In recent weeks, opponents of voter ID laws have escalated their attacks on the measures by claiming the common sense requirement that a voter be able to identify him or herself at the polls is a new form of Jim Crow. But because the measure applies equally to everyone and the Supreme Court has ruled such laws are constitutional, their charges have more to do with inciting racial discord than actually affirming the right to vote. At the same time, others are seeking to undermine the entire premise of voter ID advocates by claiming there is no such thing as voter fraud in the United States. That’s the conceit of a piece in the Daily Beast today that repeats the charge made by liberal and Democratic foes of the laws that there is no evidence of voter fraud going on anywhere in the country.
But on the same day the Daily Beast piece was published, evidence surfaced that union officials in Wisconsin have been subpoenaed in an investigation of, you guessed it, voter fraud. As the Washington Free Beacon reports, the DA’s office demanded the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) hand over records that relate to the conduct of their officials who may have voted in the city earlier this year while using a Marriott hotel as a residence and using out of state IDs. The Wisconsin legislature passed a photo ID law, but state courts have blocked its enforcement, so the lack of such a requirement and a same day registration process makes it easy for anyone, including those who aren’t legally qualified to vote there, to cast a ballot. All of which makes a good argument for exactly the laws liberals tell us are not only racist but also unnecessary.
If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times: The American Left and the self-described liberals who inhabit it are open-minded, inclusive and tolerant. As we’ve come to learn, however, that tolerance only extends to those who agree with their worldview.
The latest conservative in liberals’ crosshairs is Chick-fil-A’s President Dan Cathy. An interview with the Baptist Press has caused a firestorm after Cathy stated he was “guilty as charged” in his company’s support of the traditional family.
For these remarks, boycott campaigns have raged across the internet as outraged liberals call the company and its president “hate mongers,” “bigots” and other, unpublishable, epithets. Many liberals have stated they will no longer “support” Chick-fil-A, perhaps under the mistaken impression that it is a charity, not a restaurant, a business that doesn’t need supporting, but patronizing.
My former Pentagon colleague David Schenker points me to this excellent photo essay compiled by Martin Kramer, who provides great commentary as well. Sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words.
Now, many American officials convinced themselves that Bashar al-Assad wasn’t such a bad guy; rather, he was the eminently reasonable Western-educated doctor. They argued ferociously in the halls of Congress and in the corridors of the State Department that the problem in U.S.-Syrian relations was simply a lack of dialogue, and that the United States was too shy about doing business with Bashar.
Politico reported this morning that Morgan Freeman donated $1 million to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA last month. The organization has reportedly been struggling to drum up donors, which isn’t surprising as Democrats have spent the past two years demonizing super PACs. Clearly, they hope Freeman’s donation will signal to wealthy liberals that it’s okay to support these groups.
But note Freeman’s statement out this morning:
“Pres. Obama has done a remarkable job in historically difficult circumstances. … I am proud to lend my voice … to those who defend him. Priorities USA Action is doing a great job of protecting the values I believe in. I am happy to help them and I hope others will join me.”
He wasn’t defending his donation as a necessary evil. Instead, he said he was “proud to lend [his] voice.” That’s an interesting choice in wording, considering Democrats have been mocking the idea that political spending is protected speech for the last two years.
But Freeman is right, and the Supreme Court has affirmed it. Political spending is a form of free expression. As Justice Antonin Scalia explained eloquently to CNN’s Piers Morgan last night, “You can’t separate speech from the money that facilitates the speech.”
No question, the bombing that killed three top members of the Assad regime has accelerated that regime’s downfall. Now, with reports of fighting in Damascus and of the president’s family being evacuated from the capital, the whole governing clique might be gone far faster than anyone would have predicted even a few days ago.
That might be seen as vindication of the Obama administration’s go-slow approach which has consisted of providing some communications and intelligence support to the rebels—but no arms—all the while hoping against hope that Russia might allow the UN Security Council to endorse a more vigorous intervention. That strategy was dealt another blow yesterday when Russia and China vetoed a resolution piling more sanctions on Syria. But does any of that matter if the Assad regime is doomed to fall soon anyway? I believe it does, because, without greater U.S. involvement now, our ability to shape the post-Assad country will be severely limited and the odds of sheer chaos or an extremist takeover go up.
