Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 31, 2009

Talking and Cruising with COMMENTARY

Iran. Israel. The U.S. midterm elections. The condition of the culture. The state of Western civilization. These will be the topics under discussion at the COMMENTARY Conference of Ideas next August, from the 4th to the 11th. Join other conservatives and concerned citizens for presentations by and roundtable discussions with former chief White House Mideast official Elliott Abrams, the brilliant Wall Street Journal columnist (and former COMMENTARY and Jerusalem Post editor) Bret Stephens, the passionate talk-show host and author Michael Medved, the great World War II historian Andrew Roberts, our lead blogger Jennifer Rubin, power couple Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, and me. The topics could not be more serious; the setting could not be more stunning — aboard the jewel of the Regent cruise line, the Seven Seas Navigator, as it journeys around the staggeringly gorgeous waters of Alaska.

There will be panel discussions, speeches, a chance to dine with the speakers, and a chance to meet up with like-minded people for a week of enlightenment and entertainment. You can learn more about it here.

Iran. Israel. The U.S. midterm elections. The condition of the culture. The state of Western civilization. These will be the topics under discussion at the COMMENTARY Conference of Ideas next August, from the 4th to the 11th. Join other conservatives and concerned citizens for presentations by and roundtable discussions with former chief White House Mideast official Elliott Abrams, the brilliant Wall Street Journal columnist (and former COMMENTARY and Jerusalem Post editor) Bret Stephens, the passionate talk-show host and author Michael Medved, the great World War II historian Andrew Roberts, our lead blogger Jennifer Rubin, power couple Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, and me. The topics could not be more serious; the setting could not be more stunning — aboard the jewel of the Regent cruise line, the Seven Seas Navigator, as it journeys around the staggeringly gorgeous waters of Alaska.

There will be panel discussions, speeches, a chance to dine with the speakers, and a chance to meet up with like-minded people for a week of enlightenment and entertainment. You can learn more about it here.

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Re: A Different Plan

John, the Republicans’ plan comes at a particularly critical juncture for the Democrats. They must do two things: convince voters to trust government to assume vast new powers and that there is no viable alternative model of reform.

Republican lawmakers and grassroots activists over the summer concentrated primarily on the first issue, explaining the big government power grab that was underway. Call it the “death panels” or “rationing,” but the prospect that government would intrude into the patient-doctor relationship got the public’s attention. Highlighting concerns that the deficit will balloon and that the bevy of new taxes will strangle the recovery in its crib, conservatives have been gathering plenty of ammunition to energize voters and to give lawmakers pause about voting for this type of plan.

But the urge to do “something” is great. Democrats have convinced themselves it was the lack of any plan, not the content of HillaryCare, that sunk them in 1994. And nervous Republicans want to avoid the “obstructionist” tag. (Sometimes obstructionism is a noble thing that is richly rewarded, but politicians are nervous types.)

It is therefore tactically smart to produce a concise list that both highlights the bad things in PelosiCare and that gives Republicans an alternative, one that might eventually be the Plan B if the Democrats’ efforts crater. The contrasts are great. Republicans want tort reform; Democrats want to repeal it. Democrats want a public option to supplant the private insurance market; Republicans want to help expand the private insurance market.

Congressmen and senators will have a choice between these starkly different models. And the Democrats will have a hard time convincing voters there is no other possible avenue for reform. Oh yes there is.

John, the Republicans’ plan comes at a particularly critical juncture for the Democrats. They must do two things: convince voters to trust government to assume vast new powers and that there is no viable alternative model of reform.

Republican lawmakers and grassroots activists over the summer concentrated primarily on the first issue, explaining the big government power grab that was underway. Call it the “death panels” or “rationing,” but the prospect that government would intrude into the patient-doctor relationship got the public’s attention. Highlighting concerns that the deficit will balloon and that the bevy of new taxes will strangle the recovery in its crib, conservatives have been gathering plenty of ammunition to energize voters and to give lawmakers pause about voting for this type of plan.

But the urge to do “something” is great. Democrats have convinced themselves it was the lack of any plan, not the content of HillaryCare, that sunk them in 1994. And nervous Republicans want to avoid the “obstructionist” tag. (Sometimes obstructionism is a noble thing that is richly rewarded, but politicians are nervous types.)

It is therefore tactically smart to produce a concise list that both highlights the bad things in PelosiCare and that gives Republicans an alternative, one that might eventually be the Plan B if the Democrats’ efforts crater. The contrasts are great. Republicans want tort reform; Democrats want to repeal it. Democrats want a public option to supplant the private insurance market; Republicans want to help expand the private insurance market.

Congressmen and senators will have a choice between these starkly different models. And the Democrats will have a hard time convincing voters there is no other possible avenue for reform. Oh yes there is.

