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Obama Recovery On Hold…GDP Lags At 1.5%?

The Obama Administration was hoping that reassuring signs from the 4th quarter of 2010 would spur growth and job creation through out this year, propelling them to re-election.

Those hopes dimmed significantly today.

After an especially weak report on February’s trade deficit,economists from Macroeconomic Advisers, a forecasting company, lowered their first quarter G.D.P. estimate to a pathetic rate 1.5%annualized. This was followed by forecasters at Morgan Stanley and RBS Securities also lowering their G.D.P. estimates for the first quarter.

This could simply be a small variation and pull back of the recovery…that is common in slow, grinding economic revivals.  But this is certainly bad news for the economy.  Optimists, led by the economic team in the White House, were hoping for a growth rate of 3.5-4%.  That rate of growth would be necessary for significant job growth over the next year and a half, leading into the 2012 election.  A growth rate of less than 2% may mean more stagnation on the jobs front.


Count The Ways We Won…

I have taken some heat for calling this week’s budget passage a win for Republicans, and John Boehner in particular.

I think those people are way off base.

Just a list of reasons why this is an all out victory for true conservatives:

1.  Boehner got $39 Billion in cuts for this fiscal year.  That is $74 Billion less than Obama’s projected budget, and will trim the federal debt by $500 Billion over the next decade.  All of this while controlling only one half of Congress.  Remember where we started on this.  Carl Cameron of Fox put it best:

The history of offers on this bill goes something like this. Democrats first offered no cuts, then $4 billion, then $6.5 billion, then $33 billion, then settled at $38.5 billion.

Boehner made numerous adjustments to his offer in recent days too, but started at $32 billion, then with a Tea Party push went to $62 billion, then dropped to $40 billion, then $38.5 billion.”

Even Boehner, in his honest moments, would probably admit he didn’t expect to get this much from the Democrats.

2.  Boehner forced Democrats to focus on Planned Parenthood and other social issues, while keeping the focus on fiscal discipline.  Abortion is a fight for another day.  You try to win everything at once, you often lose.  While Democrats were fighting on that, Boehner achieved his goal.

3.  Republicans got major concessions on many legislative issues.  This includes:

  • Forcing a vote in the Senate on defunding Obamacare.  If it happens, how much fun will it be to watch Blue Dogs such as Landrieu, Tester, Nelson, McCaskill, and Pryor to have to, once again, reaffirm their support for the unpopular program?
  • A vote on funding of Planned Parenthood.
  • Banning government money to be used for abortions in Washington, D.C..
  • Restoring the Washington, D.C. school voucher program.

4.  President Obama did not lead.  Simply put, he was absent on this issue most of the time.  Forget my opinion, or any conservatives opinion, on this matter.  Simple listen to liberals:

  • Ezra Klein:    “So why were Reid and Obama so eager to celebrate Boehner’s compromise with his conservative members? The Democrats believe it’s good to look like a winner, even if you’ve lost. But they’re sacrificing more than they let on. By celebrating spending cuts, they’ve opened the door to further austerity measures at a moment when the recovery remains fragile. Claiming political victory now opens the door to further policy defeats later.”
  • Howard Feinman:  “Boehner won the poker game here.”
  • Jennifer Rubin:  “Boehner is now the most powerful and effective leader in Congress, maybe in Washington. His power will increase immensely…I imagine the Democratic base will be enraged, and liberals should be. They control the Senate and the White House and gave away the store. It doesn’t augur well for them in 2012 budget negotiations, does it?”
  • Paul Krugman:  But let’s give the president the benefit of the doubt, and suppose that $38 billion in spending cuts — and a much larger cut relative to his own budget proposals — was the best deal available. Even so, did Mr. Obama have to celebrate his defeat? Did he have to praise Congress for enacting “the largest annual spending cut in our history,” as if shortsighted budget cuts in the face of high unemployment — cuts that will slow growth and increase unemployment — are actually a good idea?

