Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 21, 2010

Global Warming Isn’t Proved by Summer Heat or Disproved by Winter Snow

Last winter, when the Northeast was buried under record snowfalls, some political activists had a little fun at the expense of global-warming alarmists by quipping that it was going to keep snowing until Al Gore said “uncle.” Those who peddle environmental hysteria denounced this argument, which was obviously tongue-in-cheek, as the sort of know-nothing idiocy that you can expect from all those who refuse to accept the true religion of global warming. Flash forward to what is proving a hot summer in the Northeast and, amazingly, we find the New York Times’s economic columnist Dave Leonhardt using the same sort of logic as that of the pranksters who built an igloo on Capitol Hill last February and dubbed it Al Gore’s new home. The only difference is that the Grey Lady’s economic wise man is putting forward his case without irony or apology.

The lede of Leonhardt’s column on Tuesday used the current heat wave as the opener for his complaint against members of Congress who refuse to pass President Obama’s energy bill, which would inaugurate a system of massive tax increases on business under the guise of a “cap-and-trade” system that would supposedly decrease carbon usage. Increasing numbers of Americans are skeptical about the theories that assume human responsibility for any climate change, in part because the Climategate scandal showed the lack of integrity on the part of the scientists who have hyped alarmist scenarios rather than sober science. But Leonhardt repeats, again without irony, the talk about the Himalayan Glaciers melting, without noting that his own newspaper reported that the much-ballyhooed assertion that the glaciers would melt by 2030 was a fraud based on bogus science.

Obama’s cap-and-trade scheme won’t pass, despite the laments of both Leonhardt and his fellow Times-man Tom Friedman, largely because most Americans are appalled at the idea of such a massive power grab by the government and know that imposing these sort of punitive taxes at a time of deep recession is a prescription for an economic disaster.

But the point here is that Leonhardt’s effort to whip up support for global-warming legislation because of a heat wave in the middle of summer is as silly as anyone who claimed that the fact that it snowed in the winter meant the opposite about global warming. The problem with global-warming science is the manipulation of data to prove a preordained conclusion, such as the now discredited “hockey stick” diagram, which “proved” global warming. Leonhardt’s arguments in favor of his statist solutions to the possibility of climate change are weak. But his attempt, based on the current temperature spikes, to shame members of Congress who wisely want no part of this fiscal catastrophe in the making shows a lack of intellectual integrity that strips his advocacy of any credibility.

Last winter, when the Northeast was buried under record snowfalls, some political activists had a little fun at the expense of global-warming alarmists by quipping that it was going to keep snowing until Al Gore said “uncle.” Those who peddle environmental hysteria denounced this argument, which was obviously tongue-in-cheek, as the sort of know-nothing idiocy that you can expect from all those who refuse to accept the true religion of global warming. Flash forward to what is proving a hot summer in the Northeast and, amazingly, we find the New York Times’s economic columnist Dave Leonhardt using the same sort of logic as that of the pranksters who built an igloo on Capitol Hill last February and dubbed it Al Gore’s new home. The only difference is that the Grey Lady’s economic wise man is putting forward his case without irony or apology.

The lede of Leonhardt’s column on Tuesday used the current heat wave as the opener for his complaint against members of Congress who refuse to pass President Obama’s energy bill, which would inaugurate a system of massive tax increases on business under the guise of a “cap-and-trade” system that would supposedly decrease carbon usage. Increasing numbers of Americans are skeptical about the theories that assume human responsibility for any climate change, in part because the Climategate scandal showed the lack of integrity on the part of the scientists who have hyped alarmist scenarios rather than sober science. But Leonhardt repeats, again without irony, the talk about the Himalayan Glaciers melting, without noting that his own newspaper reported that the much-ballyhooed assertion that the glaciers would melt by 2030 was a fraud based on bogus science.

Obama’s cap-and-trade scheme won’t pass, despite the laments of both Leonhardt and his fellow Times-man Tom Friedman, largely because most Americans are appalled at the idea of such a massive power grab by the government and know that imposing these sort of punitive taxes at a time of deep recession is a prescription for an economic disaster.

But the point here is that Leonhardt’s effort to whip up support for global-warming legislation because of a heat wave in the middle of summer is as silly as anyone who claimed that the fact that it snowed in the winter meant the opposite about global warming. The problem with global-warming science is the manipulation of data to prove a preordained conclusion, such as the now discredited “hockey stick” diagram, which “proved” global warming. Leonhardt’s arguments in favor of his statist solutions to the possibility of climate change are weak. But his attempt, based on the current temperature spikes, to shame members of Congress who wisely want no part of this fiscal catastrophe in the making shows a lack of intellectual integrity that strips his advocacy of any credibility.

Read Less

New Best Friends in the Balkans

Some news you might have missed last week: Serbia and Turkey have inaugurated a series of unprecedented initiatives of military and diplomatic cooperation, including joint aviation exercises and a mutual abolition of visas. The timing of these gallantries is rather ironic, as it coincides with the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, which marks the extermination of nearly 8,000 Bosnians, mostly boys and men, as well as the ethnic cleansing of some 25,000 to 30,000 more — which extermination and concomitant ethnic cleansing the Serb perpetrators justified in the name of “driving out the Turks” (i.e., the Bosnian Muslims).

This was the first year the Serbian government ever condemned the massacre — a humbling gesture aimed at smoothing its path toward EU membership. Some may consider this an occasion of which Serbia has availed itself in order to also mend fences with Turkey — a party its war slogans of 15 years ago had indirectly offended. But it is far more likely that the two developments bear no more relation to each other than did the Serbs’ genocide against the Bosnians and their animosity toward the Turks — which is to say, none at all.

What this newly forged friendship between Serbia and Turkey actually represents is a miniature replica of the trend in the relationship between their respective patrons, Russia and Iran, who have recently grown very close. For, of late, Turkey has become a firm node of the Iran-Syria-Venezuela axis, and as for Serbia, well — as an independent state, Serbia has not exercised any political free will of its own since the Middle Ages without first consulting Russia’s interests. And while under that whipped fluff of much-talked-about UN sanctions the ties between Iran and Russia continue to flourish, so do those between their proxies in the Balkans.

The club of disaffected anti-Western regimes is growing. And they look like a relatively enlightened bunch these days, since they certainly don’t make much of religious differences. When they do, it’s only to their own people, and that, only for the perfectly understandable purpose of inciting politically useful hatreds in them. Among allies, however, respect and tolerance reign supreme.

