After Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren disputed DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s claim that he called the GOP “dangerous” for Israel, the Florida congresswoman tried to dodge blame by insisting the Washington Examiner misquoted her. Unfortunately for DWS, the Washington Examiner’s Phil Klein just posted audio of her comment, and it matches up exactly with his original report.
First, here’s Wasserman Schultz insisting that she was misquoted by Klein on Fox News earlier tonight:
Now, listen to the audio of Wasserman Schultz at a DNC Jewish outreach event yesterday, saying exactly what Klein reported she said:
It may well be that only political junkies are glued to the television channels showing the political conventions these days but they remain a valuable medium for the parties to reach out to potential voters. That’s why the choices made by the organizers in terms of speakers and topics are significant in that they signal which demographic groups the parties are most interested in reaching.
Last week, the Republicans devoted some time to playing to their base but the main focus was on convincing wavering Democrats and independents that President Obama’s economic failures were a reason to turn him out of office. Their sloganeering centered on the president’s denigrating individual initiative. They mentioned their opposition to ObamaCare but most of their convention rhetoric wasn’t aimed at conservatives or Tea Partiers but at those who voted for the president four years ago.
But the first night of the Democratic National Convention has been strictly about rallying the liberal base.
For hours, Democratic speakers have been speaking about abortion, ObamaCare and lauding big government initiatives. Democratic delegates have loved it.
But does the Obama campaign really think offering a speaking position to the most extreme advocates of abortion on demand, including late term and partial birth procedures appeals to the majority of Americans who do not wish to make all abortions illegal but support reasonable restrictions?
The Democratic National Committee has responded to the controversy over pro-Israel language being deleted from its 2012 platform by pinning the blame on President Obama’s Israel policies. CNN’s Dana Bash reports:
CNN’s Dana Bash: I asked the DNC [why it omitted sections of its 2008 Israel plank from its 2012 platform] and we have an answer. And their answer was that they were simply following what the Obama administration’s policy is, and the White House said several months ago that the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in the final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that is why it is not in the platform as it was in 2008.
Reading the headlines about this CNN/ORC poll, you might mistakenly think its bad news for Romney. A one-point convention bounce isn’t particularly impressive, even if you take into account that a good portion of the American electorate was tuned in to TLC’s “Honey Boo Boo” during Paul Ryan’s speech. But there is actually a whole lot in this poll that’s very encouraging for the Romney campaign, starting with the fact that Romney now leads Obama in the favorable/unfavorable category (a remarkable feat, considering the constant media drumbeat about Obama’s preternatural likability).
Among likely voters, Romney is viewed favorably by 53 percent and unfavorably by 43 percent — a 10-point spread. For Obama, those numbers are 51 percent to 48 percent, respectively.
If memory serves, when I attended Columbia University only a few years before Barack Obama’s arrival on campus, the rule about “incompletes” was that you had a year to complete the course work before your grade was converted from an “I” to an “F.” That somber warning–given to students who were able to procure a pass for not handing in a term paper, taking the final exam or missing classes for one reason or another–was brought to mind by the statement made over the weekend by the only Columbia grad ever elected president that his grade for handling the economy ought to be an “incomplete.”
Republicans are pouncing on this by pointing out, as the Romney campaign said, that it is absurd to ask the American people to re-elect a man who can’t even give himself a passing grade. Nevertheless, contrary to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, an incomplete is not equivalent to failure. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that ought to mandate extra time for a student to satisfy course requirements. But Obama’s alibi, repeated by Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter–blaming it all on George W. Bush–doesn’t meet the Columbia standard. Asking for an extra year or even two before being held responsible for the state of the nation is not unreasonable. Asking for four or more years before you can be graded gets you an F at Columbia, Harvard, Occidental, the University of Chicago or any other institution the president was associated with.
Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke became the poster child for the Democrats faux “war on women” theme this past spring when she was brutally mocked as a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh for whining to Congress about her Catholic university’s refusal to pay for her contraceptives. Fluke has parlayed that foolish insult into a full-time career as a liberal activist and will appear at the Democratic National Convention to denounce the Republicans and urge President Obama’s re-election. Fluke has no interest in the fact that her fight for free contraceptives infringes on the religious liberty of Catholics and others who object to being compelled to pay for services that violate their consciences. She believes her demands trump the constitutional rights of others.
