Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 26, 2010

ABC’s Humiliation

ABC News decided to put the overtly biased and under-informed Christiane Amanpour in the host chair for “This Week.” Perhaps they thought she had star quality or that MSNBC’s netroot viewers could be lured. But the result is a weekly display of journalistic malpractice.

Today was no different. Questioning David Axelrod, Amanpour assumes that the blame for the blow-up of the peace talks will lie in Israel’s hands:

AMANPOUR: I want to first, though, ask you about something very close to what the president has been doing, and that’s Middle East peace. The moratorium expires tonight.

AXELROD: Yes.

AMANPOUR: The president asked the Israeli prime minister to keep the moratorium on. He’s not going to do it. What is going to stop these talks from collapsing?

AXELROD: Well, look, I don’t want to prejudge what’s going to happen in the next many hours.

No possibility in the eyes of the pro-Palestinian Amanapour that the “collapse” is an orchestrated move for Abbas to flee in a huff.

Then there is this:

AMANPOUR: All right. But really a lot of people — I mean, people from all over the world, frankly, say to me here comes a president with a huge mandate, a huge reservoir of goodwill, huge promises to change, and with all of that, his popularity is down. People don’t appreciate some of the amazing legislative agenda that he’s accomplished. Is this a failure of leadership? Has he allowed the opposition to define him? [Emphasis added.]

Good grief. Is she on the White House payroll?

Not a single tough follow-up. No challenge when Axelrod went on a rant about Republican independent expenditures. She is, for all intents and purposes, doing the administration’s PR work. Contrast that with the questioning of Mitch McConnell:

AMANPOUR: You heard what David Axelrod said about the Republican plan on extending all the Bush-era tax cuts and that it would really, you know, put the country more in hock. Analysts say that’ll cause, you know, add some $4 trillion or so to the national debt. Are you really going to do that? Or do you think there would be a compromise on extending the middle-class tax cuts?

MCCONNELL: Well, let’s understand what we’re talking about here. This has been the tax rate for a decade. We’re talking about raising taxes in the middle of a recession. And most economists think that’s the worst thing you could do. The president himself was saying that was the worst thing you could do a year-and-a-half ago.

AMANPOUR: So do…

MCCONNELL: Raising taxes in the middle of a recession is a particularly bad idea, and Republicans don’t think that’s what we ought to do.

AMANPOUR: So do you not think you really, quote, unquote, “hold the middle-class tax cuts hostage” to all the tax cuts you want to…

(CROSSTALK)

MCCONNELL: Well, nothing’s being held hostage to anything. It was the Democrats themselves who decided not to have this debate.

AMANPOUR: But would you compromise on that, even after the election?

MCCONNELL: I — I was the only one who offered a bill. There was never a bill in the Senate. And you know why? Thirty-one Democrats in the House, five Democrats in the Senate said they agreed with me, that we ought not to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.

What might happen down the road is not the subject today. The question is, do we want to raise taxes in the middle of a very, very tough economy? All the Republicans think that’s a bad idea, and a substantial number of the Democrats think the same thing.

AMANPOUR: Right, but there’s also this huge thing that the people of the United States are worried about, and that is the deficit.

MCCONNELL: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: And adding — keeping the tax cuts will add trillions to that. And let me ask you this. According to Howard Gleckman at the Tax Policy Center — let’s see what he’s just written — “McConnell would have to abolish all the rest of the government to get a balance by 2020, everything. No more national parks, no more NIH, no more highway construction, no more homeland security, oh, and no more Congress.”

And on it went in that vein.

Maybe she is on the Harry Reid and Chris Coons campaigns:

AMANPOUR: Even — even in your own state. And I want to ask you, actually, what are the qualifications are — do these people have? For instance, what is Christine O’Donnell’s qualification for actually governing? What is Sharron Angle’s actual qualification for governing?

MCCONNELL: Well, they won the primary fair and square against real competition, and they emerged as the nominee. And Sharron Angle is running no worse than dead even against the majority leader of the Senate. I think that’s pretty significant.

No such questioning to Axelrod about his party’s hapless candidates or whether Alexi Giannoulias from Illinois is ethically fit to serve in the Senate.

