Commentary Magazine


Posts For: April 7, 2010

Obama’s Diplomatic War on Israel Is Just Getting Started

Apparently, David Ignatius of the Washington Post isn’t the only recipient of White House leaks about an Obama peace plan. Helen Cooper of the New York Times chimed in with her own piece this afternoon about the president’s desire to jump into the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to Cooper, the trigger for this latest instance of administration hubris was a recent gathering of former national-security advisers including Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Samuel Berger, and Colin Powell, who were called in to consult with the president and his adviser General James L. Jones. The consensus (only Powell seems to have dissented) was that Obama must put forward his own scheme that would state exactly what the parameters of a peace deal would be. The idea is that peace can only be obtained by the United States imposing it on the parties. The plan is, of course, along the lines of past Israeli peace offers rejected by the Palestinians, plus extra Israeli concessions. The Palestinians give up their “right of return,” and Israel “would return to its 1967 borders,” including the one that divided Jerusalem, with only “a few negotiated settlements” as an exception. The supposed sweetener for Israel is that the United States or NATO, whose troops would be stationed along the Jordan River, would guarantee Israeli security.

Cheering from the sidelines is former Clinton staffer Robert Malley, who advised Obama on Middle East issues during the 2008 campaign until he was put aside to reassure Jewish voters worried about the Democrats having a man on staff who had served as an apologist for Yasser Arafat in the aftermath of the 2000 Camp David talks. For Malley, the logic of an American diktat is simple: “It’s not rocket science. If the U.S. wants it done, it will have to do it.”

This fits in with the messianic self-confidence of the president, and with the vision of his presidency that his staffers exude. They are not interested in the fact that such attempts have always failed because of Palestinian intransigence, or that such attempts have ultimately led to more, not less, violence. It isn’t clear whether they truly believe that weak figures like Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad can sign any peace deal that recognizes Israel’s existence within any borders. But the administration’s simmering resentment against Israel seems to be driving this development more than anything else. Even if such a plan failed, as it surely would, the mere exercise of attempting to shove it down a reluctant Israel’s throat would appear to be deeply satisfying to figures like Brzezinski and Malley and perhaps Obama, whose predilection for trumped-up bitter disputes with the Jewish state and its leaders is now an established fact.

The effort to leak this story to multiple outlets appears to be a continuation of Obama’s feud with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Having failed to make Netanyahu bend to his will on the building of homes in existing Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Obama is now raising the stakes by pointedly holding out the possibility that he will impose his own partition on Israel’s capital after the certain failure of the so-called “proximity talks” — so named because the Palestinians will not even sit in the same room to talk peace with Israelis.

It goes without saying that such a plan from Obama would, itself, constitute the baseline of future Arab demands on Israel because, as even Cooper points out, “once Mr. Obama puts American parameters on the table, the Palestinians will refuse to accept anything less.”

The prospect of an Obama dictat aimed at Israel again raises the question of what Jewish Democrats think about all this. Some may have thought that Obama’s rage at Netanyahu and the histrionics that the president and his staff have engaged in during the last month was just a passing phase, to be forgotten as the administration moved on to other issues. But apparently, Obama’s anger at Israel and his desire to bring down Bibi and to force the Jewish state to surrender on Jerusalem has not diminished. Obama’s diplomatic war on Israel seems to be just beginning.

Apparently, David Ignatius of the Washington Post isn’t the only recipient of White House leaks about an Obama peace plan. Helen Cooper of the New York Times chimed in with her own piece this afternoon about the president’s desire to jump into the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to Cooper, the trigger for this latest instance of administration hubris was a recent gathering of former national-security advisers including Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Samuel Berger, and Colin Powell, who were called in to consult with the president and his adviser General James L. Jones. The consensus (only Powell seems to have dissented) was that Obama must put forward his own scheme that would state exactly what the parameters of a peace deal would be. The idea is that peace can only be obtained by the United States imposing it on the parties. The plan is, of course, along the lines of past Israeli peace offers rejected by the Palestinians, plus extra Israeli concessions. The Palestinians give up their “right of return,” and Israel “would return to its 1967 borders,” including the one that divided Jerusalem, with only “a few negotiated settlements” as an exception. The supposed sweetener for Israel is that the United States or NATO, whose troops would be stationed along the Jordan River, would guarantee Israeli security.

Cheering from the sidelines is former Clinton staffer Robert Malley, who advised Obama on Middle East issues during the 2008 campaign until he was put aside to reassure Jewish voters worried about the Democrats having a man on staff who had served as an apologist for Yasser Arafat in the aftermath of the 2000 Camp David talks. For Malley, the logic of an American diktat is simple: “It’s not rocket science. If the U.S. wants it done, it will have to do it.”

This fits in with the messianic self-confidence of the president, and with the vision of his presidency that his staffers exude. They are not interested in the fact that such attempts have always failed because of Palestinian intransigence, or that such attempts have ultimately led to more, not less, violence. It isn’t clear whether they truly believe that weak figures like Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad can sign any peace deal that recognizes Israel’s existence within any borders. But the administration’s simmering resentment against Israel seems to be driving this development more than anything else. Even if such a plan failed, as it surely would, the mere exercise of attempting to shove it down a reluctant Israel’s throat would appear to be deeply satisfying to figures like Brzezinski and Malley and perhaps Obama, whose predilection for trumped-up bitter disputes with the Jewish state and its leaders is now an established fact.

The effort to leak this story to multiple outlets appears to be a continuation of Obama’s feud with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Having failed to make Netanyahu bend to his will on the building of homes in existing Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Obama is now raising the stakes by pointedly holding out the possibility that he will impose his own partition on Israel’s capital after the certain failure of the so-called “proximity talks” — so named because the Palestinians will not even sit in the same room to talk peace with Israelis.

It goes without saying that such a plan from Obama would, itself, constitute the baseline of future Arab demands on Israel because, as even Cooper points out, “once Mr. Obama puts American parameters on the table, the Palestinians will refuse to accept anything less.”

The prospect of an Obama dictat aimed at Israel again raises the question of what Jewish Democrats think about all this. Some may have thought that Obama’s rage at Netanyahu and the histrionics that the president and his staff have engaged in during the last month was just a passing phase, to be forgotten as the administration moved on to other issues. But apparently, Obama’s anger at Israel and his desire to bring down Bibi and to force the Jewish state to surrender on Jerusalem has not diminished. Obama’s diplomatic war on Israel seems to be just beginning.

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Obama Strikes Out

John Kass of the Chicago Tribune has a wickedly good column on Barack Obama’s perfectly awful interview with Washington National announcer Rob Dibble.

For starters, when asked to name just one player he liked while growing up, Obama drew a blank. “You know … uh … I thought that … you know … the truth is, that a lot of the Cubs I liked too.”

“Ouch,” Kass writes. “The silence between the stammers was excruciating. America’s No. 1 Sox fan couldn’t name one Sox player.”

It gets worse.

“When I moved to Chicago,” Obama told Dibble, “I was living close to what was then Cominskey Park and went to a couple of games and just fell in love with it.”

Here’s the problem, though: “Cominskey” Park was actually Comiskey Park. This isn’t the first time Mr. Obama has been tripped up on “Cominskey” Park or tried his blue collar v. wine sipping shtick. It’s not only getting old; it’s getting embarrassing.

After this interview — which seemed to last a lot longer than it actually did — one better understands why Obama is so reliant on his teleprompter.

Do you ever get the feeling that Obama is making it all up as he goes along?

John Kass of the Chicago Tribune has a wickedly good column on Barack Obama’s perfectly awful interview with Washington National announcer Rob Dibble.

For starters, when asked to name just one player he liked while growing up, Obama drew a blank. “You know … uh … I thought that … you know … the truth is, that a lot of the Cubs I liked too.”

“Ouch,” Kass writes. “The silence between the stammers was excruciating. America’s No. 1 Sox fan couldn’t name one Sox player.”

It gets worse.

“When I moved to Chicago,” Obama told Dibble, “I was living close to what was then Cominskey Park and went to a couple of games and just fell in love with it.”

Here’s the problem, though: “Cominskey” Park was actually Comiskey Park. This isn’t the first time Mr. Obama has been tripped up on “Cominskey” Park or tried his blue collar v. wine sipping shtick. It’s not only getting old; it’s getting embarrassing.

After this interview — which seemed to last a lot longer than it actually did — one better understands why Obama is so reliant on his teleprompter.

Do you ever get the feeling that Obama is making it all up as he goes along?

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RE: RE: Imposed Arrogance

Bibi’s response to the Obami’s imposed peace-deal trial balloon? No way. This should come as no surprise:

Israel will not accept a Middle East peace agreement that is forced on it by external forces, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said in private meetings in recent days, sources said Wednesday.

Netanyahu reportedly told close aides that “it won’t work and it won’t be acceptable if a settlement is forced on us,” stressing the need to ensure proper security arrangements as part of any future peace deal.

For that end, the PM reportedly said, Israel would have to retain a military presence along its eastern border with Jordan, adding that any agreement that doesn’t allow for those measure will not be accepted.

And on the Jerusalem building issue, Bibi isn’t caving either. “Also Wednesday, in a press conference in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said differences with Washington over a disputed construction project in East Jerusalem were yet to be resolved, signaling a continued deadlock in the U.S. push to restart Mideast peace talks.” He says the U.S. and Israel are working to close the gap. (Perhaps they can have proximity talks with Tony Blair as the interlocutor?)

So where does this leave the Obami? To stamp their feet and send George Mitchell shuttling back and forth between fruitless meetings with the two sides? If one ever needed proof that the peace process can be not only a waste of time but also counterproductive, this is it.

