Matthew Vadum writes:
President Obama’s new “green jobs” czar Van Jones, an avowed militant communist, had been on the board of the pressure group Apollo Alliance, which aspires to flatten the U.S. economy by having government fund “green jobs” scams, according to the “Glenn Beck Program” earlier this week.
Even worse, the group, which has ties to ACORN, SEIU, and Center for American Progress president John Podesta, has significant pull in Congress and helped to write the stimulus bill.
The Apollo Alliance “is designed to bring together the elements of organized labor with the community organizers with the green groups, the environmental groups, and to access all of the big foundation money that’s been supportive of those causes in the past,” explained Phil Kerpen, director of policy for Americans for Prosperity.
Jones described the group’s “mission as sort of a grand unified field theory for progressive left causes; it ties all these things together,” Kerpen said. He added:
“They really admire the Apollo mission, the moon-shot mission, and they think that we need a similar centrally-planned, organized massive mobilization to reorder society and take control of energy and their various other objectives. They admire that and they want it like a moon shot.”
Apollo Alliance was co-founded by Campaign for America’s Future, the George Soros-funded organization that supports an ever-expanding welfare state.
Beck asked if Wade Rathke, the disgraced founder of ACORN who was expelled by the radical left-wing group last year for covering up his brother’s embezzlement of nearly $1 million in ACORN funds, had been a member of the Apollo Alliance’s board.
Kerpen responded, “Yes. He’s on — he was until this year on the board of the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center, which are the parent organizations that host the Apollo Alliance.”
Jennifer Rubin writes:
Mary Robinson, U.N. Commissioner and former president of Ireland, is being awarded the Medal of Freedom by Obama. Well, isn’t that just dandy. Who is Mary Robinson? You may remember her role in presiding over the infamous Durban I Conference. At the time she joined Rashid Khalidi at Columbia University (no, you can’t make this up), this report summarized the objections to her hiring, given her record in overseeing the infamous Israel-bashing event:
Columbia has “become a hotbed of anti-Israel haters,” said the president of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton Klein. “It’s especially astonishing that a school with such a large Jewish population would insult Jewish people by hiring these haters of the Jewish state of Israel.”
The groups also blame Ms. Robinson for allowing the Durban conference to become a global platform for anti-Israel venting. Ms. Robinson, as the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, rejected many American demands to remove anti-Israel language from final conference documents.
“Under Mary Robinson’s leadership the Human Rights Commission was one-sided and extremist. In her tenure at the HRC, she lacked fairness in her approach to the Israeli/Palestinian issue,” said the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, James Tisch. “I am hopeful — for the sake of her students and the reputation of Columbia — that as she enters the world of academia she will demonstrate more balance in her views.”
Recently deceased congressman and human-rights champion Tom Lantos had this to say:
Mary Robinson’s lack of leadership was a major contributing factor to the debacle in Durban. Her yearning to have a “dialogue among civilizations” blinded her to the reality that the noble goals of her conference had been usurped by some of the world’s least tolerant and most repressive states, wielding human rights claims as a weapon in a political dispute.
But Durban was not the only blot on her record. As Michael Rubin pointed out in this 2002 column, in her capacity as president of Ireland, she also happily provided millions of dollars of support to the PLO, which were used in terror attacks:
During the last four years of Robinson’s tenure, the European Union donated large sums of money to the Palestinian Authority. Ireland even held the presidency of the European Union for the second half of 1996. During this time, Arafat siphoned large amounts of European aid money away to pay for terror. Robinson can plead ignorance, but documents seized during the recent Israeli incursion into the West Bank revealed that the Palestinian Authority spent approximately $9 million of European Union aid money each month on the salaries of those organizing terror attacks against civilians. While European officials like Robinson looked the other way, the Palestinian Authority regularly converted millions of dollars of aid money into shekels at rates about 20 percent below normal, allowing the Palestinian chairman to divert millions of dollars worth of aid into his personal slush fund.
