I have not been the biggest fan of Ethan Bronner of the New York Times. The reportage by Bronner, who spent the last four years as the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, was a mixed bag. Though he was clearly a talented reporter who often did some good work highlighting the realities of the Palestinian war on Israel, he was also prone–as virtually every other member of the foreign press corps in Israel–to take Palestinian claims at face value and to omit the context of Palestinian rejectionism from accounts of diplomatic and political encounters there.
Nevertheless, Bronner spent the last two years under constant fire, not so much for his role in the Times’s blatant bias against Israel (for which the editors back in New York were chiefly responsible anyway), but because his son served in the Israel Defense Force. Once the news came out about Bronner’s son serving in the army like most Jewish boys his age in Israel, he was subjected to withering criticism from the pro-Palestinian left as well as a nasty column from Clark Hoyt, the paper’s public editor at the time. Now that Bronner’s leaving the post after a four-year term, the story is being recycled, but the notion that he was compromised by his son’s service is just as absurd today as it was then.
Even though Rick Santorum has billed himself as the conservative in the GOP race, he has a history of big government votes during his time in the Senate that are starting to get attention from conservative bloggers. At the Washington Examiner, Phil Klein ticks off a few controversial votes that Santorum will no doubt be forced to explain in the coming weeks:
To his credit, Santorum did not support the kind of mandate and subsidize approach to health care as Romney, but as senator, he still voted like a big government Republican on many occasions. Some of this had to do with being a loyal soldier during the Bush era, when he backed the Medicare prescription drug plan and No Child Left Behind. But a lot of it had to do with his parochialism.
As a senator from Pennsylvania, Santorum took earmarks, pushed a support program for dairy farmers, sided with unions and backed steel tariffs. In these instances, when free market principles clashed with local concerns, he abandoned limited government conservatives.
It’s been a rough week for Mitt Romney since getting swept last Tuesday in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri. Rick Santorum has caught up to or passed him in the national polls. Even worse, a new poll of Michigan Republicans shows him trailing Santorum in his home state of Michigan. Losing Michigan could kill his hopes of winning the GOP nomination. But if that wasn’t bad enough, now the dogs, or more specifically liberal dog owners, are mobilizing against him.
As the New York Times reports, a small group calling itself “Dogs Against Romney,” showed up outside Madison Square Garden in New York today to garner a little free publicity while the Westminster Kennel Dog Show was being held there. A dozen protesters with pooches in tow carried signs saying “Mitt is Mean,” which was intended to reference a story about a Romney family trip in which their dog Seamus was transported in a dog carrier on top of the car. The organizers and, no doubt, President Obama, hope this odd tale will, as the Times helpfully notes, serve “as a window into Mr. Romney’s character.” The group is an obvious front for the Democrats, so it is unlikely this publicity stunt will cost the GOP candidate too many votes in Republican primaries. But if you actually get into the details of the story, rather than the popular caricature of it that has Romney literally tying some poor dog to the roof of a car, the charges of animal cruelty fall flat.
Three years ago this month, Barack Obama made a public promise: “Today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office,” the new president said. The president reiterated his promise here, and here. In fact, Obama was repeating his commitment as late as December 2009, which is terribly inconvenient for those who say the president’s original broken promise can be forgiven because “there was a deeper hole to dig out of than anyone could have envisioned in January 2009.”
In fact, Obama and his team knew how deep the hole was in February 2009. But certainly by December 2009 – 11 months after he had been sworn in – it was clear to all the world just how deep the hole was.
Burma may very well play an outsized role in the success or failure of the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia–the White House’s attempt to undo some of the damage it did earlier in its administration in places like India, South Korea, and Burma. Burma was an exception because unlike the others, it was not an ally and was oppressing its citizenry, so it obviously required a different approach.
The administration wisely recognized that Burma’s location, combined with the shifting of global economic focus eastward, gives the country a strategic relevance it has not had since World War II. Though it’s been ruled by a vicious military junta, new leader Thein Sein has begun a process of liberalization in return for the restoration of diplomatic ties to the United States–a step we took–along with the request that we relax economic sanctions, which is under consideration. In the last week, the administration received some good news and some bad news out of Burma. First, the bad news:
Via the Washington Examiner, Newt Gingrich declines to take the National Review’s friendly advice to drop out of the race and endorse Rick Santorum:
“The National Review wanted me to drop out in June,” Gingrich said to reporters last night, calling such speculation, “silly.”
