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Discord grows over public health care plan

Discord grows over public health care plan
By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The mood was upbeat in early March when scores of powerful lawmakers and lobbyists joined President Obama in the East Room of the White House to talk about fixing the nation’s health care system. Still, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, rose to tell Obama that many Republicans had a problem with his plan to let the government compete with private insurers.”There’s a lot of us that feel that the government is an unfair competitor,” Grassley said. “We have to keep what we have now strong, and make it stronger.”

 

Three months later, disagreement has turned to discord over a key element of Obama’s health care prescription: his insistence on a “public plan” to compete with private insurers. America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, is joined by the American Medical Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others that have expressed misgivings about greater government involvement.

 

“We’re not sure that the government is very good at running a health plan,” said Nancy Nielsen, president of the AMA, which heard Obama defend his plan Monday.

 

That has led to a number of compromise proposals, designed to inject choice and competition into the market without letting the government set prices or shift costs to the private sector.

 

“What I am trying to do — and what a public option will help do — is put affordable health care within reach for millions of Americans,” Obama told the American Medical Association.

 

The first Senate and House bills to emerge this month would offer a public plan, but a third bill, in the Senate, to be unveiled soon might not include it. Ten of 11 Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee wrote Obama this month in opposition.

 

An analysis by the Lewin Group, a health care consulting firm, found that a public plan such as Medicare would draw 119 million people away from private insurers. That’s because a plan patterned after Medicare could pay doctors and hospitals 20% to 30% less than its private competitors. Limiting who can join and regulating what the plan must pay providers would reduce the upheaval, the analysis said.

 

Obama has not insisted on a plan like Medicare. Among ideas lawmakers are considering:

 

• A public plan could be required to compete on a “level playing field” with private insurers, while still adding a choice for people in parts of the country with limited private options.

 

“It could operate by the same rules that all the other plans do,” Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, said recently. “You don’t have to use Medicare prices. You can use something else.”

 

• Instead of a national plan, states could be required to offer their own versions, according to a Senate Finance Committee list of options. More than 30 states now offer such plans to their employees. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., has said the plans could be run by member-owned cooperatives.

 

• Participation could be limited to individuals, the self-employed and small businesses — those who now have the most trouble getting affordable insurance. That’s what Obama called for during the presidential campaign. The Lewin analysis said that would attract 43 million people, including 32 million who switch from private plans.

 

• A public plan could be created as a fallback if changes in the private insurance market don’t reduce costs and increase coverage — something Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, has suggested. The Medicare prescription-drug law of 2003 included such a provision, but it has not been used.

Rural Dems have beef with Obama

Rural Dems have beef with Obama
By: Lisa Lerer and Jonathan Martin
June 17, 2009 04:28 AM EST

Angered by White House decisions on everything from greenhouse gases to car dealerships, congressional Democrats from rural districts are threatening to revolt against parts of President Barack Obama’s ambitious first-year agenda.

“They don’t get rural America,” said Rep. Dennis Cardoza, a Democrat who represents California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley. “They form their views of the world in large cities.”

Cardoza’s critique was aimed at Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, but it echoes complaints rural-district Democrats have about a number of Obama administration decisions.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a complete strikeout, but they’ve just got a few more bases to it when it comes to the rural community,” said Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu.

A rural revolt could hamper the administration’s ability to pass climate change and health care legislation before the August recess.

Democrats from farm states are some of the same moderate members Obama must win to get almost any piece of his agenda through the Senate: Landrieu and Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Without their votes, Democrats can’t move legislation over Republican filibusters — such as the one sure to come if the health care plan that moves through the Senate includes a public option supported by the administration.

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In the House, rural Democrats threaten to marshal nearly 50 votes against the climate and energy bill backed by the administration.

“For Obama, it’s a very tough high-wire act,” said Frank O’Donnell, executive director of the environmental group Clean Air Watch. “The farm states are among those that the Democrats desperately want to keep in the fold at the same time the farm states historically aren’t very good on environmental issues.”

Obama made inroads to rural areas during his presidential campaign, a result of pouring significant resources into rural counties in key battleground states. According to exit polls, Obama won 43 percent of the rural vote — a 4 percent increase from Democrat John Kerry in 2004.

But some Democrats complain that Obama hasn’t paid much attention to the rural states since he’s been in office.

“We’d love to see him out in rural America more,” Lincoln said.

