The prime lesson of the last 100 years for political leaders and heads of government is: if you go left you will take your country to economic failure.
It is a lesson that President Obama either has not learnt, or has learnt well and wants just that result.
At his second inauguration (painful words!), “the apostle of the ever-expanding state” delivered “an ode to collectivity”. So Charles Krauthammer writes.
The media herd is stunned to discover that Barack Obama is a man of the left. After 699 teleprompted presidential speeches, the commentariat was apparently still oblivious. Until Monday’s inaugural address, that is.
Where has everyone been these four years? The only surprise is that Obama chose his second inaugural, generally an occasion for “malice toward none” ecumenism, to unveil so uncompromising a left-liberal manifesto.
But the substance was no surprise.
After all, Obama had unveiled his transformational agenda in his very first address to Congress, four years ago. It was, I wrote at the time, “the boldest social democratic manifesto ever issued by a U.S. president.”
Nor was it mere talk. Obama went on to essentially nationalize health care, 18% of the U.S. economy — after passing an $833 billion stimulus that precipitated an unprecedented expansion of government spending.
Washington now spends 24% of GDP, fully one-fifth higher than the postwar norm of 20%.
Obama’s ambitions were derailed by the 2010 midterm shellacking that cost him the House. But now that he’s won again, the revolution is back, as announced in Monday’s inaugural address.
It was a paean to big government. At its heart was Obama’s pledge to (1) defend unyieldingly the 20th century welfare state and (2) expand it unrelentingly for the 21st.
The first part of that agenda — clinging zealously to the increasingly obsolete structures of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — is the very definition of reactionary liberalism.
Social Security was created when life expectancy was 62. Medicare was created when modern medical technology was in its infancy. Today’s radically different demographics and technology have rendered these programs, as structured, unsustainable. Everyone knows that without reform they’ll swallow up the rest of the budget.
As for the second part — enlargement — Obama had already begun that in his first term with ObamaCare.
Monday’s address reinstated yet another grand Obama project — healing the planet. It promised a state-created green energy sector, massively subsidized (even as the state’s regulatory apparatus squeezes fossil fuels, killing coal today, shale gas tomorrow).
The playbook is well known. As Czech President (and economist) Vaclav Klaus once explained, environmentalism is the successor to failed socialism as justification for all-pervasive rule by a politburo of experts. Only now, it acts in the name of not the proletariat but the planet.
Monday’s address also served to disabuse the fantasists of any Obama interest in fiscal reform or debt reduction. This speech was spectacularly devoid of any acknowledgment of the central threat to the postindustrial democracies (as already seen in Europe) — the crisis of an increasingly insolvent entitlement state.
On the contrary. Obama is the apostle of the ever-expanding state. His speech was an ode to the collectivity. …
For Obama, nothing lies between citizen and state. It is a desert, within which the isolated citizen finds protection only in the shadow of Leviathan.
Put another way, this speech is the perfect homily for the marriage of Julia — the Obama campaign’s atomized citizen, coddled from cradle to grave — and the state.
In the eye of history, Obama’s second inaugural is a direct response to Ronald Reagan’s first. On Jan. 20, 1981, Reagan had proclaimed: “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”
And then he succeeded in bending the national consensus to his ideology — as confirmed 15 years later when the next Democratic president declared, “The era of big government is over.”
So said Bill Clinton, who then proceeded to abolish welfare. Obama is no Clinton. He doesn’t abolish entitlements; he keeps old ones and creates new ones to pursue a vision of a more just social order where fighting inequality and leveling social differences are government’s great task.
Obama said in 2008 that Reagan “changed the trajectory of America” in a way that Clinton did not.
He meant that Reagan had transformed the political zeitgeist, while Clinton accepted and validated the new Reaganite norm.
Not Obama. His mission is to redeem and resurrect the 50-year pre-Reagan liberal ascendancy.
And take it as far left as he possibly can. To mold a poorer, more subservient, more weakly defended, mediocre America under dictatorial government.
How far will Americans let him take them in that direction?
Obama may be wrecking the Republican Party, but is he also, in the process, wrecking the economy and so his own legacy?
We think his legacy is already a wreck, and that he being what he is, it couldn’t possibly be anything else. But here is Charles Krauthammer’s view of Obama’s present maneuvers on the edge of the “fiscal cliff”. He thinks that Obama’s aim has long been to use the “fiscal cliff” controversy as a means to wreck the Republican Party, and that he has succeeded.
This quotation is from a transcript in the Daily Caller of an interview with the witty, well-informed, perceptive writer on Fox News.
It’s been very clear from the beginning that [Obama] had no intention to solve the fiscal issues. He’s been using this, and I must say with great skill and ruthless skill and success, to fracture and basically shatter the Republican opposition. The only … redoubt of the opposition is the House. And his objective from the very beginning was to break the will of the Republicans in the House and to create an internal civil war, and he’s done that. How did he do it? By always insisting from day one after the election that Republicans had to raise rates. There’s no reason at all to get the revenue that he needed and that the speaker was offering him that you had to raise rates.
