Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 15, 2010

Winston Churchill in Perspective

In his own day, Winston Churchill was an intensely controversial figure, one who would never have become prime minister were it not for Britain’s desperate straits in May 1940. Yet for decades after the war his heroic leadership made him almost universally acclaimed for saving Western civilization.

The halo began to wear thin in the 1990s when the British historian John Charmley began attacking Churchill for not having tried to strike a deal with Nazi Germany, which would supposedly have preserved the British Empire. Charmley, a right-winger, seemed to think that the empire was worth saving even at the cost of leaving Hitler in power.

Now comes Richard Toye, a left-wing British historian, to attack Churchill for having shown too much devotion to the empire. I confess to not having read his book, Churchill’s Empire, but the glowing review in the New York Times from ultra-left-wing British columnist Johann Hari makes it sound like a standard-issue anti-imperial screed from today’s academy. Hari recites Churchill’s record in defense of the empire, from his early days as a young army officer on the Northwest Frontier, the Sudan, and South Africa, up to his time as a minister who sent the Black and Tans to Ireland, repressed an Iraqi revolt, and tried to stymie Indian independence. Much of Hari’s approach (and Toye’s?) consists of quoting out of context Churchill’s colorful rhetoric. For example:

When Gandhi began his campaign of peaceful resistance, Churchill raged that he “ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back.” He later added: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”

Apparently, Hari is not familiar with the technique of using rhetorical exaggeration to make a point. Undoubtedly, Churchill was opposed to Gandhi’s independence crusade, but, as far as I know, he made no attempt to actually have Gandhi trampled by an elephant. Gandhi was detained under house arrest in the Aga Khan Palace (not exactly Devil’s Island) for two years during World War II but that’s because he was trying to undermine the British war effort against Germany and Japan. If he had succeeded and India had fallen under the sway of Japanese militarists, he and other anti-British activists would soon have found out what real repression feels like.

In trying to paint Churchill as “cruel and cramped,” Hari also dredges up the Harvard historian Caroline Elkins’s allegations that British prison camps in Kenya during the Mau Mau revolt in the 1950s amounted to a “British gulag” — a charge that has been rejected by pretty much all serious historians of the period. There is no doubt that British authorities locked up large numbers of Mau Mau suspects but the conditions under which they were held bore no resemblance to those experienced by Solzhenitsyn and other inmates of the real gulag.

There are indications of a remarkable lack of perspective in Hari’s (and Toyes’s) indictment, which misses two larger points about imperialism. First, for most of his life Churchill championed the empire at a time when imperialism was considered the norm. Empires have existed since ancient Mesopotamia and much of the world was ruled by them until the late 1940s. Hari is right that even in Churchill’s day not everyone favored imperialism but most did — including many Americans such as Theodore Roosevelt. By the standards of its day, the British Empire was, with the possible exception of the American Empire, the most liberal and enlightened in the world — certainly far more humane than the empires carved out by the Belgians and Germans in Africa. It is absurd to second-guess Churchill’s pro-imperial views from the vantage point of 21st century political correctness, which extols nationalism (perhaps wrongly) as the epitome of human development.

This bring us to the second point that Hari and his ilk overlook — namely the alternatives to British imperialism. Not only the alternative of other European empires, most of them far more brutal; but also the alternative of other indigenous regimes, most of which were even worse. Empire was not just a European phenomenon, after all; many of the native powers that British soldiers fought, whether the Zulus or the Moghuls, were imperialists in their own right. That, in fact, is one of the reasons why Britain was able to win and police its empire at such low cost — many of its subject peoples considered British rule preferable to that of local dynasties.

Once the British empire and other Western regimes passed from the scene, what replaced them? In India there was civil strife that killed over a million people. At least India managed to establish a more or less democratic government, thanks to the legacy of British rule. That’s more than can be said for most countries where the British did not stay as long. Many places once ruled by British, French, or other European bureaucrats fell under the sway of native tyrants, whose rule turned out to be far less competent and far more bloody. Idi Amin, who took over the former British colony of Uganda, comes to mind. Given the historical record of much of the post-independence world, it is by no means so obvious that Churchill’s preferred alternative — British rule — was not, in the end, superior.

In his own day, Winston Churchill was an intensely controversial figure, one who would never have become prime minister were it not for Britain’s desperate straits in May 1940. Yet for decades after the war his heroic leadership made him almost universally acclaimed for saving Western civilization.

The halo began to wear thin in the 1990s when the British historian John Charmley began attacking Churchill for not having tried to strike a deal with Nazi Germany, which would supposedly have preserved the British Empire. Charmley, a right-winger, seemed to think that the empire was worth saving even at the cost of leaving Hitler in power.

Now comes Richard Toye, a left-wing British historian, to attack Churchill for having shown too much devotion to the empire. I confess to not having read his book, Churchill’s Empire, but the glowing review in the New York Times from ultra-left-wing British columnist Johann Hari makes it sound like a standard-issue anti-imperial screed from today’s academy. Hari recites Churchill’s record in defense of the empire, from his early days as a young army officer on the Northwest Frontier, the Sudan, and South Africa, up to his time as a minister who sent the Black and Tans to Ireland, repressed an Iraqi revolt, and tried to stymie Indian independence. Much of Hari’s approach (and Toye’s?) consists of quoting out of context Churchill’s colorful rhetoric. For example:

When Gandhi began his campaign of peaceful resistance, Churchill raged that he “ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back.” He later added: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”

Apparently, Hari is not familiar with the technique of using rhetorical exaggeration to make a point. Undoubtedly, Churchill was opposed to Gandhi’s independence crusade, but, as far as I know, he made no attempt to actually have Gandhi trampled by an elephant. Gandhi was detained under house arrest in the Aga Khan Palace (not exactly Devil’s Island) for two years during World War II but that’s because he was trying to undermine the British war effort against Germany and Japan. If he had succeeded and India had fallen under the sway of Japanese militarists, he and other anti-British activists would soon have found out what real repression feels like.

In trying to paint Churchill as “cruel and cramped,” Hari also dredges up the Harvard historian Caroline Elkins’s allegations that British prison camps in Kenya during the Mau Mau revolt in the 1950s amounted to a “British gulag” — a charge that has been rejected by pretty much all serious historians of the period. There is no doubt that British authorities locked up large numbers of Mau Mau suspects but the conditions under which they were held bore no resemblance to those experienced by Solzhenitsyn and other inmates of the real gulag.