“You guys go around and pick up the same people that said that I was dead in June, that said that I was dead after Iowa, you know, twice I lead in the Gallup poll, ok?” Gingrich said.
Gingrich said that he had no plans to drop out before Super Tuesday and boasted that his campaign was still competitive.
Real Clear World‘s Greg Sclobete takes issue with a post I penned yesterday, in which I argued “the fact that some argue Israel “started it” shows moral blindness and ignorance of context.” Sclobete then falsely summarizes my argument by suggesting I said some terrorism is bad and other is good. But that was not the point of the post Sclobete selectively cites, nor is it even a fair reading of it. Rather, I list a litany of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish terrorism sponsored by Iran during the past two decades and exclaim that pundits who are jumping on the terrorism bandwagon now show their selectivity by having ignored for so long Iranian sponsorship of terrorism against Israel, Israelis, and Jews.
As for assassination, a tactic used to prevent a wider conflict or an existential challenge, I see nothing wrong with it nor, for that matter, does the Obama administration. Assassination does not violate international law; it is not terrorism.
In mafia parlance, I believe they call this the “protection racket”:
After attacking hedge funds and their managers during her tenure in the Obama administration, Anita Dunn is now working as a public relations consultant to improve the industry’s image, according to a secret proposal obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Dunn, formerly the interim White House communications director for the Obama administration and currently a managing director at the Democratic consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker (SKDK), is being promoted by the public relations firm McLean/Clark LLC as a director of “paid media” for a pro-hedge-fund campaign. The project is described by promotional material as a “comprehensive public affairs operation” to “raise awareness about the positive role hedge funds play in the American economy” and to “eliminate the need for politicians to take aim at hedge funds.”
Lost amid the debate about the budget put forward by the White House yesterday was a provision that continues the administration’s war on philanthropy. Obama’s call for dangerous cuts in defense spending he says he will spend on infrastructure at home got most of the headlines. But the budget also called for limiting itemized deductions, a measure that could have a grievous impact on philanthropies that are more desperate for funds than ever in a shrinking economy.
Though Obama will attempt to sell this package as part of his now standard class warfare tactics in which the wealthy are demonized, the attempt to cut back those deductions is just as much about the administration’s statist goal of granting more power to government and restricting the private sector’s ability to impact society. The losers here are not the rich who will find other ways to spend their money but the poor, medical research, the arts and other philanthropic causes that will suffer from the president’s crusade for “fairness.”
Whenever I hear myself crying, “Where are you when we need you, Ronnie?” I give myself a couple of smart slaps in the face and tell myself, “Naomi, get over it! A Ronald Reagan doesn’t come around every century.”
Doesn’t mean Republicans can’t have a solid, electable candidate – even one who could morph into a powerful president when the call came (think George W. Bush).
Those seeking to understand President Obama’s new budget and what it says about the crushing disappointment Obama has been to a central mode of liberal self-congratulation need look no further than John Steele Gordon’s post from last week about the proposed “Zuckerberg tax.” John wrote about how Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg was about to make a lot of money from his successful business, and liberals began trying to come up with a new rule that would allow the government to confiscate some of it.
John noted that “the perverse economic consequences of this would be almost without end” and wondered whether anything could “be more revelatory of the utter intellectual bankruptcy of latter-day liberalism” than the economically illiterate squawking parrot it has become. The answer is yes. While the Zuckerberg tax could be written off as one more ridiculous scheme, the president’s budget carries far more significance. And in this way, the damage to modern liberalism continues. Here’s James Pethokoukis at AEI:
In his interview with Charlie Rose, Charles Murray speaks about his new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. Murray’s argument is that the upper middle class and working class in America are separating on some key, core behaviors and values. We’re seeing the “collapse of the central cultural institution in one particular part of America” – meaning the collapse of marriage among the working class. The most stunning statistic in his data-filled book, Murray says, is this one: In 2010, among the white upper middle class, 83 percent of adults 30-49 years old were married. In 2010, only 48 percent of working class whites were married. (Murray, by the way, says he has changed his mind on same-sex marriage, an arrangement he once opposed.)
