Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 5, 2010

Pink Floyd Singer’s Attack on Israel Given an Assist by Its Defenders

The Anti-Defamation League may have unwittingly done pop-rock icon Roger Waters a favor when it came down on him recently like a ton of bricks and accused the Pink Floyd star of anti-Semitism. Unlike filmmaker Oliver Stone, who folded like a cheap suit when the group called out the conspiracy-monger for regurgitating the Walt-Mearsheimer party line about American Jews manipulating foreign policy, Waters is standing his ground and using the brouhaha to promote his leftist view of Israel and the world.

The ADL called Waters to account for the way the song “Goodbye Blue Sky” is performed on his current concert tour. As you can see on this version on YouTube, the playing of the song is accompanied by a video showing an animated B-52 bombing an unidentified landscape with the symbols of major religions. But right after Stars of David are released, they are followed by dollar signs and then the logos for Shell Oil and Mercedes. The ADL said they felt that by juxtaposing these symbols in that sequence, Waters was “dredging up the worst age-old anti-Semitic stereotype about Jews and their supposed obsession with making money.” Foxman also stated that the whole thing was really about Waters’s dislike of Israel and its security fence, which protects its people against Palestinian suicide bombers.

Waters has now responded to the ADL’s remonstrance with a virulent attack on the organization and its leader, denying the charge of anti-Semitism and proclaiming himself a victim of the Israel lobby’s attempts to silence critics of Israel and American foreign policy. Waters says he is motivated to combat the “lies” of Republicans and says that “accusations of anti-Semitism are ‘a screen’ that the ADL hides behind. ‘I don’t think they should be taken seriously on that. You can attack Israeli policy without being anti-Jewish,’ Waters said. ‘It’s like saying if you criticize the US policy you are being anti-Christian. I’m critical of the Israeli policy of occupying Palestinian land and their policy of building settlements, which is entirely illegal under international law, and also of ghettoising the people whose land they are building on.’”

All of which makes it sound as if the ADL was pretty much on target. If the goal of the song and the video is to demonize Israel using Jewish religious symbols mixed in with dollar signs and to promote Palestinian propaganda about stolen land while ignoring the real context of the conflict and the purpose of the security fence, then there is little question of Waters’s ill intent.

But having watched the video of the performance myself, I have to confess that I doubt that too many viewers would have understood any of this — either the anti-Semitic inferences alleged by the ADL or the anti-Israel and anti-Republican intent that Waters says motivates the performance. Without already knowing that Waters is an Israel-basher, as Foxman (who is clearly better informed about the politics of aging rock stars than I would have thought) does, I think it is unlikely that anyone would conclude from the video alone that Israel or American foreign policy, let alone Republicans, was the point of the piece. Since a cross and a Muslim crescent precede the Star of David imagery, most viewers probably see it as an across-the-board slam of organized religion as well as the usual incoherent pop-art shot at capitalism.

So while Waters’s response certainly lent credence to the ADL’s original critique, one wonders if very many people would have ever understood that he viewed his tour as an attack on Israel without the organization publicizing it. By slamming Waters, the ADL may have unintentionally done him and those who applaud his misperceptions of Israel a favor.

The Anti-Defamation League may have unwittingly done pop-rock icon Roger Waters a favor when it came down on him recently like a ton of bricks and accused the Pink Floyd star of anti-Semitism. Unlike filmmaker Oliver Stone, who folded like a cheap suit when the group called out the conspiracy-monger for regurgitating the Walt-Mearsheimer party line about American Jews manipulating foreign policy, Waters is standing his ground and using the brouhaha to promote his leftist view of Israel and the world.

The ADL called Waters to account for the way the song “Goodbye Blue Sky” is performed on his current concert tour. As you can see on this version on YouTube, the playing of the song is accompanied by a video showing an animated B-52 bombing an unidentified landscape with the symbols of major religions. But right after Stars of David are released, they are followed by dollar signs and then the logos for Shell Oil and Mercedes. The ADL said they felt that by juxtaposing these symbols in that sequence, Waters was “dredging up the worst age-old anti-Semitic stereotype about Jews and their supposed obsession with making money.” Foxman also stated that the whole thing was really about Waters’s dislike of Israel and its security fence, which protects its people against Palestinian suicide bombers.

Waters has now responded to the ADL’s remonstrance with a virulent attack on the organization and its leader, denying the charge of anti-Semitism and proclaiming himself a victim of the Israel lobby’s attempts to silence critics of Israel and American foreign policy. Waters says he is motivated to combat the “lies” of Republicans and says that “accusations of anti-Semitism are ‘a screen’ that the ADL hides behind. ‘I don’t think they should be taken seriously on that. You can attack Israeli policy without being anti-Jewish,’ Waters said. ‘It’s like saying if you criticize the US policy you are being anti-Christian. I’m critical of the Israeli policy of occupying Palestinian land and their policy of building settlements, which is entirely illegal under international law, and also of ghettoising the people whose land they are building on.’”

All of which makes it sound as if the ADL was pretty much on target. If the goal of the song and the video is to demonize Israel using Jewish religious symbols mixed in with dollar signs and to promote Palestinian propaganda about stolen land while ignoring the real context of the conflict and the purpose of the security fence, then there is little question of Waters’s ill intent.

But having watched the video of the performance myself, I have to confess that I doubt that too many viewers would have understood any of this — either the anti-Semitic inferences alleged by the ADL or the anti-Israel and anti-Republican intent that Waters says motivates the performance. Without already knowing that Waters is an Israel-basher, as Foxman (who is clearly better informed about the politics of aging rock stars than I would have thought) does, I think it is unlikely that anyone would conclude from the video alone that Israel or American foreign policy, let alone Republicans, was the point of the piece. Since a cross and a Muslim crescent precede the Star of David imagery, most viewers probably see it as an across-the-board slam of organized religion as well as the usual incoherent pop-art shot at capitalism.