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NY-23 Takes Dramatic Turn

Dede Scozzafava has dropped out of the NY-23 race, a victim of general outrage from the conservative base and her own ineptitude. The Republican establishment and Newt Gingrich, who had backed her, are relieved to be off the hook and to have a conservative, Doug Hoffman, who now can unite the base.

On one level, this is simply a faulty candidate who did boneheaded things (e.g., calling the cops on a reporter) collapsing. But make no mistake, this is also a rejection of the sort of candidate who mimics Democrats on card-check, health care, abortion, and gay marriage. There is little appetite for such fare among Republicans in the age of Obama. They are looking for candidates to oppose the far-Left agenda, not adopt it as their own. NY-23 now will see a genuine fiscal conservative with an energized base facing off against the Democrat in a district that in an ordinary year could swing either way. We’ll see next Tuesday if this is an ordinary year or if something is afoot as voters assess 10 months of one-party Democratic rule.

Dede Scozzafava has dropped out of the NY-23 race, a victim of general outrage from the conservative base and her own ineptitude. The Republican establishment and Newt Gingrich, who had backed her, are relieved to be off the hook and to have a conservative, Doug Hoffman, who now can unite the base.

On one level, this is simply a faulty candidate who did boneheaded things (e.g., calling the cops on a reporter) collapsing. But make no mistake, this is also a rejection of the sort of candidate who mimics Democrats on card-check, health care, abortion, and gay marriage. There is little appetite for such fare among Republicans in the age of Obama. They are looking for candidates to oppose the far-Left agenda, not adopt it as their own. NY-23 now will see a genuine fiscal conservative with an energized base facing off against the Democrat in a district that in an ordinary year could swing either way. We’ll see next Tuesday if this is an ordinary year or if something is afoot as voters assess 10 months of one-party Democratic rule.

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Clarity Bedevils J Street and the Obama Administration

The Washington Post reports:

The House of Representatives on Tuesday is poised to pass a nonbinding resolution condemning a controversial U.N. report on alleged Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip that has become a major complication in Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s diplomacy in the Middle East this weekend.

It seems this makes the Obamis’ moral-equivalence game a bit more treacherous. Hillary Clinton is meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, while the administration can’t quite bring itself to issue an unequivocal condemnation of Richard Goldstone’s handiwork. (“The administration has previously said that the report is flawed but raises “important issues and serious allegations,’ and it has urged Israel to investigate its conduct in the conflict more closely.”) It is oh so inconvenient to have a stark statement of support for Israel and one of condemnation for yet another attempt to delegitimize Israel’s right to self-defense.

It is making others squirm as well. As Josh Block of AIPAC notes, all the “mainstream” pro-Israel groups back the resolution. But not the J Street crowd. In a pathetic bit of projection, J Street’s head Jeremy Ben-Ami declares that the resolution “puts members of Congress in an uncomfortable box” because of alleged inaccuracies in the resolution. Puleez. Congress feels no discomfort; it is J Street that is in a bind, caught with its sympathies showing.

J Street and the administration, it seems, would rather not make too much of a fuss over Goldstone’s Israel defamation. Their reaction, however, only highlights their lack of understanding of the stakes, not only for Israel, but for any democracy that must fight terrorists who choose to attack  from behind the skirts of old women and the cribs of toddlers.

The Washington Post reports:

The House of Representatives on Tuesday is poised to pass a nonbinding resolution condemning a controversial U.N. report on alleged Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip that has become a major complication in Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s diplomacy in the Middle East this weekend.

It seems this makes the Obamis’ moral-equivalence game a bit more treacherous. Hillary Clinton is meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, while the administration can’t quite bring itself to issue an unequivocal condemnation of Richard Goldstone’s handiwork. (“The administration has previously said that the report is flawed but raises “important issues and serious allegations,’ and it has urged Israel to investigate its conduct in the conflict more closely.”) It is oh so inconvenient to have a stark statement of support for Israel and one of condemnation for yet another attempt to delegitimize Israel’s right to self-defense.

It is making others squirm as well. As Josh Block of AIPAC notes, all the “mainstream” pro-Israel groups back the resolution. But not the J Street crowd. In a pathetic bit of projection, J Street’s head Jeremy Ben-Ami declares that the resolution “puts members of Congress in an uncomfortable box” because of alleged inaccuracies in the resolution. Puleez. Congress feels no discomfort; it is J Street that is in a bind, caught with its sympathies showing.

J Street and the administration, it seems, would rather not make too much of a fuss over Goldstone’s Israel defamation. Their reaction, however, only highlights their lack of understanding of the stakes, not only for Israel, but for any democracy that must fight terrorists who choose to attack  from behind the skirts of old women and the cribs of toddlers.

