Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 27, 2010

Weak Leak

If it’s remotely possible, let’s inject some sanity into the oil leak that’s stopped the world from spinning. In 1991, as Saddam Hussein’s forces retreated from Kuwait, they dumped 8 million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf. That still stands as the biggest oil spill in history. So, what were the lasting catastrophic effects? According to this New York Times article, written just two years later, there were none:

The vast amount of oil that Iraqi occupation forces in Kuwait dumped into the Persian Gulf during the 1991 war did little long-term damage, international researchers say. …

“Given the phenomenal quantities of oil that were spilled into the Gulf, the results were rather cheering,” Chidi Ibe, of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission at Unesco, said in a statement today.

Coral reefs studied in early 1992 “appeared to be in good condition,” while fisheries showed “few unequivocal oil pollution effects attributable solely to the 1991 oil spills,” the study found.

Even if you take the highest estimates, the current spill would have to last for nearly a year before it did that kind of nonexistent ecological damage.

If it’s remotely possible, let’s inject some sanity into the oil leak that’s stopped the world from spinning. In 1991, as Saddam Hussein’s forces retreated from Kuwait, they dumped 8 million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf. That still stands as the biggest oil spill in history. So, what were the lasting catastrophic effects? According to this New York Times article, written just two years later, there were none:

The vast amount of oil that Iraqi occupation forces in Kuwait dumped into the Persian Gulf during the 1991 war did little long-term damage, international researchers say. …

“Given the phenomenal quantities of oil that were spilled into the Gulf, the results were rather cheering,” Chidi Ibe, of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission at Unesco, said in a statement today.

Coral reefs studied in early 1992 “appeared to be in good condition,” while fisheries showed “few unequivocal oil pollution effects attributable solely to the 1991 oil spills,” the study found.

Even if you take the highest estimates, the current spill would have to last for nearly a year before it did that kind of nonexistent ecological damage.

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RE: Peter Beinart and the Destruction of Liberal Zionism

Noah Pollak’s superb piece on Beinart prompts, first, my regret that I left Yale just before Noah arrived, so I can’t claim to have taught him anything.  But it, along with Benjamin Kerstein’s essay on “Liberalism and Zionism,” prompts a further reflection. Both Noah and Ben argue that Beinart exemplifies the vacuity of liberalism. As Noah puts it, “Because the history of the peace process repudiates so many of liberalism’s most cherished premises, liberalism is increasingly repudiating Israel. … In this way, the failure of the liberal vision is transformed from being a verdict on liberalism to being a verdict on Israel.”

True. But it is both more and less than that. For Beinart is not really writing about Israel at all. For him, and for the thousands of allies this lonely man possesses, the real issue is that, as Ben points out, Israel was born of a 19th-century nationalist impulse. At the time, that was not illiberal. On the contrary, support for national self-determination, as long as the people in question were capable of founding and sustaining a legitimate, sovereign state, was the essence of liberalism. The only difference was that the Jewish people, instead of being oppressed by one foreign power — as the Poles were by the Russians, or the Greeks by the Turks — were being oppressed by many.

The problem today is not that the peace process has failed or that this reveals the failure of the liberal vision. All that is true enough. The problem is that the liberal vision itself has changed. Not all liberals reject the nation-state, but suspicion of the nation-state as the organizing unit for the world does stem predominantly from the left. In view of the importance that the left attaches to the state as the provider of welfare benefits, this is both ironic and contradictory. But it does not change the fact that one reason liberals (especially those of a European persuasion) have fallen out of love with Israel is that it — along with the United States — was founded on and persists in maintaining a democratic and nationalist vision.

This is why the liberal critics bracket Israel and the U.S. They claim they do so because the U.S. supports Israel. Actually, they do it because they reject the worldview on which both nations are founded, the worldview that has motivated the U.S. to support Israel. For the critics, democracy and nationalism must ultimately be in conflict. Hence the importance of the EU and transnational initiatives like the International Criminal Court. This is a worldview founded in the European reaction to the Second World War. The fact that this war led to the destruction of the European nations and the rise of the Israeli one is another reason for anti-national liberals to look upon it with scorn: to them, Israel appears to be resisting the lessons of history.

The failure of the peace process undoubtedly contributes to the rising scorn. But the liberal retreat from Israel began long before Oslo and its failure.  It dates from the 1967 war, which shocked the newly sensitive souls of many on the left. Israel, in other words, is really a case study. It was protected for a time from the decay of the ideology of liberal nationalism on the left by the socialism of many of its founders and by the horror of the Holocaust. But that immunity began to expire two generations ago, and the process is continuing, as essays like Beinart’s reveal. The fact that Beinart himself believes he is writing uniquely and revealingly about Israel is just more evidence that liberals of his ilk have no idea how far they have drifted from the ideology their forebears celebrated.

Noah Pollak’s superb piece on Beinart prompts, first, my regret that I left Yale just before Noah arrived, so I can’t claim to have taught him anything.  But it, along with Benjamin Kerstein’s essay on “Liberalism and Zionism,” prompts a further reflection. Both Noah and Ben argue that Beinart exemplifies the vacuity of liberalism. As Noah puts it, “Because the history of the peace process repudiates so many of liberalism’s most cherished premises, liberalism is increasingly repudiating Israel. … In this way, the failure of the liberal vision is transformed from being a verdict on liberalism to being a verdict on Israel.”

True. But it is both more and less than that. For Beinart is not really writing about Israel at all. For him, and for the thousands of allies this lonely man possesses, the real issue is that, as Ben points out, Israel was born of a 19th-century nationalist impulse. At the time, that was not illiberal. On the contrary, support for national self-determination, as long as the people in question were capable of founding and sustaining a legitimate, sovereign state, was the essence of liberalism. The only difference was that the Jewish people, instead of being oppressed by one foreign power — as the Poles were by the Russians, or the Greeks by the Turks — were being oppressed by many.

The problem today is not that the peace process has failed or that this reveals the failure of the liberal vision. All that is true enough. The problem is that the liberal vision itself has changed. Not all liberals reject the nation-state, but suspicion of the nation-state as the organizing unit for the world does stem predominantly from the left. In view of the importance that the left attaches to the state as the provider of welfare benefits, this is both ironic and contradictory. But it does not change the fact that one reason liberals (especially those of a European persuasion) have fallen out of love with Israel is that it — along with the United States — was founded on and persists in maintaining a democratic and nationalist vision.

This is why the liberal critics bracket Israel and the U.S. They claim they do so because the U.S. supports Israel. Actually, they do it because they reject the worldview on which both nations are founded, the worldview that has motivated the U.S. to support Israel. For the critics, democracy and nationalism must ultimately be in conflict. Hence the importance of the EU and transnational initiatives like the International Criminal Court. This is a worldview founded in the European reaction to the Second World War. The fact that this war led to the destruction of the European nations and the rise of the Israeli one is another reason for anti-national liberals to look upon it with scorn: to them, Israel appears to be resisting the lessons of history.

The failure of the peace process undoubtedly contributes to the rising scorn. But the liberal retreat from Israel began long before Oslo and its failure.  It dates from the 1967 war, which shocked the newly sensitive souls of many on the left. Israel, in other words, is really a case study. It was protected for a time from the decay of the ideology of liberal nationalism on the left by the socialism of many of its founders and by the horror of the Holocaust. But that immunity began to expire two generations ago, and the process is continuing, as essays like Beinart’s reveal. The fact that Beinart himself believes he is writing uniquely and revealingly about Israel is just more evidence that liberals of his ilk have no idea how far they have drifted from the ideology their forebears celebrated.

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Sestak and Gaza

As Jonathan points out, the latest bit of Palestinian propaganda comes in the form of the Gaza-bound flotilla — an attempt (as with the original rockets fired into Gaza) to place Israel in the predicament of allowing threats to its citizens or engaging in a messy defensive operation that will bring howls from the American left, the Palestinian propaganda machine, and perhaps the Obama administration. (As to the latter, you can hear it now: “We deplore the excessive use of force.”)

Gaza remains a defining issue, separating the true Israel-bashers from the simply misguided and the pro-Israel. If Jew, gentile, or Muslim can’t bring himself to deplore the use of civilian targets by Hamas and to acknowledge the right of Israeli self-defense, then you know whatever “pro-Israel” or “pro-peace” credentials they are flashing are fake. If you’re with Richard Goldstone, you’re not in favor of a robust Israel with the right to defend itself from terrorist attacks.

Indeed, Joe Sestak is a prime example. He was of course one of the 54 signatories of the Gaza letter, calling for Israel to sacrifice its own security to allow materials into Gaza that could easily be converted to weaponry and could provide cover for smuggled weapons. As this report notes, the letter was instigated by some of the most Israel-hostile legislators (e.g., Jim McDermott and Keith Ellison), as well as this cast of characters:

J Street, The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), The American Near East Refugee Association (ANERA), The Methodist Church, The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), and Rabbis for Human Rights.

As is typical among Israel-bashers, Sestak’s sympathies primarily extend to the Palestinians and diminish the role of Hamas. An interview with the Jewish Exponent in February is telling:

Sestak acknowledged that signing on to the letter was politically risky, and that it could be used “against me.” But he said that it was more important to him to stand up for his convictions.

