Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 31, 2009

Abbas’s Three No’s

Three months after Syria, Jordan, and Egypt lost substantial territory during the 1967 Six Day War, the Arab League convened in Khartoum and issued its infamous “three no’s”: no peace with Israel; no recognition of Israel; and no negotiations with Israel.  Yesterday in Cairo, an uncharacteristically defiant Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas offered an updated version of these no’s: “No amending the Arab peace plan; No normalization without withdrawal; and no to the Jewishness of the Israeli state.”

You may wonder where a feckless, powerless, and unpopular leader of a non-state entity gets off setting the ground rules for future negotiations with the elected government of a regional power.  As Jonathan has pointed out, the Obama White House has thrown its support so strongly behind Abbas – and issued such a strong condemnation of Israeli settlement expansion – that the Palestinian leader can hardly contain his newfound confidence.

Let this be a lesson to those who insist that a more “even-handed” approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would produce faster peace dividends.  If anything, Abbas’s sudden bravado indicates that tilting against Israel makes its adversaries less compromising and makes peace prospects more hopeless.  Consider for a moment that two of Abbas’s three no’s – his refusal to amend the Arab peace plan and vocal opposition to Israel’s Jewish character – can be collapsed into one: an insistence on Palestinians’ “right of return” to Israel proper.  This is a stipulation that no Israeli government would ever accept, while Obama rejected the “right of return” explicitly as “not an option” during his presidential campaign.

In short, chalk up another failure for President Obama’s ongoing experimentation with American foreign policy.

Three months after Syria, Jordan, and Egypt lost substantial territory during the 1967 Six Day War, the Arab League convened in Khartoum and issued its infamous “three no’s”: no peace with Israel; no recognition of Israel; and no negotiations with Israel.  Yesterday in Cairo, an uncharacteristically defiant Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas offered an updated version of these no’s: “No amending the Arab peace plan; No normalization without withdrawal; and no to the Jewishness of the Israeli state.”

You may wonder where a feckless, powerless, and unpopular leader of a non-state entity gets off setting the ground rules for future negotiations with the elected government of a regional power.  As Jonathan has pointed out, the Obama White House has thrown its support so strongly behind Abbas – and issued such a strong condemnation of Israeli settlement expansion – that the Palestinian leader can hardly contain his newfound confidence.

Let this be a lesson to those who insist that a more “even-handed” approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would produce faster peace dividends.  If anything, Abbas’s sudden bravado indicates that tilting against Israel makes its adversaries less compromising and makes peace prospects more hopeless.  Consider for a moment that two of Abbas’s three no’s – his refusal to amend the Arab peace plan and vocal opposition to Israel’s Jewish character – can be collapsed into one: an insistence on Palestinians’ “right of return” to Israel proper.  This is a stipulation that no Israeli government would ever accept, while Obama rejected the “right of return” explicitly as “not an option” during his presidential campaign.

In short, chalk up another failure for President Obama’s ongoing experimentation with American foreign policy.

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Fooling Only Yourself

Abe’s post (“Accepting the Unacceptable“) about Secretary Gates’s speech yesterday is a reminder that – as George Orwell warned us long ago – the debasement of language has both intellectual and political consequences.

When George W. Bush called Iranian nuclear weapons “unacceptable,” John Bolton said he was often asked what Bush meant by that, and always answered it meant they were unacceptable.  By the end of Bush’s second term, Bolton said he no longer knew what Bush meant.  Bush left office having denied Israel’s request for weapons to unaccept Iran’s program – although placing them in the hands of Iran’s intended first victim would have sent a credible signal to Iran to stop its program.  Bush also called Russia’s invasion of Georgia “unacceptable,” but left office with Russian troops ensconced in Georgia and its territorial integrity gone. 

Whatever “unacceptable” meant, it did not mean concrete consequences for Russia or Iran.  If Iran had previously been worried about the meaning of “unacceptable,” it had little cause for concern after seeing its practical application in Georgia, and still less after it watched the new administration deliver a reset button to Russia, with a video to the mullahs and serial apologies to the rest of the world.

