Exclusive: Oval Office Watch - Tuesday, July 7
by OVAL OFFICE WATCH
July 7, 2009
Czarred And Feathered
It's been suggested that the White House has more czars than the Russian Romanov dynasty. Has the administration forgotten that we have a government of elected officials, not of imperial appointments?
Czars, or functionaries with the task of ensuring White House commands are followed, have been part of the U.S. government for decades. It's unclear, though, how many are in this administration, as it is not an official title. PolitiFact.com from the St. Petersburg Times believes the count has swelled to as many as 28 under President Obama.
Many of these czars, most of whom are useless or counterproductive, are sitting in newly created positions. They range from Kenneth Feinberg, the pay czar who is the special master on executive compensation, to Earl Devaney, who, as the stimulus accountability czar, will chair the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board. Others among the 28 include... Read article.
Selling Universal Health Care
Jack Ward, Chronwatch-America.com
We have been told that the current financial crisis was caused by the default of sub-prime home loans and we have been told that the way out of the crisis is to create universal government health care. The plan will add 47 to 50 million to the health care program--and we are told that it will be a cost savings. The cost savings goals seem dubious. It is understandable that this fuzzy math confuses the public since it is hard to find a cost effective government program. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid all cost significantly more than originally promised.
These programs and other entitlements have made our debt and deficits unsustainable. David Walker, the former comptroller of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), warned that our unfunded liabilities and future obligations exceed $53 trillion. (A trillion is a million x a million.) These are staggering numbers that few fully understand. But it is evident that the fiscal problems and lack of confidence in our politicians has made selling the universal health care plan difficult.
To sell universal heath care the politicians should learn from successful inventors. Why inventors? Inventors do something unique. They create something from an idea. Inventors go through a step-by-step thought process from idea through development to successful production. Read article.
‘Better’ health care?
John Stossel, JWR.com
President Obama says government will make health care cheaper and better. But there's no free lunch.
More than a million and a half Canadians say they can't find a family doctor. Some towns hold lotteries to determine who gets a doctor. In Norwood, Ontario, "20/20" videotaped a town clerk pulling the names of the lucky winners out of a lottery box. The losers must wait to see a doctor.
Shirley Healy, like many sick Canadians, came to America for surgery. Her doctor in British Columbia told her she had only a few weeks to live because a blocked artery kept her from digesting food. Yet Canadian officials called her surgery "elective."
"The only thing elective about this surgery was I elected to live," she said.
It's true that America's partly profit-driven, partly bureaucratic system is expensive, and sometimes wasteful, but the pursuit of profit reduces waste and costs and gives the world the improvements in medicine that ease pain and save lives.
"[America] is the country of medical innovation. This is where people come when they need treatment," Dr. Gratzer says. Read article.
GOP: Stand Your Ground!
Dick Morris, Vote.com
Only the Senate and House Republicans can save Obama now by compromising and lending his extremist legislation the veneer of bipartisanship in order to remove it as a political issue.
If the likes of GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine), Susan Collins (Maine), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Orrin Hatch (Utah) and others refuse to go along with Obama on healthcare and on cap-and-trade, they will force him to pass both programs as one-party bills. Not only is it possible that as public support runs out on these measures he will fail even to get 50 votes to pass them, but it is likely that even if they go through, they doom his administration to perpetual unpopularity.
Obama is, quite simply, stuck with these programs as a result of his campaign promises. But they will become larger and larger burdens to carry as their unpopularity increases.
Already, only 50 percent of voters indicate agreement with "Obama's healthcare reforms" while 45 percent register opposition. As it becomes increasingly obvious that these changes will endanger the healthcare of all Americans, the popularity of the program will fall. And once it becomes clear that the only way to fund it is to tax healthcare premiums paid by employers (after Obama specifically attacked McCain for making the same proposal), the ratings of the program -- and of all who supported it -- will drop even more sharply. Read article.
The Biggest Economic Mistake Since The Days Of Herbert Hoover
[Rep. McClintock gave the following floor speech in opposition to the Cap and Trade legislation on June 26, 2009.]
