Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 29, 2011

Times Slams Dems for Budget Delays

It’s not often that the New York Times’s editorial board sides with the Senate Republicans on an issue, but apparently the Democrats’ budget dereliction has become too problematic to ignore. In an editorial today, the Times called out Senate Democrats for failing to produce a budget plan of their own:

But there will be no vote on a budget by the Democratic majority of the Senate, the traditional method for stating the majority’s priorities in black and white dollar signs. That’s because the Budget Committee has not agreed on one. And that’s because a good plan by the committee chairman, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, was deferred by Senate leaders, who feared that the plan’s tax increase on millionaires would make Democratic senators ripe targets for Tea Party attacks.

The Times also admonished Democrats for choosing the “safe political path,” adding that this tactic “will let down those who sent them to Washington.” Senate Republicans have been saying as much for weeks, but the fact that the Times is now jumping on board shows that the narrative of slacker Democrats is gaining traction and could become increasingly problematic for them. The left seems to be growing tired of the party’s passivity, and wants it to launch a robust defense of liberal economic policy. Of course, the American public won’t be as thrilled about the massive tax hikes that would naturally be included in any Democratic budget plan, so that scenario is exactly what Republicans are hoping for.

It’s not often that the New York Times’s editorial board sides with the Senate Republicans on an issue, but apparently the Democrats’ budget dereliction has become too problematic to ignore. In an editorial today, the Times called out Senate Democrats for failing to produce a budget plan of their own:

But there will be no vote on a budget by the Democratic majority of the Senate, the traditional method for stating the majority’s priorities in black and white dollar signs. That’s because the Budget Committee has not agreed on one. And that’s because a good plan by the committee chairman, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, was deferred by Senate leaders, who feared that the plan’s tax increase on millionaires would make Democratic senators ripe targets for Tea Party attacks.

The Times also admonished Democrats for choosing the “safe political path,” adding that this tactic “will let down those who sent them to Washington.” Senate Republicans have been saying as much for weeks, but the fact that the Times is now jumping on board shows that the narrative of slacker Democrats is gaining traction and could become increasingly problematic for them. The left seems to be growing tired of the party’s passivity, and wants it to launch a robust defense of liberal economic policy. Of course, the American public won’t be as thrilled about the massive tax hikes that would naturally be included in any Democratic budget plan, so that scenario is exactly what Republicans are hoping for.

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The Left Is Decreasingly Relevant to Politics of Israel

Matthew Yglesias of Think Progress unwisely waded into Israeli politics once again last week, writing about a phenomenon that he terms “post-Jewish Zionism.”  This is his theory that Christians and conservatives are becoming increasingly pro-Israel, a concept that isn’t exactly groundbreaking.

But according to Yglesias, the impact of this is that American Jews—who are typically politically liberal—are becoming “decreasingly relevant to the politics of Israel.”

“The existence of Christian Zionists is, of course, not new,” Yglesias wrote. “But what is new is that Israeli politics has drifted toward the hawkish right over the past ten years even as Jewish Americans remain on the progressive left.”

The insinuation is that American Jews have a more “progressive” perspective on how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than either Christian Zionists or Israelis themselves, and that these conservatives may hijack the issue and push solutions that don’t mesh with the values of typical American Jews.

It’s true that some (though not all) Christian Zionists don’t support a two-state solution, which puts them out of sync with the politics of most of the American Jewish community. However, while American Jews are progressive on social issues, they take a far more pragmatic and conservative stance on Israel.

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Matthew Yglesias of Think Progress unwisely waded into Israeli politics once again last week, writing about a phenomenon that he terms “post-Jewish Zionism.”  This is his theory that Christians and conservatives are becoming increasingly pro-Israel, a concept that isn’t exactly groundbreaking.

But according to Yglesias, the impact of this is that American Jews—who are typically politically liberal—are becoming “decreasingly relevant to the politics of Israel.”

“The existence of Christian Zionists is, of course, not new,” Yglesias wrote. “But what is new is that Israeli politics has drifted toward the hawkish right over the past ten years even as Jewish Americans remain on the progressive left.”

The insinuation is that American Jews have a more “progressive” perspective on how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than either Christian Zionists or Israelis themselves, and that these conservatives may hijack the issue and push solutions that don’t mesh with the values of typical American Jews.

