Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 7, 2010

The Shoe Hurler’s Admission

A friend writes:

Via MEMRI, the Iraqi journalist cum shoe hurler Muntazer al-Zaidi reveals that he handed his ring to a photographer at the Bush press conference in Baghdad before his first tossed shoe because he thought it was likely he would become a martyr – i.e., be killed – for his act.  But in the George Bush-inspired, post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, martyrdom was not to be. He served nine months in prison and exited a hero throughout the Arab world.  I’d venture to say that Muntazer didn’t use his time in prison to reflect on the changes wrought in Iraq, as he continues to curse America and its role there.  Can anyone doubt what would have befallen Muntazer – a Shi’ite – had he tossed his shoes at Saddam or at an esteemed guest of Saddam’s prior to the U.S. invasion? That Muntazer and the other civil-disobedient Muntazers in Iraq don’t make the connection between the invasion and the transformation of their civil liberties is equal parts a failure of our public diplomacy and the puerile rage that animates the Arab world.

Also noteworthy in Muntazer’s interview is his take on the transformation in US-Iraqi relations spearheaded by President Obama:  None.  While his comments confirm recent Pew polls on the utter failure of the President’s outstretched hand and focus on the Islamic world in changing Muslim attitudes towards the US, Muntazer sees Presidents Bush and Obama as essentially indistinguishable.  Muntazer’s outrageous characterization of President Obama (“Away goes a white dog, and along comes a black dog. They are the same, except for the color. Away goes a white U.S. president, and along comes a black president. They are no different.”) suggests that President Bush may have better understood the pathology of the Arab world than does President Obama.

A long period of democracy, free speech and the marketplace of ideas will do more to transform the next generation of Muntazers and the Arab world than any other cure – and it is George Bush that tomorrow’s Muntazers will have to thank for that.

A friend writes:

Via MEMRI, the Iraqi journalist cum shoe hurler Muntazer al-Zaidi reveals that he handed his ring to a photographer at the Bush press conference in Baghdad before his first tossed shoe because he thought it was likely he would become a martyr – i.e., be killed – for his act.  But in the George Bush-inspired, post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, martyrdom was not to be. He served nine months in prison and exited a hero throughout the Arab world.  I’d venture to say that Muntazer didn’t use his time in prison to reflect on the changes wrought in Iraq, as he continues to curse America and its role there.  Can anyone doubt what would have befallen Muntazer – a Shi’ite – had he tossed his shoes at Saddam or at an esteemed guest of Saddam’s prior to the U.S. invasion? That Muntazer and the other civil-disobedient Muntazers in Iraq don’t make the connection between the invasion and the transformation of their civil liberties is equal parts a failure of our public diplomacy and the puerile rage that animates the Arab world.

Also noteworthy in Muntazer’s interview is his take on the transformation in US-Iraqi relations spearheaded by President Obama:  None.  While his comments confirm recent Pew polls on the utter failure of the President’s outstretched hand and focus on the Islamic world in changing Muslim attitudes towards the US, Muntazer sees Presidents Bush and Obama as essentially indistinguishable.  Muntazer’s outrageous characterization of President Obama (“Away goes a white dog, and along comes a black dog. They are the same, except for the color. Away goes a white U.S. president, and along comes a black president. They are no different.”) suggests that President Bush may have better understood the pathology of the Arab world than does President Obama.

A long period of democracy, free speech and the marketplace of ideas will do more to transform the next generation of Muntazers and the Arab world than any other cure – and it is George Bush that tomorrow’s Muntazers will have to thank for that.

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Democrats Adopt the Newsweek Approach

Nancy Pelosi often seems to be employing the new Newsweek formula — fewer numbers but more avowedly leftist. The latest:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doubling down on healthcare reform, betting that it will do Democrats more good than harm in November’s elections. She and her leadership team have seized on new polls that suggest healthcare overhaul’s popularity is rising, and they are urging members of Congress to use this week’s recess to tout the new law.

I’m betting that no Democrat in a competitive seat (in this election, that is most of them) is going to be taking her advice. The liberals who aren’t mad that ObamaCare didn’t include a public option don’t need reminding of what Obama did and are unlikely to produce a turnout so great as to counteract the swelling ranks of angry independents and fired-up Republicans. As for Republicans, they saw that this was a winning issue — for them — in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts and aren’t about to turn down the offer to make this a top campaign topic.

Now, lest you think the Speaker is entirely daft, remember her problem: what are Democrats supposed to run on? The debt? The tax hikes? The spending bonanza? Jobs? You see her problem. And you understand why Democrats are looking for dirt on their opponents. That’s about all they have left at this point.

Nancy Pelosi often seems to be employing the new Newsweek formula — fewer numbers but more avowedly leftist. The latest:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doubling down on healthcare reform, betting that it will do Democrats more good than harm in November’s elections. She and her leadership team have seized on new polls that suggest healthcare overhaul’s popularity is rising, and they are urging members of Congress to use this week’s recess to tout the new law.

I’m betting that no Democrat in a competitive seat (in this election, that is most of them) is going to be taking her advice. The liberals who aren’t mad that ObamaCare didn’t include a public option don’t need reminding of what Obama did and are unlikely to produce a turnout so great as to counteract the swelling ranks of angry independents and fired-up Republicans. As for Republicans, they saw that this was a winning issue — for them — in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts and aren’t about to turn down the offer to make this a top campaign topic.

Now, lest you think the Speaker is entirely daft, remember her problem: what are Democrats supposed to run on? The debt? The tax hikes? The spending bonanza? Jobs? You see her problem. And you understand why Democrats are looking for dirt on their opponents. That’s about all they have left at this point.

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Riding the Rails

The success of certain sanctions on Iran will always depend on the cooperation of Iran’s neighbors as to their enforcement. Major railway developments in 2010 are aligning to present Turkey and Pakistan, in particular, with decision points in that regard. With cargo and passengers moving in both directions, Iran’s reach in support of terrorists has the prospect of being significantly extended as well.

Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan have been working on a continuous railway link since 2007. Variously known as the Istanbul-Islamabad line or the “Zahedan corridor” — for the hub transits in Iran — the link was completed in mid-2009. With the three nations planning to inaugurate regular passenger and freight service on August 1, the obvious questions are whether the security arrangements in Turkey and Pakistan will reflect the intent of the UN sanctions, and whether they will be brokered with transparent honesty.

Turkey has a heavily-trafficked railway link to Europe as well as domestic concerns about the Kurdish insurgency. The Turks are certain to exercise a high level of vigilance over passengers and cargo at their borders. But that doesn’t mean they will enforce UN sanctions in brokering cargo passage to Iran, nor does it mean they will interdict shipments from Iran destined for Syria (and, ultimately, for Hezbollah). Indeed, light cargo can be transported to Syria with particular ease now, rail service having been restarted between Mersin, Turkey, and Aleppo in June 2010. An additional transport hub is scheduled to open in December between Gaziantep, Turkey, and Aleppo — this one linked with a new rail service between Turkey and Iraq that transits through northern Syria.

On the Pakistani side, railway security will operate according to Islamabad’s domestic priorities; the primary effort will be interdicting foreign support to internal insurgencies. If the Pakistani authorities don’t act as reliable enforcement agents, it won’t be difficult (although it will probably be expensive) to move UN-prohibited cargo to Iran through Pakistani ports and the national rail system. Moreover, given the extent of the emerging rail network — by which passengers will be able to move continuously on rail between Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan –terrorist operatives will have the ability to travel more directly and conveniently than by sea, but still avoid the international law-enforcement vulnerability of commercial air travel.

Iran’s options for evading sanctions are many; it has three other long borders besides the one on the Persian Gulf. Russia’s trade access to Iran across the Caspian Sea has long given Moscow a central position in multilateral negotiations with the mullahs. But with the new rail service joining Turkey and Pakistan, Iran will have a modern, convenient transport option that doesn’t involve Russia. On the Pakistani end, the influence of the EU will be less of a factor than it is with Turkey — and the useful “cover” of a thriving regular trade with China will be more important. For both Iran’s nuclear program and Islamist terror logistics, much will shortly depend on how Ankara and Islamabad handle security and law enforcement on the rails.

The success of certain sanctions on Iran will always depend on the cooperation of Iran’s neighbors as to their enforcement. Major railway developments in 2010 are aligning to present Turkey and Pakistan, in particular, with decision points in that regard. With cargo and passengers moving in both directions, Iran’s reach in support of terrorists has the prospect of being significantly extended as well.

Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan have been working on a continuous railway link since 2007. Variously known as the Istanbul-Islamabad line or the “Zahedan corridor” — for the hub transits in Iran — the link was completed in mid-2009. With the three nations planning to inaugurate regular passenger and freight service on August 1, the obvious questions are whether the security arrangements in Turkey and Pakistan will reflect the intent of the UN sanctions, and whether they will be brokered with transparent honesty.

Turkey has a heavily-trafficked railway link to Europe as well as domestic concerns about the Kurdish insurgency. The Turks are certain to exercise a high level of vigilance over passengers and cargo at their borders. But that doesn’t mean they will enforce UN sanctions in brokering cargo passage to Iran, nor does it mean they will interdict shipments from Iran destined for Syria (and, ultimately, for Hezbollah). Indeed, light cargo can be transported to Syria with particular ease now, rail service having been restarted between Mersin, Turkey, and Aleppo in June 2010. An additional transport hub is scheduled to open in December between Gaziantep, Turkey, and Aleppo — this one linked with a new rail service between Turkey and Iraq that transits through northern Syria.

On the Pakistani side, railway security will operate according to Islamabad’s domestic priorities; the primary effort will be interdicting foreign support to internal insurgencies. If the Pakistani authorities don’t act as reliable enforcement agents, it won’t be difficult (although it will probably be expensive) to move UN-prohibited cargo to Iran through Pakistani ports and the national rail system. Moreover, given the extent of the emerging rail network — by which passengers will be able to move continuously on rail between Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan –terrorist operatives will have the ability to travel more directly and conveniently than by sea, but still avoid the international law-enforcement vulnerability of commercial air travel.

Iran’s options for evading sanctions are many; it has three other long borders besides the one on the Persian Gulf. Russia’s trade access to Iran across the Caspian Sea has long given Moscow a central position in multilateral negotiations with the mullahs. But with the new rail service joining Turkey and Pakistan, Iran will have a modern, convenient transport option that doesn’t involve Russia. On the Pakistani end, the influence of the EU will be less of a factor than it is with Turkey — and the useful “cover” of a thriving regular trade with China will be more important. For both Iran’s nuclear program and Islamist terror logistics, much will shortly depend on how Ankara and Islamabad handle security and law enforcement on the rails.

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Another Senate Seat in Play?

This report suggests that the Democrats will have another Senate seat to defend:

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin voiced support for holding a special election this year to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s seat, announcing that he would request a legal opinion from the state attorney general to determine if a vote could be held. Manchin, a Democrat who said he would be “highly” interested in running for the seat himself, expressed discomfort with Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s ruling that the governor should name a placeholder to the seat until it comes up for election in 2012.

I imagine Rahm Emanuel must be pulling his hair out — another contested Senate race, and this time, the administration can’t very well give the governor a job to get out of the race (or rather, to make sure there is no race). Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito would make it a real contest. If a Republican can take “Ted Kennedy’s seat,” why can’t a Republican take Byrd’s?

This report suggests that the Democrats will have another Senate seat to defend:

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin voiced support for holding a special election this year to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s seat, announcing that he would request a legal opinion from the state attorney general to determine if a vote could be held. Manchin, a Democrat who said he would be “highly” interested in running for the seat himself, expressed discomfort with Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s ruling that the governor should name a placeholder to the seat until it comes up for election in 2012.

I imagine Rahm Emanuel must be pulling his hair out — another contested Senate race, and this time, the administration can’t very well give the governor a job to get out of the race (or rather, to make sure there is no race). Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito would make it a real contest. If a Republican can take “Ted Kennedy’s seat,” why can’t a Republican take Byrd’s?

