Sep 20 2009

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  • So many events, so little time. So today we hit three issues in quick succession.
  • Ad hominem is the last resort of the scoundrel. So why would I be surprised that Jimmy Carter, and now others on the Left, are ascribing vocal objection to Obama policies to racism?
  • Could it be that they do so without any empirical basis?
  • Could it be that the charge falls flat in the face of the 40 million white citizens who contributed to Obama’s 67 million votes and historic victory last November?
  • Could it be, as David Brooks pointed out in his most recent column, that the pro-liberty protesters that came to Washington last Saturday mixed so easily with people in an African American event on the Mall the same day, making charges that the protesters were racists patently absurd?
  • My surprise is matched only by my sadness that public figures so freely and easily bandy about the most odious of social monikers to denigrate the motives of fellow citizens.
  • How frighteningly ideological are you to believe that Team Obama’s policies are perfected beyond criticism, leaving only race as a rationale for protest?
  • Moreover, as a polity of decent, honest and patriotic people, what kind of chilling effect does this racial extremism create on free speech as we sort through the consequential issues of our time, when toxic and illegitimate accusation is an increasingly acceptable tool of suppression for legitimate critique?
  • Instead of being outraged myself, I am simply with the President on this one.
  • Speaking during his marathon tour on the Sunday talk shows, Obama noted that there are people who voted both for and against him exclusively on race – confirming a fringe racism that exists, and is not exclusively white.
  • To his credit, Obama does not see the current protests against his policies as race-based. In so doing, he has “Man’d Up” to the job as a battle of ideas – and crucially a battle between a body of equals.
  • Democrats and racial cranks take note from the top.
  • And in the middle of all the toxic race baiting and partisan sniping on health care, did anyone notice regulatory actions taken this week?
  • This Journal noted in an April 17th post that the EPA had granted itself authority to regulate Greenhouse Gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.
  • For all of the folks who are convinced that Cap N’ Trade legislation has no chance in the Senate and that the economy is safe from radical environmentalism you need to take note.  Team Obama has a Plan B, and is going to do this through regulations if it can’t do it through legislation.
  • This past Tuesday, the Administration quietly set out the first Greenhouse Gas emissions standards for the auto industry.
  • This is enormously consequential.
  • Under the federal action, fuel economy standards are set to rise to 35.5 mpg by 2016.  According to the EPA Administrator, this would reduce carbon dioxide emissions per car by 250 grams per mile, helping to improve America’s carbon footprint between the years 2012-2016 by preventing Greenhouse Gas emissions equivalent to those of 42 million cars.
  • The Washington Post noted that the action was taken with “automakers participation” but typically failed to note that two of the Big Three that provided that “input” are owned by the government under a takeover that was planned and executed by the Obama administration, and overseen by an unconfirmed Obama Czar.
  • This is beyond surreal.
  • And those cars coming off the line? They’ll reach the new fuel economy goal using “start-stop” technology (ostensibly so your car will automatically shut off at traffic lights of heavy traffic), engine efficiency (read small, for both the engine and the car) and “improvements” in transmissions, tires and air conditioning.
  • Do you know who is going to want to buy these vehicles?  Neither do I. And you thought the first bailout of the auto industry was big…
  • And finally, let’s talk missile defense.
  • There was uproar this week when the Administration announced that it was abandoning a Bush administration plan to place anti-missile interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic to counter the growing missile capability of Iran. The original plan, voraciously opposed by the Russians for no good reason (the Russians could overwhelm the missiles with little or no effort), became a central focus in US-Russian relations, and by definition, US-NATO-Russian relations.
  • But the announcement requires parsing. In shelving the Bush plan, Obama did not abdicate responsibility for the emerging Iranian missile threat or, ostensibly, for the defense of our Eastern European allies.
  • The plan, announced by Secretary of Defense Gates, is phased, flexible and deploys proven technology to meet the most pressing Iranian threats, in the next several years, which are Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs). The Bush plan anticipated dealing with long range ballistic missiles, which the Iranians are less advanced in producing. The change in plan meets an analytical change in threat.
  • That said, however, the decision and announcement are a fairly catastrophic event for US foreign policy when considering all its components.
  • Eastern European governments, particularly in the Czech Republic, went out on a limb to accept the missile deployments. Now, these governments have been effectively double crossed by the US.
  • And in the abstract world of geo-politics, while the deployments had nothing to do with Russia – and in fact, offered next to nothing in terms of defense against Russia – the fact that Putin and his gang of thugs focused on the deployments made the missiles incredibly important symbolically for NATO solidarity in the face of Russian aggressiveness.  Team Obama has now created a crisis of confidence in US assurances to our NATO Treaty partners in Eastern Europe.
  • In 2004, Democratic nominee John Kerry belittled the coalition of troops in Iraq that included contingents from Poland, as somehow unworthy.  Now President Obama has symbolically deferred to the Russians on an issue that is impossible to separate from five centuries of history marked by invasion and occupation by Russia, with a disproportionate impact on current security arrangements with Eastern Europeans.
  • And recognizing that history, can anybody explain what motivated Team Obama to make this delicate announcement on the 70th anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Poland as part of the Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939?
  • Is the Administration worse off being called tone deaf, or simply inept?
  • Of course the decision has been lauded by Putin and his gang, but there is scant evidence thus far of what the US has received in handing this gift to the Russians. At last reading, the Russians continued to oppose stronger sanctions on Teheran for its nuclear efforts.  We can only hope that Team Obama is smarter than to trade away a significant chit for nothing in return from the Russians.
  • As of this writing, we simply don’t know.  And until we do, until we know there is some strategic plan here, America under Obama’s leadership simply looks weak and vacillating.
  • That is a spectacular change from the last Administration and something that Obama owns, lock stock and barrel, at his peril – and ours.
  • Looking over these three unconnected events this week, I can’t help but wonder how things got so completely out of control.



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