It’s true that some (though not all) Christian Zionists don’t support a two-state solution, which puts them out of sync with the politics of most of the American Jewish community. However, while American Jews are progressive on social issues, they take a far more pragmatic and conservative stance on Israel.

In fact, when it comes to Israel, it is the progressive left that appears to be the most out-of-touch with the politics of the Jewish community. A recent poll conducted by Frank Luntz for CAMERA showed that nearly three-quarters of Jewish Americans opposed the idea of Judge Richard Goldstone appearing before Congress, while only 5 percent supported it. This puts it firmly at odds with the left-leaning lobby J Street, which actually facilitated meetings between members of congress and Judge Goldstone.

Further, 81 percent of American Jews say they would be more likely to vote for a representative who signed a letter deploring Palestinian incitement. Compare this to J Street’s position: back in March, the group publicly opposed a Congressional letter condemning Palestinian incitement.

As for the new Palestinian-Hamas unity deal, 77 percent say Israel should “refuse to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority until Hamas renounces terrorism and officially recognizes Israel’s right to exist.” This seems to contradict with President Obama’s recent speech to AIPAC, in which he said that “no matter how hard it may be [for Israel] to start meaningful negotiations under the current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option.”

And when it comes to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement—an anti-Israel campaign promoted by many left-wing fringe groups—71 percent of American Jews are opposed.

On the central issues, 78 percent believe it is either “very necessary” or “100% and totally necessary, no exceptions,” for Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish state. 84 percent believe that the Israeli government is committed to establishing a genuine peace with the Palestinian people. And 77 percent consider Palestinian incitement to be a major obstacle to peace, in contrast to 12 percent who believe the settlements and another 12 percent who believe the “occupation” is to blame.

So to say that Zionism in America is drifting away from the Jewish communities is simply untrue. If anything, the polling shows that, when it comes to Israel, there’s a divide between American Jews and the larger progressive community.

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Obama Scraps Decades-Old Policy of Even-Handedness on Israel

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as Jonathan noted, single-handedly prevented last week’s G-8 summit from explicitly endorsing the 1967 lines as a starting point for Israeli-Palestinian talks. What made this remarkable, however, was not merely that Harper once again provided the lone pro-Israel voice in an international forum. It’s that Harper, rather than the U.S. president, was the one Israel’s prime minister telephoned for help — because Barack Obama has blatantly abandoned a longstanding American tradition of insisting that international forums meet minimal standards of even-handedness.

It’s hard to overstate the significance of this shift. For decades, when Israel wanted help defending its case in an international forum, it dialed Washington. It didn’t matter whether Democrats or Republicans occupied the White House; Washington was always the address.

That’s because successive U.S. presidents all adopted a simple policy: You can’t target Israel while giving the Palestinians a free pass. You can’t condemn Israeli military operations without also condemning the rocket fire or suicide bombings that prompted them; you can’t demand Israeli concessions at the negotiating table without also demanding Palestinian concessions. As then-UN Ambassador John Danforth explained in a masterful exposition of this policy in 2004, that is how America defines “even-handedness,” and it won’t accept anything less.

But it’s precisely this policy that Obama has abandoned – and that Harper has stepped in to defend. As the latter told reporters after the summit, he doesn’t share Israel’s opposition to mentioning the 1967 lines in principle. What he objected to was the G-8’s attempt to make demands of Israel without also mentioning the concessions Palestinians will have to make for a two-state solution.

“You can’t cherry pick elements of that speech,” Harper said, referring to Obama’s May 19 Middle East policy address. “I think if you’re going to get into other elements, obviously I would like to see reference to elements that were also in President Obama’s speech. Such as, for instance, the fact that one of the states must be a Jewish state. The fact that the Palestinian state must be demilitarized.”

Not so long ago, it would have been the U.S. president insisting on that basic modicum of even-handedness. It’s a measure of how far Obama has undercut the American-Israeli alliance that Jerusalem is now forced to dial Ottawa instead.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as Jonathan noted, single-handedly prevented last week’s G-8 summit from explicitly endorsing the 1967 lines as a starting point for Israeli-Palestinian talks. What made this remarkable, however, was not merely that Harper once again provided the lone pro-Israel voice in an international forum. It’s that Harper, rather than the U.S. president, was the one Israel’s prime minister telephoned for help — because Barack Obama has blatantly abandoned a longstanding American tradition of insisting that international forums meet minimal standards of even-handedness.