Some news you might have missed last week: Serbia and Turkey have inaugurated a series of unprecedented initiatives of military and diplomatic cooperation, including joint aviation exercises and a mutual abolition of visas. The timing of these gallantries is rather ironic, as it coincides with the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, which marks the extermination of nearly 8,000 Bosnians, mostly boys and men, as well as the ethnic cleansing of some 25,000 to 30,000 more — which extermination and concomitant ethnic cleansing the Serb perpetrators justified in the name of “driving out the Turks” (i.e., the Bosnian Muslims).

This was the first year the Serbian government ever condemned the massacre — a humbling gesture aimed at smoothing its path toward EU membership. Some may consider this an occasion of which Serbia has availed itself in order to also mend fences with Turkey — a party its war slogans of 15 years ago had indirectly offended. But it is far more likely that the two developments bear no more relation to each other than did the Serbs’ genocide against the Bosnians and their animosity toward the Turks — which is to say, none at all.

What this newly forged friendship between Serbia and Turkey actually represents is a miniature replica of the trend in the relationship between their respective patrons, Russia and Iran, who have recently grown very close. For, of late, Turkey has become a firm node of the Iran-Syria-Venezuela axis, and as for Serbia, well — as an independent state, Serbia has not exercised any political free will of its own since the Middle Ages without first consulting Russia’s interests. And while under that whipped fluff of much-talked-about UN sanctions the ties between Iran and Russia continue to flourish, so do those between their proxies in the Balkans.

The club of disaffected anti-Western regimes is growing. And they look like a relatively enlightened bunch these days, since they certainly don’t make much of religious differences. When they do, it’s only to their own people, and that, only for the perfectly understandable purpose of inciting politically useful hatreds in them. Among allies, however, respect and tolerance reign supreme.

Read Less

Storms Brewing in the Asian Seas

In response to North Korea’s sinking of a South Korean ship last March, the United States and South Korea will hold a series of joint military exercises beginning next week. But the joint exercises have become as much about geopolitics and China as they are about North Korea.

Although the exercises may be adroitly executed from a military-strategic standpoint, their success in sending a political and symbolic message is less certain. As the exercises have been considered throughout recent months, the Chinese protested aggressively and created a situation that tempts U.S. overreaction — which would be especially destructive now, as Sino-U.S. relations are already strained. The Obama administration has avoided that temptation, and the handling of the joint exercises has been both reasonable and measured. But the risk remains that Washington’s tact will be misinterpreted as a major concession to Beijing. This would be a pity. In a rare act of real smart diplomacy, the Obama administration is standing by our ally, South Korea, while also taking a moderate approach to China.

After Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates met with counterparts in Seoul this week, the Department of Defense announced a series of exercises to be held in both the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan. In the Sea of Japan, a large-scale air and naval exercise will begin Sunday. But notably, the details of the Yellow Sea exercises, to be held at some point in the future, were not announced, leaving more questions than answers. (The locations of both seas are crucial to understanding the issue.)

The locations of both seas are crucial to understanding the issue.

Given Beijing’s strong objections to military escapades in the Yellow Sea, which it considers its territorial backyard, the U.S.-South Korean exercises take on new significance. The fear is that unless the United States stridently defies Chinese concerns, it will be seen as conceding to Beijing and setting a precedent about what constitutes Chinese territory. This perception would be overblown given the facts, but it is all the more worrisome in the context of growing Chinese naval assertiveness.

Some have speculated that the Chinese are seeking to establish their own Monroe Doctrine and see this as a chance to reinforce it. Contrary to the UN Law of the Sea, China has objected to any unapproved non-surveillance navy activity in its exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 miles from shore. Beijing has repeated strongly worded protests against exercises in the Yellow Sea, especially those involving a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington.

If the United States proceeds with a major military exercise in the Yellow Sea, a military response from the Chinese would not be unprecedented; during the 1994 North Korea nuclear crisis, the U.S. sent a similar carrier, the Kitty Hawk, into the Yellow Sea. Although China was then a lesser military power, a Chinese submarine trailed the Kitty Hawk, and the Chinese air force dispatched fighters.

But the biggest risk is not military but political: China is trying to assert sea control; Sino-U.S. relations are already rocky, especially given Obama’s adherence to an arms deal with Taiwan; under a new prime minister, Japan is questioning whether to tilt its national-security strategy toward Beijing or toward Washington; South Korea is determining how steadfastly the United States intends to defend it from its hostile Northern neighbor; and North Korea wants to know what it can get away with.

Upon examining the facts, it’s clear that the plan announced yesterday serves the United States’s primary objectives: the Sea of Japan exercise is sufficient warning to North Korea, and it is also an impressive display of solidarity with South Korea. The scale of the exercises is huge: about 8,000 American and South Korean military personnel will participate. And the United States will employ some flashy assets. The exercise will include the George Washington, which is the core of U.S. naval power, and F-22s, the best of the best among tactical aircraft. The few disadvantages of a Sea of Japan–based exercise is that the South Korean ship, the Cheonan, was sunk in the Yellow Sea, and Pyongyang lies closer to the West. Hillary Clinton announced today, however, that the Obama administration would be imposing further economic sanctions against North Korea, strengthening the U.S. stance even more. The message to Pyonyang and to our allies is loud and clear.

This approach also enables the U.S. to avoid needlessly provoking China without conceding U.S. military rights, while taking into consideration the unavoidably necessary collaboration with China regarding the Korean Peninsula. The Chinese have suffered some of their most embarrassing historic defeats in the Yellow Sea, so they’re understandably sensitive. At the same time, joint Yellow Sea exercises will follow eventually, and the Pentagon’s press secretary, Geoff Morrell, stated clearly that the United Statesobviously [has] the right to navigate all international waters, conduct operations in all international waters at the time and place of our choosing.” Furthermore, China will also be a major player in the future of North Korea and in any reunification of the Korean Peninsula; therefore, our allies in Seoul could suffer more harm than benefit from outright defiance of Beijing’s concerns.

The Obama administration’s challenge now will be to convey the wisdom of this approach to China and to America’s allies. The Nobel-winning president has made this harder on himself because of his history of pacifying aggressors and distancing allies.  But in international relations, perception is reality. Had Obama been more fearsome before, he’d be more credible now.

In response to North Korea’s sinking of a South Korean ship last March, the United States and South Korea will hold a series of joint military exercises beginning next week. But the joint exercises have become as much about geopolitics and China as they are about North Korea.