Obama has called Iranian nuclear weapons “unacceptable,” but few people think he will do much beyond talk to Iran in the hope of securing another North Korea-type framework agreement.  His secretary of state warns of “crippling” sanctions, but knows they are unlikely to be imposed; or be enforced if imposed; or be effective even if enforced – they weren’t in the case of Cuba or North Korea, or with Saddam Hussein.  His secretary of defense has delivered a public warning to Israel not to consider the one action that might cause the Iranians some concern.  

The word “unacceptable” has become an Orwellian term, referring to something with which we disagree, but will in fact ultimately accept.  In his classic essay, Orwell referred to language sounding significant (such as “stand shoulder to shoulder“) but that actually “will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself.”  He would have recognized the language in Gates’s speech, and its consequences.

Abe’s post (“Accepting the Unacceptable“) about Secretary Gates’s speech yesterday is a reminder that – as George Orwell warned us long ago – the debasement of language has both intellectual and political consequences.

When George W. Bush called Iranian nuclear weapons “unacceptable,” John Bolton said he was often asked what Bush meant by that, and always answered it meant they were unacceptable.  By the end of Bush’s second term, Bolton said he no longer knew what Bush meant.  Bush left office having denied Israel’s request for weapons to unaccept Iran’s program – although placing them in the hands of Iran’s intended first victim would have sent a credible signal to Iran to stop its program.  Bush also called Russia’s invasion of Georgia “unacceptable,” but left office with Russian troops ensconced in Georgia and its territorial integrity gone. 

Whatever “unacceptable” meant, it did not mean concrete consequences for Russia or Iran.  If Iran had previously been worried about the meaning of “unacceptable,” it had little cause for concern after seeing its practical application in Georgia, and still less after it watched the new administration deliver a reset button to Russia, with a video to the mullahs and serial apologies to the rest of the world.

Obama has called Iranian nuclear weapons “unacceptable,” but few people think he will do much beyond talk to Iran in the hope of securing another North Korea-type framework agreement.  His secretary of state warns of “crippling” sanctions, but knows they are unlikely to be imposed; or be enforced if imposed; or be effective even if enforced – they weren’t in the case of Cuba or North Korea, or with Saddam Hussein.  His secretary of defense has delivered a public warning to Israel not to consider the one action that might cause the Iranians some concern.  

The word “unacceptable” has become an Orwellian term, referring to something with which we disagree, but will in fact ultimately accept.  In his classic essay, Orwell referred to language sounding significant (such as “stand shoulder to shoulder“) but that actually “will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself.”  He would have recognized the language in Gates’s speech, and its consequences.

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Hiding Behind the Readers

Last week, the New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt meted out a half-hearted wrist-slap to Maureen Dowd for her rip off of a Josh Marshall posting. This week, Hoyt lets the readers have their say. They are not amused by Dowd’s lame excuse or by the Times’ spinelessness in dealing with a high-profile columnist who plainly broke the rules of Journalism 101. One writes:

If Maureen Dowd actually got a 42 word “quote” in writing from a friend and then used it almost verbatim, why didn’t she attribute the comment to the e-mail correspondent who gave it to her? The fact that Ms. Dowd did not realize from whom she was taking the quote does not mean she was unaware that the unattributed words were not her own, which is the essence of plagiarism. You should have named it as such.

Another argues:

Crediting two bloggers doesn’t justify copying and pasting the words of a third. The words were clearly not Maureen Dowd’s, and even the punctuation was the same as Josh Marshall’s. Mr. Marshall isn’t pressing the issue and considers the matter closed, but that doesn’t justify letting Ms. Dowd off the hook with just a correction. The passive-voice note that she “failed to attribute a paragraph” seems to play down what actually occurred.

You note that “Dowd told me the passage in question was part of an e-mail conversation with her friend.” Since Ms. Dowd lifted someone else’s words without attribution, it seems odd that The Times is simply taking her word for how this incident occurred. I feel that this is plagiarism.

