Commentary Magazine


Posts For: December 7, 2009

Lack of Self-Awareness Watch

So Harry Reid gave America a lesson in the perils of Republican hesitance. Speaking of the health-care debate, Reid said:

“Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans have come up with is this: ‘Slow down, stop everything. Let’s start over.  You think you’ve heard these same excuses before? You’re right. In this country, there were those who dug in their heels and said, ‘Slow down. It’s too early. Let’s wait.’ “

He cited some examples of history’s naysayers: “Things aren’t bad enough about slavery,” he recalled them saying. “When women wanted to vote, slow down, there will be a better day to do that. … Some senators resorted to the same filibuster we hear today.”

Senator Reid is correct. We have seen this tap-the-brakes-while-Rome-burns approach before. “I think the thing I am going to do is recommend to my caucus is let’s just take it easy,” said Harry Reid, when questioned in September, about support for a troop buildup in Afghanistan. I don’t recall any Republicans filing his sentiment under the American pro-slavery movement.

So Harry Reid gave America a lesson in the perils of Republican hesitance. Speaking of the health-care debate, Reid said:

“Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans have come up with is this: ‘Slow down, stop everything. Let’s start over.  You think you’ve heard these same excuses before? You’re right. In this country, there were those who dug in their heels and said, ‘Slow down. It’s too early. Let’s wait.’ “

He cited some examples of history’s naysayers: “Things aren’t bad enough about slavery,” he recalled them saying. “When women wanted to vote, slow down, there will be a better day to do that. … Some senators resorted to the same filibuster we hear today.”

Senator Reid is correct. We have seen this tap-the-brakes-while-Rome-burns approach before. “I think the thing I am going to do is recommend to my caucus is let’s just take it easy,” said Harry Reid, when questioned in September, about support for a troop buildup in Afghanistan. I don’t recall any Republicans filing his sentiment under the American pro-slavery movement.

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Blame America First — World War II Edition

Today is the 68th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Roosevelt memorably described December 7, 1941, as a “date that will live in infamy,” but as the number of veterans and the witnesses of that war dwindle, its importance in the American calendar has declined. Though the solemn ceremonies in Honolulu’s harbor continue, as far as the New York Times is concerned, the subject of the Japanese surprise attack is nowadays only dragged out of mothballs to make a political point that reinforces its current view of the United States. Thus, the only mention of Pearl Harbor in the print edition of the paper came a day early in an op-ed that placed the blame for the naval disaster and America’s forced entry in that war on Roosevelt.

But not, as author James Bradley points out, on Franklin but on his cousin Theodore, whose presidential term ended nearly 33 years before the Japanese navy set out to sink our Pacific fleet. Bradley’s claim to fame is that he is the author of Flags of Our Fathers, a book that chronicled the lives of the five Marines and one sailor (Bradley’s father) who raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi during the taking of the island of Iwo Jima from the Japanese in February 1945. Bradley’s main theme was that the famous photograph and the patriotic fervor it generated were, in a fundamental sense, fraudulent. His book was the source of an overpraised and equally cynical film by Clint Eastwood (who followed it with a companion film that treated the Japanese side of the battle without the same sort of cynicism). Bradley followed that up with a subsequent book, Fly Boys, which took on the same mission of viewing the war against Japan with moral relativism, and then another new volume, The Imperial Cruise, which elaborates on his thesis that it was all somehow the fault of TR. The Imperial Cruise earned a favorable review from the Times last month.

This revisionist take on the history of World War II may seem familiar to those who have seen the way some have taken our generation’s Pearl Harbor — the 9/11 attacks — and sought to blame it on American foreign policy or support for Israel rather than on America-hating al-Qaeda terrorists. The sheer wrongheadedness of an argument that seeks to mitigate the guilt of those who actually committed these atrocities and instead blame the victims is insufferable. But while most Americans know enough about the contemporary world to dismiss such garbage out of hand, given the well-documented decline in our knowledge of our own history, Bradley’s assault on the first president Roosevelt deserves at least a brief refutation.

First, contrary to Bradley’s thesis, the Japanese needed no encouragement from TR to set them on an imperialist path. The 1868 Meiji Restoration in Japan launched a long period of military and industrial buildup that aimed to create a modern state that would have the power not only to resist Western pressures but also to make the country a regional power. The roots of Japan’s attempt to extend its empire over the entire Pacific in the 1930s and 1940s can be found in that event and the subsequent development of a political and military culture that saw service to the militarized state as a religious duty for all Japanese.

Bradley also accuses TR of siding with the Japanese in their 1905 war with tsarist Russia and thereby facilitating their imperialist ambitions and their brutal control of Korea. But a full decade earlier, Japan had fought a war with China over that same issue without any assistance or encouragement from Roosevelt. As for the peace treaty that Roosevelt brokered (and that earned him a Nobel Peace Prize), far from it being a case of the president openly siding with Japan, as Bradley alleges, the treaty was criticized by many Japanese because its restrained terms took some of the fruits of their military victory away from them, as most of Manchuria was given back to China. Bradley also omits the fact that it was Britain, not the United States, that was the principal military ally of Japan during this period.

We may well look back on the racist attitudes of Theodore Roosevelt and other Americans toward Asia a century ago with some regret. But the idea that our 26th president was in any way responsible for the creation of a Japanese state that viewed the subjugation of the Eastern Hemisphere as a divinely inspired mission for whom any atrocity or deceit was permissible is utterly devoid of historical truth.

While an earlier generation of historical revisionists blamed Franklin Roosevelt for Pearl Harbor because they thought he welcomed a Japanese attack that would convince Americans to join World War II, today’s revisionists have an even broader agenda. As with interpretations of our current battle with Islamists that seek to blame it all on our own sins, Bradley prefers to spin tales about Teddy Roosevelt rather than to face up to the truth about the Japan that his father fought. It speaks volumes about the state of the New York Times that its editors would choose this crackpot historian’s rant as their only acknowledgement of the anniversary of December 7, 1941.

Today is the 68th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Roosevelt memorably described December 7, 1941, as a “date that will live in infamy,” but as the number of veterans and the witnesses of that war dwindle, its importance in the American calendar has declined. Though the solemn ceremonies in Honolulu’s harbor continue, as far as the New York Times is concerned, the subject of the Japanese surprise attack is nowadays only dragged out of mothballs to make a political point that reinforces its current view of the United States. Thus, the only mention of Pearl Harbor in the print edition of the paper came a day early in an op-ed that placed the blame for the naval disaster and America’s forced entry in that war on Roosevelt.

But not, as author James Bradley points out, on Franklin but on his cousin Theodore, whose presidential term ended nearly 33 years before the Japanese navy set out to sink our Pacific fleet. Bradley’s claim to fame is that he is the author of Flags of Our Fathers, a book that chronicled the lives of the five Marines and one sailor (Bradley’s father) who raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi during the taking of the island of Iwo Jima from the Japanese in February 1945. Bradley’s main theme was that the famous photograph and the patriotic fervor it generated were, in a fundamental sense, fraudulent. His book was the source of an overpraised and equally cynical film by Clint Eastwood (who followed it with a companion film that treated the Japanese side of the battle without the same sort of cynicism). Bradley followed that up with a subsequent book, Fly Boys, which took on the same mission of viewing the war against Japan with moral relativism, and then another new volume, The Imperial Cruise, which elaborates on his thesis that it was all somehow the fault of TR. The Imperial Cruise earned a favorable review from the Times last month.

