Commentary Magazine


Posts For: January 23, 2014

The Nanny State Exception: Legal Pot

In yet another indication of the sea change in American culture, President Obama’s comments in a New Yorker interview endorsing legalization of marijuana shocked no one and generated little negative response. Of course, the public is well aware of the president’s personal history with the drug since he wrote in his memoir Dreams From My Father of smoking it frequently as a youngster, as well as using cocaine in high school and college. But there’s little doubt that the lack of any outrage at his statement about legalization reflects a shift toward more libertarian views on social issues. Indeed, a CBS poll released today indicates that for the first time, a majority of Americans now think pot should be legal.

There are legitimate concerns about the effects of repeated use of the drug. Yet most Americans seem to agree with the president that it is no worse than cigarettes and perhaps less dangerous than alcohol. While the 51 percent who now back legalization may not have fully thought out the impact on society of allowing pot into the mainstream, there’s little doubt that the war on drugs to which so much police effort is devoted is unpopular.

But one other aspect of the issue that few have pondered is the liberal hypocrisy that the emerging consensus about legal pot has illuminated. As William Bennett and Christopher Beach pointed out in an incisive Politico magazine article today, there is a question that no one in the media is asking Obama or any other liberal advocate of opening the floodgates to more marijuana: Why do the same people that have sought to outlaw transfats and super-sized sodas while banishing cigarette smokers and seeking to criminalize anything else that can be branded as unhealthy think there’s nothing wrong with a measure that would almost certainly increase the amount of pot smoked in this country?

Read More

In yet another indication of the sea change in American culture, President Obama’s comments in a New Yorker interview endorsing legalization of marijuana shocked no one and generated little negative response. Of course, the public is well aware of the president’s personal history with the drug since he wrote in his memoir Dreams From My Father of smoking it frequently as a youngster, as well as using cocaine in high school and college. But there’s little doubt that the lack of any outrage at his statement about legalization reflects a shift toward more libertarian views on social issues. Indeed, a CBS poll released today indicates that for the first time, a majority of Americans now think pot should be legal.

There are legitimate concerns about the effects of repeated use of the drug. Yet most Americans seem to agree with the president that it is no worse than cigarettes and perhaps less dangerous than alcohol. While the 51 percent who now back legalization may not have fully thought out the impact on society of allowing pot into the mainstream, there’s little doubt that the war on drugs to which so much police effort is devoted is unpopular.

But one other aspect of the issue that few have pondered is the liberal hypocrisy that the emerging consensus about legal pot has illuminated. As William Bennett and Christopher Beach pointed out in an incisive Politico magazine article today, there is a question that no one in the media is asking Obama or any other liberal advocate of opening the floodgates to more marijuana: Why do the same people that have sought to outlaw transfats and super-sized sodas while banishing cigarette smokers and seeking to criminalize anything else that can be branded as unhealthy think there’s nothing wrong with a measure that would almost certainly increase the amount of pot smoked in this country?

As Bennett and Beach point out:

The same president who signed into law a tough federal anti-cigarette smoking bill in 2009 now supports marijuana legalization. The inconsistency and self-contradiction is obvious. In the name of public health, liberals wage political war against genetically modified organisms, French fries and tubby kids, yet stand idly by, or worse, support the legalization of a mind-impairing substance known to be addictive and have deleterious effects on the brain.

The very same year, for example, that Colorado legalized marijuana, the Colorado Senate passed (without a single Republican vote) a ban on trans fats in schools. Are we to believe eating a glazed donut is more harmful than smoking a joint? California has already banned trans fats in restaurants statewide, but now is on the brink of legalizing marijuana statewide come November. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s effort to decriminalize marijuana in New York State, while at the same time supporting a ban on extra-large sodas. A 32-ounce Mountain Dew is bad for you, but pot isn’t?

Bennett and Beach supply no answers for this inconsistency, but the answer isn’t exactly a mystery. The push against cigarettes, sugared drinks and transfats reflects a popular culture that venerates health as the supreme good above almost any other value including sexual ethics. But that same liberal ethos has a soft spot for the baby boomers’ favorite illicit drug that brings back fond memories of the 1960s. Pot is, as the authors rightly note, at least as dangerous as any of the perils that the nanny state brigade seeks to outlaw. But since pot smoking is considered an integral part of pop culture coolness, liberal social engineers regard efforts to stop its spread as the preserve of “fascist” killjoys and other liberal piñatas such as religious conservatives.

Like many Americans, I am ambivalent about the utility of the war on drugs and think regulation of private vices is a lost cause. But what the liberal drive to legalize marijuana reflects isn’t so much an expression of libertarianism as it is an outright affection for a popular drug. If we are to legalize marijuana, the government should also stop telling Americans what they can eat, drink, or smoke. All the arguments we hear from nanny state advocates about the high cost to the public in terms of health care needed for those who suffer the ill effects of tobacco, sugar, and transfats can also be made about pot. It’s time for liberals to choose. If they want to be free to light up a joint, they should to stop telling other people what they can’t do. 

Read Less

Obama Is Netanyahu’s Ace in the Hole

When Israelis went to the polls last year the big story was what wasn’t the focus of the campaign. The January 22, 2013 Knesset election was largely fought on domestic issues, with the biggest winner being the new Yesh Atid party led by former journalist Yair Lapid that won 19 seats to finish a surprising second to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu. Yesh Atid’s success came about because the Palestinian conflict had reached such a stalemate that many Israelis no longer considered the traditional right-left positions on territory and settlements to be issues that determined their votes. Lapid symbolized the hope that a new centrism would come to dominate Israeli politics and eventually eclipse parties rooted in Israel’s historic conflict with the Arab world. Though Netanyahu became the first prime minister to win two consecutive terms since Menachem Begin in a race where he was the only plausible candidate to lead the country, he lost considerable ground in the months leading up to the election in no small part because of this shift in opinion.

