Commentary Magazine


Topic: US administration

Flotsam and Jetsam

Quicker than we imagined: “By 47 to 45 percent, Americans say Obama is a better president than George W. Bush. But that two point margin is down from a 23 point advantage one year ago. ‘Democrats may want to think twice about bringing up former President George W. Bush’s name while campaigning this year,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.’”

Sooner than either imagined: “Embattled Democrats are increasingly turning to former President Bill Clinton to prop up their campaigns in the final weeks before November’s midterm elections. The former president is far and away the biggest draw for the party less than a month out, hitting races in states where Democrats would rather President Obama stay away.”

A White House departure didn’t come fast enough for some. Peter Feaver: “The only thing surprising about Jim Jones’s departure is he survived this long.” His buffoonery was his defining characteristic.

About time that someone started debunking the president’s accusations about “foreign money.” The Gray Lady: “[A] closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the [Chamber of Commerce] does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents. In fact, the controversy over the Chamber of Commerce financing may say more about the Washington spin cycle — where an Internet blog posting can be quickly picked up by like-minded groups and become political fodder for the president himself — than it does about the vagaries of campaign finance.” Actually, it says more about the president’s penchant for telling untruths.

Belatedly, we learn that Jewish-American leaders had serious concerns all along about Obama’s Middle East policy. How brave of them to go public only when Obama’s political standing is in decline.

Democrats finally run out of patience with Jerry Brown and demand that he apologize for a campaign associate who called Meg Whitman a “whore.” Yes, there goes the Golden State. Again.

Much too late, Obama gets around to publicly calling for the release of Chinese dissident and now Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

No rush — the Arab League stalls, hoping the Obami might up the bribes incentives for Bibi to extend the settlement moratorium. “Arab countries will give the US one month to find a compromise which can save peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians after negotiations stalled over the issue of Israeli building in West Bank settlements, AFP reported a diplomat at the Arab League meeting in Libya as saying on Friday. The unnamed diplomat said that a resolution to be approved later Friday by the Arab League Follow-up Committee on the peace process calls for the US administration to be given ‘a one month chance to seek the resumption of negotiations, including a halt to settlement [building].’”

Suddenly, David Broder discovers Rob Portman: “Now 54 and a fitness fanatic, Portman has achieved his status by being smart, disciplined and a team player. Business people know he does his homework, and Democrats find him approachable. Except for [Mitch] Daniels, there are few Republicans who have delved as deeply into fiscal and budgetary policy, trade and health care as has Portman, who notably expanded the Office of Management and Budget’s focus on Medicare and Medicaid, even when Bush showed little interest in the issue.”

An overnight sensation: Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate Ron Johnson. “In this year of political surprises, Mr. Johnson inhabits a niche all his own. He emerged from the tea party without being fully of it. … Mr. Johnson says he employs 120 people at a single plant that makes specialized plastics. ‘I’m not some big corporation. I run the type of business [that] is the backbone of our economy, the engine of job creation.’ America’s prosperity stems from its ‘freedoms, the free market,’ Mr. Johnson says. ‘I think people get that.’”

Eventually, we come full circle. Bush administration critic Jack Goldsmith argues we shouldn’t have military tribunals or civil trials. Just lock ‘em up. Sounds good to me.

It took long enough. Jeffrey Goldberg confirms that Matthew Yglesias is an ignoramus when it comes to Israel.

Quicker than we imagined: “By 47 to 45 percent, Americans say Obama is a better president than George W. Bush. But that two point margin is down from a 23 point advantage one year ago. ‘Democrats may want to think twice about bringing up former President George W. Bush’s name while campaigning this year,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.’”

Sooner than either imagined: “Embattled Democrats are increasingly turning to former President Bill Clinton to prop up their campaigns in the final weeks before November’s midterm elections. The former president is far and away the biggest draw for the party less than a month out, hitting races in states where Democrats would rather President Obama stay away.”

A White House departure didn’t come fast enough for some. Peter Feaver: “The only thing surprising about Jim Jones’s departure is he survived this long.” His buffoonery was his defining characteristic.

