U.S. PRESIDENT’S DAY 2014 IS NOTHING TO CELEBRATE: OBAMA’S RECORD ON “OBAMACARE”, BENGHAZI AND FOREIGN POLICY HAVE BEEN ABYSMAL

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 



                                           

Obama's Hollow Promises Abroad: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Feb. 12, 2014— As U.S. credibility and stature diminish in world affairs, the American president and his secretaries of state and defence engage in eloquent denial.

Obamacare’s War on Jobs: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Feb. 13, 2014 — In the ongoing saga of the Affordable Care Act, oddly referred to by Democrats as the law of the land even as it is amended at will by presidential fiat, we are beginning to understand the extent of its war on jobs.

Switching Sides: Richard Baehr, Israel Hayom, Jan. 24, 2014 — Earlier this week, The New Yorker published a 17,000 word article by its editor, David Remnick, summarizing his time spent recently in travels with President Barack Obama.

Credulous and Tendentious on Benghazi: National Review, Dec. 31, 2013— The New York Times has published a strange but unsurprising account of the attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012…

 

On Topic Links

 

Syria Will Haunt the President and his Advisers: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Feb. 17, 2014

Handing the Middle East to Russia: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Feb. 16, 2014

Syria Will Haunt the President and his Advisers: Jennifer Rubin, Feb. 17, 2014

Stop Jerking Canada Around: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Jan. 23, 2013   

Survey: U.S. Press Freedom Plunges Under Obama to 46th in World, After Romania: Meghan Drake

, Washington Times, Feb. 11, 2014

The President Inhales: Wall Street Journal, Jan. 21, 2014

 

OBAMA'S HOLLOW PROMISES ABROAD                      

Daniel Pipes                                                                        

Washington Times, Feb. 12, 2014

 

As U.S. credibility and stature diminish in world affairs, the American president and his secretaries of state and defence engage in eloquent denial. Unfortunately for them, realities trump words, even persuasive ones.

At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, “where the water-cooler chatter was about America’s waning influence in the Middle East,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry proclaimed himself “perplexed by claims … that somehow America is disengaging from the world.” Nothing could be further from the truth, he asserted: “We are entering an era of American diplomatic engagement that is as broad and as deep as any at any time in our history.” Likewise, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has called for “a renewed and enhanced era of partnership with our friends and allies.”

 

In this spirit, President Obama has made multiple promises to reassure allies. To South Korea, which depends on the American “tripwire” to deter a demented dictator who could flatten Seoul within the first few hours of an artillery barrage, Mr. Obama promised that “the commitment of the United States to the Republic of Korea will never waver.” To Japan, which depends on the U.S. 7th Fleet to deter increasingly aggressive Chinese encroachment on the Senkaku Islands, he reaffirmed that “the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to Japan,” which the State Department specifically indicated includes the Senkaku Islands. To Taiwan, whose security against mainland China depends on the American deterrent, he “reaffirmed our commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act,” which requires the United States to maintain the capacity “to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security” of Taiwan. To the Philippines, worried about its territories in the South China Sea claimed by China, particularly the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Reef, he reaffirmed a commitment to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty that provides, in the event of an armed attack, that the United States “would act to meet the common dangers.” To Saudi Arabia, alarmed by Mr. Obama’s appeasement of Iran in the Joint Plan of Action, he reiterated “the firm commitment of the United States to our friends and allies in the Gulf.” Finally, to Israel, isolated in a sea of enemies, Mr. Obama declared “America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” because standing by Israel “is in our fundamental national security interest.”

 

The trouble is, first, that Americans doubt these fine and steadfast words. Record numbers of Americans think that U.S. global power and prestige are declining, according to the Pew Research Center. For the first time in surveys dating back to the 1970s, “a majority (53 percent) says the United States plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago,” while only 17 percent thought American power has been enhanced. An even larger majority, 70 percent, “say the United States is less respected than in the past.” Another 51 percent say Mr. Obama is “not tough enough” in foreign policy and national security issues. More than two-thirds have a negative opinion of the president’s handling of Iran, the Mellman Group found. A majority (54 percent to 37 percent) support targeted military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities, rather than allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons. McLaughlin & Associates finds that 49 percent of respondents think America’s standing has been diminished during Mr. Obama’s five-plus years in office; 40 percent think America’s adversaries now look at Mr. Obama with contempt.

