Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 27, 2010

RE: Brutal for Obama and Klein

Pete, that will be forthcoming right after the abject apology for opposing the surge.

But in the spirit of goodwill and comity, I will go first: I was wrong – I underestimated how badly Obama would harm his own party and how quickly the American people would turn on him. But in answer to your query, I am not holding my breath; the clique that scoffed at the notion that Ronald Reagan (or Margaret Thatcher or John Paul II) could win the Cold War and that has bowed before the false idol of Keynesianism should not be expected to reflect on its misjudgments. Unlike the Bourbons (who managed to remember everything), the left learns nothing and remembers nothing. It is why it is so drearily predictable and so often surprised.

Pete, that will be forthcoming right after the abject apology for opposing the surge.

But in the spirit of goodwill and comity, I will go first: I was wrong – I underestimated how badly Obama would harm his own party and how quickly the American people would turn on him. But in answer to your query, I am not holding my breath; the clique that scoffed at the notion that Ronald Reagan (or Margaret Thatcher or John Paul II) could win the Cold War and that has bowed before the false idol of Keynesianism should not be expected to reflect on its misjudgments. Unlike the Bourbons (who managed to remember everything), the left learns nothing and remembers nothing. It is why it is so drearily predictable and so often surprised.

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Brutal for Obama and Joe Klein

According to Public Policy Polling (PPP), President Obama’s approval ratings in the key states of Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania are “brutal.”

How brutal?

In Florida, Obama’s approval-disapproval numbers are 39 percent v. 55 percent, with independents registering a 52 disapprove v. 36 percent approve rating.

In Pennsylvania Obama’s approval is 40 percent, while 55 percent of voters disapprove of him. Independents line up against the president by a 63/32 margin.

And in Ohio, Obama’s approval is 42 percent with 54 percent of voters disapproving of him — while the split among independents is 58/33.

These findings should be combined with Jennifer’s posting on the latest analysis by The Cook Report and the story she linked to in Politico, in which a Democratic pollster working on several key races said, “The reality is that [the House majority] is probably gone” and that that his data shows the Democrats’ problems are only getting worse (“It’s spreading,” the pollster said.)

I recall that once upon a time, Obama courtiers over at the New Republic and Time magazine ridiculed the amassing evidence Jennifer and I cited, warning of the impending political problems Democrats faced in the midterm. They would have none of it. The polls were nothing more than “white noise.” It was wishful thinking on our part. The election results in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts were anomalous and didn’t foreshadow a thing. According to Joe Klein, we were part of the “sky is falling” crowd. Democrats would be fine; the public would learn to appreciate all the wonderful achievements off Obama and his party.

Lately, I haven’t heard much from them about how baseless and irresponsible our analyses were, or how well things are shaping up for Democrats. In fact, poor Joe now refers to the “dismal electoral shape” the Democrats are now in.

Gee, that was a quick turnabout. And it’s so unlike Klein to experience such wide emotional and analytical swings.

By the way, I’m still waiting for an apology — or at least a note of explanation — from our liberal friends, Jen.

How about you?

According to Public Policy Polling (PPP), President Obama’s approval ratings in the key states of Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania are “brutal.”

How brutal?

In Florida, Obama’s approval-disapproval numbers are 39 percent v. 55 percent, with independents registering a 52 disapprove v. 36 percent approve rating.

In Pennsylvania Obama’s approval is 40 percent, while 55 percent of voters disapprove of him. Independents line up against the president by a 63/32 margin.

And in Ohio, Obama’s approval is 42 percent with 54 percent of voters disapproving of him — while the split among independents is 58/33.

These findings should be combined with Jennifer’s posting on the latest analysis by The Cook Report and the story she linked to in Politico, in which a Democratic pollster working on several key races said, “The reality is that [the House majority] is probably gone” and that that his data shows the Democrats’ problems are only getting worse (“It’s spreading,” the pollster said.)

I recall that once upon a time, Obama courtiers over at the New Republic and Time magazine ridiculed the amassing evidence Jennifer and I cited, warning of the impending political problems Democrats faced in the midterm. They would have none of it. The polls were nothing more than “white noise.” It was wishful thinking on our part. The election results in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts were anomalous and didn’t foreshadow a thing. According to Joe Klein, we were part of the “sky is falling” crowd. Democrats would be fine; the public would learn to appreciate all the wonderful achievements off Obama and his party.

Lately, I haven’t heard much from them about how baseless and irresponsible our analyses were, or how well things are shaping up for Democrats. In fact, poor Joe now refers to the “dismal electoral shape” the Democrats are now in.

Gee, that was a quick turnabout. And it’s so unlike Klein to experience such wide emotional and analytical swings.

By the way, I’m still waiting for an apology — or at least a note of explanation — from our liberal friends, Jen.

How about you?

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On Winston Churchill and Former Gov. Blagojevich

On Fox News Sunday, a slightly incredulous Chris Wallace asked former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich if he were serious when he compared himself to Winston Churchill in his ability to come back from political oblivion. Blagojevich replied: “You’re right, I’m not serious. I don’t smoke cigars or scotch, and I think I can run faster than him.” As Sir Winston died in 1965, it would be most surprising if the Governor were not fleeter of foot.

But Churchill would have smiled at Blagojevich’s observations on smoking, drinking, and running. The Governor’s first claim reminded me of one of Churchill’s interchanges with General Bernard Montgomery. The slightly priggish general is alleged to have said that he neither drank nor smoked and was 100 percent fit. Churchill immediately shot back that he both drank and smoked and was 200 percent fit.

And as for physical fitness, Churchill’s views on that subject, and its connection with leadership ability, are curiously relevant to Blagojevich’s desire to mount a comeback. In February 1941, Churchill – as recorded in the third volume of his World War II memoirs – wrote to his Secretary of State for War as follows:

Please see the Times of February 4. It is really true that a seven-mile cross-country run is enforced upon all in this division, from generals to privates? … A colonel or a general ought not to exhaust himself in trying to compete with young boys running across country seven miles at a time. The duty of officers is no doubt to keep themselves fit, but still more to think for their men, and to take decisions affecting their safety or comfort. Who is the general of this division, and does he run the seven miles himself? If so, he may be more useful for football than war. Could Napoleon have run seven miles across country at Austerlitz? Perhaps it was the other fellow he made run. In my experience, based on many years’ observation, officers with high athletic qualifications are not usually successful in the higher ranks.

It would seem that Churchill’s maxim also applies to governors.

On Fox News Sunday, a slightly incredulous Chris Wallace asked former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich if he were serious when he compared himself to Winston Churchill in his ability to come back from political oblivion. Blagojevich replied: “You’re right, I’m not serious. I don’t smoke cigars or scotch, and I think I can run faster than him.” As Sir Winston died in 1965, it would be most surprising if the Governor were not fleeter of foot.

