Commentary Magazine


Topic: Queen

Iran Declares War on Purim

Less than two years ago, the readers of the New York Times were being treated to Roger Cohen’s tribute to Iran’s supposedly kindly treatment of the remnant of a once-great Jewish community. Cohen’s rosy description of life inside the Islamist republic was widely scorned for his willingness to buy into the lies being peddled by the tyrants of Tehran. The Times columnist’s motive for trying to soften the image of that openly anti-Semitic government was to undermine support for sanctions or the use of force to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The point was that if Iran’s eliminationist rhetoric about the State of Israel could be rationalized or its reputation for Jew-hatred wished away, it would be that much harder to forge an international consensus on the need to stop this regime for gaining nuclear capability.

In the intervening two years since Cohen’s fallacious pro-Iranian broadside, we haven’t heard much about the treatment of the small Jewish community there. But this week, via a report from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, we learned that the Iranian news agency FARS has announced that the site of the Tomb of Mordechai and Esther in the city of Hamdan has lost its official status as a religious pilgrimage site. The FARS report says that Iranian children are now being taught that the site, which honors the biblical heroine Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai, who are the central figures in the story of the Jewish holiday of Purim, was “an arm of Israeli imperialism that impugns Iranian sovereignty.” FARS went on to say that the name of the shrine must be obliterated in order to teach Iranians to “beware of the crimes of the Jews.” It goes on to say that the site must become “a Holocaust memorial” to the “Iranian victims of Esther and Mordechai” and be placed under the supervision of the state religious-endowments authority. This is, of course, the same Iranian government that officially denies the fact of the actual Holocaust.

The Iranian account speaks of the events of the Purim story, in which Esther and Mordechai foiled a plan hatched by the King’s minister Haman to exterminate the Jews of the Persian Empire, who then strike back against the forces arrayed to slaughter them.

The action against the tomb appears to be a response to a demonstration by Iranian students who called for its destruction in response to a false report that Israel was digging beneath the al-Aksa mosque in Jerusalem.

While we cannot know whether the Iranians will follow through on this threat and actually tear down the tomb or transform it into a center of anti-Jewish hate, it does provide yet another insight into the virulent nature of the attitudes of those in power there. Not satisfied with whipping up hatred against the State of Israel and the tiny, cowed remnant community that still lives there, the Iranians are now striking out against biblical Jews. The vicious nature of this regime is rooted in a view of Islam that apologists for Tehran have consistently sought to ignore. While the blow against Esther and Mordechai may be purely symbolic, it must be placed in the context of a long-running campaign of incitement against Jews and Israel that makes the possible acquisition of nuclear arms by this country even more alarming.

The Iranian war on Purim makes it even more imperative that they never be allowed to gain the power to do what the ayatollah’s ancient hero Haman attempted: the physical elimination of a Jewish population. Anyone who thinks that we can live with a nuclear Iran needs to consider the madness of allowing a government that thinks the Purim story should be reversed the power to do just that.

Less than two years ago, the readers of the New York Times were being treated to Roger Cohen’s tribute to Iran’s supposedly kindly treatment of the remnant of a once-great Jewish community. Cohen’s rosy description of life inside the Islamist republic was widely scorned for his willingness to buy into the lies being peddled by the tyrants of Tehran. The Times columnist’s motive for trying to soften the image of that openly anti-Semitic government was to undermine support for sanctions or the use of force to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The point was that if Iran’s eliminationist rhetoric about the State of Israel could be rationalized or its reputation for Jew-hatred wished away, it would be that much harder to forge an international consensus on the need to stop this regime for gaining nuclear capability.

In the intervening two years since Cohen’s fallacious pro-Iranian broadside, we haven’t heard much about the treatment of the small Jewish community there. But this week, via a report from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, we learned that the Iranian news agency FARS has announced that the site of the Tomb of Mordechai and Esther in the city of Hamdan has lost its official status as a religious pilgrimage site. The FARS report says that Iranian children are now being taught that the site, which honors the biblical heroine Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai, who are the central figures in the story of the Jewish holiday of Purim, was “an arm of Israeli imperialism that impugns Iranian sovereignty.” FARS went on to say that the name of the shrine must be obliterated in order to teach Iranians to “beware of the crimes of the Jews.” It goes on to say that the site must become “a Holocaust memorial” to the “Iranian victims of Esther and Mordechai” and be placed under the supervision of the state religious-endowments authority. This is, of course, the same Iranian government that officially denies the fact of the actual Holocaust.

The Iranian account speaks of the events of the Purim story, in which Esther and Mordechai foiled a plan hatched by the King’s minister Haman to exterminate the Jews of the Persian Empire, who then strike back against the forces arrayed to slaughter them.

The action against the tomb appears to be a response to a demonstration by Iranian students who called for its destruction in response to a false report that Israel was digging beneath the al-Aksa mosque in Jerusalem.

While we cannot know whether the Iranians will follow through on this threat and actually tear down the tomb or transform it into a center of anti-Jewish hate, it does provide yet another insight into the virulent nature of the attitudes of those in power there. Not satisfied with whipping up hatred against the State of Israel and the tiny, cowed remnant community that still lives there, the Iranians are now striking out against biblical Jews. The vicious nature of this regime is rooted in a view of Islam that apologists for Tehran have consistently sought to ignore. While the blow against Esther and Mordechai may be purely symbolic, it must be placed in the context of a long-running campaign of incitement against Jews and Israel that makes the possible acquisition of nuclear arms by this country even more alarming.

The Iranian war on Purim makes it even more imperative that they never be allowed to gain the power to do what the ayatollah’s ancient hero Haman attempted: the physical elimination of a Jewish population. Anyone who thinks that we can live with a nuclear Iran needs to consider the madness of allowing a government that thinks the Purim story should be reversed the power to do just that.

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Obama Snubs Britain Yet Again

He just can’t help himself. President Obama has apparently dissed Britain once again by declaring that “[w]e don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people” during a White House appearance with the French president. And the British press has taken notice:

Barack Obama has declared that France is America’s greatest ally, undermining Britain’s Special Relationship with the U.S.

The President risked offending British troops in Afghanistan by saying that French president Nicolas Sarkozy is a ‘stronger friend’ than David Cameron.

The remarks, during a White House appearance with Mr Sarkozy, will reinforce the widely-held view in British diplomatic circles that Mr Obama has less interest in the Special Relationship than any other recent American leader.

Whether or not Obama meant any offense by the statement, he obviously should have realized that his past coldness toward Britain has made the it highly sensitive to any perceived slights from the White House. The president previously declined to meet with former prime minister Gordon Brown, removed the bust of Winston Churchill from his office, and famously gave Queen Elizabeth an iPod with photos of himself on it as a gift. His latest amateur diplomatic slip-up has sparked a bit of anti-French bad-mouthing from both British lawmakers and foreign-policy experts in Washington:

Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former commander of the Sherwood Foresters regiment, said: “I’m getting a bit fed up with the American President using terms like ‘best ally’ so loosely.

“It’s Britain that has had more than 300 servicemen killed in Afghanistan, not France.

“That to my mind is a lot more powerful than any political gesture making.”

The remarks also angered conservatives in Washington.

Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre For Freedom at the Heritage Foundation think-tank, said: “Quite what the French have done to merit this kind of high praise from the U.S. President is difficult to fathom.

“And if the White House means what it says this represents an extraordinary sea change in foreign policy.” Dr Gardiner, a former aide to Lady Thatcher, added: “To suggest that Paris and not London is Washington’s strongest partner is simply ludicrous.

“Such a remark is not only factually wrong but insulting to Britain, not least coming just a few years after the French knifed Washington in the back over the war in Iraq.”

And it’s not hard to see why Obama’s statement provoked such a response. As the Daily Mail notes, the UK has lost nearly seven times as many troops as France in the global war on terror. I’d say that the president should choose his words more carefully next time, but in light of his numerous diplomatic flaps with Britain, I’m not sure if he has it in him.

He just can’t help himself. President Obama has apparently dissed Britain once again by declaring that “[w]e don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people” during a White House appearance with the French president. And the British press has taken notice:

Barack Obama has declared that France is America’s greatest ally, undermining Britain’s Special Relationship with the U.S.

The President risked offending British troops in Afghanistan by saying that French president Nicolas Sarkozy is a ‘stronger friend’ than David Cameron.

The remarks, during a White House appearance with Mr Sarkozy, will reinforce the widely-held view in British diplomatic circles that Mr Obama has less interest in the Special Relationship than any other recent American leader.

Whether or not Obama meant any offense by the statement, he obviously should have realized that his past coldness toward Britain has made the it highly sensitive to any perceived slights from the White House. The president previously declined to meet with former prime minister Gordon Brown, removed the bust of Winston Churchill from his office, and famously gave Queen Elizabeth an iPod with photos of himself on it as a gift. His latest amateur diplomatic slip-up has sparked a bit of anti-French bad-mouthing from both British lawmakers and foreign-policy experts in Washington:

Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former commander of the Sherwood Foresters regiment, said: “I’m getting a bit fed up with the American President using terms like ‘best ally’ so loosely.

“It’s Britain that has had more than 300 servicemen killed in Afghanistan, not France.

“That to my mind is a lot more powerful than any political gesture making.”

The remarks also angered conservatives in Washington.

Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre For Freedom at the Heritage Foundation think-tank, said: “Quite what the French have done to merit this kind of high praise from the U.S. President is difficult to fathom.

“And if the White House means what it says this represents an extraordinary sea change in foreign policy.” Dr Gardiner, a former aide to Lady Thatcher, added: “To suggest that Paris and not London is Washington’s strongest partner is simply ludicrous.

“Such a remark is not only factually wrong but insulting to Britain, not least coming just a few years after the French knifed Washington in the back over the war in Iraq.”

And it’s not hard to see why Obama’s statement provoked such a response. As the Daily Mail notes, the UK has lost nearly seven times as many troops as France in the global war on terror. I’d say that the president should choose his words more carefully next time, but in light of his numerous diplomatic flaps with Britain, I’m not sure if he has it in him.

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Mean and Ignorant!

Fresh from a column on how mean GOP women are, Maureen Dowd today writes about how ignorant they are. She reviews the well-known list of gaffes — but only those of Republican women. Apparently Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, Blanche Lincoln, and the rest are scholars one and all. But then Dowd writes something odd, even for her:

On Saturday, at a G.O.P. rally in Anaheim, Calif., Palin mockingly noted that you won’t find her invoking Mao or Saul Alinsky. She says she believes in American exceptionalism. But when it comes to the people running the country, exceptionalism is suspect; leaders should be — as Palin, O’Donnell and Angle keep saying — just like you.

OK, now that’s dumb. American exceptionalism — the idea that America is endowed with great assets and plays a unique role in the world — has absolutely nothing to do with whether it’s a good idea to have a Harvard grad or a University of Idaho grad in the Oval Office. The desire to dump elites in no way diminishes one’s faith in American exceptionalism. To the contrary, it is the elites who have learned to disdain the projection of American power and values. So, yes, you can in fact favor candidates without elite baggage and believe in the unique role of America in the world.

Of course, Christine O’Donnell is now the useful model for portraying all conservative women as dopes. But what will Dowd and her ilk do when O’Donnell loses? Sarah Palin, the queen bee they fear and resent the most, has been on a roll. She understood that ObamaCare meant rationing; that renunciation of first-strike nuclear power against a biological or chemical attack was daft; that Keynesian economics was bunk; and that animus toward Israel and indifference to our allies more generally was dangerous. What’s ignorant about all that?