This revisionist take on the history of World War II may seem familiar to those who have seen the way some have taken our generation’s Pearl Harbor — the 9/11 attacks — and sought to blame it on American foreign policy or support for Israel rather than on America-hating al-Qaeda terrorists. The sheer wrongheadedness of an argument that seeks to mitigate the guilt of those who actually committed these atrocities and instead blame the victims is insufferable. But while most Americans know enough about the contemporary world to dismiss such garbage out of hand, given the well-documented decline in our knowledge of our own history, Bradley’s assault on the first president Roosevelt deserves at least a brief refutation.

First, contrary to Bradley’s thesis, the Japanese needed no encouragement from TR to set them on an imperialist path. The 1868 Meiji Restoration in Japan launched a long period of military and industrial buildup that aimed to create a modern state that would have the power not only to resist Western pressures but also to make the country a regional power. The roots of Japan’s attempt to extend its empire over the entire Pacific in the 1930s and 1940s can be found in that event and the subsequent development of a political and military culture that saw service to the militarized state as a religious duty for all Japanese.

Bradley also accuses TR of siding with the Japanese in their 1905 war with tsarist Russia and thereby facilitating their imperialist ambitions and their brutal control of Korea. But a full decade earlier, Japan had fought a war with China over that same issue without any assistance or encouragement from Roosevelt. As for the peace treaty that Roosevelt brokered (and that earned him a Nobel Peace Prize), far from it being a case of the president openly siding with Japan, as Bradley alleges, the treaty was criticized by many Japanese because its restrained terms took some of the fruits of their military victory away from them, as most of Manchuria was given back to China. Bradley also omits the fact that it was Britain, not the United States, that was the principal military ally of Japan during this period.

We may well look back on the racist attitudes of Theodore Roosevelt and other Americans toward Asia a century ago with some regret. But the idea that our 26th president was in any way responsible for the creation of a Japanese state that viewed the subjugation of the Eastern Hemisphere as a divinely inspired mission for whom any atrocity or deceit was permissible is utterly devoid of historical truth.

While an earlier generation of historical revisionists blamed Franklin Roosevelt for Pearl Harbor because they thought he welcomed a Japanese attack that would convince Americans to join World War II, today’s revisionists have an even broader agenda. As with interpretations of our current battle with Islamists that seek to blame it all on our own sins, Bradley prefers to spin tales about Teddy Roosevelt rather than to face up to the truth about the Japan that his father fought. It speaks volumes about the state of the New York Times that its editors would choose this crackpot historian’s rant as their only acknowledgement of the anniversary of December 7, 1941.

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Forty-Seven

If we’ve learned — or relearned – anything this year it is that public opinion is not a fixed and immovable phenomenon. Gallup reports that Obama’s approval rating has reached an all-time low of 47 percent and his disapproval an all-time high of 46 percent. To put it in perspective, his polling is virtually identical to Sarah Palin’s. Some politicians wear well over time; others, not so much. Some presidents pursue a controversial agenda that offends old allies but makes new friends. So far, Obama has mostly been shedding supporters.

But just as Obama’s standing with the public has changed radically over the course of a year, it can shift again. If the economy recovers and if the president addresses nagging concerns about spending and debt and embraces his role as commander in chief, he may recover lost ground. On the other hand, if that sounds not all that likely, his numbers may get worse. The Obami may at some point look back fondly at 47 percent.

If we’ve learned — or relearned – anything this year it is that public opinion is not a fixed and immovable phenomenon. Gallup reports that Obama’s approval rating has reached an all-time low of 47 percent and his disapproval an all-time high of 46 percent. To put it in perspective, his polling is virtually identical to Sarah Palin’s. Some politicians wear well over time; others, not so much. Some presidents pursue a controversial agenda that offends old allies but makes new friends. So far, Obama has mostly been shedding supporters.

But just as Obama’s standing with the public has changed radically over the course of a year, it can shift again. If the economy recovers and if the president addresses nagging concerns about spending and debt and embraces his role as commander in chief, he may recover lost ground. On the other hand, if that sounds not all that likely, his numbers may get worse. The Obami may at some point look back fondly at 47 percent.

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Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods

Some of you will be devastated to know that the First Church of Tiger Woods is closing its doors due to scandal. While a church being been thrown into chaos due to the misdeeds of clergy is old news, not since Zeus has a deity’s infidelities proved so disheartening to so many.

After several days of evaluation, I have decided to disband the First Church of Tiger Woods (as indicated by the graphics at the top of this web site) and I will not renew the TigerWoodsIsGod domain name when it expires in a couple of months. Any future commentary on this site (which may not happen at all) will be regarding Tiger’s failings in relation to his affair/accident debacle which continues to unfold almost by the hour.

Because the First Church of Tiger Woods has been in existence since late 1996 and this web site has been around since early 2000, you might think that such a decision might be difficult. In this case, it was not. Unfortunately, Tiger Woods has made it all to easy to realize that he is no longer worthy of any special admiration.

O tempora! O mores! O brother!

John Calvin said it best: The mind is a forge of idols. And bad sitcom ideas. And lest we forget the cult in celebrity culture, the First Church of Tiger Woods reminds us, once again, of how easily beguiled middle-aged white men in khakis are, especially when the wife is out somewhere, no doubt buying hats.

But will we learn? Never. Soon Tiger Woods will be replaced by yet another demigod who will steal our hearts and minds and loose change. All I can say is, thank goodness Doodles Weaver is dead.

Or is he?

Some of you will be devastated to know that the First Church of Tiger Woods is closing its doors due to scandal. While a church being been thrown into chaos due to the misdeeds of clergy is old news, not since Zeus has a deity’s infidelities proved so disheartening to so many.

After several days of evaluation, I have decided to disband the First Church of Tiger Woods (as indicated by the graphics at the top of this web site) and I will not renew the TigerWoodsIsGod domain name when it expires in a couple of months. Any future commentary on this site (which may not happen at all) will be regarding Tiger’s failings in relation to his affair/accident debacle which continues to unfold almost by the hour.

Because the First Church of Tiger Woods has been in existence since late 1996 and this web site has been around since early 2000, you might think that such a decision might be difficult. In this case, it was not. Unfortunately, Tiger Woods has made it all to easy to realize that he is no longer worthy of any special admiration.

O tempora! O mores! O brother!

John Calvin said it best: The mind is a forge of idols. And bad sitcom ideas. And lest we forget the cult in celebrity culture, the First Church of Tiger Woods reminds us, once again, of how easily beguiled middle-aged white men in khakis are, especially when the wife is out somewhere, no doubt buying hats.

But will we learn? Never. Soon Tiger Woods will be replaced by yet another demigod who will steal our hearts and minds and loose change. All I can say is, thank goodness Doodles Weaver is dead.

Or is he?

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They’ve Got a Friend

Josh Gerstein reports that NPR, the bastion of lefty radio where nary a conservative thought is heard that isn’t misrepresented or mocked, wanted its reporter Mara Liasson off Fox News. The reason? Well, get it out of your head that this had anything to do with the Obami’s crusade to delegitimize Fox. It was because those people at Fox are so darned biased that the mere appearance of their reporter on the Fox news shows might sully NPR’s reputation for journalistic purity. Hmm. But it seems the White House’s gripes did come up:

One source said the White House’s criticism of Fox was raised during the discussions with Liasson. However, an NPR spokeswoman told POLITICO that the Obama administration’s attempts to discourage other news outlets from treating Fox as a peer had no impact on any internal discussions at NPR.

