgust with Goldstone, a South African Jew who purports to "love Israel."
This is a reasonable reaction, for Goldstone indeed disgraced himself by leading this commission. But the fact is that the report would have drawn the same conclusions based on the same lies regardless of who led the commission. By its very nature, the UNHRC is incapable of doing anything else. Like the UN itself, it is a body dominated by dictatorships and supported by leftist elites who love them. Its political agenda, of supporting dictatorships on the one hand and attacking Israel on the other, is indistinguishable from that of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
THEN THERE is Iran. Before he flies to New York for his annual visit, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intends to finish off his political opponents back home.
Friday is Jerusalem Day in Iran. Jerusalem Day is the day the regime organizes mass demonstrations throughout the country calling for Israel's destruction. The regime's democratic opponents, who since the stolen June 12 election have been doggedly maintaining their protests against Ahmadinejad, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the police state they run, are planning to use the day to stage renewed protests. Aware of their intention, Khamenei warned that anyone demonstrating for anything other than Israel's destruction will be severely punished. Reports abound of the regime's plan to use the day to arrest opposition leaders Mir Hossain Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, who both ran against Ahmadinejad in June.
Friday would be a good day to arrest them. After all, now that the US has agreed to hold negotiations with Ahmadinejad's representatives next month about whatever Iran would like to discuss, the Americans have lost any residual leverage they still held over Iran. Today it is Ahmadinejad, not the US or the UN Security Council, who sets the agendas and conditions for meetings. And Ahmadinejad can be certain that in light of this, no one will utter a peep if on the eve of his trip to America, he arrests or even murders his chief political opponents.
In the weeks following the election, before the regime began its crackdown and arrested, killed, tortured and raped thousands of its opponents, many of the demonstrators held signs demanding to know where the UN was. Why, they wished to know, was no one at the UN supporting them in their demands for democracy and human rights? Why was there no international community standing at their side as they sought to bring down the most dangerous regime on earth - a regime that has made genocide a strategic goal and is steadily working to acquire the means to commit genocide through nuclear war even as it murders its own people?
And that's the thing of it. The same UN that appoints a new commission to criminalize Israel seemingly on a weekly basis, has been a major facilitator of Iran's nuclear weapons program.
First, for three years, from 2003 until 2005, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency ignored mountains of evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons and refused to refer the issue to the Security Council. Then, after the IAEA finally referred the issue to it, the Security Council failed to pass anything but the mildest of sanctions against Iran. Worse than doing nothing to prevent Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons, these Security Council sanctions actually facilitated the Iranian program. While passing ineffective sanctions, the council gave the appearance of addressing the issue and so made it impossible for individual states to convince other states to adopt harsher, and perhaps more effective measures - like for instance cutting off trade with Iran or divesting from companies that trade with Iran - outside the Security Council.
DUE TO the UN's unvarnished belligerence toward it, in recent years a consensus has formed in Israel that there is nothing to be gained from cooperating with this openly and dangerously hostile body. Reflecting this consensus, Israel's leaders, from former prime minister Ehud Olmert to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to President Shimon Peres, are united in their condemnation of the Goldstone Report.
For a time during president George W. Bush's first term in office, the US also recognized that the UN and the UN-based international system is irredeemably corrupt. Bush and his senior advisers spoke of the need to build international coalitions of willing governments to advance the causes of international security, human rights and freedom that the UN and its affiliated bodies are inherently incapable of advancing. Although this policy received public support at home, it provoked fierce opposition among the US foreign policy elites in Washington and in the media and among their allies on the political Left.
Due to their criticism, by his second term in office, Bush agreed to give the UN a leading role in dictating US foreign policy. He subordinated American policy to the Security Council on the issue of Iran's nuclear weapons program and cooperated with the UN as it advanced its openly anti-Israel agenda, even increasing US funding of such anti-Israel groups as UNRWA.
Bush's eventual surrender to the establishment set the course for what under President Barack Obama has become a cornerstone of US foreign policy. Unlike Bush, Obama has enthusiastically embraced the notion that the UN should by rights have a leading role in international affairs. He has also accepted the UN's basic notion that in the interest of world peace, the US and its democratic allies should bow to the desires of despots and dictators.
