Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 28, 2010

Missing the Big Picture in Sudan

John Bolton has a good opinion piece about the upcoming (January 2011) referendum on independence for Southern Sudan. He points out that a break-up and its aftermath are likely to have repercussions for the internal ethnic disputes in many nations across Africa. The Obama administration, he says, is miscalculating badly in its carrot-and-stick approach to the Bashir government in Khartoum; its policy of “appeasing Khartoum” is only making the situation worse.

There are other considerations as well. Khartoum and the southern insurgency aren’t conducting their messy business in a vacuum. They’ve got plenty of outside help. China has been known for some years as the principal backer of the Bashir regime, but the southern insurgency is gaining patrons of its own from among the globe’s usual suspects in king-making and insurgency-arming. Russian and German international firms are taking out a big stake in Southern Sudan — and the Russians may be arming the South.

As Bolton notes, the majority of Sudan’s proven oil and gas reserves are concentrated in the territory that would go to the South in a break-up. Less visible to most Americans is the fact that the South is landlocked, and, under current conditions, largely inaccessible to modern transport facilities. The region’s aging and inadequate infrastructure has been an insuperable obstacle to independent economic development. This shortfall has made UN-contracted air links — in which Russian peacekeepers and aviation companies have figured prominently — a lifeline for Southern Sudan. It has also meant that any independence achieved by the South would be vulnerable and contingent.

This past weekend, however, African new outlets were full of a story that has been building since 2007. A consortium made up of German giant ThyssenKrupp, Russia’s MosMetrostroy, and the Texas-based firm Ayr Logistics Group will begin work in October on a long-planned modern rail line from Southern Sudan to Uganda — and ultimately, it is hoped, to the Kenyan ports of Mombasa and Lamu. This is somewhat more than just good news for Southern Sudan’s economic prospects. By promising to confer independent economic viability on the South, the rail project increases the stakes for everyone involved. From Khartoum’s perspective, the meaning of political independence for Southern Sudan will expand dramatically, and to Khartoum’s disadvantage, this would happen when the railroad becomes operational.

China has put a great deal into the national government in Khartoum and will view with disfavor the prospect of an economically connected South seceding with most of the oil and gas. Russia is positioned well to bolster the South’s bid for independence, however, with its commercial stake in the region’s development and its military force deployed with the UN peacekeepers. In a sign that Moscow recognizes the freighted significance of a North-South breakup, the Russians have recently sold the South 10 military transport helicopters, which can easily be fitted with weapons.

China also has a peacekeeping force in Darfur, however, and has been implicated this year in direct military support to the Bashir regime. The conditions are aligning for Sudan’s internal arrangements to become a proxy showdown for China and Russia, the world’s most brutal competitors for natural resources. Only one nation has the stature and power to discourage the Sudan question from hardening into such a proxy clash, to the detriment of the Sudanese people and the surrounding region. But as John Bolton observes, the U.S. administration is narrowly focused on incentivizing the Bashir regime with an all-carrot approach — a strategy that could hardly be surpassed for sheer uselessness.

John Bolton has a good opinion piece about the upcoming (January 2011) referendum on independence for Southern Sudan. He points out that a break-up and its aftermath are likely to have repercussions for the internal ethnic disputes in many nations across Africa. The Obama administration, he says, is miscalculating badly in its carrot-and-stick approach to the Bashir government in Khartoum; its policy of “appeasing Khartoum” is only making the situation worse.

There are other considerations as well. Khartoum and the southern insurgency aren’t conducting their messy business in a vacuum. They’ve got plenty of outside help. China has been known for some years as the principal backer of the Bashir regime, but the southern insurgency is gaining patrons of its own from among the globe’s usual suspects in king-making and insurgency-arming. Russian and German international firms are taking out a big stake in Southern Sudan — and the Russians may be arming the South.

As Bolton notes, the majority of Sudan’s proven oil and gas reserves are concentrated in the territory that would go to the South in a break-up. Less visible to most Americans is the fact that the South is landlocked, and, under current conditions, largely inaccessible to modern transport facilities. The region’s aging and inadequate infrastructure has been an insuperable obstacle to independent economic development. This shortfall has made UN-contracted air links — in which Russian peacekeepers and aviation companies have figured prominently — a lifeline for Southern Sudan. It has also meant that any independence achieved by the South would be vulnerable and contingent.

This past weekend, however, African new outlets were full of a story that has been building since 2007. A consortium made up of German giant ThyssenKrupp, Russia’s MosMetrostroy, and the Texas-based firm Ayr Logistics Group will begin work in October on a long-planned modern rail line from Southern Sudan to Uganda — and ultimately, it is hoped, to the Kenyan ports of Mombasa and Lamu. This is somewhat more than just good news for Southern Sudan’s economic prospects. By promising to confer independent economic viability on the South, the rail project increases the stakes for everyone involved. From Khartoum’s perspective, the meaning of political independence for Southern Sudan will expand dramatically, and to Khartoum’s disadvantage, this would happen when the railroad becomes operational.

China has put a great deal into the national government in Khartoum and will view with disfavor the prospect of an economically connected South seceding with most of the oil and gas. Russia is positioned well to bolster the South’s bid for independence, however, with its commercial stake in the region’s development and its military force deployed with the UN peacekeepers. In a sign that Moscow recognizes the freighted significance of a North-South breakup, the Russians have recently sold the South 10 military transport helicopters, which can easily be fitted with weapons.

China also has a peacekeeping force in Darfur, however, and has been implicated this year in direct military support to the Bashir regime. The conditions are aligning for Sudan’s internal arrangements to become a proxy showdown for China and Russia, the world’s most brutal competitors for natural resources. Only one nation has the stature and power to discourage the Sudan question from hardening into such a proxy clash, to the detriment of the Sudanese people and the surrounding region. But as John Bolton observes, the U.S. administration is narrowly focused on incentivizing the Bashir regime with an all-carrot approach — a strategy that could hardly be surpassed for sheer uselessness.

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Blaming Bibi

Peter Beinart seems to have decided to pick up where Soros Street left off. Maybe with Soros Street in rubble, Beinart fancies himself as the leader of the “Israel is responsible for all bad things” movement. Perhaps he is miffed that Time magazine got all the attention for suggesting Jews just care about money. But he was out with another rant, claiming the refusal to extend the moratorium means Israel isn’t serious about peace. Problem: not even the Obami take this position. And, by the way, Abbas has not walked out.

