Commentary Magazine


Posts For: April 10, 2010

Sneers in Lieu of Arguments

In typically condescending fashion, Obama declined to comment on the substance of Sarah Palin’s criticism of his Nuclear Posture Review, but could not avoid taking a personal shot at her. “I really have no response. Because last I checked, Sarah Palin’s not much of an expert on nuclear issues.” Well, the same might be said of Obama, who imagines that the START treaty will encourage rogue states to forgo their nukes and who prefers unilateral gestures and ingratiation over the robust use (or threat of use) of American power to thwart the Iranians’ nuclear ambitions.

Obama’s disinclination — or inability — to contest his opponents on the merits of their arguments is nothing new. He had no effective retort at the health-care summit to Sen John McCain’s indictment of the sleazy backroom deals, so all he could muster was an insult: “The campaign is over.” And it is hard to recall a White House more addicted to ad hominem attacks — against Palin, Fox News, pollsters, Tea Party protesters. This stems from both arrogance — their opponents are unworthy of substantive debate — and a certain intellectual laziness. They have grown accustomed to the liberal cocoon of fawning media and sycophantic academics who do not challenge their assumptions nor rebuke their inaccuracies. So they slough off critics as rubes and know-nothings.

But here’s the thing: most of the country doesn’t agree with Obama’s domestic agenda and world view. Obama’s dismissiveness is therefore not limited to Palin; it extends to the majority of the electorate. Do you think the voters will notice the contempt with which the president regards their views? Do you think they will be satisfied in 2010 or 2012 when Obama simply sneers at the opposition’s arguments? I suspect not. Stay tuned.

In typically condescending fashion, Obama declined to comment on the substance of Sarah Palin’s criticism of his Nuclear Posture Review, but could not avoid taking a personal shot at her. “I really have no response. Because last I checked, Sarah Palin’s not much of an expert on nuclear issues.” Well, the same might be said of Obama, who imagines that the START treaty will encourage rogue states to forgo their nukes and who prefers unilateral gestures and ingratiation over the robust use (or threat of use) of American power to thwart the Iranians’ nuclear ambitions.

Obama’s disinclination — or inability — to contest his opponents on the merits of their arguments is nothing new. He had no effective retort at the health-care summit to Sen John McCain’s indictment of the sleazy backroom deals, so all he could muster was an insult: “The campaign is over.” And it is hard to recall a White House more addicted to ad hominem attacks — against Palin, Fox News, pollsters, Tea Party protesters. This stems from both arrogance — their opponents are unworthy of substantive debate — and a certain intellectual laziness. They have grown accustomed to the liberal cocoon of fawning media and sycophantic academics who do not challenge their assumptions nor rebuke their inaccuracies. So they slough off critics as rubes and know-nothings.

But here’s the thing: most of the country doesn’t agree with Obama’s domestic agenda and world view. Obama’s dismissiveness is therefore not limited to Palin; it extends to the majority of the electorate. Do you think the voters will notice the contempt with which the president regards their views? Do you think they will be satisfied in 2010 or 2012 when Obama simply sneers at the opposition’s arguments? I suspect not. Stay tuned.

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Falling Further Behind

The passage of ObamaCare was supposed to help narrow the “enthusiasm” gap between Democrats and Republicans. Even if the mammoth tax-and-spend measure infuriated conservatives and even some independents, the saving grace for Democratic lawmakers would be their liberal base’s renewed fervor. It hasn’t panned out. Tom Jensen of the Democratic Public Policy Polling explains:

Our polls over the last few weeks in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin found a self reported 2008 vote anywhere from 6-10 points more friendly to John McCain than the actual vote in the state. There are a couple possible reasons for this. One is that folks who have soured on Obama may not be admitting that they voted for him in the first time. The more likely explanation though is something we already saw play itself out in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts- a much higher percentage of McCain voters are planning to come back out this year than folks who voted for Obama.