The roundtable was even worse as she took the Obama administration’s defense (“there’s no depression. There’s — the recession has ended. … But doesn’t it just add to the deficit, all these tax cuts? … And it turned out quite well [Bob Woodward's book], would you say, for the administration?”) Never a skeptical comment or query about the administration’s position or performance.

ABC News execs have a choice: report the commercial sales from “This Week” as an in-kind donation to the Democratic Party or get a real journalist in that chair.

ABC News decided to put the overtly biased and under-informed Christiane Amanpour in the host chair for “This Week.” Perhaps they thought she had star quality or that MSNBC’s netroot viewers could be lured. But the result is a weekly display of journalistic malpractice.

Today was no different. Questioning David Axelrod, Amanpour assumes that the blame for the blow-up of the peace talks will lie in Israel’s hands:

AMANPOUR: I want to first, though, ask you about something very close to what the president has been doing, and that’s Middle East peace. The moratorium expires tonight.

AXELROD: Yes.

AMANPOUR: The president asked the Israeli prime minister to keep the moratorium on. He’s not going to do it. What is going to stop these talks from collapsing?

AXELROD: Well, look, I don’t want to prejudge what’s going to happen in the next many hours.

No possibility in the eyes of the pro-Palestinian Amanapour that the “collapse” is an orchestrated move for Abbas to flee in a huff.

Then there is this:

AMANPOUR: All right. But really a lot of people — I mean, people from all over the world, frankly, say to me here comes a president with a huge mandate, a huge reservoir of goodwill, huge promises to change, and with all of that, his popularity is down. People don’t appreciate some of the amazing legislative agenda that he’s accomplished. Is this a failure of leadership? Has he allowed the opposition to define him? [Emphasis added.]

Good grief. Is she on the White House payroll?

Not a single tough follow-up. No challenge when Axelrod went on a rant about Republican independent expenditures. She is, for all intents and purposes, doing the administration’s PR work. Contrast that with the questioning of Mitch McConnell:

AMANPOUR: You heard what David Axelrod said about the Republican plan on extending all the Bush-era tax cuts and that it would really, you know, put the country more in hock. Analysts say that’ll cause, you know, add some $4 trillion or so to the national debt. Are you really going to do that? Or do you think there would be a compromise on extending the middle-class tax cuts?

MCCONNELL: Well, let’s understand what we’re talking about here. This has been the tax rate for a decade. We’re talking about raising taxes in the middle of a recession. And most economists think that’s the worst thing you could do. The president himself was saying that was the worst thing you could do a year-and-a-half ago.

AMANPOUR: So do…

MCCONNELL: Raising taxes in the middle of a recession is a particularly bad idea, and Republicans don’t think that’s what we ought to do.

AMANPOUR: So do you not think you really, quote, unquote, “hold the middle-class tax cuts hostage” to all the tax cuts you want to…

(CROSSTALK)

MCCONNELL: Well, nothing’s being held hostage to anything. It was the Democrats themselves who decided not to have this debate.

AMANPOUR: But would you compromise on that, even after the election?

MCCONNELL: I — I was the only one who offered a bill. There was never a bill in the Senate. And you know why? Thirty-one Democrats in the House, five Democrats in the Senate said they agreed with me, that we ought not to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.

What might happen down the road is not the subject today. The question is, do we want to raise taxes in the middle of a very, very tough economy? All the Republicans think that’s a bad idea, and a substantial number of the Democrats think the same thing.

AMANPOUR: Right, but there’s also this huge thing that the people of the United States are worried about, and that is the deficit.

MCCONNELL: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: And adding — keeping the tax cuts will add trillions to that. And let me ask you this. According to Howard Gleckman at the Tax Policy Center — let’s see what he’s just written — “McConnell would have to abolish all the rest of the government to get a balance by 2020, everything. No more national parks, no more NIH, no more highway construction, no more homeland security, oh, and no more Congress.”

And on it went in that vein.

Maybe she is on the Harry Reid and Chris Coons campaigns:

AMANPOUR: Even — even in your own state. And I want to ask you, actually, what are the qualifications are — do these people have? For instance, what is Christine O’Donnell’s qualification for actually governing? What is Sharron Angle’s actual qualification for governing?

