There was a bitter irony in the news that Detroit Tigers outfielder Delmon Young had been charged with a hate crime for assault while yelling anti-Semitic slurs during an altercation outside of his team’s hotel during their visit to New York this past weekend to play the Yankees. Young, who was apparently drunk at the time, spent the night in jail and in addition to facing legal jeopardy, Major League Baseball suspended him for seven days. As is his right, under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, he may return to the Tigers after being evaluated by a doctor and entering a treatment program.
Ballplayers are no more prone to bad behavior than anyone else in society, so there’s no reason for anyone to jump to any conclusion about the prevalence of anti-Jewish sentiments in the game. But the story had to especially hurt the feelings of Jewish fans of the Tigers and not just because it embarrassed their favorite ballclub. As anyone who saw filmmaker Aviva Kempner’s award-winning documentary “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg,” there was once a time when the Tigers were well known as the big leagues’ “Jewish” team.
This afternoon, a frenzy erupted when the incoming Romney campaign spokesman on foreign affairs, Richard Grenell, quit before he started. Grenell is openly gay, and a fierce advocate for his views on marriage. The Romney campaign claims it all but begged him not to quit, but Grenell was evidently rattled by attacks from the Right on his fitness for his post.
Among those attacking him was Matthew Franck of the Witherspoon Institute. Franck published his views on National Review Online, and they are nothing short of appalling. Franck says Grenell’s being gay should not disqualify him from working for Romney, nor should his support for same-sex marriage. But he reveals his disingenuousness when he writes this: “Grenell has made a particular crusade of the marriage issue, with a kind of unhinged devotion that suggests a man with questionable judgment. And when the Obama State Department is already moving to elevate the gay-rights agenda to a higher plane than religious freedom in the foreign policy of the United States, it is reasonable to wonder whether Grenell, after taking such a prominent place in the Romney campaign’s foreign-policy shop, would be in line for an influential State posting where he could pursue his passion for that same agenda.”
Actually, it is not at all reasonable.
The Pew Research Center released a poll showing support for Osama bin Laden had waned considerably among Muslims around the world. That’s not terribly surprising a year after his death. But what is worth calling attention to is that bin Laden’s popularity decreased substantially during the Bush years and the “war on terrorism.”
Why point this out at all? Because there was a popular theory advanced by foreign policy analysts like Peter Bergen, which (in 2007) sounded like this:
America’s most formidable foe once practically dead is back. This is one of the most historically significant legacies of President Bush. At nearly every turn, he has made the wrong strategic choices in battling al-Qaeda. To understand the terror networks’ resurgence and its continued ability to harm us we need to reexamine all the ways in which the administration has failed to crush it.
The head of the CRIF, the head of the umbrella group representing French Jewry, is coming under criticism for saying a victory for Socialist Party presidential candidate Francois Hollande is a potential disaster for Israel. Richard Prasquier stated in an opinion column published last week in Haaretz that anti-Israel elements within the Socialist Party will be able to exert disproportionate influence in a Hollande administration.
While Prasquier said Hollande had expressed friendship for Israel, he left little doubt that the strong ties between the Jewish community and incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy left some Jews worried about the consequences if the polls are right and the Socialist wins on Sunday. Of special concern was the fact that while Sarkozy has been the most ardent European opponent of a nuclear Iran, Hollande is untested on the issue and will govern with the support of leftist foes of Israel who will play a large role in his government.
President Obama made a tough call to order the hit on Osama bin Laden. Had the operation failed, pundits and press would have fallen over themselves to liken him to Jimmy Carter and the ham-handed hostage rescue operation in Iran. And, contrary to Mitt Romney’s suggestion that anyone would have made the same call, even Carter, that’s clearly not true: When the U.S. intelligence community and military had bin Laden in its sights, Bill Clinton did not have the political courage to make the call.
Celebrating the much-ballyhooed strategic partnership deal finalized last month between the United States and Afghanistan is premature, however. With the smoke clears, details of the agreement are short, and Obama’s timeline continues to erode confidence in the wisdom of the alliance where it matters, among Afghans.
Mitt Romney’s national security spokesman Richard Grenell, who has been attacked by some social conservatives because he is openly gay, has resigned. Jen Rubin has Grenell’s statement:
I have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the foreign policy and national security spokesman. While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign. I want to thank Governor Romney for his belief in me and my abilities and his clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.
Certainly this teachable moment will put an end to all the heated, class-warfare rhetoric we’ve been hearing lately:
The FBI arrested five men Monday evening, saying they had planted what were believed to be explosive devices under the Ohio 82 bridge over Cuyahoga Valley National Park as part of a May Day protest today.
The five men were “self-proclaimed anarchists,” who intended to detonate two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) under the bridge in Sagamore Hills, but had purchased the inert devices from undercover FBI agents, officials said.
Something fascinating–and potentially important–is happening in the 2012 presidential campaign.