The conflict with rural Democrats burst into the open at the Capitol last week, when rural and moderate Democrats revolted against the decision to close roughly 3,400 General Motors and Chrysler car dealerships. The White House Auto Task Force endorsed some of the cuts in its plans to revamp the companies.

In rural America, especially, the looming closures pose a dire threat. Car dealers are not only an economic linchpin of many county-seat towns but also offer support for institutions and a way of life that can’t be easily replaced.

“In rural jurisdictions, your dealerships are pretty big employers. If you knock out four dealerships, the ripple effects of that are substantial,” said Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.), who represents a largely rural Eastern Shore district and is co-sponsoring a bill that could force the auto companies to honor their contracts with the rejected dealerships.

With GM and Chrysler forcing hundreds of local dealerships to close up shop, members of Congress are scrambling to save thousands of jobs and warning of severe political consequences that could come from shuttering what are often community pillars.

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) questioned how independent owned and operated businesses have any financial impact on automakers.

“None of us can quite understand why they consider dealerships a drag when they are the ones that buy the cars, that take the financial risks. Many of the dealerships that are being closed are profitable.”

 

 

Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that “all decisions about specific dealerships are made solely by the car companies on the basis of what they believe is in the interests of the long-term health and survival of their business.”

But lawmakers say the car dealership closings are just the latest blow to rural areas since Obama took office. The first sign of a disconnect between the White House and rural voters came in the administration’s budget, which included a plan to slash direct payments to farms with annual gross receipts of more than $500,000. After an outcry from farm-state lawmakers, Congress dropped the cuts from the budget.

Since then, much of rural Democrats’ unhappiness with the new administration has focused on the EPA. While Bush administration political appointees in the agency were skeptical of stricter environmental laws, Obama’s EPA has moved forward quickly on a host of new regulations, including limits on greenhouse gas emissions that farm lobbyists say will raise costs on farmers.

“There is a different focus [at EPA] than under the Bush years,” said Rick Krause, senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau. “And there very well could be some political risk involved.”

Rep. Collin Peterson, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, says the urban-rural disconnect under Obama is no worse than it was under his predecessors.

“We’re an urban country, and the White House reflects the majority of the constituency of the country,” he said. “This is the problem we have with everything. Folks don’t understand what we do.” 

Still, Peterson wants the Department of Agriculture — rather than the EPA — to oversee what kinds of agricultural activities will qualify as “offsets” that benefit the climate under the climate change bill. The bill allows businesses to meet their emissions caps by paying farmers to cut emissions, a process that could result in big agricultural profits.

“A lot of us on the committee don’t want the EPA anywhere near our farmers,” Peterson said last week during a committee hearing.

A draft decision by the agency ruling that “indirect land use” issues must be considered when calculating the carbon footprint of corn-based ethanol also angered many in the farming and renewable fuels community.

While these issues play out most dramatically in farm states, they could have an impact that spreads much further. Forcing rural Democrats to vote for climate change legislation could create problems for the Democrats nationally in 2010 and 2012.

“If Collin Peterson and these rural and conservative Democrats in the House are unable to work out some arrangement with [Henry] Waxman and [Ed] Markey, it could resonate beyond the Beltway,” said Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and a veteran Kentucky political reporter.

Cross noted that 80 percent of the electricity that rural cooperatives generate comes from coal-fired power plants — the same ones that would take a hit under the current legislation.

And many of these regions that run on coal also happen to be electoral swing states, leaving Republicans licking their chops.

“It will cost every North Carolinian somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,400 to $3,000 a year in just the electrical surcharge,” said Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican who hails from a state Obama carried last year and would like to win again. “That’s a surcharge larger than their annual electric bill.”

A White House official said the administration is committed to alleviating any disproportionate burden on rural states. “The president has been clear that if there is a disparate impact on certain regions during the transition period, families and businesses should be compensated — the Waxman-Markey legislation includes provisions that do just that,” the official said.

© 2009 Capitol News Company, LLC

After Obama Fails

After Obama Fails

By George Joyce

A failed presidency for Barack Obama could turn into liberalism’s worst nightmare. Barely six months into his term, the 44th president has succeeded in generating the most widespread and serious discussion of secession since the Civil War.  Despite what Newsweek’s Evan Thomas may claim, Obama is not the “God” who will bring us together but the autocratic sponsor of an overbearing, oppressive leviathan from which a growing number of Americans are seeking refuge.

