Monday, October 26, 2009


By Michael Barone

Michael Barone finds it odd that Barack Obama can go to Oslo and Copenhagen for mainly personal reasons, but somehow can’t find the time to travel to Berlin to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall — the climax of the Cold War and the West’s triumph.

Given the key role played by the US in the collapse of Soviet Communism, people have good cause to wonder why the leader of the free world can find time to pick up an award for himself and pitch his hometown to the International Olympic Committee, but not to say a few words in honor of the free world’s vindication in Berlin. Barone theorizes that an earlier Berlin speech may be haunting Obama:

In the Tiergarten, Obama spoke of “the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan” and of the need “to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda” there. That doesn’t mesh well with his recent reconsideration of the Afghanistan strategy he announced in March and reiterated in August or with the White House spin doctors’ suggestion that the Taliban and al Qaeda aren’t necessarily allies anymore.

In the Tiergarten, Obama asserted his “resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must and to seek a partnership that extends across this whole continent.” That doesn’t mesh very well with the “reset button” policy toward Russia that looks past its attacks on Georgia and Ukraine and propitiates the Putin regime with unilateral withdrawal of missile-defense installations from Poland and the Czech Republic.

In the Tiergarten, Obama said America must “stand with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions.” But that message, if sent, has evidently not had the intended effect on the mullah regime, which is drawing out negotiations while presumably continuing its nuclear program apace.

Is Obama too embarrassed to give people an opportunity to compare Obama’s actions to his summer 2008 rhetoric? That seems too generous a view.

Obama has had no difficulties in reversing himself publicly here in the US, where the media is only slightly less fawning than in Europe. Our friend Jim Geraghty created an axiom about expiration dates on Obama promises, and these examples from Tiergarten are more aspirations than commitments.

I think the answer is simpler: Berlin won’t be about Obama. It will honor previous generations of stalwarts against an evil empire that Academia defended for decades. Whether Obama joined them in that effort as a student is not material; after all, there is a time and a place for foolishness, and that’s college. It’s not (necessarily) that Obama doesn’t think that the fall of the wall is a good thing, but that it has nothing to do with him, and is therefore irrelevant.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The Limits of Charisma

by Howard Fineman

If ubiquity were the measure of a presidency, Barack Obama would already be grinning at us from Mount Rushmore . But of course it is not. Despite his many words and television appearances, our elegant and eloquent president remains more an emblem of change than an agent of it. He's a man with an endless, worthy to-do list—health care, climate change, bank reform, global capital regulation, AfPak, the Middle East, you name it—but, as yet, no boxes checked "done." This is a problem that style will not fix.. Unless Obama learns to rely less on charm, rhetoric, and good intentions and more on picking his spots and winning in political combat, he's not going to be reelected, let alone enshrined in South Dakota .

The president's problem isn't that he is too visible; it's the lack of content in what he says when he keeps showing up on the tube. Obama can seem a mite too impressed with his own aura, as if his presence on the stage is the Answer. There is, at times, a self-referential (even self-reverential) tone in his big speeches. They are heavily salted with the words "I" and "my." (He used the former 11 times in the first few paragraphs of his address to the U.N. last week.) Obama is a historic figure, but that is the beginning, not the end, of the story.

There is only so much political mileage that can still be had by his reminding the world that he is not George W. Bush. It was the winning theme of the 2008 campaign, but that race ended nearly a year ago. The ex-president is now more ex than ever, yet the current president, who vowed to look forward, is still reaching back to Bush as bogeyman.

He did it again in that U.N. speech. The delegates wanted to know what the president was going to do about Israel and the Palestinian territories. He answered by telling them what his predecessor had failed to do. This was effective for his first month or two. Now it is starting to sound more like an excuse than an explanation.
Members of Obama's own party know who Obama is not; they still sometimes wonder who he really is. In Washington , the appearance of uncertainty is taken as weakness—especially on Capitol Hill, where a president is only as revered as he is feared. Being the cool, convivial late-night-guest in chief won't cut it with Congress, an institution impervious to charm (especially the charm of a president with wavering poll numbers). Members of both parties are taking Obama's measure with their defiant and sometimes hostile response to his desires on health care.

