Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 4, 2012

Audio Proves DWS Wasn’t Misquoted

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:

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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:

Could this possibly get any more embarrassing for the DNC? Wasserman Schultz not only misled Fox News, she also tried to baselessly smear a meticulous reporter, Phil Klein, who fortunately happened to record her statement on audio. Not only did DWS misrepresent the Israeli Ambassador’s comments, she also inaccurately claimed that Klein misquoted her. Why would any journalist — or, for that matter, any foreign diplomat — take her seriously again?

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Dems Ignore Independents at Convention

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?

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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?

Do Democrats really think bragging about the passage of ObamaCare, a vast expansion of government power that restricted religious freedom and which is deeply unpopular with most Americans, as something they think will persuade undecided voters to back the president?

Many have questioned whether Mitt Romney can appeal to the political center and whether his campaign thinks they can win only by mobilizing the Republican base. But the GOP answered these challenges by devoting much of their infomercial to trying to persuade the center to think twice about four more years of Obama. But Democrats appear to believe they don’t need to appeal to anyone but those on the left.

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DNC Blames Obama for Israel Platform

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.

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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.

That was obviously the reason for the platform changes, but it’s still interesting that the Democratic National Committee pointed the finger at Obama so quickly. It’s possible the DNC was worried about the long-term fallout with donors; this seems like one of those issues that would outrage the DNC’s pro-Israel Democratic contributors.

It’s easy to see how this could snowball into a serious problem for both the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party. Democrats have been telling the Jewish community since 2008 that Obama can be trusted on Israel — and now it turns out his administration isn’t just pursuing some questionable Israel policies, but also eroding the entire party’s previous pro-Israel stances.

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Bounce Aside, Poll Encourages Romney

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.

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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.

Romney also leads Obama on the economy (51 percent to 45 percent), leadership (48 percent to 43 percent) and is considered the candidate with an “optimistic vision for this country’s future” (47 percent to 43 percent). Even on Medicare, the issue Democrats see as their biggest trump card, Romney isn’t in terrible shape. He trails Obama by a surmountable three-points (46 percent to 49 percent).

The areas where Romney lags significantly? Empathy. On “understanding women’s issues,” he trails Obama, 36 percent to 56 percent. On being in touch with problems facing the middle class, he’s behind Obama, 43 percent to 49 percent.

But he’s also in far better shape with independent voters and voters over the age of 65, which suggests that Democrats may face an uphill battle with their Mediscare tactics. Among independent voters, a whopping 60 percent view Romney favorably, compared with 32 percent unfavorably. Obama, in contrast, is underwater — 46 percent view him favorably, and 53 percent view him unfavorably.

Among voters over the age of 65, Romney is viewed favorably by 61 percent, and unfavorably by 35 percent. For Obama, those numbers are 44 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

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Obama “Incomplete” Already Changed to F

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.

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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.

As I wrote yesterday, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only president ever re-elected on the basis of an “incomplete.” But despite the attempt by Obama and Cutter and the rest of the Democrats to paint the situation in January 2009 as the moral equivalent of March 1933, the analogy falls flat. The downturn of 2008 was bad but it was no Great Depression. And Barack Obama’s stimulus boondoggle and Obamacare didn’t gain the support of the country the way FDR’s New Deal did.

Even an often foul-mouthed radical liberal MSNBC talker like Ed Schultz has admitted “a lot of Americans out there … don’t want to hear about Bush anymore.” Barack Obama can run against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, but he can’t run on his record. As for that incomplete the president has given himself, after this much time it’s already been changed on his transcript to the “F” that he fears the voters will give him in November.

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Fluke’s Battle Cry: Lysistrata or Insomnia?

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?

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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?

If the latter, it would be a highly inventive campaign tactic as well as a tribute to Fluke’s erudition. It would, of course, be very bad news for Democrats of all sexual proclivities and, no doubt, cause some strife in households where the partners are of different political persuasions. In Aristophanes’ version of history, the women eventually do prevail and manage to bring a halt to the Peloponnesian War.