I’m not going to defend the gaffes by conservative candidates, male or female, or make the argument that they don’t matter when running for office. They do, especially when these candidates have already been tagged by the mainstream press (whose own brilliance was so stunning that they were certain the surge would fail and that Obama was a political genius) as intellectually deficient, as Palin has. But the ideas that they embrace are not the product of ignorance. They are rooted in time-tested principles of free market economics, limited government, and, yes, American exceptionalism.

At least conservative women have not made the meta-errors of the type that imperil Obama and his Democrats (not to mention our country). So better, then, for Dowd to keep the arguments trivial, personal, and mean. Otherwise, the Gray Lady’s venom-spitting columnist might have to engage in some real policy critiques. And who thinks Dowd is remotely up to that?

Fresh from a column on how mean GOP women are, Maureen Dowd today writes about how ignorant they are. She reviews the well-known list of gaffes — but only those of Republican women. Apparently Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, Blanche Lincoln, and the rest are scholars one and all. But then Dowd writes something odd, even for her:

On Saturday, at a G.O.P. rally in Anaheim, Calif., Palin mockingly noted that you won’t find her invoking Mao or Saul Alinsky. She says she believes in American exceptionalism. But when it comes to the people running the country, exceptionalism is suspect; leaders should be — as Palin, O’Donnell and Angle keep saying — just like you.

OK, now that’s dumb. American exceptionalism — the idea that America is endowed with great assets and plays a unique role in the world — has absolutely nothing to do with whether it’s a good idea to have a Harvard grad or a University of Idaho grad in the Oval Office. The desire to dump elites in no way diminishes one’s faith in American exceptionalism. To the contrary, it is the elites who have learned to disdain the projection of American power and values. So, yes, you can in fact favor candidates without elite baggage and believe in the unique role of America in the world.

Of course, Christine O’Donnell is now the useful model for portraying all conservative women as dopes. But what will Dowd and her ilk do when O’Donnell loses? Sarah Palin, the queen bee they fear and resent the most, has been on a roll. She understood that ObamaCare meant rationing; that renunciation of first-strike nuclear power against a biological or chemical attack was daft; that Keynesian economics was bunk; and that animus toward Israel and indifference to our allies more generally was dangerous. What’s ignorant about all that?

I’m not going to defend the gaffes by conservative candidates, male or female, or make the argument that they don’t matter when running for office. They do, especially when these candidates have already been tagged by the mainstream press (whose own brilliance was so stunning that they were certain the surge would fail and that Obama was a political genius) as intellectually deficient, as Palin has. But the ideas that they embrace are not the product of ignorance. They are rooted in time-tested principles of free market economics, limited government, and, yes, American exceptionalism.

At least conservative women have not made the meta-errors of the type that imperil Obama and his Democrats (not to mention our country). So better, then, for Dowd to keep the arguments trivial, personal, and mean. Otherwise, the Gray Lady’s venom-spitting columnist might have to engage in some real policy critiques. And who thinks Dowd is remotely up to that?

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Dowd Unhinged — Again

This is rich: Maureen Dowd is aggrieved because Republican women are insufficiently demure. The grand dame of the Gray Lady, whose columns are distinguished not by their blindingly clever policy insights (her research is confined to taxi cabs in Manhattan) but by her own particular brand of nasty armchair psychology (not to mention plagiarism), is beside herself:

We are in the era of Republican Mean Girls, grown-up versions of those teenage tormentors who would steal your boyfriend, spray-paint your locker and, just for good measure, spread rumors that you were pregnant.

These women — Jan, Meg, Carly, Sharron, Linda, Michele, Queen Bee Sarah and sweet wannabe Christine — have co-opted and ratcheted up the disgust with the status quo that originally buoyed Barack Obama. Whether they’re mistreating the help or belittling the president’s manhood, making snide comments about a rival’s hair or ripping an opponent for spending money on a men’s fashion show, the Mean Girls have replaced Hope with Spite and Cool with Cold. They are the ideal nihilistic cheerleaders for an angry electorate.

Beaten at her own game, is she? Why yes. (She does impart one piece of information: Sharron Angle “campaigns at times with a .44 Magnum revolver in her 1989 GMC pickup.” My word, what is not to like about her?!) The tough girls have not only given a clear alternative to the whiny victimhood of Dowd and her fellow gender-grievance-mongers; they have redefined political feminism. You can gain power, win the respect and affection of fellow citizens, and be pro-free market, pro-guns, and pro-life (the unholy trinity of the left).

No wonder Dowd has wigged out, feeling “jittery” after Angle demolished Harry Reid (whom Dowd bizarrely terms “the soft-spoken Mormon”). Dowd is aghast that Angle would point out that he has made a mint, thanks to his Senate career (“‘one of the richest men in the Senate’ after coming from Searchlight ‘with very little’”). This is going “for the jugular”? How sensitive Dowd has become.

But don’t you see? Only liberal women are permitted to spew bile at their male political adversaries. Heaven forbid telegenic, principled conservative women should upend their liberal opponents, ascend the political ladder, and grab the spotlight. Bad enough there was Sarah; now there is a whole flock of them. You can understand why Dowd is green with envy.

This is rich: Maureen Dowd is aggrieved because Republican women are insufficiently demure. The grand dame of the Gray Lady, whose columns are distinguished not by their blindingly clever policy insights (her research is confined to taxi cabs in Manhattan) but by her own particular brand of nasty armchair psychology (not to mention plagiarism), is beside herself:

We are in the era of Republican Mean Girls, grown-up versions of those teenage tormentors who would steal your boyfriend, spray-paint your locker and, just for good measure, spread rumors that you were pregnant.

These women — Jan, Meg, Carly, Sharron, Linda, Michele, Queen Bee Sarah and sweet wannabe Christine — have co-opted and ratcheted up the disgust with the status quo that originally buoyed Barack Obama. Whether they’re mistreating the help or belittling the president’s manhood, making snide comments about a rival’s hair or ripping an opponent for spending money on a men’s fashion show, the Mean Girls have replaced Hope with Spite and Cool with Cold. They are the ideal nihilistic cheerleaders for an angry electorate.

Beaten at her own game, is she? Why yes. (She does impart one piece of information: Sharron Angle “campaigns at times with a .44 Magnum revolver in her 1989 GMC pickup.” My word, what is not to like about her?!) The tough girls have not only given a clear alternative to the whiny victimhood of Dowd and her fellow gender-grievance-mongers; they have redefined political feminism. You can gain power, win the respect and affection of fellow citizens, and be pro-free market, pro-guns, and pro-life (the unholy trinity of the left).

No wonder Dowd has wigged out, feeling “jittery” after Angle demolished Harry Reid (whom Dowd bizarrely terms “the soft-spoken Mormon”). Dowd is aghast that Angle would point out that he has made a mint, thanks to his Senate career (“‘one of the richest men in the Senate’ after coming from Searchlight ‘with very little’”). This is going “for the jugular”? How sensitive Dowd has become.

But don’t you see? Only liberal women are permitted to spew bile at their male political adversaries. Heaven forbid telegenic, principled conservative women should upend their liberal opponents, ascend the political ladder, and grab the spotlight. Bad enough there was Sarah; now there is a whole flock of them. You can understand why Dowd is green with envy.

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Hillary the Has-Been

It’s the Mama Grizzly effect, says the Washington Post — lots of conservative women running for office:

Nearly two years after an anticipated gender bounce – with predictions that women in both parties would rush into politics inspired by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sarah Palin — it turns out that the momentum is on the Republican side. If there is a Palin effect, it is not being matched by any Clinton effect at the other end of the ideological spectrum.

Ouch. Sorry, Hillary, you’re yesterday’s news. Even worse, Democratic women are enviously eyeing the Tea Party movement:

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said it is “very fair” to argue that the energy for female candidates is trending Republican, a view several other Democratic strategists shared.

“I’ve been struck by it,” said Dee Dee Myers, a former White House press secretary and author of “Why Women Should Rule the World.”

“All the momentum is on the tea party side, so why wouldn’t it also be with the women on the tea party side?”

In fact, a great number of local Tea Party organizers are women, a phenomenon little remarked upon by the mainstream media, which is intent on painting the movement as the province of angry, racist white men.

And to the dismay of feminists, it is hard to deny Palin’s role in all this:

Palin has unquestionably played an outsize role in upping the Republican numbers, endorsing several women, including [Nikki] Haley and [Christine] O’Donnell, who might never have gained sufficient attention otherwise. She has brought to the Republican Party what some members had once complained did not exist: a concerted effort to tap female candidates for promotion and lift them out of obscurity.

And then there is this: The woman most capable of counteracting a Palin bounce for Democrats — Secretary of State Clinton- is not available to campaign.

You do wonder what Hillary is thinking. She’s traded in the title of Queen Bee of American politics for Foggy Bottom errand girl in an administration that is quickly going down the tubes. She’s been dutiful, loyal, responsible — and irrelevant these past 18 months. Meanwhile, whether a 2012 contender or a king and queen maker, Palin has become the most influential woman in American politics. She is not immune from error — far from it — and she remains a problematic figure. But who can doubt that she matters. You can’t say the same about Hillary.

It’s the Mama Grizzly effect, says the Washington Post — lots of conservative women running for office:

Nearly two years after an anticipated gender bounce – with predictions that women in both parties would rush into politics inspired by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sarah Palin — it turns out that the momentum is on the Republican side. If there is a Palin effect, it is not being matched by any Clinton effect at the other end of the ideological spectrum.

Ouch. Sorry, Hillary, you’re yesterday’s news. Even worse, Democratic women are enviously eyeing the Tea Party movement:

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said it is “very fair” to argue that the energy for female candidates is trending Republican, a view several other Democratic strategists shared.

“I’ve been struck by it,” said Dee Dee Myers, a former White House press secretary and author of “Why Women Should Rule the World.”

“All the momentum is on the tea party side, so why wouldn’t it also be with the women on the tea party side?”

In fact, a great number of local Tea Party organizers are women, a phenomenon little remarked upon by the mainstream media, which is intent on painting the movement as the province of angry, racist white men.

And to the dismay of feminists, it is hard to deny Palin’s role in all this:

Palin has unquestionably played an outsize role in upping the Republican numbers, endorsing several women, including [Nikki] Haley and [Christine] O’Donnell, who might never have gained sufficient attention otherwise. She has brought to the Republican Party what some members had once complained did not exist: a concerted effort to tap female candidates for promotion and lift them out of obscurity.

And then there is this: The woman most capable of counteracting a Palin bounce for Democrats — Secretary of State Clinton- is not available to campaign.

You do wonder what Hillary is thinking. She’s traded in the title of Queen Bee of American politics for Foggy Bottom errand girl in an administration that is quickly going down the tubes. She’s been dutiful, loyal, responsible — and irrelevant these past 18 months. Meanwhile, whether a 2012 contender or a king and queen maker, Palin has become the most influential woman in American politics. She is not immune from error — far from it — and she remains a problematic figure. But who can doubt that she matters. You can’t say the same about Hillary.