But one year later, it appears that the pendulum has swung back in favor of Netanyahu. A new Times of Israel poll shows that if elections were held now, Likud-Beytenu would not only finish first but would gain a whopping 15 Knesset seats, recouping its 2013 losses and adding five more. Meanwhile Lapid, who seemed destined a year ago to overtake Netanyahu, has lost considerable ground and it is the Labor Party and its new leader Isaac Herzog that seems to have attained the status of Likud’s main rival, albeit trailing by a huge 46-18 margin in Knesset seats in the poll.

What brought about this transformation? Some of it has to do with last year’s political stars, such as Lapid and the Jewish Home Party’s Naftali Bennett losing some of their independent luster while serving in Netanyahu’s Cabinet. But the drastic shift from the center to support for the right—indicating that the Israeli electorate is returning to its traditional preoccupation with security issues—and the lack of any noticeable change in Netanyahu’s personal favorability ratings makes it clear that the two individuals most responsible for the conspicuous change in Israeli public opinion are Barack Obama and John Kerry.

Read More

When Israelis went to the polls last year the big story was what wasn’t the focus of the campaign. The January 22, 2013 Knesset election was largely fought on domestic issues, with the biggest winner being the new Yesh Atid party led by former journalist Yair Lapid that won 19 seats to finish a surprising second to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu. Yesh Atid’s success came about because the Palestinian conflict had reached such a stalemate that many Israelis no longer considered the traditional right-left positions on territory and settlements to be issues that determined their votes. Lapid symbolized the hope that a new centrism would come to dominate Israeli politics and eventually eclipse parties rooted in Israel’s historic conflict with the Arab world. Though Netanyahu became the first prime minister to win two consecutive terms since Menachem Begin in a race where he was the only plausible candidate to lead the country, he lost considerable ground in the months leading up to the election in no small part because of this shift in opinion.

But one year later, it appears that the pendulum has swung back in favor of Netanyahu. A new Times of Israel poll shows that if elections were held now, Likud-Beytenu would not only finish first but would gain a whopping 15 Knesset seats, recouping its 2013 losses and adding five more. Meanwhile Lapid, who seemed destined a year ago to overtake Netanyahu, has lost considerable ground and it is the Labor Party and its new leader Isaac Herzog that seems to have attained the status of Likud’s main rival, albeit trailing by a huge 46-18 margin in Knesset seats in the poll.

What brought about this transformation? Some of it has to do with last year’s political stars, such as Lapid and the Jewish Home Party’s Naftali Bennett losing some of their independent luster while serving in Netanyahu’s Cabinet. But the drastic shift from the center to support for the right—indicating that the Israeli electorate is returning to its traditional preoccupation with security issues—and the lack of any noticeable change in Netanyahu’s personal favorability ratings makes it clear that the two individuals most responsible for the conspicuous change in Israeli public opinion are Barack Obama and John Kerry.

In the year since Israelis went to the polls, domestic problems such as the high cost of living and secular-religious tensions have not been solved. What has changed dramatically, however, is that the Obama administration has, after a hiatus that coincided with the American presidential election cycle, returned to its feckless efforts to pressure Israel in order to revive the moribund peace process with the Palestinians. Kerry forced Netanyahu to agree to the release of more than 100 terrorist murderers who were greeted as heroes by Israel’s so-called partner in peace, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. Though Netanyahu has agreed in principle to the creation of a Palestinian state—a stand that alienates much of his base—the PA still refuses to agree to positions that would signal its readiness to end the conflict. These include renouncing the “right” of return for the 1948 refugees and their descendants as well as recognizing the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn.

Since the overwhelming majority of Israelis regard Obama and Kerry’s push to force Israel to retreat to the 1967 borders as madness, support for Netanyahu’s position has increased. This means the Israeli public is back where it was during Obama’s first term when the president sought to undermine the prime minister but found that every fight he picked with Netanyahu only strengthened him at home.

The dispute between Israel and the U.S. over Iran policy is also a major factor in strengthening Netanyahu’s coalition. If there is any consensus issue in Israeli politics that unites the entire political spectrum it is the grave nature of the Iranian threat and opposition to any gesture, statement or action that smacks of appeasement of the ayatollahs. The U.S. decision to loosen sanctions on Iran in order to achieve a weak interim nuclear deal is widely seen by Israelis as a betrayal of the promises Obama has made never to allow Tehran to achieve its nuclear goal. That means the U.S. drift toward détente with Iran is yet another reminder to Israelis that security issues remain paramount. Since Israelis don’t trust Obama on Iran or the peace process, it’s little wonder that every time he pressures or criticizes Israel, support for he prime minister increases. Netanyahu’s ace in the hole remains the Israeli public’s justly negative feelings about Obama.

However, because of reforms enacted after last January’s vote, Netanyahu can’t call a snap election to take advantage of the surge to Likud. The next Knesset election won’t take place until November 2017. Although much can change between now and then, there is no indication that a viable alternative to Netanyahu will emerge in the next three years. Even worse for the prime minister, in 2017 he won’t be able to count on Israeli antipathy to the president of the United States. By then Barack Obama will have retired and will perhaps have been replaced by a president who may be more sensitive to the threats facing the Jewish state. It’s doubtful that the next president could be less so.

Read Less

Khamenei Stays A Step Ahead of the West

Critics of the administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, and proponents of sanctions more generally, have been making a simple argument: any substantial sanctions relief will be difficult to undo if Iran doesn’t comply with the terms of the deal. That means Iran gets a cash infusion with no risk, and a foot in the door of sanctions relief could be enough to throw it wide open, considering the overall lack of appetite in the West for the sanctions regime.

Critics cannot prove what the administration will do after this deal runs its initial course. But they can demonstrate that the other part–the financial windfall Iran’s leaders stand to gain right away–is already taking place. That’s the upshot of yesterday’s Reuters piece on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s financial empire and how the nuclear deal is already paying off for him. But first, it’s necessary to refer to the background of this story, which was exposed by Reuters in November.