Liasson defended her work for Fox by saying that she appears on two of the network’s news programs, not on commentary programs with conservative hosts, the source said. She has also told colleagues that she’s under contract to Fox, so it would be difficult for her to sever her ties with the network, which she has appeared on for more than a decade.

Apparently NPR has had a problem with Liasson and Juan Williams appearing on Fox for some time. For one thing, NPR’s liberal audience complains a lot. And for another, people might get the wrong idea, you see:

One complaint from NPR executives is that this very perception that Liasson and Williams serve as ideological counterweights reinforces feelings among some members of the public that NPR tilts to the left. “NPR has its own issues in trying to convince people that, ‘Look, we’re down the middle,’” the source said. “This is a public and institutional problem that has nothing to do with Mara. Obviously, you can’t give Mara a hard time for what’s coming out of her mouth. … She’s very careful. She isn’t trashing anybody.”

Well, I think it’s fair to say that NPR’s biases are well-known and that its liberal listeners object to their favorite NPR stars going into the “enemy camp.” But it’s also interesting that NPR’s newly heightened concern about Fox coincides so precisely with the White House’s media agenda. David Axelrod and Anita Dunn are no doubt delighted to have the helping hand from the eager beavers at NPR who are subsidized by your tax dollars.

Josh Gerstein reports that NPR, the bastion of lefty radio where nary a conservative thought is heard that isn’t misrepresented or mocked, wanted its reporter Mara Liasson off Fox News. The reason? Well, get it out of your head that this had anything to do with the Obami’s crusade to delegitimize Fox. It was because those people at Fox are so darned biased that the mere appearance of their reporter on the Fox news shows might sully NPR’s reputation for journalistic purity. Hmm. But it seems the White House’s gripes did come up:

One source said the White House’s criticism of Fox was raised during the discussions with Liasson. However, an NPR spokeswoman told POLITICO that the Obama administration’s attempts to discourage other news outlets from treating Fox as a peer had no impact on any internal discussions at NPR.

Liasson defended her work for Fox by saying that she appears on two of the network’s news programs, not on commentary programs with conservative hosts, the source said. She has also told colleagues that she’s under contract to Fox, so it would be difficult for her to sever her ties with the network, which she has appeared on for more than a decade.

Apparently NPR has had a problem with Liasson and Juan Williams appearing on Fox for some time. For one thing, NPR’s liberal audience complains a lot. And for another, people might get the wrong idea, you see:

One complaint from NPR executives is that this very perception that Liasson and Williams serve as ideological counterweights reinforces feelings among some members of the public that NPR tilts to the left. “NPR has its own issues in trying to convince people that, ‘Look, we’re down the middle,’” the source said. “This is a public and institutional problem that has nothing to do with Mara. Obviously, you can’t give Mara a hard time for what’s coming out of her mouth. … She’s very careful. She isn’t trashing anybody.”

Well, I think it’s fair to say that NPR’s biases are well-known and that its liberal listeners object to their favorite NPR stars going into the “enemy camp.” But it’s also interesting that NPR’s newly heightened concern about Fox coincides so precisely with the White House’s media agenda. David Axelrod and Anita Dunn are no doubt delighted to have the helping hand from the eager beavers at NPR who are subsidized by your tax dollars.

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Why Oh Why?

Politico has a fun forum on what Obama should say to accept his undeserved Nobel Peace Prize. Some are contrarian:

How about starting off with a defense of the nation-state, the greatest invention of the modern era…defender of liberty, slayer of tyrants, engine of prosperity…and then pledge to fight for the perseveration of the sovereignty of the state and offer an eloquent explanation of how free, independent democratic nations can overcome all the global challenges that face mankind….just a thought.

Some are silly. Others are semi-serious. But all share a common understanding that this is a cringe-inducing moment that requires Obama to avoid pretending that the award is deserved.

Tevi Troy puckishly wonders if the president shouldn’t ask why the Nobelists couldn’t have “waited a year before bestowing it upon me.” Well, by then the multilateralist, we-are-the-world, America-wins-by-accepting-decline hooey would have been recognized by more people as, well, hooey. Obama already is throwing the elite Left under the bus on Afghanistan. And he’ll soon have to junk Iranian engagement now that it has proved disastrous. (When J Street gets on board with sanctions, you know the jig is up, albeit too late to have much impact.) And the Middle East hasn’t had that “new beginning” we were promised; indeed the parties are further apart than ever.

So perhaps he should have been given the prize last year. After all, if it’s all about aspirations, then last year would have worked just as well. And we wouldn’t have gotten the inkling that Obama and the Nobelists’ vision of an international world order of “shared values” and America’s inevitable decline was a fantasy and a recipe for disaster.

Politico has a fun forum on what Obama should say to accept his undeserved Nobel Peace Prize. Some are contrarian:

How about starting off with a defense of the nation-state, the greatest invention of the modern era…defender of liberty, slayer of tyrants, engine of prosperity…and then pledge to fight for the perseveration of the sovereignty of the state and offer an eloquent explanation of how free, independent democratic nations can overcome all the global challenges that face mankind….just a thought.

Some are silly. Others are semi-serious. But all share a common understanding that this is a cringe-inducing moment that requires Obama to avoid pretending that the award is deserved.

Tevi Troy puckishly wonders if the president shouldn’t ask why the Nobelists couldn’t have “waited a year before bestowing it upon me.” Well, by then the multilateralist, we-are-the-world, America-wins-by-accepting-decline hooey would have been recognized by more people as, well, hooey. Obama already is throwing the elite Left under the bus on Afghanistan. And he’ll soon have to junk Iranian engagement now that it has proved disastrous. (When J Street gets on board with sanctions, you know the jig is up, albeit too late to have much impact.) And the Middle East hasn’t had that “new beginning” we were promised; indeed the parties are further apart than ever.

So perhaps he should have been given the prize last year. After all, if it’s all about aspirations, then last year would have worked just as well. And we wouldn’t have gotten the inkling that Obama and the Nobelists’ vision of an international world order of “shared values” and America’s inevitable decline was a fantasy and a recipe for disaster.

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“Islamic Terrorism” Returns

The Los Angeles Times has a report detailing “a rising threat from homegrown extremism.” It seems that even the Obama administration can’t ignore the obvious:

Anti-terrorism officials and experts see signs of accelerated radicalization among American Muslims, driven by a wave of English-language online propaganda and reflected in aspiring fighters’ trips to hot spots such as Pakistan and Somalia.

The Department of Homeland Security saw fit earlier this year to warn about “right-wing extremism” (all those Second and Tenth Amendment nuts), although strangely it has yet to produce a comprehensive report on the pattern of extreme Islamic terrorist activity. But perhaps Janet Napolitano is waking from her slumber:

Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued her strongest public comments yet on the homegrown threat.

“We’ve seen an increased number of arrests here in the U.S. of individuals suspected of plotting terrorist attacks, or supporting terror groups abroad such as Al Qaeda,” Napolitano said in a speech in New York. “Home-based terrorism is here. And, like violent extremism abroad, it will be part of the threat picture that we must now confront.”

