Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 19, 2010

Obama Should Go to Israel!

During a meeting with Jewish Democrats it was suggested — by which participant(s) we don’t know — that Obama should visit Israel. I mused about such a trip earlier this month. Yes, let’s see Obama interact with the Israeli people and go to the Knesset. Let him give interviews to Israeli media. Let him conduct a press conference in Jerusalem.

I suspect that Obama won’t go anytime soon because of the prospect of such events and because of the White House’s inability to stave off protests, catcalls, and boos in a country where citizens are not shy about expressing their political sentiments. The fact that an American president might very well be booed in the Jewish state is indicative of the pathetic status of U.S.-Israeli relations.

Now, if you think I am exaggerating the prospect of an unfriendly welcome, consider that two “right-wing activists” (funny how the media never calls J Streeters “left-wing activists”) are threatening to disrupt the bar mitzvah of Rahm Emanuel’s son at the Western Wall “with catcalls and disgust.” (No, I don’t approve — the sins of the father shouldn’t be visited on his son.) That’s the child of his chief of staff — so imagine if Obama himself went. And then there is this to consider:

Another possible problem with Emanuel’s plan may be that the site sits beyond the historic Green Line, which used to separate Israel from Jordanian-controlled territory until the Six Day War of 1967. Since then, Israel has controlled all of the Old City of Jerusalem and its religious sites, but U.S. policy still classifies the area as “occupied territory” and officials are discouraged from spending time there other than for diplomatic duty and work assignments.

Recall that when Obama was in suck-up mode with American Jews (who gave him a pass for 20 years of listening to the anti-Semitic ravings of Rev. Wright) during the campaign, he went to the Wall, in which he touchingly placed a note. No, he didn’t at the time mention that he wanted to carve up Jerusalem. But now that it’s out in the open, wouldn’t it seem extraordinarily hypocritical (even for him) to go there? Yes, we’ve come to the point where a trip to the Wall by an American president becomes an act of gross hypocrisy. Tragic, really.

During a meeting with Jewish Democrats it was suggested — by which participant(s) we don’t know — that Obama should visit Israel. I mused about such a trip earlier this month. Yes, let’s see Obama interact with the Israeli people and go to the Knesset. Let him give interviews to Israeli media. Let him conduct a press conference in Jerusalem.

I suspect that Obama won’t go anytime soon because of the prospect of such events and because of the White House’s inability to stave off protests, catcalls, and boos in a country where citizens are not shy about expressing their political sentiments. The fact that an American president might very well be booed in the Jewish state is indicative of the pathetic status of U.S.-Israeli relations.

Now, if you think I am exaggerating the prospect of an unfriendly welcome, consider that two “right-wing activists” (funny how the media never calls J Streeters “left-wing activists”) are threatening to disrupt the bar mitzvah of Rahm Emanuel’s son at the Western Wall “with catcalls and disgust.” (No, I don’t approve — the sins of the father shouldn’t be visited on his son.) That’s the child of his chief of staff — so imagine if Obama himself went. And then there is this to consider:

Another possible problem with Emanuel’s plan may be that the site sits beyond the historic Green Line, which used to separate Israel from Jordanian-controlled territory until the Six Day War of 1967. Since then, Israel has controlled all of the Old City of Jerusalem and its religious sites, but U.S. policy still classifies the area as “occupied territory” and officials are discouraged from spending time there other than for diplomatic duty and work assignments.

Recall that when Obama was in suck-up mode with American Jews (who gave him a pass for 20 years of listening to the anti-Semitic ravings of Rev. Wright) during the campaign, he went to the Wall, in which he touchingly placed a note. No, he didn’t at the time mention that he wanted to carve up Jerusalem. But now that it’s out in the open, wouldn’t it seem extraordinarily hypocritical (even for him) to go there? Yes, we’ve come to the point where a trip to the Wall by an American president becomes an act of gross hypocrisy. Tragic, really.

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RE: Krauthammer’s Takeaway

“This is, I think,” Krauthammer concludes, “a tribute to how radical is the Obama agenda. This is a spontaneous reaction to overreach. … This is an amazing, spontaneous phenomenon.”

I agree with Charles Krauthammer that what is going on is amazing, and with Peter that we have not seen the full effects yet by a long shot.

Curiously, I’m reminded of Henry VIII in a foul mood. The sovereign in this country (the people) are very unhappy with how their political servants have been handling affairs. When Henry felt that way, his servants quickly found themselves shorter by a head. We don’t send people to the block any more, but the sovereign can exercise their ultimate authority, should they choose to, by throwing the rascals out. It seems increasingly clear that they are choosing to do exactly that.

That’s why I think 2010 is shaping up as the most interesting midterm election at least since 1994 or, quite possibly, ever.

It might be noted that Obama’s ratings in the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll have been in free fall the last few days. He was at -10 on Sunday, -13 on Monday, -17 on Tuesday, and -19 today, his lowest score since before ObamaCare passed. It might be just a statistical blip, of course. But then it might not be. It bears watching.

“This is, I think,” Krauthammer concludes, “a tribute to how radical is the Obama agenda. This is a spontaneous reaction to overreach. … This is an amazing, spontaneous phenomenon.”

I agree with Charles Krauthammer that what is going on is amazing, and with Peter that we have not seen the full effects yet by a long shot.

Curiously, I’m reminded of Henry VIII in a foul mood. The sovereign in this country (the people) are very unhappy with how their political servants have been handling affairs. When Henry felt that way, his servants quickly found themselves shorter by a head. We don’t send people to the block any more, but the sovereign can exercise their ultimate authority, should they choose to, by throwing the rascals out. It seems increasingly clear that they are choosing to do exactly that.

That’s why I think 2010 is shaping up as the most interesting midterm election at least since 1994 or, quite possibly, ever.

It might be noted that Obama’s ratings in the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll have been in free fall the last few days. He was at -10 on Sunday, -13 on Monday, -17 on Tuesday, and -19 today, his lowest score since before ObamaCare passed. It might be just a statistical blip, of course. But then it might not be. It bears watching.

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Rand Paul’s Foreign Policy

Rand Paul has tried to dial back the extreme isolationist rhetoric expressed by his father, Ron Paul, who once suggested that 9/11 was our fault for provoking al-Qaeda. For instance, the junior Paul, who is now the GOP Senate candidate in Kentucky, says that he’s against a “wholesale withdrawal” from Afghanistan or Iraq (as opposed to a partial pullout?) and that he’s in favor of winning wars once we get into them. Moreover, he favors keeping Guantanamo open and trying terrorists in military tribunals.