Although the exercises may be adroitly executed from a military-strategic standpoint, their success in sending a political and symbolic message is less certain. As the exercises have been considered throughout recent months, the Chinese protested aggressively and created a situation that tempts U.S. overreaction — which would be especially destructive now, as Sino-U.S. relations are already strained. The Obama administration has avoided that temptation, and the handling of the joint exercises has been both reasonable and measured. But the risk remains that Washington’s tact will be misinterpreted as a major concession to Beijing. This would be a pity. In a rare act of real smart diplomacy, the Obama administration is standing by our ally, South Korea, while also taking a moderate approach to China.

After Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates met with counterparts in Seoul this week, the Department of Defense announced a series of exercises to be held in both the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan. In the Sea of Japan, a large-scale air and naval exercise will begin Sunday. But notably, the details of the Yellow Sea exercises, to be held at some point in the future, were not announced, leaving more questions than answers. (The locations of both seas are crucial to understanding the issue.)

The locations of both seas are crucial to understanding the issue.

Given Beijing’s strong objections to military escapades in the Yellow Sea, which it considers its territorial backyard, the U.S.-South Korean exercises take on new significance. The fear is that unless the United States stridently defies Chinese concerns, it will be seen as conceding to Beijing and setting a precedent about what constitutes Chinese territory. This perception would be overblown given the facts, but it is all the more worrisome in the context of growing Chinese naval assertiveness.

Some have speculated that the Chinese are seeking to establish their own Monroe Doctrine and see this as a chance to reinforce it. Contrary to the UN Law of the Sea, China has objected to any unapproved non-surveillance navy activity in its exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 miles from shore. Beijing has repeated strongly worded protests against exercises in the Yellow Sea, especially those involving a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington.

If the United States proceeds with a major military exercise in the Yellow Sea, a military response from the Chinese would not be unprecedented; during the 1994 North Korea nuclear crisis, the U.S. sent a similar carrier, the Kitty Hawk, into the Yellow Sea. Although China was then a lesser military power, a Chinese submarine trailed the Kitty Hawk, and the Chinese air force dispatched fighters.

But the biggest risk is not military but political: China is trying to assert sea control; Sino-U.S. relations are already rocky, especially given Obama’s adherence to an arms deal with Taiwan; under a new prime minister, Japan is questioning whether to tilt its national-security strategy toward Beijing or toward Washington; South Korea is determining how steadfastly the United States intends to defend it from its hostile Northern neighbor; and North Korea wants to know what it can get away with.

Upon examining the facts, it’s clear that the plan announced yesterday serves the United States’s primary objectives: the Sea of Japan exercise is sufficient warning to North Korea, and it is also an impressive display of solidarity with South Korea. The scale of the exercises is huge: about 8,000 American and South Korean military personnel will participate. And the United States will employ some flashy assets. The exercise will include the George Washington, which is the core of U.S. naval power, and F-22s, the best of the best among tactical aircraft. The few disadvantages of a Sea of Japan–based exercise is that the South Korean ship, the Cheonan, was sunk in the Yellow Sea, and Pyongyang lies closer to the West. Hillary Clinton announced today, however, that the Obama administration would be imposing further economic sanctions against North Korea, strengthening the U.S. stance even more. The message to Pyonyang and to our allies is loud and clear.

This approach also enables the U.S. to avoid needlessly provoking China without conceding U.S. military rights, while taking into consideration the unavoidably necessary collaboration with China regarding the Korean Peninsula. The Chinese have suffered some of their most embarrassing historic defeats in the Yellow Sea, so they’re understandably sensitive. At the same time, joint Yellow Sea exercises will follow eventually, and the Pentagon’s press secretary, Geoff Morrell, stated clearly that the United Statesobviously [has] the right to navigate all international waters, conduct operations in all international waters at the time and place of our choosing.” Furthermore, China will also be a major player in the future of North Korea and in any reunification of the Korean Peninsula; therefore, our allies in Seoul could suffer more harm than benefit from outright defiance of Beijing’s concerns.

The Obama administration’s challenge now will be to convey the wisdom of this approach to China and to America’s allies. The Nobel-winning president has made this harder on himself because of his history of pacifying aggressors and distancing allies.  But in international relations, perception is reality. Had Obama been more fearsome before, he’d be more credible now.

Read Less

Newsflash: Israelis Don’t Trust Obama

The Israeli Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University have a new survey out. The results are not surprising:

Nearly three-quarters of the Israeli Jewish public supports holding talks with the Palestinians, but only 32.4 percent believe they will lead to peace. High support for talks along with pessimism about their outcome has characterized public opinion since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993. Most Israelis – 62% – support direct dialogue, with only 14% supporting proximity talks mediated by US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell.

Could it be that the Israeli Jewish public doesn’t trust the Obami? Sure looks that way: “Most Israelis think that Obama favors the Palestinians, and 42.5% view Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s policies towards the Palestinians as balanced.” How’s the Obama plan for staring down Bibi on a settlement freeze working out? Not so great:

Over half of the Israeli public favors renewed construction in the West Bank after the settlement freeze ends in September, claiming that “continuing the freeze means capitulation to the Americans and the Palestinians.” Conversely, 41.5% say the freeze should continue, in order to “help advance the negotiations with the Palestinians and improve Israel’s image in the international community.”

The J Street crowd and the so-called liberal Zionists (mostly liberal, not so Zionist) like to characterize their positions as merely in conflict with the “right-wing” Netanyahu government. But their outlook is in conflict with the Israeli people. And the American left’s support for Obama’s Israel policy (well, what used to be his policy before he tried making up with Bibi) has been overwhelmingly rejected by Israelis. The left likes to warn (threaten?) Israel that it can’t be a democracy unless it disgorges itself of the Palestinian population. But the central feature of a democracy is that voters elect their government and ultimately determine the course of their public policy. That is simply not acceptable to Jewish leftists, who, it seems, want neither a secure Israel nor a democratic one.

The Israeli Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University have a new survey out. The results are not surprising:

Nearly three-quarters of the Israeli Jewish public supports holding talks with the Palestinians, but only 32.4 percent believe they will lead to peace. High support for talks along with pessimism about their outcome has characterized public opinion since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993. Most Israelis – 62% – support direct dialogue, with only 14% supporting proximity talks mediated by US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell.

Could it be that the Israeli Jewish public doesn’t trust the Obami? Sure looks that way: “Most Israelis think that Obama favors the Palestinians, and 42.5% view Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s policies towards the Palestinians as balanced.” How’s the Obama plan for staring down Bibi on a settlement freeze working out? Not so great:

Over half of the Israeli public favors renewed construction in the West Bank after the settlement freeze ends in September, claiming that “continuing the freeze means capitulation to the Americans and the Palestinians.” Conversely, 41.5% say the freeze should continue, in order to “help advance the negotiations with the Palestinians and improve Israel’s image in the international community.”