Like most every other garden-variety Israel-basher, Beinart insists “the problem — or at least a crucial problem — is settlements.” But, George Bush managed to encourage negotiations, as Rick pointed out, with a common-sense compromise. (Israel could build “up” and “in” but not “out.”) Could it be that the problem now is the obsessive focus on the issue by Obama and the left? And maybe that the bigger problem is the 60 years of Palestinian rejectionism?

It is getting harder to cast Israel in the role of the villain, given that Abbas has made it clear he will not — or won’t be allowed to by the Arab League, which now has him on a short leash — recognize Israel as the Jewish state. So Beinart just ignores that inconvenient fact. He is quite peeved to find out there is no market in American Jewry for blaming Israel for everything. He concludes: “To be labeled a champion of peace by the American Jewish establishment, it turns out, a prime minister of Israel only really has to do one thing: be prime minister of Israel.” Actually, the only thing an Israeli prime minister has to do to be excoriated by the left is to be the prime minister of Israel.

Peter Beinart seems to have decided to pick up where Soros Street left off. Maybe with Soros Street in rubble, Beinart fancies himself as the leader of the “Israel is responsible for all bad things” movement. Perhaps he is miffed that Time magazine got all the attention for suggesting Jews just care about money. But he was out with another rant, claiming the refusal to extend the moratorium means Israel isn’t serious about peace. Problem: not even the Obami take this position. And, by the way, Abbas has not walked out.

Like most every other garden-variety Israel-basher, Beinart insists “the problem — or at least a crucial problem — is settlements.” But, George Bush managed to encourage negotiations, as Rick pointed out, with a common-sense compromise. (Israel could build “up” and “in” but not “out.”) Could it be that the problem now is the obsessive focus on the issue by Obama and the left? And maybe that the bigger problem is the 60 years of Palestinian rejectionism?

It is getting harder to cast Israel in the role of the villain, given that Abbas has made it clear he will not — or won’t be allowed to by the Arab League, which now has him on a short leash — recognize Israel as the Jewish state. So Beinart just ignores that inconvenient fact. He is quite peeved to find out there is no market in American Jewry for blaming Israel for everything. He concludes: “To be labeled a champion of peace by the American Jewish establishment, it turns out, a prime minister of Israel only really has to do one thing: be prime minister of Israel.” Actually, the only thing an Israeli prime minister has to do to be excoriated by the left is to be the prime minister of Israel.

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Has Liberal Washington Figured Out the Palestinians?

During the course of his first year and a half in office, President Barack Obama demonstrated time and again that he was not shy about placing pressure on Israel. Having picked fights with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Jewish settlements in the West Bank soon after both men assumed their posts in 2009, and then again in 2010, over a housing start in Jerusalem during a visit to Israel by Vice President Joseph Biden, Obama’s antipathy for the Israeli government is well established. But in spite of this, something interesting is happening in Washington as the peace talks promoted by Obama have foundered on the question of whether Israel will agree to renew a freeze on settlements as a precondition for the Palestinians’ continued presence at the table: Israel isn’t being blamed for the mess.

Some in the administration and even the established media have stumbled upon the fact that, as Ben Smith wrote yesterday in Politico, the problem is “the Palestinian insistence that one issue — settlements — be resolved before talks can begin.” This means that “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is now feeling some of the heat reserved last year for Netanyahu, and facing the prospect that if he fulfills his promise to withdraw from talks, he will bear the full blame for their collapse.” Smith even quotes Palestinian propagandist Hussein Ibish as admitting that the “onus is on the Palestinians not to walk away.”

Previous negotiations have always foundered on the Palestinians’ refusal to take yes for an answer, since in 2000 and again in 2008 their leaders refused Israeli offers of a state and territory that included most of the West Bank, all of Gaza, and a share of Jerusalem. Given the importance that Obama has put on this latest round of talks, which he has promoted, it was crucial for Abbas to see to it that the talks’ eventual failure (since fail they must, as Abbas knows he cannot sell even the most generous peace accord to his followers or his Hamas rivals) would be credited to Netanyahu, who was already disliked by the administration. But Abbas’s attempt to scuttle Obama’s show by not engaging in talks until the last weeks before the settlement freeze was ready to expire has apparently backfired. Though Abbas was probably confident that he could outmaneuver Netanyahu, he has failed, and as Smith says, the “arrow” indicating blame is now pointing to Abbas. As disliked as Netanyahu may be by both the Washington media and the White House, it is now more than obvious even in those quarters that whether or not the PA president walks out of the talks, Abbas has little interest in good-faith negotiations.

Just as important is that the tilt in the blame game illustrates the utter bankruptcy of the attempts by the left-wing J Street lobby to bring pressure to bear on the Israeli government and undermine its base of support in Congress and among American Jews.

There are many reasons for the Soros-funded group’s failure, such as its lack of a viable constituency and the deft maneuvering of Netanyahu, which enabled him to weather a period of insult and pressure from Obama while maintaining a solid base of support at home. But most of all, J Street’s failure must be credited to the Palestinians, whose insincerity and fundamental inability to make peace with a Jewish state, no matter where its borders may be drawn, renders the leftist group’s agenda of pressure on Israel pointless.

During the course of his first year and a half in office, President Barack Obama demonstrated time and again that he was not shy about placing pressure on Israel. Having picked fights with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Jewish settlements in the West Bank soon after both men assumed their posts in 2009, and then again in 2010, over a housing start in Jerusalem during a visit to Israel by Vice President Joseph Biden, Obama’s antipathy for the Israeli government is well established. But in spite of this, something interesting is happening in Washington as the peace talks promoted by Obama have foundered on the question of whether Israel will agree to renew a freeze on settlements as a precondition for the Palestinians’ continued presence at the table: Israel isn’t being blamed for the mess.

Some in the administration and even the established media have stumbled upon the fact that, as Ben Smith wrote yesterday in Politico, the problem is “the Palestinian insistence that one issue — settlements — be resolved before talks can begin.” This means that “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is now feeling some of the heat reserved last year for Netanyahu, and facing the prospect that if he fulfills his promise to withdraw from talks, he will bear the full blame for their collapse.” Smith even quotes Palestinian propagandist Hussein Ibish as admitting that the “onus is on the Palestinians not to walk away.”