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Queen Esther Goes to Alaska

As Jen noted yesterday, Sarah Palin, widely considered intellectually deficient by many Jews I know, appeared at a shabbaton (a study session on the Jewish Sabbath) the evening before she spoke at Glenn Beck’s rally. The shabbaton took place at the Hershey Lodge, near Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, which has probably been attended more frequently on the Sabbath by many Northeastern Jews than their local synagogues. Benyamin Korn offers details in an article in the online New York Sun:

My colleague Sheya, director of PalinTV, presented Mrs. Palin with the ArtScroll edition of Perek Shira, a commentary on the song of celebration sung by Jewish women during the exodus from Egypt. Mrs. Palin received the Hebrew volume with obvious delight; she has used the biblical Book of Esther as bedtime reading material for her eight-year-old daughter, Piper. She wants Willow to emulate Esther, Jewish history’s great heroine, who risked everything to save the Jewish people from Haman’s plan for genocide.

Although 65 years have passed since the Holocaust, the threat of genocide still hangs over the Jewish people — and again from Persia. Iran openly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Hamas, with its charter calling for the extermination of the Jewish State, fires rockets at Israeli schoolchildren. Syria races to build chemical and biological weapons to use against Israel. Mrs. Palin makes it clear that she recognizes these threats to America’s ally, Israel, and wants to end them. She minced no words in her remarks to the Pennsylvania Family Institute, criticizing the Obama administration for “coddling our enemies while abandoning our treasured ally, Israel.”

Maybe it’s not just Palin’s right-wing politics that gets secular Jews so riled up. Maybe it’s also that Palin, that idiot, may actually know more about Judaism and feel no discomfort about emulating  Jewish traditions and Jewish particularism in the way that they seem to.

As Jen noted yesterday, Sarah Palin, widely considered intellectually deficient by many Jews I know, appeared at a shabbaton (a study session on the Jewish Sabbath) the evening before she spoke at Glenn Beck’s rally. The shabbaton took place at the Hershey Lodge, near Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, which has probably been attended more frequently on the Sabbath by many Northeastern Jews than their local synagogues. Benyamin Korn offers details in an article in the online New York Sun:

My colleague Sheya, director of PalinTV, presented Mrs. Palin with the ArtScroll edition of Perek Shira, a commentary on the song of celebration sung by Jewish women during the exodus from Egypt. Mrs. Palin received the Hebrew volume with obvious delight; she has used the biblical Book of Esther as bedtime reading material for her eight-year-old daughter, Piper. She wants Willow to emulate Esther, Jewish history’s great heroine, who risked everything to save the Jewish people from Haman’s plan for genocide.

Although 65 years have passed since the Holocaust, the threat of genocide still hangs over the Jewish people — and again from Persia. Iran openly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Hamas, with its charter calling for the extermination of the Jewish State, fires rockets at Israeli schoolchildren. Syria races to build chemical and biological weapons to use against Israel. Mrs. Palin makes it clear that she recognizes these threats to America’s ally, Israel, and wants to end them. She minced no words in her remarks to the Pennsylvania Family Institute, criticizing the Obama administration for “coddling our enemies while abandoning our treasured ally, Israel.”

Maybe it’s not just Palin’s right-wing politics that gets secular Jews so riled up. Maybe it’s also that Palin, that idiot, may actually know more about Judaism and feel no discomfort about emulating  Jewish traditions and Jewish particularism in the way that they seem to.

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Palin in Ascendance, Liberals Admit Defeat

She certainly has them on the run. At the National Mall rally on Saturday, Sarah Palin delivered an eloquent and moving tribute to servicemen and a nonpartisan call to restore — not transform — America. The complete text should be read in full. (If you are not moved to tears by the stories of three heroic military men, you have a heart of stone.)

I admit that I had some serious reservations about the Glenn Beck rally. To put it mildly, I’m no fan of Beck’s, and his rhetoric has given liberals plenty of fodder to paint the right as extreme and incendiary. But both he and certainly Palin conducted themselves well — sticking to general themes of faith and service. That the media could not find a single controversial statement is a tribute to the good judgment and restraint that was exercised.

Meanwhile, Palin clearly has the left in a tizzy. They have finally gotten it: she is redefining feminism. In the New York Times, two liberal feminists exhibit more than a little anxiety over the Palin juggernaut. To put it bluntly, they have Palin envy:

In the 24 months since her appearance onstage in Dayton, Ohio, Ms. Palin has enthralled pundits and journalists who devote countless television hours and column inches to her every Twitter message and Facebook update, while provoking outrage and exasperation from the left. …

The left should be outraged and exasperated by all this — but at their own failings as much as Ms. Palin’s ascension. Since the 2008 election, progressive leaders have done little to address the obvious national appetite for female leadership. And despite (or because of) their continuing obsession with Ms. Palin, they have done nothing to stop an anti-choice, pro-abstinence, socialist-bashing Tea Party enthusiast from becoming the 21st century symbol of American women in politics.

You betcha. You see, Palin has proved by example that a woman politician need not spout the pro-big government, pro-abortion, pro-welfare-state line. “Ms. Palin has spent much of 2010 burnishing her political bona fides and extending her influence by way of the Mama Grizzlies, a gang of Sarah- approved, maverick-y female politicians looking to ‘take back’ America with ‘common-sense’ solutions.” She sure did, and she proved herself to be the most effective female politician in the country. Sorry, Hillary — while you have been playing errand girl for the Obama foreign-policy train wreck, Palin has ascended to the throne. (Nancy Pelosi’s days are numbered.) The left is waving the white flag of surrender:

It’s easy of course, for liberals to laugh off Ms. Palin’s “you go, girl!” ethos and increasingly aggressive co-optation of feminist symbols. We progressives discount her references to the women’s movement — not to mention her validity as a candidate — by looking down on her as a dim, opportunistic, mean-girl prom queen, all spunk and no policy muscle. …

If Sarah Palin and her acolytes successfully redefine what it means to be a groundbreaking political woman, it will be because progressives let it happen — and in doing so, ensured that when it comes to making history, there will be no one but Mama Grizzlies to do the job.

Wow.

And it’s really worse than the New York Times worriers admit. Palin not only trumped the left on style but she also managed to connect on nearly every issue — ObamaCare, bailouts, Israel, taxes, American exceptionalism, and the stimulus plan — in a way the president and his liberal supporters could not. For all of her supposed lack of “policy muscle,” it was she who defined the debate on ObamaCare and she who synced up with the Tea Party’s small-government, personal-responsibility, anti-tax-hike message. Who’s short on policy muscle — the White House or Palin? Does “engagement” of despots, Israel-bashing, and capitulation to Russia make for a meaty foreign-policy agenda? Go read a Palin foreign-policy address or two. Plenty of meat and common sense there.

But I give the Times gals credit — they know they are losing the battle to discredit Palin. Now they need to figure out what to do about it. They might start with examining whether their agenda has as much sell as hers.

She certainly has them on the run. At the National Mall rally on Saturday, Sarah Palin delivered an eloquent and moving tribute to servicemen and a nonpartisan call to restore — not transform — America. The complete text should be read in full. (If you are not moved to tears by the stories of three heroic military men, you have a heart of stone.)

I admit that I had some serious reservations about the Glenn Beck rally. To put it mildly, I’m no fan of Beck’s, and his rhetoric has given liberals plenty of fodder to paint the right as extreme and incendiary. But both he and certainly Palin conducted themselves well — sticking to general themes of faith and service. That the media could not find a single controversial statement is a tribute to the good judgment and restraint that was exercised.

Meanwhile, Palin clearly has the left in a tizzy. They have finally gotten it: she is redefining feminism. In the New York Times, two liberal feminists exhibit more than a little anxiety over the Palin juggernaut. To put it bluntly, they have Palin envy:

In the 24 months since her appearance onstage in Dayton, Ohio, Ms. Palin has enthralled pundits and journalists who devote countless television hours and column inches to her every Twitter message and Facebook update, while provoking outrage and exasperation from the left. …

The left should be outraged and exasperated by all this — but at their own failings as much as Ms. Palin’s ascension. Since the 2008 election, progressive leaders have done little to address the obvious national appetite for female leadership. And despite (or because of) their continuing obsession with Ms. Palin, they have done nothing to stop an anti-choice, pro-abstinence, socialist-bashing Tea Party enthusiast from becoming the 21st century symbol of American women in politics.

You betcha. You see, Palin has proved by example that a woman politician need not spout the pro-big government, pro-abortion, pro-welfare-state line. “Ms. Palin has spent much of 2010 burnishing her political bona fides and extending her influence by way of the Mama Grizzlies, a gang of Sarah- approved, maverick-y female politicians looking to ‘take back’ America with ‘common-sense’ solutions.” She sure did, and she proved herself to be the most effective female politician in the country. Sorry, Hillary — while you have been playing errand girl for the Obama foreign-policy train wreck, Palin has ascended to the throne. (Nancy Pelosi’s days are numbered.) The left is waving the white flag of surrender:

It’s easy of course, for liberals to laugh off Ms. Palin’s “you go, girl!” ethos and increasingly aggressive co-optation of feminist symbols. We progressives discount her references to the women’s movement — not to mention her validity as a candidate — by looking down on her as a dim, opportunistic, mean-girl prom queen, all spunk and no policy muscle. …

If Sarah Palin and her acolytes successfully redefine what it means to be a groundbreaking political woman, it will be because progressives let it happen — and in doing so, ensured that when it comes to making history, there will be no one but Mama Grizzlies to do the job.

Wow.

And it’s really worse than the New York Times worriers admit. Palin not only trumped the left on style but she also managed to connect on nearly every issue — ObamaCare, bailouts, Israel, taxes, American exceptionalism, and the stimulus plan — in a way the president and his liberal supporters could not. For all of her supposed lack of “policy muscle,” it was she who defined the debate on ObamaCare and she who synced up with the Tea Party’s small-government, personal-responsibility, anti-tax-hike message. Who’s short on policy muscle — the White House or Palin? Does “engagement” of despots, Israel-bashing, and capitulation to Russia make for a meaty foreign-policy agenda? Go read a Palin foreign-policy address or two. Plenty of meat and common sense there.

But I give the Times gals credit — they know they are losing the battle to discredit Palin. Now they need to figure out what to do about it. They might start with examining whether their agenda has as much sell as hers.

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Let Me Clarify My Clarification of My Clear Remarks

Barack Obama’s clarification of his “let me be clear” statement on the Ground Zero mosque (and subsequent clarification of his clarification) is reminiscent of his 2008 “let me be clear” statement on Jerusalem — when he told 7,000 people at AIPAC that the city “must remain undivided” and then repeatedly clarified his “poor phrasing,” finally endorsing a divided Jerusalem while claiming he had not backtracked from his initial statement.

Students of foreign policy may be bemused and somewhat alarmed to see this happening again. In both cases, Obama’s statements were prepared remarks on an important issue with foreign-policy implications, followed by retreats in the face of criticism, followed by denials that they were retreats, amid widespread recognition that they were, in fact, retreats. It was not an attractive quality in a candidate, and it is a dangerous one in a president.