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RE: UAE Ambassador: The Benefits of Attacking Iran Outweigh the Risks

Jeffrey Goldberg provides the full remarks:

I asked him, Do you want the U.S. to stop the Iranian nuclear program by force?

And he answered: “Absolutely, absolutely. I think we are at risk of an Iranian nuclear program far more than you are at risk. At 7,000 miles away, and with two oceans bordering you, an Iranian nuclear threat does not threaten the  continental United States. It may threaten your assets in the region, it will threaten the peace process, it will threaten balance of power, it will threaten everything else, but it will not threaten you.”

He went on to say, “I am suggesting that I think out of every country in the region, the U.A.E. is most vulnerable to Iran. Our military, who has existed for the past 40 years, wake up, dream, breathe, eat, sleep the Iranian threat. It’s the only conventional military threat our military plans for, trains for, equips for, that’s it, there’s no other threat, there’s no country in the region that is a threat to the U.A.E., it’s only Iran. So yes, it’s very much in our interest that Iran does not gain nuclear technology.”

It is not an attack on Iran that the moderate Arab states fear the most; it is American reticence and a nuclear-armed Iran. The Obama team has dawdled and evaded the most pressing national-security issue of our time: is the U.S. willing to use military force to prevent the emergence of a new nuclear threat to the West? Eighteen months into his presidency, it is not clear that Obama is. That the UAE ambassador should have a more robust and reasoned position than the U.S. president is one more sign of how dismal a job this president has done on the most important issue he faces.

Jeffrey Goldberg provides the full remarks:

I asked him, Do you want the U.S. to stop the Iranian nuclear program by force?

And he answered: “Absolutely, absolutely. I think we are at risk of an Iranian nuclear program far more than you are at risk. At 7,000 miles away, and with two oceans bordering you, an Iranian nuclear threat does not threaten the  continental United States. It may threaten your assets in the region, it will threaten the peace process, it will threaten balance of power, it will threaten everything else, but it will not threaten you.”

He went on to say, “I am suggesting that I think out of every country in the region, the U.A.E. is most vulnerable to Iran. Our military, who has existed for the past 40 years, wake up, dream, breathe, eat, sleep the Iranian threat. It’s the only conventional military threat our military plans for, trains for, equips for, that’s it, there’s no other threat, there’s no country in the region that is a threat to the U.A.E., it’s only Iran. So yes, it’s very much in our interest that Iran does not gain nuclear technology.”

It is not an attack on Iran that the moderate Arab states fear the most; it is American reticence and a nuclear-armed Iran. The Obama team has dawdled and evaded the most pressing national-security issue of our time: is the U.S. willing to use military force to prevent the emergence of a new nuclear threat to the West? Eighteen months into his presidency, it is not clear that Obama is. That the UAE ambassador should have a more robust and reasoned position than the U.S. president is one more sign of how dismal a job this president has done on the most important issue he faces.

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Re: The Silver Lining

I wanted to add some thoughts to your insightful post, Jen, regarding Michael Steele. The argument that Republicans and conservatives should not aim their criticisms at the head of the RNC (or, for that matter, any other Republican) because it will divide the GOP and help Democrats is quite wrong.

Steele’s claim that “this was a war of Obama’s choosing” that the United States never really “wanted to engage in” is indefensible and contradicted by history. Republicans and conservatives are therefore right to criticize Steele.

This incident, though, touches on a deeper matter. The “don’t-criticize-Michael-Steele” argument rests on a form of intellectual dishonesty. It concedes that what Steele said may be wrong but implies that because he’s on “our” team, he ought not be subject to criticism. All our fire ought to be directed toward Democrats and liberals, who are doing great damage to our country — or so the argument goes.

In fact, intellectual honesty compels us to criticize bad arguments regardless of which political party or which individual makes them. Politics is — or at least should be — about debating issues to discern truth and understand, as best we can, the reality of things. It is not — or at least it should not be — primarily about taking and keeping power. Power for its own sake — power detached from truth and empirical evidence — leads us down a very dangerous path.

Most of us who are active in politics have a tendency to overlook the flaws of our allies and accentuate the flaws of our opponents. That is a common human tendency, and, in some instances, it becomes entangled with the issue of loyalty. In addition, very few of us are completely detached in our analysis or are free of biases and prejudices. (That is not all bad. Burke argued that reason itself is not enough. Prejudices are “the general bank and capital of nations, and of ages” and that they help create a framework to interpret events.)

At the same time, one problem with political discourse in our age is that in the heat of debate, we too easily suspend a disinterested search for the truth and advance a more narrow, partisan aim. That leads to hypocrisy and double standards.

Very few of us are completely free of such things. We view the world through a tinted lens. But we ought to at least aspire to intellectual integrity and uphold as models those who embody it.

I wanted to add some thoughts to your insightful post, Jen, regarding Michael Steele. The argument that Republicans and conservatives should not aim their criticisms at the head of the RNC (or, for that matter, any other Republican) because it will divide the GOP and help Democrats is quite wrong.

Steele’s claim that “this was a war of Obama’s choosing” that the United States never really “wanted to engage in” is indefensible and contradicted by history. Republicans and conservatives are therefore right to criticize Steele.

This incident, though, touches on a deeper matter. The “don’t-criticize-Michael-Steele” argument rests on a form of intellectual dishonesty. It concedes that what Steele said may be wrong but implies that because he’s on “our” team, he ought not be subject to criticism. All our fire ought to be directed toward Democrats and liberals, who are doing great damage to our country — or so the argument goes.

In fact, intellectual honesty compels us to criticize bad arguments regardless of which political party or which individual makes them. Politics is — or at least should be — about debating issues to discern truth and understand, as best we can, the reality of things. It is not — or at least it should not be — primarily about taking and keeping power. Power for its own sake — power detached from truth and empirical evidence — leads us down a very dangerous path.

Most of us who are active in politics have a tendency to overlook the flaws of our allies and accentuate the flaws of our opponents. That is a common human tendency, and, in some instances, it becomes entangled with the issue of loyalty. In addition, very few of us are completely detached in our analysis or are free of biases and prejudices. (That is not all bad. Burke argued that reason itself is not enough. Prejudices are “the general bank and capital of nations, and of ages” and that they help create a framework to interpret events.)