The J Street crowd and the so-called liberal Zionists (mostly liberal, not so Zionist) like to characterize their positions as merely in conflict with the “right-wing” Netanyahu government. But their outlook is in conflict with the Israeli people. And the American left’s support for Obama’s Israel policy (well, what used to be his policy before he tried making up with Bibi) has been overwhelmingly rejected by Israelis. The left likes to warn (threaten?) Israel that it can’t be a democracy unless it disgorges itself of the Palestinian population. But the central feature of a democracy is that voters elect their government and ultimately determine the course of their public policy. That is simply not acceptable to Jewish leftists, who, it seems, want neither a secure Israel nor a democratic one.

Read Less

How Bad in 2010?

Obama is tumbling in the polls, and his party will bear the brunt. That’s what Gallup reports today:

President Obama averaged 47.3% job approval during his sixth quarter in office, spanning April 20-July 19 — his lowest quarterly average to date. Americans’ approval of Obama has declined at least slightly in each quarter of his presidency. … The average presidential job approval rating across all presidents in Gallup’s trends since Franklin Roosevelt is 54%, about seven points above Obama’s sixth quarter average. … Elected presidents with sub-50% approval ratings in their sixth quarters in office — Carter, Reagan, and Clinton — tended to see more significant midterm congressional seat losses than other presidents.

Just how bad could those midterm losses be? Gallup’s chart going back to 1946 is eye-opening. In 1994, Bill Clinton was at 46 percent approval, and Democrats lost 53 House seats. LBJ was at 44 percent, and the Democrats lost 47 seats in 1966 (just two years after the 1964 landslide).

The problem may be even more acute for Democrats this year insofar as Obama’s approval is especially low in the very House districts that are in play. The extent of the losses will depend on a variety of factors in individual races, but the blame will fall on Obama. If history is any guide, the damage will be great as will the Democrats’ anger at the White House.

UPDATE: Gallup is not an outlier: “A year after President Barack Obama’s political honeymoon ended, his job approval rating has dropped to a negative 44 – 48 percent, his worst net score ever, and American voters say by a narrow 39 – 36 percent margin that they would vote for an unnamed Republican rather than President Obama in 2012, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. … American voters also say 48 – 40 percent Obama does not deserve reelection in 2012.”

Obama is tumbling in the polls, and his party will bear the brunt. That’s what Gallup reports today:

President Obama averaged 47.3% job approval during his sixth quarter in office, spanning April 20-July 19 — his lowest quarterly average to date. Americans’ approval of Obama has declined at least slightly in each quarter of his presidency. … The average presidential job approval rating across all presidents in Gallup’s trends since Franklin Roosevelt is 54%, about seven points above Obama’s sixth quarter average. … Elected presidents with sub-50% approval ratings in their sixth quarters in office — Carter, Reagan, and Clinton — tended to see more significant midterm congressional seat losses than other presidents.

Just how bad could those midterm losses be? Gallup’s chart going back to 1946 is eye-opening. In 1994, Bill Clinton was at 46 percent approval, and Democrats lost 53 House seats. LBJ was at 44 percent, and the Democrats lost 47 seats in 1966 (just two years after the 1964 landslide).

The problem may be even more acute for Democrats this year insofar as Obama’s approval is especially low in the very House districts that are in play. The extent of the losses will depend on a variety of factors in individual races, but the blame will fall on Obama. If history is any guide, the damage will be great as will the Democrats’ anger at the White House.

UPDATE: Gallup is not an outlier: “A year after President Barack Obama’s political honeymoon ended, his job approval rating has dropped to a negative 44 – 48 percent, his worst net score ever, and American voters say by a narrow 39 – 36 percent margin that they would vote for an unnamed Republican rather than President Obama in 2012, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. … American voters also say 48 – 40 percent Obama does not deserve reelection in 2012.”

Read Less

Better for the Patient to Suffer than to Be Treated by Israelis?

Anyone who thinks the primary concern of human rights organizations is the welfare of the people they are trying to help should consider this report on Israel’s medical mission to Congo.

Last week, four Israeli burn specialists arrived in Congo to treat survivors of the fuel truck explosion that killed 235 people on July 2 — a mission organized and funded by Israel’s Foreign Ministry. They were not the first foreign doctors on the scene, but they were the first burn specialists, and the first to come with specialized equipment for treating burns. As such, they were enthusiastically welcomed by the Congolese; President Joseph Kabila even phoned to thank them personally.

One might have expected them to be equally welcomed by the doctors already on the scene, a team from Medicins Sans Frontieres. After all, the MSF doctors had traveled all the way to the remote town of Sange to help the victims; surely they would be glad to see specialists with specialized equipment, who could help their patients in ways they themselves could not.

So when Haaretz’s reporter heard from the Israeli team that the MSF doctors — whose organization has repeatedly accused Israel of “war crimes” against the Palestinians — “treated them coolly and suspiciously at first,” with a Belgian doctor even telling them “there are obvious political sensitivities” about working together, he naturally sought confirmation from the source. The Israelis could easily have been misinterpreting a naturally restrained European style as a cold shoulder or overreacting to a remark not intended to offend.

But when he tried to ask the MSF doctors, they informed him that they were forbidden to speak with him without permission from their head office. And when he then tried to contact the head office, it never responded to his request.

In other words, neither the MSF doctors on the scene nor the MSF head-office staff could bring themselves to say something as banal as “Yes, we’re glad to see our Congolese patients getting proper specialist care regardless of who the caregivers are.”

A social activist from that region of Congo, Jean-Michel Bolima, had no such problems. “Israel is always first to offer aid, and this is admirable,” he declared.

But MSF, it seems, would rather see its patients continue to suffer than deal with the cognitive dissonance of discovering that, far from fitting neatly into its designated pigeonhole as the world’s pariah, Israel, by the very standards MSF claims to uphold, can often be downright “admirable.”

Anyone who thinks the primary concern of human rights organizations is the welfare of the people they are trying to help should consider this report on Israel’s medical mission to Congo.

Last week, four Israeli burn specialists arrived in Congo to treat survivors of the fuel truck explosion that killed 235 people on July 2 — a mission organized and funded by Israel’s Foreign Ministry. They were not the first foreign doctors on the scene, but they were the first burn specialists, and the first to come with specialized equipment for treating burns. As such, they were enthusiastically welcomed by the Congolese; President Joseph Kabila even phoned to thank them personally.

One might have expected them to be equally welcomed by the doctors already on the scene, a team from Medicins Sans Frontieres. After all, the MSF doctors had traveled all the way to the remote town of Sange to help the victims; surely they would be glad to see specialists with specialized equipment, who could help their patients in ways they themselves could not.