 

Second, the Pew Research Center reports that half the populations in Britain, France and Germany, as well as a third in the United States and Russia, see China eventually replacing the United States as the world’s leading superpower. Two-thirds of Israelis think Mr. Obama will not stop the Iranians from getting nuclear weapons. Third, world leaders in countries as varied as Japan, Poland and Israel hear Mr. Obama’s promises as unrelated to reality. Speaking for many, Josef Joffe of Germany’s Die Zeit weekly finds “consistency and coherence to Obama’s attempt to retract from the troubles of the world, to get the U.S. out of harm’s way. to be harsh about it, he wants to turn the U.S. into a very large medium power.” Successful “diplomatic engagement,” as Mr. Kerry calls it, must be backed by consistency, power and will, not by nice words, hollow promises and wishful thinking. Will the Obama administration realize this before doing permanent damage? Watch the Iranian nuclear deal for possible changes, or not.

 

[Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, is a CIJR Academic Fellow]

 

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OBAMACARE’S WAR ON JOBS                                                        

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, Feb. 13, 2014

 

In the ongoing saga of the Affordable Care Act, oddly referred to by Democrats as the law of the land even as it is amended at will by presidential fiat, we are beginning to understand the extent of its war on jobs. First, the Congressional Budget Office triples its estimate of the drop in the workforce resulting from the disincentive introduced by Obamacare’s insurance subsidies: 2 million by 2017, 2.3 million by 2021.

 

Democratic talking points gamely defend this as a good thing because these jobs are being given up voluntarily. Nancy Pelosi spoke lyrically about how Obamacare subsidies will allow people to leave unfulfilling jobs to pursue their passions: “Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.”

 

Nothing so lyrical has been written about work since Marx (in “The German Ideology”) described a communist society that “makes it possible for me to . . . hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner.” Pelosi’s vision is equally idyllic except for one thing: The taxes of the American factory worker — grinding away dutifully at his repetitive mind-numbing job — will be subsidizing the voluntary unemployment of the artiste in search of his muse. A rather paradoxical position for the party that poses as tribune of the working man.

 

In the reductio ad absurdum of entitlement liberalism, White House spokesman Jay Carney was similarly enthusiastic about this Obamacare-induced job loss. Why, Obamacare creates the “opportunity” that “allows families in America to make a decision about how they will work, and if they will work.” If they will work? Pre-Obama, people always had the right to quit work to tend full time to the study of butterflies. It’s a free country. The twist in the new liberal dispensation is that the butterfly guy is to be subsidized by the taxes of people who actually work. In the traditional opportunity society, government provides the tools — education, training and various incentives — to achieve the dignity of work and its promise of self-improvement and social mobility. In the new opportunity society, you are given the opportunity for idleness while living parasitically off everyone else. Why those everyone else’s should remain at their jobs — hey! I wanna dance, too! — is a puzzle Carney has yet to explain.

 

The honest liberal reply to the CBO report is that a disincentive to work is inherent in any means-tested government benefit. It’s the unavoidable price of helping those in need because for every new dollar you earn, you lose part of your subsidy and thus keep less and less of your nominal income. That’s inevitable. And that’s why we have learned to tie welfare, for example, to a work requirement. Otherwise, beneficiaries could choose to live off the dole forever. That’s why the 1996 Gingrich-Clinton welfare reform succeeded in reducing welfare rolls by two-thirds. It is not surprising that the same Obama administration that has been weakening the work requirement for welfare is welcoming the disincentive to work inherent in Obamacare.

 

But Obamacare’s war on jobs goes beyond voluntary idleness. The administration is now conceding, inadvertently but unmistakably, Obamacare’s other effect — involuntary job loss. On Monday, the administration unilaterally postponed and weakened the employer mandate, already suspended through 2015, for yet another year. But doesn’t this undermine the whole idea of universal health coverage? Of course it does, but Obamacare was so structured that it is crushing small business and killing jobs. It creates a major incentive for small businesses to cut back to under 50 employees to avoid the mandate. Your business becomes a 49er by either firing workers or reducing their hours to below 30 a week. Because that doesn’t count as full time, you escape both the employer mandate to buy health insurance and the fine for not doing so.

 

With the weakest recovery since World War II, historically high chronic unemployment and a shockingly low workforce participation rate, the administration correctly fears the economic consequences of its own law — and of the political fallout for Democrats as millions more Americans lose their jobs or are involuntarily reduced to part-time status. Conservatives have been warning about this for five years. This is not rocket science. Both the voluntary and forced job losses were utterly predictable. Pelosi insisted we would have to pass the law to know what’s in it. Now we know.