But his victory is still bad news for Republicans who believe in a strong and active foreign policy. All you have to do is look at his website to see that he holds a quirky — and untenable — view of a “Fortress America.” He writes, “I believe our greatest national security threat is our lack of security at the border,” a threat that he proposes to address by imposing “a moratorium on Visas from about ten rogue nations or anybody that has traveled to those nations.” This may sound like a seductive solution, but it will not keep us safe, because numerous terrorists (like the would-be Times Square bomber) already have U.S. citizenship or citizenship from non-rogue states such as the United Kingdom. By closing our doors to “rogue nation” citizens (which nations qualify? he doesn’t say), he spurns our best counter-radicalization tool — the ability to educate foreign students in the United States.

The rest of his bare-bones foreign-policy statements consists of red herrings, such as his demand “that we fight only under U.S. Commander and not the UN” — as if UN command of U.S. forces were a big issue. Only in the Paul household, I suspect. And maybe the Pat Buchanan household too. Rand Paul really goes deep into isolationist territory with his views on “sovereignty”:

The Founding Fathers warned us that foreign alliances sacrifice our independence as a nation. In Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, he asserted that America should have “peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.” Yet today, America is often subservient to foreign bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), and the United Nations (UN). …

Rand Paul proposes that America can engage the world in free trade, develop lucrative commercial relationships with other nations, and defend its national interests without funding or joining international organizations. The U.S. Government must answer only to the Constitution and the citizens protected by it.

I suppose some on the right would join him in denouncing the UN, but what about the IMF, World Bank, and WTO? Generally I think most conservatives are Hamiltonian (one of the Founding Fathers whom Paul doesn’t mention) and believe that we gain from such trade and economic arrangements, which, yes, restrict sovereignty to some small degree but in the process immeasurably benefit the United States by curtailing tariffs and other obstacles to economic growth. There is ample room to criticize and improve the UN, IMF, World Bank, WTO, and other organizations, but Paul’s suggestion that we not fund or join any international organizations suggests that he is advocating a fringe foreign-policy outlook — one I hope is not representative of the Tea Party movement as a whole.

Rand Paul has tried to dial back the extreme isolationist rhetoric expressed by his father, Ron Paul, who once suggested that 9/11 was our fault for provoking al-Qaeda. For instance, the junior Paul, who is now the GOP Senate candidate in Kentucky, says that he’s against a “wholesale withdrawal” from Afghanistan or Iraq (as opposed to a partial pullout?) and that he’s in favor of winning wars once we get into them. Moreover, he favors keeping Guantanamo open and trying terrorists in military tribunals.

But his victory is still bad news for Republicans who believe in a strong and active foreign policy. All you have to do is look at his website to see that he holds a quirky — and untenable — view of a “Fortress America.” He writes, “I believe our greatest national security threat is our lack of security at the border,” a threat that he proposes to address by imposing “a moratorium on Visas from about ten rogue nations or anybody that has traveled to those nations.” This may sound like a seductive solution, but it will not keep us safe, because numerous terrorists (like the would-be Times Square bomber) already have U.S. citizenship or citizenship from non-rogue states such as the United Kingdom. By closing our doors to “rogue nation” citizens (which nations qualify? he doesn’t say), he spurns our best counter-radicalization tool — the ability to educate foreign students in the United States.

The rest of his bare-bones foreign-policy statements consists of red herrings, such as his demand “that we fight only under U.S. Commander and not the UN” — as if UN command of U.S. forces were a big issue. Only in the Paul household, I suspect. And maybe the Pat Buchanan household too. Rand Paul really goes deep into isolationist territory with his views on “sovereignty”:

The Founding Fathers warned us that foreign alliances sacrifice our independence as a nation. In Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, he asserted that America should have “peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.” Yet today, America is often subservient to foreign bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), and the United Nations (UN). …

Rand Paul proposes that America can engage the world in free trade, develop lucrative commercial relationships with other nations, and defend its national interests without funding or joining international organizations. The U.S. Government must answer only to the Constitution and the citizens protected by it.

I suppose some on the right would join him in denouncing the UN, but what about the IMF, World Bank, and WTO? Generally I think most conservatives are Hamiltonian (one of the Founding Fathers whom Paul doesn’t mention) and believe that we gain from such trade and economic arrangements, which, yes, restrict sovereignty to some small degree but in the process immeasurably benefit the United States by curtailing tariffs and other obstacles to economic growth. There is ample room to criticize and improve the UN, IMF, World Bank, WTO, and other organizations, but Paul’s suggestion that we not fund or join any international organizations suggests that he is advocating a fringe foreign-policy outlook — one I hope is not representative of the Tea Party movement as a whole.

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Millions for Defense, Not One Cent for Tribute

Seth Cropsey of the Hudson Institute has written twice in the last few weeks (here and here) on a topic integral to U.S. national security: our declining naval dominance. His point at Pajamas Media on Tuesday — that Defense Secretary Gates’s May 3 call for a smaller navy got little attention or criticism in the press — resonates with me. Americans have trouble remembering that we are, most fundamentally, a maritime trading nation. Naval power is a core element of our own national security as well as of the global stability we seek to promote. We can maintain naval dominance or we can fight to get it back, but our position and character as a nation are impossible without it.

The proximate reason for the current debate is the ongoing shrinkage of the U.S. Navy, which has declined nearly 20 percent in the last decade while other navies are expanding and modernizing. China has had a very successful naval expansion program during this period. Russia and Iran have accelerated their efforts at modernization and new construction. Nations from Vietnam to India to Saudi Arabia and Algeria are making major investments in naval weapon systems.

Moreover, the navies of Russia, China, and India are operating in distant waters and cultivating their images as “power projection” forces. Russia has resumed visiting its Cold War-era haunts in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Pacific, and Western hemisphere. China’s navy conducted its largest and farthest-flung fleet exercise ever in March and April 2010, twice operating provocatively in a Japanese strait. India dispatched a naval task force in 2009 to conduct unprecedented joint drills with European navies in the Atlantic. All three of these navies are now operating in the international antipiracy effort off of Somalia, as are navies like Iran’s and Saudi Arabia’s, which formerly kept to their own coastal waters.