That refuge, according to author Paul Starobin, will come in the form of several regional republics that reflect the diverse character of Americans no longer bound in any meaningful way by our unrecognizable Federal government.  In a riveting exploration of America ‘s coming breakup, Starobin writes in a recent Wall Street Journal article:

 

“Picture an America that is run not, as now, by a top-heavy Washington autocracy but, in freewheeling style, by an assemblage of largely autonomous regional republics reflecting the eclectic economic and cultural character of the society.”

 

Starobin chronicles in fascinating detail the historical basis for America ‘s future balkanization. He provides a snapshot of today’s most viable and vocal secessionist organizations.  Starobin goes on to argue that the overbearing and stifling “Obama planners and their ilk” will probably be doomed to fail in a land replete with the Jeffersonian impulse of radical self-determination.  Obama’s extreme power grab, in other words, will cause a correspondingly extreme backlash:

 

“All of this adds up to a federal power grab that might make even FDR’s New Dealers blush. But that’s just the point: Not surprisingly, a lot of folks in the land of Jefferson are taking a stand against an approach that stands to make an indebted citizenry yet more dependent on an already immense federal power. The backlash, already under way, is a prime stimulus for a neo-secessionist movement, the most extreme manifestation of a broader push for some form of devolution.”

 

By focusing most of his attention on how big unwieldy entities devolve into creative little ones, Starobin’s analysis misses however the more direct personal role Barack Obama himself has played in fracturing America.

 

Back in March of last year for example New York Times columnist Roger Cohen told his audience he could “understand the rage” of Obama’s former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  Without missing a beat Cohen then concluded in his essay that the “clamoring now in the United States for a presidency that uplifts rather than demeans is a reflection of the intellectual desert of the Bush years.” 

 

Has Barack Obama’s been an “uplifting” presidency?  Mr. Obama knew full well that his Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, dismissed the test results of white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut, entitled to promotion but denied because they were of the wrong race.  Surely her decision is demeaning to both white males and to those who study diligently for exams.  Did the black firefighters feel uplifted or demeaned when Sotomayor ruled in their favor?  Was the New Haven firehouse more unified or more divided after Sotomayor’s ruling?  Was Obama’s Sotomayor choice uplifting or demeaning?

 

Indeed, from the Sotomayor pick and anti-business rhetoric to the endless lecturing about America ‘s sins, Mr. Obama is starting to sound a lot like his former pastor.  To be sure Obama is not as grating and shrill as Mr. Wright but closer to something more like Jeremiah-lite. In other words, Mr. Obama’s strategy seems to be to convince Americans to drink his socialist tonic out of sheer guilt.  I’m not sure what is so inspiring about all of this.

 

Maybe this is why Starobin claims to be witnessing a lot of neo-secessionist activity. Wouldn’t a new American devolution however be a liberal’s worst nightmare?  Beyond the psychosis most liberals would have to endure at the thought of losing any kind of control, the prospect of vibrant, happy, and successful conservative republics in places like Texas, South Carolina or Utah  would be an inescapable spotlight forever exposing the failure of liberal ideology in a Republic of California.

 

But this brings up another problem.  When the framers of the American Constitution favored a multi-state solution to the problem of centralized tyranny they argued that an additional benefit would be that each state could become a unique laboratory displaying the policy successes and failures to its neighbors.  If the Republic of Texas chooses a classics curriculum for its youngsters, celebrates the family and tradition in its media, encourages personal responsibility in lieu of a nanny state, rewards citizens on the basis of merit, is tough on criminals, sends its politicians home after brief excursions to the capitol, is business friendly and generally leaves its citizens alone, how are those controlling the politically liberal Republics like California going to react?

 

What most liberals fail to understand is that their leisurely dabbling in progressive politics and moral equivalency is made possible by the existence of accumulated conservative moral capital. Remove the conservative anchor and progressive societies become dangerously seasick.  I guess the lesson here is that liberals need conservatives more than conservatives need liberals (although society needs them on occasion).  There is much in progressive ideology that simply seeks to undermine — a strange method of establishing an identity.

 

While reading “A Little History of the World” to my kids the other day I came across an interesting observation by the author, E.H. Gombrich:

 

“Because the Egyptians were so wise and so powerful their empire lasted for a very long time.  Longer than any empire the world has ever known: nearly three thousand years.  And they took just as much care of their corpses, when they preserved them from rotting away, in preserving all their ancient traditions over the centuries.  Their priests made quite sure that no son did anything his father had not done before him.  To them, everything old was sacred.”