Khamenei, Reuters revealed, controls an “economic empire” under the organization Setad. Reuters estimated the holdings of the company to be worth nearly $100 billion, but the combination of how Setad makes its money and what that organization enables Khamenei to accomplish are the more important details:

Read More

Critics of the administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, and proponents of sanctions more generally, have been making a simple argument: any substantial sanctions relief will be difficult to undo if Iran doesn’t comply with the terms of the deal. That means Iran gets a cash infusion with no risk, and a foot in the door of sanctions relief could be enough to throw it wide open, considering the overall lack of appetite in the West for the sanctions regime.

Critics cannot prove what the administration will do after this deal runs its initial course. But they can demonstrate that the other part–the financial windfall Iran’s leaders stand to gain right away–is already taking place. That’s the upshot of yesterday’s Reuters piece on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s financial empire and how the nuclear deal is already paying off for him. But first, it’s necessary to refer to the background of this story, which was exposed by Reuters in November.

Khamenei, Reuters revealed, controls an “economic empire” under the organization Setad. Reuters estimated the holdings of the company to be worth nearly $100 billion, but the combination of how Setad makes its money and what that organization enables Khamenei to accomplish are the more important details:

But Setad has empowered him. Through Setad, Khamenei has at his disposal financial resources whose value rivals the holdings of the shah, the Western-backed monarch who was overthrown in 1979.

How Setad came into those assets also mirrors how the deposed monarchy obtained much of its fortune – by confiscating real estate. A six-month Reuters investigation has found that Setad built its empire on the systematic seizure of thousands of properties belonging to ordinary Iranians: members of religious minorities like Vahdat-e-Hagh, who is Baha’i, as well as Shi’ite Muslims, business people and Iranians living abroad.

Setad has amassed a giant portfolio of real estate by claiming in Iranian courts, sometimes falsely, that the properties are abandoned. The organization now holds a court-ordered monopoly on taking property in the name of the supreme leader, and regularly sells the seized properties at auction or seeks to extract payments from the original owners.

The supreme leader also oversaw the creation of a body of legal rulings and executive orders that enabled and safeguarded Setad’s asset acquisitions. “No supervisory organization can question its property,” said Naghi Mahmoudi, an Iranian lawyer who left Iran in 2010 and now lives in Germany.

Land, resources, legal power, money–Setad gave Khamenei unparalleled access to it in Iran. Setad invests, as would be expected, in Iran’s energy industry. The Treasury Department wasn’t fooled, and specifically targeted Setad and dozens of companies it is believed to oversee as part of an attempt to close off financial escape hatches that enabled the Iranian leadership to get around sanctions.

Now, as Reuters reports, some of those escape hatches have been reopened:

Khamenei controls a massive business empire known as Setad that has invested in Iran’s petrochemical industry, which is now permitted to resume exports. Under a six-month deal between Iran and world powers, Tehran has promised to scale back its nuclear development program in exchange for the suspension of certain economic sanctions, including curbs on the export of petrochemicals.

On Monday, the day the suspension of the restrictions took effect, the U.S. Treasury Department published a list of 14 Iranian petrochemical companies that previously had been sanctioned but are now permitted to do business abroad. The list includes three firms that the department said last year are controlled by Setad – Ghaed Bassir Petrochemical Products Co, Marjan Petrochemical Co and Sadaf Petrochemical Assaluyeh Co.

The Treasury Department responded to this latest report by saying Iran’s leaders won’t gain much from petrochemical exports during the next six months, probably not more than $1 billion. But that’s not nothing, and it also misses the point of the story: the Iranian leadership appears to be a step ahead of its Western counterparts on this score. And who knows what they’ll be able to work out given six months’ time.

And it’s what makes press briefings like today’s from Jay Carney so troubling. As the Washington Examiner reports, Carney was asked about the latest comments from the Iranian foreign minister that they “did not agree to dismantle anything.” Carney called it “spin.” Perhaps, but that means, according to Carney, the Iranians are lying about their obligations. So what makes this administration think Iran’s government can be trusted to fulfill obligations it says don’t exist? Meanwhile, as the two sides argue in public over what they actually agreed to, the sanctions relief remains in place.

Read Less

A Compelling Commentary on Abortion

For many years–first at ABC and later at Fox News–Brit Hume proved himself to be among the finest reporters and journalists of his generation. Now he’s one of our best commentators.

One example of this can be found in his commentary on the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, when in Hume’s words “the Supreme Court found that a generalized right to privacy it had basically invented, meant that a woman has a constitutional right to snuff out an unborn life, a human being with a beating heart. That’s what a fetus as young as six weeks is.”

Mr. Hume went on to say this:

At 20 weeks, we now know, these tiny creatures can hear, even recognize a mother’s voice. Their toenails are growing and their hearts beat loud enough to be heard by a stethoscope.

 The moral case for allowing such beings to be killed grows ever weaker and its advocates resort to ever more absurd euphemisms to describe what they support. They’re not really pro-abortion, they’ve long said, they’re pro-choice. This isn’t about killing unborn babies, it’s about reproductive health. And the biggest chain of abortion clinics in the country refers to itself as Planned Parenthood.
 In 2012, this organization says it carried out — quote — “abortion procedures” 329,445 times. Whatever that number represents, it’s not parenthood. These protesters here today understand that there is something deeply false and wrong about all this. They come each year to remind the rest of us.

Read More

For many years–first at ABC and later at Fox News–Brit Hume proved himself to be among the finest reporters and journalists of his generation. Now he’s one of our best commentators.

One example of this can be found in his commentary on the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, when in Hume’s words “the Supreme Court found that a generalized right to privacy it had basically invented, meant that a woman has a constitutional right to snuff out an unborn life, a human being with a beating heart. That’s what a fetus as young as six weeks is.”

Mr. Hume went on to say this:

At 20 weeks, we now know, these tiny creatures can hear, even recognize a mother’s voice. Their toenails are growing and their hearts beat loud enough to be heard by a stethoscope.