Never much of a legislator (and not long a -senator), Obama underestimated the complexity of enacting a major "reform" bill. Letting Congress try to write it on its own was an awful idea. As a balkanized land of microfiefdoms, each loyal to its own lobbyists and consultants, Congress is incapable of being led by its "leadership." It's not like Chicago , where you call a guy who calls a guy who calls Daley, who makes the call. The president himself must make his wishes clear—along with the consequences for those who fail to grant them.

The model is a man whose political effectiveness Obama repeatedly says he admires: Ronald Reagan. There was never doubt about what he wanted. The Gipper made his simple, dramatic tax cuts the centerpiece not only of his campaign but also of the entire first year of his presidency. Obama seems to think he'll get credit for the breathtaking scope of his ambition. But unless he sees results, it will have the opposite effect—diluting his clout, exhausting his allies, and emboldening his enemies.

That may be starting to happen. Health-care legislation is still weeks, if not months, from passage, and the bill as it stands could well be a windfall for the very insurance and drug companies it was supposed to rein in. Climate-change legislation (a.k.a. cap-and-trade) is almost certainly dead for this year, which means that American negotiators will go empty-handed to the Copenhagen summit in December — pushing the goal of limiting carbon emissions even farther into the distance. In the spring Obama privately told the big banks that he was going to change the way they do business. It was going to be his way or the highway. But the complex legislation he wants to submit to Congress has little chance of passage this year.

Doing Letterman again won't help. It may boost the host's ratings, Mr. President, but probably not your own.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Obama's Middle Class Betrayal

By Howard Rich

As much as the Beltway chattering class refuses to admit it, Barack Obama's electoral victory last year had nothing to do with his oft-repeated, generic pledge to bring "hope and change" to Washington, D.C. Sure it sounded good at the time, but Americans have always voted based on their wallets and pocketbooks – not lofty-sounding campaign promises or rhetorical flourishes.

The real key to Obama's victory a year ago – indeed his "signature" issue – was his promise not to raise taxes on the middle class.

"You will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime," Obama promised tens of millions of Americans making $250,000 or less. In fact, candidate Obama promised the middle class billions of dollars in tax cuts, part of his whole "spread the wealth around" plan.

"If you're a family that's making $250,000 a year or less, you will see no increase in your taxes," Obama promised. "Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your personal gains tax, not any of your taxes."

Never mind the fact that Obama's plan would have hit income and payroll providers especially hard, rendering "middle class tax relief" irrelevant to the millions of workers heading toward already-crowded unemployment lines.

No matter how you look at it, though, what a difference a year makes.

As an unprecedented string of multibillion-dollar government bailouts and a viral explosion of new discretionary spending continues to wreak havoc on the deficit, does it really surprise anyone to learn that Obama's "middle class tax cut" was the very first thing to wind up on the cutting room floor?

Of course not. "Class warfare" may have succeeded in getting Obama elected, but it cannot pay for the political promises Obama has made with our borrowed billions.

But that is just the beginning of the great middle class betrayal. Not only are middle class American families getting no tax relief, Obama administration officials are refusing to rule out the possibility that taxes on middle class families will actually increase in an effort to help the government pay for all of this new spending.

So much for Obama's plan to "bleed the rich" in order to fund middle class tax relief – now everyone must bleed as the President and his Congressional allies scramble to pay for all that "hope and change" they've created.

Aside from the obvious demerits of "Robin Hood-style" tax policy (it's never a good idea to go after the people creating the jobs, is it?), the reality is that Obama's now-scrapped middle class "tax cut" would have barely made a dent when compared to costly new government mandates being forced upon American families.

For example, according to an unreleased report prepared by Obama's own Treasury Department, the cost of the administration's "cap and trade" energy tax on the typical American household came out to $1,761 a year. On top of that, we learned this week that the latest multibillion-dollar proposal to "reform" the health care industry would cost the typical American family of four over $4,000 a year by the time the plan is fully implemented.