So it is that this week he abandoned US allies Poland and the Czech Republic in his bid to appease Russia. So it is that his administration has sided with ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, who, with the support of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, sought to undermine Honduran democracy against Honduras's lawful government and democratic defenders. So it is that the administration has sided with the genocidal mullahs in Teheran over their democratic opponents. So it is that the administration has adopted the view that Israel is to blame for the absence of peace in the Middle East and embraced as legitimate political actors Palestinian terror groups that refuse to accept Israel's right to exist.
Until Obama came along, Israel could afford not to make too much of the fact that its enemies control the UN-led system of international institutions, because it could trust that the US would use its Security Council veto to prevent these forces from causing it any real harm. This is no longer the case. With the Obama administration fully on board the UN agenda, Israel and other threatened democracies like Honduras, Poland, the Czech Republic, South Korea and Japan will have to loudly proclaim the UN-based international system's inherent moral, political and legal corruption and seek ways to undermine and weaken its power.
By Kathryn Jean Lopez
Monday, September 21, 2009
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is a scandal. Its story has become news lately thanks to some recent BigGovernment.com-sponsored guerrilla journalism. But the problems of ACORN represent a broader and even more scandalous idea: the conventional acceptance of the Left’s self-righteous claim to have a monopoly on all politics, policy, and lifestyles that are good.
ACORN, if you haven’t heard, is a radical organization that devotes itself with laser-like focus and intensity to the maxim that all politics is local. The group supposedly exists to find affordable housing and provide social services for low-income families. But when two undercover, enterprising young people equipped with a hidden camera walked into an ACORN office, posing as an over-the-top pimp and prostitute wanting to establish a brothel dealing in enslaved children from other countries, ACORN employees offered them advice: how to get on welfare; how to cheat the tax system; how to get housing from the government; how to hide the criminal profit (a tin in your backyard, natch).
In the wake of the video, the Senate — with seven notable exceptions — voted to bar new federal funding for ACORN. But beyond the outrageous seven and the video, this is an opportunity for deeper revelations still.
Federally aided counsel to a pimp and prostitute and pervasive allegations of voter fraud aren’t the worst of it. The reaction that has greeted the furor has been the most disturbing facet of the whole sorry affair. There is a place, a time, and a need for getting to the bottom of the whys and hows of social pathologies. But that time is not while watching an organization that gets federal funding offer help with the sex trafficking of children on YouTube. Yet that was the default position of some on the left on this scandal.
ACORN’s chief executive, Bertha Lewis, would eventually surrender to the demand for atonement and issue a statement saying, “We have all been deeply disturbed by what we’ve seen in some of these videos. I must say, on behalf of ACORN’s board and our advisory council, that we will go to whatever lengths necessary to reestablish the public trust.” But that was only after being on adamant defense.
And Lewis wasn’t alone in self-protection mode. When the first video dropped, a blog on National Public Radio’s website excused crimes as part and parcel of the plight of the community organizer: “It’s also important to keep in mind that ACORN’s workers are coming from the same low-income neighborhoods the organization serves, with all that entails — poor schools, high crime, and the sorts of social problems that have been documented for decades.” The post continued: “So the flaws conservatives are pointing out about ACORN are not so much problems associated with that organization per se but more about the problems of being poor and minority in urban America.” Don’t blame them, in other words. They can’t help themselves; they’re poor people.
And herein lies the deeper scandal — it’s not just the denial of what is right in front of your face, it’s denial of a bad mode of operating, of a sickness in policy and philosophy. For as much as the Right is attacked for being dismissive of the poor and most vulnerable, the Left clutches that which continues the plight of government dependence among so many.
ACORN is wedded to stale thinking that all too often makes people dependent and crushes responsibility, creativity, and our very natures. And the Obama administration only plans to continue to increase welfare spending, ensuring that the system that gave birth to ACORN and its inexcusable conduct will continue to thrive.
That NPR item began with the announcement that the “‘ACORN versus conservatives’ contest of wills is beginning to look like some new version of the Cold War with either side claiming the other is evil and vowing to never give in until it prevails.” There’s something to that observation, actually. These tea parties, bestsellers about liberty and tyranny and liberal fascism — they’re about something. They’re about ideas. They’re about preserving that which makes America exceptional.
Monday, September 21, 2009
It is an interesting phenomenon that the response of the left half of our political spectrum to criticism and argument is often to try to shut it down. Thus President Obama in his Sept. 9 speech to a joint session of Congress told us to stop "bickering," as if principled objections to major changes in public policy were just childish obstinacy, and chastised his critics for telling "lies," employing "scare tactics" and playing "games." Unlike his predecessor, he sought to use the prestige of his office to shut criticism down.
