Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 14, 2010

It’s Getting Ugly for the Democrats

Earlier today, I quoted William Galston telling the Financial Times: “Just as BP’s failure to cap the well has been so damaging, Obama’s failure to cap unemployment will be his undoing. There is nothing he can do to affect the jobless rate before November.”

In the New Republic, Galston, after analyzing the data, writes this:

As if things weren’t bad enough for Democrats, something I didn’t believe possible six months ago has happened: The Senate is now in play. … It’s entirely possible that when the dust settles this November, Republicans will have hit the trifecta — President Obama’s former seat, Vice President Biden’s former seat, plus the Senate majority leader’s seat.

Professor Galston has been sounding the midterm alarm bell for months now while many of his fellow Democrats engaged in self-delusion. That self-delusion is now giving way to panic and recriminations. It’s getting ugly — and it will get uglier still.

Earlier today, I quoted William Galston telling the Financial Times: “Just as BP’s failure to cap the well has been so damaging, Obama’s failure to cap unemployment will be his undoing. There is nothing he can do to affect the jobless rate before November.”

In the New Republic, Galston, after analyzing the data, writes this:

As if things weren’t bad enough for Democrats, something I didn’t believe possible six months ago has happened: The Senate is now in play. … It’s entirely possible that when the dust settles this November, Republicans will have hit the trifecta — President Obama’s former seat, Vice President Biden’s former seat, plus the Senate majority leader’s seat.

Professor Galston has been sounding the midterm alarm bell for months now while many of his fellow Democrats engaged in self-delusion. That self-delusion is now giving way to panic and recriminations. It’s getting ugly — and it will get uglier still.

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Shut Up, the Networks Responded

Ben Smith has the remarkable scoop on this one:

CBS and NBC have refused to air a provocative ad from the confrontational, well-funded National Republican Trust PAC that calls on Americans to oppose the building of a mosque two blocks from the World Trade Center site.

The ad — which has about 100,000 views on YouTube — intersperses some of the most horrifying images from the 9/11 attacks with the sounds of Muslim prayer and images of Muslim militants. It focuses on what’s become a divisive — and partisan — issue in New York State, the erection of a Muslim cultural center on Park Place, in the neighborhood near the fallen towers.

“On September 11, they declared war against us,” says the narrator. “And to celebrate that murder of 3,000 Americans, they want to build a monstrous 13-story mosque at Ground Zero.”

The NBC spokesperson says the problem was “they” — she says it is “unclear as to whether the reference is to terrorists or to the Islamic religious organization that is sponsoring the building of the mosque.” Grammatically she’s correct, but her red pencil is selective, as anyone who’s seen a left-wing ad on TV can attest. Smith reports:

A CBS official, Marty Daly, also rejected the ad, according to emails shared by NRT PAC executive director Scott Wheeler. “They have very selective standards — they’ll run anything MoveOn.org throws out there,” said Wheeler, also citing a controversial 2004 NAACP ad invoking the slain James Byrd.

NRT folks may have the last laugh, however. A whole lot of people will now hear about the effort to shut them up — and be inclined to go online to watch the ad.

Ben Smith has the remarkable scoop on this one:

CBS and NBC have refused to air a provocative ad from the confrontational, well-funded National Republican Trust PAC that calls on Americans to oppose the building of a mosque two blocks from the World Trade Center site.

The ad — which has about 100,000 views on YouTube — intersperses some of the most horrifying images from the 9/11 attacks with the sounds of Muslim prayer and images of Muslim militants. It focuses on what’s become a divisive — and partisan — issue in New York State, the erection of a Muslim cultural center on Park Place, in the neighborhood near the fallen towers.

“On September 11, they declared war against us,” says the narrator. “And to celebrate that murder of 3,000 Americans, they want to build a monstrous 13-story mosque at Ground Zero.”

The NBC spokesperson says the problem was “they” — she says it is “unclear as to whether the reference is to terrorists or to the Islamic religious organization that is sponsoring the building of the mosque.” Grammatically she’s correct, but her red pencil is selective, as anyone who’s seen a left-wing ad on TV can attest. Smith reports:

A CBS official, Marty Daly, also rejected the ad, according to emails shared by NRT PAC executive director Scott Wheeler. “They have very selective standards — they’ll run anything MoveOn.org throws out there,” said Wheeler, also citing a controversial 2004 NAACP ad invoking the slain James Byrd.

NRT folks may have the last laugh, however. A whole lot of people will now hear about the effort to shut them up — and be inclined to go online to watch the ad.

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RE: Time for a Chief Executive

Gov. Bob McDonnell provided a good example today of what Tim Pawlenty was talking about: governors have to make hard choices, balance budgets, and take responsibility for their efforts. McDonnnell today announced that after taking over a $1.8B budget shortfall, he’s not only balanced the books for this year but also run up a $220M surplus for the remainder of this fiscal year. He has also closed a $4.2B shortfall for 2011-2012. He did this all without raising taxes. His communications director, Tucker Martin, explained via email:

The Governor’s mid-session revenue reforecast targeted state spending to the proper levels. Virginia state employees also returned $28 million to state coffers through their own savings, which they were incentivized to do by the prospect of up to a 3% one-time bonus if a surplus was achieved. The governor also instituted a strict hiring freeze in state government. So the basic factors on this surplus were the governor holding the line on new spending, accurate revenue re-forecasting, state employee savings, a hiring freeze and increases in corporate and individual tax returns, which is a small, but positive, economic signal. The increases in corporate and individual withholding and non-withholding equal 75% of the surplus money. So this is a story of conservative budgeting, and not just raising taxes to get out of trouble. As a result, our economy is starting to pick up down here. We’ve added 71,500 jobs since February, third highest amount in the nation, and you can start to see that in the slight uptick in withholding.

The list of cuts in education, health and human safety, and even in public safety are substantial. But in the end, spending in 2011-2012 in Virginia will merely return to 2005-2006 levels. Is that the end of civilization as we know it? That’s what the Democrats would have had us believe when they said it was impossible to balance the budget without huge tax hikes.

McDonnell has said he’s not running for anything in 2012, and I think this is one pol who’s telling the truth. But if you want to know what a grown-up chief executive looks like, this is it.

Gov. Bob McDonnell provided a good example today of what Tim Pawlenty was talking about: governors have to make hard choices, balance budgets, and take responsibility for their efforts. McDonnnell today announced that after taking over a $1.8B budget shortfall, he’s not only balanced the books for this year but also run up a $220M surplus for the remainder of this fiscal year. He has also closed a $4.2B shortfall for 2011-2012. He did this all without raising taxes. His communications director, Tucker Martin, explained via email:

The Governor’s mid-session revenue reforecast targeted state spending to the proper levels. Virginia state employees also returned $28 million to state coffers through their own savings, which they were incentivized to do by the prospect of up to a 3% one-time bonus if a surplus was achieved. The governor also instituted a strict hiring freeze in state government. So the basic factors on this surplus were the governor holding the line on new spending, accurate revenue re-forecasting, state employee savings, a hiring freeze and increases in corporate and individual tax returns, which is a small, but positive, economic signal. The increases in corporate and individual withholding and non-withholding equal 75% of the surplus money. So this is a story of conservative budgeting, and not just raising taxes to get out of trouble. As a result, our economy is starting to pick up down here. We’ve added 71,500 jobs since February, third highest amount in the nation, and you can start to see that in the slight uptick in withholding.

The list of cuts in education, health and human safety, and even in public safety are substantial. But in the end, spending in 2011-2012 in Virginia will merely return to 2005-2006 levels. Is that the end of civilization as we know it? That’s what the Democrats would have had us believe when they said it was impossible to balance the budget without huge tax hikes.

McDonnell has said he’s not running for anything in 2012, and I think this is one pol who’s telling the truth. But if you want to know what a grown-up chief executive looks like, this is it.

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Why Can’t Obama Be More Like Bush

Over at Politico.com, senior editor David Mark poses this question: “Why can’t Democrats on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue act as cohesively as the Bush White House did with Republican congressional majorities most of its first six years in office?”

