Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 21, 2010

Daniel Pearl’s Father Speaks Out

At the signing ceremony for the Freedom of Press Act, Obama — who studiously avoided any mention of “jihadists” or any term that might give onlookers a clue as to who killed Daniel Pearl and why — used Pearl’s eight-year-old son and his father, Judea, as props to adorn the Oval Office. They were not afforded the chance to speak. But now Judea gives an interview and expresses his views on Miranda rights and the KSM trial, among other issues. The interview is worth reading in full, and it’s clear why he was a silent participant in Obama’s stage show.

After Judea poignantly describes the task of explaining his son’s murder to his grandson — who was born after his father, Daniel, was killed — he turns to the KSM trial. Would he favor a federal-court trial?

I think it should be held behind closed doors. That’s based upon a very simple realization there is nothing more enticing for would-be terrorists than the idea they will get a stage in a New York court. It’s more enticing, I believe, than 72 virgins.

And what about Mirandizing terrorists?

Throughout history society has found new legal instruments to deal with new threats. Terrorism is a new threat; it needs to be dealt with newly invented legal instruments. And it’s a job of the attorney general to invent new legal regimes to deal with that problem. Terrorists should not be tried as soldiers nor as criminals. There should be a new category to deal with this particular threat. That’s my opinion.

You can see why Obama didn’t want to give him a speaking role.

There is one more interesting note: Judea has set up a foundation to fund “mid-career journalists from Muslim-dominated countries to come to the U.S. and work for six months at a major newspaper and go back to their countries and tell the readers what they have learned about the U.S. and the Jewish community in the U.S. They also work at least one week at a Jewish publication.” They’ve had 14 — at some risk to themselves — participate and return to their own countries to explain what freedom of the press is all about. Alas, not a single Palestinian journalist has participated. No, I’m not surprised either.

At the signing ceremony for the Freedom of Press Act, Obama — who studiously avoided any mention of “jihadists” or any term that might give onlookers a clue as to who killed Daniel Pearl and why — used Pearl’s eight-year-old son and his father, Judea, as props to adorn the Oval Office. They were not afforded the chance to speak. But now Judea gives an interview and expresses his views on Miranda rights and the KSM trial, among other issues. The interview is worth reading in full, and it’s clear why he was a silent participant in Obama’s stage show.

After Judea poignantly describes the task of explaining his son’s murder to his grandson — who was born after his father, Daniel, was killed — he turns to the KSM trial. Would he favor a federal-court trial?

I think it should be held behind closed doors. That’s based upon a very simple realization there is nothing more enticing for would-be terrorists than the idea they will get a stage in a New York court. It’s more enticing, I believe, than 72 virgins.

And what about Mirandizing terrorists?

Throughout history society has found new legal instruments to deal with new threats. Terrorism is a new threat; it needs to be dealt with newly invented legal instruments. And it’s a job of the attorney general to invent new legal regimes to deal with that problem. Terrorists should not be tried as soldiers nor as criminals. There should be a new category to deal with this particular threat. That’s my opinion.

You can see why Obama didn’t want to give him a speaking role.

There is one more interesting note: Judea has set up a foundation to fund “mid-career journalists from Muslim-dominated countries to come to the U.S. and work for six months at a major newspaper and go back to their countries and tell the readers what they have learned about the U.S. and the Jewish community in the U.S. They also work at least one week at a Jewish publication.” They’ve had 14 — at some risk to themselves — participate and return to their own countries to explain what freedom of the press is all about. Alas, not a single Palestinian journalist has participated. No, I’m not surprised either.

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RE: Rand Paul’s Rocky Start

Jen, when you say of Rand Paul, “here’s some free advice: don’t trot out his father, Ron Paul, to defend him — it will give voters the sense that Rand is as wacky as his dad,” I am uncertain whether the advice goes far enough. Some of Ron Paul’s ideas and pronouncements are so disturbing and extremist that it may be incumbent upon Rand Paul not only to evade his father’s endorsement but also to distance himself from his unacceptable positions publicly.

Not only the Tea Party protests but also the silent rancor of the public at large seems fueled by outrage at this administration’s fiscal abandon — which tends to overshadow considerations of foreign policy or social issues. It is therefore unfortunate and possibly dangerous that some of the most ardent and sincere champions of fiscal sobriety hail from the Paulian circle and thus carry a lot of undesirable baggage. Voters must take or leave these controversial candidates as a whole — the good along with the bad and the ugly.

During the 2008 presidential race, I came across a great number of well-meaning people so taken with Ron Paul’s promises of fiscal constraint and economic laissez faire — as sorely wanting then as today — that they ignored, denied, or rationalized his noxious standpoint on social matters, his ridiculous prescriptions on foreign policy, his illiberal writings on race relations, and even his connections with anti-Semites. It is possible for the reverse of this phenomenon — that is, wholesale acceptance or rejection — to backfire now for Rand Paul: natural antipathy to his social conservatism (e.g., his advocacy for a complete ban on abortion), his isolationist foreign policy, and his controversial comments on the Civil Rights Act, might, by association, extend in the minds of undecided voters to his agenda of limited government and fiscal conservatism.

If the baby is thus thrown out with the bathwater, not only Rand Paul but also other staunch fiscal conservatives might incur political damage. Not fair, not logically sound, but nonetheless plausible. Voters often apply political sentiment with a broad brush. The spread of sympathies or antipathies by contagion or by association happens every day — in life as well as in politics. It is not in the interest of libertarians and fiscal conservatives to allow their views to be publicly championed by politicians compromised in other areas.

The question should be whether Rand Paul is a watered-down version of his father — more than that, watered down in all the right places. Or is he, rather, undistinguishable in substance from his father but a more diplomatic politician, thus able to hide or equivocate his wacky views better and longer? The burden of proof lies with Rand Paul himself, but so far the clues are very troubling.

Jen, when you say of Rand Paul, “here’s some free advice: don’t trot out his father, Ron Paul, to defend him — it will give voters the sense that Rand is as wacky as his dad,” I am uncertain whether the advice goes far enough. Some of Ron Paul’s ideas and pronouncements are so disturbing and extremist that it may be incumbent upon Rand Paul not only to evade his father’s endorsement but also to distance himself from his unacceptable positions publicly.

Not only the Tea Party protests but also the silent rancor of the public at large seems fueled by outrage at this administration’s fiscal abandon — which tends to overshadow considerations of foreign policy or social issues. It is therefore unfortunate and possibly dangerous that some of the most ardent and sincere champions of fiscal sobriety hail from the Paulian circle and thus carry a lot of undesirable baggage. Voters must take or leave these controversial candidates as a whole — the good along with the bad and the ugly.

During the 2008 presidential race, I came across a great number of well-meaning people so taken with Ron Paul’s promises of fiscal constraint and economic laissez faire — as sorely wanting then as today — that they ignored, denied, or rationalized his noxious standpoint on social matters, his ridiculous prescriptions on foreign policy, his illiberal writings on race relations, and even his connections with anti-Semites. It is possible for the reverse of this phenomenon — that is, wholesale acceptance or rejection — to backfire now for Rand Paul: natural antipathy to his social conservatism (e.g., his advocacy for a complete ban on abortion), his isolationist foreign policy, and his controversial comments on the Civil Rights Act, might, by association, extend in the minds of undecided voters to his agenda of limited government and fiscal conservatism.

If the baby is thus thrown out with the bathwater, not only Rand Paul but also other staunch fiscal conservatives might incur political damage. Not fair, not logically sound, but nonetheless plausible. Voters often apply political sentiment with a broad brush. The spread of sympathies or antipathies by contagion or by association happens every day — in life as well as in politics. It is not in the interest of libertarians and fiscal conservatives to allow their views to be publicly championed by politicians compromised in other areas.