Far be it from me to offer any advice about how any attendee at the DNC should make use any of the sexual organs that some of them are dressed up as this week. But one imagines that Democratic women would be far better off going Lysistrata until November rather than suffering the horrors of insomnia. There is also the added benefit that at least for the next two months, it would cut down on the costs of the contraceptives that Fluke and her supporters are so anxious to have paid by taxpayers and Catholic institutions.

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Why Colombia-FARC Talks May Succeed

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.

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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.

FARC continues to receive life support from Venezuela but it is at least possible now to imagine that the group may actually decide to give up the armed struggle as the FMLN did in El Salvador in 1992, as the IRA did in Northern Ireland in 1998, and as other insurgent groups have done. If it were to come about, peace would be made possible for the most obvious of reasons: the FARC has been essentially defeated militarily. Having no chance of shooting its way into power, it must now negotiate instead.

Those conditions, one might add, do not yet apply in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and Haqqanis have been battered but are far from defeated—hence there is little prospect of peace negotiations going anywhere in that country in the near term, notwithstanding all the loose chatter one hears in Washington on that subject.

 

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Dems See Women as Objects, Not Voters

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.

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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.

It appears the Democratic party would like to send the feminist movement back to its earliest stages–back to when women were sexual objects. Unfortunately for these Democrats obsessed with portraying an imaginary Republican War on Women, women are not single-issue voters. American women have wallets, they are employers and employees, they were and continue to be affected by the economic crisis that has worsened under Obama’s presidency. American women are taxpayers who, like men, will be horrified to watch the national debt surpass $16 trillion as the Democratic convention gets under way. Women are parents who want to provide their children with quality health insurance, a quality education and a life better than their own. As much as Democrats might want the feminist movement to regress, it’s too late. Women won’t be voting as a bloc, mindlessly obeying leaders who call themselves feminists into the voting booth. The legacy of genuine feminism has guaranteed that.

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Does DNC Platform Indicate Policy Shift on “Right of Return”?

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.”

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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.”

It’s troubling that the administration would remove pro-Israel language from the platform, but it’s also not particularly surprising. The Obama administration has repeatedly refused to name Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, much to the dismay of Israel supporters.

But that’s not even the most disturbing omission in the latest DNC platform. The 2008 document included this strong objection to the Palestinian “right of return,” which would destroy Israel’s identity as a Jewish state:

The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel. All understand that it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949. Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.

This language is nowhere to be found in the 2012 platform. While the RNC also removed references to the refugee issue in its platform this year, that’s actually an improvement from its vague 2008 stance, which called for the Israelis and Palestinians to settle the issue between themselves. The RNC platforms from 2008 and 2012 affirm Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The DNC, in contrast, weakened its positions on both the refugee issue and Jerusalem since 2008. Why did they water it down? Was it to conform with Obama administration stances that are less supportive of Israel?

While the DNC 2012 platform omitted these critical statements, it also made some additions since 2008: Roughly 178 words touting President Obama as a great friend to Israel. Apparently the DNC had to remove the parts about Jerusalem and the Palestinian right of return to make room for the paragraph telling us what a pro-Israel stalwart Obama is.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu famously lectured Obama about the right of return in 2011, indicating their disagreement on the issue. But until now, it was assumed that the Obama administration at least held the standard position that the Palestinian refugee situation would be settled within the confines of a future Palestinian state. Is the Obama administration now indicating that the refugee issue will be up for debate during negotiations? If not, why was the language removed?

UPDATE: Full quote on Palestinian refugees from the 2008 DNC platform added above.

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Does Bill Clinton Want Obama to Win?

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.)

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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.)

But that nugget of information about the Global Initiative stands out to me far more than some of the other pieces of the story. And that’s in part because of what Jonathan wrote about earlier: the possibility that Obama may run again 2016 if he loses in November. Every guest and “expert” called upon to opine on Clinton’s motives took for granted the idea that Clinton does not want Obama to be reelected, and therefore his speech this week is intended to play scorpion to Obama’s frog.

But I’m not so sure. If Obama loses in November and decides not to run again in 2016, the path is basically cleared for Hillary Clinton. But if Obama loses and decides to run in 2016, it will almost surely herald the end of Hillary’s hopes for the presidency. Even if Obama loses in November and gives Hillary the shot in 2016, it would mean she would have to unseat a sitting president—far from impossible, but a challenge nonetheless.