So when Haaretz’s reporter heard from the Israeli team that the MSF doctors — whose organization has repeatedly accused Israel of “war crimes” against the Palestinians — “treated them coolly and suspiciously at first,” with a Belgian doctor even telling them “there are obvious political sensitivities” about working together, he naturally sought confirmation from the source. The Israelis could easily have been misinterpreting a naturally restrained European style as a cold shoulder or overreacting to a remark not intended to offend.

But when he tried to ask the MSF doctors, they informed him that they were forbidden to speak with him without permission from their head office. And when he then tried to contact the head office, it never responded to his request.

In other words, neither the MSF doctors on the scene nor the MSF head-office staff could bring themselves to say something as banal as “Yes, we’re glad to see our Congolese patients getting proper specialist care regardless of who the caregivers are.”

A social activist from that region of Congo, Jean-Michel Bolima, had no such problems. “Israel is always first to offer aid, and this is admirable,” he declared.

But MSF, it seems, would rather see its patients continue to suffer than deal with the cognitive dissonance of discovering that, far from fitting neatly into its designated pigeonhole as the world’s pariah, Israel, by the very standards MSF claims to uphold, can often be downright “admirable.”

Read Less

I Bet Iran Doesn’t Think the J Streeters Are “Unhappy Jews”

From the BBC (subscription required), we get this snippet from its international news-monitoring service describing what’s being reported in Iran:

Editorial headlined “Neo-conservative lobbyists along with Israel”: The editorial refers to the formation of a new Israeli lobby in the US — the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) — and says that it includes unhappy Jews, who intend to gain an important role in the US practical policy and decision-making system so that they can influence the process of appointing senators, congressmen, governors and other state authorities directly.

This leaves even me almost speechless. Almost.

First, if you’re going to start a pro-Israel group, nothing beats a shout-out from the mullahs. It does cement one’s bona fides as a genuinely pro-Israel group committed to its defense against an existential threat from Iran, no? (Every press guy and gal in town is now groaning as they envision the phone ringing with demands from their boss. “No I can’t get you a condemnation by Ahmadinejad! I have no idea how they managed that!”) Second, I think the ECI folks are pretty happy to be engaged in a battle of ideas, especially after that missive. But there are a lot of American Jews not happy with Obama’s Israel policy. The idea that such people might become engaged in a debate about what it means to be “pro-Israel” and begin to focus on the voting records of candidates (not just their self-descriptions) seems to be making the mullahs very unhappy.

I think the really unhappy Jews these days are the J Streeters, who are being beaten about the ears by a group that’s been around less than two weeks.

From the BBC (subscription required), we get this snippet from its international news-monitoring service describing what’s being reported in Iran:

Editorial headlined “Neo-conservative lobbyists along with Israel”: The editorial refers to the formation of a new Israeli lobby in the US — the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) — and says that it includes unhappy Jews, who intend to gain an important role in the US practical policy and decision-making system so that they can influence the process of appointing senators, congressmen, governors and other state authorities directly.

This leaves even me almost speechless. Almost.

First, if you’re going to start a pro-Israel group, nothing beats a shout-out from the mullahs. It does cement one’s bona fides as a genuinely pro-Israel group committed to its defense against an existential threat from Iran, no? (Every press guy and gal in town is now groaning as they envision the phone ringing with demands from their boss. “No I can’t get you a condemnation by Ahmadinejad! I have no idea how they managed that!”) Second, I think the ECI folks are pretty happy to be engaged in a battle of ideas, especially after that missive. But there are a lot of American Jews not happy with Obama’s Israel policy. The idea that such people might become engaged in a debate about what it means to be “pro-Israel” and begin to focus on the voting records of candidates (not just their self-descriptions) seems to be making the mullahs very unhappy.

I think the really unhappy Jews these days are the J Streeters, who are being beaten about the ears by a group that’s been around less than two weeks.

Read Less

NBC Catches Up on New Black Panther Case

As did the rest of the mainstream media, NBC News has ignored the New Black Panther voter intimidation case. Last night it finally aired a story. You can view the report here. For reasons that are not clear, Pete Williams omitted any mention of the most incendiary evidence, namely the testimony of multiple witnesses that the Obama Justice Department is averse to filing civil rights claims against minorities. Likewise, he failed to mention that the Obama Justice Department has tried to prevent the trial team from testifying or that there is evidence suggesting that a top Justice Department official, Thomas Perez, provided misleading testimony under oath. For NBC News to have done so would have entirely undermined the naysayers, who declare that this a trivial matter. But if you try to cram a year of reporting into a three-minute piece, a lot goes unsaid.

As an aside, more than one of these “catch up” pieces has asserted that there was no real racial intimidation at the polling place. This is wrong as a factual matter. Before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, testimony was heard that two of the defendants tried to block the door when Chris Hill, a certified poll watcher, was going inside, but he walked past them. King Samir Shabazz yelled racial epithets at white poll watchers. There were eyewitnesses who testified that they saw voters turn away in fear at the sight of the Panthers, who were themselves blocked by the Panthers from entering the polls, and who talked to African-American Republicans, who were called race traitors.

It’s curious that the mainstream media, after ignoring the case, now seem to be making an effort to ignore key evidence and narrow the focus of the scandal. After all, if it was a really big, obvious, and far-reaching scandal, people would want to know where the liberal media have been all this time.

As did the rest of the mainstream media, NBC News has ignored the New Black Panther voter intimidation case. Last night it finally aired a story. You can view the report here. For reasons that are not clear, Pete Williams omitted any mention of the most incendiary evidence, namely the testimony of multiple witnesses that the Obama Justice Department is averse to filing civil rights claims against minorities. Likewise, he failed to mention that the Obama Justice Department has tried to prevent the trial team from testifying or that there is evidence suggesting that a top Justice Department official, Thomas Perez, provided misleading testimony under oath. For NBC News to have done so would have entirely undermined the naysayers, who declare that this a trivial matter. But if you try to cram a year of reporting into a three-minute piece, a lot goes unsaid.

As an aside, more than one of these “catch up” pieces has asserted that there was no real racial intimidation at the polling place. This is wrong as a factual matter. Before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, testimony was heard that two of the defendants tried to block the door when Chris Hill, a certified poll watcher, was going inside, but he walked past them. King Samir Shabazz yelled racial epithets at white poll watchers. There were eyewitnesses who testified that they saw voters turn away in fear at the sight of the Panthers, who were themselves blocked by the Panthers from entering the polls, and who talked to African-American Republicans, who were called race traitors.