Today, she appeared at a pre-convention Planned Parenthood rally at which she urged women to work for the GOP’s defeat. The group was reportedly disappointed by the poor turnout for the event that was apparently caused by an Occupy Wall Street standoff with police preventing Democrats and activists from getting to the rally. But thanks to Fluke, they got some publicity because of the catchy battle cry she issued to supporters:
She announced her new rule: “No sleep ’til November!” Fluke called on Planned Parenthood supporters to talk to “everyone…if there is one woman or one man who loves women in America who doesn’t understand what these candidates stand for in November,” Planned Parenthood supporters will have failed.
But what exactly does the would-be lawyer mean by that? It might be just an awkward metaphor. But does she expect all women to be pulling all-nighters working at Obama call centers or knocking on doors canvassing? Or is she channeling Greek poet Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata, first performed in 411 B.C.E., in which the women of Athens vow to withhold their sexual favors until their men obey their demand to change a state policy?
Colombian President Juan Manual Santos has announced that he will launch this fall into peace talks with the FARC, Colombia’s major insurgent group, which has been battling the government since the 1960s. To see why these talks make sense and may succeed (even if there will be no ceasefire yet), it helps to look at why the previous round of peace talks, from 1998 to 2002, failed. It’s simple, really: A decade ago FARC was far from beaten. It was, in fact, on the verge of taking power. President Andres Pastrana had to offer them sovereignty over an area the size of Switzerland to even lure them to the peace table and predictably those talks failed. The only outcome was to encourage right-wing death squad violence as a counter to the FARC because ordinary Colombians had little faith in the ability of the government’s security forces to protect them.
President Alvaro Uribe, who took office in 2002, adopted a different approach—one that had more in common with the counterinsurgency strategies US troops have followed in Iraq and Afghanistan than with Pastrana’s defeated approach. By pushing security forces to provide security 24/7, and by pushing them to uphold the rule of law, Uribe (along with his then-defense minister, Santos) squeezed out the right-wing paramilitaries and dealt FARC crushing setbacks which have included the freeing of their high-profile hostages and the death or capture of many of their senior leaders.
At the Democratic Convention this week in Charlotte, we’ve learned what mainstream feminism has become. What was once a movement to fight for equality for women in every sector of society has somehow turned into a parody of itself. Since the feminist movement began in the mid-1800s, feminists strove to move past the era where women were seen merely as sexual and reproductive objects. These feminists fought for women to have roles outside of their marriages and their homes, to have equal opportunities in education, the workplace and the political arena.
Cut to Charlotte in early September 2012 and these “feminists” are representing themselves solely as human beings with female reproductive organs. At the DNC this week, women are promoting the Democratic agenda by walking around the convention wearing pins that read “I’m a slut and I vote” in addition to dressing up in costume as birth control dispensers and vaginas. These female reproductive organs, devoid of any other identifying characteristics, are duty-bound to vote for Democrats in order to protect themselves from government (while simultaneously demanding governmental involvement in their reproductive choices). Democrats demand that government respect their “right” to abort or obtain birth control and at the same time demand that government also pay for these decisions. The lack of awareness at the inconsistency of this position is astonishing.
In 2008, the DNC platform stated that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” Apparently the DNC forgot to add: “until President Obama takes office.” That affirmation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was removed from this year’s platform:
For Jerusalem, the new platform has been brought into line with the Obama administration’s policy of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and supporting its division. Jerusalem is unmentioned in the 2012 document, whereas the 2008 and 2004 Democratic Party platforms declared “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”
One of the risks in asking Bill Clinton for help, as Barack Obama is finding out this week, is that before he utters a word he dominates the conversation. The Democrats gather this week in Charlotte to renominate the first black president–who in some cases, like health care reform and the killing of Osama bin Laden—accomplished what Clinton famously failed to do. Yet no one wants to talk about Barack Obama—not the campaign surrogates who get asked whether voters are better off now than they were four years ago (they aren’t); not the party faithful wondering where hope and change went; and not the Democratic elected officials grumbling about the self-centered behavior of the president.
And not the media, either. Yesterday’s political talk shows and round tables seemed consumed by the Clinton-Obama dynamic—have you heard that a source told a source who told a reporter that Clinton told Ted Kennedy that Obama would have been carrying Bill and Ted’s bags just a few years before he had the audacity run for president against party royalty? Yes, you have heard. Everyone has, because no one will stop talking about it. It comes from Ryan Lizza’s comprehensive review of the relationship between the two men, which also offers a good window into how Clinton weighs using his powers of persuasion. (Clinton finally decided Obama’s election was worth supporting because with his wife as secretary of state he could fundraise the heck out of rich foreign donors for the Clinton Global Initiative. Welcome to the mind of Bill Clinton.)