I had a strange sense of Deja Vu as I watched the self-congratulatory rhetoric on the house floor tonight, and I feel compelled to offer this warning from the Left Coast.
Three years ago, I stood on the floor of the California Senate and watched a similar celebration over a similar bill, AB 32. And I have spend the last three years watching as that law has dangerously deepened California’s recession. It uses a different mechanism than Cap and Trade, but the objective is the same: to force a dramatic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
Up until that bill took effect, California’s unemployment numbers tracked very closely with the national unemployment rate. But then in January of 2007, California’s unemployment rate began a steady upward divergence from the national jobless figures. Today, California’s unemployment rate is more than two points above the national rate, and at its highest point since 1941.
What is it that happened in January of 2007? AB 32 took effect and began shutting down entire segments of California’s economy. Let me give you one example from my district. Read article.
The Power Vacuum in the Middle East
David P. Goldman, First Things.com
Writing this morning in Asia Times Online, I draw out the implications of the power vacuum left by the collapse of American foreign policy with the Iranian elections. The editors’ summary is:
President Barack Obama has not betrayed the interests of the United States to any foreign power, but he has done the next worst thing, namely, to create a void by withdrawing American power. By removing America as a referee, he will provoke more violence than the United States ever did. A very, very dangerous period is about to begin, and it could start with Iran.
There’s no one left to betray America to. Obama is creating a strategic void in which no major power will dominate, and every minor power must fend for itself. The outcome is incalculably hard to analyze and terrifying to consider. Obama doesn’t want to betray the United States; he only wants to empower America’s enemies. Forcing Israel to abandon its strategic buffer (the so-called settlements) was supposed to placate Iran, so that Iran would help America stabilize Iraq, where its influence looms large over the Shi’ite majority. Read article.
Has Obama Turned on Israel? Settlements, rockets and Iran.
Alan Dershowitz, WSJ.com
Many American supporters of Israel who voted for Barack Obama now suspect they may have been victims of a bait and switch. Jewish Americans voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Obama over John McCain in part because the Obama campaign went to great lengths to assure these voters that a President Obama would be supportive of Israel. This despite his friendships with rabidly anti-Israel characters like Rev. Jeremiah Wright and historian Rashid Khalidi.
At the suggestion of Mr. Obama's Jewish supporters -- including me -- the candidate visited the beleaguered town of Sderot, which had borne the brunt of thousands of rocket attacks by Hamas. Standing in front of the rocket shells, Mr. Obama declared: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing." This heartfelt statement sealed the deal for many supporters of Israel.
Now, some of them apparently have voters' remorse. According to Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, "President Obama's strongest supporters among Jewish leaders are deeply troubled by his recent Middle East initiatives, and some are questioning what he really believes." I hear the same thing from rank-and-file supporters of Israel who voted for Mr. Obama. Read article.
As Inevitable as the Sun Rising . . .
Victor Davis Hanson, NRO.com
By 2006 a once-pro-Bush press (that had earlier wished to piggyback on his popularity between 2001–2003) had turned on the president and offered four liberal critiques of Bush and his supporters: One, he had run continual deficits, and as a conservative was hypocritical in not balancing the budget; two, he had crafted an extensive "war on terror" that in aggregate eroded civil liberties; three, his rhetoric and unilateralism in Iraq and elsewhere had strained relations abroad, and made the world much more unsafe; and four, he had said little about a "culture of corruption" among Congressional Republicans.
Both parties are hypocritical and object to policies and methodologies when out of power that they often embrace when in office. But liberal-media silence is mind-boggling over Obama's massive deficits (projected over ten years to outpace all the red-ink run up by all the presidents of the past); his embrace of Bush-era renditions, tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, Predator attacks, and policies on Iraq and Afghanistan; the sudden confrontational mood of North Korea, Iran, Russia, and simmering contempt from Merkel, Sarkozy and some eastern Europeans; and Obama's complete indifference to rampant corruption not only of tax-challenged cabinet nominees, but serial congressional offenders like Chris Dodd, John Murtha, Charles Rangel, etc.