There still aren’t a whole lot of Obama voters planning to go for the Republicans this year. If the 2010 electorate was the same as the 2008 electorate we’d have Arlen Specter leading Pat Toomey, Alexi Giannoulias leading Mark Kirk, Tom Barrett leading Scott Walker, and Jennifer Brunner leading Rob Portman. But all four of those Democratic candidates are losing right now because McCain voters are more energized than Obama ones to come out and vote this fall. Perhaps the party will find a way to change that by November, but it certainly didn’t in any of the statewide races we’ve had so far since Obama took office.

There are a few possible explanations. Liberals might not be that jazzed by ObamaCare, which lacks the public option and forces people to fork over money to dreaded Big Insurance. Or, liberals might be miffed that more of their agenda — cap-and-trade, retreat from Afghanistan, repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — hasn’t gone through. And on the conservative side of the equation, nearly everything Obama does these days — ObamaCare, lambasting Israel, renouncing a nuclear counterstrike in case of a chemical or biological attack — adds fuel to the fire. In short, ObamaCare didn’t provide enough of a boost to liberals to counteract the fever pitch of antagonism which Obama has generated among conservatives and independents. To a greater degree than conservatives could ever have managed on their own, Obama has shifted the electorate to the Right — and his party will suffer significant losses as a result.

The passage of ObamaCare was supposed to help narrow the “enthusiasm” gap between Democrats and Republicans. Even if the mammoth tax-and-spend measure infuriated conservatives and even some independents, the saving grace for Democratic lawmakers would be their liberal base’s renewed fervor. It hasn’t panned out. Tom Jensen of the Democratic Public Policy Polling explains:

Our polls over the last few weeks in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin found a self reported 2008 vote anywhere from 6-10 points more friendly to John McCain than the actual vote in the state. There are a couple possible reasons for this. One is that folks who have soured on Obama may not be admitting that they voted for him in the first time. The more likely explanation though is something we already saw play itself out in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts- a much higher percentage of McCain voters are planning to come back out this year than folks who voted for Obama.

There still aren’t a whole lot of Obama voters planning to go for the Republicans this year. If the 2010 electorate was the same as the 2008 electorate we’d have Arlen Specter leading Pat Toomey, Alexi Giannoulias leading Mark Kirk, Tom Barrett leading Scott Walker, and Jennifer Brunner leading Rob Portman. But all four of those Democratic candidates are losing right now because McCain voters are more energized than Obama ones to come out and vote this fall. Perhaps the party will find a way to change that by November, but it certainly didn’t in any of the statewide races we’ve had so far since Obama took office.

There are a few possible explanations. Liberals might not be that jazzed by ObamaCare, which lacks the public option and forces people to fork over money to dreaded Big Insurance. Or, liberals might be miffed that more of their agenda — cap-and-trade, retreat from Afghanistan, repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — hasn’t gone through. And on the conservative side of the equation, nearly everything Obama does these days — ObamaCare, lambasting Israel, renouncing a nuclear counterstrike in case of a chemical or biological attack — adds fuel to the fire. In short, ObamaCare didn’t provide enough of a boost to liberals to counteract the fever pitch of antagonism which Obama has generated among conservatives and independents. To a greater degree than conservatives could ever have managed on their own, Obama has shifted the electorate to the Right — and his party will suffer significant losses as a result.

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Strange Herring

Obama limits U.S. use of nuclear weapons to one minute after our glorious republic is a steaming pile of ash, toxic waste, and rotting human flesh. So there’s a plan.

World spared another Salinger “masterpiece.” Thank you. Thank you.

Subways of the future are so cool you’ll want to live in them. Unlike some of us…

Loon’s mommy says Fox News made him threaten Nancy Pelosi. Well, MSNBC made me punch a rodeo clown, you don’t hear me whining about it…

Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights forces Steve Jobs to stop running those stupid “Buy Apple” ads.

Obama’s judicial nominee withdraws because she’s not universally acclaimed. Somebody needs a hug. Or clozapine. (I said or …)

NY Times Ethicist says stealing’s OK as long as you convince yourself it’s not really stealing. (Immanuel Kant call your office — and cancel your subscription to the Times.)

ObamaCare a definite pain in the prostate.

Do not quit your job as a nanosurgery technician to stuff envelopes from home. There’s no money in it, apparently.

