Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 16, 2010

In Defense of Karl Rove

Over at Hotair.com, Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit provide some balance and reason to those conservatives who are savaging Karl Rove, in response to his critical comments on Tuesday night about Christine O’Donnell. Morrissey links to Rove’s appearance on Fox this morning, where Karl rightly reminds people of his support for Tea Party candidates like Sharon Angle, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, and others.

It’s worth recalling that, just a few weeks ago, Rove the Conservative Heretic and Establishment Republican was sitting in for Rush Limbaugh on Rush’s radio program — and several weeks before that he attended Rush’s wedding. In a recent interview with Jonathan Rauch, Rove named Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative as one of his five most important books and testifies to the importance it played in his life. So the notion that Rove has suddenly become an “establishment Republican” and a traitor to the conservative cause simply isn’t plausible. It is, in fact, risible.

Karl has one take on O’Donnell; other people have another interpretation. Rove thinks she hasn’t adequately responded to charges about her finances; others think they are non-issues or unfair attacks. The differences are real enough and they’re worth debating. But to use those differences to go after Rove with hammer and tongs, with fury and venom, doesn’t reflect well at all on those hurling the charges.

Of course, I have an advantage over some of Rove’s harshest critics. I know him and worked with him and for him in the Bush White House. He is a person of deep conservative convictions, a brilliant political and policy mind, and a wonderful human being. He’s also tough as nails, as I saw firsthand when he was the target of Patrick Fitzgerald’s criminal investigation into the Valerie Plame matter (the investigation turned out to be a colossal waste of money and deeply unjust). In circumstances when most other people, including me, would have curled up in a fetal position under their desks, Karl continued to work as if he didn’t have a concern in the world. So he’ll handle this latest dust-up just fine.

Those who have read his book Courage and Consequence — subtitled, it’s worth noting, “My Life as a Conservative in the Fight” (full disclosure: I assisted him with the book) — know Rove is a person who has faced and overcome enormous challenges over the years. He has also devoted his life to the Republican Party and the conservative cause. For some conservatives who disagree with Rove over Christine O’Donnell to now demand an auto-de-fé is terribly unfortunate, unwise, and unmerited.

Over at Hotair.com, Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit provide some balance and reason to those conservatives who are savaging Karl Rove, in response to his critical comments on Tuesday night about Christine O’Donnell. Morrissey links to Rove’s appearance on Fox this morning, where Karl rightly reminds people of his support for Tea Party candidates like Sharon Angle, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, and others.

It’s worth recalling that, just a few weeks ago, Rove the Conservative Heretic and Establishment Republican was sitting in for Rush Limbaugh on Rush’s radio program — and several weeks before that he attended Rush’s wedding. In a recent interview with Jonathan Rauch, Rove named Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative as one of his five most important books and testifies to the importance it played in his life. So the notion that Rove has suddenly become an “establishment Republican” and a traitor to the conservative cause simply isn’t plausible. It is, in fact, risible.

Karl has one take on O’Donnell; other people have another interpretation. Rove thinks she hasn’t adequately responded to charges about her finances; others think they are non-issues or unfair attacks. The differences are real enough and they’re worth debating. But to use those differences to go after Rove with hammer and tongs, with fury and venom, doesn’t reflect well at all on those hurling the charges.

Of course, I have an advantage over some of Rove’s harshest critics. I know him and worked with him and for him in the Bush White House. He is a person of deep conservative convictions, a brilliant political and policy mind, and a wonderful human being. He’s also tough as nails, as I saw firsthand when he was the target of Patrick Fitzgerald’s criminal investigation into the Valerie Plame matter (the investigation turned out to be a colossal waste of money and deeply unjust). In circumstances when most other people, including me, would have curled up in a fetal position under their desks, Karl continued to work as if he didn’t have a concern in the world. So he’ll handle this latest dust-up just fine.

Those who have read his book Courage and Consequence — subtitled, it’s worth noting, “My Life as a Conservative in the Fight” (full disclosure: I assisted him with the book) — know Rove is a person who has faced and overcome enormous challenges over the years. He has also devoted his life to the Republican Party and the conservative cause. For some conservatives who disagree with Rove over Christine O’Donnell to now demand an auto-de-fé is terribly unfortunate, unwise, and unmerited.

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Turkish Move More Evidence That Iran Sanctions Are Futile

The Associated Press is reporting that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to “triple” his country’s trade with Iran in the next five years. Erdogan told a Turkish-Iranian business forum in Istanbul today that his nation plans to buy more natural gas from Iran and will help export that commodity to Europe while lowering tariffs and quotas to boost business with Iranian banks. But, lest we think that Erdogan is doing the ayatollahs this service merely for the honor of helping the Islamic Republic, the Iranians are paying a price for the Turks’ help. According to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Tehran is “donating” a cool $25 million to the re-election fund of Erdogan’s Justice and Development party.

The latter point is certainly bad news for the Turks who see Erdogan’s Islamic party tightening its grip on the reins of power in Ankara and undermining the country’s secular traditions. But it is even worse news for President Obama and others in the West, who insist that sanctions and hard-nosed diplomacy will convince the Iranians to abandon their drive for nuclear capability. With Turkey preparing to act not only as a friend to the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad regime but also as its business agent, thus circumventing any sanctions by the United Nations and European Union, any hope that economic pressure will convince the Islamist dictatorship to relent must now be seen as utterly futile. So long as neighboring Turkey is prepared to give it an outlet to the world, it will be impossible to isolate Iran.

This means that if Barack Obama is truly serious about his pledge not to allow Iran to go nuclear, he’s going to have to tell the Iranians that the military option is, at the very least, on the table. If not, then Obama is more or less telegraphing Ahmadinejad that he will stand by and watch as Iranian nukes pose an existential threat to Israel and undermine the stability of the entire Middle East.

While Obama wasted a year foolishly trying to “engage” Iran, the Islamist regime brutally repressed domestic critics and forged a strategic alliance with NATO’s only Islamic member nation. Even though Washington has appeared to wake up to the reality of Iran’s ill intentions in the last year, the result of Obama’s feckless diplomacy — whose only tangible result is weak sanctions by the United Nations at which Iran laughs — is a situation where Iran and its terrorist allies Hamas and Hezbollah are stronger than ever.

It may not be too late for the U.S. to implement a tough policy on Iran that could force it to rethink its arrogant stand, if the administration were prepared to draw the proper conclusions from recent events and act accordingly. But Obama has convinced the Iranians that he is a weak leader whose demands and warnings needn’t be heeded. Unfortunately, it’s hard to argue that they are wrong about that.

The Associated Press is reporting that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to “triple” his country’s trade with Iran in the next five years. Erdogan told a Turkish-Iranian business forum in Istanbul today that his nation plans to buy more natural gas from Iran and will help export that commodity to Europe while lowering tariffs and quotas to boost business with Iranian banks. But, lest we think that Erdogan is doing the ayatollahs this service merely for the honor of helping the Islamic Republic, the Iranians are paying a price for the Turks’ help. According to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Tehran is “donating” a cool $25 million to the re-election fund of Erdogan’s Justice and Development party.

The latter point is certainly bad news for the Turks who see Erdogan’s Islamic party tightening its grip on the reins of power in Ankara and undermining the country’s secular traditions. But it is even worse news for President Obama and others in the West, who insist that sanctions and hard-nosed diplomacy will convince the Iranians to abandon their drive for nuclear capability. With Turkey preparing to act not only as a friend to the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad regime but also as its business agent, thus circumventing any sanctions by the United Nations and European Union, any hope that economic pressure will convince the Islamist dictatorship to relent must now be seen as utterly futile. So long as neighboring Turkey is prepared to give it an outlet to the world, it will be impossible to isolate Iran.

This means that if Barack Obama is truly serious about his pledge not to allow Iran to go nuclear, he’s going to have to tell the Iranians that the military option is, at the very least, on the table. If not, then Obama is more or less telegraphing Ahmadinejad that he will stand by and watch as Iranian nukes pose an existential threat to Israel and undermine the stability of the entire Middle East.

While Obama wasted a year foolishly trying to “engage” Iran, the Islamist regime brutally repressed domestic critics and forged a strategic alliance with NATO’s only Islamic member nation. Even though Washington has appeared to wake up to the reality of Iran’s ill intentions in the last year, the result of Obama’s feckless diplomacy — whose only tangible result is weak sanctions by the United Nations at which Iran laughs — is a situation where Iran and its terrorist allies Hamas and Hezbollah are stronger than ever.

It may not be too late for the U.S. to implement a tough policy on Iran that could force it to rethink its arrogant stand, if the administration were prepared to draw the proper conclusions from recent events and act accordingly. But Obama has convinced the Iranians that he is a weak leader whose demands and warnings needn’t be heeded. Unfortunately, it’s hard to argue that they are wrong about that.

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New START, Old Patterns

Heritage’s Foundry blog urges the Senate to “avoid rubberstamping” the New START treaty, on which the Foreign Relations Committee begins official deliberations today. Author Conn Carroll is right that the treaty’s disadvantages for U.S. missile-defense development are its most problematic features. If we look deeper into the character of the relative situation the Russians hope to solidify, moreover, we must feel ourselves to be back in about 1970.

New START is a bad deal that helps the Russians and hobbles the U.S. The bad deal begins with the constraints on our missile-defense development. In a relative missile stasis — if we and the Russians merely maintained the missiles we have — this would be bad enough. But the Russians aren’t going to merely maintain the missiles they have. Unlike us, they have been developing new classes of ballistic missiles and fielding them in their forces. They will not have more missiles as their modernization program proceeds, but they will have better ones. And a key thing that’s better about the showpiece missile in Russia’s new inventory, the Topol-M ICBM (NATO designation SS-27), is that it’s designed to evade existing U.S. missile defenses.