MCCONNELL: Well, they won the primary fair and square against real competition, and they emerged as the nominee. And Sharron Angle is running no worse than dead even against the majority leader of the Senate. I think that’s pretty significant.

No such questioning to Axelrod about his party’s hapless candidates or whether Alexi Giannoulias from Illinois is ethically fit to serve in the Senate.

The roundtable was even worse as she took the Obama administration’s defense (“there’s no depression. There’s — the recession has ended. … But doesn’t it just add to the deficit, all these tax cuts? … And it turned out quite well [Bob Woodward's book], would you say, for the administration?”) Never a skeptical comment or query about the administration’s position or performance.

ABC News execs have a choice: report the commercial sales from “This Week” as an in-kind donation to the Democratic Party or get a real journalist in that chair.

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Northern Cyprus vs. Israel

A boat full of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and other such organizations is setting sail today for Gaza from Northern Cyprus, as reported here. The pious group, no doubt, thinks they are fighting occupation through acts of kindness.

There is, nevertheless, a certain irony in the fact that they use Northern Cyprus as a staging ground for their activities — like the Mavi Marmara-led Flotilla did last May. Here’s the irony — Northern Cyprus is an illegally occupied territory that belongs to the EU as part of its member state, Cyprus; it was seized by force in 1974 by the Turkish army; its legal status as a fictionally independent state is only recognized by Turkey (the occupying power); Turkey forcibly removed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Greeks from that territory and settled its own population to permanently alter the ethnic balance of the area – and, in the process, encouraged the building of what one could characterize as settlements.

Now doesn’t this sound awfully familiar — the kind of accusations that organizations such as the JFJFP would routinely level at Israel’s presence in the West Bank and, until 2005, in Gaza? These are the kind of things that get such enlightened Jews agitated enough that they need to spring into action — if the alleged perpetrator is Israel. If it is a country that bombs neighbors with impunity, uses heavy-handed tactics to fight what it brands as terrorists, while denying basic cultural rights to the ethnic minority that constitutes 20 percent of its population while it practices state-sanctioned genocide denial, well then, its government is Islamist and its actively helps Hamas, so there’s no problem relying on their services and glossing on their blatant and continuing violations of international law to bash Israel.

How do you say coherence in Turkish?

A boat full of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and other such organizations is setting sail today for Gaza from Northern Cyprus, as reported here. The pious group, no doubt, thinks they are fighting occupation through acts of kindness.

There is, nevertheless, a certain irony in the fact that they use Northern Cyprus as a staging ground for their activities — like the Mavi Marmara-led Flotilla did last May. Here’s the irony — Northern Cyprus is an illegally occupied territory that belongs to the EU as part of its member state, Cyprus; it was seized by force in 1974 by the Turkish army; its legal status as a fictionally independent state is only recognized by Turkey (the occupying power); Turkey forcibly removed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Greeks from that territory and settled its own population to permanently alter the ethnic balance of the area – and, in the process, encouraged the building of what one could characterize as settlements.

Now doesn’t this sound awfully familiar — the kind of accusations that organizations such as the JFJFP would routinely level at Israel’s presence in the West Bank and, until 2005, in Gaza? These are the kind of things that get such enlightened Jews agitated enough that they need to spring into action — if the alleged perpetrator is Israel. If it is a country that bombs neighbors with impunity, uses heavy-handed tactics to fight what it brands as terrorists, while denying basic cultural rights to the ethnic minority that constitutes 20 percent of its population while it practices state-sanctioned genocide denial, well then, its government is Islamist and its actively helps Hamas, so there’s no problem relying on their services and glossing on their blatant and continuing violations of international law to bash Israel.

How do you say coherence in Turkish?

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Mourning in America

I confess to a weakness for puns. As Rodgers and Hart said when they based The Boys from Syracuse on The Comedy of Errors, “If it’s good enough for Shakespeare, it’s good enough for us.”

Maybe that’s why I like the ad from Citizens for the Republic called “Mourning in America” so much. It is, of course, a play on the classic Reagan campaign ad from 1984 called “Morning in America.” (You can see them both here. Play the Reagan one first.) But the ad works even if you don’t get the pun and, after all, you’d have to be in your forties to remember the 1984 campaign. With sadness, not anger, it makes it clear how colossal has been the failure of the Obama administration to bring about prosperity while implicitly noting that Reagan’s policies to do so had been a howling success.