Officials acknowledged that her tone had changed, though they said terrorism has been her focus since becoming Homeland Security chief.

For an administration that had excised “Islamic fundamentalism” and “Islamic extremism” from its vocabulary and referred to the war on terror as “overseas contingent operations,” this is a pleasing turn of events if it does, in fact, mark a change. One by one the excuses for averting our eyes about the nature of the threat we face seem to be losing credibility. Turns out poverty doesn’t breed Islamic radicalism. As the report notes:

Some feel radicalization in the United States has been worse than authorities thought for some time.

“People focused on the idea that we’re different, we’re better at integrating Muslims than Europe is,” said Zeyno Baran, a scholar at the Hudson Institute, a think tank in Washington. “But there’s radicalization — especially among converts [and] newcomers, such as the Somali case shows. I think young U.S. Muslims today are as prone to radicalization as Muslims in Europe.” …

“The profile in Europe is in general quite different [from U.S. extremists]: more working-class or even underclass,” said a European intelligence official who requested anonymity for security reasons. “But it’s a bit simplistic to make assumptions. We have seen everything in Europe — educated people, doctors involved in terrorism. The underclass argument is not enough.”

And the notion, embraced most specifically by the president, that we can defang Islamic terrorism by humbling ourselves, hobbling our own legitimate security needs, and reaching out to the “Muslim World” by parroting back their victimology seems increasingly dubious. Yet the Times seems mystified that these gambits haven’t really helped: “The Obama administration began the year with gestures to the Muslim world. President Obama promised to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and made a historic speech in Cairo. ” Wow, and with all that, still we have an uptick in homegrown terror.

What’s missing here is any indication that the president himself is willing to drop the pretense of political correctness, address the reality of Islamic radicalism, and revise his approach to national security accordingly. In fact, he and his attorney general seem to be going in the opposite direction, returning to a criminal-justice model for terrorism, blissfully unaware of the danger of providing KSM with a civilian trial to preach and convert to the cause of Islamic radicalism even more potential terrorists. When Obama is willing to call Fort Hood an act of Islamic terror and shut down the KSM circus, we’ll know we’re finally making progress.

The Los Angeles Times has a report detailing “a rising threat from homegrown extremism.” It seems that even the Obama administration can’t ignore the obvious:

Anti-terrorism officials and experts see signs of accelerated radicalization among American Muslims, driven by a wave of English-language online propaganda and reflected in aspiring fighters’ trips to hot spots such as Pakistan and Somalia.

The Department of Homeland Security saw fit earlier this year to warn about “right-wing extremism” (all those Second and Tenth Amendment nuts), although strangely it has yet to produce a comprehensive report on the pattern of extreme Islamic terrorist activity. But perhaps Janet Napolitano is waking from her slumber:

Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued her strongest public comments yet on the homegrown threat.

“We’ve seen an increased number of arrests here in the U.S. of individuals suspected of plotting terrorist attacks, or supporting terror groups abroad such as Al Qaeda,” Napolitano said in a speech in New York. “Home-based terrorism is here. And, like violent extremism abroad, it will be part of the threat picture that we must now confront.”

Officials acknowledged that her tone had changed, though they said terrorism has been her focus since becoming Homeland Security chief.

For an administration that had excised “Islamic fundamentalism” and “Islamic extremism” from its vocabulary and referred to the war on terror as “overseas contingent operations,” this is a pleasing turn of events if it does, in fact, mark a change. One by one the excuses for averting our eyes about the nature of the threat we face seem to be losing credibility. Turns out poverty doesn’t breed Islamic radicalism. As the report notes:

Some feel radicalization in the United States has been worse than authorities thought for some time.

“People focused on the idea that we’re different, we’re better at integrating Muslims than Europe is,” said Zeyno Baran, a scholar at the Hudson Institute, a think tank in Washington. “But there’s radicalization — especially among converts [and] newcomers, such as the Somali case shows. I think young U.S. Muslims today are as prone to radicalization as Muslims in Europe.” …

“The profile in Europe is in general quite different [from U.S. extremists]: more working-class or even underclass,” said a European intelligence official who requested anonymity for security reasons. “But it’s a bit simplistic to make assumptions. We have seen everything in Europe — educated people, doctors involved in terrorism. The underclass argument is not enough.”

And the notion, embraced most specifically by the president, that we can defang Islamic terrorism by humbling ourselves, hobbling our own legitimate security needs, and reaching out to the “Muslim World” by parroting back their victimology seems increasingly dubious. Yet the Times seems mystified that these gambits haven’t really helped: “The Obama administration began the year with gestures to the Muslim world. President Obama promised to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and made a historic speech in Cairo. ” Wow, and with all that, still we have an uptick in homegrown terror.

What’s missing here is any indication that the president himself is willing to drop the pretense of political correctness, address the reality of Islamic radicalism, and revise his approach to national security accordingly. In fact, he and his attorney general seem to be going in the opposite direction, returning to a criminal-justice model for terrorism, blissfully unaware of the danger of providing KSM with a civilian trial to preach and convert to the cause of Islamic radicalism even more potential terrorists. When Obama is willing to call Fort Hood an act of Islamic terror and shut down the KSM circus, we’ll know we’re finally making progress.

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Just Say No

Anyone seeking to combat growing anti-Israel intimidation worldwide ought to pay attention to an obscure soccer match last week.

Such intimidation has become common at sporting events, just as it has at college campuses, public lectures and many other venues. In Malmo, Sweden, this past March, for instance, organizers barred spectators entirely from Israel’s Davis Cup tennis match against Sweden, owing to fear of pro-Palestinian protesters who, the town’s mayor said, had recently pelted a pro-Israel demonstration with bottles, eggs, and fireworks. Two months earlier, an Israeli basketball team fled the court in panic during a EuroCup match in Ankara, Turkey, after thousands of Turkish fans waving Palestinian flags shouted “death to the Jews,” threw shoes and water battles, and ultimately stormed the court. (Adding insult to injury, EuroCup’s governing body then slapped Israel with a technical loss because the frightened players refused to take the court again.)

So when Hapoel Tel Aviv played Celtic in Glasgow last week, the Scottish Trade Unions Congress — one of many European unions that have voted to boycott Israel — saw a golden opportunity: it urged Celtic fans to wave Palestinian flags during the match in “solidarity with suffering Palestinians.” But in the end, the protest fizzled: only “a handful” of pro-Palestinian protesters occupied the stands, Reuters reported.

This defeat required no major investment of time, money, or energy. All it took was one simple news statement by Celtic’s management — asserting that its stadium was “no place for a political demonstration” and urging fans to ignore STUC’s call.

This tactic worked not because Glasgow is a hotbed of pro-Israel sentiment; it’s anything but. Rather, it worked because Celtic fans, like the vast majority of the human race, don’t consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a high priority. And on issues people don’t care much about, they usually follow the path of least resistance.

If a prominent organization like STUC urges a pro-Palestinian protest, and nobody opposes it, the path of least resistance for anyone mildly pro-Palestinian — i.e., most Scots — would be to take a flag (assuming organizers are smart enough to hand them out) and even wave it: acquiescence is always easier than opposition. But the minute someone with any kind of standing, like Celtic’s management, opposes it, doing nothing becomes the preferred option — because then, taking a flag means actively taking sides. And taking sides is much harder than doing nothing.