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Now She Wants a Vote?

We are inching closer to the moment of truth for Democrats on PelosiCare. The Speaker is intent on pushing a vote, the quicker the better. But is that wise for those who want the Democrats’ jumbo health-care bill passed? Consider two events that may give her caucus some pause.

First, Tuesday voters in Virginia and New Jersey and in the NY-23 district are going to cast their votes in races that nine or 10 months ago would have been easy wins for the Democrats. Not now. I just returned from a rally in Northern Virginia in which “health-care” was on the lips of all the state-wide Republican office seekers. It is one reason, a significant one, for the rising angst among independents and the increased fervor in the Republican base. The candidate for attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, bellowed from the stage that Virginians didn’t want “the federal government taking over health care.” The crowd roared in approval. This is a statewide race. For attorney general. That’s the potency of the issue and its ability to motivate voters.

The Democrats’ health-care “reform” has become the most obvious example and the juiciest target for the anti-big government theme that Virginia Republicans are using to great advantage. Bob McDonnell’s best applause line went directly at this issue: “The road to recovery is not through more big government from Washington D.C.”

So does Pelosi really want her members voting so close after Tuesday’s election? Hmmm.

Second, there is a Katrina-like failure of competency in the administration’s bollixed handling of the swine-flu vaccine. The flu vaccine not readily available — with more angry moms and more sick kids every day — and now the administration has pulled a move likely to enrage Americans even further. Stephen Hayes remarks on the decision to give the vaccine to Guantanamo detainees, who don’t seem to meet the criteria for “at risk” patients:

So Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, the man who conceived the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3000 Americans, is eligible for a swine flu vaccination. But Kristin Bencik, a pediatrician working overtime to treat kids suspected of having swine flu, has chosen to forego a shot so that she is not taking one away from one of her vulnerable patients. And she is really a “higher risk” case — she’s pregnant.

It is this sort of mindless bureaucracy and endemic incompetence that sends shivers up the spines of average Americans when they contemplate giving the federal government control over health-care. This is the crew that poured a trillion dollars down the drain and now concocts phony job “creation’ statistic to justify its stimulus plan. This is the administration that spent billions on cash for clunkers, crashed the computers and then saw car sales plunge the next month. Their track record does not engender confidence.
Anyone advocating giving the Feds immense power over health-care decisions for 300 million Americans therefore  is going to have to clear a steep hurdle and answer a critical question: if they can’t get us the swine-flu vaccine, why should we let them do anything else?

So Pelosi might want to let the anger over the shortage of swine-flu vaccine and rising disgust with the Obama administration’s vaccine priorities subside before forcing her members to vote. Now might be precisely the worst time to make vulnerable lawmakers cast what could be a career-ending vote.

We are inching closer to the moment of truth for Democrats on PelosiCare. The Speaker is intent on pushing a vote, the quicker the better. But is that wise for those who want the Democrats’ jumbo health-care bill passed? Consider two events that may give her caucus some pause.

First, Tuesday voters in Virginia and New Jersey and in the NY-23 district are going to cast their votes in races that nine or 10 months ago would have been easy wins for the Democrats. Not now. I just returned from a rally in Northern Virginia in which “health-care” was on the lips of all the state-wide Republican office seekers. It is one reason, a significant one, for the rising angst among independents and the increased fervor in the Republican base. The candidate for attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, bellowed from the stage that Virginians didn’t want “the federal government taking over health care.” The crowd roared in approval. This is a statewide race. For attorney general. That’s the potency of the issue and its ability to motivate voters.

The Democrats’ health-care “reform” has become the most obvious example and the juiciest target for the anti-big government theme that Virginia Republicans are using to great advantage. Bob McDonnell’s best applause line went directly at this issue: “The road to recovery is not through more big government from Washington D.C.”

So does Pelosi really want her members voting so close after Tuesday’s election? Hmmm.

Second, there is a Katrina-like failure of competency in the administration’s bollixed handling of the swine-flu vaccine. The flu vaccine not readily available — with more angry moms and more sick kids every day — and now the administration has pulled a move likely to enrage Americans even further. Stephen Hayes remarks on the decision to give the vaccine to Guantanamo detainees, who don’t seem to meet the criteria for “at risk” patients:

So Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, the man who conceived the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3000 Americans, is eligible for a swine flu vaccination. But Kristin Bencik, a pediatrician working overtime to treat kids suspected of having swine flu, has chosen to forego a shot so that she is not taking one away from one of her vulnerable patients. And she is really a “higher risk” case — she’s pregnant.