So while Waters’s response certainly lent credence to the ADL’s original critique, one wonders if very many people would have ever understood that he viewed his tour as an attack on Israel without the organization publicizing it. By slamming Waters, the ADL may have unintentionally done him and those who applaud his misperceptions of Israel a favor.

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There He Goes

A majority of the House would have voted to extend all the Bush tax cuts, but Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t allow a vote. The president’s class-warfare gambit went down the drain. And now he’s coming up with new excuses for why he’s championing a massive tax increase at a meeting of his economic advisory board:

Obama gave his most detailed response to date to [former budget director, Peter] Orszag’s attention-grabbing debut column in the New York Times in which the ex-OMB maven suggested the White House would be wise to accede to a deal in which the Bush-era income tax cuts were extended for two years for all income levels — and then allowed to expire.

Orszag’s fallback position was advanced by Harvard Economist Martin Feldstein and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman William Donaldson more enthusiastically than Orszag did. Obama said, in essence, that their stance was intellectually legit, but politically naive.

“The consequences of extending the upper-income tax cuts, based on what we’ve heard fairly explicitly in the political environment, is that you do that now you’re going to do it forever,” Obama said. “There’s not going to be necessarily a deal that says — as Martin, I think — an entirely respectable position is to say extend them all for two years and then they go away. I mean, that’s an intellectually consistent position. But that’s not really the position that is being promoted up on Capitol Hill.”

Actually, that is precisely the position being promoted — a two-year extension — by Democrats. He now seems to be contending — though his argument is less than crystal clear — that once you continue to uphold lower tax rates, people will want to keep them at that reduced rate. Forever!

No wonder his poll numbers and those of his party are sinking. More shocking than the president’s flimflammery is his ongoing disdain for the private sector:

“There’s this concern about the business community’s attitude about the administration. And it’s not just the business community, it’s high-income individuals, entrepreneurs and others. And so the increase in the tax on those individuals is a signal that the administration” — Feldstein said.

“They have to pay slightly higher taxes,” Obama interrupted.

“That they’re going to have to pay higher taxes, and it may be even more going forward,” Feldstein said.

There you have it. Even as his poll numbers continue to sink, the public becomes increasingly convinced that he doesn’t “get it” when it comes to the economy, the recovery stalls, and a chunk of his party rises in revolt, Obama’s answer remains the same on tax hikes: the “rich” and businesses can handle it. Remarkable.

A majority of the House would have voted to extend all the Bush tax cuts, but Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t allow a vote. The president’s class-warfare gambit went down the drain. And now he’s coming up with new excuses for why he’s championing a massive tax increase at a meeting of his economic advisory board:

Obama gave his most detailed response to date to [former budget director, Peter] Orszag’s attention-grabbing debut column in the New York Times in which the ex-OMB maven suggested the White House would be wise to accede to a deal in which the Bush-era income tax cuts were extended for two years for all income levels — and then allowed to expire.

Orszag’s fallback position was advanced by Harvard Economist Martin Feldstein and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman William Donaldson more enthusiastically than Orszag did. Obama said, in essence, that their stance was intellectually legit, but politically naive.

“The consequences of extending the upper-income tax cuts, based on what we’ve heard fairly explicitly in the political environment, is that you do that now you’re going to do it forever,” Obama said. “There’s not going to be necessarily a deal that says — as Martin, I think — an entirely respectable position is to say extend them all for two years and then they go away. I mean, that’s an intellectually consistent position. But that’s not really the position that is being promoted up on Capitol Hill.”

Actually, that is precisely the position being promoted — a two-year extension — by Democrats. He now seems to be contending — though his argument is less than crystal clear — that once you continue to uphold lower tax rates, people will want to keep them at that reduced rate. Forever!

No wonder his poll numbers and those of his party are sinking. More shocking than the president’s flimflammery is his ongoing disdain for the private sector:

“There’s this concern about the business community’s attitude about the administration. And it’s not just the business community, it’s high-income individuals, entrepreneurs and others. And so the increase in the tax on those individuals is a signal that the administration” — Feldstein said.

“They have to pay slightly higher taxes,” Obama interrupted.

“That they’re going to have to pay higher taxes, and it may be even more going forward,” Feldstein said.

There you have it. Even as his poll numbers continue to sink, the public becomes increasingly convinced that he doesn’t “get it” when it comes to the economy, the recovery stalls, and a chunk of his party rises in revolt, Obama’s answer remains the same on tax hikes: the “rich” and businesses can handle it. Remarkable.

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Planting the Flag: Starting Gun in the Race to Jerusalem

If you need proof that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to plant the Revolutionary Iranian flag in Jerusalem, consider this. A replica of the Al-Aqsa mosque is being constructed by Iran in southern Lebanon as a prop for Ahmadinejad’s visit next week. The Iranian president will officially open the mosque for business and be photographed in front of it throwing stones toward Israel. And the mosque, according to Israeli reports, has the flag of Iran flying over it.

Hezbollah has flown Iranian flags in southern Lebanon for some time. The terrorists operate an Iran-sponsored fiefdom there; UNIFIL has been unable for months to conduct patrols in towns denied to it by Hezbollah, a pattern repeated this past weekend when the UN force sought to investigate a Hezbollah weapons cache in its patrol zone.

But Iran and Hezbollah have chosen to take advantage until now of the minimal independent news coverage in southern Lebanon. Little gets into the Western press about the situation there, and when it does, it doesn’t come from Hezbollah or Iran. What Ahmadinejad plans to do next week, with media coverage and pointed images, marks a major “informational” break. It’s a plan to draw back the veil and clarify Hezbollah’s loyalties and Iran’s involvement. And the central theme is the Iranian flag symbolically aloft over Jerusalem.

This blatant signal is something Ahmadinejad should be prevented from sending. It will be as much a shot across Saudi Arabia’s bow as across Israel’s: a symbolic announcement that the “race to Jerusalem” is on. As discussed here, the Saudis — default leaders of the Arab world — already show signs of preparing to compete in that race.

