Yale University President Richard Levin has announced that at the end of the school year, his twentieth at the helm of Yale University, he will step down. The New York Times coverage outlined his achievements:
Under his presidency, the university has greatly expanded its academic facilities, including new quarters for science and medicine and a new business school campus; has overhauled its buildings, including all 12 undergraduate residential colleges; has started construction of two residential colleges to make room for the first major expansion in undergraduate enrollment in decades; and has embarked on new programs overseas. “Rick’s presidency hasn’t been revolutionary,” said Anthony Kronman, a former law school dean. “It’s been a steady, persistent accumulation that, I would say, add up to a massive set of achievements.” Dr. Levin’s administration has increased Yale’s endowment faster than those of its peers, despite heavy capital spending; as of mid-2011, it stood at $19.4 billion, second only to Harvard’s.
Levin has certainly between a master fundraiser, and he has increased the quantity and quality of university facilities that had deteriorated after many years of deferred maintenance. He has also improved relations with both the city of New Haven and the local unions, largely by giving into their demands, in a sense another type of deferred maintenance.
When it comes to intellectual leadership, however, Levin’s epitaph should not be so sunny.
The disproportionate character assault aimed at Paul Ryan after his RNC speech (which, incidentally, bore a striking resemblance to the backlash against Niall Ferguson’s anti-Obama Newsweek essay) is driven by one thing: sheer terror from the Democrats that Ryan is going to break through to independent voters.
But the attacks just got a lot uglier this morning. The SF Gate blog reports that California’s Democratic Party Chair John Burton likened Ryan to Joseph Goebbels at a breakfast for the Democratic National convention (h/t Burns & Haberman):
“They lie and they don’t care if people think they lie… Joseph Goebbels — it’s the big lie, you keep repeating it,” Burton said Monday before the Blake Hotel breakfast. He said Ryan told “a bold-faced lie and he doesn’t care that it was a lie. That was Goebbels, the big lie.”
Reminded that Brown drew heat for comparing the messaging of Meg Whitman’s 2010 GOP gubernatorial campaign to Goebbels, he said sarcastically, “[Bleep] that’s right, she won the election!
Burton shrugged at Brown getting in trouble. “He won it big. Goddam he was in trouble.”
Not only did Burton compare Ryan to the Nazi leader, he shrugged it off and refused to back down when confronted about his language — quipping that Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown won an election after comparing his opponent, Meg Whitman, to Goebbels in 2010.
As Seth wrote earlier today, Israeli distrust of President Obama’s intentions on Iran is the product of nearly four years of policies designed to create more distance between the two allies on this and other issues. But since the president wants to stop an Israeli attack on Iran (and worries that some pro-Israel voters will hold his inaction against him in November, the administration used its favorite media mouthpiece — the New York Times —to float a raft a proposals that are intended to calm Jerusalem and its overseas friends. But the problem with these ideas is that they are focused more on stopping Israel than Iran.
Today’s front-page story in the Times states that the administration is considering the following: Naval exercises in the Persian Gulf to intimidate the Iranians; efforts to clamp down on Iran’s still-booming sources of oil revenue despite the supposedly “crippling” sanctions belatedly imposed on the country by the West; more covert activities aimed at sabotaging Iran’s nuclear facilities; the construction of a radar facility in Qatar and a clear statement by the president as to the circumstances under which the United States will use force to stop Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. The last point is the one the Israelis have been begging Washington for but it is also apparently the one that the president is least interested in carrying out.
As for the other ideas, they have all been tried and failed. Under these circumstances, can anyone wonder why the Israelis fear they are on their own and the Iranians are confident they can defy the United States?
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired group which declares as its mission “to be an exemplary and unifying Islamic organization in North America” and to “advance the cause of Islam in North America.” Well-funded, in part by donations from the Emir of Qatar and other elements in the Persian Gulf, ISNA not only has become an interlocutor with the White House despite its status as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terror finance case, but goes so far as to claim to be the credentialing organization for American imams, including Muslim chaplains serving in the U.S. military.
Over Labor Day weekend, ISNA sponsored its annual conference in Washington, DC. Among its featured speakers was Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic Studies at the George Washington University, who addressed a panel titled, “Interweaving Religion & Life in a Moral Society.” ISNA’s choice of Nasr to promote a moral society is deeply troubling. In October 2009, Nasr attended a reception at the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Interest Section in Washington, D.C. The Iranian press published an account of his comments there:
Heading into their convention this week, leading Democrats are being asked a simple question about the administration they think Americans should re-elect in November: Are we better off today than we were four years ago? The answers have been variable, but they all have the feel of someone in the dock pleading “guilty with an explanation.”