Previous negotiations have always foundered on the Palestinians’ refusal to take yes for an answer, since in 2000 and again in 2008 their leaders refused Israeli offers of a state and territory that included most of the West Bank, all of Gaza, and a share of Jerusalem. Given the importance that Obama has put on this latest round of talks, which he has promoted, it was crucial for Abbas to see to it that the talks’ eventual failure (since fail they must, as Abbas knows he cannot sell even the most generous peace accord to his followers or his Hamas rivals) would be credited to Netanyahu, who was already disliked by the administration. But Abbas’s attempt to scuttle Obama’s show by not engaging in talks until the last weeks before the settlement freeze was ready to expire has apparently backfired. Though Abbas was probably confident that he could outmaneuver Netanyahu, he has failed, and as Smith says, the “arrow” indicating blame is now pointing to Abbas. As disliked as Netanyahu may be by both the Washington media and the White House, it is now more than obvious even in those quarters that whether or not the PA president walks out of the talks, Abbas has little interest in good-faith negotiations.

Just as important is that the tilt in the blame game illustrates the utter bankruptcy of the attempts by the left-wing J Street lobby to bring pressure to bear on the Israeli government and undermine its base of support in Congress and among American Jews.

There are many reasons for the Soros-funded group’s failure, such as its lack of a viable constituency and the deft maneuvering of Netanyahu, which enabled him to weather a period of insult and pressure from Obama while maintaining a solid base of support at home. But most of all, J Street’s failure must be credited to the Palestinians, whose insincerity and fundamental inability to make peace with a Jewish state, no matter where its borders may be drawn, renders the leftist group’s agenda of pressure on Israel pointless.

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: “They’re Doing the J Street Jive”

Given the recent revelations regarding the J Street/George Soros connection, Noah Pollak’s April 2009 COMMENTARY article, “They’re Doing the J Street Jive,” seems particularly apt and timely:

In December 2008, two weeks before Hamas abandoned the six-month lull in its rocket war against Israel, the founder and executive director of the new lobbying group J Street delivered a message via YouTube to potential supporters. Appearing in a crisply pressed pale blue button-down, Jeremy Ben-Ami offered a personalized explanation for why, eight months earlier, he had launched a self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization that hoped to change the way the United States government dealt with Israel. In an earnest, confessional style, Ben-Ami explained that in past years,

I felt that I didn’t have a voice in American politics when it came to Israel and the Middle East. . . . When I came back [from living in Israel in the late 1990’s] and I told people that I favored a Palestinian state, that I was a supporter of peace, and in recent years when I’ve said that I don’t think it makes sense for us to militarily attack Iran, I was told that I was insufficiently pro-Israel. Well, I’ll tell you, I find that unacceptable. I don’t find it Jewish. I don’t find it American to not allow people to express alternative opinions, and I certainly don’t find it to be pro-Israel. . . . I’ve decided that I had to speak out.

To read the rest of this article, click here.

Given the recent revelations regarding the J Street/George Soros connection, Noah Pollak’s April 2009 COMMENTARY article, “They’re Doing the J Street Jive,” seems particularly apt and timely:

In December 2008, two weeks before Hamas abandoned the six-month lull in its rocket war against Israel, the founder and executive director of the new lobbying group J Street delivered a message via YouTube to potential supporters. Appearing in a crisply pressed pale blue button-down, Jeremy Ben-Ami offered a personalized explanation for why, eight months earlier, he had launched a self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization that hoped to change the way the United States government dealt with Israel. In an earnest, confessional style, Ben-Ami explained that in past years,

I felt that I didn’t have a voice in American politics when it came to Israel and the Middle East. . . . When I came back [from living in Israel in the late 1990’s] and I told people that I favored a Palestinian state, that I was a supporter of peace, and in recent years when I’ve said that I don’t think it makes sense for us to militarily attack Iran, I was told that I was insufficiently pro-Israel. Well, I’ll tell you, I find that unacceptable. I don’t find it Jewish. I don’t find it American to not allow people to express alternative opinions, and I certainly don’t find it to be pro-Israel. . . . I’ve decided that I had to speak out.

To read the rest of this article, click here.

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Toomey Demands Sestak Give Back Soros’s Money

The Pat Toomey campaign has put out a statement that cites the reports of J Street’s connection to George Soros and that lists the “far-left” groups Joe Sestak has aligned himself. They include MoveOn.org (“The radical group also funded by George Soros has received bipartisan condemnation for its anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric and its history of inaccurate and inflammatory ads. Joe Sestak has received MoveOn.Org’s endorsement and over $150,000 from the group this election cycle”), CAIR, and Citizens for Global Solutions. As to the latter, the statement explains:

Congressman Sestak has embraced this group’s radical views, supporting a doubling of foreign aid to corrupt regimes and the United States’ participation in the International Criminal Court.  Sestak has been endorsed by CGS every election cycle and received $9,200 from the group, making him their number one recipient. The group is so extreme, Senator Bob Casey returned CGS’s $5,000 contribution when he ran for Senate in 2006.

Toomey’s communications director says: “Congressman Sestak shows a very consistent and disturbing pattern of aligning himself with political organizations that attack Israel and the Jewish community, or are funded by individuals who are hostile to Israel. … Sestak says he’s pro-Israel, but at some point, his consistent alignment with the likes of George Soros, MoveOn.Org, CAIR, and J Street makes that claim just flat-out not believable.”

As I wrote earlier, how long before the rest of  the opponents of the J Street endorsees do this?

The Pat Toomey campaign has put out a statement that cites the reports of J Street’s connection to George Soros and that lists the “far-left” groups Joe Sestak has aligned himself. They include MoveOn.org (“The radical group also funded by George Soros has received bipartisan condemnation for its anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric and its history of inaccurate and inflammatory ads. Joe Sestak has received MoveOn.Org’s endorsement and over $150,000 from the group this election cycle”), CAIR, and Citizens for Global Solutions. As to the latter, the statement explains:

Congressman Sestak has embraced this group’s radical views, supporting a doubling of foreign aid to corrupt regimes and the United States’ participation in the International Criminal Court.  Sestak has been endorsed by CGS every election cycle and received $9,200 from the group, making him their number one recipient. The group is so extreme, Senator Bob Casey returned CGS’s $5,000 contribution when he ran for Senate in 2006.