It’s a fair question, actually. And since President Obama is so eager to compare himself to President Bush, it’s perhaps worth pointing out — as a reference point — that in Bush’s first midterm election, Republicans regained their majority in the Senate and added six seats in the House. It was only the second election in American history in which a president’s party gained seats in both the House and Senate in the first midterm election (the only other time was in 1934, when FDR Democrats gained seats in both chambers).

We’ll see how Obama does in comparison to Bush on this score. I suspect not well.

Over at Politico.com, senior editor David Mark poses this question: “Why can’t Democrats on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue act as cohesively as the Bush White House did with Republican congressional majorities most of its first six years in office?”

It’s a fair question, actually. And since President Obama is so eager to compare himself to President Bush, it’s perhaps worth pointing out — as a reference point — that in Bush’s first midterm election, Republicans regained their majority in the Senate and added six seats in the House. It was only the second election in American history in which a president’s party gained seats in both the House and Senate in the first midterm election (the only other time was in 1934, when FDR Democrats gained seats in both chambers).

We’ll see how Obama does in comparison to Bush on this score. I suspect not well.

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Bollinger: Big Government News

I thought this headline might be sardonic: “Journalism Needs Government Help; Media budgets have been decimated as the Internet facilitates a communications revolution. More public funding for news-gathering is the answer.” It’s an op-ed from Columbia University professor Lee Bollinger in the Wall Street Journal, so I was hopeful that we’d get a touch of iconoclastic common sense. My hopes were misplaced. And I wonder whether the Journal editors didn’t decide to publish this on their pages just to show how ludicrous liberal statism has become. First, Bollinger’s complains that “journalism” is failing. (Umm, not the Journal, not Fox News — so it’s really only liberal print publications he’s pining over). So the solution is government funding. We learn:

Both the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are undertaking studies of ways to ensure the steep economic decline faced by newspapers and broadcast news does not deprive Americans of the essential information they need as citizens. One idea under consideration is enhanced public funding for journalism.

In other words, taxpayers will be forced to pay for what they won’t watch or read of their own volition. And the journalistic monstrosity will be a merger of PBS and NPR. The result sounds like something George Orwell would have dreamed  up:

To me a key priority is to strengthen our public broadcasting role in the global arena. In today’s rapidly globalizing and interconnected world, other countries are developing a strong media presence. In addition to the BBC, there is China’s CCTV and Xinhua news, as well as Qatar’s Al Jazeera. The U.S. government’s international broadcasters, like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, were developed during the Cold War as tools of our anticommunist foreign policy. In a sign of how anachronistic our system is in a digital age, these broadcasters are legally forbidden from airing within the U.S.

This system needs to be revised and its resources consolidated and augmented with those of NPR and PBS to create an American World Service that can compete with the BBC and other global broadcasters.

He insists that these public employees will exercise complete journalistic independence. That’s right. Liberals working for the government will independently make news decisions and report with no hint of bias. But the punchline — or the giveaway, depending on your perspective – is this:

The goal would be an American broadcasting system with full journalistic independence that can provide the news we need. Let’s demonstrate great journalism’s essential role in a free and dynamic society.

What if viewers and readers, um, don’t think they need what Big Government News is serving up? And how do we know what we “need”? Ah, Bollinger and his fellow Ivy Leaguers will tell us. Such is the state of liberal thinking and the mind of an Ivy League president. Yeah, I’m thinking the same thing: people spend money to send their kids to these places?

I thought this headline might be sardonic: “Journalism Needs Government Help; Media budgets have been decimated as the Internet facilitates a communications revolution. More public funding for news-gathering is the answer.” It’s an op-ed from Columbia University professor Lee Bollinger in the Wall Street Journal, so I was hopeful that we’d get a touch of iconoclastic common sense. My hopes were misplaced. And I wonder whether the Journal editors didn’t decide to publish this on their pages just to show how ludicrous liberal statism has become. First, Bollinger’s complains that “journalism” is failing. (Umm, not the Journal, not Fox News — so it’s really only liberal print publications he’s pining over). So the solution is government funding. We learn:

Both the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are undertaking studies of ways to ensure the steep economic decline faced by newspapers and broadcast news does not deprive Americans of the essential information they need as citizens. One idea under consideration is enhanced public funding for journalism.

In other words, taxpayers will be forced to pay for what they won’t watch or read of their own volition. And the journalistic monstrosity will be a merger of PBS and NPR. The result sounds like something George Orwell would have dreamed  up:

To me a key priority is to strengthen our public broadcasting role in the global arena. In today’s rapidly globalizing and interconnected world, other countries are developing a strong media presence. In addition to the BBC, there is China’s CCTV and Xinhua news, as well as Qatar’s Al Jazeera. The U.S. government’s international broadcasters, like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, were developed during the Cold War as tools of our anticommunist foreign policy. In a sign of how anachronistic our system is in a digital age, these broadcasters are legally forbidden from airing within the U.S.

This system needs to be revised and its resources consolidated and augmented with those of NPR and PBS to create an American World Service that can compete with the BBC and other global broadcasters.

He insists that these public employees will exercise complete journalistic independence. That’s right. Liberals working for the government will independently make news decisions and report with no hint of bias. But the punchline — or the giveaway, depending on your perspective – is this:

The goal would be an American broadcasting system with full journalistic independence that can provide the news we need. Let’s demonstrate great journalism’s essential role in a free and dynamic society.

What if viewers and readers, um, don’t think they need what Big Government News is serving up? And how do we know what we “need”? Ah, Bollinger and his fellow Ivy Leaguers will tell us. Such is the state of liberal thinking and the mind of an Ivy League president. Yeah, I’m thinking the same thing: people spend money to send their kids to these places?

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Obama in Hot Water

The Democratic Public Policy Polling outfit has more bad news for Obama:

Barack Obama’s hit a record low in PPP’s monthly national polling on his approval numbers. 45% of voters approve of the job he’s doing while 52% disapprove. This is the first time he’s topped the 50% disapproval mark in our surveys. …

The two most troublesome things for Obama in his numbers at this point are his standing among white voters and independents. Whites now disapprove of Obama by nearly a 2:1 margin, with 62% giving him bad marks and only 35% saying he’s doing a good job. With independents his approval is just 40% and 56% disapprove of his performance.

Nearly four months after its passage PPP continues not to find any evidence voters are warming up to the health care bill. 40% of voters favor it while 53% are opposed, numbers actually representing a regression since a poll right before the final vote found 45% support and 49% opposition. That shift may be more reflective of the President’s declining popularity than anything having to do with the bill itself, but nevertheless it seems clear Democrats continue to lose the public opinion battle on the issue.

So much for the notion that Obama’s personal popularity could be harnessed to sell his agenda. And to add insult to injury, the polls tell us that an endorsement by Bill Clinton is more influential with voters than a nod from Obama. But the disappointment runs both ways there. I’m sure Hillary must be asking herself: How did I lose to this guy?

The Democratic Public Policy Polling outfit has more bad news for Obama:

Barack Obama’s hit a record low in PPP’s monthly national polling on his approval numbers. 45% of voters approve of the job he’s doing while 52% disapprove. This is the first time he’s topped the 50% disapproval mark in our surveys. …

The two most troublesome things for Obama in his numbers at this point are his standing among white voters and independents. Whites now disapprove of Obama by nearly a 2:1 margin, with 62% giving him bad marks and only 35% saying he’s doing a good job. With independents his approval is just 40% and 56% disapprove of his performance.

Nearly four months after its passage PPP continues not to find any evidence voters are warming up to the health care bill. 40% of voters favor it while 53% are opposed, numbers actually representing a regression since a poll right before the final vote found 45% support and 49% opposition. That shift may be more reflective of the President’s declining popularity than anything having to do with the bill itself, but nevertheless it seems clear Democrats continue to lose the public opinion battle on the issue.