He said that while Israel’s security is a vital U.S. interest, the welfare of Gazans is a humanitarian concern: “I think we should be looking at this because I think it’s part of what we stand for as a nation.”

Liberal Democrat Eliot Engel denounced the letter in an interview in which he declared:

The Gaza 54 Democrats are just “misinformed” legislators. Democrats have problems with “extreme fringe elements” when it comes to supporting Israel, but “the mainstream of the party” will keep supporting Israel unlike the “vocal minority”.

In the “vocal minority,” Sestak has continued to defend his vote. In another interview, he flashed his military credentials as a naval admiral and asserted he really knew best what would be harmful to Israeli security, and that in this case, our humanitarian interests (which apparently don’t extend to the Israelis who would be attacked by smuggled weapons) should take precedence: “I truly believe the United States can meet our humanitarian interests without impacting the vital interest of our own, and Israel’s, security.”

Is it arrogance – I know better than Israel what is good for it – or is it animus toward Israel? Hard to say with Sestak, but the result is the same. He surely will encourage the worst tendencies in the administration and not let Israeli security get in the way of his “humanitarianism.” As with so many other self-proclaimed “tough love” proponents, there is toughness but no love of the Jewish state here.

As Jonathan points out, the latest bit of Palestinian propaganda comes in the form of the Gaza-bound flotilla — an attempt (as with the original rockets fired into Gaza) to place Israel in the predicament of allowing threats to its citizens or engaging in a messy defensive operation that will bring howls from the American left, the Palestinian propaganda machine, and perhaps the Obama administration. (As to the latter, you can hear it now: “We deplore the excessive use of force.”)

Gaza remains a defining issue, separating the true Israel-bashers from the simply misguided and the pro-Israel. If Jew, gentile, or Muslim can’t bring himself to deplore the use of civilian targets by Hamas and to acknowledge the right of Israeli self-defense, then you know whatever “pro-Israel” or “pro-peace” credentials they are flashing are fake. If you’re with Richard Goldstone, you’re not in favor of a robust Israel with the right to defend itself from terrorist attacks.

Indeed, Joe Sestak is a prime example. He was of course one of the 54 signatories of the Gaza letter, calling for Israel to sacrifice its own security to allow materials into Gaza that could easily be converted to weaponry and could provide cover for smuggled weapons. As this report notes, the letter was instigated by some of the most Israel-hostile legislators (e.g., Jim McDermott and Keith Ellison), as well as this cast of characters:

J Street, The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), The American Near East Refugee Association (ANERA), The Methodist Church, The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), and Rabbis for Human Rights.

As is typical among Israel-bashers, Sestak’s sympathies primarily extend to the Palestinians and diminish the role of Hamas. An interview with the Jewish Exponent in February is telling:

Sestak acknowledged that signing on to the letter was politically risky, and that it could be used “against me.” But he said that it was more important to him to stand up for his convictions.

He said that while Israel’s security is a vital U.S. interest, the welfare of Gazans is a humanitarian concern: “I think we should be looking at this because I think it’s part of what we stand for as a nation.”

Liberal Democrat Eliot Engel denounced the letter in an interview in which he declared:

The Gaza 54 Democrats are just “misinformed” legislators. Democrats have problems with “extreme fringe elements” when it comes to supporting Israel, but “the mainstream of the party” will keep supporting Israel unlike the “vocal minority”.

In the “vocal minority,” Sestak has continued to defend his vote. In another interview, he flashed his military credentials as a naval admiral and asserted he really knew best what would be harmful to Israeli security, and that in this case, our humanitarian interests (which apparently don’t extend to the Israelis who would be attacked by smuggled weapons) should take precedence: “I truly believe the United States can meet our humanitarian interests without impacting the vital interest of our own, and Israel’s, security.”

Is it arrogance – I know better than Israel what is good for it – or is it animus toward Israel? Hard to say with Sestak, but the result is the same. He surely will encourage the worst tendencies in the administration and not let Israeli security get in the way of his “humanitarianism.” As with so many other self-proclaimed “tough love” proponents, there is toughness but no love of the Jewish state here.

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Eleven Senate Seats in Play?

The Cook Report (subscription required) explains:

Republicans scored a late but important recruiting success yesterday when businessman and former state Sen. Dino Rossi announced that he would challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Patty Murray. Rossi’s announcement puts another Democratic-held seat in play. The race has been in the Solid Democratic column, but is moving to Toss Up, bringing the total number of competitive Democratic seats to 11.

As more seats come into play, the problems for the Democrats multiply. Spend money on Connecticut or Washington? Forget North Dakota and Delaware — they’re gone. How much money does Barbara Boxer need? And so it will go. Eleven seats doesn’t by any means guarantee or even make probable 11 GOP gains. It does, however, greatly increase the chances of 7-8 seats. And that’s more than enough to filibuster virtually any additions to the Obama spend-a-thon — and maybe to prevent funding of ObamaCare as well.

The Cook Report (subscription required) explains:

Republicans scored a late but important recruiting success yesterday when businessman and former state Sen. Dino Rossi announced that he would challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Patty Murray. Rossi’s announcement puts another Democratic-held seat in play. The race has been in the Solid Democratic column, but is moving to Toss Up, bringing the total number of competitive Democratic seats to 11.

As more seats come into play, the problems for the Democrats multiply. Spend money on Connecticut or Washington? Forget North Dakota and Delaware — they’re gone. How much money does Barbara Boxer need? And so it will go. Eleven seats doesn’t by any means guarantee or even make probable 11 GOP gains. It does, however, greatly increase the chances of 7-8 seats. And that’s more than enough to filibuster virtually any additions to the Obama spend-a-thon — and maybe to prevent funding of ObamaCare as well.

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Government Doesn’t, and Shouldn’t, Have Magical Powers

Yuval Levin, in a brilliant post at The Corner, offers an important explanation of the similarities between the BP oil spill and Hurricane Katrina — and in his estimation, the fault lies not with the White Houses of Bush and Obama but with ourselves:

It’s like Katrina in that many people’s attitude regarding the response to it reveals completely unreasonable expectations of government. The fact is, accidents (not to mention storms) happen. We can work to prepare for them, we can have various preventive rules and measures in place. We can build the capacity for response and recovery in advance. But these things happen, and sometimes they happen on a scale that is just too great to be easily addressed. It is totally unreasonable to expect the government to be able to easily address them—and the kind of government that would be capable of that is not the kind of government that we should want….

We seem to think that given our modern powers, there ought to be no accidents and no natural disasters anymore, and when those happen we blame the people in charge. Well, call me crazy but I don’t want a government so powerful that it could move half a million people in mere hours in response to a hurricane, or would have such total control over every facet of every industry that the potential for industrial accidents would be entirely eliminated. Such power would come at enormous cost to a lot of things we care about.

We who live in the 21st century West have the least messy, least dangerous, least uncertain lives of any human beings in history. We should be very grateful for that, but we should not let our good fortune utterly distort our expectations of life, and we should not react with unrestrained indignant shock anytime the limitations of our power make themselves seen or the cold and harsh capriciousness of nature overcomes our defenses. We should expect a firm response from the institutions we have built to protect ourselves—science, technology, and modern government—but we cannot expect a perfect response. Not from Bush, and not from Obama.

There’s more. Much more. Give it a read.

Yuval Levin, in a brilliant post at The Corner, offers an important explanation of the similarities between the BP oil spill and Hurricane Katrina — and in his estimation, the fault lies not with the White Houses of Bush and Obama but with ourselves:

It’s like Katrina in that many people’s attitude regarding the response to it reveals completely unreasonable expectations of government. The fact is, accidents (not to mention storms) happen. We can work to prepare for them, we can have various preventive rules and measures in place. We can build the capacity for response and recovery in advance. But these things happen, and sometimes they happen on a scale that is just too great to be easily addressed. It is totally unreasonable to expect the government to be able to easily address them—and the kind of government that would be capable of that is not the kind of government that we should want….

We seem to think that given our modern powers, there ought to be no accidents and no natural disasters anymore, and when those happen we blame the people in charge. Well, call me crazy but I don’t want a government so powerful that it could move half a million people in mere hours in response to a hurricane, or would have such total control over every facet of every industry that the potential for industrial accidents would be entirely eliminated. Such power would come at enormous cost to a lot of things we care about.

We who live in the 21st century West have the least messy, least dangerous, least uncertain lives of any human beings in history. We should be very grateful for that, but we should not let our good fortune utterly distort our expectations of life, and we should not react with unrestrained indignant shock anytime the limitations of our power make themselves seen or the cold and harsh capriciousness of nature overcomes our defenses. We should expect a firm response from the institutions we have built to protect ourselves—science, technology, and modern government—but we cannot expect a perfect response. Not from Bush, and not from Obama.

There’s more. Much more. Give it a read.

