The news that Herman Cain is “reassessing” his candidacy in the wake of a new sexual scandal has predictably set off a wave of speculation as to which of the other Republican contenders will benefit the most from his withdrawal, if that’s what he decides to do. Most observers have jumped to the conclusion that the big winner will be Newt Gingrich. He has been competing for some of the Tea Party/social conservative support and had already been the beneficiary of the precipitous slide in support for Cain after his foreign policy gaffes and sexual harassment charges eroded his standing in the polls. But one outlier on this question is the Washington Examiner’s Phil Klein, who writes today that Mitt Romney might actually gain some traction from the Cain collapse.
Klein’s reasoning is that dismay about Cain’s alleged conduct on the part of Christian conservatives — a factor that may weigh heavily in Cain’s decision to carry on — may bring renewed attention to the issue of moral probity in a potential president. If so, that stands to help Romney, a pillar of rectitude who has been married to the same woman for 42 years, and will remind voters of Gingrich’s well-known record of infidelity during his first two marriages. That’s not an unreasonable theory, but there are two big problems with it. One is, past transgressions don’t impact voters in the same way as fresh revelations. The other is, as we discussed last week, a narrative of redemption seems to be more popular these days than one of unblemished virtue.
Evelyn’s accurate diagnosis of the “rot” at the core of the “human rights community,” and her salutary exhortation that “no self-respecting democracy should grant international law any credence,” points to a deeper issue; namely, the notion of a “world community” (of which the human rights community is, ostensibly, a part.)
“World community” has become something of a rhetorical talisman, the mere utterance of which expresses the speaker’s tacit commitment to the institutions
of an imagined global order and which tends to induce in the minds of the politically credulous an image of something that is, at once, grand and magisterial—almost transcendent—yet also intimate and personal, as well as presumptively benign.
Inspired by Newt Gingrich’s common-sense grooming and lifestyle tips for Occupy Wall Street, Rasmussen decided to post this fundamental question to the public: “Should OWS activists take baths and get jobs?” As it turns out, the issue is a bitterly divisive one.
Rising Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich made news recently when he suggested that the Occupy Wall Street protesters should stop protesting and get jobs after taking a bath. Voters are evenly divided over whether that’s a good idea.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 43 percent of likely U.S. voters agree with the former House speaker and think the protesters should take baths and get jobs. But an identical number (43 percent) disagree, and 14 percent more are undecided.
As Jonathan noted, the recent explosions in Iran — one at a missile base on November 12th, the other yesterday near Istafan — hold out hope that the nuclear program can be delayed through sabotage. But it’s unclear whether the explosions are actually the result of internal or foreign sabotage, as opposed to accident or incompetence as the regime rushes forward with its various weapons programs; and more importantly, it’s unclear whether the regime itself knows their cause. But the cause might not really matter. Even if one or more of the incidents was an accident, the perception that the country’s most sensitive installations are vulnerable to sabotage could impel the regime to respond.
Consider the fact that the Isfahan explosion happened yesterday evening and within hours a rocket barrage was fired from Lebanon into Israel, and that as we speak the British embassy in Tehran is besieged by a student chapter of the Basij, a thuggish regime militia. It’s hard to believe that these measures are not a form of retaliation, a reminder that the regime will not sit idly as its prized missile and nuclear sites are attacked. The message seems to be clear: Tehran blames outside powers for the explosions.
I certainly have fond memories of the British embassy in Tehran. When I first went to the Islamic Republic for language study and dissertation research, I would occasionally get a few hours’ respite in the British garden where we’d have an occasional evening with Pims and Lemonade amongst fellow English-speakers.
Certainly, the British embassy seizure fits a long-established pattern inside Iran. I detailed some of this, here, but there’s much more: Shortly before Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized British sailors in waters the Iranians disputed, the British government was proposing taking the Iranian nuclear file to the United Nations for additional sanctions. Two days before the British sailors were captured, here is what Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, had to say: “If they take illegal actions [such as sanctioning our nuclear program], we, too, can take illegal actions and will do so.”