So much for the notion that Obama’s personal popularity could be harnessed to sell his agenda. And to add insult to injury, the polls tell us that an endorsement by Bill Clinton is more influential with voters than a nod from Obama. But the disappointment runs both ways there. I’m sure Hillary must be asking herself: How did I lose to this guy?

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All Tied Up in Pennsylvania

The latest Quinnipiac poll shows the race for the Senate between Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey to be tied at 43 percent approval for each candidate. A large segment of the electorate doesn’t know enough about either one of them to form an opinion. But Toomey has a higher percentage of Republicans (82 percent) backing him than Sestak does Democrats( 77.5 percent) and leads by a considerable 44-35 percent among independents. Most interesting, however, is how badly Obama is doing:

President Barack Obama’s negative 46 – 49 percent job approval rating is essentially unchanged from his negative 45 – 49 percent score April 8 and his negative 46 – 48 percent score May 13. It is, however, a dramatic fall from May of 2009, when it was 66 – 29 percent approve. The President’s current job rating reflects 82 – 16 percent disapproval among Republicans, 76 – 19 percent approval among Democrats and 53 – 40 percent disapproval among independent voters.

Pennsylvania voters say 48 – 42 percent that President Obama does not deserve reelection in 2012. In fact, 41 percent of voters say they would vote for an unnamed Republican candidate in 2012, while 40 percent say they would vote for Obama. Independent voters say they would go for a Republican 37 – 33 percent.

“When a politician’s approval rating is down 13 points among independent voters, that is generally a sign of political vulnerability,” said Brown. “The 6-point margin held by those who say President Obama doesn’t deserve a second term over those who think he does also should make the White House nervous, especially since Pennsylvania has not voted Republican for president since 1988. Here too, his weakness is among independents, who say 51 – 35 percent he does not deserve a second term.”

Once the Pennsylvania voters learn the degree to which Sestak has rubber-stamped the Obama agenda, the race may widen. But one thing is certain: as long as Obama’s numbers are this bad, he’s not going to be doing a lot of campaigning in the Keystone state for Sestak. The last thing Sestak needs is to remind the voters that he’s marched in lockstep with the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda.

The latest Quinnipiac poll shows the race for the Senate between Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey to be tied at 43 percent approval for each candidate. A large segment of the electorate doesn’t know enough about either one of them to form an opinion. But Toomey has a higher percentage of Republicans (82 percent) backing him than Sestak does Democrats( 77.5 percent) and leads by a considerable 44-35 percent among independents. Most interesting, however, is how badly Obama is doing:

President Barack Obama’s negative 46 – 49 percent job approval rating is essentially unchanged from his negative 45 – 49 percent score April 8 and his negative 46 – 48 percent score May 13. It is, however, a dramatic fall from May of 2009, when it was 66 – 29 percent approve. The President’s current job rating reflects 82 – 16 percent disapproval among Republicans, 76 – 19 percent approval among Democrats and 53 – 40 percent disapproval among independent voters.

Pennsylvania voters say 48 – 42 percent that President Obama does not deserve reelection in 2012. In fact, 41 percent of voters say they would vote for an unnamed Republican candidate in 2012, while 40 percent say they would vote for Obama. Independent voters say they would go for a Republican 37 – 33 percent.

“When a politician’s approval rating is down 13 points among independent voters, that is generally a sign of political vulnerability,” said Brown. “The 6-point margin held by those who say President Obama doesn’t deserve a second term over those who think he does also should make the White House nervous, especially since Pennsylvania has not voted Republican for president since 1988. Here too, his weakness is among independents, who say 51 – 35 percent he does not deserve a second term.”

Once the Pennsylvania voters learn the degree to which Sestak has rubber-stamped the Obama agenda, the race may widen. But one thing is certain: as long as Obama’s numbers are this bad, he’s not going to be doing a lot of campaigning in the Keystone state for Sestak. The last thing Sestak needs is to remind the voters that he’s marched in lockstep with the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda.

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Former Clinton Officials Pessimistic About November

The Financial Times, in a story titled “Obama faces growing credibility crisis,” quotes two former Clinton administration officials. Their words will not reassure Democrats.

“If you ask me where the silver lining is for President Obama, I have to say I cannot see one,” according to William Galston, a former domestic adviser to President Clinton. “Just as BP’s failure to cap the well has been so damaging, Obama’s failure to cap unemployment will be his undoing. There is nothing he can do to affect the jobless rate before November.”

Not to be outdone, Rob Shapiro, another former Clinton administration official and a supporter of Obama, said, “The bottom line here is that Americans don’t believe in President Obama’s leadership. He has to find some way between now and November of demonstrating that he is a leader who can command confidence and, short of a 9/11 event or an Oklahoma City bombing, I can’t think of how he could do that.”

Messrs. Galston’s and Shapiro’s pessimism is fully warranted. As was said earlier this week, sometimes the sky really is falling. That is the case right now for Democrats — and it’s hard to see how things will get better for them between now and November 2. All the data point to a crushing loss for Democrats in the midterm election. It turns out that to be a Democratic lawmaker in the Age of Obama is a very dangerous thing. And the days of referring to Barack Obama as the next Lincoln and FDR, a “sort of God,” and a “black Jesus” appear to be over, don’t they?

The Financial Times, in a story titled “Obama faces growing credibility crisis,” quotes two former Clinton administration officials. Their words will not reassure Democrats.

“If you ask me where the silver lining is for President Obama, I have to say I cannot see one,” according to William Galston, a former domestic adviser to President Clinton. “Just as BP’s failure to cap the well has been so damaging, Obama’s failure to cap unemployment will be his undoing. There is nothing he can do to affect the jobless rate before November.”

Not to be outdone, Rob Shapiro, another former Clinton administration official and a supporter of Obama, said, “The bottom line here is that Americans don’t believe in President Obama’s leadership. He has to find some way between now and November of demonstrating that he is a leader who can command confidence and, short of a 9/11 event or an Oklahoma City bombing, I can’t think of how he could do that.”

Messrs. Galston’s and Shapiro’s pessimism is fully warranted. As was said earlier this week, sometimes the sky really is falling. That is the case right now for Democrats — and it’s hard to see how things will get better for them between now and November 2. All the data point to a crushing loss for Democrats in the midterm election. It turns out that to be a Democratic lawmaker in the Age of Obama is a very dangerous thing. And the days of referring to Barack Obama as the next Lincoln and FDR, a “sort of God,” and a “black Jesus” appear to be over, don’t they?

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The Trouble with International Forces

The latest argument by Palestinian flacks like Haaretz reporter Akiva Eldar is that with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas having agreed to host an international force such as “UNIFIL or NATO” in the West Bank following an Israeli withdrawal, Israel has no more security worries and therefore no excuse for any delays in reaching an agreement on such a withdrawal.

But anyone who actually believes that Israel can or should rely on “an international force to defend Israel’s well-being” should consider the latest news on UNIFIL’s mission in south Lebanon.

As defined by UN Security Council Resolution 1701, this mission is, inter alia, to “assist the Lebanese armed forces” in making the south of the Litani River “an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL.”

But a few weeks ago, something dreadful happened: a French contingent of UNIFIL actually tried to carry out this mission. It began using sniffer dogs to detect illegal weapons and explosives and insisted on searching homes and yards where it had reason to believe Hezbollah was stockpiling such arms.

The immediate result was a series of clashes apparently either staged or encouraged by Hezbollah between Lebanese villagers and UNIFIL troops. In the most serious incident, villagers hurled stones at the peacekeepers, seized their weapons, and vandalized their vehicle.

The second result was that, at the end of last week, UNIFIL agreed to stop using sniffer dogs and refrain from entering homes and yards – or, in other words, to stop carrying out its mission of detecting illegal Hezbollah weapons. Its commander, Maj. Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas, followed that up with a fawning apology for the “mistakes,” published in the Lebanese press as an open letter to the Lebanese people.