At the same time, one problem with political discourse in our age is that in the heat of debate, we too easily suspend a disinterested search for the truth and advance a more narrow, partisan aim. That leads to hypocrisy and double standards.

Very few of us are completely free of such things. We view the world through a tinted lens. But we ought to at least aspire to intellectual integrity and uphold as models those who embody it.

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But Obama Won’t Say It

Sens. John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak:

The U.S. will address the Iranian threat “through diplomatic efforts and economic sanctions if we can, but through military action if we must,” said Lieberman. Although U.S. officials often say no option should be taken off the table in relation to Iran’s nuclear program, this is one of the few times an official of Lieberman’s standing has explicitly used the term “military action” while in Israel.

Well, yes, that’s because this isn’t the policy — at least from everything stated publicly — of the Obama administration. On the contrary, the administration has gone to great lengths to fog up the consequences of Iran’s failure to dismantle its nuclear program. As a result, no one — including the Iranians — is convinced that a military option is still on the table. The president — and only the president — can remedy that.

Rather than fixating on a peace process that is going nowhere, Jewish groups and pro-Israel members of Congress should focus on getting a public commitment from Obama to use force and to defend Israel unconditionally. Sanctions, as even the CIA director and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concede, are unlikely to do the trick. So the question must be answered: what then?

Sens. John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak:

The U.S. will address the Iranian threat “through diplomatic efforts and economic sanctions if we can, but through military action if we must,” said Lieberman. Although U.S. officials often say no option should be taken off the table in relation to Iran’s nuclear program, this is one of the few times an official of Lieberman’s standing has explicitly used the term “military action” while in Israel.

Well, yes, that’s because this isn’t the policy — at least from everything stated publicly — of the Obama administration. On the contrary, the administration has gone to great lengths to fog up the consequences of Iran’s failure to dismantle its nuclear program. As a result, no one — including the Iranians — is convinced that a military option is still on the table. The president — and only the president — can remedy that.

Rather than fixating on a peace process that is going nowhere, Jewish groups and pro-Israel members of Congress should focus on getting a public commitment from Obama to use force and to defend Israel unconditionally. Sanctions, as even the CIA director and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concede, are unlikely to do the trick. So the question must be answered: what then?

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Help Needed

The New York Times is running a story about the “millennial” generation in America and its inability to find employment. The article is supposed to convey the challenges for young Americans due to bad economic times but will probably exacerbate the hopelessness of older Americans, who won’t recognize this strange, new definition of ambition:

Mr. Nicholson, 24, a graduate of Colgate University, winner of a dean’s award for academic excellence, spent his mornings searching corporate Web sites for suitable job openings. When he found one, he mailed off a résumé and cover letter — four or five a week, week after week.

Over the last five months, only one job materialized. After several interviews, the Hanover Insurance Group in nearby Worcester offered to hire him as an associate claims adjuster, at $40,000 a year. But even before the formal offer, Mr. Nicholson had decided not to take the job.

Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder.

“The conversation I’m going to have with my parents now that I’ve turned down this job is more of a concern to me than turning down the job,” he said.

A 24-year-old man is more fearful of a parental lecture than unemployment. If that doesn’t capture the dreary state of able-bodied America, nothing does. Meanwhile, this same person, living off of mom and dad, is so certain of his worth on the job market, he won’t consider pocketing an expense-free annual $40,000 because it requires dead-end work.

Of course, Nicholson is not entirely obtuse on the ramifications of joblessness:

“I am beginning to realize that refusal is going to have repercussions,” he said. “My parents are subtly pointing out that beyond room and board, they are also paying other expenses for me, like my cellphone charges and the premiums on a life insurance policy.”

He could at least take the insurance gig to get his parents a better deal, no?

The New York Times is running a story about the “millennial” generation in America and its inability to find employment. The article is supposed to convey the challenges for young Americans due to bad economic times but will probably exacerbate the hopelessness of older Americans, who won’t recognize this strange, new definition of ambition:

Mr. Nicholson, 24, a graduate of Colgate University, winner of a dean’s award for academic excellence, spent his mornings searching corporate Web sites for suitable job openings. When he found one, he mailed off a résumé and cover letter — four or five a week, week after week.

Over the last five months, only one job materialized. After several interviews, the Hanover Insurance Group in nearby Worcester offered to hire him as an associate claims adjuster, at $40,000 a year. But even before the formal offer, Mr. Nicholson had decided not to take the job.

Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder.

“The conversation I’m going to have with my parents now that I’ve turned down this job is more of a concern to me than turning down the job,” he said.

A 24-year-old man is more fearful of a parental lecture than unemployment. If that doesn’t capture the dreary state of able-bodied America, nothing does. Meanwhile, this same person, living off of mom and dad, is so certain of his worth on the job market, he won’t consider pocketing an expense-free annual $40,000 because it requires dead-end work.

Of course, Nicholson is not entirely obtuse on the ramifications of joblessness:

“I am beginning to realize that refusal is going to have repercussions,” he said. “My parents are subtly pointing out that beyond room and board, they are also paying other expenses for me, like my cellphone charges and the premiums on a life insurance policy.”

He could at least take the insurance gig to get his parents a better deal, no?

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The Silver Lining

Some conservatives are miffed that Republicans are criticizing Michael Steele. Don’t fight among yourselves! The Democrats will prosper! There are three responses.

First, when your side says something more than dumb but offensive and just plain wrong — whether it’s Rand Paul on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Steele claiming that Afghanistan is Obama’s war — it’s important to speak up. The public generally respects candor and can figure out when a statement is out of bounds, so it does no good to circle the wagons or pretend it’s all the “media’s fault.” (Plenty of things are, but transmitting a politician’s words isn’t a journalistic crime.) The alternative is doing what the Democrats did with regard to Richard Blumenthal — defending the indefensible at the cost of one’s own intellectual credibility.

Second, aside from Ron Paul, who is the touchstone of foreign policy quackery, the entire Republican Party told Steele he was wrong. There was no messy food fight or any circular firing squad — just a straightaway barrage aimed at Steele. So how is it a bad thing when Republicans show they are foursquare behind a critical military operation and stalwart in the war against Islamic fascists?