Unfortunately, the fecklessness of the UN extends beyond an impotent UNIFIL. The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, British diplomat Michael Williams, met with an Iranian envoy last week to discuss the visit by Ahmadinejad and approved it as a “significant event.” He went on to hail “Tehran’s balanced approach and inclusive relations with all political and religious parties in [Lebanon].” The UN will not be a source of responsible diplomacy; neither will Russia, which is positioning itself to back the winner of the race to Jerusalem. The EU remains mired in domestic constituency tending, and therefore focused on the legal status of Gaza flotillas and the arguing of anti-Israel resolutions in Brussels.

Among the Middle East Quartet, only the U.S. retains such a posture as would make it possible to take action against the beginning of a “race to Jerusalem.” The pressure point is the government in Beirut, which, if it accepts Ahmadinejad’s visit, must exercise its formal sovereignty over the southern territory and ensure that no Iranian flags are flown over anything but Ahmadinejad’s official convoy. Israel is pressing the Lebanese to cancel the visit; if the U.S. cannot bring itself to do that, our diplomats should at least embolden the Lebanese to get the Iranian flags out of there. This is not meaningless symbolism. The fact that it’s Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah who feel emboldened at present is the most meaningful one of all.

If you need proof that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to plant the Revolutionary Iranian flag in Jerusalem, consider this. A replica of the Al-Aqsa mosque is being constructed by Iran in southern Lebanon as a prop for Ahmadinejad’s visit next week. The Iranian president will officially open the mosque for business and be photographed in front of it throwing stones toward Israel. And the mosque, according to Israeli reports, has the flag of Iran flying over it.

Hezbollah has flown Iranian flags in southern Lebanon for some time. The terrorists operate an Iran-sponsored fiefdom there; UNIFIL has been unable for months to conduct patrols in towns denied to it by Hezbollah, a pattern repeated this past weekend when the UN force sought to investigate a Hezbollah weapons cache in its patrol zone.

But Iran and Hezbollah have chosen to take advantage until now of the minimal independent news coverage in southern Lebanon. Little gets into the Western press about the situation there, and when it does, it doesn’t come from Hezbollah or Iran. What Ahmadinejad plans to do next week, with media coverage and pointed images, marks a major “informational” break. It’s a plan to draw back the veil and clarify Hezbollah’s loyalties and Iran’s involvement. And the central theme is the Iranian flag symbolically aloft over Jerusalem.

This blatant signal is something Ahmadinejad should be prevented from sending. It will be as much a shot across Saudi Arabia’s bow as across Israel’s: a symbolic announcement that the “race to Jerusalem” is on. As discussed here, the Saudis — default leaders of the Arab world — already show signs of preparing to compete in that race.

Unfortunately, the fecklessness of the UN extends beyond an impotent UNIFIL. The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, British diplomat Michael Williams, met with an Iranian envoy last week to discuss the visit by Ahmadinejad and approved it as a “significant event.” He went on to hail “Tehran’s balanced approach and inclusive relations with all political and religious parties in [Lebanon].” The UN will not be a source of responsible diplomacy; neither will Russia, which is positioning itself to back the winner of the race to Jerusalem. The EU remains mired in domestic constituency tending, and therefore focused on the legal status of Gaza flotillas and the arguing of anti-Israel resolutions in Brussels.

Among the Middle East Quartet, only the U.S. retains such a posture as would make it possible to take action against the beginning of a “race to Jerusalem.” The pressure point is the government in Beirut, which, if it accepts Ahmadinejad’s visit, must exercise its formal sovereignty over the southern territory and ensure that no Iranian flags are flown over anything but Ahmadinejad’s official convoy. Israel is pressing the Lebanese to cancel the visit; if the U.S. cannot bring itself to do that, our diplomats should at least embolden the Lebanese to get the Iranian flags out of there. This is not meaningless symbolism. The fact that it’s Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah who feel emboldened at present is the most meaningful one of all.

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Blumenthal Needed a Debate Knockout. He Didn’t Get It.

The Connecticut Senate race provides an interesting test case for the proposition that the old political rules don’t apply this year. As demonstrated by last night’s debate between Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republican Linda McMahon, this election seems to be a referendum on the resumes of the two candidates. Voters are being asked to choose between a man who has spent his entire adult life on the public payroll and a woman who has spent her life in the private sector. Both have serious flaws. But the question is not only which of those flaws (Blumenthal’s lying about his military service during the Vietnam War or McMahon’s involvement with the disreputable world of professional wrestling) is more damning but also what sort of a potential senator fits the mood of the electorate this fall.

Polls have fluctuated, with the latest ones showing the Democrat gaining ground after earlier surveys indicated that his lead, once huge, had shrunk down to nearly nothing. But as Paul Bass, the editor of the New Haven Independent, wrote last week in the New York Times, McMahon’s association with wrestling has helped rather than hurt her. That’s due not only to the changes in culture, which render the scripted violence of the WWE less appalling to the public, but also because its edgy tenor appeals to a wider demographic (including, as Bass notes, working-class and Hispanic voters, who are an important part of the Democrats’ base) than perhaps it once did.

As New York Times blogger Nate Silver has noted, there might be very few undecided voters left in this race, a fact that should work to Blumenthal’s advantage. But Blumenthal, the man the Times has called “Martha Coakley in Pants,” needed to demonstrate in this first debate that, whatever his own failings, his opponent was simply unsuitable to serve in the Senate. He did not do that last night and is unlikely to make that point stick in the month remaining before Election Day.

McMahon’s demonstrated ability to go toe-to-toe with Blumenthal in the debate and still emerge on her feet was crucial to her candidacy. In an election year in which even Connecticut’s liberal voters are largely dissatisfied with the political class and its addiction to spending and taxes, Blumenthal’s riposte to McMahon’s answers to a debate question about how to create jobs — “I’m not running to be an entrepreneur as a senator” — hit exactly the wrong note for 2010. If results from generic polls — such as Gallup’s survey, which showed a huge swing to the Republicans over Democrats — are credible, then there are going to be some results next month that will be driven by this wave of political sentiment in spite of the conventional wisdom about the individual candidates. For all the Democrats’ inherent advantages in that state, the Connecticut race may show how a flawed candidate running on a record of private business accomplishments and skepticism toward government will have an edge this November over another flawed one whose life has been spent in public office.