 The moral case for allowing such beings to be killed grows ever weaker and its advocates resort to ever more absurd euphemisms to describe what they support. They’re not really pro-abortion, they’ve long said, they’re pro-choice. This isn’t about killing unborn babies, it’s about reproductive health. And the biggest chain of abortion clinics in the country refers to itself as Planned Parenthood.
 In 2012, this organization says it carried out — quote — “abortion procedures” 329,445 times. Whatever that number represents, it’s not parenthood. These protesters here today understand that there is something deeply false and wrong about all this. They come each year to remind the rest of us.

Mr. Hume touches on the law, the science, and the morality of abortion–and he did it all in 85 seconds. If there’s an equally powerful refutation to the case made by Brit Hume, I’d like to hear it.

I’m willing to bet the mortgage I won’t.

Read Less

Obama An Unrivaled Polarizing President

In 2008 Barack Obama predicated his campaign not on a set of policies but on what might be called a political aesthetic. He would do away with what he called the “50 plus one” style of governing. He would “turn the page” on the “old politics” of division and anger and end a politics that “breeds division and conflict and cynicism.” Mr. Obama would help us to “rediscover our bonds to each other and … get out of this constant petty bickering that’s come to characterize our politics.” In the Age of Obama the Red State wolf would dwell with the Blue State lamb, and all would be right with the world.

What a shame it turned out to be utter fiction.

Read More

In 2008 Barack Obama predicated his campaign not on a set of policies but on what might be called a political aesthetic. He would do away with what he called the “50 plus one” style of governing. He would “turn the page” on the “old politics” of division and anger and end a politics that “breeds division and conflict and cynicism.” Mr. Obama would help us to “rediscover our bonds to each other and … get out of this constant petty bickering that’s come to characterize our politics.” In the Age of Obama the Red State wolf would dwell with the Blue State lamb, and all would be right with the world.

What a shame it turned out to be utter fiction.

The Apostle of Hope and Change turns out to be the most polarizing president of modern times, at least according to the Gallup organization. The president’s fourth year in office was the most polarizing since Gallup began asking that question during the Eisenhower presidency. He now holds five of the top 10 most polarizing slots. Barack Obama is to polarization what Peyton Manning is to NFL passing records. 

Some of this is surely a product of the times in which we live. But a lot of it is the result of Mr. Obama’s divisive and unusually ruthless tactics. He took a polarized country and deepened its divisions. It will take a long time, and a special successor, to begin to unwind all the damage this man has done.

Read Less

The IRS’s Political Bias Goes Hollywood

Last week we learned that the FBI has no plans to prosecute anyone for their participation in the IRS’s unlawful discrimination against conservative and Tea Party groups. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the FBI’s failure to interview any of the victims of the tax agency’s political bias casts doubt on the investigation. Like the congressional hearings of the scandal last spring, accountability for this outrageous conduct has been stymied by partisan wrangling and a refusal on the part of the administration or much of the mainstream press to treat the issue with the seriousness that such dangerous abuse of the powerful IRS deserves. But the assumption even on the part of many of the IRS’s frustrated critics was that the illegal behavior had been stopped and the miscreants replaced, as the agency’s new leaders told Congress, with a return to scrupulous neutrality. But, as a front-page story in today’s New York Times informs us, that assumption appears to be mistaken.

That isn’t the lede of the piece about a group called Friends of Abe, a group of approximately 1,500 conservative-leaning members of the entertainment industry. The organization promotes gatherings of like-minded right-wingers in Hollywood and seeks the same non-profit 501(c)(3) status that was granted Norman Lear’s People for the American Way, a liberal group with a considerably higher profile. But, like the Tea Party groups featured in last year’s IRS scandal, the Friends of Abe have been waiting for more than two years to receive a ruling on their request. In the meantime, the IRS has subjected them to highly irregular demands for their membership list and advanced access to their website.

The demand for that information—and the group’s principled refusal to comply—highlights the perilous professional risks for Hollywood conservatives who acknowledge their political leanings before achieving fame. That’s why only a few members of Friends of Abe, such as actors Gary Sinise, Jon Voight, and Kelsey Grammer and writer/director Lionel Chetwynd, have identified themselves. But the real issue here is why the IRS has been stalling a tiny conservative group because of questions about the speakers they invite to their off-the-record dinners and meetings while a bevy of left-wing Hollywood groups whose involvement in political issues is a matter of record have not encountered such IRS challenges.

Read More

Last week we learned that the FBI has no plans to prosecute anyone for their participation in the IRS’s unlawful discrimination against conservative and Tea Party groups. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the FBI’s failure to interview any of the victims of the tax agency’s political bias casts doubt on the investigation. Like the congressional hearings of the scandal last spring, accountability for this outrageous conduct has been stymied by partisan wrangling and a refusal on the part of the administration or much of the mainstream press to treat the issue with the seriousness that such dangerous abuse of the powerful IRS deserves. But the assumption even on the part of many of the IRS’s frustrated critics was that the illegal behavior had been stopped and the miscreants replaced, as the agency’s new leaders told Congress, with a return to scrupulous neutrality. But, as a front-page story in today’s New York Times informs us, that assumption appears to be mistaken.

That isn’t the lede of the piece about a group called Friends of Abe, a group of approximately 1,500 conservative-leaning members of the entertainment industry. The organization promotes gatherings of like-minded right-wingers in Hollywood and seeks the same non-profit 501(c)(3) status that was granted Norman Lear’s People for the American Way, a liberal group with a considerably higher profile. But, like the Tea Party groups featured in last year’s IRS scandal, the Friends of Abe have been waiting for more than two years to receive a ruling on their request. In the meantime, the IRS has subjected them to highly irregular demands for their membership list and advanced access to their website.

The demand for that information—and the group’s principled refusal to comply—highlights the perilous professional risks for Hollywood conservatives who acknowledge their political leanings before achieving fame. That’s why only a few members of Friends of Abe, such as actors Gary Sinise, Jon Voight, and Kelsey Grammer and writer/director Lionel Chetwynd, have identified themselves. But the real issue here is why the IRS has been stalling a tiny conservative group because of questions about the speakers they invite to their off-the-record dinners and meetings while a bevy of left-wing Hollywood groups whose involvement in political issues is a matter of record have not encountered such IRS challenges.