There are indications of a remarkable lack of perspective in Hari’s (and Toyes’s) indictment, which misses two larger points about imperialism. First, for most of his life Churchill championed the empire at a time when imperialism was considered the norm. Empires have existed since ancient Mesopotamia and much of the world was ruled by them until the late 1940s. Hari is right that even in Churchill’s day not everyone favored imperialism but most did — including many Americans such as Theodore Roosevelt. By the standards of its day, the British Empire was, with the possible exception of the American Empire, the most liberal and enlightened in the world — certainly far more humane than the empires carved out by the Belgians and Germans in Africa. It is absurd to second-guess Churchill’s pro-imperial views from the vantage point of 21st century political correctness, which extols nationalism (perhaps wrongly) as the epitome of human development.

This bring us to the second point that Hari and his ilk overlook — namely the alternatives to British imperialism. Not only the alternative of other European empires, most of them far more brutal; but also the alternative of other indigenous regimes, most of which were even worse. Empire was not just a European phenomenon, after all; many of the native powers that British soldiers fought, whether the Zulus or the Moghuls, were imperialists in their own right. That, in fact, is one of the reasons why Britain was able to win and police its empire at such low cost — many of its subject peoples considered British rule preferable to that of local dynasties.

Once the British empire and other Western regimes passed from the scene, what replaced them? In India there was civil strife that killed over a million people. At least India managed to establish a more or less democratic government, thanks to the legacy of British rule. That’s more than can be said for most countries where the British did not stay as long. Many places once ruled by British, French, or other European bureaucrats fell under the sway of native tyrants, whose rule turned out to be far less competent and far more bloody. Idi Amin, who took over the former British colony of Uganda, comes to mind. Given the historical record of much of the post-independence world, it is by no means so obvious that Churchill’s preferred alternative — British rule — was not, in the end, superior.

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The Sound of Silence

The focus of Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic article was, as its title indicated, the “Point of No Return” for Israel — the point at which the Jewish state will conclude it can no longer wait for the charade of non-unanimous, non-crippling, non-uniformly-enforced sanctions to work, and will find itself forced to take the action the United States, under Barack Obama, will not take.

But there is another “point of no return” that might occur even earlier. It relates not to Israel but to the other states in the region. At a certain point, they will themselves conclude that the U.S. is not going to act, and their response will be not to help bomb Iran, but to accommodate it. Once that process reaches a critical point — and it has already started — Iran will have won a historic geopolitical victory, which its eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons will simply confirm.

Perhaps the two most important paragraphs in Goldberg’s article dealt not with Israel but with the Arab states — and a message Goldberg heard multiple times:

Several Arab officials complained to me that the Obama administration has not communicated its intentions to them, even generally. No Arab officials I spoke with appeared to believe that the administration understands the regional ambitions of their Persian adversary. One Arab foreign minister told me that he believes Iran is taking advantage of Obama’s “reasonableness.”

“Obama’s voters like it when the administration shows that it doesn’t want to fight Iran, but this is not a domestic political issue,” the foreign minister said. “Iran will continue on this reckless path, unless the administration starts to speak unreasonably. The best way to avoid striking Iran is to make Iran think that the U.S. is about to strike Iran. We have to know the president’s intentions on this matter. We are his allies.” [Emphasis added].

Goldberg cited two administration sources as saying this issue had caused tension between Obama and Admiral Dennis Blair, the recently dismissed director of national intelligence:

Blair, who was said to put great emphasis on the Iranian threat, told the president that America’s Arab allies needed more reassurance. Obama reportedly did not appreciate the advice.

So the administration has not communicated its intentions to its Arab allies, even generally; the president did not appreciate advice according to which he needed to reassure them; his secretary of state told the Arab press earlier this year that the military option was off the table; Obama told David Brooks, at the beginning of his presidential campaign, that Iran wanted nuclear weapons for defensive purposes and could be contained — the approach of Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser.

You don’t have to be a weatherman (or even read a long article) to know where this is headed. The irony is that the advice of the Arab foreign minister was in fact the only way diplomacy might succeed: military force can be avoided only by convincing Iran the U.S. will use it. Obama needs to say publicly, as John McCain did, that the only thing worse than bombing Iran would be Iran with a bomb. Instead, the countries in the region hear only the silence of the lambs, the neighing of a weak horse, the strategic equivalent of voting “present.”

The focus of Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic article was, as its title indicated, the “Point of No Return” for Israel — the point at which the Jewish state will conclude it can no longer wait for the charade of non-unanimous, non-crippling, non-uniformly-enforced sanctions to work, and will find itself forced to take the action the United States, under Barack Obama, will not take.

But there is another “point of no return” that might occur even earlier. It relates not to Israel but to the other states in the region. At a certain point, they will themselves conclude that the U.S. is not going to act, and their response will be not to help bomb Iran, but to accommodate it. Once that process reaches a critical point — and it has already started — Iran will have won a historic geopolitical victory, which its eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons will simply confirm.

Perhaps the two most important paragraphs in Goldberg’s article dealt not with Israel but with the Arab states — and a message Goldberg heard multiple times:

Several Arab officials complained to me that the Obama administration has not communicated its intentions to them, even generally. No Arab officials I spoke with appeared to believe that the administration understands the regional ambitions of their Persian adversary. One Arab foreign minister told me that he believes Iran is taking advantage of Obama’s “reasonableness.”

“Obama’s voters like it when the administration shows that it doesn’t want to fight Iran, but this is not a domestic political issue,” the foreign minister said. “Iran will continue on this reckless path, unless the administration starts to speak unreasonably. The best way to avoid striking Iran is to make Iran think that the U.S. is about to strike Iran. We have to know the president’s intentions on this matter. We are his allies.” [Emphasis added].

Goldberg cited two administration sources as saying this issue had caused tension between Obama and Admiral Dennis Blair, the recently dismissed director of national intelligence:

Blair, who was said to put great emphasis on the Iranian threat, told the president that America’s Arab allies needed more reassurance. Obama reportedly did not appreciate the advice.

So the administration has not communicated its intentions to its Arab allies, even generally; the president did not appreciate advice according to which he needed to reassure them; his secretary of state told the Arab press earlier this year that the military option was off the table; Obama told David Brooks, at the beginning of his presidential campaign, that Iran wanted nuclear weapons for defensive purposes and could be contained — the approach of Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser.

You don’t have to be a weatherman (or even read a long article) to know where this is headed. The irony is that the advice of the Arab foreign minister was in fact the only way diplomacy might succeed: military force can be avoided only by convincing Iran the U.S. will use it. Obama needs to say publicly, as John McCain did, that the only thing worse than bombing Iran would be Iran with a bomb. Instead, the countries in the region hear only the silence of the lambs, the neighing of a weak horse, the strategic equivalent of voting “present.”