It is this sort of mindless bureaucracy and endemic incompetence that sends shivers up the spines of average Americans when they contemplate giving the federal government control over health-care. This is the crew that poured a trillion dollars down the drain and now concocts phony job “creation’ statistic to justify its stimulus plan. This is the administration that spent billions on cash for clunkers, crashed the computers and then saw car sales plunge the next month. Their track record does not engender confidence.
Anyone advocating giving the Feds immense power over health-care decisions for 300 million Americans therefore  is going to have to clear a steep hurdle and answer a critical question: if they can’t get us the swine-flu vaccine, why should we let them do anything else?

So Pelosi might want to let the anger over the shortage of swine-flu vaccine and rising disgust with the Obama administration’s vaccine priorities subside before forcing her members to vote. Now might be precisely the worst time to make vulnerable lawmakers cast what could be a career-ending vote.

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A Different Plan

The Republicans in the House are presenting their plan to reform health care. It could hardly be more different from the plan presented this week by Nancy Pelosi, which would reorganize health care in this country along what, as John Hinderacker at Power Line points out, are national socialist economic principles. At the heart of the Republican plan are four simple — not to mention obvious — reforms that would actually, well, reform how health care is paid for in this country and greatly reduce its cost, all without compromising care in any way. None of the four would cost the federal government one dime — probably one more reason these ideas are anathema to the Left, which measures “progress” by how much the federal budget is increased.

What they would also not do is turn control of health insurance over to the federal government, which has shown itself utterly incompetent in managinh such an enterprise. See here and here.

Number one: let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines. Number two: allow individuals, small businesses, and trade associations to pool together and acquire health insurance at lower prices, the same way large corporations and labor unions do. Number three: give states the tools to create their own innovative reforms that lower health-care costs. Number four: end junk lawsuits that by increasing the number of tests and procedures that physicians sometimes order not because they think it’s good medicine, but because they are afraid of being sued, contribute to higher health-care costs.

I would add one more: require health-care providers to publicly post prices for standard services, procedures, tests, etc. This is already beginning to happen but it needs to be standardized in ways that allow easy comparisons. This would force health-care providers to simplify what are often incredibly complex pricing systems, allow easy comparisons between providers, and force prices to converge towards the low end of the range. (If hospital A will do a particular procedure for $900, why go to hospital B and pay $3,200? Such price spreads are possible only because prices are not easily determined.)

As Bill Kristol writes, the Pelosi plan may well collapse of its own weight. If it does, the Republicans are now ready with a cheap, easy, and economically logical alternative.

The Republicans in the House are presenting their plan to reform health care. It could hardly be more different from the plan presented this week by Nancy Pelosi, which would reorganize health care in this country along what, as John Hinderacker at Power Line points out, are national socialist economic principles. At the heart of the Republican plan are four simple — not to mention obvious — reforms that would actually, well, reform how health care is paid for in this country and greatly reduce its cost, all without compromising care in any way. None of the four would cost the federal government one dime — probably one more reason these ideas are anathema to the Left, which measures “progress” by how much the federal budget is increased.

What they would also not do is turn control of health insurance over to the federal government, which has shown itself utterly incompetent in managinh such an enterprise. See here and here.

Number one: let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines. Number two: allow individuals, small businesses, and trade associations to pool together and acquire health insurance at lower prices, the same way large corporations and labor unions do. Number three: give states the tools to create their own innovative reforms that lower health-care costs. Number four: end junk lawsuits that by increasing the number of tests and procedures that physicians sometimes order not because they think it’s good medicine, but because they are afraid of being sued, contribute to higher health-care costs.

I would add one more: require health-care providers to publicly post prices for standard services, procedures, tests, etc. This is already beginning to happen but it needs to be standardized in ways that allow easy comparisons. This would force health-care providers to simplify what are often incredibly complex pricing systems, allow easy comparisons between providers, and force prices to converge towards the low end of the range. (If hospital A will do a particular procedure for $900, why go to hospital B and pay $3,200? Such price spreads are possible only because prices are not easily determined.)

As Bill Kristol writes, the Pelosi plan may well collapse of its own weight. If it does, the Republicans are now ready with a cheap, easy, and economically logical alternative.

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Bashing Bush in Pakistan

In a roundtable today with Pakistani editors, Hillary Clinton responded to a question about the Israeli-Palestinian issue with the now-familiar Obama administration litany: the problems are hard, they were inherited, they were ignored by the prior administration:

I think that, look, we all know that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is one that is a very serious and difficult problem that we are working hard also to try to resolve. We inherited a lot of problems. If you remember, when my husband left office, we were very close to an agreement because he worked on it all the time. The next administration did not make it a priority and did not really do much until toward the end. And unfortunately, we are trying to make up for some lost time, in my opinion.