Now, no one likes criticism very much, and most politicians would prefer to have their colleagues and constituents meekly and gratefully agree with them on pretty much everything. And yes, Rep. Joe Wilson did seem to have broken the rules and standards of decorum of the House (though not of the British House of Commons) when he shouted, "You lie!" in the middle of Obama's speech.
But none of this justifies the charges, passed off as cool-headed analysis, that Obama's critics are motivated by racism. There are plenty of non-racist reasons to oppose (or to support) the Democrats' health care proposals.
I would submit that the president's call for an end to "bickering" and the charges of racism by some of his supporters are the natural reflex of people who are not used to hearing people disagree with them and who are determined to shut them up.
This comes naturally to liberals educated in our great colleges and universities, so many of which have speech codes whose primary aim is to prevent the expression of certain conservative ideas and which are commonly deployed for that purpose. (For examples, see the Website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which defends students of all political stripes.) Once the haven of free inquiry and expression, academia has become a swamp of stifling political correctness.
Similarly, the "mainstream media" -- the old-line broadcast networks, The New York Times, etc. -- present a politically correct picture of the world. The result is that liberals can live in a cocoon, an America in which seldom is heard a discouraging word. Conservatives, in contrast, find themselves constantly pummeled with liberal criticism, on campus, in news media, and in Hollywood TV and movies. They don't like it, but they've gotten used to it. Liberals aren't used to it and increasingly try to stamp it out.
"Mainstream media" try to help. In the past few weeks, we have seen textbook examples of how MSM have ignored news stories that reflected badly on the administration for which it has such warm feelings. It ignored the videos in which the White House "green jobs czar" proclaimed himself a "communist" and the "truther" petition he signed charging that George W. Bush may have allowed the Sept. 11 attacks.
It ignored the videos released on Andrew Breitbart's biggovernment.com showing ACORN employees offering to help a supposed pimp and prostitute evade taxes and employ 13- to 15-year-old prostitutes. It downplayed last spring's Tea Parties -- locally organized demonstrations against big government that attracted about a million people nationwide -- and downplayed the Tea Party throng at the Capitol and on the Mall Sept. 12.
Actually, "mainstream media" are doing their friends in the Obama administration and the Democratic Party no favors, at least in the long run. Obama comes from one-party Chicago, and the House Democrats' nine top leadership members and committee chairmen come from districts that voted on average 73 percent for Obama last fall. They need help in understanding the larger country they are seeking to govern, where nearly half voted the other way. Instead, they get the impression they can dismiss critics as racist or "Nazis" or as indulging in (as Sen. Harry Reid said) "evil-mongering."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has warned us that there's a danger that intense rhetoric can provoke violence, and no decent person wants to see harm come to our president or other leaders. But it's interesting that the two most violent incidents at this summer's town hall meetings came when a union thug beat up a 65-year-old black conservative in Missouri and when a liberal protester bit off part of a man's finger in California.
These incidents don't justify a conclusion that all liberals are violent. But they are more evidence that American liberals, unused to hearing dissent, have an impulse to shut it down.
Monday, September 21, 2009
The Democrats have lost the health care debate.
For months now, polls have been showing that Americans don't want the massive new government controls, regulations, taxes, and spending that Democrats are pushing.
Latest Gallup polling shows 60 percent saying that President Barack Obama's proposal will not expand health coverage without raising taxes on middle class Americans and without affecting the current quality of health care.
Forty three percent approve of how Obama is handling health care and 52 percent disapprove.
You would be hard pressed to find a Democrat or Republican who does not agree that we can improve how we deliver health care.
So the logical conclusion we'd expect now from well intentioned people would be that we go back to square one. We do what Obama promised but never did -- have a truly open, bi-partisan discussion, with all ideas are on the table, to generate the best possible product for the American people.
Why is this not happening? Because it's not about healthcare. It's about ideology.
Despite claims from our Democrat administration that it wants civility, it does not. It wants control.
This nation is already torn apart ideologically. In the last four month,s we've witnessed two cold-blooded ideologically motivated murders. An abortion doctor shot in a church and a pro-life demonstrator murdered in a drive-by shooting in front of a school.
There are fewer and fewer "self evident truths" about which we all agree.
The current charade to paint ideological differences with our president as racially motivated dangerously pours gasoline on the burning embers of our differences.
