- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2009

WARNING SHOT

“The Obama White House has gone into overdrive in an effort to win support for its health care program - going so far as to launch a Democratic National Committee TV commercial in the backyards of moderate Democrats urging them to back their leader,” John Fund writes at www.opinionjournal .com.

” ‘It’s time for health care reform,’ implores a woman in the ad, who is struggling with health care bills because of her son’s cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

“The 30-second spots running in eight states represented by moderates take a relatively gentle approach. However, some of the Democratic senators who are the targets of the message publicly profess to be puzzled at the tactic. ‘When the president has a health care plan, I’ll be happy to support it, but he doesn’t have one right now,’ Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana told reporters.

Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, expressed only sarcastic bemusement about the DNC ad being run in North Dakota targeting him. ‘You gotta love it!’ he chuckled in an interview with ABC News. ‘Is this a great world that we live in?’

“Despite their nonchalance, Democratic moderates are indeed worried about the White House move,” Mr. Fund said. “The implied message is: We’re watching you, and the next round of ads won’t be so gentle and kind if you don’t get behind the Obama program.”

WITHOUT A CLUE

“In 1776, the rallying cry was, ‘No taxation without representation,’ ” Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Kevin Ferris writes.

“Today, it could be, ‘No taxation without totally clueless representation,’ ” Mr. Ferris added.

“That’s what Americans got on June 26, when the House voted 219-212 for the ‘cap-and-tax’ energy bill, as the Republicans refer to it. The bill ran more than 1,000 pages, and before members had time to digest that tome, 300 pages of amendments were added after midnight. When Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R., Ohio) started to read the additions, bill co-sponsor Henry A. Waxman (D., Calif.) objected. He was rebuffed. There are no time limits for comments by House leaders.

” ‘When you file a 300-page amendment at 3:09 a.m., the American people have a right to know what’s in this bill,’ Mr. Boehner said.

“Whether this bill will lessen greenhouse-gas emissions - as Democrats hope - or kill countless jobs — as Republicans predict — or ever pass the Senate, remains to be seen. But the House vote did raise a question that cuts across party and ideology:

“How can lawmakers vote on something so important without a thorough understanding of what’s in it?

“Not the everyday ‘We hereby rename this post office in honor of so-and-so’ or ‘We officially declare this Goldfish Month.’ The big things, like an almost $800 billion stimulus plan, or an energy package that Politico said ‘would transform the country’s economy and industrial landscape.’

“Actually reading such legislation, as the Founders might say, should be self-evident.”

CAUGHT IN ACT

“For years it has been clear to those who bear the brunt of criticism from human rights watchdogs like Amnesty and the U.N. Human Rights Council, that something is wrong with the international system aimed at exposing gross violations and war crimes,” David Hazony writes at www. commentarymagazine.com.

“The overwhelmingly disproportionate criticism heaped on Israel and other democratic states, and the near blindness to the brutal oppression that takes place in dozens of other countries, especially Arab states, makes the entire pretense of international human rights law look like a sham,” Mr. Hazony said.

“But last week, one of these bodies was caught with its pants down. Two months ago, the Saudi-based newspaper Arab Newsdescribed a fundraising event for Human Rights Watch held in the Saudi kingdom, where high-level Saudi dignitaries were treated to a powerful presentation where the organization not only petitioned the brutal elites for funding, but paraded the fact that they were doing battle against pro-Israel pressure groups in the West - a clear repudiation of their purportedly objective status.

“Credit for exposing them goes to NGO Monitor’s Gerald Steinberg, who published a report on the dinner in May; but it only caught the attention of major Western media this past week, with a piece by David Bernstein in the Wall Street Journal, followed by another by Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic.

“The last piece, by Goldberg, is the most damning, because for the first time Human Rights Watch goes on record admitting both the fundraising and the explicit anti-Israel appeal. Because it details the e-mail exchange between Goldberg and the executive director of HRW, Ken Roth, it’s really worth reading the whole thing, first how he tries in vain to dodge the question, and then how he admits it. (‘That’s certainly part of the story. We report on Israel. Its supporters fight back with lies and deception.’)

“All this is very damning for an organization that for years has tried rebuffing accusations of being blatantly anti-Israel. As one commentator writing at the (British) Spectatorput it, ‘Whatever Israel’s faults, there is something deeply wrong about a human rights [organization] trying to raise money in a religiously oppressive, monarchical state [by criticizing] a liberal democracy. It does make one wonder how people committed to human rights can get it so wrong.’

“It also makes one wonder how the world can continue to take such organizations so seriously.”

DASCHLE’S ROLE

“He was ousted from his Senate seat and forced to turn down a Cabinet job, but Tom Daschle is doing what he can to cheer on health care from the sidelines,” Nikki Schwab writes in the Washington Whispers column of www.usnews .com.

“What does he see as his official role? ‘Well, I guess I would call myself a resource,’ the former Senate majority leader tells Whispers. ‘I’d like to be a resource to my former colleagues, to the extent that I can to the administration, to the stakeholders, and to people interested in just kind of knowing how this is all going to play out - I am most comfortable with the word “resource.” ‘

“One thing that he produced, with fellow Bipartisan Policy Center founders Howard Baker and Bob Dole, is a plan for health care reform that’s been getting some attention in Washington. It’s financed differently than the proposal the House announced Tuesday, and their public option is state-driven instead of federally driven. ‘Other than that, the framework is very similar,’ notes Daschle. ‘I’m very pleased with what the health committee in the House came up with,’ he adds.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected] .com.

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