Hillary forgets that the Bush administration in 2001 inherited an even more difficult problem — the new Palestinian terror war that concluded the eight-year Clinton peace process. During the next eight years, the Bush administration nevertheless did the following:

Adopted a new policy officially endorsing a Palestinian state if the Palestinian Authority renounced terrorism and elected new leaders (2002);

Produced a three-phase roadmap to achieve a Palestinian state — and got the UN, EU, Russia, Israel and the PA all to endorse it (2003);

Entered into a deal with Israel to turn over all of Gaza to the PA to enable it to demonstrate its ability to “live side by side in peace and security” (2004);

Arranged a Palestinian election to choose a “moderate” successor to Yasser Arafat (2005);

Arranged another election to give the Palestinians a choice between their new PA and their premier terrorist group (2006);

“Accelerated” the Roadmap to move straight to final status negotiations in the Annapolis Process (2007); and

Dedicated the secretary of state (not just an envoy) to trip after trip, and meeting after meeting, for more than a year, to push a final settlement (2007-2008).

The results of the eight-year Bush administration’s peace process were the same as those of the Clinton one: another offer of a Palestinian state, another Palestinian rejection, and another war, as Israel was finally forced to act against the continuous rockets that came from Gaza.

Two peace processes, two formal offers of a state, and two wars. Even a cursory knowledge of the last sixteen years would suggest the problem is not the absence of attention, nor the absence of effort. But in the tenth month of the Obama administration’s own failures in the “peace process,” it is easier to bash Bush on foreign soil than to give a serious answer.

In a roundtable today with Pakistani editors, Hillary Clinton responded to a question about the Israeli-Palestinian issue with the now-familiar Obama administration litany: the problems are hard, they were inherited, they were ignored by the prior administration:

I think that, look, we all know that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is one that is a very serious and difficult problem that we are working hard also to try to resolve. We inherited a lot of problems. If you remember, when my husband left office, we were very close to an agreement because he worked on it all the time. The next administration did not make it a priority and did not really do much until toward the end. And unfortunately, we are trying to make up for some lost time, in my opinion.

Hillary forgets that the Bush administration in 2001 inherited an even more difficult problem — the new Palestinian terror war that concluded the eight-year Clinton peace process. During the next eight years, the Bush administration nevertheless did the following:

Adopted a new policy officially endorsing a Palestinian state if the Palestinian Authority renounced terrorism and elected new leaders (2002);

Produced a three-phase roadmap to achieve a Palestinian state — and got the UN, EU, Russia, Israel and the PA all to endorse it (2003);

Entered into a deal with Israel to turn over all of Gaza to the PA to enable it to demonstrate its ability to “live side by side in peace and security” (2004);

Arranged a Palestinian election to choose a “moderate” successor to Yasser Arafat (2005);

Arranged another election to give the Palestinians a choice between their new PA and their premier terrorist group (2006);

“Accelerated” the Roadmap to move straight to final status negotiations in the Annapolis Process (2007); and

Dedicated the secretary of state (not just an envoy) to trip after trip, and meeting after meeting, for more than a year, to push a final settlement (2007-2008).

The results of the eight-year Bush administration’s peace process were the same as those of the Clinton one: another offer of a Palestinian state, another Palestinian rejection, and another war, as Israel was finally forced to act against the continuous rockets that came from Gaza.

Two peace processes, two formal offers of a state, and two wars. Even a cursory knowledge of the last sixteen years would suggest the problem is not the absence of attention, nor the absence of effort. But in the tenth month of the Obama administration’s own failures in the “peace process,” it is easier to bash Bush on foreign soil than to give a serious answer.

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The Company They Keep

A Jeffrey Goldberg reader wonders why J Street seems to be picking its fights with Israel and its “conservative” supporters (which include AIPAC, whose ranks are populated by many liberal Democrats) rather than with the haters of Israel:

If J Street spent similar amounts of energy countering anti-Israel forces on the left as they did countering pro-Israel forces on the right, there might not be less acrimony (we are talking about political folks here), but I would at least find them to be an organization whose core beliefs and activities matched their self-described characterization.  You shouldn’t, e.g., have to push hard for a grudging repudiation of Walt and Mearsheimer – J Street should be doing that as part of their mission to represent a mainstream pro-Israel position.  Even if it means [gasp!] making common cause with AIPAC.

Well, J Street has already told us it isn’t comfortable with the pro-Israel branding. And it doesn’t represent a mainstream pro-Israel position. You can’t get any more mainstream than condemning the Goldstone report and this, the J Street crowd, can’t bear to do. There is no more mainstream position than support for sanctions against Iran. Again, J Street isn’t interested.