Russian claims that the Topol-M will penetrate our national missile defense (NMD) 87 percent of the time are not unrealistic. We have focused NMD development for nearly 20 years on the less-challenging third-party threat from nations like North Korea or Iran. With that choice, we made it an easier task for the Russians to design an ICBM that can outperform our current defenses. They are confident they have succeeded in doing so.

But as this 2007 analysis indicates, the Russians have been able to introduce the Topol-M only slowly, due to cash constraints. They have faced a real prospect of seeing their older ICBMs reach the end of their service life without replacement. The greatest advantage they can wangle in treaty negotiations, therefore, is a reduction in U.S. launchers that is not matched by a requirement for Russian reductions, combined with constraints on the U.S. missile-defense program. It gives them financial breathing room to redress their perceived shortfall through U.S. cuts rather than Russian expenditures — as long as they’re confident that we have effectively committed to refrain from defending ourselves against the newer missiles.

New START gives them precisely those advantages. Meanwhile, in the three years since the 2007 report, Russia has deployed its new mobile Topol-M launchers and introduced the upgraded, multi-warhead Topol-M (RS-24) to the operating forces. Punctuating the sense of a reversion to Cold War-era patterns, the Topol-M was paraded through Moscow with great fanfare in this year’s World War II Victory Day parade. Out in the Russian submarine fleet, the Sineva ballistic missile (NATO: upgraded SS-N-23) entered service in 2007, equipped with 10 MIRVed warheads per missile instead of the previous four.

Russia is not a partner in eliminating nuclear weapons. Russia’s basic purpose has not changed in 50 years: to hold the West at risk with nuclear weapons and to use arms negotiations to gain effective U.S. concurrence with that objective. New START — a Russian triumph in principle over Reagan’s SDI concept — is laughably misnamed. It’s nothing new. It merely resurrects the old, pre-START dynamic in which Moscow relied on Americans to hobble themselves.

Heritage’s Foundry blog urges the Senate to “avoid rubberstamping” the New START treaty, on which the Foreign Relations Committee begins official deliberations today. Author Conn Carroll is right that the treaty’s disadvantages for U.S. missile-defense development are its most problematic features. If we look deeper into the character of the relative situation the Russians hope to solidify, moreover, we must feel ourselves to be back in about 1970.

New START is a bad deal that helps the Russians and hobbles the U.S. The bad deal begins with the constraints on our missile-defense development. In a relative missile stasis — if we and the Russians merely maintained the missiles we have — this would be bad enough. But the Russians aren’t going to merely maintain the missiles they have. Unlike us, they have been developing new classes of ballistic missiles and fielding them in their forces. They will not have more missiles as their modernization program proceeds, but they will have better ones. And a key thing that’s better about the showpiece missile in Russia’s new inventory, the Topol-M ICBM (NATO designation SS-27), is that it’s designed to evade existing U.S. missile defenses.

Russian claims that the Topol-M will penetrate our national missile defense (NMD) 87 percent of the time are not unrealistic. We have focused NMD development for nearly 20 years on the less-challenging third-party threat from nations like North Korea or Iran. With that choice, we made it an easier task for the Russians to design an ICBM that can outperform our current defenses. They are confident they have succeeded in doing so.

But as this 2007 analysis indicates, the Russians have been able to introduce the Topol-M only slowly, due to cash constraints. They have faced a real prospect of seeing their older ICBMs reach the end of their service life without replacement. The greatest advantage they can wangle in treaty negotiations, therefore, is a reduction in U.S. launchers that is not matched by a requirement for Russian reductions, combined with constraints on the U.S. missile-defense program. It gives them financial breathing room to redress their perceived shortfall through U.S. cuts rather than Russian expenditures — as long as they’re confident that we have effectively committed to refrain from defending ourselves against the newer missiles.

New START gives them precisely those advantages. Meanwhile, in the three years since the 2007 report, Russia has deployed its new mobile Topol-M launchers and introduced the upgraded, multi-warhead Topol-M (RS-24) to the operating forces. Punctuating the sense of a reversion to Cold War-era patterns, the Topol-M was paraded through Moscow with great fanfare in this year’s World War II Victory Day parade. Out in the Russian submarine fleet, the Sineva ballistic missile (NATO: upgraded SS-N-23) entered service in 2007, equipped with 10 MIRVed warheads per missile instead of the previous four.

Russia is not a partner in eliminating nuclear weapons. Russia’s basic purpose has not changed in 50 years: to hold the West at risk with nuclear weapons and to use arms negotiations to gain effective U.S. concurrence with that objective. New START — a Russian triumph in principle over Reagan’s SDI concept — is laughably misnamed. It’s nothing new. It merely resurrects the old, pre-START dynamic in which Moscow relied on Americans to hobble themselves.

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Mideast Game of Chicken Continues

The news today out of Ramallah is that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is saying that he will continue to participate in the peace talks that have been orchestrated by the Obama administration. Though the Palestinians have been threatening to walk out if Israel doesn’t extend a freeze on all settlement-building in the West Bank, it appears that the parties are trying to weasel their way out of this impasse.

While the continued talking will, no doubt, be heralded by the Americans as proof that the talks have a good chance of succeeding and that their goal of a Palestinian state and genuine peace within a year will be achieved, realists know that it means nothing of the kind. All that the continued talking means is that the game of chicken being played by Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t over.

Like the daredevil teenagers in Rebel Without a Cause, the two leaders are competing to see which one of them will jump out of their cars first before their vehicles fly off the cliff. Both know there isn’t much hope for actual peace. Netanyahu is aware of the fact that if the Palestinians ever actually accepted a state in almost all the West Bank with a share of Jerusalem in exchange for a complete end to the conflict with no right of return for refugees, the Israeli people would almost certainly demand that this offer — whether it was wise policy or not — be accepted. But he also knows that Abbas cannot possibly accept this deal, for the same reasons he rejected such an offer in 2008, when Ehud Olmert put it on the table in the wake of the 2007 Annapolis Summit, not to mention Yasir Arafat’s similar refusal of such a deal at Camp David in 2000: the rejectionist culture of Palestinian politics and Hamas won’t allow it.

But since he doesn’t want to say no to Barack Obama, Netanyahu must play along and try to avoid being put in the position of spiking the talks when he knows that, sooner or later, Abbas will have to bail out to save his skin. Similarly, Abbas — who is dependent on support from the West as well as Israel for his survival — is hoping that Netanyahu can be maneuvered into a position of blame for the failure to make “progress” rather than have his own impotence highlighted.

The peculiar thing about this game of chicken is that each leader’s domestic opposition is acting as if the official optimism about the possibility of peace emanating from the two camps is proof that a deal is about to be signed. Yet the majority of Palestinians and Israelis seem to be taking all this in their stride, and their indifference demonstrates that they understand that what is going on is an elaborate farce being staged for the benefit of Obama and Hillary Clinton rather constituting a genuine chance for peace. But both Hamas and Israeli right-wingers, who are respectively fulminating against Abbas and Netanyahu, as if the two were on the verge of a pact, are, along with the White House, the State Department, and most of the mainstream media, the only ones who don’t get it.

The news today out of Ramallah is that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is saying that he will continue to participate in the peace talks that have been orchestrated by the Obama administration. Though the Palestinians have been threatening to walk out if Israel doesn’t extend a freeze on all settlement-building in the West Bank, it appears that the parties are trying to weasel their way out of this impasse.

While the continued talking will, no doubt, be heralded by the Americans as proof that the talks have a good chance of succeeding and that their goal of a Palestinian state and genuine peace within a year will be achieved, realists know that it means nothing of the kind. All that the continued talking means is that the game of chicken being played by Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t over.

Like the daredevil teenagers in Rebel Without a Cause, the two leaders are competing to see which one of them will jump out of their cars first before their vehicles fly off the cliff. Both know there isn’t much hope for actual peace. Netanyahu is aware of the fact that if the Palestinians ever actually accepted a state in almost all the West Bank with a share of Jerusalem in exchange for a complete end to the conflict with no right of return for refugees, the Israeli people would almost certainly demand that this offer — whether it was wise policy or not — be accepted. But he also knows that Abbas cannot possibly accept this deal, for the same reasons he rejected such an offer in 2008, when Ehud Olmert put it on the table in the wake of the 2007 Annapolis Summit, not to mention Yasir Arafat’s similar refusal of such a deal at Camp David in 2000: the rejectionist culture of Palestinian politics and Hamas won’t allow it.

But since he doesn’t want to say no to Barack Obama, Netanyahu must play along and try to avoid being put in the position of spiking the talks when he knows that, sooner or later, Abbas will have to bail out to save his skin. Similarly, Abbas — who is dependent on support from the West as well as Israel for his survival — is hoping that Netanyahu can be maneuvered into a position of blame for the failure to make “progress” rather than have his own impotence highlighted.

The peculiar thing about this game of chicken is that each leader’s domestic opposition is acting as if the official optimism about the possibility of peace emanating from the two camps is proof that a deal is about to be signed. Yet the majority of Palestinians and Israelis seem to be taking all this in their stride, and their indifference demonstrates that they understand that what is going on is an elaborate farce being staged for the benefit of Obama and Hillary Clinton rather constituting a genuine chance for peace. But both Hamas and Israeli right-wingers, who are respectively fulminating against Abbas and Netanyahu, as if the two were on the verge of a pact, are, along with the White House, the State Department, and most of the mainstream media, the only ones who don’t get it.