It’s hard to overstate the significance of this shift. For decades, when Israel wanted help defending its case in an international forum, it dialed Washington. It didn’t matter whether Democrats or Republicans occupied the White House; Washington was always the address.

That’s because successive U.S. presidents all adopted a simple policy: You can’t target Israel while giving the Palestinians a free pass. You can’t condemn Israeli military operations without also condemning the rocket fire or suicide bombings that prompted them; you can’t demand Israeli concessions at the negotiating table without also demanding Palestinian concessions. As then-UN Ambassador John Danforth explained in a masterful exposition of this policy in 2004, that is how America defines “even-handedness,” and it won’t accept anything less.

But it’s precisely this policy that Obama has abandoned – and that Harper has stepped in to defend. As the latter told reporters after the summit, he doesn’t share Israel’s opposition to mentioning the 1967 lines in principle. What he objected to was the G-8’s attempt to make demands of Israel without also mentioning the concessions Palestinians will have to make for a two-state solution.

“You can’t cherry pick elements of that speech,” Harper said, referring to Obama’s May 19 Middle East policy address. “I think if you’re going to get into other elements, obviously I would like to see reference to elements that were also in President Obama’s speech. Such as, for instance, the fact that one of the states must be a Jewish state. The fact that the Palestinian state must be demilitarized.”

Not so long ago, it would have been the U.S. president insisting on that basic modicum of even-handedness. It’s a measure of how far Obama has undercut the American-Israeli alliance that Jerusalem is now forced to dial Ottawa instead.

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More Neoconservatism From Obama

President Obama said today that Poland’s transformation from a corrupt and oppressive Soviet satellite state into a free country ought to be a model for those Arab nations seeking to rise above their own historical experiences. He asserted that Poland, the country that suffered cruelly under the Tsars, the Nazis and the Communists only to become a functioning democracy when it finally regained its independence ought to provide inspiration for Arab and Islamic societies that seek freedom.

Obama has been at pains to praise his hosts during his visit to Poland. He has good reason to do so. Obama betrayed both Poland and the Czech Republic in his first year in office by revoking America’s commitment to provide those countries with missile defense in a vain attempt to appease Russia. The goal of this presidential European tour is to re-establish the close ties with our oldest allies and friends (such as Britain) that Obama did so much to downgrade since taking office.

But his bouquet to the Poles is also yet another instance of the president adopting the rhetoric and the arguments of neoconservatives, the ideological group that liberals like Obama used to love to hate. It was the neo-cons who spent the first decade of the 21st century arguing that America had a duty and a need to promote democracy around the world, especially in those areas like the Middle East, where democracy was virtually unknown (outside of Israel, that is). Liberals derided this belief as either a cynical cover for American imperialism or a hopelessly naïve expression of ignorance about Arabs and Muslims who, were told, did not share our values.

But, as with the first part of his Middle East policy speech last week (the part before he attempted to tilt the diplomatic playing field in favor of the Palestinians and against Israel), that promoted a freedom agenda that sounded perilously similar to the words of the despised George W. Bush, Barack Obama has yet again set forth his neocon profession of faith.

In truth, America’s freedom agenda is a much easier sell in Poland, which has always seen itself as part of the West despite its location next to Russia, than in the Arab Middle East. The Poles needed help ridding themselves of their oppressors, not in formulating a democracy. The problems faced by those who wish to establish democracies in the Arab world are far greater.

Nevertheless, it is nice to see Obama agree with the neoconservative formulation that freedom is for everybody not just those lucky enough to live in the West. The world will be a better place if he, and the liberals who elected him, follow up on those sentiments.

President Obama said today that Poland’s transformation from a corrupt and oppressive Soviet satellite state into a free country ought to be a model for those Arab nations seeking to rise above their own historical experiences. He asserted that Poland, the country that suffered cruelly under the Tsars, the Nazis and the Communists only to become a functioning democracy when it finally regained its independence ought to provide inspiration for Arab and Islamic societies that seek freedom.

Obama has been at pains to praise his hosts during his visit to Poland. He has good reason to do so. Obama betrayed both Poland and the Czech Republic in his first year in office by revoking America’s commitment to provide those countries with missile defense in a vain attempt to appease Russia. The goal of this presidential European tour is to re-establish the close ties with our oldest allies and friends (such as Britain) that Obama did so much to downgrade since taking office.