Sarah Palin noted on her Facebook page that we “all know they have the right to do it [build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3,000 people], but should they?” She suggested the president endorse the New York governor’s offer of assistance for finding an alternative location. The New York Sun editorialized that she had made a practical proposal while speaking more forthrightly than the famously eloquent president, raising this question:

How did one of the most intellectual presidents in history, a constitutional law professor with a government-provided staff of legal experts and policy geniuses and an ability, rarely if ever matched, to speak in lofty tones, manage to get himself in a position where he will end up following the lead of an ex-governor who has been constantly set down by the left as but a one-time beauty queen without brains and who has been watching the whole fracas from a lake-side camp at Alaska?

Possibly one of them was overrated and the other underrated back in 2008, particularly in light of the respective offices for which they were running. It may have had something to do with a media organizing itself to push a misleading narrative. I want to go on record as supporting the constitutional right to build the Ground Zero mosque while clarifying that I do not necessarily mean it is a wise use of rights. Is there an award for courageous blogging?

Barack Obama’s clarification of his “let me be clear” statement on the Ground Zero mosque (and subsequent clarification of his clarification) is reminiscent of his 2008 “let me be clear” statement on Jerusalem — when he told 7,000 people at AIPAC that the city “must remain undivided” and then repeatedly clarified his “poor phrasing,” finally endorsing a divided Jerusalem while claiming he had not backtracked from his initial statement.

Students of foreign policy may be bemused and somewhat alarmed to see this happening again. In both cases, Obama’s statements were prepared remarks on an important issue with foreign-policy implications, followed by retreats in the face of criticism, followed by denials that they were retreats, amid widespread recognition that they were, in fact, retreats. It was not an attractive quality in a candidate, and it is a dangerous one in a president.

Sarah Palin noted on her Facebook page that we “all know they have the right to do it [build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3,000 people], but should they?” She suggested the president endorse the New York governor’s offer of assistance for finding an alternative location. The New York Sun editorialized that she had made a practical proposal while speaking more forthrightly than the famously eloquent president, raising this question:

How did one of the most intellectual presidents in history, a constitutional law professor with a government-provided staff of legal experts and policy geniuses and an ability, rarely if ever matched, to speak in lofty tones, manage to get himself in a position where he will end up following the lead of an ex-governor who has been constantly set down by the left as but a one-time beauty queen without brains and who has been watching the whole fracas from a lake-side camp at Alaska?

Possibly one of them was overrated and the other underrated back in 2008, particularly in light of the respective offices for which they were running. It may have had something to do with a media organizing itself to push a misleading narrative. I want to go on record as supporting the constitutional right to build the Ground Zero mosque while clarifying that I do not necessarily mean it is a wise use of rights. Is there an award for courageous blogging?

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Flotsam and Jetsam

You can’t parody Joe Biden if he’s going to talk this way: “My grandfather used to always say, ‘Joey, you have to have somebody to beat somebody.’”

You can’t get more blunt than this ad on Iran.

You can’t find any evidence of a “civil war” between conservatives in Gallup’s polling on Tea Party activists: “Americans who say they support the Tea Party movement share a common concern about government and its scope, particularly with regard to deficit spending. Their views do set them apart from those who are neutral or opposed to the Tea Party movement, but hardly distinguish them from supporters of the Republican Party more broadly.”

You can’t be seen with Obama if you’re a Democrat who wants to win in 2010: “PPP has polled on the impact of a Barack Obama endorsement in 5 key Senate races over the last month, and it’s looking more and more clear that there’s just about nowhere Democratic candidates would benefit from having the President come to campaign with them.”

You can’t miss the telltale sign that Obama is doing something unpopular: he says it’s all Eric Holder’s idea. “The White House has said the decision to challenge Arizona’s immigration law was out of its hands, left completely up to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the lawyers at the Justice Department.”

You can’t expect the president to go, so David Axelrod will appear at a fundraiser for Tony Rezko’s banker, Alexi Giannoulias. Meanwhile: “Giannoulias’ camp released his income tax returns last Friday, which showed that the ex-banker paid neither federal nor state taxes in ’09. In fact, Giannoulias received a $30K tax return, which he promised to give to charity.”

You can’t be reading things if you want to be a cable talking head! On the lawsuit claiming that the Arizona law is pre-empted by federal immigration law, Dana Perino sanely suggests: “Perhaps we should do something novel like read the complaint before commenting … surely the administration would appreciate that courtesy?”

You can’t imagine it was a long speech: “Queen Elizabeth II of England addressed the United Nations for the first time since 1957 on Tuesday, paying homage to the organization’s accomplishments since she last stood at the famous green podium of the General Assembly.”

You can’t parody Joe Biden if he’s going to talk this way: “My grandfather used to always say, ‘Joey, you have to have somebody to beat somebody.’”

You can’t get more blunt than this ad on Iran.

You can’t find any evidence of a “civil war” between conservatives in Gallup’s polling on Tea Party activists: “Americans who say they support the Tea Party movement share a common concern about government and its scope, particularly with regard to deficit spending. Their views do set them apart from those who are neutral or opposed to the Tea Party movement, but hardly distinguish them from supporters of the Republican Party more broadly.”

You can’t be seen with Obama if you’re a Democrat who wants to win in 2010: “PPP has polled on the impact of a Barack Obama endorsement in 5 key Senate races over the last month, and it’s looking more and more clear that there’s just about nowhere Democratic candidates would benefit from having the President come to campaign with them.”

You can’t miss the telltale sign that Obama is doing something unpopular: he says it’s all Eric Holder’s idea. “The White House has said the decision to challenge Arizona’s immigration law was out of its hands, left completely up to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the lawyers at the Justice Department.”

You can’t expect the president to go, so David Axelrod will appear at a fundraiser for Tony Rezko’s banker, Alexi Giannoulias. Meanwhile: “Giannoulias’ camp released his income tax returns last Friday, which showed that the ex-banker paid neither federal nor state taxes in ’09. In fact, Giannoulias received a $30K tax return, which he promised to give to charity.”

You can’t be reading things if you want to be a cable talking head! On the lawsuit claiming that the Arizona law is pre-empted by federal immigration law, Dana Perino sanely suggests: “Perhaps we should do something novel like read the complaint before commenting … surely the administration would appreciate that courtesy?”

You can’t imagine it was a long speech: “Queen Elizabeth II of England addressed the United Nations for the first time since 1957 on Tuesday, paying homage to the organization’s accomplishments since she last stood at the famous green podium of the General Assembly.”

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The Worst Mistake

In a Washington Post op-ed, Mitt Romney contends that the new START agreement “could be his worst foreign policy mistake yet.” He makes a powerful case against the treaty, pointing out that its most grievous flaw is that “America must effectively get Russia’s permission for any missile-defense expansion.”

I don’t dispute his conclusion (that “it must not be ratified”), but I’m more intrigued by the debate it raises: what is Obama’s worst foreign-policy mistake? I’d posit it definitely isn’t START, because that will not be ratified. But if not START, then what?

There are the appalling episodes (e.g., condemning Israel for progress on a building permit in its capital). There are the nearly inexplicable goofs (e.g., backing Hugo Chavez’s pawn in Honduras and then having to wriggle out once it became apparent that he was a raving anti-Semite and the whole country was behind the “coup”). There are the etiquette errors – iPod for the Queen, bows for the Saudi king, no cameras for the first Bibi visit, etc. There are the cringe-inducing apologies. (Which was worse: the video valentine to the Iranians in 2009, or remorse for dropping an atomic bomb on Japan that saved over a million lives?) There are the serial assaults on our allies (e.g., Poland and the Czech Republic over missile defense, Israel over everything). There is the shameful abandonment of human rights and democracy promotion. (Some incidents fit multiple categories, like snubbing the Dalai Lama.)

But all of those pale in comparison to the failure to devise a credible plan for thwarting a nuclear-armed Iran. Really, nothing comes close. Yes, he’s appeased Russia, but we’ve recovered from presidents who came up short against the Russian bear. And almost every other gaffe, error, and oversight can be repaired over time. However, a nuclear-armed Iran likely is forever. Not only will it pose an existential threat to Israel, unleash a nuclear-arms race, and embolden all of Iran’s terrorist surrogates, but it will also mark the epic failure of American power. We said “unacceptable,” but we let it happen. How’s that going to come across?

It’s still feasible to correct even this error, provided Obama is willing to use the threat of force and, if need be, force itself. However, if you doubt that Obama is capable and willing to do that, then his Iran policy becomes not only the worst foreign-policy mistake of his presidency, but arguably ever.

In a Washington Post op-ed, Mitt Romney contends that the new START agreement “could be his worst foreign policy mistake yet.” He makes a powerful case against the treaty, pointing out that its most grievous flaw is that “America must effectively get Russia’s permission for any missile-defense expansion.”

I don’t dispute his conclusion (that “it must not be ratified”), but I’m more intrigued by the debate it raises: what is Obama’s worst foreign-policy mistake? I’d posit it definitely isn’t START, because that will not be ratified. But if not START, then what?

There are the appalling episodes (e.g., condemning Israel for progress on a building permit in its capital). There are the nearly inexplicable goofs (e.g., backing Hugo Chavez’s pawn in Honduras and then having to wriggle out once it became apparent that he was a raving anti-Semite and the whole country was behind the “coup”). There are the etiquette errors – iPod for the Queen, bows for the Saudi king, no cameras for the first Bibi visit, etc. There are the cringe-inducing apologies. (Which was worse: the video valentine to the Iranians in 2009, or remorse for dropping an atomic bomb on Japan that saved over a million lives?) There are the serial assaults on our allies (e.g., Poland and the Czech Republic over missile defense, Israel over everything). There is the shameful abandonment of human rights and democracy promotion. (Some incidents fit multiple categories, like snubbing the Dalai Lama.)

But all of those pale in comparison to the failure to devise a credible plan for thwarting a nuclear-armed Iran. Really, nothing comes close. Yes, he’s appeased Russia, but we’ve recovered from presidents who came up short against the Russian bear. And almost every other gaffe, error, and oversight can be repaired over time. However, a nuclear-armed Iran likely is forever. Not only will it pose an existential threat to Israel, unleash a nuclear-arms race, and embolden all of Iran’s terrorist surrogates, but it will also mark the epic failure of American power. We said “unacceptable,” but we let it happen. How’s that going to come across?

It’s still feasible to correct even this error, provided Obama is willing to use the threat of force and, if need be, force itself. However, if you doubt that Obama is capable and willing to do that, then his Iran policy becomes not only the worst foreign-policy mistake of his presidency, but arguably ever.

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The Worst Brit PM: Loser of the Colonies or Appeaser of Hitler?

As we await the results of today’s British elections, it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm about the outcome, given the dismal choices facing the voters there. David Cameron, the not-very-conservative Conservative leader who doesn’t appear to be much of a friend to the United States, might be the best of the lot compared with Gordon Brown and Labour, and especially with the hard-left anti-Israel venom emanating from the Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg, but that is to damn Cameron with faint praise.

But whoever the next resident of No. 10 Downing Street may be, the Times of London has provided readers with an interesting feature about his predecessors, ranking the top 50 British prime ministers. A panel of political writers and journalists — not historians — composed the list, but it still is enough to spark a lively conversation about the subject.

At the top of the list (no surprise here) is Winston Churchill, though it should be noted that the panel wasn’t unanimous about the choice, with one of the members voting for the overall No. 2 choice: David Lloyd George, who led Britain to victory during World War One. The rest of the top 10 were: William Gladstone, William Pitt the Younger, Margaret Thatcher, Sir Robert Peel, Clement Atlee, Earl Grey (it pays to have a tea named after you), Robert Walpole, and Benjamin Disraeli. (In case his buddy George W. Bush is interested, Tony Blair was ranked number 16, tied with the elder William Pitt.)