Toomey’s communications director says: “Congressman Sestak shows a very consistent and disturbing pattern of aligning himself with political organizations that attack Israel and the Jewish community, or are funded by individuals who are hostile to Israel. … Sestak says he’s pro-Israel, but at some point, his consistent alignment with the likes of George Soros, MoveOn.Org, CAIR, and J Street makes that claim just flat-out not believable.”

As I wrote earlier, how long before the rest of  the opponents of the J Street endorsees do this?

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RE: The Same Mistake

It is not simply that Obama keeps making the same mistake — public demands on Israel for pre-negotiation concessions that no Israeli prime minister would accept, nor could accept once the demands were made public — but that Obama made an even more fundamental error from the very beginning: redefining a realistic “settlement freeze” into an unrealistic “construction freeze.”

During the Bush administration, there was an informal understanding that a “settlement freeze” meant no new settlements and no expansion of the boundaries of existing ones. Such a definition permitted normal construction within existing areas without reducing the area that might eventually be transferred to a future Palestinian state. It enabled Israel to accept the Roadmap and then to engage in the Annapolis Process — which produced still another offer of a Palestinian state on nearly the entire West Bank — and thus demonstrated that settlements were not an obstacle to the peace process. On the contrary, the major settlement blocs were either adjacent to the Green Line or located in strategically important areas that — as the 2004 Bush letter formally recognized — were going to be retained by Israel in any foreseeable peace agreement.

Obama decided to renege on that understanding, declined to endorse the Bush letter itself, and proceeded to embark on successive attempts to stop all settlement building — resulting in the ludicrous situation of George Mitchell suggesting that a freeze in “natural growth” meant a restriction on the number of births within the settlements. Obama then created a major diplomatic crisis out of an administrative announcement of future construction in a Jewish area of Jerusalem. This month, he publicly castigated the settlements in a formal speech at the UN, seemingly oblivious to the effect his words have on the Palestinian insistence that Israel concede a fundamental issue before negotiations have begun.

There is a logical way out of this morass — simply revert to the definition of a “settlement freeze” that previously governed the peace process and that permitted it to proceed without concessions on the issue by either side. But this would require Obama to acknowledge that he inherited a solution from George W. Bush and substituted a mess.

It is not simply that Obama keeps making the same mistake — public demands on Israel for pre-negotiation concessions that no Israeli prime minister would accept, nor could accept once the demands were made public — but that Obama made an even more fundamental error from the very beginning: redefining a realistic “settlement freeze” into an unrealistic “construction freeze.”

During the Bush administration, there was an informal understanding that a “settlement freeze” meant no new settlements and no expansion of the boundaries of existing ones. Such a definition permitted normal construction within existing areas without reducing the area that might eventually be transferred to a future Palestinian state. It enabled Israel to accept the Roadmap and then to engage in the Annapolis Process — which produced still another offer of a Palestinian state on nearly the entire West Bank — and thus demonstrated that settlements were not an obstacle to the peace process. On the contrary, the major settlement blocs were either adjacent to the Green Line or located in strategically important areas that — as the 2004 Bush letter formally recognized — were going to be retained by Israel in any foreseeable peace agreement.

Obama decided to renege on that understanding, declined to endorse the Bush letter itself, and proceeded to embark on successive attempts to stop all settlement building — resulting in the ludicrous situation of George Mitchell suggesting that a freeze in “natural growth” meant a restriction on the number of births within the settlements. Obama then created a major diplomatic crisis out of an administrative announcement of future construction in a Jewish area of Jerusalem. This month, he publicly castigated the settlements in a formal speech at the UN, seemingly oblivious to the effect his words have on the Palestinian insistence that Israel concede a fundamental issue before negotiations have begun.

There is a logical way out of this morass — simply revert to the definition of a “settlement freeze” that previously governed the peace process and that permitted it to proceed without concessions on the issue by either side. But this would require Obama to acknowledge that he inherited a solution from George W. Bush and substituted a mess.

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Senate Slipping Away from the Dems

Liberals got very excited when Delaware Republicans made an imprudent selection in the Senate primary. They proclaimed the Senate was now “safe.” Not so fast.

Today we see that Richard Blumenthal’s lead has been cut to three points in Connecticut (voters in this solid Blue state disapprove of Obama’s performance by a 51-to-45 margin), Republican John Raese has moved ahead in West Virginia, and Russ Feingold now trails by eight points. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Ken Buck leads Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet by four points, Mark Kirk narrowly leads (42 to 40 percent) in Illinois, and Dino Rossi is only one point back in Washington.

There are no Republican Senate seats that look at risk at this point. (Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Alaska, and New Hampshire look safe for the GOP.) Here are the list of Democratic seats in which the GOP challenger is ahead or within the margin of error in recent polling: Arkansas, North Dakota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, Connecticut, Nevada, West Virginia, and Washington. Meanwhile, the races in California and New York remain competitive. Put another way, there are less than 50 safe Democratic seats at this point. Of the 13 Republican seats I have listed, the GOP can lose three and still win the Senate. The GOP sure would have liked to have Delaware in the bag, but it may not be necessary.

Liberals got very excited when Delaware Republicans made an imprudent selection in the Senate primary. They proclaimed the Senate was now “safe.” Not so fast.

Today we see that Richard Blumenthal’s lead has been cut to three points in Connecticut (voters in this solid Blue state disapprove of Obama’s performance by a 51-to-45 margin), Republican John Raese has moved ahead in West Virginia, and Russ Feingold now trails by eight points. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Ken Buck leads Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet by four points, Mark Kirk narrowly leads (42 to 40 percent) in Illinois, and Dino Rossi is only one point back in Washington.

There are no Republican Senate seats that look at risk at this point. (Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Alaska, and New Hampshire look safe for the GOP.) Here are the list of Democratic seats in which the GOP challenger is ahead or within the margin of error in recent polling: Arkansas, North Dakota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, Connecticut, Nevada, West Virginia, and Washington. Meanwhile, the races in California and New York remain competitive. Put another way, there are less than 50 safe Democratic seats at this point. Of the 13 Republican seats I have listed, the GOP can lose three and still win the Senate. The GOP sure would have liked to have Delaware in the bag, but it may not be necessary.