The question should be whether Rand Paul is a watered-down version of his father — more than that, watered down in all the right places. Or is he, rather, undistinguishable in substance from his father but a more diplomatic politician, thus able to hide or equivocate his wacky views better and longer? The burden of proof lies with Rand Paul himself, but so far the clues are very troubling.

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The Pension Tsunami

Well, it’s now official. The New York Times has a story this morning, front page, above the fold, entitled “Padded Pensions Add to New York Fiscal Woes.” So the bloated wages and benefits of public employees are now a certified political issue for the 2010 election. If they’re smart, Republicans will grab it and run with it for all they’re worth.

The Times story details some anecdotal doozies, such as the Yonkers policeman whose base pay in his final year was about $74,000. He retired at age 44 and now, at the ripe old age of 47, is collecting a pension of $101,333 a year. Just to add insult to injury, his pension is exempt from state and local income taxes. The retired head of the New York State teachers’ pension fund has a pension of his own of $261,037 from that state job. He collects it even though he now has another state job as president of the State University of New York at Albany, earning $280,000.

But beyond the isolated horror stories, the problem is systemic and not just for pensions, as the Times makes it clear:

By tradition, public employees have said they accepted lower salaries in exchange for better benefits, but the Census data show this has not been true for a number of years. In 2008 the median pay for a worker in the private sector was $39,877, compared with $45,124 for a state or local employee.

Mortimer Zuckerman, of U.S. News and World Report, has a piece in the Wall Street Journal explaining the basic cause of this gathering financial tsunami and why it is a golden opportunity for the Republicans, who owe the public-employees’ unions no favors:

Public unions organize voting campaigns for politicians who, on election, repay their benefactors by approving salaries and benefits for the public sector, irrespective of whether they are sustainable. And what is happening in California is happening in slower motion in the rest of the country. It’s no doubt one of the reasons the Pew Research Center this year reported that support for labor unions generally has plummeted “amid growing public skepticism about unions’ power and purpose.”

Well, it’s now official. The New York Times has a story this morning, front page, above the fold, entitled “Padded Pensions Add to New York Fiscal Woes.” So the bloated wages and benefits of public employees are now a certified political issue for the 2010 election. If they’re smart, Republicans will grab it and run with it for all they’re worth.

The Times story details some anecdotal doozies, such as the Yonkers policeman whose base pay in his final year was about $74,000. He retired at age 44 and now, at the ripe old age of 47, is collecting a pension of $101,333 a year. Just to add insult to injury, his pension is exempt from state and local income taxes. The retired head of the New York State teachers’ pension fund has a pension of his own of $261,037 from that state job. He collects it even though he now has another state job as president of the State University of New York at Albany, earning $280,000.

But beyond the isolated horror stories, the problem is systemic and not just for pensions, as the Times makes it clear:

By tradition, public employees have said they accepted lower salaries in exchange for better benefits, but the Census data show this has not been true for a number of years. In 2008 the median pay for a worker in the private sector was $39,877, compared with $45,124 for a state or local employee.

Mortimer Zuckerman, of U.S. News and World Report, has a piece in the Wall Street Journal explaining the basic cause of this gathering financial tsunami and why it is a golden opportunity for the Republicans, who owe the public-employees’ unions no favors:

Public unions organize voting campaigns for politicians who, on election, repay their benefactors by approving salaries and benefits for the public sector, irrespective of whether they are sustainable. And what is happening in California is happening in slower motion in the rest of the country. It’s no doubt one of the reasons the Pew Research Center this year reported that support for labor unions generally has plummeted “amid growing public skepticism about unions’ power and purpose.”

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White House Throws Reid Under the Bus

In a lengthy portrait of Chuck Schumer and his ambitions to be Senate majority leader, the Washington Post gets some nuggets from the White House, which make it apparent that they think Harry Reid is dead in the water. There is this:

“The president has a record of working well with both,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. “Obviously he has a longer, more personal relationship with Senator Durbin as a result of being home-state colleagues and for his help getting him elected in 2004 and 2008.”

You’d think the White House would have had the restraint to say something like, “Of course Harry Reid is going to get re-elected. We’re not speculating on his successor.” And then it gets worse:

“Chuck Schumer is the next majority leader,” the senior administration official predicted. “He just works it.”

Ouch. I’m no cheerleader for Harry Reid, and he is likely to lose in November. But it’s a sign of how this president and this White House operate — they burn allies, are devoid of personal loyalty, and lack grace — that they would stab with such cynical dispatch the man who, after all, got ObamaCare through the Senate.

In a lengthy portrait of Chuck Schumer and his ambitions to be Senate majority leader, the Washington Post gets some nuggets from the White House, which make it apparent that they think Harry Reid is dead in the water. There is this:

“The president has a record of working well with both,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. “Obviously he has a longer, more personal relationship with Senator Durbin as a result of being home-state colleagues and for his help getting him elected in 2004 and 2008.”

You’d think the White House would have had the restraint to say something like, “Of course Harry Reid is going to get re-elected. We’re not speculating on his successor.” And then it gets worse:

“Chuck Schumer is the next majority leader,” the senior administration official predicted. “He just works it.”

Ouch. I’m no cheerleader for Harry Reid, and he is likely to lose in November. But it’s a sign of how this president and this White House operate — they burn allies, are devoid of personal loyalty, and lack grace — that they would stab with such cynical dispatch the man who, after all, got ObamaCare through the Senate.

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RE: Did Chuck DeVore Exaggerate His Military Service?

Both DeVore and his press aide contacted me, quite exercised about my post regarding his military service. I imagine the Los Angeles Times is getting the same treatment. DeVore e-mails:

I actually have the micro-cassette recording of Lebanon. You can hear multiple bursts of automatic weapons fire with the Israeli officer finally saying “OK, we are done” and then ordering the  press off the hill. Zelnick stayed to complete his report, BTW, much to the discomfort of his cameraman.

But the issue of proximity, of course, is what is in question.

His press aide complains: “But it’s a he-said, she-said exercise — not even close to ‘Hillary Clinton’s Bosnian gun fire fantasy.’ It’s a shame you’d participate in tearing down the only pro-Israel candidate in this race or [in] either party.”

First, Clinton chose to confess her erroneous recollection, or that too would have been a she-said, they-said incident. Second, a candidate’s pro- or anti-Israel leanings are irrelevant to an issue of character. I frankly don’t care whether Richard Blumenthal is the next John Bolton; he’s unfit to serve. Third, Carly Fiorina is solidly pro-Israel and has repeatedly criticized Obama’s Israel policy and his approach to Iran. She is warmly received and embraced by California Jewish Republicans. Readers will assess just how credible the DeVore team is.

On the radio appearance, his aide says that he introduced himself as a reservist. Yes, but the statement was about his present status. In the debate, he also says things like: “Well, as I mentioned before, I am the sole candidate on either side of the aisle with military experience. I’m a lieutenant colonel of military intelligence within the U.S. army.” Hmm. Wouldn’t the average person think he meant “regular Army” in that capacity? And in a response to a question on Mirandizing terrorists, DeVore says: “Well, this is a very critical question. I am looking at my U.S. Army Military I.D. card and at the bottom it says Geneva Conventions I.D. Card. On the back it indicates that I am Geneva Conventions Category Four. Which is a field grade officer out of anything that means that if I am captured by Geneva Conventions signatory, I can’t be forced to do physical work and of course Enlisted people will laugh at that. The point though is that I am the only candidate out of both my Republican opponents and Barbara Boxer whose actually studied the law of war and knows the Geneva Convention because we have to study it as someone going though the Command General Staff College in the U.S. Army.” I think the average listener would conclude this is evidence of service in the regular Army.