In addition, we’re seeing a “clustering” among the new upper class and elite, which is leading to an increasing isolation between them and the rest of American society, something Murray believes is creating problems for both the upper class and the working class. Murray praises the new upper class for its commitment to traditional values, something he would not have done in the early 1970s, but criticizes it for not “preaching what it practices.” He says they should act more like the elite in Victorian England at the end of the 19th century, who helped “re-moralize” their society (for more, see the groundbreaking work of the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb).
Reading the Daily Caller’s stellar investigative series into Media Matters, the organization begins to sound less like a left-wing media watchdog and more like a drug cartel in the days before the feds close in. There are armed bodyguards, fears of sniper assassins, enemy lists and talk of sending private eyes to follow around high-profile adversaries. All this at a non-profit organization.
It’s no wonder Media Matters’ head David Brock comes off as an unhinged paranoid in the story. When you stake your career on dirty tricks and smear tactics, you start expecting everyone else is out to do the same to you. As the Caller reports, Media Matters was apparently so obsessed with digging up dirt on Fox News it considered hiring detectives to track its employees. To Brock, the declaration that his organization was at “war with Fox News” wasn’t hyperbole – his personal assistant reportedly carried a Glock to prove it.
Last October, the Justice Department uncovered what it said was an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. There were many skeptics who claimed the Iranians were far too skillful and suave to have connived at such an amateurish plot involving a deadbeat Iranian expatriate in Texas and a Mexican drug cartel. Don’t the Iranians at least practice better tradecraft?
Apparently not, to judge by today’s explosions in Bangkok. A man suspected of being an Iranian agent tried to throw a hand grenade at pursuing police officers but instead blew his own legs off.
The day he published his 2010 essay in the New York Review of Books castigating the American Jewish establishment for too-strong support of Israel, Peter Beinart tweeted that it was the “hardest thing I’ve ever written.” As Noah Pollak noted at the time, there was nothing easier than Beinart’s criticism; there was already a wide market for it within the media.
Beinart subsequently received a book deal from Times Books, the publishing arm of the New York Times, and the book will be published next month. Last week, he circulated an email that Rabbi David Wolpe describes as “an end zone dance, a strutting lack of humility.” Here is the beginning of Beinart’s email:
During the Nixon administration, Secretary of State Kissinger sought to tighten the rotation of American diplomats to just a couple of years in any particular country, and to ensure they were posted at the State Department regularly. He believed the loss of in-depth knowledge when a diplomat left a long-term posting was more than offset by the fact that so many diplomats posted overseas lost perspective, accepted conspiracies by osmosis, and adopted the biases of foreign societies.
The same holds true for journalists. Foreign correspondents and their military beat colleagues stationed overseas sometimes drink too much of the local water. Usually their editors catch the nonsense, but sometimes craziness slips through. Thomas Ricks, at the time a military correspondent for the Washington Post, and now a blogger for ForeignPolicy.com, suggested that Israel purposely allowed Hezbollah to launch missiles into northern Israel in order to have an excuse to retaliate. According to Ricks:
One of the things that is going on, according to some U.S. military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they’re being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.
There were some in the Mitt Romney camp who spent the last two days downplaying a Public Policy Polling survey that showed their candidate trailing Rick Santorum by a wide margin among Republican voters nationwide. Because PPP is a Democratic-leaning firm, they argued the stunning 38-23 percentage point lead given Santorum in that poll was unreliable. But with the release of three other national polls in the last day, there can be no doubt Santorum has, at the very least, caught up to Romney.
A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows Santorum with a 30-27 point lead over Romney with Ron Paul in third with 12 percent and Newt Gingrich bringing up the rear with only 10 percent. A just-published Pew Research Center for the People and Press poll shows a nearly identical spread for the two leaders with Santorum leading Romney 30-28, though it differs over the second tier candidates as its results give Gingrich 17 percent and Paul 12 percent. The latest Gallup tracking poll provides somewhat better news for Romney. It shows him still ahead by a slender 32-30 margin with Gingrich at 16 percent and Paul at 8 percent. These three polls provide solid proof that Santorum and Romney are now in a statistical dead heat. But no matter how you spin these numbers, it’s all bad news for Romney. The polls show him losing support among the independents who made him more electable in a November match-up against Barack Obama and show him trailing Santorum among the Tea Partiers, social conservatives and the political conservatives who make up the base of the Republican Party.