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J Street Unmasked

The Washington Jewish Week reveals just how far off the path J Street has wandered from its ostensible purpose:

J Street — the self-professed “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group — appears to have waded further into domestic waters in recent weeks with the launch of a website assailing “neoconservatives and far-right evangelical Christians” for purporting to speak on behalf of the Jewish community. …

J Street’s website, www.theydontspeakforus.com, purports to expose Bauer and Kristol as far-right extremists who are out of sync with the majority of American Jews by outlining the pair’s views on a range of foreign and domestic policy issues.

Among other topics — such as the Gaza Strip and Iraq war — the site highlights the pair’s stances on gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party movement and the separation of church and state.

What does all that have to do with Israel? Not much — and it has confused even the Democrats:

“This [J Street] website confuses me,” said Ira Forman, an independent consultant who recently stepped down as the CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council. “To me, if you are trying to push a pro-Israel, pro-peace message, you want to be non-ideological and nonpartisan. … But when you use these terms [such as gay marriage and others], it’s making Israel a partisan wedge issue. I don’t understand how that helps the central mission of J Street.” (Forman made it clear that he was speaking on his own behalf, and not the NJDC’s.) Added another pro-Israel Democratic operative, who was not authorized by his employer to speak on the record: The website “takes away from some of J Street’s legitimacy as a foreign policy voice when they buttress their arguments with domestic issues.”

“What J Street is saying is people who don’t support gay marriage and who are pro-life are out of the mainstream Jewish community. That is a fact, but it has nothing to do with their support for Israel,” the source said. “Is J Street saying you can’t have an individual who’s pro-life, anti-gay” also be “supportive of the state of Israel?”

OK, so let’s all be clear here. J Street is a leftist group, not a pro-Israel one. And for leftist Jews the mantra is: global warming is killing the planet, abortion on demand must be protected, and Israel is wrong on [fill in the blank]. Once you have that straight, its website and ongoing Israel-bashing make perfect sense. Meanwhile, is it relevant? The reporter seems skeptical:

But if the group is to increase its political clout, it needs to demonstrate that it’s not simply an Obama administration tool, said an official with a pro-Israel organization who agreed to speak only on background. “There is a sense in the pro-Israel community — and there have been complaints — that J Street has not [made] a fair effort to show bipartisanship.”

So far in the 2010 election cycle, JStreetPAC, the group’s political action committee, has distributed nearly $1 million to 60 Democratic candidates and one Republican.

Yeah, not too bipartisan. (And that one Republican? Why, it’s the longtime Israel critic Charles Boustany.) Meanwhile, it’s not clear J Street is even a tool of the Obami. Since the later went on the charm offensive and dropped the settlement freeze as a precondition for talks, J Street hasn’t even been in sync with the administration. So I’m still stumped: whom does J Street speak for?

The Washington Jewish Week reveals just how far off the path J Street has wandered from its ostensible purpose:

J Street — the self-professed “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group — appears to have waded further into domestic waters in recent weeks with the launch of a website assailing “neoconservatives and far-right evangelical Christians” for purporting to speak on behalf of the Jewish community. …

J Street’s website, www.theydontspeakforus.com, purports to expose Bauer and Kristol as far-right extremists who are out of sync with the majority of American Jews by outlining the pair’s views on a range of foreign and domestic policy issues.

Among other topics — such as the Gaza Strip and Iraq war — the site highlights the pair’s stances on gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party movement and the separation of church and state.

What does all that have to do with Israel? Not much — and it has confused even the Democrats:

“This [J Street] website confuses me,” said Ira Forman, an independent consultant who recently stepped down as the CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council. “To me, if you are trying to push a pro-Israel, pro-peace message, you want to be non-ideological and nonpartisan. … But when you use these terms [such as gay marriage and others], it’s making Israel a partisan wedge issue. I don’t understand how that helps the central mission of J Street.” (Forman made it clear that he was speaking on his own behalf, and not the NJDC’s.) Added another pro-Israel Democratic operative, who was not authorized by his employer to speak on the record: The website “takes away from some of J Street’s legitimacy as a foreign policy voice when they buttress their arguments with domestic issues.”

“What J Street is saying is people who don’t support gay marriage and who are pro-life are out of the mainstream Jewish community. That is a fact, but it has nothing to do with their support for Israel,” the source said. “Is J Street saying you can’t have an individual who’s pro-life, anti-gay” also be “supportive of the state of Israel?”

OK, so let’s all be clear here. J Street is a leftist group, not a pro-Israel one. And for leftist Jews the mantra is: global warming is killing the planet, abortion on demand must be protected, and Israel is wrong on [fill in the blank]. Once you have that straight, its website and ongoing Israel-bashing make perfect sense. Meanwhile, is it relevant? The reporter seems skeptical:

But if the group is to increase its political clout, it needs to demonstrate that it’s not simply an Obama administration tool, said an official with a pro-Israel organization who agreed to speak only on background. “There is a sense in the pro-Israel community — and there have been complaints — that J Street has not [made] a fair effort to show bipartisanship.”

So far in the 2010 election cycle, JStreetPAC, the group’s political action committee, has distributed nearly $1 million to 60 Democratic candidates and one Republican.

Yeah, not too bipartisan. (And that one Republican? Why, it’s the longtime Israel critic Charles Boustany.) Meanwhile, it’s not clear J Street is even a tool of the Obami. Since the later went on the charm offensive and dropped the settlement freeze as a precondition for talks, J Street hasn’t even been in sync with the administration. So I’m still stumped: whom does J Street speak for?

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Speaking Truth to Power

I’ve been following the ongoing tragedy in the Western Sahara, where the Polisario Front, the Soviet-style “liberation” group, in concert with Algeria, is seeking to thwart a resolution of the humanitarian crisis and the internment of thousands in camps in Algeria. In August, Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, the head of the Polisario’s police force, managed to get out of the camps and announced support for the Moroccan government’s plan for autonomy for the Western Sahara. But once again, the Polisario has flexed its muscles.

It seems that the Polisario has threatened Sidi Mouloud with arrest if he visits the Tindouf Refugees camps and shares his views in support of an autonomy plan that could end the virtual imprisonment of those living in squalor. In an interview with French TV, Sidi Mouloud declared, “To freely express one’s opinion is treason?” Well, to those trying to maintain a grip on a population and who will not even permit those in the camps to be counted by international relief agencies, the answer is yes.

Other press reports indicate that Sidi Mouloud has left Mauritania for Tindouf to confront the Polisario and advocate in favor of Morocco’s autonomy proposal. He is the highest-ranking official to break with the Polisario and plainly represents a threat to the group. It would, of course, be helpful if the “international community” intervened to protect him from arrest and torture, but its record on the Western Sahara has generally been one of inactivity. Meanwhile, thousands remain interned without right of travel.

I’ve been following the ongoing tragedy in the Western Sahara, where the Polisario Front, the Soviet-style “liberation” group, in concert with Algeria, is seeking to thwart a resolution of the humanitarian crisis and the internment of thousands in camps in Algeria. In August, Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, the head of the Polisario’s police force, managed to get out of the camps and announced support for the Moroccan government’s plan for autonomy for the Western Sahara. But once again, the Polisario has flexed its muscles.

It seems that the Polisario has threatened Sidi Mouloud with arrest if he visits the Tindouf Refugees camps and shares his views in support of an autonomy plan that could end the virtual imprisonment of those living in squalor. In an interview with French TV, Sidi Mouloud declared, “To freely express one’s opinion is treason?” Well, to those trying to maintain a grip on a population and who will not even permit those in the camps to be counted by international relief agencies, the answer is yes.

Other press reports indicate that Sidi Mouloud has left Mauritania for Tindouf to confront the Polisario and advocate in favor of Morocco’s autonomy proposal. He is the highest-ranking official to break with the Polisario and plainly represents a threat to the group. It would, of course, be helpful if the “international community” intervened to protect him from arrest and torture, but its record on the Western Sahara has generally been one of inactivity. Meanwhile, thousands remain interned without right of travel.

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Inclusive Israel Gets No Credit

Earlier today, I remarked that the left is unmoved by Israel’s protection of the rights of gays and women. It’s not simply that Israel isn’t hanging gays as they do in Iran, or that it doesn’t permit six-year-old girls to be married off; no, it’s a modern, inclusive democracy — a fact that seems to escape its critics’ notice (especially those on the UN Human Rights Council, whose treatment of women and gays is atrocious). Likewise, the media, even in the face of abundant evidence, is slow to credit Israel for human-rights policies and a nondiscriminatory legal system vastly superior to those of its neighbors.

A case in point: “Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered the Jerusalem city government to provide more than $120,000 in funding for a prominent gay community center.” The report spins it this way, however: “Thursday’s ruling was the latest sign that a hostile climate toward Jerusalem’s gay community may be abating.” Well, other signs would be that gay Palestinians have fled there. (“According to some estimates, there are now 300 gay Palestinian men secretly living and working in Israel. Their willingness to live there — despite the risk of being detained and deported as a security threat — is due to Palestinian attitudes toward gay men, they claim.”) In April this year, Israel took flack from the Catholic Church for allowing a gay-pride parade in Jerusalem. And then there is this:

The right to be openly gay has been acknowledged in the Israeli military since 1993, and there is little evidence that policy has caused any problems. Even beyond the army, Israeli law is generally progressive on issues of sexual orientation. Even though marriage is controlled by the ultra-Orthodox rabbinic establishment, Israeli authorities recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad, and same-sex partners receive the same economic benefits as married couples.

“Out” magazine has named Tel Aviv the gay capital of the Middle East in acknowledgment of its thriving gay culture.

Military expert Levy said the editor of the primary army newspaper, Bamachane, is openly gay. He estimates the percentage of gay soldiers at 10 percent in general and somewhat less in field units.

Former soldier [Eli] Kaplan said certain intelligence and naval units were known for having a large proportion of gay soldiers.