Meanwhile, with all those former national-security advisers in the building, do we think the Obami asked them for advice on getting out of their dead-end Iran policy? It doesn’t appear so from the news reports, and that speaks volumes about the misplaced priorities of a foreign-policy team that is increasing divorced from reality.

Bibi’s response to the Obami’s imposed peace-deal trial balloon? No way. This should come as no surprise:

Israel will not accept a Middle East peace agreement that is forced on it by external forces, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said in private meetings in recent days, sources said Wednesday.

Netanyahu reportedly told close aides that “it won’t work and it won’t be acceptable if a settlement is forced on us,” stressing the need to ensure proper security arrangements as part of any future peace deal.

For that end, the PM reportedly said, Israel would have to retain a military presence along its eastern border with Jordan, adding that any agreement that doesn’t allow for those measure will not be accepted.

And on the Jerusalem building issue, Bibi isn’t caving either. “Also Wednesday, in a press conference in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said differences with Washington over a disputed construction project in East Jerusalem were yet to be resolved, signaling a continued deadlock in the U.S. push to restart Mideast peace talks.” He says the U.S. and Israel are working to close the gap. (Perhaps they can have proximity talks with Tony Blair as the interlocutor?)

So where does this leave the Obami? To stamp their feet and send George Mitchell shuttling back and forth between fruitless meetings with the two sides? If one ever needed proof that the peace process can be not only a waste of time but also counterproductive, this is it.

Meanwhile, with all those former national-security advisers in the building, do we think the Obami asked them for advice on getting out of their dead-end Iran policy? It doesn’t appear so from the news reports, and that speaks volumes about the misplaced priorities of a foreign-policy team that is increasing divorced from reality.

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Palestinians Beat Their Swords into Rocks

While marketing gurus in Israel and the United States ponder the proper methodology for “rebranding” the Jewish State to make people think better of it, the Palestinians continue to eschew ad agencies and rely on The New York Times. That’s the only way to explain the Gray Lady’s curious dispatch today, which claims that the Palestinians have put away their decades-long predilection for violence and become disciples of Mahatma Gandhi.

According to the Times’s Ethan Bronner, “Senior Palestinian leaders — men who once commanded militias — are joining unarmed protest marches against Israeli policies and are being arrested.” How inspiring! It would seem that finally the Palestinians have decided to beat their swords into plowshares and find a way to live with Israel. “It is all about self-empowerment,” said Hasan Abu-Libdeh, the Palestinian economy minister. “We want ordinary people to feel like stockholders in the process of building a state.”

But rather than Fatah focusing on improving life in its putative state or encouraging peaceful people-to-people exchanges with their Jewish neighbors, the whole point of this allegedly non-violent action is to merely carry on their struggle against Israel without all the bad press associated with suicide bombings. Hence, the “self-empowerment” that Minister Abu-Libdeh is referring to is a campaign to boycott the goods produced by Jews who live in the territories and for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who work in and around the settlements to give up their jobs. As for the non-violent “protest marches,” they are directed at Israel’s security fence and consist of throwing stones at any Jews present and attempts to damage or destroy the barrier that was erected to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from crossing into Israel and committing mass murder. How any of that empowers ordinary Palestinians in any way is left unexplained.

If there is any change of tactics on the part of Fatah, it is only because Israeli military actions in the West Bank and the erection of the fence have effectively taken the terrorist card out of the P.A.’s hand. Take down that fence and terrorism becomes an attractive option again for a movement that continues to vie with Hamas for popularity in a political culture that continues to value the shedding of Jewish blood over the building of an economy.

Thus it is hard to escape the conclusion that even the most attractive manifestation of Palestinian nationalism is still obsessed with expunging any manifestation of Jewish life around them. Far from a “third way,” as Bronner claims it to be for Palestinians who are frustrated with the “failure” of either terrorism or diplomacy to achieve their goals, the new tactic seems to be merely a way of creating pressure on Israel to lower its guard and make terrorism a bit easier. And if their goal was merely to declare a Palestinian state (as Bronner says Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wants to do in 2011) what is the point of the ongoing obsession with eradicating the scattered Jewish towns and villages in the West Bank as a precondition for statehood? Apparently, the notion of sovereignty is only meaningful for them if every Jew has been thrown out of the territory.

More to the point, diplomacy hasn’t failed the Palestinians. Rather, it is the Palestinians who have failed to embrace the diplomatic option as 17 years of peace talks have proved that their leadership isn’t interested in taking yes for an answer since they have repeatedly refused Israel’s offers of a state in the West Bank and Gaza, including a share of Jerusalem. The last refusal came in 2008 when the same PA that now claims to be pursuing non-violence turned down Ehud Olmert. Thus, the attempt to convince the world that this is an argument about settlements or the fence (which, as Bronner notes, has made of the village of Bilin an international tourist attraction for celebrities, such as Rajmohan Gandhi or Martin Luther King III, who want to get a little attention for bashing Israel) rather than an ongoing existential struggle against any manifestation of Zionism, is absurd.

While marketing gurus in Israel and the United States ponder the proper methodology for “rebranding” the Jewish State to make people think better of it, the Palestinians continue to eschew ad agencies and rely on The New York Times. That’s the only way to explain the Gray Lady’s curious dispatch today, which claims that the Palestinians have put away their decades-long predilection for violence and become disciples of Mahatma Gandhi.

According to the Times’s Ethan Bronner, “Senior Palestinian leaders — men who once commanded militias — are joining unarmed protest marches against Israeli policies and are being arrested.” How inspiring! It would seem that finally the Palestinians have decided to beat their swords into plowshares and find a way to live with Israel. “It is all about self-empowerment,” said Hasan Abu-Libdeh, the Palestinian economy minister. “We want ordinary people to feel like stockholders in the process of building a state.”

But rather than Fatah focusing on improving life in its putative state or encouraging peaceful people-to-people exchanges with their Jewish neighbors, the whole point of this allegedly non-violent action is to merely carry on their struggle against Israel without all the bad press associated with suicide bombings. Hence, the “self-empowerment” that Minister Abu-Libdeh is referring to is a campaign to boycott the goods produced by Jews who live in the territories and for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who work in and around the settlements to give up their jobs. As for the non-violent “protest marches,” they are directed at Israel’s security fence and consist of throwing stones at any Jews present and attempts to damage or destroy the barrier that was erected to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from crossing into Israel and committing mass murder. How any of that empowers ordinary Palestinians in any way is left unexplained.

If there is any change of tactics on the part of Fatah, it is only because Israeli military actions in the West Bank and the erection of the fence have effectively taken the terrorist card out of the P.A.’s hand. Take down that fence and terrorism becomes an attractive option again for a movement that continues to vie with Hamas for popularity in a political culture that continues to value the shedding of Jewish blood over the building of an economy.

Thus it is hard to escape the conclusion that even the most attractive manifestation of Palestinian nationalism is still obsessed with expunging any manifestation of Jewish life around them. Far from a “third way,” as Bronner claims it to be for Palestinians who are frustrated with the “failure” of either terrorism or diplomacy to achieve their goals, the new tactic seems to be merely a way of creating pressure on Israel to lower its guard and make terrorism a bit easier. And if their goal was merely to declare a Palestinian state (as Bronner says Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wants to do in 2011) what is the point of the ongoing obsession with eradicating the scattered Jewish towns and villages in the West Bank as a precondition for statehood? Apparently, the notion of sovereignty is only meaningful for them if every Jew has been thrown out of the territory.

More to the point, diplomacy hasn’t failed the Palestinians. Rather, it is the Palestinians who have failed to embrace the diplomatic option as 17 years of peace talks have proved that their leadership isn’t interested in taking yes for an answer since they have repeatedly refused Israel’s offers of a state in the West Bank and Gaza, including a share of Jerusalem. The last refusal came in 2008 when the same PA that now claims to be pursuing non-violence turned down Ehud Olmert. Thus, the attempt to convince the world that this is an argument about settlements or the fence (which, as Bronner notes, has made of the village of Bilin an international tourist attraction for celebrities, such as Rajmohan Gandhi or Martin Luther King III, who want to get a little attention for bashing Israel) rather than an ongoing existential struggle against any manifestation of Zionism, is absurd.

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RE: Imposed Arrogance

Parsing through David Ignatius’s column on the potential (threat, I think is a more apt term) for an imposed Middle East peace deal, Elliott Abrams — who managed as deputy national-security advisor to induce Israel to take “risks for peace” by cementing an actually rock-solid relationship between the countries — takes issue with the Obami’s assertion that really everyone knows what the peace deal is and that what we need is an American president to impose one:

This is false and dangerous. First, if indeed everyone has known the terms for nearly 20 years (since Oslo) yet agreement has never been reached, is it not obvious that neither Israelis nor Palestinians are willing and able to accept those terms? Does their embrace by an ambitious American president make them any more palatable to the people who will have to live with them? Second, the conclusion that all the terms are known is quite wrong. Is the fate of Jerusalem’s Old City agreed? Do Palestinians accept that Israel will keep every major settlement bloc? Do Israelis and Palestinians agree on the terms needed to guarantee Israel’s security once the IDF must leave the West Bank? (Examples: Is it agreed that Israel will control the air space and electromagnetic spectrum? Is it agreed that Israel can keep troops in the West Bank for some years? Do Palestinians accept that Israel can control the Jordan Valley and patrol the border with Jordan?) This is nonsense. One of Ignatius’s sources says the Obama plan will “take on the absolute requirements of Israeli security.” After 14 months of harassment by Obama and his team, will any Israeli risk his nation’s safety on that assurance?

It is such nonsense that one suspects this is another bullying tactic by the Obami. They haven’t been able to club Bibi into submitting to their demand with regard to Jerusalem building. Snubbing him at the White House didn’t do the trick. His government isn’t teetering on the brink of collapse. So what to do? Ah! Scare the Israelis with the prospect that if they don’t start “cooperating,” the Obami will whip out their own plan and that’ll be that.

