Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 2011

Has Perry Already Decided to Run?

Texas Governor Rick Perry is headed to California this week for meetings with business leaders and legislators that are doing nothing to quell speculation about a possible presidential run. According to the Washington Post, this is his second trip to California in three weeks. The question is whether these jaunts mean he is still testing the waters for a possible try at the Republican presidential nomination, or if they indicate he has already decided to do so and is in full pre-campaign mode raising money and gathering future endorsements.

For Republican National Committee member Shawn Steel, there’s no doubt about the answer to that question: “I sense that he is beyond considering running for president. He is now planning to run for president,” asserted Steel. That has yet to be proved, but Republicans like Steel can be forgiven for jumping to conclusions. Perry’s recent travels and statements have had all the earmarks of a presidential flirtation.

Of course, GOP activists who have spent much of the past year waiting for the perfect candidate to parachute into the race have been disappointed before. The buzz about Perry is highly reminiscent of the media swoon over Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who also spent the weeks preceding his announcement he wasn’t running acting very much like a man who had every intention of entering the race. Unlike Daniels, Perry’s indecision does not appear to be linked to misgivings on the part of his family. But the longer the Texas governor keeps his party waiting, the more many activists and donors may be inclined to think he really isn’t interested and commit themselves to candidates who need no coaxing.

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Texas Governor Rick Perry is headed to California this week for meetings with business leaders and legislators that are doing nothing to quell speculation about a possible presidential run. According to the Washington Post, this is his second trip to California in three weeks. The question is whether these jaunts mean he is still testing the waters for a possible try at the Republican presidential nomination, or if they indicate he has already decided to do so and is in full pre-campaign mode raising money and gathering future endorsements.

For Republican National Committee member Shawn Steel, there’s no doubt about the answer to that question: “I sense that he is beyond considering running for president. He is now planning to run for president,” asserted Steel. That has yet to be proved, but Republicans like Steel can be forgiven for jumping to conclusions. Perry’s recent travels and statements have had all the earmarks of a presidential flirtation.

Of course, GOP activists who have spent much of the past year waiting for the perfect candidate to parachute into the race have been disappointed before. The buzz about Perry is highly reminiscent of the media swoon over Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who also spent the weeks preceding his announcement he wasn’t running acting very much like a man who had every intention of entering the race. Unlike Daniels, Perry’s indecision does not appear to be linked to misgivings on the part of his family. But the longer the Texas governor keeps his party waiting, the more many activists and donors may be inclined to think he really isn’t interested and commit themselves to candidates who need no coaxing.

Perry has to know that for all of the supposed discontent on the part of may Republicans with the existing field of candidates, time won’t stand still for anyone, even the governor of a state with a booming economy and a large Republican base. In particular, the emergence of Michele Bachmann as a serious contender for the nomination means someone who has at least as good a claim on Tea Party and social conservative support as the Texan is rapidly filling the alleged vacuum on the party’s right. Though Republican power brokers still speak of the need for the entry of a candidate who will be the alternative to Mitt Romney, Bachmann appears to be seizing that role. In addition, Tim Pawlenty may be ready to pull out of the nosedive that seemed to stall his campaign.

All this means that although Perry would enter the GOP race as a formidable force, the idea he could just waltz in and seize the mantle as the favorite of GOP conservatives may be a misreading of the situation. The point is, if Perry is going to run, it’s time for him to jump in before he finds himself hopelessly behind those who have made up their minds.

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Who Was Delaying Those Trade Deals?

During his press conference today, President Obama urged Congress to pass three trade deals with South Korea, Columbia and Panama, saying  these agreements would help create jobs.

“I think these trade deals will be important,” said Obama, when he was asked what the government could do to encourage job creation. “The reason I want to get these trade deals done is because you see a whole bunch of Korean cars here in the United States and you don’t see any American cars in Korea.”

These deals — which actually were inked during the Bush administration — are quite promising. But for all of the president’s urgency, you’d never guess he (and Senate Democrats) have been the ones holding up them for months. In fact, one of the reasons why lawmakers haven’t approved the trade agreements yet is because Obama only sent them to Congress yesterday.

So why the delay? Apparently it was because Obama refused to go forward with the deals unless Republicans agreed to tack on an unrelated and exorbitantly-priced worker-retraining program to the legislation. Despite the GOP’s reluctance over the price tag, the stalemate was finally broken yesterday, and the program will be included in the legislation.

So all of Obama’s eagerness to finish these trade agreements might have been more appropriate months ago, when he was the one holding up the job-creating legislation.

During his press conference today, President Obama urged Congress to pass three trade deals with South Korea, Columbia and Panama, saying  these agreements would help create jobs.

“I think these trade deals will be important,” said Obama, when he was asked what the government could do to encourage job creation. “The reason I want to get these trade deals done is because you see a whole bunch of Korean cars here in the United States and you don’t see any American cars in Korea.”

These deals — which actually were inked during the Bush administration — are quite promising. But for all of the president’s urgency, you’d never guess he (and Senate Democrats) have been the ones holding up them for months. In fact, one of the reasons why lawmakers haven’t approved the trade agreements yet is because Obama only sent them to Congress yesterday.

So why the delay? Apparently it was because Obama refused to go forward with the deals unless Republicans agreed to tack on an unrelated and exorbitantly-priced worker-retraining program to the legislation. Despite the GOP’s reluctance over the price tag, the stalemate was finally broken yesterday, and the program will be included in the legislation.

So all of Obama’s eagerness to finish these trade agreements might have been more appropriate months ago, when he was the one holding up the job-creating legislation.

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Climate Change Skepticism Now Considered ‘Harassment’?

First climate change advocates attempted to smear skeptics as akin to flat-Earthers, and since that tactic has failed, they’re playing the victimization card. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, which promotes the idea of anthropogenic global warming, released a statement yesterday alleging Freedom of Information Act requests and other legal challenges have created a “hostile environment” for climate scientists, and may lead to a “chilling effect” at research institutions.

“Reports of harassment, death threats, and legal challenges [emphasis mine] have created a hostile environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas and makes it difficult for factual information and scientific analyses to reach policymakers and the public,” reads the statement. “This both impedes the progress of science and interferes with the application of science to the solution of global problems.”

The AAAS seems to be particularly concerned with FOIA requests against climate scientists. During the past few years, these requests have helped expose information that severely discredited the global warming advocacy movement. Read More

First climate change advocates attempted to smear skeptics as akin to flat-Earthers, and since that tactic has failed, they’re playing the victimization card. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, which promotes the idea of anthropogenic global warming, released a statement yesterday alleging Freedom of Information Act requests and other legal challenges have created a “hostile environment” for climate scientists, and may lead to a “chilling effect” at research institutions.

“Reports of harassment, death threats, and legal challenges [emphasis mine] have created a hostile environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas and makes it difficult for factual information and scientific analyses to reach policymakers and the public,” reads the statement. “This both impedes the progress of science and interferes with the application of science to the solution of global problems.”

The AAAS seems to be particularly concerned with FOIA requests against climate scientists. During the past few years, these requests have helped expose information that severely discredited the global warming advocacy movement.

“The sharing of research data is vastly different from unreasonable, excessive Freedom of Information Act requests for personal information and voluminous data that are then used to harass and intimidate scientists,” said AAAS, which bills itself as the world’s largest scientific society. “The latter serve only as a distraction and make no constructive contribution to the public discourse.”