But Churchill would have smiled at Blagojevich’s observations on smoking, drinking, and running. The Governor’s first claim reminded me of one of Churchill’s interchanges with General Bernard Montgomery. The slightly priggish general is alleged to have said that he neither drank nor smoked and was 100 percent fit. Churchill immediately shot back that he both drank and smoked and was 200 percent fit.

And as for physical fitness, Churchill’s views on that subject, and its connection with leadership ability, are curiously relevant to Blagojevich’s desire to mount a comeback. In February 1941, Churchill – as recorded in the third volume of his World War II memoirs – wrote to his Secretary of State for War as follows:

Please see the Times of February 4. It is really true that a seven-mile cross-country run is enforced upon all in this division, from generals to privates? … A colonel or a general ought not to exhaust himself in trying to compete with young boys running across country seven miles at a time. The duty of officers is no doubt to keep themselves fit, but still more to think for their men, and to take decisions affecting their safety or comfort. Who is the general of this division, and does he run the seven miles himself? If so, he may be more useful for football than war. Could Napoleon have run seven miles across country at Austerlitz? Perhaps it was the other fellow he made run. In my experience, based on many years’ observation, officers with high athletic qualifications are not usually successful in the higher ranks.

It would seem that Churchill’s maxim also applies to governors.

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More Economic Misery

The economic news today, in which we learned that the second-quarter growth figure was reduced down to 1.6 percent, is extremely discouraging. This rate is well below what is needed even to sustain the current unemployment rate of 9.5 percent. On top of that, as a friend of mine reminds me, the current deficit, which the CBO estimates will be more than $1.3 trillion in 2010 and is already seen as “unsustainable” by even the Obama administration, will get worse rather than better. Anemic economic growth translates into lower revenues and higher deficits.

Among the array of political problems facing Democrats is that since the fourth quarter of 2009, when the economy grew 5.0 percent, we are rapidly decelerating. In the first quarter of this year, the economy grew at 3.7 percent, and last quarter, it grew at 1.6 percent. Next quarter is likely to be about as dismal, meaning unemployment will rise.

What this all means is that the public is far more inclined to hold Obama responsible for the state of the economy, especially because the administration lauded the “economic recovery” at the end of last year. If it took credit for things at the end of last year, it’s doubly difficult to blame things on Bush this year.

A double-dip recession, then, is about the worst thing that could happen to Democrats.

Compounding their problem was the announcement that this was going to be the “Recovery Summer.” It has, in fact, turned out to be a summer characterized by more economic misery. This mistake was comparable to the White House predicting that unemployment would not exceed 8 percent and Vice President Biden assuring us that we’d see 500,000 new jobs a month this summer. All of these qualify as unforced errors, and the White House is paying dearly for them.

The economic news today, in which we learned that the second-quarter growth figure was reduced down to 1.6 percent, is extremely discouraging. This rate is well below what is needed even to sustain the current unemployment rate of 9.5 percent. On top of that, as a friend of mine reminds me, the current deficit, which the CBO estimates will be more than $1.3 trillion in 2010 and is already seen as “unsustainable” by even the Obama administration, will get worse rather than better. Anemic economic growth translates into lower revenues and higher deficits.

Among the array of political problems facing Democrats is that since the fourth quarter of 2009, when the economy grew 5.0 percent, we are rapidly decelerating. In the first quarter of this year, the economy grew at 3.7 percent, and last quarter, it grew at 1.6 percent. Next quarter is likely to be about as dismal, meaning unemployment will rise.

What this all means is that the public is far more inclined to hold Obama responsible for the state of the economy, especially because the administration lauded the “economic recovery” at the end of last year. If it took credit for things at the end of last year, it’s doubly difficult to blame things on Bush this year.

A double-dip recession, then, is about the worst thing that could happen to Democrats.

Compounding their problem was the announcement that this was going to be the “Recovery Summer.” It has, in fact, turned out to be a summer characterized by more economic misery. This mistake was comparable to the White House predicting that unemployment would not exceed 8 percent and Vice President Biden assuring us that we’d see 500,000 new jobs a month this summer. All of these qualify as unforced errors, and the White House is paying dearly for them.

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Our Clueless White House

From ABC’s Jake Tapper:

“We know he needs to be out there to talk about the economy next week,” a White House official told ABC News, acknowledging the need for the president to talk about the issue on the minds of Americans in the midst of a schedule packed with events focused on other priorities. “We haven’t yet figured out the way he’s going to do that.”

A sick economy is now combined with a clueless White House. This must be terrifically reassuring to panic-stricken Democrats.

From ABC’s Jake Tapper:

“We know he needs to be out there to talk about the economy next week,” a White House official told ABC News, acknowledging the need for the president to talk about the issue on the minds of Americans in the midst of a schedule packed with events focused on other priorities. “We haven’t yet figured out the way he’s going to do that.”

A sick economy is now combined with a clueless White House. This must be terrifically reassuring to panic-stricken Democrats.

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What’s Wrong with Obama’s Muslim Outreach

Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations has, of late, shown what those on the left like to say of conservative justices shifting their way – “growth.” He has come out squarely in favor of regime change in Iran. And he has criticized Obama for his ill-advised fixation on the “peace process.” But the Ground Zero mosque controversy is not his finest hour. In a symposium on the topic, he writes of his concern about opinion abroad:

What I have in mind is anti-Americanism, a possible response to increasingly strident statements by Americans that appear to be anti-Muslim. And such anti-Americanism has unfortunate potential: It can breed tolerance of or, worse yet, support for radicalism and terrorism, and it can stimulate opposition to American policies as well as to local leaders in Arab and Muslim-majority countries who associate themselves with the United States. This has the potential to take a toll on prospects for U.S. policies throughout the greater Middle East, including U.S. efforts designed to promote peace, stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan, and isolate Iran.

What statements, exactly, appear to be anti-Muslim? Has any elected official disputed that there is a constitutional right for the mosque to be built? Perhaps if he identified which mosque opponents are appearing to be anti- Muslim (Howard Dean? Abe Foxman? Harry Reid?), he might have a stronger argument. But the rest of those comments are the type of pablum one usually hears from the White House: we shouldn’t do things (e.g., leave open Guantanamo, criticize a mosque on the ashes of Americans killed in the name of Islam) that will make Muslims mad at us.

Listen, radical jihadists need no excuses. They attacked us on 9/11 and before that and will continue to do so because their radical vision of Islamic domination compels them to.  And as for allegation that we “breed intolerance” by defending our values or taking robust action in the war against Islamic radicals, well, there is no evidence it is true. And, moreover, so what? Should we cease support of Israel as well? That gets even “moderate” Muslims very upset.  The premise, which infects the entire Muslim-outreach gambit, is that we must walk on egg shells, defer to Muslim sensibilities, and show deference to those who object to our legitimate concerns. It is a formula likely to be interpreted as abject weakness and unlikely to garner many new friends. Haass ends by pleading for the entire episode to go away; it is, I think, a difficult subject for him.