 

When Obama fails it will be because he’s convinced enough Americans to tire, as he has, of what used to be known as “America.”  Imagine what would have happened in Egypt had their priests adopted “liberation theology” rather than the standard of their fathers.  A mere footnote in the pages of history.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/06/after_obama_fails.html at June 18, 2009 – 12:23:28 PM EDT

The Historically-Challenged President

The Historically-Challenged President
By: Bruce S. Thornton
Thursday, June 18, 2009

 


How Obama’s ignorance endangers our security.

Barack Obama, as Victor Hanson recently documented, may be our most historically challenged president ever. Some might think that the inaccuracies Hanson identifies are no big deal, but there are several reasons to be troubled by such ignorance.

 

First there’s the double standard of a mainstream media that for eight years scorned George Bush as a syntactically challenged ignoramus, and now gush over a president touted as an eloquent intellectual. Of course, the media have to ignore the fact that Obama’s eloquence is dependent on the teleprompter, or that he refuses to publicize his college transcripts, not to mention the numerous errors of fact evident both in his campaign and presidential speeches. Their assertions of his brilliance, despite gaffes such as those on display in Cairo, are like their assertions of Bush’s stupidity: wish-fulfilling myths serving partisan ends.

 

But more important is the danger to our foreign policy that such an ignorance of history represents. Particularly in our fight against radical Islam, history supposedly provides the basis of Muslim grievances against the West, especially the United States. Colonial occupation, imperialist aggression, the Western imposition of Israel on the “Palestinian homeland” in order to atone for the Holocaust––these sins of the West against the House of Islam are constantly put forth as rationalizations and justifications for violence against Western interests.

 

If history is to provide the foundation of grievance, however, then all of history is on the table, and that history must be factually accurate and judged by consistent standards. If, for example, the enslavement of Africans is an evil for which the West must take responsibility, then all slavery everywhere must be condemned equally. But when do we ever hear about Islamic slavery? In the three-century long heyday of Western slavery, some 10 million slaves crossed the Atlantic. Yet in the 14-century-long existence of Islamic slavery––still going on today in Africa in places such as Sudan––an equal number of black Africans were enslaved by Muslims.  We hear all the time about the horrors of the “middle passage” across the Atlantic, but never about the forced marches of Africans across the Sahara desert, where thousands died of disease, exhaustion, and malnutrition. We never hear about the African men who had been castrated to be sold as eunuchs, if they were lucky enough to survive an operation in which not just their testicles, but all their external genitalia were cut off.

 

And don’t forget that slavery in the West was ended by movements of emancipation backed up by the British navy, movements that have not arisen from within Islam simply because the Koran does not forbid slavery. Don’t forget that included in the toll of those enslaved by Muslims were millions of Europeans taken in raids and sold for the harems, armies, and galleys of Muslim emirs, sultans, and caliphs. Yet have you ever heard a Muslim leader today apologize for slavery? Meanwhile, American leaders continually don the hair-shirt of guilt over slavery despite the fact that only 800,000 of the 10 million slaves that crossed the Atlantic came to the United States, and despite the bloody, destructive civil war that in part was fought to end slavery.

 

So too with the presumed sins of “colonialism” and “imperialism.” The modern European presence in the Muslim Middle East lasted for less than two centuries. Yet Muslims occupied Spain for over seven centuries, and the Muslim occupation of the Balkans for half a millennium didn’t finally end until World War I. And vast regions of the Middle East––north Africa, Egypt, Turkey, the Holy Land––that were not Muslim but Christian homelands, are still “occupied” by the descendents of imperialistic, colonizing Muslim Arabs and Turks who came as alien invaders and conquered those territories. In fact, if we are to add up historical grievances, the West has a long way to go to catch up with the centuries of attacks, raids, invasions, plunder, murder, and enslavement perpetrated by Muslims against Christians. But do we ever hear any Muslim leader apologize for this record of imperialist aggression and occupation, one triumphantly documented by numerous Muslim historians?

 

This acceptance by Westerners of a double standard when it comes to historical grievance is nothing other than groveling appeasement. Why do we fret over the status of Jerusalem, a city fixed by archaeology and history as the spiritual and political center of Judaism, when one of Christendom’s most cherished churches, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, remains in the possession of Muslims? Worse yet, we scold the Israelis over Jerusalem even though the Temple Mount remains under Arab control, and the Al Aqsa mosque still sits on the site of the Second Temple! If Israel had Islam’s standards of justice, the mosque would have been razed a new temple built where its two predecessors stood for over a thousand years.