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Get Ready for the Deluge, Democrats

The Washington Post hosts a forum on what Democrats can do about the bad economic news. Matthew Dowd gets points for realism:

With the 60-day sprint to Election Day fast approaching, perceptions of the economy are basically locked in. It is bad. And since Democrats hold all levers of power in Washington, they own this dismal situation. Democrats should say an early goodbye to some of their colleagues — and begin praying that the economy recovers in 2011, or they may be seeing a one-term president.

Donna Brazile decides it’s her job to prevent panic in the Democratic ranks:

Where the economy is in August is no guarantee of where the economy will be in November. So this spate of bad economic news isn’t as damning for Democrats as many naysayers would like to predict. Democrats have plenty of time to get the ball turned around and rolling in the right direction before voters head to the polls. It is less important where the economy is than where it’s heading, so if Democrats can sow seeds of economic optimism over the next two months, they may reap rewards come November.

No, I don’t think even she believes that. (Some of what she writes is plain silly: “Democrats should remind voters that the economic benefits of health-care reform will kick in soon, eliminating or reducing the cause of untold numbers of bankruptcies and foreclosures.” I’m thinking that’s not going to be too successful, especially since Democratic candidates are afraid to bring up ObamaCare.)

The diverse group of participants nevertheless show remarkable agreement in their assessments. The economy is in bad shape (no summer of recovery, dear Democrats), the Democrats are going to get blamed for it, and there are big losses ahead for the party controlling all the levers of power. Only Robert Shrum plays the Paul Krugman card (the stimulus was too small!) and urges Democrats to engage in good old fashioned class warfare. He, however, also seems rather half-hearted. (You can tell because he waxes lyrical about Ronald Reagan.)

We are in the home stretch leading up to the election. Individual races may be determined, as they always are, by the performance of specific candidates. But the trajectory of the election is pretty much in place. And both sides know it.

The Washington Post hosts a forum on what Democrats can do about the bad economic news. Matthew Dowd gets points for realism:

With the 60-day sprint to Election Day fast approaching, perceptions of the economy are basically locked in. It is bad. And since Democrats hold all levers of power in Washington, they own this dismal situation. Democrats should say an early goodbye to some of their colleagues — and begin praying that the economy recovers in 2011, or they may be seeing a one-term president.

Donna Brazile decides it’s her job to prevent panic in the Democratic ranks:

Where the economy is in August is no guarantee of where the economy will be in November. So this spate of bad economic news isn’t as damning for Democrats as many naysayers would like to predict. Democrats have plenty of time to get the ball turned around and rolling in the right direction before voters head to the polls. It is less important where the economy is than where it’s heading, so if Democrats can sow seeds of economic optimism over the next two months, they may reap rewards come November.

No, I don’t think even she believes that. (Some of what she writes is plain silly: “Democrats should remind voters that the economic benefits of health-care reform will kick in soon, eliminating or reducing the cause of untold numbers of bankruptcies and foreclosures.” I’m thinking that’s not going to be too successful, especially since Democratic candidates are afraid to bring up ObamaCare.)

The diverse group of participants nevertheless show remarkable agreement in their assessments. The economy is in bad shape (no summer of recovery, dear Democrats), the Democrats are going to get blamed for it, and there are big losses ahead for the party controlling all the levers of power. Only Robert Shrum plays the Paul Krugman card (the stimulus was too small!) and urges Democrats to engage in good old fashioned class warfare. He, however, also seems rather half-hearted. (You can tell because he waxes lyrical about Ronald Reagan.)

We are in the home stretch leading up to the election. Individual races may be determined, as they always are, by the performance of specific candidates. But the trajectory of the election is pretty much in place. And both sides know it.

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The Toxicity of Tolerance

In an article at the Daily Beast about the Cordoba House mosque and Islamic community center, Sam Harris wrote, “It goes without saying that tolerance is a value to which we should all be deeply committed.” Does it? Tolerance is not, in fact, a value at all. If Sue tolerates a kindly bore during a brief conversation is she employing the same moral standard as Tom who tolerates a stoppable violent crime in his presence? Moreover, does this standard qualify as one to which we should all be deeply committed?

By the way, Harris goes on to make some insightful points. But first he has his own faiths to defend—liberalism and atheism—and the above comes from early on in the piece, where he strives to distance himself from “those sincerely awaiting the Rapture, opportunistic Republican politicians, and utter lunatics who yearn to see Sarah Palin become the next president of the United States (note that Palin herself probably falls into several of these categories).” Tolerantly put, no?

That Harris is incapable of practicing in one sentence what he preaches in the preceding one should come as no surprise. Tolerance is not a context-free virtue; it is a simpleton’s word, an artificial political term used to indict those we cannot tolerate.

Tolerance scenarios are not merely hypothetical. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the New York Times that the mosque near Ground Zero will be “a monument to tolerance.” If by tolerance, Mayor Bloomberg is referring to the fact that the planned mosque’s Imam, Faisal Abdul Rauf is not judgmental of terrorist organizations, he is correct. Asked by WABC radio’s Aaron Klein if Hamas was a terrorist group, Rauf responded, “Look, I am not a politician. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question.” He hemmed and hawed and when the question was posed again, said, “I am a peace builder. I will not allow anybody to put me in a position where I am seen by any party in the world as an adversary or as an enemy.”

Sam Harris—still struggling with his own advice—writes in the Daily Beast of “religious stupidity.” But aren’t Rauf’s words the very embodiment of Harris’s exhortation that we commit deeply to the value of tolerance?

While Harris toils away at the intellectual knot tied from strands of his religious liberalism and his religious atheism, Bloomberg is gathering fellow travelers. Former speechwriter for George W. Bush, Michael Gerson praised President Obama’s tolerance of the mosque, noting that “the way to marginalize radicalism is to respect the best traditions of Islam and protect the religious liberty of Muslim Americans.” In itself, this is true. But are we now saying that an Imam who refuses to call Hamas a terrorist organization represents “the best traditions of Islam”?

There are those of us who have been hoping for the institutional influence of a truly moderate Islam; of an unequivocal anti-terrorist leader and a mosque to temper what is obviously an urgent crisis in the Muslim world. For us, the election of a Hamas-indifferent Imam as the paragon of Islamic moderation is dispiriting. But for the West’s individual moderate Muslims–and there are many–who have been waiting desperately on a modern, welcoming house of Islam, one in which to practice their religion alongside the like-minded, it is absolute invalidation. Rauf and Cordoba House, say tolerant Westerners, are as good as it gets.