5.  The compromise prevented a government shutdown.  For all the rhetoric, I still believe that a shutdown would have hurt everyone, though likely would have damaged Republicans more than Democrats.   It is the Republicans, not the Democrats, that look like the adults.

Remember:  Democrats had huge majorities in the House and Senate last year…and passed on passing  the budget, because they didn’t have the courage to stand up for what they believed in, especially before the election.  Republicans did not shirk their responsibility in the same way.


No matter which metric you want to use, this was a positive for conservatives.  It was the first step in a long path to fiscal sanity, and only the first step; it should not be described as anything else.  But many commentators and individuals wished that the Republicans had hit a grand slam, as if we are in the bottom of the ninth inning trailing.  Boehner hit a single in the first inning…there is a long way to go.

Those that don’t have the patience to fight the good fight for the many  years it is going to take to roll back the liberal agenda and Obamanomics that will ravage our finances are on the wrong side of history.  To repeal Obamacare, we will need a Republican President and secure hold over the House and Senate.  And to top that, we will need the support of the American people to roll back entitlements, itself a touch chore.  This will take many years.  And for the first time, Republican leaders have had a steady hand in the steps needed, and are moving forward.



A Great Day For D.C. Children…


Apparently Boehner, and not Obama, is Superman...

Why is it a great day for the children of Washington, D.C., you ask?

Because with the coming passage of the 2011 budget bill, President Obama will sign into law one of the most successful education programs in Washington, D.C. history:  The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

The program — which was started during the Bush Administration to provide low-income District students with money to attend private schools — was closed by Democrats in 2009, largely because of pressure from the Teacher’s unions.  The House recently passed a Boehner-authored bill last month — the SOAR Act — to reauthorize the program for five more years, and that bill will be included in the final spending deal and signed into law by Obama.

The scholarship program is opposed by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton and current Mayor Vincent Gray, but backed by City Council Chairman Kwame Brown and former mayors Anthony Williams and Marion Barry.  It has also been favored by the vast majority of constituents in the District by almost any poll you can find.  Back in 2009, hundreds of parents and children marched in the streets to try to save the program, to no avail.

I wrote extensively about this program back in 2009, which can be read here.  It was an outrage to cancel the program in the first place, and the first sign that the Obama Administration, for all their tough talk about education, would follow traditional liberal paths and concede to Teachers Unions at every turn.  Since the program was canceled, at least 4,000 impoverished children in one of the worst school systems in the United States have been prevented from accessing the same level of education that Barack Obama provides his two daughters.

Congratulations to Speaker Boehner and Republicans for not simply placating special interests when in comes to education…but actually providing access and choice to parents in the District.

Update:   Not surprisingly, Moe Lane of RedState beat me to the punch.


Budget Deal: Time To Claim Victory And Move On…

It appears that Speaker of the House John Boehner and the White House will have settled on a budget deal some time later tonight, that would cut $38 billion from this fiscal year budget, and would largely meet the goals set out by Republicans at the start of this term.  It is still uncertain if the bill will pass, or will be delayed temporarily for the next few days, but the outline for a compromise is now in the works.

The hold through out the day focused on Title X spending:  the monies that go to health centers such as Planned Parenthood.  That accounts for approximately $300 million dollars.  Democrats have been demagoguing the issue left and right.  Female Democrat Senators came out, basically stating that Republicans wanted to take basic medical care away from all women.  The new head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, accused Republicans of trying to kill women. So much for tone of the debate, huh Mr. Obama?

The key sign all day that progress was being made was the almost incredible silence from the Republican caucus on the issue.  Normally, Republicans would be out in force, defending their Right-to-Life positions.  That was not the case today.  Instead, the leadership kept their eye on the ball…namely, fiscal constraint.

Targeting Planned Parenthood appears to have been important, but not vital, to passage of the budget agreement.  The media and Democrats, in an uproar over the cuts, focused on the social issues, and in the end defeated themselves.