The Connecticut Senate race provides an interesting test case for the proposition that the old political rules don’t apply this year. As demonstrated by last night’s debate between Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republican Linda McMahon, this election seems to be a referendum on the resumes of the two candidates. Voters are being asked to choose between a man who has spent his entire adult life on the public payroll and a woman who has spent her life in the private sector. Both have serious flaws. But the question is not only which of those flaws (Blumenthal’s lying about his military service during the Vietnam War or McMahon’s involvement with the disreputable world of professional wrestling) is more damning but also what sort of a potential senator fits the mood of the electorate this fall.

Polls have fluctuated, with the latest ones showing the Democrat gaining ground after earlier surveys indicated that his lead, once huge, had shrunk down to nearly nothing. But as Paul Bass, the editor of the New Haven Independent, wrote last week in the New York Times, McMahon’s association with wrestling has helped rather than hurt her. That’s due not only to the changes in culture, which render the scripted violence of the WWE less appalling to the public, but also because its edgy tenor appeals to a wider demographic (including, as Bass notes, working-class and Hispanic voters, who are an important part of the Democrats’ base) than perhaps it once did.

As New York Times blogger Nate Silver has noted, there might be very few undecided voters left in this race, a fact that should work to Blumenthal’s advantage. But Blumenthal, the man the Times has called “Martha Coakley in Pants,” needed to demonstrate in this first debate that, whatever his own failings, his opponent was simply unsuitable to serve in the Senate. He did not do that last night and is unlikely to make that point stick in the month remaining before Election Day.

McMahon’s demonstrated ability to go toe-to-toe with Blumenthal in the debate and still emerge on her feet was crucial to her candidacy. In an election year in which even Connecticut’s liberal voters are largely dissatisfied with the political class and its addiction to spending and taxes, Blumenthal’s riposte to McMahon’s answers to a debate question about how to create jobs — “I’m not running to be an entrepreneur as a senator” — hit exactly the wrong note for 2010. If results from generic polls — such as Gallup’s survey, which showed a huge swing to the Republicans over Democrats — are credible, then there are going to be some results next month that will be driven by this wave of political sentiment in spite of the conventional wisdom about the individual candidates. For all the Democrats’ inherent advantages in that state, the Connecticut race may show how a flawed candidate running on a record of private business accomplishments and skepticism toward government will have an edge this November over another flawed one whose life has been spent in public office.

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You Can’t Get Much More Anti-Israel Than This

From the inception of J Street, I and other conservatives have argued that its “pro-Israel” label was false. Both in actions and in words it has revealed itself to be in league with Israel’s foes. It has fanned the flames of delegitimization efforts. It has incorporated Hamas’s talking points as its own. It has supported candidates most hostile to Israel and to a robust U.S.-Israel relationship.

In case you had any doubt (but really, who but Ron Kampeas does?), this report should clear things up. “J Street co-founder, advisory board member, and international socialite Daniel Levy” helped escort Richard Goldstone around Capitol Hill, and it was his ” New America Foundation that hosted a high-caliber lunch for Goldstone.”

According to the report, Levy was on an all-star panel of Israel-haters last May (“with Abdel al-Bari Atwan, the editor in chief of al-Quds al-Arabi, NAF Strategic Program Director Steve Clemons, surreal Hamas apologist and one-stater Allister Sparks, and accused terrorist Basheer Nafi”) when he shared this:

One can be a utilitarian two-stater, in other words think that the practical pragmatic way forward is two states. This is my understanding of the current Hamas position. One can be an ideological two-stater, someone who believes in exclusively the Palestinian self-determination and in Zionism; I don’t believe that it’s impossible to have a progressive Zionism. Or one can be a one-stater. But in either of those outcomes we’re going to live next door to each other or in a one state disposition. And that means wrapping one’s head around the humanity of both sides. I believe the way Jewish history was in 1948 excused — for me, it was good enough for me — an act that was wrong. I don’t expect Palestinians to think that. I have no reason — there’s no reason a Palestinian should think there was justice in the creation of Israel.

His remarks also apparently included the assertion that it was “‘natural’ for Gazans to want to attack Israelis.” I await the denial by Soros Street, the production of the complete transcript, and then the emergence of the pro-J Street spin squad to explain that Levy didn’t really mean what he said. Or J Street doesn’t believe this. Or whatever. But I think those who have given money to J Street or accepted endorsements or cash from it under the pretense that it was a pro-Israel group were defrauded. And I think J Street is kaput.

From the inception of J Street, I and other conservatives have argued that its “pro-Israel” label was false. Both in actions and in words it has revealed itself to be in league with Israel’s foes. It has fanned the flames of delegitimization efforts. It has incorporated Hamas’s talking points as its own. It has supported candidates most hostile to Israel and to a robust U.S.-Israel relationship.

In case you had any doubt (but really, who but Ron Kampeas does?), this report should clear things up. “J Street co-founder, advisory board member, and international socialite Daniel Levy” helped escort Richard Goldstone around Capitol Hill, and it was his ” New America Foundation that hosted a high-caliber lunch for Goldstone.”

According to the report, Levy was on an all-star panel of Israel-haters last May (“with Abdel al-Bari Atwan, the editor in chief of al-Quds al-Arabi, NAF Strategic Program Director Steve Clemons, surreal Hamas apologist and one-stater Allister Sparks, and accused terrorist Basheer Nafi”) when he shared this:

One can be a utilitarian two-stater, in other words think that the practical pragmatic way forward is two states. This is my understanding of the current Hamas position. One can be an ideological two-stater, someone who believes in exclusively the Palestinian self-determination and in Zionism; I don’t believe that it’s impossible to have a progressive Zionism. Or one can be a one-stater. But in either of those outcomes we’re going to live next door to each other or in a one state disposition. And that means wrapping one’s head around the humanity of both sides. I believe the way Jewish history was in 1948 excused — for me, it was good enough for me — an act that was wrong. I don’t expect Palestinians to think that. I have no reason — there’s no reason a Palestinian should think there was justice in the creation of Israel.