However, in the same symposium, Dan Senor has no problem setting forth the anti-mosque position:

Supporters of the Ground Zero Mosque typically cite religious freedom. I do not object to the mosque because it is a mosque, nor do I have any wish to curtail Islamic freedom of worship. Where a particular facility is sited is not a matter of religious liberty. My concern is that two blocks from Ground Zero is an inappropriate and insensitive location for this center.

In the minds of those who are swayed by the most radical interpretations of Islam, the “Ground Zero Mosque” will not be seen as a center for peace and reconciliation. It will rather be celebrated as a monument erected on the site of a great “military” victory. This reality is clear enough after studying the recruitment propaganda used by terrorist groups that exists on the web and elsewhere. Progressive Muslim leaders who reject the link between Islam and the radicalism espoused by al-Qaeda must be wary of helping to further this rhetoric, even inadvertently.

In short, he doesn’t buy into the idea that capitulating to a provocative act will inure to our benefit in the “Muslim World” (and he cites evidence to support his argument). And he adds: “My deeper concern is what effect the Ground Zero Mosque would have on the families of 9/11 victims, survivors of and first responders to the attacks, and New Yorkers in general.” (Haass doesn’t mention any of them, by the way.)

This, in essence lays out the two sides in the debate as to how we should approach the “Muslim World.” Obama has tried Muslim outreach, and he’s hamstrung us on interrogation of jihadist suspects. He has figuratively and literally genuflected before Muslim leaders. It’s not working. Here’s an idea, a different sort of approach: he once told American Jewish leaders to go self-reflect about Israel (a strange admonition for a community that does little else), so how about calling in American Muslim leaders to do the same. Reflect on their reluctance to label Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups, reflect on their lack of empathy for fellow citizens and survivors of those killed on 9/11, and reflect on their failure to repudiate statements that America is responsible for 9/11.

No, it’s never going to happen, and we should ask why that is. It may lead us to the central fallacy that underlies Obama and much of the left’s strategy in cultivating favorable Muslim public opinion: they believe subservience breeds respect.

Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations has, of late, shown what those on the left like to say of conservative justices shifting their way – “growth.” He has come out squarely in favor of regime change in Iran. And he has criticized Obama for his ill-advised fixation on the “peace process.” But the Ground Zero mosque controversy is not his finest hour. In a symposium on the topic, he writes of his concern about opinion abroad:

What I have in mind is anti-Americanism, a possible response to increasingly strident statements by Americans that appear to be anti-Muslim. And such anti-Americanism has unfortunate potential: It can breed tolerance of or, worse yet, support for radicalism and terrorism, and it can stimulate opposition to American policies as well as to local leaders in Arab and Muslim-majority countries who associate themselves with the United States. This has the potential to take a toll on prospects for U.S. policies throughout the greater Middle East, including U.S. efforts designed to promote peace, stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan, and isolate Iran.

What statements, exactly, appear to be anti-Muslim? Has any elected official disputed that there is a constitutional right for the mosque to be built? Perhaps if he identified which mosque opponents are appearing to be anti- Muslim (Howard Dean? Abe Foxman? Harry Reid?), he might have a stronger argument. But the rest of those comments are the type of pablum one usually hears from the White House: we shouldn’t do things (e.g., leave open Guantanamo, criticize a mosque on the ashes of Americans killed in the name of Islam) that will make Muslims mad at us.

Listen, radical jihadists need no excuses. They attacked us on 9/11 and before that and will continue to do so because their radical vision of Islamic domination compels them to.  And as for allegation that we “breed intolerance” by defending our values or taking robust action in the war against Islamic radicals, well, there is no evidence it is true. And, moreover, so what? Should we cease support of Israel as well? That gets even “moderate” Muslims very upset.  The premise, which infects the entire Muslim-outreach gambit, is that we must walk on egg shells, defer to Muslim sensibilities, and show deference to those who object to our legitimate concerns. It is a formula likely to be interpreted as abject weakness and unlikely to garner many new friends. Haass ends by pleading for the entire episode to go away; it is, I think, a difficult subject for him.

However, in the same symposium, Dan Senor has no problem setting forth the anti-mosque position:

Supporters of the Ground Zero Mosque typically cite religious freedom. I do not object to the mosque because it is a mosque, nor do I have any wish to curtail Islamic freedom of worship. Where a particular facility is sited is not a matter of religious liberty. My concern is that two blocks from Ground Zero is an inappropriate and insensitive location for this center.

In the minds of those who are swayed by the most radical interpretations of Islam, the “Ground Zero Mosque” will not be seen as a center for peace and reconciliation. It will rather be celebrated as a monument erected on the site of a great “military” victory. This reality is clear enough after studying the recruitment propaganda used by terrorist groups that exists on the web and elsewhere. Progressive Muslim leaders who reject the link between Islam and the radicalism espoused by al-Qaeda must be wary of helping to further this rhetoric, even inadvertently.

In short, he doesn’t buy into the idea that capitulating to a provocative act will inure to our benefit in the “Muslim World” (and he cites evidence to support his argument). And he adds: “My deeper concern is what effect the Ground Zero Mosque would have on the families of 9/11 victims, survivors of and first responders to the attacks, and New Yorkers in general.” (Haass doesn’t mention any of them, by the way.)

This, in essence lays out the two sides in the debate as to how we should approach the “Muslim World.” Obama has tried Muslim outreach, and he’s hamstrung us on interrogation of jihadist suspects. He has figuratively and literally genuflected before Muslim leaders. It’s not working. Here’s an idea, a different sort of approach: he once told American Jewish leaders to go self-reflect about Israel (a strange admonition for a community that does little else), so how about calling in American Muslim leaders to do the same. Reflect on their reluctance to label Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups, reflect on their lack of empathy for fellow citizens and survivors of those killed on 9/11, and reflect on their failure to repudiate statements that America is responsible for 9/11.

No, it’s never going to happen, and we should ask why that is. It may lead us to the central fallacy that underlies Obama and much of the left’s strategy in cultivating favorable Muslim public opinion: they believe subservience breeds respect.

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Peace Through Self-Defenestration

In a New York Times op-ed entitled “For Once, Hope in the Middle East,” Martin Indyk argues that while “the commentariat is already dismissing [Obama’s] chances of reaching a peace agreement,” the “negotiating environment is better suited to peacemaking today than it has been at any point in the last decade.” Take security for example – no problem:

Security arrangements were all but settled in 2000 at Camp David before the talks collapsed. The increased threat of rocket attacks since then, among other developments, require the two sides to agree on stricter border controls and a robust third-party force in the Jordan Valley. But one year is ample time to resolve this.

The “increased threat of rocket attacks… among other developments” is Indyk’s diplomatic way of describing the two rocket wars waged on Israel from Lebanon and Gaza after it withdrew every soldier and settler from those areas. The all-but-settled arrangements in 2000 would not have worked, as Indyk implicitly acknowledges with his admission that arrangements would have to be “stricter” today.