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RE: J Street’s Dead End

The sure sign that Soros Street is kaput? Jeffrey Goldberg, who has defended the group’s bona fides, now calls it “ostensibly” pro-Israel. Even worse, he proclaims, in reference to the apparent retreat of the Obami from a blame-Bibi maneuver in the event of a collapse of the non-peace talks, that “AIPAC has won. J Street has lost.”

Or, to put it differently, those who argued from the get-go that J Street was not a pro-Israel group at all but rather an anti-Israel one masquerading as the opposite, adopting the language and position of Israel’s enemies and working in concert with overtly anti-Israel figures and groups (e.g., NIAC), have won. The administration, which cozied up to to the faux-Zionist organization, Soros Street’s defenders, and the politicians who took money from Soros Street, have lost. Big time.

The sure sign that Soros Street is kaput? Jeffrey Goldberg, who has defended the group’s bona fides, now calls it “ostensibly” pro-Israel. Even worse, he proclaims, in reference to the apparent retreat of the Obami from a blame-Bibi maneuver in the event of a collapse of the non-peace talks, that “AIPAC has won. J Street has lost.”

Or, to put it differently, those who argued from the get-go that J Street was not a pro-Israel group at all but rather an anti-Israel one masquerading as the opposite, adopting the language and position of Israel’s enemies and working in concert with overtly anti-Israel figures and groups (e.g., NIAC), have won. The administration, which cozied up to to the faux-Zionist organization, Soros Street’s defenders, and the politicians who took money from Soros Street, have lost. Big time.

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J Street’s Dead End

Easy prediction: the revelation that J Street has been underwritten by George Soros, who has used the anti-Semitic canard that Jews cause anti-Semitism, and a mystery woman from Hong Kong, and that it has lied about its Soros connection, will spell the end of J Street. It might limp along, but its days as a player – or wanna-be player, more precisely – are over. The Jewish press has excoriated it. Mainstream Jewish leaders are doing the same. Eli Lake, who broke the initial  story of the Soros connection, reports:

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Monday that The Times story was important because it exposed how Mr. Soros was funding J Street despite previous denials from the group. … Mr. Hoenlein said “this is further evidence of the duplicity that they have manifested all along, portraying themselves as something they are not, and engaging in attacks against others when they should have been taking care of their own house.”

More important, it has become politically radioactive. The White House wouldn’t comment on Soros Street or whether it will enjoy the same cozy relationship it did when it concealed its Soros ties. Minority Whip (soon to be Majority Leader) Eric Cantor turned up the heat:

In an interview Monday, Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican and House minority whip, said: “The White House needs to disassociate itself from J Street, denounce J Street and cut off all ties.”

Mr. Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House, added that “I am hopeful this revelation will now cause people to begin to ignore what they say. They are not reflecting the mainstream position of the pro-Israel community in America, nor do I think they help benefit the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

J Street’s beneficiaries, like Rep. Steve Cohen, are offering a nominal defense, but it’s hard to see others throwing themselves on Soros’s grenade.

Joel Pollak, who is running against J Street endorsee Jan Schakowsky, is calling on his opponent to give back the Soros money:

Jan Schakowsky is one of the top recipients of campaign cash from J Street, the far-left organization that opposes Israel at every opportunity. It turns out that J Street has taken $750,000 from George Soros, despite the earlier denials of J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami. And J Street took even more money–almost half of its budget–from a foreign donor in Hong Kong. The organization has lost any credibility it may have had.

Thus far this election cycle, Schakowsky has received tens of thousands of dollars from J Street–close to $50,000, according to OpenSecrets.org, and perhaps twice as much in reality. J Street has made me their #1 target in the 2010 election, because I have taken on their leaders and their misguided policies–and also because I received the endorsement of Alan Dershowitz, whom J Street attacks, among other Jewish leaders. … In February, Jan Schakowsky boasted: “I’ve been a supporter of J Street since its inception.” In June, she thanked J Street for its money. Today, it’s time for her to cut her ties to J Street and give back the cash.

How long before others do the same?

J Street operated under the guise that it was a legitimate grassroots, pro-Israel organization. Its positions have demonstrated that it is anything but pro-Israel. The Soros revelation demonstrates that it is not a genuine expression of  “liberal Zionism” (we’ll leave discussion of that oxymoron for another time). If Democrats are really concerned with the influence of shadowy money in politics, cutting ties and returning the dirty Soros Street loot is the best way to prove their concern for the health of our democratic process. And you don’t need a law that tramples on the First Amendment to do it. Just give back the cash.

Easy prediction: the revelation that J Street has been underwritten by George Soros, who has used the anti-Semitic canard that Jews cause anti-Semitism, and a mystery woman from Hong Kong, and that it has lied about its Soros connection, will spell the end of J Street. It might limp along, but its days as a player – or wanna-be player, more precisely – are over. The Jewish press has excoriated it. Mainstream Jewish leaders are doing the same. Eli Lake, who broke the initial  story of the Soros connection, reports:

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Monday that The Times story was important because it exposed how Mr. Soros was funding J Street despite previous denials from the group. … Mr. Hoenlein said “this is further evidence of the duplicity that they have manifested all along, portraying themselves as something they are not, and engaging in attacks against others when they should have been taking care of their own house.”

More important, it has become politically radioactive. The White House wouldn’t comment on Soros Street or whether it will enjoy the same cozy relationship it did when it concealed its Soros ties. Minority Whip (soon to be Majority Leader) Eric Cantor turned up the heat:

In an interview Monday, Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican and House minority whip, said: “The White House needs to disassociate itself from J Street, denounce J Street and cut off all ties.”

Mr. Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House, added that “I am hopeful this revelation will now cause people to begin to ignore what they say. They are not reflecting the mainstream position of the pro-Israel community in America, nor do I think they help benefit the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

J Street’s beneficiaries, like Rep. Steve Cohen, are offering a nominal defense, but it’s hard to see others throwing themselves on Soros’s grenade.

Joel Pollak, who is running against J Street endorsee Jan Schakowsky, is calling on his opponent to give back the Soros money:

Jan Schakowsky is one of the top recipients of campaign cash from J Street, the far-left organization that opposes Israel at every opportunity. It turns out that J Street has taken $750,000 from George Soros, despite the earlier denials of J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami. And J Street took even more money–almost half of its budget–from a foreign donor in Hong Kong. The organization has lost any credibility it may have had.