The group added it was concerned that “establishing a practice of aggressive inquiry into the professional histories of scientists whose findings may bear on policy in ways that some find unpalatable could well have a chilling effect on the willingness of scientists to conduct research that intersects with policy-relevant scientific questions.”

Of course, what the AAAS calls “personal information” actually appears to be public data. The group’s statement comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed against NASA by the conservative American Traditional Institute earlier this month, which is trying to force the agency to release information about scientist James Hansen.

And after years of watching climate change advocates demonizing global warming skeptics, it’s hard to have any sympathy for the AAAS on this issue. Not to mention, previously leaked emails have shown climate change scientists behaving in ways abusive to the public trust. Skeptics should absolutely work to expose any potential corruption in the global warming advocacy community — and the fact AAAS is so terrified of legal challenges is good reason to believe these skeptics might be onto something.

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Is Victory Unnecessary in Afghanistan?

President Obama didn’t cast much light on the war in Afghanistan in his press conference today, but it was interesting to note how uncomfortable he was when asked whether America’s goal there was “victory.”

Obama said his goal was “success,” not “victory.” According to the president, success could be defined by stopping more al-Qaeda terror attacks on the United States and the creation of an Afghan government that could defend itself. But “victory” doesn’t interest him. He says we’re in a position to radically draw down our forces in Afghanistan because of our “success” there. The problem is that by settling for an outcome in which the Taliban is still in the field and undefeated, Obama’s withdrawal policy is setting up the possibility all of the achievements U.S. troops have made since the surge began in 2009 could be lost.

The president seems to think talking about “victory” is macho posturing his administration is too mature to engage in. But the allure of “victory” has nothing to do with chest beating and everything to do with ensuring your opponents do not recover from setbacks and ultimately prevail. Victory means the enemy can no longer effectively fight, let alone win.

The president seems to want to simultaneously get credit for opposing further fighting in Afghanistan while also taking credit for “success” there. Perhaps Obama thinks if  defeat happens after U.S. troops withdraw, it won’t go on his permanent record. The problem is the only alternative to “victory” is eventual defeat.

President Obama didn’t cast much light on the war in Afghanistan in his press conference today, but it was interesting to note how uncomfortable he was when asked whether America’s goal there was “victory.”

Obama said his goal was “success,” not “victory.” According to the president, success could be defined by stopping more al-Qaeda terror attacks on the United States and the creation of an Afghan government that could defend itself. But “victory” doesn’t interest him. He says we’re in a position to radically draw down our forces in Afghanistan because of our “success” there. The problem is that by settling for an outcome in which the Taliban is still in the field and undefeated, Obama’s withdrawal policy is setting up the possibility all of the achievements U.S. troops have made since the surge began in 2009 could be lost.

The president seems to think talking about “victory” is macho posturing his administration is too mature to engage in. But the allure of “victory” has nothing to do with chest beating and everything to do with ensuring your opponents do not recover from setbacks and ultimately prevail. Victory means the enemy can no longer effectively fight, let alone win.

The president seems to want to simultaneously get credit for opposing further fighting in Afghanistan while also taking credit for “success” there. Perhaps Obama thinks if  defeat happens after U.S. troops withdraw, it won’t go on his permanent record. The problem is the only alternative to “victory” is eventual defeat.

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Class Warfare Won’t Fix the Economy

In his press conference today, President Obama threw down a challenge to Republicans over the debt limit. When asked how he could hope for a resolution to the current stalemate that could pass Congress when he is insisting a deal must include tax hikes the GOP oppose, Obama made it clear he thinks the Republican leadership will fold like a cheap suit.

As far as the president is concerned, the Republican position is “not sustainable.” His idea of “a balanced approach” involves minimal spending cuts along with a raft of soak-the-rich proposals he believes are good political weapons. Obama repeated again and again the issue was a matter of taking scholarships away from kids, eliminating research on food safety and health care for the elderly in order to continue giving, “millionaires and billionaires” and oil companies tax cuts on their “private corporate jets.”

While the president started off his talk by saying he was interested in reviewing government regulations of business that inhibit growth, not only could he not name a single regulation he doesn’t like, it’s clear the entire focus of his approach to both the deficit and the economic downturn is based on hostility toward the private sector. The president may think most Americans agree with him rich people should have their taxes raised, but he seems to be unaware of the link between job creation and the level of taxation on businesses and business owners.

The reason why the GOP position on debt limit negotiation is sustainable is that raising taxes on the private sector in the middle of an economic downturn with rising unemployment is a recipe for disaster. Speaker John Boehner not only knows he would face a full-scale revolt among his members if he does back down to the president, he also understands doing so would be bad for the economy.

Though the president continually bragged about how he had faced down his own constituency by embracing some minimal cuts in entitlements, he is still most comfortable when he is playing the class warfare card. Indeed, that seems to be the only card in his hand. Talking about private jets and oil companies may seem like a good re-election strategy, but it does nothing for the economy. The president needs to understand resentment of the wealthy won’t do anything about the rising unemployment numbers that are making Obama’s re-election an increasingly shaky bet.

In his press conference today, President Obama threw down a challenge to Republicans over the debt limit. When asked how he could hope for a resolution to the current stalemate that could pass Congress when he is insisting a deal must include tax hikes the GOP oppose, Obama made it clear he thinks the Republican leadership will fold like a cheap suit.

As far as the president is concerned, the Republican position is “not sustainable.” His idea of “a balanced approach” involves minimal spending cuts along with a raft of soak-the-rich proposals he believes are good political weapons. Obama repeated again and again the issue was a matter of taking scholarships away from kids, eliminating research on food safety and health care for the elderly in order to continue giving, “millionaires and billionaires” and oil companies tax cuts on their “private corporate jets.”

While the president started off his talk by saying he was interested in reviewing government regulations of business that inhibit growth, not only could he not name a single regulation he doesn’t like, it’s clear the entire focus of his approach to both the deficit and the economic downturn is based on hostility toward the private sector. The president may think most Americans agree with him rich people should have their taxes raised, but he seems to be unaware of the link between job creation and the level of taxation on businesses and business owners.

The reason why the GOP position on debt limit negotiation is sustainable is that raising taxes on the private sector in the middle of an economic downturn with rising unemployment is a recipe for disaster. Speaker John Boehner not only knows he would face a full-scale revolt among his members if he does back down to the president, he also understands doing so would be bad for the economy.

Though the president continually bragged about how he had faced down his own constituency by embracing some minimal cuts in entitlements, he is still most comfortable when he is playing the class warfare card. Indeed, that seems to be the only card in his hand. Talking about private jets and oil companies may seem like a good re-election strategy, but it does nothing for the economy. The president needs to understand resentment of the wealthy won’t do anything about the rising unemployment numbers that are making Obama’s re-election an increasingly shaky bet.

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Bachmann’s Polling Can’t Be Dismissed

You know the Republican presidential race has changed when you start seeing headlines wondering “How To Stop Bachmann.” That was the title of a Jonathan Chait piece in the New Republic yesterday that came only a day after Ed Kilgore wrote on the same site asking whether Bachmann could “Survive Being Taken Seriously?”

The reason for this hysteria can be found in the poll numbers that demonstrate the Minnesota congresswoman has evolved in the last month from a marginal player in the GOP presidential race to a major contender. The latest such survey came from the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling that shows Bachmann leading in both Oregon and Montana. While it was possible to rationalize her surge in Iowa, a state where Christian conservative activists have always been highly influential and where she has some roots, it is difficult to dismiss her lead in Oregon.