About time that someone started debunking the president’s accusations about “foreign money.” The Gray Lady: “[A] closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the [Chamber of Commerce] does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents. In fact, the controversy over the Chamber of Commerce financing may say more about the Washington spin cycle — where an Internet blog posting can be quickly picked up by like-minded groups and become political fodder for the president himself — than it does about the vagaries of campaign finance.” Actually, it says more about the president’s penchant for telling untruths.

Belatedly, we learn that Jewish-American leaders had serious concerns all along about Obama’s Middle East policy. How brave of them to go public only when Obama’s political standing is in decline.

Democrats finally run out of patience with Jerry Brown and demand that he apologize for a campaign associate who called Meg Whitman a “whore.” Yes, there goes the Golden State. Again.

Much too late, Obama gets around to publicly calling for the release of Chinese dissident and now Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

No rush — the Arab League stalls, hoping the Obami might up the bribes incentives for Bibi to extend the settlement moratorium. “Arab countries will give the US one month to find a compromise which can save peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians after negotiations stalled over the issue of Israeli building in West Bank settlements, AFP reported a diplomat at the Arab League meeting in Libya as saying on Friday. The unnamed diplomat said that a resolution to be approved later Friday by the Arab League Follow-up Committee on the peace process calls for the US administration to be given ‘a one month chance to seek the resumption of negotiations, including a halt to settlement [building].’”

Suddenly, David Broder discovers Rob Portman: “Now 54 and a fitness fanatic, Portman has achieved his status by being smart, disciplined and a team player. Business people know he does his homework, and Democrats find him approachable. Except for [Mitch] Daniels, there are few Republicans who have delved as deeply into fiscal and budgetary policy, trade and health care as has Portman, who notably expanded the Office of Management and Budget’s focus on Medicare and Medicaid, even when Bush showed little interest in the issue.”

An overnight sensation: Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate Ron Johnson. “In this year of political surprises, Mr. Johnson inhabits a niche all his own. He emerged from the tea party without being fully of it. … Mr. Johnson says he employs 120 people at a single plant that makes specialized plastics. ‘I’m not some big corporation. I run the type of business [that] is the backbone of our economy, the engine of job creation.’ America’s prosperity stems from its ‘freedoms, the free market,’ Mr. Johnson says. ‘I think people get that.’”

Eventually, we come full circle. Bush administration critic Jack Goldsmith argues we shouldn’t have military tribunals or civil trials. Just lock ‘em up. Sounds good to me.

It took long enough. Jeffrey Goldberg confirms that Matthew Yglesias is an ignoramus when it comes to Israel.

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Abbas Miffed at Obama

Mahmoud Abbas is grousing that Obama is being “unclear” with him on future peace talks. That’s rich. The man who has a hundred and one excuses for avoiding direct talks and who says he’s not inciting violence (What — the square named after a murderer? A heartfelt eulogy for the mastermind of the 1972 massacre of the Israeli Olympic athletes? Oh that?) now does not appreciate getting imprecise answers. This report explains:

Abbas was speaking during a closed meeting of members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah.

Abbas was quoted by some Fatah operatives as saying that Egypt and Jordan supported the PA’s refusal to move to direct talks unless progress is first achieved on the issues of security and the future borders of a Palestinian state.

“We can’t go to direct negotiations like blind people,” Abbas was quoted as saying.

“We can’t enter direct negotiations without clarity.”

Abbas complained that Obama recently sent him an oral message urging him to launch direct negotiations with Israel unconditionally.

According to the PA president, Obama’s message was “unclear and ambiguous.”

Abbas was quoted as saying: “With all due respect to the American president, his message was not clear. We want to clear answers to questions we presented to the Americans, especially regarding security, borders and the status of Jerusalem. We continue to insist that any negotiations with Israel be based on recognition of 1967 as the future borders of the Palestinian state.”

Abbas said that the US administration has also failed to give the Palestinians a clear answer with regard to Israel’s policy of settlement construction.

Upon closer examination, it is not “clarity” he is seeking but rather Israel on a platter, served up by Obama. He wants the terms set — “clear” — before he arrives for the signing ceremony. He doesn’t like being told, after 18 months of evading and dodging Bibi’s offer of direct negotiations, that he needs to get in the room with the representatives of the state he will be expected to recognize.