The failure to pick a fight with the “correct” people isn’t then a tactical error by J Street. It is evidence of its sympathies and core beliefs. Is it so hard to figure that out? Well, J Street has been duplicitous in reducing its “ask” to Congress to meaningless drivel. And there also is willful ignorance by some observers who’d rather not be forced to call their friends on the Left apologists for the mullahs and flacks for the Israel-haters. Unfortunately for J Street and its enablers, you can’t have a conference in Washington D.C. for four days and disguise your core beliefs. Really, the jig is up.

A Jeffrey Goldberg reader wonders why J Street seems to be picking its fights with Israel and its “conservative” supporters (which include AIPAC, whose ranks are populated by many liberal Democrats) rather than with the haters of Israel:

If J Street spent similar amounts of energy countering anti-Israel forces on the left as they did countering pro-Israel forces on the right, there might not be less acrimony (we are talking about political folks here), but I would at least find them to be an organization whose core beliefs and activities matched their self-described characterization.  You shouldn’t, e.g., have to push hard for a grudging repudiation of Walt and Mearsheimer – J Street should be doing that as part of their mission to represent a mainstream pro-Israel position.  Even if it means [gasp!] making common cause with AIPAC.

Well, J Street has already told us it isn’t comfortable with the pro-Israel branding. And it doesn’t represent a mainstream pro-Israel position. You can’t get any more mainstream than condemning the Goldstone report and this, the J Street crowd, can’t bear to do. There is no more mainstream position than support for sanctions against Iran. Again, J Street isn’t interested.

The failure to pick a fight with the “correct” people isn’t then a tactical error by J Street. It is evidence of its sympathies and core beliefs. Is it so hard to figure that out? Well, J Street has been duplicitous in reducing its “ask” to Congress to meaningless drivel. And there also is willful ignorance by some observers who’d rather not be forced to call their friends on the Left apologists for the mullahs and flacks for the Israel-haters. Unfortunately for J Street and its enablers, you can’t have a conference in Washington D.C. for four days and disguise your core beliefs. Really, the jig is up.

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Does This Count as “No”?

Even the Obami may have a tough time spinning this one:

Iran has told the UN nuclear watchdog it wants fresh fuel for a reactor in Tehran before it will agree to ship most of its enriched uranium stocks to Russia and France, diplomats said Friday. In what the International Atomic Energy Agency has described as an initial response to an IAEA-drafted nuclear fuel proposal, Western diplomats said on condition of anonymity that major Western powers found the Iranian demand for immediate access to fresh atomic fuel unacceptable.

Got that? Before the mullahs agree that even a smidgen of their uranium (which isn’t supposed to be enriched) can be enriched for them by the French or the Russians, they’d like to make the bombs first. What, this is a problem? We are engaging them after all. Maybe it’s a translation error. Or, it’s an exercise by the genuine hard-liners to see if the not-so-hard-liners will come to appreciate what real bad-faith bargaining looks like. But if you want farce, consider the response:

The diplomats said it was unclear whether the proposal was a serious one or if the Iranians were trying to drag out the negotiating process.

“There is some impatience. How many days we have here is not clear but Iran must soon show it will work with the proposal that is on the table,” a Western official in Washington told Reuters.

“We will know probably by early next week — are they serious, are they coming back with things that are within bounds or are they sticking to a position that is unacceptable?”

See, if we are really lucky we’ll find out they were just delaying and dragging this out. And then we can bring things back on track. Why wouldn’t we continue at this? After all, our esteemed U.S. negotiator told us the Iranians have never been so defensive before.

Right around now, if the Obami were serious about ending the dawdling festival, they’d get up and leave, hold a presser, sign the sanctions bill making its way through Congress, and announce some joint military operations in the region. That’s what an administration serious about depriving Iran of nuclear weapons would do. But that’s not this administration — and that’s not happening any time soon, or likely ever.

Even the Obami may have a tough time spinning this one:

Iran has told the UN nuclear watchdog it wants fresh fuel for a reactor in Tehran before it will agree to ship most of its enriched uranium stocks to Russia and France, diplomats said Friday. In what the International Atomic Energy Agency has described as an initial response to an IAEA-drafted nuclear fuel proposal, Western diplomats said on condition of anonymity that major Western powers found the Iranian demand for immediate access to fresh atomic fuel unacceptable.

Got that? Before the mullahs agree that even a smidgen of their uranium (which isn’t supposed to be enriched) can be enriched for them by the French or the Russians, they’d like to make the bombs first. What, this is a problem? We are engaging them after all. Maybe it’s a translation error. Or, it’s an exercise by the genuine hard-liners to see if the not-so-hard-liners will come to appreciate what real bad-faith bargaining looks like. But if you want farce, consider the response:

The diplomats said it was unclear whether the proposal was a serious one or if the Iranians were trying to drag out the negotiating process.

“There is some impatience. How many days we have here is not clear but Iran must soon show it will work with the proposal that is on the table,” a Western official in Washington told Reuters.