 

Because of this double standard, we fall all over ourselves accommodating Muslim immigrants in the West, even as Christians are disappearing from the lands they inhabited for seven centuries before Islam even existed. We agonize over the 600,000 “Palestinian” refugees kept in squalid camps by their fellow Muslim Arabs, yet never say a word about the 800,000 Jews kicked out of Egypt, North Africa, Iraq, and Iran, places their ancestors inhabited in some cases for two thousand years. We harp on the “two-state” solution and demand a “Palestinian homeland,” yet never ask the Arabs why they didn’t create this homeland when the so-called West Bank was in their possession. We anxiously monitor our media and popular culture for insults against Islam, even as state-run media and universities in Muslim lands indulge anti-Semitic slanders that would make Hitler blush––much of it perpetrated by the same Al Azhar university that our President recently hailed as a “beacon of learning.”

 

There are many reasons for this double standard, not the least being the fatal self-loathing of Western elites. But this hatred of the West itself depends on an ignorance of history on display in many of Obama’s speeches. And that ignorance in turn reflects the corruption of history over the last forty years, which has seen a once-noble discipline turned from the record of what has happened into a melodrama of grievance used to advance political ideology. The next few years will show us how large a price we will pay for ignoring historical truth, as our acceptance of this skewed history saps our will to resist an enemy passionately convinced of his righteousness.


Bruce Thornton is the author of Greek Ways and Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow-Motion Suicide (Encounter Books).

Iranians’ Cry For Freedom

Iranians’ Cry For Freedom
By: Jamie Glazov
Thursday, June 18, 2009

 


An Iranian dissident tells the inside story of what’s happening in the streets of his homeland.

FrontPage Interview’s guest today is Roozbeh Farahanipour, an Iranian journalist, democracy activist, former political prisoner in Iran and head of Marze Por Gohar Party (MPG), an Iranian opposition party seeking the establishment of an secular republic in Iran. He was a student leader in the 1999 uprising, just one year after creating MPG.


 

FP: Roozbeh Farahanipour, welcome to Frontpage Interview.


Tell us about the latest developments in
your homeland.


Farahanipour:
Thank you Jamie.


The movement has grown, as the world has witnessed, beyond the capital and to other cities – Shiraz, Isfahan, Tabriz, Ahvaz, etc. – and the people’s demands are more clear: freedom and changes to the current constitution. 


FP:
So this isn’t really a Mousavi vs. Ahmadinejad battle, or a battle over the election, as much of the media is portraying it as, right? Can you talk a bit about what the media and our literary culture is missing in what is really happening?

 

Farahanipour: This movement is quickly surpassing the Mousavi issue and raising various demands of the people in the streets. Mousavi is much too slow and much too reluctant to lead this forward since it will jeopardize his behind the scenes negotiations and even challenge the whole system.  Perhaps one reason that Obama is reluctant to openly support this movement is that it has gone beyond the predicted and simplistic victory of the “elections” process.

 

FP: So what freedom do Iranians want? What changes to the constitution do they want?

 

Farahanipour: Discrimination against women in the constitution and laws which institutionalize control and exclusion in all levels of Iranian elections such as  the powers of the Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader have always been criticized and even openly challenged by periodical movements within Iran.


FP:
What is happening, exactly, with Hossein Mousavi? 


Farahanipour:
The Interior Ministry denied Mousavi’s supporters their demonstration permit for Monday’s demonstration, again with the world’s eyes upon them, and Mousavi asked the people to postpone it. 


When his message was publicized, people turned on him. Slogans on the street were: “Mousavi, for shame, for shame, we asked you for support, you betrayed us all the same,” and “Mousavi, we want our votes back!” 


After Mousavi said he’d boycott the demonstrations, people ignored his gesture and went ahead on their own.  Other candidates – Karrubi, Karbaschi, and Rezai – said they’d participate; Mousavi, not wanting to be left behind, changed his mind and joined in. 


He asked people to remain calm and not agitate the situation – not create incidents.  People ignored it and did not heed his advice and continued pushing on. 


FP:
So the Iranian people have made the decision here in terms of protesting, yes?


Farahanipour:
Yes, the people are doing their own thing. Their line is clear. It is Mousavi who is trying to keep himself on-board and stay attached to the movement. After all, his name was in it, so he wants to remain relevant, besides, he has an obligation to his investors. 


FP:
Are the demonstrations peaceful? 