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren “categorically” rejected DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s claim that he told her Republican actions are “dangerous” to Israel this afternoon. The ambassador issued this statement in response to Phil Klein’s report in the Washington Examiner:
“I categorically deny that I ever characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel. Bipartisan support is a paramount national interest for Israel, and we have great friends on both sides of the aisle.”
John Burton — the chairman of the California Democratic Party who came under fire for comparing Paul Ryan to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels — reportedly cut a quick exit from the Democratic National Convention last night for a “pre-scheduled root canal” back in California. Right. He might as well have said he had to go return some videotapes or stay home and wash his hair. What kind of Democratic Party chair schedules a root canal in the middle of the national convention? Power Line writes:
John Burton is the chairman of the California Democratic Party. Over the weekend, he compared Paul Ryan to Nazi propaganda director Joseph Goebbels.
Tomorrow will be the 40th anniversary of the Munich Olympic Massacre, and the New York Times started the commemoration early by publishing a piece of rank revisionism about the event on their op-ed page. Author Paul Thomas Chamberlain was given space today to argue that the reaction to the event set back efforts to talk to the Palestinians since, he claims, Americans wrongly attributed the terrorist atrocity to Yasir Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization. He goes on to argue that similarly false conclusions about Hamas and Hezbollah are preventing us from advancing the cause of peace today.
Chamberlain is incorrect to assert that it is almost always a mistake to attempt to crush terrorists rather than to try to understand their grievances and make nice to them. But his problem is not merely conceptual. The notion that demonizing all advocates of a cause because of the actions of a bloodthirsty few may be defensible in some cases. But the example he chooses to bolster this case is actually false. As many Palestinians involved in the PLO subsequently admitted, Black September was not a dissident group within the Palestinian movement. Rather, it was set up by Arafat to do things that his Fatah party could not. Abu Iyad, Arafat’s chief of security and a founding member of Fatah, wrote that Black September was an “auxiliary” of Fatah, not a competitor, which could commit acts for which Arafat could deny responsibility. Had the United States accepted Arafat’s denial, it would have done exactly what he and the perpetrators of Munich wanted.
Good luck to Hillary Clinton on her visit to Beijing to try to cajole the Chinese leadership into settling through negotiations their disputes with the Philippines, Japan, and other nations over potentially mineral-rich islands in the South China Sea and East China Sea. She will need it, because the Chinese leadership has no interest in amicably resolving these disputes, because then it would lose a grievance it can exploit to fan nationalist sentiment. And why is the Chinese leadership so interested in building up nationalist resentment? The answer is not hard to find—see for example the latest article on the hijinks of a Communist princeling.
This one concerns a car crash that occurred earlier this year in Beijing—the driver of a Ferrari was killed and two women who were traveling with him were badly injured. All three were apparently in various states of undress. Turns out the fabulously rich driver was the son of Ling Jihua, former head of the General Office of the Communist Party Central Committee and a close ally of outgoing president Hu Jintao. The news of the crash only leaked out, it appears, because he had fallen from official favor, being demoted to a less powerful position.
If Mitt Romney loses in November, last week we had the opportunity to watch and gauge the effectiveness of virtually every possible serious Republican contender for the party’s next presidential nomination. Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie all had their moments in the spotlight, as did Rand Paul and even 2012 runner-up Rick Santorum. But none of the serious contenders for what will be an open Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 will be on display in Charlotte. Former President Bill Clinton will be center stage on Wednesday but his wife Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will be at the top of the list of Democratic contenders four years from now, is not on the schedule. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is barely stopping by to attend the conclave, let alone speak to the convention. There are, no doubt, some Democrats speaking in Charlotte who are thinking about running, but they are currently flying below the radar.
That will reduce the already slim hold of the convention on the interest of viewers. However, the assumption that the party’s nominee in 2008 and 2012 can’t possibly be their choice in 2016 may not be true.
Across the Middle East, from the Morocco through Iran, nearly every country has border disputes with its neighbors (Israel’s borders with Egypt and Jordan being prominent exceptions). Syria recognizes Lebanon only grudgingly, and the border between Syria and Turkey has been a long if often dormant dispute. The Syria crisis may soon end the dispute’s dormancy, however. The disagreement between Syria and Turkey centers on Hatay, a province in Turkey which extends down the Mediterranean coast and abuts Syria. In the early twentieth century, maps depicted the area (previously known as the Sanjak of Alexandretta), as part of Syria.