In fairness, you can’t really blame UNIFIL. Soldiers are expected to risk their lives to defend their own countries and their own people, but it’s quite understandable that they are less enthusiastic about risking their lives to defend someone else’s country and someone else’s people unless their own country sees a vital national interest in so doing (as the U.S. does in Afghanistan). And the risks are real: in 2007, for instance, six Spanish UNIFIL members whom Israel considered particularly effective were killed by a roadside bomb in what appeared to be a clear message from Hezbollah.

But that understandable reluctance to die for someone else’s country has made peacekeepers consistently ineffective at stopping active fighting. Examples abound, from Dutch peacekeepers’ failure to prevent the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 to the UN peacekeepers’ obedient withdrawal from Sinai in 1967 when Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser wanted a path cleared for his troops to invade Israel.

In other words, an international force would be useless at preventing anti-Israel terror if Palestinians wanted to perpetrate such attacks — and completely unnecessary if they did not.

Unfortunately, experience has taught most Israelis to consider the former possibility more likely. And until that changes, they will view any substitute for their own army in the West Bank as a nonstarter.

The latest argument by Palestinian flacks like Haaretz reporter Akiva Eldar is that with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas having agreed to host an international force such as “UNIFIL or NATO” in the West Bank following an Israeli withdrawal, Israel has no more security worries and therefore no excuse for any delays in reaching an agreement on such a withdrawal.

But anyone who actually believes that Israel can or should rely on “an international force to defend Israel’s well-being” should consider the latest news on UNIFIL’s mission in south Lebanon.

As defined by UN Security Council Resolution 1701, this mission is, inter alia, to “assist the Lebanese armed forces” in making the south of the Litani River “an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL.”

But a few weeks ago, something dreadful happened: a French contingent of UNIFIL actually tried to carry out this mission. It began using sniffer dogs to detect illegal weapons and explosives and insisted on searching homes and yards where it had reason to believe Hezbollah was stockpiling such arms.

The immediate result was a series of clashes apparently either staged or encouraged by Hezbollah between Lebanese villagers and UNIFIL troops. In the most serious incident, villagers hurled stones at the peacekeepers, seized their weapons, and vandalized their vehicle.

The second result was that, at the end of last week, UNIFIL agreed to stop using sniffer dogs and refrain from entering homes and yards – or, in other words, to stop carrying out its mission of detecting illegal Hezbollah weapons. Its commander, Maj. Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas, followed that up with a fawning apology for the “mistakes,” published in the Lebanese press as an open letter to the Lebanese people.

In fairness, you can’t really blame UNIFIL. Soldiers are expected to risk their lives to defend their own countries and their own people, but it’s quite understandable that they are less enthusiastic about risking their lives to defend someone else’s country and someone else’s people unless their own country sees a vital national interest in so doing (as the U.S. does in Afghanistan). And the risks are real: in 2007, for instance, six Spanish UNIFIL members whom Israel considered particularly effective were killed by a roadside bomb in what appeared to be a clear message from Hezbollah.

But that understandable reluctance to die for someone else’s country has made peacekeepers consistently ineffective at stopping active fighting. Examples abound, from Dutch peacekeepers’ failure to prevent the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 to the UN peacekeepers’ obedient withdrawal from Sinai in 1967 when Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser wanted a path cleared for his troops to invade Israel.

In other words, an international force would be useless at preventing anti-Israel terror if Palestinians wanted to perpetrate such attacks — and completely unnecessary if they did not.

Unfortunately, experience has taught most Israelis to consider the former possibility more likely. And until that changes, they will view any substitute for their own army in the West Bank as a nonstarter.

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For Thee but Not for Me

The reason given by the White House for ignoring the Constitution and giving Dr. Donald Berwick a recess appointment to head Medicare and Medicaid — Republican obstructionism and delay — was transparently phony. Republicans, with only 41 senators, have no power to delay committee hearings, delay the committee vote, or delay the matter being taken up by the whole Senate.  Only then might Republicans be able to delay or obstruct by mounting a filibuster.

What the administration feared, of course, was that Republicans might use the committee hearing and the Senate debate to ask inconvenient questions about ObamaCare and to put that monumental boondoggle back on the front page only a couple of months ahead of the election.

But Byron York at the Washington Examiner reports that the Republicans would also have been asking some inconvenient questions about Dr. Berwick. As has become so characteristic of modern liberalism, Dr. Berwick is a for-thee-but-not-for-me kind of guy. He has gone on record advocating rationing of health care. (“The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”)

But there won’t be any standing in line for Dr. Berwick and his wife, nor will there be denial of treatments deemed too expensive by some bureaucrat. He and his wife will “not have to deal with the anxieties created by limited access to care and the extent of coverage. In a special benefit conferred on him by the board of directors of the Institute for Health Care Improvement, a nonprofit health care charitable organization he created and which he served as chief executive officer, Berwick and his wife will have health coverage ‘from retirement until death.’”

The reason given by the White House for ignoring the Constitution and giving Dr. Donald Berwick a recess appointment to head Medicare and Medicaid — Republican obstructionism and delay — was transparently phony. Republicans, with only 41 senators, have no power to delay committee hearings, delay the committee vote, or delay the matter being taken up by the whole Senate.  Only then might Republicans be able to delay or obstruct by mounting a filibuster.

What the administration feared, of course, was that Republicans might use the committee hearing and the Senate debate to ask inconvenient questions about ObamaCare and to put that monumental boondoggle back on the front page only a couple of months ahead of the election.

But Byron York at the Washington Examiner reports that the Republicans would also have been asking some inconvenient questions about Dr. Berwick. As has become so characteristic of modern liberalism, Dr. Berwick is a for-thee-but-not-for-me kind of guy. He has gone on record advocating rationing of health care. (“The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”)

But there won’t be any standing in line for Dr. Berwick and his wife, nor will there be denial of treatments deemed too expensive by some bureaucrat. He and his wife will “not have to deal with the anxieties created by limited access to care and the extent of coverage. In a special benefit conferred on him by the board of directors of the Institute for Health Care Improvement, a nonprofit health care charitable organization he created and which he served as chief executive officer, Berwick and his wife will have health coverage ‘from retirement until death.’”

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Humanitarian Crisis? No, Gazans Are Bored!

Left-wing propagandists have spent the last several years successfully painting a picture of Gaza as a place where children starve and where all are in need. In reply, Israel and her defenders have attempted to point out that such tales are pure myth and that, in fact, there is no shortage of food or medicine in Gaza despite the limited blockade that has been imposed on the region since Hamas seized power there in a bloody coup. But there’s no need to listen to the Israelis on that point. As the New York Times makes clear in a 2,500-word dispatch published today about life in Gaza, the residents of the strip have no reticence about refuting the lies about a humanitarian crisis:

There are plenty of things to buy in Gaza; goods are brought over the border or smuggled through the tunnels with Egypt. That is not the problem. In fact, talk about food and people here get angry because it implies that their struggle is over subsistence rather than quality of life. The issue is not hunger. It is idleness, uncertainty and despair.

The picture painted in this story of life in Gaza is not pretty. But it makes it clear that what is really bothering Gazans is how boring life in Hamasistan can be. The Gazans chose to be ruled by an Islamist terrorist group dedicated to perpetuating the war against Israel and to the idea that Israel can someday be destroyed. But they think it is unfair to pay any price for the state of belligerency that exists with Israel — even if their basic needs are guaranteed by both the international community and the country they wish to destroy.

To their credit, authors Michael Slackman and Ethan Bronner make clear that the Palestinians’ biggest problem is the civil war being waged between the Hamas and Fatah organizations, as the latter’s decision to shut off electricity to Gaza to get even with Hamas illustrates.

As far as Israel, Palestinians are a bit confused. They desire its destruction, but at the same time, they think it is unfair that they should not be allowed to work there or that trade between Israel and Gaza should be halted because of the terrorist campaigns waged against the Jewish state by the groups Palestinians support. They want war and vote for Hamas but think it is unjust that they have lost income because of Israel’s measures of self-defense that were created because of Hamas terrorism. This confusion is well illustrated in the quote from Abdel Qader Ismail, 24, a former employee of the military intelligence service who now produces anti-Israel plays:

Our play does not mean we hate Israel. We believe in Israel’s right to exist, but not on the land of Palestine. In France or in Russia, but not in Palestine. This is our home.

