March 29, 2013
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OPINION: Obama's priorities lie elsewhere -- climate change and closing Gitmo
Barack Obama, titular head of the free world, has responded to Paris with weariness and annoyance. His news conference in Turkey was marked by a stunning tone of passivity, detachment and lassitude, compounded by impatience and irritability at the very suggestion that his Syria strategy might be failing.
At a certain point, you have to realize you can’t hit a fastball. House Republicans don’t quite get that they are hopeless at oversight hearings. They keep losing.
OPINION: Putin outmaneuveres Obama
Why is Putin moving so quickly and so brazenly? Because he’s got only 16 more months to push on the open door that is Obama.
OPINION: Democrats lashed to Clinton
Unless she’s indicted, Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination.
OPINION: Middle Eastern Christians diminishing
Christianity, whose presence in the Middle East predates Islam’s by 600 years, is about to be cleansed from the Middle East. Egyptian Copts may have found some respite under Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, but after their persecution under the previous Muslim Brotherhood government, they know how precarious their existence in 90 percent Muslim Egypt remains.
OPINION: New Horizons arrival at Pluto marvel of space travel
Amid the vandalizing of Palmyra, the imminent extinction of the northern white rhino, the disarray threatening Europe’s most ambitious attempt ever at peaceful unification — amid plague and pestilence and, by God, in the middle of Shark Week — where can humanity turn for uplift?
OPINION: The increasingly crowded field separated by category
With 10 already in the race for the Republican presidential nomination and another six likely to jump in, it’s difficult for a voter to keep the cast straight.
OPINION: Some modern practices as unthinkable as those in past
Some things are unnecessary. Caging beautiful creatures. Displaying them for spectacle. It’s good that these are being rethought.
Hillary is a stationary target. You know what you’re getting. She has her weaknesses: She’s not a great campaigner, she has that unshakable inauthenticity problem and, regarding the quality most important to getting elected, she is barely, in the merciless phrase of candidate Obama in 2008, “likable enough.”
OPINION: The inspection promises are a farce
Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure is kept intact, just frozen or repurposed for the length of the deal (about a decade).
Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress was notable in two respects. Queen Esther got her first standing O in 2,500 years. And President Obama came up empty in his campaign to pre-emptively undermine Netanyahu before the Israeli prime minister could present his case on the Iran negotiations.
Filibuster abolition is more than a one-shot proposition. It would radically change the next two years. It would give Republicans full control of the Congress and allow swift passage of a GOP agenda.
Russia pushes deep into eastern Ukraine. The Islamic State burns to death a Jordanian pilot. Iran extends its hegemony over four Arab capitals — Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and now Sanaa. And America watches.
My view is that police-state control of every aspect of Cuban life is so thoroughly perfected that outside influences, whether confrontational or cooperative, only minimally affect the country’s domestic trajectory.
The media are so enamored of the continuing (and largely contrived) story about the great Republican civil war that they fail to appreciate that the real internecine fight is being waged on the other side of the aisle.
OPINION: Turkey sits to side while ISIS slaughters Kurds in Syria
Guerrilla war is a test of wills. Obama’s actual objectives — rollback in Iraq, containment in Syria — are not unreasonable. But they require commitment and determination.
Memo to the GOP: Win the Senate, then enact an agenda and dare the president to veto it. Show the country what you stand for. Then take it to the nation in 2016.
Yes, it is true that there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq when George W. Bush took office. But it is equally true that there was essentially no al-Qaeda in Iraq remaining when Barack Obama took office.
The Democrats are portraying the not-yet-even constituted House Select Committee on Benghazi as nothing but a partisan exercise.
The debate over campaign contributions is never-ending for a simple reason: Both sides of the argument have merit.
Two months ago, a petition bearing more than 110,000 signatures was delivered to The Washington Post demanding a ban on any article questioning global warming. The petition arrived the day before publication of my column, which consisted of precisely that heresy.