It’s curious that the mainstream media, after ignoring the case, now seem to be making an effort to ignore key evidence and narrow the focus of the scandal. After all, if it was a really big, obvious, and far-reaching scandal, people would want to know where the liberal media have been all this time.

Read Less

Are Democrats Dumping the Not-Bush National Security Policy?

In Washington D.C. parlance, “That’s not a priority” means “You think we’re dumb enough to push that?” Well, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is saying as much about what was a top Obama priority – closing Guantanamo:

In response to a question from a reporter about where shutting down Gitmo stands, Hoyer said, “I think that’s not an item, as you point out, of real current discussion. There’s some very big issues confronting us — dealing with growing the economy and Iraq and Afghanistan.” Hoyer added, “I think you’re not going to see it discussed very broadly in the near term.”

This is one more sign, although less dramatic than the Pelosi-Gibbs food fight, that congressional Democrats have had enough, thank you, of carrying Obama’s political water at their own expense. The practical problems and national security issues associated with closing Gitmo have never been resolved, but in the end it’s politics — the complete unacceptability of the undertaking — that have killed Obama’s PR gambit.

Democrats should extract from this episode the right lesson: much of Obama’s national security policy is dangerous to the country and to their political future. There is no need to support a civilian trial for KSM or senseless cuts in the Defense Department budget or the START treaty. In pursuing enlightened self-interest, to borrow a phrase, Democrats may be inching toward a bipartisan, sensible national security policy.

In Washington D.C. parlance, “That’s not a priority” means “You think we’re dumb enough to push that?” Well, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is saying as much about what was a top Obama priority – closing Guantanamo:

In response to a question from a reporter about where shutting down Gitmo stands, Hoyer said, “I think that’s not an item, as you point out, of real current discussion. There’s some very big issues confronting us — dealing with growing the economy and Iraq and Afghanistan.” Hoyer added, “I think you’re not going to see it discussed very broadly in the near term.”

This is one more sign, although less dramatic than the Pelosi-Gibbs food fight, that congressional Democrats have had enough, thank you, of carrying Obama’s political water at their own expense. The practical problems and national security issues associated with closing Gitmo have never been resolved, but in the end it’s politics — the complete unacceptability of the undertaking — that have killed Obama’s PR gambit.

Democrats should extract from this episode the right lesson: much of Obama’s national security policy is dangerous to the country and to their political future. There is no need to support a civilian trial for KSM or senseless cuts in the Defense Department budget or the START treaty. In pursuing enlightened self-interest, to borrow a phrase, Democrats may be inching toward a bipartisan, sensible national security policy.

Read Less

RE: Misinformation, Disinformation, and ObamaCare

Pete, you are in good company in observing that Obama has strayed far from verifiable, or even plausible, arguments when it comes to defending his own policies. Michael Boskin writes:

A president’s most valuable asset—with voters, Congress, allies and enemies—is credibility. So it is unfortunate when extreme exaggeration emanates from the White House. … President Obama says “every economist who’s looked at it says that the Recovery Act has done its job”—i.e., the stimulus bill has turned the economy around. That’s nonsense. Opinions differ widely and many leading economists believe that its impact has been small. Why? The expectation of future spending and future tax hikes to pay for the stimulus and Mr. Obama’s vast expansion of government are offsetting the direct short-run expansionary effect. That is standard in all macroeconomic theories.

Boskin makes a convincing case that Obama’s own advisers are more grounded in reality than the president. He provides a number of examples, including this:

On his recent “Recovery Tour,” Mr. Obama boasted, “The stimulus bill prevented the unemployment rate from “getting up to … 15%.” But the president’s own chief economic adviser, Christina Romer, has estimated that the stimulus bill reduced peak unemployment by one percentage point—i.e., since the unemployment rate peaked at 10.1%, it prevented the unemployment rate from rising to just over 11%. So Mr. Obama claims that the stimulus bill was several times more potent than his chief economic adviser estimates.

Perhaps the most serious disconnect concerns the impending expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which will raise the top two income tax rates and the rates on dividends and capital gains. If these growth inhibiting tax increases occur—about $75 billion in tax increases next year, $1.4 trillion over 10 years—there will be serious economic damage.

In the most recent issue of the American Economic Review, Ms. Romer (and her husband David H. Romer) conclude that “tax increases are highly contractionary … tax cuts have very large and persistent positive output effects.” Their estimates imply the tax increases would depress GDP by roughly half the growth rate in this so-far-anemic recovery.

As Boskin argues, these untruths don’t bolster confidence. Quite the opposite. Investors and employers hear this stuff and conclude that the White House is clueless and erratic. It doesn’t matter whether Obama is intentionally misleading the public or has become so insulated from “bad news” that he doesn’t realize how far he has strayed. But someone in the White House needs to pull him aside and say, “Enough, Mr. President.” It would do him and the country a world of good.

Pete, you are in good company in observing that Obama has strayed far from verifiable, or even plausible, arguments when it comes to defending his own policies. Michael Boskin writes:

A president’s most valuable asset—with voters, Congress, allies and enemies—is credibility. So it is unfortunate when extreme exaggeration emanates from the White House. … President Obama says “every economist who’s looked at it says that the Recovery Act has done its job”—i.e., the stimulus bill has turned the economy around. That’s nonsense. Opinions differ widely and many leading economists believe that its impact has been small. Why? The expectation of future spending and future tax hikes to pay for the stimulus and Mr. Obama’s vast expansion of government are offsetting the direct short-run expansionary effect. That is standard in all macroeconomic theories.

Boskin makes a convincing case that Obama’s own advisers are more grounded in reality than the president. He provides a number of examples, including this:

On his recent “Recovery Tour,” Mr. Obama boasted, “The stimulus bill prevented the unemployment rate from “getting up to … 15%.” But the president’s own chief economic adviser, Christina Romer, has estimated that the stimulus bill reduced peak unemployment by one percentage point—i.e., since the unemployment rate peaked at 10.1%, it prevented the unemployment rate from rising to just over 11%. So Mr. Obama claims that the stimulus bill was several times more potent than his chief economic adviser estimates.

Perhaps the most serious disconnect concerns the impending expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which will raise the top two income tax rates and the rates on dividends and capital gains. If these growth inhibiting tax increases occur—about $75 billion in tax increases next year, $1.4 trillion over 10 years—there will be serious economic damage.

In the most recent issue of the American Economic Review, Ms. Romer (and her husband David H. Romer) conclude that “tax increases are highly contractionary … tax cuts have very large and persistent positive output effects.” Their estimates imply the tax increases would depress GDP by roughly half the growth rate in this so-far-anemic recovery.