So Hoyt and the Times management haven’t the nerve to punish Dowd, but they are content to rummage through the mail bag and give space to readers who aren’t intimidated by Dowd. It is a rather passive-aggressive performance. And the question remains: is the standard at the Gray Lady now “one free plagiarism”? Or does that only apply to the grande dame of snark?

Last week, the New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt meted out a half-hearted wrist-slap to Maureen Dowd for her rip off of a Josh Marshall posting. This week, Hoyt lets the readers have their say. They are not amused by Dowd’s lame excuse or by the Times’ spinelessness in dealing with a high-profile columnist who plainly broke the rules of Journalism 101. One writes:

If Maureen Dowd actually got a 42 word “quote” in writing from a friend and then used it almost verbatim, why didn’t she attribute the comment to the e-mail correspondent who gave it to her? The fact that Ms. Dowd did not realize from whom she was taking the quote does not mean she was unaware that the unattributed words were not her own, which is the essence of plagiarism. You should have named it as such.

Another argues:

Crediting two bloggers doesn’t justify copying and pasting the words of a third. The words were clearly not Maureen Dowd’s, and even the punctuation was the same as Josh Marshall’s. Mr. Marshall isn’t pressing the issue and considers the matter closed, but that doesn’t justify letting Ms. Dowd off the hook with just a correction. The passive-voice note that she “failed to attribute a paragraph” seems to play down what actually occurred.

You note that “Dowd told me the passage in question was part of an e-mail conversation with her friend.” Since Ms. Dowd lifted someone else’s words without attribution, it seems odd that The Times is simply taking her word for how this incident occurred. I feel that this is plagiarism.

So Hoyt and the Times management haven’t the nerve to punish Dowd, but they are content to rummage through the mail bag and give space to readers who aren’t intimidated by Dowd. It is a rather passive-aggressive performance. And the question remains: is the standard at the Gray Lady now “one free plagiarism”? Or does that only apply to the grande dame of snark?

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Freezes, Then and Now

In the course of writing an article for an Israeli newspaper (Hebrew only), I went back to reading Ronald Reagan’s September 1, 1982 speech on Middle East peace (the Reagan Plan) and Israel’s response to this long-forgotten initiative. As Israel and the U.S. are at odds again over the issue of “settlement freeze,” it is worth revisiting Reagan’s call for a settlement freeze:

The United States will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements during the transition period. Indeed, the immediate adoption of a settlement freeze by Israel, more than any other action, could create the confidence needed for wider participation in these talks. Further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs and a final outcome can be freely and fairly negotiated.

And on the day after, September 2, 1982, the Israeli government rejected this part of the Reagan plan:

In the Camp David agreement no mention whatsoever is made of such a freeze. At Camp David the Prime Minister agreed that new settlements could not be be established (though population would be added to existing ones) during the period of the negotiations for the signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel (three months being explicitly stated). This commitment was carried out in full. That three month period terminated on December 1978…

Reagan, like Obama, wanted Israel to freeze “settlement activity.” Netanyahu, like former PM Menachem Begin, argues that even during a “freeze,” there will be no freeze of “natural growth” (“population would be added to existing ones”). Thus, the real question about Obama has to do with the intensity and ferocity with which he will pursue the goal of settlement freeze.

In other words: has Obama decided that even if freeze means the collapse of the Israeli coalition – and the demise of Netanyahu’s government – he is still going to pursue it without compromise? Since bringing about peace is not in his power, maybe some of his advisors believe that the toppling of Netanyahu’s coalition will allow Obama to gain the trust of the Arab world.

In the course of writing an article for an Israeli newspaper (Hebrew only), I went back to reading Ronald Reagan’s September 1, 1982 speech on Middle East peace (the Reagan Plan) and Israel’s response to this long-forgotten initiative. As Israel and the U.S. are at odds again over the issue of “settlement freeze,” it is worth revisiting Reagan’s call for a settlement freeze:

The United States will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements during the transition period. Indeed, the immediate adoption of a settlement freeze by Israel, more than any other action, could create the confidence needed for wider participation in these talks. Further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs and a final outcome can be freely and fairly negotiated.