This is one more snub, of course, of Obama, who gave Abbas a nice Oval Office visit and pledged to move the parties to direct negotiations. After a year of suck-uppery to the Palestinians and trying everything he could think of to make Israel cough up more and more concessions, the president’s “peace process” is nowhere. It turns out that the Palestinians really don’t want to make a deal. Who knew? Well, apparently everyone but the White House and the liberal punditocracy. In the meantime, damage has been done to the U.S.-Israeli relationship, the delegitimizers in international bodies have grown more confident, and Iran inches ever closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Really, losing his Palestinian fan club is the least of Obama’s failures.

Mahmoud Abbas is grousing that Obama is being “unclear” with him on future peace talks. That’s rich. The man who has a hundred and one excuses for avoiding direct talks and who says he’s not inciting violence (What — the square named after a murderer? A heartfelt eulogy for the mastermind of the 1972 massacre of the Israeli Olympic athletes? Oh that?) now does not appreciate getting imprecise answers. This report explains:

Abbas was speaking during a closed meeting of members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah.

Abbas was quoted by some Fatah operatives as saying that Egypt and Jordan supported the PA’s refusal to move to direct talks unless progress is first achieved on the issues of security and the future borders of a Palestinian state.

“We can’t go to direct negotiations like blind people,” Abbas was quoted as saying.

“We can’t enter direct negotiations without clarity.”

Abbas complained that Obama recently sent him an oral message urging him to launch direct negotiations with Israel unconditionally.

According to the PA president, Obama’s message was “unclear and ambiguous.”

Abbas was quoted as saying: “With all due respect to the American president, his message was not clear. We want to clear answers to questions we presented to the Americans, especially regarding security, borders and the status of Jerusalem. We continue to insist that any negotiations with Israel be based on recognition of 1967 as the future borders of the Palestinian state.”

Abbas said that the US administration has also failed to give the Palestinians a clear answer with regard to Israel’s policy of settlement construction.

Upon closer examination, it is not “clarity” he is seeking but rather Israel on a platter, served up by Obama. He wants the terms set — “clear” — before he arrives for the signing ceremony. He doesn’t like being told, after 18 months of evading and dodging Bibi’s offer of direct negotiations, that he needs to get in the room with the representatives of the state he will be expected to recognize.

This is one more snub, of course, of Obama, who gave Abbas a nice Oval Office visit and pledged to move the parties to direct negotiations. After a year of suck-uppery to the Palestinians and trying everything he could think of to make Israel cough up more and more concessions, the president’s “peace process” is nowhere. It turns out that the Palestinians really don’t want to make a deal. Who knew? Well, apparently everyone but the White House and the liberal punditocracy. In the meantime, damage has been done to the U.S.-Israeli relationship, the delegitimizers in international bodies have grown more confident, and Iran inches ever closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Really, losing his Palestinian fan club is the least of Obama’s failures.

Read Less

Israelis Aren’t Dumb

The Jerusalem Post reports:

U.S. President Barack Obama’s efforts to reach out to the people of Israel last week – when he hosted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for a positive meeting at the White House and gave his first interview as president to an Israeli television station – were not very successful, according to a Smith Research poll. … After Obama’s earlier meetings with Netanyahu were portrayed as adversarial, Obama made a point of treating the prime minister with the utmost respect last week, accompanying him to his car and constantly commending him in particular and Israelis in general during his press conference with Netanyahu on Tuesday, and his interview with Channel 2 anchor Yonit Levy two days later. …

There was only a 1 percentage point rise in Israelis who consider the US administration headed by Obama to be more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian since the last such poll was taken in March.

When asked whether they saw Obama’s administration as more pro-Israel, more pro-Palestinian or neutral, just 10 percent of Israeli Jews said more pro-Israel, 46% said more pro-Palestinian, 34% said neutral and 10% did not express an opinion.

If only American Jews could be as hard-headed and realistic. It’s not a smile or a handshake that makes for a pro-Israel president — it is what he does that matters. So far, nothing much has changed in Obama’s approach to the Middle East – so why should the Israelis’ opinion of Obama? And while we are debating what it means to be “pro-Israel,” it seems as though we should at least take into account what Israelis think.