But this is what Democrats want. They have lost the health-care debate on substance, so they want to make it emotional. They want to intimidate. And nothing intimidates and polarizes like race.
Months ago they started the process of getting socialized medicine -- taking over one sixth of the American economy -- passed in a few short weeks. The deadlines and breathlessness were because they knew that if Americans got a chance to understand what they were trying to do there would be push back. Exactly what has happened.
When the President spoke recently before the joint session of Congress, he finished by asking that we replace "acrimony with civility." But in this same speech he characterized his opposition as fomenting a "partisan spectacle," of "scare tactics" and of "wild claims about a government takeover of health care."
Our smooth talking President reduced those who disagree with him to a bunch of clowns, incorporated not a single major reform idea coming from the opposition, and then accused Republicans of stifling "honest debate."
Is it any wonder that every freedom loving American is at wits end? And that Congressman Joe Wilson lost it when he yelled out "You lie."
To demonstrate the Obama team's interest in civility, immediately after the speech, Rahm Emanuel, Obama's foul-mouthed, take-no-prisoners chief of staff, "charged over to three Republicans," as reported by the Wall St. Journal, "demanding in a profanity-laced tirade that they force Mr. Wilson to apologize."
Cong. Jim Clyburn, third ranking House Democrat, and black caucus member, took the lead in getting a House vote to formally reprimand Wilson. According to Clyburn, "This is about the rules of the House."
But what rules does Clyburn really care about?
When asked in an interview where the Constitution gives the federal government authority to regulate health care delivery, Clyburn replied, "There's nothing in the Constitution that says that the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do."
Finally an honest Democrat. Clyburn pulled no punches that our Constitution, which is the basis of his authority, is irrelevant to him. That it's all about political thuggery.
Which is why we're now talking about race instead of health care.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Are they agendas for the betterment of America? Or are they agendas for the betterment of the rest of the world?
I’m referring to President Obama’s policy agendas. Despite how much he reasserts that we “must” embrace this or that policy simply because it is “the right thing to do,” it’s becoming increasingly difficult to claim that Obama’s stated plans and intentions advance any sense of American wellbeing.
In this regard, Rush Limbaugh recently articulated what many of us have been thinking on this subject (as he often does). Noting last week that he began this year saying that he hopes Obama fails, Rush went on to say “I’m actually wondering…I’m asking myself…is it maybe that Obama wants America to fail, so he can rebuild it and remake it?”
That’s a legitimate question. With as much as Barack Obama has sought to “change” America, it’s fair to ask “so what’s the real intention here?” Nobody can truly know his internal thoughts and ambitions. But we, the people, can scrutinize the policy agendas. We need to be doing this on an on-going basis.
On the economic front, President Obama repeatedly reminds Americans of the hardship that he faces having “inherited” a $1.3 trillion deficit from the former President. Yet he spent more than half that amount with the so-called “stimulus” bill during his first six weeks as President, and then went on to implement a federal budget that spent about $3.6 trillion more.
Now, of course, he is seeking a government take-over of the medical profession and the healthcare industry. He insists that his approach will provide universal, top-quality health care for every American without imposing health-care rationing, without raising taxes on the middle class, and without adding anything to the national deficit. He has even insisted that nationalizing healthcare is necessary for the nation’s economic health. Yet he has not demonstrated how government will provide a greater quantity of a better quality healthcare service to a greater number of consumers at a lower price. He won’t demonstrate that, because he cannot demonstrate that. It is economic non-reality.
Yet he insists that he is “right.”
On the foreign policy front, it is also difficult to argue that the President is advancing the interests of the United States. Obama campaigned on a promise to repair relationships between the U.S. and the rest of the world, relationships that he claimed President Bush had so horribly damaged. Yet on his economic proposals, alone, foreign governments are reacting with shock and horror to our new President.
China, the largest holder of U.S. federal debt, has repeatedly expressed concern over America’s growing inability to pay its bills, and has suggested that it may be time to switch to a new global currency, and to abandon the American dollar. And Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, addressing the European Union last Spring, described Obama’s approach to the current economic crisis as “a way to hell” and predicted bad things for America’s economic future (could it be that this man who once lived under Communist rule knows something about the problems of ‘big government?”).
Now President Obama has successfully alienated a good bit of Europe, especially the Czech Republic and Poland, by capitulating to Russia’s desires and abandoning a Western European missile shield program. The Obama Administration insists that a different approach to shielding the European nations from potential threats is a “smarter” way to go, and is also betting on Russia responding in-kind with assistance in containing the growing threat of Iran.