And on the day after, September 2, 1982, the Israeli government rejected this part of the Reagan plan:

In the Camp David agreement no mention whatsoever is made of such a freeze. At Camp David the Prime Minister agreed that new settlements could not be be established (though population would be added to existing ones) during the period of the negotiations for the signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel (three months being explicitly stated). This commitment was carried out in full. That three month period terminated on December 1978…

Reagan, like Obama, wanted Israel to freeze “settlement activity.” Netanyahu, like former PM Menachem Begin, argues that even during a “freeze,” there will be no freeze of “natural growth” (“population would be added to existing ones”). Thus, the real question about Obama has to do with the intensity and ferocity with which he will pursue the goal of settlement freeze.

In other words: has Obama decided that even if freeze means the collapse of the Israeli coalition – and the demise of Netanyahu’s government – he is still going to pursue it without compromise? Since bringing about peace is not in his power, maybe some of his advisors believe that the toppling of Netanyahu’s coalition will allow Obama to gain the trust of the Arab world.

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He Got the Judge He Wanted

Peter Baker notes the irony: the president who ran as the post-racial candidate has selected a Supreme Court nominee who is anything but post-racial. He writes:

But four months later, identity politics is back with a vengeance. A president who these days refers to his background obliquely when he does at all chose a Supreme Court candidate who openly embraces hers. Critics took issue with her past statements and called her a “reverse racist.” And the capital once again has polarized along familiar lines.

The selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor brought these issues to the fore again for several reasons. Mr. Obama’s selection process was geared from the beginning toward finding a female or minority candidate, or both. Only one of the nine vetted candidates was an Anglo male, and all four finalists he interviewed were women. One of Judge Sotomayor’s most prominent cases involved an affirmative-action claim. And her comment on her Latina background shaping her jurisprudence provided fodder for opponents.

It doesn’t take  long to figure out that, as Abigail Thernstrom (conservative scholar and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights) observes, “He didn’t pick a post-racial candidate. . . She’s a quintessential spokesman for racial spoils.”

Baker reports that the administration is shocked, just shocked, to find there’s identity politics going on. Could they really dispute that “they fostered identity politics through a selection process focused on adding diversity to the court”? That suggests they either missed the impact and distastefulness of Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” speech (and her opinion in Ricci) or that they are determined to play the identity politics game, while denying they would do such a thing.

As Thernstrom points out, the pick tells us much about the president. He could have chosen a “diversity” pick who didn’t identify with the race-conscious civil rights lobby. And he could have picked someone who was renowned for legal scholarship. Instead, he made a conscious choice to pick Sotomayor, who is openly contemptuous of the idea of judicial impartiality and who revels in identity politics. We must conclude that despite Obama’s campaign rhetoric this nominee is compatible with his views on judging as an exercise in empathy and with his broader views on race. Otherwise he could have chosen someone else, right?

Peter Baker notes the irony: the president who ran as the post-racial candidate has selected a Supreme Court nominee who is anything but post-racial. He writes:

But four months later, identity politics is back with a vengeance. A president who these days refers to his background obliquely when he does at all chose a Supreme Court candidate who openly embraces hers. Critics took issue with her past statements and called her a “reverse racist.” And the capital once again has polarized along familiar lines.

The selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor brought these issues to the fore again for several reasons. Mr. Obama’s selection process was geared from the beginning toward finding a female or minority candidate, or both. Only one of the nine vetted candidates was an Anglo male, and all four finalists he interviewed were women. One of Judge Sotomayor’s most prominent cases involved an affirmative-action claim. And her comment on her Latina background shaping her jurisprudence provided fodder for opponents.

It doesn’t take  long to figure out that, as Abigail Thernstrom (conservative scholar and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights) observes, “He didn’t pick a post-racial candidate. . . She’s a quintessential spokesman for racial spoils.”