His remarks also apparently included the assertion that it was “‘natural’ for Gazans to want to attack Israelis.” I await the denial by Soros Street, the production of the complete transcript, and then the emergence of the pro-J Street spin squad to explain that Levy didn’t really mean what he said. Or J Street doesn’t believe this. Or whatever. But I think those who have given money to J Street or accepted endorsements or cash from it under the pretense that it was a pro-Israel group were defrauded. And I think J Street is kaput.

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Pipe Down — No, No, Only You Guys

The prospect of a Democratic wipe-out and the engagement, politically and financially, of aggrieved conservatives have freaked out liberals. So they resort to this sort of stunt:

Several prominent Democratic politicians plan to announce a new coalition Monday aimed at pressuring major companies to foreswear using corporate money on political campaigns.

The Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending, spearheaded by New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (D), aims to secure promises from major corporations to fully disclose any political spending and, ideally, to avoid spending corporate money directly on elections.

Who is paying for the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (CAPS)? Hmm. Maybe we should demand that the group disclose its donor lists as a sign of good faith. We have a partial list:

Other Democrats joining de Blasio in the coalition are Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord, Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel and New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. MoveOn.org and other grass-roots political groups are also participating, officials said.

But who is putting up the money? I mean, is this just another George Soros front group?

Moreover, the hypocrisy is staggering. They want only certain kinds of speech — and for certain speakers to go quiet:

The new coalition springs out of a successful effort by de Blasio, who serves as a trustee for New York City’s largest pension fund, to convince Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley to adopt policies against spending money from their general treasuries in elections. The firms will still run their own political-action committees, which are operated independently, officials said.

What about labor unions? Soros? What about political interests and advocacy groups that are incorporated and, therefore, fall under the ambit of the bogeyman Citizens United?

The message of the anti-free-speech crowd is remarkably constant: they simply want their political opponents to be silenced. But, in a way, this latest gambit undermines their advocacy in Congress and in the courts, where they seek to use the power of the state to limit political speech. Why should government be enlisted to shut down political speech? It seems as though the First Amendment rights of association and free speech can be employed by groups such as CAPS in the court of public opinion, however hypocritically. That does sort of prove the point of the defenders of Citizens United, doesn’t it?

The prospect of a Democratic wipe-out and the engagement, politically and financially, of aggrieved conservatives have freaked out liberals. So they resort to this sort of stunt:

Several prominent Democratic politicians plan to announce a new coalition Monday aimed at pressuring major companies to foreswear using corporate money on political campaigns.

The Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending, spearheaded by New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (D), aims to secure promises from major corporations to fully disclose any political spending and, ideally, to avoid spending corporate money directly on elections.

Who is paying for the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (CAPS)? Hmm. Maybe we should demand that the group disclose its donor lists as a sign of good faith. We have a partial list:

Other Democrats joining de Blasio in the coalition are Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord, Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel and New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. MoveOn.org and other grass-roots political groups are also participating, officials said.

But who is putting up the money? I mean, is this just another George Soros front group?

Moreover, the hypocrisy is staggering. They want only certain kinds of speech — and for certain speakers to go quiet:

The new coalition springs out of a successful effort by de Blasio, who serves as a trustee for New York City’s largest pension fund, to convince Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley to adopt policies against spending money from their general treasuries in elections. The firms will still run their own political-action committees, which are operated independently, officials said.

What about labor unions? Soros? What about political interests and advocacy groups that are incorporated and, therefore, fall under the ambit of the bogeyman Citizens United?

The message of the anti-free-speech crowd is remarkably constant: they simply want their political opponents to be silenced. But, in a way, this latest gambit undermines their advocacy in Congress and in the courts, where they seek to use the power of the state to limit political speech. Why should government be enlisted to shut down political speech? It seems as though the First Amendment rights of association and free speech can be employed by groups such as CAPS in the court of public opinion, however hypocritically. That does sort of prove the point of the defenders of Citizens United, doesn’t it?

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A Month Out

Four weeks from today (less, in states with early voting), Americans will stream to the polls and deal a blow to Obama and his agenda. That’s the conclusion of the latest Washington Post/ABC News Poll. ABC sums it up this way:

Increasingly disenchanted with President Obama’s work on the stalled economy, registered voters by an 8-point margin say they’d prefer to see the Republicans take control of Congress — the clearest sign yet of GOP opportunities and Democratic risks in the 2010 midterm elections. A year and a half into his presidency, 51 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll would rather have the Republicans run Congress “to act as a check on Obama’s policies,” vs. 43 percent who want the Democrats in charge to help support those policies. That’s accompanied by a 7-point, one-month drop in approval of Obama’s handling of the economy, to a career low. While Democrats are most at risk, the danger’s not theirs alone. Registered voters by 62-26 percent are inclined to look around for someone new for Congress rather than to re-elect their current representative — the broadest anti-incumbency on record in ABC/Post polls since 1989. …

[Obama’s] job approval rating has slipped to 50 percent, tying his career low in ABC/Post polls, with 47 percent disapproving. Those who “strongly” disapprove outnumber strong approvers by 7 points, the widest such margin to date.

A few highlights: independent likely voters (who outnumber both Republicans and Democrats in the poll) favor GOP candidates by an astounding 53-36 percent margin. The president’s performance on the economy is at the root of the problem (only 43 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the most important issue to voters), but ObamaCare is none too popular either (only 45 percent approve). On every major domestic issue (health care, financial regulation, the economy, and the deficit), voters disapprove of Obama’s performance by between 50 and 56 percent. Seventy-three percent think the economy is staying the same or getting worse. His only bright spot: 55 percent approve of his performance as commander in chief.

Individual races will depend on the strengths and weaknesses of individual candidates, but the landscape is set, and it is extremely unlikely that the electorate’s mood will change. Democrats can spin all they like, but there is no sign of improvement in their fortunes. What is left to be determined is the extent of the damage and how successfully Obama can deflect blame for the implosion of his party.