Given how easy it turns out to be to thwart such anti-Israel intimidation, it is disturbing that so many people in authority — from mayors to college deans to heads of sporting organizations — nevertheless prefer to collaborate with the thugs by remaining silent. Yet at the same time, this demonstration ought to hearten pro-Israel activists. For if Celtic’s success once again proves that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, it also shows that sometimes, all it takes to defeat evil is for a few good men to just say no.

Anyone seeking to combat growing anti-Israel intimidation worldwide ought to pay attention to an obscure soccer match last week.

Such intimidation has become common at sporting events, just as it has at college campuses, public lectures and many other venues. In Malmo, Sweden, this past March, for instance, organizers barred spectators entirely from Israel’s Davis Cup tennis match against Sweden, owing to fear of pro-Palestinian protesters who, the town’s mayor said, had recently pelted a pro-Israel demonstration with bottles, eggs, and fireworks. Two months earlier, an Israeli basketball team fled the court in panic during a EuroCup match in Ankara, Turkey, after thousands of Turkish fans waving Palestinian flags shouted “death to the Jews,” threw shoes and water battles, and ultimately stormed the court. (Adding insult to injury, EuroCup’s governing body then slapped Israel with a technical loss because the frightened players refused to take the court again.)

So when Hapoel Tel Aviv played Celtic in Glasgow last week, the Scottish Trade Unions Congress — one of many European unions that have voted to boycott Israel — saw a golden opportunity: it urged Celtic fans to wave Palestinian flags during the match in “solidarity with suffering Palestinians.” But in the end, the protest fizzled: only “a handful” of pro-Palestinian protesters occupied the stands, Reuters reported.

This defeat required no major investment of time, money, or energy. All it took was one simple news statement by Celtic’s management — asserting that its stadium was “no place for a political demonstration” and urging fans to ignore STUC’s call.

This tactic worked not because Glasgow is a hotbed of pro-Israel sentiment; it’s anything but. Rather, it worked because Celtic fans, like the vast majority of the human race, don’t consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a high priority. And on issues people don’t care much about, they usually follow the path of least resistance.

If a prominent organization like STUC urges a pro-Palestinian protest, and nobody opposes it, the path of least resistance for anyone mildly pro-Palestinian — i.e., most Scots — would be to take a flag (assuming organizers are smart enough to hand them out) and even wave it: acquiescence is always easier than opposition. But the minute someone with any kind of standing, like Celtic’s management, opposes it, doing nothing becomes the preferred option — because then, taking a flag means actively taking sides. And taking sides is much harder than doing nothing.

Given how easy it turns out to be to thwart such anti-Israel intimidation, it is disturbing that so many people in authority — from mayors to college deans to heads of sporting organizations — nevertheless prefer to collaborate with the thugs by remaining silent. Yet at the same time, this demonstration ought to hearten pro-Israel activists. For if Celtic’s success once again proves that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, it also shows that sometimes, all it takes to defeat evil is for a few good men to just say no.

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The Unraveling

As this report explains, the Obama coalition — made up of diverse groups with conflicting understandings of what he was all about — may be unraveling. There is the “specifically eroding support among young voters and independents — in part because of the president’s economic agenda.” Well, these groups and others have reason to be put off by Obamaism and the Democrats in Congress who have been enabling the lurch to the Left.

With unemployment sky-high among young workers and the prospect of a new mandate to buy health insurance they don’t want and can’t afford, younger voters (who aren’t inclined to turn out in off-year elections anyway) may stand on the sidelines in 2010. In August Michael Barone detailed the anti-youth aspects of Obama’s agenda, noting that even Obama’s cynical foreign policy and indifference to human-rights and democracy promotion don’t offer much for those who bought into the hope-n-change routine:

That leads me to wonder whether you were dismayed when Obama responded with stony indifference to the people in the streets of Iran protesting a fraudulent election and demanding freedom and democracy. Some called for the end of a regime that subordinates women and executes homosexuals, things I’m sure you don’t like at all. Although Obama eventually indicated some sympathy, he seemed to regard those demands as a nuisance getting in the way of negotiating with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the mullahs.

Independents seem to be souring on Obamaism — huge spending, nasty partisanship, and massive debt. Then there are wealthy voters who are discovering just how expensive Obama’s economic agenda might be. In June the Wall Street Journal reported:

Recently elected Democrats from higher-income areas also have been cautious about legislation that would make it easier for labor unions to organize, and about legislation imposing tough new rules on banks. Republicans have savaged the new Democrats for supporting legislation to stem global warming by capping greenhouse-gas emissions, then forcing polluters to purchase and trade emissions.

The real kicker will be the Democrats’ insistence on a massive tax hike — allowing the Bush 2001 and 2003 tax cuts to expire. Combined with health-care taxes, marginal rates on the wealthy may return to pre-Reagan-tax-cut levels. That will be quite a wake-up call for the professional class that supported Obama in great numbers. Congressmen are not unaware of this:

“They’re just hanging themselves,” says Republican Rep. Sam Graves, who last year beat back a spirited challenge in his northwestern Missouri district, which includes suburban Kansas City, and said he is looking forward to a race on taxes in 2010.

The tax issue is presenting many new Democrats with a quandary as they struggle to get their political footing. “These members are going to have to make their own determinations on how to balance these interests,” said Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and himself a representative of the affluent suburbs of Washington.

And finally, the Left is now miffed at Obama for failing to live up to netroots’ fondest dreams. They haven’t gotten gay marriage, a pullout from Iraq and Afghanistan, or repeal of the Patriot Act. They are grumbling that insufficient progress has been made on their extreme environmental agenda.

In sum, Obama is losing factions of his political coalition in record speed as these groups learn what his agenda is all about. His Democratic allies are likely to bear the brunt of that in 2010 — at a time when the economy has not yet recovered and unemployment is still high. This is why 2010 may, in fact, be a “wave” election and a bracing wake-up call for the White House.

As this report explains, the Obama coalition — made up of diverse groups with conflicting understandings of what he was all about — may be unraveling. There is the “specifically eroding support among young voters and independents — in part because of the president’s economic agenda.” Well, these groups and others have reason to be put off by Obamaism and the Democrats in Congress who have been enabling the lurch to the Left.

With unemployment sky-high among young workers and the prospect of a new mandate to buy health insurance they don’t want and can’t afford, younger voters (who aren’t inclined to turn out in off-year elections anyway) may stand on the sidelines in 2010. In August Michael Barone detailed the anti-youth aspects of Obama’s agenda, noting that even Obama’s cynical foreign policy and indifference to human-rights and democracy promotion don’t offer much for those who bought into the hope-n-change routine:

That leads me to wonder whether you were dismayed when Obama responded with stony indifference to the people in the streets of Iran protesting a fraudulent election and demanding freedom and democracy. Some called for the end of a regime that subordinates women and executes homosexuals, things I’m sure you don’t like at all. Although Obama eventually indicated some sympathy, he seemed to regard those demands as a nuisance getting in the way of negotiating with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the mullahs.