                                                                                                 

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SWITCHING SIDES                                                             

Richard Baehr                                                               

Israel Hayom, Feb. 17, 2014

 

Earlier this week, The New Yorker published a 17,000 word article by its editor, David Remnick, summarizing his time spent recently in travels with President Barack Obama. That Remnick should get such access to the president is not a surprise, since under his leadership, The New Yorker has shifted in a significant way from a magazine that was once known and widely respected for its fiction, essays and cartoons, to a magazine indistinguishable from many others for its role advancing the favored causes of the Left in the nation's political wars — whether it be hysteria about climate change, bashing Israel and its American supporters, or mocking Tea Party supporters and their preferred candidates, as well as Republicans of any denomination. Previous editor Tina Brown had turned The New Yorker into a Vanity Fair twin with fewer pictures and longer articles. Remnick has made The New Yorker a close relation of The Nation with more fashion ads and better paper stock, and the one constant — longer articles…

 

One part of Remnick's latest article has gotten a fair amount of attention. After the killing of Osama bin Laden, the administration hoped to coast to a 2012 re-election victory with the theme of "Bin Laden is dead (and so is al-Qaida), but General Motors is still alive." The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, provided an inconvenient truth, as if there were not other evidence around, that al-Qaida will still alive and kicking. It is in light of the campaign's messaging, that the administration's desperate effort to mislead about who was responsible for what happened in Benghazi and why they did what they did, became so important. The New York Times, 16 months after the date of the attack and the killings of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, was still busy doing legwork to buttress the White House's original fabrication that the attack resulted from a spontaneous demonstration aroused by a Muslim-mocking video produced by a Coptic Christian in the United States, that of course, no one in Libya had seen. In any case, the Times author, David Kirkpatrick, maintained that no evidence existed that al-Qaida had its hands in the attack. The Times of course, had multiple objectives with the Kirkpatrick whitewash — make sure Obama came out looking truthful (a big problem after the Obamacare lies), and make Benghazi go away for Hillary Clinton to better enable her to glide to victory in 2016.

 

With chaos seeming to envelop one country after another since the start of the so-called Arab Spring, and the clear involvement of al-Qaida and Sunni terror groups in violence occurring in many countries at the moment, the president has been at pains to justify his sweeping confidence that al-Qaida was a solved problem. Remnick describes the president's latest "all clear" on al-Qaida this way: "In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that al-Qaida had been 'decimated.' I pointed out that the flag of al-Qaida is now flying in Falluja, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; al-Qaida has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

 

"'The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant,' Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. 'I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.'"

 

Yesterday came news that Israelis had prevented an al-Qaida attack on the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv. The jayvee squad involved was arrested (Laker benchwarmers?). Wednesday's Wall Street Journal in its front page news box had five of the top seven stories relating to Sunni and al-Qaida linked terror attacks…One might think that the president's characterization of the current terror threat from Islamic radicals (of the Sunni persuasion) missed the mark. Does a terror attack on a U.S. embassy count as a major operation? It didn't for Obama and his national security team in Benghazi, so why should a Tel Aviv attack be viewed differently? Would a major attack at the Sochi winter games show evidence that the jayvee team had sent a few of its top stars on to the next level? The president is very confident with sports metaphors, but even Remnick seems uncomfortable with this one. In any case, Kobe and the Lakers are well past their best days, and the shelf life of the "al-Qaida is decimated and on the run" meme seems also to have expired. The Remnick articles speak of Obama feeling the need to address the stale thinking that is so common in America on foreign policy, and work through the new realities that are out there. But the al-Qaida threat seems more like an old reality that is hanging in there, with new delusions about their demise being the real problem with the White House team's thinking.

 

One other prominent new reality for the administration seems to be that Iran is on the verge of becoming a partner of the United States, given how many common goals the two countries share. Again, The New York Times is first with the breakout of the new "special relationship." The new partners have their work cut out for them, since Obama has to deal with interference from Israel which the president and his team, none too subtly suggest is poisoning the waters in Congress (which Obama friend Tom Friedman has argued is controlled by Jews and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Rather than threatening new sanctions against Iran for failure to perform under the terms of its current agreement with the P5+1, as a strong bipartisan majority in each branch of Congress prefers, the president is letting slip out that his current plan is to gut the sanctions that are already in place, and that likely forced Iran to begin serious negotiations for the first time.

 

The White House seems to be creating the foreign policy version of "Fifty Ways to Please Your Lover." Abandoning existing allies? Check. Always reading the best into Iranian intentions? Check. Providing fodder for anti-Semites in the U.S., Iran and the region who think Israel controls the U.S. government? Check. Ignoring every public Iranian declaration that puts the lie to their having changed course with their nuclear program? Check. Love can be blind, but in this case, something else may be in play — the administration has switched sides, so it has become part of the Iranian propaganda machine. Maybe the president actually sat through those Reverend Jeremiah Wright sermons.  

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CREDULOUS AND TENDENTIOUS ON BENGHAZI                             

National Review, Dec. 31, 2013

 

The New York Times has published a strange but unsurprising account of the attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012 — strange in that it presents the explanations and testimony of terrorists involved in the attack without comment or context, and unsurprising because that account supports the narrative the Obama administration aggressively promoted for weeks after the massacre.