Third, how is the left, which can’t decide if this is a “good war” still,  going to make hay of this? “The party is in disarray over the Afghanistan war!” applies to the Democratic Party, not to the Republicans.

And finally, this seals Steele’s fate. After the election, he can be dumped, and a less gaffe-prone, more effective chairman can be installed. That is a good thing for the GOP as well.

Some conservatives are miffed that Republicans are criticizing Michael Steele. Don’t fight among yourselves! The Democrats will prosper! There are three responses.

First, when your side says something more than dumb but offensive and just plain wrong — whether it’s Rand Paul on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Steele claiming that Afghanistan is Obama’s war — it’s important to speak up. The public generally respects candor and can figure out when a statement is out of bounds, so it does no good to circle the wagons or pretend it’s all the “media’s fault.” (Plenty of things are, but transmitting a politician’s words isn’t a journalistic crime.) The alternative is doing what the Democrats did with regard to Richard Blumenthal — defending the indefensible at the cost of one’s own intellectual credibility.

Second, aside from Ron Paul, who is the touchstone of foreign policy quackery, the entire Republican Party told Steele he was wrong. There was no messy food fight or any circular firing squad — just a straightaway barrage aimed at Steele. So how is it a bad thing when Republicans show they are foursquare behind a critical military operation and stalwart in the war against Islamic fascists?

Third, how is the left, which can’t decide if this is a “good war” still,  going to make hay of this? “The party is in disarray over the Afghanistan war!” applies to the Democratic Party, not to the Republicans.

And finally, this seals Steele’s fate. After the election, he can be dumped, and a less gaffe-prone, more effective chairman can be installed. That is a good thing for the GOP as well.

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RE: The Arizona Immigration Lawsuit

The Obama administration may be right on the law, but the politics of its lawsuit challenging Arizona’s immigration law are awful:

The suit could, of course, help boost turnout among Hispanic voters in key areas across the West. And stridently anti-immigrant rhetoric could turn off independent voters. Yet many foresee a midterm electorate featuring an energized Republican base — for whom the immigration issue has emerged as a priority — prompting moderate white Western voters who are concerned about jobs to decamp to the GOP at least in the short term, political observers said.

“This is a tough issue for Democrats,” said former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, a Democrat who is co-director of the Institute for Public Policy Studies at the University of Denver. “Politically, I just can’t think of any place in the West where this is going to play well.”

Obama started this whole political tangle, you will recall, when suddenly, with the election just months away and Hispanic support lagging, he decided to revive immigration reform as an issue. It was disingenuous from the get-go because there is no time for such an endeavor, and, in any event, he doesn’t have a bill he’s willing to propose and push through. So it’s fitting, really, as a matter of political karma, that he should get tied up in knots over a lawsuit, which exists only because states are so frustrated with federal inactivity on the issue that they’re trying out their own immigration legislation.

It seems that just about everything the Obama team tries winds up backfiring these days. I suppose governing really is different from campaigning.

The Obama administration may be right on the law, but the politics of its lawsuit challenging Arizona’s immigration law are awful:

The suit could, of course, help boost turnout among Hispanic voters in key areas across the West. And stridently anti-immigrant rhetoric could turn off independent voters. Yet many foresee a midterm electorate featuring an energized Republican base — for whom the immigration issue has emerged as a priority — prompting moderate white Western voters who are concerned about jobs to decamp to the GOP at least in the short term, political observers said.

“This is a tough issue for Democrats,” said former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, a Democrat who is co-director of the Institute for Public Policy Studies at the University of Denver. “Politically, I just can’t think of any place in the West where this is going to play well.”

Obama started this whole political tangle, you will recall, when suddenly, with the election just months away and Hispanic support lagging, he decided to revive immigration reform as an issue. It was disingenuous from the get-go because there is no time for such an endeavor, and, in any event, he doesn’t have a bill he’s willing to propose and push through. So it’s fitting, really, as a matter of political karma, that he should get tied up in knots over a lawsuit, which exists only because states are so frustrated with federal inactivity on the issue that they’re trying out their own immigration legislation.

It seems that just about everything the Obama team tries winds up backfiring these days. I suppose governing really is different from campaigning.

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Britain’s Israel Obsession Claims a New Victim: Its Own Democracy

I have often argued (here and here, for instance) that the real price of the West’s Israel obsession is paid not by Israel but by victims of human rights abuses worldwide, whose cries for help go unheard amid the anti-Israel din. But now this obsession has begun to claim another victim: Western democracy itself.

The most stunning proof can be found in Britain (naturally), where a court two weeks ago acquitted seven people who vandalized a factory in January 2009. The vandals freely admitted to causing the $275,000 worth of damage, and their criminal intent was in no doubt: their plans to “smash up” the factory were detailed in videotaped interviews before the assault.

Nevertheless, the jury ruled that they were protected by the “lawful excuse” defense: they vandalized the factory to prevent more serious crimes. What crimes? The supposed “war crimes” Israel was then committing in Gaza, with the aid of military components allegedly supplied by the factory.

Moreover, Judge George Bathurst-Norman actively encouraged this conclusion. “You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered in that time,” he instructed the jury. He also rejected the factory’s claim that it did not in fact sell military components to Israel, asserting that the arms-export licenses it presented as evidence were “not worth the paper they are written on.”

As Robin Shepherd of the London-based Henry Jackson Society perceptively noted, this ruling shows that “the hysterical campaign against the State of Israel is not merely resulting in gross injustice against the Middle East’s only Western-style democracy, it is undermining Western-style democracy at home.”

For Western democracy depends on the rule of law — on citizens knowing that as long as they obey the law, they are entitled to its protections. Yet in one fell swoop, Bathurst-Norman has destroyed this confidence, replacing it with the legal principle that governs every dictatorship: it doesn’t matter whether your action was legal (which arms exports to Israel still are in Britain), or even whether you actually did it. If the judge doesn’t like what you’re doing — or wants to use you to make a political point whether you did it or not — he can strip you of the law’s protections and let your property be destroyed by any passing mob.