Nations don’t expand their navies or the scope of their operations because they are satisfied with the status quo. Although the Somali piracy problem has been a key catalyst for unprecedented naval deployments, there is no question that the fastest-growing navies — those of China, Russia, India, and Iran — are being enlarged because their political leaders envision an alternative to U.S. maritime dominance.

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Seth Cropsey of the Hudson Institute has written twice in the last few weeks (here and here) on a topic integral to U.S. national security: our declining naval dominance. His point at Pajamas Media on Tuesday — that Defense Secretary Gates’s May 3 call for a smaller navy got little attention or criticism in the press — resonates with me. Americans have trouble remembering that we are, most fundamentally, a maritime trading nation. Naval power is a core element of our own national security as well as of the global stability we seek to promote. We can maintain naval dominance or we can fight to get it back, but our position and character as a nation are impossible without it.

The proximate reason for the current debate is the ongoing shrinkage of the U.S. Navy, which has declined nearly 20 percent in the last decade while other navies are expanding and modernizing. China has had a very successful naval expansion program during this period. Russia and Iran have accelerated their efforts at modernization and new construction. Nations from Vietnam to India to Saudi Arabia and Algeria are making major investments in naval weapon systems.

Moreover, the navies of Russia, China, and India are operating in distant waters and cultivating their images as “power projection” forces. Russia has resumed visiting its Cold War-era haunts in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Pacific, and Western hemisphere. China’s navy conducted its largest and farthest-flung fleet exercise ever in March and April 2010, twice operating provocatively in a Japanese strait. India dispatched a naval task force in 2009 to conduct unprecedented joint drills with European navies in the Atlantic. All three of these navies are now operating in the international antipiracy effort off of Somalia, as are navies like Iran’s and Saudi Arabia’s, which formerly kept to their own coastal waters.

Nations don’t expand their navies or the scope of their operations because they are satisfied with the status quo. Although the Somali piracy problem has been a key catalyst for unprecedented naval deployments, there is no question that the fastest-growing navies — those of China, Russia, India, and Iran — are being enlarged because their political leaders envision an alternative to U.S. maritime dominance.

As we go forward in this shifting security environment, we need to keep two conceptual touchstones in mind. One is that our dominance can wane meaningfully even if no other navy is a symmetrical rival to ours on a global scale. To confound us effectively, navies like China’s or Russia’s need only be able to enforce unilateral ukases locally, particularly in the easily threatened chokepoints through which trillions of dollars in global trade pass every year.

China, for example, would prefer to gradually establish maritime preeminence in the South China Sea until the point is reached at which the U.S. must either provoke a confrontation or accept China as the dictator of policy there. And China’s policy would not entail keeping the seaways of Southeast Asia free for all nations’ commerce, as ours has. Favoritism and political extortion would be the new norm under Chinese hegemony.

Our Pacific alliances could not survive China’s assumption of de facto maritime hegemony in Southeast Asia. And that leads to the other conceptual touchstone: the efficient use America has long made of maritime dominance and alliances in preserving our own security between the great oceans. Alliances and naval deterrence are difficult and expensive to maintain, but they are far less costly in every way than fighting repeated land wars in the Eastern hemisphere. They are particularly suited, moreover, to our national preference for consensual relations abroad rather than Roman- or colonial-style imperialism.

As Cropsey’s articles suggest, we are at present reworking our national-security strategy and force doctrine. Our choices about defense capabilities today will dictate our political responses in the future. There is no question that waste, pork, service infighting, and bureaucratic inertia make our navy cost more than it needs to, but merely shrinking it to save money is not the answer. Nor is it wise to dismantle the essential tool of maritime deterrence — a navy capable of dominating any other in the regional confrontations that several nations are currently preparing for — in favor of “down-tooling” our force to deal symmetrically with pirates. Somali piracy is the least of the maritime problems we will face in the next two to three decades. Other navies have proven effective at attacking Somali piracy head-on. But there is only one navy that can shoulder aside the challenges from nation-state rivals and keep the world’s vulnerable tradeways open to all. If we do not do it, it will not be done.

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Blumenthal Will Go National

Of the many surprising political developments of the past year – Obama’s plummet in the polls, the passage of ObamaCare in the face of strong popular opposition, and the revival of the Republican Party — there is none so strikingly bizarre and self-destructive as Richard Blumenthal’s defiant press conference and the Democrats’ determination to rally around him. Former DNC head Howard Dean was among the latest to defend Blumenthal from the “hatchet job,” as he calls it, which exposed his repeated lies about Vietnam military service. The entire Democratic political establishment rallies to such a figure, circles the wagons, and, given the short timeline for coming up with a replacement, seems poised to risk the Connecticut Senate seat for such a character.

But here’s the thing: it’s not simply a Connecticut issue. Savvy Republicans will soon realize that this is a national issue of integrity and ethics for the entire Democratic establishment, personifying the party’s obtuseness and contempt for the values of average Americans. I imagine that every Republican on the ballot will condemn Blumenthal and challenge his Democratic opponent to do the same. If they join in the condemnation, the Connecticut seat will be further imperiled. And if they don’t, the issue then becomes that Democrat’s lack of moral compass and out-to-lunch mentality.

Democrats have a window of time to spare themselves this debacle. Republicans are surely hoping they don’t realize just how ridiculous they seem.

Of the many surprising political developments of the past year – Obama’s plummet in the polls, the passage of ObamaCare in the face of strong popular opposition, and the revival of the Republican Party — there is none so strikingly bizarre and self-destructive as Richard Blumenthal’s defiant press conference and the Democrats’ determination to rally around him. Former DNC head Howard Dean was among the latest to defend Blumenthal from the “hatchet job,” as he calls it, which exposed his repeated lies about Vietnam military service. The entire Democratic political establishment rallies to such a figure, circles the wagons, and, given the short timeline for coming up with a replacement, seems poised to risk the Connecticut Senate seat for such a character.

But here’s the thing: it’s not simply a Connecticut issue. Savvy Republicans will soon realize that this is a national issue of integrity and ethics for the entire Democratic establishment, personifying the party’s obtuseness and contempt for the values of average Americans. I imagine that every Republican on the ballot will condemn Blumenthal and challenge his Democratic opponent to do the same. If they join in the condemnation, the Connecticut seat will be further imperiled. And if they don’t, the issue then becomes that Democrat’s lack of moral compass and out-to-lunch mentality.

Democrats have a window of time to spare themselves this debacle. Republicans are surely hoping they don’t realize just how ridiculous they seem.