 

The first of the Grey Lady’s two key findings: “Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.” This means the Times reporter, David Kirkpatrick, has ignored the evidence that al-Qaeda-linked groups, such as the Egypt-based Jamal network, almost surely did have a role in the assault — as reported by the New York Times in October 2012. Such evidence has been uncovered by the American intelligence community, as attested to by Democratic and Republican representatives with knowledge of it.

 

The second finding: The massacre was partly a spontaneous event, and some of the Libyan attackers were angered by a YouTube video that Islamists across the Middle East cited as the inspiration for September 11’s violent demonstrations. This is remarkably thinly sourced — the account admits that “many [of those arriving at the U.S. compound] learned of the video for the first time,” and merely maintains that “Libyan witnesses . . . said they received lectures from the attackers about the evil of the film and the virtue of defending the prophet.” Even the Times didn’t manage to find witnesses who could support the Obama administration’s chronology. Susan Rice told us that a video-related demonstration gave rise to the attack; David Kirkpatrick and his Islamist sources say that those angered by the video arrived at a compound already overrun by attackers who had coordinated their assault.

 

The account is hard to believe on its face: Kirkpatrick pins the planned attack on Ahmed Abu Khattala, a local militia leader who granted him an interview. For his part, Khattala acknowledges his presence at the attacks but says he showed up late — and somehow “strolled coolly through” the raging firefight, Kirkpatrick reports. He heads the Benghazi branch of Ansar al-Sharia, a jihadist organization whose nearby franchise, in a town called Derna, is run by a former Guantanamo Bay detainee and associate of Osama bin Laden. The Derna group denies a role in Benghazi, but the groups share a propaganda outlet, and sources such as the Tunisian prime minister acknowledge there’s mounting evidence that the two groups are one, and connected to the al-Qaeda branch in North Africa. Khattala, like other Benghazi militiamen, gushes about his support for al-Qaeda’s worldwide efforts. Is it so hard to believe that, given the keen interest counterterrorism efforts take in the global network, he has been less than honest about his connection to it and its role in the Benghazi assault?

 

When Islamic terrorists who support the ideology and sport the heraldry of the global al-Qaeda network killed an American ambassador on the anniversary of 9/11, the Obama administration eagerly accepted their version of the story: that locally based protests had responded to offensive Western blasphemy. As the Islamist threat grows, the Obama administration has continually, carefully claimed success in defeating “the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11” — Arabs based in Afghanistan and Pakistan and known as “core al-Qaeda.” But there is evidence, though it’s not dispositive, to suggest that the groups participating in the attack in Benghazi had connections to this group. In fact, core al-Qaeda, now led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, urged the group’s affiliate in Yemen to “do something” on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, and his brother led the attack in Cairo that preceded Benghazi. In Benghazi, Islamist terrorist groups demonstrated, in a tragic and humiliating fashion, an ability to threaten the national-security interests of the United States. Rather than forthrightly address this failure, the administration has given credence to the idea that American deeds — words here, actually — are to blame for Islamist terrorism against the West. This claim is as poorly supported here as ever, but is convenient for this administration’s ideological leanings and political designs.

 

Ultimately, several other conclusions are undeniable: The Times report confirms that our representatives in Benghazi had laughably little security because of the administration’s naïve trust in Islamists, their inability to recognize the threat terrorist groups posed in Libya, and the efforts from the very top to keep the U.S. presence in the country low-profile. Those failures fall, first, at the feet of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. And the men who murdered Americans and humiliated our country have yet to pay any price for their crimes. That failure is ultimately traceable to her superior, President Barack Obama. The president will never contest another election, so he may not have to answer for these failures. The Times has done its best to ensure that Clinton doesn’t have to, either.

 

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Syria Will Haunt the President and his Advisers: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Feb. 17, 2014— It must be maddening spinning for the White House.

Handing the Middle East to Russia: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Feb. 16, 2014 —Some 40 years ago, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat ended his regime’s alliance with, and reliance on, the Soviet Union, and, in one of the Cold war’s most dramatic turnabouts, joined the Middle Eastern bloc of nations close to the United States.

Stop Jerking Canada Around: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Jan. 23, 2013— 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.  

Survey: U.S. Press Freedom Plunges Under Obama to 46th in World, After Romania: Meghan Drake, Washington Times, Feb. 11, 2014—The Obama administration’s handling of whistleblower Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency leaks and the investigation of a string of leaks produced a plunge in the country’s rating on press freedoms and government openness, according to a global survey released Tuesday.

The President Inhales: Wall Street Journal, Jan. 21, 2014 —To the delight of dorm rooms everywhere, President Obama has all but endorsed marijuana legalization.

 

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