Boehner has played this as well as could be expected.  It now appears, as some sources are saying, that he kept the Title X issues on the table specifically to marginalize the Democrat negotiators to basically arguing on a single item alone:  the Planned Parenthood funding.  Republicans always had their stated goal in mind, for once, did not distract themselves from it.  Abortion is a fight for another day.

For Republicans, it is time to move on.  They achieved their short term goals, in large part.  We certainly didn’t get everything, but now is not the time to quibble.  When you win 95% of the battle, it is time to claim victory and be the adult.  More importantly, the battle has been won but the war is still to be fought:  the 2012 Budget and the debt ceiling remain.  The cuts we did not achieve in this go around should be targeted for that time.

More specifically, it would be foolish for Republicans to lose the goodwill they have currently to target a few billion dollars, when trillions of dollars of cuts stand in the balance.  If Republicans waste political capital now, it is questionable whether they could build public support among a mix of conservatives and independents for the cuts we all know must come before passing an increase in the debt ceiling.

It is time to claim victory, pat ourselves on the back for a job well done…and move on to the next battleground.


Obama’s Dwindling Budget Choices…


President Obama today confirmed what most conservatives already knew…that he will never lead on any subject, but is more than ready to be the person to obstruct any real reform and change that the country needs.

In a “Statement of Administration Policy,” the White House said that it will veto the one-week measure if it passes in Congress, saying that the stopgap measure is “a distraction” from a long-term solution to the budget impasse.

“This bill is a distraction from the real work that would bring us closer to a reasonable compromise for funding the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 and avert a disruptive Federal Government shutdown that would put the Nation’s economic recovery in jeopardy,” the statement reads.

The statement noted that the administration would accept a “clean” short-term measure (one that does not change the status quo of the past short-term funding bill) while negotiations continue, but, if presented with the GOP-led one-week measure, “the President will veto it.”

This is not a surprise.  In truth, Democrats have been trying to find ways to avoid any and all cuts.  Even their compromise for $33 Billion in cuts is not real.  First of all, Senate Democrats never accepted that number.  Second, Democrats refuse to pass $33 billion in specific cuts…such as in programs like Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency, which have long been included in the Republican bill.  Democrats are raising major objections to these so-called ‘policy riders’.  The irony is that Democrats used many, many more policy riders in their past budgets than Republicans have offered in this one.  What goes around comes around.

What is even more amazing is what is contained in this bill the President plans on vetoing.  The temporary measure would fund the Defense Department for the rest of fiscal year 2011.  With the proposed veto, our military would stop getting paid in the immediate future (the Defense Dept. today clarified, and said they would be paid for the next week…but not after that).

Frankly, this was an obvious political trap, and Obama fell for it.  Instead of pushing Congressional Democrats to pass a complete budget, he now has to veto a bill that will not only shut down the government, but will threaten the financial security of our troops.  Obama says this is unacceptable…but apparently is willing to accept it.  When the media finds the endless military families who are struggling to feed their children, who will the public blame:  Republicans, who have been set up to be blamed, or Obama, who finally struck down the bill with the veto?

At this point, the ball is the Democrats’ court.  They could pass the bill, admit defeat, and move on to the larger battle on the 2012 budget. They could choose to pass some version of the House’s current temporary stop-gap, though that contains many of the cuts conservatives want in any case.   Or, they could force a shutdown, and roll the dice in the hopes that Republicans would get the majority of the blame.

I feel that everyone involved would be hurt by a shutdown, the President included.  This is not totally analogous to the situation from 1995.  At that time, conservatives were calling for a government shutdown, almost using it as a rallying cry.  This time, Republican leaders have been careful to avoid such rhetoric, and have gone out of their way to say they don’t want a shutdown.  That may make all the difference in the world.

This is a high stakes game of poker, to be sure.  Republicans have little to lose and much to gain in this process.  More and more, it looks like even if a shutdown happens, the public will broadly blame ‘the Beltway’ for their usual childish behavior.  That would hurt Republicans, but not give any special advantage to Democrats.  However, if Obama takes any significant blame, Republicans in general may be hurt, but potential 2012 candidates will use the failure to show that Obama is not the adult he portrays himself to be.