Yet the Administration seems tone-deaf on how these latest moves compromise one of the most important strategic relationships that the U.S. has ever known – the supportive transatlantic relationship between our country, and a free Europe. It’s as though the current President of the United States doesn’t understand that Europe fears the resurgence of a dictatorial, thuggish Russia, about as much as we fret over a nuclear Iran.
On these two fronts alone (economic and foreign policy), it is becoming increasingly difficult to argue that President Obama is “strengthening” the United States. Even congressional Democrats are finding it difficult to embrace Obama-styled “change” (hence, his inability to unite his party around nationalized healthcare).
So if Barack Obama is not strengthening America with his execution of the office of President of the United States, what is he doing? Is America remaining in a generally static, “neutral” condition under President Obama’s leadership, or is it being weakened?
I raised this question here in this column last spring. At that time I was treated to outrage, shock, and horror from readers who couldn’t believe that I would even contemplate such a terrible thought about any U.S. President (and, of course, I received the obligatory “racist” accusations as well). Now, nearly nine months into the Obama presidency, the question is begging to be revisited.
It’s no mystery that some liberal Americans believe the U.S. has risen to worldwide prominence by ill-gotten means, and that other countries suffer because we succeed.
Is President Obama one of those liberals?
By Mark Steyn
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Was it only April? There was President Obama, speaking (as is his wont) in Prague, about the Iranian nuclear program and ballistic-missile capability, and saluting America’s plucky allies: “The Czech Republic and Poland have been courageous in agreeing to host a defense against these missiles,” he declared. “As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile-defense system that is cost-effective and proven.”
On Thursday, the administration scrapped its missile-defense plans for Eastern Europe. The “courageous” Czechs and Poles will have to take their chances. Did the “threat from Iran” go away? Not so’s you’d notice. The dawn of the nuclear ayatollahs is perhaps only months away, and, just in case the Zionists or (please, no tittering) the formerly Great Satan is minded to take ’em out, Tehran will shortly be taking delivery of a bunch of S-300 anti-aircraft batteries from (ta-da!) Russia. Fancy that.
Joe Klein, the geostrategic thinker of Time magazine, concluded his analysis thus:
This is just speculation on my part. But I do hope that this anti-missile move has a Russian concession attached to it, perhaps not publicly (just as the US agreement to remove its nuclear missiles from Turkey was not make public during the Cuban Missile Crisis). The Obama Administration's diplomatic strategy is, I believe, wise and comprehensive—but it needs to show more than public concessions over time. A few diplomatic victories wouldn't hurt.Golly. We know, thanks to Jimmy Carter, Joe Klein, and many others, that we critics of President Obama’s health-care policy are by definition racist. Has criticism of Obama’s foreign policy also been deemed racist? Because one can certainly detect the first faint seeds of doubt germinating in dear old Joe’s soon-to-be-racist breast: The Obama administration “needs to show more than public concessions over time” — because otherwise the entire planet may get the vague impression that that’s all there is.
Especially if your preemptive capitulations are as felicitously timed as the missile-defense announcement, stiffing the Poles on the 70th anniversary of their invasion by the Red Army. As for the Czechs, well, dust off your Neville Chamberlain’s Greatest Hits LP: Like he said, they’re a faraway country of which we know little. So who cares? Everything old is new again.
It is interesting to contrast the administration’s “wise” diplomacy abroad with its willingness to go nuclear at home. If you go to a town-hall meeting and express misgivings about the effectiveness of the stimulus, you’re a “racist” “angry” “Nazi” “evilmonger” “right-wing domestic terrorist.” It’s perhaps no surprise that that doesn’t leave a lot left over in the rhetorical arsenal for Putin, Chávez, and Ahmadinejad. But you’ve got to figure that by now the world’s strongmen are getting the measure of the new Washington. Diplomacy used to be, as Canada’s Lester Pearson liked to say, the art of letting the other fellow have your way. Today, it’s more of a discreet cover for letting the other fellow have his way with you. The Europeans “negotiate” with Iran over its nukes for years, and in the end Iran gets the nukes and Europe gets to feel good about itself for having sat across the table talking to no good purpose for the best part of a decade. In Moscow, there was a palpable triumphalism in the news that the Russians had succeeded in letting the Obama fellow have their way. “This is a recognition by the Americans of the rightness of our arguments about the reality of the threat, or rather the lack of one,” said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Duma’s international-affairs committee. “Finally the Americans have agreed with us.”