The question for the moment is how seriously to take these polls.

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You know the Republican presidential race has changed when you start seeing headlines wondering “How To Stop Bachmann.” That was the title of a Jonathan Chait piece in the New Republic yesterday that came only a day after Ed Kilgore wrote on the same site asking whether Bachmann could “Survive Being Taken Seriously?”

The reason for this hysteria can be found in the poll numbers that demonstrate the Minnesota congresswoman has evolved in the last month from a marginal player in the GOP presidential race to a major contender. The latest such survey came from the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling that shows Bachmann leading in both Oregon and Montana. While it was possible to rationalize her surge in Iowa, a state where Christian conservative activists have always been highly influential and where she has some roots, it is difficult to dismiss her lead in Oregon.

The question for the moment is how seriously to take these polls.

On the one hand, any poll this far in advance of the first votes being cast has to be taken with a shovelful of salt. Four years ago at this time, Hillary Clinton was the certain Democratic nominee, John McCain’s candidacy had crashed and burned and Rudy Giuliani was looking like a strong contender in 2008.

Like those 2007 surveys, polls at this point in the election cycle say more about name recognition than anything else. That’s why Clinton and Giuliani were doing so well four years ago and why someone like Mitt Romney is considered a frontrunner today. But those arguments don’t tell us much about Bachmann’s surge. Unlike Romney, who has been running for president for more than five years, Bachmann was a relative unknown outside of the Tea Party movement until just a few weeks ago. Her poll numbers are not the product of longstanding name recognition. Rather, they say everything about the way she has burst upon the scene looking and sounding like a confident, smart woman who isn’t afraid to take on either Obama or her Republican rivals. While other candidates, such as Tim Pawlenty, have presented far stronger positions on the economy and foreign policy, there’s no getting around the fact Republicans seem to like Bachmann better so far.

Bachmann is clearly gaffe prone, and if that doesn’t change, it will hurt her. Her conservative Christian views will provide plenty of fodder for liberal gripes. She is now undergoing the kind of scrutiny the liberal media always give conservatives and is a process designed to demonize Bachmann. It will be up to Bachmann to keep her composure and to not only echo Ronald Reagan’s worldview in her speeches but also adopt the same sunny tone and tolerant attitude toward critics that characterized the Gipper’s attitude to the press.

But whether or not she falters over the course of the long slog to the first primaries and caucuses, it’s clear Bachmann appeals to GOP activists in a way few suspected. That’s what the polls are reflecting, and that’s something that can’t be wished away by those who dislike her politics or her personality.

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Has White House Misled Public About Troop Withdrawal?

Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard  zeroes in on what appears to be an effort by the White House to mislead the public about the President’s decision to withdraw more than 30,000 troops from Afghanistan by next September.

During a June 22 briefing on Afghanistan, a senior Administration aide told reporters, “The president’s decision was fully within the range of options that were presented to him and has the full support of his national security team.”

Now fast forward to yesterday, when Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen, nominated to replace General David Petraeus as head of coalition forces in Afghanistan, acknowledged that President Obama’s decision to draw down 10,000 troops by the end of this year and the rest of the surge forces by September 2012 was not one of the options proposed to the president by Gen. Petraeus.

In response to questioning from Senator Lindsey Graham,  Allen testified Obama’s decision on the pace and size of of Afghanistan withdrawals was “a more aggressive option than that which was presented.” Senator Graham then pressed for clarification. “My question is: Was that a option?” To which General Allen replied, “It was not.”

There are two things going on here.

One is the president’s “strategy” was essentially made up on the back of an envelope, divorced from military considerations, and based almost entirely on the politics of Obama’s re-election, all of which are disgraceful enough. Beyond that, though, the administration appears to have dissembled in order to justify the president’s decision, hoping to add the appearance of military support to his terribly unwise plan.

There may be a more innocent explanation for what happened. But the burden is now on the White House to reveal the full story. And I hope the press corps is as aggressive with Obama as they would have been with his predecessor on this matter. It’s a big deal.


Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard  zeroes in on what appears to be an effort by the White House to mislead the public about the President’s decision to withdraw more than 30,000 troops from Afghanistan by next September.

During a June 22 briefing on Afghanistan, a senior Administration aide told reporters, “The president’s decision was fully within the range of options that were presented to him and has the full support of his national security team.”

Now fast forward to yesterday, when Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen, nominated to replace General David Petraeus as head of coalition forces in Afghanistan, acknowledged that President Obama’s decision to draw down 10,000 troops by the end of this year and the rest of the surge forces by September 2012 was not one of the options proposed to the president by Gen. Petraeus.

In response to questioning from Senator Lindsey Graham,  Allen testified Obama’s decision on the pace and size of of Afghanistan withdrawals was “a more aggressive option than that which was presented.” Senator Graham then pressed for clarification. “My question is: Was that a option?” To which General Allen replied, “It was not.”

There are two things going on here.

One is the president’s “strategy” was essentially made up on the back of an envelope, divorced from military considerations, and based almost entirely on the politics of Obama’s re-election, all of which are disgraceful enough. Beyond that, though, the administration appears to have dissembled in order to justify the president’s decision, hoping to add the appearance of military support to his terribly unwise plan.

There may be a more innocent explanation for what happened. But the burden is now on the White House to reveal the full story. And I hope the press corps is as aggressive with Obama as they would have been with his predecessor on this matter. It’s a big deal.


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Dem Pollster to Obama: Don’t Campaign on Economic Achievements

That advice shouldn’t be too hard to follow, considering President Obama’s economic approval rating is at a record low. But the president has been touting his job creation “successes” during his stump speeches, as Time magazine notes. Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg tells the magazine this strategy could end up backfiring on Obama:

“No one is going to give you much credit for what you have done for this recovery,” says Greenberg, who has been testing messages in focus groups and polls for Democrats to use in the coming election. “Saying the economy is starting to make progress is bad.” …

When Greenberg tested messages trumpeting the recent rebound, or blaming the economy on Republican mismanagement before 2008, the results were dismal, he says. Voters did not want to hear it. They responded more positively to messages about long-term fixes, like rebuilding the middle class and taking on China, or moving beyond the politics of blame.

This raises some serious problems for Obama’s reelection campaign. It’s been clear for awhile blaming the Republicans for the economic crisis is a poor strategy, but at least that would allow the president to avoid discussing his own failure to reboot the economy. Messages about long-term solutions are great, but the American people have given Obama the past few years to implement these fixes. If he has these solutions, why hasn’t he gone ahead with them? And why should we trust him if  his previous policies haven’t worked?

Obama is in a bind for 2012. Without being able to point to accomplishments in office, it will be difficult for him to make the case for reelection. And focusing solely on solutions for the future doesn’t seem logical either, considering the president hasn’t succeeded at getting us out of our current crisis. While Greenberg’s polling seems to suggest forward-looking messaging is the best strategy for Obama, simply arguing he’ll do better next time just doesn’t seem convincing to voters.

That advice shouldn’t be too hard to follow, considering President Obama’s economic approval rating is at a record low. But the president has been touting his job creation “successes” during his stump speeches, as Time magazine notes. Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg tells the magazine this strategy could end up backfiring on Obama:

“No one is going to give you much credit for what you have done for this recovery,” says Greenberg, who has been testing messages in focus groups and polls for Democrats to use in the coming election. “Saying the economy is starting to make progress is bad.” …

When Greenberg tested messages trumpeting the recent rebound, or blaming the economy on Republican mismanagement before 2008, the results were dismal, he says. Voters did not want to hear it. They responded more positively to messages about long-term fixes, like rebuilding the middle class and taking on China, or moving beyond the politics of blame.