The ruling is also sure to encourage more vandalism in the name of other causes. Why shouldn’t PETA activists, for instance, use the same rationale of “preventing greater crimes” to justify vandalizing companies that experiment on animals? All they need are a judge and jury that share their loathing for such experiments, and they’re home-free. Thus any company or individual engaged in any activity widely unpopular in Britain must now go in fear and start taking expensive precautions.

Bathurst-Norman may believe his principle won’t be extended; it will apply only to Israel. But the rule of law is a fragile thing: strip its protections from one group, and others will soon follow. As Pastor Martin Niemoller famously put it, “First they came for the Jews …”

I have often argued (here and here, for instance) that the real price of the West’s Israel obsession is paid not by Israel but by victims of human rights abuses worldwide, whose cries for help go unheard amid the anti-Israel din. But now this obsession has begun to claim another victim: Western democracy itself.

The most stunning proof can be found in Britain (naturally), where a court two weeks ago acquitted seven people who vandalized a factory in January 2009. The vandals freely admitted to causing the $275,000 worth of damage, and their criminal intent was in no doubt: their plans to “smash up” the factory were detailed in videotaped interviews before the assault.

Nevertheless, the jury ruled that they were protected by the “lawful excuse” defense: they vandalized the factory to prevent more serious crimes. What crimes? The supposed “war crimes” Israel was then committing in Gaza, with the aid of military components allegedly supplied by the factory.

Moreover, Judge George Bathurst-Norman actively encouraged this conclusion. “You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered in that time,” he instructed the jury. He also rejected the factory’s claim that it did not in fact sell military components to Israel, asserting that the arms-export licenses it presented as evidence were “not worth the paper they are written on.”

As Robin Shepherd of the London-based Henry Jackson Society perceptively noted, this ruling shows that “the hysterical campaign against the State of Israel is not merely resulting in gross injustice against the Middle East’s only Western-style democracy, it is undermining Western-style democracy at home.”

For Western democracy depends on the rule of law — on citizens knowing that as long as they obey the law, they are entitled to its protections. Yet in one fell swoop, Bathurst-Norman has destroyed this confidence, replacing it with the legal principle that governs every dictatorship: it doesn’t matter whether your action was legal (which arms exports to Israel still are in Britain), or even whether you actually did it. If the judge doesn’t like what you’re doing — or wants to use you to make a political point whether you did it or not — he can strip you of the law’s protections and let your property be destroyed by any passing mob.

The ruling is also sure to encourage more vandalism in the name of other causes. Why shouldn’t PETA activists, for instance, use the same rationale of “preventing greater crimes” to justify vandalizing companies that experiment on animals? All they need are a judge and jury that share their loathing for such experiments, and they’re home-free. Thus any company or individual engaged in any activity widely unpopular in Britain must now go in fear and start taking expensive precautions.

Bathurst-Norman may believe his principle won’t be extended; it will apply only to Israel. But the rule of law is a fragile thing: strip its protections from one group, and others will soon follow. As Pastor Martin Niemoller famously put it, “First they came for the Jews …”

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Independents Abandon Obama

Gallup reports:

Thirty-eight percent of independents approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, the first time independent approval of Obama has dropped below 40% in a Gallup Daily tracking weekly aggregate. Meanwhile, Obama maintains the support of 81% of Democrats, and his job approval among Republicans remains low, at 12%. … Over the past year, Obama has lost support among all party groups, though the decline has been steeper among independents than among Republicans or Democrats. … Overall, 46% of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president in the June 28-July 4 aggregate, one point above his lowest weekly average.

Obama, like any winning Democratic presidential candidate, put together a coalition of independents and core liberals. That has now unraveled, as independent voters have come to see him not as a post-partisan, fiscally responsible, and coolly efficient leader but rather as a hyper-partisan and statist liberal who’s not all that competent.

This doesn’t mean that Obama can’t recover the critical bloc of independent voters or that the Republicans have a lock on this segment of the electorate. But it does mean that Obama will have to alter his agenda substantially or face the collapse of his and his party’s political fortunes.

Gallup reports:

Thirty-eight percent of independents approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, the first time independent approval of Obama has dropped below 40% in a Gallup Daily tracking weekly aggregate. Meanwhile, Obama maintains the support of 81% of Democrats, and his job approval among Republicans remains low, at 12%. … Over the past year, Obama has lost support among all party groups, though the decline has been steeper among independents than among Republicans or Democrats. … Overall, 46% of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president in the June 28-July 4 aggregate, one point above his lowest weekly average.

Obama, like any winning Democratic presidential candidate, put together a coalition of independents and core liberals. That has now unraveled, as independent voters have come to see him not as a post-partisan, fiscally responsible, and coolly efficient leader but rather as a hyper-partisan and statist liberal who’s not all that competent.

This doesn’t mean that Obama can’t recover the critical bloc of independent voters or that the Republicans have a lock on this segment of the electorate. But it does mean that Obama will have to alter his agenda substantially or face the collapse of his and his party’s political fortunes.

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The Arizona Immigration Lawsuit

The Obama administration has brought a lawsuit to enjoin the Arizona immigration bill. There is no equal protection argument (i.e., the government doesn’t call Arizonans racists, accuse them of passing a law to hassle Hispanics, or contend that the law is violative of the Equal Protection Clause because it will inevitably impact one ethnic group disproportionately). There is no Fourth Amendment claim challenging the bill’s provisions, which grant police the right to stop and demand documentation based on reasonable suspicion. There are no grand policy pronouncements in the complaint. It is a straightforward pre-emption argument. In paragraph two of the lawsuit, the government asserts:

In our constitutional system, the federal government has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters. This authority derives from the United States Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. The nation’s immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations, and humanitarian interests. Congress has assigned to the United States Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and Department of State, along with other federal agencies, the task of enforcing and administering these immigration-related laws. In administering these laws, the federal agencies balance the complex — and often competing — objectives that animate federal immigration law and policy. Although states may exercise their police power in a manner that has an incidental or indirect effect on aliens, a state may not establish its own immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with the federal immigration laws. The Constitution and the federal immigration laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country.