There’ll be a lot more of that in the years ahead.
There is no discreetly arranged “Russian concession.” Moscow has concluded that a nuclear Iran is in its national interest — especially if the remorseless nuclearization process itself is seen as a testament to Western weakness. Even if the Israelis are driven to bomb the thing to smithereens circa next spring, that too would only emphasize, by implicit comparison, American and European pusillanimity. Any private relief felt in the chancelleries of London and Paris would inevitably license a huge amount of public tut-tutting by this or that foreign minister about the Zionist Entity’s regrettable “disproportion.” The U.S. Defense Secretary is already on record as opposing an Israeli strike. If it happens, every thug state around the globe will understand the subtext — that, aside from a tiny strip of land on the east bank of the Jordan, every other advanced society on earth is content to depend for its security on the kindness of strangers.
Some of them very strange. Kim Jong-Il wouldn’t really let fly at South Korea or Japan, would he? Even if some quasi-Talibanny types wound up sitting on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, they wouldn’t really do anything with them, would they? Okay, Putin can be a bit heavy-handed when dealing with Eastern Europe, and his definition of “Eastern” seems to stretch ever farther west, but he’s not going to be sending the tanks back into Prague and Budapest, is he? I mean, c’mon . . .
Vladimir Putin is no longer president but he is de facto tsar. And he thinks it’s past time to reconstitute the old empire — not formally (yet), but certainly as a sphere of influence from which the Yanks keep their distance. President Obama has just handed the Russians their biggest win since the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Indeed, in some ways it marks the restitching of the Iron Curtain. When the Czechs signed their end of the missile-defense deal in July, they found themselves afflicted by a sudden “technical difficulty” that halved their gas supply from Russia. The Europe Putin foresees will be one not only ever more energy-dependent on Moscow but security-dependent, too — in which every city is within range of missiles from Tehran and other crazies, and is in effect under the security umbrella of the new tsar. As to whether such a Continent will be amicable to American interests, well, good luck with that, hopeychangers.
In a sense, the health-care debate and the foreign-policy debacle are two sides of the same coin: For Britain and other great powers, the decision to build a hugely expensive welfare state at home entailed inevitably a long retreat from responsibilities abroad, with a thousand small betrayals of peripheral allies along the way. A few years ago, the great scholar Bernard Lewis warned, during the debate on withdrawal from Iraq, that America risked being seen as “harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.” In Moscow and Tehran, on one hand, and Warsaw and Prague, on the other, they’re drawing their own conclusions.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Smart people should rule the world.
That, anyway, is what certain folks who consider themselves far smarter than you or me tend to think. These clever souls hang out with other brainy people, all of whom are very impressed with the intelligence they find around themselves — at places, say, like the Northwest Progressive Institute.
Yes, for the good of everyone, they must rule.
Without such leadership, after all, how would the little people — those of us less brilliant, less progressive — know precisely how much revenue, how much of “our common wealth,” should be obtained by state government through taxes and then spent on various programs?
You ask: What programs? Programs these really smart people think up, of course.
But, if you live in Washington state and favor the work of the “strategy center,” The Northwest Progressive Institute, you have a problem. A roadblock. A hurdle. A very large brick wall.
His name is Tim Eyman.
Mr. Eyman is the state’s “initiative king,” meaning there are necessarily millions of accessories to his evil plots: Washington voters.
Eyman, along with several hundred thousand of these voters signing petitions, placed Initiative 1033 on the ballot . . . to be decided, in roughly six weeks, by the state’s unwashed masses. The measure, if passed, would cap the year-to-year growth of state spending to the growth of population and inflation, allowing the caps to be overridden only with express approval from these same plebes.
But this democracy idea doesn’t sit so well with Andrew Villeneuve, who tells us on the Northwest Progressive Institute’s blog that “I-1033 is the boldest assault yet in Tim Eyman’s war on representative democracy.”
Villeneuve believes permitting mere citizens to occasionally vote directly on taxes and spending, on economic policies, is somehow illegitimate — and destructive of the delicate brain surgery done by legislatures.
Oh, he freely admits that the first Americans to raise the banner of Progressivism brought us initiative, referendum and recall. But many of today’s self-described progressives now say “thanks, but no thanks” to the idea of empowering the actual people on the receiving and funding ends of government.
The little guy has apparently outworn his welcome.