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Krauthammer’s Takeaway

Here is Charles Krauthammer’s takeaway from the elections yesterday — an analysis done before the results were in. Krauthammer points out how much the nation has changed in two years and calls the Tea Party movement an “amazing story of the last year.” The Tea Party barely existed a year ago, he points out, and he then runs through what it has achieved in Massachusetts, in Kentucky, in Utah, and elsewhere.

“This is, I think,” Krauthammer concludes, “a tribute to how radical is the Obama agenda. This is a spontaneous reaction to overreach. … This is an amazing, spontaneous phenomenon.”

Indeed it is, and its effects have not yet been fully felt.

Here is Charles Krauthammer’s takeaway from the elections yesterday — an analysis done before the results were in. Krauthammer points out how much the nation has changed in two years and calls the Tea Party movement an “amazing story of the last year.” The Tea Party barely existed a year ago, he points out, and he then runs through what it has achieved in Massachusetts, in Kentucky, in Utah, and elsewhere.

“This is, I think,” Krauthammer concludes, “a tribute to how radical is the Obama agenda. This is a spontaneous reaction to overreach. … This is an amazing, spontaneous phenomenon.”

Indeed it is, and its effects have not yet been fully felt.

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Campbell Cans the Spin

In announcing her decision to leave CNN, Campbell Brown put out this statement, which included this:

I’m pretty sure the last time any anchor could honestly ignore ratings was well before I was born. Of course I pay attention to ratings. And simply put, the ratings for my program are not where I would like them to be. It is largely for this reason that I am stepping down as anchor of CNN’s “Campbell Brown.”

To be clear: this is my decision, and one that I have been thinking about for some time. As for why, I could have said, that I am stepping down to spend more time with my children (which I truly want to do). Or that I am leaving to pursue other opportunities (which I also truly want to do). But I have never had much tolerance for others’ spin, so I can’t imagine trying to stomach my own. The simple fact is that not enough people want to watch my program, and I owe it to myself and to CNN to get out of the way so that CNN can try something else.

The entire statement is honest, unvarnished, devoid of spin, and gracious — and therefore quite impressive. The problems she faced rested more with her network than with her. But in exiting CNN, Ms. Brown set a standard others in the media, and in politics, should strive for.

In announcing her decision to leave CNN, Campbell Brown put out this statement, which included this:

I’m pretty sure the last time any anchor could honestly ignore ratings was well before I was born. Of course I pay attention to ratings. And simply put, the ratings for my program are not where I would like them to be. It is largely for this reason that I am stepping down as anchor of CNN’s “Campbell Brown.”

To be clear: this is my decision, and one that I have been thinking about for some time. As for why, I could have said, that I am stepping down to spend more time with my children (which I truly want to do). Or that I am leaving to pursue other opportunities (which I also truly want to do). But I have never had much tolerance for others’ spin, so I can’t imagine trying to stomach my own. The simple fact is that not enough people want to watch my program, and I owe it to myself and to CNN to get out of the way so that CNN can try something else.

The entire statement is honest, unvarnished, devoid of spin, and gracious — and therefore quite impressive. The problems she faced rested more with her network than with her. But in exiting CNN, Ms. Brown set a standard others in the media, and in politics, should strive for.

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Sanctions Charade

Yesterday I speculated that the Iran sanctions deal wouldn’t amount to much and would likely serve to afford the mullahs more time to advance their nuclear ambitions. Sadly, it seems that is precisely what is going on. This report explains: “Washington called the proposed list the toughest sanctions to date, but U.S. officials acknowledged they had to be softened in key areas to gain Russian and Chinese agreement.” Oh, and it’s not even clear whether China will support the U.S. or line up instead with the Brazil/Turkey gambit. What’s in the deal? Mush. We learn:

The proposed sanctions list includes a prohibition of sales on a wide range of conventional weapons—from fighter planes to missile systems—as well as a ban on countries from providing harbor to ships suspected of carrying contraband goods headed to Iran.

Overall they are significantly weaker than earlier drafts circulated by the administration. Many provisions contain loopholes allowing countries to evade their intent: They only urge, rather than require, countries to comply. …

U.S. officials acknowledged the new resolution alone was unlikely to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions; instead, they said it could lead other countries to enact their own unilateral financial sanctions that could have more bite.

In other words, it’s all a charade. The list of sanctions doesn’t include petroleum, of course, which the U.S. took off the table to get agreement from Russia and China. The report includes a handy guide to what we asked for and what we got. And it’s startling, really, how embarrassingly little we got.

Now what? Will Congress move swiftly to pass, and Obama move with equal swiftness to sign and implement, unilateral sanctions? Or is that all too provocative? More important, the challenge now for Jewish groups is that they must decide whether to play along with Obama or call him out and vigorously oppose a ludicrously insufficient effort to stave off an existential threat to Israel. It is a critical juncture for these organizations and the time when they truly must decide: are they simply liberal cheerleaders or are they defenders of the Jewish state?

Yesterday I speculated that the Iran sanctions deal wouldn’t amount to much and would likely serve to afford the mullahs more time to advance their nuclear ambitions. Sadly, it seems that is precisely what is going on. This report explains: “Washington called the proposed list the toughest sanctions to date, but U.S. officials acknowledged they had to be softened in key areas to gain Russian and Chinese agreement.” Oh, and it’s not even clear whether China will support the U.S. or line up instead with the Brazil/Turkey gambit. What’s in the deal? Mush. We learn:

The proposed sanctions list includes a prohibition of sales on a wide range of conventional weapons—from fighter planes to missile systems—as well as a ban on countries from providing harbor to ships suspected of carrying contraband goods headed to Iran.

Overall they are significantly weaker than earlier drafts circulated by the administration. Many provisions contain loopholes allowing countries to evade their intent: They only urge, rather than require, countries to comply. …

U.S. officials acknowledged the new resolution alone was unlikely to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions; instead, they said it could lead other countries to enact their own unilateral financial sanctions that could have more bite.

In other words, it’s all a charade. The list of sanctions doesn’t include petroleum, of course, which the U.S. took off the table to get agreement from Russia and China. The report includes a handy guide to what we asked for and what we got. And it’s startling, really, how embarrassingly little we got.