No Flash a problem if you’re in the Hulu loop.

Fit pregnancy could result in scrawny offspring. O the ironies. And by “O,” I don’t mean O. Or O. Or O.

British farmers claim UFOs are attacking their sheep. Damn foreigners.

Minor-league baseball team signs girl pitcher. For the love of Joe Pepitone, where will this egalitarian madness end? Next thing you know, women will be running businesses and becoming heads of state. Miserable communists…

Prehistoric bugs discovered preserved in amber, just like socialism in the head of a Nation editor…

NYU School of Journalism names Top 10 works of journalism in past decade. Wait a minute — they have schools for journalism? They grade on a curve, yes?

The Twinkie is 80. Literally. Like the one you’re eating right now.

And Gatorade goes kosher. So now your rabbi can replenish his fluids during those really long liturgies. (H/T Abe Greenwald)

Karzai’s tirade makes perfect sense now. Hey, Hamid, don’t Bogart that hookah.

Turkey threatens to do to Armenians what they did to Armenians if anyone mentions what they did to Armenians. Which they deny doing. Unless you make them do it.

Fossil of 4-foot-2-inch boy found. He may or may not be the missing link. He may or may not have fronted an Air Supply tribute band.

And finally, Elizabeth Taylor, 78, is engaged. A triumph of hope over experience.

Obama limits U.S. use of nuclear weapons to one minute after our glorious republic is a steaming pile of ash, toxic waste, and rotting human flesh. So there’s a plan.

World spared another Salinger “masterpiece.” Thank you. Thank you.

Subways of the future are so cool you’ll want to live in them. Unlike some of us…

Loon’s mommy says Fox News made him threaten Nancy Pelosi. Well, MSNBC made me punch a rodeo clown, you don’t hear me whining about it…

Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights forces Steve Jobs to stop running those stupid “Buy Apple” ads.

Obama’s judicial nominee withdraws because she’s not universally acclaimed. Somebody needs a hug. Or clozapine. (I said or …)

NY Times Ethicist says stealing’s OK as long as you convince yourself it’s not really stealing. (Immanuel Kant call your office — and cancel your subscription to the Times.)

ObamaCare a definite pain in the prostate.

Do not quit your job as a nanosurgery technician to stuff envelopes from home. There’s no money in it, apparently.

No Flash a problem if you’re in the Hulu loop.

Fit pregnancy could result in scrawny offspring. O the ironies. And by “O,” I don’t mean O. Or O. Or O.

British farmers claim UFOs are attacking their sheep. Damn foreigners.

Minor-league baseball team signs girl pitcher. For the love of Joe Pepitone, where will this egalitarian madness end? Next thing you know, women will be running businesses and becoming heads of state. Miserable communists…

Prehistoric bugs discovered preserved in amber, just like socialism in the head of a Nation editor…

NYU School of Journalism names Top 10 works of journalism in past decade. Wait a minute — they have schools for journalism? They grade on a curve, yes?

The Twinkie is 80. Literally. Like the one you’re eating right now.

And Gatorade goes kosher. So now your rabbi can replenish his fluids during those really long liturgies. (H/T Abe Greenwald)

Karzai’s tirade makes perfect sense now. Hey, Hamid, don’t Bogart that hookah.

Turkey threatens to do to Armenians what they did to Armenians if anyone mentions what they did to Armenians. Which they deny doing. Unless you make them do it.

Fossil of 4-foot-2-inch boy found. He may or may not be the missing link. He may or may not have fronted an Air Supply tribute band.

And finally, Elizabeth Taylor, 78, is engaged. A triumph of hope over experience.

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How We Slow Walk to Containment

Back on March 21 at an AIPAC Conference panel, Elliott Abrams wondered aloud what the Obami meant by the oft-repeated declaration that a nuclear-armed Iran was “unacceptable”: “But do they mean it’s unacceptable or just that it is a bummer?” Now, several weeks later, we have a good idea that it means the latter. For one thing Obama now has twice suggested that really, who can guarantee that Iran won’t go nuclear? Bill Kristol notes Obama’s que sera, sera attitude toward Iranian nukes:

Appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America, Obama told George Stephanopoulos:

“If the question is do we have a guarantee [that] the sanctions we are able to institute at this stage are automatically going to change Iranian behavior, of course we don’t. I mean, the history of the Iranian regime, like the North Korean regime, is that, you know, you apply international pressure on these countries, sometimes they choose to change behavior, sometimes they don’t.”