In an article at the Daily Beast about the Cordoba House mosque and Islamic community center, Sam Harris wrote, “It goes without saying that tolerance is a value to which we should all be deeply committed.” Does it? Tolerance is not, in fact, a value at all. If Sue tolerates a kindly bore during a brief conversation is she employing the same moral standard as Tom who tolerates a stoppable violent crime in his presence? Moreover, does this standard qualify as one to which we should all be deeply committed?

By the way, Harris goes on to make some insightful points. But first he has his own faiths to defend—liberalism and atheism—and the above comes from early on in the piece, where he strives to distance himself from “those sincerely awaiting the Rapture, opportunistic Republican politicians, and utter lunatics who yearn to see Sarah Palin become the next president of the United States (note that Palin herself probably falls into several of these categories).” Tolerantly put, no?

That Harris is incapable of practicing in one sentence what he preaches in the preceding one should come as no surprise. Tolerance is not a context-free virtue; it is a simpleton’s word, an artificial political term used to indict those we cannot tolerate.

Tolerance scenarios are not merely hypothetical. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the New York Times that the mosque near Ground Zero will be “a monument to tolerance.” If by tolerance, Mayor Bloomberg is referring to the fact that the planned mosque’s Imam, Faisal Abdul Rauf is not judgmental of terrorist organizations, he is correct. Asked by WABC radio’s Aaron Klein if Hamas was a terrorist group, Rauf responded, “Look, I am not a politician. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question.” He hemmed and hawed and when the question was posed again, said, “I am a peace builder. I will not allow anybody to put me in a position where I am seen by any party in the world as an adversary or as an enemy.”

Sam Harris—still struggling with his own advice—writes in the Daily Beast of “religious stupidity.” But aren’t Rauf’s words the very embodiment of Harris’s exhortation that we commit deeply to the value of tolerance?

While Harris toils away at the intellectual knot tied from strands of his religious liberalism and his religious atheism, Bloomberg is gathering fellow travelers. Former speechwriter for George W. Bush, Michael Gerson praised President Obama’s tolerance of the mosque, noting that “the way to marginalize radicalism is to respect the best traditions of Islam and protect the religious liberty of Muslim Americans.” In itself, this is true. But are we now saying that an Imam who refuses to call Hamas a terrorist organization represents “the best traditions of Islam”?

There are those of us who have been hoping for the institutional influence of a truly moderate Islam; of an unequivocal anti-terrorist leader and a mosque to temper what is obviously an urgent crisis in the Muslim world. For us, the election of a Hamas-indifferent Imam as the paragon of Islamic moderation is dispiriting. But for the West’s individual moderate Muslims–and there are many–who have been waiting desperately on a modern, welcoming house of Islam, one in which to practice their religion alongside the like-minded, it is absolute invalidation. Rauf and Cordoba House, say tolerant Westerners, are as good as it gets.

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Sticking with a Losing Economic Plan

Stephen Hayes reminds us that none other than Obama once warned us of the folly of raising taxes in a recession:

Barack Obama understands that it’s bad economics to raise taxes in a recession. It’s “the last thing you want to do,” he said almost exactly one year ago. … Obama was blunt: “Well — first of all, he’s right. Normally you don’t raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven’t and why we’ve instead cut taxes. So I guess what I’d say to [Elkhart, Indiana resident] Scott [Ferguson] is — his economics are right. You don’t raise taxes in a recession. We haven’t raised taxes in a recession.”

But the Obama team insists, contrary to much available evidence, that we’re in the midst of a recovery — so we can tolerate the liberals’ mischief-making:

When he was asked specifically about raising taxes on top income earners, as is scheduled to happen on January 1, 2011, [Tim] Geithner said, “The country can withstand that. The economy can withstand that. I think it’s good policy.”

It was an interesting word choice: “withstand” a tax hike? So the U.S. economy is strong enough to endure the additional constraints the Obama administration wants to place on it in pursuit of its redistributionist goals? This is the triumph of ideology over economics.

Obama and his brain trust not only ignore their own country’s experience and struggling economy, but also turn a blind eye toward the counter-example in Germany, which resisted Obama’s exhortations to get the government to spend (actually, borrow in order to spend) its nation out of the recession. Germany’s economic recovery (on track for 9 percent annual growth) should serve as a lesson to those still enamored of Obamanomics:

Germany has sparred with its European partners over how to respond to the financial crisis, argued with the United States over the benefits of stimulus versus austerity, and defiantly pursued its own vision of how to keep its economy strong. … By paring unemployment benefits, easing rules for hiring and firing, and management and labor’s working together to keep a lid on wages, Germany ensured that it could again export its way to growth with competitive, nimble companies producing the cars and machine tools the world’s economies — emerging and developed alike — demanded.

When Paul Krugman comes out of hiding, I look forward to his explanation of this one.

Maybe some restraints on spending, some pro-growth and pro-job-creation policies, and a halt to tax increases might be in order. Nah, the Obami insist they have everything under control.

Stephen Hayes reminds us that none other than Obama once warned us of the folly of raising taxes in a recession:

Barack Obama understands that it’s bad economics to raise taxes in a recession. It’s “the last thing you want to do,” he said almost exactly one year ago. … Obama was blunt: “Well — first of all, he’s right. Normally you don’t raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven’t and why we’ve instead cut taxes. So I guess what I’d say to [Elkhart, Indiana resident] Scott [Ferguson] is — his economics are right. You don’t raise taxes in a recession. We haven’t raised taxes in a recession.”

But the Obama team insists, contrary to much available evidence, that we’re in the midst of a recovery — so we can tolerate the liberals’ mischief-making:

When he was asked specifically about raising taxes on top income earners, as is scheduled to happen on January 1, 2011, [Tim] Geithner said, “The country can withstand that. The economy can withstand that. I think it’s good policy.”

It was an interesting word choice: “withstand” a tax hike? So the U.S. economy is strong enough to endure the additional constraints the Obama administration wants to place on it in pursuit of its redistributionist goals? This is the triumph of ideology over economics.

Obama and his brain trust not only ignore their own country’s experience and struggling economy, but also turn a blind eye toward the counter-example in Germany, which resisted Obama’s exhortations to get the government to spend (actually, borrow in order to spend) its nation out of the recession. Germany’s economic recovery (on track for 9 percent annual growth) should serve as a lesson to those still enamored of Obamanomics:

Germany has sparred with its European partners over how to respond to the financial crisis, argued with the United States over the benefits of stimulus versus austerity, and defiantly pursued its own vision of how to keep its economy strong. … By paring unemployment benefits, easing rules for hiring and firing, and management and labor’s working together to keep a lid on wages, Germany ensured that it could again export its way to growth with competitive, nimble companies producing the cars and machine tools the world’s economies — emerging and developed alike — demanded.