“We will know probably by early next week — are they serious, are they coming back with things that are within bounds or are they sticking to a position that is unacceptable?”

See, if we are really lucky we’ll find out they were just delaying and dragging this out. And then we can bring things back on track. Why wouldn’t we continue at this? After all, our esteemed U.S. negotiator told us the Iranians have never been so defensive before.

Right around now, if the Obami were serious about ending the dawdling festival, they’d get up and leave, hold a presser, sign the sanctions bill making its way through Congress, and announce some joint military operations in the region. That’s what an administration serious about depriving Iran of nuclear weapons would do. But that’s not this administration — and that’s not happening any time soon, or likely ever.

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The Price of Those Seminars

This sobering report comes from the Washington Post:

More than 1,000 American troops have been wounded in battle over the past three months in Afghanistan, accounting for one-fourth of all those injured in combat since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. The dramatic increase has filled military hospitals with more amputees and other seriously injured service members and comes as October marks the deadliest month for American troops in Afghanistan.

How many were killed or lost a limb, I wonder, while the president dithered and delayed implementing the recommendations of his hand-picked general? It is not an inconsequential question. The president acts as though there were no downside to the lethargic pace of his decision-making. He would have us believe that there is no price to be paid as he micromanages, province-by-province, the number of troops he’ll dispense. He seems content to entertain the recommendations of Gens. Joe Biden and John Kerry — drawing on their years of experience (in assessing nearly every national-security challenge incorrectly) while discarding that of the real experts.

What’s a few more weeks? Or months? Well, we know there is indeed a price to allowing our current approach to languish. There is a very real cost to delaying implementation of the new plan that is the best available to achieve victory as quickly as possible. The enemy is emboldened. More civilians die. The political and security situation in Pakistan worsens. And more brave Americans are asked to sacrifice themselves while Obama considers and reconsiders whether there isn’t any way to shave some money off the tab and reduce the number of troops his commanders say are needed. After all, health care is going to cost an awful lot.

The horrid reality of war is that parents send their children to die or to return in a condition they could not possibly have envisioned. But to sacrifice even a single American who was engaged in a fruitless exercise or an understaffed operation so the president can conduct a seminar and postpone a confrontation with his own party (which no longer can stomach the “good war”) is reprehensible.

This sobering report comes from the Washington Post:

More than 1,000 American troops have been wounded in battle over the past three months in Afghanistan, accounting for one-fourth of all those injured in combat since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. The dramatic increase has filled military hospitals with more amputees and other seriously injured service members and comes as October marks the deadliest month for American troops in Afghanistan.

How many were killed or lost a limb, I wonder, while the president dithered and delayed implementing the recommendations of his hand-picked general? It is not an inconsequential question. The president acts as though there were no downside to the lethargic pace of his decision-making. He would have us believe that there is no price to be paid as he micromanages, province-by-province, the number of troops he’ll dispense. He seems content to entertain the recommendations of Gens. Joe Biden and John Kerry — drawing on their years of experience (in assessing nearly every national-security challenge incorrectly) while discarding that of the real experts.

What’s a few more weeks? Or months? Well, we know there is indeed a price to allowing our current approach to languish. There is a very real cost to delaying implementation of the new plan that is the best available to achieve victory as quickly as possible. The enemy is emboldened. More civilians die. The political and security situation in Pakistan worsens. And more brave Americans are asked to sacrifice themselves while Obama considers and reconsiders whether there isn’t any way to shave some money off the tab and reduce the number of troops his commanders say are needed. After all, health care is going to cost an awful lot.

The horrid reality of war is that parents send their children to die or to return in a condition they could not possibly have envisioned. But to sacrifice even a single American who was engaged in a fruitless exercise or an understaffed operation so the president can conduct a seminar and postpone a confrontation with his own party (which no longer can stomach the “good war”) is reprehensible.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Bill Kristol wonders whether the Democrats are really going to vote for massive tax hikes and Medicare cuts. “This is the Pelosi Plan to wreck our health care system and — the bright side! — the Democratic majority along with it. This week we’ll see whether enough of her fellow House Democrats intervene to prevent her from devastating their party. There will be no Republican votes for the Pelosi Plan of tax hikes and Medicare cuts. Will there be enough Democratic resistors so the bill is either withdrawn or defeated?”

One Blue Dog isn’t walking the plank on PelosiCare. What, he wants to get re-elected?

Republicans say the Democrats figure on PelosiCare isn’t right. CBO thinks the Democrats are playing fast and loose also and is sticking to the $1.05 trillion as the cost of expanding coverage.

Democrats are counting the losses already in the Virginia House of Delegate elections.

