Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mike Williams' Obama Watch - May 10, 2009

So why is Obama busy throwing lifelines to Iran while turning up the heat on Israel?

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line:

…Obama …intends to make Israel, which until now has been viewed as a major reason for dealing with the Iranian threat, into his excuse for ignoring it.

This strategy was in evidence this week when Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoelle called on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The idea is (a) to shift attention away from Iranian nukes to Israeli nukes and (b) to promote an inference of moral equivalence (Obama can't make the argument explicitly) under which Iran's possession of nukes seems reasonable enough. Never mind that Iran favors the elimination of Israel, while Israel has never questioned Iran's right to exist.

Even more cynically, Obama apparently intends to make the "Palestinian track" a higher priority than the Iranian track issue. His absurd pretext is that only if the Palestinians get their state will Obama, Europe and the grateful Arab world be able to pressure Iran into abandoning its nuclear program.

By giving himself a pass on dealing meaningfully with Iran until such time as the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is resolved, Obama virtually guarantees that he will never have to tackle Iran.

As I say, there is plenty of cynicism here. But I doubt that cynicism is the only force at play. I suspect that, like his spiritual mentor Jeremiah Wright (though of course not nearly to the same degree) and like much of the American left from which he springs, Obama, while entirely indifferent about Iran, affirmatively dislikes Israel.
Closer to home, ObamaCare looks to be on the way, whether we want it or not.

James C. Capretta and Yuval Levin have a good tutorial on what’s involved here, while Hugh Hewitt (HH) and Mark Steyn (MS) discuss the really scary part. An excerpt:
HH: Well now, this all is a roundabout way of coming, because I’m trying to figure this out, I’m spending the month of May on American medicine, asking doctors, posting their e-mails at, why do the Democrats want to do this? We have no evidence that it works anywhere.

They call it a government option, but it’s really single payer, and it really means rationing.

Everywhere you try it, you just mentioned Bulgaria, Great Britain and Canada, it is a disaster. Why do they want to do it?

MS: Well, what is does is, if you’re a Democrat, what it does is it changes the relationship between the citizen and the state. It alters the equation.

If you provide government health care, then suddenly all the elections, they’re not thought about war and foreign policy, or even big economic questions. They’re suddenly fought about government services, and the level of government services, and that’s all they’re about, because once you get government health care, the citizens’ dependency on government as provider is so fundamentally changed that in effect, every election is fought on left wing terms.

And for the Democratic Party, that is a huge, transformative advantage….
In other news, California, you may have heard, is in danger of going broke in July. So the Governator and the state legislature worked out a compromise “to erase the state's giant budget deficit with a mix of tax increases, spending cuts and borrowing.”

But Washington, in effect, vetoed it:
The Obama administration is threatening to rescind billions of dollars in federal stimulus money if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers do not restore wage cuts to unionized home healthcare workers approved in February as part of the budget.

Schwarzenegger's office was advised this week by federal health officials that the wage reduction, which will save California $74 million, violates provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Failure to revoke the scheduled wage cut before it takes effect July 1 could cost California $6.8 billion in stimulus money, according to state officials.
Dafydd at Big Lizards takes up the thread:
(Do we detect a pattern here? Once again, as with the Chrysler and GM bankruptcies, we see the president personally intervening to tip the scales in favor of unions and against creditors, shareholders, and now, the entire citizenry of the largest state in the United States.)

But evidently, the president had no legal grounds to issue such an order to the state. How do we know this? Because he did not issue an executive order, nor did he ask Solicitor General Elena Kagan to file for an injunction in federal court. He didn't even ask [Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen] Sebelius to issue an administrative ruling.

Nope; Obama has chosen a method more suited to his powers as Capo di Tutti Capi...
And finally – we’ve mentioned that the last word on the “torture” probe was that Justice had punted to the states for any disciplinary action against the authors of the memos Obama declassified.

Paul Mirengoff, again:
The Washington Post editorial board purports to call for "fairness in the torture probe." I'll have more to say about this editorial later, but for now I want to focus on this passage regarding the Justice Department's investigation, through its Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), into legal analysis performed by Jay Bybee and John Yoo:
Investigations of this type are usually kept secret unless and until the investigating entity determines that wrongdoing has occurred. There's a certain logic and decency to this: Mere news that someone is under investigation is often enough to tarnish that person's reputation -- even if charges ultimately are not brought.

Yet the existence of the investigation and many details of the OPR report have already found their way into the public arena. For example, The Post and other news outlets have reported that the OPR will recommend that Judge Bybee and Mr. Yoo be referred to their respective bar associations for possible sanctions.
The Post makes it sound like the leaks of the OPR report…are nothing more than a deviation from the usual way of doing things. In fact, they are a violation of OPR's rules and, it would appear, a criminal violation of the Privacy Act.
Mirengoff goes on to describe these rules:
Here, the key conditions for disclosure have not been satisfied. For example, the draft was leaked before Bybee, Yoo, or their lawyers had an opportunity to comment and before the Department of Justice determined that the preliminary report should become final….
Mirengoff concludes:
The "fairness" the Washington Post calls for is, I assume, out of the question on this issue with this administration. But is it too much to ask that the Obama-Holder Justice Department comply with the law?

It seems to me that DOJ should consider the appointment of a Special Counsel to look into this matter. Surely this is what the Democrats, and the Washington Post, would be calling for if leaks like these had occurred under a Republican administration.
Happy Mother’s Day!