When Paul Krugman comes out of hiding, I look forward to his explanation of this one.

Maybe some restraints on spending, some pro-growth and pro-job-creation policies, and a halt to tax increases might be in order. Nah, the Obami insist they have everything under control.

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The Ultimate Culture War: the Left vs. the War on Terror

Talk about the culture wars. On the one hand, you have Obama pitching that a mega-mosque on “hallowed ground” (his words) is a matter of “religious freedom” and, on the other, you have a huge majority of Americans who correctly see that this isn’t about “religious freedom” but rather about the defense of our civilization, empathy for the loved (and still grieving) ones of our 3,000 dead, and the prevention of a propaganda coup for the radical Islamists.

A smart reader points out that Obama is up to his old straw-man arguments. Quoting Obama’s Friday night statement, he observes, “‘I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.’ Big Duh! Nobody is saying otherwise.” Obama resorts to this sort of bait-and-switch argument because to articulate his rationale — he is more concerned with giving offense to the Muslim World than about providing them with a propaganda triumph — would expose the gulf between his views and those of his fellow citizens.

Conservatives have understandably gone ballistic. Sarah Palin once again gets to the heart of the matter, asking:

Mr. President, should they or should they not build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3,000 people?

Please tell us your position.

We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they? And, no, this is not above your pay grade.

If those who wish to build this Ground Zero mosque are sincerely interested in encouraging positive “cross-cultural engagement” and dialogue to show a moderate and tolerant face of Islam, then why haven’t they recognized that the decision to build a mosque at this particular location is doing just the opposite?

In Obama we see exactly the same passive resignation in the face of Islamic extremism — he either supports the mosque or “won’t say” (if you buy the excuse that he was only offering legal analysis) – which is paving the road to doom in Europe. In another context, we can recognize how European elites have sent up the white flag, surrendering their societies without a shot:

An official from one of Germany’s four political foundations [was asked] what he planned to do about the Muslim Brotherhood, which desires that European Muslims see themselves not as British, or French, or Dutch but “as radical Muslims seeking to impose sharia.” The official replied, “Well, we are a democracy. If the majority vote for Muslim law that is what we will have.”

Here, Obama seems bent on a similar approach. We have to give KSM a trial (and a platform) in the name of “respect for the rule of law” ( thought the law provides for military tribunals). We have to give an imam with troubling ties and offensive views on 9/11 (our fault, you see) his mosque on the very spot where 3,000 died in the name of Islam because to do otherwise would defeat the liberal ideal that we are in no position to make moral — or religious — distinctions, or to come up with any solution (eminent domain, anyone?) to avoid a gross insult to America and a victory for the jihadists.

In contrast to Obama is Debra Burlingame, who embodies and articulates the sentiments of ordinary Americans:

Barack Obama has abandoned America at the place where America’s heart was broken nine years ago, and where her true values were on display for all to see. Since that dark day, Americans have been asked to bear the burden of defending those values, again and again and again. Now this president declares that the victims of  9/11 and their families must bear another burden. We must stand silent at the last place in America where 9/11 is still remembered with reverence or risk being called religious bigots.

Muslims have worshipped in New York without incident both before and after the attacks of 9/11. This controversy is not about religious freedom. 9/11 was more than a “deeply traumatic event,” it was an act of war. Building a 15-story mosque at Ground Zero is a deliberately provocative act that will precipitate more bloodshed in the name of Allah. Those who continue to target and kill American civilians and U.S. troops will see it as a symbol of their historic progress at the site of their most bloody victory.

How’s that for a front in the “culture wars”? Abortion, marriage, and the rest are piddling issues compared with the debate about whether and how we should defend our civilization. If nearly every reasoned step to defend ourselves against Islamic extremists flies in the face of liberal dogma, we are presented with a choice: take reasoned and legally defensible steps to defend ourselves (by cutting off the means by which radicals spread jihadism) or capitulate to the left’s dogma and let the consequences — and the American people — be damned. Obama has made his choice, and Americans should make theirs.

Talk about the culture wars. On the one hand, you have Obama pitching that a mega-mosque on “hallowed ground” (his words) is a matter of “religious freedom” and, on the other, you have a huge majority of Americans who correctly see that this isn’t about “religious freedom” but rather about the defense of our civilization, empathy for the loved (and still grieving) ones of our 3,000 dead, and the prevention of a propaganda coup for the radical Islamists.

A smart reader points out that Obama is up to his old straw-man arguments. Quoting Obama’s Friday night statement, he observes, “‘I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.’ Big Duh! Nobody is saying otherwise.” Obama resorts to this sort of bait-and-switch argument because to articulate his rationale — he is more concerned with giving offense to the Muslim World than about providing them with a propaganda triumph — would expose the gulf between his views and those of his fellow citizens.

Conservatives have understandably gone ballistic. Sarah Palin once again gets to the heart of the matter, asking:

Mr. President, should they or should they not build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3,000 people?

Please tell us your position.

We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they? And, no, this is not above your pay grade.

If those who wish to build this Ground Zero mosque are sincerely interested in encouraging positive “cross-cultural engagement” and dialogue to show a moderate and tolerant face of Islam, then why haven’t they recognized that the decision to build a mosque at this particular location is doing just the opposite?

In Obama we see exactly the same passive resignation in the face of Islamic extremism — he either supports the mosque or “won’t say” (if you buy the excuse that he was only offering legal analysis) – which is paving the road to doom in Europe. In another context, we can recognize how European elites have sent up the white flag, surrendering their societies without a shot:

An official from one of Germany’s four political foundations [was asked] what he planned to do about the Muslim Brotherhood, which desires that European Muslims see themselves not as British, or French, or Dutch but “as radical Muslims seeking to impose sharia.” The official replied, “Well, we are a democracy. If the majority vote for Muslim law that is what we will have.”

Here, Obama seems bent on a similar approach. We have to give KSM a trial (and a platform) in the name of “respect for the rule of law” ( thought the law provides for military tribunals). We have to give an imam with troubling ties and offensive views on 9/11 (our fault, you see) his mosque on the very spot where 3,000 died in the name of Islam because to do otherwise would defeat the liberal ideal that we are in no position to make moral — or religious — distinctions, or to come up with any solution (eminent domain, anyone?) to avoid a gross insult to America and a victory for the jihadists.

In contrast to Obama is Debra Burlingame, who embodies and articulates the sentiments of ordinary Americans:

Barack Obama has abandoned America at the place where America’s heart was broken nine years ago, and where her true values were on display for all to see. Since that dark day, Americans have been asked to bear the burden of defending those values, again and again and again. Now this president declares that the victims of  9/11 and their families must bear another burden. We must stand silent at the last place in America where 9/11 is still remembered with reverence or risk being called religious bigots.