The Jerusalem Post reports:

U.S. President Barack Obama’s efforts to reach out to the people of Israel last week – when he hosted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for a positive meeting at the White House and gave his first interview as president to an Israeli television station – were not very successful, according to a Smith Research poll. … After Obama’s earlier meetings with Netanyahu were portrayed as adversarial, Obama made a point of treating the prime minister with the utmost respect last week, accompanying him to his car and constantly commending him in particular and Israelis in general during his press conference with Netanyahu on Tuesday, and his interview with Channel 2 anchor Yonit Levy two days later. …

There was only a 1 percentage point rise in Israelis who consider the US administration headed by Obama to be more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian since the last such poll was taken in March.

When asked whether they saw Obama’s administration as more pro-Israel, more pro-Palestinian or neutral, just 10 percent of Israeli Jews said more pro-Israel, 46% said more pro-Palestinian, 34% said neutral and 10% did not express an opinion.

If only American Jews could be as hard-headed and realistic. It’s not a smile or a handshake that makes for a pro-Israel president — it is what he does that matters. So far, nothing much has changed in Obama’s approach to the Middle East – so why should the Israelis’ opinion of Obama? And while we are debating what it means to be “pro-Israel,” it seems as though we should at least take into account what Israelis think.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

So much for honoring America’s commitments: “As Israel’s prime minister prepares for his fifth official meeting with President Obama this week, the White House has declined to publicly affirm commitments made by President Bush to Israel in 2004 on the final borders of the Jewish state.”

So much for walking back the Afghanistan troop-withdrawal deadline. Joe Biden says, “This is the policy.”

So much for the Democratic 2010 strategy. Chis Cillizza writes: “the Democratic National Committee has committed to spending tens of millions of dollars to re-create (or come somewhere near re-creating) the 2008 election model, in which Democrats relied heavily on higher-than-normal turnout from young people and strong support from African American and Hispanic voters. The DNC’s plan is ambitious, to say the least: In the space of a few months, the strategists hope to change the composition of a midterm electorate that, if history is any guide, tends to be older and whiter than in a presidential-election year. Put that way, it sounds crazy — and it has drawn considerable skepticism from independent observers.”

So much for Obama’s salesmanship: “Sixty percent (60%) of voters nationwide favor repeal of the recently passed health care law, including 49% who Strongly Favor repeal. … This is the 16th weekly poll conducted on repeal since the health care law was passed. A majority of voters has favored repeal each and every week. Support for repeal has ranged from a low of 52% to a high of 63%.”

So much for the “permanent” Democratic majority. Charlie Cook writes: “Among all voters, there has been a significant swing since 2008 when Democrats took their new majority won in 2006 to an even higher level. But when you home in on those people in this survey who are most likely to vote, the numbers are devastating. … Make no mistake about it: There is a wave out there, and for Democrats, the House is, at best, teetering on the edge. To be sure, things could change in the four months between now and November 2. … Still, the potential is here for a result that is proportional to some of the bigger postwar midterm wave elections.”

So much for Obama’s Syrian engagement. The headline reads, “Assad: US administration is weak.” Well, he’s a brutal despot, but he’s not a bad political analyst.

So much for Obamanomics: “Just when they might be needed the most, the rescue ropes that hauled the nation out of the Great Recession have become badly frayed. A much-feared ‘double dip’ economic downturn would find interest rates already slashed to near zero by the Federal Reserve and lawmakers leery of voting for billions of stimulus dollars as they face re-election.”

So much for the prospects of a two-state solution. Barry Rubin: “Why should Israel give up territory and security to the PA merely because it prosecutes corrupt leaders (don’t hold your breath) and is more prosperous? What it needs to know is that the conflict won’t continue, that there won’t be cross-border raids, that Hamas won’t take over and that Palestine won’t invite in Syrian or Iranian military forces, to cite some examples.” And other than the deluded Obami, who really thinks that is happening any time soon?

So much for the notion that Fareed Zakaria is to be taken seriously (even by the Obama administration): “Fareed Zakaria criticized the Afghanistan war in unusually harsh terms on his CNN program Sunday, saying that ‘the whole enterprise in Afghanistan feels disproportionate, a very expensive solution to what is turning out to be a small but real problem.’”

So much for honoring America’s commitments: “As Israel’s prime minister prepares for his fifth official meeting with President Obama this week, the White House has declined to publicly affirm commitments made by President Bush to Israel in 2004 on the final borders of the Jewish state.”