Thus far this election cycle, Schakowsky has received tens of thousands of dollars from J Street–close to $50,000, according to OpenSecrets.org, and perhaps twice as much in reality. J Street has made me their #1 target in the 2010 election, because I have taken on their leaders and their misguided policies–and also because I received the endorsement of Alan Dershowitz, whom J Street attacks, among other Jewish leaders. … In February, Jan Schakowsky boasted: “I’ve been a supporter of J Street since its inception.” In June, she thanked J Street for its money. Today, it’s time for her to cut her ties to J Street and give back the cash.

How long before others do the same?

J Street operated under the guise that it was a legitimate grassroots, pro-Israel organization. Its positions have demonstrated that it is anything but pro-Israel. The Soros revelation demonstrates that it is not a genuine expression of  “liberal Zionism” (we’ll leave discussion of that oxymoron for another time). If Democrats are really concerned with the influence of shadowy money in politics, cutting ties and returning the dirty Soros Street loot is the best way to prove their concern for the health of our democratic process. And you don’t need a law that tramples on the First Amendment to do it. Just give back the cash.

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Investigating Mahmoud Karzai

It’s good to read that federal prosecutors in New York are investigating Mahmoud Karzai, President Hamid Karzai’s brother, who, like his siblings, became an instant millionaire when his brother took power. Mahmoud is actually a U.S. citizen, so he is especially vulnerable to American law enforcement. But I have a question and a caveat to offer.

First, I don’t understand why the New York Times is reporting that the NSA is wiretapping Mahmoud. NSA surveillance is one of the most closely held secrets in the U.S. government, so why was it leaked? Possibly to put pressure on Mahmoud, but, if anything, it simply alerts him to be more discreet in his communications. Perhaps someone more savvy in the ways of law enforcement can tell me what’s going on with the leak.

Now the caveat: the goal should not be to throw Mahmoud into jail. The goal should be to apply leverage on his brother, the president, to help clean up Afghan politics. Investigating Mahmoud is a great way to pressure his brother, but actually indicting him and trying to convict him could backfire by making Hamid more intransigent. It is vitally important that this criminal probe be coordinated at the highest levels of the administration with General Petraeus’s headquarters and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to make sure that all the U.S. government actors are on the same page here. Unfortunately, given the Justice Department’s tradition of independence, I suspect that kind of coordination to only happen at the cabinet or even presidential level. Prosecutions, in general, should be made strictly on the merits of the case, but this is a case that is intimately wrapped up with an American war effort in which 100,000 American lives are at risk. Therefore, ordinary law-enforcement concerns need to be subordinated to larger strategic imperatives.

It’s good to read that federal prosecutors in New York are investigating Mahmoud Karzai, President Hamid Karzai’s brother, who, like his siblings, became an instant millionaire when his brother took power. Mahmoud is actually a U.S. citizen, so he is especially vulnerable to American law enforcement. But I have a question and a caveat to offer.

First, I don’t understand why the New York Times is reporting that the NSA is wiretapping Mahmoud. NSA surveillance is one of the most closely held secrets in the U.S. government, so why was it leaked? Possibly to put pressure on Mahmoud, but, if anything, it simply alerts him to be more discreet in his communications. Perhaps someone more savvy in the ways of law enforcement can tell me what’s going on with the leak.

Now the caveat: the goal should not be to throw Mahmoud into jail. The goal should be to apply leverage on his brother, the president, to help clean up Afghan politics. Investigating Mahmoud is a great way to pressure his brother, but actually indicting him and trying to convict him could backfire by making Hamid more intransigent. It is vitally important that this criminal probe be coordinated at the highest levels of the administration with General Petraeus’s headquarters and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to make sure that all the U.S. government actors are on the same page here. Unfortunately, given the Justice Department’s tradition of independence, I suspect that kind of coordination to only happen at the cabinet or even presidential level. Prosecutions, in general, should be made strictly on the merits of the case, but this is a case that is intimately wrapped up with an American war effort in which 100,000 American lives are at risk. Therefore, ordinary law-enforcement concerns need to be subordinated to larger strategic imperatives.

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The Same Mistake

Even Richard Cohen has figured out that it is not Bibi’s intransigence but Obama’s incompetence that is at the root of the non-peace-talks impasse. He writes:

Obama ought to confer with someone who knows the region — and listen to him or her. Trouble is, many experts have told him that his emphasis on settlements was the wrong way to go. As late as last week and the succession of meetings held at the United Nations, it was clear that Netanyahu would not ask his Cabinet to extend the settlement freeze. Yet not only did the White House reject this warning, the president repeated his call for a freeze. “Our position on this issue is well-known,” Obama told the U.N. General Assembly. “We believe that the moratorium should be extended.” Well, it wasn’t. …

The Obama approach to the Israeli-Palestinian problem has been counterproductive. Either the Palestinians have to back down from their — even more importantly, Obama’s — insistence that all settlements be frozen in place or Netanyahu has to back down from his pledge that any moratorium would be temporary. Either Abbas or Netanyahu has to lose credibility and neither man can afford to. They are not mere negotiators; they are heads of government.

Obama, too, has to husband his credibility. He foolishly demanded something Israel could not yet give.

It is not as if this is a new mistake — it is the same one Obama and his “smart” diplomats have made from the onset of his term. The fixation on settlements remains. “From the very start, the president has taken a very hard line against settlements, refusing to distinguish between an apartment in Jerusalem and a hilltop encampment deep in the West Bank. He also seems not to understand their religious, cultural or historical importance to some Jews.”

The pattern repeats itself – Obama beats up on Israel, fails to deliver concessions to the PA,  and then commences begging with the parties not to break off talks and embarrass the U.S. president. Granted, Abbas is no Anwar Sadat, but Obama has made both himself and the PA president look weak and ineffective.

And we shouldn’t forget that we are not remotely close to a peace deal. For the Obami, it is a Herculean task just to keep everyone in the room. It doesn’t fill you with confidence, does it?