And through this one can see the petulance of the neophyte president, who is peeved the world does not bend to his will. The New York Times reports on his confab with former national security figures:

The fact that President Obama was willing to have such an impromptu discussion with former advisers illustrates his increasing frustration with the foot-dragging over Middle East peace talks, and a growing sense that he may have to present a specific plan, rather than wait for the two sides to come to any sort of agreement.

And not even the Gray Lady can avoid reminding its readers that much (all?) of the stalemate and heightened tensions are attributable to the Obami’s own diplomatic malpractice: “So far, administration officials are still smarting from their first attempt at sticking their collective necks out, as they did last summer when they demanded a freeze of Jewish settlements, and then had to stand back with no contingency plan after Israel refused outright.” And the administration learned what from that experience? Nothing apparently. Onward they plunge, immune to experience and impervious to history. It seems that ideology isn’t, as Hillary said, really “so yesterday” after all.

Parsing through David Ignatius’s column on the potential (threat, I think is a more apt term) for an imposed Middle East peace deal, Elliott Abrams — who managed as deputy national-security advisor to induce Israel to take “risks for peace” by cementing an actually rock-solid relationship between the countries — takes issue with the Obami’s assertion that really everyone knows what the peace deal is and that what we need is an American president to impose one:

This is false and dangerous. First, if indeed everyone has known the terms for nearly 20 years (since Oslo) yet agreement has never been reached, is it not obvious that neither Israelis nor Palestinians are willing and able to accept those terms? Does their embrace by an ambitious American president make them any more palatable to the people who will have to live with them? Second, the conclusion that all the terms are known is quite wrong. Is the fate of Jerusalem’s Old City agreed? Do Palestinians accept that Israel will keep every major settlement bloc? Do Israelis and Palestinians agree on the terms needed to guarantee Israel’s security once the IDF must leave the West Bank? (Examples: Is it agreed that Israel will control the air space and electromagnetic spectrum? Is it agreed that Israel can keep troops in the West Bank for some years? Do Palestinians accept that Israel can control the Jordan Valley and patrol the border with Jordan?) This is nonsense. One of Ignatius’s sources says the Obama plan will “take on the absolute requirements of Israeli security.” After 14 months of harassment by Obama and his team, will any Israeli risk his nation’s safety on that assurance?

It is such nonsense that one suspects this is another bullying tactic by the Obami. They haven’t been able to club Bibi into submitting to their demand with regard to Jerusalem building. Snubbing him at the White House didn’t do the trick. His government isn’t teetering on the brink of collapse. So what to do? Ah! Scare the Israelis with the prospect that if they don’t start “cooperating,” the Obami will whip out their own plan and that’ll be that.

And through this one can see the petulance of the neophyte president, who is peeved the world does not bend to his will. The New York Times reports on his confab with former national security figures:

The fact that President Obama was willing to have such an impromptu discussion with former advisers illustrates his increasing frustration with the foot-dragging over Middle East peace talks, and a growing sense that he may have to present a specific plan, rather than wait for the two sides to come to any sort of agreement.

And not even the Gray Lady can avoid reminding its readers that much (all?) of the stalemate and heightened tensions are attributable to the Obami’s own diplomatic malpractice: “So far, administration officials are still smarting from their first attempt at sticking their collective necks out, as they did last summer when they demanded a freeze of Jewish settlements, and then had to stand back with no contingency plan after Israel refused outright.” And the administration learned what from that experience? Nothing apparently. Onward they plunge, immune to experience and impervious to history. It seems that ideology isn’t, as Hillary said, really “so yesterday” after all.

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Obama to Young People: Drop Dead

Obama was the dream candidate for urban, young voters. He was cool. He was hip. He was sophisticated. He sneered at Middle America. All the hope-and-change stuff, the oceans rising (or parting?) made their hearts flutter. Since then he’s given them little to cheer about.

On the foreign-policy side, he’s turned out to be a cynic and indifferent to hope and change in places like Iran. On the domestic side, youth unemployment is sky high and young, healthy Americans are going to be forced to buy expensive insurance whether they like it or not (if ObamaCare goes into effect). Now he’s going after their summer jobs. The New York Times reports:

The Labor Department says it is cracking down on firms that fail to pay interns properly and expanding efforts to educate companies, colleges and students on the law regarding internships.

“If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” said Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department’s wage and hour division.

This is not an insignificant matter to young people. As the report notes, “In 2008, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 83 percent of graduating students had held internships, up from 9 percent in 1992. This means hundreds of thousands of students hold internships each year; some experts estimate that one-fourth to one-half are unpaid.” And, frankly, in tough economic times this may be the only job experience these students are going to get coming straight out of school.

Given all this, I wonder if Obama is going to get the same support from young voters in 2012. I suspect many of them will have wised up by then.

Obama was the dream candidate for urban, young voters. He was cool. He was hip. He was sophisticated. He sneered at Middle America. All the hope-and-change stuff, the oceans rising (or parting?) made their hearts flutter. Since then he’s given them little to cheer about.

On the foreign-policy side, he’s turned out to be a cynic and indifferent to hope and change in places like Iran. On the domestic side, youth unemployment is sky high and young, healthy Americans are going to be forced to buy expensive insurance whether they like it or not (if ObamaCare goes into effect). Now he’s going after their summer jobs. The New York Times reports:

The Labor Department says it is cracking down on firms that fail to pay interns properly and expanding efforts to educate companies, colleges and students on the law regarding internships.

“If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” said Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department’s wage and hour division.

This is not an insignificant matter to young people. As the report notes, “In 2008, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 83 percent of graduating students had held internships, up from 9 percent in 1992. This means hundreds of thousands of students hold internships each year; some experts estimate that one-fourth to one-half are unpaid.” And, frankly, in tough economic times this may be the only job experience these students are going to get coming straight out of school.

Given all this, I wonder if Obama is going to get the same support from young voters in 2012. I suspect many of them will have wised up by then.

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Republican Resurrection

Michael Barone is a person with extraordinary knowledge about politics. So his statement in the American Enterprise Institute’s blog, The American, caught my attention: “Recent polls tell me that the Democratic Party is in the worst shape I have seen during my 50 years of following politics closely.”

Barone devotes his article to looking back at the biggest GOP victory of the last 80 years – the off-year election of 1946, in which Republicans won 13 Senate seats and 55 seats in the House – and explores the similarities and differences today.

Speaking of today, Obama’s approval rating in the latest CBS poll is at an all-time low of 44 percent, a staggering 24 points below where it was just a year ago. When it comes to health care, the President’s approval rating is even lower: only 34 percent approved, while 55 percent said they disapproved.

Republicans now lead on the congressional generic ballot in both the Gallup survey (+3) and the Rasmussen survey (+9). Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on nine out of 10 key issues – including on health care, which is nearly unprecedented. Following the passage of the health care bill, 53 percent now say they trust Republicans on the issue of health care, versus 37 percent who place their trust in Democrats. And according to a Marist poll, since ObamaCare passed, 53 percent of those polled said their opinion of the president has not changed. But 29 percent said their opinion of Obama has gotten worse. And only 18 percent — fewer than two in 10 — said their opinion of Obama has gotten better. To add salt to the wound: among independents, Tea Partiers’ views are preferred to Obama’s by a 50 percent to 38 percent margin.

This erosion of support for the Democratic party in such a compressed period of time is unlike anything I can recall. Democrats continue to hope that things will turn around between now and the mid-term elections. But with every passing month, this wish appears fanciful. Democrats like Bill Clinton predicted Obama and his party’s approval ratings would jump in the aftermath ObamaCare’s passage; many of us said the opposite. So far, the opposite is happening. Nor is opposition to Obama and Democrats likely to recede much between now and November; in fact it may well intensify.

Early last year, the GOP was bloodied and on the ropes, and out came the epitaphs. Sam Tanenhaus wrote a book titled The Death of Conservatism. Democrats like James Carville were saying, “A Democratic majority is emerging, and it’s my hypothesis, one I share with a great many others, that this majority will guarantee the Democrats remain in power for the next 40 years.” Today, after 15 months of Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, it looks like Democrats may fall around 38 years short of that prediction. And Mr. Tanenhaus might want to get used to the concept of resurrection. Because that is what is unfolding before our eyes.

The strong wind at the backs of Republicans will at some point shift; that is the nature of American politics. For now, though, everyone agrees that November will be bad for Democrats. The only question is just how bad. At this juncture, I would say: very bad.

Michael Barone is a person with extraordinary knowledge about politics. So his statement in the American Enterprise Institute’s blog, The American, caught my attention: “Recent polls tell me that the Democratic Party is in the worst shape I have seen during my 50 years of following politics closely.”

Barone devotes his article to looking back at the biggest GOP victory of the last 80 years – the off-year election of 1946, in which Republicans won 13 Senate seats and 55 seats in the House – and explores the similarities and differences today.

Speaking of today, Obama’s approval rating in the latest CBS poll is at an all-time low of 44 percent, a staggering 24 points below where it was just a year ago. When it comes to health care, the President’s approval rating is even lower: only 34 percent approved, while 55 percent said they disapproved.

Republicans now lead on the congressional generic ballot in both the Gallup survey (+3) and the Rasmussen survey (+9). Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on nine out of 10 key issues – including on health care, which is nearly unprecedented. Following the passage of the health care bill, 53 percent now say they trust Republicans on the issue of health care, versus 37 percent who place their trust in Democrats. And according to a Marist poll, since ObamaCare passed, 53 percent of those polled said their opinion of the president has not changed. But 29 percent said their opinion of Obama has gotten worse. And only 18 percent — fewer than two in 10 — said their opinion of Obama has gotten better. To add salt to the wound: among independents, Tea Partiers’ views are preferred to Obama’s by a 50 percent to 38 percent margin.