Obama himself … said … you can get $1.2 trillion by eliminating loopholes, which is exactly what Republicans offered him. … So why did he insist on the rates? He said that is what he will insist upon, and that was the ultimatum. He did that because he knew it would create a crisis among the Republicans, and it did. So right up until now Obama has what he wanted, which was a partisan, political success. He’s been less worried about the fiscal issue for two reasons. Number one, he does not care about debt. He hasn’t in the four years. And number two, he thinks he’s a political winner if we go over the cliff. He thinks he’s holding all the cards.
But it is only a temporary success.
I have argued from the beginning that Republicans should hold out, that they had more strength than they thought. That Obama wasn’t holding all the cards. I think he has the advantage obviously because Republicans … are the ones who will take the blame. But nonetheless, the larger issue, if you are Obama, is not who is popular and who is not, he’s won his last election. That doesn’t matter anymore. What Obama does care about — should care about and does care about is his legacy. If you go over the cliff he may get a bump temporarily and the Republicans will take a hit, but his legacy will be his second term. And if he wrecks the economy, as he would, by not being able to remedy the consequences of going over the cliff, then he’s going to have a failed second term and … history will remember him as a failed president.
Now, what he probably thinks, if he can go over the cliff, the Republicans will take a hit, he will have public opinion behind him. … And then he can undo the damage one issue at a time by getting a reduction by a return of the majority of the Bush tax rates, standing unemployment, whatever else he wants to do he can get that one piece of legislation at a time so that he won’t suffer the consequence of a second recession of nine percent unemployment. So I think that’s his calculation. But I do think that he’s putting a lot in jeopardy. If we go over the cliff, it’s going to be a very shaky response probably from Wall Street. Consumer confidence is going to be hit. He could be damaged more economically, and the country would [be more damaged], than I think he imagines. So I think he could be overplaying his hand. I think he’s been doing that in terms of the fiscal issue. …
I think the Republicans will surely have a much stronger hand, assuming we go over the cliff … because Obama then has to worry about the debt ceiling. Now with bravado he says that’s a game I won’t play. He has to play. He’s the president. He’s responsible for the full faith and credit of the United States. And he’s got Republicans in charge of the House. That’s the will of the people. That’s the result of an election, and they have a mandate as much as he does. He can’t walk away and say I’m not interested in negotiating. He’ll have to. He may not like it, but he’ll have to. That’s where the Republicans I think [have] the stronger hand. … We will really hit the wall on the debt ceiling probably the end of February, beginning of March … and that’s when I think they will have the upper hand, or at least an equal hand.
So - unlike Humpty Dumpty – the fractured and shattered Republican Party can be put together again? How pleased should we be if it is, we wonder.
Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust
Die eine will sich von der andern trennen
(Two souls, alas, dwell in my breast
The one would sever itself from the other)
- Goethe: Faust I.
We deplore the ruling of the Supreme Court, issued yesterday, that upholds Obamacare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).
Why did Chief Justice Roberts, whose vote decided whether the tyrannous law should stand or fall, vote to let it stand?
A plausible – but not consoling – explanation is offered by Charles Krauthammer.
Chief Justice John Roberts joins the liberal wing of the Supreme Court and upholds the constitutionality of ObamaCare. How? By pulling off one of the great constitutional finesses of all time.
He managed to uphold the central conservative argument against ObamaCare, while at the same time finding a narrow definitional dodge to uphold the law — and thus prevented the court from being seen as having overturned, presumably on political grounds, the signature legislation of this administration.
Why did he do it? Because he carries two identities.
Jurisprudentially, he is a constitutional conservative.
Institutionally, he is chief justice and sees himself as uniquely entrusted with the custodianship of the court’s legitimacy, reputation and stature.
As a conservative, he is as appalled as his conservative colleagues by the administration’s central argument that ObamaCare’s individual mandate is a proper exercise of its authority to regulate commerce. That makes congressional power effectively unlimited. Mr. Jones is not a purchaser of health insurance. Mr. Jones has therefore manifestly not entered into any commerce. Yet Congress tells him he must buy health insurance — on the grounds that it is regulating commerce. If government can do that under the Commerce Clause, what can it not do?
But now government can do it not under the Commerce Clause, thanks to the ruling. Mr. Jones can be ordered to do anything, and be fined if he doesn’t, on the grounds that the fine is a tax.
“The Framers … gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it,” writes Roberts. Otherwise you “undermine the principle that the Federal Government is a government of limited and enumerated powers.”
That’s Roberts, philosophical conservative.
But he lives in uneasy coexistence with Roberts, custodian of the court, acutely aware that the judiciary’s arrogation of power has eroded the esteem in which it was once held …
National health care has been a liberal dream for a hundred years. It is clearly the most significant piece of social legislation in decades. Roberts’ concern was that the court do everything it could to avoid being seen, rightly or wrongly, as high-handedly overturning sweeping legislation passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.
How to reconcile the two imperatives — one philosophical and the other institutional? Assign yourself the task of writing the majority opinion. Find the ultimate finesse that manages to uphold the law, but only on the most narrow of grounds — interpreting the individual mandate as merely a tax, something generally within the power of Congress.
Result? The law stands, thus obviating any charge that a partisan court overturned duly passed legislation. And yet at the same time the Commerce Clause is reined in. By denying that it could justify the imposition of an individual mandate, Roberts draws the line against the inexorable decades-old expansion of congressional power under the Commerce Clause fig leaf.