But the key word in Indyk’s sunny description is his proposal for a “robust” third-party force. The word “robust” is a familiar term in Middle East diplomacy. It is the adjective commonly used to give meaning to an otherwise unimpressive noun. One might be skeptical of a third-party force, but a robust third-party force – that would be effective virtually by definition.

The most recent experience with a “robust” third-party force, however, might give one pause. In July 2006, 10 days into the Second Lebanon War, Condoleezza Rice told reporters she wanted a “robust” international military force to replace Hezbollah’s forces because a “cease-fire would be a false promise if it just returns us to the status quo.” On Aug. 11, 2006, as the UN Security Council prepared to vote on Resolution 1701, she told Wolf Blitzer the force would have an “absolutely robust mandate.” In an Aug. 16 interview with Susan Page, who congratulated her on passage of the UN resolution, Rice noted the force’s “quite robust mandate, which is a really very robust mandate.”

We now know that the “robust” force turned into 15,000 de facto human shields for Hezbollah, which today has at least twice the number of rockets trained on Israel as before the insertion of the “robust” force.

Indyk ends his piece by quoting Shimon Peres that “history is like a horse that gallops past your window and the true test of statesmanship is to jump from that window onto the horse.” Indyk suggests it is time for Abbas and Netanyahu to take that “politically perilous leap.” Trying to leap out your window onto a galloping horse seems an apt metaphor for Indyk’s solution of a “robust” third-party force — particularly if you remember the last time Israel was persuaded to jump out the window.

In a New York Times op-ed entitled “For Once, Hope in the Middle East,” Martin Indyk argues that while “the commentariat is already dismissing [Obama’s] chances of reaching a peace agreement,” the “negotiating environment is better suited to peacemaking today than it has been at any point in the last decade.” Take security for example – no problem:

Security arrangements were all but settled in 2000 at Camp David before the talks collapsed. The increased threat of rocket attacks since then, among other developments, require the two sides to agree on stricter border controls and a robust third-party force in the Jordan Valley. But one year is ample time to resolve this.

The “increased threat of rocket attacks… among other developments” is Indyk’s diplomatic way of describing the two rocket wars waged on Israel from Lebanon and Gaza after it withdrew every soldier and settler from those areas. The all-but-settled arrangements in 2000 would not have worked, as Indyk implicitly acknowledges with his admission that arrangements would have to be “stricter” today.

But the key word in Indyk’s sunny description is his proposal for a “robust” third-party force. The word “robust” is a familiar term in Middle East diplomacy. It is the adjective commonly used to give meaning to an otherwise unimpressive noun. One might be skeptical of a third-party force, but a robust third-party force – that would be effective virtually by definition.

The most recent experience with a “robust” third-party force, however, might give one pause. In July 2006, 10 days into the Second Lebanon War, Condoleezza Rice told reporters she wanted a “robust” international military force to replace Hezbollah’s forces because a “cease-fire would be a false promise if it just returns us to the status quo.” On Aug. 11, 2006, as the UN Security Council prepared to vote on Resolution 1701, she told Wolf Blitzer the force would have an “absolutely robust mandate.” In an Aug. 16 interview with Susan Page, who congratulated her on passage of the UN resolution, Rice noted the force’s “quite robust mandate, which is a really very robust mandate.”

We now know that the “robust” force turned into 15,000 de facto human shields for Hezbollah, which today has at least twice the number of rockets trained on Israel as before the insertion of the “robust” force.

Indyk ends his piece by quoting Shimon Peres that “history is like a horse that gallops past your window and the true test of statesmanship is to jump from that window onto the horse.” Indyk suggests it is time for Abbas and Netanyahu to take that “politically perilous leap.” Trying to leap out your window onto a galloping horse seems an apt metaphor for Indyk’s solution of a “robust” third-party force — particularly if you remember the last time Israel was persuaded to jump out the window.

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RE: Obama’s Economy

The summer of recovery is going to be the “Mission Accomplished” banner of this administration. Another dollop of rotten economic news:

The U.S. economy grew more sluggish than initially estimated in the second quarter, and corporate profits nearly dried up, further evidence that the recovery is losing steam.

Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, rose at an annualized seasonally adjusted rate of 1.6% from April to June, the Commerce Department said Friday. …

Friday’s report also showed that companies barely managed to post profit gains, following several very profitable quarters. After-tax earnings edged up 0.1%, well off the previous quarter’s gain of 11.4%. First-quarter profits were revised down from the initial estimate of a 12.1% increase.

Yet the administration claims its stimulus plan has worked and that the recovery is in full swing. No problem with a massive tax increase — the economy can handle it. No problem with the massive mandates and fees imposed by ObamaCare — it’s going to be good for employers. John Boehner is right about firing the Obama economic team. (Christine Roemer didn’t quit for nothing.) The voters will have to take care of the rest, and I fully expect they will, beginning in November.

The summer of recovery is going to be the “Mission Accomplished” banner of this administration. Another dollop of rotten economic news:

The U.S. economy grew more sluggish than initially estimated in the second quarter, and corporate profits nearly dried up, further evidence that the recovery is losing steam.

Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, rose at an annualized seasonally adjusted rate of 1.6% from April to June, the Commerce Department said Friday. …

Friday’s report also showed that companies barely managed to post profit gains, following several very profitable quarters. After-tax earnings edged up 0.1%, well off the previous quarter’s gain of 11.4%. First-quarter profits were revised down from the initial estimate of a 12.1% increase.

Yet the administration claims its stimulus plan has worked and that the recovery is in full swing. No problem with a massive tax increase — the economy can handle it. No problem with the massive mandates and fees imposed by ObamaCare — it’s going to be good for employers. John Boehner is right about firing the Obama economic team. (Christine Roemer didn’t quit for nothing.) The voters will have to take care of the rest, and I fully expect they will, beginning in November.

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What Would He Have to Do to Get Below 50 Percent?

It is not as if all of American Jewry is comatose. The New York Times reports on numbers from a Pew poll:

Obama’s approval rating among Jews in 2010 averaged 58 percent.

This percentage was the lowest of all those representing his enthusiastic supporter groups except one, the religious unaffiliated.

The percentage change in Obama’s approval rating from 2009 to 2010 among Jews was greater than any of the other enthusiastic supporter groups, greater than Democrats and liberals in general and greater than the nation overall (or the goyim, if you prefer.)

So American Jews did notice when Obama condemned Israel for building in its eternal capital. They did notice that he has been, from Cairo on, spouting the Palestinian victimology meme. They did notice that he has played footise with the Israel-bashers at the UN and joined (to sit as a mute observer, it seems) the noxious UN Human Rights Council. They did notice that Obama snubbed Bibi, inducing a make-up session. They did notice that he signed onto an NPT declaration singling out Israel (and then said it meant nothing). They did notice that he hasn’t been to Israel. They did notice that his advisers have leaked the prospect of an imposed peace deal and forgoing a UN veto should Israel resume building in its own country. They did notice that his efforts to thwart an existential threat to Israel have been lackluster at best.