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The European Debt Crisis

The Telegraph has an article on the European debt crisis that is well worth reading (H/T Real Clear Politics). While RCP has the title as “Europe Is Headed for a Meltdown,” the Telegraph‘s headline is the slightly less scary “Is Europe Heading for a Meltdown?” But the article is scary enough:

Mervyn King, the Bank of England Governor, summed it up best: “Dealing with a banking crisis was difficult enough,” he said the other week, “but at least there were public-sector balance sheets on to which the problems could be moved. Once you move into sovereign debt, there is no answer; there’s no backstop.” …

The European financial crisis may look and smell rather different to the American banking crisis of a couple of years ago, but strip away the details — the breakdown of the euro, the crumbling of the Spanish banking system to take just two — and what you are left with is the next leg of a global financial crisis. Politicians temporarily “solved” the sub-prime crisis of 2007 and 2008 by nationalising billions of pounds’ worth of bank debt. While this helped reinject a little confidence into markets, the real upshot was merely to transfer that debt on to public-sector balance sheets. …

The problem is that this has to stop somewhere, and that gasping noise over the past couple of weeks is the sound of millions of investors realising, all at once, that the music might have stopped. Having leapt back into the market in 2009 and fuelled the biggest stock-market leap since the recovery from the Wall Street Crash in the early 1930s, investors have suddenly deserted. London’s FTSE 100 has lost 15 per cent of its value in little more than a month. The mayhem on European bourses is even worse, while on Wall Street the Dow Jones teeters on the brink of the talismanic 10,000 level.

Once a market has a change of mood such as this, the outcome is usually not a happy one, although it can take a while for the bottom to drop out. The market mood changed decisively on September 3, 1929, but it wasn’t until October 29 that the great crash occurred, and the market didn’t hit bottom (in the short term) until early December. Governments of the major financial powers had better be paying very close attention and very careful about what they say. We’re in dangerous psychological territory right now.

The Telegraph has an article on the European debt crisis that is well worth reading (H/T Real Clear Politics). While RCP has the title as “Europe Is Headed for a Meltdown,” the Telegraph‘s headline is the slightly less scary “Is Europe Heading for a Meltdown?” But the article is scary enough:

Mervyn King, the Bank of England Governor, summed it up best: “Dealing with a banking crisis was difficult enough,” he said the other week, “but at least there were public-sector balance sheets on to which the problems could be moved. Once you move into sovereign debt, there is no answer; there’s no backstop.” …

The European financial crisis may look and smell rather different to the American banking crisis of a couple of years ago, but strip away the details — the breakdown of the euro, the crumbling of the Spanish banking system to take just two — and what you are left with is the next leg of a global financial crisis. Politicians temporarily “solved” the sub-prime crisis of 2007 and 2008 by nationalising billions of pounds’ worth of bank debt. While this helped reinject a little confidence into markets, the real upshot was merely to transfer that debt on to public-sector balance sheets. …

The problem is that this has to stop somewhere, and that gasping noise over the past couple of weeks is the sound of millions of investors realising, all at once, that the music might have stopped. Having leapt back into the market in 2009 and fuelled the biggest stock-market leap since the recovery from the Wall Street Crash in the early 1930s, investors have suddenly deserted. London’s FTSE 100 has lost 15 per cent of its value in little more than a month. The mayhem on European bourses is even worse, while on Wall Street the Dow Jones teeters on the brink of the talismanic 10,000 level.

Once a market has a change of mood such as this, the outcome is usually not a happy one, although it can take a while for the bottom to drop out. The market mood changed decisively on September 3, 1929, but it wasn’t until October 29 that the great crash occurred, and the market didn’t hit bottom (in the short term) until early December. Governments of the major financial powers had better be paying very close attention and very careful about what they say. We’re in dangerous psychological territory right now.

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The Limits of Anti-Israel Activists’ Compassion

For those who wish to end the continued existence of a sovereign Jewish state on the shores of the Mediterranean, there is only one cause worth caring about: breaking the limited blockade that both Israel and Egypt have placed on Hamas-ruled Gaza. No one in Gaza is starving. All are fed by a United Nations Agency — UNRWA — specifically set up to ensure the continued existence of a Palestinian refugee problem. Gaza is poor, but the region, which Israel evacuated in 2005, is now an independent entity ruled by the Hamas terrorist group. For years, it served as a launching pad for missile attacks on Israeli civilians in southern Israel. But after Israel’s counteroffensive in December 2008, the Islamists who run Gaza have mostly held their fire. This is done partly out of fear of more Israeli counterterror operations and partly because the blockade imposed on the area — a blockade that allows in food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies but not construction materials that could aid Hamas’s homegrown weapons industry — has made it difficult for them to replenish their arsenal.

Thus, efforts to break this blockade and the international isolation imposed on this Hamasistan, created to force Gaza’s rulers to renounce their allegiance to a program pledged to the violent destruction of Israel, have little to do with sympathy for Gazans and everything to do with fueling anti-Israel propaganda. Though European sympathy for the “plight” of besieged Gaza is commonplace, support for breaking the blockade means freedom for Hamas, not the people who must live under the rule of Islamist tyrants.

But that hasn’t stopped anti-Israel activists from attempting to stage propaganda incidents highlighting their opposition to the blockade against Hamas. The latest is a so-called Freedom Flotilla of eight ships that left Istanbul, Turkey, this week. Al Jazeera, whose peppered a “news” report about the launch editorialized about how the “issue of Gaza moves Turks more than any other single issue,” noted that the convoy “is from the UK, Ireland, Algeria, Kuwait, Greece and Turkey, and is comprised of 800 people from 50 nationalities.” Though the rhetoric from the organizers centered on the supposed lack of food and medicine in Gaza, the report also noted that the ships are carrying 500 tons of construction equipment. Omitted from the Al Jazeera article was the fact that high-ranking members of the Hamas leadership also attended the festive launch of the ships. It is no surprise that Israel has said its Navy will prevent the ships from landing at Gaza and delivering their cargo. If they persist in trying to land, they will be diverted to Israel, where the passengers will be sent home, and any actual humanitarian supplies (as opposed to construction material) will be sent on to Gaza.

But though they claim they are trying to help people in need, there are limits to even the boundless compassion for humanity exhibited by those taking part in the Freedom Flotilla.

A lawyer representing the family of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas in 2006, approached the organizers of the Free Gaza flotilla. The Shalit family asked the pro-Palestinian group to bring letters and food packages to the kidnapped soldier, who has been denied Red Cross visits by his Hamas captors. In exchange, the family, which has the sympathy of all Israel and the ear of the Israeli government, offered to lobby to give the flotilla docking rights in Gaza. The response from these humanitarians: no!

Had they agreed to pass on the letters and packages from Shalit’s family, the pro-Palestinian group could have bolstered their shaky credibility as humanitarians. But by refusing, they have revealed themselves as nothing more than people bent on aiding and abetting an international terrorist group.

For those who wish to end the continued existence of a sovereign Jewish state on the shores of the Mediterranean, there is only one cause worth caring about: breaking the limited blockade that both Israel and Egypt have placed on Hamas-ruled Gaza. No one in Gaza is starving. All are fed by a United Nations Agency — UNRWA — specifically set up to ensure the continued existence of a Palestinian refugee problem. Gaza is poor, but the region, which Israel evacuated in 2005, is now an independent entity ruled by the Hamas terrorist group. For years, it served as a launching pad for missile attacks on Israeli civilians in southern Israel. But after Israel’s counteroffensive in December 2008, the Islamists who run Gaza have mostly held their fire. This is done partly out of fear of more Israeli counterterror operations and partly because the blockade imposed on the area — a blockade that allows in food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies but not construction materials that could aid Hamas’s homegrown weapons industry — has made it difficult for them to replenish their arsenal.

Thus, efforts to break this blockade and the international isolation imposed on this Hamasistan, created to force Gaza’s rulers to renounce their allegiance to a program pledged to the violent destruction of Israel, have little to do with sympathy for Gazans and everything to do with fueling anti-Israel propaganda. Though European sympathy for the “plight” of besieged Gaza is commonplace, support for breaking the blockade means freedom for Hamas, not the people who must live under the rule of Islamist tyrants.

But that hasn’t stopped anti-Israel activists from attempting to stage propaganda incidents highlighting their opposition to the blockade against Hamas. The latest is a so-called Freedom Flotilla of eight ships that left Istanbul, Turkey, this week. Al Jazeera, whose peppered a “news” report about the launch editorialized about how the “issue of Gaza moves Turks more than any other single issue,” noted that the convoy “is from the UK, Ireland, Algeria, Kuwait, Greece and Turkey, and is comprised of 800 people from 50 nationalities.” Though the rhetoric from the organizers centered on the supposed lack of food and medicine in Gaza, the report also noted that the ships are carrying 500 tons of construction equipment. Omitted from the Al Jazeera article was the fact that high-ranking members of the Hamas leadership also attended the festive launch of the ships. It is no surprise that Israel has said its Navy will prevent the ships from landing at Gaza and delivering their cargo. If they persist in trying to land, they will be diverted to Israel, where the passengers will be sent home, and any actual humanitarian supplies (as opposed to construction material) will be sent on to Gaza.

But though they claim they are trying to help people in need, there are limits to even the boundless compassion for humanity exhibited by those taking part in the Freedom Flotilla.

A lawyer representing the family of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas in 2006, approached the organizers of the Free Gaza flotilla. The Shalit family asked the pro-Palestinian group to bring letters and food packages to the kidnapped soldier, who has been denied Red Cross visits by his Hamas captors. In exchange, the family, which has the sympathy of all Israel and the ear of the Israeli government, offered to lobby to give the flotilla docking rights in Gaza. The response from these humanitarians: no!