Law upheld, Supreme Court’s reputation for neutrality maintained. Commerce Clause contained, constitutional principle of enumerated powers reaffirmed.
That’s not how I would have ruled. I think the “mandate is merely a tax” argument is a dodge, and a flimsy one at that. (The “tax” is obviously punitive, regulatory and intended to compel.) Perhaps that’s not how Roberts would have ruled had he been just an associate justice, and not the chief. But that’s how he did rule.
ObamaCare is now essentially upheld. There’s only one way it can be overturned. The same way it was passed — elect a new president and a new Congress.
So it is up to the voters to decide in November whether they want a government that is their master or their servant.
To choose between tyranny and freedom.
Can the Arab states be democratized? Not just hold elections but firmly establish institutions for government of the people, by the people, for the people ?
Charles Krauthammer thinks it is possible.
He writes (in part) at Investor’s Business Daily:
As the states of the Arab Middle East throw off decades of dictatorship, their democratic future faces a major threat from the new totalitarianism: Islamism. As in Soviet days, the threat is both internal and external.
Iran, a mini version of the old Soviet Union, has its own allies and satellites — Syria, Lebanon and Gaza — and its own Comintern, with agents operating throughout the region to extend Islamist influence and undermine pro-Western secular states. That’s precisely why in this revolutionary moment, Iran boasts of an Islamist wave sweeping the Arab world.
We need a foreign policy that not only supports freedom in the abstract but is guided by long-range practical principles to achieve it — a Freedom Doctrine composed of the following elements:
(1) The U.S. supports democracy throughout the Middle East. It will use its influence to help democrats everywhere throw off dictatorial rule.
(2) Democracy is more than just elections. It requires a free press, the rule of law, the freedom to organize, the establishment of independent political parties and the peaceful transfer of power. Therefore, the transition to democracy and initial elections must allow time for these institutions, most notably political parties, to establish themselves.
(3) The only U.S. interest in the internal governance of these new democracies is to help protect them against totalitarians, foreign and domestic. The recent Hezbollah coup in Lebanon and the Hamas dictatorship in Gaza dramatically demonstrate how anti-democratic elements that achieve power democratically can destroy the very democracy that empowered them.
(4) Therefore, just as during the Cold War the U.S. helped keep European communist parties out of power (to see them ultimately wither away), it will be U.S. policy to oppose the inclusion of totalitarian parties — the Muslim Brotherhood or, for that matter, communists — in any government, whether provisional or elected, in newly liberated Arab states.
We may not have the power to prevent this. So be it. The Brotherhood may today be so relatively strong in Egypt, for example, that a seat at the table is inevitable. But under no circumstances should a presidential spokesman say, as did Robert Gibbs [the bumbling and fumbling White House press secretary - JB], that the new order “has to include a whole host of important nonsecular actors.”
Why gratuitously legitimize Islamists? Instead, Americans should be urgently supporting secular democratic parties in Egypt and elsewhere with training, resources and diplomacy.
We are, unwillingly again, parties to a long twilight struggle, this time with Islamism — most notably Iran, its proxies and its potential allies, Sunni and Shiite. We should be clear-eyed about our preferred outcome — real democracies governed by committed democrats — and develop policies to see this through.
And then the Arab states would become tolerant, pacific, industrious, productive, and prosperous?
We don’t think so. We don’t think they can be democratic as long as they remain – not “Islamist” but – Islamic.
Why? Because Islam and democracy, Islam and liberty, are essentially incompatible. Islam and Western civilization are totally antithetical to each other.
Islam is a dogmatism that forbids doubt – and doubt is the very DNA of our civilization. Doubt alone guarantees the tolerance which makes democracy possible. Doubt starts scientific enquiry, demands experiment and exploration.
Islam cannot be “reformed” to become its opposite.
Charles Krauthammer, whose intelligence must be counted as one of America’s assets (and whose opinion we crave to hear even though we sometimes disagree with it), observes that Obama’s gorgeous cavalcade through East Asia ended up a failure, extending his record of failures in foreign affairs.
From The Corner of National Review Online:
Whenever a president walks into a room with another head of state and he walks out empty-handed — he’s got a failure on his hands.
And this was self-inflicted. With Obama it’s now becoming a ritual. It’s a combination of incompetence, inexperience, and arrogance. He was handed a treaty [with South Korea] by the Bush administration. It was done. But he wanted to improve on it. And instead, so far, he’s got nothing. …
And this is a pattern with Obama. He thinks he can reinvent the world. With Iran, he decides he has a silver tongue, he’ll sweet-talk ’em into a deal. He gets humiliated over and over again. With the Russians he does a reset, he gives up missile defense, he gets nothing.
In the Middle East, he proposes a ban on Jewish construction in Jerusalem, which is never going to happen. And what does it do? After 17 years [of negotiations without any preconditions] it destroys any chance of negotiations.
Again, a combination of [incompetence] — he comes in, I’ll reinvent the world, I know everything — and arrogance. And the result? He gets zero results.
Right. And he’s not likely to become any wiser when his White House advisers are trapped between old dreams and new incomprehension.