Independents seem to be souring on Obamaism — huge spending, nasty partisanship, and massive debt. Then there are wealthy voters who are discovering just how expensive Obama’s economic agenda might be. In June the Wall Street Journal reported:

Recently elected Democrats from higher-income areas also have been cautious about legislation that would make it easier for labor unions to organize, and about legislation imposing tough new rules on banks. Republicans have savaged the new Democrats for supporting legislation to stem global warming by capping greenhouse-gas emissions, then forcing polluters to purchase and trade emissions.

The real kicker will be the Democrats’ insistence on a massive tax hike — allowing the Bush 2001 and 2003 tax cuts to expire. Combined with health-care taxes, marginal rates on the wealthy may return to pre-Reagan-tax-cut levels. That will be quite a wake-up call for the professional class that supported Obama in great numbers. Congressmen are not unaware of this:

“They’re just hanging themselves,” says Republican Rep. Sam Graves, who last year beat back a spirited challenge in his northwestern Missouri district, which includes suburban Kansas City, and said he is looking forward to a race on taxes in 2010.

The tax issue is presenting many new Democrats with a quandary as they struggle to get their political footing. “These members are going to have to make their own determinations on how to balance these interests,” said Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and himself a representative of the affluent suburbs of Washington.

And finally, the Left is now miffed at Obama for failing to live up to netroots’ fondest dreams. They haven’t gotten gay marriage, a pullout from Iraq and Afghanistan, or repeal of the Patriot Act. They are grumbling that insufficient progress has been made on their extreme environmental agenda.

In sum, Obama is losing factions of his political coalition in record speed as these groups learn what his agenda is all about. His Democratic allies are likely to bear the brunt of that in 2010 — at a time when the economy has not yet recovered and unemployment is still high. This is why 2010 may, in fact, be a “wave” election and a bracing wake-up call for the White House.

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The Business of Copenhagen

The Washington Post gave away the game regarding Copenhagen. Sure, the science underlying the climate-change hysteria is facing new skepticism. And sure, Obama can’t really bind the U.S. to much of anything, given that cap-and-trade legislation is stalled at home. But there’s real work to do nevertheless: a massive transfer of wealth from rich to poor countries. The Post‘s editors explain:

Now, however, negotiations center on how to transfer hundreds of billions in cash and technology from rich countries to developing ones. Developing nations insist that they need the aid to adapt to the worst effects of climate change, to curb deforestation and to get off carbon-intensive development paths. Though the amounts that developing countries demand are impossibly high, the International Energy Agency estimates that non-OECD countries will, in fact, require $197 billion of additional investment annually for carbon reduction by 2020.

One marvels at the use of the word require. Yes, they’re making demands on wealthy nations and won’t be denied, it seems. The president loves this sort of thing. At the UN in September, Obama gave voice to the “doubters are heretics” mentality and fanned the climate-crisis flames:

The danger posed by climate change cannot be denied. Our responsibility to meet it must not be deferred. If we continue down our current course, every member of this Assembly will see irreversible changes within their borders. Our efforts to end conflicts will be eclipsed by wars over refugees and resources. Development will be devastated by drought and famine. Land that human beings have lived on for millennia will disappear. Future generations will look back and wonder why we refused to act; why we failed to pass on — why we failed to pass on an environment that was worthy of our inheritance. [emphasis added]

And when it comes to transferring the wealth, Obama has the patter down. Not only must we set an example by hobbling our own economies (“those wealthy nations that did so much damage to the environment in the 20th century must accept our obligation to lead”) but we also need “to extend a hand to those with less, while reforming international institutions to give more nations a greater voice.” (Because, I suppose, those multilateral institutions like the UN do such a bang-up job we need to give the nondemocratic, non-capitalist, anti-American and anti-Israel nations even more leverage.)

So let’s not delude ourselves. The Obami’s share-the-wealth vision and indulgence of the “international community” (and the latter’s sense of entitlement) are far too important to let a little scientific fraud and some constitutional niceties get in the way. There’s real business to be done at Copenhagen.

The Washington Post gave away the game regarding Copenhagen. Sure, the science underlying the climate-change hysteria is facing new skepticism. And sure, Obama can’t really bind the U.S. to much of anything, given that cap-and-trade legislation is stalled at home. But there’s real work to do nevertheless: a massive transfer of wealth from rich to poor countries. The Post‘s editors explain:

Now, however, negotiations center on how to transfer hundreds of billions in cash and technology from rich countries to developing ones. Developing nations insist that they need the aid to adapt to the worst effects of climate change, to curb deforestation and to get off carbon-intensive development paths. Though the amounts that developing countries demand are impossibly high, the International Energy Agency estimates that non-OECD countries will, in fact, require $197 billion of additional investment annually for carbon reduction by 2020.

One marvels at the use of the word require. Yes, they’re making demands on wealthy nations and won’t be denied, it seems. The president loves this sort of thing. At the UN in September, Obama gave voice to the “doubters are heretics” mentality and fanned the climate-crisis flames:

The danger posed by climate change cannot be denied. Our responsibility to meet it must not be deferred. If we continue down our current course, every member of this Assembly will see irreversible changes within their borders. Our efforts to end conflicts will be eclipsed by wars over refugees and resources. Development will be devastated by drought and famine. Land that human beings have lived on for millennia will disappear. Future generations will look back and wonder why we refused to act; why we failed to pass on — why we failed to pass on an environment that was worthy of our inheritance. [emphasis added]

And when it comes to transferring the wealth, Obama has the patter down. Not only must we set an example by hobbling our own economies (“those wealthy nations that did so much damage to the environment in the 20th century must accept our obligation to lead”) but we also need “to extend a hand to those with less, while reforming international institutions to give more nations a greater voice.” (Because, I suppose, those multilateral institutions like the UN do such a bang-up job we need to give the nondemocratic, non-capitalist, anti-American and anti-Israel nations even more leverage.)

So let’s not delude ourselves. The Obami’s share-the-wealth vision and indulgence of the “international community” (and the latter’s sense of entitlement) are far too important to let a little scientific fraud and some constitutional niceties get in the way. There’s real business to be done at Copenhagen.

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Uh . . . Never Mind

The New York Times dryly notes: “The Obama administration sent a forceful public message Sunday that American military forces could remain in Afghanistan for a long time, seeking to blunt criticism that President Obama had sent the wrong signal in his war-strategy speech last week by projecting July 2011 as the start of a withdrawal.” Nowhere was this more evident that on Meet the Press, where Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton, every way they could, sought to downplay and erase the 18-month deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that the president described in his West Point speech.

They had to, of course. The contradiction between the need for a full commitment to a critical war and an artificial date for withdrawal is too vast and unsustainable, both logically and politically. It is a tribute to conservatives who have argued strenuously against the imposition of such a deadline — and those lawmakers who have grilled the administration on the point — that the administration is essentially saying, “Never mind.” Gates explained:

It’s the beginning of a process. In July 2011, our generals are confident that they will know whether our strategy is working, and the plan is to begin transferring areas of responsibility for security over to the Afghan security forces with us remaining in a tactical and then strategic overwatch position, sort of the cavalry over the hill. But we will begin to thin our forces and begin to bring them home. But the pace of that, of bringing them home, and where we will bring them home from will depend on the circumstances on the ground, and those judgments will be made by our commanders in the field. … It will begin in July of 2011. But how, how quickly it goes will very much depend on the conditions on the ground. We will have a significant number of forces in there … or some considerable period of time after that.