Muslims have worshipped in New York without incident both before and after the attacks of 9/11. This controversy is not about religious freedom. 9/11 was more than a “deeply traumatic event,” it was an act of war. Building a 15-story mosque at Ground Zero is a deliberately provocative act that will precipitate more bloodshed in the name of Allah. Those who continue to target and kill American civilians and U.S. troops will see it as a symbol of their historic progress at the site of their most bloody victory.

How’s that for a front in the “culture wars”? Abortion, marriage, and the rest are piddling issues compared with the debate about whether and how we should defend our civilization. If nearly every reasoned step to defend ourselves against Islamic extremists flies in the face of liberal dogma, we are presented with a choice: take reasoned and legally defensible steps to defend ourselves (by cutting off the means by which radicals spread jihadism) or capitulate to the left’s dogma and let the consequences — and the American people — be damned. Obama has made his choice, and Americans should make theirs.

Read Less

RE: Why Are So Many Conservatives Backing a Radical Immigration Solution?

Not all of them are, at least not those who fancy themselves competitive in diverse states. Politico reports that California GOP candidates Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina aren’t in favor of mucking around in the 14th Amendment in an effort to end birthright citizenship:

“Meg believes we have to address the first problem, which is securing the border, and opposes a change in the U.S. Constitution,” Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei told POLITICO. Whitman is the GOP nominee for governor, while Fiorina is running for the Senate against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. …

After a speech Thursday to the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Fiorina said calls to repeal the 14th Amendment are not “useful dialogue.” She echoed Whitman on prioritizing border security and stopping short of stripping citizenship.

“I don’t support changing the 14th Amendment,” she said. “I think what we need to do is have the federal government do its job and secure the border and have a temporary worker program that works. And all the rest of it is a distraction and, unfortunately, an emotional distraction.”

Maybe they and others are beginning to wake up to the words of caution coming from figures such as CONTENTIONS contributor Linda Chavez, who provided a helpful guide to the history of fights over birthright citizenship and the failures to repeal it. And she explained this past week:

Repealing birthright citizenship is a terrible idea. It will unquestionably jeopardize the electoral future of the GOP by alienating Hispanics — the largest minority and fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. More importantly, ending birthright citizenship would fundamentally change what it means to be an American. …

Our history has been largely one of continuously expanding the community of people regarded as Americans, from native-born whites to freed slaves to Indians to naturalized citizens of all races and ethnicities. Since the abolition of slavery, we have never denied citizenship to any group of children born in the U.S. — even when we denied citizenship to their parents, as we did Asian immigrants from 1882 to 1943. This expansive view of who is an American has been critical to our successful assimilation of millions of newcomers.

It is rather stunning to see “conservatives” abandon the reasoned and careful approach to governance (i.e., enforce existing law, push policies that promote assimilation) in favor of what would be a white-knuckle ride through a process of major Constitutional revision.

But, heck, even John McCain, who made heads spin with his apparent embrace of revision to the 14th Amendment is having second thoughts. We will see if he sticks to his current aversion to amending the Constitution for more than a few days. (It does remind one of that roller coaster presidential candidacy, doesn’t it? The presidential debate is on — no, off — no, on. But I digress.)

Listen, Obama is being castigated for his stunt on immigration reform (i.e., pretending to get serious about comprehensive reform). Republicans would be wise to steer clear of their own stunts.

Not all of them are, at least not those who fancy themselves competitive in diverse states. Politico reports that California GOP candidates Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina aren’t in favor of mucking around in the 14th Amendment in an effort to end birthright citizenship:

“Meg believes we have to address the first problem, which is securing the border, and opposes a change in the U.S. Constitution,” Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei told POLITICO. Whitman is the GOP nominee for governor, while Fiorina is running for the Senate against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. …

After a speech Thursday to the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Fiorina said calls to repeal the 14th Amendment are not “useful dialogue.” She echoed Whitman on prioritizing border security and stopping short of stripping citizenship.

“I don’t support changing the 14th Amendment,” she said. “I think what we need to do is have the federal government do its job and secure the border and have a temporary worker program that works. And all the rest of it is a distraction and, unfortunately, an emotional distraction.”

Maybe they and others are beginning to wake up to the words of caution coming from figures such as CONTENTIONS contributor Linda Chavez, who provided a helpful guide to the history of fights over birthright citizenship and the failures to repeal it. And she explained this past week:

Repealing birthright citizenship is a terrible idea. It will unquestionably jeopardize the electoral future of the GOP by alienating Hispanics — the largest minority and fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. More importantly, ending birthright citizenship would fundamentally change what it means to be an American. …

Our history has been largely one of continuously expanding the community of people regarded as Americans, from native-born whites to freed slaves to Indians to naturalized citizens of all races and ethnicities. Since the abolition of slavery, we have never denied citizenship to any group of children born in the U.S. — even when we denied citizenship to their parents, as we did Asian immigrants from 1882 to 1943. This expansive view of who is an American has been critical to our successful assimilation of millions of newcomers.

It is rather stunning to see “conservatives” abandon the reasoned and careful approach to governance (i.e., enforce existing law, push policies that promote assimilation) in favor of what would be a white-knuckle ride through a process of major Constitutional revision.

But, heck, even John McCain, who made heads spin with his apparent embrace of revision to the 14th Amendment is having second thoughts. We will see if he sticks to his current aversion to amending the Constitution for more than a few days. (It does remind one of that roller coaster presidential candidacy, doesn’t it? The presidential debate is on — no, off — no, on. But I digress.)

Listen, Obama is being castigated for his stunt on immigration reform (i.e., pretending to get serious about comprehensive reform). Republicans would be wise to steer clear of their own stunts.

Read Less

Obama’s Ground Zero Hoorah Unmatched

Democrats and their media enablers have fallen into the habit of using George W. Bush (when not bashing him) as a shield to deflect Obama’s inanities. Sometimes the comparison is factually deficient (as with civilian trials for terrorists), but it’s a childish game that only succeeds if their rhetorical opponents insist on defending everything Bush ever said or did. Conservatives need not play that game.

Dear conservatives, here’s a demonstration of how one disarms those taunting the “Bush did it too! line”:

The practice of hosting an annual iftar was established by George W. Bush in November of 2001. It was an extremely ill-conceived effort to persuade the world in the period immediately following the Islamofascist slaughter of 3,000 Americans that we were not Islam-allergic, and it remains so today, almost a decade later. Islamofascists are still trying, and succeeding, to kill Americans, and no amount of genuflecting at White House dinners will make it otherwise.