As the Times notes, there is no shortage of Hollywood-based liberal non-profits that spend heavily to promote their political point of view on a host of issues that interest the elites of the entertainment industry. The difference between those groups and the Friends of Abe is stark in terms of their ability to mobilize actors and others who work in film and TV as well as in the willingness of their backers to be open about their political affiliation. Where Lear’s group and others founded by the likes of Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio spend heavily, and bathe happily in the glow of publicity that promotes their causes as well as it enhances the careers of their members, the Friends of Abe seems to operate more like a support group for wary members of a discriminated minority. Not only is their membership list a closely held secret, but no photographs are permitted at their meetings and dinners to protect the identities of those in attendance lest they be outed as conservatives and consequently subjected to the informal but undeniable blacklisting that anyone so designated is forced to suffer in Hollywood.

A recent example of just how dangerous it is for even an established figure to contradict liberal orthodoxy came when actress Maria Conchita Alonso was forced to leave a production of a San Francisco production of The Vagina Monologues because of the anger generated by her decision to tape an ad in support of a Tea Party candidate for governor of California.

But the issue here isn’t so much the facts of political life in the entertainment industry as it is the two-year delay and the extraordinary level of scrutiny the IRS has directed at the Friends of Abe. If, as one former IRS official interviewed by the Times said, the group is only inviting conservatives and Republicans to its meetings, that is automatically treated as a red flag to agency investigators. But does anyone think for a moment that the groups fronted by Lear, Damon, or DiCaprio are evenhanded in their dinner invitations or their approach to politics and the issues they promote?

Even a cursory look at this controversy would make it clear that the IRS is stalling and obstructing the efforts of a conservative-leaning non-profit while never subjecting the far-more-blatant partisan activities of a group like People for the American Way to the same microscopic examination. While we were told that new rules and stricter supervision of the supposedly “rogue” IRS agents in the Cincinnati IRS office would solve the agency’s problems, the subsequent treatment of the Friends of Abe shows that far from being the modus operandi of one rogue field office, the problem is systemic. What is needed is not a closer look at the activities of isolated right-wingers but far greater scrutiny of the outrageous conduct and political bias of the Obama Internal Revenue Service.

Read Less

Why the West Buys Iran’s PR Campaign

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech at the Davos Forum in Switzerland yesterday sounded all the familiar Western-friendly themes that he has used throughout his charm offensive. He reassured the world that Iran doesn’t want nuclear weapons and seeks only peaceful reconciliation with the West. According to the New York Times, he was well-received by most of the foreign-policy wonks and government officials in attendance who were only too happy to buy into his talk of “prudent moderation” and “constructive engagement” which was, as one attendee called it, “an application to rejoin the international community.”

Israel was alone in pouring cold water on the festivities, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had the bad manners to note that Rouhani’s peaceful rhetoric was, in reality, belied by his country’s ongoing nuclear project, its ballistic missile program, its support for international terrorism, and its daily calls for Israel’s destruction. Even Israeli President Shimon Peres—an inveterate enthusiast of the sort of diplomatic mummery for which the annual meetings at Davos are known—mournfully observed that Rouhani had omitted any mention of any support for Middle East peace talks or any commitment to stop Iran’s missile development and shipment of arms to  Syria’s Bashar Assad and Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.

But Israeli criticisms are falling have fallen on deaf ears both in Davos and in the Obama administration, which remains committed to the cheery fiction that Rouhani’s victory in Iran’s faux presidential election last year was a signal of a major reset in the affairs of the Islamic Republic. But if Americans are falling for Rouhani’s transparent deceptions, it’s worth asking why. The answer doesn’t come from Davos but rather what preceded the international gathering last week in a segment on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Stewart’s political comedy is a reliable barometer of what liberals are thinking and has, at times, even won praise from some writing here in COMMENTARY for his willingness to call out Democrats for their hypocrisy. But on Iran, Stewart has gone all out for the administration’s embrace of Rouhani. In a segment called “Let’s Break a Deal” he told us all we need to know about why so many in the West refuse to give serious thought to the Iranian nuclear threat.

Read More

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech at the Davos Forum in Switzerland yesterday sounded all the familiar Western-friendly themes that he has used throughout his charm offensive. He reassured the world that Iran doesn’t want nuclear weapons and seeks only peaceful reconciliation with the West. According to the New York Times, he was well-received by most of the foreign-policy wonks and government officials in attendance who were only too happy to buy into his talk of “prudent moderation” and “constructive engagement” which was, as one attendee called it, “an application to rejoin the international community.”

Israel was alone in pouring cold water on the festivities, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had the bad manners to note that Rouhani’s peaceful rhetoric was, in reality, belied by his country’s ongoing nuclear project, its ballistic missile program, its support for international terrorism, and its daily calls for Israel’s destruction. Even Israeli President Shimon Peres—an inveterate enthusiast of the sort of diplomatic mummery for which the annual meetings at Davos are known—mournfully observed that Rouhani had omitted any mention of any support for Middle East peace talks or any commitment to stop Iran’s missile development and shipment of arms to  Syria’s Bashar Assad and Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.

But Israeli criticisms are falling have fallen on deaf ears both in Davos and in the Obama administration, which remains committed to the cheery fiction that Rouhani’s victory in Iran’s faux presidential election last year was a signal of a major reset in the affairs of the Islamic Republic. But if Americans are falling for Rouhani’s transparent deceptions, it’s worth asking why. The answer doesn’t come from Davos but rather what preceded the international gathering last week in a segment on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Stewart’s political comedy is a reliable barometer of what liberals are thinking and has, at times, even won praise from some writing here in COMMENTARY for his willingness to call out Democrats for their hypocrisy. But on Iran, Stewart has gone all out for the administration’s embrace of Rouhani. In a segment called “Let’s Break a Deal” he told us all we need to know about why so many in the West refuse to give serious thought to the Iranian nuclear threat.

