Sunday, May 23, 2010
The Fruits of Weakness on display
by Charles Krauthammer
It is perfectly obvious that Iran's latest uranium maneuver, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, is a ruse. Iran retains more than enough enriched uranium to make a bomb. And it continues enriching at an accelerated pace and to a greater purity (20 percent). Which is why the French foreign ministry immediately declared that the trumpeted temporary shipping of some Iranian uranium to Turkey will do nothing to halt Iran's nuclear program.
It will, however, make meaningful sanctions more difficult. America's proposed Security Council resolution is already laughably weak -- no blacklisting of Iran's central bank, no sanctions against Iran's oil and gas industry, no nonconsensual inspections on the high seas. Yet Turkey and Brazil -- both current members of the Security Council -- are so opposed to sanctions that they will not even discuss the resolution. And China will now have a new excuse to weaken it further.
But the deeper meaning of the uranium-export stunt is the brazenness with which Brazil and Turkey gave cover to the mullahs' nuclear ambitions and deliberately undermined U.S. efforts to curb Iran's program.
The real news is that already notorious photo: the president of Brazil, our largest ally in Latin America, and the prime minister of Turkey, for more than half a century the Muslim anchor of NATO, raising hands together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most virulently anti-American leader in the world.
That picture -- a defiant, triumphant take-that-Uncle-Sam -- is a crushing verdict on the Obama foreign policy. It demonstrates how rising powers, traditional American allies, having watched this administration in action, have decided that there's no cost in lining up with America's enemies and no profit in lining up with a U.S. president given to apologies and appeasement.
They've watched President Obama's humiliating attempts to appease Iran, as every rejected overture is met with abjectly renewed U.S. negotiating offers. American acquiescence reached such a point that the president was late, hesitant and flaccid in expressing even rhetorical support for democracy demonstrators who were being brutally suppressed and whose call for regime change offered the potential for the most significant U.S. strategic advance in the region in 30 years.
They've watched America acquiesce to Russia's re-exerting sway over Eastern Europe, over Ukraine (pressured by Russia last month into extending for 25 years its lease of the Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol) and over Georgia (Russia's de facto annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is no longer an issue under the Obama "reset" policy).
They've watched our appeasement of Syria, Iran's agent in the Arab Levant -- sending our ambassador back to Syria even as it tightens its grip on Lebanon, supplies Hezbollah with Scuds, and intensifies its role as the pivot of the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance. The price for this ostentatious flouting of the U.S. and its interests? Ever more eager U.S. "engagement."
They've observed the administration's gratuitous slap at Britain over the Falklands, its contemptuous treatment of Israel, its undercutting of the Czech Republic and Poland, and its indifference to Lebanon and Georgia. And in Latin America, they see not just U.S. passivity as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez organizes his anti-American "Bolivarian" coalition while deepening military and commercial ties with Iran and Russia. They saw active U.S. support in Honduras for a pro-Chavez would-be dictator seeking unconstitutional powers in defiance of the democratic institutions of that country.
This is not just an America in decline. This is an America in retreat -- accepting, ratifying and declaring its decline, and inviting rising powers to fill the vacuum.
It'a a Limbaugh Victory -- says the NYT!
Leftists need to have a scheming villain to explain anything they dislike. While there is actually some truth in the article below, the possibility that it is Obama's obnoxious policies and failure to live up to his promises that are driving people rightward is not considered
THERE are many theories for why very conservative Republicans seem to be doing so well lately, taking their party’s Senate nominations in Florida, Kentucky and Utah, and beating Democrats head-to-head in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia. Some attribute this to a generalized anti-incumbent mood. Others say it reflects the tendency of parties in power to falter in midterm elections. Recently it has been fashionable to ascribe right-wing success to the Tea Party movement.
But the most obvious explanation is the one that’s been conspicuously absent from the gusher of analysis. Republican success in 2010 can be boiled down to two words: Rush Limbaugh.
Mr. Limbaugh has played an important role in elections going back to 1994, when he commanded the air war in the Republican Congressional victory. This time, however, he is more than simply the mouthpiece of the party. He is the brains and the spirit behind its resurgence.
How did this happen? The Obama victory in 2008 left Republicans dazed, demoralized and leaderless. Less than six weeks after the inauguration, in a nationally televised keynote address to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Mr. Limbaugh stepped into the void with a raucous denunciation of the new president’s agenda and a strategic plan based on his belief that real conservatism wins every time. He reiterated his famous call for Mr. Obama to fail and urged the party faithful to ignore the siren song of bipartisanship and moderation and stay true to the principles of Ronald Reagan.
Democrats responded by branding Mr. Limbaugh — whom they considered self-evidently unattractive — as the leader of the opposition. The day after the conservative conference, Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, went on “Face the Nation” and described Mr. Limbaugh as the “voice and the intellectual force and energy” of the G.O.P.