Union Impotence Abounds


Wisconsin is now the crucible for Union power, and the fight of small government conservatives versus large government liberals.  That fight was supposed to come to a head on Tuesday night, as an election for a spot on the Wisconsin Supreme Court as the key experiment.

Unions appear to have again not met the challenge.

Justice David Prosser, a conservative justice who was generally popular in the state, was the target of union and liberal groups, as a proxy for their on going fight over union rights with Republican Governor Scott Walker.  Liberals have outspent conservatives 3:1, with over $5 million spent on the race, which likely makes it the most expensive judicial race in American History.  Numerous ugly and hateful ads have run, predominantly from the left, to unseat Prosser.

And the best they could buy was…a dead heat.

Last night, it looked like Prosser would lose the first count to Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg.  Koppenburg actually declared victory last night.  But that changed again this morning, with vote tallies changing every few hours.  Prosser now leads by a couple hundred votes.   That is with over 1.5 million votes in total.  A recount is likely coming.

UPDATE:  Prosser now leads by 7,000 votes?  Computer error?  You got to be kidding.  But this is going to raise the ire of the unions and liberals, who thought victory was within their grasp.  If the margin stays that large, a recount won’t matter much.

Liberal spin this morning is that Prosser won 55-28 against Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg in the primary in February.  So clearly, liberals closed the gap.  But here is the problem…this is the zenith of liberal power in Wisconsin.  And likely, this is the nadir of conservative enthusiasm, as they had already achieved there biggest goal in this cycle.  It is unlikely that liberals will ever be able to raise the ire of their supporters and increase the enthusiasm gap more than at this moment in time.  In an off cycle election, in which conservatives had little reason to vote enthusiastically, the unions still lost.

After a night of liberals celebrating (numerous editorials this morning hailed the victory for liberals), as well as liberals ecstatic that 19 counties flipped from Republican to Democrat (even that has been overstated), there has been stunned silence this afternoon.

Canvassing of votes appears to be going in almost all counties at this point, so the vote totals could go back and forth for a long time.  This will certainly go to a recount.  And maybe Koppenburg will prevail.  In the short run, this won’t matter, as the Collective Bargaining bill will reach the Supreme Court long before Koppenburg even sniffs her seat.  But if this is the hardest punch the left has to give on this…we should take it, and look forward to the next round.



Government Shutdown Looms…


Two days remain before (the horror!) the federal government shuts down.

Speaker Boehner is playing hardball, though.  He told President Obama today that Republicans would pass another stop gap measure on Thursday.  The catch?  The measure would have $12 billion in cuts, and would also assure Defense Department funding for the rest of the year.  GOP aides have coined the stopgap measure a “troop-funding bill” – attempting to make it difficult for lawmakers in either party to oppose.

“Republicans have no interest in shutting down the government,” an exasperated Boehner declared at the conclusion of his press conference. “Shutting down the government I think is irresponsible and I think it will end up costing the American taxpayers more money than we’re already spending.”

The ‘Tea Party bloc’, as I have begun to call them, seem pleased with Boehner’s most current stance on budget talks.  Boehner has now targeted $40 Billion as the achievable cuts he wants in any compromise bill for the complete 2011 budget.  It appears that the Republicans now have a unified front in their position.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said GOP leaders would not need Democrats to pass the new CR, reflecting efforts by top Republicans to pressure their members to fall into line. Fifty-four Republicans voted against the previous CR, although a number of those lawmakers now say they will vote for this latest funding bill.  Rep. Mike Pence, who has also been vocally opposed to any more short-term funding bills and the leader of the bloc who voted against the previous CR, has also reversed his position.

This puts Senate Democrats in a bind.  Will they stand up for their principles, and basically cause a shutdown in the hopes that the American public is too ignorant of the facts to blame them?  Or will they be forced to pass the bill, and basically in turn pass many of the cuts the Republicans wanted in the first place, simply through what amounts to a back door route?