From a Washington Post report:
One adviser said they spent the past dozen days “soul-searching.”
Another said that … “people aren’t just sitting around doing soul-searching. They’re gaming out the short, medium and long term.”
“People have given a lot of thought to this,” said that adviser, who like others interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to freely discuss internal deliberations.
But their deliberations are apparently more of a casting about for comfort than a facing up to the election’s message of rejection:
In some ways, they said, the midterms were not as bleak a harbinger as some Democrats fear. Though Republicans took the House and narrowed the Democratic margin in the Senate, Obama’s personal-approval ratings remain high and his core constituencies remain highly supportive. Re-energizing them will be among his priorities.
So he’s happy with what he is, and will do again what he did before.
Advisers also said it will probably take months, if not longer, to develop a strategy for restoring some of the early promise of the Obama presidency, particularly the notion that he was a different kind of Democrat. …
Yeah, sure – further left than most. Though most voters did not realize that taking the country far to the left was part of his early promise.
Although Obama could benefit from a high-profile compromise – perhaps on extending the Bush-era tax cuts or on other tax initiatives set to expire before the end of the year – officials are also prepared to point out any Republican intransigence….
That they can bring themselves to do. But will they point out any intransigence on Obama’s part?
One of the many questions Obama faced immediately after Election Day was whether he “got it” – got, that is, voters’ frustration with his governance and policies. Obama hinted that he did in some respects, noting that his failure to make government more transparent or to curb earmarks did not live up to the high standards he had set.
That’s it? That’s all? They should have been “more transparent” – whatever that means – and Obama should have lived up to some high standards that he had set – whatever they were?
So what’s his plan?
A change of advisers – though not of advice.
A series of upcoming personnel moves – coming as outside critics call for a White House shake-up – will put Obama in a stronger position to make substantive progress, especially on the economy… such as finding a replacement for economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers and getting Jacob Lew confirmed at the Office of Management and Budget. … Axelrod will leave, with former campaign manager David Plouffe moving into the White House to assume a similar role … And Pete Rouse, the acting chief of staff, is about to complete an assessment of the White House bureaucracy that could lead to more personnel shifts. …
“There isn’t going to be a reset button. That’s not their style,” said a Democratic strategist who works with the White House on several issues. …
Reset buttons “not their style”? Oh, we thought it was. Can we ever forget Hillary Clinton bustling about with a big red reset button to change American-Russian relations forever? Such fun and games it was, even though perfectly futile.
“They don’t like pivots,” [the strategist said] “and they also believe they’re right.”
There it is, the upshot of all the deliberations. Why should they make any serious changes when they’re certain that their policies are right? To them, it’s the electorate that’s wrong.
Obama, deafened by his arrogance, will not hear what the voters are saying to him.
What was the Israeli Air Force doing in Romania when one if its helicopters crashed on July 26, killing six of its airmen?
The crash itself is distressing, but the answer to the question is good news: the IAF was rehearsing for an attack on Iranian nuclear sites.
This report comes from DebkaFile:
The Israeli Air Force had been drilling high-risk attacks on precipitous cliff caves similar to the mountain tunnels in which Iran has hidden nuclear facilities. The crash occurred in the last stage of a joint Israeli-US-Romanian exercise for simulating an attack on Iran. Aboard the helicopter were six Israeli airmen and a Romanian flight captain. …
Iran has given up on adequate air and missile defense shields for its nuclear sites and in the last couple of years has been blasting deep tunnels beneath mountain peaks more than 2,000 meters high for housing nuclear facilities. There, they were thought by Tehran to be safe from air or missile attack.
The American and Israeli air forces have since been developing tactics for evading Iranian radar and flying at extremely low-altitudes through narrow mountain passes so as to reach the tunnel entrances for attacks on the nuclear equipment undetected. The drill in Romania took place at roughly the same altitude and in similar terrain that a US or Israeli air attack would expect to encounter in Iran.
For such strikes, special missiles would be used that are capable of flying the length of a tunnel, however twisty, and detonating only when its warhead identifies and contacts its target.
The entire maneuver is extremely hazardous. The pilots must be exceptionally skilled, capable of split-second timing in rising from low-altitudes to points opposite the high tunnel entrances without crashing into the surrounding mountain walls.
The Israeli helicopter is reported to have flown into a cloud patch hanging over its simulated target and crashed into a steep mountainside, while the second helicopter flying in the formation avoided the cloud and continued without incident. Israeli and American Air Force pilots are instructed, when encountering cloud cover of the target, to go around it. At all times, they must have eye contact with their target.
The accident revealed to military observers that the Israeli Air Force is practicing long-distance flights not only by bombers, but also heavy helicopters, such as the “Yasour” CH-53, which would require in-flight refueling. These practice flights have been taking place in cooperation with Greece and Bulgaria as well as Romania, whose distance from Israel of 1,600 kilometers approximates that of Iran. American air bases in Romania and Bulgaria participate in the drills.
Good to know, but the information that the US is participating in the exercise, and the fact that it is being reported – albeit through news of a disaster – makes us wonder if the point of publishing it is to frighten Ahmadinejad and the mullahs rather than actually prepare for a strike. Is it really likely, we wonder, that Obama has decided to take military action against Iran?