More curious than the leaders in the poll, most of whom are obvious choices, were the ones at the bottom. For those of us whose view of 20th century British history was primarily formed by our interest in the battle between Churchill and the “guilty men” who appeased Hitler, it is fascinating to note that while Neville Chamberlain’s name is synonymous with infamy, the Times panel thinks that he wasn’t really all that bad, ranking him at 34th, which is not so good but far from the bottom. Interestingly, fellow appeaser Stanley Baldwin, who preceded Chamberlain, was ranked fairly high at 14th, apparently because of the slick way he handled the abdication of Queen Elizabeth’s uncle the Duke of Windsor.

So who did the panel think were the worst prime ministers? Interestingly, the bottom three of this list of 49 men and one woman were the three Brits who lost the American colonies: Lord George Granville, the Duke of Grafton, and Lord North (1770-1782), who was the last and the least. There’s no question that these three were terrible British leaders, but I’m not exactly sure what it says about the Times of London — or Britain for that matter — that their panel thinks the creation of the United States was a greater disaster for their country than a policy of appeasement that led to a global war and to Auschwitz. I’d have thought that our friends across the pond had gotten over the results of the Battle of Yorktown a long while ago, but perhaps now that President Obama has put an end to the “special relationship” with Britain, the chasm between our two nations — divided, as G.B. Shaw said, by “a common language,” is even greater than we could have imagined.

As we await the results of today’s British elections, it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm about the outcome, given the dismal choices facing the voters there. David Cameron, the not-very-conservative Conservative leader who doesn’t appear to be much of a friend to the United States, might be the best of the lot compared with Gordon Brown and Labour, and especially with the hard-left anti-Israel venom emanating from the Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg, but that is to damn Cameron with faint praise.

But whoever the next resident of No. 10 Downing Street may be, the Times of London has provided readers with an interesting feature about his predecessors, ranking the top 50 British prime ministers. A panel of political writers and journalists — not historians — composed the list, but it still is enough to spark a lively conversation about the subject.

At the top of the list (no surprise here) is Winston Churchill, though it should be noted that the panel wasn’t unanimous about the choice, with one of the members voting for the overall No. 2 choice: David Lloyd George, who led Britain to victory during World War One. The rest of the top 10 were: William Gladstone, William Pitt the Younger, Margaret Thatcher, Sir Robert Peel, Clement Atlee, Earl Grey (it pays to have a tea named after you), Robert Walpole, and Benjamin Disraeli. (In case his buddy George W. Bush is interested, Tony Blair was ranked number 16, tied with the elder William Pitt.)

More curious than the leaders in the poll, most of whom are obvious choices, were the ones at the bottom. For those of us whose view of 20th century British history was primarily formed by our interest in the battle between Churchill and the “guilty men” who appeased Hitler, it is fascinating to note that while Neville Chamberlain’s name is synonymous with infamy, the Times panel thinks that he wasn’t really all that bad, ranking him at 34th, which is not so good but far from the bottom. Interestingly, fellow appeaser Stanley Baldwin, who preceded Chamberlain, was ranked fairly high at 14th, apparently because of the slick way he handled the abdication of Queen Elizabeth’s uncle the Duke of Windsor.

So who did the panel think were the worst prime ministers? Interestingly, the bottom three of this list of 49 men and one woman were the three Brits who lost the American colonies: Lord George Granville, the Duke of Grafton, and Lord North (1770-1782), who was the last and the least. There’s no question that these three were terrible British leaders, but I’m not exactly sure what it says about the Times of London — or Britain for that matter — that their panel thinks the creation of the United States was a greater disaster for their country than a policy of appeasement that led to a global war and to Auschwitz. I’d have thought that our friends across the pond had gotten over the results of the Battle of Yorktown a long while ago, but perhaps now that President Obama has put an end to the “special relationship” with Britain, the chasm between our two nations — divided, as G.B. Shaw said, by “a common language,” is even greater than we could have imagined.

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Strange Herring

I know that Iran is close to getting a bomb, and the national debt now exceeds the number of calories in a KFC Double Down, and earthquakes are killing thousands of people worldwide, but this is serious.

Speaking of earthquakes, according to one expert, naughtiness causes them. Whether he’s an expert on naughtiness or seismic activity is unclear.

Blago wants the court to subpoena the president of the United States as a witness in his corruption trial. Just picture that scene… There are also all kinds of alleged allegations allegedly alleged against the alleged pres — the president.

If you’re looking to raise the I.Q. of your kiddies, Mensa’s here to help. Years ago I devised one of my own brainiac games. It was called Cromwell and was like chess, only the king, the queen, and the bishops were all dead. Two new pieces were added: this guy Phil and his young son Leonard, who played the lute. Tournaments could last years, as no one was sure of the object, given that pieces could not only move in any direction for any number of spaces but also across boards, even games, so that a knight could wind up owning Park Place. Needless to say, it failed to catch on, but it did catch fire, which landed me in court more than once. Then I turned 12.

Who needs nukes when you can have one of these thingees: “the Prompt Global Strike warhead would be mounted on a long-range missile to start its journey toward a target. It would travel through the atmosphere at several times the speed of sound, generating so much heat that it would have to be shielded with special materials to avoid melting.” Wow. That’s almost as fast as it took Benjamin Netanyahu to say feh to Obama’s mini-nukes summit…

Those animation farceurs Trey Parker and Matt Stone have had their lives threatened by an Islamic website, which is “annoyed” that Mohammad was depicted — in a bear costume. Never mind that Siddhartha Gautama has been shown snorting lines of coke, or that Jesus, whom Christians believe to be a divine person and not merely a prophet or a supremely enlightened avatar, is regularly reduced to, well, a cartoon. Given what was done to Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, the threat is no joke.

But wait: turns out Comedy Central censored the episode and saved their lives! — if not their artistic integrity. (All right, all right, but these things are relative, you know…)

Chachi has a Twitter account. And he definitely does not love Joanie, if Joanie is another one of those bleeding-heart commie Hollywood liberals. (So he just never wants to work again, is that it?)

This has been a long time in coming, ladies and gentlemen, and now finally, finally, we can rest easy.

A software engineer and a next-generation iPhone walk into a bar

Mum and daughter are banned from Euro Disney because they were dressed as princesses. Man, the French take their revolution seriously…

New $100 bills will have hidden images running vertically. Will depict dogs playing poker, sad clowns, and Elvis on velvet.

Those hysterical Hitler-parody rants on YouTube? History.

A drunken sailor takes offense. (H/T Midwest Conservative Journal)

I want one of these, but only if it comes with Surround Sound.

One of the guys who voice the Geico ads has been fired for bad-mouthing Tea Partiers. Forget car insurance, thank goodness for unemployment insurance.

When will the hate finally stop?

Finally, for those who hate the Yankees, witness their first triple play in 350 years. Yes, not since Ezekiel Fear-the-Lord threw to Samuel Temperance Search-the-Scriptures, who tossed it to Elijah Miserable Reprobate has New York seen such a thing…

I know that Iran is close to getting a bomb, and the national debt now exceeds the number of calories in a KFC Double Down, and earthquakes are killing thousands of people worldwide, but this is serious.

Speaking of earthquakes, according to one expert, naughtiness causes them. Whether he’s an expert on naughtiness or seismic activity is unclear.

Blago wants the court to subpoena the president of the United States as a witness in his corruption trial. Just picture that scene… There are also all kinds of alleged allegations allegedly alleged against the alleged pres — the president.

If you’re looking to raise the I.Q. of your kiddies, Mensa’s here to help. Years ago I devised one of my own brainiac games. It was called Cromwell and was like chess, only the king, the queen, and the bishops were all dead. Two new pieces were added: this guy Phil and his young son Leonard, who played the lute. Tournaments could last years, as no one was sure of the object, given that pieces could not only move in any direction for any number of spaces but also across boards, even games, so that a knight could wind up owning Park Place. Needless to say, it failed to catch on, but it did catch fire, which landed me in court more than once. Then I turned 12.

Who needs nukes when you can have one of these thingees: “the Prompt Global Strike warhead would be mounted on a long-range missile to start its journey toward a target. It would travel through the atmosphere at several times the speed of sound, generating so much heat that it would have to be shielded with special materials to avoid melting.” Wow. That’s almost as fast as it took Benjamin Netanyahu to say feh to Obama’s mini-nukes summit…

Those animation farceurs Trey Parker and Matt Stone have had their lives threatened by an Islamic website, which is “annoyed” that Mohammad was depicted — in a bear costume. Never mind that Siddhartha Gautama has been shown snorting lines of coke, or that Jesus, whom Christians believe to be a divine person and not merely a prophet or a supremely enlightened avatar, is regularly reduced to, well, a cartoon. Given what was done to Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, the threat is no joke.

But wait: turns out Comedy Central censored the episode and saved their lives! — if not their artistic integrity. (All right, all right, but these things are relative, you know…)

Chachi has a Twitter account. And he definitely does not love Joanie, if Joanie is another one of those bleeding-heart commie Hollywood liberals. (So he just never wants to work again, is that it?)

This has been a long time in coming, ladies and gentlemen, and now finally, finally, we can rest easy.

A software engineer and a next-generation iPhone walk into a bar

Mum and daughter are banned from Euro Disney because they were dressed as princesses. Man, the French take their revolution seriously…

New $100 bills will have hidden images running vertically. Will depict dogs playing poker, sad clowns, and Elvis on velvet.

Those hysterical Hitler-parody rants on YouTube? History.

A drunken sailor takes offense. (H/T Midwest Conservative Journal)

I want one of these, but only if it comes with Surround Sound.

One of the guys who voice the Geico ads has been fired for bad-mouthing Tea Partiers. Forget car insurance, thank goodness for unemployment insurance.

When will the hate finally stop?

Finally, for those who hate the Yankees, witness their first triple play in 350 years. Yes, not since Ezekiel Fear-the-Lord threw to Samuel Temperance Search-the-Scriptures, who tossed it to Elijah Miserable Reprobate has New York seen such a thing…

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Spinning Obama’s Foreign-Policy Flops

Earlier this month, Jackson Diehl detailed Obama’s lack of success in forging productive relationships with foreign leaders. Now Obama’s dutiful flacks and media handmaidens take to the front page of Diehl’s paper to explain Obama was merely making use of his “charisma.” Now he is getting around to those relationships. There is this jaw-dropping bit of spin:

The change from a year ago is stark. In his widely broadcast address in Cairo last June, Obama called Israeli settlements in the occupied territories “illegitimate.” By contrast, he met last week at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for two hours, urging him privately to freeze Jewish settlement construction.

What relationship is Obama making use of there? If this is Obama’s idea of a forging bonds with foreign leaders (condemning his country, reading the prime minister the riot act, twice snubbing Netanyahu during his White House visits), our foreign-policy apparatus surely is guilty of gross malfeasance. Then the blind quotes are trotted out to — surprise, surprise — ding George W. Bush and explain how Obama’s newfound personal diplomacy is vastly superior to his predecessor’s:

“Obama is not the sort of guy who looks for a best buddy, and that’s very different than Bush,” said a European diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about perceptions of U.S. leaders abroad. “Sometimes being too personal is not a good thing. You can make mistakes.”