Baker reports that the administration is shocked, just shocked, to find there’s identity politics going on. Could they really dispute that “they fostered identity politics through a selection process focused on adding diversity to the court”? That suggests they either missed the impact and distastefulness of Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” speech (and her opinion in Ricci) or that they are determined to play the identity politics game, while denying they would do such a thing.

As Thernstrom points out, the pick tells us much about the president. He could have chosen a “diversity” pick who didn’t identify with the race-conscious civil rights lobby. And he could have picked someone who was renowned for legal scholarship. Instead, he made a conscious choice to pick Sotomayor, who is openly contemptuous of the idea of judicial impartiality and who revels in identity politics. We must conclude that despite Obama’s campaign rhetoric this nominee is compatible with his views on judging as an exercise in empathy and with his broader views on race. Otherwise he could have chosen someone else, right?

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You Don’t Need a Weatherman to See Which Way the Wind is Blowing

For months, supporters of Israel, as well as its foes in this country, have been trying to understand which way the wind is blowing in the Obama administration. But after the president’s meetings with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, it’s becoming quite clear that the breeze is swaying away from the Israelis. The president’s statements about Israeli settlements during the photo-op with Abbas on Thursday certainly sent the Palestinian away happy. As the New York Times report on the meeting indicated, Obama was prepared to directly intervene in a dispute that has usually been left to lower level functionaries:

Mr. Obama reiterated his call for a halt to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and said he expected a response soon from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Mr. Obama’s words echoed — albeit less bluntly — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s brusque call on Wednesday for a complete freeze of construction in settlements on the West Bank. In expansive language that left no wiggle room, Mrs. Clinton said that Mr. Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions.”

Her comments took Israeli officials by surprise.

Mr. Obama said something similar last week during private talks with Mr. Netanyahu at the White House, and Mr. Netanyahu responded that he could crack down on outposts, but not on the natural growth of settlements, according to American and Israeli officials.

The administration then took the quarrel public, laying down the marker that allowing natural growth would not satisfy the United States and that administration officials would not limit themselves to the diplo-speak of the past that simply called settlement expansion “unhelpful.” The decision left the two allies hurtling toward their first public fight.

In the aftermath of the meeting, the Palestinians are spinning their triumph furiously for the world press. According to Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily.com, Obama promised Abbas that a future Palestinian state would have Jerusalem as its capital.

Klein quotes Nimer Hamad, Abbas’ senior political adviser as saying: “Abu Mazen (Abbas) heard from Obama and his administration in a very categorical way that a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is in the American national and security interest,” Hamad said.

Even more upsetting for Israelis is another quote in Klein’s story in which he cites another Palestinian Authority official, this one anonymous, who said, “We were told from this new administration they will not allow a Netanyahu government to hurt their efforts of rehabilitating U.S. relations with the Arab and Islamic world, which is a high priority of Obama.”

Even if one takes this last anonymous quote with a grain of salt, there is no question that the entire thrust of Obama’s Middle East diplomacy appears to lead toward downgrading the U.S. alliance with Israel. While virtually ignoring the nuclear quest in Iran which ensures that before long Israel will be faced with an existential threat to its existence, ironically Obama has now framed the talks with the Palestinians in a way that guarantees that no progress will be made. We can expect this trend will be confirmed in Obama’s speech to the Arab world from Cairo this week.

Obama’s main accomplishment in these two meetings has been to encourage the Palestinians to believe that he will deliver the Israelis to them on a silver platter. In the same story by Klein the Palestinians make clear that they feel no pressure to make any reciprocal gestures to the Israelis such as recognizing the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. As was the case when Bill Clinton similarly encouraged Abbas’s predecessor Yasser Arafat to think he could hold out for more and more concessions and raise the ante with violence, the result of this U.S. blunder will not be peace.