Charles Krauthammer seems to think it possible and even probable. The administration, he says, is “hardening its line”. And he sees a growth of determination among Western states and Arab states to stop Iran forcibly from becoming a nuclear power.
He gives these reasons in his column in Investor’s Business Daily:
Passage of weak U.N. sanctions was followed by unilateral sanctions by the United States, Canada, Australia and the European Union. Already … Iran is experiencing a sharp drop in gasoline imports as Lloyd’s of London refuses to insure the ships delivering them.
Second, the Arab states are no longer just whispering their desire for the U.S. to militarily take out Iranian nuclear facilities. The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington said so openly at a conference three weeks ago. …
The UAE ambassador['s] … publicly expressed desire for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities speaks for the intense Arab fear approaching panic, of Iran’s nuclear program and the urgent hope that the U.S. will take it out.
It is true that the UAE ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba, was heard to be pleading or at least arguing for military action by “an outside force”, but his government hastily denied that he meant it. There was no denial, however, that his country regards Iran’s nuclear program as a grave and imminent threat.
There is also a rumour, not mentioned today by Krauthammer, that Saudi Arabia would be willing to look the other way while Israeli planes flew through its airspace on a mission to bomb Iranian nuclear installations.
But what of American participation in such a raid? Krauthammer goes on to say:
Third, and perhaps even more troubling from Tehran’s point of view, are developments in the U.S. Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden suggested last Sunday that over time, in his view, a military strike is looking increasingly favorable compared with the alternatives. Hayden is no Obama insider, but Time reports (“An Attack on Iran: Back on the Table,” July 15) that high administration officials are once again considering the military option.
Here is part of what Time had to say:
[Secretary of Defense] Gates … told Fox News on June 20. “We do not accept the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons.” In fact, Gates was reflecting a new reality [sic - shouldn't it be "realism"?] in the military and intelligence communities. Diplomacy and economic pressure remain the preferred means to force Iran to negotiate a nuclear deal, but there isn’t much hope that’s going to happen. “Will [sanctions] deter them from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability?” CIA Director Leon Panetta told ABC News on June 27. “Probably not.” So the military option is very much back on the table. …
Intelligence sources say that the U.S. Army’s Central Command, which is in charge of organizing military operations in the Middle East, has made some real progress in planning targeted air strikes — aided, in large part, by the vastly improved human-intelligence operations in the region. “There really wasn’t a military option a year ago,” an Israeli military source told me. “But they’ve gotten serious about the planning, and the option is real now.” Israel has been brought into the planning process … because U.S. officials are frightened by the possibility that the right-wing Netanyahu government might go rogue and try to whack the Iranians on its own.
There’s a lefty explanation! If whacking the Iranians is now considered a good thing to do, why would it be bad, or “going rogue”, for the Israelis to do it? Note the insistent mention that Netanyahu’s government is “right-wing”. Right-wings are, of course, on the edge of roguery at all times in the assumptions of the left.
One other factor has brought the military option to a low boil: Iran’s Sunni neighbors really want the U.S. to do it. When United Arab Emirates Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba said on July 6 that he favored a military strike against Iran despite the economic and military consequences to his country, he was reflecting an increasingly adamant attitude in the region. Senior American officials who travel to the Gulf frequently say the Saudis, in particular, raise the issue with surprising ardor. Everyone from the Turks to the Egyptians to the Jordanians are threatening to go nuclear if Iran does. That is seen as a real problem in the most volatile region in the world: What happens, for example, if Saudi Arabia gets a bomb, and the deathless monarchy there is overthrown by Islamist radicals?
Message to Time: The “deathless monarchy” IS radically Islamist. The Saudis are, however, Sunni radicals who fear the hegemony of Iranian Shia radicals. So their ardor is not really surprising at all.
For the moment, the White House remains as skeptical as ever about a military strike.
Ah, we thought so!
Most senior military leaders also believe … a targeted attack on Iran would be “disastrous on a number of levels.” It would unify the Iranian people against the latest in a long series of foreign interventions. It would also unify much of the world — including countries like Russia and China that we’ve worked hard to cultivate — against a recowboyfied US. [There's a coinage for you!- JB]. There would certainly [?] be an Iranian reaction — in Iraq, in Afghanistan, by Lebanese Hizballah against Israel and by the Hizballah network against the U.S. and Saudi homelands. A catastrophic regional war is not impossible.
Of course, it is also possible that this low-key saber-rattling is simply a message the U.S. is trying to send the Iranians: it’s time to deal. … But it is also possible that the saber-rattling is not a bluff, that the U.S. really won’t tolerate a nuclear Iran and is prepared to do something awful to stop it.
So our question remains: is it likely that Obama will even consider the bombing of Iran?
We hope with ardor that Iran’s nuclear capability is knocked out soon by military force. It would be best of course if the US and Israel acted together. But if the US under Obama’s weak leadership holds back, may Israel strike alone – soon, and to devastating effect.
Those whose hearts have been lifted by the prospect of a Republican Party victory in November may feel them sinking again if they read the chilling predictions which Charles Krauthammer’s makes in today’s Investor’s Business Daily. If he is right, Republican majorities in Congress could make Obama more dangerous:
I have a warning for Republicans: Don’t underestimate Barack Obama.