This is not wacky stuff, and may very well carry the day. And frankly, it’s a good thing to have this thrashed out in court so we can resolve the issue as to whether we will have 50 separate immigration laws. Supporters of the law should stop whining about the feds’ lawsuit: if the supporters are right — if, in other words, every state can gin up their own immigration rules — then they’ll have a grand victory.

But after the lawsuit is won or lost, we’ll still have unsecured borders. And we’ll still have millions around the world who want to come here and millions already here whom — with all due respect to Sen. John McCain – Americans don’t have the stomach to round up and send “home.” (By the way, can we agree as a factual matter that, generally, their homes and lives and children are here?)

In sum, I don’t begrudge the filing of the lawsuit. What we should all mind is that we have a president who’d rather fan the rhetorical flames than try to solve the problem.

The Obama administration has brought a lawsuit to enjoin the Arizona immigration bill. There is no equal protection argument (i.e., the government doesn’t call Arizonans racists, accuse them of passing a law to hassle Hispanics, or contend that the law is violative of the Equal Protection Clause because it will inevitably impact one ethnic group disproportionately). There is no Fourth Amendment claim challenging the bill’s provisions, which grant police the right to stop and demand documentation based on reasonable suspicion. There are no grand policy pronouncements in the complaint. It is a straightforward pre-emption argument. In paragraph two of the lawsuit, the government asserts:

In our constitutional system, the federal government has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters. This authority derives from the United States Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. The nation’s immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations, and humanitarian interests. Congress has assigned to the United States Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and Department of State, along with other federal agencies, the task of enforcing and administering these immigration-related laws. In administering these laws, the federal agencies balance the complex — and often competing — objectives that animate federal immigration law and policy. Although states may exercise their police power in a manner that has an incidental or indirect effect on aliens, a state may not establish its own immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with the federal immigration laws. The Constitution and the federal immigration laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country.

This is not wacky stuff, and may very well carry the day. And frankly, it’s a good thing to have this thrashed out in court so we can resolve the issue as to whether we will have 50 separate immigration laws. Supporters of the law should stop whining about the feds’ lawsuit: if the supporters are right — if, in other words, every state can gin up their own immigration rules — then they’ll have a grand victory.

But after the lawsuit is won or lost, we’ll still have unsecured borders. And we’ll still have millions around the world who want to come here and millions already here whom — with all due respect to Sen. John McCain – Americans don’t have the stomach to round up and send “home.” (By the way, can we agree as a factual matter that, generally, their homes and lives and children are here?)

In sum, I don’t begrudge the filing of the lawsuit. What we should all mind is that we have a president who’d rather fan the rhetorical flames than try to solve the problem.

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UAE Ambassador: Benefits of Attacking Iran Outweigh Risks

President Obama, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullins, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have all pooh-poohed the use of force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The Obami have relied on ”linkage” to justify their fixation on the “peace process” — i.e., the idea that progress there is needed to make progress in stopping the Iranian nuclear program. But Israel’s neighbors have a different idea. The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is “unacceptable” to them — and they really mean it — just as it is to the Jewish state. The latest indication comes in this report from Eli Lake:

The United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that the benefits of bombing Iran’s nuclear program outweigh the short-term costs such an attack would impose.

In unusually blunt remarks, Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba publicly endorsed the use of the military option for countering Iran’s nuclear program, if sanctions fail to stop the country’s quest for nuclear weapons.

“I think it’s a cost-benefit analysis,” Mr. al-Otaiba said. “I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion — there will be consequences, there will be a backlash and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country, that is going to happen no matter what.”

“If you are asking me, ‘Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran?,’ my answer is still the same: ‘We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.’ I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the UAE.”

John Bolton, as well as many other Middle East hands who regularly visit the region, confirms that in private, a number of other Arab leaders have said the same thing. So perhaps we can dispense with the fruitless “peace process,” round up a coalition of the willing (it is a catchy term), and make clear to Iran that if it does not voluntarily give up its nuclear program, it will face an alliance that will “disarm” it.

Indeed, it is the absence of such activity and the fixation on a “peace progress” that is going nowhere that should concern Jewish groups. Instead they cheer loudly that Obama is shaking Bibi’s hand in public and that Bibi is offering something or other in the proximity talks with Palestinians, who lack the will and ability to make peace. Don’t get me wrong — having Obama confirm that the bond between the countries is “unbreakable” is better than nothing. But what real content does it have? Does that bond extend to guaranteeing that Israel does not face an existential threat?

Unfortunately, Jewish groups and pro-Israel lawmakers have been suckered into the peace-process obsession, calling for more negotiations after the flotilla incident, after the Jerusalem housing spat,  and as Iran continues its quest to acquire nuclear weapons. It is more than a nervous tic — it is a wrongheaded attachment to a process that is going nowhere at the expense of focusing on dire issues.

The UAE ambassador has his eye on the ball. Maybe he can have a chat with Mullins and explain what is truly destabilizing, and unimaginable, for the moderate Arab states of the region.

President Obama, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullins, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have all pooh-poohed the use of force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The Obami have relied on ”linkage” to justify their fixation on the “peace process” — i.e., the idea that progress there is needed to make progress in stopping the Iranian nuclear program. But Israel’s neighbors have a different idea. The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is “unacceptable” to them — and they really mean it — just as it is to the Jewish state. The latest indication comes in this report from Eli Lake:

The United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that the benefits of bombing Iran’s nuclear program outweigh the short-term costs such an attack would impose.

In unusually blunt remarks, Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba publicly endorsed the use of the military option for countering Iran’s nuclear program, if sanctions fail to stop the country’s quest for nuclear weapons.

“I think it’s a cost-benefit analysis,” Mr. al-Otaiba said. “I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion — there will be consequences, there will be a backlash and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country, that is going to happen no matter what.”

“If you are asking me, ‘Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran?,’ my answer is still the same: ‘We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.’ I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the UAE.”

John Bolton, as well as many other Middle East hands who regularly visit the region, confirms that in private, a number of other Arab leaders have said the same thing. So perhaps we can dispense with the fruitless “peace process,” round up a coalition of the willing (it is a catchy term), and make clear to Iran that if it does not voluntarily give up its nuclear program, it will face an alliance that will “disarm” it.