As Boskin argues, these untruths don’t bolster confidence. Quite the opposite. Investors and employers hear this stuff and conclude that the White House is clueless and erratic. It doesn’t matter whether Obama is intentionally misleading the public or has become so insulated from “bad news” that he doesn’t realize how far he has strayed. But someone in the White House needs to pull him aside and say, “Enough, Mr. President.” It would do him and the country a world of good.

Read Less

Will J Street Weigh Down Its Endorsed Candidates?

Last week, I questioned whether J Street had become more trouble than its worth to liberal Democratic candidates. In its highest-profile race — the Sestak-Toomey Pennsylvania Senate contest — the answer is clearly no.

In response to the Emergency Committee for Israel’s (ECI) ad buy and the ensuing flurry of news stories, J Street, with great fanfare, announced an ad buy of its own. However, a knowledgeable source provides me with numbers that demonstrate that the buy is puny — a grand total of $6,000. The J Street movers and shakers plunked down all of $2,600 for Philly cable. In Pittsburgh, J Street has spread its largess to the tune of $3,250. In Harrisburg — hold on to your hats — $150 was thrown about for their endorsed candidate.

This, folks, is a pittance. J Street’s biggest “contribution” is to bog Joe Sestak down in controversy. The group’s Gaza 54 letter, which Sestak signed, is one of the pillars of a now widely distributed ad going after Sestak’s Israel bona fides. His endorsement by J Street and the series of positions he has taken that have met with J Street’s favor (not to mention the letter to the UN Human Rights Council, which smacks of J Street accommodation with Israel-bashers) have made prominent an issue Sestak plainly doesn’t want to be front and center. And yet it is — not only by virtue of ECI’s ad but also because of the free media attention it has garnered — with J Street’s help. Is this the sort of help a liberal candidate really needs in a very tough election year?

Moreover, J Street’s own agenda – defending Obama “unconditionally” — seems to take precedence over the needs of individual congressmen. Does Sestak really benefit from an ad with a picture of Obama speaking at the UN and praising the president’s Middle East approach? It is very hard to see how. It’s certainly not going to make Jewish voters less nervous about him.

J Street seems to want to do two contradictory things — be controversial and antagonistic toward robust supporters of Israel (e.g., AIPAC, ECI) and also be influential in House and Senate races. Unfortunately for the Democrats in those races, J Street’s behavior infects their campaigns.

Here is a small but telling example. Joel Pollak (no relation to Noah), a fresh Republican face and strong friend of Israel, has gained the support of Alan Dershowitz against the Israel-bashing and J Street–endorsed Jan Schakowsky in the Illinois 9th. Pollak relates the following on his Facebook page:

Today is Tisha B’Av, when Jews traditionally commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem and mourn other tragedies in our history. Last night, as the holiday began, the new left-wing lobby known as J Street threw a cocktail party in downtown Chicago. The featured guest was J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami. Since J Street has refused any previous request to debate the issues with me, I went down to speak to Ben-Ami & Co. myself.

One of my opponent’s senior staffers was there, as were about a dozen J Street staff and supporters. Ben-Ami was cordial, but seemed indifferent to the significance of the day. I asked him why J Street’s new ad attacks Joe Lieberman, who is well respected in the Jewish community. He described Lieberman–who supports direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians towards a two-state solution–as an “obstacle” to peace.

“If you showed the same enthusiasm in opposing Iran and Hamas as you do in fighting Alan Dershowitz, Elie Wiesel, and Joe Lieberman,” I said, “perhaps J Street would be more popular.” I also asked Ben-Ami about his organization’s attempt to use the federal government to target Jewish charities that may provide services to Israelis living across the 1949 armistice line. Why not investigate Islamic charities that fund anti-Israel views?

“I don’t give a shit about Islamic charities,” was Ben-Ami’s exact quote.

Now, does this help Pollak’s opponent or Pollak?

J Street brings its own baggage to midterm races but not much cash. Once candidates figure this out, will they really want a J Street stamp of approval?  It’s hard to see why they would.

Last week, I questioned whether J Street had become more trouble than its worth to liberal Democratic candidates. In its highest-profile race — the Sestak-Toomey Pennsylvania Senate contest — the answer is clearly no.

In response to the Emergency Committee for Israel’s (ECI) ad buy and the ensuing flurry of news stories, J Street, with great fanfare, announced an ad buy of its own. However, a knowledgeable source provides me with numbers that demonstrate that the buy is puny — a grand total of $6,000. The J Street movers and shakers plunked down all of $2,600 for Philly cable. In Pittsburgh, J Street has spread its largess to the tune of $3,250. In Harrisburg — hold on to your hats — $150 was thrown about for their endorsed candidate.

This, folks, is a pittance. J Street’s biggest “contribution” is to bog Joe Sestak down in controversy. The group’s Gaza 54 letter, which Sestak signed, is one of the pillars of a now widely distributed ad going after Sestak’s Israel bona fides. His endorsement by J Street and the series of positions he has taken that have met with J Street’s favor (not to mention the letter to the UN Human Rights Council, which smacks of J Street accommodation with Israel-bashers) have made prominent an issue Sestak plainly doesn’t want to be front and center. And yet it is — not only by virtue of ECI’s ad but also because of the free media attention it has garnered — with J Street’s help. Is this the sort of help a liberal candidate really needs in a very tough election year?

Moreover, J Street’s own agenda – defending Obama “unconditionally” — seems to take precedence over the needs of individual congressmen. Does Sestak really benefit from an ad with a picture of Obama speaking at the UN and praising the president’s Middle East approach? It is very hard to see how. It’s certainly not going to make Jewish voters less nervous about him.

J Street seems to want to do two contradictory things — be controversial and antagonistic toward robust supporters of Israel (e.g., AIPAC, ECI) and also be influential in House and Senate races. Unfortunately for the Democrats in those races, J Street’s behavior infects their campaigns.

Here is a small but telling example. Joel Pollak (no relation to Noah), a fresh Republican face and strong friend of Israel, has gained the support of Alan Dershowitz against the Israel-bashing and J Street–endorsed Jan Schakowsky in the Illinois 9th. Pollak relates the following on his Facebook page:

Today is Tisha B’Av, when Jews traditionally commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem and mourn other tragedies in our history. Last night, as the holiday began, the new left-wing lobby known as J Street threw a cocktail party in downtown Chicago. The featured guest was J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami. Since J Street has refused any previous request to debate the issues with me, I went down to speak to Ben-Ami & Co. myself.