Had they agreed to pass on the letters and packages from Shalit’s family, the pro-Palestinian group could have bolstered their shaky credibility as humanitarians. But by refusing, they have revealed themselves as nothing more than people bent on aiding and abetting an international terrorist group.

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Brazil’s Iran Deal Alibi: Obama Said It Was Okay

There has been no shortage of foreign-policy disasters in the first year and a half of Barack Obama’s presidency, but nothing has illustrated the administration’s appalling lack of skill in diplomacy more than its amateurish efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear program. The latest indication of incompetence was illustrated when the government of Brazil released the full text of a three-page letter sent by Obama to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in April, in which the American commander in chief gave the Brazilian leader the green light to pursue an agreement in which Iran would transfer part of its stockpile of enriched uranium to Turkey. This startling piece of news was buried toward the bottom of a New York Times report on the latest developments in Iranian diplomacy. The article devoted most of its space to new tensions between Tehran and Moscow.

The Iran/Brazil/Turkey deal was a blatant Iranian attempt to derail faltering American efforts to build an international coalition that supports sanctions against Tehran to pressure the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions. It would also not prevent the Iranians from continuing to amass material to build a bomb. This diplomatic freelancing on the part of both Brazil and Turkey was widely seen as a slap in the face to Obama at just the moment that the American president had started to cobble together enough support for a weak sanctions package.

But although both the Brazilians and the Turks deserve the opprobrium that has been heaped on them for allowing Iran’s tyrannical Islamist regime to use them to divert attention away from sanctions efforts, it must be conceded that what they have done isn’t any more foolish than a similar deal that the United States itself tried to make with Iran last fall. That disaster, which came after several months of unsuccessful attempts at engagement with Tehran, fell through after the Iranians embarrassed the administration by reneging on an agreement to transfer uranium. Obama and his foreign-policy team seemingly learned their lesson after this fiasco and finally began to talk about sanctions. To gain tepid Russian support for sanctions, the Obama administration has had to water down its proposals to a point where it is clear that little damage will be done. But after having labored so hard to achieve so little, Washington was clearly outraged by being outflanked by Brazil’s and Turkey’s untimely intervention earlier this month.

But if the mere fact of this new deal wasn’t enough to undermine international support for sanctions, the revelation that Brazil acted with the express written permission of Obama must be seen as a catastrophe for international efforts to restrain Tehran. Why should anyone take American rhetoric about stopping Iran seriously if Obama is now understood to have spent the past few months pushing for sanctions in public while privately encouraging third parties who are trying to appease the Iranians?

What were Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who has spent the last weeks spouting a great deal of tough talk about Iran) thinking when they sent the letter to Lula? Did they take a calculated gamble that the Brazil initiative would fail and that they could make nice with the leftist Lula while not endangering their sanctions campaign? If so, then once again, the wily Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has outwitted Obama and Clinton. Though the Iranians appear to have miscalculated how far they can push their erstwhile Russian allies as they maneuver to buy even more time for their nuclear program, it seems as if they have decided that there is no limit to how far they can push Obama. And after this latest diplomatic embarrassment for the United States, it is hard to argue with them on that point.

There has been no shortage of foreign-policy disasters in the first year and a half of Barack Obama’s presidency, but nothing has illustrated the administration’s appalling lack of skill in diplomacy more than its amateurish efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear program. The latest indication of incompetence was illustrated when the government of Brazil released the full text of a three-page letter sent by Obama to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in April, in which the American commander in chief gave the Brazilian leader the green light to pursue an agreement in which Iran would transfer part of its stockpile of enriched uranium to Turkey. This startling piece of news was buried toward the bottom of a New York Times report on the latest developments in Iranian diplomacy. The article devoted most of its space to new tensions between Tehran and Moscow.

The Iran/Brazil/Turkey deal was a blatant Iranian attempt to derail faltering American efforts to build an international coalition that supports sanctions against Tehran to pressure the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions. It would also not prevent the Iranians from continuing to amass material to build a bomb. This diplomatic freelancing on the part of both Brazil and Turkey was widely seen as a slap in the face to Obama at just the moment that the American president had started to cobble together enough support for a weak sanctions package.

But although both the Brazilians and the Turks deserve the opprobrium that has been heaped on them for allowing Iran’s tyrannical Islamist regime to use them to divert attention away from sanctions efforts, it must be conceded that what they have done isn’t any more foolish than a similar deal that the United States itself tried to make with Iran last fall. That disaster, which came after several months of unsuccessful attempts at engagement with Tehran, fell through after the Iranians embarrassed the administration by reneging on an agreement to transfer uranium. Obama and his foreign-policy team seemingly learned their lesson after this fiasco and finally began to talk about sanctions. To gain tepid Russian support for sanctions, the Obama administration has had to water down its proposals to a point where it is clear that little damage will be done. But after having labored so hard to achieve so little, Washington was clearly outraged by being outflanked by Brazil’s and Turkey’s untimely intervention earlier this month.

But if the mere fact of this new deal wasn’t enough to undermine international support for sanctions, the revelation that Brazil acted with the express written permission of Obama must be seen as a catastrophe for international efforts to restrain Tehran. Why should anyone take American rhetoric about stopping Iran seriously if Obama is now understood to have spent the past few months pushing for sanctions in public while privately encouraging third parties who are trying to appease the Iranians?

What were Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who has spent the last weeks spouting a great deal of tough talk about Iran) thinking when they sent the letter to Lula? Did they take a calculated gamble that the Brazil initiative would fail and that they could make nice with the leftist Lula while not endangering their sanctions campaign? If so, then once again, the wily Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has outwitted Obama and Clinton. Though the Iranians appear to have miscalculated how far they can push their erstwhile Russian allies as they maneuver to buy even more time for their nuclear program, it seems as if they have decided that there is no limit to how far they can push Obama. And after this latest diplomatic embarrassment for the United States, it is hard to argue with them on that point.

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The Ground Zero Mosque

Rod Dreher, who stood on the Brooklyn Bridge and watched the second tower melt and crumble, is eloquent on this looming horror:

New York City officials have voted to allow construction of a $100 million mosque near the site of the World Trade Center. I mean no disrespect to Muslims, but this is an unspeakably bad idea. The 9/11 hijackers brought down those towers, and killed thousands, in the name of Islam. Of course it is wrong to blame all Muslims for 9/11. But why on earth rub salt in the wounds of the 9/11 dead by allowing a mosque to go in just two blocks from where jihadists incinerated or crushed over 2,700 innocent victims, in service of their faith?…

You may recall in 1993, Pope John Paul II ordered Carmelite nuns to remove themselves from a convent they established on the grounds of Auschwitz, after years of Jewish protest. Even though the Nazis did not massacre Jews there in the name of Christianity, Jews saw the presence of the convent on the most notorious site of the Holocaust as an affront. It was plainly not meant to be, but it was, and one can certainly understand why, given what happened on that site, and the history of anti-Semitism in European Christianity….

Though the numbers of dead in the 9/11 attacks were incomparably smaller than the Holocaust, the inescapable fact is that those killings were carried out by Islamic religious fanatics who believed they were serving Islam through mass murder. Again, it would be very wrong to hold all Muslims responsible for what those monsters did. At the same time, however distorted the religious views of those terrorists may have been, it is deeply offensive to build a giant mosque in what would have been the shadows of the Twin Towers, had they not been brought down explicitly for the greater glory of Allah.

Read the whole thing.

Rod Dreher, who stood on the Brooklyn Bridge and watched the second tower melt and crumble, is eloquent on this looming horror:

New York City officials have voted to allow construction of a $100 million mosque near the site of the World Trade Center. I mean no disrespect to Muslims, but this is an unspeakably bad idea. The 9/11 hijackers brought down those towers, and killed thousands, in the name of Islam. Of course it is wrong to blame all Muslims for 9/11. But why on earth rub salt in the wounds of the 9/11 dead by allowing a mosque to go in just two blocks from where jihadists incinerated or crushed over 2,700 innocent victims, in service of their faith?…

You may recall in 1993, Pope John Paul II ordered Carmelite nuns to remove themselves from a convent they established on the grounds of Auschwitz, after years of Jewish protest. Even though the Nazis did not massacre Jews there in the name of Christianity, Jews saw the presence of the convent on the most notorious site of the Holocaust as an affront. It was plainly not meant to be, but it was, and one can certainly understand why, given what happened on that site, and the history of anti-Semitism in European Christianity….

Though the numbers of dead in the 9/11 attacks were incomparably smaller than the Holocaust, the inescapable fact is that those killings were carried out by Islamic religious fanatics who believed they were serving Islam through mass murder. Again, it would be very wrong to hold all Muslims responsible for what those monsters did. At the same time, however distorted the religious views of those terrorists may have been, it is deeply offensive to build a giant mosque in what would have been the shadows of the Twin Towers, had they not been brought down explicitly for the greater glory of Allah.

Read the whole thing.

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America in Decline, Language Butchered

“Orwellian” is a much overused term, but there is no adjective that quite captures the linguistic gymnastics Obama and his team employ to avoid letting on that they see America not as a superpower but as merely one member of the “international community” (and one that does not recognize the enemy we face).

First, from the ever-ludicrous (engage moderate Hezbollah members?) John Brennan:

Brennan said that “our enemy is not terrorism, because terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not terror, because terror is a state of mind and, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear.”

“Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists,” Brennan said, because use of these religious terms would “play into the false perception” that al-Qaeda and its affiliates are “religious leaders and defending a holy cause, when in fact, they are nothing more than murderers.”

The motivating force behind these terrorists, the imams that inspire them, and the ideology they seek to instill in other Muslims is not important to Brennan. Or perhaps it is just inconvenient at a time when Obama is breathlessly engaging the “Muslim World.”

Then there is this:

Obama administration officials have dubbed their policy toward North Korea “strategic patience” — a resolve that Pyongyang has to make the first move to reengage and that it won’t be granted any concessions. Now that patience is going to be tested. Since President Obama took office, North Korea has launched missiles, conducted a second nuclear test, seized a pair of U.S. journalists and sunk a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors.

Translation: the North Koreans are increasingly belligerent as the Obama administration has failed to respond to multiple provocations.

When language is misused or contorted, it usually means something is being concealed. In this case, what’s being concealed is a counter-factual foreign policy that ignores threats, refuses to recognize the identity of our foes, and declines to assert American power in defense of our values and interests.

“Orwellian” is a much overused term, but there is no adjective that quite captures the linguistic gymnastics Obama and his team employ to avoid letting on that they see America not as a superpower but as merely one member of the “international community” (and one that does not recognize the enemy we face).

First, from the ever-ludicrous (engage moderate Hezbollah members?) John Brennan:

Brennan said that “our enemy is not terrorism, because terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not terror, because terror is a state of mind and, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear.”

“Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists,” Brennan said, because use of these religious terms would “play into the false perception” that al-Qaeda and its affiliates are “religious leaders and defending a holy cause, when in fact, they are nothing more than murderers.”

The motivating force behind these terrorists, the imams that inspire them, and the ideology they seek to instill in other Muslims is not important to Brennan. Or perhaps it is just inconvenient at a time when Obama is breathlessly engaging the “Muslim World.”

Then there is this:

Obama administration officials have dubbed their policy toward North Korea “strategic patience” — a resolve that Pyongyang has to make the first move to reengage and that it won’t be granted any concessions. Now that patience is going to be tested. Since President Obama took office, North Korea has launched missiles, conducted a second nuclear test, seized a pair of U.S. journalists and sunk a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors.

Translation: the North Koreans are increasingly belligerent as the Obama administration has failed to respond to multiple provocations.

When language is misused or contorted, it usually means something is being concealed. In this case, what’s being concealed is a counter-factual foreign policy that ignores threats, refuses to recognize the identity of our foes, and declines to assert American power in defense of our values and interests.

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Obama Annoys Everyone on Immigration

Obama’s decision to send 1,200 National Guard troops to patrol the border is regarded as insufficient by conservatives and even the mainstream media. But it’s also alienating his liberal base, the New York Times explains, as immigration advocates are peeved:

[Obama] has confounded allies who say he is squandering his chance to address it in a comprehensive way. …

They said that in focusing first on border security, Mr. Obama might be giving up his best leverage for winning approval of broader but more politically contentious steps to address the status of the millions of immigrants already in the United States illegally, and the needs of employers who rely on their labor.

“I’m trying to reconcile the stated belief of this president when he was a candidate, what he has said publicly — as recently as a naturalization ceremony last month — and what his actions are,” said Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning organization that is a close ally of the Obama administration. “I think there’s a big gap there.”

She shouldn’t spend much time on that endeavor. There’s a very long list of broken campaign promises, she must know. Moreover, the fact that this interest in immigration is only coming up now should clue Kelley in to the president’s underwhelming interest in fighting a touchy legislative battle on this issue. (“Since the beginning of his presidency, Mr. Obama has been dogged by questions about his commitment to immigration legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million people who are living in this country without legal documentation.”)

This is not unlike the ObamaCare battle. He managed to infuriate conservatives and independents and also turn off many on the left who were only interested in reform if they got the public option. And it’s not all that different from his dilemma on Israel. He bashed Israel to the delight of Israel’s Arab neighbors while freaking out his Jewish supporters, whom he now must “charm.” The result is that many Jews still don’t trust him, and he’s also disappointing his Palestinian friends.

It’s quite a knack to alienate voters along the entire political spectrum. But Obama is showing how it can be done. It starts with running as a blank slate and allowing opposing groups to believe the president will be “with them.” Add in lots of insincere rhetoric, a lack of governing skills, and a tone deafness to the electorate, and you have a president whose approval ratings continue to plunge.

Obama’s decision to send 1,200 National Guard troops to patrol the border is regarded as insufficient by conservatives and even the mainstream media. But it’s also alienating his liberal base, the New York Times explains, as immigration advocates are peeved:

[Obama] has confounded allies who say he is squandering his chance to address it in a comprehensive way. …

They said that in focusing first on border security, Mr. Obama might be giving up his best leverage for winning approval of broader but more politically contentious steps to address the status of the millions of immigrants already in the United States illegally, and the needs of employers who rely on their labor.

“I’m trying to reconcile the stated belief of this president when he was a candidate, what he has said publicly — as recently as a naturalization ceremony last month — and what his actions are,” said Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning organization that is a close ally of the Obama administration. “I think there’s a big gap there.”

She shouldn’t spend much time on that endeavor. There’s a very long list of broken campaign promises, she must know. Moreover, the fact that this interest in immigration is only coming up now should clue Kelley in to the president’s underwhelming interest in fighting a touchy legislative battle on this issue. (“Since the beginning of his presidency, Mr. Obama has been dogged by questions about his commitment to immigration legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million people who are living in this country without legal documentation.”)

This is not unlike the ObamaCare battle. He managed to infuriate conservatives and independents and also turn off many on the left who were only interested in reform if they got the public option. And it’s not all that different from his dilemma on Israel. He bashed Israel to the delight of Israel’s Arab neighbors while freaking out his Jewish supporters, whom he now must “charm.” The result is that many Jews still don’t trust him, and he’s also disappointing his Palestinian friends.

It’s quite a knack to alienate voters along the entire political spectrum. But Obama is showing how it can be done. It starts with running as a blank slate and allowing opposing groups to believe the president will be “with them.” Add in lots of insincere rhetoric, a lack of governing skills, and a tone deafness to the electorate, and you have a president whose approval ratings continue to plunge.

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Obama Not Interested in Religious Freedom

Leonard Leo, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Freedom (which recently issued a report on religious oppression and discrimination), in an interesting interview explains what has escaped the grasp of Obama:

Promoting the freedom of religion or belief promotes stability and security by reducing resentment, tension, hostility, and extremism. Countries that discriminate against and harass religious minorities, and that enforce blasphemy and other repressive laws, tend to embolden extremists who seek to impose their own orthodoxy. Countries that look the other way when religious minorities are being attacked by private individuals foster a climate of impunity, which similarly creates space for extremism. And, countries that crack down on peaceable religious practices of non-majority faiths create feelings of resentment on the part of oppressed minorities, which in turn can drive young men in those minority faiths to separatist movements and terrorist training camps.

Leo is emphatic that “the U.S. government must do more to make the promotion of freedom of religion a more central feature or objective of our foreign-policy agenda” but diplomatically declines to compare the Obama administration with the Bush team.

He does note, however, that it would be a good idea to fill the position of ambassador for International Religious Freedom. And he focuses on  countries whose lack of religious freedom has gone unaddressed by Obama: “The impunity of Nigeria and Egypt, the use of religion to stoke civil war in places like Sudan, the imposition in countries such as Pakistan of blasphemy laws that result in public punishment of and private violence against dissenters and minorities — these are among the chilling reminders of how fragile human dignity is elsewhere in the world.”

Most telling is the administration’s reaction to the commission’s report: “There hasn’t been much of a response yet.” That’s par for the course. It is not a topic that interests Obama; indeed the calls from religious and political human-rights activists for Obama to step up to the plate in defense of those fighting political and religious oppression (in Iran, China, Sudan, Burma, Egypt, and elsewhere) are no doubt an annoyance to a president whose foreign policy is built on ingratiating himself with despots. Leo advises:

The administration should make freedom of religion an integral part of the negotiations that are taking place with countries such as China, Iran, and North Korea. And, in the close bilateral relations we have with countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, we must send the message that we expect more and better from them. All too often, freedom-of-religion issues either are ignored altogether or are not linked into a broader strategic dialogue respecting stability, security, development, and peace.

Don’t expect this to change until there is a new president.

Leonard Leo, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Freedom (which recently issued a report on religious oppression and discrimination), in an interesting interview explains what has escaped the grasp of Obama:

Promoting the freedom of religion or belief promotes stability and security by reducing resentment, tension, hostility, and extremism. Countries that discriminate against and harass religious minorities, and that enforce blasphemy and other repressive laws, tend to embolden extremists who seek to impose their own orthodoxy. Countries that look the other way when religious minorities are being attacked by private individuals foster a climate of impunity, which similarly creates space for extremism. And, countries that crack down on peaceable religious practices of non-majority faiths create feelings of resentment on the part of oppressed minorities, which in turn can drive young men in those minority faiths to separatist movements and terrorist training camps.

Leo is emphatic that “the U.S. government must do more to make the promotion of freedom of religion a more central feature or objective of our foreign-policy agenda” but diplomatically declines to compare the Obama administration with the Bush team.