Indeed, it is the absence of such activity and the fixation on a “peace progress” that is going nowhere that should concern Jewish groups. Instead they cheer loudly that Obama is shaking Bibi’s hand in public and that Bibi is offering something or other in the proximity talks with Palestinians, who lack the will and ability to make peace. Don’t get me wrong — having Obama confirm that the bond between the countries is “unbreakable” is better than nothing. But what real content does it have? Does that bond extend to guaranteeing that Israel does not face an existential threat?

Unfortunately, Jewish groups and pro-Israel lawmakers have been suckered into the peace-process obsession, calling for more negotiations after the flotilla incident, after the Jerusalem housing spat,  and as Iran continues its quest to acquire nuclear weapons. It is more than a nervous tic — it is a wrongheaded attachment to a process that is going nowhere at the expense of focusing on dire issues.

The UAE ambassador has his eye on the ball. Maybe he can have a chat with Mullins and explain what is truly destabilizing, and unimaginable, for the moderate Arab states of the region.

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J Street’s Next Conference — Not When You Think

J Street’s conference in October 2009 provided plenty of fodder for the group’s critics. Many congressmen, once they got wind of what the group was up to, decided to take their names off the “host” list. The confab itself was filled with a hodgepodge of Israel bashers and mullah apologists. So when I saw that the next conference had been scheduled and with the midterm elections just four months away, I thought, “That’ll be dicey for the lawmakers who want to attend.” But alas, J Street has scheduled its 2010 conference for 2011. Why, that’s just after the midterm elections!

You’d have thought they would have wanted to showcase their pet candidates just before the 2010 elections, right? Hmm. I suppose not.

J Street’s conference in October 2009 provided plenty of fodder for the group’s critics. Many congressmen, once they got wind of what the group was up to, decided to take their names off the “host” list. The confab itself was filled with a hodgepodge of Israel bashers and mullah apologists. So when I saw that the next conference had been scheduled and with the midterm elections just four months away, I thought, “That’ll be dicey for the lawmakers who want to attend.” But alas, J Street has scheduled its 2010 conference for 2011. Why, that’s just after the midterm elections!

You’d have thought they would have wanted to showcase their pet candidates just before the 2010 elections, right? Hmm. I suppose not.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

You can’t parody Joe Biden if he’s going to talk this way: “My grandfather used to always say, ‘Joey, you have to have somebody to beat somebody.’”

You can’t get more blunt than this ad on Iran.

You can’t find any evidence of a “civil war” between conservatives in Gallup’s polling on Tea Party activists: “Americans who say they support the Tea Party movement share a common concern about government and its scope, particularly with regard to deficit spending. Their views do set them apart from those who are neutral or opposed to the Tea Party movement, but hardly distinguish them from supporters of the Republican Party more broadly.”

You can’t be seen with Obama if you’re a Democrat who wants to win in 2010: “PPP has polled on the impact of a Barack Obama endorsement in 5 key Senate races over the last month, and it’s looking more and more clear that there’s just about nowhere Democratic candidates would benefit from having the President come to campaign with them.”

You can’t miss the telltale sign that Obama is doing something unpopular: he says it’s all Eric Holder’s idea. “The White House has said the decision to challenge Arizona’s immigration law was out of its hands, left completely up to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the lawyers at the Justice Department.”

You can’t expect the president to go, so David Axelrod will appear at a fundraiser for Tony Rezko’s banker, Alexi Giannoulias. Meanwhile: “Giannoulias’ camp released his income tax returns last Friday, which showed that the ex-banker paid neither federal nor state taxes in ’09. In fact, Giannoulias received a $30K tax return, which he promised to give to charity.”

You can’t be reading things if you want to be a cable talking head! On the lawsuit claiming that the Arizona law is pre-empted by federal immigration law, Dana Perino sanely suggests: “Perhaps we should do something novel like read the complaint before commenting … surely the administration would appreciate that courtesy?”

You can’t imagine it was a long speech: “Queen Elizabeth II of England addressed the United Nations for the first time since 1957 on Tuesday, paying homage to the organization’s accomplishments since she last stood at the famous green podium of the General Assembly.”

You can’t parody Joe Biden if he’s going to talk this way: “My grandfather used to always say, ‘Joey, you have to have somebody to beat somebody.’”

You can’t get more blunt than this ad on Iran.

You can’t find any evidence of a “civil war” between conservatives in Gallup’s polling on Tea Party activists: “Americans who say they support the Tea Party movement share a common concern about government and its scope, particularly with regard to deficit spending. Their views do set them apart from those who are neutral or opposed to the Tea Party movement, but hardly distinguish them from supporters of the Republican Party more broadly.”

You can’t be seen with Obama if you’re a Democrat who wants to win in 2010: “PPP has polled on the impact of a Barack Obama endorsement in 5 key Senate races over the last month, and it’s looking more and more clear that there’s just about nowhere Democratic candidates would benefit from having the President come to campaign with them.”

You can’t miss the telltale sign that Obama is doing something unpopular: he says it’s all Eric Holder’s idea. “The White House has said the decision to challenge Arizona’s immigration law was out of its hands, left completely up to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the lawyers at the Justice Department.”

You can’t expect the president to go, so David Axelrod will appear at a fundraiser for Tony Rezko’s banker, Alexi Giannoulias. Meanwhile: “Giannoulias’ camp released his income tax returns last Friday, which showed that the ex-banker paid neither federal nor state taxes in ’09. In fact, Giannoulias received a $30K tax return, which he promised to give to charity.”

You can’t be reading things if you want to be a cable talking head! On the lawsuit claiming that the Arizona law is pre-empted by federal immigration law, Dana Perino sanely suggests: “Perhaps we should do something novel like read the complaint before commenting … surely the administration would appreciate that courtesy?”

You can’t imagine it was a long speech: “Queen Elizabeth II of England addressed the United Nations for the first time since 1957 on Tuesday, paying homage to the organization’s accomplishments since she last stood at the famous green podium of the General Assembly.”

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