You try to do your thing with your buddies in the international community, and, you know, sometimes people choose to change behavior, sometimes they don’t.

This was not unlike his statement a few days earlier in a New York Times interview: “‘We’re not naïve that any single set of sanctions automatically is going to change Iranian behavior,’ he said, adding ‘there’s no light switch in this process.’” Translation: it would be a bummer, but we’re not doing anything decisive.

Had Obama not tipped his hand, it would nevertheless have been obvious that “unacceptable” meant something considerably less ironclad than wishful listeners imagined. When the means for achieving a goal are so wildly at odds with the goal, one of two things is going on: either the goal isn’t the goal or the means are designed by incompetent, un-serious people. In either case, the goal isn’t going to be reached. Here, Obama’s advisers have loudly disclaimed interest in military action (i.e., the ultimate “light switch”). And neither he nor his advisers will refer to planned sanctions as “crippling”; they instead seem to have settled for the lowest-common-denominator sort of sanctions that might attract the support of Russia and, if we are very fortunate,  the Chinese support as well.

We therefore have new goals — ones that the Obami will insist are intermediary to the final objective of stopping Iran’s nuclear program, but in fact are diversions and barriers to that objective. First, we want to block unilateral action by Israel. So we set about to isolate Israel, rough up the prime minister, and create ambiguity as to whether the U.S. would endorse or countenance such a move. Second, we prepare the groundwork for a sanctions agreement by the “international community” that will be trumpeted as a great “success” — because, after all, it’s international and it’s an agreement. That it will be greeted with derision and ignored by the mullahs is irrelevant. The Obami will make the case that they delivered on the promise of sanctions and can’t really be blamed if Iran doesn’t “choose to change behavior.” But the passage of the new sanctions will, the Obami insist, require that we give them time “to work,” so, in the meantime, no unilateral sanctions by Congress and definitely no unilateral military action by Israel. In other words, the intermediary goal — an international agreement — becomes a barrier to decisive action to halt the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions.

When looking back on the last fifteen months, one would be hard-pressed to come up with a better designed plan to delay confrontation and lay the ground work for the acceptance of a nuclear armed Iran. The nonsensical engagement policy, a series of ephemeral deadlines, the quietude on the Green Movement, the watering down of sanctions, and the warnings to Israel are all means that fit a specific end — not that of preventing a nuclear armed Iran, but rather that of preventing a confrontation with a regime desirous of obtaining nuclear weapons. If that wasn’t the game plan all along, it’s a remarkable coincidence that it all lines up so neatly. And in the final analysis, it doesn’t matter whether this was the primary plan or the back-up plan. We have reached the point in which the only chance to block Iran’s nuclear plans is a change of heart by a recalcitrant Obama administration convinced of its own virtue, or an Israeli military strike. We better hope there is a workable plan for the latter, for the former is exceptionally unlikely.

Back on March 21 at an AIPAC Conference panel, Elliott Abrams wondered aloud what the Obami meant by the oft-repeated declaration that a nuclear-armed Iran was “unacceptable”: “But do they mean it’s unacceptable or just that it is a bummer?” Now, several weeks later, we have a good idea that it means the latter. For one thing Obama now has twice suggested that really, who can guarantee that Iran won’t go nuclear? Bill Kristol notes Obama’s que sera, sera attitude toward Iranian nukes:

Appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America, Obama told George Stephanopoulos:

“If the question is do we have a guarantee [that] the sanctions we are able to institute at this stage are automatically going to change Iranian behavior, of course we don’t. I mean, the history of the Iranian regime, like the North Korean regime, is that, you know, you apply international pressure on these countries, sometimes they choose to change behavior, sometimes they don’t.”

You try to do your thing with your buddies in the international community, and, you know, sometimes people choose to change behavior, sometimes they don’t.