This erosion of support for the Democratic party in such a compressed period of time is unlike anything I can recall. Democrats continue to hope that things will turn around between now and the mid-term elections. But with every passing month, this wish appears fanciful. Democrats like Bill Clinton predicted Obama and his party’s approval ratings would jump in the aftermath ObamaCare’s passage; many of us said the opposite. So far, the opposite is happening. Nor is opposition to Obama and Democrats likely to recede much between now and November; in fact it may well intensify.

Early last year, the GOP was bloodied and on the ropes, and out came the epitaphs. Sam Tanenhaus wrote a book titled The Death of Conservatism. Democrats like James Carville were saying, “A Democratic majority is emerging, and it’s my hypothesis, one I share with a great many others, that this majority will guarantee the Democrats remain in power for the next 40 years.” Today, after 15 months of Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, it looks like Democrats may fall around 38 years short of that prediction. And Mr. Tanenhaus might want to get used to the concept of resurrection. Because that is what is unfolding before our eyes.

The strong wind at the backs of Republicans will at some point shift; that is the nature of American politics. For now, though, everyone agrees that November will be bad for Democrats. The only question is just how bad. At this juncture, I would say: very bad.

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Mia Farrow: Done Wrong Again

Poor Mia Farrow. No, I’m not referring to her atrocious romantic choices. She is alas learning too late that Obama cares not one wit about human rights in Darfur. She explains that a sham election is currently underway:

Intimidation, vote rigging, manipulation of the census, and bribing of tribal leaders are rampant. Most of the 2.7 million displaced Darfuris are living in refugee camps. They are unable or unwilling to be counted at all. All of this, plus the ongoing violence in Darfur, have caused key opposition candidates including Yassir Arman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to withdraw from the election.

Now, hopes were high that with Obama in the White House such behavior wouldn’t be countenanced and we’d get serious about the genocidal behavior. She recalls fondly:

Hope is rare in Darfur, but when Barack Obama became president the refugees had reason to be hopeful. As a junior senator in 2006, Mr. Obama made his feelings about the evils in Darfur quite clear. “Today we know what is right, and today we know what is wrong. The slaughter of innocents is wrong. Two million people driven from their homes is wrong. Women gang raped while gathering firewood is wrong. And silence, acquiescence and paralysis in the face of genocide is wrong.”

A year later, then-candidate Barack Obama said: “When you see a genocide, whether it’s in Rwanda or Bosnia or in Darfur, that’s a stain on all of us. That’s a stain on our souls.”

What’s our government doing about it? Passing out cookies. Yup:

And how is his appointed envoy dealing with the perpetrators of those atrocities that have stained our souls? “We’ve got to think about giving out cookies,” Mr. Gration told the Washington Post last fall. “Kids, countries—they react to gold stars, smiley faces . . .”

Cookies for a regime that is as savvy as it is cruel? Smiley faces for a thug who seized power by coup in 1989 and has retained it only through iron-fisted brutality? Gold stars for an indicted war criminal responsible for the murder, rape and displacement of millions?

This spectacularly naïve perspective—and accompanying policy of appeasement—has further terrified Darfur’s refugees, who feel increasingly abandoned by the U.S. and marginalized within their country.

Well, Mia, you can get in line with the other disappointed human-rights activists and the Israel supporters who were snookered by the hope-and-change routine. They assumed he was on their side. Silly them.

Poor Mia Farrow. No, I’m not referring to her atrocious romantic choices. She is alas learning too late that Obama cares not one wit about human rights in Darfur. She explains that a sham election is currently underway:

Intimidation, vote rigging, manipulation of the census, and bribing of tribal leaders are rampant. Most of the 2.7 million displaced Darfuris are living in refugee camps. They are unable or unwilling to be counted at all. All of this, plus the ongoing violence in Darfur, have caused key opposition candidates including Yassir Arman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to withdraw from the election.

Now, hopes were high that with Obama in the White House such behavior wouldn’t be countenanced and we’d get serious about the genocidal behavior. She recalls fondly:

Hope is rare in Darfur, but when Barack Obama became president the refugees had reason to be hopeful. As a junior senator in 2006, Mr. Obama made his feelings about the evils in Darfur quite clear. “Today we know what is right, and today we know what is wrong. The slaughter of innocents is wrong. Two million people driven from their homes is wrong. Women gang raped while gathering firewood is wrong. And silence, acquiescence and paralysis in the face of genocide is wrong.”

A year later, then-candidate Barack Obama said: “When you see a genocide, whether it’s in Rwanda or Bosnia or in Darfur, that’s a stain on all of us. That’s a stain on our souls.”

What’s our government doing about it? Passing out cookies. Yup:

And how is his appointed envoy dealing with the perpetrators of those atrocities that have stained our souls? “We’ve got to think about giving out cookies,” Mr. Gration told the Washington Post last fall. “Kids, countries—they react to gold stars, smiley faces . . .”

Cookies for a regime that is as savvy as it is cruel? Smiley faces for a thug who seized power by coup in 1989 and has retained it only through iron-fisted brutality? Gold stars for an indicted war criminal responsible for the murder, rape and displacement of millions?

This spectacularly naïve perspective—and accompanying policy of appeasement—has further terrified Darfur’s refugees, who feel increasingly abandoned by the U.S. and marginalized within their country.

Well, Mia, you can get in line with the other disappointed human-rights activists and the Israel supporters who were snookered by the hope-and-change routine. They assumed he was on their side. Silly them.

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What Ahmadinejad Has Right

Robert Gates says the new Nuclear Posture Review — which specifically says that the U.S. reserves the right to nuke countries in violation of non-proliferation treaties — is designed to send a “strong message” to Iran and North Korea:

“If you’re going to play by the rules … then we will undertake certain obligations to you,” [Gates] said. “But if you’re not going to play by the rules, if you’re going to be proliferator, then all options are on the table in terms of how we deal with you.”

All options on the table? Really? Does anyone think that the Obama administration will use force — much less nuclear force — against Iran? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad certainly doesn’t, to judge by his reaction to the Nuclear Posture Review. He is hardly acting like the leader of a country under threat of annihilation by the world’s sole superpower. Here is what he had to say:

“American materialist politicians, whenever they are beaten by logic, immediately resort to their weapons like cowboys,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech before a crowd of several thousand in northwestern Iran.

“Mr. Obama, you are a newcomer (to politics). Wait until your sweat dries and get some experience. Be careful not to read just any paper put in front of you or repeat any statement recommended,” Ahmadinejad said in the speech, aired live on state TV.

Ahmadinejad said Obama “is under the pressure of capitalists and the Zionists” and vowed Iran would not be pushed around. “(American officials) bigger than you, more bullying than you, couldn’t do a damn thing, let alone you,” he said, addressing Obama.

That sums up the Iranian mindset quite nicely, and for once, I think Ahmadinejad has a point. He’s right that previous American politicians — presumably the bullying line is a reference to Dubya — didn’t “do a damn thing” about the Iranian nuclear program. Given that reality, what chance is there that Obama will do something? The odds are pretty much nil, which is why the threat continued in the Nuclear Posture Review is so hollow.

Robert Gates says the new Nuclear Posture Review — which specifically says that the U.S. reserves the right to nuke countries in violation of non-proliferation treaties — is designed to send a “strong message” to Iran and North Korea:

“If you’re going to play by the rules … then we will undertake certain obligations to you,” [Gates] said. “But if you’re not going to play by the rules, if you’re going to be proliferator, then all options are on the table in terms of how we deal with you.”

All options on the table? Really? Does anyone think that the Obama administration will use force — much less nuclear force — against Iran? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad certainly doesn’t, to judge by his reaction to the Nuclear Posture Review. He is hardly acting like the leader of a country under threat of annihilation by the world’s sole superpower. Here is what he had to say:

“American materialist politicians, whenever they are beaten by logic, immediately resort to their weapons like cowboys,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech before a crowd of several thousand in northwestern Iran.

“Mr. Obama, you are a newcomer (to politics). Wait until your sweat dries and get some experience. Be careful not to read just any paper put in front of you or repeat any statement recommended,” Ahmadinejad said in the speech, aired live on state TV.

Ahmadinejad said Obama “is under the pressure of capitalists and the Zionists” and vowed Iran would not be pushed around. “(American officials) bigger than you, more bullying than you, couldn’t do a damn thing, let alone you,” he said, addressing Obama.

That sums up the Iranian mindset quite nicely, and for once, I think Ahmadinejad has a point. He’s right that previous American politicians — presumably the bullying line is a reference to Dubya — didn’t “do a damn thing” about the Iranian nuclear program. Given that reality, what chance is there that Obama will do something? The odds are pretty much nil, which is why the threat continued in the Nuclear Posture Review is so hollow.

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No Condemnation Forthcoming

Buried at page 10 of the Washington Post — for the front page is reserved for Israel’s supposed human-rights infractions — is a revealing story on the “Muslim World”:

At least 90 people were detained, according to rally organizers from the 6th of April movement, a mostly youth-led organization that was formed two years ago and is pushing for more political freedom. Egyptian police on Tuesday beat and detained pro-democracy demonstrators in central Cairo who were calling for constitutional reforms and the repeal of a decades-old emergency law that restricts an array of personal rights. . .

The demonstration came amid political uncertainty, with parliamentary elections slated for this year and a presidential election for next year. President Hosni Mubarak, 81, who had his gallbladder and a growth on his small intestine removed in surgery performed abroad last month, has ruled Egypt for nearly three decades. He has not said whether he will compete in next year’s election, fueling speculation that he might try to ensure that his son Gamal succeeds him.