Well, you have the account of the candidate and of a well-respected (by liberals and conservative alike) press reporter. And there is a transcript of the debate. Voters will have to decide whether DeVore was exaggerating his service. Maybe he should hold a press conference and let the media ask all the questions they like.

Both DeVore and his press aide contacted me, quite exercised about my post regarding his military service. I imagine the Los Angeles Times is getting the same treatment. DeVore e-mails:

I actually have the micro-cassette recording of Lebanon. You can hear multiple bursts of automatic weapons fire with the Israeli officer finally saying “OK, we are done” and then ordering the  press off the hill. Zelnick stayed to complete his report, BTW, much to the discomfort of his cameraman.

But the issue of proximity, of course, is what is in question.

His press aide complains: “But it’s a he-said, she-said exercise — not even close to ‘Hillary Clinton’s Bosnian gun fire fantasy.’ It’s a shame you’d participate in tearing down the only pro-Israel candidate in this race or [in] either party.”

First, Clinton chose to confess her erroneous recollection, or that too would have been a she-said, they-said incident. Second, a candidate’s pro- or anti-Israel leanings are irrelevant to an issue of character. I frankly don’t care whether Richard Blumenthal is the next John Bolton; he’s unfit to serve. Third, Carly Fiorina is solidly pro-Israel and has repeatedly criticized Obama’s Israel policy and his approach to Iran. She is warmly received and embraced by California Jewish Republicans. Readers will assess just how credible the DeVore team is.

On the radio appearance, his aide says that he introduced himself as a reservist. Yes, but the statement was about his present status. In the debate, he also says things like: “Well, as I mentioned before, I am the sole candidate on either side of the aisle with military experience. I’m a lieutenant colonel of military intelligence within the U.S. army.” Hmm. Wouldn’t the average person think he meant “regular Army” in that capacity? And in a response to a question on Mirandizing terrorists, DeVore says: “Well, this is a very critical question. I am looking at my U.S. Army Military I.D. card and at the bottom it says Geneva Conventions I.D. Card. On the back it indicates that I am Geneva Conventions Category Four. Which is a field grade officer out of anything that means that if I am captured by Geneva Conventions signatory, I can’t be forced to do physical work and of course Enlisted people will laugh at that. The point though is that I am the only candidate out of both my Republican opponents and Barbara Boxer whose actually studied the law of war and knows the Geneva Convention because we have to study it as someone going though the Command General Staff College in the U.S. Army.” I think the average listener would conclude this is evidence of service in the regular Army.

Well, you have the account of the candidate and of a well-respected (by liberals and conservative alike) press reporter. And there is a transcript of the debate. Voters will have to decide whether DeVore was exaggerating his service. Maybe he should hold a press conference and let the media ask all the questions they like.

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Rand Paul’s Rocky Start

In the same week you get your party’s nomination, you really don’t want to make headlines in major newspapers over a flap about whether you think the 1964 Civil Rights Act was a good idea. I don’t buy the excuse-mongering from some quarters about how he was “set up” or that Paul’s aversion to federal anti-discrimination laws is politically acceptable. A savvier politician would have made the point that the left has hijacked the original race-neutral language of the statute — as a mandate for quotas and racial preferences. That’s not only true but also a very popular position.

To their credit (and unlike the circle-the-wagons-around-the-liar Richard Blumenthal display by the Democrats), many Republican officeholders stepped forward to rebuke Paul. And so did a few conservative writers. Rich Lowry blogged: “It goes without saying that a senate campaign is not the best place to hold a seminar on Historic Issues in Libertarianism. Besides, even if I understand where he’s coming from, I think Paul was wrong (as were many conservatives, including NR, at the time).” Indeed.

When candidates and officeholders go astray, the natural instinct for partisans is to blame the media or whine that words are being distorted. This rarely helps the politician under fire, and it casts doubt on the sobriety and integrity of his defenders. Politicians seem to believe that they can convince ordinary people that other politicians really shouldn’t be judged on their words or deeds. But voters don’t believe most politicians, who, therefore, make poor character witnesses.

As for Paul, we’ll have to see if this is a sign of things to come. His opponent will claim that this incident is revealing of political extremism and a loose-canon quality. Paul will have to prove him wrong or the Kentucky Senate seat will be a Democratic pick-up. Here’s some free advice: don’t trot out his father, Ron Paul, to defend him — it will give voters the sense that Rand is as wacky as his dad.

In the same week you get your party’s nomination, you really don’t want to make headlines in major newspapers over a flap about whether you think the 1964 Civil Rights Act was a good idea. I don’t buy the excuse-mongering from some quarters about how he was “set up” or that Paul’s aversion to federal anti-discrimination laws is politically acceptable. A savvier politician would have made the point that the left has hijacked the original race-neutral language of the statute — as a mandate for quotas and racial preferences. That’s not only true but also a very popular position.

To their credit (and unlike the circle-the-wagons-around-the-liar Richard Blumenthal display by the Democrats), many Republican officeholders stepped forward to rebuke Paul. And so did a few conservative writers. Rich Lowry blogged: “It goes without saying that a senate campaign is not the best place to hold a seminar on Historic Issues in Libertarianism. Besides, even if I understand where he’s coming from, I think Paul was wrong (as were many conservatives, including NR, at the time).” Indeed.

When candidates and officeholders go astray, the natural instinct for partisans is to blame the media or whine that words are being distorted. This rarely helps the politician under fire, and it casts doubt on the sobriety and integrity of his defenders. Politicians seem to believe that they can convince ordinary people that other politicians really shouldn’t be judged on their words or deeds. But voters don’t believe most politicians, who, therefore, make poor character witnesses.

As for Paul, we’ll have to see if this is a sign of things to come. His opponent will claim that this incident is revealing of political extremism and a loose-canon quality. Paul will have to prove him wrong or the Kentucky Senate seat will be a Democratic pick-up. Here’s some free advice: don’t trot out his father, Ron Paul, to defend him — it will give voters the sense that Rand is as wacky as his dad.

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Moderates Aren’t Moderate

Trying to puzzle out why it is that the country is entranced with political outsiders (how could it be that the country is in revolt against Obama? such a mystery … ), David Brooks paints a picture of an ordinary guy who’s worked hard his whole life only to discover “a political system that undermined the relationship between effort and reward.” (Brooks doesn’t say it, but the term for this is “liberalism.”) Brooks then goes on to bemoan the shriveling political center — “a feckless shell”:

It has no governing philosophy. Its paragons seem from the outside opportunistic, like Arlen Specter, or caught in some wishy-washy middle, like Blanche Lincoln. The right and left have organized, but the center hasn’t bothered to. The right and left have media outlets and think tanks, but the centrists are content to complain about polarization and go home. By their genteel passivity, moderates have ceded power to the extremes.

But that’s not exactly right. It isn’t passivity or good manners that have left moderates in the lurch. What’s happened is that the moderates have become indistinguishable from liberals. Specter and Lincoln both voted for the stimulus plan, the bank bailout, and ObamaCare. None of them opposed Obama on a single significant legislative matter.

Brooks despairs that when the average voter looked for candidates “who might understand his outrage, he only found them among the ideological hard-liners.” That would be liberals or conservatives who don’t buy the statist, corporatist Obama vision. Brooks warns the hapless voter that he “is going to be disappointed again. He’s going to find that the outsiders he sent to Washington just screamed at each other at ever higher decibels. … Nothing will get done.”

But getting nothing done is the first step to reversing the damage wrought by the Democrats’ leftist splurge. Divided government and robust debate will slow and hopefully halt the runaway train. Now, if we had a less radical president, we might actually “get something done” — that is, reverse the excesses of Obamaism and return to fiscal sanity. (As a bonus, we’d begin to restore our alliances, get out of the business of sucking up to the “Muslim World,” and champion democracy promotion and human rights.) But that is for 2012. Step one is voting for non-statists who won’t roll over and play dead whenever Obama pushes for the next radical expansion of government.