It never seems to occur to Ismail that Israelis have no wish to live in France or Russia but instead want their own homeland, which they have demonstrated time and again that they are willing to share with the Palestinians if only they will finally accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in part of that small country.

The tales in this report of Gaza’s abused wives and hopeless idle men are sad. But the answer to their isolation is an end to their war against Israel. If Palestinians would reject Hamas and an ethos of war to the death against Israel and accept a two-state solution with a Jewish state, Gaza’s isolation would end, and the Palestinian people could then concentrate their energies on development rather than on war. Until the Palestinians’ sense of identity is bound up with something more than merely rejection of Israel, the pathetic life they lead in Gaza will continue. And though they — and their foreign supporters — may prefer to rant about Israel, the truth is, the blame for their unenviable fate is largely their own.

Left-wing propagandists have spent the last several years successfully painting a picture of Gaza as a place where children starve and where all are in need. In reply, Israel and her defenders have attempted to point out that such tales are pure myth and that, in fact, there is no shortage of food or medicine in Gaza despite the limited blockade that has been imposed on the region since Hamas seized power there in a bloody coup. But there’s no need to listen to the Israelis on that point. As the New York Times makes clear in a 2,500-word dispatch published today about life in Gaza, the residents of the strip have no reticence about refuting the lies about a humanitarian crisis:

There are plenty of things to buy in Gaza; goods are brought over the border or smuggled through the tunnels with Egypt. That is not the problem. In fact, talk about food and people here get angry because it implies that their struggle is over subsistence rather than quality of life. The issue is not hunger. It is idleness, uncertainty and despair.

The picture painted in this story of life in Gaza is not pretty. But it makes it clear that what is really bothering Gazans is how boring life in Hamasistan can be. The Gazans chose to be ruled by an Islamist terrorist group dedicated to perpetuating the war against Israel and to the idea that Israel can someday be destroyed. But they think it is unfair to pay any price for the state of belligerency that exists with Israel — even if their basic needs are guaranteed by both the international community and the country they wish to destroy.

To their credit, authors Michael Slackman and Ethan Bronner make clear that the Palestinians’ biggest problem is the civil war being waged between the Hamas and Fatah organizations, as the latter’s decision to shut off electricity to Gaza to get even with Hamas illustrates.

As far as Israel, Palestinians are a bit confused. They desire its destruction, but at the same time, they think it is unfair that they should not be allowed to work there or that trade between Israel and Gaza should be halted because of the terrorist campaigns waged against the Jewish state by the groups Palestinians support. They want war and vote for Hamas but think it is unjust that they have lost income because of Israel’s measures of self-defense that were created because of Hamas terrorism. This confusion is well illustrated in the quote from Abdel Qader Ismail, 24, a former employee of the military intelligence service who now produces anti-Israel plays:

Our play does not mean we hate Israel. We believe in Israel’s right to exist, but not on the land of Palestine. In France or in Russia, but not in Palestine. This is our home.

It never seems to occur to Ismail that Israelis have no wish to live in France or Russia but instead want their own homeland, which they have demonstrated time and again that they are willing to share with the Palestinians if only they will finally accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in part of that small country.

The tales in this report of Gaza’s abused wives and hopeless idle men are sad. But the answer to their isolation is an end to their war against Israel. If Palestinians would reject Hamas and an ethos of war to the death against Israel and accept a two-state solution with a Jewish state, Gaza’s isolation would end, and the Palestinian people could then concentrate their energies on development rather than on war. Until the Palestinians’ sense of identity is bound up with something more than merely rejection of Israel, the pathetic life they lead in Gaza will continue. And though they — and their foreign supporters — may prefer to rant about Israel, the truth is, the blame for their unenviable fate is largely their own.

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Time for a Chief Executive?

In 2008, voters had a choice between two senators. In our entire history only two senators before Obama, Warren Harding and JFK, have won the presidency. We’ve never had a face-off between two senators (JFK beat VP Richard Nixon, Harding beat Ohio Gov. James Cox). Perhaps there is a reason. After all, senators aren’t responsible for much of anything. John McCain was in no position to make the case about executive experience in the 2008 race, but there sure is a powerful argument that we shouldn’t do this again — that is, elect someone with zero executive experience.

Granted, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has a huge vested interest in making this argument, but he’s nevertheless right when he asserts that chief executives of states can’t pull what Obama has:

When Obama entered office, he inherited a budget deficit that reflected the toxic combination of recession, bailouts and runaway entitlement programs. But rather than getting the government’s finances under control, Obama and his allies in Congress poured gasoline on the fire with trillion-dollar boondoggles. …

As the governor of a state that, like most others, has been facing recession-driven budget shortfalls recently, I understand the challenges in front of the president. What I don’t understand is his refusal to do anything about it. During my two terms in Minnesota, we balanced every biennial budget without raising taxes. We set priorities and cut spending. As the economy continues to struggle, more challenges lie ahead for both federal and state governments.

He  proceeds to give Obama a summary of Executive Leadership 101 (e.g., set priorities, establish two-tiered entitlement programs so newer works get less generous benefits).

Whether it is Pawlenty or some other candidate who captures the nomination, it may be high time to hire someone who’s run something, turned a profit, maintained a payroll, balanced a budget, or hired and fired people. There is something terribly adolescent about Obama — an infatuation with himself and with pretty words, a lack of decisiveness, an inability to make tough choices, and an unwillingness to take responsibility for his own actions. By 2012, the country may be ready — desperate, even — for a grown-up executive.

In 2008, voters had a choice between two senators. In our entire history only two senators before Obama, Warren Harding and JFK, have won the presidency. We’ve never had a face-off between two senators (JFK beat VP Richard Nixon, Harding beat Ohio Gov. James Cox). Perhaps there is a reason. After all, senators aren’t responsible for much of anything. John McCain was in no position to make the case about executive experience in the 2008 race, but there sure is a powerful argument that we shouldn’t do this again — that is, elect someone with zero executive experience.

Granted, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has a huge vested interest in making this argument, but he’s nevertheless right when he asserts that chief executives of states can’t pull what Obama has:

When Obama entered office, he inherited a budget deficit that reflected the toxic combination of recession, bailouts and runaway entitlement programs. But rather than getting the government’s finances under control, Obama and his allies in Congress poured gasoline on the fire with trillion-dollar boondoggles. …

As the governor of a state that, like most others, has been facing recession-driven budget shortfalls recently, I understand the challenges in front of the president. What I don’t understand is his refusal to do anything about it. During my two terms in Minnesota, we balanced every biennial budget without raising taxes. We set priorities and cut spending. As the economy continues to struggle, more challenges lie ahead for both federal and state governments.

He  proceeds to give Obama a summary of Executive Leadership 101 (e.g., set priorities, establish two-tiered entitlement programs so newer works get less generous benefits).

Whether it is Pawlenty or some other candidate who captures the nomination, it may be high time to hire someone who’s run something, turned a profit, maintained a payroll, balanced a budget, or hired and fired people. There is something terribly adolescent about Obama — an infatuation with himself and with pretty words, a lack of decisiveness, an inability to make tough choices, and an unwillingness to take responsibility for his own actions. By 2012, the country may be ready — desperate, even — for a grown-up executive.

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Rules of Engagement: From Bosnia to Afghanistan

A career military officer is typically less inclined than civilians to offer sweeping criticism of the rules of engagement (ROE) adopted for an operation. This is due to an ingrained understanding of the basic purpose of ROE, which is to enable our side to retain initiative and operational discretion. ROE exist to discourage situations created by the enemy from spiraling out of control, while allowing commanders the optimum latitude for what U.S. ROE call the “right and obligation of self defense.”