In the segment, Stewart hailed the interim nuclear deal with Iran as a “historic treaty” that would ensure that it would not be able to develop nuclear weapons. He castigated its critics and those who advocate a new sanctions bill that would take effect if the current talks fail, assailing them with his typical contempt and vitriol. According to Stewart the fact that 58 U.S. senators want more sanctions—something the administration deceitfully claims will blow up the diplomatic process—is just another example of the “immaturity and lack of self-control” of the Senate. He claimed the senators were ignorant of the terms of the deal, and then piled on further by saying the real reason for their doubts about Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal is their loyalty to Israel. He joked that the 58 were acting as “senators from the great state of Israel” rather than representing American interests. The idea of listening to Israel’s concerns on a matter that involves a threat to its existence was further satirized when he favorably compared Rouhani’s insults directed at the administration’s claims about the nuclear deal to criticisms aimed at Secretary of State John Kerry over peace talks with the Palestinians by Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon.

Stewart’s use of the same Walt-Mearsheimer “Israel Lobby” myths that cross the line into anti-Semitism is thinly disguised bigotry aimed at delegitimizing the efforts of pro-Israel Americans to point out the folly of this administration’s dangerously gullible Iran policy before it is too late.

But even if you strip away his vile slanders, the basic message of Stewart’s rant, like that of other defenders of the rush to rapprochement with Iran, is something much more basic: they genuinely don’t care about Iran’s lies or about the deadly nature of the Iranian nuclear threat. They just want the issue to go away and if that requires smearing the Israelis or fellow Americans who have given serious consideration to the terms of the deal, then that is exactly what they will do.

Though Stewart pretended that it was the sanctions advocates who didn’t understand the situation, his unfunny tirade demonstrated his own ignorance and his lack of interest in the facts about what the Iranians have gained from the interim deal in terms of unraveling sanctions or how little they are giving up in terms of their nuclear development (a point confirmed at Davos by the Iranians). All Jon Stewart and those for whom he was shilling care about is acting as the administration’s cheerleaders on a treaty that would create détente with a tyrannical, terrorist-sponsoring anti-Semitic regime that is bent on wiping Israel off the map.

People like Stewart and others who are buying Rouhani’s act aren’t doing so because they love Iran or even because they despise Israel and enjoy its discomfort at the prospect of a deadly enemy being embraced and empowered by the West, though some obviously do like that aspect. What they really like about Iran’s decision to create a new façade of cordiality to the West—one that seems to them to be a repudiation of Rouhani’s repulsive predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—is that it allows them to pretend that there is nothing to worry about. Rouhani allows them to live in denial as Ahmadinejad did not. As long as an open villain like Ahmadinejad was the front man for the regime, it was hard to ignore the truth about Iran’s bid for regional hegemony or its desire to annihilate Israel. But with Rouhani they can, like the Obama administration itself, treat the Middle East as a former problem from which they may now withdraw in comfort.

We know Rouhani’s charm offensive is effective because it’s accomplished what every good public-relations campaign aims to do: tell people what they want to hear and persuade them it’s the truth even when it’s a lie. Under the circumstances, it’s hardly surprising that those who are willing and able to see reality—like the Israelis and those Americans who share their legitimate concerns about the direction of American foreign policy—are going to be subjected to continued mockery and abuse.

Read Less

The EU’s Double Threat to Israel

Speaking to reporters yesterday, the European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, issued a remarkable statement about the EU’s position on the current peace negotiations taking place between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. That statement, and indeed the EU’s position, amounts to little more than an open threat, one that is ostensibly directed at both parties, but which would in practice hurt Israel first and foremost, even while purporting to punish the Palestinians. 

The EU ambassador explained that should the current round of peace talks fail to yield results, “there will be a price to pay.” Specifically, that price for Israel would come in the form of a pulling back on trade relations between Europe and Israel, with the additional implication that the EU would move ahead with plans to label or boycott those products produced by Jewish businesses and communities in the disputed territories. For the Palestinians, the repercussions would amount to a cutback in EU funding for the Palestinian Authority. Admittedly, this is no empty threat given the PA’s dire financial predicament and the fact that the Europeans, not the Arab states, act as the Palestinians’ primary funders. Yet with even President Obama (in a break from his usual unworldly optimism) having said that he believes the current peace talks have less than a 50 percent chance of success, the Europeans are putting both sides in an incredibly unenviable, and indeed inadvisable, position.

Read More

Speaking to reporters yesterday, the European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, issued a remarkable statement about the EU’s position on the current peace negotiations taking place between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. That statement, and indeed the EU’s position, amounts to little more than an open threat, one that is ostensibly directed at both parties, but which would in practice hurt Israel first and foremost, even while purporting to punish the Palestinians. 

The EU ambassador explained that should the current round of peace talks fail to yield results, “there will be a price to pay.” Specifically, that price for Israel would come in the form of a pulling back on trade relations between Europe and Israel, with the additional implication that the EU would move ahead with plans to label or boycott those products produced by Jewish businesses and communities in the disputed territories. For the Palestinians, the repercussions would amount to a cutback in EU funding for the Palestinian Authority. Admittedly, this is no empty threat given the PA’s dire financial predicament and the fact that the Europeans, not the Arab states, act as the Palestinians’ primary funders. Yet with even President Obama (in a break from his usual unworldly optimism) having said that he believes the current peace talks have less than a 50 percent chance of success, the Europeans are putting both sides in an incredibly unenviable, and indeed inadvisable, position.

There is a legitimate question to be asked here about whether this stance is really reasonable or fair to either side. If we for a moment assume the most charitable possible view of both parties, working on the basis that both Israel and the Palestinians are negotiating in good faith, is it so inconceivable that these talks, given their narrow time frame, might not be successful this time around? As has often been suggested, it may be the case that right now the most that Israel is able to offer is less than the Palestinians are willing to accept. Then, if we take the less charitable, although probably more realistic view, that sees PA head Mahmoud Abbas as not being interested in reaching an agreement, it becomes apparent that the EU threat seeks to still punish Israel even if Abbas walks away from a deal.