Now what? Will Congress move swiftly to pass, and Obama move with equal swiftness to sign and implement, unilateral sanctions? Or is that all too provocative? More important, the challenge now for Jewish groups is that they must decide whether to play along with Obama or call him out and vigorously oppose a ludicrously insufficient effort to stave off an existential threat to Israel. It is a critical juncture for these organizations and the time when they truly must decide: are they simply liberal cheerleaders or are they defenders of the Jewish state?

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The Special Relationship Goes South

Obama was going to restore our standing in the world and repair supposedly frayed ties with allies. He’s managed to do neither; rather, he’s succeeded in highlighting how well the Bush administration got along with an array of key allies (e.g., India, Britain, France, Israel). In fact, it’s now clear just how badly Obama’s bollixed up the special relationship with Britain. William Inboden and Lisa Aronsson write:

In stark contrast to the stratospheric hopes that Mr. Obama would dramatically improve America’s relations with the world in general and the U.K. in particular, a full 74% of the British people now think that their relationship with the U.S. has stayed the same or even worsened since Mr. Obama’s election.

This might explain why when asked “if Britain were attacked, who do you think would come to its aid first?” only 32% of Britons identified the U.S. Or in answer to which nation most shares Britain’s values, their top choice was Australia at 28%, followed by Canada at 19%. Only 15% cited America.

It’s not hard to see why this is so. In addition to the cold shoulder Obama has shown the Brits, our loudly telegraphed unwillingness to use force to defend another close ally — Israel — has likely unnerved the Brits and others with the realization that the U.S. is not in the business of helping friends in time of distress.

The writers suggest: “Mr. Obama must begin to take Europe more seriously, and the U.S. must begin to pay at least as much attention to its key allies as it does to its enemies.” Well, that would be a start. I suspect that the Brits, the Israelis, and others will need to await a new White House occupant before they again feel the warm embrace of the U.S. — a “cowboy” president, perhaps, who understands the value of alliances.

Obama was going to restore our standing in the world and repair supposedly frayed ties with allies. He’s managed to do neither; rather, he’s succeeded in highlighting how well the Bush administration got along with an array of key allies (e.g., India, Britain, France, Israel). In fact, it’s now clear just how badly Obama’s bollixed up the special relationship with Britain. William Inboden and Lisa Aronsson write:

In stark contrast to the stratospheric hopes that Mr. Obama would dramatically improve America’s relations with the world in general and the U.K. in particular, a full 74% of the British people now think that their relationship with the U.S. has stayed the same or even worsened since Mr. Obama’s election.

This might explain why when asked “if Britain were attacked, who do you think would come to its aid first?” only 32% of Britons identified the U.S. Or in answer to which nation most shares Britain’s values, their top choice was Australia at 28%, followed by Canada at 19%. Only 15% cited America.

It’s not hard to see why this is so. In addition to the cold shoulder Obama has shown the Brits, our loudly telegraphed unwillingness to use force to defend another close ally — Israel — has likely unnerved the Brits and others with the realization that the U.S. is not in the business of helping friends in time of distress.

The writers suggest: “Mr. Obama must begin to take Europe more seriously, and the U.S. must begin to pay at least as much attention to its key allies as it does to its enemies.” Well, that would be a start. I suspect that the Brits, the Israelis, and others will need to await a new White House occupant before they again feel the warm embrace of the U.S. — a “cowboy” president, perhaps, who understands the value of alliances.

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Saving Iraqi Kurdistan

Erbil, Iraq. In the lobby of a certain hotel in the Kurdish city of Erbil, you find the familiar row of wall clocks indicating current time in various metropolitan hubs. Only something breaks your heart a little about the local twist put on this fixture of jet-set urbanity. Between clocks whose faces have been factory-stamped Istanbul or New York or Madrid, you see one displaying local time, and it looks like the others except for a single, small anomaly. The Erbil hasn’t been emblazoned onto the clock face by a manufacturer’s machine. It’s been printed out, in ordinary bold font, onto computer paper; cut down to a word-sized rectangle; and glued over the name of some other magnificent city.

To read the rest of this COMMENTARY Web Exclusive, click here.

Erbil, Iraq. In the lobby of a certain hotel in the Kurdish city of Erbil, you find the familiar row of wall clocks indicating current time in various metropolitan hubs. Only something breaks your heart a little about the local twist put on this fixture of jet-set urbanity. Between clocks whose faces have been factory-stamped Istanbul or New York or Madrid, you see one displaying local time, and it looks like the others except for a single, small anomaly. The Erbil hasn’t been emblazoned onto the clock face by a manufacturer’s machine. It’s been printed out, in ordinary bold font, onto computer paper; cut down to a word-sized rectangle; and glued over the name of some other magnificent city.

To read the rest of this COMMENTARY Web Exclusive, click here.

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Blumenthal Presser Fallout

The non-apology by Richard Blumenthal and the scandal over his lies about his service record are being assessed. The Cook Political Report (subscription required) finds:

There are some political observers who don’t believe that Blumenthal can survive this incident. Whether that’s true will be determined over the next couple of days and will depend on whether the media uncovers more examples of Blumenthal misrepresenting his service, or if doubts are raised about what the Attorney General said this afternoon.

Our early guess is that Blumenthal does survive, but that he is no longer the heavy favorite he was just 24 hours ago, and Republicans will now play on a more level playing field. As such, the race is moving to the Toss Up column.

Meanwhile, Vets for Freedom has put out a statement calling on Blumenthal to actually apologize:

He never set foot in a combat zone—even though he gladly perpetuated the politically-expedient perception that he had—and should apologize to real Vietnam combat veterans for this gross violation of honor.

After the New York Times exposed his real service record, Mr. Blumenthal remained defiant at his rebuttal press conference, saying he takes “full responsibility” for the statements, yet refuses to apologize. Mr. Blumenthal also claims he merely “misspoke” on a few occasions, and did so unknowingly. As a combat veteran of Iraq, I find this very hard to believe. All veterans know what they did and where they were. There’s a big difference between the battlefield and your hometown. … Mr. Blumenthal should apologize, and should start with his fellow Connecticut Senate candidate Rob Simmons, who served 19 months on the ground in Vietnam, earning two Bronze Stars. Mr. Simmons is a real combat veteran, and his record actually back it up.

I asked veteran (real one) and executive director Pete Hegseth if Vets for Freedom would call on Blumenthal to get out of the race or resign as attorney general. He replied: “First and foremost, we are calling on him to actually apologize — which he has thus far refused to do. If he will not, we will look at other options.” Even on MSNBC’s Ed Shultz show last night, the host and Bill Press agreed that Blumenthal is “dead in the water.” Chris Matthews took a similar position.