Mr. Limbaugh loved being tossed into this briar patch. He mocked the notion that he was the titular leader of the Republicans even as he was becoming the party’s top strategist and de facto boss.
His strategy was simple. With Democrats controlling Congress, Mr. Limbaugh saw that there was no way to stop the president’s agenda. He dismissed the moderates’ notion that compromising with the president would make Republicans look good to independents. Instead he decreed that the Republicans must become the party of no, and force Democratic candidates — especially centrists — to go into 2010 with sole responsibility for the Obama program and the state of the economy. And that is what has happened.
Mr. Limbaugh was not just the architect of this plan, he was (and continues to be) its enforcer. Dissenters like Arlen Specter, whom Mr. Limbaugh disparaged as a “Republican in Name Only,” found themselves unelectable in the party primaries. Moderates like Michael Steele, the party chairman, were slapped down for suggesting cooperation with the administration. When Representative Phil Gingrey of Georgia had the temerity to suggest that Mr. Limbaugh was too uncompromising, he was met with public outrage and forced into an humiliating apology.
When the Tea Party movement emerged, Mr. Limbaugh welcomed it. The movement’s causes — fighting against health care reform, reducing the size and cost of government, opposing the Democrats’ putative desire to remake America in the image of European social democracies — were straight Limbaughism. A very high proportion of the Tea Partiers listen to Mr. Limbaugh. Sarah Palin’s biggest current applause line — Republicans are not just the party of no, but the party of hell no — came courtesy of Mr. Limbaugh. (Ms. Palin gave the keynote address at the first national Tea Party convention.) Glenn Beck, who is especially popular among Tea Partiers, calls Mr. Limbaugh his hero.
So why the lack of attention? Mr. Limbaugh has studiously refrained from claiming credit for the movement. His only intervention thus far has been to quash talk about the Tea Party becoming a third party. He wants a unified, right-wing G.O.P. in 2010, and by all appearances he is going to get it.
Rush Limbaugh came along after the age of Ronald Reagan. He has never really had a Republican presidential candidate to his ideological satisfaction. But if the party sweeps this November under the banner of Real Conservatism, Mr. Obama will find himself facing two years of “no” in Washington and, very likely, a Limbaugh-approved opponent in 2012.
Over the Rainbows
by Jonah Goldberg
"Falling Down" (1993) was one of the worst political films of the last 20 years, but it had one memorable line. A stunned Michael Douglas asks, "I'm the bad guy? ... How did that happen?"
Barack Obama should be asking himself something similar these days. He came into office promising rainbows and puppies for everyone and has, like Pizza Hut during a blizzard, failed to deliver.
Now, before some intern at a left-wing media watchdog outfit spits Diet Snapple out his nose in outrage over my "fabrications" and "distortions," and fires off some canned protest e-mail, I do not literally mean to suggest that Obama promised voters rainbows and puppies. Rather, I mean it figuratively. He did literally promise to change the way Washington works, unify the country, govern from the center, work with Republicans and operate the government in a fiscally responsible way. That hasn't happened. You could look it up.
I was on Fox News recently and was asked to debate the proposition that Obama's candidate endorsements are the "kiss of death." My response: No, they aren't the kiss of death, but they certainly aren't the kiss of life either. They're more like a kiss from your sister. They add little to no excitement while inviting many unwanted questions.
Some of those questions might include: Do you agree with the president's health-care plan? His stimulus package? His spending record? Cap-and-trade? The bailouts? Terror trials in New York? Etc.?
Over the past year, President Obama hasn't been much help to anyone trying to get elected. He endorsed and campaigned for Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, and she lost in her bid to keep "Ted Kennedy's seat" in the hands of Democrats. In political terms, it was a bit like holding a papal election and having the pontiff's seat (or cathedra, for you sticklers) go to the head counselor of the Unitarian Church (or whatever they call their Pope-equivalent).
Obama endorsed then-New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, only to see him beaten by Republican Chris Christie. He endorsed Creigh Deeds in Virginia, only to see Republican Bob McDonnell win that governorship handily. He hugged Florida Gov. Charlie Crist so hard he squeezed him right out of the Republican Party.
The elections this week continued the trend. Obama endorsed Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic primary, but it wasn't enough for her to avoid a runoff. He endorsed snarlin' Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary for the Pennsylvania Senate race, only to see Specter's opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak, use that endorsement against Specter as proof of Specter's inside-the-Beltway phoniness.
The much-ballyhooed silver lining for Obama came from the Pennsylvania special election to replace the recently deceased Rep. Jack Murtha. Democrats not only outnumber Republicans 2-1 in the 12th district, but Murtha remains a hero for getting the entire district strung-out on high-grade pork (not the oink-oink kind).
Obama's preferred candidate won there. How did former Murtha aide Mark Critz do it? By promising to be Obama's point man on Capitol Hill? Nope. He ran as a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-ObamaCare right-wing Democrat who (dishonestly) denounced his GOP opponent as a tax hiker.