No, Obama is the sort of guy who returns the Winston Churchill bust, gives Gordon Brown and the Queen of England cheap-o gifts, bows to dictators, and slams the elected prime minister of Israel. Completely different. But even the Washington Post must concede that Obama has not forged really any productive relationships with world leaders:

Obama, who was an Illinois state senator just four years before he was elected president, knew few world leaders upon taking office. Since then, he has developed mostly arm’s-length relationships with fellow heads of state, including many from developing countries that previous presidents largely ignored or shunned to protect U.S. relationships with more traditional allies.

Let’s get real — Obama has not really used his charisma to promote anything but himself:

Republican critics say the approach has unsettled the United States’ best friends, and failed more than succeeded in promoting American interests on some of the most far-reaching foreign policy challenges of the day.

Obama’s direct appeal to the people of China and Iran[ Did we miss this? Was he championing democracy at some point?], for example, has produced little change in the attitude of their governments, showing the limits of a bottom-up approach when it comes to dealing with authoritarian countries. Middle East peace talks remain moribund after the administration’s so-far-unsuccessful attempts to end Israeli settlement construction or to persuade Arab governments to make even token diplomatic gestures toward the Jewish state.

As Simon Serfaty of theCenter for Strategic and International Studies notes, “He is beginning to face a crisis of efficacy.” In other words, despite all the reverential treatment by liberal elites, Obama has yet to develop effective ties with allies or used public diplomacy to further American interests. His infatuation with dictatorial regimes, his embrace of multilateralism, and his willingness to kick allies (e.g., Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, Britain, Honduras) in the shins have left America more isolated and rogue states more emboldened than ever before. An assessment from Der Spiegel put it this way, recalling Obama’s Cairo speech (which the Obami still laud as an achievement of some sort):

The applause for Obama’s Cairo speech died away in the vast expanses of the Arabian Desert long ago. “He says all the right things, but implementation is exactly the way it has always been,” says Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.

Obama’s failure in the Middle East is but one example of his weakness, though a particularly drastic and vivid one. The president, widely celebrated when he took office, cannot claim to have achieved sweeping successes in any area. When he began his term more than a year ago, he came across as an ambitious developer who had every intention of completing multiple projects at once. But after a year, none of those projects has even progressed beyond the early construction phase. And in some cases, the sites are nothing but deep excavations. … Obama can hardly count on gaining the support of allies, partly because he doesn’t pay much attention to them. The American president doesn’t have a single strong ally among European heads of state

Perhaps less time spent crafting stories for the Post and more time working on a viable foreign policy built on American interests rather than Obama’s ego would be in order.

Earlier this month, Jackson Diehl detailed Obama’s lack of success in forging productive relationships with foreign leaders. Now Obama’s dutiful flacks and media handmaidens take to the front page of Diehl’s paper to explain Obama was merely making use of his “charisma.” Now he is getting around to those relationships. There is this jaw-dropping bit of spin:

The change from a year ago is stark. In his widely broadcast address in Cairo last June, Obama called Israeli settlements in the occupied territories “illegitimate.” By contrast, he met last week at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for two hours, urging him privately to freeze Jewish settlement construction.

What relationship is Obama making use of there? If this is Obama’s idea of a forging bonds with foreign leaders (condemning his country, reading the prime minister the riot act, twice snubbing Netanyahu during his White House visits), our foreign-policy apparatus surely is guilty of gross malfeasance. Then the blind quotes are trotted out to — surprise, surprise — ding George W. Bush and explain how Obama’s newfound personal diplomacy is vastly superior to his predecessor’s:

“Obama is not the sort of guy who looks for a best buddy, and that’s very different than Bush,” said a European diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about perceptions of U.S. leaders abroad. “Sometimes being too personal is not a good thing. You can make mistakes.”

No, Obama is the sort of guy who returns the Winston Churchill bust, gives Gordon Brown and the Queen of England cheap-o gifts, bows to dictators, and slams the elected prime minister of Israel. Completely different. But even the Washington Post must concede that Obama has not forged really any productive relationships with world leaders:

Obama, who was an Illinois state senator just four years before he was elected president, knew few world leaders upon taking office. Since then, he has developed mostly arm’s-length relationships with fellow heads of state, including many from developing countries that previous presidents largely ignored or shunned to protect U.S. relationships with more traditional allies.

Let’s get real — Obama has not really used his charisma to promote anything but himself:

Republican critics say the approach has unsettled the United States’ best friends, and failed more than succeeded in promoting American interests on some of the most far-reaching foreign policy challenges of the day.

Obama’s direct appeal to the people of China and Iran[ Did we miss this? Was he championing democracy at some point?], for example, has produced little change in the attitude of their governments, showing the limits of a bottom-up approach when it comes to dealing with authoritarian countries. Middle East peace talks remain moribund after the administration’s so-far-unsuccessful attempts to end Israeli settlement construction or to persuade Arab governments to make even token diplomatic gestures toward the Jewish state.

As Simon Serfaty of theCenter for Strategic and International Studies notes, “He is beginning to face a crisis of efficacy.” In other words, despite all the reverential treatment by liberal elites, Obama has yet to develop effective ties with allies or used public diplomacy to further American interests. His infatuation with dictatorial regimes, his embrace of multilateralism, and his willingness to kick allies (e.g., Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, Britain, Honduras) in the shins have left America more isolated and rogue states more emboldened than ever before. An assessment from Der Spiegel put it this way, recalling Obama’s Cairo speech (which the Obami still laud as an achievement of some sort):

The applause for Obama’s Cairo speech died away in the vast expanses of the Arabian Desert long ago. “He says all the right things, but implementation is exactly the way it has always been,” says Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.

Obama’s failure in the Middle East is but one example of his weakness, though a particularly drastic and vivid one. The president, widely celebrated when he took office, cannot claim to have achieved sweeping successes in any area. When he began his term more than a year ago, he came across as an ambitious developer who had every intention of completing multiple projects at once. But after a year, none of those projects has even progressed beyond the early construction phase. And in some cases, the sites are nothing but deep excavations. … Obama can hardly count on gaining the support of allies, partly because he doesn’t pay much attention to them. The American president doesn’t have a single strong ally among European heads of state

Perhaps less time spent crafting stories for the Post and more time working on a viable foreign policy built on American interests rather than Obama’s ego would be in order.

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What a Great Idea

 It has perhaps happened before in American politics but not that I can remember. As the Times reported it,

At a moment when the country is as polarized as ever, Mr. Obama traveled to a House Republican retreat on Friday to try to break through the partisan logjam that has helped stall his legislative agenda. What ensued was a lively, robust debate between a president and the opposition party that rarely happens in the scripted world of American politics.

It made for fascinating television and the media would love for it to become a regular feature of American government. The analogy is to questioning time in the House of Commons, when the prime minister is grilled by the opposition, who have no reason to be polite—or even fair. Great political theater sometimes happens (and great political wit too, something rare in this country).  The State of the Union speech is analogous to the Queen’s speech from the throne (except the Lords, who are seated, and members of the Commons, who stand, don’t jump up and down every thirty seconds applauding wildly—another good idea we might adopt from the British).

As Charles Krauthammer pointed out last night on Fox, the president is half king and half prime minister, head of both state and government. As head of state, he is trapped inside the White House bubble. Perhaps that’s why President Obama was apparently genuinely surprised when he learned that some Republicans regard him as an ideologue. “I am not an ideologue,” the Times reported him saying. When he drew “skeptical murmurs from the crowd,” he insisted “I’m not.” Of course, if you spend half your day talking with Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod, it is probably easy to think that hard Left is the path of pragmatism.

So getting out in the real world and taking questions from the Congressmen of the other party on a regular basis would be a useful reality check for presidents both Democratic and Republican. Reporters can’t fill that role. They know that if they are too aggressive in their questioning, they will find their access to White House personnel curtailed. And White House press conferences have become increasingly scripted anyway.

So I hope something like this will become standard, much as debates have become standard in major political races (although the debate formats need to be reformed to produce tougher questions and less scripted answers).

By the way, John McCain promised during the campaign that he would, as president, do exactly this. President Obama might be gracious enough (I won’t hold my breath—graciousness is not his long suit) to acknowledge this.

 It has perhaps happened before in American politics but not that I can remember. As the Times reported it,

At a moment when the country is as polarized as ever, Mr. Obama traveled to a House Republican retreat on Friday to try to break through the partisan logjam that has helped stall his legislative agenda. What ensued was a lively, robust debate between a president and the opposition party that rarely happens in the scripted world of American politics.

It made for fascinating television and the media would love for it to become a regular feature of American government. The analogy is to questioning time in the House of Commons, when the prime minister is grilled by the opposition, who have no reason to be polite—or even fair. Great political theater sometimes happens (and great political wit too, something rare in this country).  The State of the Union speech is analogous to the Queen’s speech from the throne (except the Lords, who are seated, and members of the Commons, who stand, don’t jump up and down every thirty seconds applauding wildly—another good idea we might adopt from the British).

As Charles Krauthammer pointed out last night on Fox, the president is half king and half prime minister, head of both state and government. As head of state, he is trapped inside the White House bubble. Perhaps that’s why President Obama was apparently genuinely surprised when he learned that some Republicans regard him as an ideologue. “I am not an ideologue,” the Times reported him saying. When he drew “skeptical murmurs from the crowd,” he insisted “I’m not.” Of course, if you spend half your day talking with Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod, it is probably easy to think that hard Left is the path of pragmatism.

So getting out in the real world and taking questions from the Congressmen of the other party on a regular basis would be a useful reality check for presidents both Democratic and Republican. Reporters can’t fill that role. They know that if they are too aggressive in their questioning, they will find their access to White House personnel curtailed. And White House press conferences have become increasingly scripted anyway.

So I hope something like this will become standard, much as debates have become standard in major political races (although the debate formats need to be reformed to produce tougher questions and less scripted answers).

By the way, John McCain promised during the campaign that he would, as president, do exactly this. President Obama might be gracious enough (I won’t hold my breath—graciousness is not his long suit) to acknowledge this.

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The SOTU Response

Newly elected Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has been picked to deliver the State of the Union response for the Republicans. Let me be the first to offer condolences. It’s a thankless task and fraught with peril. As I’ve noted before, many a political career has been stalled by a mediocre outing. But hopefully someone on McDonnell’s staff has nixed using any setting that might give the appearance of an antebellum mansion, and no one will let him walk down the stairs like a prom queen.

But jokes aside, McDonnell is as a fairly savvy choice for a number of reasons. First, he’s not likely to screw up. This is a highly disciplined politician who survived the Washington Post onslaught and an avalanche of negative ads, never losing his cool during the campaign. He won by not just stating his opposition to Obama’s agenda but explaining why ordinary voters should oppose it too. That is precisely the task he’ll have in responding to the State of the Union.

Second, McDonnell won big in November, showing that there’s a viable Right-Center coalition that can turn out a large majority for Republicans in states that just a year ago went comfortably for Obama. In the wake of the Scott Brown mega-upset, that’s a powerful message and encouragement for those waging — or contemplating waging — battles around the country.

And finally, McDonnell’s tone is perfect for this sort of thing — calm, pleasant, upbeat, and reasoned. (Hey, if Obama goes partisan firebrand, McDonnell could be construed as the one with the superior temperament.) That too was part of his appeal last November with both women and suburban independent voters who don’t much like fiery rhetoric.