Trying to puzzle out why it is that the country is entranced with political outsiders (how could it be that the country is in revolt against Obama? such a mystery … ), David Brooks paints a picture of an ordinary guy who’s worked hard his whole life only to discover “a political system that undermined the relationship between effort and reward.” (Brooks doesn’t say it, but the term for this is “liberalism.”) Brooks then goes on to bemoan the shriveling political center — “a feckless shell”:

It has no governing philosophy. Its paragons seem from the outside opportunistic, like Arlen Specter, or caught in some wishy-washy middle, like Blanche Lincoln. The right and left have organized, but the center hasn’t bothered to. The right and left have media outlets and think tanks, but the centrists are content to complain about polarization and go home. By their genteel passivity, moderates have ceded power to the extremes.

But that’s not exactly right. It isn’t passivity or good manners that have left moderates in the lurch. What’s happened is that the moderates have become indistinguishable from liberals. Specter and Lincoln both voted for the stimulus plan, the bank bailout, and ObamaCare. None of them opposed Obama on a single significant legislative matter.

Brooks despairs that when the average voter looked for candidates “who might understand his outrage, he only found them among the ideological hard-liners.” That would be liberals or conservatives who don’t buy the statist, corporatist Obama vision. Brooks warns the hapless voter that he “is going to be disappointed again. He’s going to find that the outsiders he sent to Washington just screamed at each other at ever higher decibels. … Nothing will get done.”

But getting nothing done is the first step to reversing the damage wrought by the Democrats’ leftist splurge. Divided government and robust debate will slow and hopefully halt the runaway train. Now, if we had a less radical president, we might actually “get something done” — that is, reverse the excesses of Obamaism and return to fiscal sanity. (As a bonus, we’d begin to restore our alliances, get out of the business of sucking up to the “Muslim World,” and champion democracy promotion and human rights.) But that is for 2012. Step one is voting for non-statists who won’t roll over and play dead whenever Obama pushes for the next radical expansion of government.

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Way to Go, Senator Feinstein!

Dennis Blair “resigned” — that is to say, was shoved overboard, finally. As the Wall Street Journal report points out, the shoving is long overdue:

From the outset, Mr. Blair, 63 years old, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, proved to be an uneasy fit for the job. He made a series of decisions and statements that angered the White House—from a controversial appointment for the nation’s top intelligence analyst to recent statements that a new terrorist interrogation team should have questioned the alleged Christmas Day bomber.

Yes, that appointment was Chas Freeman, who “immediately drew fire from critics who said he was too close to the Saudi Arabian and Chinese governments. After that public-relations debacle, Mr. Blair maintained a much lower profile, speaking infrequently in public.” And that was some time ago, yet Obama continued to entrust our entire national-security apparatus to a man who wasn’t allowed to speak in public.

So what was the final straw? As Politico notes:

Word of Blair’s departure comes just two days after the release of a harshly-critical Senate report which identified 14 failures that preceded the Christmas Day incident in which Nigerian Omar Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to bring down a U.S. airliner outside Detroit. The report put particular blame for the failure to head off the attack on a coordination unit that is part of Blair’s office, the National Counterterrorism Center.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it’s nice to know that when clear-eyed lawmakers (e.g., the Senate Intelligence Committee, the GOP senators blocking the nomination of  Obama’s ambassador to Syria) act with resolve, the White House can be forced to retreat. (Let’s hope John Brennan – who comes up with loony ideas like engaging Hezbollah and now refers to the eternal capital of the Jewish state as “Al Quds, Jerusalem” — isn’t the replacement.)  But someone should ask the president: given the two near-miss terror attacks, do you regret not canning Blair earlier?

As for Feinstein, could she now do a report on the Justice Department? (At 36 percent, Eric Holder has the lowest approval of anyone in the administration, so maybe the White House would welcome an excuse to shove him overboard as well.) Then State? And while she’s at it, could she do an assessment of the phony UN sanctions?

Dennis Blair “resigned” — that is to say, was shoved overboard, finally. As the Wall Street Journal report points out, the shoving is long overdue:

From the outset, Mr. Blair, 63 years old, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, proved to be an uneasy fit for the job. He made a series of decisions and statements that angered the White House—from a controversial appointment for the nation’s top intelligence analyst to recent statements that a new terrorist interrogation team should have questioned the alleged Christmas Day bomber.

Yes, that appointment was Chas Freeman, who “immediately drew fire from critics who said he was too close to the Saudi Arabian and Chinese governments. After that public-relations debacle, Mr. Blair maintained a much lower profile, speaking infrequently in public.” And that was some time ago, yet Obama continued to entrust our entire national-security apparatus to a man who wasn’t allowed to speak in public.

So what was the final straw? As Politico notes:

Word of Blair’s departure comes just two days after the release of a harshly-critical Senate report which identified 14 failures that preceded the Christmas Day incident in which Nigerian Omar Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to bring down a U.S. airliner outside Detroit. The report put particular blame for the failure to head off the attack on a coordination unit that is part of Blair’s office, the National Counterterrorism Center.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it’s nice to know that when clear-eyed lawmakers (e.g., the Senate Intelligence Committee, the GOP senators blocking the nomination of  Obama’s ambassador to Syria) act with resolve, the White House can be forced to retreat. (Let’s hope John Brennan – who comes up with loony ideas like engaging Hezbollah and now refers to the eternal capital of the Jewish state as “Al Quds, Jerusalem” — isn’t the replacement.)  But someone should ask the president: given the two near-miss terror attacks, do you regret not canning Blair earlier?

As for Feinstein, could she now do a report on the Justice Department? (At 36 percent, Eric Holder has the lowest approval of anyone in the administration, so maybe the White House would welcome an excuse to shove him overboard as well.) Then State? And while she’s at it, could she do an assessment of the phony UN sanctions?

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RE: Obama’s Immigration Gambit Unmasked

More evidence surfaces each day that the immigration push by Obama is a feint designed for political posturing but not intended to produce actual legislation. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff and longtime party strategist, has argued privately that it’s a bad time for Democrats to push an immigration bill, a potential land mine in the midst of a crucial midterm election year. … He has warned that pressing ahead with an immigration bill could jeopardize the chances of moderate and conservative Democratic candidates in the run-up to the midterms, according to people familiar with the matter.

Immigration activists know all this. They are also aware that as a recruiter for Democratic congressional candidates and while in the Clinton administration, Emanuel was a naysayer on immigration reform. They want him off the issue (but he’s chief of staff, fellas) and grouse that nothing is going to happen on the immigration front so long as he is around. But is it fair to lay the blame solely on Emanuel? Neither the Congress nor the president is moving with alacrity:

With time running out, the chances of an immigration overhaul this year are receding. No bill has yet been introduced in the Senate. Come June, the Senate will be enmeshed in the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

Certainly, Obama has shown he is in no rush. At a Mexican heritage event earlier this month, Obama said he wanted to “begin work” on the issue this year — not complete a bill in that time frame. Yet, as a candidate in 2008, Obama promised to address immigration in his first year in office.

It seems then that Emanuel is not the stumbling block here — it’s the Democratic congressional leadership and Obama. They never intended to move forward on a bill; the grand speeches and noble-sounding promises were, like so much of what Obama does, entirely disingenuous. They all want an issue, not a solution.

You can see why state officials get fed up and resort to their own immigration legislation. Obama and the Democrats could make a real effort to pass a comprehensive bill that would, among other things, explicitly preempt the Arizona bill they like to rail against. But they won’t, because that would imperil their House and Senate members — well, imperil them more than they already are. It will be interesting to see how Obama explains in 2012 why he did absolutely nothing on an issue he supposedly cares so dearly about.