So there have been plenty of “signs” of Israel’s tolerance and acceptance of gays, despite the AP’s obtuseness. And no, the left in America and the elites of the “international community” don’t give a darn about any of that. Why? Because it’s the Jewish state and the rules are different.

Earlier today, I remarked that the left is unmoved by Israel’s protection of the rights of gays and women. It’s not simply that Israel isn’t hanging gays as they do in Iran, or that it doesn’t permit six-year-old girls to be married off; no, it’s a modern, inclusive democracy — a fact that seems to escape its critics’ notice (especially those on the UN Human Rights Council, whose treatment of women and gays is atrocious). Likewise, the media, even in the face of abundant evidence, is slow to credit Israel for human-rights policies and a nondiscriminatory legal system vastly superior to those of its neighbors.

A case in point: “Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered the Jerusalem city government to provide more than $120,000 in funding for a prominent gay community center.” The report spins it this way, however: “Thursday’s ruling was the latest sign that a hostile climate toward Jerusalem’s gay community may be abating.” Well, other signs would be that gay Palestinians have fled there. (“According to some estimates, there are now 300 gay Palestinian men secretly living and working in Israel. Their willingness to live there — despite the risk of being detained and deported as a security threat — is due to Palestinian attitudes toward gay men, they claim.”) In April this year, Israel took flack from the Catholic Church for allowing a gay-pride parade in Jerusalem. And then there is this:

The right to be openly gay has been acknowledged in the Israeli military since 1993, and there is little evidence that policy has caused any problems. Even beyond the army, Israeli law is generally progressive on issues of sexual orientation. Even though marriage is controlled by the ultra-Orthodox rabbinic establishment, Israeli authorities recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad, and same-sex partners receive the same economic benefits as married couples.

“Out” magazine has named Tel Aviv the gay capital of the Middle East in acknowledgment of its thriving gay culture.

Military expert Levy said the editor of the primary army newspaper, Bamachane, is openly gay. He estimates the percentage of gay soldiers at 10 percent in general and somewhat less in field units.

Former soldier [Eli] Kaplan said certain intelligence and naval units were known for having a large proportion of gay soldiers.

So there have been plenty of “signs” of Israel’s tolerance and acceptance of gays, despite the AP’s obtuseness. And no, the left in America and the elites of the “international community” don’t give a darn about any of that. Why? Because it’s the Jewish state and the rules are different.

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How Misreading Hamas’s Motive Undermines Prospects for Peace

Israel has suffered almost daily rocket and mortar fire from Hamas-run Gaza this week after 19 months of quiet. Yesterday, for the first time, Gazans launched phosphorus shells at the Negev. And Hamas has twice attacked Israelis in the West Bank this month, again following a long hiatus.

The response from American, European, and Israeli officials has been predictable: Hamas is escalating the terror to foil Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. But this conventional wisdom is false. And this falsehood has been undermining prospects for peace for the last 17 years.

Hamas does oppose a peace deal. But because almost nobody in either Israel or the Palestinian Authority thinks the current talks will produce one, the idea that Hamas leaders are driven by fear of the talks’ success is risible. Hamas knows quite well that the talks will fail even without its help.

Moreover, Hamas has often escalated attacks even when no negotiations were in sight. Between Israel’s August 2005 pullout from Gaza and the Annapolis summit in November 2007, for instance, Hamas fired thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel, a volume that dwarfs the current level. Yet during most of that time, not only were there no peace talks, there wasn’t even any effort to launch them.

So what really motivates Hamas? It’s no secret; Hamas officials proclaim it repeatedly: their goal is Israel’s eradication, and their method is armed struggle. Therefore, they will attack whenever and wherever it’s feasible.

Viewed through this prism, the pattern of Hamas’s terror activity is easily explained: terror escalates whenever Hamas officials think they can get away with it and de-escalates when the danger of a devastating Israeli response becomes too great.

Thus, for instance, terror soared following the 1993 Oslo Accord because Hamas realized it was safe. The Rabin-Peres government, having promised that Oslo would bring peace, couldn’t politically admit it had brought war instead, so it had to downplay the attacks rather than responding. But when Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister in 1996 on a platform of fighting terror, Hamas feared he might be less restrained and de-escalated. Thus the number of Israelis killed by Palestinian terror plummeted 70 percent from 1993-96 to 1996-99.

Similarly, after the 2005 disengagement, Hamas knew the Kadima-led government couldn’t politically admit its flagship initiative had brought war rather than peace. Thus Hamas could safely triple the volume of rocket fire, knowing Israel’s government would downplay it rather than responding.

Today, thanks to the peace talks, escalation is once again safe — because Hamas knows that if Israel responds forcefully, the PA will quit the talks, and the world will blame Israel. Thus, Israel is compelled to avoid responding.

In short, it’s not the peace talks that cause terror to escalate but the world’s insistence that Israel refrain from responding so as not to “disrupt” them. And by taking this attitude, the world has effectively made “peace” synonymous with stepped-up terror.

So if Time magazine really wants to know “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace,” it’s quite simple: as long as “peace” means absorbing ever-increasing casualties without responding, most Israelis would rather do without it.

Israel has suffered almost daily rocket and mortar fire from Hamas-run Gaza this week after 19 months of quiet. Yesterday, for the first time, Gazans launched phosphorus shells at the Negev. And Hamas has twice attacked Israelis in the West Bank this month, again following a long hiatus.

The response from American, European, and Israeli officials has been predictable: Hamas is escalating the terror to foil Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. But this conventional wisdom is false. And this falsehood has been undermining prospects for peace for the last 17 years.

Hamas does oppose a peace deal. But because almost nobody in either Israel or the Palestinian Authority thinks the current talks will produce one, the idea that Hamas leaders are driven by fear of the talks’ success is risible. Hamas knows quite well that the talks will fail even without its help.

Moreover, Hamas has often escalated attacks even when no negotiations were in sight. Between Israel’s August 2005 pullout from Gaza and the Annapolis summit in November 2007, for instance, Hamas fired thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel, a volume that dwarfs the current level. Yet during most of that time, not only were there no peace talks, there wasn’t even any effort to launch them.

So what really motivates Hamas? It’s no secret; Hamas officials proclaim it repeatedly: their goal is Israel’s eradication, and their method is armed struggle. Therefore, they will attack whenever and wherever it’s feasible.

Viewed through this prism, the pattern of Hamas’s terror activity is easily explained: terror escalates whenever Hamas officials think they can get away with it and de-escalates when the danger of a devastating Israeli response becomes too great.

Thus, for instance, terror soared following the 1993 Oslo Accord because Hamas realized it was safe. The Rabin-Peres government, having promised that Oslo would bring peace, couldn’t politically admit it had brought war instead, so it had to downplay the attacks rather than responding. But when Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister in 1996 on a platform of fighting terror, Hamas feared he might be less restrained and de-escalated. Thus the number of Israelis killed by Palestinian terror plummeted 70 percent from 1993-96 to 1996-99.

Similarly, after the 2005 disengagement, Hamas knew the Kadima-led government couldn’t politically admit its flagship initiative had brought war rather than peace. Thus Hamas could safely triple the volume of rocket fire, knowing Israel’s government would downplay it rather than responding.

Today, thanks to the peace talks, escalation is once again safe — because Hamas knows that if Israel responds forcefully, the PA will quit the talks, and the world will blame Israel. Thus, Israel is compelled to avoid responding.

In short, it’s not the peace talks that cause terror to escalate but the world’s insistence that Israel refrain from responding so as not to “disrupt” them. And by taking this attitude, the world has effectively made “peace” synonymous with stepped-up terror.

So if Time magazine really wants to know “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace,” it’s quite simple: as long as “peace” means absorbing ever-increasing casualties without responding, most Israelis would rather do without it.

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The French Ban on the Burka Shows that Europe Is Alive and Kicking

France’s decision to ban the burka and other full-body robes worn by Muslim fundamentalists presents a quandary for classical liberals. On the one hand, the burka is a symbol of female submission, even enslavement; it is a flagrant blow against female emancipation and equality. On the other hand, banning the burka is a violation of the principle of religious freedom. But however one comes down on this contentious issue, the fact that France is taking such robust and controversial action against Muslim fundamentalists should put to rest the fears of those who fret (overmuch, in my opinion) about the “death” of old Europe and the birth of “Eurabia.” As I have argued before, such fears rest on alarmist demographic projections that are unlikely to come true. And they ignore Europe’s continuing vitality. Yes, Europeans are averse to the use of force — at least abroad. But they can be quite tough in cracking down on terrorism and other problems on the home front. Europeans are not going to commit cultural suicide. The burka ban, whatever one thinks of it, is a sign of how old Europe is asserting its identity in the face of immigration from the Muslim world.

France’s decision to ban the burka and other full-body robes worn by Muslim fundamentalists presents a quandary for classical liberals. On the one hand, the burka is a symbol of female submission, even enslavement; it is a flagrant blow against female emancipation and equality. On the other hand, banning the burka is a violation of the principle of religious freedom. But however one comes down on this contentious issue, the fact that France is taking such robust and controversial action against Muslim fundamentalists should put to rest the fears of those who fret (overmuch, in my opinion) about the “death” of old Europe and the birth of “Eurabia.” As I have argued before, such fears rest on alarmist demographic projections that are unlikely to come true. And they ignore Europe’s continuing vitality. Yes, Europeans are averse to the use of force — at least abroad. But they can be quite tough in cracking down on terrorism and other problems on the home front. Europeans are not going to commit cultural suicide. The burka ban, whatever one thinks of it, is a sign of how old Europe is asserting its identity in the face of immigration from the Muslim world.