And then in her post-Durban career, she proceeded on the same Israel-bashing course that has made her infamous among supporters of Israel:
Robinson’s post-Durban record is little better. On April 15, Robinson’s commission voted on a decision that condoned suicide bombings as a legitimate means to establish Palestinian statehood (six European Union members voted in favor including, not surprisingly, France and Belgium). The vote came after Robinson initiated a drive to become a fact finder to investigate the now-famous massacre in Jenin (also known as “the massacre that never happened”).
There are no words to describe how atrocious a selection this is. But it does speak volumes about the president’s sympathies. And now, will the same voices that condemned her appointment to Columbia step forward? We hope. Somewhere, Tom Lantos is weeping.
Jennifer Rubin writes at Commentary’s ‘contentions’ website:
Hillary Clinton insists with great bluster that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is “futile.” What’s missing? Well, a coherent plan for denying Iran nuclear weapons.
One is left with two possible interpretations. One may be that despite denials to the contrary that he is living in a diplomatic fantasyland, Obama is convinced of his own powers of persuasion and believes the Iranian mullahs will fall under his spell and give up their nuclear weapons. After all, we are setting such a good example by proposing all sorts of disarmament agreements; the mullahs would be foolish not to go along, right? This supposes the administration is stocked with fools who are oblivious to the nature of the Iranian regime. Possibly.
The other alternative is that Clinton knows Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is futile because eventually Israel will “take care of it.” This is actually a less charitable explanation than the “they are foolish” option. It supposes a level of timidity, an unwillingness to assume American responsibilities, and a level of deceit. Having bashed Israel for six months and declared that no country has the right to tell another whether it can pursue nuclear power, Obama and his team now are banking on Israel to do their dirty work. They will complain after the fact, of course. Is this possible? Well, unless you think Obama and his team are fools, it is the only explanation.
In our view, the administration is stocked with fools and lying cowards. But there is a third possible explanation: While Obama is against America being nuclear armed, he is not against iran being nuclear armed, nor against Israel being wiped off the map. Nothing he has said or done contradicts these propositions.
Ralph Peters writes in Front Page Magazine:
Clinton test-marketed the administration’s willingness to accept a nuclear-armed Iran. Instead of trying to prevent Tehran’s acquisition of such weapons, she told our regional allies (real or imagined) that we’d respond by extending a “defense umbrella” to negate the effects of Iranian nukes.
Except that it wouldn’t. What good would such a defense umbrella be to Israel after its destruction?
And one suspects that, with Tel Aviv a wasteland, “cooler heads would prevail” and there would be no response in kind, that we’d all just “deplore” what happened and hold conferences to insure it “never happens again.”
Apart from its bewildering reluctance to try to understand Iran’s leaders on their own terms, this administration clearly doesn’t grasp the dynamics of nuclear proliferation among rogue regimes.
When one more bad actor gets nukes, the increase in the threat of nuclear war isn’t plus-one-more, but exponential. While I doubt that the majority of Iranians want to risk launching nuclear weapons at Israel, wars aren’t unleashed by the masses, but by determined leaders. And for all its other weaknesses, Iran has tough guys at the top: After all, ruthlessness is what’s kept them in power for 30 years.
Our government’s shift from the position that a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to the stance that a nuclear-armed Iran can be handily deterred could prove to be the most dangerous error the United States ever made in the Middle East — a high standard, indeed.
Our president is good at sending signals — not least, when he sends the wrong ones. When he spent several days in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, lavishing praise on Islam and slyly comparing Palestinian misfortunes with the Holocaust, he sent one signal.
When he sent Secretary Gates to calm down those troublesome Israelis, he sent another.
This administration must stop living in a fantasy world in which monstrous fanatics will do what we want because we’re suddenly nice to them. You don’t deter butchers who believe they’re on a mission from their god by complimenting them on their rich history.
The only hope — albeit a slim one — for peace in the Middle East is to make it clear that our support for Israel is steadfast and unwavering, that Israel will endure and its enemies must accept its existence.
The current rift between the Israeli government and the Obama administration isn’t about expanding settlements in the West Bank. It’s about declining courage in the West.
Or is it about Barack Hussein Obama’s visceral hatred of Israel and love of Islam?