If Vets for Freedom and other groups call for Blumenthal to get out, it is hard to see how he will survive. And given the reaction in the liberal network of choice, it is hard to imagine that Democrats will stick with him and go down with the man who lied about serving in Vietnam. Remarkable that MSNBC is now the voice of sanity in the Democratic Party.

The non-apology by Richard Blumenthal and the scandal over his lies about his service record are being assessed. The Cook Political Report (subscription required) finds:

There are some political observers who don’t believe that Blumenthal can survive this incident. Whether that’s true will be determined over the next couple of days and will depend on whether the media uncovers more examples of Blumenthal misrepresenting his service, or if doubts are raised about what the Attorney General said this afternoon.

Our early guess is that Blumenthal does survive, but that he is no longer the heavy favorite he was just 24 hours ago, and Republicans will now play on a more level playing field. As such, the race is moving to the Toss Up column.

Meanwhile, Vets for Freedom has put out a statement calling on Blumenthal to actually apologize:

He never set foot in a combat zone—even though he gladly perpetuated the politically-expedient perception that he had—and should apologize to real Vietnam combat veterans for this gross violation of honor.

After the New York Times exposed his real service record, Mr. Blumenthal remained defiant at his rebuttal press conference, saying he takes “full responsibility” for the statements, yet refuses to apologize. Mr. Blumenthal also claims he merely “misspoke” on a few occasions, and did so unknowingly. As a combat veteran of Iraq, I find this very hard to believe. All veterans know what they did and where they were. There’s a big difference between the battlefield and your hometown. … Mr. Blumenthal should apologize, and should start with his fellow Connecticut Senate candidate Rob Simmons, who served 19 months on the ground in Vietnam, earning two Bronze Stars. Mr. Simmons is a real combat veteran, and his record actually back it up.

I asked veteran (real one) and executive director Pete Hegseth if Vets for Freedom would call on Blumenthal to get out of the race or resign as attorney general. He replied: “First and foremost, we are calling on him to actually apologize — which he has thus far refused to do. If he will not, we will look at other options.” Even on MSNBC’s Ed Shultz show last night, the host and Bill Press agreed that Blumenthal is “dead in the water.” Chris Matthews took a similar position.

If Vets for Freedom and other groups call for Blumenthal to get out, it is hard to see how he will survive. And given the reaction in the liberal network of choice, it is hard to imagine that Democrats will stick with him and go down with the man who lied about serving in Vietnam. Remarkable that MSNBC is now the voice of sanity in the Democratic Party.

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DOJ Trial Attorney on Black Panther Case Resigns

Wow. We may finally learn the inside story of the New Black Panther case. This report explains:

A trial attorney with the Department of Justice’s Voting Rights Section has resigned, citing concerns about the government’s refusal to prosecute a case involving voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party. A letter of resignation obtained by The Washington Examiner from a former Justice Department employee makes clear DOJ has refused to allow attorneys in the Voting Rights Section to testify before the congressionally-chartered bipartisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, despite subpoenas that could result in their being held in contempt.

In his letter of resignation, J. Christian Adams writes:

On the other hand, the events surrounding the dismissal of United States v. New Black Panther Party, et al., after the trial team sought and obtained an entry of default, has subjected me, Mr. Christopher Coates, and potentially at some point, all members of the team, to a subpoena from the United States Commission on Civil Rights. The subpoena is based on an explicit federal statute and seeks answers about why the case was dismissed.

I have incurred significant personal expense in retaining a number of separate attorneys and firms regarding this subpoena in order to protect my interests and advise me about my personal legal obligation to comply with the subpoena. Over the last few months, one of my attorneys has had multiple communications with Federal Programs regarding the subpoena. My attorney suggested to them that the Department should file a motion in district court to quash the subpoena and thereby resolve conclusively any question about my obligation to comply.

Months ago, my attorney advised the Department that a motion to quash would be welcome, and that I would assert no objection to the motion. Further, my attorney has explicitly sought to ascertain whether Executive Privilege has been invoked regarding the decisions of individuals not in the Voting Section to order the dismissal of the case. If Executive Privilege has been asserted, or will be, obviously I would not comply with the subpoena. These options would provide some conclusive legal certainly about the extent of my obligation to comply with a subpoena issued pursuant to a federal statute. Instead, we have been ordered not to comply with the subpoena, citing a federal regulation. [emphasis in original]

All this suggests that once he is free from the constraints of his superiors, Adams intends to tell his story. When he does, I expect we will hear that attorneys placed in political positions came up with fraudulent reasons for dismissing the case. I also think we’ll hear more about the role of the NAACP. Stay tuned. Fireworks coming forthwith.

Wow. We may finally learn the inside story of the New Black Panther case. This report explains:

A trial attorney with the Department of Justice’s Voting Rights Section has resigned, citing concerns about the government’s refusal to prosecute a case involving voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party. A letter of resignation obtained by The Washington Examiner from a former Justice Department employee makes clear DOJ has refused to allow attorneys in the Voting Rights Section to testify before the congressionally-chartered bipartisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, despite subpoenas that could result in their being held in contempt.

In his letter of resignation, J. Christian Adams writes:

On the other hand, the events surrounding the dismissal of United States v. New Black Panther Party, et al., after the trial team sought and obtained an entry of default, has subjected me, Mr. Christopher Coates, and potentially at some point, all members of the team, to a subpoena from the United States Commission on Civil Rights. The subpoena is based on an explicit federal statute and seeks answers about why the case was dismissed.

I have incurred significant personal expense in retaining a number of separate attorneys and firms regarding this subpoena in order to protect my interests and advise me about my personal legal obligation to comply with the subpoena. Over the last few months, one of my attorneys has had multiple communications with Federal Programs regarding the subpoena. My attorney suggested to them that the Department should file a motion in district court to quash the subpoena and thereby resolve conclusively any question about my obligation to comply.

Months ago, my attorney advised the Department that a motion to quash would be welcome, and that I would assert no objection to the motion. Further, my attorney has explicitly sought to ascertain whether Executive Privilege has been invoked regarding the decisions of individuals not in the Voting Section to order the dismissal of the case. If Executive Privilege has been asserted, or will be, obviously I would not comply with the subpoena. These options would provide some conclusive legal certainly about the extent of my obligation to comply with a subpoena issued pursuant to a federal statute. Instead, we have been ordered not to comply with the subpoena, citing a federal regulation. [emphasis in original]

All this suggests that once he is free from the constraints of his superiors, Adams intends to tell his story. When he does, I expect we will hear that attorneys placed in political positions came up with fraudulent reasons for dismissing the case. I also think we’ll hear more about the role of the NAACP. Stay tuned. Fireworks coming forthwith.