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Help Wanted: Copy Editor/Proofreader

COMMENTARY Magazine is looking for a part-time, in-house copy editor/proofreader with significant experience at a print monthly or weekly — and fluent working knowledge of InDesign. The copy editor will help close the magazine one week each month (with the exception of July). Duties include proofreading entire issue and ensuring that house style has been adhered to, entering authors’ changes into InDesign files, putting together the Contents page, and ensuring that all call-out matter, biographical notes, footers, titles, and decks are in place and proofread.

Please note: This is a part-time position working in our office in Manhattan. Please do not apply if you are looking to telecommute.

Send resume and cover letter to commentaryjob@gmail.com.

COMMENTARY Magazine is looking for a part-time, in-house copy editor/proofreader with significant experience at a print monthly or weekly — and fluent working knowledge of InDesign. The copy editor will help close the magazine one week each month (with the exception of July). Duties include proofreading entire issue and ensuring that house style has been adhered to, entering authors’ changes into InDesign files, putting together the Contents page, and ensuring that all call-out matter, biographical notes, footers, titles, and decks are in place and proofread.

Please note: This is a part-time position working in our office in Manhattan. Please do not apply if you are looking to telecommute.

Send resume and cover letter to commentaryjob@gmail.com.

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Are We There Yet?

Shocking as it may seem to those who actually bought into George Mitchell’s, Hillary Clinton’s, and the president’s cheery pronouncements, it may be that the peace talks are essentially done. The Washington Post reports:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday wrapped up three days of intense Middle East diplomacy that produced good atmospherics but no sign that an impasse over Israeli settlement construction has been resolved.

“We all know that there is no alternative to peace other than negotiating peace so we have no alternative but to continue peace efforts,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said before meeting with the chief U.S. diplomat in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
But Abbas gave little indication that he was willing to keep talks going after a partial moratorium on Israeli settlement construction expires Sept. 30.

No one does double-talk like the PA, right?

In any case, it seems the expectations are low that we’re going to have more talks after this month:

On Wednesday evening, Netanyahu told Abbas during talks at his residence in Jerusalem that the moratorium would not be extended, Israeli media reported. The prime minister’s office repeated that position in a statement Thursday.

But Netanyahu has indicated that some restrictions on construction will be applied, and U.S. officials are hoping that the momentum of the past few days will convince the Palestinians to keep talking, even if the settlement freeze is not extended in full. …

But Mitchell refused to say whether the United States was confident the Palestinians would keep talking after the end of the month. “That subject was discussed this evening. We continue in our efforts to make progress in that regard and believe that we are doing so,” he said.

In a word: unlikely.

Will the Obami throw a hissy fit a month and a half before the midterm elections if Israel sticks to its position — i.e., offer some compromise but not an official extension of the settlement freeze? We’ll see. That might only serve to emphasize Obama’s impotence.

If we’re lucky, the talks will go on “hiatus” so “important work can be done at staff levels.” Let’s hope some face-saver like that can be worked out. The most likely alternative, however, is another intifada.

Shocking as it may seem to those who actually bought into George Mitchell’s, Hillary Clinton’s, and the president’s cheery pronouncements, it may be that the peace talks are essentially done. The Washington Post reports:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday wrapped up three days of intense Middle East diplomacy that produced good atmospherics but no sign that an impasse over Israeli settlement construction has been resolved.

“We all know that there is no alternative to peace other than negotiating peace so we have no alternative but to continue peace efforts,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said before meeting with the chief U.S. diplomat in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
But Abbas gave little indication that he was willing to keep talks going after a partial moratorium on Israeli settlement construction expires Sept. 30.

No one does double-talk like the PA, right?

In any case, it seems the expectations are low that we’re going to have more talks after this month:

On Wednesday evening, Netanyahu told Abbas during talks at his residence in Jerusalem that the moratorium would not be extended, Israeli media reported. The prime minister’s office repeated that position in a statement Thursday.

But Netanyahu has indicated that some restrictions on construction will be applied, and U.S. officials are hoping that the momentum of the past few days will convince the Palestinians to keep talking, even if the settlement freeze is not extended in full. …

But Mitchell refused to say whether the United States was confident the Palestinians would keep talking after the end of the month. “That subject was discussed this evening. We continue in our efforts to make progress in that regard and believe that we are doing so,” he said.

In a word: unlikely.

Will the Obami throw a hissy fit a month and a half before the midterm elections if Israel sticks to its position — i.e., offer some compromise but not an official extension of the settlement freeze? We’ll see. That might only serve to emphasize Obama’s impotence.

If we’re lucky, the talks will go on “hiatus” so “important work can be done at staff levels.” Let’s hope some face-saver like that can be worked out. The most likely alternative, however, is another intifada.

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The Role and Purpose of Government

On the website e21, Representative Paul Ryan has responded to a column by David Brooks, who in turn was commenting on an op-ed by Ryan and Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute. Charles Murray added his thoughts as well.

The subject they are addressing is the role and purpose of the state in our lives. I would add only a few thoughts to what these razor-sharp minds have written.

The first is this: more than at any point in our lifetime, the sheer cost and size of government matters. We face an entitlement crisis. The level of our deficit and debt are unsustainable. Demographics are working against us rather than in our favor. And the Obama presidency has made our fiscal problems more, not less, acute. Unless we begin to reverse this trend fairly significantly, America will change in deep and lasting ways. We cannot continue on our present course and remain a strong, vibrant society. There is an urgent need, then, to re-limit government simply as a matter of dollars and cents, quite apart from philosophy and the effects the nanny state has on human character and self-reliance.

That said, conservatives also need to engage in a thoroughgoing examination of the core purposes of programs and policies. And in considering how to reform government programs, we need to think in terms of what we want them to do rather than simply how large and costly they are.

Consider four successes by government in the past 20 years: welfare reform; crime reduction (including the transformation of New York City under Mayor Rudy Giuliani); the campaign against illegal drugs in the late 1980s and early 1990s led by William J. Bennett; and the surge in Iraq. In each of these instances, the key to success wasn’t limiting the size of government; in each case, after all, government spending went up, not down. What transformed failure into success was acting smarter, creating the right incentives and disincentives, attacking the problems in a comprehensive way, and thinking in terms of what works.

What we need, then, are policymakers who believe in accountability; who judge results based not on inputs (expenditures, number of caseload workers, police officers, or troops) but outputs (cutting the number of people on welfare, decreasing drug use, reducing crime rates, lowering the number of ethno-sectarian deaths, car bombings, suicide attacks, and terrorist safe havens); who are passionately empirical; and who understand that we need to craft programs so as to take into account human nature and human behavior.

When it comes to entitlement programs, our task is different from, say, an anti-crime strategy. On entitlements, our first priority needs to be cutting costs in order to avoid a fiscal calamity. That will require us to alter the way we think about the basic aims of these programs. And here, I think, is where we eventually need to go: gradually and thoughtfully transitioning toward a means-tested system of benefits in place of the current Social Security and Medicare systems.

All these matters need to be examined in more depth. My hope is that Messrs. Brooks, Ryan, Brooks, and Murray continue to deepen this discussion and, in the process, pull other thoughtful voices into it. They could hardly perform a more useful intellectual and civic role.

On the website e21, Representative Paul Ryan has responded to a column by David Brooks, who in turn was commenting on an op-ed by Ryan and Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute. Charles Murray added his thoughts as well.

The subject they are addressing is the role and purpose of the state in our lives. I would add only a few thoughts to what these razor-sharp minds have written.

The first is this: more than at any point in our lifetime, the sheer cost and size of government matters. We face an entitlement crisis. The level of our deficit and debt are unsustainable. Demographics are working against us rather than in our favor. And the Obama presidency has made our fiscal problems more, not less, acute. Unless we begin to reverse this trend fairly significantly, America will change in deep and lasting ways. We cannot continue on our present course and remain a strong, vibrant society. There is an urgent need, then, to re-limit government simply as a matter of dollars and cents, quite apart from philosophy and the effects the nanny state has on human character and self-reliance.

That said, conservatives also need to engage in a thoroughgoing examination of the core purposes of programs and policies. And in considering how to reform government programs, we need to think in terms of what we want them to do rather than simply how large and costly they are.

Consider four successes by government in the past 20 years: welfare reform; crime reduction (including the transformation of New York City under Mayor Rudy Giuliani); the campaign against illegal drugs in the late 1980s and early 1990s led by William J. Bennett; and the surge in Iraq. In each of these instances, the key to success wasn’t limiting the size of government; in each case, after all, government spending went up, not down. What transformed failure into success was acting smarter, creating the right incentives and disincentives, attacking the problems in a comprehensive way, and thinking in terms of what works.

What we need, then, are policymakers who believe in accountability; who judge results based not on inputs (expenditures, number of caseload workers, police officers, or troops) but outputs (cutting the number of people on welfare, decreasing drug use, reducing crime rates, lowering the number of ethno-sectarian deaths, car bombings, suicide attacks, and terrorist safe havens); who are passionately empirical; and who understand that we need to craft programs so as to take into account human nature and human behavior.

When it comes to entitlement programs, our task is different from, say, an anti-crime strategy. On entitlements, our first priority needs to be cutting costs in order to avoid a fiscal calamity. That will require us to alter the way we think about the basic aims of these programs. And here, I think, is where we eventually need to go: gradually and thoughtfully transitioning toward a means-tested system of benefits in place of the current Social Security and Medicare systems.

All these matters need to be examined in more depth. My hope is that Messrs. Brooks, Ryan, Brooks, and Murray continue to deepen this discussion and, in the process, pull other thoughtful voices into it. They could hardly perform a more useful intellectual and civic role.

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Enough with the Czars

These days, Obama is politically toxic and stymied at every turn. His stimulus plan has been rebuffed by a large segment of his party. He’s not going to get any further pieces of major legislation through, and the Senate has had it with his extreme, wacky nominees. So once again, he placates his base and does an end-around the Senate confirmation process:

President Obama plans to tap Harvard law Professor Elizabeth Warren to a special advisory role so she can help stand up a new consumer financial protection bureau while avoiding a potentially vicious Senate confirmation fight, according to a senior administration official with knowledge of the decision.