To continue reading this COMMENTARY Web Exclusive, click here.

A career military officer is typically less inclined than civilians to offer sweeping criticism of the rules of engagement (ROE) adopted for an operation. This is due to an ingrained understanding of the basic purpose of ROE, which is to enable our side to retain initiative and operational discretion. ROE exist to discourage situations created by the enemy from spiraling out of control, while allowing commanders the optimum latitude for what U.S. ROE call the “right and obligation of self defense.”

To continue reading this COMMENTARY Web Exclusive, click here.

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ECI Makes Private Anger Public

This segment on ECI’s opening ad and the backlash against Obama’s Israel policy from Morning Joe should be mandatory viewing:

The domestic impact of Obama’s Israel policy and the potential influence of a group like ECI comes through clearly in that segment. First is the (unintended) comic reaction of Terry McAuliffe — “Out of bounds!” But isn’t it policy, isn’t the ad just quoting Joe Sestak’s own words? Er… um … You see the problem: Democrats are none too pleased that Obama’s Israel policy will have real consequences domestically. It wasn’t supposed to work this way, according to the Obami brain trust; is was Bibi who was supposed to crumble under political pressure.

Also interesting is Politico’s Mike Allen’s and host Joe Scarborough’s take that the ad may tap into liberal Jews’ anger over Obama’s assault on Israel. From time to time, an ad breaks through the clutter and in essence gives “permission” for dissatisfied groups to holler, “Enough!” As we’ve discussed at length, the reaction of American Jewry to Obama has, to put it mildly, been conflicted. A mix of wishful thinking (he doesn’t really mean it!), partisan loyalty, and misguided strategy (if we don’t challenge him in public, he’ll be nicer to Israel!) have dampened public criticism of Obama’s Israel policy. But the underlying unease, indeed fury, has not abated. As this and other ads circulate and as the Middle East gains prominence in the campaign, even liberal Jews may come to the realization that in the privacy of the voting booth, they can finally register their objections. Call it putting some “daylight” between themselves and a disappointing president.

Finally, this video highlights the gap in the pro-Israel community that ECI fills. A pro-Israel activist not associated with either ECI or AIPAC told me, “AIPAC is great at what they do on Capitol Hill. They have their toolbox. ECI has theirs.” It is in that regard an important division of labor in the Jewish community. Established Jewish organizations have never faced a president like this and have struggled to come up with a game plan for pushing back. They are reluctant and ill-equipped to engage in confrontational public advocacy, yet their membership fumes, “Why aren’t you doing something!” Well, along comes ECI. In essence, this alleviates the pressure on establishment Jewish leaders to do what they feel their organizations cannot.

Those who bemoan that foreign policy is “politicized” really mean that they don’t want to defend their own positions. But that’s not how democracy works. Every issue is fodder for debate. We’re now going to have a rip-roaring one on Middle East policy.

This segment on ECI’s opening ad and the backlash against Obama’s Israel policy from Morning Joe should be mandatory viewing:

The domestic impact of Obama’s Israel policy and the potential influence of a group like ECI comes through clearly in that segment. First is the (unintended) comic reaction of Terry McAuliffe — “Out of bounds!” But isn’t it policy, isn’t the ad just quoting Joe Sestak’s own words? Er… um … You see the problem: Democrats are none too pleased that Obama’s Israel policy will have real consequences domestically. It wasn’t supposed to work this way, according to the Obami brain trust; is was Bibi who was supposed to crumble under political pressure.

Also interesting is Politico’s Mike Allen’s and host Joe Scarborough’s take that the ad may tap into liberal Jews’ anger over Obama’s assault on Israel. From time to time, an ad breaks through the clutter and in essence gives “permission” for dissatisfied groups to holler, “Enough!” As we’ve discussed at length, the reaction of American Jewry to Obama has, to put it mildly, been conflicted. A mix of wishful thinking (he doesn’t really mean it!), partisan loyalty, and misguided strategy (if we don’t challenge him in public, he’ll be nicer to Israel!) have dampened public criticism of Obama’s Israel policy. But the underlying unease, indeed fury, has not abated. As this and other ads circulate and as the Middle East gains prominence in the campaign, even liberal Jews may come to the realization that in the privacy of the voting booth, they can finally register their objections. Call it putting some “daylight” between themselves and a disappointing president.

Finally, this video highlights the gap in the pro-Israel community that ECI fills. A pro-Israel activist not associated with either ECI or AIPAC told me, “AIPAC is great at what they do on Capitol Hill. They have their toolbox. ECI has theirs.” It is in that regard an important division of labor in the Jewish community. Established Jewish organizations have never faced a president like this and have struggled to come up with a game plan for pushing back. They are reluctant and ill-equipped to engage in confrontational public advocacy, yet their membership fumes, “Why aren’t you doing something!” Well, along comes ECI. In essence, this alleviates the pressure on establishment Jewish leaders to do what they feel their organizations cannot.

Those who bemoan that foreign policy is “politicized” really mean that they don’t want to defend their own positions. But that’s not how democracy works. Every issue is fodder for debate. We’re now going to have a rip-roaring one on Middle East policy.

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Obama vs. the Facts

My former White House colleague Keith Hennessey has an excellent post on why President Obama’s claim that we’ve had “a decade of spiraling deficits” is (like so much of what Obama claims) false. More and more we’re finding that this administration’s assertions are at war with empirical data.

My former White House colleague Keith Hennessey has an excellent post on why President Obama’s claim that we’ve had “a decade of spiraling deficits” is (like so much of what Obama claims) false. More and more we’re finding that this administration’s assertions are at war with empirical data.

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Obama’s Race Obsession

It seems a lifetime ago that Obama represented hope for a post-racial presidency and in fact a post-racial era in American politics. Like so much else about Obama, the reality is the opposite of what was promised. Jake Tapper relates a rather amazing effort to inject race into the war against Islamic terrorists:

In an interview earlier today with the South African Broadcasting Corporation to air in a few hours, President Obama disparaged al Qaeda and affiliated groups’ willingness to kill Africans in a manner that White House aides say was an argument that the terrorist groups are racist.

Speaking about the Uganda bombings, the president said, “What you’ve seen in some of the statements that have been made by these terrorist organizations is that they do not regard African life as valuable in and of itself.  They see it as a potential place where you can carry out ideological battles that kill innocents without regard to long-term consequences for their short-term tactical gains.” …

Explaining the president’s comment, an administration official said Mr. Obama “references the fact that both U.S. intelligence and past al Qaeda actions make clear that al Qaeda — and the groups like al Shabaab that they inspire — do not value African life. The actions of al Qaeda and the groups that it has inspired show a willingness to sacrifice innocent African life to reach their targets.” … “In short,” the official said, “al Qaeda is a racist organization that treats black Africans like cannon fodder and does not value human life.”

Oh, good grief. Al-Qaeda isn’t a racist organization — it’s an organization that kills regardless of race anyone who stands in the way of its Islamo-fascist vision. The notion that it is racist is not only ignorant but also transparently manipulative. Does the administration really think that Africans can only be motivated if they think race is behind the slaughter of their people? And does Obama mean to suggest that al-Qaeda is pro-white? The mind reels.

It is this sort of thing that fills one with dread and raises this question: is there no limit to the lengths Obama will go to avoid spelling out the real motive behind Islamic fundamentalist terror? It’s the Islamic fundamentalism, of course. The Obami, however, would rather make up a counter-factual narrative and introduce a potentially divisive racial theme (don’t we want Europeans to take the war on terror seriously? what about Indonesians?) into the worldwide war against terrorism than be candid with the American people. Despite his worldly credentials, Obama’s foreign policy is strikingly condescending toward the rest of the world. Muslims will get confused and upset if we identify radical Islam as the basis for terrorism! Africans won’t join us unless they think it’s all about race!

I think we need a post-post-racial commander in chief who doesn’t assume that the rest of the world is populated by dolts.