The White House desperately wants the story to be "Voters Mad at Washington," not "Voters Mad at Democrats" or, heaven forbid, "Voters Mad at Obama." But the simple truth is that all three things are true, and Obama deserves much of the blame.
Jay Cost, an indispensable election analyst at RealClearPolitics.com, has it exactly right: " 'Change that you can believe in' has gone from an over-worked campaign slogan to an unfalsifiable hypothesis. Vote for a Dem, you support the President's agenda for change. Vote for a GOPer, you support the President's agenda for change."
This spin has been a long time in coming. After the Scott Brown victory, the White House claimed that the Republican's win was a manifestation of the same political forces that brought Obama to power, even though Brown opposed Obama's agenda, and despite the fact that Obama lustily endorsed Brown's opponent, Martha Coakley. Who, by the way, wasn't an incumbent. She promised to advance Obama's "change" agenda, and she lost. But Obama's just so awesome that what would be political losses for lesser mortals must be more winning proof of his supercalifragilisticexpialidociousness. Because as far as this White House is concerned, nothing is ever Obama's fault and everything is proof of how much we need him.
It's an odd position given how the people who need him least are candidates from his own party.
The Left's Hollow Pleas for "Centrism"
Its the GOP who have been the centrists, rather regrettably
Recent liberal laments about the increasing "polarization" of American political life are as predictable as the seasons. But pleas for centrism ring pretty hollow in light of recent history.
The Washington Post editorial board, after noting Sen. Robert Bennett's loss in Utah and Sen. Blanche Lincoln's primary challenge, asked: "Is there a way to push back against the movement toward partisanship and paralysis -- to carve out some space for those who strive to work across party lines in the national interest? We can think of no more important question ... "
Really? How about the question as to whether the trajectory of government spending will drag the United States into insolvency? How about the problem of a governing class unmoored from the Constitution?
Following up on the Post's invitation to fret, William Galston and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution propound that "Washington's schism" is mostly a Republican problem. "What The Post's editorial missed is that these developments have not produced two mirror-image political parties. We have, instead, asymmetrical polarization."
Sounds contagious. What is it? "Put simply: More than 70 percent of Republicans in the electorate describe themselves as conservative or very conservative, while only 40 percent of rank-and-file Democrats call themselves liberal or very liberal."
Two possible reasons for this spring to mind. 1) Many liberals, like some of those at the Washington Post, don't think of themselves as liberals. They imagine that they occupy the sensible center whereas you, well, you are an extremist. 2) Even acknowledging that self-labeling can be problematic, there are nearly twice as many self-identified conservatives (40 percent according to a 2009 Gallup survey) as liberals (21 percent) in the U.S.
The Post regrets that this polarized electorate prevents "anything from getting done," which is an odd complaint in a year that has witnessed an $800 billion stimulus bill, the federal acquisition of General Motors and AIG, a more than $1 trillion health bill, the multibillion-dollar mortgage bailout, and the nation's deliverance from the curse of salty food.
This call to a high-minded spirit of compromise was utterly absent in the winter of 2009, when it seemed that the Democrats would carry all before them. When newly inaugurated Barack Obama airily spurned Republicans who objected to aspects of the stimulus bill with the reply "I won," the Post did not pull its chin about the problem of polarization. Nor did the great stewards of bipartisanship turn a hair when Speaker Pelosi declared, during the health care debate, that "a bill can be bipartisan without bipartisan votes."
The Post is expressing a slightly more refined version of the broader liberal assault on conservative activism. In this construct, massive rallies for Obama are a sign of hope and human progress, but massive rallies against Obama's health care plan are evidence of "fringe sentiments" (Gov. Jennifer Granholm) or "fear" (Rep. Steve Driehaus), or are "un-American" (Rep. Steny Hoyer). When Michael Moore asked, during the Bush administration, "Dude, Where's My Country?" that was social commentary. When tea partiers say similar things, they are proto-fascists.
But the greater weakness in the liberal cant about meeting somewhere in the middle is this: The great domestic question of our time is whether we can restrain and even reverse the catastrophic expansion of government debt before it is too late. And until just yesterday, Republicans were AWOL. Or, to put it another way, they were just where the great conciliators of the Washington Post claim they should be. They had abandoned limited government and were reconciled to tinkering with huge federal entitlements to make them slightly less bankrupting than they otherwise would be.
The advent of the Obama administration, with its pell mell rush to transform us into Greece, is transforming the Republican Party as well. Grassroots activists are reasserting the virtues of limited government, personal responsibility, and public accountability. Our best hope is that tea party principles will prevail. Those are the very principles that can save us from Europe's fate.
We've done what the Post recommends. We met in the "middle." It didn't work out very well for Republicans or for America.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 12:20 AM