So what’s the best possible scenario for Hillary Clinton? It might just be an Obama victory, and then a wide open race in 2016, cleared of serious primary opposition and without an incumbent to unseat. Now, this does not mean it would be easy. And it’s possible to envision a scenario in which beating an incumbent Romney, if he were unpopular, would be easier than if the Clintons—perpetual ambassadors to the past—tried to rise to the throne once more by beating some of the GOP’s young stars. And you could argue that expecting a party to win the White House three times in a row would be just as tough as beating an incumbent.

Additionally, if Hillary had to follow a two-term historic president the expectations would be higher and the failure, if she indeed failed, more acute. Bill’s own legacy would be left somewhat intact as well with an Obama loss. Nonetheless, mutual victory is almost certainly more desirable for the Clintons than mutual failure. Thus, Clinton may see more value in an Obama victory than pundits seem to think.

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Oren Rejects Wasserman Schultz Claim

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.”

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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.”

Being directly contradicted by the Israeli ambassador is a major embarrassment for the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, particularly since she’s one of Obama’s top Jewish outreach surrogates. It’s hard to imagine the embassy is happy it was ensnared in this controversy, all thanks to DWS’s (apparently inaccurate) claims.

The question now is whether Wasserman Schultz responds. She’d be better off keeping her mouth shut, but obviously that’s going to be hard to do at a convention teeming with reporters. What’s her best option here? Dig in against the embassy, and say she stands by her characterization of Oren’s comments? Make up some lame excuse for why she apparently manufactured a remark from the Israeli ambassador? Schedule an emergency root canal?

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Burton Suddenly Remembers He Had Dentist Appointment Back Home

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.

Today, Burton reportedly left the Democratic National Convention for a “pre-scheduled root canal”.

We’ll see whether any additional unpleasantness awaits Burton. If he were a Republican, there’s little doubt that the party would have purged him by now.

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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.

Today, Burton reportedly left the Democratic National Convention for a “pre-scheduled root canal”.

We’ll see whether any additional unpleasantness awaits Burton. If he were a Republican, there’s little doubt that the party would have purged him by now.

At HotAir, Ed Morrissey quips, “I wonder if a root canal is an effective way to get one’s foot out of one’s mouth.” There’s still radio silence from the National Jewish Democratic Council on this, but the Obama campaign weighed in yesterday, saying that the Nazi comparison “doesn’t have any place in the political discourse here in Charlotte.” That’s a fairly mild rebuke, and the Los Angeles Times points out that the campaign stopped short of calling for Burton’s resignation. Whether that happens probably depends on how much oxygen this story sucks out of the convention.

Burton tried to stop the bleeding by issuing a forced-sounding apology yesterday, saying he was sorry to “anyone who might have been offended by that comment.” That obviously misses the entire point. The problem isn’t that people were offended, the problem is that a Democratic Party official would make such a wildly inappropriate comparison in the first place.

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Myths and Facts About Talking to Terrorists

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.

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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.

Only the most fawning of Arafat’s Western cheerleaders denies this. As historian Benny Morris wrote in his 1999 book Righteous Victims:

The establishment of Black September was secretly resolved upon at a Fatah congress in Damascus in August-September 1971 … It was based on Fatah’s existing special intelligence and security apparatus, Jihad al-Rasad, and on the PLO offices and representatives in the various European capitals. From early on there was cooperation with the PFLP. A number of Black September operations were clearly planned and carried out jointly by Fatah and PFLP personnel.

Thus, the principle prop of Chamberlain’s thesis that “failing to strengthen moderates within the P.L.O. and effectively locking the Palestinians out of the Arab-Israeli peace process, American officials sidelined potential peacemakers,” is not merely incorrect. It is a blatant falsehood.

If the use of Black September as a false front for Fatah seems familiar it is because it was not the last time Arafat tried that game. During the second intifada when his Hamas rivals were being seen by Palestinians as having more success at carrying out terrorist operations, the Palestinian Authority chief authorized the formation of new Fatah groups that could compete with the Islamists for the honor of killing the most Jews. The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade was initially presented, like Black September, as a Fatah splinter not under Arafat’s control. But the world soon learned that not only had Arafat authorized it, but he was actually paying for the group’s activities with funds contributed by European donors to the PA.

