- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TACKING LEFT?

Hugo Chavez took a break last week from lobbying Washington on behalf of deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to travel to Quito, Ecuador, for a meeting of South American heads of state,” Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes.

“There he launched a virulent assault on the U.S. military, reiterated his commitment to spreading revolution in the region, and threatened the continent with war. Mr. Zelaya was by his side,” the columnist said.

“The Venezuelan’s tirade against the U.S. and its ally Colombia raised the question yet again of what the U.S. could possibly be thinking in pushing Honduras to reinstate Mr. Zelaya. He was removed from office by the Honduran Congress in June because he violated the country’s constitution and willfully incited mob violence.

“But that’s not the only thing that made him unpopular at home. He also had become an important ally of Mr. Chavez and was quite obviously being coached to copy the Chavez power grab in Venezuela by undermining Honduras’s institutional checks and balances.

“If Honduras has been able to neutralize Mr. Chavez, it’s something to celebrate. A Chavez-style takeover of institutions in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua has quashed political pluralism, free speech and minority rights in those countries. There is now a heavy presence of Cuban state intelligence throughout the Venezuelan empire. Mr. Zelaya literally has become a fellow traveler of Mr. Chavez, leaving no doubts about the course he would put Honduras on if given the chance.

“Among the theories making the rounds about Mr. Obama’s motivations in trying to force Honduras to take Mr. Zelaya back, there is the hypothesis that this administration is tacking hard to the left. Mr. Obama has expressed the same views on Honduras as Sen. John Kerry Massachusetts Democrat, who holds that the interim government must be forced to reinstate Mr. Zelaya and who has, over more than two decades in office, consistently allied himself with socialist causes in Latin America.”

INSIDE TRACK

“Blue Dog Democrats are being chased by both sides in the health care debate. But the opposition may have the inside track, based on an IBD survey of these moderate-to-conservative House lawmakers,” Investor’s Business Daily reported Monday.

“There are 256 Democrats in the House, 52 of whom are Blue Dogs,” the newspaper noted.

Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, who’s not a member of the pack, has said he won’t support HR 3200 in its present form. That means Democrats need the support of at least 15 Blue Dogs to reach the 218 votes required to pass the health care bill. So far, no Republicans have come out in favor of the measure.

“An IBD survey, combined with news reports, of all the Blue Dogs reveals only four definite supporters: John Salazar of Colorado, Ohio’s Zack Space, and Mike Thompson and Adam Schiff, both from California.

“Based on the survey and previous press reports, at least 13 Blue Dogs are opposed to the bill as it now stands.

“Many of those who are undecided or did not respond have expressed reservations about various aspects of the bill, including the public plan option, the cost and tax increases.”

DEATH PANELS

“Washington is all atwitter about ‘death panels’: President Obama derides the idea that his health care reform calls for them; the Senate is stripping ‘end-of-life’ counseling language from its bill — and last Friday the voice of the liberal establishment, the New York Times, ran a Page One story ‘rebutting’ the rumor that ObamaCare would create such boards to decide when to pull the plug on elderly patients,” Dick Morris and Eileen McGann write in the New York Post.

“But all those protests miss the fundamental truth of the ‘death panel’ charge,” the writers said.

“Even without a federal board voting on whom to kill, ObamaCare will ration care extensively, leading to the same result. This follows inevitably from central features of the president’s plan.

“Specifically, his decisions to (1) pay for reform with vast cuts in the Medicare budget and (2) grant insurance coverage to 50 million new people, vastly boosting demand without increasing the supply of doctors, nurses or other care providers.

“Whether or not he admits it even to himself, Obama’s talk of cutting ‘inefficiencies’ and reducing costs translates to less care, of lower quality, for the elderly. Every existing national health system finds ways to deny state-of-the-art medications and necessary surgical procedures to countless patients, and ObamaCare has the nascent mechanisms to do the same. With the limited options that Obama’s vision would leave them, many will find that ‘end-of-life counseling’ necessary and even welcome.”

VINEYARD VACATION

Noemie Emery, writing in the Weekly Standard, says President Obama made a mistake in choosing Martha’s Vineyard for a vacation.

“Dear Mr. President, How nice to know you will summer on Martha’s Vineyard at Blue Heron Farm, where the amenities are said to be fabulous. ‘The 28-acre estate, $20 million enclave is located in Chilmark,’ CBS told us. ‘The farm suits Obama to a tee with golf facilities, a pool, basketball court, private beach, and a rental price tag of up to $50,000 a week.’

“What happened? Versailles and The Breakers were rented already?” the writer asked. “Is this how you empathize with the suffering masses, whose pain you feel so at town meetings?

“What is it with real estate and you liberal Democrats? There’s John Kerry, who has five mansions, including a ski chalet whose every last stone was brought over from England; and John Edwards, whose ‘house’ looks like five of them strung together, and which has not one, but two, stages, and its own private gym. Perhaps you could use ‘John’s Lounge,’ if John isn’t in it, off making one of his speeches on poverty or the unsustainable gaps between the lives of rich and poor people.

“There really are Two Americas. No one knows it better than do you and Kerry and Edwards, and you know which one you belong to. As will the swing voters, as they stay at home nursing their shrunken portfolios, and watching you splash on the beach on TV.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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