He does note, however, that it would be a good idea to fill the position of ambassador for International Religious Freedom. And he focuses on  countries whose lack of religious freedom has gone unaddressed by Obama: “The impunity of Nigeria and Egypt, the use of religion to stoke civil war in places like Sudan, the imposition in countries such as Pakistan of blasphemy laws that result in public punishment of and private violence against dissenters and minorities — these are among the chilling reminders of how fragile human dignity is elsewhere in the world.”

Most telling is the administration’s reaction to the commission’s report: “There hasn’t been much of a response yet.” That’s par for the course. It is not a topic that interests Obama; indeed the calls from religious and political human-rights activists for Obama to step up to the plate in defense of those fighting political and religious oppression (in Iran, China, Sudan, Burma, Egypt, and elsewhere) are no doubt an annoyance to a president whose foreign policy is built on ingratiating himself with despots. Leo advises:

The administration should make freedom of religion an integral part of the negotiations that are taking place with countries such as China, Iran, and North Korea. And, in the close bilateral relations we have with countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, we must send the message that we expect more and better from them. All too often, freedom-of-religion issues either are ignored altogether or are not linked into a broader strategic dialogue respecting stability, security, development, and peace.

Don’t expect this to change until there is a new president.

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When It Comes to National Intelligence, One Head Is Better than Two

The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House is having a tough time finding anyone willing to take on the thankless job of director of National Intelligence after firing retired Admiral Dennis Blair. If the newspaper’s reporting is to be believed, the post has already been turned down by CIA director Leon Panetta and former senator Chuck Hagel. That leaves Gen. James Clapper, the top intelligence official at the Department of Defense, as the front-runner, but his appointment is unpopular on Capitol Hill.

What to do? Here’s a thought from out of left field: why not appoint Panetta to the job while letting him keep his current appointment as CIA director? In fact, why not make it a tradition to have the same person serve as both DNI and DCI? That would actually be in line with the historic expectation that the head of the CIA would also be the head of the entire intelligence community. That promise was never realized, so in 2005 Congress created a separate DNI post. But each DNI has struggled to exercise any real power over individual intelligence agencies, and in particular over the CIA; Blair lost bruising turf battles to Panetta. By putting the same person in charge of both National Intelligence and CIA, you eliminate at least one turf battle. That may very well be the best solution for the short term, and possibly even the long term, unless Congress invests the DNI with vast new powers over budgeting and personnel, which it so far hasn’t been willing to do.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House is having a tough time finding anyone willing to take on the thankless job of director of National Intelligence after firing retired Admiral Dennis Blair. If the newspaper’s reporting is to be believed, the post has already been turned down by CIA director Leon Panetta and former senator Chuck Hagel. That leaves Gen. James Clapper, the top intelligence official at the Department of Defense, as the front-runner, but his appointment is unpopular on Capitol Hill.

What to do? Here’s a thought from out of left field: why not appoint Panetta to the job while letting him keep his current appointment as CIA director? In fact, why not make it a tradition to have the same person serve as both DNI and DCI? That would actually be in line with the historic expectation that the head of the CIA would also be the head of the entire intelligence community. That promise was never realized, so in 2005 Congress created a separate DNI post. But each DNI has struggled to exercise any real power over individual intelligence agencies, and in particular over the CIA; Blair lost bruising turf battles to Panetta. By putting the same person in charge of both National Intelligence and CIA, you eliminate at least one turf battle. That may very well be the best solution for the short term, and possibly even the long term, unless Congress invests the DNI with vast new powers over budgeting and personnel, which it so far hasn’t been willing to do.

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GOP Women Crushing Opponents in California Primary Races

In a third poll this week, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman appear headed for big wins:

With less than two weeks until the June 8th primary, California Republican primary voters are poised to nominate two former female CEO’s to lead the GOP ticket in November. According to our … automated survey of likely Republican primary voters conducted on May 24th, in the gubernatorial race, Meg Whitman leads Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner by 35 points, 54% to 19%. … Survey results from the US Senate ballot test show Carly Fiorina with a 23 point lead over former Congressman Tom Campbell 44% to 21% and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore with 14%. … Support for Carly Fiorina has surged 24 points since our last survey on February 25th from 20% to 44%, and Tom Campbell’s support has declined 12 points from 33% to 21%.

With all these female Republicans (Linda McMahon in Connecticut as well), the Democrats will have to come up with a different story line than “Republicans don’t like women.” I suspect they’ll just drop it altogether. And if Fiorina and Whitman beat their male rivals, will we hear cheers from NOW? No. Not even the election of pro-choice Whitman, I suspect, will please them. Perhaps we should rewrite the phrase as “The Left doesn’t like women who oppose the Left.” And there may be two more of those elected come November.

In a third poll this week, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman appear headed for big wins:

With less than two weeks until the June 8th primary, California Republican primary voters are poised to nominate two former female CEO’s to lead the GOP ticket in November. According to our … automated survey of likely Republican primary voters conducted on May 24th, in the gubernatorial race, Meg Whitman leads Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner by 35 points, 54% to 19%. … Survey results from the US Senate ballot test show Carly Fiorina with a 23 point lead over former Congressman Tom Campbell 44% to 21% and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore with 14%. … Support for Carly Fiorina has surged 24 points since our last survey on February 25th from 20% to 44%, and Tom Campbell’s support has declined 12 points from 33% to 21%.

With all these female Republicans (Linda McMahon in Connecticut as well), the Democrats will have to come up with a different story line than “Republicans don’t like women.” I suspect they’ll just drop it altogether. And if Fiorina and Whitman beat their male rivals, will we hear cheers from NOW? No. Not even the election of pro-choice Whitman, I suspect, will please them. Perhaps we should rewrite the phrase as “The Left doesn’t like women who oppose the Left.” And there may be two more of those elected come November.

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Another Hand-Wringing Jew

It’s getting to be a trend: Jews publicly expressing their antipathy or outright disdain for Israel. The latest comes from Emily Schaeffer, a 31-year-old lawyer who has come to despise the Jewish state. Perhaps it was her abominable Jewish education, a not uncommon malady:

Schaeffer attended public school, but always felt at home when she took part in activities of the Reform movement. “My parents sent me there when I was five. I went once a week after school, and later twice a week. In the movement we had lessons about Judaism and about Israel, in a very lighthearted way. Once we made a map of Israel out of ice cream and marked the cities with colorful M&M candies. It was Zionism-lite. At that time I also went to synagogue.”

Very lite, it seems. And one suspects she heard from the bima much more about minimum wage and global warming than about Zionism. From there it was on to Reform-movement activities, where she had a grand time and that “altered the course of her life.” She eventually went to live in Israel and, as the lefty Haaretz puts it, became “an Israeli devoid of nationalistic sentiment and full of human compassion.”

Thereafter she fled Israel with a bad case of cognitive dissonance during the second intifada:

“The intifada caused me a profound crisis. I was very disappointed with both sides. I lived on Mahaneh Yehuda street then. Within a day, all the Arab workers, Palestinians from the territories, some of whom I was really friendly with, disappeared. They just disappeared. It was the first time I experienced a war situation. I knew there had been terror attacks in the market and I was tense all the time. I was afraid to be outside too long, I wanted to listen to the news all the time. I was going crazy.”

This caused her not to rethink her chumminess with those killing Jews but rather to return to the U.S. (an option not available to most Israelis), where again she sought out the Israel-haters: “She joined the dialogue group and the Jews Against the Occupation organization in New York. And she once again immersed herself in the bloody conflict that she had abandoned.”

Of course, her “human compassion” does not extend to the Jews attempting to survive in a hostile neighborhood but rather to the killers of Jews:

In Jerusalem she discovered the hidden world, for her at least, of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In those days, before the second intifada, she found a common language with Meretz activists on the Mount Scopus campus. “I met my first Palestinian friend then, Sari Abu-Ziad, the oldest son of Ziad Abu-Ziad, who was a minister in the Palestinian government then. He told me about his childhood, what a checkpoint was, what it meant to feel like you’re living in a prison, what it’s like to be an Arabic-speaker in Israel, how frightened he was. He studied at the Hebrew University. This was before the 1999 election. We gave out stickers that said ‘With Barak There’s Hope.’ We believed that things could change. That year I plunged deep into the conflict, and it broke my heart.”

She really wanted to love Israel, but it wasn’t easy for her. “I grew up with the belief that Jews are moral people, that our job is to help the weak. It might sound naive now, but the contradiction between the essence of the Jewish state and what I saw really upset me. It was hard for my mother to accept the questions and doubts I felt. She said: ‘We were refugees, we suffered, we finally got a state, and Israel has to be a good country.’ I told her it was hard for me to see that my people were capable of doing such terrible things, that the country I dreamed about was occupying another people. That’s still something that’s very hard for me to deal with.”

She now has a spiffy career suing Israel on behalf of the Palestinians, trying to halt construction and alter the course of the “wall,” which has saved countless lives from butchers and pizza bombers. And now she’s suing Canada because two Canadian construction companies operate in what she refers to as the “occupied territories.”