Four weeks from today (less, in states with early voting), Americans will stream to the polls and deal a blow to Obama and his agenda. That’s the conclusion of the latest Washington Post/ABC News Poll. ABC sums it up this way:

Increasingly disenchanted with President Obama’s work on the stalled economy, registered voters by an 8-point margin say they’d prefer to see the Republicans take control of Congress — the clearest sign yet of GOP opportunities and Democratic risks in the 2010 midterm elections. A year and a half into his presidency, 51 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll would rather have the Republicans run Congress “to act as a check on Obama’s policies,” vs. 43 percent who want the Democrats in charge to help support those policies. That’s accompanied by a 7-point, one-month drop in approval of Obama’s handling of the economy, to a career low. While Democrats are most at risk, the danger’s not theirs alone. Registered voters by 62-26 percent are inclined to look around for someone new for Congress rather than to re-elect their current representative — the broadest anti-incumbency on record in ABC/Post polls since 1989. …

[Obama’s] job approval rating has slipped to 50 percent, tying his career low in ABC/Post polls, with 47 percent disapproving. Those who “strongly” disapprove outnumber strong approvers by 7 points, the widest such margin to date.

A few highlights: independent likely voters (who outnumber both Republicans and Democrats in the poll) favor GOP candidates by an astounding 53-36 percent margin. The president’s performance on the economy is at the root of the problem (only 43 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the most important issue to voters), but ObamaCare is none too popular either (only 45 percent approve). On every major domestic issue (health care, financial regulation, the economy, and the deficit), voters disapprove of Obama’s performance by between 50 and 56 percent. Seventy-three percent think the economy is staying the same or getting worse. His only bright spot: 55 percent approve of his performance as commander in chief.

Individual races will depend on the strengths and weaknesses of individual candidates, but the landscape is set, and it is extremely unlikely that the electorate’s mood will change. Democrats can spin all they like, but there is no sign of improvement in their fortunes. What is left to be determined is the extent of the damage and how successfully Obama can deflect blame for the implosion of his party.

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The Voters Won’t Notice?

The Hill, in two separate reports, details the efforts by Democrats to run from their party. First, pretend you are neither a Democrat nor an incumbent:

With voters in an anti-incumbent mood and a national headwind against their party, some freshman Democrats are touting themselves as unaffiliated outsiders — and it may help them win reelection.

Running against Washington isn’t easy when you’ve got an office on Capitol Hill. But Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.) has effectively positioned herself as a challenger in her race against Republican Mike Kelly.

So far, it’s not working — Kelly leads in the polls.

Then the candidates from the mystery party who have occupied a job of unknown origin try to flee from the Democratic agenda:

House Democrats in tough races are running away from their party’s legislative record as they face an electorate that’s skeptical of what the party has accomplished over the past two years and rates Congress at historic lows.

A Gallup tracking poll from the end of September shows that only 18 percent of voters approve of the job Congress is doing while landmark legislation like healthcare reform and the stimulus remains unpopular.

My Democratic congressman person running for office, who has been in office somewhere, is a case in point:

“It’s not everyone’s cup of tea,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who is a Republican target this fall. “Moderates and Blue Dogs in our caucus have grown increasingly antsy about that agenda and whether it was or is overly ambitious.”

Connolly voted in favor of healthcare reform, the stimulus and Wall Street reform, but over the past two months the Virginia Democrat has emerged as one of the loudest Democratic voices urging the leadership to extend the George W. Bush tax cuts, even for the wealthiest Americans.

He also voted against adjourning without a vote on the Bush tax cuts. But Connolly’s elective-eve conversion isn’t carrying the day. Here, too, the challenger, Keith Fimian, is leading, running tough ads pinning Connolly down on his record.

It is rather silly to suppose that the most engaged voters — those who turn out for a midterm election — can’t figure out who the incumbent Democrats are and can’t recall what the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda has been for the past two years. It does suggest, however, that any survivors from the mystery party will be wary of once again putting their careers on the line by following the White House’s lead.

The Hill, in two separate reports, details the efforts by Democrats to run from their party. First, pretend you are neither a Democrat nor an incumbent:

With voters in an anti-incumbent mood and a national headwind against their party, some freshman Democrats are touting themselves as unaffiliated outsiders — and it may help them win reelection.

Running against Washington isn’t easy when you’ve got an office on Capitol Hill. But Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.) has effectively positioned herself as a challenger in her race against Republican Mike Kelly.

So far, it’s not working — Kelly leads in the polls.

Then the candidates from the mystery party who have occupied a job of unknown origin try to flee from the Democratic agenda:

House Democrats in tough races are running away from their party’s legislative record as they face an electorate that’s skeptical of what the party has accomplished over the past two years and rates Congress at historic lows.

A Gallup tracking poll from the end of September shows that only 18 percent of voters approve of the job Congress is doing while landmark legislation like healthcare reform and the stimulus remains unpopular.

My Democratic congressman person running for office, who has been in office somewhere, is a case in point:

“It’s not everyone’s cup of tea,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who is a Republican target this fall. “Moderates and Blue Dogs in our caucus have grown increasingly antsy about that agenda and whether it was or is overly ambitious.”

Connolly voted in favor of healthcare reform, the stimulus and Wall Street reform, but over the past two months the Virginia Democrat has emerged as one of the loudest Democratic voices urging the leadership to extend the George W. Bush tax cuts, even for the wealthiest Americans.

He also voted against adjourning without a vote on the Bush tax cuts. But Connolly’s elective-eve conversion isn’t carrying the day. Here, too, the challenger, Keith Fimian, is leading, running tough ads pinning Connolly down on his record.

It is rather silly to suppose that the most engaged voters — those who turn out for a midterm election — can’t figure out who the incumbent Democrats are and can’t recall what the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda has been for the past two years. It does suggest, however, that any survivors from the mystery party will be wary of once again putting their careers on the line by following the White House’s lead.