The appointment would place Warren in charge of the new watchdog agency she personally proposed three years ago to protect Americans against lending abuses.

Yes, it is brazen and outrageous — another unaccountable czar. The “vicious fight,” by the way, is code for “She is such an extremist, she couldn’t be confirmed.” The reaction is likely to be fierce:

In selecting Ms. Warren, the White House picks an outspoken, populist hero of liberal groups who emerged from the financial crisis as a top critic of Wall Street and banking industry practices. She has blasted the government’s response to the financial crisis and has a penchant for provocative statements. …

Senate Republicans will likely blast the White House’s move, seeing it is a backdoor way of putting Ms. Warren in charge of the agency. The head of the new agency “is unprecedented in the nature of its unfettered and unchecked authorities, which makes the confirmation process even more important to the interests of the American people,” Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) wrote in a letter to Mr. Obama Wednesday, before news broke of her likely appointment.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.) earlier this week said it would be a mistake for the White House to put her in an interim role without having her nominated for Senate scrutiny.

There is a solution to this, of course: it’s time for the Congress to reassert its legitimate role. How to do it? First, stop funding any agency or entity (start with the consumer protection agency, which should be defunded anyway) for which the Obami appoint a czar in lieu of a nominee subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. The power of the purse is Congress’s biggest stick, and it should start wielding it. And second, there are some positions — including those Cabinet ones likely to be vacated after the midterm election — that must be subject to confirmation. Put a halt to those unless and until the White House cuts this out and offloads some of the existing czars.

Extreme? Not really. What is extreme is an administration that treats its co-equal branches with such contempt. Congress has an institutional interest and responsibility to put an end to it.

These days, Obama is politically toxic and stymied at every turn. His stimulus plan has been rebuffed by a large segment of his party. He’s not going to get any further pieces of major legislation through, and the Senate has had it with his extreme, wacky nominees. So once again, he placates his base and does an end-around the Senate confirmation process:

President Obama plans to tap Harvard law Professor Elizabeth Warren to a special advisory role so she can help stand up a new consumer financial protection bureau while avoiding a potentially vicious Senate confirmation fight, according to a senior administration official with knowledge of the decision.

The appointment would place Warren in charge of the new watchdog agency she personally proposed three years ago to protect Americans against lending abuses.

Yes, it is brazen and outrageous — another unaccountable czar. The “vicious fight,” by the way, is code for “She is such an extremist, she couldn’t be confirmed.” The reaction is likely to be fierce:

In selecting Ms. Warren, the White House picks an outspoken, populist hero of liberal groups who emerged from the financial crisis as a top critic of Wall Street and banking industry practices. She has blasted the government’s response to the financial crisis and has a penchant for provocative statements. …

Senate Republicans will likely blast the White House’s move, seeing it is a backdoor way of putting Ms. Warren in charge of the agency. The head of the new agency “is unprecedented in the nature of its unfettered and unchecked authorities, which makes the confirmation process even more important to the interests of the American people,” Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) wrote in a letter to Mr. Obama Wednesday, before news broke of her likely appointment.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.) earlier this week said it would be a mistake for the White House to put her in an interim role without having her nominated for Senate scrutiny.

There is a solution to this, of course: it’s time for the Congress to reassert its legitimate role. How to do it? First, stop funding any agency or entity (start with the consumer protection agency, which should be defunded anyway) for which the Obami appoint a czar in lieu of a nominee subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. The power of the purse is Congress’s biggest stick, and it should start wielding it. And second, there are some positions — including those Cabinet ones likely to be vacated after the midterm election — that must be subject to confirmation. Put a halt to those unless and until the White House cuts this out and offloads some of the existing czars.

Extreme? Not really. What is extreme is an administration that treats its co-equal branches with such contempt. Congress has an institutional interest and responsibility to put an end to it.

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Hillary the Has-Been

It’s the Mama Grizzly effect, says the Washington Post — lots of conservative women running for office:

Nearly two years after an anticipated gender bounce – with predictions that women in both parties would rush into politics inspired by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sarah Palin — it turns out that the momentum is on the Republican side. If there is a Palin effect, it is not being matched by any Clinton effect at the other end of the ideological spectrum.

Ouch. Sorry, Hillary, you’re yesterday’s news. Even worse, Democratic women are enviously eyeing the Tea Party movement:

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said it is “very fair” to argue that the energy for female candidates is trending Republican, a view several other Democratic strategists shared.

“I’ve been struck by it,” said Dee Dee Myers, a former White House press secretary and author of “Why Women Should Rule the World.”

“All the momentum is on the tea party side, so why wouldn’t it also be with the women on the tea party side?”

In fact, a great number of local Tea Party organizers are women, a phenomenon little remarked upon by the mainstream media, which is intent on painting the movement as the province of angry, racist white men.

And to the dismay of feminists, it is hard to deny Palin’s role in all this:

Palin has unquestionably played an outsize role in upping the Republican numbers, endorsing several women, including [Nikki] Haley and [Christine] O’Donnell, who might never have gained sufficient attention otherwise. She has brought to the Republican Party what some members had once complained did not exist: a concerted effort to tap female candidates for promotion and lift them out of obscurity.

And then there is this: The woman most capable of counteracting a Palin bounce for Democrats — Secretary of State Clinton- is not available to campaign.

You do wonder what Hillary is thinking. She’s traded in the title of Queen Bee of American politics for Foggy Bottom errand girl in an administration that is quickly going down the tubes. She’s been dutiful, loyal, responsible — and irrelevant these past 18 months. Meanwhile, whether a 2012 contender or a king and queen maker, Palin has become the most influential woman in American politics. She is not immune from error — far from it — and she remains a problematic figure. But who can doubt that she matters. You can’t say the same about Hillary.

It’s the Mama Grizzly effect, says the Washington Post — lots of conservative women running for office:

Nearly two years after an anticipated gender bounce – with predictions that women in both parties would rush into politics inspired by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sarah Palin — it turns out that the momentum is on the Republican side. If there is a Palin effect, it is not being matched by any Clinton effect at the other end of the ideological spectrum.

Ouch. Sorry, Hillary, you’re yesterday’s news. Even worse, Democratic women are enviously eyeing the Tea Party movement:

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said it is “very fair” to argue that the energy for female candidates is trending Republican, a view several other Democratic strategists shared.

“I’ve been struck by it,” said Dee Dee Myers, a former White House press secretary and author of “Why Women Should Rule the World.”

“All the momentum is on the tea party side, so why wouldn’t it also be with the women on the tea party side?”

In fact, a great number of local Tea Party organizers are women, a phenomenon little remarked upon by the mainstream media, which is intent on painting the movement as the province of angry, racist white men.

And to the dismay of feminists, it is hard to deny Palin’s role in all this:

Palin has unquestionably played an outsize role in upping the Republican numbers, endorsing several women, including [Nikki] Haley and [Christine] O’Donnell, who might never have gained sufficient attention otherwise. She has brought to the Republican Party what some members had once complained did not exist: a concerted effort to tap female candidates for promotion and lift them out of obscurity.

And then there is this: The woman most capable of counteracting a Palin bounce for Democrats — Secretary of State Clinton- is not available to campaign.

You do wonder what Hillary is thinking. She’s traded in the title of Queen Bee of American politics for Foggy Bottom errand girl in an administration that is quickly going down the tubes. She’s been dutiful, loyal, responsible — and irrelevant these past 18 months. Meanwhile, whether a 2012 contender or a king and queen maker, Palin has become the most influential woman in American politics. She is not immune from error — far from it — and she remains a problematic figure. But who can doubt that she matters. You can’t say the same about Hillary.

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Mutiny in the House

That’s what it amounts to — a full revolt against the Democratic leadership and the president:

In the House, 31 Democrats rebuffed their leadership on the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, signing a letter calling for temporary extension of all the breaks and signaling a possible impasse in Washington’s bid to deal with the thorny political problem.

The letter provided the most dramatic sign yet of Democrat jitters over voting for the Obama administration’s plan to extend current tax levels for middle-class earners—families making less than $250,000—while allowing taxes to rise for higher earners starting January.

House Democratic leaders had hoped to use the tax cuts as a rallying cry in the run-up to the election, casting Republicans who favor extending all the breaks as obstructionists and allies of the rich. Instead, the party now faces long odds in passing its tax plan before the November elections. The 31 Democrats, plus House Republicans, come close to forming a majority in that chamber.

It’s remarkable when you think of it — each of Obama’s election gambits, be it immigration reform or class warfare, has backfired spectacularly.

As you can imagine, Minority Leader John Boehner is now greatly relieved after suggesting he might have to strike a deal if a partial extension of the Bush tax cuts was his “only option.” Presto: he’s got another option. (Boehner should be grateful indeed that House Democrats have helped rescue him from a mess of his own making.) And sure enough, his spokesman rushed forth to declare: “A growing bipartisan chorus is listening to the American people, who know the last thing we need in a struggling economy is a tax hike on small business.” Or a feckless compromise with an increasingly unpopular president. So now the minority leader is on board, demanding an up or down vote on the full extension of the Bush tax cuts.

This, or course, is a preview of what is to come after November: an invigorated Republican majority will be joined by Democrats who are no longer willing to carry water for the White House. The result may be a broad-based coalition capable of doing productive things, including repealing ObamaCare, restraining spending, and maybe even reforming entitlements.

That’s what it amounts to — a full revolt against the Democratic leadership and the president:

In the House, 31 Democrats rebuffed their leadership on the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, signing a letter calling for temporary extension of all the breaks and signaling a possible impasse in Washington’s bid to deal with the thorny political problem.