This raises some serious problems for Obama’s reelection campaign. It’s been clear for awhile blaming the Republicans for the economic crisis is a poor strategy, but at least that would allow the president to avoid discussing his own failure to reboot the economy. Messages about long-term solutions are great, but the American people have given Obama the past few years to implement these fixes. If he has these solutions, why hasn’t he gone ahead with them? And why should we trust him if  his previous policies haven’t worked?

Obama is in a bind for 2012. Without being able to point to accomplishments in office, it will be difficult for him to make the case for reelection. And focusing solely on solutions for the future doesn’t seem logical either, considering the president hasn’t succeeded at getting us out of our current crisis. While Greenberg’s polling seems to suggest forward-looking messaging is the best strategy for Obama, simply arguing he’ll do better next time just doesn’t seem convincing to voters.

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John Lennon the Reaganite: Spit-Take Story of the Day

This is from the Toronto Sun:

Fred Seaman worked alongside the music legend from 1979 to Lennon’s death at the end of 1980 and he reveals the star was a Ronald Reagan fan who enjoyed arguing with left-wing radicals who reminded him of his former self.

In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn’t the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.

He says, “John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.

“He’d met Reagan back, I think, in the 70s at some sporting event… Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young (peace) demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that… He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me.

“I also saw John embark in some really brutal arguments with my uncle, who’s an old-time communist… He enjoyed really provoking my uncle… Maybe he was being provocative… but it was pretty obvious to me he had moved away from his earlier radicalism.

“He was a very different person back in 1979 and 80 than he’d been when he wrote Imagine. By 1979 he looked back on that guy and was embarrassed by that guy’s naivete.”

Three years later, Bob Dylan found his inner Zionist hawk with the song “Neighborhood Bully.”

This is from the Toronto Sun:

Fred Seaman worked alongside the music legend from 1979 to Lennon’s death at the end of 1980 and he reveals the star was a Ronald Reagan fan who enjoyed arguing with left-wing radicals who reminded him of his former self.

In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn’t the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.

He says, “John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.

“He’d met Reagan back, I think, in the 70s at some sporting event… Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young (peace) demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that… He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me.

“I also saw John embark in some really brutal arguments with my uncle, who’s an old-time communist… He enjoyed really provoking my uncle… Maybe he was being provocative… but it was pretty obvious to me he had moved away from his earlier radicalism.

“He was a very different person back in 1979 and 80 than he’d been when he wrote Imagine. By 1979 he looked back on that guy and was embarrassed by that guy’s naivete.”

Three years later, Bob Dylan found his inner Zionist hawk with the song “Neighborhood Bully.”

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Syrian President Suckers Kucinich

It’s bad enough Representative Dennis Kucinich ran off to visit Syria’s mass-murdering tyrant Bashar al-Assad while pools of blood are still warm on the streets. Now stories are appearing in Syria’s state-run media portraying our silliest Congressman as a mouthpiece for the dictatorship.

“There are some who want to give a wrong picture about what is going on in Syria,” he said,  according to the Syrian Arab News Agency, which is, I have to point out, beyond unreliable and unprofessional. “President al-Assad is highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians,” he also supposedly said, though I doubt very much he actually did. SANA also claims he said, “President Bashar al-Assad cares so much about what is taking place in Syria, which is evident in his effort towards a new Syria and everybody who meets him can be certain of this.”

I’d say he sounds like a hostage, but there’s little chance those words are actually his. Syrian “journalism” is hardly more reality-based than North Korea’s official state broadcasts, so let’s just assume for now the only part of the story that’s true is the part where Kucinich took a plane to Damascus. That doesn’t mean he’s off the hook. Any foreign policy adviser familiar with the region could have warned him he’d be used by the regime, and Assad’s media minions are shameless professional fantasists.

I’m sure he means well and wishes we could all just get along, but he won’t make the Middle East a better place with this kind of stunt. Millions of Syrian citizens are well aware an elected U.S. official just met with their butcher, and now they’re being told Assad has a supportive friend in our Congress. That Kucinich likely blundered into his role as a mass-murderer’s prop rather than consciously choosing it does not change the fact  that is what he has become.

The Syrian regime has been wooing useful Western idiots to its capital for decades. That Assad can still pull this off even while the Obama administration talks about filing war crimes charges shows there’s a virtually limitless supply of unteachable people at the highest levels of our government who simply have no idea what a monster looks like when they see one.

It’s bad enough Representative Dennis Kucinich ran off to visit Syria’s mass-murdering tyrant Bashar al-Assad while pools of blood are still warm on the streets. Now stories are appearing in Syria’s state-run media portraying our silliest Congressman as a mouthpiece for the dictatorship.

“There are some who want to give a wrong picture about what is going on in Syria,” he said,  according to the Syrian Arab News Agency, which is, I have to point out, beyond unreliable and unprofessional. “President al-Assad is highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians,” he also supposedly said, though I doubt very much he actually did. SANA also claims he said, “President Bashar al-Assad cares so much about what is taking place in Syria, which is evident in his effort towards a new Syria and everybody who meets him can be certain of this.”

I’d say he sounds like a hostage, but there’s little chance those words are actually his. Syrian “journalism” is hardly more reality-based than North Korea’s official state broadcasts, so let’s just assume for now the only part of the story that’s true is the part where Kucinich took a plane to Damascus. That doesn’t mean he’s off the hook. Any foreign policy adviser familiar with the region could have warned him he’d be used by the regime, and Assad’s media minions are shameless professional fantasists.

I’m sure he means well and wishes we could all just get along, but he won’t make the Middle East a better place with this kind of stunt. Millions of Syrian citizens are well aware an elected U.S. official just met with their butcher, and now they’re being told Assad has a supportive friend in our Congress. That Kucinich likely blundered into his role as a mass-murderer’s prop rather than consciously choosing it does not change the fact  that is what he has become.

The Syrian regime has been wooing useful Western idiots to its capital for decades. That Assad can still pull this off even while the Obama administration talks about filing war crimes charges shows there’s a virtually limitless supply of unteachable people at the highest levels of our government who simply have no idea what a monster looks like when they see one.

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Jewish Dems Start to Abandon Obama

It takes a lot to pry most American Jews away from their traditional loyalty to the Democratic Party. But give Barack Obama credit. In just two and a half years in office, he has managed to achieve just that. Though the rumblings about Jewish unhappiness with the president’s policy of pressure against Israel have been getting more noticeable with each fight the administration picks with the Jewish state, the last month has been the worst yet. And, as Politico reports today, the cracks in the heretofore solidly partisan wall of Jewish support for the Democrats are starting to widen.

The Politico feature largely concentrates on interviews done with Jewish Dems in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and what Ben Smith heard can’t be encouraging for Obama supporters. Fundraising is being affected with even those organizing pro-Obama events admitting to Politico they won’t meet their goals. The open talk of defection to the Republicans next year is getting loud enough that even the most rabidly partisan Democrats have been forced to take notice. Though they claim most Jews will never vote for a Republican, the dissatisfaction with Obama is no longer confined to the right. Even liberal Jews are starting to question why the president seems more inclined to get tough with America’s ally than with foes such as Syria.