The terrorist attack on Israelis vacationing in Burgas, Bulgaria yesterday ought to change the nature of the conversation about Iran. If, as Israel is asserting, the bombing which took the lives of five Israelis and left 33 wounded, is the work of Iran’s ally Hezbollah, then those counseling further appeasement of the Islamist regime are going to have to explain why the West should believe more feckless diplomacy will restrain Tehran and its Lebanese auxiliaries from further outrages or persuade them they should give up their effort to get a nuclear weapon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear his country’s intelligence sees the long arm of Iran as being behind the slaughter.
There are those who will treat this incident as merely a tit-for-tat attack in which Iran was retaliating for the assassinations of its scientists and other Western and Israeli efforts to set back their nuclear program. But it should be remembered that Iran and its terrorist allies have a long record of targeting Jews. Tuesday was the 18th anniversary of the bombing of a Jewish community building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in which 85 persons were murdered. The role of Iran and Hezbollah in that atrocity has long been established, but both the Lebanese group and its Iranian sponsor have escaped international retribution for its crimes.
The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq certainly has taken a toll in terms of influence. A day after a bomb killed the Syrian defense minister and the hated Assef Shawkat, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has sent his condolences (google translation here) to Bushra Assad, Bashar Assad’s sister. That’s right: After years of terror sponsorship—including helping orchestrate an underground railroad for suicide bombers into Iraq, Assad and his inner circle now orchestrate a campaign of massacres and sectarian cleansing. After the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians, a bomb kills one of the chief perpetrators. And Talabani sends condolences on the death of the man who competes to have the most blood on his hands.
Talabani’s actions are par for the course but, alas, it is a course that Obama and his top Middle East advisers do not understand. It does not matter how pro-American someone says they are, nor does it matter how pro-American they may be in their hearts. If the United States indicates that it is weak, it does not have staying power, or that it is afraid to stand up to evil, then everyone who lives in the region will begin to make their accommodation with evil simply because they will do what they need to do to survive. Obama washes his hands of Iraq? Then it is only natural Talabani will do what it takes to stay on the good side of Iran and Assad.
Democrats in Congress frustrated by President Obama’s repeated refusal to release all of his papers from his days in the Illinois state senate and his college transcripts are introducing legislation that would force the president to release his political records and Columbia transcripts–just in case he misrepresented his back story to enable his transfer there.
Just kidding! Democrats are introducing legislation to force Mitt Romney to release his tax returns. Running out of retired baseball players to prosecute and looking for some other creative ways to cynically use their taxpayer-funded salaries to waste everyone’s time and money on a political stunt designed to treat the Congress as if it were a liberal super-PAC, Democrats have seized on the issue of Romney’s tax returns as a nifty way to legislate campaign ads from the Senate floor. Senators Carl Levin and Dick Durbin can’t even pretend that this is not what they’re doing, even though the legislation would obviously force all candidates to comply:
Sen. Carl Levin told reporters that the Senate proposal would shed new light on the use of shell corporations based overseas to help U.S. companies and individuals avoid U.S. taxes. But Durbin confirmed the timing of the proposal is designed to highlight Democratic complaints with Romney’s investments.
“Clearly, I think the American people are entitled to more,” Durbin said, of the two years of tax returns Romney has so far said he will release. “I also think he has an obligation to explain why he and his family decided that offshore tax havens are the right place to park their money and their wealth. Those are legitimate questions.”
The two suggested they would move the item as an amendment to some other larger bill in coming weeks, which could force a Senate floor debate.
A decade ago, the UN’s Arab Human Development Report made waves when it found that “The Arab world translates about 330 books annually, one fifth of the number that Greece translates.” The Report also noted that the Arab world had become a scientific desert:
Arab countries have some of the lowest levels of research funding in the world. R&D [research and development] expenditure as a percentage of GDP was a mere 0.4 for the Arab world in 1996, compared to 1.26 in 1995 for Cuba, 2.35 in 1994 for Israel, and 2.9 for Japan. Science and technology output is quantifiable and measurable in terms of the number of scientific papers per unit of population. The average output of the Arab world per million inhabitants is roughly 2 percent of that of an industrialized country.