But his bouquet to the Poles is also yet another instance of the president adopting the rhetoric and the arguments of neoconservatives, the ideological group that liberals like Obama used to love to hate. It was the neo-cons who spent the first decade of the 21st century arguing that America had a duty and a need to promote democracy around the world, especially in those areas like the Middle East, where democracy was virtually unknown (outside of Israel, that is). Liberals derided this belief as either a cynical cover for American imperialism or a hopelessly naïve expression of ignorance about Arabs and Muslims who, were told, did not share our values.

But, as with the first part of his Middle East policy speech last week (the part before he attempted to tilt the diplomatic playing field in favor of the Palestinians and against Israel), that promoted a freedom agenda that sounded perilously similar to the words of the despised George W. Bush, Barack Obama has yet again set forth his neocon profession of faith.

In truth, America’s freedom agenda is a much easier sell in Poland, which has always seen itself as part of the West despite its location next to Russia, than in the Arab Middle East. The Poles needed help ridding themselves of their oppressors, not in formulating a democracy. The problems faced by those who wish to establish democracies in the Arab world are far greater.

Nevertheless, it is nice to see Obama agree with the neoconservative formulation that freedom is for everybody not just those lucky enough to live in the West. The world will be a better place if he, and the liberals who elected him, follow up on those sentiments.

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Romney and Ethanol: Serial Panderer Just Can’t Help Himself

Mitt Romney wants us to believe that he is a man of principle, a paragon of political decency and common sense whose business acumen and personal integrity will help him lead the country back to greatness. But even though he looks the part of a man with steel in his spine, the former Massachusetts governor proved once again this week that he is merely a garden-variety politician who wants to be all things to all people.

The latest example of this character trait came on Thursday when he told Iowans, “I support the subsidy of ethanol. I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution in this country.”

The ethanol boondoggle is good for Iowans who grow corn but bad for America. The federal subsidy for the fuel additive is a long-running scandal that even those who benefit from it know must come to an end in an era of budget crises. Yet for decades, it has been an article of faith that those who wish to win the Iowa caucuses must pledge allegiance to ethanol.

Tim Pawlenty is betting that a refusal to play that game will help, not hurt his presidential candidacy. Pawlenty’s statement of opposition to the ethanol subsidy when he formally declared his intention to run earlier this week was a daring step but one that might prove to be good politics. Opposing ethanol allows the former Minnesota governor to establish himself as the mainstream candidate whose concern for the country’s future is such that he won’t go along with business as usual corruption even if it means discomfiting some Iowa farmers. It also allowed him to outflank Michelle Bachmann, a potent rival in the state for Pawlenty, who will have some explaining to do to Tea Party activists who believe all such government handouts are wrong if she waffles on the issue.

Romney’s backing for ethanol calls into question his pose as the guy who can make the tough decisions to balance budgets and eliminate waste and fraud. Though he’d like to be the man he speaks about when he puff his presidential qualifications, he just can’t help being who he is: a weathervane who goes back and forth on the issues depending on where he is and whose votes he wants. Even in Iowa, a state that he may not even actively contest next winter, Romney can’t stop pandering.

Mitt Romney wants us to believe that he is a man of principle, a paragon of political decency and common sense whose business acumen and personal integrity will help him lead the country back to greatness. But even though he looks the part of a man with steel in his spine, the former Massachusetts governor proved once again this week that he is merely a garden-variety politician who wants to be all things to all people.

The latest example of this character trait came on Thursday when he told Iowans, “I support the subsidy of ethanol. I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution in this country.”

The ethanol boondoggle is good for Iowans who grow corn but bad for America. The federal subsidy for the fuel additive is a long-running scandal that even those who benefit from it know must come to an end in an era of budget crises. Yet for decades, it has been an article of faith that those who wish to win the Iowa caucuses must pledge allegiance to ethanol.

Tim Pawlenty is betting that a refusal to play that game will help, not hurt his presidential candidacy. Pawlenty’s statement of opposition to the ethanol subsidy when he formally declared his intention to run earlier this week was a daring step but one that might prove to be good politics. Opposing ethanol allows the former Minnesota governor to establish himself as the mainstream candidate whose concern for the country’s future is such that he won’t go along with business as usual corruption even if it means discomfiting some Iowa farmers. It also allowed him to outflank Michelle Bachmann, a potent rival in the state for Pawlenty, who will have some explaining to do to Tea Party activists who believe all such government handouts are wrong if she waffles on the issue.