And still, 58 percent like what they see. It is indeed a “sick addiction.” There’s no denying it: a majority of American Jews are willfully indifferent to the fate of the Jewish State. It is a sad affirmation that the liberal agenda – of which Obama has been a stalwart, albeit incompetent, standard-bearer — takes precedence over the survival of the Jewish state, and in turn, the Jewish people. (Do we imagine Jewry would survive if Israel does not?)

For those Jews whose priorities are a bit different, a word of advice: find new friends, new allies. There are millions who will make up for and far exceed the numbers of Jews for whom abortion-on-demand and eliminating the Bush tax cuts trump defense of the Jewish state. And for Jewish leaders of pro-Israel groups: you occupy a minority position in American Jewry, so stop chasing the Obama-infatuated. An undiluted and unapologetic defense of the Jewish state, and candor about the president most of you voted for, is in order. Unless of course, you are part of the 58 percent.

It is not as if all of American Jewry is comatose. The New York Times reports on numbers from a Pew poll:

Obama’s approval rating among Jews in 2010 averaged 58 percent.

This percentage was the lowest of all those representing his enthusiastic supporter groups except one, the religious unaffiliated.

The percentage change in Obama’s approval rating from 2009 to 2010 among Jews was greater than any of the other enthusiastic supporter groups, greater than Democrats and liberals in general and greater than the nation overall (or the goyim, if you prefer.)

So American Jews did notice when Obama condemned Israel for building in its eternal capital. They did notice that he has been, from Cairo on, spouting the Palestinian victimology meme. They did notice that he has played footise with the Israel-bashers at the UN and joined (to sit as a mute observer, it seems) the noxious UN Human Rights Council. They did notice that Obama snubbed Bibi, inducing a make-up session. They did notice that he signed onto an NPT declaration singling out Israel (and then said it meant nothing). They did notice that he hasn’t been to Israel. They did notice that his advisers have leaked the prospect of an imposed peace deal and forgoing a UN veto should Israel resume building in its own country. They did notice that his efforts to thwart an existential threat to Israel have been lackluster at best.

And still, 58 percent like what they see. It is indeed a “sick addiction.” There’s no denying it: a majority of American Jews are willfully indifferent to the fate of the Jewish State. It is a sad affirmation that the liberal agenda – of which Obama has been a stalwart, albeit incompetent, standard-bearer — takes precedence over the survival of the Jewish state, and in turn, the Jewish people. (Do we imagine Jewry would survive if Israel does not?)

For those Jews whose priorities are a bit different, a word of advice: find new friends, new allies. There are millions who will make up for and far exceed the numbers of Jews for whom abortion-on-demand and eliminating the Bush tax cuts trump defense of the Jewish state. And for Jewish leaders of pro-Israel groups: you occupy a minority position in American Jewry, so stop chasing the Obama-infatuated. An undiluted and unapologetic defense of the Jewish state, and candor about the president most of you voted for, is in order. Unless of course, you are part of the 58 percent.

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Politicizing Prosecutions

It was not too long ago that the Obama team was excoriating the Bush administration for playing politics with the judicial system and unconscionably delaying the prosecution of Guantanamo detainees. Well, now:

The Obama administration has shelved the planned prosecution of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged coordinator of the Oct. 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, according to a court filing.

The decision at least temporarily scuttles what was supposed to be the signature trial of a major al-Qaeda figure under a reformed system of military commissions. And it comes practically on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attack, which killed 17 sailors and wounded dozens when a boat packed with explosives ripped a hole in the side of the warship in the port of Aden.

What’s the problem?

Military officials said a team of prosecutors in the Nashiri case has been ready go to trial for some time. And several months ago, military officials seemed confident that Nashiri would be arraigned this summer.

“It’s politics at this point,” said one military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy. He said he thinks the administration does not want to proceed against a high-value detainee without some prospect of civilian trials for other major figures at Guantanamo Bay.

Pretty unconscionable stuff, isn’t it? And a final decision on KSM has also been delayed, it is widely assumed, so that the administration need not disclose its intentions before the election. In an administration with plenty of both, this ranks near the top when it comes to hypocrisy and politicizing the administration of justice.

It was not too long ago that the Obama team was excoriating the Bush administration for playing politics with the judicial system and unconscionably delaying the prosecution of Guantanamo detainees. Well, now:

The Obama administration has shelved the planned prosecution of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged coordinator of the Oct. 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, according to a court filing.

The decision at least temporarily scuttles what was supposed to be the signature trial of a major al-Qaeda figure under a reformed system of military commissions. And it comes practically on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attack, which killed 17 sailors and wounded dozens when a boat packed with explosives ripped a hole in the side of the warship in the port of Aden.

What’s the problem?

Military officials said a team of prosecutors in the Nashiri case has been ready go to trial for some time. And several months ago, military officials seemed confident that Nashiri would be arraigned this summer.

“It’s politics at this point,” said one military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy. He said he thinks the administration does not want to proceed against a high-value detainee without some prospect of civilian trials for other major figures at Guantanamo Bay.

Pretty unconscionable stuff, isn’t it? And a final decision on KSM has also been delayed, it is widely assumed, so that the administration need not disclose its intentions before the election. In an administration with plenty of both, this ranks near the top when it comes to hypocrisy and politicizing the administration of justice.

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Democrats Discover Raising Taxes Is a Bad Idea

It seems the Democrats inside the Beltway, some of them anyway, are nervous. The economy is tanking, the recovery isn’t happening, and they are going to get run out of town by the voters. So what was an election-season stunt is now a “no, nevermind.” The Washington Post reports:

With the economy rapidly weakening, some senior Democrats are having second thoughts about raising taxes on the nation’s wealthiest families and are pressing party leaders to consider extending the full array of Bush administration tax cuts, at least through next year.

This rethinking comes barely a month after Democrats trumpeted plans to stage a high-stakes battle over taxes in the final weeks before the November congressional elections.

It seems they’ve discovered that raising taxes in a hobbled economy is a bad idea. (“A growing cadre of Democrats – alarmed by evidence that the recovery is losing steam and fearful of wounding conservative Democrats in a tough election year – are advocating a plan that would permanently extend tax cuts benefiting the middle class while renewing breaks for the wealthy through 2011, senior Democratic aides said.”) The left is going bonkers at the possibility that the Democratic Party would concede a central philosophical point and give up a last-minute gambit to save legislators’ skins. They are worried about the debt all of the sudden:

In an op-ed this week in the Financial Times, John Podesta of the Center for American Progress and Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, argued that extending the high-income tax breaks even temporarily would send a bad signal to investors worried about rising U.S. debt.

No concern about the debt while Obama was on a spending spree. And didn’t they argue the stimulus was too small? Oh, consistency and the hobgoblin of little minds, and all that.