Safe to say that if he “competes” — a misnomer suggesting that there are viable opponents – Mubarak will win. Did we miss the condemnation by the State Department? Did Hillary Clinton call up Mubarak for a 43-minute chewing-out? I think not.

This also points to another fallacy in the Obama Muslim World outreach: What happens to the human-rights and pro-democracy protesters when Obama is sucking up to the Syrians, bowing to the Saudis, and soft-peddling any objections to the Egyptians? They become after thoughts. So the notion that we are endearing ourselves to the Muslim World is simply wrong. We are trying to endear ourselves to regimes that oppress their own people. How this is supposed to alleviate animosity toward the U.S. and win the hearts and minds of Muslim youth is beyond my comprehension.

Buried at page 10 of the Washington Post — for the front page is reserved for Israel’s supposed human-rights infractions — is a revealing story on the “Muslim World”:

At least 90 people were detained, according to rally organizers from the 6th of April movement, a mostly youth-led organization that was formed two years ago and is pushing for more political freedom. Egyptian police on Tuesday beat and detained pro-democracy demonstrators in central Cairo who were calling for constitutional reforms and the repeal of a decades-old emergency law that restricts an array of personal rights. . .

The demonstration came amid political uncertainty, with parliamentary elections slated for this year and a presidential election for next year. President Hosni Mubarak, 81, who had his gallbladder and a growth on his small intestine removed in surgery performed abroad last month, has ruled Egypt for nearly three decades. He has not said whether he will compete in next year’s election, fueling speculation that he might try to ensure that his son Gamal succeeds him.

Safe to say that if he “competes” — a misnomer suggesting that there are viable opponents – Mubarak will win. Did we miss the condemnation by the State Department? Did Hillary Clinton call up Mubarak for a 43-minute chewing-out? I think not.

This also points to another fallacy in the Obama Muslim World outreach: What happens to the human-rights and pro-democracy protesters when Obama is sucking up to the Syrians, bowing to the Saudis, and soft-peddling any objections to the Egyptians? They become after thoughts. So the notion that we are endearing ourselves to the Muslim World is simply wrong. We are trying to endear ourselves to regimes that oppress their own people. How this is supposed to alleviate animosity toward the U.S. and win the hearts and minds of Muslim youth is beyond my comprehension.

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Countering Violent Extremism

In his retirement, Donald Rumsfeld must be enjoying a good chuckle right now as he reads that the Obama administration has decided to rename our war against the … whatchamacallit. Out is the Global War on Terror (GWOT). That’s so Bush administration. The preferred name of the Obama folks is “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE.

Reading that report, I knew the term was somewhat familiar but couldn’t quite place it. Where had I heard it before? Oh yeah, that’s right. It’s nearly identical to the wording Rumsfeld tried to enact in 2005 when he began referring to the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism (G-SAVE). That was ultimately nixed by the White House, which (for once) didn’t appreciate the defense secretary’s freelancing.

It’s funny how the search for euphemisms — nobody wants to say we’re fighting Islamist fanatics — leads the current gang to adopt a nearly identical version of a slogan coined by their bête noire. Perhaps that’s fitting because on many fronts — especially in the use of targeted assassinations via Predators, in wiretap authority, in renditions, and in holding terrorist suspects indefinitely without trial — the Obama administration has continued the policies of its predecessor. It’s actually whacking more terrorists in Pakistan than the Bush administration ever did. The changes so far have been mainly cosmetic — notably the so-far-failed effort to shut Gitmo and the equally failed effort to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in a civilian court. Substance is ultimately more important than sloganeering and, for all my differences with the Obama administration, I have to admit their anti-terrorism policies are, on the whole, better (i.e., tougher) than we could have expected from the Nobel Laureate.

In his retirement, Donald Rumsfeld must be enjoying a good chuckle right now as he reads that the Obama administration has decided to rename our war against the … whatchamacallit. Out is the Global War on Terror (GWOT). That’s so Bush administration. The preferred name of the Obama folks is “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE.

Reading that report, I knew the term was somewhat familiar but couldn’t quite place it. Where had I heard it before? Oh yeah, that’s right. It’s nearly identical to the wording Rumsfeld tried to enact in 2005 when he began referring to the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism (G-SAVE). That was ultimately nixed by the White House, which (for once) didn’t appreciate the defense secretary’s freelancing.

It’s funny how the search for euphemisms — nobody wants to say we’re fighting Islamist fanatics — leads the current gang to adopt a nearly identical version of a slogan coined by their bête noire. Perhaps that’s fitting because on many fronts — especially in the use of targeted assassinations via Predators, in wiretap authority, in renditions, and in holding terrorist suspects indefinitely without trial — the Obama administration has continued the policies of its predecessor. It’s actually whacking more terrorists in Pakistan than the Bush administration ever did. The changes so far have been mainly cosmetic — notably the so-far-failed effort to shut Gitmo and the equally failed effort to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in a civilian court. Substance is ultimately more important than sloganeering and, for all my differences with the Obama administration, I have to admit their anti-terrorism policies are, on the whole, better (i.e., tougher) than we could have expected from the Nobel Laureate.

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No More Islamic Terrorism!

Under siege during the Christmas Day bomb incident, the Obami huffily insisted that they do too know we are at war and that they do too take it seriously. Their policy decisions and actions suggest otherwise. This report explains:

President Barack Obama’s advisers plan to remove terms such as “Islamic radicalism” from a document outlining national security strategy and will use the new version to emphasize that the U.S. does not view Muslim nations through the lens of terrorism, counterterrorism officials say.

The change would be a significant shift in the National Security Strategy, a document that previously outlined the Bush Doctrine of preventive war. It currently states, “The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century.”

It’s all about Muslim outreach, you see. Don’t want to identify whom it is we are fighting, because their co-religionists might take offense. That these co-religionists are often the victims of Islamic radicalism is irrelevant to the Obami. That this rhetorical mush is the sort of thing that prevents us from anticipating and preventing jihadist attacks like the Fort Hood massacre is also not of any apparent concern. It’s all about getting away from the Bush administration mindset: “That shift away from terrorism has been building for a year, since Obama went to Cairo and promised a ‘new beginning’ in the relationship between the U.S. and the Muslim world. The White House believes the previous administration based that relationship entirely on fighting terrorism and winning the war of ideas.”

So let’s focus on the really important stuff: global-warming training. We don’t want to say “Islamic extremism,” but we have a new team at the NSC that “has not only helped change the vocabulary of fighting terrorism, but also has shaped the way the country invests in Muslim businesses, studies global warming, supports scientific research and combats polio.” We learn that when “officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration returned from Indonesia, the NSC got a rundown about research opportunities on global warming.” Nice.

All of this would be well enough if we didn’t face radical jihadists who are ideologically motivated to slaughter Americans. Nor is there the slightest evidence that this Muslim outreach is helping to solve the most urgent issues we face:

Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist and former Bush adviser, is skeptical of Obama’s engagement effort. It “doesn’t appear to have created much in the way of strategic benefit” in the Middle East peace process or in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he said.

Obama runs the political risk of seeming to adopt politically correct rhetoric abroad while appearing tone-deaf on national security issues at home, Feaver said.

It is, like so much of what Obama does, the sort of thing you’d expect a college professor plucked out an Ivy League faculty directory to do if he were suddenly elevated to the presidency. Renounce use of nuclear weapons! Free health care for all! Change the subject from terrorism to cooperation! Unfortunately, we live in the real world, and all that runs up against hard truths and unpleasant facts. It is a dangerous time for such an unserious approach to the world.

Under siege during the Christmas Day bomb incident, the Obami huffily insisted that they do too know we are at war and that they do too take it seriously. Their policy decisions and actions suggest otherwise. This report explains:

President Barack Obama’s advisers plan to remove terms such as “Islamic radicalism” from a document outlining national security strategy and will use the new version to emphasize that the U.S. does not view Muslim nations through the lens of terrorism, counterterrorism officials say.

The change would be a significant shift in the National Security Strategy, a document that previously outlined the Bush Doctrine of preventive war. It currently states, “The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century.”

It’s all about Muslim outreach, you see. Don’t want to identify whom it is we are fighting, because their co-religionists might take offense. That these co-religionists are often the victims of Islamic radicalism is irrelevant to the Obami. That this rhetorical mush is the sort of thing that prevents us from anticipating and preventing jihadist attacks like the Fort Hood massacre is also not of any apparent concern. It’s all about getting away from the Bush administration mindset: “That shift away from terrorism has been building for a year, since Obama went to Cairo and promised a ‘new beginning’ in the relationship between the U.S. and the Muslim world. The White House believes the previous administration based that relationship entirely on fighting terrorism and winning the war of ideas.”

So let’s focus on the really important stuff: global-warming training. We don’t want to say “Islamic extremism,” but we have a new team at the NSC that “has not only helped change the vocabulary of fighting terrorism, but also has shaped the way the country invests in Muslim businesses, studies global warming, supports scientific research and combats polio.” We learn that when “officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration returned from Indonesia, the NSC got a rundown about research opportunities on global warming.” Nice.

All of this would be well enough if we didn’t face radical jihadists who are ideologically motivated to slaughter Americans. Nor is there the slightest evidence that this Muslim outreach is helping to solve the most urgent issues we face:

Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist and former Bush adviser, is skeptical of Obama’s engagement effort. It “doesn’t appear to have created much in the way of strategic benefit” in the Middle East peace process or in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he said.

Obama runs the political risk of seeming to adopt politically correct rhetoric abroad while appearing tone-deaf on national security issues at home, Feaver said.