President Obama, of course, does not want any stopgap measures.  “It makes it tough to win the future when you haven’t passed the budget from last year,” Obama told an audience in Pennsylvania.  Funny, because the entire reason for this mess is the incompetence of Democrats, specifically Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who failed to pass a budget last year; the first time that has  happened since 1974.

Obama is playing a game of chicken.   It seems that the White House feels that they are going to win the public relations battle, and that the public will automatically blame Republicans, just as they did back in 1995.  However, that is far from assured.  An NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll shows that although 37% would blame Republicans, 20% would blame Obama and 20% would blame Congressional Democrats.  17% of the public would blame both sides equally.  The Republican/Democrat breakdown, then, would be 37%/40%…a wash.   And honest White House staffers will admit concern over a shutdown, and who ultimately will pay the political price if it occurs.

So I guess it is time to roll the dice, huh?


Obama: Inconsistencies (Falsehoods?) Stack Up


No boots on the ground, huh?

As time goes on, the war in Libya looks more and more like a potential quagmire.  Sure, any day Qaddafi could decide he would rather live in Switzerland.  Or one day, a senior aide could decide the Colonel deserves a bullet in the head.  But if wishes were horses…

The inconsistencies in the Obama explanation of the Libyan mission are stacking…so much so, one has to wonder if they are intentional.  If so, they are more than simple inconsistencies, but outright lies.

For example, as recently as just 48 hours ago,  the President reiterated that there would be no US personnel deployed on the ground:  no boots on the ground has been their rallying cry.

That didn’t last long:

CIA officers are on the ground in Libya, coordinating with rebels and sharing intelligence, U.S. officials say, but the Obama administration has not decided whether to take the further step of providing weapons to those trying to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The issue of whether to provide arms to the ragtag rebel forces has been controversial in Washington.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, attended a briefing of congressional leaders about the status of CIA activities in Libya.

Later Wednesday, the White House issued a statement repeating that “no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya.”

“We’re not ruling it out or ruling it in,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

Well, two days earlier we ruled out forces on the ground in Libya…so that ‘nuanced’ position is quite meaningless.

‘Nuanced’ is the word most liberals use for this entire operation.  It is systematic for the indecision and confusion that percolates through out the entire discussion.  Frankly, when you can’t even decide on whether this is a police action or a war, that is worrisome. (And as a side note:  when you try to enact ‘regime change’ by military action, Mr. President, that is always considered a war.)

The ‘nuance’ doesn’t end there.  The Obama Administration’s description of the coalition has been stretched to the point of ridicule as well.  This is, as many have pointed out, the smallest coalition in modern history.  With only 15 members currently, it is smaller than the coalition for Kosovo, and less than half the size of Desert Storm and about 1/3 the size of the coalitions that started either the Iraq or Aghan wars.  It does have the largest Arab component since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, to be sure.  But still, this is an American operation, with American jets flying over half the sorties, as well as American ships firing over 90% of the sea-to-land missiles so far.  For example, Qatar flew the first Arab mission in the war…7 days after the mission started.

At this point, Obama, Nicholai Sarkozy and David Cameron are holding the coalition are holding the coalition by a thread.  Remember Obama’s promise that U.S. involvement would be ‘days, not weeks’?  Well, that went by the wayside when NATO had difficulty in taking over the mission.  Support from NATO is slim right now, with both Germany and Turkey wavering, and a question of who really will take the helm when the U.S. pulls back.

Fracturing of the coalition seems even more likely when you get into the details.  The White House, after receiving withering attacks from both the left and the right last week, have been more aggressive, and suggesting that Qaddafi’s removal was a major goal of the operation in their minds.  They have suggest arming the rebels among the scenarios being considered.

If you think the coalition agrees with any of that, thing again:

Officials at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which early Thursday assumed control of allied operations to enforce the United Nations mandate in Libya, said they aren’t considering arming Libyan rebels.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Stockholm that he has taken note of the “ongoing discussion in a number of countries” about arming the rebels but “as far as NATO is concerned…we will focus on the enforcement of the arms embargo,” which he said applies “across the board to all sides in this conflict.”