TV ads are the poetry of our age and the great ones, like great poems, can add to the lexicon of everyday discourse (“Where’s the beef?”). Political ads run from the vicious to the sublime. It seems that the former is the province of the left this year. I hope conservatives will stick with the sublime.

I confess to a weakness for puns. As Rodgers and Hart said when they based The Boys from Syracuse on The Comedy of Errors, “If it’s good enough for Shakespeare, it’s good enough for us.”

Maybe that’s why I like the ad from Citizens for the Republic called “Mourning in America” so much. It is, of course, a play on the classic Reagan campaign ad from 1984 called “Morning in America.” (You can see them both here. Play the Reagan one first.) But the ad works even if you don’t get the pun and, after all, you’d have to be in your forties to remember the 1984 campaign. With sadness, not anger, it makes it clear how colossal has been the failure of the Obama administration to bring about prosperity while implicitly noting that Reagan’s policies to do so had been a howling success.

TV ads are the poetry of our age and the great ones, like great poems, can add to the lexicon of everyday discourse (“Where’s the beef?”). Political ads run from the vicious to the sublime. It seems that the former is the province of the left this year. I hope conservatives will stick with the sublime.

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The Victim in Chief

Friday was a sad day for Western civilization. The day after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad advanced the 9/11 “truther” theory in his speech at the UN, President Obama responded, in an interview with BBC Persia, by calling the remarks “offensive” and “hateful.”  He also called them “outrageous” and “disgusting.” And according to Obama, their outrageous disgustingness and offensive hatefulness were compounded by the circumstances:

It was offensive. It was hateful. And particularly for him to make the statement here in Manhattan, just a little north of Ground Zero, where families lost their loved ones, people of all faiths, all ethnicities who see this as the seminal tragedy of this generation, for him to make a statement like that was inexcusable.

One’s immediate urge is to tell the president to man up, already. We know what Ahmadinejad said was offensive, hateful, and inexcusable. But what does it really mean for Ahmadinejad or Iran that we’re over here, not excusing him for his outrageous and disgusting statements?

Nothing, of course. Which is why the president’s reflexive resort to decrying “hate speech” is not just illuminating about him, it’s bad statecraft. Obama did well to go on and speak to BBC Persia of the significant gap between Ahmadinejad’s conspiracy theories and the sentiments of the Iranian people — but that should have been the first thing out of his mouth, and it should have been couched in terms of Iranians’ sympathy with our ideals rather than their empathy with our plight. In this strategic opportunity to communicate with Iranians, Obama’s adjective-laden lament came off as whining and off-key. It’s not clear how an Iranian audience was supposed to react to his invocation of the modern West’s hate-speech meme.

There were important things to say about our regard for truth and civic transparency and our belief that ordinary Iranians share that regard. The problem with the hate-speech meme is that in prioritizing the offense and the victimhood of a transient moment, it preempts the mood and rhetorical atmosphere needed to foster inspiration. It leaves us resentful and self-absorbed rather than courageous. Others will say — no doubt, rightly — that Obama was tending domestic constituencies with the hate-speech passage. But it could hardly be clearer how unready that practice makes us for representing our ideals and our bona fides to foreign peoples.

In treating most communication as a means of stating how he feels about what someone else has done, Obama is not merely demonstrating his own personality. He is embodying the character and reflexes cultivated today in academia, the traditional media, and in politics. In exactly his present form, he is the ideal of our cultural elite. Sadly, that elite doesn’t know any longer how to speak to Iranians in the tones of liberty, empirical confidence, and moral courage. Its expertise now lies in reducing all questions to matters of hate speech and victimhood.

Friday was a sad day for Western civilization. The day after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad advanced the 9/11 “truther” theory in his speech at the UN, President Obama responded, in an interview with BBC Persia, by calling the remarks “offensive” and “hateful.”  He also called them “outrageous” and “disgusting.” And according to Obama, their outrageous disgustingness and offensive hatefulness were compounded by the circumstances:

It was offensive. It was hateful. And particularly for him to make the statement here in Manhattan, just a little north of Ground Zero, where families lost their loved ones, people of all faiths, all ethnicities who see this as the seminal tragedy of this generation, for him to make a statement like that was inexcusable.