The noose is tightening around Bashar al-Assad’s neck. Not only has he been abandoned by his erstwhile interlocutors in the West, he has even been turned on by his own neighbors, as seen in the Arab League’s unprecedented decision to impose sanctions on Syria. Even the UN is starting to turn up the heat with its new report on the human rights abuses Assad is committing to stay in power.
But that does not mean he will go quickly or quietly. If he continues to cling to power, Syria could be plunged into a nightmarish civil war that could destabilize Iraq and other nearby states. To forestall that eventuality, I urge in the new Weekly Standard more robust action to topple Assad. Among the steps the U.S. and its allies should seriously consider, I write, is arming the Free Syrian Army fighting Assad, launching air strikes on regime targets, and supporting Turkey to set up “buffer zones” and “humanitarian corridors” that would be protected from Assad’s thugs.
Pakistan’s anti-Americanism is certainly scary, but it is hardly new. When I went to Pakistan last year to interview former ISI leaders, senior diplomats, and political party activists—including from Jamaat-e-Islami, the anti-American Islamist party—I heard a range of views, but Pakistanis of all stripes referred to the “great betrayals” of 1965 and 1971.
Here, the story goes back to the Eisenhower administration: In an effort to create a southern corollary to NATO, Eisenhower sponsored the Baghdad Pact, also known as the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO). Pakistani authorities believed their membership would, akin to the basis of NATO, trigger automatic American defense should Pakistan be attacked.
Yesterday’s explosion at a facility in Isfahan, Iran is the sort of vague story that inspires hope the Islamic republic’s nuclear weapons program can be stopped. We don’t know whether what happened there was the result of sabotage by U.S. and/or Israeli agents, but whatever the cause, we can only pray the damage was serious. If so, this may be just one more piece of evidence proving that a covert war is being waged on Iran by foreign intelligence services that have sought to corrupt the ayatollah’s computers, kill their scientists and wreck their facilities by any means possible. While there are good reasons to be skeptical this campaign will be an effective answer to the nuclear threat, the possibility that the U.S. is doing all it can short of open war is the best, and perhaps only, defense of Barack Obama’s record on the issue.
Because force may be the only avenue left to stopping Iran, gaining an understanding of Obama’s real intentions on the issue is vital not only to the upcoming election but to the future of the region. On that score, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg takes up the cudgels for Obama in a piece in which he assembles a raft of quotes from the president assuring us he will not let Iran obtain nuclear weapons. The quotes are accurate and consistent and lead Goldberg to believe the many attacks on the president’s record on Iran are unfair. The only problem with this argument is that they are just words. Obama’s critics on the issue have never had a problem with his pledges to do something about Iran. Rather, it is his lack of effective action that has branded him a failure in this case.
After the U.S. instituted a travel ban against the Russian officials involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, Russia responded with its own visa “blacklist” of American officials unwelcome in the Russian Federation. But the State Department seems to have one-upped the Russians again.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin’s brutal surrogate in the North Caucasus, has now been given the diplomatic cold shoulder:
Right now there’s an intense debate among Republicans and conservatives when it comes to who would be the better nominee, Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney. Advocates for both men are putting forward lawyer’s briefs for and against each candidate. There’s something to be said for this approach. But as an alternative, let me suggest four categories that people of any political party might apply when choosing a nominee.
First, is the nominee electable? A person may have achieved a perfect record when it comes to purity tests. He may thrill the base. But if that individual cannot be elected, it won’t much matter. Barry Goldwater ran a principled, and in many respects an admirable, campaign in 1964 — and he was wiped out by Lyndon Johnson. As a result, we’re struggling mightily with the effects of the Great Society (and not only the Great Society). An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable defeat. But a loss is worse, and has much further-reaching consequences than a victory.
Is Herman Cain reassessing his candidacy? That’s what Robert Costa’s reporting, and Cain’s campaign chief Mark Block apparently confirmed it with ABC. It sounds like we’ll know more in the next couple of days:
In a conference call this morning, Herman Cain told his senior staff that he is “reassessing” whether to remain in the race. He told them he will make his final decision “over the next several days.”
