- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2009


“When [Venezuelan President] Hugo Chavez makes a personal appeal to Washington for help, as he did 11 days ago, it raises serious questions about the signals that President Barack Obama is sending to the hemisphere’s most dangerous dictator,” Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote Monday.

“At issue is Mr. Chavez’s determination to restore deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to power through multilateral pressure. His phone call to a State Department official showed that his campaign was not going well and that he thought he could get U.S. help,” the columnist said.

“This is not good news for the region. The Venezuelan may feel that his aims have enough support from the U.S. and the Organization of American States (OAS) that he would be justified in forcing Mr. Zelaya on Honduras by supporting a violent overthrow of the current government. That he has reason to harbor such a view is yet another sign that the Obama administration is on the wrong side of history.

“In the three weeks since the Honduran Congress moved to defend the country’s constitution by relieving Mr. Zelaya of his presidential duties, it has become clear that his arrest was both lawful and a necessary precaution against violence.

“Mr. Zelaya was trying to use mob rule to undermine Honduras’ institutions in much the same way that Mr. Chavez has done in Venezuela. But as Washington lawyer Miguel Estrada pointed out in the Los Angeles Times on July 10, Mr. Zelaya’s actions were expressly forbidden by the Honduran Constitution.”


“With Obamacare on the ropes, there will be a temptation for opponents to let up on their criticism, and to try to appear constructive, or at least responsible,” William Kristol writes in a blog at www.weeklystandard.com.

“There will be a tendency to want to let the Democrats’ plans sink of their own weight, to emphasize that the critics have been pushing sound reform ideas all along and suggest it’s not too late for a bipartisan compromise over the next couple of weeks or months,” Mr. Kristol said.

“My advice, for what it’s worth: Resist the temptation. This is no time to pull punches. Go for the kill.

“The Obama White House and the Democratic congressional leadership shouldn’t be underestimated. They’re tough. They’ll cut deals and twist arms to try to keep their priority legislation alive. They’ll certainly attack their opponents, whether their opponents’ tone is conciliatory or confrontational.

“So this is not the time to let them off the ropes. This is the week to highlight every problem, every terrible provision, in the Democratic bills: from taxes and spending to government control and rationing to federal funding for abortion and government-required death-with-dignity counseling sessions for the elderly. Throw the kitchen sink at the legislation now on the table, drive a stake through its heart (I apologize for the mixed metaphors), and kill it.

“Then opponents can say, of course we do want to pass sensible health reform. But to do so, we need to start over.

“So the constructive part of the message would be: Start Over. We’re not giving up on health reform. Far from it. But the only way to pass health reform is first to get rid of the misbegotten efforts now before Congress. The only way to pass health reform is to start over in the fall. The Obama plan wouldn’t go into effect until 2013 anyway (except the tax increases, which would kick in in 2011). We have plenty of time to work next year on sensible and targeted health reform in a bipartisan way. But first we need to get rid of Obamacare. Now is the time to do so.”


“No, folks, I just don’t think it is going to happen. I fully intend to live well into the middle of this century, but I am afraid I won’t see a man on Mars,” Boris Johnson writes in the London Telegraph.

“We will never explore the Martian canals, or make our coffee with melted Martian ice, or [search] for life forms in the defunct volcanoes,” said Mr. Johnson, the mayor of London.

“We will never conquer the Red Planet. Homo sapiens will flunk the next great test not because we lack the technology, nor even because we lack the money. We will fail, because - 40 years after the Moonshot - it is increasingly clear that we lack the willingness to take the necessary physical risk.

“To appreciate the scale of the change, you only have to look back at the machines that went to the Moon in the summer of 1969. If you go to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington and see the Apollo exhibition, you have an overwhelming sense of the absurd [aluminum foil] fragility of those vessels, and the bravery of the men inside.

“It was the crowning achievement of humanity so far - to plant a person on the face of a heavenly body once worshipped as a god. At a distance of four decades, we can see that it was made possible by an extraordinary confluence of factors. There were the rocket scientists from Nazi Germany. There was the exuberant American desire to stick it to the Soviets and show what a capitalist democracy could achieve. And then there were the astronauts themselves: former jet fighter pilots, with the right stuff exploding hormonally from every pore.

“Their fellow-pilots died in fires and crashes. They used sextants and slide-rules and bits of paper to navigate space, and when the Eagle finally landed, the Eagle was within seconds of running out of fuel.

“The whole thing was so touch-and-go that it simply wouldn’t be allowed today. The insurers wouldn’t go near it. The risk-assessments would be fatal to any such venture. The rockets would remain on the launch pad, choked and smothered by the lianas of health and safety.”


If the 2012 presidential election were held today, President Obama and potential Republican nominee Mitt Romney would be tied at 45 percent each, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

The president, should he seek a second four-year term, beats another potential GOP rival, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, by 6 points - 48 percent to 42 percent, the pollster said Monday at www.rasmussenreports.com.

In both matchups, 7 percent liked some other candidate, with 3 percent undecided.

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

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