One’s immediate urge is to tell the president to man up, already. We know what Ahmadinejad said was offensive, hateful, and inexcusable. But what does it really mean for Ahmadinejad or Iran that we’re over here, not excusing him for his outrageous and disgusting statements?

Nothing, of course. Which is why the president’s reflexive resort to decrying “hate speech” is not just illuminating about him, it’s bad statecraft. Obama did well to go on and speak to BBC Persia of the significant gap between Ahmadinejad’s conspiracy theories and the sentiments of the Iranian people — but that should have been the first thing out of his mouth, and it should have been couched in terms of Iranians’ sympathy with our ideals rather than their empathy with our plight. In this strategic opportunity to communicate with Iranians, Obama’s adjective-laden lament came off as whining and off-key. It’s not clear how an Iranian audience was supposed to react to his invocation of the modern West’s hate-speech meme.

There were important things to say about our regard for truth and civic transparency and our belief that ordinary Iranians share that regard. The problem with the hate-speech meme is that in prioritizing the offense and the victimhood of a transient moment, it preempts the mood and rhetorical atmosphere needed to foster inspiration. It leaves us resentful and self-absorbed rather than courageous. Others will say — no doubt, rightly — that Obama was tending domestic constituencies with the hate-speech passage. But it could hardly be clearer how unready that practice makes us for representing our ideals and our bona fides to foreign peoples.

In treating most communication as a means of stating how he feels about what someone else has done, Obama is not merely demonstrating his own personality. He is embodying the character and reflexes cultivated today in academia, the traditional media, and in politics. In exactly his present form, he is the ideal of our cultural elite. Sadly, that elite doesn’t know any longer how to speak to Iranians in the tones of liberty, empirical confidence, and moral courage. Its expertise now lies in reducing all questions to matters of hate speech and victimhood.

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If You Want Something Done Right

Notwithstanding Janet Napolitano’s assertions, the administration’s anti-terrorism system hasn’t “worked.” Instead, ordinary airline passengers have proven to be our best defense.

The Obama Justice Department isn’t keen on enforcing Section No. 8 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires that states and localities clean up their voting rolls to prevent fraud. So ordinary citizens are doing what the Justice Department won’t — uncovering voter fraud. This report explains that 50 friends took up the effort after seeing what went on in Houston on Election Day 2008:

“What we saw shocked us,” [ Catherine Engelbrecht] said. “There was no one checking IDs, judges would vote for people that asked for help. It was fraud, and we watched like deer in the headlights.”

Their shared experience, she says, created “True the Vote,” a citizen-based grassroots organization that began collecting publicly available voting data to prove that what they saw in their day at the polls was, indeed, happening — and that it was happening everywhere.

“It was a true Tea Party moment,” she remembers.

They set up their own voter-fraud unit:

“The first thing we started to do was look at houses with more than six voters in them” Engelbrecht said, because those houses were the most likely to have fraudulent registrations attached to them. “Most voting districts had 1,800 if they were Republican and 2,400 of these houses if they were Democratic. …

“But we came across one with 24,000, and that was where we started looking.”

It was Houston’s poorest and predominantly black district, which has led some to accuse the group of targeting poor black areas. But Engelbrecht rejects that, saying, “It had nothing to do with politics. It was just the numbers.”

Perhaps the new Congress should privatize voter fraud investigations. These amateurs turned up an ACORN-like operation:

Most of the findings focused on a group called Houston Votes, a voter registration group headed by Steve Caddle, who also works for the Service Employees International Union. Among the findings were that only 1,793 of the 25,000 registrations the group submitted appeared to be valid. The other registrations included one of a woman who registered six times in the same day; registrations of non-citizens; so many applications from one Houston Voters collector in one day that it was deemed to be beyond human capability; and 1,597 registrations that named the same person multiple times, often with different signatures. …

“The integrity of the voting rolls in Harris County, Texas, appears to be under an organized and systematic attack by the group operating under the name Houston Votes,” the Harris voter registrar, Leo Vasquez, charged as he passed on the documentation to the district attorney.