Consider what he has already achieved. ObamaCare alone makes his presidency historic. It has irrevocably changed one-sixth of the economy, put the country inexorably on the road to national health care and … begun one of the most massive wealth redistributions in U.S. history.
Second, there is a major financial overhaul, which passed Congress on Thursday. … There is no argument that it will give the government unprecedented power in the financial marketplace.
Its 2,300 pages will create at least 243 new regulations that will affect not only, as many assume, the big banks, but just about everyone, including, as noted in one summary, “storefront check cashiers, city governments, small manufacturers, homebuyers and credit bureaus.”
Third is the near $1 trillion stimulus, the largest spending bill in U.S. history. And that’s not even counting nationalizing the student loan program, regulating CO2 emissions by EPA fiat, and still-fitful attempts to pass cap-and-trade through Congress.
But Obama’s most far-reaching accomplishment is his structural alteration of the U.S. budget. The stimulus, the vast expansion of domestic spending, the creation of ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see are not easily reversed. …
He explains how and why this is true, and goes on to warn that more woe is to come:
Obama’s transformational agenda is a play in two acts.
Act One is over. The stimulus, ObamaCare, financial overhaul have exhausted his first-term mandate. It will bear no more heavy lifting. And the Democrats will pay the price for ideological overreaching by losing one or both houses, whether de facto or de jure. The rest of the first term will be spent consolidating these gains (writing the regulations, for example) and preparing for Act Two.
Republican control of Congress, Krauthammer warns, could be a positive help to Obama, making it easier for him to be re-elected.
If Democrats lose control of one or both houses, Obama will likely have an easier time in 2012, just as Bill Clinton used Newt Gingrich and the Republicans as his foil for his 1996 re-election campaign.
Obama is down, but it’s very early in the play.
He’s done much in his first 500 days. What he has left to do he knows must await his next 500 days — those that come after re-election.
What will these afflictions be? He forecasts three of them:
The next burst of ideological energy — massive regulation of the energy economy, federalizing higher education and “comprehensive” immigration changes (i.e., amnesty) — will require a second mandate, meaning re-election in 2012.
2012 is the real prize. Obama sees far, farther than even his own partisans.
Republicans, he warns, “underestimate him at their peril”.
But won’t a Republican dominated Congress be stronger next time … repeal … stand firm … ?
And does Obama really have much of a chance of re-election? We think not, but that may be because hope springs eternal in the skeptic’s breast.
There’s little that’s surprising, though much that’s shocking, in the way Obama is carrying out his duty as commander-in-chief. To justify a reversal of long-established defense policy, he and his obsequious mouthpiece Defense Secretary Robert Gates are delivering sermons rather than announcements on America’s “nuclear posture”.
One thing that doesn’t quite fit with what we know of Obama’s sentimental pacifism, stale ban-the-bomb leftism, and emotional sympathy for Islam, is that the commanders in the Afghan theater are still being permitted to use drones to kill Muslims. We expect Obama to decide that drone warfare is far too effective in giving America an advantage over the Taliban, and stop it.
For the present he may choose to overlook small American victories, because he is preoccupied with developing his grand plan to make America, and countries that look to America for protection, vulnerable to devastating attack.
Charles Krauthammer deplores Obama’s “nuclear posturing” and explains how his sentimental policy is a menace to the world:
Nuclear doctrine consists of thinking the unthinkable. It involves making threats and promising retaliation that is cruel and destructive beyond imagining. But it has its purpose: to prevent war in the first place.
During the Cold War, we let the Russians know that if they dared use their huge conventional military advantage and invaded Western Europe, they risked massive U.S. nuclear retaliation. Goodbye Moscow.
Was this credible? Would we have done it? Who knows? No one’s ever been there. A nuclear posture is just that — a declaratory policy designed to make the other guy think twice.
Our policies did. The result was called deterrence. For half a century, it held. The Soviets never invaded. We never used nukes. That’s why nuclear doctrine is important.
The Obama administration has just issued a new one that “includes significant changes to the U.S. nuclear posture,” said Defense Secretary Bob Gates. First among these involves the U.S. response to being attacked with biological or chemical weapons. …
Under President Obama’s new policy … if the state that has just attacked us with biological or chemical weapons is “in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” explained Gates, then “the U.S. pledges not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against it.”
Imagine the scenario: Hundreds of thousands are lying dead in the streets of Boston after a massive anthrax or nerve gas attack. The president immediately calls in the lawyers to determine whether the attacking state is in compliance with the NPT. If it turns out that the attacker is up-to-date with its latest IAEA inspections, well, it gets immunity from nuclear retaliation. (Our response is then restricted to bullets, bombs and other conventional munitions.)
However, if the lawyers tell the president that the attacking state is NPT noncompliant, we are free to blow the bastards to nuclear kingdom come.
This is quite insane. It’s like saying that if a terrorist deliberately uses his car to mow down a hundred people waiting at a bus stop, the decision as to whether he gets (a) hanged or (b) 100 hours of community service hinges entirely on whether his car had passed emissions inspections.