The same, I would suggest, is true of the dopey idea of appointing an envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference. It was a bad idea for Bush to do it; it’s a disaster in an administration addicted to apologizing to and for the Muslim World.

And, as with so many other things, the Bush error with regard to Iftar is made much worse by Obama’s stomach-turning tendency to laddle out the obsequiousness on all matters Islam (“the Obamic endorsement of the Ground Zero Mosque project, an act of appeasement on the order of his Cairo speech and his flirtation with the despots of Iran”). Really, was it necessary for Obama to doff his cap to the Ground Zero mosque from the Iftar fest — as if to emphasize just how deep is his concern for the Muslim World and how critical it is to shield them from the whiff of criticism or scrutiny? And how brave the president was — you know, to put this out as the ultimate Friday news dump, after lawmakers and many pundits had scampered away for the weekend.

Then to top it off, when the howls of protest went up, Obama retreated (sort of) – no doubt, to the dismay of his comrades on the left — and claimed he really wasn’t offering anything but a legal analysis:

“I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” Obama continued. “I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about. And I think it’s very important as difficult as some of these issues are that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about.”

But his comments Friday night were widely interpreted as an endorsement of plans to build a mosque a few blocks away from where nearly 3,000 Americans perished at the hands of Islamic terrorists on 9/11 – an interpretation the White House hadn’t disputed, up until Obama’s comments in Florida.

This is how one goes about alienating conservatives, liberals, and everyone in between.

All in all, this is as unseemly a performance (and there have been plenty) as this president has given. Well, maybe it’s a tie with his “condemnation” of Israel for — oh yes — building in the Jewish state’s own capital. Because while Obama believes that Muslims have “the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” regardless of who it annoys and offends, he considers it an unacceptable affront to him and his Palestinian clients for Jews to build apartments in their eternal capital. Funny, how that works out. (And notice how in consecutive paragraphs Obama goes from “hallowed ground” to “private property in Lower Manhattan.”)

Conservatives infuriated (but not surprised) by the president’s remarks might ponder three comforting thoughts. First, all the Democrats on the 2010 ballot — and maybe 2012 — will face the question as to whether they buy into Obama cheerleading for the Ground Zero mosque.

Second, in the speculation department, perhaps this shows just how indifferent Obama is to the notion that he, to earn a second term, will have to bridge the chasm between his core beliefs and those of the voters. (Could he have been serious when he said he wasn’t much concerned with a second term?)

And finally, if Obama tries an “oh never mind” defense (is he simply trying now to confuse everyone about what he thinks?), he’s going to manage to further depress and infuriate his own base, who understood him to be championing for the mosque builders but now see what a mess he’s made of the entire affair. (Former Democratic Rep. Martin Frost: “I would prefer the president be a little more of a politician and a little less of a college professor. … While a defensible position [which one of his positions is Frost referring to, I wonder], it will not play well in the parts of the country where Democrats need the most help.”)

In sum, this is the low point (so far!) of the Obama presidency, an embarrassment to his supporters (whatever their stance on the Ground Zero mosque) and another dollop of bad news for the Democrats. But, most important, it is a tragedy that we should have such a president at such a time. We will have to muddle through in spite of him.

Democrats and their media enablers have fallen into the habit of using George W. Bush (when not bashing him) as a shield to deflect Obama’s inanities. Sometimes the comparison is factually deficient (as with civilian trials for terrorists), but it’s a childish game that only succeeds if their rhetorical opponents insist on defending everything Bush ever said or did. Conservatives need not play that game.

Dear conservatives, here’s a demonstration of how one disarms those taunting the “Bush did it too! line”:

The practice of hosting an annual iftar was established by George W. Bush in November of 2001. It was an extremely ill-conceived effort to persuade the world in the period immediately following the Islamofascist slaughter of 3,000 Americans that we were not Islam-allergic, and it remains so today, almost a decade later. Islamofascists are still trying, and succeeding, to kill Americans, and no amount of genuflecting at White House dinners will make it otherwise.

The same, I would suggest, is true of the dopey idea of appointing an envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference. It was a bad idea for Bush to do it; it’s a disaster in an administration addicted to apologizing to and for the Muslim World.

And, as with so many other things, the Bush error with regard to Iftar is made much worse by Obama’s stomach-turning tendency to laddle out the obsequiousness on all matters Islam (“the Obamic endorsement of the Ground Zero Mosque project, an act of appeasement on the order of his Cairo speech and his flirtation with the despots of Iran”). Really, was it necessary for Obama to doff his cap to the Ground Zero mosque from the Iftar fest — as if to emphasize just how deep is his concern for the Muslim World and how critical it is to shield them from the whiff of criticism or scrutiny? And how brave the president was — you know, to put this out as the ultimate Friday news dump, after lawmakers and many pundits had scampered away for the weekend.

Then to top it off, when the howls of protest went up, Obama retreated (sort of) – no doubt, to the dismay of his comrades on the left — and claimed he really wasn’t offering anything but a legal analysis:

“I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” Obama continued. “I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about. And I think it’s very important as difficult as some of these issues are that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about.”

But his comments Friday night were widely interpreted as an endorsement of plans to build a mosque a few blocks away from where nearly 3,000 Americans perished at the hands of Islamic terrorists on 9/11 – an interpretation the White House hadn’t disputed, up until Obama’s comments in Florida.

This is how one goes about alienating conservatives, liberals, and everyone in between.

All in all, this is as unseemly a performance (and there have been plenty) as this president has given. Well, maybe it’s a tie with his “condemnation” of Israel for — oh yes — building in the Jewish state’s own capital. Because while Obama believes that Muslims have “the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” regardless of who it annoys and offends, he considers it an unacceptable affront to him and his Palestinian clients for Jews to build apartments in their eternal capital. Funny, how that works out. (And notice how in consecutive paragraphs Obama goes from “hallowed ground” to “private property in Lower Manhattan.”)

Conservatives infuriated (but not surprised) by the president’s remarks might ponder three comforting thoughts. First, all the Democrats on the 2010 ballot — and maybe 2012 — will face the question as to whether they buy into Obama cheerleading for the Ground Zero mosque.

Second, in the speculation department, perhaps this shows just how indifferent Obama is to the notion that he, to earn a second term, will have to bridge the chasm between his core beliefs and those of the voters. (Could he have been serious when he said he wasn’t much concerned with a second term?)

And finally, if Obama tries an “oh never mind” defense (is he simply trying now to confuse everyone about what he thinks?), he’s going to manage to further depress and infuriate his own base, who understood him to be championing for the mosque builders but now see what a mess he’s made of the entire affair. (Former Democratic Rep. Martin Frost: “I would prefer the president be a little more of a politician and a little less of a college professor. … While a defensible position [which one of his positions is Frost referring to, I wonder], it will not play well in the parts of the country where Democrats need the most help.”)