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It takes a lot to pry most American Jews away from their traditional loyalty to the Democratic Party. But give Barack Obama credit. In just two and a half years in office, he has managed to achieve just that. Though the rumblings about Jewish unhappiness with the president’s policy of pressure against Israel have been getting more noticeable with each fight the administration picks with the Jewish state, the last month has been the worst yet. And, as Politico reports today, the cracks in the heretofore solidly partisan wall of Jewish support for the Democrats are starting to widen.

The Politico feature largely concentrates on interviews done with Jewish Dems in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and what Ben Smith heard can’t be encouraging for Obama supporters. Fundraising is being affected with even those organizing pro-Obama events admitting to Politico they won’t meet their goals. The open talk of defection to the Republicans next year is getting loud enough that even the most rabidly partisan Democrats have been forced to take notice. Though they claim most Jews will never vote for a Republican, the dissatisfaction with Obama is no longer confined to the right. Even liberal Jews are starting to question why the president seems more inclined to get tough with America’s ally than with foes such as Syria.

The response from pro-Obama Democrats is, the president’s policies have been portrayed unfairly. They claim if the situation is properly explained to voters and donors, they will be reassured. But such reassurance is not coming easily. Though a minority of Democrats might be sympathetic to the idea Israel must be pressured to make peace for its own good, even most liberals understand the Jewish state has spent the last two decades making concessions and peace offers in vain. They know the obstacle to peace is the refusal of the Palestinians to take yes for an answer.

The spin about Obama showing Israel “tough love” isn’t convincing people primarily because, unlike Democratic leaders of the past whose affection for Israel was not doubted, many Jews have been forced to come to the conclusion the president simply does not have the same warm feelings for Israel most Americans share.

Democrats are right to mock Jewish Republicans who predict a shift in Jewish voting patterns every four years. But the problem the Democrats face doesn’t stem from the fact the GOP has become a pro-Israel stronghold. The threat to the Democrats’ stranglehold on the Jewish vote comes from their own party’s leader.

It bears repeating the record 40 percent of the Jewish vote Ronald Reagan garnered in 1980 had more to do with Jimmy Carter’s hostility to Israel than his own appeal. Carter’s loyalists tried to convince Jews of his support back then too, but large numbers didn’t buy it. The same may be true of Obama. It’s true most Jewish Democrats are not one-issue voters and many truly would never vote for a Republican. But few are being fooled by Democratic attempts to get them to ignore their own gut feelings about the president. The Democrats are bleeding Jewish support and fundraising. The only question now is how great the decline in Jewish votes for Obama will be next year.

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Dennis Kucinich Responds: “I was misquoted”

Congressman Dennis Kucinich has issued a statement in response to his quotes in the Syrian Arab News Agency, and says he was misquoted. 

Here is his statement, and my response. I am not convinced Kucinich was misquoted, however. 

On any number of occasions, congressmen, diplomats, and politicians who have visited dictators have made ingratiating statements in the privacy of palace parlors that they believed would never be repeated.  Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie, for example, was much too deferential to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the run-up to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.  While ambassador to Egypt, Frank Ricciardone gave new meaning to sycophancy.  Former Representative Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) visited Libya and was videotaped praising Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi several years ago.

The issue, however, is not whether Kucinich was misquoted or is simply embarrassed to have his quotes repeated.  Whenever an official visits a murderous dictator, he or she can count on the fact the dictator is going to use his presence to imply an endorsement and to take the wind out of the opposition’s sails. Sometimes engagement can do far more harm than good. Visiting al-Assad as the Western-educated eye doctor mows down Syrians on the street demonstrates horrible judgment and a poor reflection of the self-described peace movement.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich has issued a statement in response to his quotes in the Syrian Arab News Agency, and says he was misquoted. 

Here is his statement, and my response. I am not convinced Kucinich was misquoted, however. 

On any number of occasions, congressmen, diplomats, and politicians who have visited dictators have made ingratiating statements in the privacy of palace parlors that they believed would never be repeated.  Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie, for example, was much too deferential to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the run-up to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.  While ambassador to Egypt, Frank Ricciardone gave new meaning to sycophancy.  Former Representative Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) visited Libya and was videotaped praising Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi several years ago.

The issue, however, is not whether Kucinich was misquoted or is simply embarrassed to have his quotes repeated.  Whenever an official visits a murderous dictator, he or she can count on the fact the dictator is going to use his presence to imply an endorsement and to take the wind out of the opposition’s sails. Sometimes engagement can do far more harm than good. Visiting al-Assad as the Western-educated eye doctor mows down Syrians on the street demonstrates horrible judgment and a poor reflection of the self-described peace movement.

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Poll Numbers Continue Alarming Trend for Obama

As Alana wrote  earlier today, according to the latest McClatchy-Marist poll:

  • Only 37 percent of registered voters approve of President Obama’s handling of the economy, his lowest rating ever.
  • By nearly 2-1 (61 percent v. 32 percent) voters disapprove of how he’s handling the federal budget deficit.
  • Fifty-eight percent of voters disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy, comprising 60 percent of independents, 31 percent of Democrats and 91 percent of Republicans.

Not all the news was bleak for the president.

Fifty percent of voters said they had favorable impressions of him versus 44 percent who didn’t. By 2-1, Americans said today’s economic conditions mostly were something the president inherited rather than the result of his own policies. And overall, 45 percent said they approved of the job the president is doing, while 47 percent disapproved.

Overall, though, these numbers continue an alarming trend for the president.

“It’s a real caution sign … the four-year lease on the White House is very much dependent on how people end up looking at the economy,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which performed the survey.

If Miringoff is right, then Obama’s lease on the White House may very well end on the first Tuesday in November 2012.

As Alana wrote  earlier today, according to the latest McClatchy-Marist poll:

  • Only 37 percent of registered voters approve of President Obama’s handling of the economy, his lowest rating ever.
  • By nearly 2-1 (61 percent v. 32 percent) voters disapprove of how he’s handling the federal budget deficit.
  • Fifty-eight percent of voters disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy, comprising 60 percent of independents, 31 percent of Democrats and 91 percent of Republicans.

Not all the news was bleak for the president.

Fifty percent of voters said they had favorable impressions of him versus 44 percent who didn’t. By 2-1, Americans said today’s economic conditions mostly were something the president inherited rather than the result of his own policies. And overall, 45 percent said they approved of the job the president is doing, while 47 percent disapproved.

Overall, though, these numbers continue an alarming trend for the president.

“It’s a real caution sign … the four-year lease on the White House is very much dependent on how people end up looking at the economy,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which performed the survey.

If Miringoff is right, then Obama’s lease on the White House may very well end on the first Tuesday in November 2012.

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Sen. Cornyn Confronts Napolitano Over ‘Backdoor Amnesty’ Controversy

During a hearing on the DREAM Act today, Sen. John Cornyn confronted Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about whether her agency directed its attorneys to dismiss the deportation cases of illegal immigrants who had been convicted of crimes.

The exchange was prompted by a Houston Chronicle investigation yesterday, which revealed that DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials encouraged attorneys to seek dismissals for dozens of illegal immigrants who had been convicted of criminal acts ranging from sexual assault, kidnapping, assault, theft, drug dealing and DUIs.

“In 2010, I wrote you a letter and asked you for details with regard to this program,” said Cornyn. “In response, the Department of Homeland Security assured me that a directive instructing ICE attorneys to seek dismissals of certain classes of criminal aliens ‘does not exist.’”