Clinton concurred that “we’re not talking about an exit strategy or a drop-dead deadline. What we’re talking about is an assessment that in January 2011 we can begin a transition, a transition to hand off responsibility to the Afghan forces.”

And what of the president’s nagging worry, apparently the origin of the artificial deadline that we would be there “forever” without such a date? Sen. McCain, also appearing on Meet the Press, debunked that shopworn argument:

Well, the rationale for war is to break the enemy’s will. That’s the whole rationale for war. Do you break the enemy’s will by saying, “We’re going to be there,” or send a message we’re going to be there for a year and a half or so and then we’re going to begin to leave, no matter what the circumstances are? Or do you tell them, “We’re going to win and we’re going to break your will, and then we’re going to leave”? That’s, that’s, that’s a huge factor in the conduct of war.

This suggests that the elaborate decision-making process and the highly anticipated speech were flawed and ill-conceived, now requiring a rather embarrassing and hasty effort to explain, refine, retract, and ultimately walk back the president’s own words. If McCain is right and success in a counterinsurgency depends on unnerving the enemy, reference to a withdrawal date was a significant misstep. On the other hand, it’s rather plain that no one in the administration is willing to defend a date-certain deadline.

Conservatives have won the point on the essential unworkability of troop deadlines, and the administration’s effort to mollify the Left has been unmasked as silly and unhelpful rhetoric. Overall, this has proved a significant accomplishment of the loyal opposition, one that hopefully will improve its chances for success and steer the president away from similar errors in the future.

The New York Times dryly notes: “The Obama administration sent a forceful public message Sunday that American military forces could remain in Afghanistan for a long time, seeking to blunt criticism that President Obama had sent the wrong signal in his war-strategy speech last week by projecting July 2011 as the start of a withdrawal.” Nowhere was this more evident that on Meet the Press, where Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton, every way they could, sought to downplay and erase the 18-month deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that the president described in his West Point speech.

They had to, of course. The contradiction between the need for a full commitment to a critical war and an artificial date for withdrawal is too vast and unsustainable, both logically and politically. It is a tribute to conservatives who have argued strenuously against the imposition of such a deadline — and those lawmakers who have grilled the administration on the point — that the administration is essentially saying, “Never mind.” Gates explained:

It’s the beginning of a process. In July 2011, our generals are confident that they will know whether our strategy is working, and the plan is to begin transferring areas of responsibility for security over to the Afghan security forces with us remaining in a tactical and then strategic overwatch position, sort of the cavalry over the hill. But we will begin to thin our forces and begin to bring them home. But the pace of that, of bringing them home, and where we will bring them home from will depend on the circumstances on the ground, and those judgments will be made by our commanders in the field. … It will begin in July of 2011. But how, how quickly it goes will very much depend on the conditions on the ground. We will have a significant number of forces in there … or some considerable period of time after that.

Clinton concurred that “we’re not talking about an exit strategy or a drop-dead deadline. What we’re talking about is an assessment that in January 2011 we can begin a transition, a transition to hand off responsibility to the Afghan forces.”

And what of the president’s nagging worry, apparently the origin of the artificial deadline that we would be there “forever” without such a date? Sen. McCain, also appearing on Meet the Press, debunked that shopworn argument:

Well, the rationale for war is to break the enemy’s will. That’s the whole rationale for war. Do you break the enemy’s will by saying, “We’re going to be there,” or send a message we’re going to be there for a year and a half or so and then we’re going to begin to leave, no matter what the circumstances are? Or do you tell them, “We’re going to win and we’re going to break your will, and then we’re going to leave”? That’s, that’s, that’s a huge factor in the conduct of war.

This suggests that the elaborate decision-making process and the highly anticipated speech were flawed and ill-conceived, now requiring a rather embarrassing and hasty effort to explain, refine, retract, and ultimately walk back the president’s own words. If McCain is right and success in a counterinsurgency depends on unnerving the enemy, reference to a withdrawal date was a significant misstep. On the other hand, it’s rather plain that no one in the administration is willing to defend a date-certain deadline.

Conservatives have won the point on the essential unworkability of troop deadlines, and the administration’s effort to mollify the Left has been unmasked as silly and unhelpful rhetoric. Overall, this has proved a significant accomplishment of the loyal opposition, one that hopefully will improve its chances for success and steer the president away from similar errors in the future.

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Reid Headed for Defeat?

Sen. Harry Reid is in some trouble with his hometown voters. As this report notes, Republicans Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian lead Reid in recent polling. “And what surely scares the Reid war room the most is the part of the poll that shows Lowden leading Reid in the Democratic stronghold of Clark County, 47 percent to 44 percent. It’s within the poll’s 4 percentage-point margin of error, but that’s still a killer number for a Democrat in Nevada.”

But the source of much of his troubles may be ObamaCare:

Reid’s been carrying the water for President Obama on the health care debate in the Senate. He’s walked so far out on the plank in support of the parts of the health care “reform” bill Nevadans hate the most that imagining a reconciliation and a retreat to the home ship seems nearly impossible. Consider this poll question: “Do you approve of or disapprove of Senator Harry Reid’s efforts to get a health care reform bill through the U.S. Senate?” Answer: 50 percent of registered Nevada voters disapprove, 39 percent approve and 11 percent are not sure.

Unlike Red State Democrats like Mary Landrieu or Blanche Lincoln, Reid can’t very well run from the Democrats’ agenda. He’s in charge of getting it passed, after all. Reid is tied now to an increasingly unpopular agenda and to a president whose own popularity is sagging.  If Reid goes down to defeat, it will be a powerful sign that Obama’s Left-leaning agenda is toxic for Democrats who chose partisanship over the wishes of their constituents.

Thanks to the White House’s determination to pursue big-government power grabs, Reid is in quite a bind. His only chance of survival may be the defeat of the ultra-Left agenda that irks Nevada voters. That certainly won’t reflect well on his legislative leadership skills, however, or endear him to the Democratic base. A year is forever in politics, but it’s looking more probable that Reid could be the second Senate majority leader in 50 years (Tom Daschle was the other) to lose his seat.

Sen. Harry Reid is in some trouble with his hometown voters. As this report notes, Republicans Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian lead Reid in recent polling. “And what surely scares the Reid war room the most is the part of the poll that shows Lowden leading Reid in the Democratic stronghold of Clark County, 47 percent to 44 percent. It’s within the poll’s 4 percentage-point margin of error, but that’s still a killer number for a Democrat in Nevada.”

But the source of much of his troubles may be ObamaCare:

Reid’s been carrying the water for President Obama on the health care debate in the Senate. He’s walked so far out on the plank in support of the parts of the health care “reform” bill Nevadans hate the most that imagining a reconciliation and a retreat to the home ship seems nearly impossible. Consider this poll question: “Do you approve of or disapprove of Senator Harry Reid’s efforts to get a health care reform bill through the U.S. Senate?” Answer: 50 percent of registered Nevada voters disapprove, 39 percent approve and 11 percent are not sure.

Unlike Red State Democrats like Mary Landrieu or Blanche Lincoln, Reid can’t very well run from the Democrats’ agenda. He’s in charge of getting it passed, after all. Reid is tied now to an increasingly unpopular agenda and to a president whose own popularity is sagging.  If Reid goes down to defeat, it will be a powerful sign that Obama’s Left-leaning agenda is toxic for Democrats who chose partisanship over the wishes of their constituents.