More evidence surfaces each day that the immigration push by Obama is a feint designed for political posturing but not intended to produce actual legislation. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff and longtime party strategist, has argued privately that it’s a bad time for Democrats to push an immigration bill, a potential land mine in the midst of a crucial midterm election year. … He has warned that pressing ahead with an immigration bill could jeopardize the chances of moderate and conservative Democratic candidates in the run-up to the midterms, according to people familiar with the matter.

Immigration activists know all this. They are also aware that as a recruiter for Democratic congressional candidates and while in the Clinton administration, Emanuel was a naysayer on immigration reform. They want him off the issue (but he’s chief of staff, fellas) and grouse that nothing is going to happen on the immigration front so long as he is around. But is it fair to lay the blame solely on Emanuel? Neither the Congress nor the president is moving with alacrity:

With time running out, the chances of an immigration overhaul this year are receding. No bill has yet been introduced in the Senate. Come June, the Senate will be enmeshed in the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

Certainly, Obama has shown he is in no rush. At a Mexican heritage event earlier this month, Obama said he wanted to “begin work” on the issue this year — not complete a bill in that time frame. Yet, as a candidate in 2008, Obama promised to address immigration in his first year in office.

It seems then that Emanuel is not the stumbling block here — it’s the Democratic congressional leadership and Obama. They never intended to move forward on a bill; the grand speeches and noble-sounding promises were, like so much of what Obama does, entirely disingenuous. They all want an issue, not a solution.

You can see why state officials get fed up and resort to their own immigration legislation. Obama and the Democrats could make a real effort to pass a comprehensive bill that would, among other things, explicitly preempt the Arizona bill they like to rail against. But they won’t, because that would imperil their House and Senate members — well, imperil them more than they already are. It will be interesting to see how Obama explains in 2012 why he did absolutely nothing on an issue he supposedly cares so dearly about.

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UN Deal Has Giant Loophole

We suspected that the UN sanctions deal was toothless, and now Eli Lake reveals just how toothless it is:

A draft U.N. resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran, including limits on global arms transfers, will not block the controversial transfer of Russian S-300 missiles to the Iranian military, according to U.S. and Russian officials.

The Obama administration had opposed the S-300 sale because the system is highly effective against aircraft and some missiles. The CIA has said the S-300 missiles, which have been contracted by Tehran but not delivered, will be used to defend Iranian nuclear facilities. . .

Asked about S-300s, a senior State Department official said the draft “would not impose a legally binding obligation not to transfer S-300 to Iran” since the register does not cover defensive missiles.

I think it’s clear why the Obama administration agreed to this: Hillary Clinton had to rush a deal through to head off the Brazil-Turkey gambit and had no bargaining leverage with Russia. It seems the Obama foreign-policy team is just stalling for time now — which would make sense if we were furiously assisting the Green Movement. But we aren’t.

The gaping loophole is not escaping notice:

John R. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, criticized the Obama administration for not closing the sanctions resolution loophole on the S-300, calling it “diplomatic malpractice.” …

Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, an Illinois Republican running for the Senate, is circulating a letter calling on Mr. Obama to close the loophole.

And just to turn the knife, Lake quotes a State Department spokesman who back in October declared that “we do not believe that this is the time to sell Iran this kind of sophisticated defense capability. … And we’ve understood from the Russian government that they have no plans to ship this sophisticated system to Iran at this time.” Uh, guess that unacceptable sale is now acceptable.

It will be interesting to see the reaction of lawmakers, candidates, and Jewish groups to this latest confirmation that Obama’s Iran policy is entirely unserious. Will Democrats push back against Obama? Maybe now Jewish organizations will pipe up rather than merely pass “their whispered worries from one to another.” The window of time to turn up the heat on the administration is closing fast.

We suspected that the UN sanctions deal was toothless, and now Eli Lake reveals just how toothless it is:

A draft U.N. resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran, including limits on global arms transfers, will not block the controversial transfer of Russian S-300 missiles to the Iranian military, according to U.S. and Russian officials.

The Obama administration had opposed the S-300 sale because the system is highly effective against aircraft and some missiles. The CIA has said the S-300 missiles, which have been contracted by Tehran but not delivered, will be used to defend Iranian nuclear facilities. . .

Asked about S-300s, a senior State Department official said the draft “would not impose a legally binding obligation not to transfer S-300 to Iran” since the register does not cover defensive missiles.

I think it’s clear why the Obama administration agreed to this: Hillary Clinton had to rush a deal through to head off the Brazil-Turkey gambit and had no bargaining leverage with Russia. It seems the Obama foreign-policy team is just stalling for time now — which would make sense if we were furiously assisting the Green Movement. But we aren’t.

The gaping loophole is not escaping notice:

John R. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, criticized the Obama administration for not closing the sanctions resolution loophole on the S-300, calling it “diplomatic malpractice.” …

Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, an Illinois Republican running for the Senate, is circulating a letter calling on Mr. Obama to close the loophole.

And just to turn the knife, Lake quotes a State Department spokesman who back in October declared that “we do not believe that this is the time to sell Iran this kind of sophisticated defense capability. … And we’ve understood from the Russian government that they have no plans to ship this sophisticated system to Iran at this time.” Uh, guess that unacceptable sale is now acceptable.

It will be interesting to see the reaction of lawmakers, candidates, and Jewish groups to this latest confirmation that Obama’s Iran policy is entirely unserious. Will Democrats push back against Obama? Maybe now Jewish organizations will pipe up rather than merely pass “their whispered worries from one to another.” The window of time to turn up the heat on the administration is closing fast.

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What Obama Has Done Wrong in the Middle East

In a fascinating interview, former Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, who oversaw George W. Bush’s Israel policy (remember — when we treated our ally with affection and respect?), details Obama’s errors regarding Israel (yes, it’s a lengthy interview), gives some insight into the Bush administration, and offers some predictions and suggestions. The program should be watched in full or the transcript read, but there are certain sections that are especially noteworthy.

Topping the list of Obama’s errors, Abrams explains, is the peace-process fixation:

First, I guess, and — and — most significant. They seem to think that peace between Israel and the Palestinians comes top-down. It is created someplace at a conference table in — in Taba or Camp David or Annapolis or Geneva. And that’s wrong. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians will be created between them, on the ground, in the real world. And it will depend on essentially what happens on the West Bank, on creating the institutions of Palestinian — self-government. And the fight against terrorism, I guess — critical things on the Palestinian side. So — concentrating on diplomacy, concentrating on the settlements is just wrong. That’s not what’s critical. What’s critical is what happens in the so — in the West Bank.

This leads to a glimpse inside the Bush White House:

I thought Annapolis was a mistake because — obviously, President Bush didn’t agree with me. I thought they were not going to reach an agreement. It seemed to me that — that if you look at the terms that were out there, neither Israeli nor Palestinian leaders were ready to accept those terms. I thought we were putting the emphasis in the wrong place, again, on conferences and conference tables and flying flags and all, rather than on the pretty — undramatic but critically important work of building institutions on the ground.

(In a prior interview with the Jerusalem Post, Abrams made clear that Condoleezza Rice pushed for the peace process, failing to provide the president with a full array of options.) It is a candid admission that presidents of both parties have fallen prey to peace-process-itis — the ailment characterized by a deep aversion to candidly assessing reality. But unlike the current president, Bush, to his credit, did not make a settlement freeze the cornerstone of his policy or escalate the issue of Jerusalem:

Since 1967, Israel has been building in — the West Bank, at one point in Gaza. Of course, that’s over now. And in Jerusalem, which is under Israeli law, the capital of Israel. It’s not occupied territory. In the Bush Administration, we reached a kind of agreement with Israel, under which they would build up and in but not out in the settlements.