In any case, on closer inspection, the threat to the Palestinians actually turns out to be just another way of punishing Israel. In the event that the EU withdraws significant amounts of funding from Abbas, thus destabilizing the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and allowing for a strengthening of Hamas and Islamic Jihad there, the price from the growing terror threat would be paid by Israel. It would be paid in the currency of lost Israeli lives. It may be true that there are serious problems with the way the EU funds the PA; as Douglas Murray has written about recently, much of the funding goes toward supporting Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israel. Yet, the threatened funding cuts would most likely harm Israel even more, and the Europeans know it. For as Faasborg-Andersen remarked, “I think it is realized in Israel that this money is key to the stability of the West Bank and in Gaza.”

This attitude, which seeks to make life unpleasant for Israelis even while claiming to be evenhanded in also punishing the Palestinians, stems from a perspective that really views Israel as uniquely responsible for the impasse and as such is frankly disinterested in Israel’s requirements. The ambassador betrayed as much in his remarks. With the EU having failed to support Israel’s basic request to be recognized as a Jewish state, Faasborg-Andersen dismissed, “I don’t think we have any clear position on that because we’re not 100% sure what is meant by this concept of a Jewish state.”

When it came to Palestinian demands about settlements, however, then the European ambassador adopted quite another tone. “If the talks are wrecked as a result of an Israeli settlement announcement, then the blame will be put squarely on Israel’s doorstep,” the ambassador declared, “naturally and logically [Israel] will be to blame.” And when he was then asked about the European Union’s double standards in its approach to the settlement issue, Faasborg-Andersen responded, “I don’t see any basis for the allegation that we’re being one-sided and not being even-handed on this issue,” claiming that the EU had also criticized rocket fire from Gaza.

In making this parallel, the ambassador expressed a common yet unfathomable notion that draws a moral equivalence between rockets fired by terrorists with the objective of murdering Israeli civilians and the building of homes for Jewish families in Jerusalem and its suburbs. This itself exposes the very one-sidedness that the ambassador sought to deny by mentioning the rockets. The EU position on settlements is hypocritical for several reasons, not least because of the way in which Brussels has openly adopted one policy on disputed settlements in cases such as Morocco and western Sahara, and quite another on Jewish communities in Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

The European Union’s stance on Israel has become so one-sided that European diplomats expose themselves even while attempting to demonstrate how evenhanded they are. So hypocritical are they that the EU devises measures to punish Israel even while claiming to be punishing the Palestinians.

Read Less

Obama Administration to Israel: Call Off the Jews, Please

The latest dustup in U.S.-Israel relations is one that makes you wonder if Obama administration officials have a shred of self-awareness. The Jerusalem Post reports that the president is unhappy with the Israeli government because his consistent opposition to sanctions on Iran is not meeting with universal approval from American Jewish groups. And why does this make him upset with Israel? Because he apparently believes that such dissent must be the product of foreign influence:

A US official close to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said both men are disturbed over what is being perceived in their inner circle as “Jewish activism in Congress” that they think is being encouraged by the Israeli government, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.

The official has informed Israeli government figures that the president and secretary of state are disappointed over repeated attacks made against them by leading members of the Jewish community in the US.

The president and secretary of state would like American Jews’ foreign handlers and sponsors to please stop riling up the Jews, because those Jews then practice their voodoo on members of Congress. Now, while this is obviously a very stupid thing for the president and secretary of state to believe–conspiracy theorists love the Walt-Mearsheimer dark tales of Jewish influence, but rarely do serious or intelligent people fall for it–it is even dumber to, you know, say out loud.

But that’s not to say it’s a slip of the tongue; these statements are usually calculated warnings: nice special relationship you got here, etc. The phrase “Jewish activism in Congress” is especially clumsy, because it’s so obvious and appalling and insulting. I suppose we should be thankful the official managed not to use the word “elders.”

Read More

The latest dustup in U.S.-Israel relations is one that makes you wonder if Obama administration officials have a shred of self-awareness. The Jerusalem Post reports that the president is unhappy with the Israeli government because his consistent opposition to sanctions on Iran is not meeting with universal approval from American Jewish groups. And why does this make him upset with Israel? Because he apparently believes that such dissent must be the product of foreign influence:

A US official close to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said both men are disturbed over what is being perceived in their inner circle as “Jewish activism in Congress” that they think is being encouraged by the Israeli government, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.

The official has informed Israeli government figures that the president and secretary of state are disappointed over repeated attacks made against them by leading members of the Jewish community in the US.

The president and secretary of state would like American Jews’ foreign handlers and sponsors to please stop riling up the Jews, because those Jews then practice their voodoo on members of Congress. Now, while this is obviously a very stupid thing for the president and secretary of state to believe–conspiracy theorists love the Walt-Mearsheimer dark tales of Jewish influence, but rarely do serious or intelligent people fall for it–it is even dumber to, you know, say out loud.

But that’s not to say it’s a slip of the tongue; these statements are usually calculated warnings: nice special relationship you got here, etc. The phrase “Jewish activism in Congress” is especially clumsy, because it’s so obvious and appalling and insulting. I suppose we should be thankful the official managed not to use the word “elders.”

In one sense, it’s ironic: American Jews vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, and this is the thanks they get. But in another sense, it’s typical of the enforced groupthink of the American left: “overwhelmingly” is not enough. Everyone needs to get in line, lest any unapproved thought escape someone’s lips and influence others, unleashing the dreaded “Jewish activism.” When people are permitted to speak freely, who knows what the Congress will do? Better to not find out, according to the Obama administration.

It’s also extremely creepy behavior, because it aims to chill legitimate political speech by warning Jews–specifically–that if they disagree with the Obama administration they will be seen to be acting on orders from a foreign government. And it then transfers that suspicion of dual loyalty to the members of Congress whose constituents include the Jews of which the administration disapproves.