[It was] stressed that any intelligence-gathering on the ground is being done by member countries, not NATO itself. “If [alliance] nations have forces on the ground, these are not NATO forces,” Adm. Di Paola said. “We don’t have NATO forces on the ground.”

With the CIA now on the ground in Libya, clearly America is looking to do more with the rebel outfit.  The coalition seems to want no part of that, national building, or any other intervention.

Obama may quickly have to make vital decision:  will he maintain the American’s ‘back seat’ role in this mission, and accept that one of his major goals, removing Qaddafi, cannot be achieved?  Or will he threaten the very existence of the coalition, supply the rebels with intelligence and weapons, and basically overstate the hard fought United Nations mandate?

Frankly, I don’t even think Mr. Obama knows what he is going to do.


Obama’s Libya Address: A Primer

So Mr. Obama finally decided that the American people should be informed about his reasoning on why he has started a third war in the Islamic world.  For Obama, it is incomprehensible why he did not do this earlier.  Two weeks into this mission, opposition to the policy is hardening not only on the right, but on the extreme left as well.

But in any case, Obama’s moment to educate us is here.  What questions must he answer?

1.  Is there any American vital interest in Libya?

I think the answer was given by Sec. Gates yesterday:  No.  But I would like to hear the President’s opinion, which ultimately is the only one that matters.

2.  What are our military objectives?

The UN resolution, as well as the diplomatic talk after, have been scattered.  If this is purely a humanitarian mission, then haven’t we already achieved our goals, by stopping the massacre in Benghazi?

If defending Benghazi was simply the beginning of the ‘humanitarian mission’, that is fair.  But then, the President must delineate to what extent we will carry through on humanitarian grounds.  For example, will we help march into Tripoli, to protect those that are being oppressed there?

3.  Are our military objectives even achievable?

This is a dire question.  I think that one can argue about the morality of protecting the civilians on the ground.  No one wants to see women, children, and innocents dying because of the insanity of a sociopath.

However, no one in this mission has explained what the end game is.  It has been clearly stated that it is NOT the removal of Qaddafi.  Well, that is fine; then what is it?

There is no scenario that I can picture in which Qaddafi survives, and we walk away.   That simply is no longer a choice.  We either remove the regime, or we are in it for a long, hard slog, which will entail nation building in one manner or another.  The only other option is peacekeepers on the ground, and no one in the current coalition is willing to do that.

Benghazi has been saved, and Obama can take solace that at least that much has been achieved.  But now, after achieving the short term goal, what is the next step?  If the rebels are unable to take Tripoli, does the war continue?  How does that line up with Obama’s denial of seeking regime change?  Simply put, the goals so far stated do not coincide with one another.  It is illogical en face.  And that leads to the next question…

4.  Is there a scenario that leaves Qaddafi in power?  Is there a definition of success that does not include regime change?

Obama’s has come under the most criticism, arguably, for both supporting and denying support for the ouster of Qaddafi.  Obama runs away from the term ‘regime change’ like is the plague.  But after proclaiming several weeks ago the he is an illegitimate leader of his people and must go, can Obama walk away from that, regardless of the United Nations mandate?

It seems that Obama has drawn a line in the sand:  Qaddafi, but not one dictator farther.  It is an embarrassment of a doctrine.  Obama has already stepped over the theoretical line.  If, for example, Assad kills tens of thousands of demonstrators in Syria, will we simply wash our hands of it?  We could have, honestly so, before the attack on Libya.  Now?  It is unlikely the Arab street would forgive the West, and America in particular, for ignoring such an event.

5.  Was this mission constitutional?  And did the President meet the minimal requirements necessary for foreign military intervention?

I won’t go into thorough detail on this because, frankly, the issue has been beaten to death.  But Obama should be held to account.  He himself stated that exactly this type of intervention required Congressional approval 3 years ago.  He should have to defend  his current position, and if he has changed his mind, at least admit he has done so.