One of my opponent’s senior staffers was there, as were about a dozen J Street staff and supporters. Ben-Ami was cordial, but seemed indifferent to the significance of the day. I asked him why J Street’s new ad attacks Joe Lieberman, who is well respected in the Jewish community. He described Lieberman–who supports direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians towards a two-state solution–as an “obstacle” to peace.

“If you showed the same enthusiasm in opposing Iran and Hamas as you do in fighting Alan Dershowitz, Elie Wiesel, and Joe Lieberman,” I said, “perhaps J Street would be more popular.” I also asked Ben-Ami about his organization’s attempt to use the federal government to target Jewish charities that may provide services to Israelis living across the 1949 armistice line. Why not investigate Islamic charities that fund anti-Israel views?

“I don’t give a shit about Islamic charities,” was Ben-Ami’s exact quote.

Now, does this help Pollak’s opponent or Pollak?

J Street brings its own baggage to midterm races but not much cash. Once candidates figure this out, will they really want a J Street stamp of approval?  It’s hard to see why they would.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

It’s not like the Constitution says “informed advice and consent.” The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to confirm Elena Kagan, even though many (Lindsey Graham for one) complained they didn’t know much about her.

It’s not like Ohio is an important bellwether state, or anything. “The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Ohio finds Republican candidate Rob Portman with 45% of the vote while Democrat Lee Fisher earns 39% support this month. Five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and 11% more are undecided.”

It’s not like the administration listens to Israelis about Israel or businessmen about business, but still, even they should find this (from Jackson Diehl) compelling: “Those who argue that Western democracies should lift sanctions on Cuba often claim that even the island’s dissidents favor the move. So it was interesting to see the statement issued Monday by ten of the 11 political prisoners who were deported to Spain by the Castro dictatorship last week. Noting the ‘manifest willingness of some European countries’ to liberalize E.U. strictures on relations with Cuba, the dissidents said they opposed ‘an approval of this measure,’ because ‘the Cuban government has not taken steps that evidence a clear decision to advance toward the democratization of the country.’”

It’s not like a Democratic polling outfit wants to pour gasoline on the fire: Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen writes: “With Barack Obama’s polling numbers hitting the worst levels of his Presidency recently there have been a lot of calls, mostly from conservatives, for us to poll Hillary against Obama for the 2012 nomination. We’re not going to do that but even if we did I wouldn’t expect it to be very interesting.”

It’s not like we’re really going to talk to North Korea. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley explained (well, not explained, but said): “We’re always prepared to talk. But there are some definite steps that we have to see from North Korea before that becomes possible. So I think we agree fully with the South Korean foreign minister that, you know, there are conditions and obligations that North Korea has to demonstrate a willingness to tackle before we’ll consider having a follow-on conversation.”

It’s not like Obama has been great for Democrats in Virginia: “A new survey of Virginia’s 5th district race paints a tough reelection picture for freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D). Sen. Robert Hurt (R) is leading the incumbent, 58 percent to 35 percent, according to the survey, conducted by SurveyUSA for WDBJ News in Roanoke.”

It’s not like this is a bad thing for Democrats — or for the country: “Senate climate legislation appeared to be on life support Tuesday after two key advocates said they were skeptical of reaching a quick deal on a controversial bill that includes a cap on greenhouse gases from power plants.”

It’s not like the Constitution says “informed advice and consent.” The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to confirm Elena Kagan, even though many (Lindsey Graham for one) complained they didn’t know much about her.

It’s not like Ohio is an important bellwether state, or anything. “The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Ohio finds Republican candidate Rob Portman with 45% of the vote while Democrat Lee Fisher earns 39% support this month. Five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and 11% more are undecided.”

It’s not like the administration listens to Israelis about Israel or businessmen about business, but still, even they should find this (from Jackson Diehl) compelling: “Those who argue that Western democracies should lift sanctions on Cuba often claim that even the island’s dissidents favor the move. So it was interesting to see the statement issued Monday by ten of the 11 political prisoners who were deported to Spain by the Castro dictatorship last week. Noting the ‘manifest willingness of some European countries’ to liberalize E.U. strictures on relations with Cuba, the dissidents said they opposed ‘an approval of this measure,’ because ‘the Cuban government has not taken steps that evidence a clear decision to advance toward the democratization of the country.’”

It’s not like a Democratic polling outfit wants to pour gasoline on the fire: Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen writes: “With Barack Obama’s polling numbers hitting the worst levels of his Presidency recently there have been a lot of calls, mostly from conservatives, for us to poll Hillary against Obama for the 2012 nomination. We’re not going to do that but even if we did I wouldn’t expect it to be very interesting.”

It’s not like we’re really going to talk to North Korea. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley explained (well, not explained, but said): “We’re always prepared to talk. But there are some definite steps that we have to see from North Korea before that becomes possible. So I think we agree fully with the South Korean foreign minister that, you know, there are conditions and obligations that North Korea has to demonstrate a willingness to tackle before we’ll consider having a follow-on conversation.”

It’s not like Obama has been great for Democrats in Virginia: “A new survey of Virginia’s 5th district race paints a tough reelection picture for freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D). Sen. Robert Hurt (R) is leading the incumbent, 58 percent to 35 percent, according to the survey, conducted by SurveyUSA for WDBJ News in Roanoke.”

It’s not like this is a bad thing for Democrats — or for the country: “Senate climate legislation appeared to be on life support Tuesday after two key advocates said they were skeptical of reaching a quick deal on a controversial bill that includes a cap on greenhouse gases from power plants.”

Read Less

How the JournoList Influenced Journalists

The mainstream media’s uneasiness with covering the extent of Barack Obama’s relationship to the noxious Jeremiah Wright (and others) can be explained in part as a result of the ideas expressed on the now-disbanded leftist e-mail train JournoList. There’s nothing illegitimate about the efforts of the JournoListers; trying to influence the wider world of writers and opinion leaders is what ideologically driven people do. But the effort by JournoListers to pretend they don’t possess that influence over their mainstream colleagues — and that the right has a greater influence than they have — is both false and astonishingly disingenuous.

My take in the New York Post.

The mainstream media’s uneasiness with covering the extent of Barack Obama’s relationship to the noxious Jeremiah Wright (and others) can be explained in part as a result of the ideas expressed on the now-disbanded leftist e-mail train JournoList. There’s nothing illegitimate about the efforts of the JournoListers; trying to influence the wider world of writers and opinion leaders is what ideologically driven people do. But the effort by JournoListers to pretend they don’t possess that influence over their mainstream colleagues — and that the right has a greater influence than they have — is both false and astonishingly disingenuous.

My take in the New York Post.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.