Not to fear, dear leftists, the president is with you: “Obama administration officials and the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, meanwhile, say they are determined to stay the course and still hoping to spend September and October on a debate that forces Republicans to defend expensive tax breaks for a tiny, wealthy minority.” Economic literacy has not been their strong suit, and neither has winning elections.

It seems the Democrats inside the Beltway, some of them anyway, are nervous. The economy is tanking, the recovery isn’t happening, and they are going to get run out of town by the voters. So what was an election-season stunt is now a “no, nevermind.” The Washington Post reports:

With the economy rapidly weakening, some senior Democrats are having second thoughts about raising taxes on the nation’s wealthiest families and are pressing party leaders to consider extending the full array of Bush administration tax cuts, at least through next year.

This rethinking comes barely a month after Democrats trumpeted plans to stage a high-stakes battle over taxes in the final weeks before the November congressional elections.

It seems they’ve discovered that raising taxes in a hobbled economy is a bad idea. (“A growing cadre of Democrats – alarmed by evidence that the recovery is losing steam and fearful of wounding conservative Democrats in a tough election year – are advocating a plan that would permanently extend tax cuts benefiting the middle class while renewing breaks for the wealthy through 2011, senior Democratic aides said.”) The left is going bonkers at the possibility that the Democratic Party would concede a central philosophical point and give up a last-minute gambit to save legislators’ skins. They are worried about the debt all of the sudden:

In an op-ed this week in the Financial Times, John Podesta of the Center for American Progress and Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, argued that extending the high-income tax breaks even temporarily would send a bad signal to investors worried about rising U.S. debt.

No concern about the debt while Obama was on a spending spree. And didn’t they argue the stimulus was too small? Oh, consistency and the hobgoblin of little minds, and all that.

Not to fear, dear leftists, the president is with you: “Obama administration officials and the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, meanwhile, say they are determined to stay the course and still hoping to spend September and October on a debate that forces Republicans to defend expensive tax breaks for a tiny, wealthy minority.” Economic literacy has not been their strong suit, and neither has winning elections.

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The Comeuppance

As the left has become increasingly frustrated with a large majority of the country over the Ground Zero mosque, its leaders have, as Charles Krauthammer describes, reached for their defense of last resort: “Pull out the bigotry charge, the trump that preempts debate and gives no credit to the seriousness and substance of the contrary argument.” He explains:

This smug attribution of bigotry to two-thirds of the population hinges on the insistence on a complete lack of connection between Islam and radical Islam, a proposition that dovetails perfectly with the Obama administration’s pretense that we are at war with nothing more than “violent extremists” of inscrutable motive and indiscernible belief. Those who reject this as both ridiculous and politically correct (an admitted redundancy) are declared Islamophobes, the ad hominem du jour.

It is a measure of the corruption of liberal thought and the collapse of its self-confidence that, finding itself so widely repudiated, it resorts reflexively to the cheapest race-baiting (in a colorful variety of forms).

The election, Ground Zero mosque notwithstanding, was not going to be pretty for the Democrats. But at least it could be, the chattering class reasoned (not convincingly, but in the dead of night, thinking of what they could say on CNN or MSNBC when the right was in full gloat), chalked up to the economy. Not Obama’s policies about the economy, mind you. But the economy. Bush screwed things up worse than they ever imagined. Or something like that.

Now, however, the election is about more than the liberal agenda; it is about liberals themselves. It turns out the left – shocking, I know – predominates in the media and White House but not in the country. They are outnumbered, vastly so. And they forgot to be ingratiating and polite to the rubes with the ballots. The result, Kauthammer predicts, will be “a comeuppance [that] is due the arrogant elites whose undisguised contempt for the great unwashed prevents them from conceding a modicum of serious thought to those who dare oppose them.”

The voters, I suspect, have had it with the sneers and, yes, the race-card playing. They’ve had it with being told things they know aren’t so. They’ve had it with being called un-American. They have had it with insane accusations that they are paid opponents of ObamaCare or the Ground Zero mosque.

The public has reason to dislike not merely the policies but also the ethos of the liberal governing class. They have every right to be mad and to throw them out. So naturally, that makes them racists.

As the left has become increasingly frustrated with a large majority of the country over the Ground Zero mosque, its leaders have, as Charles Krauthammer describes, reached for their defense of last resort: “Pull out the bigotry charge, the trump that preempts debate and gives no credit to the seriousness and substance of the contrary argument.” He explains:

This smug attribution of bigotry to two-thirds of the population hinges on the insistence on a complete lack of connection between Islam and radical Islam, a proposition that dovetails perfectly with the Obama administration’s pretense that we are at war with nothing more than “violent extremists” of inscrutable motive and indiscernible belief. Those who reject this as both ridiculous and politically correct (an admitted redundancy) are declared Islamophobes, the ad hominem du jour.

It is a measure of the corruption of liberal thought and the collapse of its self-confidence that, finding itself so widely repudiated, it resorts reflexively to the cheapest race-baiting (in a colorful variety of forms).

The election, Ground Zero mosque notwithstanding, was not going to be pretty for the Democrats. But at least it could be, the chattering class reasoned (not convincingly, but in the dead of night, thinking of what they could say on CNN or MSNBC when the right was in full gloat), chalked up to the economy. Not Obama’s policies about the economy, mind you. But the economy. Bush screwed things up worse than they ever imagined. Or something like that.

Now, however, the election is about more than the liberal agenda; it is about liberals themselves. It turns out the left – shocking, I know – predominates in the media and White House but not in the country. They are outnumbered, vastly so. And they forgot to be ingratiating and polite to the rubes with the ballots. The result, Kauthammer predicts, will be “a comeuppance [that] is due the arrogant elites whose undisguised contempt for the great unwashed prevents them from conceding a modicum of serious thought to those who dare oppose them.”

The voters, I suspect, have had it with the sneers and, yes, the race-card playing. They’ve had it with being told things they know aren’t so. They’ve had it with being called un-American. They have had it with insane accusations that they are paid opponents of ObamaCare or the Ground Zero mosque.

The public has reason to dislike not merely the policies but also the ethos of the liberal governing class. They have every right to be mad and to throw them out. So naturally, that makes them racists.

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Obama’s Economy

It was supposed to be the summer of recovery. But the recovery isn’t happening, and consumers, employers, and investors have registered their votes on Obamanomics: thumbs down. The drop-off in housing sales tells us that despite historically low interest rates and available credit, consumers are nervous and lack confidence about the future. Better not to buy now. The stock market, the best indicator we have about expectations for the economy, has nosedived as well:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average stumbled back below 10000 on Thursday, an unwelcome milestone as worries about the U.S. economy increase. The blue-chip index erased early gains to finish down 74.25 points, or 0.74%, at 9985.81. The close is its first finish below the psychologically important level since July 6. …

Thursday’s stock declines came as the latest economic bad news—a stalling of manufacturing activity in the Kansas City district of the Federal Reserve Bank—added to a pile of economic warning signs in recent weeks.