Chris Christie shows why he’s going to be a key asset to Mitt Romney on the campaign trail, cutting through President Obama’s “adult-in-the-room” nonsense with this pitch-perfect critique today:
“I was angry this weekend, listening to the spin coming out of the administration, about the failure of the supercommittee, and that the president knew it was doomed for failure, so he didn’t get involved. Well then what the hell are we paying you for?” Christie said during a press conference in Camden, N.J. “It’s doomed for failure so I’m not getting involved? Well, what have you been doing, exactly?”
Hundreds of enraged Pakistanis took to the streets across the country Sunday, burning an effigy of President Obama and setting fire to American flags after 24 soldiers died in NATO air strikes. Prime Minister Gilani said his country was re-evaluating its relationship with the United States. According to Army General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the average Pakistani’s respect for the United States is lower than ever. “[The average Pakistani who] doesn’t know the United States, doesn’t read about the United States or just watches something on television about the United States, at that level [the relations] are probably the worst they’ve ever been,” he explained. He added that the relationship between the U.S. government and Pakistan’s government is “on about as rocky a road as I’ve seen.”
Elsewhere in the world, our relations with Afghanistan and Iraq have frayed. Our relationship with Israel is at a low point, even as the Palestinian Authority ignored Obama and sought statehood through the United Nations. No progress has been made toward achieving peace in the Middle East. Our capacity to shape events in Egypt (where the Muslim Brotherhood seems to be gaining in power) and Syria (where innocent people are being massacred in the streets) is severely restricted. Iran views Obama with disdain as it continues on its march toward achieving nuclear weapons. North Korea also seems immune to Obama’s charm. Read More
On this day 64 years ago, Amos Oz was an eight-year old boy in Jerusalem, up after midnight to watch the large crowd outside his family’s tiny flat. They listened to the only radio available in that part of the city, a big black box that had been placed outside, with its volume turned up as loud as possible, so that everyone could hear the UN broadcast from Lake Success, New York, as the tension-filled roll call proceeded on a resolution to partition Palestine into two states: an Arab and a Jewish one.
In his autobiographical masterpiece, A Tale of Love and Darkness, Oz describes in a two-sentence paragraph the moment after the voice on the radio announced that the resolution had received the necessary two-thirds vote. He captured what Golda Meir meant when she described the moment as one for which the Jews had waited 2,000 years, a moment “so great and wonderful that it surpasses human words.” Here is the paragraph:
I’d like to add to Noah’s excellent post yesterday, in which he described how the “human rights community” has become infected with the moral rot of tolerance for terrorism. First, this particular moral rot isn’t confined to a few NGOs; it pervades the entire system of what is fondly called “international law” – which is why no self-respecting democracy should grant international law any credence.
Consider, for instance, a recent statement by one Awn Shawkat al-Khasawneh: “The expulsion of Hamas from Jordan in 1999 was a political and legal error. I will tell you openly, when the expulsion took place, I opposed it.” Khasawneh is Jordan’s new prime minister, and if that were all he was, the statement wouldn’t be shocking. But he also spent more than a decade as one of the 15 judges on the International Court of Justice, including three years as the court’s vice president, and before his first nine-year term expired in 2009, he was reelected to a second.
The political/intellectual ground may be shifting beneath our feet.
According to the New York Times, members of Congress from both parties told the so-called supercommittee that Medicare should offer a fixed amount of money to each beneficiary to buy coverage from competing private plans, whose costs and benefits would be tightly regulated by the government. The Times points out that Republicans, including Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, have endorsed variations of a premium support plan, in which Medicare would subsidize premiums charged by private insurers that care for beneficiaries under contract with the government. But what is noteworthy is that “some Democrats say that —if carefully designed, with enough protections for beneficiaries — it might work.”