Even Richard Cohen has figured out that it is not Bibi’s intransigence but Obama’s incompetence that is at the root of the non-peace-talks impasse. He writes:

Obama ought to confer with someone who knows the region — and listen to him or her. Trouble is, many experts have told him that his emphasis on settlements was the wrong way to go. As late as last week and the succession of meetings held at the United Nations, it was clear that Netanyahu would not ask his Cabinet to extend the settlement freeze. Yet not only did the White House reject this warning, the president repeated his call for a freeze. “Our position on this issue is well-known,” Obama told the U.N. General Assembly. “We believe that the moratorium should be extended.” Well, it wasn’t. …

The Obama approach to the Israeli-Palestinian problem has been counterproductive. Either the Palestinians have to back down from their — even more importantly, Obama’s — insistence that all settlements be frozen in place or Netanyahu has to back down from his pledge that any moratorium would be temporary. Either Abbas or Netanyahu has to lose credibility and neither man can afford to. They are not mere negotiators; they are heads of government.

Obama, too, has to husband his credibility. He foolishly demanded something Israel could not yet give.

It is not as if this is a new mistake — it is the same one Obama and his “smart” diplomats have made from the onset of his term. The fixation on settlements remains. “From the very start, the president has taken a very hard line against settlements, refusing to distinguish between an apartment in Jerusalem and a hilltop encampment deep in the West Bank. He also seems not to understand their religious, cultural or historical importance to some Jews.”

The pattern repeats itself – Obama beats up on Israel, fails to deliver concessions to the PA,  and then commences begging with the parties not to break off talks and embarrass the U.S. president. Granted, Abbas is no Anwar Sadat, but Obama has made both himself and the PA president look weak and ineffective.

And we shouldn’t forget that we are not remotely close to a peace deal. For the Obami, it is a Herculean task just to keep everyone in the room. It doesn’t fill you with confidence, does it?

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The Wrongdoing, the Cover-Up, and Executive Privilege

Like any administration snared in a Beltway scandal, the Obama team has two problems in the New Black Panther Party scandal: the wrongdoing and the cover-up.

The wrongdoing is not merely that the Obama administration dismissed a blatant case of voter intimidation. It is not merely that an NAACP attorney pressured the Obama team to dump the case. It is not merely that the Obama Justice Department explicitly told attorneys not to enforce Section 8 of the Voting Rights Act, which helps prevent voter fraud. It is that the Obama team believes that the civil rights laws run only one way and offer protection only to certain racial or ethnic groups. That’s not the law (or the Equal Protection Clause has no meaning), and it runs afoul of Americans’ basic sense of fairness. That is why the Obama administration denies that it holds such a view. They may be radicals, but they aren’t dumb.

The cover-up takes two forms. There are the false statements put out by the Justice Department and made under oath by the assistant attorney general for civil rights, Thomas Perez, first, denying that political appointees were involved in the case and, second, disclaiming the existence of hostility toward race-neutral enforcement of voting laws. But there is also the Nixonian abuse of executive privilege to prevent scrutiny of the Justice Department. It is this latter issue that has gotten too little attention.

The administration has refused to produce witnesses and documents, employing a spurious claim of “deliberative process” privilege. Case law and Justice Department memoranda make clear that this is an offshoot of the executive privilege that is applicable only when invoked by the president (or, some would say, a Cabinet-level official). But Obama hasn’t done this. After all, “executive privilege” sounds bad. It reeks of “cover-up.” But without a formal invocation of the privilege, it is lawlessness, pure and simple, to withhold documents and witnesses in response to lawful subpoenas, FOIA requests, and a federal statute (which obligates the DOJ to cooperate with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights).

It was both inaccurate and nervy for the Justice Department’s spokesman to claim that Chris Coates’s testimony was short on facts. To begin with, Coates cited example after example to support the conclusion that the Obama team considers only racial, ethnic, and language minorities to be protected by civil rights laws. But more to the point, he was prevented from disclosing even more details because of the administration’s privilege claim. Again and again, Coates explained that he couldn’t answer questions out of respect for the DOJ’s position. Similarly, the log obtained by Judicial Watch lists dozens of e-mails and documents transmitted between political appointees and the voting section that would substantiate testimony by Coates. All that information remains hidden from view because the Justice Department is concealing it.

The mainstream media have just woken up to the extent and importance of the scandal, so perhaps they will get around to this aspect of the case. Yet I get the feeling that if it had been the Bush administration telling whistleblowers not to testify and withholding, absent any legal basis, key documents that could implicate high-ranking officials, the media would have already been all over this.

Like any administration snared in a Beltway scandal, the Obama team has two problems in the New Black Panther Party scandal: the wrongdoing and the cover-up.

The wrongdoing is not merely that the Obama administration dismissed a blatant case of voter intimidation. It is not merely that an NAACP attorney pressured the Obama team to dump the case. It is not merely that the Obama Justice Department explicitly told attorneys not to enforce Section 8 of the Voting Rights Act, which helps prevent voter fraud. It is that the Obama team believes that the civil rights laws run only one way and offer protection only to certain racial or ethnic groups. That’s not the law (or the Equal Protection Clause has no meaning), and it runs afoul of Americans’ basic sense of fairness. That is why the Obama administration denies that it holds such a view. They may be radicals, but they aren’t dumb.

The cover-up takes two forms. There are the false statements put out by the Justice Department and made under oath by the assistant attorney general for civil rights, Thomas Perez, first, denying that political appointees were involved in the case and, second, disclaiming the existence of hostility toward race-neutral enforcement of voting laws. But there is also the Nixonian abuse of executive privilege to prevent scrutiny of the Justice Department. It is this latter issue that has gotten too little attention.

The administration has refused to produce witnesses and documents, employing a spurious claim of “deliberative process” privilege. Case law and Justice Department memoranda make clear that this is an offshoot of the executive privilege that is applicable only when invoked by the president (or, some would say, a Cabinet-level official). But Obama hasn’t done this. After all, “executive privilege” sounds bad. It reeks of “cover-up.” But without a formal invocation of the privilege, it is lawlessness, pure and simple, to withhold documents and witnesses in response to lawful subpoenas, FOIA requests, and a federal statute (which obligates the DOJ to cooperate with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights).