Apart from being morally bizarre, the Obama policy is strategically loopy. Does anyone believe that North Korea or Iran will be more persuaded to abjure nuclear weapons because they could then carry out a biological or chemical attack on the U.S. without fear of nuclear retaliation?
The naivete [or evil intent - JB] is stunning. Similarly the Obama pledge to forswear development of any new nuclear warheads, indeed, to permit no replacement of aging nuclear components without the authorization of the president himself. This under the theory that our moral example will move other countries to eschew nukes.
On the contrary. The last quarter-century — the time of greatest superpower nuclear arms reduction — is precisely when Iran and North Korea went hellbent into the development of nuclear weapons.
It gets worse. The administration’s Nuclear Posture Review declares U.S. determination to “continue to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks.” The ultimate aim is to get to a blanket doctrine of no first use.
This is deeply worrying to many small nations who for half a century relied on the extended U.S. nuclear umbrella to keep them from being attacked or overrun by far more powerful neighbors. When smaller allies see the United States determined to move inexorably away from that posture — and for them it’s not posture, but existential protection — what are they to think?
Fend for yourself. Get yourself your own WMDs. Go nuclear if you have to. Do you imagine they are not thinking that in the Persian Gulf?
This administration seems to believe that by restricting retaliatory threats and by downplaying our reliance on nuclear weapons, it is discouraging proliferation.
But the opposite is true. Since World War II, smaller countries have agreed to forgo the acquisition of deterrent forces — nuclear, biological and chemical — precisely because they placed their trust in the firmness, power and reliability of the American deterrent.
Seeing America retreat, they will rethink. And some will arm. There is no greater spur to hyper-proliferation than the furling of the American nuclear umbrella.
We find it hard to believe that Charles Krauthammer or Brit Hume would obey instructions as to what they may say or not say on Fox News.
Yet it does seem that Fox has sold its soul to the devil.
This is from Family Security Matters:
Former prominent guests on Fox News, including Walid Shoebat, contend that the News Corporation has surrendered its “fair and balanced” coverage of Islam and events in the Middle East for a fistful of Saudi cash.
Their contention is based on a series of recent developments within the media giant.
The first development was the news that Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corporation, invested $70 million in the Rotana Group, an enterprise owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of Saudi King Abdullah. The Rotana Group operates a host of TV channels throughout the Middle East and is a leading producer of Arabic movies.
Next came Mr. Murdoch’s decision to make Abu Dhabi, the headquarters of the News Corporation’s global media operations in the Middle East.
On Monday, the Fox Business Network announced that it will dispatch a full-time correspondent to the Middle East in order to inform Americans of the unique business opportunities in such places as Syria, a country that provides shelter for Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah and support the insurgents in Iraq.
In the wake of this announcement, Fox news commentators – including Glenn Beck, Charles Krauthammer, A.B. Stoddard and Bill Kristol – condemned Geert Wilders, a well-respected Dutch dignitary and critic of radical Islam, as a “fascist” and a “demagogue.” …
In the past, the former member of the Dutch National Parliament was a frequent guest on Fox News. Last February, Bill O’Reilly welcomed Mr. Wilders to America, while condemning a scared Britain for banning him entrance to the country.
Other news about the parent company of Fox News began to surface, including reports that Kingdom Holding owns at least 7 percent of the News Corporation and has become the second largest shareholder in the Murdoch conglomerate. Some speculate that the actual shares controlled by Kingdom Holding through a hedge fund may exceed 25 percent.
Kingdom Holding is owned by Prince Talal …
Listed by Forbes as the world’s 22nd richest person, Prince Talal also owns substantial shares of Time Warner, Apple, eBay, Disney, and Citibank.
As for charity, he gives millions to Hamas and other pro-Palestinian organizations.
Critics say that Prince Talal’s sizeable investment in the News Corporation accounts for Fox News programs critical of Israel, including a series of special reports in which Carl Cameron and Brit Hume [even he? - JB] alleged that Israel gathered information about the attacks of 9/11 and failed to warn the American people.
Walid Shoebat, a former member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who converted to Christianity, charges that Fox News now prohibits critics of Islam and Islamic terror from appearing on its broadcasts.
“He himself (Prince bin Talal) said, ‘I just had to make a phone call to [tell them to] stop using the word Muslim’ regarding the rioting in France,” Mr. Shoebat notes. “Bill O’Reilly says to Ibrahim Hooper, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), that he is an upstanding citizen. Since when was the head of CAIR an upstanding citizen?”
Mr. Shoebat adds that viewers will no longer be seeing any so-called “Islamophobes” on Fox.
“Today, I’m not invited at Fox News. Neither is Robert Spencer or Brigitte Gabriel,” he laments. “But Ibrahim Hooper is invited to speak at Fox News. It used to be that experts on terrorism who are critical of the Islamic views [were] able to get a voice on Fox News. Those days are gone.”
Mr. Shoebat says that instead of airing those critical views of Islam, Fox News now legitimizes Hooper, the spokesman for CAIR, a group which he maintains is a front for Islamic terrorists.
We were lucky to have Fox News to tell us what the left-slanted mainstream media concealed, and to bring us opinion from both the right and the left. Fox News was “fair, balanced, and unafraid” as they claimed and continue to claim.
But is the claim still justified?