The letter provided the most dramatic sign yet of Democrat jitters over voting for the Obama administration’s plan to extend current tax levels for middle-class earners—families making less than $250,000—while allowing taxes to rise for higher earners starting January.

House Democratic leaders had hoped to use the tax cuts as a rallying cry in the run-up to the election, casting Republicans who favor extending all the breaks as obstructionists and allies of the rich. Instead, the party now faces long odds in passing its tax plan before the November elections. The 31 Democrats, plus House Republicans, come close to forming a majority in that chamber.

It’s remarkable when you think of it — each of Obama’s election gambits, be it immigration reform or class warfare, has backfired spectacularly.

As you can imagine, Minority Leader John Boehner is now greatly relieved after suggesting he might have to strike a deal if a partial extension of the Bush tax cuts was his “only option.” Presto: he’s got another option. (Boehner should be grateful indeed that House Democrats have helped rescue him from a mess of his own making.) And sure enough, his spokesman rushed forth to declare: “A growing bipartisan chorus is listening to the American people, who know the last thing we need in a struggling economy is a tax hike on small business.” Or a feckless compromise with an increasingly unpopular president. So now the minority leader is on board, demanding an up or down vote on the full extension of the Bush tax cuts.

This, or course, is a preview of what is to come after November: an invigorated Republican majority will be joined by Democrats who are no longer willing to carry water for the White House. The result may be a broad-based coalition capable of doing productive things, including repealing ObamaCare, restraining spending, and maybe even reforming entitlements.

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More Drama! Add Some Suspense!

We are into silly season (OK, sillier) in the mainstream media — the point in the election cycle where they feel obligated to create tension, suggest there is some parity between the sides in a wave election year, and assure readers that all is not what it seems. You get nonsensical columns like this from the dean of conventional wisdom, David Broder:

Thus, the biggest paradox of the 2010 campaign year — that Republicans are poised for major gains, even though their reputation as a party has not really recovered from the Bush years and there is no evidence that voters think they have developed better ideas than the Democrats have for improving the economy.

Paradox? Isn’t this what happened in 1994 and 2006?

Broder tells us that the Republicans are a mess, resorting to off-the-wall candidates who endanger their prospects (“states have been flirting all year with the danger that their primaries will produce candidates reflecting the internal dynamics of right-wing constituencies scary to the broader electorate”). But read on and you find out that:

On the other hand, this year’s primaries have given Republicans candidates for governor capable of winning in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Oregon and especially California, to add to Texas, Georgia and perhaps Florida, which they already hold. This could enhance the reputation of the GOP as a governing party beyond measure.

So have the wackos taken over or not? Is Marco Rubio a right-wing, scary guy or the future of the GOP? Was it a good thing Joe Miller upset Lisa Murkowski or a harbinger of a political apocalypse for the GOP? It’s all a bit unclear because the chattering class is disinclined to recognize the obvious (both because they have to write clever things and because they don’t like what’s going on): Republicans can’t win every race, but they are going to win a whole bunch, in large part because of the populist uprising  generated by the liberals’ overreach. It’s not fancy. It’s not complicated. But it is what’s going on.

We are into silly season (OK, sillier) in the mainstream media — the point in the election cycle where they feel obligated to create tension, suggest there is some parity between the sides in a wave election year, and assure readers that all is not what it seems. You get nonsensical columns like this from the dean of conventional wisdom, David Broder:

Thus, the biggest paradox of the 2010 campaign year — that Republicans are poised for major gains, even though their reputation as a party has not really recovered from the Bush years and there is no evidence that voters think they have developed better ideas than the Democrats have for improving the economy.

Paradox? Isn’t this what happened in 1994 and 2006?

Broder tells us that the Republicans are a mess, resorting to off-the-wall candidates who endanger their prospects (“states have been flirting all year with the danger that their primaries will produce candidates reflecting the internal dynamics of right-wing constituencies scary to the broader electorate”). But read on and you find out that:

On the other hand, this year’s primaries have given Republicans candidates for governor capable of winning in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Oregon and especially California, to add to Texas, Georgia and perhaps Florida, which they already hold. This could enhance the reputation of the GOP as a governing party beyond measure.

So have the wackos taken over or not? Is Marco Rubio a right-wing, scary guy or the future of the GOP? Was it a good thing Joe Miller upset Lisa Murkowski or a harbinger of a political apocalypse for the GOP? It’s all a bit unclear because the chattering class is disinclined to recognize the obvious (both because they have to write clever things and because they don’t like what’s going on): Republicans can’t win every race, but they are going to win a whole bunch, in large part because of the populist uprising  generated by the liberals’ overreach. It’s not fancy. It’s not complicated. But it is what’s going on.

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Liberals on the Ropes

The New York Times poll (invariably more positive for the Democrats than other surveys) contains little good news for the Democrats. The Times has Obama’s approval at 45 percent, near his all-time low of 44 percent. His disapproval rating of 47 percent is a record in this poll. A mere 33 percent think the country is going in the right direction. Only 41 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the economy. The generic congressional poll shows the Republicans ahead by two, with only 34 percent saying their own representative deserves re-election. By a margin of 48 to 41 percent, respondents favor a smaller government with fewer services over a bigger government with more services.

The Gray Lady is preparing its readers for the day of reckoning, edging its polling closer to more credible competing polls just in time for Election Day. (Looks bad when you miss the final results by a mile.) The Obami, their spin squad, and members of Congress should be making preparations as well. I advise against adopting the tactic of the left blogosphere — screeching that Americans are irrational bigots. It tends to annoy voters when you call them un-American or stooges of the insurance industry or uninformed or … oh wait. Yes, that probably has made them madder than they already were.

The president and the Senate and House Democratic survivors will have a choice to make: continue down the path that led to the defeat of so many colleagues and an anemic recovery or shift gears. It is a measure of the White House’s hubris and cluelessness that I’m really not certain which way they’ll go.

The New York Times poll (invariably more positive for the Democrats than other surveys) contains little good news for the Democrats. The Times has Obama’s approval at 45 percent, near his all-time low of 44 percent. His disapproval rating of 47 percent is a record in this poll. A mere 33 percent think the country is going in the right direction. Only 41 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the economy. The generic congressional poll shows the Republicans ahead by two, with only 34 percent saying their own representative deserves re-election. By a margin of 48 to 41 percent, respondents favor a smaller government with fewer services over a bigger government with more services.

The Gray Lady is preparing its readers for the day of reckoning, edging its polling closer to more credible competing polls just in time for Election Day. (Looks bad when you miss the final results by a mile.) The Obami, their spin squad, and members of Congress should be making preparations as well. I advise against adopting the tactic of the left blogosphere — screeching that Americans are irrational bigots. It tends to annoy voters when you call them un-American or stooges of the insurance industry or uninformed or … oh wait. Yes, that probably has made them madder than they already were.

The president and the Senate and House Democratic survivors will have a choice to make: continue down the path that led to the defeat of so many colleagues and an anemic recovery or shift gears. It is a measure of the White House’s hubris and cluelessness that I’m really not certain which way they’ll go.

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It’s Not About Settlements

Giora Eiland isn’t impressed with the happy talk coming from the Obama team. George Mitchell may coo all he wants about getting down to “substantive issues,” but the Palestinians show no sign they are willing to accept the most basic element of a peace deal: recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Eiland explains why this is an essential component of any accord:

The Palestinians make a distinction between recognizing the fact that the State of Israel exists and the recognition that it has the right to exist. The camp that supports Mahmoud Abbas has no qualms with the first definition: “Israel exists, and it’s apparently worthwhile to recognize it diplomatically; this is the way to guarantee for the Palestinians what only Israel can give. This agreement is fit for the present, but as to the future – who knows.” …

The entire concept of “Hudna” (long-term ceasefire) is based on an approach that espouses compromise in an effort to elicit what can be achieved now, without abandoning the intention to fight and get much more in the future. The way to curb future demands, especially in respect to the refugee issue, is to create a Palestinian obligation to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

The Obami, like the rest of the cottage industry of peace processors, operate on a myth: that both sides want peace and the issue is where to draw lines and how to halt and then uproot those darn settlements. It is as if the entire period between 1948 and 1967 never occurred. The Palestinians and their Arab enablers didn’t accept the Jewish state in 1949 (only an armistice was agreed to), didn’t accept the Jewish state in 1967, and still don’t. While Obama is quibbling about settlements in 2010, the Palestinians are still hung up on 1948.

Eiland points to another reason why recognition of the Jewish state is critical:

Should the future Palestinian state not recognize the State of Israel as the Jewish people’s nation-state, there is no chance that the Palestinians residing in Israel will accept it. If we fail to insist on this now, we may find ourselves within a generation or two in a situation where Arab Israelis demand (possibly through violence) equal national rights.

The Palestinian state would support this automatically, and may even view this issue as a reason to breach the peace treaty. The way to minimize this risk, or at least to create a situation where the states of the world support us, is to clearly define (in a manner agreed upon by all sides) the State of Israel as the Jewish people’s nation-state.

The Obami and much of the media fail or are unwilling to concede that what is standing between the parties and peace is more fundamental than a housing moratorium. In short, until the Palestinians cease regarding a “peace” deal as a brief interlude in the struggle to remove the Zionist undertaking from the region, there can never, by definition, be peace. Peace is not a cease-fire; it is an agreement to end hostilities permanently and completely. That the Palestinians won’t do.

Peculiar, isn’t it, that Hillary’s and Obama’s public comments don’t mention that. Well, not peculiar at all, for to concede there is such a fundamental barrier to peace would be to let on that Obama’s entire Middle East policy was misguided and naive. Can’t let that get around.