It is, like so much of what Obama does, the sort of thing you’d expect a college professor plucked out an Ivy League faculty directory to do if he were suddenly elevated to the presidency. Renounce use of nuclear weapons! Free health care for all! Change the subject from terrorism to cooperation! Unfortunately, we live in the real world, and all that runs up against hard truths and unpleasant facts. It is a dangerous time for such an unserious approach to the world.

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Obama OKs Assassination of American Citizen

…and no, it’s not Rush Limbaugh.

Mr. Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and spent years in the United States as an imam, is in hiding in Yemen. He has been the focus of intense scrutiny since he was linked to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., in November, and then to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25.

American counterterrorism officials say Mr. Awlaki is an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the affiliate of the terror network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They say they believe that he has become a recruiter for the terrorist network, feeding prospects into plots aimed at the United States and at Americans abroad, the officials said.

It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said.

Nice to know.

However, I respectfully request, Mr. President, that the following be added to your hit list:

• Customer-service rep #2346 at Time Warner Cable, Queens, New York
• Customer-service rep “Treacle” at Verizon Wireless
• Customer-service rep “Chandra” at Dell
• Customer-service rep “Mahmoud” at Vonage
• Customer-service rep “Captain Nightmare” at Citibank
• Whoever thought this was a good idea

…and no, it’s not Rush Limbaugh.

Mr. Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and spent years in the United States as an imam, is in hiding in Yemen. He has been the focus of intense scrutiny since he was linked to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., in November, and then to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25.

American counterterrorism officials say Mr. Awlaki is an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the affiliate of the terror network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They say they believe that he has become a recruiter for the terrorist network, feeding prospects into plots aimed at the United States and at Americans abroad, the officials said.

It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said.

Nice to know.

However, I respectfully request, Mr. President, that the following be added to your hit list:

• Customer-service rep #2346 at Time Warner Cable, Queens, New York
• Customer-service rep “Treacle” at Verizon Wireless
• Customer-service rep “Chandra” at Dell
• Customer-service rep “Mahmoud” at Vonage
• Customer-service rep “Captain Nightmare” at Citibank
• Whoever thought this was a good idea

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The Tax Formerly Known as the Medicare Tax

As we continue to find out what is contained in ObamaCare (now that it’s been enacted), it is worth noting a last-minute change in nomenclature, made just before the House vote — a disingenuous revision that exemplifies the bill’s legislative process.

The name of the new 3.8 percent “Medicare Tax” on investment income (imposed on people in the upper two tax brackets) was changed the day before the House vote. Its official name in the law signed by President Obama last week is not the “Medicare Tax” (the name in the text released 72 hours before the vote) but rather the “Medicare Contribution.”

The word that should have been changed was not “Tax” but “Medicare.” As discussed here and here, the “High Income Medicare Contribution” has nothing to do with Medicare: it is unrelated to the Medicare benefits of those who will pay the “contribution”; it will not fund the Medicare benefits of others (since the revenue will not go to the Medicare Trust Fund but toward a new entitlement); it is part of legislation that substantially reduces Medicare by cutting Medicare Advantage; and the “contribution” is in a new Internal Revenue Code section whose operative language refers to it as a “tax.” Only the name of the tax was changed — to eliminate the word “Tax.”

It is not hard to understand why. The Bush tax rates — reflecting a 10 percent across-the-board reduction — will expire at the end of this year, which will necessitate some kind of tax legislation, since no one wants a 10 percent across-the-board tax increase on everyone in the country with taxable income exceeding $16,750. Obama will want new “share the wealth” legislation that retains the lower brackets while increasing the upper ones, to transfer another huge tranche of funds from the private economy to the government for spending or redistribution.

Obama will assert that this is required by “fairness.” The “rich” are always — by definition — the people best able to give the government more money. But the real issues in the coming legislative battle will be the broader, macro-economic ones: in an economy that runs on investment, should the tax rates on investment be increased yet again now that they have already been substantially increased by ObamaCare? Should the trillion-dollar Obama deficits, now projected to extend indefinitely into the future, be fed with still another tax increase, or should the spending that produces those deficits be cut?

The administration recognized that a second tax increase — on the same two tax brackets already raised by ObamaCare — will present issues that cannot be fully addressed by the ritual invocation of “fairness,” and apparently decided that one way to deal with the double tax-increase problem would be to rename the first one a “Medicare Contribution.”

As we continue to find out what is contained in ObamaCare (now that it’s been enacted), it is worth noting a last-minute change in nomenclature, made just before the House vote — a disingenuous revision that exemplifies the bill’s legislative process.

The name of the new 3.8 percent “Medicare Tax” on investment income (imposed on people in the upper two tax brackets) was changed the day before the House vote. Its official name in the law signed by President Obama last week is not the “Medicare Tax” (the name in the text released 72 hours before the vote) but rather the “Medicare Contribution.”

The word that should have been changed was not “Tax” but “Medicare.” As discussed here and here, the “High Income Medicare Contribution” has nothing to do with Medicare: it is unrelated to the Medicare benefits of those who will pay the “contribution”; it will not fund the Medicare benefits of others (since the revenue will not go to the Medicare Trust Fund but toward a new entitlement); it is part of legislation that substantially reduces Medicare by cutting Medicare Advantage; and the “contribution” is in a new Internal Revenue Code section whose operative language refers to it as a “tax.” Only the name of the tax was changed — to eliminate the word “Tax.”

It is not hard to understand why. The Bush tax rates — reflecting a 10 percent across-the-board reduction — will expire at the end of this year, which will necessitate some kind of tax legislation, since no one wants a 10 percent across-the-board tax increase on everyone in the country with taxable income exceeding $16,750. Obama will want new “share the wealth” legislation that retains the lower brackets while increasing the upper ones, to transfer another huge tranche of funds from the private economy to the government for spending or redistribution.

Obama will assert that this is required by “fairness.” The “rich” are always — by definition — the people best able to give the government more money. But the real issues in the coming legislative battle will be the broader, macro-economic ones: in an economy that runs on investment, should the tax rates on investment be increased yet again now that they have already been substantially increased by ObamaCare? Should the trillion-dollar Obama deficits, now projected to extend indefinitely into the future, be fed with still another tax increase, or should the spending that produces those deficits be cut?

The administration recognized that a second tax increase — on the same two tax brackets already raised by ObamaCare — will present issues that cannot be fully addressed by the ritual invocation of “fairness,” and apparently decided that one way to deal with the double tax-increase problem would be to rename the first one a “Medicare Contribution.”

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Imposed Arrogance

David Ignatius writes: “Despite recent turbulence in U.S. relations with Israel, President Obama is ‘seriously considering’ proposing an American peace plan to resolve the Palestinian conflict, according to two top administration officials.” As frightful as this sounds, it smacks of just the sort of arrogance we have come to expect from this administration. The gang that deplored “cowboy diplomacy” and said we should be more attuned to our allies’ concerns has devoted itself to bullying and blustering — but, of course, not when it comes to despotic regimes. There, it’s all smiles and bows.

Who might be the architect of such a scheme — one that presupposes there is a Palestinian negotiator with the authority to make a deal and enforce the peace? Why, Ignatius tells us, “the real strategist in chief is Obama himself. If he decides to launch a peace plan, it would mark a return to the ambitious themes the president sounded in his June 2009 speech in Cairo.” That would be the speech in which he skipped over 60 years of Palestinian rejectionism, analogized Palestinians to enslaved African Americans, and posited that Israel’s legitimacy rested on Holocaust guilt.

Ignatius concludes:

A political battle royal is likely to begin soon, with Israeli officials and their supporters in the United States protesting what they fear would be an American attempt to impose a settlement and arguing to focus instead on Iran. The White House rejoinder is expressed this way by one of the senior officials: “It’s not either Iran or the Middle East peace process. You have to do both.”

This is poppycock, of course. The Obami can’t come up with an effective Iran approach. And now they want to add to their overwhelmed and underperforming foreign-policy apparatus by imposing a Middle East plan? It is apparent that the latter is an excuse and diversion from doing anything about the former. It is also very dangerous.

Writing last fall, Barry Rubin (no relation) explained the fallacy of a get-tough-with-Bibi approach, a less extreme variation on an imposed settlement presumably under contemplation:

It never enters the minds of these people that a “peace” agreement that was broken or had dangerous provisions (giving up strategic territory; east Jerusalem; empowering a radical regime in a next-door Palestinian state; opening the door to foreign Arab or Iranian armies entering; bringing in millions of Palestinian Arabs to Israel) could leave Israel far worse off.

Or perhaps it does, and the Obami simply don’t care. They’ve shown very little sympatico for Israel of late, and perhaps the increased peril that an imposed settlement (With what Palestinian entity, by the way? Is Hamas in on this?) would inflict on the Jewish state is not of great concern to the president, who has made Muslim outreach, not the U.S.-Israel alliance, the cornerstone of his Middle East policy. And why would Obama be able to divine a magical solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? As Rubin reminded us last year (and his points are even more on point with the passage of time):

As for those giving advice, here’s what we’ve seen in the last six months from those who want to “save” others by imposing their own vision:

–The idea that stopping construction on Jewish settlements would bring some Arab concession has already proven wrong.

–The idea that engagement with Iran would work has already proven wrong.

–The idea that the United States could successfully engage Syria in a set of mutual compromises has already proven wrong.

–The idea that an Obama charm offensive would bring higher levels of Arab support has already proven wrong. And that’s just in six months!

Let’s have a little humility and readiness to listen, please, from those who would play with the lives of other people.

But humility is not a trait in the Obama repetoire. Saner heads who forsee the unworkability of an imposed peace (Is the U.S. going to disarm the Palestinians and enforce the peace?) may prevail in the administration, but it would behoove Israel’s supporters to register their loud and unequivocal objection — and enlist Congress if need be — to make clear that an imposed “peace deal” against Israel’s will is a non-starter. Moreover, talk of such a deal (perhaps just another form of public bullying of Israel) only encourages the same Palestinian rejectionism and violence that has deprived the Palestinians of their own state for over six decades.