Indeed, all we have to do is look at Arafat’s record after Israel not only started talking to him but empowered the terrorist chieftain by handing the West Bank and Gaza over to Fatah via the 1993 Oslo Accords. Rather than seeking to bolster peace, he continued a policy of funding violence throughout the 1990s, a stance that culminated in his launching of a terrorist war of attrition known as the second intifada after he refused Israeli offers of an independent state including most of the West Bank, all of Gaza and a share of Jerusalem in 2000 and 2001.

Far from being a marginalized peacemaker, he was always a terrorist more interested in successfully vying for the title of top spiller of Jewish blood against Palestinian competitors than gaining independence for his people.

That the Times would publish such a farrago of falsehoods is bad enough. But that its editors allowed Chamberlain to do so as to promote the notion that Hamas and Hezbollah are the moderates of today who must be embraced, lest more extreme elements predominate, speaks volumes about their editorial agenda. He complains that America has always allowed a “blanket charge of terrorism, coupled with absolute nonrecognition” of those committing such violence to undermine the search for peace. Yet what is really on display here is the willingness of foes of Israel to believe any lie, no matter how transparent, in order to legitimize those who use terror in their war to eliminate the Jewish state.

While there may be some historical examples of nationalist leaders who have employed terrorism on their way toward creation of democracies, Arafat is not one of them. Nor can any reasonable person argue that Hamas, which still proclaims its desire to eradicate the Jewish presence in Israel, let alone the state, or Hezbollah, which operates under the orders of Iran’s ayatollahs, are the democrats of the future.

If peace is to come to the Middle East, it will happen only when the Palestinians put away their historic love affair with violence and embrace not just the abstract concept of an end to the conflict but a willingness to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders are drawn. Those like Chamberlain and his enablers at the Times who ask us to reward the terrorists as President Nixon rightly refused to do after Munich are merely helping to put off the day that this transformation will occur.

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Clinton’s Task in China Just Got Tougher

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.

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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.

The leadership realizes that such scandals, which seem to emerge daily, undermine their legitimacy and their lucrative hold on power. So they are positioning themselves as champions of a China supposedly embattled by numerous surrounding enemies who are said to be plotting to take over what is historic Chinese territory. Thus it is no surprise to see that Clinton’s arrival has gotten a harsh reception in the Chinese media, with, for example, the state-run Xinhua news agency writing: “The United States should stop its role as a sneaky troublemaker sitting behind some nations in the region and pulling strings.”

This is the voice of the new Chinese nationalism, built up over the past century by reformers of both the left and the right including the Kuomintang that the Communists deposed. Now the Communists have abandoned claims of international revolution to justify their hold on power in favor of Chinese nationalism. This is hardly a reassuring development (there are echoes here of Wilhemine Germany), and nor is it one that any amount of diplomacy by Clinton or anyone else is likely to fundamentally change. We will just have to learn to live with—and try to deter and contain—a resurgent China which is increasingly using the proceeds of its booming economy to fund a strong and growing military.

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Will Dems’ 2016 Nominee Speak This Week?

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.

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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.

There may be some sleepers on the speaker’s podium. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will deliver the keynote address tonight and already there are those who are promoting that speech as the equivalent of Barack Obama’s 2004 convention speech that catapulted him onto the national stage. It’s true that no one foresaw Obama’s 2008 triumph when he was a mere Senate candidate at John Kerry’s Boston convention but expecting lightening to strike the same way for Castro seems far-fetched at best. Obama’s speech was considered striking in part because he was so unheralded and the address’s non-partisan theme was so appealing. Even if Castro’s paean to Obama is considered a success tonight, it won’t be able to match Obama’s achievement. Nor is it likely it will elevate him to a position where he can challenge Mrs. Clinton or Cuomo.

Yet there is another reason why there is a paucity of 2016 contenders for the Democrats that is little discussed but is nevertheless very real. If President Obama does lose in November, it is entirely possible that he will not go quietly into a prosperous retirement like all other recent ex-presidents. He is young enough and still fired by sufficient ruthless ambition to want another crack at the presidency four years from now.