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More Disappointed Voters

Michael Gerson deftly explains another dashed hope of the Obama administration:

As a candidate, it was a measure of Barack Obama’s political innovation and ambition that he set out to win religious voters, including evangelical Christians. As president, his failure in this effort is equally revealing. … It was a beginning — that quickly ended. Growing percentages of Americans have described the Democratic Party as “unfriendly” toward religion.

Gerson identifies some reasons for the collapse of Obama’s religious outreach:

There are a number of reasons for the believers’ remorse. Social issues blurred during a campaign naturally become more vivid and divisive in the process of governing. Obama’s campaign appeal to reconciliation — which impressed many religious voters — has dissolved into prickly partisanship.

But the failure of Obama’s religious appeal is also ideological. … By identifying with expanded government, Obama fed long-standing evangelical fears of the aggressive, secular state.

There is another explanation, of course. Obama was never serious or sincere about faith-based outreach, any more than he was serous about going “line by line” through the budget or pursuing a traditional, pro-Zionist Middle East policy. The proof is not only in policies that are overtly hostile to the concerns of evangelicals (e.g. stem cell research, Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell) but also in the contempt he displays for those who holds opposing views. He sneers at those who “didn’t respect science,” and he scorns those who he claims don’t respect “religious freedom” (i.e., opponents of a Ground Zero mosque).

It is also his laxity and indifference to promoting and protecting religious freedom abroad, which impacts, in particular, Christians in Muslim countries. (See here and here and here.) And I would also suggest that Obama’s animus toward Israel has been a further affront to evangelicals, who are among Israel’s most fervent supporters.

In sum, what is at work here is more than a failure to fulfill the campaign expectations of some trusting faith-based voters. We have also seen the unveiling of a president who personally doesn’t speak the language of faith, whose rhetoric is often insulting to religious voters, and whose policies are hostile to their concerns. As with so many other disappointed voters, faith-based voters, it is fair to conclude, were misled by candidate Obama, who has turned out to be, as his critics predicted, a run-of-the-mill leftist.

Michael Gerson deftly explains another dashed hope of the Obama administration:

As a candidate, it was a measure of Barack Obama’s political innovation and ambition that he set out to win religious voters, including evangelical Christians. As president, his failure in this effort is equally revealing. … It was a beginning — that quickly ended. Growing percentages of Americans have described the Democratic Party as “unfriendly” toward religion.

Gerson identifies some reasons for the collapse of Obama’s religious outreach:

There are a number of reasons for the believers’ remorse. Social issues blurred during a campaign naturally become more vivid and divisive in the process of governing. Obama’s campaign appeal to reconciliation — which impressed many religious voters — has dissolved into prickly partisanship.

But the failure of Obama’s religious appeal is also ideological. … By identifying with expanded government, Obama fed long-standing evangelical fears of the aggressive, secular state.

There is another explanation, of course. Obama was never serious or sincere about faith-based outreach, any more than he was serous about going “line by line” through the budget or pursuing a traditional, pro-Zionist Middle East policy. The proof is not only in policies that are overtly hostile to the concerns of evangelicals (e.g. stem cell research, Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell) but also in the contempt he displays for those who holds opposing views. He sneers at those who “didn’t respect science,” and he scorns those who he claims don’t respect “religious freedom” (i.e., opponents of a Ground Zero mosque).

It is also his laxity and indifference to promoting and protecting religious freedom abroad, which impacts, in particular, Christians in Muslim countries. (See here and here and here.) And I would also suggest that Obama’s animus toward Israel has been a further affront to evangelicals, who are among Israel’s most fervent supporters.

In sum, what is at work here is more than a failure to fulfill the campaign expectations of some trusting faith-based voters. We have also seen the unveiling of a president who personally doesn’t speak the language of faith, whose rhetoric is often insulting to religious voters, and whose policies are hostile to their concerns. As with so many other disappointed voters, faith-based voters, it is fair to conclude, were misled by candidate Obama, who has turned out to be, as his critics predicted, a run-of-the-mill leftist.

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If Only They Had Joined the Party of “No”

The Wall Street Journal editors observe:

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin has become the first Senate Democratic candidate to call for the repeal of ObamaCare, never mind that at the time it was being voted on he said he was for it. Now amid a tight Senate race, Mr. Manchin’s campaign says that, “knowing what he knows now,” he would not have voted for the bill in its final form.

It’s a curious sort of admission: “I was duped by the president.” It isn’t the sort of confidence builder that gives voters faith that he can put the brakes on the next bad idea to come out of the White House, is it?

And the editors seem suspicious about his devotion to “repeal and reform”: “If discerning voters decide to send [Republican John] Raese to Washington and keep Mr. Manchin in his current job as Governor, perhaps Mr. Manchin can act upon his new convictions and join the 19 states that are supporting Florida’s lawsuit against ObamaCare’s constitutionality. So far West Virginia has stayed on the sidelines.” Ahh.

Unfortunately for Manchin and other Democrats from less-than-deep-Blue states, the credibility of “moderate” Democrats is low. Recall that each and every Senate Democrat was the 60th vote in reaching cloture, thereby ushering in ObamaCare. They all voted for the original stimulus plan. If voters are looking for a reliable “no” vote on Obamanomics, they may wonder why they should reward the party that rubber-stamped each item on the Obama checklist.

The Wall Street Journal editors observe:

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin has become the first Senate Democratic candidate to call for the repeal of ObamaCare, never mind that at the time it was being voted on he said he was for it. Now amid a tight Senate race, Mr. Manchin’s campaign says that, “knowing what he knows now,” he would not have voted for the bill in its final form.

It’s a curious sort of admission: “I was duped by the president.” It isn’t the sort of confidence builder that gives voters faith that he can put the brakes on the next bad idea to come out of the White House, is it?

And the editors seem suspicious about his devotion to “repeal and reform”: “If discerning voters decide to send [Republican John] Raese to Washington and keep Mr. Manchin in his current job as Governor, perhaps Mr. Manchin can act upon his new convictions and join the 19 states that are supporting Florida’s lawsuit against ObamaCare’s constitutionality. So far West Virginia has stayed on the sidelines.” Ahh.