The great essayist (and physician) Theodore Dalrymple writes in the Wall Street Journal:
If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it. Inevitably, that “someone” is the government. Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion.
People sometimes argue in favor of a universal human right to health care by saying that health care is different from all other human goods or products. It is supposedly an important precondition of life itself. This is wrong: There are several other, much more important preconditions of human existence, such as food, shelter and clothing.
Everyone agrees that hunger is a bad thing (as is overeating), but few suppose there is a right to a healthy, balanced diet, or that if there was, the federal government would be the best at providing and distributing it to each and every American.
Where does the right to health care come from? Did it exist in, say, 250 B.C., or in A.D. 1750? If it did, how was it that our ancestors, who were no less intelligent than we, failed completely to notice it?
If, on the other hand, the right to health care did not exist in those benighted days, how did it come into existence, and how did we come to recognize it once it did?
When the supposed right to health care is widely recognized, as in the United Kingdom, it tends to reduce moral imagination. Whenever I deny the existence of a right to health care to a Briton who asserts it, he replies, “So you think it is all right for people to be left to die in the street?”
When I then ask my interlocutor whether he can think of any reason why people should not be left to die in the street, other than that they have a right to health care, he is generally reduced to silence. He cannot think of one.
Moreover, the right to grant is also the right to deny. And in times of economic stringency, when the first call on public expenditure is the payment of the salaries and pensions of health-care staff, we can rely with absolute confidence on the capacity of government sophists to find good reasons for doing bad things.
The question of health care is not one of rights but of how best in practice to organize it. America is certainly not a perfect model in this regard. But neither is Britain, where a universal right to health care has been recognized longest in the Western world.
Not coincidentally, the U.K. is by far the most unpleasant country in which to be ill in the Western world. Even Greeks living in Britain return home for medical treatment if they are physically able to do so.
The government-run health-care system—which in the U.K. is believed to be the necessary institutional corollary to an inalienable right to health care—has pauperized the entire population. This is not to say that in every last case the treatment is bad: A pauper may be well or badly treated, according to the inclination, temperament and abilities of those providing the treatment. But a pauper must accept what he is given.
Universality is closely allied as an ideal, ideologically, to that of equality. But equality is not desirable in itself. To provide everyone with the same bad quality of care would satisfy the demand for equality. (Not coincidentally, British survival rates for cancer and heart disease are much below those of other European countries, where patients need to make at least some payment for their care.)
In any case, the universality of government health care in pursuance of the abstract right to it in Britain has not ensured equality. After 60 years of universal health care, free at the point of usage and funded by taxation, inequalities between the richest and poorest sections of the population have not been reduced. But Britain does have the dirtiest, most broken-down hospitals in Europe.
There is no right to health care—any more than there is a right to chicken Kiev every second Thursday of the month.
Getting it right and making us laugh again, here is Mark Steyn on nationalizing health care:
Health care is a game-changer. The permanent game-changer. The pendulum will swing, and one day, despite their best efforts, the Republicans will return to power, and, in the right circumstances, the bailouts and cap-&-trade and Government Motors and much of the rest can be reversed. But the government annexation of health care will prove impossible to roll back. It alters the relationship between the citizen and the state and, once that transformation is effected, you can click your ruby slippers all you want but you’ll never get back to Kansas…
Government-directed health care is a profound assault on the concept of citizenship. It deforms national politics very quickly, and ensures that henceforth elections are always fought on the left’s terms. I find it hard to believe President Obama and his chums haven’t looked at Canada and Europe and concluded that health care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture. He doesn’t say that, of course. He says his objective is to “control costs”. Which is the one thing that won’t happen. Even now, health care costs rise far faster under Medicare than in the private sector.
By the way, to accept that argument is to concede a lot of the turf: Why is the cost of my health care Barack Obama’s business? When he mused recently as to whether his dying grandmother had really needed her hip replacement, he gave the game away: Right now, if Gran’ma decides she doesn’t need the hip, that’s her business. Under a government system, it’s the state’s business – and they have to “allocate” “resources”, and frankly at your age your body’s not worth allocating to. Why give you a new hip when you’re getting up there and you’re gonna be kicking the bucket in a year or two or five or twenty?…
Please do yourself the favor of reading the whole thing here.