It has been a long time since a national political party gave a losing presidential candidate a second try. Richard Nixon, who lost to John Kennedy in 1960 but won on his second shot in 1968, was the last. The last defeated incumbent to get another try was Democrat Grover Cleveland who won in 1884, lost in 1888 and then won a non-consecutive second term in 1892.

Barack Obama is still considered a slight favorite in November. But the assumption that he will just go away if he loses this year ignores the fact that both the president and his devoted fans will not take defeat lying down. Expect them to claim it was the result of lingering racism as well as other excuses like campaign finance laws and alleged “voter suppression” by the GOP rather than a straightforward rejection of a president who couldn’t run on his record. These resentments will make an Obama comeback a very real possibility. The denial of a second term could be enough to recapture the fervor that drove the president’s messianic “hope and change” campaign in 2008.

Most defeated incumbents immediately become yesterday’s news and are quickly ignored by their party’s officeholders and activists. But neither Jimmy Carter nor George H.W. Bush, the two most recent defeated one-term chief executives, was the first African-American president. If Obama ran in 2016 would any leading Democrat dare to oppose him? Would even Hillary Clinton seek a rematch of her 2008 defeat? Once again, Obama could run as a man who wants to make history, a stance that is more congenial to him than his current attempt to win merely by trashing his opponents.

Should the president win in November, the Democrats will have a choice between their past and their future as Clinton, Cuomo and some yet unknown contenders face off. But if he loses, don’t be surprised if the man we watch on Thursday night will be back accepting his third consecutive nomination for president.

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Hatay Rising

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.

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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.

Syria has never accepted Hatay’s incorporation into Turkey, however, even if it preferred to emphasize the Golan Heights dispute to international audiences. Still, when Syria sponsored a traveling antiquity and culture exhibit years ago, it displayed maps depicting Hatay as part of Syria.

Now, realistically, Hatay isn’t going to break away from Turkey. Still, Syrian claims to Hatay are likely to increase in the near future. The population of Hatay is predominantly Alevi, a Turkish minority closely related to Syria’s Alawites. The violence Bashar al-Assad has directed against the Syrians has not been random: He has systematically sought to cleanse certain areas of Sunni Arabs in order to incorporate them into part of an Alawite enclave, which in turn has been centered on Latakia, the province of Syria just south of Hatay. That many of the Syrian refugees seeking refuge inside Turkey have been fleeing into Hatay only adds to Turkish concern, which is now percolating to the surface of public discussion. On September 1, Turkish Alevis rallied in support of Assad in Hatay.

If Turkish papers are to be believed, Ankara is growing more worried about Alawi activity in Hatay than in Kurdish separatism emanating from northeastern Syria. One thing is clear: No matter how the Syrian uprising ends, the map of Syria has forever changed. Change does not come easy in the Middle East; it reverberates in all directions.

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Aid to Morsi’s Egypt Is the Right Call

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.

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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.

The compelling case for continuing economic aid is made by Israeli officials themselves, despite the nervousness they feel about the new regime. As the New York Times notes:

American and Israeli officials, including Michael B. Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, have sought to assure members of Congress that assistance should proceed, despite reservations about the Muslim Brotherhood’s political rise. They have argued that persistently high unemployment, especially among women and young people, could undermine Mr. Morsi’s government, causing further instability in Egypt and beyond.

That is exactly right: a more prosperous Egypt is less likely to breed political extremism, whereas if the Morsi government presides over Egypt’s economic disintegration it is likely to deflect blame on “Zionists,” “Crusaders,” and all the usual suspects. Moreover, the more aid that Morsi accepts, the more he will be dependent on the U.S. and the West. That will act as a powerful check on those within the Brotherhood, or among the more extreme Salafists, who would like to tear up the Camp David Accords and return to a state of war with Israel. Not surprisingly, these extremists oppose IMF aid because they don’t want Egypt tied closely to the West.

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Palestinian Stimulus: Terrorists Get a Raise

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:

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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:

As of May 2011, the [Palestinian Authority] spent NIS 18 million ($4.5 million) per month on compensating Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons and a further NIS 26 million ($6.5 million) on payments to families of suicide bombers. In all, such payments cost the PA some 6 percent of its overall budget, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported on Monday night, citing documentation signed by Fayyad.