Obama’s dismissal of Russia as a regional power makes his own leadership of the one superpower all the more embarrassing. For seven decades since the Japanese surrender, our role under 11 presidents had been as offshore balancer protecting smaller allies from potential regional hegemons.
Whether anything Obama says or does would stop anyone remains questionable. But surely the West has more financial clout than Russia’s kleptocratic extraction economy that exports little but oil, gas and vodka.
Last Friday, Obama ostentatiously visited drought-stricken California. Surprise! He blamed climate change. Here even The New York Times gagged, pointing out that far from being supported by the evidence, “the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter.”
This is not to indict, but simply to advocate for caution grounded in humility. It’s not surprising that myths about the workings of the fabulously complex U.S. health care system continue to tantalize — and confound — policymakers.
Fixated as we Americans are on Canada’s three most attention-getting exports — polar vortexes, Alberta clippers and the antics of Toronto’s addled mayor — we’ve somewhat overlooked a major feature of Canada’s current relations with the United States: extreme annoyance.
The persistence of anti-Semitism, that most ancient of poisons, is one of history’s great mysteries. Even the shame of the Holocaust proved no antidote. It provided but a temporary respite. Anti-Semitism is back. Alas, a new generation must learn to confront it.
Who can argue with no bailout? Let the Senate Democrats decide — support the bailout and lose the Senate. Or oppose the bailout and bury Obamacare.
The lie of the year, according to Politifact, is “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” But the story of the year is a nation waking up to just how radical Obamacare is — which is why it required such outright deception to get it passed in the first place.
How to sum up our diplomancy? Three crises, one president, many bewildered friends.
At rallies, Obama routinely says he has important things to do and he’s not going to wait for Congress. Well, amending a statute after it’s been duly enacted is something a president may not do without Congress. It’s a gross violation of his Article II duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
The mullahs are eager for this interim agreement with its immediate yield of political and economic relief. Once they get it, we will have removed their one incentive to conclude the only agreement that is worth anything to us — a verifiable giving up of their nuclear program.
The more likely scenario, however, is that Obamacare does fail. It either fails politically, renounced by a wide consensus that includes a growing number of Democrats. Or it succumbs to the financial complications (the insurance “death spiral”) of the very amendments desperately tacked on to save it.
I’m not surprised that Obama tells untruths. He’s surely not the only politician to do so. I’m just surprised that he chooses to tell such obvious ones — ones that will inevitably be found out.
This week, the Obamacare O-ring froze for all the world to see: Hundreds of thousands of cancelation letters went out to people who had been assured a dozen times by the president that “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan. Period.” The cancellations lay bare three pillars of Obamacare: (a) mendacity, (b) paternalism and (c) subterfuge.
Let’s recognize that there are many people of good will for whom “Washington Redskins” contains sentimental and historical attachment — and not an ounce of intended animus.
As for the peace process, it has about zero chance of disarming Damascus. We’ve spent nine years disarming an infinitely smaller arsenal in Libya — in conditions of peace — and we’re still finding undeclared stockpiles.
Unless he’s serious, vote no
Regarding Egypt, rather than emoting, we should be thinking: what’s best for Egypt, for us and for the possibility of some eventual democratic future.
At stake is not some constitutional curlicue. At stake is whether the laws are the law. And whether presidents get to write their own.
The economy stagnates. Syria burns. Scandals lap at his feet. China and Russia mock him, even as a “29-year-old hacker” revealed his nation’s spy secrets to the world. How does President Obama respond? With a grandiloquent speech on climate change.
Well, at least we’re starting to get the procedure right. Washington has rediscovered the beauty of the boring. It’s called “regular order,” using the normal, routine, constitutional process to arrive at, for example, a budget.
Is a bipartisan immigration deal at hand? It's close. Last week, the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce worked out a guest-worker compromise that allows in foreign workers on a sliding scale of 20,000 to 200,000, depending on the strength of the economy.