Everyman (or -woman) might not vote the right way — that is, the “left” way. Thus, all decisions must be made by special-interest barnacled politicians. Otherwise, disaster lurks.
“If all public services were dependent on voter approval to exist year to year, Washington would not even be a State,” claims the hyperbolic Villeneuve. “Our beautiful corner of America would be known as The Evergreen Chaos.”
Such Chicken Little statements have little to do with the reality of Eyman’s proposal. I-1033 will not require any program to be re-upped by voters yearly.
More troubling, though, is Mr. Villeneuve complete lack of faith in the voters.
Villeneuve is mistaken on the merits of I-1033, but he is dangerously unbalanced in arguing against the right of the people to check the actions of their government through initiative and referendum.
“The initiative and referendum were not intended to replace the Legislature,” he says. But of course, legislators aren’t being replaced, merely overruled. By their bosses.
James Madison, an authority on republican values at least on par with Mr. Villeneuve, wrote in Federalist 49:
As the people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived, it seems strictly consonant to the republican theory to recur to the same original authority . . .
In his online rant, Villeneuve turns to a different source: “Even those who argue that representative democracy is flawed cannot disagree with Winston Churchill’s famous conclusion that it ’is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.’”
Funny how Villeneuve edited Churchill. Britain’s prime minister did not use the term “representative democracy” at all. He actually said, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
In 1944, Churchill also said this about the lowly voter: “At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper — no amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of that point.”
Villeneuve’s last refuge is to denounce the entire concept of voter initiatives for one additional reason. “Every time we the people of Washington State are forced to vote on Tim Eyman’s measures, it costs each of us a pretty penny,” he writes. “Eyman seems to have forgotten that holding elections — like every other public service the government provides — carry a price tag.”
Oh, sure, democracy is nice and all, but it costs too much. Perhaps a king would be cheaper?
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
When Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, some suggested that race played a factor in his success. People "wanted" to elect a black man president because of our history of slavery and the denial of civil rights for so many years to African-Americans. It is never "racism" to vote for someone because he is black. It is only racism to oppose the policies of a black Democrat.
As the president's approval ratings fall and rise and fall again, some of his supporters in journalism and politics are returning to days of old when the label "racist" could end any discussion and force the accused either into stunned silence, or groveling repentance. I suspect the tactic won't work this time because Obama supporters will have difficulty explaining how a mostly white country could elect a black man president last November and ten months later become a racist majority.
Racism has always been a one-way street for the Left. When Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court, some liberals called him a "handkerchief head negro" and an "Uncle Tom." According to liberal doctrine, black people can never be racist because they are members of a victim class created by white liberals as a kind of modern plantation to keep blacks voting for liberal Democrats.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, African-American like President Obama, grew up in Birmingham, Ala., at the time of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing by members of the Ku Klux Klan, which killed some of her friends. She has more "street cred" than others who claim to have it, but she got no points from liberal Democrats when she ascended the ladder of power and influence. It was the same with Colin Powell. The Left strongly criticized Powell for adding credibility to the claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction thereby winning U.N. approval to use force, if necessary, against the Iraqi dictator. Were those who opposed Powell racist? Using the formulation now being applied to President Obama that opposition to any of his policies -- from health care, to record amounts of debt -- constitutes racism, they were.
The polar opposite case could be made that, despite his race, President Obama is being treated just like any other politician, which proves he's being treated equally. He is getting the same heat every president gets, sooner or later. The president's race would be a factor only if Americans shied away from criticizing him because of it. That they are not is a triumph of Martin Luther King Jr.'s hope that people be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Some opinion polls show that Obama's character is being judged and found wanting by a rapidly growing number of Americans, at least a small percentage of whom are black.
With Democrats controlling all three branches of government, including significantly wide margins in Congress, isn't there a better explanation than racism for why the president is having difficulty with some of his proposals? If racism is the cause of his difficulties, there must be many congressional Democrats who are racists, because they have the power to enact the president's agenda, but some are reluctant to do so.
The Pew Research Center has noted a 10 percent drop in Obama's approval ratings, which includes a 3 percent decline among blacks. As black conservative columnist Star Parker has written, "If we assume this reflects the 16 million blacks who voted for Obama last November, a three-point shift means there are about a half-million blacks who now have buyer's remorse." Are these black Obama voters racist?
There is a better explanation for the growing opposition to President Obama. It has less to do with his ethnicity than it does his credibility. Character, after all, is colorless.