The Report was valuable because it changed discourse: While so many Western activists made any number of excuses about why Arabs had fallen behind other populations in the world, the UN report was written by Arabs and put facts above politics.
President Obama’s attacks on Bain, his deportation order, his gay marriage evolution, his massive spending advantage — all have failed to move the dial nationally, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The Obama campaign will argue that he’s focusing on gaining an edge in swing states and among certain demographics, but this is still a grim picture for them. Despite his significant advantages during the past few months, his national support has flatlined. What’s going to happen once the fundraising playing field evens out?
Despite months of negative advertising from Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies seeking to further define Mr. Romney as out of touch with the middle class and representative of wealthy interests, the poll shows little evidence of any substantial nationwide shift in attitudes about Mr. Romney. …
The new poll shows that the race remains essentially tied, notwithstanding all of the Washington chatter suggesting that Mr. Romney’s campaign has seemed off-kilter amid attacks on his tenure at Bain Capital and his unwillingness to release more of his tax returns. Forty-five percent say they would vote for Mr. Romney if the election were held now and 43 percent say they would vote for Mr. Obama.
When undecided voters who lean toward a particular candidate are included, Mr. Romney has 47 percent to Mr. Obama’s 46 percent.
Huma Abedin, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, has been in the news recently as her husband, the disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, tries to worm his way back into the public eye. Weiner paraded Abedin and their six-month-old infant before the cameras of People magazine this week as part of a not-so-subtle campaign to rehabilitate himself. But Abedin has other worries besides those associated with her husband. She was singled out in a letter sent by Rep. Michele Bachmann and four members of Congress that highlighted the ties between her family and the Muslim Brotherhood. The letter asked for the State Department’s Inspector General to conduct an investigation into whether Abedin and others had wrongly influenced American policy to show favor to the Islamist group that is battling for power in Egypt. That prompted a furious response from Sen. John McCain, who blasted Bachmann on the floor of the Senate. McCain described Abedin as a friend and said attacks on her “character, reputation and patriotism” were unwarranted and unfair.
McCain’s counterattack on behalf of Abedin is being echoed throughout the mainstream press. The New York Times editorial page today described Bachmann’s charges as a “crackpot allegation of a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy to infiltrate the government.” The Boston Globe’s Juliette Kayeem wrote in a column that the mention of Abedin’s mother was a new take on an old theme, a “Manchurian Mom.” While McCain’s speech centered on a defense of Abedin, both pieces poured scorn on the idea that the Muslim Brotherhood was worth worrying about or whether a discussion of the State Department’s conduct vis-à-vis the organization was worthy of scrutiny. The whole thing, they said, was merely a new front in an effort to single out Muslim-Americans and subject them to discrimination.
Prejudice against Muslims is wrong, and conspiracy theories are a noxious weed in political discourse. Those who think the Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating the State Department are probably wrong, as there is no shortage of diplomats and consultants who foolishly think the United States should be engaging with the Islamist group without any of them being part of a plot. But if the Bachmann letter is used as an excuse to brand as McCarthyism any effort to discuss a possible shift in U.S. policy toward appeasing Islamist groups, that would be a mistake.
Something seems to have clicked for Mitt Romney in the past few days. There were a few minutes when he was flailing on the tax return issue, but President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comment appears to have reinvigorated Romney. His new web video out this morning which profiles a small business owner in New Hampshire is a prime example:
A few days after publishing what I and others consider the most egregious piece of anti-Semitic filth in years, the editor of Tablet, Alana Newhouse, has published something or other intended to respond to its critics. It’s not an apology, exactly, even though the words “deeply sorry” appear. It’s more a…I can hardly believe I’m writing these words…tribute to Tablet. Her response is self-referential, self-aggrandizing, and ultimately self-infatuated.
She writes that she is “used to our pieces eliciting strong emotions. But the reactions to Anna Breslaw’s article have been exceptional.” Yes, exceptional, in the sense that most of us who read it were appalled and disgusted in a nearly unprecedented way. And then, in the cowardly fashion of media organizations caught in the midst of a disaster of their own making, she attempts the ludicrous claim that there are two sides to the response.