In other words, no more land would be taken. The idea was, let’s not disadvantage the Palestinians by taking — an olive grove or a road.  And let’s not create a new issue for final settle — status talks someday.  If you want to build for more people to live in the middle of a settlement, fine. That doesn’t hurt Palestinians. I thought the Obama administration would accept that deal.

But Bush’s successor trashed that agreement and embarked on a new tactic: bullying Israel and trying to topple Bibi. (Abrams speculates: “It’s a reasonable theory that he thought, ‘We’ll continue to escalate the tension. Sooner or later, this coalition in Israel will crack.'”)

Abrams also takes a look at Iran, assessing the chance of an Israeli military action at “above 50-50. I think they really mean it when they say an Iranian nuclear weapon is unacceptable. Britain, France, England, Germany, the US, China, Russia, everybody says unacceptable. I don’t think we really mean unacceptable. I think we really mean not good. I think the Israelis mean unacceptable.” The interview took place before the UN sanctions deal, and Abrams correctly predicted that we would not obtain the kind of sanctions needed to deter the mullahs from pursuing their nuclear plans.

What impact on the U.S. would result from the failure to prevent Iran from going nuclear? “[I]t is a threat to the American position in the entire Middle East and therefore in the entire world. American’s strategic credibility is deeply damaged, I think, if after all these speeches we’ve given, we let them get a nuclear weapon.”

Since Obama is plainly not getting those crippling sanctions. what would Abrams advise? In addition to an all-out effort to bolster the Green Movement, he invokes John McCain’s 2008 campaign line:

“The only thing worse than bombing Iran is an Iranian bomb.” I would favor an American or Israeli use of force to prevent that regime from getting a nuclear weapon. I would favor an American or Israeli use of force to prevent that regime from getting a nuclear weapon.

In private, many self-proclaimed defenders of the Jewish state voice the same views as those of Abrams. When will they pipe up?

In a fascinating interview, former Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, who oversaw George W. Bush’s Israel policy (remember — when we treated our ally with affection and respect?), details Obama’s errors regarding Israel (yes, it’s a lengthy interview), gives some insight into the Bush administration, and offers some predictions and suggestions. The program should be watched in full or the transcript read, but there are certain sections that are especially noteworthy.

Topping the list of Obama’s errors, Abrams explains, is the peace-process fixation:

First, I guess, and — and — most significant. They seem to think that peace between Israel and the Palestinians comes top-down. It is created someplace at a conference table in — in Taba or Camp David or Annapolis or Geneva. And that’s wrong. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians will be created between them, on the ground, in the real world. And it will depend on essentially what happens on the West Bank, on creating the institutions of Palestinian — self-government. And the fight against terrorism, I guess — critical things on the Palestinian side. So — concentrating on diplomacy, concentrating on the settlements is just wrong. That’s not what’s critical. What’s critical is what happens in the so — in the West Bank.

This leads to a glimpse inside the Bush White House:

I thought Annapolis was a mistake because — obviously, President Bush didn’t agree with me. I thought they were not going to reach an agreement. It seemed to me that — that if you look at the terms that were out there, neither Israeli nor Palestinian leaders were ready to accept those terms. I thought we were putting the emphasis in the wrong place, again, on conferences and conference tables and flying flags and all, rather than on the pretty — undramatic but critically important work of building institutions on the ground.

(In a prior interview with the Jerusalem Post, Abrams made clear that Condoleezza Rice pushed for the peace process, failing to provide the president with a full array of options.) It is a candid admission that presidents of both parties have fallen prey to peace-process-itis — the ailment characterized by a deep aversion to candidly assessing reality. But unlike the current president, Bush, to his credit, did not make a settlement freeze the cornerstone of his policy or escalate the issue of Jerusalem:

Since 1967, Israel has been building in — the West Bank, at one point in Gaza. Of course, that’s over now. And in Jerusalem, which is under Israeli law, the capital of Israel. It’s not occupied territory. In the Bush Administration, we reached a kind of agreement with Israel, under which they would build up and in but not out in the settlements.

In other words, no more land would be taken. The idea was, let’s not disadvantage the Palestinians by taking — an olive grove or a road.  And let’s not create a new issue for final settle — status talks someday.  If you want to build for more people to live in the middle of a settlement, fine. That doesn’t hurt Palestinians. I thought the Obama administration would accept that deal.

But Bush’s successor trashed that agreement and embarked on a new tactic: bullying Israel and trying to topple Bibi. (Abrams speculates: “It’s a reasonable theory that he thought, ‘We’ll continue to escalate the tension. Sooner or later, this coalition in Israel will crack.'”)

Abrams also takes a look at Iran, assessing the chance of an Israeli military action at “above 50-50. I think they really mean it when they say an Iranian nuclear weapon is unacceptable. Britain, France, England, Germany, the US, China, Russia, everybody says unacceptable. I don’t think we really mean unacceptable. I think we really mean not good. I think the Israelis mean unacceptable.” The interview took place before the UN sanctions deal, and Abrams correctly predicted that we would not obtain the kind of sanctions needed to deter the mullahs from pursuing their nuclear plans.

What impact on the U.S. would result from the failure to prevent Iran from going nuclear? “[I]t is a threat to the American position in the entire Middle East and therefore in the entire world. American’s strategic credibility is deeply damaged, I think, if after all these speeches we’ve given, we let them get a nuclear weapon.”

Since Obama is plainly not getting those crippling sanctions. what would Abrams advise? In addition to an all-out effort to bolster the Green Movement, he invokes John McCain’s 2008 campaign line:

“The only thing worse than bombing Iran is an Iranian bomb.” I would favor an American or Israeli use of force to prevent that regime from getting a nuclear weapon. I would favor an American or Israeli use of force to prevent that regime from getting a nuclear weapon.

In private, many self-proclaimed defenders of the Jewish state voice the same views as those of Abrams. When will they pipe up?

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The Nod and Smile Offensive

Earlier this week, Jen cited an AP report about President Obama’s Tuesday-evening meeting with 37 Jewish Democratic lawmakers, in which participants urged him to discuss publicly his commitment to Israel and to travel there. The interesting part of the report was what was missing from it: Obama’s response.

A Jerusalem Post report was slightly more informative. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) said Obama “didn’t respond directly.” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) said, “I think he nodded and smiled.” In other words, he said nothing.

This was not the first time the suggestion to travel to Israel was made only to receive a non-response. Last July, Haaretz editor Aluf Benn took to the op-ed pages of the New York Times — in an article entitled Why Won’t Obama Talk to Israel? — and urged Obama to come to Israel. Benn noted that Obama had spoken to Arabs, Muslims, Iranians, Western Europeans, Eastern Europeans, Russians, and Africans – but had not bothered to speak to Israelis: “The Arabs got the Cairo speech; we got silence.”

At the time, Joe Klein wrote that “Obama needs to explain his policy to the Israeli public” and was “already planning to make this sort of effort — Israeli television interviews, etc. — in the coming weeks.” Jeffrey Goldberg thought a visit “soon” was a good idea, but when he asked two “senior administration officials” when Obama might do it, “or at least speak at length about his positive vision for a secure Israel,” the officials were “non-committal.“ Neither the trip, nor the television interviews, nor the speech ever occurred.

Over the following year, the relationship with Israel worsened further — capped by the extraordinary public castigation over future Jewish housing in a Jewish area of the capital of the Jewish state, followed by the humiliation of the prime minister with an after-hours, side-door meeting with no pictures or joint statement. Administration officials are now engaged in endless “outreach events,” but the noteworthy point is that Obama has yet to speak publicly on the issue.