This was not unlike his statement a few days earlier in a New York Times interview: “‘We’re not naïve that any single set of sanctions automatically is going to change Iranian behavior,’ he said, adding ‘there’s no light switch in this process.’” Translation: it would be a bummer, but we’re not doing anything decisive.

Had Obama not tipped his hand, it would nevertheless have been obvious that “unacceptable” meant something considerably less ironclad than wishful listeners imagined. When the means for achieving a goal are so wildly at odds with the goal, one of two things is going on: either the goal isn’t the goal or the means are designed by incompetent, un-serious people. In either case, the goal isn’t going to be reached. Here, Obama’s advisers have loudly disclaimed interest in military action (i.e., the ultimate “light switch”). And neither he nor his advisers will refer to planned sanctions as “crippling”; they instead seem to have settled for the lowest-common-denominator sort of sanctions that might attract the support of Russia and, if we are very fortunate,  the Chinese support as well.

We therefore have new goals — ones that the Obami will insist are intermediary to the final objective of stopping Iran’s nuclear program, but in fact are diversions and barriers to that objective. First, we want to block unilateral action by Israel. So we set about to isolate Israel, rough up the prime minister, and create ambiguity as to whether the U.S. would endorse or countenance such a move. Second, we prepare the groundwork for a sanctions agreement by the “international community” that will be trumpeted as a great “success” — because, after all, it’s international and it’s an agreement. That it will be greeted with derision and ignored by the mullahs is irrelevant. The Obami will make the case that they delivered on the promise of sanctions and can’t really be blamed if Iran doesn’t “choose to change behavior.” But the passage of the new sanctions will, the Obami insist, require that we give them time “to work,” so, in the meantime, no unilateral sanctions by Congress and definitely no unilateral military action by Israel. In other words, the intermediary goal — an international agreement — becomes a barrier to decisive action to halt the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions.

When looking back on the last fifteen months, one would be hard-pressed to come up with a better designed plan to delay confrontation and lay the ground work for the acceptance of a nuclear armed Iran. The nonsensical engagement policy, a series of ephemeral deadlines, the quietude on the Green Movement, the watering down of sanctions, and the warnings to Israel are all means that fit a specific end — not that of preventing a nuclear armed Iran, but rather that of preventing a confrontation with a regime desirous of obtaining nuclear weapons. If that wasn’t the game plan all along, it’s a remarkable coincidence that it all lines up so neatly. And in the final analysis, it doesn’t matter whether this was the primary plan or the back-up plan. We have reached the point in which the only chance to block Iran’s nuclear plans is a change of heart by a recalcitrant Obama administration convinced of its own virtue, or an Israeli military strike. We better hope there is a workable plan for the latter, for the former is exceptionally unlikely.

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RE: Do They Know What Obama Is up To?

Well, some American Jews plainly do. A reader passes on this account of a recent gathering in California, suggesting that there is a motivated group of Jews not at all pleased with Obama’s Middle East policy:

Last night I went to a town hall meeting on Israel featuring Congressman Brad Sherman at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, CA, called by the rabbi in response to the concern over the deteriorating relationship between  President Obama and the State and the people of Israel. Sherman is a 7th-term Jewish Congressman with strong ties to the Jewish community, who has always been considered very pro-Israel. Sherman must have expected a hostile crowd, as he did not allow anyone to talk to him directly. Questions were submitted in writing and chosen and paraphrased by the moderator (Rabbi Stewart Vogel of Temple Aliyah, who did do a very good job expressing the written concerns of the audience while also being fair and hospitable to Sherman).

Nearly all the questions dealt with the controversy. The meeting hall of this large congregation was packed, and the temple’s parking lot  was entirely full, forcing people to park on the street nearby.  Nearly all questions and audience feedback were negative, with virtually no applause for Sherman’s answers. There was lots of clapping for hostile questions, lots of hostile rumblings as he tried to answer charges, and some answers were booed. Even the moderator at the end basically accused Sherman of not actually answering a lot of the questions. The audience was not sold on Obama being pro-Israel, nor on Sherman’s excuses for the current situation.