The PA also makes payments to Israeli Arabs jailed for security offenses against Israel, the report said….

An amendment of the law in January 2011 enacted by Fayyad increased the salaries by up to 300%, Channel 2 reported.

A prisoner sentenced up to three years in prison now receives a base salary of NIS 1,400 per month, and for 3-5 years that rate increases to NIS 2,000, the report said. A NIS 300 bonus is added for a wife, and NIS 50 per child.

According to the Channel 2 report, the PA-funded salaries are an equal opportunity benefit; members of Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad all receive them.

At a time when the Palestinian Authority is apparently struggling to make ends meet, it is increasing its pay to terrorists and their families by 300 percent. In truth, this is part and parcel of the corruption problem within the Palestinian Authority. Of course the PA supports terrorism against Israeli civilians—just take a glance at the namesakes of some of the streets and town squares in the territories. But on some level, it’s as much about the violence itself as it is about buying support. (I would say “vote buying,” but there would have to be elections in order for there to be votes to buy.)

This has always been the policy of the Palestinian leadership. Over time, the divisions within the ranks of the PA have only grown, and Fatah doesn’t even represent all of the Palestinian territories, as evidenced by the ease with which Hamas unceremoniously tossed Fatah out of the Gaza Strip. That’s why Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party is paying the salaries of Hamasniks, as well as members of Islamic Jihad, an often underestimated political force in the territories and a major recipient over the years of Iranian patronage.

Ironically, Fatah has struggled against Hamas at the polls in part because of its legendary reputation for corruption, and the party’s response was to try to get those supporters back by increasing its corruption. It’s a vicious cycle that no one among the Palestinian leadership has any desire to curb.

Additionally, the PA has enacted prohibitions against Palestinians working for Israelis in the settlements, some of the few (and better paying) jobs available to Palestinian workers. So the no-show, no-work “jobs” become the only “jobs” in Abbas’s PA. It glorifies violence, depresses the economy, and increases corruption in one fell swoop.

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Did Ambassador Say Republicans Are “Dangerous” for Israel?

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.”

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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.”

Unfortunately, we only have DWS’s word to go on this for now. The Israeli embassy apparently turned down the Washington Examiner when asked to comment:

The Washington Examiner could find no such public reference by Oren accusing Republicans of being “dangerous” to Israel. The Israeli embassy would not respond to a request for comment.

Even if DWS’s allegation is bunk, Oren probably doesn’t want to be on record directly contradicting the chair of the DNC. While that’s understandable, imagine if the roles were reversed. If RNC chair Reince Priebus claimed Oren trashed the Democrats to him in private, there would be a mob of Democratic leaders (publicly and behind the scenes) calling for the Israeli embassy to respond to the allegation. Oren needs to either own up to it, or acknowledge that DWS’s comment is inaccurate. Whether or not he actually said the GOP is “dangerous,” it’s still going to be taken as a slap in the face of Republicans, who have been vocal defenders or Israel and friends of the embassy. They deserve an answer.

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Dems Show Progressive Means Status Quo

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.

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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.

Biden’s speech was a shameless partisan distortion of the plan put forward by Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, who seeks a transition that will not change Medicare for anyone current receiving it. This is in keeping with the “pants on fire” style of Democratic campaign rhetoric we’ve been hearing lately. But it is also indicative of a belief that nothing, not even the impending collapse of these entitlement programs ought to be allowed to justify new ideas about government.

This isn’t the only important theme of the week for Democrats. We will hear a great deal about the “war on women” that Democrats falsely claim Republicans are waging. But at the core of that is another defense of big government and entitlements such as the right to free contraceptives, for which poster child Sandra Fluke will advocate again this week.

To the extent that we will hear new ideas this week about support for the environment or fear of global warming, they will all revolve around greater government involvement in the economy via cap and trade or restrictions on development of resources. At their core they are all about defense of an ever-expanding federal bureaucracy that must be fed by more taxes to pay for more spending.

If the Democrats can get more of the electorate to fear Republican reforms like Paul Ryan’s plan or to buy into the myth of a war on women, they may win. But if they do, it will be accomplished by a campaign oriented solely toward keep things as they are. We’ve come a long way from the hope and change of 2008.

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