Farahanipour:
Our people have always sought to advance their cause peacefully. The violence is unleashed by the ruling regime, now and during the previous regime as well; especially the Islamic Republic and its extremely short fuse – zero tolerance for dissent and opposing opinions. 


During Mousavi’s term as prime-minister, we remember mass-executions. Specifically on women’s rights, after Mr. Mousavi’s “mandatory hijab” bill was ratified by the Majlis in the early 1980’s, the militia having just been handed a carte-blanche, regularly attacked women in the streets to “enforce” his law. 


The regime dealt with the movement with their special brand of brutality during the 5-day uprising of 18 of Tir in 1999, after his term in the Parliament had ended. 


The Islamic security enforcers have upped the ante this time around and opened fire on people, escalating their brutal violence against the people on public display before the world – momentarily. 

Not only did they use physical violence, but they also blocked and disabled the people’s channels of communication with the outside world: they are confiscating satellite dishes and are trying to shut down email, Facebook and twitter as well; again, as the world watches in silence.


FP:
So Mousavi is by no means a moderate, and very much a fanatic who has been complicit in enslaving and punishing the Iran people. Tell us some more about his complicity in torturing his own people and how he is no democrat.

 

Farahanipour: Mousavi has had a long history of hard line positions and murderous suppression of opposition and presiding over massacres of political prisoners in the 1980s. Even today he has constantly declared his devotion to the Supreme Leader and his religious ideology of hierarchical Islamic government. His moderation myth has developed out of his opposition to Ahmadinejad’s open and bold statements. Mousavi believes in quietly doing the same things, i.e. the nuclear development, support of Hezbollah and Hamas and etc.

 

FP: Can you tell us some more things you know about the regime’s violence against the protestors right now?

  

Farahanipour: The Revolutionary Guards and special foreign legions of terrorists being trained around Tehran have been alerted to the highest levels for an immediate intervention. So far the regular police and the small anti-riot police forces who have been mostly subdued by the protesters (even treated by the protesters of their injuries and set free) are apparently under orders not to exert too much force, pending the outcome of the ongoing negotiations above. At this time when “only” 8 people have been killed in Tehran, the regime fears that a violent crackdown will bring about a massive and energetic popular response and is therefore counting on the movement to run out of fuel.

 

There is a more harsh policy in smaller towns where the crowds are smaller and international and Tehran based sensitivities are lower towards them. Dozens have been killed in smaller towns and injuries and clashes have been more violent.


FP:
So, what becomes of Ahmadinejad and his supporters? 


Farahanipour:
A large number of his supporters are government workers, i.e.: basij, IRGC, civil servants, etc., some of whom are doing it under pressure and to do their “obligation” to the government.  These groups would not openly clash with the people when it comes right down to it, but it is their duty to participate in events as they are closely watched and bussed to locations, and so, they go along with it. 


Generally, Ahmadinezhad and Khamene’i are one and the same in the eyes of the people – they are cut from the same cloth.  Another part of his support comes from those who are disillusioned by Rafsanjani and his posse.  This group is looking to capitalize on the current events and use this opportunity as a tool to punish Rafsanjani and his entourage and give them their due. 


FP:
What exactly is the regime’s position now? 


Farahanipour:
They are on the defensive: they have retreated out of fear and taken a step back, having just agreed to review and recount the votes.  Fortunately, people’s demands have grown beyond that point and are seeking the complete abrogation of this election; they want it nullified and voided. 


The opposition forces, including MPG, also demand this election nullified, the Guardian Council dissolved and a new open elections held with equal opportunity and open participation of parties – including the opposition members – under the supervision of UN to elect true and direct representatives of people and to change the constitution to eliminate the Velayate Faqih or the rule of jurisprudence, etc.  


FP:
What do Iranian people expect from other countries? 


Farahanipour:
First, the countries who have not recognized Ahmadinejad, to not recognize these elections as legitimate and insist on holding open and free elections with the conditions mentioned above.  Next the countries like the US whose president is trying to avoid expressing solidarity with the people of Iran: the NGOs, grassroots organizations and people’s representatives [congressmen and women and senators] to insist and demand that their president take a position supporting the people of Iran.


FP:
The Iranian people on the streets are very brave, knowing they’re risking their lives. So much courage. Are you proud and excited for your people? Will they prevail under the pressure?