A fascinating look at another Nobel Prize winner — the 1933 recipient who got the nod for wishful thinking at a dangerous time: “Angell wistfully advocated for ‘relinquishing the principle of isolated national defence…and erecting an international authority’  to replace ‘the self interest of individual nations.’ The Nobel Committee described Angell as “cool and clear,” and that he ‘spoke to the intellect.’ Most notably, Angell argued, ‘you cannot kill ideas with bullets.’ He believed that an enlightened citizenry, once someone or something enlightened them, would render war obsolete.”

Obama is the “most powerful writer since Julius Caesar!” A joke? No, the account is hysterical, but it’s an actual compliment from the head of the NEA (which already is in hot water over political cheer-leading for Obama). Nice to know the man who “tried to subvert the republic” is seen as literary gold over at the NEA.

With some good humor, Chris Christie hits back at Jon Corzine’s fat jokes. (Yes, the governor of New Jersey is trying to hang on by teasing his opponent about his physique.)

New Jersey gubernatorial race is as close as you can get, according to public polls.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Michael Steele says a Doug Hoffman win is a GOP victory.

James Capretta on the Pelosi health-care bill: “In sum, then, the House plan is not a $900 billion program. It’s a $725 billion tax increase and a $1.5 trillion spending program. Tax and spend, indeed.”

Do we think the Human Rights Watch or the UN Human Rights Council might take a break from bashing Israel to look into the sale of child brides in Saudi Arabia? Not a chance. Next time Obama goes to talk to the “Muslim World” perhaps he can drop in a line or two on the “marriage” of 6-year-old girls to 80-year-old men.

On the Democratic side in the California gubernatorial race, the field is cleared for Jerry Brown. Kind of back to the future, isn’t it? (Maybe we can get a Linda Ronstadt concert out of this.)

The White House visitors logs tell us all that money bought the SEIU unprecedented access to the White House. SEIU President Andy Stern made 19 White House visits and got 5 sessions with Obama — more than anyone else. Lots more than Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

Bill Kristol wonders whether the Democrats are really going to vote for massive tax hikes and Medicare cuts. “This is the Pelosi Plan to wreck our health care system and — the bright side! — the Democratic majority along with it. This week we’ll see whether enough of her fellow House Democrats intervene to prevent her from devastating their party. There will be no Republican votes for the Pelosi Plan of tax hikes and Medicare cuts. Will there be enough Democratic resistors so the bill is either withdrawn or defeated?”

One Blue Dog isn’t walking the plank on PelosiCare. What, he wants to get re-elected?

Republicans say the Democrats figure on PelosiCare isn’t right. CBO thinks the Democrats are playing fast and loose also and is sticking to the $1.05 trillion as the cost of expanding coverage.

Democrats are counting the losses already in the Virginia House of Delegate elections.

A fascinating look at another Nobel Prize winner — the 1933 recipient who got the nod for wishful thinking at a dangerous time: “Angell wistfully advocated for ‘relinquishing the principle of isolated national defence…and erecting an international authority’  to replace ‘the self interest of individual nations.’ The Nobel Committee described Angell as “cool and clear,” and that he ‘spoke to the intellect.’ Most notably, Angell argued, ‘you cannot kill ideas with bullets.’ He believed that an enlightened citizenry, once someone or something enlightened them, would render war obsolete.”

Obama is the “most powerful writer since Julius Caesar!” A joke? No, the account is hysterical, but it’s an actual compliment from the head of the NEA (which already is in hot water over political cheer-leading for Obama). Nice to know the man who “tried to subvert the republic” is seen as literary gold over at the NEA.

With some good humor, Chris Christie hits back at Jon Corzine’s fat jokes. (Yes, the governor of New Jersey is trying to hang on by teasing his opponent about his physique.)

New Jersey gubernatorial race is as close as you can get, according to public polls.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Michael Steele says a Doug Hoffman win is a GOP victory.

James Capretta on the Pelosi health-care bill: “In sum, then, the House plan is not a $900 billion program. It’s a $725 billion tax increase and a $1.5 trillion spending program. Tax and spend, indeed.”

Do we think the Human Rights Watch or the UN Human Rights Council might take a break from bashing Israel to look into the sale of child brides in Saudi Arabia? Not a chance. Next time Obama goes to talk to the “Muslim World” perhaps he can drop in a line or two on the “marriage” of 6-year-old girls to 80-year-old men.

On the Democratic side in the California gubernatorial race, the field is cleared for Jerry Brown. Kind of back to the future, isn’t it? (Maybe we can get a Linda Ronstadt concert out of this.)

The White House visitors logs tell us all that money bought the SEIU unprecedented access to the White House. SEIU President Andy Stern made 19 White House visits and got 5 sessions with Obama — more than anyone else. Lots more than Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

Read Less




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