Sherman portrayed himself as more pro-Israel and more concerned about Iran than any U.S. president during his Congressional service. He shrugged off the current controversy as something we will have forgotten in a few years, arguing that the U.S. relationship with Israel is fine because the foreign aid package remains and we haven’t yet stopped vetoing anti-Israel UN resolutions. While he promised action on his part concerning sanctions on Iran, he expressed skepticism that anything would really be done (at one point “joking” that the rabbi would be more useful than he, as if divine intervention would be required), and kept emphasizing that any military option would spike gas prices. These statements did not go over well.

Most negative were the reactions when when he repeatedly wrote off his and Obama’s critics as die hard right wingers who would be angry regardless. The moderator polled the audience and showed that the room was about 60/40 McCain voters, meaning there were in fact many angry Obama voters there (and that Obama opponents of all kinds are energized in this community). The most applause was for the question of whether many Jews would switch their votes to Republican because of this controversy — which fired up the crowd and those potential switchers.

Well, one crowd is not necessarily indicative of the entire community, but this suggests that those most concerned about Israel — and willing to turn out to ask questions of their congressman — are the most aggrieved by Obama’s policies. Whether this translates into a drop-off in Jews’ financial support and/or votes for Obama and like-minded lawmakers is an open question. But one wonders what they are waiting for. A declaration by Iran that they do in fact possess a nuclear weapon? An announcement by Obama that he’s going to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state unless Israel accepts his imposed deal? Really, if not now, when?

Well, some American Jews plainly do. A reader passes on this account of a recent gathering in California, suggesting that there is a motivated group of Jews not at all pleased with Obama’s Middle East policy:

Last night I went to a town hall meeting on Israel featuring Congressman Brad Sherman at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, CA, called by the rabbi in response to the concern over the deteriorating relationship between  President Obama and the State and the people of Israel. Sherman is a 7th-term Jewish Congressman with strong ties to the Jewish community, who has always been considered very pro-Israel. Sherman must have expected a hostile crowd, as he did not allow anyone to talk to him directly. Questions were submitted in writing and chosen and paraphrased by the moderator (Rabbi Stewart Vogel of Temple Aliyah, who did do a very good job expressing the written concerns of the audience while also being fair and hospitable to Sherman).

Nearly all the questions dealt with the controversy. The meeting hall of this large congregation was packed, and the temple’s parking lot  was entirely full, forcing people to park on the street nearby.  Nearly all questions and audience feedback were negative, with virtually no applause for Sherman’s answers. There was lots of clapping for hostile questions, lots of hostile rumblings as he tried to answer charges, and some answers were booed. Even the moderator at the end basically accused Sherman of not actually answering a lot of the questions. The audience was not sold on Obama being pro-Israel, nor on Sherman’s excuses for the current situation.

Sherman portrayed himself as more pro-Israel and more concerned about Iran than any U.S. president during his Congressional service. He shrugged off the current controversy as something we will have forgotten in a few years, arguing that the U.S. relationship with Israel is fine because the foreign aid package remains and we haven’t yet stopped vetoing anti-Israel UN resolutions. While he promised action on his part concerning sanctions on Iran, he expressed skepticism that anything would really be done (at one point “joking” that the rabbi would be more useful than he, as if divine intervention would be required), and kept emphasizing that any military option would spike gas prices. These statements did not go over well.

Most negative were the reactions when when he repeatedly wrote off his and Obama’s critics as die hard right wingers who would be angry regardless. The moderator polled the audience and showed that the room was about 60/40 McCain voters, meaning there were in fact many angry Obama voters there (and that Obama opponents of all kinds are energized in this community). The most applause was for the question of whether many Jews would switch their votes to Republican because of this controversy — which fired up the crowd and those potential switchers.

Well, one crowd is not necessarily indicative of the entire community, but this suggests that those most concerned about Israel — and willing to turn out to ask questions of their congressman — are the most aggrieved by Obama’s policies. Whether this translates into a drop-off in Jews’ financial support and/or votes for Obama and like-minded lawmakers is an open question. But one wonders what they are waiting for. A declaration by Iran that they do in fact possess a nuclear weapon? An announcement by Obama that he’s going to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state unless Israel accepts his imposed deal? Really, if not now, when?