 

Farahanipour: We did the same thing back in 1999 during the student uprising and witnessed amazing courage by the young and unarmed activists of our time during much harsher crackdown than we are witnessing today. I believe that today’s youth will show epic resistance to the crackdown that is expected in the coming days.


FP:
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the outcome?


Farahanipour:
The exact outcome cannot be predicted right now; however, we shall be witnessing a different Iran regardless of what happens. The rising momentum of this movement may well throw this level of expectations into a higher orbit and challenge the system while a massive crackdown which may succeed in the very short term will lay the grounds for a new wave of radicalized youth in their millions adopting more organized and extremely more courageous methods.


FP:
Is there the potential for this to bloom into an actual revolution that will overthrow the Mullahs?

 

Farahanipour: This movement is surpassing Mousavi and losing patience with the guardian council and the unpopular Supreme Leader. The powers negotiating a way out are being led by extremely unpopular and corrupt “leaders” such as Rafsanjani. This clearly means that a further split within the regime and a possible momentum gain by the street will target the whole system. On the other hand, many other factors can contribute to middle of the road alternatives and a movement running out of fuel.

 

FP: Is there a chance that there might be a Tiananmen type outcome here, that the Iranian regime might squash this freedom movement with bloodshed? Will the Iranian army do this to its own people?

 

Farahanipour: The Revolutionary Guards and their little brother the Basseej Militia have been training for exactly the same Tiananmen scenario. Earlier this year there was a major nationwide maneuver by the Basseej for controlling and suppressing massive uprisings, under the pretext of a possible American invasion. Islamic fanatics have throughout the ages demonstrated their absolute hatred for Iranians and have committed massive massacres. Even after the 1979 revolution we have witnessed atrocities rarely seen anywhere else in the last 30 years. The difference here will be in the aftermath, since a massive crackdown will further radicalize the new generation who are in the majority in the country rather than subduing them into submission.

 

FP: You were at a demonstration yesterday. Tell us where and what happened there.

 

Farahanipour: There have been daily demonstrations in Los Angeles in support of the Iranian movement for freedom. In our area the majority of demonstrators are those opposing the Islamic Republic as a whole. The smaller groups supporting Mousavi are themselves split between a majority of liberals who support Mousavi as a tactic to oust Ahmadinejad and a small minority of hard core supporters of the IRI. We have coordinated our protests with the non-IRI Mousavi supporters in the spirit of unity and they have been able to push their IRI “friends” not to display their flags and raise their slogans.

 

Yesterday there was a scuffle when dozens of anti-IRI people tried to take down the illegal flag of the IRI; they succeeded and the LAPD separated the two groups. Fortunately, in our area the Islamic Republic agents are still operating clandestinely and hold their meetings and gatherings very secret. They are scared not only of the majority of Iranian Americans but also of US authorities who may discover much more insidious motivations and means if they are arrested or investigated.

 

FP: What can the West do that would be most effective in helping Iranians in their quest for freedom against the Islamic Republic?

 

Farahanipour: The West must openly support this street movement today and any democratic movement which will follow it in unforeseen ways and shapes. President Obama, who is trying to distance himself from the Bush Doctrine of supporting democracy, is unfortunately too immersed in his realist Foreign Relations Doctrine to understand or follow this concept and may end up siding with tyrants.

 

Calling for real free elections based on fairness and level fields, freedoms and possibilities without which free elections cannot take place and refusing to warm up to violent dictators and bullies will encourage our people and discourage the paper tigers in charge of Iran today.

FP: Roozbeh Farahanipour, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview. 


Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine’s editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.

Bush takes swipes at Obama policies

Bush takes swipes at Obama policies

Joseph Curl (Contact)

 

ERIE, Pa.| Former President George W. Bush fired a salvo at President Obama on Wednesday, asserting his administration’s interrogation policies were within the law, declaring the private sector — not government — will fix the economy and rejecting the nationalization of health care.

“I know it’s going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we’re in,” the former president said to applause from members of a local business group. “You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money.”

Repeatedly in his hourlong speech and question-and-answer session, Mr. Bush said he would not directly criticize the new president, who has moved to take over financial institutions and several large corporations. Several times, however, he took direct aim at Obama policies as he defended his own during eight years in office.

“Government does not create wealth. The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States,” he said to huge cheers.

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Mr. Bush weighed in on some of the most pressing issues of the day: the election in Iran, the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, and his administration’s interrogation policies of terrorists held there and elsewhere. The former president has not commented on Mr. Obama’s decision to ban “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding, which the current president has called “off course” and “based on fear.”