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The Senate Intelligence Committee: The System Sure Didn’t Work

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence put out a 55-page report finding 14 significant intelligence failings in connection with the Christmas Day bombing plot. These included problems with the terrorist watch list (which also bedeviled officials in connection with the Times Square bombing scheme), failure to revoke Abdulmutallab’s visa, failure to collect and disseminate intelligence, and failure to analyze intelligence. (“Analysts across the Intelligence Community were primarily focused on threats to U.S. interests in Yemen posed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP], rather than on potential AQAP threats to the U.S. Homeland.”) The chairman and ranking member were blunt in a statement:

“The attempted Christmas Day attack was marked by several intelligence failures,” Senator Feinstein said. “It’s vital that reforms be made quickly to prevent future attacks by al-Qaeda, its affiliates and other terrorist groups. The Christmas Day attempt and the recent attempted bombing in Times Square show that we are targets, and we must stay one step ahead of the terrorists.”

“Unfortunately, there is no longer any doubt that major intelligence failures allowed the Christmas Day bomber to almost turn our airplanes into deadly weapons once again,” said Senator Bond.  “We cannot depend on dumb luck, incompetent terrorists, and alert citizens to keep our families safe. It is critical we make changes to prevent these types of intelligence failures in the future.”

Obama, who supposedly oversees the most transparent administration in history, ordered no such review and report from the executive branch and, of course, fired no one after the incident. The Senate Committee should be commended for doing what the Obama team did not and for refusing to hide the administration’s incompetence. Let’s hope the committee keeps up the good work.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence put out a 55-page report finding 14 significant intelligence failings in connection with the Christmas Day bombing plot. These included problems with the terrorist watch list (which also bedeviled officials in connection with the Times Square bombing scheme), failure to revoke Abdulmutallab’s visa, failure to collect and disseminate intelligence, and failure to analyze intelligence. (“Analysts across the Intelligence Community were primarily focused on threats to U.S. interests in Yemen posed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP], rather than on potential AQAP threats to the U.S. Homeland.”) The chairman and ranking member were blunt in a statement:

“The attempted Christmas Day attack was marked by several intelligence failures,” Senator Feinstein said. “It’s vital that reforms be made quickly to prevent future attacks by al-Qaeda, its affiliates and other terrorist groups. The Christmas Day attempt and the recent attempted bombing in Times Square show that we are targets, and we must stay one step ahead of the terrorists.”

“Unfortunately, there is no longer any doubt that major intelligence failures allowed the Christmas Day bomber to almost turn our airplanes into deadly weapons once again,” said Senator Bond.  “We cannot depend on dumb luck, incompetent terrorists, and alert citizens to keep our families safe. It is critical we make changes to prevent these types of intelligence failures in the future.”

Obama, who supposedly oversees the most transparent administration in history, ordered no such review and report from the executive branch and, of course, fired no one after the incident. The Senate Committee should be commended for doing what the Obama team did not and for refusing to hide the administration’s incompetence. Let’s hope the committee keeps up the good work.

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Reading the Election Results

Obama ignored the Tea Party movement. He ignored polls on health-care reform. He ignored the election results in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts. And last night’s elections confirmed that now anyone associated with Washington insiderism and big-government spending is imperiled.

Arlen Specter proved that expediency and convictionless politics — as well as clinging to Obama — aren’t going to cut it with voters. Democrats wanted a dependable liberal and got one in Joe Sestak. Obama took yet another shot — showing that his political judgment is lacking and that any candidate who wraps his arms around the president is going to take a beating. In the end it wasn’t even close, with Sestak beating Specter by more than 7 points. It was an embarrassing end for an embarrassing political turncoat whose sole principle was his own political survival. Specter is finally out of the hair of both Democrats and Republicans. I wonder how he’ll vote on Elena Kagan now — who can tell? And Sestak will now have to answer some tough questions on Israel.

In Kentucky, Rand Paul embarrassed the Republican minority leader, Mitch McConnell, who backed Rand’s opponent. It is a big win for the Tea Party movement and the fiscal conservative message. Paul also will face scrutiny on his foreign-policy views (he opposed the Iraq war). Again, if candidates want to win, they better convincingly paint themselves as outsiders.

Blanche Lincoln barely edged out Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, the darling of the left, but didn’t come close to the 50 percent mark needed to avoid a runoff, gathering less than 45 percent. If she makes it through the runoff, she has an uphill fight just to cement the Democratic vote. Her squishy moderation proved unappealing, and her stalwart defense of ObamaCare didn’t help her a bit. It seems that even for Democrats, ObamaCare is nothing to crow about.

And in the Pennsylvania 12th, the Democrats held John Murtha’s seat with a skilled candidate who ran a well-polished campaign. (Politico notes: “Republicans were quick to point out that Critz ran on a conservative platform, highlighting his opposition to abortion and to the health care reform legislation.”) There can be no better sign of Obama’s toxic impact on his party than the fact that Democrat Mark Critz survived by running against ObamaCare. And he was smart enough to keep Obama out of the district and bring Bill Clinton in to campaign with him. It’s a reminder that despite trends, specific candidates and campaigns matter. Perhaps Clinton — another irony — will be called on by Obama to save more seats and go where Obama would do more harm than good.

Big winners: the Tea Partiers, conviction politics, anti-Washington candidates, and fiscal conservatism. Big losers: Obama, Democratic incumbents, big spenders, and endorsements by office holders. Democrats who haven’t ingested the Obama Kool Aid will — or should — start fretting about less-than-stellar candidates. Many of them are going to lose in November.

Obama ignored the Tea Party movement. He ignored polls on health-care reform. He ignored the election results in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts. And last night’s elections confirmed that now anyone associated with Washington insiderism and big-government spending is imperiled.