For months, supporters of Israel, as well as its foes in this country, have been trying to understand which way the wind is blowing in the Obama administration. But after the president’s meetings with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, it’s becoming quite clear that the breeze is swaying away from the Israelis. The president’s statements about Israeli settlements during the photo-op with Abbas on Thursday certainly sent the Palestinian away happy. As the New York Times report on the meeting indicated, Obama was prepared to directly intervene in a dispute that has usually been left to lower level functionaries:

Mr. Obama reiterated his call for a halt to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and said he expected a response soon from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Mr. Obama’s words echoed — albeit less bluntly — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s brusque call on Wednesday for a complete freeze of construction in settlements on the West Bank. In expansive language that left no wiggle room, Mrs. Clinton said that Mr. Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions.”

Her comments took Israeli officials by surprise.

Mr. Obama said something similar last week during private talks with Mr. Netanyahu at the White House, and Mr. Netanyahu responded that he could crack down on outposts, but not on the natural growth of settlements, according to American and Israeli officials.

The administration then took the quarrel public, laying down the marker that allowing natural growth would not satisfy the United States and that administration officials would not limit themselves to the diplo-speak of the past that simply called settlement expansion “unhelpful.” The decision left the two allies hurtling toward their first public fight.

In the aftermath of the meeting, the Palestinians are spinning their triumph furiously for the world press. According to Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily.com, Obama promised Abbas that a future Palestinian state would have Jerusalem as its capital.

Klein quotes Nimer Hamad, Abbas’ senior political adviser as saying: “Abu Mazen (Abbas) heard from Obama and his administration in a very categorical way that a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is in the American national and security interest,” Hamad said.

Even more upsetting for Israelis is another quote in Klein’s story in which he cites another Palestinian Authority official, this one anonymous, who said, “We were told from this new administration they will not allow a Netanyahu government to hurt their efforts of rehabilitating U.S. relations with the Arab and Islamic world, which is a high priority of Obama.”

Even if one takes this last anonymous quote with a grain of salt, there is no question that the entire thrust of Obama’s Middle East diplomacy appears to lead toward downgrading the U.S. alliance with Israel. While virtually ignoring the nuclear quest in Iran which ensures that before long Israel will be faced with an existential threat to its existence, ironically Obama has now framed the talks with the Palestinians in a way that guarantees that no progress will be made. We can expect this trend will be confirmed in Obama’s speech to the Arab world from Cairo this week.

Obama’s main accomplishment in these two meetings has been to encourage the Palestinians to believe that he will deliver the Israelis to them on a silver platter. In the same story by Klein the Palestinians make clear that they feel no pressure to make any reciprocal gestures to the Israelis such as recognizing the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. As was the case when Bill Clinton similarly encouraged Abbas’s predecessor Yasser Arafat to think he could hold out for more and more concessions and raise the ante with violence, the result of this U.S. blunder will not be peace.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Marty Peretz recounts the history of Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel and Israel’s unsuccessful efforts to give the Palestinians their state. He observes: “Now, the Obama administration is engaged in another try at the peace process, egged on presumably by the preposterous idea that, if Bibi only utters the magic phrase ‘two-state solution’ and halts construction even for natural growth in every single one of the settlements, America’s troubles in the world of Islam will not only ease but be transformed. Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton, our martinet secretary of state, has enthusiastically rushed to formulate these instructions to Israel in the harshest possible terms. ” So did Peretz have Obama pegged all wrong? Those who saw this coming would rather be wrong than say, “We told you so.”

At some point maybe everyone can give up on the fiction that the Europeans really want Guantanamo closed: “Italy’s interior minister insisted Saturday that any decision to accept Guantanamo inmates must be unanimously made by members of the European Union and expressed worry the suspected terrorists might move easily through the union’s loose borders.”

What, you want consistency? “President Obama’s expressed hope today in his weekly address ‘that we can avoid the political posturing and ideological brinksmanship that has bogged down this (Supreme Court nomination) process, and Congress, in the past’ runs against another historical first for the 44th president: his unique role in history as the first US President to have ever voted to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee.”

The “magic may be wearing off” at CNN. It’s ratings have plunged. Perhaps there isn’t much audience for Obama-cheerleading masquerading as unbiased journalism. Whoops– the new Newsweek might want to take note.