Mark Steyn writes in ‘the corner’ of the National Review Online:
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades are “very upset” about Sacha Baron Cohen’s new film Bruno, and have issued a statement attacking it:
“We reserve the right to respond in the way we find suitable against this man,” it said. “The movie was part of a conspiracy against the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades…”
The group is alleged to be responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and shootings. It has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States. Baron Cohen’s Austrian character ridicules the Martyrs’ Brigades when he attempts to get himself kidnapped during a meeting with Ayman Abu Aita, who is identified in the film as the leader of the organisation.
Oddly enough, for a guy who heads an organization of martyrs, Mr Abu Aita is complaining that Bruno has endangered his life:
Mr Abu Aita’s lawyer, Hatem Abu Ahmad, said that he is preparing a legal action against Baron Cohen and Universal Studios alleging that the Martyrs’ Brigade reference could get his client in trouble with the Israelis and the homosexual association could get him killed by the Palestinians.
Can’t wait till that winds up in front of our new empathetic Supreme Court: Isn’t it Islamophobic to characterize Palestinians as homophobic?
Sarah Palin does not have the gift of the gab. She is not glib. It was to a large extent Obama’s glibness that got him elected. But what Palin has that Obama doesn’t are policies based on sound principles well worth carrying out, and the competence to do so. She knows how to value and use freedom, and she is honest, decent, and efficient. These are qualities of gold. Obama has none of them.
The speech she made last Sunday when she stepped down as governor of Alaska was not well crafted. It probably sent no thrills up anybody’s leg. She struck no poses. She did not give the impression of being ‘above it all’. (The Huffington Post sneered at it.) But it testified to her strong character, her bold vision, and her solid achievements.
She listed the promises she’d made – and fulfilled: ethics reform; a fair return for Alaskans on the exploitation of their natural resources; protection of the environment; increased funding for, and improvements in education, including better opportunities for special needs students; managing fish and wildlife for abundance; producing energy solutions, getting a natural gas pipeline underway; and defending the constitution. She was able to report in truth to Alaskans, ‘WHAT I PROMISED, WE ACCOMPLISHED.’ (Notice the ‘we’ – she gives credit to the many who helped her achievement.)
She went on:
So much success! And Alaska there is much good in store further down the road, but to reach it we must value and live the optimistic pioneering spirit that made this state proud and free. We can resist enslavement to big central government that crushes hope and opportunity. Be wary of accepting government largesse. It doesn’t come free , and often accepting it takes away everything that is free. Melting into Washington’s powerful “care-taking” arms will just suck incentive to work hard and chart our own course right out of us, and that not only contributes to an unstable economy and dizzying national debt, but it does make us less free.
I resisted the stimulus package. I resisted the stimulus package and we have championed earmark reform, slashing earmark requests by 85% to break the cycle of dependency on a stifling, unsustainable federal agenda, and other states should follow this for their and for America’s stability. We don’t have to feel that we must beg an allowance from Washington, except to beg the allowance to be self-determined. See, to be self-sufficient, Alaska must be allowed to develop – to drill and build and climb, to fulfill statehood’s promise. At statehood we knew this. At statehood we knew this, that we are responsible for ourselves and our families and our future, and fifty years later, please let’s not start believing that government is the answer. It can’t make you happy or healthy or wealthy or wise. What can? It is the wisdom of the people and our families and our small businesses, and industrious individuals …
Alaskans will remember that years ago, remember we sported the old bumper sticker that said, “Alaska. We Don’t Give a Darn How They Do It Outside?” Do you remember that? I remember that, and remember it was because we would be different. We’d roll up our sleeves, and we would diligently sow and reap, and we can still do this to carve wealth out of the wilderness and make our living on the water, with strong hands and innovative minds, and now with smarter technology. It is what our first people and our parents did. It worked, because they worked. We must be prudent and persistent and press for the people’s right to responsibly develop God-given resources for the maximum benefit of the people.