Altogether, that's nearly $6,000 a year in additional energy and health care costs being heaped on American families struggling to make ends meet during one of the worst recessions in our nation's history – again, with no tax relief to offset the additional financial burden.

Based on these numbers, it seems clear that the American middle class was (and is) nothing but a means to an end for Obama.

It also seems clear that rich or poor, Obama's plan to "rescue" the American economy involves taxing all of us back to the Stone Age.

Howard Rich is chairman of Americans for Limited Government

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


"Removal of Zelaya was constitutional": UN

UN experts concluded that there was no coup in Honduras





The study of the crisis in Honduras coincided with that conducted by the Library of Congress *** The study of the political crisis in Honduras was endorsed with official information received by the UN experts in the country visit last week coincided with the foreign ministers of the OAS. Washington, USA. A study by the Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations Organization (UNO) on the causes of the crisis in Honduras, concluded that the removal of President Manuel Zelaya, "was constitutional under the laws of the country," confirmed officials of that agency.

This version was officially known today by senior UN officials, which also coincides with the study prepared by the Library of Congress, which looked at by his side, the situation that generated and maintained in a political crisis in Honduras.

The document of the study by the Department of Political Affairs of the UN, with other information base (another truth) received at the last visit to Honduras, where it converged with representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS) and took advantage to meet other scenarios that were unclear.

The information on this collegial resolution of these experts, was provided to, official sources and pressures inferred strategies that promote the former foreign minister Patricia Rhodes and the permanent representative of Venezuela in the Permanent Council to seek more sanctions against Honduras and require the return of former President Zelaya, which warned of "an ultimatum" to this October 15.

"These gentlemen are pressing and have invoked a special assembly to the Security Council, but there has been no response to date, they were awaiting the results of their own studies on the situation in Honduras, which has remained divided Washington "spoke the interviewee.

"The conclusion of the report clearly says that the removal of President Zelaya was constitutional. This confirms that there was no coup and strengthens the position of President Barack Obama, who never rushed to judge the situation in Honduras, as did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who rushed to condemn the Honduran people, pressed by foreign ministers the OAS, "he said.

The demands of the former chancellor Rhodes in Washington, according to experts, have been grounded in order "to the international community's sanctions against the de facto regime" and further claimed "strong" countries not to recognize the coup government under any circumstances.

"Most of the Member States of the United Nations, after meeting other settings and information now agree that they would not support any resolution of the UN General Assembly to seek penalties for Honduras," summarized by referring to this study by the Department of UN Political Affairs, which concluded that the removal of President Zelaya was constitutional, the same study agrees in most points with the study prepared by the Library of Congress.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Could Sen. Obama’s Dire Warnings Be President Obama’s Current Plan?



Sunday, October 4, 2009


US President Barack Obama's "inspirational" speech at the UN included more than a few passages about the Middle East conflict. He expressed the hope for "a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world," a wish shared by all Israelis. Upon closer look at some of the president's statements, several question marks arise.

Obama addresses the 64th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters. The speech didn't, for instance, mention Islamic fundamentalism or Jihadism, the principal reasons for instability in the Middle East and beyond. Nor did it condemn the Arab world's refusal to acknowledge the Jewish people's right to a state of its own.

No less problematic, his reference to ending "the occupation that began in 1967" puts history on its head, as it implies, perhaps unintentionally, that Israel's occupation of the West Bank is the cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This clearly inverts cause and effect.

As the writer and historian Simon Schama wrote, history should endeavor "to disentangle fact from fable," also reminding us that one of America's Founding Fathers, John Adams, had said "Facts are stubborn things." Well, the facts regarding the conflict in the Holy Land, though often deliberately or inadvertently distorted or ignored , are indeed "stubborn." Terrorist activities against Israel had started years before the "occupation," and the PLO commitment to the destruction of the Jewish state was founded in 1964