In her counter-reality, Israel was the aggressor and the war criminal in Gaza:

“People think of themselves as moral, and what happened there, the number of children that were killed, the strikes on population centers, raised tough questions. It was hard for Israelis to accept the unnecessary death there. On the other hand, most of the country shifted in the other direction and wholeheartedly supported violence against civilians, and even more have become convinced that there will never be peace, and that the Palestinians, even if they are children, are the enemy.”

Any mention of the Herculean efforts to avoid civilian casualties or of Hamas terrorists who hide behind old women and infants? Oh, no. She’s got “compassion,” you see. And then there was the thrill of meeting with the Elders group — a fine bunch of Israel-haters that includes Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, and Mary Robinson. Her great joy was receiving a picture of herself with Carter.

Other than signing her up for a lifetime membership in J Street, what is to be done? American Jewry might begin by providing an Israel-strong rather than an Israel-lite education. The Palestinians have done a fine job snaring ill-educated, largely secularized Jews who are steeped in leftism and predisposed to accept the Third World liberation claptrap of the Palestinians. Unless American Jewry does an equally good job restating the case for Israel, explaining Israel’s democratic system (which affords Emily a courtroom to vilify and hamstring the Jewish state), and publicizing the efforts of Israel to grant Palestinians their own state even as the Palestinians continue to reject it and return again and again to violence, there will be many more Emilys. And it wouldn’t hurt if the editors of Haaretz didn’t lionize a woman whose career is based on endangering their lives.

It’s getting to be a trend: Jews publicly expressing their antipathy or outright disdain for Israel. The latest comes from Emily Schaeffer, a 31-year-old lawyer who has come to despise the Jewish state. Perhaps it was her abominable Jewish education, a not uncommon malady:

Schaeffer attended public school, but always felt at home when she took part in activities of the Reform movement. “My parents sent me there when I was five. I went once a week after school, and later twice a week. In the movement we had lessons about Judaism and about Israel, in a very lighthearted way. Once we made a map of Israel out of ice cream and marked the cities with colorful M&M candies. It was Zionism-lite. At that time I also went to synagogue.”

Very lite, it seems. And one suspects she heard from the bima much more about minimum wage and global warming than about Zionism. From there it was on to Reform-movement activities, where she had a grand time and that “altered the course of her life.” She eventually went to live in Israel and, as the lefty Haaretz puts it, became “an Israeli devoid of nationalistic sentiment and full of human compassion.”

Thereafter she fled Israel with a bad case of cognitive dissonance during the second intifada:

“The intifada caused me a profound crisis. I was very disappointed with both sides. I lived on Mahaneh Yehuda street then. Within a day, all the Arab workers, Palestinians from the territories, some of whom I was really friendly with, disappeared. They just disappeared. It was the first time I experienced a war situation. I knew there had been terror attacks in the market and I was tense all the time. I was afraid to be outside too long, I wanted to listen to the news all the time. I was going crazy.”

This caused her not to rethink her chumminess with those killing Jews but rather to return to the U.S. (an option not available to most Israelis), where again she sought out the Israel-haters: “She joined the dialogue group and the Jews Against the Occupation organization in New York. And she once again immersed herself in the bloody conflict that she had abandoned.”

Of course, her “human compassion” does not extend to the Jews attempting to survive in a hostile neighborhood but rather to the killers of Jews:

In Jerusalem she discovered the hidden world, for her at least, of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In those days, before the second intifada, she found a common language with Meretz activists on the Mount Scopus campus. “I met my first Palestinian friend then, Sari Abu-Ziad, the oldest son of Ziad Abu-Ziad, who was a minister in the Palestinian government then. He told me about his childhood, what a checkpoint was, what it meant to feel like you’re living in a prison, what it’s like to be an Arabic-speaker in Israel, how frightened he was. He studied at the Hebrew University. This was before the 1999 election. We gave out stickers that said ‘With Barak There’s Hope.’ We believed that things could change. That year I plunged deep into the conflict, and it broke my heart.”

She really wanted to love Israel, but it wasn’t easy for her. “I grew up with the belief that Jews are moral people, that our job is to help the weak. It might sound naive now, but the contradiction between the essence of the Jewish state and what I saw really upset me. It was hard for my mother to accept the questions and doubts I felt. She said: ‘We were refugees, we suffered, we finally got a state, and Israel has to be a good country.’ I told her it was hard for me to see that my people were capable of doing such terrible things, that the country I dreamed about was occupying another people. That’s still something that’s very hard for me to deal with.”

She now has a spiffy career suing Israel on behalf of the Palestinians, trying to halt construction and alter the course of the “wall,” which has saved countless lives from butchers and pizza bombers. And now she’s suing Canada because two Canadian construction companies operate in what she refers to as the “occupied territories.”

In her counter-reality, Israel was the aggressor and the war criminal in Gaza:

“People think of themselves as moral, and what happened there, the number of children that were killed, the strikes on population centers, raised tough questions. It was hard for Israelis to accept the unnecessary death there. On the other hand, most of the country shifted in the other direction and wholeheartedly supported violence against civilians, and even more have become convinced that there will never be peace, and that the Palestinians, even if they are children, are the enemy.”

Any mention of the Herculean efforts to avoid civilian casualties or of Hamas terrorists who hide behind old women and infants? Oh, no. She’s got “compassion,” you see. And then there was the thrill of meeting with the Elders group — a fine bunch of Israel-haters that includes Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, and Mary Robinson. Her great joy was receiving a picture of herself with Carter.

Other than signing her up for a lifetime membership in J Street, what is to be done? American Jewry might begin by providing an Israel-strong rather than an Israel-lite education. The Palestinians have done a fine job snaring ill-educated, largely secularized Jews who are steeped in leftism and predisposed to accept the Third World liberation claptrap of the Palestinians. Unless American Jewry does an equally good job restating the case for Israel, explaining Israel’s democratic system (which affords Emily a courtroom to vilify and hamstring the Jewish state), and publicizing the efforts of Israel to grant Palestinians their own state even as the Palestinians continue to reject it and return again and again to violence, there will be many more Emilys. And it wouldn’t hurt if the editors of Haaretz didn’t lionize a woman whose career is based on endangering their lives.

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Rand Paul Will Need to Do More

The Washington Post, in an unintentionally funny report, tells us the latest on Rand Paul’s damage-control front. Despite concerns from mainstream Republicans that Paul make clear his differences with his father, Paul the Younger seems to have made things worse on that front: “Paul named Jesse Benton, one of his father’s former aides, as his campaign manager.” Not to worry, though, as Benton tries out this howler:

Despite the timing, Benton said the staffing changes have nothing to do with the postelection political firestorm. Benton replaces David Adams, who was made campaign chairman.

“Our team is remaining intact,” said Benton. “We’ve clarified some roles and will be adding even more talent to what is going to prove an extremely formidable operation.”

Yeah, right. And then there is more bad news for the Paul campaign: a libertarian (one who admits to being one) may enter the race, thereby splitting the vote of those who look with suspicion on social security, child-labor laws, and civil rights legislation. Not to fear, because the former campaign chief assures us, “If someone wants to split up Kentucky’s non-conservative vote more than it already is, that’s OK with me.” So libertarians are more like liberals?

But it would be fun to see Paul and the libertarian debate. (Are you for or against child-labor laws?) This is certainly not going to put Kentucky voters’ minds at ease. They already suspect something is more than a little “off” with Rand Paul. What will matter is whether Paul is willing to come out of hiding and take tough questions from the media and whether he can present a less-kooky vision of domestic and foreign policy. I have my doubts he can do either.

The Washington Post, in an unintentionally funny report, tells us the latest on Rand Paul’s damage-control front. Despite concerns from mainstream Republicans that Paul make clear his differences with his father, Paul the Younger seems to have made things worse on that front: “Paul named Jesse Benton, one of his father’s former aides, as his campaign manager.” Not to worry, though, as Benton tries out this howler:

Despite the timing, Benton said the staffing changes have nothing to do with the postelection political firestorm. Benton replaces David Adams, who was made campaign chairman.

“Our team is remaining intact,” said Benton. “We’ve clarified some roles and will be adding even more talent to what is going to prove an extremely formidable operation.”

Yeah, right. And then there is more bad news for the Paul campaign: a libertarian (one who admits to being one) may enter the race, thereby splitting the vote of those who look with suspicion on social security, child-labor laws, and civil rights legislation. Not to fear, because the former campaign chief assures us, “If someone wants to split up Kentucky’s non-conservative vote more than it already is, that’s OK with me.” So libertarians are more like liberals?

But it would be fun to see Paul and the libertarian debate. (Are you for or against child-labor laws?) This is certainly not going to put Kentucky voters’ minds at ease. They already suspect something is more than a little “off” with Rand Paul. What will matter is whether Paul is willing to come out of hiding and take tough questions from the media and whether he can present a less-kooky vision of domestic and foreign policy. I have my doubts he can do either.

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Joe Sestak Wants Terrorists Tried in Open Court

As troubling as Joe Sestak’s stance on Israel may be, a potentially more potent issue with the general electorate in Pennsylvania may be his support for the idea of trying terrorists in federal courts. Sestak hasn’t been shy in voicing his views. He explained in a CNN interview last November:

Well, I was stationed at the Pentagon when 9/11 happened. Right after that, I took over the Navy’s anti-terrorism unit, where we shaped the policies to pursue al Qaeda. I went on the ground earlier in that war, then did the retaliatory strikes with the aircraft carrier battle group … all to bring these perpetrators of this outrage to justice.