The sentiment as expressed to the press and attributed to Obama and Kerry appears to be a fusion of the two: Obama’s distaste for dissent and Kerry’s inability to communicate. The problem the White House is having is this: the president’s deal with Iran was not a good deal, and that fact is becoming more and more obvious to everyone, even those not under the spell of Jewish voodoo. So left to their own devices, many in Congress and in the public are going to draw the correct conclusion–the president is getting played–and the president does not like that prospect.

But how is the president going to chill the speech of others? Take, for example, Fareed Zakaria, a man of the left and someone Obama consults on foreign policy. As the Washington Free Beacon notes, Zakaria interviewed the Iranian president and was left with the same sinking feeling as others. Zakaria’s reaction:

This strikes me as a train wreck. This strikes me as potentially a huge obstacle because the conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart. The Iranian conception seems to be they produce as much nuclear energy as they want, but it is a civilian program. The American position is that they have to very substantially scale back the enrichment of uranium and the production of centrifuges. For the first time you have the president of Iran unequivocally saying there will be no destruction of centrifuges. So this seems like — you know, this is still — I’m not even quite sure what they’re going to talk about.

Do Obama and Kerry believe Zakaria is acting under orders from a foreign government? Or do they understand how repellant such talk is when removed from under the weight of their Bibi derangement syndrome?

Read Less

Our Chastened President

In David Remnick’s nearly 17,000-word article in the New Yorker, President Obama spoke about whether the use of drones was radicalizing civilian populations we need to win over:

Look, you wrestle with it. And those who have questioned our drone policy are doing exactly what should be done in a democracy—asking some tough questions. The only time I get frustrated is when folks act like it’s not complicated and there aren’t some real tough decisions, and are sanctimonious, as if somehow these aren’t complicated questions.

Even if you have, as I do, some sympathy with the point the president is making, this needs to be said: Barack Obama is probably not the best person to lecture others about being sanctimonious or speaking in overly simplistic terms about the challenges faced by a president. For Mr. Obama, being president seemed so easy before he actually was president.

To be sure, everyone who runs for president has a healthy ego and high expectations. But Mr. Obama belongs in a category all his own. 

Read More

In David Remnick’s nearly 17,000-word article in the New Yorker, President Obama spoke about whether the use of drones was radicalizing civilian populations we need to win over:

Look, you wrestle with it. And those who have questioned our drone policy are doing exactly what should be done in a democracy—asking some tough questions. The only time I get frustrated is when folks act like it’s not complicated and there aren’t some real tough decisions, and are sanctimonious, as if somehow these aren’t complicated questions.

Even if you have, as I do, some sympathy with the point the president is making, this needs to be said: Barack Obama is probably not the best person to lecture others about being sanctimonious or speaking in overly simplistic terms about the challenges faced by a president. For Mr. Obama, being president seemed so easy before he actually was president.

To be sure, everyone who runs for president has a healthy ego and high expectations. But Mr. Obama belongs in a category all his own. 

According to Game Change, during the 2008 campaign Obama surrounded himself with aides who referred to Obama as a “Black Jesus.” (Obama didn’t appear to object.) “I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions,” Obama told congressional Democrats during his first presidential campaign. During the campaign, while still a one-term senator, Obama decided he wanted to give a speech in Germany–and he wanted to deliver it at the Brandenburg Gate. A convention speech wasn’t enough; Greek columns needed to be added.

“We know that what began as a whisper has now swelled to a chorus that cannot be ignored, that will not be deterred, that will ring out across this land as a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, make this time different than all the rest,” Obama told supporters after his victories on Super Tuesday in 2008.

“Generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment,” Obama said as the primary season came to an end–a moment when, among other achievements, “the rise of the oceans began to slow and the planet began to heal.” On the day of his inauguration, the newly sworn-in president proclaimed “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

That was then. Today President Obama is coming off of what Remnick refers to as his annus horribilis, from the disastrous rollout of ObamaCare to the bungled policy in Syria to across-the-board legislative failures to a majority of the country now believing the president is neither truthful nor honest.

Mr. Obama has changed. “When I asked Obama if he had read or seen anything that fully captured the experience of being in his office,” Remnick writes, “he laughed, as if to say, You just have no idea.” The president admits the country is tiring of him and that he’s overexposed. If you’re doing big, hard things, President Obama informs us, there “is going to be some hair on it – there’s going to be some aspects of it that aren’t clean and neat and immediately elicit applause from everybody.” We learn that politics doesn’t proceed in straight lines. That we have to take the long view. And that sometimes, like a sailor, “you’re being blown all over the place.”

Elsewhere the president tells Remnick, “One of the things that I’ve learned to appreciate more as President is you are essentially a relay swimmer in a river full of rapids, and that river is history. You don’t start with a clean slate, and the things you start may not come to full fruition on your timetable.” When he is criticized for his handling of Iran’s Green Revolution in 2009 or the last days of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011, we’re told he complains that people imagine him to have a “joystick” that allows him to manipulate precise outcomes. When discussing his initiatives dealing with Iran, Syria, and Israel and the Palestinians, the president says, “in all three circumstances we may be able to push the boulder partway up the hill and maybe stabilize it so it doesn’t roll back on us.”

“The President of the United States cannot remake society,” Mr. Obama admits at one point. “At the end of the day we’re part of a long-running story. We just try to get our paragraph right.”

So Mr. Obama has gone from promising to “remake the world,” “heal the planet” and “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” to (forgive the clashing metaphors) being blown all over the place and being a relay swimmer in a river full of rapids, trying to avoid being crushed by runaway boulders and just trying to get our paragraph right.

Barack Obama is a chastened man trying to make sense of his multiplying failures. Well into his second term, blaming them on his predecessor no longer works. One can now see the outlines of the new explanation: The job is too big, the country too divided, the opposition too unreasonable, the world too complicated, the tools we have to fix things too few.

There is another alternative. Mr. Obama wasn’t ready to be president and he hasn’t learned very much as president. He has constantly been overmatched by events. And now his presidency is being undone by them.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.