Trading volumes were anemic, with less than four billion shares changing hands—below the daily average this year of 5.1 billion.

There is a political and economic way forward for Obama — not in time to spare him and his party bruising losses in November but to salvage the last two years of his presidency. First, and no easy thing for a man with a messiah complex, Obama needs to stop telling us that what he’s done has worked. It hasn’t, and it makes him look foolish. Second, he should listen to Douglas Schoen:

Mr. Obama and his Democratic colleagues also need to stop their phony populist campaign emphasizing that they have taken on the banks and Wall Street. Populism—particularly of the left-wing type that seeks to expand the role of government with redistributive fiscal policies and increases in government spending, intervention and ownership—rarely if ever works. In the absence of a successful argument for the administration’s overarching policy approach, a populist campaign would be as fruitless as blaming George W. Bush for every ill America now faces.

Beyond that, the administration must emphasize that it understands the electorate’s concern about fiscal prudence, the deficit, the debt and the need to balance the budget. The independent voters who hold the fate of the Democrats in their hands are looking for candidates who champion, in a bipartisan context, fiscal discipline, limited government, deficit reduction and a free market, pro-growth agenda. If Democrats don’t offer this, they will be branded liberal tax-and-spenders.

They are already branded the liberal tax-and-spenders, but that is smart policy and smart politics.

In the wake of the November election, there will be time for reflection, one hopes. If Obama wants to rescue his presidency and assist rather than encumber our recovery, he has to stop doing what he has been and start doing what his critics urged. After a summer of brutal economic developments and a decisive electoral defeat in November, maybe he’ll be ready. We’ll see.

It was supposed to be the summer of recovery. But the recovery isn’t happening, and consumers, employers, and investors have registered their votes on Obamanomics: thumbs down. The drop-off in housing sales tells us that despite historically low interest rates and available credit, consumers are nervous and lack confidence about the future. Better not to buy now. The stock market, the best indicator we have about expectations for the economy, has nosedived as well:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average stumbled back below 10000 on Thursday, an unwelcome milestone as worries about the U.S. economy increase. The blue-chip index erased early gains to finish down 74.25 points, or 0.74%, at 9985.81. The close is its first finish below the psychologically important level since July 6. …

Thursday’s stock declines came as the latest economic bad news—a stalling of manufacturing activity in the Kansas City district of the Federal Reserve Bank—added to a pile of economic warning signs in recent weeks.

Trading volumes were anemic, with less than four billion shares changing hands—below the daily average this year of 5.1 billion.

There is a political and economic way forward for Obama — not in time to spare him and his party bruising losses in November but to salvage the last two years of his presidency. First, and no easy thing for a man with a messiah complex, Obama needs to stop telling us that what he’s done has worked. It hasn’t, and it makes him look foolish. Second, he should listen to Douglas Schoen:

Mr. Obama and his Democratic colleagues also need to stop their phony populist campaign emphasizing that they have taken on the banks and Wall Street. Populism—particularly of the left-wing type that seeks to expand the role of government with redistributive fiscal policies and increases in government spending, intervention and ownership—rarely if ever works. In the absence of a successful argument for the administration’s overarching policy approach, a populist campaign would be as fruitless as blaming George W. Bush for every ill America now faces.

Beyond that, the administration must emphasize that it understands the electorate’s concern about fiscal prudence, the deficit, the debt and the need to balance the budget. The independent voters who hold the fate of the Democrats in their hands are looking for candidates who champion, in a bipartisan context, fiscal discipline, limited government, deficit reduction and a free market, pro-growth agenda. If Democrats don’t offer this, they will be branded liberal tax-and-spenders.

They are already branded the liberal tax-and-spenders, but that is smart policy and smart politics.

In the wake of the November election, there will be time for reflection, one hopes. If Obama wants to rescue his presidency and assist rather than encumber our recovery, he has to stop doing what he has been and start doing what his critics urged. After a summer of brutal economic developments and a decisive electoral defeat in November, maybe he’ll be ready. We’ll see.

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Academic Freedom in Israel

This report, I will confess, warmed my heart:

Students at Haifa University reportedly prepared a list of “Pro-Palestinian” professors and a group of activists were preparing a boycott campaign targeting their classes and lectures.

Israel’s Hebrew Language daily newspaper Ma’ariv said a campaign began on Tuesday, targeting 20 lecturers from the sociology and political science departments who they said “participate in demonstrations against Israeli troops and the Israeli government” or who have publicly spoken out against them.

Ah, so Israeli students — at least some of them — are becoming more discerning, less likely to indulge professors who give rhetorical cover and sustenance to those whom they have met on the battlefield, and will likely once again.

“We won’t choose courses of these lecturers and we won’t attend their lectures. It is unthinkable that at a time when our friends are fighting or receiving blows from activists on a ship that calls itself a peace ship that these lecturers stand up and demonstrate and speak out against these soldiers,” one student was quoted as saying.”

Well, there’s a thoughtful young person.

You can imagine how the anti-Zionist left has wigged out:

“What is taking place here is fascism,” another student told the paper, “this is the beginning of a repulsive attempt to shut people up who think differently. If the lecturers make statements that try to make historic justice, they deserve praise.”

Um, no. Not fascism, dear. It’s intellectual freedom. A thinking, moral person in a democracy is entitled to make choices about what he wants to read, what culture he wants to support, and what political ideas he wants to lend credence to — or not. The university, unsurprisingly, is in a snit: “Haifa University takes a serious view of any attempt to carry out an academic boycott or an attempt to harm academic freedom.” So what do university officials propose: force university students (these are not 5th graders deciding mathematics is not for them) to sit through dirge after dirge impugning the Jewish state? I’m sure they would if they could.

And students have the right to leave this university entirely, of course. Let the marketplace prevail. Let educational institutions that parrot pro-Palestinian propaganda rot on the vine, and others to flourish. I bet they are biting their fingernails at Harvard and Darmouth. You know, what if this catches on?

This report, I will confess, warmed my heart:

Students at Haifa University reportedly prepared a list of “Pro-Palestinian” professors and a group of activists were preparing a boycott campaign targeting their classes and lectures.

Israel’s Hebrew Language daily newspaper Ma’ariv said a campaign began on Tuesday, targeting 20 lecturers from the sociology and political science departments who they said “participate in demonstrations against Israeli troops and the Israeli government” or who have publicly spoken out against them.

Ah, so Israeli students — at least some of them — are becoming more discerning, less likely to indulge professors who give rhetorical cover and sustenance to those whom they have met on the battlefield, and will likely once again.

“We won’t choose courses of these lecturers and we won’t attend their lectures. It is unthinkable that at a time when our friends are fighting or receiving blows from activists on a ship that calls itself a peace ship that these lecturers stand up and demonstrate and speak out against these soldiers,” one student was quoted as saying.”