Simply, Obama must do tonight what most Presidents do on the initial night of such a conflict:  explain to the American people why we should risk our blood and treasure in a foreign land.  The American public will not always believe the President’s assertion, or his policy, but they have the right to hear the reasons directly from the mouth of the Commander-in-Chief.

In this case, Obama hurt his own credibility by not doing this sooner.  Regardless of his answers to the above, I think he will have to accept that much, if not most, of the country does not support this mission, for any reason.



Libya: What Is Our End Game?

I have been a proponent for some kind of intervention in Libya since the earliest days of the revolution.  I certainly would have favored arming the rebels and giving them tactical assistance.  I thought the costs of such intervention were worth it, with minimal downside.

I, like everyone else with a brain, is against ground troop involvement.

But the UN sanctioned No Fly Zone, along with the American strategy in this mission, makes utterly no sense.

Let us step back a minute and look at the entire picture.  Libya was the last of the North African countries to tip over from the domino effect of the recent revolution craze spreading through out the Middle East.  Ironically, it was one of the more violent and oppressive regimes as well.  Even so, the rapid movement of the rebels toward toppling Qaddafi was surprising to virtually everyone.

But that early success may doom them to long term failure.

The quick changes on the ground have lead Obama to largely be paralyzed by indecision.  Obama has been all over the map on this issue.  In the early days, he called for Qaddafi’s ouster.  Then, when the rebel movement stalled, he called for some kind of stalemate.  When the tide turned, Obama looked indecisive, and inaction ruled the day.  Once it looked like Qaddafi would crush the rebel forces, and possibly annihilate the civilians in Benghazi, it was the French and British that stepped in to prevent carnage.  Now the President is calling for quick withdrawal of U.S. forces from the theater.  However, even with that declaration, ambiguity remains; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has implied that U.S. involvement will be longer than expected.

Obama’s nuanced foreign policy has given us a plethora of choices, all of which have set us up for a No-Win scenario.  Because of the alliances with the Arab League and promises to other world powers that the mission would be limited to humanitarian assistance, the Allies cannot achieve their initial stated goal:  regime change with the removal of Qaddafi.  Even killing him would not be enough, because one of his sons would simply take over.  And with billions of dollars of gold and cash horded into bunkers through out Tripoli, Qaddafi has immense staying power; something the Allies don’t have.

The second stated goal, the one stated by the United Nations, is to protect civilians.  That is all well and good, and certainly a laudable goal.  But how long will we do that, and more importantly, will we be successful?  Right now, Qaddafi’s forces have stalled because of the air assault.  But Qaddafi has many weapons and forces remaining.  For us to establish some kind of stalemate in which the rebel forces would be able to protect themselves, we would have to do something Obama, the Brits and French have promised not to do:  nation build.  The rebels are in chaos, have no leader, have no military authority.  This would be a ground-up mission on the level of Afghanistan.  No one has either the will or money to do anything of the sort.

So eventually, as the United States leaves, as Obama puts it, “…in days, not weeks…”, and the Europeans get bored and sick of the costs, what will largely remain is what was found on the ground the day before the No-Fly Zone started:  Qaddafi with overwhelming forces that ultimately will crush the rebels.

So even the humanitarian goals cannot be achieved easily.

And the obvious question:  when Qaddafi marches on Benghazi the next time, what happens?

Many people are discussing the hypocrisy of intervening in Libya and ignoring other hot humanitarian crises, the ridiculousness of intervening in this civil war when others have killed many more, Obama’s lack of Congressional approval, etc.  This does not even begin to mention what America will do if NATO refuses to take charge of the mission, as they did today because of the opposition from Turkey and Germany.  These are all valid discussions to have.

But ultimately, the biggest question in Libya, or any military action, is what are the goals, and can they be met with reasonable costs?

President Obama has to be held to account.  The President should simply be asked what our goals are, and if they are achievable.  I think all of us, Democrat and Republican alike, know the answer.  And no matter how nuanced his response is, we all know that the answer comes to the same conclusion.  There is no way to achieve our goals.  So why are we there?

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