And if that weren’t enough, the day after that announcement, “a three-alarm fire destroyed almost all of Harris County’s voting machines, throwing the upcoming Nov. 2 election into turmoil.” Imagine that.

It’s admirable that we have citizens like Engelbrecht who take their civic responsibilities seriously, but there’s no excuse for the Obama Justice Department’s indifference to voting fraud. If Engelbrecht could uncover a massive voter-fraud operation, imagine what a contentious Justice Department could turn up. You’d almost think that they don’t mind that the voting rolls in heavily Democratic districts are bloated with imaginary voters.

Notwithstanding Janet Napolitano’s assertions, the administration’s anti-terrorism system hasn’t “worked.” Instead, ordinary airline passengers have proven to be our best defense.

The Obama Justice Department isn’t keen on enforcing Section No. 8 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires that states and localities clean up their voting rolls to prevent fraud. So ordinary citizens are doing what the Justice Department won’t — uncovering voter fraud. This report explains that 50 friends took up the effort after seeing what went on in Houston on Election Day 2008:

“What we saw shocked us,” [ Catherine Engelbrecht] said. “There was no one checking IDs, judges would vote for people that asked for help. It was fraud, and we watched like deer in the headlights.”

Their shared experience, she says, created “True the Vote,” a citizen-based grassroots organization that began collecting publicly available voting data to prove that what they saw in their day at the polls was, indeed, happening — and that it was happening everywhere.

“It was a true Tea Party moment,” she remembers.

They set up their own voter-fraud unit:

“The first thing we started to do was look at houses with more than six voters in them” Engelbrecht said, because those houses were the most likely to have fraudulent registrations attached to them. “Most voting districts had 1,800 if they were Republican and 2,400 of these houses if they were Democratic. …

“But we came across one with 24,000, and that was where we started looking.”

It was Houston’s poorest and predominantly black district, which has led some to accuse the group of targeting poor black areas. But Engelbrecht rejects that, saying, “It had nothing to do with politics. It was just the numbers.”

Perhaps the new Congress should privatize voter fraud investigations. These amateurs turned up an ACORN-like operation:

Most of the findings focused on a group called Houston Votes, a voter registration group headed by Steve Caddle, who also works for the Service Employees International Union. Among the findings were that only 1,793 of the 25,000 registrations the group submitted appeared to be valid. The other registrations included one of a woman who registered six times in the same day; registrations of non-citizens; so many applications from one Houston Voters collector in one day that it was deemed to be beyond human capability; and 1,597 registrations that named the same person multiple times, often with different signatures. …

“The integrity of the voting rolls in Harris County, Texas, appears to be under an organized and systematic attack by the group operating under the name Houston Votes,” the Harris voter registrar, Leo Vasquez, charged as he passed on the documentation to the district attorney.

And if that weren’t enough, the day after that announcement, “a three-alarm fire destroyed almost all of Harris County’s voting machines, throwing the upcoming Nov. 2 election into turmoil.” Imagine that.

It’s admirable that we have citizens like Engelbrecht who take their civic responsibilities seriously, but there’s no excuse for the Obama Justice Department’s indifference to voting fraud. If Engelbrecht could uncover a massive voter-fraud operation, imagine what a contentious Justice Department could turn up. You’d almost think that they don’t mind that the voting rolls in heavily Democratic districts are bloated with imaginary voters.

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RE: J Street Unmasked

Chris Good at the Atlantic, not exactly neocon central, is peeved at the J Streeters:

A set of half-truths, non-truths and ambiguities from J Street lead a reasonable person to conclude that the group tried to falsely conceal that George Soros has been one of its largest donors for years, and to falsely claim that it had been ‘open’ about those donations over the past three years. J Street also seemed to distort the fact that it received a large donation from Hong Kong. Some of this happened on the phone with me earlier today.

Now, as Good points out, there is reason to conceal the connection: “More broadly, Soros is toxic to the American Jewish community, having suggested that Israel’s policies contributed to global anti-Semitism. President Obama, at one point, had to distance himself from Soros because of Soros’s views on Israel.”