And we have come so far in just 50 years. We’re no longer a frontier outpost on the periphery of the world’s greatest nation. Now, as a contributor and a securer of America, we can attain our destiny in the promise of our motto “North to the Future.” See, the pressing issue of our time, it’s energy independence, because there is an inherent link between energy and security, and energy and prosperity. Alaska will lead with energy, we will prove you can be both pro-development and pro-environment, because no one loves their clean air and their land and their wildlife and their water more than an Alaskan. We will protect it.
Yes, America must look north to the future for security, for energy independence, for our strategic location on the globe. Alaska is the gate-keeper of the continent…
We don’t agree that the resources are ‘God-given’, but we know what she means: they are there freely to be used.
She vowed ‘to fight harder for what is right’. She never felt, she said, that it was necessary to have a title to do that.
True, she needs to learn more about foreign affairs (as do Obama and Hillary Clinton). And she needs a good speech writer. But these are lacks that can be supplied. She already has what is essential for a great political leader – vision, confidence, competence, integrity, an ability to inspire others, and a profound understanding of what has made America the greatest and freest nation, along with the determination to keep it so. And that means she could be a worthy candidate for the presidency.
Jillian Becker July 28, 2009
Thomas Sowell writes against the notion that Obama is a ‘post-racial’ president:
For “community organizers” … racial resentments are a stock in trade. President Obama’s background as a community organizer has received far too little attention, though it should have been a high-alert warning that this was no post-racial figure.
What does a community organizer do? What he does not do is organize a community. What he organizes are the resentments and paranoia within a community, directing those feelings against other communities, from whom either benefits or revenge are to be gotten, using whatever rhetoric or tactics will accomplish that purpose.
To think that someone who has spent years promoting grievance and polarization was going to bring us all together as president is a triumph of wishful thinking over reality.
David Solway writes:
I will say this bluntly and without equivocation. Obama is a disaster of the first magnitude, bowing to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, smiling benignly on Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and cuddling up to Dimitry Medvedev—and by extension Vladimir Putin—of neo-Soviet Russia. He still maintains a flaccid negotiating stance toward an oppressive Iranian regime repudiated by its own people and rapidly closing in on nuclear capability. He would no doubt parley amiably with Hu Jintao of communist China should it launch an invasion of Taiwan, another small democratic nation in approximately the same “straits” as Israeland Honduras.
No less and perhaps even more frightening is Obama’s now undeniable intentions vis à vis his own country, imposing his own brand of demagogic politics upon the people he ostensibly represents. Unimaginable budgetary deficits, fiscally unsustainable policies, redistribution of honestly come by income, severe cutbacks in defence, bills hastily rammed through Congress affecting an entire population, soaring unemployment, opacity rather than transparency in the decision-making process, rule by charisma and fiat, the spectre of restrictions on freedom of expression—these are Obama’s gifts to his country. The new direction which American foreign policy has taken, alienating its democratic allies and mollifying tyrannical and illicit governments, renders the U.S. even more vulnerable to what we might call the expropriation of its destiny. Its enemies will not hesitate to seize the opportunity when it presents itself to undermine American interests and security.
“We are living at the edge of a catastrophe,” warned Newt Gingrich, addressing the Heritage Foundation onJuly 20, 2009. Whatever one may think of Gingrich, he is speaking truth to power, and truth to the powerless as well. Gingrich is concerned about the prospect of a massive terorist attack for which Americais manifestly unprepared, but the attack of its own administration on the nation’s traditional liberties and endangered solvency is equally menacing. This is the calendar of events envisaged by the international Left whose program, however improbably, has now taken root in the United States, the presumed bastion of freedom in the world. The enemy is within the gates and the outlook for the future is perturbing, to say the least. But there is a certain ironic justice at work. What Israel and Honduras are now discovering, America too will learn in the course of time.
I do not fear Abbas, Zelaya, Putin, Chavez or the rest of that disreputable bunch. I am alarmed when I consider Ahmadinejad and Khamenei. But I am scared to death of Obama.
How was it possible that some of us could see clearly that the election of Obama would be disastrous, yet a majority of voters could not see it at all?