Giora Eiland isn’t impressed with the happy talk coming from the Obama team. George Mitchell may coo all he wants about getting down to “substantive issues,” but the Palestinians show no sign they are willing to accept the most basic element of a peace deal: recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Eiland explains why this is an essential component of any accord:

The Palestinians make a distinction between recognizing the fact that the State of Israel exists and the recognition that it has the right to exist. The camp that supports Mahmoud Abbas has no qualms with the first definition: “Israel exists, and it’s apparently worthwhile to recognize it diplomatically; this is the way to guarantee for the Palestinians what only Israel can give. This agreement is fit for the present, but as to the future – who knows.” …

The entire concept of “Hudna” (long-term ceasefire) is based on an approach that espouses compromise in an effort to elicit what can be achieved now, without abandoning the intention to fight and get much more in the future. The way to curb future demands, especially in respect to the refugee issue, is to create a Palestinian obligation to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

The Obami, like the rest of the cottage industry of peace processors, operate on a myth: that both sides want peace and the issue is where to draw lines and how to halt and then uproot those darn settlements. It is as if the entire period between 1948 and 1967 never occurred. The Palestinians and their Arab enablers didn’t accept the Jewish state in 1949 (only an armistice was agreed to), didn’t accept the Jewish state in 1967, and still don’t. While Obama is quibbling about settlements in 2010, the Palestinians are still hung up on 1948.

Eiland points to another reason why recognition of the Jewish state is critical:

Should the future Palestinian state not recognize the State of Israel as the Jewish people’s nation-state, there is no chance that the Palestinians residing in Israel will accept it. If we fail to insist on this now, we may find ourselves within a generation or two in a situation where Arab Israelis demand (possibly through violence) equal national rights.

The Palestinian state would support this automatically, and may even view this issue as a reason to breach the peace treaty. The way to minimize this risk, or at least to create a situation where the states of the world support us, is to clearly define (in a manner agreed upon by all sides) the State of Israel as the Jewish people’s nation-state.

The Obami and much of the media fail or are unwilling to concede that what is standing between the parties and peace is more fundamental than a housing moratorium. In short, until the Palestinians cease regarding a “peace” deal as a brief interlude in the struggle to remove the Zionist undertaking from the region, there can never, by definition, be peace. Peace is not a cease-fire; it is an agreement to end hostilities permanently and completely. That the Palestinians won’t do.

Peculiar, isn’t it, that Hillary’s and Obama’s public comments don’t mention that. Well, not peculiar at all, for to concede there is such a fundamental barrier to peace would be to let on that Obama’s entire Middle East policy was misguided and naive. Can’t let that get around.

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Um, Delaware Is a Really Blue State

While the GOP may have blown a single Senate seat, there’s no doubt which party is sitting pretty right now. A sea of Red in the RealClearPolitics polls and new polling from CNN confirms that Democrats stand to lose big in the Senate. Yes, it is a ray of sunshine when the Democrats think they have a good shot to keep Delaware in the Blue, but, guys, that’s akin to Republicans celebrating because they now have a good feeling about Mississippi.

Other than Nancy Pelosi voicing the mandatory optimism about the House, there seems to be no one predicting that can be saved. In fact, the media are largely ignoring the House contests, a surefire sign things are going badly for the Democrats. Not waiting for the Christmas rush, moderate Democrats are refusing to embrace the Obama stimulus, and one of Pelosi’s members is even backing repeal of ObamaCare.

The basic narrative of the election is set. The question remains how extensive the damage to the Democrats will be. And that does depend on the talent of individual candidates. Christine O’Donnell isn’t likely to make it, but before they pop open the champagne, Democrats might want to consider what is going on in Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, Arkansas, Kentucky, North Dakota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. In not a single one does the Democrat have a lead outside the margin of error. In a number, the Republican has a commanding lead. In others such as Colorado, the Tea Party–endorsed candidate is starting to pull away. It’s obvious which party is in a commanding position.

While the GOP may have blown a single Senate seat, there’s no doubt which party is sitting pretty right now. A sea of Red in the RealClearPolitics polls and new polling from CNN confirms that Democrats stand to lose big in the Senate. Yes, it is a ray of sunshine when the Democrats think they have a good shot to keep Delaware in the Blue, but, guys, that’s akin to Republicans celebrating because they now have a good feeling about Mississippi.

Other than Nancy Pelosi voicing the mandatory optimism about the House, there seems to be no one predicting that can be saved. In fact, the media are largely ignoring the House contests, a surefire sign things are going badly for the Democrats. Not waiting for the Christmas rush, moderate Democrats are refusing to embrace the Obama stimulus, and one of Pelosi’s members is even backing repeal of ObamaCare.

The basic narrative of the election is set. The question remains how extensive the damage to the Democrats will be. And that does depend on the talent of individual candidates. Christine O’Donnell isn’t likely to make it, but before they pop open the champagne, Democrats might want to consider what is going on in Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, Arkansas, Kentucky, North Dakota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. In not a single one does the Democrat have a lead outside the margin of error. In a number, the Republican has a commanding lead. In others such as Colorado, the Tea Party–endorsed candidate is starting to pull away. It’s obvious which party is in a commanding position.

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RE: True Friends of Israel

Jeffrey Goldberg attended the Friends of Israel Initiative dinner. Good for him. However, his comments at the dinner and his posting afterward leave something to be desired.

First, he writes:

In my brief remarks at the dinner, I mentioned a prime strategy of the Israel-denial movement, which is to convince self-defined liberals and leftists that Zionism is incompatible with their understanding of the world. I hope Aznar’s group does a more vigorous job of recruiting pro-Israel leftists to its ranks (one of the organization’s high muckety-mucks jokingly suggested Fidel Castro as a board member), because this is a prime worry of mine, that the most liberal country in the Middle East is being abandoned by people who should be its natural allies.

Well I’m glad he’s come clean that the problem is on the left, but let’s be clear: the Israel-denial movement isn’t out to convince leftists — they are leftists. European socialists, the J Street gang, the signers of the Gaza 54 letter, the anti-Semites on U.S. campuses — the list goes on, and they all reside on the left. So let’s give up the fiction that the left is composed of innocents seduced by some shady delegitimizers. They are the delegitimizers.

Goldberg observes that Israel “is the safest and best place in the Middle East to be, among other things, a woman, a gay person, a journalist, and a dissident.” Yet he doesn’t quite get to the nub of the matter: the left’s usual sympathy for all these sorts of people suddenly and uniquely is muted when the Jewish state is involved. That’s more than anti-Israel sentiment; it’s anti-Semitism. Israel’s good deeds are unworthy of respect because, well, it’s the Jewish state. It is painfully obvious that Goldberg, as he is wont to do, pulls his punches with those on the left. For to go down that road would place him alongside the dreaded neocons, whom he routinely scorns.

Second, if the aim here is to rebuff the left, which routinely denies Israel the right to defend and investigate itself and cheers international bodies (like the UN) that excoriate the Jewish state, then why is Goldberg so enamored of J Street? It can’t have escaped his notice that the J Street gang was instrumental in drafting Richard Goldstone’s defense or that they cheer our participation in the UNHRC. Goldberg could certainly do something constructive by delivering the same speech he gave to the Friends of Israel to J Streeters.

Listen, any support for the Friends of Israel Initiative should be applauded. But if well-meaning liberals really want to help, they will clean their own house and stop soft-peddling criticism of the very people who scorn the diluted support afforded to the Jewish state by groups like this one.

Jeffrey Goldberg attended the Friends of Israel Initiative dinner. Good for him. However, his comments at the dinner and his posting afterward leave something to be desired.

First, he writes:

In my brief remarks at the dinner, I mentioned a prime strategy of the Israel-denial movement, which is to convince self-defined liberals and leftists that Zionism is incompatible with their understanding of the world. I hope Aznar’s group does a more vigorous job of recruiting pro-Israel leftists to its ranks (one of the organization’s high muckety-mucks jokingly suggested Fidel Castro as a board member), because this is a prime worry of mine, that the most liberal country in the Middle East is being abandoned by people who should be its natural allies.

Well I’m glad he’s come clean that the problem is on the left, but let’s be clear: the Israel-denial movement isn’t out to convince leftists — they are leftists. European socialists, the J Street gang, the signers of the Gaza 54 letter, the anti-Semites on U.S. campuses — the list goes on, and they all reside on the left. So let’s give up the fiction that the left is composed of innocents seduced by some shady delegitimizers. They are the delegitimizers.

Goldberg observes that Israel “is the safest and best place in the Middle East to be, among other things, a woman, a gay person, a journalist, and a dissident.” Yet he doesn’t quite get to the nub of the matter: the left’s usual sympathy for all these sorts of people suddenly and uniquely is muted when the Jewish state is involved. That’s more than anti-Israel sentiment; it’s anti-Semitism. Israel’s good deeds are unworthy of respect because, well, it’s the Jewish state. It is painfully obvious that Goldberg, as he is wont to do, pulls his punches with those on the left. For to go down that road would place him alongside the dreaded neocons, whom he routinely scorns.

Second, if the aim here is to rebuff the left, which routinely denies Israel the right to defend and investigate itself and cheers international bodies (like the UN) that excoriate the Jewish state, then why is Goldberg so enamored of J Street? It can’t have escaped his notice that the J Street gang was instrumental in drafting Richard Goldstone’s defense or that they cheer our participation in the UNHRC. Goldberg could certainly do something constructive by delivering the same speech he gave to the Friends of Israel to J Streeters.

Listen, any support for the Friends of Israel Initiative should be applauded. But if well-meaning liberals really want to help, they will clean their own house and stop soft-peddling criticism of the very people who scorn the diluted support afforded to the Jewish state by groups like this one.

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