In the wake of World War I, Turkey complained about Hatay’s inclusion in Syria, protesting that the Arab government was violating the rights of the Turkish minority. In 1937, the League of Nations granted Hatay autonomy. The following year, against the backdrop of heavy Turkish police presence, Hatay declared its independence. Its legislature used its power to bring Hatay’s laws into conformity with Turkey’s, adopt the Turkish currency and, on July 23, 1939, Turkey formally annexed Hatay.
I am as skeptical as anyone of the intentions of the new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt led by Mohamed Morsi. From the appearance of a veiled newscaster on Egyptian state television to the attempted remilitarization of the Sinai, there are certainly troubling signs of what the new regime intends. But there are also some positive signs—from Morsi’s interest in free-market reforms to the offensive he ordered in the Sinai against militants who attacked Egyptian outposts and his willingness to stick it in the face of his Iranian hosts by backing the Syrian revolt while on a visit to Tehran. It is simply too soon to tell how much of a threat—or not—the new Egypt will be.
Nevertheless the Obama administration is right to extend roughly a billion dollars in debt forgiveness to Egypt and to support a new IMF loan that could approach five billion dollars.
Back in July, I wrote about the billions of dollars in aid given to the Palestinians by the United States and the continued lack of institution building with that money. I asked where the money goes, and noted that Jonathan Schanzer and Elliot Abrams were among those calling attention to Palestinian corruption by testifying at a congressional hearing on the subject. Corruption seems to be one of the prominent money wasters in Palestinian governance.
But it would be inaccurate to say the people don’t see any of the money. In fact, those who take part in the ongoing terror war against Israel see their share of it (a share that goes to their families if they choose “martyrdom” through suicide bombing). A portion of the Palestinian budget, and of foreign aid from some of Israel’s enemies abroad, is earmarked each year for violence. How much does such activity permeate Palestinian bookkeeping? The Times of Israel gives us a clue:
If true, this is a huge blunder by the Israeli embassy. Why on earth — even in assumed confidence — would Israeli ambassador Michael Oren tell Debbie Wasserman Schultz — the woman responsible for getting Democrats elected — that the GOP was “dangerous” for Israel? That isn’t the type of thing that stays secret for long.
I am willing to give Oren the benefit of the doubt here that he didn’t actually say it, mainly because DWS a.) isn’t exactly known for sticking to the truth, and b.) has been insisting to every Israeli official in earshot for the past year that GOP criticism of Obama is bad for Israel, and it could be that she interpreted a polite non-response from Oren as an endorsement of that view. But judge for yourself. Phil Klein reports:
Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz claimed on Monday that Israel’s ambassador to the United States has accused Republicans of being “dangerous” to Israel by criticizing President Obama’s record.
The Florida congresswoman made the charge at a training session for Jewish Democrats held by the Obama campaign here at the Democratic National Convention, aimed at teaching Jewish Democrats how to convince their fellow Jews to vote for Obama. …
As she was wrapping up her remarks, she claimed that, “We know, and I’ve heard no less than Ambassador Michael Oren say this, that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel.”
Heading into this week’s Democratic National Convention, the party knows the country isn’t really better off than it was four years ago. They also know that President Obama can’t count on a repeat of the wave of messianic expectations that swept him into office in 2008. But they seem united on one proposition: the Republicans and their ideas for changing Washington must be stopped. Though most of those who gather in Charlotte dub themselves “progressives,” that word, which once evoked the liberal call to transform America into a more egalitarian society, now means something very different. In 2012, to be a progressive means above all to be steadfast in favor of maintaining the status quo on a wide range of issues. It is a credo of not of progress but merely in defense of the power of the state that generations of Democratic politicians have built.
The best of example of this came over the weekend as Vice President Biden, whose value as the administration’s rabid attack dog has never been more apparent, denounced Republican plans for reforming Medicare so as to enable it to survive despite the overwhelming demographic and budget disaster that looms over it. Biden’s battle cry claiming: “We are for Medicare; they are for Vouchercare,” contained no nuances about dealing with problems. Indeed, Biden, citing his own mother’s experience, gave a straightforward pitch for paternalistic government in which he said older Americans were too befuddled to make their own choices and needed to be told what to do by Washington.