The Obama campaign’s crass politicization of the killing of Osama bin Laden seems to have struck a nerve in just about everyone – from expected quarters (like the Wall Street Journal editorial page), to moderately conservative ones (like David Brooks of the New York Times), to liberal ones (like Dana Milbank of the Washington Post). But perhaps the most important criticisms are being made by Navy SEALs themselves, as Alana points out.
This cannot be what the Obama campaign predicted; and the fact that they would take their most notable achievement and employ it in a way that would be potentially counterproductive is a sign that the mindset of all the president’s men is so aggressive, so hyper-partisan, so mean-spirited and so desperate that they are acting in ways that are amateurish and self-defeating. It might also be a sign that Obama has so few genuine accomplishment to his name that when he actually is able to identify one, he mishandles it. They don’t have enough practice to know what to do with a real achievement.
Listening to the Obama campaign gush about the president’s courageous decision regarding the Osama bin Laden raid, you might think he was the one who piloted the helicopter, raided the compound, and fired the legendary shot. But what do the actual American heroes who risk their lives in these types of missions think? The Daily Mail spoke to several Navy SEALs who are mystified by the argument that President Obama’s decision was uniquely heroic:
A serving SEAL Team member said: ‘Obama wasn’t in the field, at risk, carrying a gun. As president, at every turn he should be thanking the guys who put their lives on the line to do this. He does so in his official speeches because the speechwriters are smart.
“But the more he tries to take the credit for it, the more the ground operators are saying, ‘Come on, man!’ It really didn’t matter who was president. At the end of the day, they were going to go.”
Chris Kyle, a former SEAL sniper with 160 confirmed and another 95 unconfirmed kills to his credit, said: ‘The operation itself was great and the nation felt immense pride. It was great that we did it.
“But bin Laden was just a figurehead. The war on terror continues. Taking him out didn’t really change anything as far as the war on terror is concerned and using it as a political attack is a cheap shot.”
So-called “liberal Zionists” like author Peter Beinart have been mounting an all-out campaign to undermine any notion that the proper attitude of American Jews toward Israel is support of its current government. Beinart and others on the left don’t like Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and believe their sensibilities rather than his judgment ought to be regarded as the proper path for the Jewish state. Though Beinart and other foreign liberals tend to regard the realities of the conflict with the Palestinians as mere details that only serve as an impediment to the implementation of their vision of peace, they are entitled to their opinions. But should it take precedence over that of the Israeli people?
Beinart and others who think Zionism is in “crisis” are about to get another lesson in Zionist democracy. With it becoming increasingly clear that Netanyahu will agree to move up the date for the next parliamentary elections to perhaps as early as September 4, those carping about the direction Israel has taken on the peace process, settlements, the Iranian threat, the religious-secular divide or any other issue will have an opportunity to watch Israeli democracy in action. The voters will have the opportunity to throw out Netanyahu and elect a government more in line with the views of Beinart and J Street. But, if as widely expected, they return Netanyahu to power with an even larger majority, shouldn’t there be some expectation these “liberal Zionists” will respect the will of the people?
On October 25, 2003, machine-gun bearing Russian police raided oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s jet as it was refueling in the Siberian metropolis of Novosibirsk. They arrested Khodorkovsky, and he remains in prison to this day–though his release date, which is consistently pushed back, is now set for the year 2017.
The story that led up to Khodorkovsky’s arrest is fairly well-known: he was one of the “oligarchs” who took control of a state oil company in the 1990s and openly challenged Vladimir Putin in the political sphere. Claiming justice for Russia, Putin charged Khodorkovsky’s firm, Yukos, with tax evasion, declared it bankrupt, and seized control of the oil giant for the state, keeping Khodorkovsky locked up on trumped-up charges. But now there is a new wrinkle in the story, and according to Steve Coll’s new book on ExxonMobil, out today, Putin may have been spooked into arresting Khodorkovsky when he did (it’s not a question of “if”) after a conversation with Exxon CEO Lee Raymond.
Via Haaretz, Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung, known as the “father of Peace and Conflict Studies” shares his thoughts on Jewish control of the media and academia. This guy will no doubt be written off as a nutjob who’s completely unrepresentative of the Peace Studies curriculum. And based on his lunatic theory that the Mossad and Freemasons had a hand in the Anders Breivik terror attack, and his paranoid calculation that Jews control “96 percent of the media,” he clearly is unhinged.
But his comments also underscore a major problem with Peace Studies. Some anti-Semitic ideas, like the one that “Auschwitz had two sides,” are a natural progression of the discipline:
He pointed out that one of the factors behind the anti-Semitic sentiment that led to Auschwitz was the fact that Jews held influential positions in German society.
Galtung also recommended reading “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” – one of the most popular anti-Semitic texts in the world. …
According to Galtung, “terrible Auschwitz,” had two sides as well. “[It was] not unproblematic that Jews had key niches in a society humiliated by defeat at Versailles,” wrote Galtung, referencing Germany following World War I. Galtung continued, “In no way, absolutely no way, does this justify the atrocities. But it created anti-Semitism that could have been predicted.”