Not if we are to judge by their treatment of the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is on trial in Holland for expressing an opinion, well supported by facts, on the horrific ideology of Islam.
Here are three articles which together, in sequence, tell the sorry story:
The first is by David Swindle at Front Page:
Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier featured a segment tonight [March 8, 2010] on Dutch politician Geert Wilders’s blasphemy trial in the Netherlands.
The segment featured these descriptors of Wilders:
“A man who inspires fierce emotions.”
“Anger on the streets of London. The object of the demonstration was a recent visit by Far-Right Dutch politician Geert Wilders.”
“His Anti-Muslim rhetoric makes him a target of critics.”
“Wilders says Muslim head scarves should be banned, he’s branded the Muslim prophet Muhammed a pedophile and likened the Muslim Koran to Mein Kampf.”
The “Far-Right” label is meant to smear Wilders by trying to associate him with racist European political parties like the BNP [British National Party] that actually warrant the label.
“Anti-Muslim”? Try Anti-Islam. Wilders’ film Fitna exposes how Islam’s first victims are always Muslims. [A link is provided to the film.]
Finally, the report cites three examples of Wilders’ allegedly extreme, “Far-Right” views. While whether head scarves should be banned is a matter of opinion, the last two points — Muhammad’s pedophilia and the Koran’s racist and genocidal injunctions are points of fact.
Later on Special Report they featured a panel in response to the story in which host Jim Angle questioned Charles Krauthammer [whom we greatly respect and admire, and usually, but not this time, agree with - JB], Bill Kristol [whom we respect, and often, but not this time, agree with], and A.B. Stoddard. Krauthammer said that Wilders was wrong about Islam — that the Dutch politician did not see a difference between Islam and Islamism. So those who follow “Islam” ignore passages of the Koran and those who follow “Islamism” actually do what the book tells them to do? Is that right, Charles? Just want to make sure I’m up to speed on the preferred Orwellianisms on the Politically Correct Right.
Stoddard’s comments — she said that Wilders saw no difference between terrorist Muslims and non-violent Muslims — indicate that it’s likely that her first exposure to Wilders was the segment. And Kristol? He dismissed Wilders as a “demagogue.”
This is supposed to be the “conservative” network here and they are unable to present a single panelists who will support Wilders.
The next is by John L. Work, also at Front Page:
Following the gang hatchet job on Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders by two separate FOX News crews a few nights ago, FOX pulled down all the video footage from the internet – like it never happened. Well, it did happen. Jim Angle, Glenn Beck [who we think is doing a great job exposing the Obama administration and is a splendid entertainer] Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and A.B Stoddard all did the dirty work during two different shows. …
First, let’s look at Beck’s six minute interview with Wilders from February of 2009. Beck warmly welcomed Wilders and gave him plenty of air-time. Wilders presented his case for the noble cause of resistance to the growing Islamic repression of free speech in The Netherlands. Beck treated Wilders like the hero he is.
A year later it is impossible to reconcile Beck’s posture and position in 2009 with his attack on Wilders this week – unless one allows for the possibility that Beck is now being influenced by powers above him at FOX News. [A link is provided to Beck's 2009 interview with Wilders.]
Now for this week’s piece, in which Beck labeled Wilders a fascist [Another link is provided.]:
Let’s analyze the evidence:
Wilders, himself, has not changed since the first Beck interview – not his speech, not his positions, and not his beliefs. What has changed immensely is his stature in The Netherlands. He is much more powerful now than he was when he first appeared on Beck’s show in 2009. In fact, it is entirely within the realm of possibility that Wilders could become Prime Minister.
Now, FOX News is astonishingly trying to destroy Wilders. Ignoramus, demagogue and fascist are pretty nasty labels to lay on anyone. Beck was not recognizable this week from his demeanor and position with Wilders in 2009.
Other than Muslims throughout the world, who would be unhappy with Wilders’ rise to power and prominence in The Netherlands? Who stands to gain from stopping the most prominent and eloquent defender of Western Civilization in Europe? Who stands to gain from having Wilders’ reputation hacked to pieces by a major American news outlet? You can figure this out. [Another link is provided.]
A whole lot has changed at FOX News, folks.
This last link leads to our third source, an article by Diana West:
It was pile-on time at Fox News tonight as Glenn Beck, Charles Krauthammer, a gal whose name I missed [update -- A.B. Stoddard] and Bill Kristol all branded Geert Wilders beyond the pale tonight.
Beck classified Geert as a fascist.
Krauthammer said Geert didn’t know the difference between Islam and Islamism — never mind that according to Krauthammer’s idea of Islamic scholarship, neither did Mohammed.
[Stoddard] said she agreed with Imam Krauthammer and added that if people like this (Geert) are elected to lead Holland it will suffer the consequences.
Kristol called Geert a demagogue.
In other words, a stomach-turning display.
Fact is, this anti-Geert pundit solidarity will only delight Newscorp [owners of Fox] stakeholder Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. That’s because it is Wilders in the Netherlands who stands as the unexpectedly strong spearhead of resistance to the Islamization of Europe and the wider West. As a scion of the most powerful sharia dictatorship in the world, Prince Talal doesn’t like that. How fortunate for him that Fox News doesn’t like it, either.