McDonnell married both populist anger and smart policy to win a key swing state. That’s a model Republicans want to advertise — and why McDonnell was given the spot. If he avoids the pitfalls of those who came before him (save the props, don’t aim too high, avoid quirky behavior), he and his party will get a lift, albeit a small one, considering that not a whole lot of people remember the response to the State of the Union anyway. Unless it’s really bad.

Newly elected Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has been picked to deliver the State of the Union response for the Republicans. Let me be the first to offer condolences. It’s a thankless task and fraught with peril. As I’ve noted before, many a political career has been stalled by a mediocre outing. But hopefully someone on McDonnell’s staff has nixed using any setting that might give the appearance of an antebellum mansion, and no one will let him walk down the stairs like a prom queen.

But jokes aside, McDonnell is as a fairly savvy choice for a number of reasons. First, he’s not likely to screw up. This is a highly disciplined politician who survived the Washington Post onslaught and an avalanche of negative ads, never losing his cool during the campaign. He won by not just stating his opposition to Obama’s agenda but explaining why ordinary voters should oppose it too. That is precisely the task he’ll have in responding to the State of the Union.

Second, McDonnell won big in November, showing that there’s a viable Right-Center coalition that can turn out a large majority for Republicans in states that just a year ago went comfortably for Obama. In the wake of the Scott Brown mega-upset, that’s a powerful message and encouragement for those waging — or contemplating waging — battles around the country.

And finally, McDonnell’s tone is perfect for this sort of thing — calm, pleasant, upbeat, and reasoned. (Hey, if Obama goes partisan firebrand, McDonnell could be construed as the one with the superior temperament.) That too was part of his appeal last November with both women and suburban independent voters who don’t much like fiery rhetoric.

McDonnell married both populist anger and smart policy to win a key swing state. That’s a model Republicans want to advertise — and why McDonnell was given the spot. If he avoids the pitfalls of those who came before him (save the props, don’t aim too high, avoid quirky behavior), he and his party will get a lift, albeit a small one, considering that not a whole lot of people remember the response to the State of the Union anyway. Unless it’s really bad.

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Andrew Roberts’ History Lesson

Andrew Roberts, Britain’s distinguished historian, has an important front-page article in the Jewish Press, entitled “Israel’s Fair-Weather British Friends” – a survey of the history of British diplomatic betrayals and genteel anti-Semitism that should be read in its entirety.

Here’s a remarkable fact about the Queen’s travels, which are controlled by the British Foreign Office:

Though the queen has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 different countries during her reign, neither she nor any other member of the British royal family has ever been to Israel on an official visit. …

But the Foreign Office has somehow managed to find the time over the years to send the queen on state visits to Libya, Iran, Sudan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan and Turkey. So it can’t have been that she wasn’t in the area.

Perhaps Her Majesty hasn’t been on the throne long enough, at 57 years, for the Foreign Office to get around to allowing her to visit one of the only democracies in the Middle East.

Barack Obama has been in office for 56 fewer years than the Queen, but he did a remarkable amount of traveling last year – including three trips to Scandinavia alone (to make a pitch, receive a prize, and negotiate a non-binding agreement) — without visiting Israel. He went to Egypt to give a speech and to Saudi Arabia to make a bow, and to Turkey on another trip, so it couldn’t have been that he wasn’t in the area.

The absence of a trip to Israel was one of many signals he gave over the past year that he wanted to put daylight between the U.S. and Israel – something that did not go unnoticed across the political spectrum in Israel. Haaretz’s Yoel Marcus, one of the most liberal columnists in the country, argued that Obama should “come to Israel and declare here courageously, before the entire world, that our connection to this land began long before the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Holocaust; and that 4,000 years ago, Jews already stood on the ground where he is standing.” Aluf Benn, another prominent Haaretz columnist, used the op-ed page of  the New York Times to urge Obama to come to Israel to talk directly to its citizens. Those pleas, made six months ago, produced no response.

Roberts observes that if Israel “decides preemptively to strike against [the Iranian] threat – as Nelson preemptively sank the Danish Fleet at Copenhagen and Churchill preemptively sank the Vichy Fleet at Oran – then it can expect nothing but condemnation from the British Foreign Office.” He advises Israel to ignore it — “because Britain has only ever really been at best a fair weather friend to Israel.”

Britain’s disregard for Israel is an historical embarrassment. The disregard by the American president is a matter of current importance. Israel struck preemptively the incipient nuclear program of Iraq in 1981 and that of Syria in 2007; it found itself required to strike preemptively against Egypt in 1967. If it finds itself in a position of having to strike preemptively again, it will be because of an American failure to deal with a problem that casts its shadow beyond Israel, aggravated by the signals of the president’s uncertain support of one of the very rare democracies in the Middle East.

Andrew Roberts, Britain’s distinguished historian, has an important front-page article in the Jewish Press, entitled “Israel’s Fair-Weather British Friends” – a survey of the history of British diplomatic betrayals and genteel anti-Semitism that should be read in its entirety.

Here’s a remarkable fact about the Queen’s travels, which are controlled by the British Foreign Office:

Though the queen has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 different countries during her reign, neither she nor any other member of the British royal family has ever been to Israel on an official visit. …

But the Foreign Office has somehow managed to find the time over the years to send the queen on state visits to Libya, Iran, Sudan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan and Turkey. So it can’t have been that she wasn’t in the area.

Perhaps Her Majesty hasn’t been on the throne long enough, at 57 years, for the Foreign Office to get around to allowing her to visit one of the only democracies in the Middle East.

Barack Obama has been in office for 56 fewer years than the Queen, but he did a remarkable amount of traveling last year – including three trips to Scandinavia alone (to make a pitch, receive a prize, and negotiate a non-binding agreement) — without visiting Israel. He went to Egypt to give a speech and to Saudi Arabia to make a bow, and to Turkey on another trip, so it couldn’t have been that he wasn’t in the area.

The absence of a trip to Israel was one of many signals he gave over the past year that he wanted to put daylight between the U.S. and Israel – something that did not go unnoticed across the political spectrum in Israel. Haaretz’s Yoel Marcus, one of the most liberal columnists in the country, argued that Obama should “come to Israel and declare here courageously, before the entire world, that our connection to this land began long before the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Holocaust; and that 4,000 years ago, Jews already stood on the ground where he is standing.” Aluf Benn, another prominent Haaretz columnist, used the op-ed page of  the New York Times to urge Obama to come to Israel to talk directly to its citizens. Those pleas, made six months ago, produced no response.

Roberts observes that if Israel “decides preemptively to strike against [the Iranian] threat – as Nelson preemptively sank the Danish Fleet at Copenhagen and Churchill preemptively sank the Vichy Fleet at Oran – then it can expect nothing but condemnation from the British Foreign Office.” He advises Israel to ignore it — “because Britain has only ever really been at best a fair weather friend to Israel.”

Britain’s disregard for Israel is an historical embarrassment. The disregard by the American president is a matter of current importance. Israel struck preemptively the incipient nuclear program of Iraq in 1981 and that of Syria in 2007; it found itself required to strike preemptively against Egypt in 1967. If it finds itself in a position of having to strike preemptively again, it will be because of an American failure to deal with a problem that casts its shadow beyond Israel, aggravated by the signals of the president’s uncertain support of one of the very rare democracies in the Middle East.

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Climate in Wonderland

“[T]he different branches of arithmetic — Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.”
— The Mock Turtle, Lewis Carroll’s
Alice in Wonderland

The global climate debate bears an increasing resemblance to Alice’s interview with the White Queen. The world’s hardworking climate agencies can’t seem to issue a single proclamation without contrary evidence popping up, as if on cue, somewhere else. That doesn’t, of course, stop the agencies from issuing proclamations, however much they may deviate from the reality certified to a weary public by actual data.

After yesterday’s leak of the “Danish text,” a backroom proposal for a Copenhagen agreement that has the G-77 developing nations in an uproar, it looked like we had identified this climate summit’s Most Ridiculous Moment — and it was a wholly political one. But today the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has gone the authors of the Danish text one better and announced that the current decade, 2000-2009, is on track to be the “warmest since records began in 1850.”

One wonders whom the WMO imagines to be its audience for such a counterfactual pronouncement. More than one online news outlet has responded promptly with links to the celebrated reports from climate scientists in the past two years that global average temperatures have actually been falling since 1998.

But if that’s not enough to tone down the WMO, perhaps this is: a remarkable study performed by Australian Willis Eschenbach of temperature data from Darwin, on Australia’s north coast, in its raw versus “homogenized” state (h/t: Hot Air). The latter state reflects manipulation of the data by climate scientists at East Anglia University — Climategate U. — to homogenize it for the representation of long-term trends. Such homogenization is, in principle, a perfectly legitimate practice; but in my experience (largely dealing with wave propagation for maritime applications), the manipulation doesn’t, if performed properly, change the direction of the trend line of a data set.

Eschenbach’s eye-opening analysis shows that for the Darwin observation area, the homogenization of temperature data by the East Anglia Climate Research Unit produced a trend line that moves upward, whereas the raw temperature observations show a downward trend over the same 120-year period. Eschenbach’s summary is short, readable, and well worth the time. The graphics alone are head shakers. Not since McIntyre and McKittrick debunked the “Hockey Stick” graph have I seen such compelling evidence of the improper manipulation of climate data.

There just isn’t a “scientific” excuse for data homogenization to turn a long-term downward trend into an upward one. The “Climate in Wonderland” debate is taking Benjamin Disraeli’s famous aphorism about “lies, damned lies, and statistics” to a whole new level. There may be some comfort in the knowledge that this pattern in human discourse has been with us for some time. But Disraeli spoke from an era that had not yet seen Nazi Germany, the USSR, or Communist China. The cost of ignoring the statistical manipulation done to advance political causes has gone up exponentially since Disraeli’s century.

“[T]he different branches of arithmetic — Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.”
— The Mock Turtle, Lewis Carroll’s
Alice in Wonderland

The global climate debate bears an increasing resemblance to Alice’s interview with the White Queen. The world’s hardworking climate agencies can’t seem to issue a single proclamation without contrary evidence popping up, as if on cue, somewhere else. That doesn’t, of course, stop the agencies from issuing proclamations, however much they may deviate from the reality certified to a weary public by actual data.

After yesterday’s leak of the “Danish text,” a backroom proposal for a Copenhagen agreement that has the G-77 developing nations in an uproar, it looked like we had identified this climate summit’s Most Ridiculous Moment — and it was a wholly political one. But today the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has gone the authors of the Danish text one better and announced that the current decade, 2000-2009, is on track to be the “warmest since records began in 1850.”

One wonders whom the WMO imagines to be its audience for such a counterfactual pronouncement. More than one online news outlet has responded promptly with links to the celebrated reports from climate scientists in the past two years that global average temperatures have actually been falling since 1998.

But if that’s not enough to tone down the WMO, perhaps this is: a remarkable study performed by Australian Willis Eschenbach of temperature data from Darwin, on Australia’s north coast, in its raw versus “homogenized” state (h/t: Hot Air). The latter state reflects manipulation of the data by climate scientists at East Anglia University — Climategate U. — to homogenize it for the representation of long-term trends. Such homogenization is, in principle, a perfectly legitimate practice; but in my experience (largely dealing with wave propagation for maritime applications), the manipulation doesn’t, if performed properly, change the direction of the trend line of a data set.