“The way I decided to address the problem was twofold: One, use every technique and tool within the law to bring terrorists to justice before they strike again,” he said, adding that the country needs to stay on offense, not defense. On Guantanamo, which while in office Mr. Bush said he wanted to close, the former president was diplomatic.

“I told you I’m not going to criticize my successor,” he said. “I’ll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don’t believe that — persuasion isn’t going to work. Therapy isn’t going to cause terrorists to change their mind.”

The Obama administration has started to clear out some of the more than 200 detainees at the facility.

Repeating a mantra from his presidency, he called the current war against terrorism an “ideological conflict,” asserting that in the long term, the United States needs to press freedom and democracy in corners across the world.

Mr. Bush did not directly address Mr. Obama’s response to the election in Iran, which some critics have called tepid, but he did make clear that the outcome is very much in dispute. For a fifth straight day, as the Obama administration walks a tightrope by issuing little criticism, protesters gathered in Tehran to demand a new election.

“Clearly, there’s a level of frustration on the Iranian streets,” Mr. Bush said. “It looks like it’s not a very fair election.”

Mr. Bush returned again and again to the economy, and sought to defend his own actions after the financial meltdown in the waning days of his second term — Mr. Obama repeatedly has said he inherited that mess.

“I am told, ‘If you do not move strongly, Mr. President, you will be a president overseeing a depression that will ultimately be greater than the Great Depression,'” Mr. Bush said. “I firmly believe it was necessary to put money in our banks to make sure our financial system did not collapse. … I did not want there to be bread lines, to be a great depression.”

He said his administration sought to address the “housing bubble” before the system broke down. “We tried to reform” mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, “but couldn’t get it through the vested interests on Capitol Hill.”

Still, Mr. Bush was optimistic, pressing, as he did as president, free trade, open markets and the free enterprise system. “We’ll come out of this better than before,” he said to more applause.

But he was less than convinced about Mr. Obama’s move to overhaul the health care system.

“There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care,” Mr. Bush said. “I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for health care.”

Asked by the evening emcee at the 104th annual Manufacturer and Business Association meeting if he finds the new president’s policies “socialist,” Mr. Bush started — then stopped.

“I hear a lot of those words, but it depends on –” he said, breaking off. He later offered a more diplomatic assessment: “We’ll see.”

Wednesday’s speech to hundreds of high-paying association members — “premium” tables at the city’s convention center went for $1,500 — was just the second post-presidency speech by Mr. Bush on U.S. soil (his two major speeches were both in Canada).

He was loose and relaxed, his nose a bright red from nearly a week in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he joined his family in celebration of his father’s 85th birthday. Mr. Bush told some of his new set stories: How just a month after leaving office he was picking up his dog Barney’s poop off a manicured lawn in his Dallas neighborhood; how he’s experienced his first red light in 14 years (he served six years as Texas governor before being elected president).

His Secret Service detail, however, was not relaxed: This was the first event in which audience members did not have to pass through metal detectors. Outside, a tiny group of protesters and supporters — about 10 people on each side — faced off on opposite curbs. One man held a sign that said, “President Bush, thank you for saving all the babies.” On the other side: “Arrest Bush.”

But the former president got a big cheer when he walked out on stage — even bigger than Joe Paterno, the legendary Penn State coach who was also on hand for the event. The former president noted that America has a funny political system: “You’re it, then you’re not it — instantly.”

He lamented the politics of personal destruction that he said is rampant in Washington, noting, though, that it has always been thus. Recalling how a treasury secretary and a vice president once fought a duel, he joked: “At least when my vice president shot somebody, it was an accident.”

During a question-and-answer session, Mr. Bush recounted tough decisions he made in office. Still steely, the former president said he left Washington with the same moral resolve. “When I look in the mirror, I say, ‘He did not sell his soul for short-term politics.'”

Asked about the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when he first learned of the terrorist attacks while in a classroom full of children in Florida, Mr. Bush said he simply found an inner resolve.

“I realized that we were in crisis, and the first thing I do in any crisis … is calm. If you’re president, and all of a sudden the whole world is watching you, and you get up and do something precipitously, frighten children, storm out, that kind of movement will cascade through a society,” he said.

In answer to a question about what he learned as president, Mr. Bush smiled broadly. “There’s so much stuff coming at you,” he said to laughter. But turning serious, he said, perhaps to his successor: “You don’t know what’s going to come when you’re president. You just have to be ready for it.”