Given the high unemployment rate, the lack of economic growth matched by a startling hike in the deficit fueled by administration spending programs, it’s little wonder that most Americans tell pollsters they are not better off and that the country is heading in the wrong direction. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley admitted as much on CBS’s “Face the Nation” yesterday: “No, but that’s not the question.” He amended that answer on CNN to say that we were but the damage was already done. Senior Obama campaign officials weren’t much better than O’Malley.
New York Times political reporter Michael Shear has a list of advice for the Obama campaign’s upcoming nominating convention. Shear may think he is helping the Obama team, but he’s buried a landmine in his otherwise unremarkable list of helpful hints.
Shear tells the Obama camp the five things they need to do in Charlotte this week. These include such penetrating insights as “attack Romney” (No. 1) and “avoid mistakes” (No. 3), as well as reminders to fire up the base and reassure the public on the economic front. But his fifth piece of advice could not possibly play into Romney’s hands any better. Here is Shear’s final suggestion:
Recent visitors to the Republic of Georgia say they saw roads packed with trucks transporting Iranian oil. When they asked multiple Georgians about the traffic, they were told that the Iranians are transshipping sanctioned oil through the Caucasus and then loading it onto ships in the Black Sea in order to conceal its identity. The Georgian government, for its part, appears perfectly happy to collect transit fees for the oil.
Georgia is an American ally. While it has the misfortune to border Russia, its president Mikheil Saakashvili has worked hard to reorient the country into the West. Georgia has stamped out once rampant corruption. Saakashvili has ordered all road signs to be bilingual, in Georgian and English, a symbolic move in a country where most citizens also speak Russian and one designed to wrest Georgia from the Soviet orbit.
Earlier this year, a leftist Israeli think tank surveyed Israelis’ opinion of the left. The results were shocking: 63 percent viewed it unfavorably, 48 percent deemed it elitist, only 33 percent said it shared their values, only 31 percent deemed it capable of governing effectively, and only 28 percent thought it had good solutions for national security challenges.
Clearly, this stems primarily from the disastrous outcome of the left’s territorial withdrawal policy. But leftists who profess themselves bewildered by these results would also be well-advised to study the recent spate of leftist pundits (here and here, for instance) claiming that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main, if not only, reason for weighing an attack on Iran this fall is to harm President Barack Obama’s reelection bid.
The Obama administration is signaling that, against the backdrop of genocidal rhetoric and faced with an existential threat from Iran, Israel cannot count on the United States. There is no greater sign than the wavering U.S. commitment to the Jewish state than the Obama administration’s decision to scale down considerably a forthcoming joint military exercise.
Obama may wish to express his displeasure with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but he should realize that it can encourage war when enemies believe U.S. commitments to American allies are shakable. Here, the genesis of the Korean war should provide an important lesson. On January 12, 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson gave a speech in which he laid out U.S. interests in Asia:
The news from Israel over the weekend has left no doubt that President Obama’s failure on Iran has been one of both words and deeds. Not only did Obama refuse to speak publicly against the regime at the most opportune moments, but his administration has also trotted out high-level appointees to undermine the credibility of a Western threat to use force if sanctions and diplomacy continue to fail. (Gen. Martin Dempsey may or may not have been speaking for the administration, but Leon Panetta most certainly does.)
Those are the words; unfortunately, the deeds match them. Obama has consistently sought first to prevent, then delay, then weaken tough sanctions against Iran. At times, the president has even faced down a united Senate to oppose sanctions. At the UN, we once could count on help from Turkey on international sanctions; in the age of Obama, the international coalition on this issue continues to fray. And then there was this weekend’s announcement that the U.S. dramatically scaled down joint military exercises scheduled for this fall, and is withholding certain military assistance (once the Obama administration’s claimed trump card when criticized over U.S.-Israeli relations). Message received, say the Israelis:
The White House at the weekend reiterated its commitment to Israel’s security, but this drew a withering response from the Israeli source: “It’s hard to explain the gulf between the White House’s comments about the commitment to Israel’s security and the comments made by the US chief of staff,” the official said. “What matters are not words but deeds.”