Another liberal Jewish publication is similarly fed up with Soros Street. The Jewish Week:

You gotta wonder why people in politics lie when the things they’re lying about will inevitably come to light. … Why this is stupid: there’s no way this information wasn’t going to come out. There’s no way this revelation, coming after two years of denials, will not be seen as confirmation in the minds of many that J Street is what its detractors say — a group that is something less than pro-Israel. The critics, it turns out, were right about Soros; isn’t that going to fan suspicion they were right about other things, as well?

There’s no way this isn’t going to make the politicians supported by J Street and those who may be considering accepting its endorsement incredibly nervous.

And there’s no way this doesn’t sow mistrust among commentators and reporters who write and speak about J Street, and who were repeatedly misled by its officials.

In the world of Jewish politics, this is akin to LBJ losing Walter Cronkite on the Vietnam war. The jig is up. J Street’s credibility is gone among even the most sympathetic of press outlets. No serious pol or Jewish community leader will want to associate himself with a group that is not only anti-Israeli but also funded by an anti-Semite. Any respectable figure in Israeli politics can no longer give Soros Street any attention.

I think we can all agree to stop calling Soros Street a “pro-Israel” group. The only question remaining is how long it will be before Soros Street closes shop, a failed “astroturfing” experiment by the far-left, who can’t really seem to find actual public support for its views.

Chris Good at the Atlantic, not exactly neocon central, is peeved at the J Streeters:

A set of half-truths, non-truths and ambiguities from J Street lead a reasonable person to conclude that the group tried to falsely conceal that George Soros has been one of its largest donors for years, and to falsely claim that it had been ‘open’ about those donations over the past three years. J Street also seemed to distort the fact that it received a large donation from Hong Kong. Some of this happened on the phone with me earlier today.

Now, as Good points out, there is reason to conceal the connection: “More broadly, Soros is toxic to the American Jewish community, having suggested that Israel’s policies contributed to global anti-Semitism. President Obama, at one point, had to distance himself from Soros because of Soros’s views on Israel.”

Another liberal Jewish publication is similarly fed up with Soros Street. The Jewish Week:

You gotta wonder why people in politics lie when the things they’re lying about will inevitably come to light. … Why this is stupid: there’s no way this information wasn’t going to come out. There’s no way this revelation, coming after two years of denials, will not be seen as confirmation in the minds of many that J Street is what its detractors say — a group that is something less than pro-Israel. The critics, it turns out, were right about Soros; isn’t that going to fan suspicion they were right about other things, as well?

There’s no way this isn’t going to make the politicians supported by J Street and those who may be considering accepting its endorsement incredibly nervous.

And there’s no way this doesn’t sow mistrust among commentators and reporters who write and speak about J Street, and who were repeatedly misled by its officials.

In the world of Jewish politics, this is akin to LBJ losing Walter Cronkite on the Vietnam war. The jig is up. J Street’s credibility is gone among even the most sympathetic of press outlets. No serious pol or Jewish community leader will want to associate himself with a group that is not only anti-Israeli but also funded by an anti-Semite. Any respectable figure in Israeli politics can no longer give Soros Street any attention.

I think we can all agree to stop calling Soros Street a “pro-Israel” group. The only question remaining is how long it will be before Soros Street closes shop, a failed “astroturfing” experiment by the far-left, who can’t really seem to find actual public support for its views.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

It’s getting harder for Jeffrey Goldberg to be protective of J Street when Jeremy Ben Ami lies to Goldberg’s colleague.

It’s getting harder to pretend that this election will be anything but a Democratic disaster. “With a little over a month until Election Day, Congressional Republicans have the clear advantage with voters nationwide, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll says. In a generic ballot match-up, the Republican leads the Democrat by 9 points among likely voters — 53 percent to 44 percent. … But the new survey suggests Republicans could be in even a better position than they were in 1994, when the GOP stunned the Democrats with their gain of 54 seats in the House and eight seats in the upper chamber.”

It’s getting harder to maintain the position that the Democrats deserve to govern. “Amid a high stakes struggle to connect with voters, House Democrats turned Friday to celebrity comedian Stephen Colbert to highlight the plight of migrant farm workers. He promptly returned the favor by turning Congress — specifically a Judiciary subcommittee — into his personal comedy club.”