He held a private lunch with Elie Wiesel (no pictures or press) and a private meeting with Jewish Democrats, but there is still no trip to Israel, no interviews with Israeli media, no speech. He has also stopped holding prime-time press conferences at which questions on this and related foreign-policy issues could be asked. The charm offensive provides a kind of nod and smile to Jewish voters, but what Aluf Benn wrote a year ago remains true today — and the underlying issues remain as well.

Earlier this week, Jen cited an AP report about President Obama’s Tuesday-evening meeting with 37 Jewish Democratic lawmakers, in which participants urged him to discuss publicly his commitment to Israel and to travel there. The interesting part of the report was what was missing from it: Obama’s response.

A Jerusalem Post report was slightly more informative. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) said Obama “didn’t respond directly.” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) said, “I think he nodded and smiled.” In other words, he said nothing.

This was not the first time the suggestion to travel to Israel was made only to receive a non-response. Last July, Haaretz editor Aluf Benn took to the op-ed pages of the New York Times — in an article entitled Why Won’t Obama Talk to Israel? — and urged Obama to come to Israel. Benn noted that Obama had spoken to Arabs, Muslims, Iranians, Western Europeans, Eastern Europeans, Russians, and Africans – but had not bothered to speak to Israelis: “The Arabs got the Cairo speech; we got silence.”

At the time, Joe Klein wrote that “Obama needs to explain his policy to the Israeli public” and was “already planning to make this sort of effort — Israeli television interviews, etc. — in the coming weeks.” Jeffrey Goldberg thought a visit “soon” was a good idea, but when he asked two “senior administration officials” when Obama might do it, “or at least speak at length about his positive vision for a secure Israel,” the officials were “non-committal.“ Neither the trip, nor the television interviews, nor the speech ever occurred.

Over the following year, the relationship with Israel worsened further — capped by the extraordinary public castigation over future Jewish housing in a Jewish area of the capital of the Jewish state, followed by the humiliation of the prime minister with an after-hours, side-door meeting with no pictures or joint statement. Administration officials are now engaged in endless “outreach events,” but the noteworthy point is that Obama has yet to speak publicly on the issue.

He held a private lunch with Elie Wiesel (no pictures or press) and a private meeting with Jewish Democrats, but there is still no trip to Israel, no interviews with Israeli media, no speech. He has also stopped holding prime-time press conferences at which questions on this and related foreign-policy issues could be asked. The charm offensive provides a kind of nod and smile to Jewish voters, but what Aluf Benn wrote a year ago remains true today — and the underlying issues remain as well.

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Did Chuck DeVore Exaggerate His Military Service?

I think we’re going to see a flurry of stories on what politicians said about their military service. Howard Dean says the New York Times story on Richard Blumenthal was a “hatchet” job, but if a candidate’s lies about his military service aren’t fair game, I don’t know what is.

The Los Angeles Times has a biographical story on Chuck DeVore, currently running third in the California Senate race. This is not in the league of Richard Blumenthal; it’s more Hillary Clinton–style puffery:

Throughout the campaign, DeVore has emphasized his service as a military officer and a young Reagan White House appointee at the Pentagon as experiences that helped make him the most qualified candidate. But at times he appears to have overstated those accomplishments, particularly his experience under fire and his role in the development of a U.S.-Israeli anti-ballistic-missile defense program.

What does the Times have? In a radio debate, he said he was the only candidate who’d served in the military: “I’m a lieutenant colonel of military intelligence within the U.S. Army,” he said. The Times acknowledges that his campaign literature refers to him as a “lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army retired reserves.” And DeVore argues that it is technically correct to say he is “in the Army” since the reserves are part of the Army. OK, I sort of buy that — but he certainly must have known that the listening audience would have thought he meant the regular Army. This is dicier:

He spoke during the debate of being “shot at in Lebanon” but did not make clear that the shooting occurred in the 1980s while DeVore was a college student studying Arabic and other subjects in the Middle East. Nor did he note that while the shooting was in his vicinity, there was no indication he was a target or was in actual danger.

Now we’re into the territory of Hillary Clinton’s Bosnian gunfire fantasy. The Times tracks down former ABC News correspondent Bob Zelnick (not a partisan liberal by any means) to debunk DeVore’s story.

This is not as damning as Blumenthal’s repeated and direct lies, but it doesn’t help his cause. DeVore is a solid conservative with a firm pro-Israel position who hasn’t gotten much traction in the race. He shouldn’t have puffed up his military background to try to distinguish himself. Conservatives often surge late in Republican primaries, but this may well hold down his level of support among conservatives who have spent the better part of a week pointing out that there are few things lower than misleading voters about your military record.

I think we’re going to see a flurry of stories on what politicians said about their military service. Howard Dean says the New York Times story on Richard Blumenthal was a “hatchet” job, but if a candidate’s lies about his military service aren’t fair game, I don’t know what is.

The Los Angeles Times has a biographical story on Chuck DeVore, currently running third in the California Senate race. This is not in the league of Richard Blumenthal; it’s more Hillary Clinton–style puffery:

Throughout the campaign, DeVore has emphasized his service as a military officer and a young Reagan White House appointee at the Pentagon as experiences that helped make him the most qualified candidate. But at times he appears to have overstated those accomplishments, particularly his experience under fire and his role in the development of a U.S.-Israeli anti-ballistic-missile defense program.

What does the Times have? In a radio debate, he said he was the only candidate who’d served in the military: “I’m a lieutenant colonel of military intelligence within the U.S. Army,” he said. The Times acknowledges that his campaign literature refers to him as a “lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army retired reserves.” And DeVore argues that it is technically correct to say he is “in the Army” since the reserves are part of the Army. OK, I sort of buy that — but he certainly must have known that the listening audience would have thought he meant the regular Army. This is dicier:

He spoke during the debate of being “shot at in Lebanon” but did not make clear that the shooting occurred in the 1980s while DeVore was a college student studying Arabic and other subjects in the Middle East. Nor did he note that while the shooting was in his vicinity, there was no indication he was a target or was in actual danger.

Now we’re into the territory of Hillary Clinton’s Bosnian gunfire fantasy. The Times tracks down former ABC News correspondent Bob Zelnick (not a partisan liberal by any means) to debunk DeVore’s story.

This is not as damning as Blumenthal’s repeated and direct lies, but it doesn’t help his cause. DeVore is a solid conservative with a firm pro-Israel position who hasn’t gotten much traction in the race. He shouldn’t have puffed up his military background to try to distinguish himself. Conservatives often surge late in Republican primaries, but this may well hold down his level of support among conservatives who have spent the better part of a week pointing out that there are few things lower than misleading voters about your military record.

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Dan Coats Runs Against D.C.

Indiana Republican Dan Coats, who is hoping to replace Evan Bayh, held a bloggers call yesterday afternoon. In his opening remarks, it was evident that he got Tuesday’s message loud and clear. He said his opponent, Brad Ellsworth, “voted with Pelosi and Obama virtually all the time,” especially on key measures like health-care reform and the stimulus bill. Although Ellsworth bills himself as pro-life, Coats noted that he caved along with Bart Stupak on the key ObamaCare vote. (Watch for other Republicans running against self-styled but weak-kneed pro-life Democrats to note the same.) And then he made a point about Ellsworth that all Republican challengers will make in November: “I’m the challenger; he’s the incumbent.” This year, these are fighting words.

I asked him about Richard Blumenthal. The usually mild-mannered Coats swung hard, declaring, “I think if there is ever a time when people have a distrust [of government] … it is now. When someone falsifies his record … it calls into question all that.”

I asked him about the Iran sanctions deal. Unlike the cowering, Obama-addicted American Jewish leaders, Coats was forceful in his objection. He explained that “unless sanctions are truly biting and timely, they aren’t going to slow Iran” from pursuing its nuclear ambitions. The UN sanctions, Coats says, are “too little, too late” and “our dillydallying over the last year and a half has allowed [the mullahs] to go forward [with their nuclear program].” That too, I suspect, will be a powerful issue in the fall campaign.