James Carafano gets it right: “Just repeating the assertion that the Iran and North Korea threats are not imminent misses the point–a ‘slow go’ missile defense program only encourages both countries to advance their programs faster and leaves the US open to strategic surprise. Obama failed his first real foreign policy test-now even some on his side of the fence are urging him revisit a bad decision. We should all do what Joe Biden said, help the president when he is tested-let’s help him change his mind on cutting missiles defense.”

The car industry frets that Americans will break the new car habit. Hmm. Maybe building hybrid cars that are $3000-4000 more per vehicle is exactly the wrong strategy.

Ilya Somin explains just how problematic “empathy” is in judging: “When critics of the [Lily] Ledbetter decision claim that the conservative justices lacked ‘empathy’ for the plaintiff, they mean not that the conservative justices were unaware of her feelings, but that they failed to identify with them sufficiently. As Barack Obama recently put it, ‘the quality of empathy’ he looks for in judges includes ‘understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes’ [emphasis added]. Advocates of judicial empathy claim not only that judges sometimes must determine the mental states of litigants, but also show sympathetic ‘identification’ with them. At the very least, they want judges to put themselves in litigant’s shoes to a far greater extent than merely knowing what the litigants think or feel. And they want that kind of empathy to be a basis for judicial decisions in some important cases.” That would be the same as bias, right?

Marty Peretz recounts the history of Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel and Israel’s unsuccessful efforts to give the Palestinians their state. He observes: “Now, the Obama administration is engaged in another try at the peace process, egged on presumably by the preposterous idea that, if Bibi only utters the magic phrase ‘two-state solution’ and halts construction even for natural growth in every single one of the settlements, America’s troubles in the world of Islam will not only ease but be transformed. Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton, our martinet secretary of state, has enthusiastically rushed to formulate these instructions to Israel in the harshest possible terms. ” So did Peretz have Obama pegged all wrong? Those who saw this coming would rather be wrong than say, “We told you so.”

At some point maybe everyone can give up on the fiction that the Europeans really want Guantanamo closed: “Italy’s interior minister insisted Saturday that any decision to accept Guantanamo inmates must be unanimously made by members of the European Union and expressed worry the suspected terrorists might move easily through the union’s loose borders.”

What, you want consistency? “President Obama’s expressed hope today in his weekly address ‘that we can avoid the political posturing and ideological brinksmanship that has bogged down this (Supreme Court nomination) process, and Congress, in the past’ runs against another historical first for the 44th president: his unique role in history as the first US President to have ever voted to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee.”

The “magic may be wearing off” at CNN. It’s ratings have plunged. Perhaps there isn’t much audience for Obama-cheerleading masquerading as unbiased journalism. Whoops– the new Newsweek might want to take note.

James Carafano gets it right: “Just repeating the assertion that the Iran and North Korea threats are not imminent misses the point–a ‘slow go’ missile defense program only encourages both countries to advance their programs faster and leaves the US open to strategic surprise. Obama failed his first real foreign policy test-now even some on his side of the fence are urging him revisit a bad decision. We should all do what Joe Biden said, help the president when he is tested-let’s help him change his mind on cutting missiles defense.”

The car industry frets that Americans will break the new car habit. Hmm. Maybe building hybrid cars that are $3000-4000 more per vehicle is exactly the wrong strategy.

Ilya Somin explains just how problematic “empathy” is in judging: “When critics of the [Lily] Ledbetter decision claim that the conservative justices lacked ‘empathy’ for the plaintiff, they mean not that the conservative justices were unaware of her feelings, but that they failed to identify with them sufficiently. As Barack Obama recently put it, ‘the quality of empathy’ he looks for in judges includes ‘understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes’ [emphasis added]. Advocates of judicial empathy claim not only that judges sometimes must determine the mental states of litigants, but also show sympathetic ‘identification’ with them. At the very least, they want judges to put themselves in litigant’s shoes to a far greater extent than merely knowing what the litigants think or feel. And they want that kind of empathy to be a basis for judicial decisions in some important cases.” That would be the same as bias, right?

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