David Ignatius writes: “Despite recent turbulence in U.S. relations with Israel, President Obama is ‘seriously considering’ proposing an American peace plan to resolve the Palestinian conflict, according to two top administration officials.” As frightful as this sounds, it smacks of just the sort of arrogance we have come to expect from this administration. The gang that deplored “cowboy diplomacy” and said we should be more attuned to our allies’ concerns has devoted itself to bullying and blustering — but, of course, not when it comes to despotic regimes. There, it’s all smiles and bows.

Who might be the architect of such a scheme — one that presupposes there is a Palestinian negotiator with the authority to make a deal and enforce the peace? Why, Ignatius tells us, “the real strategist in chief is Obama himself. If he decides to launch a peace plan, it would mark a return to the ambitious themes the president sounded in his June 2009 speech in Cairo.” That would be the speech in which he skipped over 60 years of Palestinian rejectionism, analogized Palestinians to enslaved African Americans, and posited that Israel’s legitimacy rested on Holocaust guilt.

Ignatius concludes:

A political battle royal is likely to begin soon, with Israeli officials and their supporters in the United States protesting what they fear would be an American attempt to impose a settlement and arguing to focus instead on Iran. The White House rejoinder is expressed this way by one of the senior officials: “It’s not either Iran or the Middle East peace process. You have to do both.”

This is poppycock, of course. The Obami can’t come up with an effective Iran approach. And now they want to add to their overwhelmed and underperforming foreign-policy apparatus by imposing a Middle East plan? It is apparent that the latter is an excuse and diversion from doing anything about the former. It is also very dangerous.

Writing last fall, Barry Rubin (no relation) explained the fallacy of a get-tough-with-Bibi approach, a less extreme variation on an imposed settlement presumably under contemplation:

It never enters the minds of these people that a “peace” agreement that was broken or had dangerous provisions (giving up strategic territory; east Jerusalem; empowering a radical regime in a next-door Palestinian state; opening the door to foreign Arab or Iranian armies entering; bringing in millions of Palestinian Arabs to Israel) could leave Israel far worse off.

Or perhaps it does, and the Obami simply don’t care. They’ve shown very little sympatico for Israel of late, and perhaps the increased peril that an imposed settlement (With what Palestinian entity, by the way? Is Hamas in on this?) would inflict on the Jewish state is not of great concern to the president, who has made Muslim outreach, not the U.S.-Israel alliance, the cornerstone of his Middle East policy. And why would Obama be able to divine a magical solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? As Rubin reminded us last year (and his points are even more on point with the passage of time):

As for those giving advice, here’s what we’ve seen in the last six months from those who want to “save” others by imposing their own vision:

–The idea that stopping construction on Jewish settlements would bring some Arab concession has already proven wrong.

–The idea that engagement with Iran would work has already proven wrong.

–The idea that the United States could successfully engage Syria in a set of mutual compromises has already proven wrong.

–The idea that an Obama charm offensive would bring higher levels of Arab support has already proven wrong. And that’s just in six months!

Let’s have a little humility and readiness to listen, please, from those who would play with the lives of other people.

But humility is not a trait in the Obama repetoire. Saner heads who forsee the unworkability of an imposed peace (Is the U.S. going to disarm the Palestinians and enforce the peace?) may prevail in the administration, but it would behoove Israel’s supporters to register their loud and unequivocal objection — and enlist Congress if need be — to make clear that an imposed “peace deal” against Israel’s will is a non-starter. Moreover, talk of such a deal (perhaps just another form of public bullying of Israel) only encourages the same Palestinian rejectionism and violence that has deprived the Palestinians of their own state for over six decades.

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Did ObamaCare Help the Democrats?

ObamaCare is the law of the land (for now), the president is out selling it to a skeptical public, and the Democrats are still heading for an election wipeout. The supposed cure-all for the Democrats’ electoral woes — the passage of “historic” legislation that the country was going to learn to love – has proven to be anything but. Hotline reports:

Today, 4 of the 10 most vulnerable Senate seats are open seats held by Democrats, while just 2 are GOP-held open seats. At least 2 of those Dem seats (DE and ND) are leaning toward a GOP pickup. New polling suggests that Dems have a better shot at winning in OH than MO, but these polls simply reflect the current environment. Once the candidates and campaigns begin to engage, we may see those numbers start to bounce around a bit more. At this point, Democrats hold 8 of the top 10 most vulnerable seats, with the potential — should former HHS Sec. Tommy Thompson jump into the WI race or ex-state Sen. Dino Rossi challenge Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) — for the GOP to expand the playing field even further. Our expectation at this point: a GOP pickup of 5-8 seats.

And the same factors that pointed to a wave election — antipathy toward an ultra-liberal agenda, a brewing populist uprising, Democrats’ ethics problems, a tepid economy, high unemployment, and the nagging enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans — persist or have intensified. As The Hill notes: “Almost every Democratic strategist acknowledges the party will lose seats in Congress this fall. The question is whether the loss will be moderate or severe, or even enough to give Republicans control of the House.” So far, generic polling suggests the Democrats haven’t been helped at all by ObamaCare.

Just as many of us predicted, passage of ObamaCare did not end the health-care debate. The debate instead has continued to rage and spread to states as governors and attorneys general decide whether to sue to block its imposition and how to handle the crushing costs it will impose if the courts do not invalidate it. The discussion has now embroiled private industry, which is engaged in a fight with the Obami over write-downs. ObamaCare’s passage has continued to fuel the Tea Party movement, which is finding new respect among the mainstream media. And we can expect that with each sweetheart deal that is uncovered, and with news of continued premium increases, there will be another round of  recriminations, adding fuel to the anti-Democrat furor.

We won’t know if the Democrats would have been worse off had ObamaCare failed. But for now there’s little evidence that it’s helped them.

ObamaCare is the law of the land (for now), the president is out selling it to a skeptical public, and the Democrats are still heading for an election wipeout. The supposed cure-all for the Democrats’ electoral woes — the passage of “historic” legislation that the country was going to learn to love – has proven to be anything but. Hotline reports:

Today, 4 of the 10 most vulnerable Senate seats are open seats held by Democrats, while just 2 are GOP-held open seats. At least 2 of those Dem seats (DE and ND) are leaning toward a GOP pickup. New polling suggests that Dems have a better shot at winning in OH than MO, but these polls simply reflect the current environment. Once the candidates and campaigns begin to engage, we may see those numbers start to bounce around a bit more. At this point, Democrats hold 8 of the top 10 most vulnerable seats, with the potential — should former HHS Sec. Tommy Thompson jump into the WI race or ex-state Sen. Dino Rossi challenge Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) — for the GOP to expand the playing field even further. Our expectation at this point: a GOP pickup of 5-8 seats.

And the same factors that pointed to a wave election — antipathy toward an ultra-liberal agenda, a brewing populist uprising, Democrats’ ethics problems, a tepid economy, high unemployment, and the nagging enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans — persist or have intensified. As The Hill notes: “Almost every Democratic strategist acknowledges the party will lose seats in Congress this fall. The question is whether the loss will be moderate or severe, or even enough to give Republicans control of the House.” So far, generic polling suggests the Democrats haven’t been helped at all by ObamaCare.

Just as many of us predicted, passage of ObamaCare did not end the health-care debate. The debate instead has continued to rage and spread to states as governors and attorneys general decide whether to sue to block its imposition and how to handle the crushing costs it will impose if the courts do not invalidate it. The discussion has now embroiled private industry, which is engaged in a fight with the Obami over write-downs. ObamaCare’s passage has continued to fuel the Tea Party movement, which is finding new respect among the mainstream media. And we can expect that with each sweetheart deal that is uncovered, and with news of continued premium increases, there will be another round of  recriminations, adding fuel to the anti-Democrat furor.

We won’t know if the Democrats would have been worse off had ObamaCare failed. But for now there’s little evidence that it’s helped them.

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Just for Show

Many savvy observers of the Obami assault on Israel have concluded that the fuss over the Jerusalem housing permit was concocted by the Obami to ingratiate themselves with the Palestinians, who were threatening to walk from the proximity talks. There is ample support for this theory, not the least of which is the prior positions of the three players in the Obama freak-out drama — Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and the president. The colorfully named Sultan Knish has compiled a useful bit of history that includes Biden’s co-sponsorship of Senate Resolutions 1322, 113, and 106 (between the years 1990 and 1995):

Biden co-sponsored three Senate resolution, all three of which insisted that Jerusalem should remain Israel’s undivided capital. One of which insisted that it was vital for the peace process that Jerusalem should be affirmed by US policy as Israel’s undivided capital. So naturally, like any good politician, he was insulted by Israel taking him at his word. To argue that Biden was gravely insulted by Israel, is to argue that he was insulted by the policies he himself supported.

Not just passively supported, but co-sponsored in three Senate resolutions which repeatedly stated that these were meant to be the policy of the United States.

But of course the hypocrisy train doesn’t just stop at Joe Biden Station.

Hillary Clinton who claimed that Israeli housing “was not only an insult to Biden, but an insult to the United States“, in 2007 (barely 2 and a half years ago) issued a paper stating,

Hillary Clinton believes that Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, secure from violence and terrorism, must never be questioned.”

And barely 2.5 years later, Hillary Clinton is vocally doing the questioning. And the woman who not that long ago said that an “Undivided Jerusalem” must never be questioned, was pretending that Israel approving housing in Jerusalem was a grave insult to the United States.