The latest calamity to befall the campaign of Herman Cain came yesterday in the form of a claim made by a Georgia woman that he had engaged in a 13-year extramarital affair with her. Cain immediately went on CNN to deny he had done anything wrong. Interestingly, even before Cain spoke, his lawyer, L. Lin Wood, issued a statement drawing a clear distinction between the earlier charges which involve actions that were legally actionable and this accusation which is, “of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults — a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public” but also pointedly not denying the matter.
One may argue that such things are, as Wood said, none of the public’s business. But do we really need to point out to Cain that when you run for president the rules are not the same as when you are a private individual? Such intrusions may not be fair and they may also, as many pointed out after Mitch Daniels chose not to run because of the scrutiny that would be given to his family, discourage the best people from running for high office. But while many fair-minded observers spend the next few days disparaging the prurient interest in this business shown by the media and a public always eager for gossip and scandal, it is also fair to ask what would be the implications if the press adopted a blanket policy of ignoring such accusations? That’s not a hypothetical question. Half a century ago, that was exactly what the press would have done. Indeed, it was what they did when John F. Kennedy was in the White House.
The New York Times, in a story on Team Obama gearing up for the 2012 election, reports that the theme of “hopeful, transcendent politics” has been jettisoned in favor of a combination of excuses and attacks. “If 2008 was about lifting Mr. Obama up,” the story reports, “2012 will have at least some strong element of dragging down his Republican opponent (who the campaign believes will most likely be Mitt Romney). If 2008 was about ‘Yes We Can’ and limitless possibility, 2012 will be to some degree about why we couldn’t (‘Republican intransigence’), and why we shouldn’t, at least when it comes to anything the Republican nominee proposes (‘His party got us here in the first place’). As Mr. Obama recently told a group of supporters in the deflated liberal bastion of San Francisco, ‘The Hope poster is kind of faded and a little dog-eared.’”
It turns out the president has a gift for understatement.
The left-wing lobby group J Street has a problem. On the one hand, their leadership has been trying hard to portray itself as just another liberal pro-Israel Jewish group that deserves a place at the communal table. On the other, the radical instincts of much of its leadership and many of its supporters are so alienated from mainstream Jewish opinion about Israel and the Middle East conflict, the organization often finds itself lurching about trying to square two points of view that are incompatible. J Street first condemned Israel’s counter-offensive against Hamas terror in December 2008 and then eventually backed away from that stand when they realized even Israeli leftists disagreed with them. Their positions on Iran sanctions have similarly wavered. And let’s not even get into their bizarre on-again-off-again lying about getting most of their funding from George Soros.
The latest example concerns a trip to Gaza by one of their founders and board members, New York lawyer Kathleen Peratis. Peratis is also co-chair of the Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee of the viciously anti-Israel group Human Rights Watch. Peratis penned an article for the Forward published earlier this month in which she discussed her meetings with the Hamas terrorist group and tours of the tunnels by which Palestinians have smuggled arms and material into Gaza. In the piece, she not only failed to criticize Hamas or the tyrannical nature of the Islamist group’s reign over Gaza but also made clear her opposition to Israel’s policies and the blockade of the terrorist enclave. As for J Street, they didn’t send her to Gaza but, as the Washington Jewish Week reported, initially distributed copies of her piece to members of the group and the press via their daily news roundup. But a week later, after some criticism of the association with the group and Hamas began to percolate, J Street predictably folded, issuing a statement today distancing itself from Peratis’ conduct.
Click here if you want to punish your eardrums; otherwise, just read on for the general story. Now that celebrities like Disney’s Hannah Montana are getting on board with OWS, how long will it be before the movement gets too “mainstream” for its college hipster base?
Count Miley Cyrus amongst the celebrities supporting Occupy Wall Street.
With her newly released music video, the teenage star joins the ranks of Russell Simmons, Mark Ruffalo, Lupe Fiasco and many others in Hollywood lending their voice to the People’s Microphone. “Liberty Walks,” Cyrus’s latest single, sets the music to images and video from the various protests and activity around the various OWS encampments throughout the nation.
“This is dedicated to the thousands of people who are standing up for what they believe in,” the dedication at the beginning of the video reads.