It’s getting harder for Democrats to keep their base in line. “Liberals are expressing outrage that Democrats are not holding a vote to extend tax cuts for the middle class before the elections.”

It’s getting harder for Obama to come up with a plausible rationale for why his Iranian engagement policy makes sense. “To have a President [Ahmadinejad] who makes outrageous, offensive statements like this does not serve the interests of the Iranian people, does not strengthen Iran’s stature in the world community. And there is an easy solution to this, which is to have a Iranian government act responsibly in the international community, along the lines of not just basic codes of conduct or diplomatic norms, but just basic humanity and common decency.” Umm, but doesn’t Ahmadinejad’s speech suggest that … oh, never mind. I think Obama is hopeless (and also unwilling to suggest military force as a viable option).

It’s getting harder for Democrats to keep their heads about them. Bill Kristol writes, “[T]he Democratic party is in meltdown, the Obama White House is in disarray, and the voters are in rebellion against both of them. … It looks as if 2010 will be a bigger electoral landslide than 1994, and more significant as well.”

It’s getting harder to pretend the Tea Partiers are unsophisticated. Larry Kudlow points out that they are a lot brighter than the Beltway economic geniuses: “With all the Fed’s pump-priming since late 2008, there is still $1 trillion of excess bank reserves sitting on deposit at the central bank. This massive cash hoard suggests that liquidity is not the problem for the financial system or the economy. And putting another $1 trillion into excess reserves only doubles the problem. A much better idea would be a fiscal freeze on spending, tax rates and regulations. This is apparently what the tea-party-driven Republican congressional leaders intend for their election platform.” Sure is.

It’s getting harder for Jeffrey Goldberg to be protective of J Street when Jeremy Ben Ami lies to Goldberg’s colleague.

It’s getting harder to pretend that this election will be anything but a Democratic disaster. “With a little over a month until Election Day, Congressional Republicans have the clear advantage with voters nationwide, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll says. In a generic ballot match-up, the Republican leads the Democrat by 9 points among likely voters — 53 percent to 44 percent. … But the new survey suggests Republicans could be in even a better position than they were in 1994, when the GOP stunned the Democrats with their gain of 54 seats in the House and eight seats in the upper chamber.”

It’s getting harder to maintain the position that the Democrats deserve to govern. “Amid a high stakes struggle to connect with voters, House Democrats turned Friday to celebrity comedian Stephen Colbert to highlight the plight of migrant farm workers. He promptly returned the favor by turning Congress — specifically a Judiciary subcommittee — into his personal comedy club.”

It’s getting harder for Democrats to keep their base in line. “Liberals are expressing outrage that Democrats are not holding a vote to extend tax cuts for the middle class before the elections.”

It’s getting harder for Obama to come up with a plausible rationale for why his Iranian engagement policy makes sense. “To have a President [Ahmadinejad] who makes outrageous, offensive statements like this does not serve the interests of the Iranian people, does not strengthen Iran’s stature in the world community. And there is an easy solution to this, which is to have a Iranian government act responsibly in the international community, along the lines of not just basic codes of conduct or diplomatic norms, but just basic humanity and common decency.” Umm, but doesn’t Ahmadinejad’s speech suggest that … oh, never mind. I think Obama is hopeless (and also unwilling to suggest military force as a viable option).

It’s getting harder for Democrats to keep their heads about them. Bill Kristol writes, “[T]he Democratic party is in meltdown, the Obama White House is in disarray, and the voters are in rebellion against both of them. … It looks as if 2010 will be a bigger electoral landslide than 1994, and more significant as well.”

It’s getting harder to pretend the Tea Partiers are unsophisticated. Larry Kudlow points out that they are a lot brighter than the Beltway economic geniuses: “With all the Fed’s pump-priming since late 2008, there is still $1 trillion of excess bank reserves sitting on deposit at the central bank. This massive cash hoard suggests that liquidity is not the problem for the financial system or the economy. And putting another $1 trillion into excess reserves only doubles the problem. A much better idea would be a fiscal freeze on spending, tax rates and regulations. This is apparently what the tea-party-driven Republican congressional leaders intend for their election platform.” Sure is.

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