Thanks to the White House’s determination to pursue big-government power grabs, Reid is in quite a bind. His only chance of survival may be the defeat of the ultra-Left agenda that irks Nevada voters. That certainly won’t reflect well on his legislative leadership skills, however, or endear him to the Democratic base. A year is forever in politics, but it’s looking more probable that Reid could be the second Senate majority leader in 50 years (Tom Daschle was the other) to lose his seat.

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LBJ He’s Not

It’s remarkable: Obama’s signature legislative item is at a crucial juncture. It’s not clear that there are 60 votes for Harry Reid’s plan, abortion has become a stumbling block, and the public continues to sour on the Democratic scheme to take over health care. So the president goes to Capitol Hill – and says nothing of consequence. The Hill reports:

Obama told reporters that the meeting was a “pep talk,” not a negotiation. Obama didn’t take questions from the senators or mention the two issues now dividing Senate Democrats and preventing passage of the bill: a government-run insurance plan and restrictions on federal funds for abortion.

He really doesn’t add much to the mix, does he? Perhaps it’s passivity, or maybe he simply lacks the interest or ability to help craft a bill. As with his super-duper speech to Congress in September, Obama seems unable to go beyond platitudes and get down to the nitty-gritty of governance. After all, he wasn’t in the Senate for very long and didn’t champion any significant legislation, so there’s no evidence that this is really his strong suit.

So for now it’s up to the Senate to deliberate and negotiate and deliberate some more. We might not have a deal anytime soon. (“Key centrist senators not involved in the talks dismissed suggestions that the Senate healthcare debate would end soon. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) told The Hill that it’s not realistic to expect the bill to be finished in a week.”) Or ever.

It’s remarkable: Obama’s signature legislative item is at a crucial juncture. It’s not clear that there are 60 votes for Harry Reid’s plan, abortion has become a stumbling block, and the public continues to sour on the Democratic scheme to take over health care. So the president goes to Capitol Hill – and says nothing of consequence. The Hill reports:

Obama told reporters that the meeting was a “pep talk,” not a negotiation. Obama didn’t take questions from the senators or mention the two issues now dividing Senate Democrats and preventing passage of the bill: a government-run insurance plan and restrictions on federal funds for abortion.

He really doesn’t add much to the mix, does he? Perhaps it’s passivity, or maybe he simply lacks the interest or ability to help craft a bill. As with his super-duper speech to Congress in September, Obama seems unable to go beyond platitudes and get down to the nitty-gritty of governance. After all, he wasn’t in the Senate for very long and didn’t champion any significant legislation, so there’s no evidence that this is really his strong suit.

So for now it’s up to the Senate to deliberate and negotiate and deliberate some more. We might not have a deal anytime soon. (“Key centrist senators not involved in the talks dismissed suggestions that the Senate healthcare debate would end soon. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) told The Hill that it’s not realistic to expect the bill to be finished in a week.”) Or ever.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

On that “deadline”: “Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says Americans should expect a significant U.S. military presence in Afghanistan for two years to four years more. Just as in Iraq, the United States eventually will turn over provinces to local security forces, allowing the United States to bring the number of troops down steadily, according to Mr. Gates.”

Gen. David Petraeus: “In fact, as the secretary explained, this would be a district-by-district, as the conditions obtain, as the security situation is sufficient for the Afghan security forces that will be working hard to develop are capable of taking on those tasks. … And again, there’s no — there’s no time line, no ramp, nothing like that.” He politely sidesteps a direct answer to the question: “General, honestly, would you have preferred no time line to be set publicly?”

Bill Kristol on Copenhagen: “The equivalent of the entire carbon footprint of Morocco is what we’re going to emit into the atmosphere so these guys can get together and talk pointlessly in Copenhagen.”

The voters seem to have other priorities: “For the first time in Gallup’s 25 year history of asking Americans to choose between economic growth and environmental protection, a majority sided with the paper money over the trees. … It’s got to be hard to pass a historic climate change bill when public support for climate change legislation is at historic lows.” Or in the middle of a scandal about just how certain the science is.

Hmm, probably not the best damage-control tactic: “Baucus: Relationship wasn’t an ‘affair.’ ”

Marty Peretz is still waiting for that “new beginning between America and the Muslim World”: “The fact is, as Barack Obama refuses to grasp, Islam needs to shoulder responsibility for what is done in its name. For what is not rejected–in most cases, not at all rejected–by the sages of present-day Islam. Since the president has taken to lecture Americans about ‘one of the world’s great religions,’ which I believe it to be, he might also take to studying why so many of its elders in schools of theology and other authoritative men have embraced, publicly embraced, the gangsters in their midst.”

Really, did you think Obama’s approval and disapproval trend lines would cross in less than a year?

Sen. Ben Nelson seems not to like much of anything about ObamaCare: “He has not only taken an uncompromising position on abortion, demanding stronger language to prohibit federal funding of abortion. He has also voted against every Democratic amendment so far, aside from those that received unanimous support from the body. Nelson’s voting record on the bill suggests a general dislike for key aspects of it.”

On that “deadline”: “Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says Americans should expect a significant U.S. military presence in Afghanistan for two years to four years more. Just as in Iraq, the United States eventually will turn over provinces to local security forces, allowing the United States to bring the number of troops down steadily, according to Mr. Gates.”

Gen. David Petraeus: “In fact, as the secretary explained, this would be a district-by-district, as the conditions obtain, as the security situation is sufficient for the Afghan security forces that will be working hard to develop are capable of taking on those tasks. … And again, there’s no — there’s no time line, no ramp, nothing like that.” He politely sidesteps a direct answer to the question: “General, honestly, would you have preferred no time line to be set publicly?”

Bill Kristol on Copenhagen: “The equivalent of the entire carbon footprint of Morocco is what we’re going to emit into the atmosphere so these guys can get together and talk pointlessly in Copenhagen.”

The voters seem to have other priorities: “For the first time in Gallup’s 25 year history of asking Americans to choose between economic growth and environmental protection, a majority sided with the paper money over the trees. … It’s got to be hard to pass a historic climate change bill when public support for climate change legislation is at historic lows.” Or in the middle of a scandal about just how certain the science is.

Hmm, probably not the best damage-control tactic: “Baucus: Relationship wasn’t an ‘affair.’ ”

Marty Peretz is still waiting for that “new beginning between America and the Muslim World”: “The fact is, as Barack Obama refuses to grasp, Islam needs to shoulder responsibility for what is done in its name. For what is not rejected–in most cases, not at all rejected–by the sages of present-day Islam. Since the president has taken to lecture Americans about ‘one of the world’s great religions,’ which I believe it to be, he might also take to studying why so many of its elders in schools of theology and other authoritative men have embraced, publicly embraced, the gangsters in their midst.”

Really, did you think Obama’s approval and disapproval trend lines would cross in less than a year?

Sen. Ben Nelson seems not to like much of anything about ObamaCare: “He has not only taken an uncompromising position on abortion, demanding stronger language to prohibit federal funding of abortion. He has also voted against every Democratic amendment so far, aside from those that received unanimous support from the body. Nelson’s voting record on the bill suggests a general dislike for key aspects of it.”

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