The senator asked Napolitano whether she could “explain the apparent discrepancy between the existence of this memo and what the Houston Chronicle reported on Monday?”

Napolitano denied her office was involved in a cover-up, arguing that the Houston ICE field office that instructed its attorneys to seek dismissals for these illegal immigrants had “misconstrued” the orders given by the ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“The plain fact of the matter is that a miscommunication occurred at the regional level in one of 26 offices,” she said.

But Napolitano’s response doesn’t completely explain the inconsistency. As the Chronicle reported, after the chief counsel of the Houston office gave the instructions to his attorneys, he forwarded the email to ICE headquarters. ICE officials replied with an email praising the chief counsel’s decision and asking him to share his strategies with other offices.

Napolitano has a lot more to answer for, and it sounds like at least one senator plans to pursue an investigation.

“When an agency not only misleads the public and Congress, but also attempts to block public information, merely citing an unfortunate ‘miscommunication’ is not a good enough explanation for the American people,” Cornyn said in a press statement after the hearing. “I intend to pursue whatever means necessary to get to the bottom of this and shine light on this wrongheaded policy.”

During a hearing on the DREAM Act today, Sen. John Cornyn confronted Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about whether her agency directed its attorneys to dismiss the deportation cases of illegal immigrants who had been convicted of crimes.

The exchange was prompted by a Houston Chronicle investigation yesterday, which revealed that DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials encouraged attorneys to seek dismissals for dozens of illegal immigrants who had been convicted of criminal acts ranging from sexual assault, kidnapping, assault, theft, drug dealing and DUIs.

“In 2010, I wrote you a letter and asked you for details with regard to this program,” said Cornyn. “In response, the Department of Homeland Security assured me that a directive instructing ICE attorneys to seek dismissals of certain classes of criminal aliens ‘does not exist.’”

The senator asked Napolitano whether she could “explain the apparent discrepancy between the existence of this memo and what the Houston Chronicle reported on Monday?”

Napolitano denied her office was involved in a cover-up, arguing that the Houston ICE field office that instructed its attorneys to seek dismissals for these illegal immigrants had “misconstrued” the orders given by the ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“The plain fact of the matter is that a miscommunication occurred at the regional level in one of 26 offices,” she said.

But Napolitano’s response doesn’t completely explain the inconsistency. As the Chronicle reported, after the chief counsel of the Houston office gave the instructions to his attorneys, he forwarded the email to ICE headquarters. ICE officials replied with an email praising the chief counsel’s decision and asking him to share his strategies with other offices.

Napolitano has a lot more to answer for, and it sounds like at least one senator plans to pursue an investigation.

“When an agency not only misleads the public and Congress, but also attempts to block public information, merely citing an unfortunate ‘miscommunication’ is not a good enough explanation for the American people,” Cornyn said in a press statement after the hearing. “I intend to pursue whatever means necessary to get to the bottom of this and shine light on this wrongheaded policy.”

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Lawsuit Threat Slows Flotilla Launch

Most of the world has been looking on helplessly as pro-Hamas activists prepares to stage yet another naval photo op intended to besmirch Israel. But, as the New York Times reports today, one group of crafty lawyers has found a way to throw a monkey wrench into the plans of these anti-Israel agitators. Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, a group that has dedicated itself to holding the funders of terrorism accountable for the crimes they finance, has been contacting companies that have insured the ships that have been assembled to sail to Gaza to break the blockade of the Hamas-run strip to tell them they are leaving themselves open to prosecution for aiding terrorists. This ploy has understandably sent a chill down the spines of the some 30 maritime insurance providers who just assumed there would be no liability with their involvement in this farce.

While organizers claim their goal is humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza, their attempt to break the international isolation imposed on an area run by a bloodthirsty terrorist group will help no one but Hamas. That is especially so since no one disputes the free flow of food and medicine into Gaza, a place where not only is there no humanitarian crisis but which boasts a bustling mall and brisk car sales.

Shurat HaDin was founded in Israel in 2003 and models itself after the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that used lawsuits to bankrupt racist groups. Shurat HaDin seeks to do the same thing to terrorists via legal work undertaken on behalf of terror victims. In the past eight years, they have sued Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and other terror groups and won judgments that have helped slow the flow of funds to the murderers. Indeed, thanks in part to some of their lawsuits, Hamas is no longer able to use the international banking system to get cash but is instead forced to smuggle money into Gaza. That makes efforts like the flotilla to break the blockade and thus ease Hamas’s cash flow problems all the more sinister.

While the flotilla supporters say all ten of their ships are seaworthy and insured, Shurat HaDin has filed complaints with the Greek Coast Guard raising questions about the registration and insurance of seven of the vessels. Given Greece’s antipathy for Israel, it is far from clear the complaints will be fairly heard. But either way, Shurat HaDin has sent those businesses even tangentially connected to the flotilla a warning they face possible legal repercussions. Those who help fund and insure a stunt whose only purpose is to provide political support for the Islamist terror group need to know there may be consequences for their involvement in this travesty.

Most of the world has been looking on helplessly as pro-Hamas activists prepares to stage yet another naval photo op intended to besmirch Israel. But, as the New York Times reports today, one group of crafty lawyers has found a way to throw a monkey wrench into the plans of these anti-Israel agitators. Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, a group that has dedicated itself to holding the funders of terrorism accountable for the crimes they finance, has been contacting companies that have insured the ships that have been assembled to sail to Gaza to break the blockade of the Hamas-run strip to tell them they are leaving themselves open to prosecution for aiding terrorists. This ploy has understandably sent a chill down the spines of the some 30 maritime insurance providers who just assumed there would be no liability with their involvement in this farce.

While organizers claim their goal is humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza, their attempt to break the international isolation imposed on an area run by a bloodthirsty terrorist group will help no one but Hamas. That is especially so since no one disputes the free flow of food and medicine into Gaza, a place where not only is there no humanitarian crisis but which boasts a bustling mall and brisk car sales.

Shurat HaDin was founded in Israel in 2003 and models itself after the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that used lawsuits to bankrupt racist groups. Shurat HaDin seeks to do the same thing to terrorists via legal work undertaken on behalf of terror victims. In the past eight years, they have sued Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and other terror groups and won judgments that have helped slow the flow of funds to the murderers. Indeed, thanks in part to some of their lawsuits, Hamas is no longer able to use the international banking system to get cash but is instead forced to smuggle money into Gaza. That makes efforts like the flotilla to break the blockade and thus ease Hamas’s cash flow problems all the more sinister.

While the flotilla supporters say all ten of their ships are seaworthy and insured, Shurat HaDin has filed complaints with the Greek Coast Guard raising questions about the registration and insurance of seven of the vessels. Given Greece’s antipathy for Israel, it is far from clear the complaints will be fairly heard. But either way, Shurat HaDin has sent those businesses even tangentially connected to the flotilla a warning they face possible legal repercussions. Those who help fund and insure a stunt whose only purpose is to provide political support for the Islamist terror group need to know there may be consequences for their involvement in this travesty.

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Rubio Makes Eloquent Plea About War in Libya

Earlier, I commended Tim Pawlenty for staking out a principled position for a strong foreign policy that puts him at odds with the growing isolationist sentiment in Republican ranks. Another honorable exception to the general, dreary trend is Sen. Marco Rubio, the great right hope from Florida.