Eschenbach’s eye-opening analysis shows that for the Darwin observation area, the homogenization of temperature data by the East Anglia Climate Research Unit produced a trend line that moves upward, whereas the raw temperature observations show a downward trend over the same 120-year period. Eschenbach’s summary is short, readable, and well worth the time. The graphics alone are head shakers. Not since McIntyre and McKittrick debunked the “Hockey Stick” graph have I seen such compelling evidence of the improper manipulation of climate data.

There just isn’t a “scientific” excuse for data homogenization to turn a long-term downward trend into an upward one. The “Climate in Wonderland” debate is taking Benjamin Disraeli’s famous aphorism about “lies, damned lies, and statistics” to a whole new level. There may be some comfort in the knowledge that this pattern in human discourse has been with us for some time. But Disraeli spoke from an era that had not yet seen Nazi Germany, the USSR, or Communist China. The cost of ignoring the statistical manipulation done to advance political causes has gone up exponentially since Disraeli’s century.

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Why Is Obama So Disrespectful of Britain?

The Daily Mail today points out (h/t Instapundit) that Barack Obama, as candidate and president, has not said a single word in a speech regarding the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. That overstates the case a bit, as he did, at least once, use the phrase at a press conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he visited Britain in April.

But the Daily Mail is right in general. Obama has been minimal, to say the least, in his treatment of Great Britain. In his speech at West Point last week, he did not mention Britain. This despite the fact that the British have been our staunchest ally in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where the British now have 10,000 soldiers and have suffered 237 killed, more than a hundred this year alone. That’s 15 percent of all deaths in Afghanistan and 25 percent of the number of soldiers the United States has lost there. In other words, Britain has lost more soldiers in Afghanistan, relative to its population, than has the United States. And its contribution to the war effort has been every bit as large relative to its economy.

Obama has not only mostly ignored our British ally, he has positively insulted them.  Hardly had he moved into the Oval Office when he ordered that a bronze bust of Winston Churchill be returned to the British embassy. It had been given to the White House, in a symbolic gesture of solidarity, shortly after 9/11 .

When Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited the White House in March, he was denied a joint press conference and a formal dinner, as is standard when world leaders have talks with the president. Brown gave the president a pen holder made from the timbers of HMS Gannet, which had played an active part in suppressing the slave trade in the early 19th century. He also gave him the commissioning papers of HMS Resolute, which had been trapped in arctic ice, abandoned, found by an American whaling vessel, purchased by Congress, and presented to Queen Victoria as a gesture of friendship. In 1880, after the Resolute was broken up, the Queen ordered two magnificent desks made from her timbers. One is in Buckingham Palace. The other was presented to President Rutherford B. Hayes and has been used by almost every president since, including Barack Obama.

Obama gave Brown, not a movie buff, a bunch of classic American films on DVDs that won’t even play on British DVD players.

Although Obama bowed deeply to the King of Saudi Arabia and the Emperor of Japan, when he met Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in April, a hand shake was deemed sufficient.

When Brown came to the United States for the UN General Assembly meeting and the G20 summit in September, Obama refused repeated requests by the British Foreign Office to meet privately with Brown, although he found time to meet with the presidents of Russia and China, and the Japanese prime minister.

Why is the Obama White House treating the British this way? What has it got to gain from deliberate rudeness, such as returning the gift of a bust of the man who in 1940 saved the world — including the United States – from “a new Dark Age, made more sinister and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science”?

Why treat Gordon Brown as though he headed the government of a banana republic rather than the world’s sixth-largest economy and one of the few friendly countries on earth with serious military capabilities?

Like so much of this administration, it seems just gratuitous arrogance.

The Daily Mail today points out (h/t Instapundit) that Barack Obama, as candidate and president, has not said a single word in a speech regarding the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. That overstates the case a bit, as he did, at least once, use the phrase at a press conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he visited Britain in April.

But the Daily Mail is right in general. Obama has been minimal, to say the least, in his treatment of Great Britain. In his speech at West Point last week, he did not mention Britain. This despite the fact that the British have been our staunchest ally in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where the British now have 10,000 soldiers and have suffered 237 killed, more than a hundred this year alone. That’s 15 percent of all deaths in Afghanistan and 25 percent of the number of soldiers the United States has lost there. In other words, Britain has lost more soldiers in Afghanistan, relative to its population, than has the United States. And its contribution to the war effort has been every bit as large relative to its economy.

Obama has not only mostly ignored our British ally, he has positively insulted them.  Hardly had he moved into the Oval Office when he ordered that a bronze bust of Winston Churchill be returned to the British embassy. It had been given to the White House, in a symbolic gesture of solidarity, shortly after 9/11 .

When Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited the White House in March, he was denied a joint press conference and a formal dinner, as is standard when world leaders have talks with the president. Brown gave the president a pen holder made from the timbers of HMS Gannet, which had played an active part in suppressing the slave trade in the early 19th century. He also gave him the commissioning papers of HMS Resolute, which had been trapped in arctic ice, abandoned, found by an American whaling vessel, purchased by Congress, and presented to Queen Victoria as a gesture of friendship. In 1880, after the Resolute was broken up, the Queen ordered two magnificent desks made from her timbers. One is in Buckingham Palace. The other was presented to President Rutherford B. Hayes and has been used by almost every president since, including Barack Obama.

Obama gave Brown, not a movie buff, a bunch of classic American films on DVDs that won’t even play on British DVD players.

Although Obama bowed deeply to the King of Saudi Arabia and the Emperor of Japan, when he met Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in April, a hand shake was deemed sufficient.

When Brown came to the United States for the UN General Assembly meeting and the G20 summit in September, Obama refused repeated requests by the British Foreign Office to meet privately with Brown, although he found time to meet with the presidents of Russia and China, and the Japanese prime minister.

Why is the Obama White House treating the British this way? What has it got to gain from deliberate rudeness, such as returning the gift of a bust of the man who in 1940 saved the world — including the United States – from “a new Dark Age, made more sinister and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science”?

Why treat Gordon Brown as though he headed the government of a banana republic rather than the world’s sixth-largest economy and one of the few friendly countries on earth with serious military capabilities?

Like so much of this administration, it seems just gratuitous arrogance.

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British Corruption

Britain has fallen a notch in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruptions Perceptions Index. It now ranks 17th out of the 180 countries surveyed. Transparency said that the decline “reflects the damage to its international standing caused by the MPs’ expenses scandal and the weakness of its efforts to prosecute foreign bribery.”

The second item, the “foreign bribery” problem, relates to the long-running saga of allegations against BAE and arms sales to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Tanzania. I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of these allegations, which shed revealing light on the hypocrisy of the UK’s support for the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty, but they are old news. It’s probable that Britain’s decline was driven by the expenses scandal. Read More

Britain has fallen a notch in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruptions Perceptions Index. It now ranks 17th out of the 180 countries surveyed. Transparency said that the decline “reflects the damage to its international standing caused by the MPs’ expenses scandal and the weakness of its efforts to prosecute foreign bribery.”

The second item, the “foreign bribery” problem, relates to the long-running saga of allegations against BAE and arms sales to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Tanzania. I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of these allegations, which shed revealing light on the hypocrisy of the UK’s support for the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty, but they are old news. It’s probable that Britain’s decline was driven by the expenses scandal.

The impact of that scandal is an illustration of John Hay’s remark that “it is curious how a concise impropriety hits the public.” But it is also small beer: New Labour has brought Britain many “improprieties” that were a good deal worse but that failed to catch Transparency’s eye. There was the 2005-07 “cash for peerages” controversy, in which it was alleged that the Labour party was selling seats in the House of Lords in exchange for donations. There was — indeed, there is — the scandal of Labour’s immigration policy, which a former Labour speechwriter confessed last month deliberately sought to deceive Parliament, the public, and its own supporters.

There is the ongoing refusal of ministers to treat Parliament with any seriousness, as witnessed by the relentless leaking of government proposals in advance of the Queen’s Speech, a formerly great occasion of state. And, above all, there is the fact that more than 90 percent of all British law is now made by the EU. Compared to this, the expenses scandal is nothing: if the MPs can’t make law for their own constituents, the money they pocket on the side by fiddling second mortgages and buying expensive wallpaper is hardly the most vital national issue. Not all government corruption is financial, and the nonmonetary kinds are by far the most vicious.

But the expenses scandal is an attention grabber nonetheless. It is a very British saga — only in the UK, and a few other countries, would the public be exercised by this kind of corruption. In too many countries, it’s taken for granted that public service is an opportunity for personal enrichment. It goes to show that, though the standards have been traduced, the British public’s view of what is right in political life still stems from the Victorian era. And in my eyes, there is no higher praise than that.

It is of course true that that era was not free from corruption. If you’re a fan of old political scandals, I recommend G.R. Searle’s superb study of “Corruption in British Politics, 1895-1930,” which proves that this century was not the first time the House of Lords has been for sale. But that era nonetheless created standards that, even if they were in part aspirational, are of real value. MPs are not supposed to seek their private good. The British armed forces are not supposed to have their budget cut in the face of the enemy. Brussels is not supposed to make British law. Yet all these things happen openly and repeatedly.

Part of the sour tone of British politics today is obviously the result of the recession. But it is more than that: it is the result of the grating divergence between basic political ideals and obvious political realities in Britain. And given how influential those ideals have been around the world, and the high expectations that people abroad still have of Britain, it is not surprising that Britain has been punished by the Transparency survey.

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Coitus Uninterruptus (and Endless)

You may have heard about the impending release of the movie version of Sex and the City, the long-running HBO show about the travails of four women on the prowl in New York City. The show was actually quite inventive for a half-hour sitcom, since every episode managed to tell four separate stories in the course of 27 minutes, which is actually no small task (most sitcoms have one major plot and one minor plot per half hour). Sex and the City was compressed and therefore seemed to move like a freight train.

So it is horrifying to learn that the movie version of Sex and the City runs — get this — 2 hours and 25 minutes. That’s a whole lot of Kim Cattrall acting more like a drag queen than a woman. Way too much. Which reminds me of the comedian Mort Sahl’s line at the premiere of Otto Preminger’s movie version of Exodus, the story of Israel’s founding. As the movie hit the three-hour mark with no end in sight, Sahl stood up and shouted, “Otto! Let my people go!”

Sarah Jessica Parker! Let the women of America go!

You may have heard about the impending release of the movie version of Sex and the City, the long-running HBO show about the travails of four women on the prowl in New York City. The show was actually quite inventive for a half-hour sitcom, since every episode managed to tell four separate stories in the course of 27 minutes, which is actually no small task (most sitcoms have one major plot and one minor plot per half hour). Sex and the City was compressed and therefore seemed to move like a freight train.

So it is horrifying to learn that the movie version of Sex and the City runs — get this — 2 hours and 25 minutes. That’s a whole lot of Kim Cattrall acting more like a drag queen than a woman. Way too much. Which reminds me of the comedian Mort Sahl’s line at the premiere of Otto Preminger’s movie version of Exodus, the story of Israel’s founding. As the movie hit the three-hour mark with no end in sight, Sahl stood up and shouted, “Otto! Let my people go!”

Sarah Jessica Parker! Let the women of America go!

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