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Rep. Bart Stupak’s seat is now a “toss up.” The ObamaCare vote may turn out to be historic after all. Nate Silver proclaims: “Generic Ballot Points Toward Possible 50+ Seat Loss For Democrats.”

Charlie Cook: “As we head toward November’s mid-term elections, the outlook remains dire for Democrats. For the trajectory of this campaign season to change in their favor, two things need to happen — unemployment must drop significantly, and the public’s attitude toward the new health care reform law must become much more positive. Neither seems likely, though. Increasingly, it appears that for Democrats to turn things around, Republicans would have to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, or a ‘black swan’ — an extraordinarily unexpected event that causes a tremendous change — would have to swim to the rescue of the president’s party.”

James Jones‘s underwhelming description of the state of U.S.-Israeli relations: “ongoing and fine and continuous.” Continuous? Well, good to know we’re not ending the relationship — and at least we’re past the point where the Obami can say “rock solid” with a straight face. Meanwhile, the White House denies that there has been any change in its policy toward the Dimona nuclear reactor. It’s hard to know what to believe at this point, which itself is evidence of the shabby state of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

The best thing about the Obami’s Israel policy? The lack of consensus and total disorganization. “Although the public fireworks between top U.S. and Israeli officials may have died down in recent days, a fully fledged debate has erupted inside the Obama administration over how to best bring Middle East peace talks to fruition, let alone a successful conclusion.” Thank goodness.

Sarah Palin declares that “this administration alienates our friends. They treated Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai poorly  and acted surprised when he reacted in kind. And they escalated a minor zoning decision into a major breach with Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East.  Folks, someone needs to remind the President: Jerusalem is not a settlement. Israel is our friend. And the critical nuclear concerns of our time are North Korea, who has nuclear weapons, and Iran, who wants them. So, ‘yes we can’ kowtow to our enemies and publicly criticize our allies.Yes, we can. But someone ought to tell the President and the Left that just because we can doesn’t mean we should.”

How’s that “imposed peace deal” going to work again? “Officials say Gaza’s only power plant has stopped operating because of a lack of fuel caused by the ongoing dispute between Palestinian political rivals. Gaza’s Islamic militant Hamas rulers and their Western-backed West Bank rivals have argued over who should pay for the fuel for the plant.”

Jamie Fly and John Noonan on nuclear nonproliferation: “Our unwillingness to penalize countries such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria for their illicit activities only empowers them. It sends the message to other states potentially seeking nuclear weapons that the path to a weapon can be pursued with few repercussions. If President Obama were truly concerned about the future of the international nonproliferation regime, he would follow his recent disarmament ‘accomplishments’ with some serious action to ensure that rogue regimes realize that there is a price to be paid by those who choose to pursue nuclear weapons.”

John Yoo‘s prediction on Obama’s Supreme Court pick: “The president’s low approval ratings and the resurgence of Republican electoral victories in New Jersey, Virginia, and, most importantly, Massachusetts, means that Obama will not pick an ideological warrior who will spark a fight in the Senate. No Dawn Johnsen’s or Larry Tribe’s here. Appointing someone on the extreme left of the Democratic party would be a political gift to the Republicans — it would only continue the drive to the left that is promising big gains for the Republicans in the November election and would frustrate Obama’s other priorities.”

Meanwhile, Obama withdraws the nomination of Dawn Johnsen, who had been tapped to head the Office of Legal Counsel. Could it be that the Democrats don’t want any knock-down-drag-out-fights over left-wing  ideologues?

Could a Republican win the special House election in Hawaii? “This is a three-way race featuring two Democrats, former Rep. Ed Case and Hawaii State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, squaring off against Republican Charles Djou. It is a winner-take-all contest between the three candidates, competing to replace Neil Abercrombie, who left Congress to run for governor. . .Right now, the race is close: according to a Democratic source, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has conducted an internal poll showing Case at 32%, Djou at 32%, Hanabusa at 27%, and 9% undecided.” Well, like they say, as goes Massachusetts so goes Hawaii. Not really, but this year it might be true.