He gave a first-rate speech today on the Senate floor about the war in Libya. He rightly castigated Obama for his mistakes in waging this conflict, ranging from the president’s failure to ask Congress for approval in the beginning to his persistent refusal to use enough force to bring Qaddafi down. But, he went on to argue:

No matter how you may feel about the original decision, we must now deal with the situation as it now stands. And the bottom line here is that if we withdraw from our air war over Libya, it will lengthen the conflict, increase its cost to American taxpayers, and raise doubts about U.S. leadership among friends and foes alike.

Thus, he made an eloquent plea for Republicans to swallow their anger against Obama and act in the best interests of the country by rejecting attempts to hamstring the war effort. He is exactly right—and almost alone on Capitol Hill where too many of his fellow Republicans seem to have more interest in bringing down Obama than Qaddafi.


Earlier, I commended Tim Pawlenty for staking out a principled position for a strong foreign policy that puts him at odds with the growing isolationist sentiment in Republican ranks. Another honorable exception to the general, dreary trend is Sen. Marco Rubio, the great right hope from Florida.

He gave a first-rate speech today on the Senate floor about the war in Libya. He rightly castigated Obama for his mistakes in waging this conflict, ranging from the president’s failure to ask Congress for approval in the beginning to his persistent refusal to use enough force to bring Qaddafi down. But, he went on to argue:

No matter how you may feel about the original decision, we must now deal with the situation as it now stands. And the bottom line here is that if we withdraw from our air war over Libya, it will lengthen the conflict, increase its cost to American taxpayers, and raise doubts about U.S. leadership among friends and foes alike.

Thus, he made an eloquent plea for Republicans to swallow their anger against Obama and act in the best interests of the country by rejecting attempts to hamstring the war effort. He is exactly right—and almost alone on Capitol Hill where too many of his fellow Republicans seem to have more interest in bringing down Obama than Qaddafi.


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Wisconsin Choke Charge Appears Bogus

The Associated Press is reporting a criminal inquiry has been opened into the accusation that conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser “choked” liberal colleague Ann Walsh Bradley. On the surface, this is a black eye for both Prosser and Wisconsin Republicans who worked hard to ensure his re-election in a tough race that revolved around efforts to overturn the state legislature’s votes to limit the collective bargaining rights of state employee unions in order to balance the budget. But it turns out the charge against Prosser may be as bogus as the liberal claims that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature were turning the Badger state into Nazi Germany.

Christian Schneider, a fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, writes in National Review today to tell the inside story about this judicial brawl. According to Schneider’s sources, the set-to between the two judges turns out to have been instigated by Bradley, who charged Prosser, who had put his hands up to ward off his colleague’s assault. The two were immediately separated, after which Bradley claimed she had been “choked,” even though the majority of those present said it never happened. Schneider says those involved believe Bradley chose not to make a complaint herself because she knew it wouldn’t stand up in court. The story was leaked to the George Soros-funded Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, which promoted the accusation against Prosser and backed it up with anonymous sources.

This is just another sign of how brutal the battle between liberals and conservatives in Wisconsin has become. Having failed to stop the governor’s legislative agenda via boycotts by Democratic legislators and then a failed court challenge, is appears the next phase of this no-hold-barred dustup are attempts to personally destroy those associated with support of Walker’s ideas. While not much may come of the investigation against Prosser, it is a sign of how nasty things have gotten there. While one would hope that judges, of all people, would use this incident as a sign its time to turn down the temperature in Wisconsin, it may be the start of a new round of political mudslinging.

The Associated Press is reporting a criminal inquiry has been opened into the accusation that conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser “choked” liberal colleague Ann Walsh Bradley. On the surface, this is a black eye for both Prosser and Wisconsin Republicans who worked hard to ensure his re-election in a tough race that revolved around efforts to overturn the state legislature’s votes to limit the collective bargaining rights of state employee unions in order to balance the budget. But it turns out the charge against Prosser may be as bogus as the liberal claims that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature were turning the Badger state into Nazi Germany.

Christian Schneider, a fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, writes in National Review today to tell the inside story about this judicial brawl. According to Schneider’s sources, the set-to between the two judges turns out to have been instigated by Bradley, who charged Prosser, who had put his hands up to ward off his colleague’s assault. The two were immediately separated, after which Bradley claimed she had been “choked,” even though the majority of those present said it never happened. Schneider says those involved believe Bradley chose not to make a complaint herself because she knew it wouldn’t stand up in court. The story was leaked to the George Soros-funded Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, which promoted the accusation against Prosser and backed it up with anonymous sources.

This is just another sign of how brutal the battle between liberals and conservatives in Wisconsin has become. Having failed to stop the governor’s legislative agenda via boycotts by Democratic legislators and then a failed court challenge, is appears the next phase of this no-hold-barred dustup are attempts to personally destroy those associated with support of Walker’s ideas. While not much may come of the investigation against Prosser, it is a sign of how nasty things have gotten there. While one would hope that judges, of all people, would use this incident as a sign its time to turn down the temperature in Wisconsin, it may be the start of a new round of political mudslinging.

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Obama Economic Polling Numbers Hit New Low

Two new polls out today show President Obama is in an increasingly perilous position with voters when it comes to the economy. The first, a McClatchy-Marist poll, has the president hitting a record low on his economic approval rating. Just 37 percent of registered voters approve of how he’s managing the economy, with voters disapproving his handling of the federal deficit by a 2-1 margin.

Meanwhile, a Gallup poll found U.S. economic confidence has plummeted by seven percentage points since last month, and is hovering near its 2011 low. Only 31 percent of Americans say the economy is improving, and 45 percent rate the economy as “poor.”

But not all of the numbers indicated trouble for the president. According to McClatchy-Marist, his favorability rating is at a steady 50 percent and his overall approval rating is at 45 percent. Of course, the longer the economic problems drag out, the more likely it is those numbers will start to deteriorate as well — especially once voters are faced with a Republican alternative for 2012. Obama’s polling numbers continue to be highly polarized, with 91 percent of Republicans disapproving of his economic performance, compared to just 31 percent of Democrats. But the president still appears to be losing ground with independents, who disapprove of his handling of the economy by 60 percent. With the economy as the top concern for independent voters, combating this perception is sure to be one of Obama’s biggest challenges as his campaign gets under way.


Two new polls out today show President Obama is in an increasingly perilous position with voters when it comes to the economy. The first, a McClatchy-Marist poll, has the president hitting a record low on his economic approval rating. Just 37 percent of registered voters approve of how he’s managing the economy, with voters disapproving his handling of the federal deficit by a 2-1 margin.

Meanwhile, a Gallup poll found U.S. economic confidence has plummeted by seven percentage points since last month, and is hovering near its 2011 low. Only 31 percent of Americans say the economy is improving, and 45 percent rate the economy as “poor.”

But not all of the numbers indicated trouble for the president. According to McClatchy-Marist, his favorability rating is at a steady 50 percent and his overall approval rating is at 45 percent. Of course, the longer the economic problems drag out, the more likely it is those numbers will start to deteriorate as well — especially once voters are faced with a Republican alternative for 2012. Obama’s polling numbers continue to be highly polarized, with 91 percent of Republicans disapproving of his economic performance, compared to just 31 percent of Democrats. But the president still appears to be losing ground with independents, who disapprove of his handling of the economy by 60 percent. With the economy as the top concern for independent voters, combating this perception is sure to be one of Obama’s biggest challenges as his campaign gets under way.