Elizabeth Warren, the super-liberal Harvard law professor and candidate for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, seems to have gamed the affirmative action system for her own benefit. When she was on her way up the greasy pole of law-school professorships she claimed she belonged to a “minority”–American Indian to be precise. From 1986 to 1995, while teaching at the University of Texas and the University of Pennsylvania, she was listed in the Association of American Law Schools’ annual directory of minority law professors. But once she went to work at Harvard, and could no longer benefit by being a minority, she dropped the minority shtick.
The Boston Herald brought this fact to life; her opponent, Scott Brown, pounced, and the Warren campaign has been in damage-control mode ever since. At first they said her Indian ancestry was according to “family lore.” Now, it seems, (one senses an emergency call to a genealogist) her great great great grandmother was Cherokee. So Warren is 1/32 Indian.
The endless touchdown dance that President Obama and his surrogates are taking on the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, which is turning what should be a unifying event into a partisan one, risks tarnishing the heroic work of the Special Operators and intelligence officers who tracked down and killed the world’s most wanted man. It also risks exaggerating the consequences of bin Laden’s demise.
Al-Qaeda “central” was already in decline prior to its leaders’ death, but as RAND political scientist Seth Jones rightly warns, al-Qaeda remains a very real threat. Especially potent are its regional affiliates (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) and closely related terrorist organizations such as the Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Harem in Nigeria, and, in Pakistan, Lashkar e Taiba, the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and others. And that’s not even to mention Hezbollah and Hamas, which in some ways remain the most potent Islamist terrorist organizations of all because they control actual territory. Oh, and in Iraq there is still a threat from various Mahdist army offshoots sponsored by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, which has terrorist tentacles stretching all the way from Latin America to the Levant.
The hacking scandal at the British newspapers owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch has transfixed the English press in the last year and become a major political issue. So it’s not surprising that the parliamentary committee tasked with investigating the matter would seek to heap opprobrium on Murdoch for the various sins committed by his employees in the cause of digging up dirt on the famous and not so famous who became the subject of notoriety. If laws were broken then, as would be the case in the United States, the chips must fall were they may and the guilty brought to book. But the committee’s published conclusions about the scandal went beyond that. In its report, the committee stated that Murdoch was “not a fit person” to run an international media conglomerate.
Murdoch is an easy person to dislike. His unparalleled success in publishing and broadcast media is unprecedented and widely envied. He is identified (not always correctly) with the political right and therefore is considered an enemy of all that is good by the political left, especially those in the media who dislike his visionary decision to create outlets where the traditional liberal consensus will not predominate. But even if one were to agree with those who think his influence on the industry pernicious and his politics odious, how can anyone, especially in the media, regard the attempt by some in the British parliament to determine who can and who cannot own a media company?
Former opposition leader Tzipi Livni’s resignation from the Knesset today offers a good opportunity to reflect on just how unreliable mainstream media reporting about Israel often is.
Just two months ago, Newsweek and The Daily Beast put Livni on their lists of “150 women who shake the world,” describing her as “one of the most powerful women in the country.” Yet while that was undoubtedly true a few years ago, by the time the Newsweek list came out in March 2012, Livni was almost universally regarded as a has-been even by her erstwhile supporters.
In an editorial published later that month, for instance, Haaretz mourned that in the three years since her “praiseworthy” decision not to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in 2009, “she has not missed a single opportunity to make a mistake: She did not function as an opposition leader, she did not offer an alternative to the government’s policies and she did not lead her party wisely and set clear policy.” In a poll published just four days after the Newsweek list, the public ranked Livni dead last among 16 leading Israeli political figures, behind even such nonentities as Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini. And three weeks later, Livni’s own party unceremoniously dumped her: She lost Kadima’s leadership race by a landslide 25-point margin. Now, her political career in ruins, she is even quitting the Knesset.
Two weeks ago, I wondered whether the “Dog War” between the Obama and Romney campaigns was over. Once the story about the president eating dog meat as a boy came out, I thought that had to be the end of the endless columns by liberal pundits resurrecting the story of the Republican nominee’s dog Seamus riding to Canada on the roof of the family car. And when that was followed by the story about Romney saving a drowning dog (and a family of six, but apparently most Americans are just interested in the dog), I was sure that Democrats would decide to simply let the pet angle go and concentrate on more substantive criticisms of the GOP candidate. But I was wrong. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, the Obama campaign is apparently committed to the idea that there is a canine path to victory. According to the Post, the president is using the family dog Bo to front an Internet fundraising appeal pitched to pet lovers:
One Internet ad starts with a two-toned blue background, like dozens of other pro-Obama spots. Then the furry star pops into the frame, tongue out and ready to frolic. “Join Pet Lovers for Obama,” the ad implores.
The unlikely pitchman is Bo, the White House family pet, who may well be the first “first dog” to emerge as a central player in a presidential reelection campaign.
So while President Obama got some laughs at the White House Correspondents Dinner joking that “My stepfather always told me, ‘It’s a boy-eat-dog world out there,’” his strategists really still seem to think the dog issue works for him.