Romney’s backing for ethanol calls into question his pose as the guy who can make the tough decisions to balance budgets and eliminate waste and fraud. Though he’d like to be the man he speaks about when he puff his presidential qualifications, he just can’t help being who he is: a weathervane who goes back and forth on the issues depending on where he is and whose votes he wants. Even in Iowa, a state that he may not even actively contest next winter, Romney can’t stop pandering.

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Memorial Day 2011

For nearly a century and a half—ever since President U. S. Grant declared “Let us have peace” in officially proclaiming a national day to commemorate all who had been killed in the Civil War—we the people of the United States have set aside a day to remember American soldiers, the best among us, who have fallen in battle. Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday was a sectional observance for several decades—the Southern states held a separate Confederate Memorial Day. Not until the Spanish-American War, when Northern and Southern soldiers together came under fire again for the first time in thirty years, did Memorial Day became a national day of remembrance. (This is a history that I have sketched in before. In a moving post at the Weekly Standard this morning, Leon and Amy Kass place the date of the expanded national holiday after World War I.)

American culture has become a victim culture, more comfortable with commemorating slaughter than heroism. The shift can be traced by comparing Allen Tate’s famous “Ode to the Confederate Dead,” first published in 1927, to Robert Lowell’s reply, “For the Union Dead,” read aloud at the Boston Arts Festival in 1960. A native of Kentucky who contributed to the Southern Agrarian manifesto I’ll Take My Stand, Tate acts as a guide to a Confederate cemetery, where the “wind whirrs without recollection.” He urges the visitor:

Turn your eyes to the immoderate past,
Turn to the inscrutable infantry rising
Demons out of the earth—they will not last.
Stonewall, Stonewall, and the sunken fields of hemp,
Shiloh, Antietam, Malvern Hill, Bull Run.
Lost in that orient of the thick-and-fast
You will curse the setting sun.

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For nearly a century and a half—ever since President U. S. Grant declared “Let us have peace” in officially proclaiming a national day to commemorate all who had been killed in the Civil War—we the people of the United States have set aside a day to remember American soldiers, the best among us, who have fallen in battle. Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday was a sectional observance for several decades—the Southern states held a separate Confederate Memorial Day. Not until the Spanish-American War, when Northern and Southern soldiers together came under fire again for the first time in thirty years, did Memorial Day became a national day of remembrance. (This is a history that I have sketched in before. In a moving post at the Weekly Standard this morning, Leon and Amy Kass place the date of the expanded national holiday after World War I.)

American culture has become a victim culture, more comfortable with commemorating slaughter than heroism. The shift can be traced by comparing Allen Tate’s famous “Ode to the Confederate Dead,” first published in 1927, to Robert Lowell’s reply, “For the Union Dead,” read aloud at the Boston Arts Festival in 1960. A native of Kentucky who contributed to the Southern Agrarian manifesto I’ll Take My Stand, Tate acts as a guide to a Confederate cemetery, where the “wind whirrs without recollection.” He urges the visitor:

Turn your eyes to the immoderate past,
Turn to the inscrutable infantry rising
Demons out of the earth—they will not last.
Stonewall, Stonewall, and the sunken fields of hemp,
Shiloh, Antietam, Malvern Hill, Bull Run.
Lost in that orient of the thick-and-fast
You will curse the setting sun.

Smothered by the cemetery’s silence, the visitors abruptly realize that the soldiers buried all around them have been reduced to a “verdurous anonymity.” Nothing remains but to “bow/ Our heads with commemorial woe. . . .” The martial tradition of the South, which continues to see it overrepresented among military recruits, leads to abashed reflection and respect.

Robert Lowell, by contrast—descended from Boston Brahmins and destined to become America’s favorite anti-war poet—is startled into poetry by Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s memorial in Boston Common to Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, a black unit that included two sons of Frederick Douglass. The monument to them, Lowell famously writes, “sticks like a fishbone/ in the city’s throat.” Reflecting upon a memorial to the regiment that led a bloody assault upon Battery Wagner, Lowell is angered by the state of race relations in America a century later; “the terrible injustice, in the past and the present, of the American treatment of the Negro is the greatest urgency to me as a man and as a writer,” he explained afterwards.

God knows that America’s treatment of its black citizens ought to stick in the throat of more than just Boston. The novelist Walker Percy once called it America’s original sin. But perhaps not every day on the American calendar should be victims’ day. Perhaps not today at least. Colonel Shaw and the soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts were not victims, even if—as Lowell is careful to note—“Two months after marching through Boston,/ half the regiment was dead.” The men were heroes, and deserve to be remembered as heroes.