It seems a lifetime ago that Obama represented hope for a post-racial presidency and in fact a post-racial era in American politics. Like so much else about Obama, the reality is the opposite of what was promised. Jake Tapper relates a rather amazing effort to inject race into the war against Islamic terrorists:

In an interview earlier today with the South African Broadcasting Corporation to air in a few hours, President Obama disparaged al Qaeda and affiliated groups’ willingness to kill Africans in a manner that White House aides say was an argument that the terrorist groups are racist.

Speaking about the Uganda bombings, the president said, “What you’ve seen in some of the statements that have been made by these terrorist organizations is that they do not regard African life as valuable in and of itself.  They see it as a potential place where you can carry out ideological battles that kill innocents without regard to long-term consequences for their short-term tactical gains.” …

Explaining the president’s comment, an administration official said Mr. Obama “references the fact that both U.S. intelligence and past al Qaeda actions make clear that al Qaeda — and the groups like al Shabaab that they inspire — do not value African life. The actions of al Qaeda and the groups that it has inspired show a willingness to sacrifice innocent African life to reach their targets.” … “In short,” the official said, “al Qaeda is a racist organization that treats black Africans like cannon fodder and does not value human life.”

Oh, good grief. Al-Qaeda isn’t a racist organization — it’s an organization that kills regardless of race anyone who stands in the way of its Islamo-fascist vision. The notion that it is racist is not only ignorant but also transparently manipulative. Does the administration really think that Africans can only be motivated if they think race is behind the slaughter of their people? And does Obama mean to suggest that al-Qaeda is pro-white? The mind reels.

It is this sort of thing that fills one with dread and raises this question: is there no limit to the lengths Obama will go to avoid spelling out the real motive behind Islamic fundamentalist terror? It’s the Islamic fundamentalism, of course. The Obami, however, would rather make up a counter-factual narrative and introduce a potentially divisive racial theme (don’t we want Europeans to take the war on terror seriously? what about Indonesians?) into the worldwide war against terrorism than be candid with the American people. Despite his worldly credentials, Obama’s foreign policy is strikingly condescending toward the rest of the world. Muslims will get confused and upset if we identify radical Islam as the basis for terrorism! Africans won’t join us unless they think it’s all about race!

I think we need a post-post-racial commander in chief who doesn’t assume that the rest of the world is populated by dolts.

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The Voters Bail on Obamanomics

Greg Sargent takes a look at the latest CBS poll: “Now, 40 percent of Americans polled approve of President Obama’s handling of the economy; 54 percent disapprove. That’s down from 45 percent approval last month. Seventy-one percent of those polled say that their local job market is bad and 70 percent say it’s going to stay the same or get worse.” Sargent then poses a smart query to his fellow Democrats:

At what point does the current Dem message that things are improving become counterproductive happy talk? After all, in the absence of more action, it risks making Dems look out of touch with the reality on the ground and makes it tougher for Obama to point to how awful things are to spur Congress to act.

Well, this has been Obama’s and the Democrats’ problem for some time. They say the stimulus plan is working; voters don’t believe them. They say ObamaCare is going to shrink the deficit; the voters don’t believe them. They say their focus is on jobs; the voters don’t believe them. It is not just that Democrats “look” out of touch — they are! They’ve pursued an agenda the public doesn’t want and expected voters to learn to love their handiwork.

As the Democrats (as well as their media supporters) come to grips with the impending wave election, one likely to sweep many from office, they may finally get reacquainted with reality. Elections have a way of doing that.

Greg Sargent takes a look at the latest CBS poll: “Now, 40 percent of Americans polled approve of President Obama’s handling of the economy; 54 percent disapprove. That’s down from 45 percent approval last month. Seventy-one percent of those polled say that their local job market is bad and 70 percent say it’s going to stay the same or get worse.” Sargent then poses a smart query to his fellow Democrats:

At what point does the current Dem message that things are improving become counterproductive happy talk? After all, in the absence of more action, it risks making Dems look out of touch with the reality on the ground and makes it tougher for Obama to point to how awful things are to spur Congress to act.

Well, this has been Obama’s and the Democrats’ problem for some time. They say the stimulus plan is working; voters don’t believe them. They say ObamaCare is going to shrink the deficit; the voters don’t believe them. They say their focus is on jobs; the voters don’t believe them. It is not just that Democrats “look” out of touch — they are! They’ve pursued an agenda the public doesn’t want and expected voters to learn to love their handiwork.

As the Democrats (as well as their media supporters) come to grips with the impending wave election, one likely to sweep many from office, they may finally get reacquainted with reality. Elections have a way of doing that.

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Is J Street More Trouble Than It’s Worth?

J Street is backing Joe Sestak, providing both an endorsement and funding. He is their ideal candidate — willing to keynote at a CAIR fundraiser, unbothered by Obama’s Israel-bashing, happy to sign on to J Street’s letter on lifting the Gaza blockade, and left-leaning on everything else. This, of course, has raised concerns within the Jewish community. During the primary, Sen. Arlen Specter went after his opponent:

When addressing them at the May 2 forum, [Specter] went into great detail, describing his Jewish upbringing and choosing to focus much of his presentation on the issue of Israel. Responding to a question from the audience, he attacked his rival’s decision to participate at a meeting sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that critics have accused of accommodating antisemitic views. “Sestak showed a lack of experience and sensitivity,” Specter said accusingly, later adding that “in the DNA” of the Jewish people, “we have memory of the pogroms.”

In May the contrast between Sestak and Specter, an ardent Israel supporter, was quite evident in an interview with the Jewish Exponent:

Do you believe a unified Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel? If not, should Israel freeze all its building in eastern Jerusalem?

Specter: Jerusalem is the rightful capital of Israel. In 1983, I joined Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) in introducing legislation to require the U.S. Embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I continue to support legislation requiring such a move.

Sestak: Both issues are ones that should be worked out between Israel and the Palestinians with the United States “in the room”; nothing should be mandated — by the administration or by Congress — upon the two parties as a condition for peace or at the beginning of the peace process.

Hmm, doesn’t exactly sound like Sestak is solid on the issue. (Sestak’s office did not respond to an inquiry as to his position on this and other issues relating to Israel.)

Now, candidates are sometimes willing to take flack over their support from a politically controversial group in exchange for handsome financing. Many a Democrat, for example, has taken his lumps for “being in the pocket of labor bosses”; the consolation is the robust funds they receive from organized labor. So has the J Street endorsement been worth the trouble it has caused Sestak?

It sure doesn’t look that way: “GOP U.S. Senate nominee Pat Toomey raised roughly $1 million more than Democratic opponent Joe Sestak in the latest fundraising quarter, according to numbers provided by each campaign Tuesday, another indication the Republican could posses a significant financial advantage in the general election race.” It seems that the J Street endorsement really isn’t paying off. It may be that pro-Israel voters in Pennsylvania are already voting — with their checkbooks — against Sestak. Unfortunately for Sestak, J Street hasn’t begun to make up the difference.

We’ll see how this plays out in Pennsylvania and in races around the country in which J Street has bestowed its endorsement, but perhaps not sufficient funds, on leftist Democrats. One lesson of this election may well be that a J Street endorsement is the kiss of political death for those foolish enough to adhere to its extreme agenda with the expectation that J Street can provide ample financial support.

J Street is backing Joe Sestak, providing both an endorsement and funding. He is their ideal candidate — willing to keynote at a CAIR fundraiser, unbothered by Obama’s Israel-bashing, happy to sign on to J Street’s letter on lifting the Gaza blockade, and left-leaning on everything else. This, of course, has raised concerns within the Jewish community. During the primary, Sen. Arlen Specter went after his opponent:

When addressing them at the May 2 forum, [Specter] went into great detail, describing his Jewish upbringing and choosing to focus much of his presentation on the issue of Israel. Responding to a question from the audience, he attacked his rival’s decision to participate at a meeting sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that critics have accused of accommodating antisemitic views. “Sestak showed a lack of experience and sensitivity,” Specter said accusingly, later adding that “in the DNA” of the Jewish people, “we have memory of the pogroms.”