An objective press might have warned us that the Obama deficits are simply unsustainable and quadruple Bush's; that Obama has employed euphemism to disguise the fact that the Bush pedestrian war on terror apparently is now considered to have kept us safe after 9/11; that a firm but unfortunately sometimes insensitive America is less dangerous than an equivocating and therapeutic United States; and that corrupt but emboldened congressional Democrats apparently believe they are completely exempt from the sort of censure that once met their Republican counterparts. Read article.
Obama's Obsolete Iran Policy: The audacity of hope gives way to the timidity of realism.
Bret Stephens, Online WSJ.com
President Obama's Iran policy is incoherent and obsolete. Maybe David Axelrod should take note.
On Sunday, June 28, Mr. Obama's consigliere was asked about Iran by ABC's George Stephanopoulos and NBC's David Gregory. Mr. Gregory asked whether there "should be consequences" for the regime's violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations. "The consequences, I think, will unfold over time in Iran," answered Mr. Axelrod.
Mr. Stephanopoulos quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying that "this time, the Iranian nation's reply will be harsh and more decisive to make the West regret its meddlesome stance." Said Mr. Axelrod, "I'm not going to entertain his bloviations that are politically motivated." As for whether the administration wasn't selling short the demonstrators, Mr. Axelrod could only say that "the president's sense of solicitude with those young people has been very, very clear."
Bottom line from Mr. Axelrod, and presumably Mr. Obama, too: "We are going to continue to work through . . . the multilateral group of nations that are engaging Iran, and they have to make a decision, George, whether they want to further isolate themselves in every way from the community of nations, or whether they are going to embrace that."
Obama’s Cairo Address: Distortions, Fabrications, Inaccuracies, Exaggerations, and Outright Fallacies.
David Solway, Pajamas Media.com
President Barack Obama’s famous (or infamous)  Cairo address of June 4, 2009, has been subjected to the unrelenting scrutiny of many reputable observers and distinguished political scholars — and found egregiously wanting. It is replete with distortions, fabrications, lacunae, misconceptions, inaccuracies, lies, exaggerations, and outright historical fallacies. There is scarcely a passage without its resident howler. I do not have the space to run through this near-interminable list here — anyone with a decent knowledge of history or ready access to a search engine can trawl for himself — but I will provide two exemplary instances of historical error.
As has been repeatedly pointed out, Obama’s allusion to Islam’s “proud history of tolerance” which can be seen “in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition” is a blooper of major scale. Islam flourished in Cordoba chiefly during the tenth century; the Inquisition began to wreak its havoc toward the end of the fifteenth. If the president can drop five centuries from the historical calendar without skipping a beat, one is surely entitled to suspect the pondered validity of many of his other calculations.
Obama is a classic example of a shrewd but poorly educated political impostor who has managed to achieve immense power — not very different, except in the outer gloss, from, say, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. But Obama’s flagrant ignorance, or deliberate rewriting of the historical record, is only an expression of a much larger and indeed commonplace tendency to misconstrue the past in the interest of a set of comfortable preconceptions. This is, at bottom, among the main reasons he was elected: he reflects both the cognitive deprivations and jaundiced mindset of what has come to be called “liberal” culture. And “liberal” culture in the West is pretty much the name of the game these days. Read article.
Obama's strategies failing in Iran
Mark LeVine, AlJazeera.net
It took two weeks of intensified government repression against protesters in Iran before Barack Obama, the US president, moved from cautious commentary to describing the crackdown as "violent and unjust".
The acknowledged elephant in the room preventing a more robust US response to the Iranian crisis is the Anglo-American-organised coup in 1953, which overthrew Mohammed Mossadeqh, the nationalist prime minister, and brought the 33-year-old Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, back to the country as unchallenged ruler.
The coup was motivated by Mossadeqh's and the Iranian parliament's decision to nationalise the British-controlled Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951, and by the fear that Soviet-inspired communists might take over the government.
The US-sponsored overthrow of Mossadeqh and our subsequent whole-hearted support for the Shah's brutal rule are ignominious chapters in the history of US foreign policy.
But does a coup 55 years ago really disqualify the US from standing up forcefully for democracy in Iran today? It is highly unlikely.