Indiana Republican Dan Coats, who is hoping to replace Evan Bayh, held a bloggers call yesterday afternoon. In his opening remarks, it was evident that he got Tuesday’s message loud and clear. He said his opponent, Brad Ellsworth, “voted with Pelosi and Obama virtually all the time,” especially on key measures like health-care reform and the stimulus bill. Although Ellsworth bills himself as pro-life, Coats noted that he caved along with Bart Stupak on the key ObamaCare vote. (Watch for other Republicans running against self-styled but weak-kneed pro-life Democrats to note the same.) And then he made a point about Ellsworth that all Republican challengers will make in November: “I’m the challenger; he’s the incumbent.” This year, these are fighting words.

I asked him about Richard Blumenthal. The usually mild-mannered Coats swung hard, declaring, “I think if there is ever a time when people have a distrust [of government] … it is now. When someone falsifies his record … it calls into question all that.”

I asked him about the Iran sanctions deal. Unlike the cowering, Obama-addicted American Jewish leaders, Coats was forceful in his objection. He explained that “unless sanctions are truly biting and timely, they aren’t going to slow Iran” from pursuing its nuclear ambitions. The UN sanctions, Coats says, are “too little, too late” and “our dillydallying over the last year and a half has allowed [the mullahs] to go forward [with their nuclear program].” That too, I suspect, will be a powerful issue in the fall campaign.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Uh oh: “Initial claims for unemployment benefits shot up by 25,000 to 471,000 last week. Economists had expected claims to drop to 440,000. ‘This is horrible,’ Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a note to clients. ‘The Labor Dept told the press that there are no special factors lifting claims, so we are left with the uncomfortable possibility that the trend in claims has not only stopped falling, but may be turning higher.'”

Yikes: “It’s true that Obama ‘encouraged’ Turkey and Brazil to hold discussions with Iran, a White House official tells The Cable, but he never indicated that a deal like the one announced this week would be sufficient to alleviate international concerns or stave off sanctions.”

Panic (for Democratic incumbents): “So far in 2010, an average of 23% of Americans have been satisfied with the way things are going in the United States. That is well below the 40% historical average Gallup has measured since 1979, when it began asking this question. The 2010 average is also the lowest Gallup has measured in a midterm election year, dating to 1982. … Democrats are clearly vulnerable to losing their majority this year.”

Nervous (Republicans) as Rand Paul gets snared on the race issue. “Several senior Senate Republicans seem to be taken aback by Rand Paul’s pronouncements on the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The GOP’s Kentucky Senate nominee has suggested that he doesn’t believe the federal government has a role in preventing private businesses from discriminating against racial minorities, and he dodged Wednesday night when MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked him whether he would have supported the landmark 1964 act.” Paul then went into damage-control mode. But if this keeps up, Mitch McConnell’s going to look very smart for backing the other guy.

Scary (especially with Iran about to join the nuclear club): “The delicate standoff on the Korean peninsula over charges that North Korea sank a South Korean ship — killing 46 sailors — stands as a compelling example of why rogue states want nuclear weapons. Nobody wants to mess with them.”

Grim (for Obama sycophants): “For the first time since he emerged as a national political figure six years ago, Obama finds himself on the wrong side of the change equation — the status quo side — with challengers in both parties running against him, his policies or his handpicked candidates.”

Defiance: “The House Armed Services Committee’s approval of a $726 billion defense authorization bill sets the stage for a clash with the Obama administration. A veto threat has loomed since defense authorizers started writing the legislation, and now that the bill is headed to the House floor, the question is whether President Barack Obama will follow through.”

Five is the current tally of the times Richard Blumenthal lied about serving in Vietnam. This one is as bad as you can get: “I wore the uniform in Vietnam and many came back to all kinds of disrespect. Whatever we think of war, we owe the men and women of the armed forces our unconditional support.” When we get to 10, will he resign?

Vile: I wonder if the moral preeners in Hollywood have read “[Roman] Polanski’s probation officer’s report — an extraordinarily revealing document which records in grim and forensic detail how the then 43-year-old went about seducing a girl 30 years his junior with the aid of a good deal of alcohol and a drug that would have rendered her almost incapable of resisting.”

Pathetic: Maureen Dowd writes an entire column on “When does a woman go from being single to unmarried?” Maureen, whatever it is, you’re past it. Which is why she whines: “For some reason, Kagan’s depressing narrative is even more depressing because it’s cast in the past tense, as if, at 50, Kagan has resigned herself to a cloistered, asexual existence ruling in cases that touch on the private lives of all Americans.”

Uh oh: “Initial claims for unemployment benefits shot up by 25,000 to 471,000 last week. Economists had expected claims to drop to 440,000. ‘This is horrible,’ Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a note to clients. ‘The Labor Dept told the press that there are no special factors lifting claims, so we are left with the uncomfortable possibility that the trend in claims has not only stopped falling, but may be turning higher.'”

Yikes: “It’s true that Obama ‘encouraged’ Turkey and Brazil to hold discussions with Iran, a White House official tells The Cable, but he never indicated that a deal like the one announced this week would be sufficient to alleviate international concerns or stave off sanctions.”

Panic (for Democratic incumbents): “So far in 2010, an average of 23% of Americans have been satisfied with the way things are going in the United States. That is well below the 40% historical average Gallup has measured since 1979, when it began asking this question. The 2010 average is also the lowest Gallup has measured in a midterm election year, dating to 1982. … Democrats are clearly vulnerable to losing their majority this year.”

Nervous (Republicans) as Rand Paul gets snared on the race issue. “Several senior Senate Republicans seem to be taken aback by Rand Paul’s pronouncements on the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The GOP’s Kentucky Senate nominee has suggested that he doesn’t believe the federal government has a role in preventing private businesses from discriminating against racial minorities, and he dodged Wednesday night when MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked him whether he would have supported the landmark 1964 act.” Paul then went into damage-control mode. But if this keeps up, Mitch McConnell’s going to look very smart for backing the other guy.

Scary (especially with Iran about to join the nuclear club): “The delicate standoff on the Korean peninsula over charges that North Korea sank a South Korean ship — killing 46 sailors — stands as a compelling example of why rogue states want nuclear weapons. Nobody wants to mess with them.”

Grim (for Obama sycophants): “For the first time since he emerged as a national political figure six years ago, Obama finds himself on the wrong side of the change equation — the status quo side — with challengers in both parties running against him, his policies or his handpicked candidates.”

Defiance: “The House Armed Services Committee’s approval of a $726 billion defense authorization bill sets the stage for a clash with the Obama administration. A veto threat has loomed since defense authorizers started writing the legislation, and now that the bill is headed to the House floor, the question is whether President Barack Obama will follow through.”

Five is the current tally of the times Richard Blumenthal lied about serving in Vietnam. This one is as bad as you can get: “I wore the uniform in Vietnam and many came back to all kinds of disrespect. Whatever we think of war, we owe the men and women of the armed forces our unconditional support.” When we get to 10, will he resign?

Vile: I wonder if the moral preeners in Hollywood have read “[Roman] Polanski’s probation officer’s report — an extraordinarily revealing document which records in grim and forensic detail how the then 43-year-old went about seducing a girl 30 years his junior with the aid of a good deal of alcohol and a drug that would have rendered her almost incapable of resisting.”

Pathetic: Maureen Dowd writes an entire column on “When does a woman go from being single to unmarried?” Maureen, whatever it is, you’re past it. Which is why she whines: “For some reason, Kagan’s depressing narrative is even more depressing because it’s cast in the past tense, as if, at 50, Kagan has resigned herself to a cloistered, asexual existence ruling in cases that touch on the private lives of all Americans.”

Read Less




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