Arlen Specter proved that expediency and convictionless politics — as well as clinging to Obama — aren’t going to cut it with voters. Democrats wanted a dependable liberal and got one in Joe Sestak. Obama took yet another shot — showing that his political judgment is lacking and that any candidate who wraps his arms around the president is going to take a beating. In the end it wasn’t even close, with Sestak beating Specter by more than 7 points. It was an embarrassing end for an embarrassing political turncoat whose sole principle was his own political survival. Specter is finally out of the hair of both Democrats and Republicans. I wonder how he’ll vote on Elena Kagan now — who can tell? And Sestak will now have to answer some tough questions on Israel.

In Kentucky, Rand Paul embarrassed the Republican minority leader, Mitch McConnell, who backed Rand’s opponent. It is a big win for the Tea Party movement and the fiscal conservative message. Paul also will face scrutiny on his foreign-policy views (he opposed the Iraq war). Again, if candidates want to win, they better convincingly paint themselves as outsiders.

Blanche Lincoln barely edged out Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, the darling of the left, but didn’t come close to the 50 percent mark needed to avoid a runoff, gathering less than 45 percent. If she makes it through the runoff, she has an uphill fight just to cement the Democratic vote. Her squishy moderation proved unappealing, and her stalwart defense of ObamaCare didn’t help her a bit. It seems that even for Democrats, ObamaCare is nothing to crow about.

And in the Pennsylvania 12th, the Democrats held John Murtha’s seat with a skilled candidate who ran a well-polished campaign. (Politico notes: “Republicans were quick to point out that Critz ran on a conservative platform, highlighting his opposition to abortion and to the health care reform legislation.”) There can be no better sign of Obama’s toxic impact on his party than the fact that Democrat Mark Critz survived by running against ObamaCare. And he was smart enough to keep Obama out of the district and bring Bill Clinton in to campaign with him. It’s a reminder that despite trends, specific candidates and campaigns matter. Perhaps Clinton — another irony — will be called on by Obama to save more seats and go where Obama would do more harm than good.

Big winners: the Tea Partiers, conviction politics, anti-Washington candidates, and fiscal conservatism. Big losers: Obama, Democratic incumbents, big spenders, and endorsements by office holders. Democrats who haven’t ingested the Obama Kool Aid will — or should — start fretting about less-than-stellar candidates. Many of them are going to lose in November.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Here’s one Jewish organization that’s not mute about Obama’s double standard for the Middle East: “The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has urged President Barack Obama to hold Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas accountable for a broadcast on PA TV on May 4 and May 7 which called Israelis thieves and advised them to return to Europe & Ethiopia. … Only four days following the second of the two broadcasts of this program by PA TV, President Barack Obama had a telephone conversation with the PA’s Abbas, in which he actually raised the issue of incitement,  but not in reference to this or any other PA act of incitement.”

Here’s one more sign the Democrats are in trouble: “Registered voters who identify themselves as conservatives are significantly more enthusiastic about voting in this fall’s congressional elections than are liberals or moderates. Those who say they are ‘very’ conservative are the most enthusiastic of all, with substantially higher enthusiasm than those who say they are ‘very’ liberal.”

Here’s one deluded liberal: Greg Sargent writes of Richard Blumenthal that “whatever the truth, he insisted with a great deal of conviction that his lapses weren’t intentional. And the evidence so far suggests that in other settings, he didn’t intend to mislead. Perhaps most important, no Dems are cutting and running right now. They seem to have closed ranks behind him. Bottom line: It seems clear he’ll survive. But man, what a colossal train wreck. Don’t do it again, Dick.” So “whatever” the truth, it’s a “train wreck,” but everyone stand by their man!

Here’s one more reason entertainers should just “shut up and sing”: “British singer-songwriter Elvis Costello this week became the latest in a list of stars to cancel performances in Israel as a political protest. … The singer’s withdrawal follows similar moves by other high-profile musicians, including Santana and Gil Scott-Heron.”

Here’s one Democratic incumbent who looks safe: “No major Republican has opted to challenge her, and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is comfortably ahead of the three lesser-known GOP hopefuls who’ve announced for this year’s special Senate election in New York.”

Here’s one wild goose chase: “White House seeking missing health care bounce.”

Here’s one more poll showing that Elena Kagan’s nomination isn’t a political winner for Obama: “Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan spent the past week introducing herself to the Senate and to the nation, but U.S. voters remain evenly divided over whether she should be confirmed for the high court. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 39% of voters believe Kagan should be confirmed by the Senate, while another 39% say she should not be confirmed.”

Here’s one Jewish organization that’s not mute about Obama’s double standard for the Middle East: “The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has urged President Barack Obama to hold Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas accountable for a broadcast on PA TV on May 4 and May 7 which called Israelis thieves and advised them to return to Europe & Ethiopia. … Only four days following the second of the two broadcasts of this program by PA TV, President Barack Obama had a telephone conversation with the PA’s Abbas, in which he actually raised the issue of incitement,  but not in reference to this or any other PA act of incitement.”

Here’s one more sign the Democrats are in trouble: “Registered voters who identify themselves as conservatives are significantly more enthusiastic about voting in this fall’s congressional elections than are liberals or moderates. Those who say they are ‘very’ conservative are the most enthusiastic of all, with substantially higher enthusiasm than those who say they are ‘very’ liberal.”

Here’s one deluded liberal: Greg Sargent writes of Richard Blumenthal that “whatever the truth, he insisted with a great deal of conviction that his lapses weren’t intentional. And the evidence so far suggests that in other settings, he didn’t intend to mislead. Perhaps most important, no Dems are cutting and running right now. They seem to have closed ranks behind him. Bottom line: It seems clear he’ll survive. But man, what a colossal train wreck. Don’t do it again, Dick.” So “whatever” the truth, it’s a “train wreck,” but everyone stand by their man!

Here’s one more reason entertainers should just “shut up and sing”: “British singer-songwriter Elvis Costello this week became the latest in a list of stars to cancel performances in Israel as a political protest. … The singer’s withdrawal follows similar moves by other high-profile musicians, including Santana and Gil Scott-Heron.”

Here’s one Democratic incumbent who looks safe: “No major Republican has opted to challenge her, and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is comfortably ahead of the three lesser-known GOP hopefuls who’ve announced for this year’s special Senate election in New York.”

Here’s one wild goose chase: “White House seeking missing health care bounce.”

Here’s one more poll showing that Elena Kagan’s nomination isn’t a political winner for Obama: “Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan spent the past week introducing herself to the Senate and to the nation, but U.S. voters remain evenly divided over whether she should be confirmed for the high court. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 39% of voters believe Kagan should be confirmed by the Senate, while another 39% say she should not be confirmed.”

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