In sum, this is the low point (so far!) of the Obama presidency, an embarrassment to his supporters (whatever their stance on the Ground Zero mosque) and another dollop of bad news for the Democrats. But, most important, it is a tragedy that we should have such a president at such a time. We will have to muddle through in spite of him.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Obama’s baddest critic warns him about flip-floppery on the Ground Zero mosque: “Mr. Obama, you are not the mayor of Podunk arguing with the City Council over sewer versus septic; you are the president of the United States of America , the greatest country in the world! It may be that your utterances are sounding like indefensible rubbish to more and more of us, but at the very least you, the presidential enunciator of them, ought to have the courage to defend them —especially when they’re already in writing.”

Greg Sargent warns anti-Israel Democrats that the Emergency Committee for Israel is putting them “on notice that if they criticize Israel, they can expect to be targeted, too.” Or, to put it differently, it will be harder to fake being pro-Israel.

Charlie Cook warns Democrats that the Connecticut Senate race will tighten. And sure enough: “The first Rasmussen Reports post-primary telephone survey of Likely Connecticut Voters finds that Democrat Richard Blumenthal has slipped below the 50% mark of support this month against Republican Linda McMahon in the state’s U.S. Senate race.”

Bill Kristol warns the left to get a grip: “The ‘f*ck tea’ movement [the real name of a new leftist undertaking] — that’s what the left has come to. They can’t defend the results of Obama’s policies or the validity of Krugman’s arguments. They know it’s hard to sustain an antidemocratic ethos in a democracy. They realize they’ve degenerated into pro-am levels of whining and squabbling. So they curse their opponents.”

The Gray Lady warns politicians to avoid Michelle Obama’s vacation gaffe: “Forget the lush beaches of Bora Bora or the Campari-soaked cafes along the Côte d’Azur. And don’t even think about Rome or Paris. Astute Washington politicians have long known that when it comes to politically palatable summer vacations, it is best not to cross any oceans. Or even seas. Michelle Obama violated one of this city’s most sacrosanct unwritten rules when she went to Spain — during a recession, no less — with her daughter and a few friends.”

Senate Republicans warn the administration that its pick for ambassador to Turkey is a no-go: “The nomination of Frank Ricciardone to be the next U.S. ambassador to Turkey is being held up in the Senate and the GOP has no intention of allowing a vote on the nomination any time soon. … The administration might be wary of spending its limited political capital to push through the Ricciardone nomination to a floor debate in the Senate because it could open up a broader public discussion of Turkey policy the White House might not think is useful given the delicate diplomatic environment.”

Douglas Schoen warns fellow Democrats: “The recent discouraging economic news is a watershed for the Obama administration — at least as far as the midterms are concerned. It discredits one of the administration’s few remaining positive arguments: that the administration ushered in an economic recovery that otherwise might not have occurred.”

Bibi warns the world, explains George Will: “If Iran were to ‘wipe the Zionist entity off the map,’ as it vows to do, it would, Netanyahu believes, achieve a regional ‘dominance not seen since Alexander.’ … He says that 1948 meant this: ‘For the first time in 2,000 years, a sovereign Jewish people could defend itself against attack.’ And he says: ‘The tragic history of the powerlessness of our people explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense.’ If Israel strikes Iran, the world will not be able to say it was not warned.” Nor will it be able to say that, by leaving the job to Israel, Obama fufilled his role as leader of the Free World.

Obama’s baddest critic warns him about flip-floppery on the Ground Zero mosque: “Mr. Obama, you are not the mayor of Podunk arguing with the City Council over sewer versus septic; you are the president of the United States of America , the greatest country in the world! It may be that your utterances are sounding like indefensible rubbish to more and more of us, but at the very least you, the presidential enunciator of them, ought to have the courage to defend them —especially when they’re already in writing.”

Greg Sargent warns anti-Israel Democrats that the Emergency Committee for Israel is putting them “on notice that if they criticize Israel, they can expect to be targeted, too.” Or, to put it differently, it will be harder to fake being pro-Israel.

Charlie Cook warns Democrats that the Connecticut Senate race will tighten. And sure enough: “The first Rasmussen Reports post-primary telephone survey of Likely Connecticut Voters finds that Democrat Richard Blumenthal has slipped below the 50% mark of support this month against Republican Linda McMahon in the state’s U.S. Senate race.”

Bill Kristol warns the left to get a grip: “The ‘f*ck tea’ movement [the real name of a new leftist undertaking] — that’s what the left has come to. They can’t defend the results of Obama’s policies or the validity of Krugman’s arguments. They know it’s hard to sustain an antidemocratic ethos in a democracy. They realize they’ve degenerated into pro-am levels of whining and squabbling. So they curse their opponents.”

The Gray Lady warns politicians to avoid Michelle Obama’s vacation gaffe: “Forget the lush beaches of Bora Bora or the Campari-soaked cafes along the Côte d’Azur. And don’t even think about Rome or Paris. Astute Washington politicians have long known that when it comes to politically palatable summer vacations, it is best not to cross any oceans. Or even seas. Michelle Obama violated one of this city’s most sacrosanct unwritten rules when she went to Spain — during a recession, no less — with her daughter and a few friends.”

Senate Republicans warn the administration that its pick for ambassador to Turkey is a no-go: “The nomination of Frank Ricciardone to be the next U.S. ambassador to Turkey is being held up in the Senate and the GOP has no intention of allowing a vote on the nomination any time soon. … The administration might be wary of spending its limited political capital to push through the Ricciardone nomination to a floor debate in the Senate because it could open up a broader public discussion of Turkey policy the White House might not think is useful given the delicate diplomatic environment.”

Douglas Schoen warns fellow Democrats: “The recent discouraging economic news is a watershed for the Obama administration — at least as far as the midterms are concerned. It discredits one of the administration’s few remaining positive arguments: that the administration ushered in an economic recovery that otherwise might not have occurred.”

Bibi warns the world, explains George Will: “If Iran were to ‘wipe the Zionist entity off the map,’ as it vows to do, it would, Netanyahu believes, achieve a regional ‘dominance not seen since Alexander.’ … He says that 1948 meant this: ‘For the first time in 2,000 years, a sovereign Jewish people could defend itself against attack.’ And he says: ‘The tragic history of the powerlessness of our people explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense.’ If Israel strikes Iran, the world will not be able to say it was not warned.” Nor will it be able to say that, by leaving the job to Israel, Obama fufilled his role as leader of the Free World.

Read Less




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