How can a generation fired by the urgency of injustice learn anew to bow its head in commemorial woe? It will have to relearn the language of memory and respect. A good place to start is the excellent website maintained by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War—the descendants, appropriately enough, of the Grand Army of the Republic—where a rich vein of essays, speeches, poems, and prayers can be found. Print out some of the prayers to take along with you to the veterans’ cemetery today.

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The ‘Jim Crow’ Voter ID Canard

The front page of today’s Sunday New York Times leads with a story about the move in several state legislatures to require citizens to produce a photo ID when voting. The conceit of the piece is that this is a Republican plot aimed at suppressing the minority vote via “Jim Crow” laws that will make it difficult for the poor and the elderly to participate.

Republicans answer quite reasonably by pointing out, as South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said when signing one such bill into law that, “If you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed, if you have to show a picture ID to get on an airplane, you should show a picture ID when you vote.”

The attempt to paint voter ID laws as racist is clearly a political tactic aimed at delegitimizing any effort to halt voter fraud. Democrats who oppose such laws claim that there is no evidence of attempts to steal elections via the votes of those who ineligible to vote (such as persons who are not citizens or illegal aliens) or who have already voted in another district.

But the problem with this argument is that stuffing ballot boxes with ineligible, fictitious or multiple votes by the same person is as American as apple pie. Such practices date back as far as colonial days and have been pursued with vigor in big cities and small towns and in every region and state of the union. The stakes involved in democratic elections are high and not just in terms of policy. Government patronage of one form or another has always been a standing temptation to cheat on the local, state and federal levels.

So are Democrats and liberals who oppose voter ID trying to tell us that we have reached an age of such political righteousness that we no longer should fear the possibility of stolen elections? This is, of course, a preposterous suggestion. It is even more preposterous when you consider that there are millions of illegal immigrants within our borders. Though I don’t subscribe to the fear mongering about the impact of the record number of illegals since most come here to work in the jobs that Americans don’t want and actually contribute to our society far more than they hurt it. But it is another thing entirely to say that we shouldn’t care whether non-citizens vote.

The working presumption on election security should be the same as that of airline security. We should presume that fraud is being planned at all times and act accordingly. It takes little or no effort to get a picture ID in this country especially since it is now a requirement in virtually every aspect of economic activity and travel. Voter ID laws are simply common sense. They are not racist or unnecessary and those who make such arguments are either deluded or grinding their own political axes.

The front page of today’s Sunday New York Times leads with a story about the move in several state legislatures to require citizens to produce a photo ID when voting. The conceit of the piece is that this is a Republican plot aimed at suppressing the minority vote via “Jim Crow” laws that will make it difficult for the poor and the elderly to participate.

Republicans answer quite reasonably by pointing out, as South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said when signing one such bill into law that, “If you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed, if you have to show a picture ID to get on an airplane, you should show a picture ID when you vote.”

The attempt to paint voter ID laws as racist is clearly a political tactic aimed at delegitimizing any effort to halt voter fraud. Democrats who oppose such laws claim that there is no evidence of attempts to steal elections via the votes of those who ineligible to vote (such as persons who are not citizens or illegal aliens) or who have already voted in another district.

But the problem with this argument is that stuffing ballot boxes with ineligible, fictitious or multiple votes by the same person is as American as apple pie. Such practices date back as far as colonial days and have been pursued with vigor in big cities and small towns and in every region and state of the union. The stakes involved in democratic elections are high and not just in terms of policy. Government patronage of one form or another has always been a standing temptation to cheat on the local, state and federal levels.

So are Democrats and liberals who oppose voter ID trying to tell us that we have reached an age of such political righteousness that we no longer should fear the possibility of stolen elections? This is, of course, a preposterous suggestion. It is even more preposterous when you consider that there are millions of illegal immigrants within our borders. Though I don’t subscribe to the fear mongering about the impact of the record number of illegals since most come here to work in the jobs that Americans don’t want and actually contribute to our society far more than they hurt it. But it is another thing entirely to say that we shouldn’t care whether non-citizens vote.