Well, there’s a thoughtful young person.

You can imagine how the anti-Zionist left has wigged out:

“What is taking place here is fascism,” another student told the paper, “this is the beginning of a repulsive attempt to shut people up who think differently. If the lecturers make statements that try to make historic justice, they deserve praise.”

Um, no. Not fascism, dear. It’s intellectual freedom. A thinking, moral person in a democracy is entitled to make choices about what he wants to read, what culture he wants to support, and what political ideas he wants to lend credence to — or not. The university, unsurprisingly, is in a snit: “Haifa University takes a serious view of any attempt to carry out an academic boycott or an attempt to harm academic freedom.” So what do university officials propose: force university students (these are not 5th graders deciding mathematics is not for them) to sit through dirge after dirge impugning the Jewish state? I’m sure they would if they could.

And students have the right to leave this university entirely, of course. Let the marketplace prevail. Let educational institutions that parrot pro-Palestinian propaganda rot on the vine, and others to flourish. I bet they are biting their fingernails at Harvard and Darmouth. You know, what if this catches on?

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

You can buy “$80 bottles of perfume, Turkish-made suits and Israeli yogurt,” and there are “toy displays, supermarket and racks of clothes … and a toy store, a perfume and accessories shop and clothing stores.” At the Gaza mall.

You can pretty much write off the Democrats’ House majority. From the Cook Political Report (subscription required): “[T]here are a whopping 32 Democratic incumbents who have trailed GOP challengers in at least one public or private poll. At this point in 2006, there were only 11 Republican incumbents who trailed in at least one public or private poll, yet 22 went on to lose. It happens every time there is a wave: as challengers get better known and voters start to zero in on their choices, the lion’s share of those undecided falls to the surging party. Today we are monitoring 120 races, the largest playing field we’ve seen in years. … And it’s a lopsided playing field: 102 of these 120 races are currently held by Democrats.” Umm, 102 Democratic seats could realistically be lost?

You can find no more honest Democratic pollster than Tom Jensen of PPP: “Barack Obama expanded the map in 2008 but for the most part you’re still going to find Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania as the most important states at the Presidential level because of their size and competitiveness and Obama’s numbers in those places right now are brutal. The trend is the same in all three states: independents are very unhappy with Obama and Republicans dislike him more than Democrats like him. And although part of the reason his numbers are so bad in these states is that they model a 2010 electorate, the polls also show him losing far more of his 2008 voters than picking up support from folks who went for John McCain.” How brutal? Thirty-nine percent approval in Florida, 40 in Pennsylvania, and 42 in Ohio.

You can move California’s gubernatorial race from Toss Up to Leans Republican: “The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in California finds Whitman earning 48% support, while Democrat Jerry Brown picks up 40% of the vote. Six percent (6%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and six percent (6%) are undecided.”

You can always blame a Republican president. Jonathan Cohn says it is Ronald Reagan’s fault there is an egg salmonella problem. Bill Clinton and Barak Obama held the White House collectively for almost 10 years, but nothing that went wrong is ever attributable to anything they did or didn’t do.

You can take lessons from Chris Christie in how to handle the media. He exudes common sense. His skewering of the mindless Washington bureaucrats is priceless. Watch the whole thing. (I vote for “mindless drones” as the best phrase.)

You can tell which Democrats are in competitive races: “Rep. John Hall argues that an Islamic community center planned for two blocks from Ground Zero should be built elsewhere out of respect for 9/11 victims and their families. ‘Freedom of religion is a bedrock principle of our democracy,’ Hall, D-Dover Plains, said in a prepared statement. ‘I think honoring those killed on Sept. 11 and showing sensitivity to their families, it would be best if the center were built at a different location.’”

You can see that the White House doesn’t even try to keep up the pretense anymore: “White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said [Major] Garrett lived up to Fox’s fair-and-balanced motto: ‘I have always thought Major was one of the smartest people in the briefing room. He’s tough, and I’d say the slogan actually did fit him.’” So, the White House’s beef with Fox was what exactly?

You can buy “$80 bottles of perfume, Turkish-made suits and Israeli yogurt,” and there are “toy displays, supermarket and racks of clothes … and a toy store, a perfume and accessories shop and clothing stores.” At the Gaza mall.

You can pretty much write off the Democrats’ House majority. From the Cook Political Report (subscription required): “[T]here are a whopping 32 Democratic incumbents who have trailed GOP challengers in at least one public or private poll. At this point in 2006, there were only 11 Republican incumbents who trailed in at least one public or private poll, yet 22 went on to lose. It happens every time there is a wave: as challengers get better known and voters start to zero in on their choices, the lion’s share of those undecided falls to the surging party. Today we are monitoring 120 races, the largest playing field we’ve seen in years. … And it’s a lopsided playing field: 102 of these 120 races are currently held by Democrats.” Umm, 102 Democratic seats could realistically be lost?

You can find no more honest Democratic pollster than Tom Jensen of PPP: “Barack Obama expanded the map in 2008 but for the most part you’re still going to find Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania as the most important states at the Presidential level because of their size and competitiveness and Obama’s numbers in those places right now are brutal. The trend is the same in all three states: independents are very unhappy with Obama and Republicans dislike him more than Democrats like him. And although part of the reason his numbers are so bad in these states is that they model a 2010 electorate, the polls also show him losing far more of his 2008 voters than picking up support from folks who went for John McCain.” How brutal? Thirty-nine percent approval in Florida, 40 in Pennsylvania, and 42 in Ohio.

You can move California’s gubernatorial race from Toss Up to Leans Republican: “The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in California finds Whitman earning 48% support, while Democrat Jerry Brown picks up 40% of the vote. Six percent (6%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and six percent (6%) are undecided.”

You can always blame a Republican president. Jonathan Cohn says it is Ronald Reagan’s fault there is an egg salmonella problem. Bill Clinton and Barak Obama held the White House collectively for almost 10 years, but nothing that went wrong is ever attributable to anything they did or didn’t do.

You can take lessons from Chris Christie in how to handle the media. He exudes common sense. His skewering of the mindless Washington bureaucrats is priceless. Watch the whole thing. (I vote for “mindless drones” as the best phrase.)

You can tell which Democrats are in competitive races: “Rep. John Hall argues that an Islamic community center planned for two blocks from Ground Zero should be built elsewhere out of respect for 9/11 victims and their families. ‘Freedom of religion is a bedrock principle of our democracy,’ Hall, D-Dover Plains, said in a prepared statement. ‘I think honoring those killed on Sept. 11 and showing sensitivity to their families, it would be best if the center were built at a different location.’”

You can see that the White House doesn’t even try to keep up the pretense anymore: “White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said [Major] Garrett lived up to Fox’s fair-and-balanced motto: ‘I have always thought Major was one of the smartest people in the briefing room. He’s tough, and I’d say the slogan actually did fit him.’” So, the White House’s beef with Fox was what exactly?

Read Less




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