In May the contrast between Sestak and Specter, an ardent Israel supporter, was quite evident in an interview with the Jewish Exponent:

Do you believe a unified Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel? If not, should Israel freeze all its building in eastern Jerusalem?

Specter: Jerusalem is the rightful capital of Israel. In 1983, I joined Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) in introducing legislation to require the U.S. Embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I continue to support legislation requiring such a move.

Sestak: Both issues are ones that should be worked out between Israel and the Palestinians with the United States “in the room”; nothing should be mandated — by the administration or by Congress — upon the two parties as a condition for peace or at the beginning of the peace process.

Hmm, doesn’t exactly sound like Sestak is solid on the issue. (Sestak’s office did not respond to an inquiry as to his position on this and other issues relating to Israel.)

Now, candidates are sometimes willing to take flack over their support from a politically controversial group in exchange for handsome financing. Many a Democrat, for example, has taken his lumps for “being in the pocket of labor bosses”; the consolation is the robust funds they receive from organized labor. So has the J Street endorsement been worth the trouble it has caused Sestak?

It sure doesn’t look that way: “GOP U.S. Senate nominee Pat Toomey raised roughly $1 million more than Democratic opponent Joe Sestak in the latest fundraising quarter, according to numbers provided by each campaign Tuesday, another indication the Republican could posses a significant financial advantage in the general election race.” It seems that the J Street endorsement really isn’t paying off. It may be that pro-Israel voters in Pennsylvania are already voting — with their checkbooks — against Sestak. Unfortunately for Sestak, J Street hasn’t begun to make up the difference.

We’ll see how this plays out in Pennsylvania and in races around the country in which J Street has bestowed its endorsement, but perhaps not sufficient funds, on leftist Democrats. One lesson of this election may well be that a J Street endorsement is the kiss of political death for those foolish enough to adhere to its extreme agenda with the expectation that J Street can provide ample financial support.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Did Obama mention this in Cairo? “A group of young Saudi men have launched a campaign to convince Saudi men of the unappreciated virtues of polygamy.  It is a response to young Saudi women uninterested in joining a polygamous marriage, older Saudi women divorcees and Saudi men unable or unwilling to support more than one woman. The campaign seeks to counter what Saudi traditionalists see as an increasingly negative stigma attached to polygamy.”

Did Democratic lawmakers actually buy the notion that the American people would learn to love ObamaCare? “Almost four months after the passage of major health care legislation, the law remains unpopular with the public. Nearly half of Americans (47%) disapprove of the health care law while just 35% approve of the measure. An overwhelming proportion of opponents of health care legislation — 37% of the public overall — favor repealing the legislation as soon as possible. Just 7% say they want to let the law stand and see how it works. Public opinion toward health care legislation remained very stable in the months leading up to the bill’s passage, and that has continued to be the case.” That miscalculation will likely end more than a few political careers.

Did you expect anything else? “South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is sending strong signals that he may again buck his party and become the lone GOP senator on the Judiciary Committee to vote for Elena Kagan to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.”

Did Gen. Stanley McChrystal do us all a big favor? Gallup reports: “[Gen. David Petraeus] takes his new job as commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan with a remarkably positive image among Americans who know who he is. At the same time, Petraeus now faces the additional challenge of commanding a mission that the majority of Americans say is going badly. Americans’ views of the situation in Iraq improved during and after Petraeus’ tenure as commander in that country. The degree to which Petraeus will be able to shift Americans’ perceptions of the war in Afghanistan in similar fashion will have important consequences in many arenas, including the politics of the war in the U.S.”

Did you think in November 2008 that Barbara Boxer would now be in a toss-up race?

Did he check with Robert Gibbs? “House Majority Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) became the latest Democratic leader to voice confidence that the party will hold its majority in the House this fall.”

Did Robert Reich ever sound so smart? “Democrats have been almost as reluctant to attack inequality or even to recognize it as the central economic and social problem of our age. … As money has risen to the top, so has political power. Politicians are more dependent than ever on big money for their campaigns. … Today’s cash comes in the form of ever increasing campaign donations from corporate executives and Wall Street, their ever larger platoons of lobbyists and their hordes of PR flacks.” Hence, the “major fault line in American politics is no longer between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, but between the ‘establishment’ and an increasingly mad-as-hell populace determined to ‘take back America’ from it.”

Did Obama mention this in Cairo? “A group of young Saudi men have launched a campaign to convince Saudi men of the unappreciated virtues of polygamy.  It is a response to young Saudi women uninterested in joining a polygamous marriage, older Saudi women divorcees and Saudi men unable or unwilling to support more than one woman. The campaign seeks to counter what Saudi traditionalists see as an increasingly negative stigma attached to polygamy.”

Did Democratic lawmakers actually buy the notion that the American people would learn to love ObamaCare? “Almost four months after the passage of major health care legislation, the law remains unpopular with the public. Nearly half of Americans (47%) disapprove of the health care law while just 35% approve of the measure. An overwhelming proportion of opponents of health care legislation — 37% of the public overall — favor repealing the legislation as soon as possible. Just 7% say they want to let the law stand and see how it works. Public opinion toward health care legislation remained very stable in the months leading up to the bill’s passage, and that has continued to be the case.” That miscalculation will likely end more than a few political careers.

Did you expect anything else? “South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is sending strong signals that he may again buck his party and become the lone GOP senator on the Judiciary Committee to vote for Elena Kagan to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.”

Did Gen. Stanley McChrystal do us all a big favor? Gallup reports: “[Gen. David Petraeus] takes his new job as commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan with a remarkably positive image among Americans who know who he is. At the same time, Petraeus now faces the additional challenge of commanding a mission that the majority of Americans say is going badly. Americans’ views of the situation in Iraq improved during and after Petraeus’ tenure as commander in that country. The degree to which Petraeus will be able to shift Americans’ perceptions of the war in Afghanistan in similar fashion will have important consequences in many arenas, including the politics of the war in the U.S.”

Did you think in November 2008 that Barbara Boxer would now be in a toss-up race?

Did he check with Robert Gibbs? “House Majority Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) became the latest Democratic leader to voice confidence that the party will hold its majority in the House this fall.”

Did Robert Reich ever sound so smart? “Democrats have been almost as reluctant to attack inequality or even to recognize it as the central economic and social problem of our age. … As money has risen to the top, so has political power. Politicians are more dependent than ever on big money for their campaigns. … Today’s cash comes in the form of ever increasing campaign donations from corporate executives and Wall Street, their ever larger platoons of lobbyists and their hordes of PR flacks.” Hence, the “major fault line in American politics is no longer between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, but between the ‘establishment’ and an increasingly mad-as-hell populace determined to ‘take back America’ from it.”

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Obama, Beware Phase Two

Today in the New York Post, I argue that the coming political shift in November will bring an end to the “getting things done” phase of the Obama presidency and will begin the “making things work” phase — and that this second phase will prove a nearly insuperable challenge for the president:

Phase Two…is a bear. Phase Two is implementation. Phase Two is “making it all work.” By front-loading so much activity in his first 18 months, Obama has set himself a nearly insuperable managerial and executive task. It’s one thing to praise yourself for passing health-care and financial reform. It’s quite another to stand before the voters in 2012 with a record that shows you’ve followed through on the promises made.

The other 700 words can be found here.

Today in the New York Post, I argue that the coming political shift in November will bring an end to the “getting things done” phase of the Obama presidency and will begin the “making things work” phase — and that this second phase will prove a nearly insuperable challenge for the president:

Phase Two…is a bear. Phase Two is implementation. Phase Two is “making it all work.” By front-loading so much activity in his first 18 months, Obama has set himself a nearly insuperable managerial and executive task. It’s one thing to praise yourself for passing health-care and financial reform. It’s quite another to stand before the voters in 2012 with a record that shows you’ve followed through on the promises made.

The other 700 words can be found here.

Read Less




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