Unfortunately for Manchin and other Democrats from less-than-deep-Blue states, the credibility of “moderate” Democrats is low. Recall that each and every Senate Democrat was the 60th vote in reaching cloture, thereby ushering in ObamaCare. They all voted for the original stimulus plan. If voters are looking for a reliable “no” vote on Obamanomics, they may wonder why they should reward the party that rubber-stamped each item on the Obama checklist.

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Like Magic!

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling seems shocked to find tremendous unity in the GOP ranks. He writes:

The biggest story of the primary season this year was the deep divisions within the Republican Party. When it comes to the general election though the party’s voters are showing a pretty remarkable degree of unity around their candidates.

Since switching to polling likely voters in mid-August PPP has polled 21 Senate and Gubernatorial races where each party’s nominee had already been set. In 16 of those contests the Democratic candidate is polling in single digits with GOP voters. With just a few exceptions Republicans have put aside their ideological differences in the primary to fight the greater evil of the Democrats.

Could it have been that the “biggest story” was an overblown concoction of the mainstream media? The presence of competitive primaries, many of us on the right argued, was not a sign of an impending “civil war” but a healthy expression of interest and excitement. Those primaries by and large produced viable candidates who all Republicans could get behind (e.g. Marco Rubio, Ken Buck). It was only the hysterical GOP “insiders” and pundits who fretted that outsiders with strong popular support might “ruin” the Republicans’ chances in the general elections. But then these were the same people who ignored or sneered at the Tea Party movement.

I would suggest that the “biggest story” of the primary season was the degree to which the Tea Party movement and the GOP confirmed that the “differences” between them were minimal. From Rand Paul to Dan Coats, the GOP field is running on a unified message of fiscal conservatism and anti-Obamaism. That’s no surprise to those of us who have learned to ignore the purveyors of wrong, conventional wisdom.

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling seems shocked to find tremendous unity in the GOP ranks. He writes:

The biggest story of the primary season this year was the deep divisions within the Republican Party. When it comes to the general election though the party’s voters are showing a pretty remarkable degree of unity around their candidates.

Since switching to polling likely voters in mid-August PPP has polled 21 Senate and Gubernatorial races where each party’s nominee had already been set. In 16 of those contests the Democratic candidate is polling in single digits with GOP voters. With just a few exceptions Republicans have put aside their ideological differences in the primary to fight the greater evil of the Democrats.

Could it have been that the “biggest story” was an overblown concoction of the mainstream media? The presence of competitive primaries, many of us on the right argued, was not a sign of an impending “civil war” but a healthy expression of interest and excitement. Those primaries by and large produced viable candidates who all Republicans could get behind (e.g. Marco Rubio, Ken Buck). It was only the hysterical GOP “insiders” and pundits who fretted that outsiders with strong popular support might “ruin” the Republicans’ chances in the general elections. But then these were the same people who ignored or sneered at the Tea Party movement.

I would suggest that the “biggest story” of the primary season was the degree to which the Tea Party movement and the GOP confirmed that the “differences” between them were minimal. From Rand Paul to Dan Coats, the GOP field is running on a unified message of fiscal conservatism and anti-Obamaism. That’s no surprise to those of us who have learned to ignore the purveyors of wrong, conventional wisdom.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Thunk. Do we tell her moving day is in January? “In the weekly briefing, Pelosi said that she believes the Democrats have a chance to retain their congressional majority. A week before, speaking to a women’s group in New York, Pelosi said that she ‘fully expects to be speaker of the House five weeks from now,’ the paper reported.”

Yikes (for the Dems). “Republicans have a significant lead over Democrats among likely voters in Gallup’s generic ballot poll released Monday. The figures show a much greater lead for Republicans among likely voters than registered voters, and suggest the party is poised to make large gains in the midterm elections. Gallup’s first generic ballot estimate of likely voters showed Republicans leading Democrats 53-40 percent in a high turnout scenario and 56-38 percent in a low turnout scenario.”

Oops. “Emanuel’s ‘Glad to be Home’ video filmed in Washington.”

Cringe. Eric Holder denies hostility to race-neutral enforcement of civil rights laws — by blaming the Bush administration. This contradicts shown testimony of two DOJ attorneys, so perhaps Holder should testify under oath as well.

Ouch. Walter Mondale criticizes Obama for using “idiot boards” (teleprompters) and failing to connect with voters.

Yowser. Linda McMahon nails Dick Blumenthal for lying about military service in Vietnam.

Well, yeah. Obama declares our fiscal situation to be “untenable.” Is he a bystander in his own presidency?

Thunk. Do we tell her moving day is in January? “In the weekly briefing, Pelosi said that she believes the Democrats have a chance to retain their congressional majority. A week before, speaking to a women’s group in New York, Pelosi said that she ‘fully expects to be speaker of the House five weeks from now,’ the paper reported.”

Yikes (for the Dems). “Republicans have a significant lead over Democrats among likely voters in Gallup’s generic ballot poll released Monday. The figures show a much greater lead for Republicans among likely voters than registered voters, and suggest the party is poised to make large gains in the midterm elections. Gallup’s first generic ballot estimate of likely voters showed Republicans leading Democrats 53-40 percent in a high turnout scenario and 56-38 percent in a low turnout scenario.”

Oops. “Emanuel’s ‘Glad to be Home’ video filmed in Washington.”

Cringe. Eric Holder denies hostility to race-neutral enforcement of civil rights laws — by blaming the Bush administration. This contradicts shown testimony of two DOJ attorneys, so perhaps Holder should testify under oath as well.

Ouch. Walter Mondale criticizes Obama for using “idiot boards” (teleprompters) and failing to connect with voters.

Yowser. Linda McMahon nails Dick Blumenthal for lying about military service in Vietnam.

Well, yeah. Obama declares our fiscal situation to be “untenable.” Is he a bystander in his own presidency?

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