How can we even think about letting terrorists force us to abandon our principles? Keeping them in a black hole away from the rule of law? I defended this nation because I honestly believed it was not a rule of men, it was rule of law. …

What better way to show the resolve of this nation than to bring them to New York City to see how their effort to try to destroy something has risen again. And then to bring them into that court system, to show them the strength of America, that the rule of law will show them they were wrong and throw away the keys once they’ve been brought to justice, it’s the right way to do it. …

Well, as they well said today, those that will come before the military tribunals were ones that their acts were done overseas. Their acts were ones that were done on the battlefield over there.

He specifically has supported the idea of trying KSM in Pennsylvania — if it was logistically easier.

A large majority of Americans disagree, as polls have consistently shown. It is ironic that at a time when the Obama administration is reconsidering the civilian-trial option for KSM, Sestak remains committed to civilian trials for the jihadists. It’s not easy for a politician to get to the left of the president on anti-terror policies, but Sestak has done it. He may find it difficult if not impossible to get elected when you’re to the left of Obama on the war against Muslim extremists.

As troubling as Joe Sestak’s stance on Israel may be, a potentially more potent issue with the general electorate in Pennsylvania may be his support for the idea of trying terrorists in federal courts. Sestak hasn’t been shy in voicing his views. He explained in a CNN interview last November:

Well, I was stationed at the Pentagon when 9/11 happened. Right after that, I took over the Navy’s anti-terrorism unit, where we shaped the policies to pursue al Qaeda. I went on the ground earlier in that war, then did the retaliatory strikes with the aircraft carrier battle group … all to bring these perpetrators of this outrage to justice.

How can we even think about letting terrorists force us to abandon our principles? Keeping them in a black hole away from the rule of law? I defended this nation because I honestly believed it was not a rule of men, it was rule of law. …

What better way to show the resolve of this nation than to bring them to New York City to see how their effort to try to destroy something has risen again. And then to bring them into that court system, to show them the strength of America, that the rule of law will show them they were wrong and throw away the keys once they’ve been brought to justice, it’s the right way to do it. …

Well, as they well said today, those that will come before the military tribunals were ones that their acts were done overseas. Their acts were ones that were done on the battlefield over there.

He specifically has supported the idea of trying KSM in Pennsylvania — if it was logistically easier.

A large majority of Americans disagree, as polls have consistently shown. It is ironic that at a time when the Obama administration is reconsidering the civilian-trial option for KSM, Sestak remains committed to civilian trials for the jihadists. It’s not easy for a politician to get to the left of the president on anti-terror policies, but Sestak has done it. He may find it difficult if not impossible to get elected when you’re to the left of Obama on the war against Muslim extremists.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Gov. Bob McDonnell better get some decent staff. First, he leaves slavery out of a Confederate History Month proclamation, and then he hires Fred Malek without knowing that “in 1971 [he] compiled a list of Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the president’s request, an action that has been the subject of numerous articles and for which Malek has repeatedly apologized” or that Malek “recently paid a $100,000 civil fine related to his firm’s work with Connecticut’s pension fund.” Unforced errors will kill you in baseball and in politics.

Elena Kagan better reveal more about her judicial philosophy or a bunch of senators are going to oppose her nomination. After all, “senators, interest groups and the media [are trying] to piece together a portrait of the solicitor general’s views from scraps of speeches, scholarly articles and actions as a member of two Democratic administrations. Because Kagan, 50, has never been a judge and has not published a major work since 2001, her record lacks the ‘paper trail’ that other nominees in recent years have had. But it also seems at times contradictory, or at least ambiguous.”

Obama better be willing to send more than 1,200 National Guard troops to secure the border. Not even CBS News thinks it’s enough. “Some law enforcement officials along the border said they worry that Mr. Obama will repeat Bush’s mistake by limiting the troops to support roles, such as conducting surveillance and installing lighting, rather than letting them make arrests and confront smugglers. They also believe the scale of the force — one-fifth of the size of the one sent by Bush — is too small to make a difference along the length of the 2,000-mile border.”  I’m not in favor of the Arizona immigration law, but it sure did get Obama’s attention.

Obama better pay attention to this poll: “Forty-five percent disapprove of the Obama administration’s handling of the spill while 35 percent approve.” And that’s the New York Times survey.

Obama better hope Democratic senators don’t pay attention to the polls: “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 41% of U.S. voters now hold a favorable opinion of Kagan but 47% view her unfavorably, up from 43% a week ago and 39% just after President Obama announced her nomination. … With Senate hearings on Kagan’s nomination set to begin June 28, 36% of voters now favor her confirmation, but 39% are opposed. One-out-of-four (25%) are undecided.” For Democrats wanting to show their independence from Obama, why not vote no?

You better keep an eye on Chris Christie: “Governor Christie on Tuesday told a borough teacher to find another job if she did not feel she was compensated enough as he defended his state budget cuts and promoted a plan to cap annual growth in property tax collections. … ‘Your union said that is the greatest assault on public education in the history of the state,’ Christie said. ‘That’s why the union has no credibility, stupid statements like that.'” He keeps that up and they’ll be a “Draft Christie” movement in 2012.

Obama better knock off the self-pity — Americans don’t like whiners: Daniel Halper on Obama’s comment that this is the hardest year and a half of any president: “It shows his self-absorption and utter lack of a sense of history. … Obama’s whining is puerile. One does hope it’s been the toughest year and a half he’s ever had. He is the president, and it’s a job that requires a bit of work. But to treat the previous presidents with so little respect is unbecoming.” And this was the candidate with a “superior temperament.”

The Democrats better lock away Joe Biden and Richard Blumenthal: “Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday took an unexpected dig at Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal for misstating his military service record. … ‘I didn’t serve in Vietnam. I don’t want to make a Blumenthal mistake here,’ he said according to a pool report. ‘Our attorney general from Connecticut, God love him.'” I don’t necessarily see Obama sticking with Biden in 2012, do you?

Gov. Bob McDonnell better get some decent staff. First, he leaves slavery out of a Confederate History Month proclamation, and then he hires Fred Malek without knowing that “in 1971 [he] compiled a list of Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the president’s request, an action that has been the subject of numerous articles and for which Malek has repeatedly apologized” or that Malek “recently paid a $100,000 civil fine related to his firm’s work with Connecticut’s pension fund.” Unforced errors will kill you in baseball and in politics.

Elena Kagan better reveal more about her judicial philosophy or a bunch of senators are going to oppose her nomination. After all, “senators, interest groups and the media [are trying] to piece together a portrait of the solicitor general’s views from scraps of speeches, scholarly articles and actions as a member of two Democratic administrations. Because Kagan, 50, has never been a judge and has not published a major work since 2001, her record lacks the ‘paper trail’ that other nominees in recent years have had. But it also seems at times contradictory, or at least ambiguous.”

Obama better be willing to send more than 1,200 National Guard troops to secure the border. Not even CBS News thinks it’s enough. “Some law enforcement officials along the border said they worry that Mr. Obama will repeat Bush’s mistake by limiting the troops to support roles, such as conducting surveillance and installing lighting, rather than letting them make arrests and confront smugglers. They also believe the scale of the force — one-fifth of the size of the one sent by Bush — is too small to make a difference along the length of the 2,000-mile border.”  I’m not in favor of the Arizona immigration law, but it sure did get Obama’s attention.

Obama better pay attention to this poll: “Forty-five percent disapprove of the Obama administration’s handling of the spill while 35 percent approve.” And that’s the New York Times survey.

Obama better hope Democratic senators don’t pay attention to the polls: “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 41% of U.S. voters now hold a favorable opinion of Kagan but 47% view her unfavorably, up from 43% a week ago and 39% just after President Obama announced her nomination. … With Senate hearings on Kagan’s nomination set to begin June 28, 36% of voters now favor her confirmation, but 39% are opposed. One-out-of-four (25%) are undecided.” For Democrats wanting to show their independence from Obama, why not vote no?

You better keep an eye on Chris Christie: “Governor Christie on Tuesday told a borough teacher to find another job if she did not feel she was compensated enough as he defended his state budget cuts and promoted a plan to cap annual growth in property tax collections. … ‘Your union said that is the greatest assault on public education in the history of the state,’ Christie said. ‘That’s why the union has no credibility, stupid statements like that.'” He keeps that up and they’ll be a “Draft Christie” movement in 2012.

Obama better knock off the self-pity — Americans don’t like whiners: Daniel Halper on Obama’s comment that this is the hardest year and a half of any president: “It shows his self-absorption and utter lack of a sense of history. … Obama’s whining is puerile. One does hope it’s been the toughest year and a half he’s ever had. He is the president, and it’s a job that requires a bit of work. But to treat the previous presidents with so little respect is unbecoming.” And this was the candidate with a “superior temperament.”

The Democrats better lock away Joe Biden and Richard Blumenthal: “Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday took an unexpected dig at Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal for misstating his military service record. … ‘I didn’t serve in Vietnam. I don’t want to make a Blumenthal mistake here,’ he said according to a pool report. ‘Our attorney general from Connecticut, God love him.'” I don’t necessarily see Obama sticking with Biden in 2012, do you?

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