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Iran Flexes Its Muscles With Missile Tests

In recent months, the Obama administration seems to have de-emphasized efforts to create an international coalition aimed at restraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions in favor of yet another futile try to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But unfortunately for Washington, Tehran has just reminded its neighbors that they, and not the Americans, are the ones to worry about in the Middle East these days.

As Haaretz  reports today, yesterday Iran unveiled underground silos that house missiles which can hit both Israel and American bases in the Persian Gulf. The move, which came as part of war games carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, were clearly aimed at demonstrating the country’s military strength. Iran has flexed its muscles by sending forces to help prop up the regime of its ally Bashar al-Assad in Syria and by stepping up arms shipments to both Hezbollah and Hamas, its terrorist surrogates bordering Israel.

But the missile tests, in which surface-to-surface projectiles with a 2,000-kilometer range were fired, show the ultimate threat from Iran is not terrorism but weapons that will provide its burgeoning empire with a nuclear umbrella that will give it impunity to act as it likes.

The purpose of these exercises is not only to prop up the Iranian regime itself but also to reinforce for regional consumption the notion the United States is in retreat while Iran’s influence grows.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration is too preoccupied with attempting to force Israel to make concessions in order to entice the Palestinians into peace talks that all sides know can’t succeed to pay much notice to Iran’s provocations. For all of the attention given to “Arab Spring” protests against Arab dictators, the great divide in the region remains between those countries under the influence of Iran and those who are uncomfortable with Tehran’s power. While many in the United States hoped the Stuxnet computer virus would solve the Iranian nuclear problem, it is increasingly obvious it created only a brief delay in Iran’s march towards nuclear capability. Which means sooner or later, President Obama will have to come to grips with the question of whether he will accept a nuclear Iran or not. This week’s missile tests are a reminder that day may not be as far off as he had hoped.

In recent months, the Obama administration seems to have de-emphasized efforts to create an international coalition aimed at restraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions in favor of yet another futile try to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But unfortunately for Washington, Tehran has just reminded its neighbors that they, and not the Americans, are the ones to worry about in the Middle East these days.

As Haaretz  reports today, yesterday Iran unveiled underground silos that house missiles which can hit both Israel and American bases in the Persian Gulf. The move, which came as part of war games carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, were clearly aimed at demonstrating the country’s military strength. Iran has flexed its muscles by sending forces to help prop up the regime of its ally Bashar al-Assad in Syria and by stepping up arms shipments to both Hezbollah and Hamas, its terrorist surrogates bordering Israel.

But the missile tests, in which surface-to-surface projectiles with a 2,000-kilometer range were fired, show the ultimate threat from Iran is not terrorism but weapons that will provide its burgeoning empire with a nuclear umbrella that will give it impunity to act as it likes.

The purpose of these exercises is not only to prop up the Iranian regime itself but also to reinforce for regional consumption the notion the United States is in retreat while Iran’s influence grows.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration is too preoccupied with attempting to force Israel to make concessions in order to entice the Palestinians into peace talks that all sides know can’t succeed to pay much notice to Iran’s provocations. For all of the attention given to “Arab Spring” protests against Arab dictators, the great divide in the region remains between those countries under the influence of Iran and those who are uncomfortable with Tehran’s power. While many in the United States hoped the Stuxnet computer virus would solve the Iranian nuclear problem, it is increasingly obvious it created only a brief delay in Iran’s march towards nuclear capability. Which means sooner or later, President Obama will have to come to grips with the question of whether he will accept a nuclear Iran or not. This week’s missile tests are a reminder that day may not be as far off as he had hoped.

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Truth and the Modern American University

An article by Nathan Bloom and Phyllis Chessler published yesterday on FrontPageMag.com highlights the absurd hypocrisy that characterizes academic debate over Jew-hatred.

Bloom and Chessler focus on the release on June 23 of an “Islamophobia” report co-sponsored by Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). That release date happened to coincide with Yale’s strange flip-flop on its anti-Semitism program, providing an unusually stark juxtaposition that tells us a great deal about the ideological assumptions of those who man the watchtowers of the current American university.

The ostensible reason for the Yale anti-Semitism program’s closure was a failure to “meet high standards for research and instruction,” but not even anti-Israelist blogs like Mondoweiss bought that as an explanation. The explanation became, instead, that the original “Initiative”  (YIISA) was too focused on “advocacy” as opposed to “scholarship.” Since some of the presentations at YIISA’s conferences moved from dispassionate analysis of Jew-hatred to a consideration of what actually should be done about it, a holy intellectual line had been crossed. The program’s death and rebirth seems to have been, in the end, a successful effort to remove Charles Small from its leadership, thereby hopefully avoiding all that unseemly advocacy. Read More

An article by Nathan Bloom and Phyllis Chessler published yesterday on FrontPageMag.com highlights the absurd hypocrisy that characterizes academic debate over Jew-hatred.

Bloom and Chessler focus on the release on June 23 of an “Islamophobia” report co-sponsored by Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). That release date happened to coincide with Yale’s strange flip-flop on its anti-Semitism program, providing an unusually stark juxtaposition that tells us a great deal about the ideological assumptions of those who man the watchtowers of the current American university.

The ostensible reason for the Yale anti-Semitism program’s closure was a failure to “meet high standards for research and instruction,” but not even anti-Israelist blogs like Mondoweiss bought that as an explanation. The explanation became, instead, that the original “Initiative”  (YIISA) was too focused on “advocacy” as opposed to “scholarship.” Since some of the presentations at YIISA’s conferences moved from dispassionate analysis of Jew-hatred to a consideration of what actually should be done about it, a holy intellectual line had been crossed. The program’s death and rebirth seems to have been, in the end, a successful effort to remove Charles Small from its leadership, thereby hopefully avoiding all that unseemly advocacy.

Which brings us back to the “Islamophobia” report. It’s worth noting – because it doesn’t get said nearly often enough – that CAIR was founded by the Islamic Association for Palestine, a group the ADL calls“a Hamas-affiliated anti-Semitic propaganda organization.” Leaving all that to the side, CAIR says itself that its “vision” is to be “a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding.” Yet such blatant advocacy does not prevent an “interdisciplinary research center” at Berkeley from plastering its name on, promoting on its website, and sending its director to CAIR headquarters in Washington, D.C., to help announce the release of a report authored, save for sections on the Ground Zero mosque and the 2010 election, by CAIR itself.

The hard truth is the humanities departments of the American university have been effectively transformed away from centers of scholarship and into centers for ideological advocacy for at least a generation now. Those who guard its prerogatives do not guard intellectual purity but the perpetuation of an intellectual monoculture that stifles the free inquiry of students and faculty alike, setting rigid boundaries around what can and cannot be thought.

Instead of confronting this reality honestly, brave academic advocates like Deborah Lipstadt nevertheless go on shoveling the argument that YIISA essentially has itself to blame for its closure, since it didn’t watch the advocacy/scholarship line closely enough. As a tactical argument (in the sense that if we want to change the university we must acknowledge that stern power is held there by our adversaries and therefore we must tread carefully) it is fine as far as it goes. But in demanding Jews hold themselves to a standard perpetually ignored by everyone else in the interest of principle alone, Lipstadt and others are arguing in favor of Jewish weakness and not much else.   

To fight effectively for truth in the modern American university, we need to acknowledge honestly where we are. Only then will we be able to discern how to get to where we need to go.


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