The question must then be asked, if Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton supported an undivided Jerusalem and if Israeli housing projects in Jerusalem are an insult to the United States– weren’t Hillary and Joe insulting the United States. Or were they just insulting the Jewish voters who believed their empty promises?

(Obama made a similar statement in the 2008 campaign, which lasted 24 hours before it was qualified.) And, of course, there was an agreement between the government of Ariel Sharon and the administration of George W. Bush that did not include any freeze on Jerusalem housing and specifically designated that the resolution of  the capital as a final-status issue. But that’s a no-nevermind sort of thing for the Obami crowd. Nor do they concede that every Israeli government since 1967 has allowed building in the Israeli capital.

We have two alternative explanations for the Obami’s behavior: they are appallingly ignorant about previous U.S. policy and have forgotten their own roles in advancing the position that Israel is entitled to occupy and build in its eternal and undivided capital; or the administration seized on an opportunity to savage its ally for the purpose of trying to ingratiate itself with the Muslim World. You decide.

Many savvy observers of the Obami assault on Israel have concluded that the fuss over the Jerusalem housing permit was concocted by the Obami to ingratiate themselves with the Palestinians, who were threatening to walk from the proximity talks. There is ample support for this theory, not the least of which is the prior positions of the three players in the Obama freak-out drama — Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and the president. The colorfully named Sultan Knish has compiled a useful bit of history that includes Biden’s co-sponsorship of Senate Resolutions 1322, 113, and 106 (between the years 1990 and 1995):

Biden co-sponsored three Senate resolution, all three of which insisted that Jerusalem should remain Israel’s undivided capital. One of which insisted that it was vital for the peace process that Jerusalem should be affirmed by US policy as Israel’s undivided capital. So naturally, like any good politician, he was insulted by Israel taking him at his word. To argue that Biden was gravely insulted by Israel, is to argue that he was insulted by the policies he himself supported.

Not just passively supported, but co-sponsored in three Senate resolutions which repeatedly stated that these were meant to be the policy of the United States.

But of course the hypocrisy train doesn’t just stop at Joe Biden Station.

Hillary Clinton who claimed that Israeli housing “was not only an insult to Biden, but an insult to the United States“, in 2007 (barely 2 and a half years ago) issued a paper stating,

Hillary Clinton believes that Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, secure from violence and terrorism, must never be questioned.”

And barely 2.5 years later, Hillary Clinton is vocally doing the questioning. And the woman who not that long ago said that an “Undivided Jerusalem” must never be questioned, was pretending that Israel approving housing in Jerusalem was a grave insult to the United States.

The question must then be asked, if Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton supported an undivided Jerusalem and if Israeli housing projects in Jerusalem are an insult to the United States– weren’t Hillary and Joe insulting the United States. Or were they just insulting the Jewish voters who believed their empty promises?

(Obama made a similar statement in the 2008 campaign, which lasted 24 hours before it was qualified.) And, of course, there was an agreement between the government of Ariel Sharon and the administration of George W. Bush that did not include any freeze on Jerusalem housing and specifically designated that the resolution of  the capital as a final-status issue. But that’s a no-nevermind sort of thing for the Obami crowd. Nor do they concede that every Israeli government since 1967 has allowed building in the Israeli capital.

We have two alternative explanations for the Obami’s behavior: they are appallingly ignorant about previous U.S. policy and have forgotten their own roles in advancing the position that Israel is entitled to occupy and build in its eternal and undivided capital; or the administration seized on an opportunity to savage its ally for the purpose of trying to ingratiate itself with the Muslim World. You decide.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Maybe attacking another ally in public wasn’t so smart. Charles Krauthammer: “What we have here is the problem of an unruly client. The problem with Karzai is that he’s the worst ally except for all the others. We’re stuck with him, and we’re not in Afghanistan because of him but for our own perceived national interest. We’re stuck with him. We’re going to have to tolerate this. … And what you do is you do not attack him as we did, as Obama [did], on his way over to Afghanistan, saying we’re going to read him the riot act on corruption. You don’t do that and leak it. You do it in quiet — and in public hail him as a liberator.”

Maybe it’s not so smart to take use of of force off the table before the mullahs get the bomb either. If they do, at least “Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. will not limit its options under a new nuclear strategy if Iran or North Korea decides to launch a nuclear attack.” Well, that’s a relief. Would Obama’s policy have prohibited dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan, by the way? Just asking.

Maybe nominating Tony Rezko’s banker wasn’t so smart. The Public Policy Polling survey finds: “The last two months have not been good for Alexi Giannoulias, and Mark Kirk now leads him 37-33 in his bid to be the next Senator from Illinois.”

Maybe it wasn’t so smart for House Democrats to take political advice from the White House: “Republican candidates now hold a nine-point lead over Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 47% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, up from 46% last week, while 38% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent, down a point from the previous survey.”

Maybe switching parties wasn’t so smart. “Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) is trailing in the latest Pennsylvania Senate poll.Public Policy Polling (D) has released its first survey of the race and found the Republican candidate, former Rep. Pat Toomey (Pa.), beats both Specter and Specter’s primary opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak (D), in a general election matchup.Toomey beats Specter by three, 46-43, and he beats Sestak by six, 42-36. Specter’s job rating is troubling for an incumbent. He had a 34 percent approval rating and a 52 percent disapproval rating. President Barack Obama also has low approval ratings in the state, which could be helping Toomey. Obama has a 46 percent approval rating and 50 percent disapproval rating.”

Maybe sneering at the Tea Party movement wasn’t so smart. Matthew Continetti: “Imagine what might have happened if Democrats had decided to take the Tea Party seriously in 2009. The Democrats might have moved to the center, adopting Bill Clinton’s second-term strategy of balanced budgets, economic growth and globalization, and incremental, small-bore reforms on health care and education. They might have been able to retain the independents they held in 2006 and 2008 while dampening Republican fears that Obama wants to turn the country into Sweden. The economy would still be crummy. But, in this scenario, 2010 wouldn’t look like the Democratic bloodbath it’s shaping up to be.”

Maybe it wasn’t so smart for a controversial appellate court nominee who never wrote a legal opinion to omit 117 documents from a Senate questionnaire. After all, Eric Holder only left out seven briefs.

Maybe David Shuster isn’t so smart: “MSNBC brass wasn’t happy when news broke this week that David Shuster had taped a pilot for CNN, and the anchor wasn’t on-air yesterday. Now comes word of Shuster’s fate through an MSNBC spokesperson: ‘David has been suspended indefinitely.’ It’s not the first time he’s been suspended. Shuster was off the air a couple weeks in 2008 after he talked about how Hillary Clinton had ‘pimped out’ Chelsea on the campaign trail.”

Maybe attacking another ally in public wasn’t so smart. Charles Krauthammer: “What we have here is the problem of an unruly client. The problem with Karzai is that he’s the worst ally except for all the others. We’re stuck with him, and we’re not in Afghanistan because of him but for our own perceived national interest. We’re stuck with him. We’re going to have to tolerate this. … And what you do is you do not attack him as we did, as Obama [did], on his way over to Afghanistan, saying we’re going to read him the riot act on corruption. You don’t do that and leak it. You do it in quiet — and in public hail him as a liberator.”

Maybe it’s not so smart to take use of of force off the table before the mullahs get the bomb either. If they do, at least “Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. will not limit its options under a new nuclear strategy if Iran or North Korea decides to launch a nuclear attack.” Well, that’s a relief. Would Obama’s policy have prohibited dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan, by the way? Just asking.

Maybe nominating Tony Rezko’s banker wasn’t so smart. The Public Policy Polling survey finds: “The last two months have not been good for Alexi Giannoulias, and Mark Kirk now leads him 37-33 in his bid to be the next Senator from Illinois.”

Maybe it wasn’t so smart for House Democrats to take political advice from the White House: “Republican candidates now hold a nine-point lead over Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 47% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, up from 46% last week, while 38% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent, down a point from the previous survey.”

Maybe switching parties wasn’t so smart. “Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) is trailing in the latest Pennsylvania Senate poll.Public Policy Polling (D) has released its first survey of the race and found the Republican candidate, former Rep. Pat Toomey (Pa.), beats both Specter and Specter’s primary opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak (D), in a general election matchup.Toomey beats Specter by three, 46-43, and he beats Sestak by six, 42-36. Specter’s job rating is troubling for an incumbent. He had a 34 percent approval rating and a 52 percent disapproval rating. President Barack Obama also has low approval ratings in the state, which could be helping Toomey. Obama has a 46 percent approval rating and 50 percent disapproval rating.”

Maybe sneering at the Tea Party movement wasn’t so smart. Matthew Continetti: “Imagine what might have happened if Democrats had decided to take the Tea Party seriously in 2009. The Democrats might have moved to the center, adopting Bill Clinton’s second-term strategy of balanced budgets, economic growth and globalization, and incremental, small-bore reforms on health care and education. They might have been able to retain the independents they held in 2006 and 2008 while dampening Republican fears that Obama wants to turn the country into Sweden. The economy would still be crummy. But, in this scenario, 2010 wouldn’t look like the Democratic bloodbath it’s shaping up to be.”

Maybe it wasn’t so smart for a controversial appellate court nominee who never wrote a legal opinion to omit 117 documents from a Senate questionnaire. After all, Eric Holder only left out seven briefs.

Maybe David Shuster isn’t so smart: “MSNBC brass wasn’t happy when news broke this week that David Shuster had taped a pilot for CNN, and the anchor wasn’t on-air yesterday. Now comes word of Shuster’s fate through an MSNBC spokesperson: ‘David has been suspended indefinitely.’ It’s not the first time he’s been suspended. Shuster was off the air a couple weeks in 2008 after he talked about how Hillary Clinton had ‘pimped out’ Chelsea on the campaign trail.”

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