Rep. Bart Stupak’s seat is now a “toss up.” The ObamaCare vote may turn out to be historic after all. Nate Silver proclaims: “Generic Ballot Points Toward Possible 50+ Seat Loss For Democrats.”

Charlie Cook: “As we head toward November’s mid-term elections, the outlook remains dire for Democrats. For the trajectory of this campaign season to change in their favor, two things need to happen — unemployment must drop significantly, and the public’s attitude toward the new health care reform law must become much more positive. Neither seems likely, though. Increasingly, it appears that for Democrats to turn things around, Republicans would have to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, or a ‘black swan’ — an extraordinarily unexpected event that causes a tremendous change — would have to swim to the rescue of the president’s party.”

James Jones‘s underwhelming description of the state of U.S.-Israeli relations: “ongoing and fine and continuous.” Continuous? Well, good to know we’re not ending the relationship — and at least we’re past the point where the Obami can say “rock solid” with a straight face. Meanwhile, the White House denies that there has been any change in its policy toward the Dimona nuclear reactor. It’s hard to know what to believe at this point, which itself is evidence of the shabby state of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

The best thing about the Obami’s Israel policy? The lack of consensus and total disorganization. “Although the public fireworks between top U.S. and Israeli officials may have died down in recent days, a fully fledged debate has erupted inside the Obama administration over how to best bring Middle East peace talks to fruition, let alone a successful conclusion.” Thank goodness.

Sarah Palin declares that “this administration alienates our friends. They treated Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai poorly  and acted surprised when he reacted in kind. And they escalated a minor zoning decision into a major breach with Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East.  Folks, someone needs to remind the President: Jerusalem is not a settlement. Israel is our friend. And the critical nuclear concerns of our time are North Korea, who has nuclear weapons, and Iran, who wants them. So, ‘yes we can’ kowtow to our enemies and publicly criticize our allies.Yes, we can. But someone ought to tell the President and the Left that just because we can doesn’t mean we should.”

How’s that “imposed peace deal” going to work again? “Officials say Gaza’s only power plant has stopped operating because of a lack of fuel caused by the ongoing dispute between Palestinian political rivals. Gaza’s Islamic militant Hamas rulers and their Western-backed West Bank rivals have argued over who should pay for the fuel for the plant.”

Jamie Fly and John Noonan on nuclear nonproliferation: “Our unwillingness to penalize countries such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria for their illicit activities only empowers them. It sends the message to other states potentially seeking nuclear weapons that the path to a weapon can be pursued with few repercussions. If President Obama were truly concerned about the future of the international nonproliferation regime, he would follow his recent disarmament ‘accomplishments’ with some serious action to ensure that rogue regimes realize that there is a price to be paid by those who choose to pursue nuclear weapons.”

John Yoo‘s prediction on Obama’s Supreme Court pick: “The president’s low approval ratings and the resurgence of Republican electoral victories in New Jersey, Virginia, and, most importantly, Massachusetts, means that Obama will not pick an ideological warrior who will spark a fight in the Senate. No Dawn Johnsen’s or Larry Tribe’s here. Appointing someone on the extreme left of the Democratic party would be a political gift to the Republicans — it would only continue the drive to the left that is promising big gains for the Republicans in the November election and would frustrate Obama’s other priorities.”

Meanwhile, Obama withdraws the nomination of Dawn Johnsen, who had been tapped to head the Office of Legal Counsel. Could it be that the Democrats don’t want any knock-down-drag-out-fights over left-wing  ideologues?

Could a Republican win the special House election in Hawaii? “This is a three-way race featuring two Democrats, former Rep. Ed Case and Hawaii State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, squaring off against Republican Charles Djou. It is a winner-take-all contest between the three candidates, competing to replace Neil Abercrombie, who left Congress to run for governor. . .Right now, the race is close: according to a Democratic source, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has conducted an internal poll showing Case at 32%, Djou at 32%, Hanabusa at 27%, and 9% undecided.” Well, like they say, as goes Massachusetts so goes Hawaii. Not really, but this year it might be true.

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