The working presumption on election security should be the same as that of airline security. We should presume that fraud is being planned at all times and act accordingly. It takes little or no effort to get a picture ID in this country especially since it is now a requirement in virtually every aspect of economic activity and travel. Voter ID laws are simply common sense. They are not racist or unnecessary and those who make such arguments are either deluded or grinding their own political axes.

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Sullivan, Goldberg, and Zakaria Walk into a Bar . . .

On November 11, 2010, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary of State Clinton issued a Joint Statement, following a “friendly and productive exchange of views.” Andrew Sullivan, Jeffrey Goldberg, Fareed Zakaria, and Joe Klein have asserted that the November statement is a smoking gun, proving Netanyahu manufactured a confrontation with President Obama over his May 19 Middle East speech

At Time magazine, Klein wrote that Obama’s speech had employed the “exact formulation” from the November statement. Zakaria wrote in the Washington Post that the November statement shows “Netanyahu’s quarrel, it appears, is with himself.” In his Atlantic blog, Goldberg wrote it “fairly definitively proves that the whole contretemps over Obama’s radical new analysis of the Middle East crisis was ridiculous.” And Sullivan overtopped his Atlantic colleague, writing the statement confirms that Netanyahu is a “liar.”

The key portion of the November statement consisted of two sentences: (1) a U.S. description of the competing Palestinian and Israeli goals, and (2) a commitment about Israeli security requirements in any future agreement:

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On November 11, 2010, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary of State Clinton issued a Joint Statement, following a “friendly and productive exchange of views.” Andrew Sullivan, Jeffrey Goldberg, Fareed Zakaria, and Joe Klein have asserted that the November statement is a smoking gun, proving Netanyahu manufactured a confrontation with President Obama over his May 19 Middle East speech

At Time magazine, Klein wrote that Obama’s speech had employed the “exact formulation” from the November statement. Zakaria wrote in the Washington Post that the November statement shows “Netanyahu’s quarrel, it appears, is with himself.” In his Atlantic blog, Goldberg wrote it “fairly definitively proves that the whole contretemps over Obama’s radical new analysis of the Middle East crisis was ridiculous.” And Sullivan overtopped his Atlantic colleague, writing the statement confirms that Netanyahu is a “liar.”

The key portion of the November statement consisted of two sentences: (1) a U.S. description of the competing Palestinian and Israeli goals, and (2) a commitment about Israeli security requirements in any future agreement:

The Secretary reiterated that “the United States believes that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.” Those requirements will be fully taken into account in any future peace agreement. [Emphasis added]

Compare the above statement with Obama’s May 19 statement:

We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.

Obama’s May 19 statement did three things.  First, it made the “Palestinian goal”—quoting the November statement verbatim—the position of the United States. It endorsed a state “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” and asserted this formulation would establish “secure and recognized borders” for both Israel and the Palestinian state. 

What the Palestinians mean by “the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps” is actually the 1967 lines, with insignificant changes. Maen Rashid Areikat, the PLO’s Washington envoy, asked on May 22 if it meant Israel might retain “some of those large settlements,” responded

Our position is very clear on borders. We said 1967 lines with minor modifications. We absolutely are not envisioning the land swap that the Israelis have been proposing—the five, six percent. We are talking about as little, as minor as possible of a land swap to accommodate certain interests and changes. But we are not envisioning a large land swap.

Thus the Palestinian “goal” set forth in the November statement, which Obama elevated into a U.S. position, is the 1967 lines with swaps representing “minor modifications.” It is, for practical purposes, simply the 1967 lines. 

Second, Obama adopted the Palestinian goal without a requirement that the Palestinians (i) recognize a “Jewish state”; (ii) accept borders that “reflect subsequent developments” (code words for major settlement blocs); (iii) agree to borders that “meet Israeli security requirements” (code words for defensible borders); (iv) concur that Israel security requirements be “fully taken into account” in any agreement; and (v) sign an agreement that “ends the conflict.” All those conditions, set forth in the November statement as the Israeli “goal,” are critical to Israel. Obama insisted on none of them. 

Third, the manner in which Obama endorsed the Palestinian goal—not consulting Netanyahu, giving him only a few hours notice, ignoring his objections, announcing the new position without waiting to meet with him the next day—was obviously intended to send a signal not simply to Israel, but to the European leaders he was scheduled to meet the following week, who would appreciate an American president endorsing the Palestinian position while overriding Israeli objections. 

These guys want us to believe Obama was just repeating the November statement and Netanyahu manufactured a crisis. It’s a joke, right?

Read Less




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