It was both inaccurate and nervy for the Justice Department’s spokesman to claim that Chris Coates’s testimony was short on facts. To begin with, Coates cited example after example to support the conclusion that the Obama team considers only racial, ethnic, and language minorities to be protected by civil rights laws. But more to the point, he was prevented from disclosing even more details because of the administration’s privilege claim. Again and again, Coates explained that he couldn’t answer questions out of respect for the DOJ’s position. Similarly, the log obtained by Judicial Watch lists dozens of e-mails and documents transmitted between political appointees and the voting section that would substantiate testimony by Coates. All that information remains hidden from view because the Justice Department is concealing it.

The mainstream media have just woken up to the extent and importance of the scandal, so perhaps they will get around to this aspect of the case. Yet I get the feeling that if it had been the Bush administration telling whistleblowers not to testify and withholding, absent any legal basis, key documents that could implicate high-ranking officials, the media would have already been all over this.

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Madam Secretary, Do You Care About Human Rights?

The Obama administration fancies itself as a defender of human rights. Obama spoke quite a lot about his commitment to human rights and democracy at the UN last week. Well, here’s a test for the president and his secretary of state.

When last we left the story of Western Sahara, the Polisario Front had nabbed the former inspector general of police, Salma Mustafa Ould Sidi Mouloud, who had the temerity to leave the camps where Sahwaris are warehoused and speak out in favor of the autonomy plan put forth by Morocco. Human rights activists appealed to the UN (good luck with that). Yesterday, Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, (R-Fla.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.) sent a letter to Hillary Clinton, urging her “to work to seek the immediate release of Mr. Sidi Mouloud.” They explain: “He, and everyone in the refugee camps, should be allowed the right to movement, freedom of speech, and liberty.”

Well here’s the Obami’s chance to prove their attention to human rights and multilateral diplomatic skills. Will Clinton do anything more that bear witness to the abduction and silencing of a critic of the Polisario Front?

The congressmen remind Clinton that Sidi Mouloud has been charged with “espionage” and “treason.” In other words, unless international pressure is applied swiftly, his prospects for survival and release are dim.

The Obama administration fancies itself as a defender of human rights. Obama spoke quite a lot about his commitment to human rights and democracy at the UN last week. Well, here’s a test for the president and his secretary of state.

When last we left the story of Western Sahara, the Polisario Front had nabbed the former inspector general of police, Salma Mustafa Ould Sidi Mouloud, who had the temerity to leave the camps where Sahwaris are warehoused and speak out in favor of the autonomy plan put forth by Morocco. Human rights activists appealed to the UN (good luck with that). Yesterday, Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, (R-Fla.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.) sent a letter to Hillary Clinton, urging her “to work to seek the immediate release of Mr. Sidi Mouloud.” They explain: “He, and everyone in the refugee camps, should be allowed the right to movement, freedom of speech, and liberty.”

Well here’s the Obami’s chance to prove their attention to human rights and multilateral diplomatic skills. Will Clinton do anything more that bear witness to the abduction and silencing of a critic of the Polisario Front?

The congressmen remind Clinton that Sidi Mouloud has been charged with “espionage” and “treason.” In other words, unless international pressure is applied swiftly, his prospects for survival and release are dim.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

He’d have a year more experience in a high office than the incumbent did if he ran in 2012. ”Axelrod won’t handicap 2012. Prompted to talk about Chris Christie, he says he ‘likes him,’ and ‘he’s a serious person.’ Axe doubts ‘he would leave a job he just began to run for president.’”

Republicans have more credibility than the Democrats on the economy: “47 percent of those questioned say the economic policies of congressional Republicans are more likely to improve economic conditions, with 41 percent saying Democrats in Congress have the better prescriptions.”

When do the Democrats decide they have spent more than enough money on Joe Sestak’s inept campaign? Two more polls have Toomey solidly ahead.

Eighty-seven senators have had more than enough of Obama’s Israel-bashing. “Eighty-seven U.S. senators have already signed on to a letter, which was initially circulated only three days ago, calling on Obama to publicly pressure Abbas to continue with the direct peace talks begun Sept. 1 in Washington.”

The Obami used to have more charm, no? “Vice President Joe Biden on Monday urged Democrats to overcome their differences and support their candidates at the polls by telling them to ‘stop whining.’”

Have we had a more partisan president? Ed Gillespie: “I’ve never seen a president of the United States on either side of the aisle engage in the kind of personal attacks [on members of Congress] the way President Obama has chosen to do. I’d tell him to focus on the issues. I think that when he goes out there and he stumps, I’m sure [the attacks have] some short-term energizing effect of core voters but it has a very energizing long-term effect for conservatives and independents and drives independents further into Republicans’ arms.”

Perhaps if politicians sent their kids to D.C. schools, they’d have more of a stake in improving them. “President Obama said Monday that his daughters could not get the same level of education from D.C. public schools that they receive at the elite private school they attend.”

He’d have a year more experience in a high office than the incumbent did if he ran in 2012. ”Axelrod won’t handicap 2012. Prompted to talk about Chris Christie, he says he ‘likes him,’ and ‘he’s a serious person.’ Axe doubts ‘he would leave a job he just began to run for president.’”

Republicans have more credibility than the Democrats on the economy: “47 percent of those questioned say the economic policies of congressional Republicans are more likely to improve economic conditions, with 41 percent saying Democrats in Congress have the better prescriptions.”

When do the Democrats decide they have spent more than enough money on Joe Sestak’s inept campaign? Two more polls have Toomey solidly ahead.

Eighty-seven senators have had more than enough of Obama’s Israel-bashing. “Eighty-seven U.S. senators have already signed on to a letter, which was initially circulated only three days ago, calling on Obama to publicly pressure Abbas to continue with the direct peace talks begun Sept. 1 in Washington.”

The Obami used to have more charm, no? “Vice President Joe Biden on Monday urged Democrats to overcome their differences and support their candidates at the polls by telling them to ‘stop whining.’”

Have we had a more partisan president? Ed Gillespie: “I’ve never seen a president of the United States on either side of the aisle engage in the kind of personal attacks [on members of Congress] the way President Obama has chosen to do. I’d tell him to focus on the issues. I think that when he goes out there and he stumps, I’m sure [the attacks have] some short-term energizing effect of core voters but it has a very energizing long-term effect for conservatives and independents and drives independents further into Republicans’ arms.”

Perhaps if politicians sent their kids to D.C. schools, they’d have more of a stake in improving them. “President Obama said Monday that his daughters could not get the same level of education from D.C. public schools that they receive at the elite private school they attend.”

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