So much for walking back the Afghanistan troop-withdrawal deadline. Joe Biden says, “This is the policy.”

So much for the Democratic 2010 strategy. Chis Cillizza writes: “the Democratic National Committee has committed to spending tens of millions of dollars to re-create (or come somewhere near re-creating) the 2008 election model, in which Democrats relied heavily on higher-than-normal turnout from young people and strong support from African American and Hispanic voters. The DNC’s plan is ambitious, to say the least: In the space of a few months, the strategists hope to change the composition of a midterm electorate that, if history is any guide, tends to be older and whiter than in a presidential-election year. Put that way, it sounds crazy — and it has drawn considerable skepticism from independent observers.”

So much for Obama’s salesmanship: “Sixty percent (60%) of voters nationwide favor repeal of the recently passed health care law, including 49% who Strongly Favor repeal. … This is the 16th weekly poll conducted on repeal since the health care law was passed. A majority of voters has favored repeal each and every week. Support for repeal has ranged from a low of 52% to a high of 63%.”

So much for the “permanent” Democratic majority. Charlie Cook writes: “Among all voters, there has been a significant swing since 2008 when Democrats took their new majority won in 2006 to an even higher level. But when you home in on those people in this survey who are most likely to vote, the numbers are devastating. … Make no mistake about it: There is a wave out there, and for Democrats, the House is, at best, teetering on the edge. To be sure, things could change in the four months between now and November 2. … Still, the potential is here for a result that is proportional to some of the bigger postwar midterm wave elections.”

So much for Obama’s Syrian engagement. The headline reads, “Assad: US administration is weak.” Well, he’s a brutal despot, but he’s not a bad political analyst.

So much for Obamanomics: “Just when they might be needed the most, the rescue ropes that hauled the nation out of the Great Recession have become badly frayed. A much-feared ‘double dip’ economic downturn would find interest rates already slashed to near zero by the Federal Reserve and lawmakers leery of voting for billions of stimulus dollars as they face re-election.”

So much for the prospects of a two-state solution. Barry Rubin: “Why should Israel give up territory and security to the PA merely because it prosecutes corrupt leaders (don’t hold your breath) and is more prosperous? What it needs to know is that the conflict won’t continue, that there won’t be cross-border raids, that Hamas won’t take over and that Palestine won’t invite in Syrian or Iranian military forces, to cite some examples.” And other than the deluded Obami, who really thinks that is happening any time soon?

So much for the notion that Fareed Zakaria is to be taken seriously (even by the Obama administration): “Fareed Zakaria criticized the Afghanistan war in unusually harsh terms on his CNN program Sunday, saying that ‘the whole enterprise in Afghanistan feels disproportionate, a very expensive solution to what is turning out to be a small but real problem.’”

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The Shocking Rashad Hussain Interview

A friend of COMMENTARY calls my attention to this interview with the controversial Rashad Hussain, the U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. You will recall that his nomination raised concerns when his comments alleging a “political” motivation for prosecuting Sami Al-Arian and his attendance at CAIR events came to light. (He then attempted to cover up the comments.) As our friend notes, “This must be read to be believed … it cannot be parodied.”

We start from the context — a foreign, Arabic publication. It is to this audience that he skewers — without justification or basis in fact — the Bush administration:

Q) Do you think it will be easy to overcome the hostility in the Islamic world towards certain US policies, especially in light of the actions taken under the previous US administration?

A) We are concerned about this but we are determined to move forward, without looking to the past and the negative effects of this, in order to erase the hostile feelings caused by the administration of former President George W. Bush. There is now a suitable opportunity to overcome the past, and open a new page in relations between the US and the people in the Islamic region.

This is not, to say the least, what we expect our envoys to communicate to foreign audiences. And then there is the substance of his remarks. Hostile feelings caused by the Bush administration’s policies, he says? Which were those — the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which Obama has continued? The focus on human rights, which Obama has ignored? And notice the assignment of blame to the country he pretends to represent, not to the bad actors — Syria and Iran, for example — that continue to promote terror and brutalize their people. It appears that Hussain is telling the Muslims that the real source of trouble in the Middle East was George W. Bush.

But it is obsession with the peace process as the key to ending such “hostility” and the conviction that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the source of our woes that are the most jarring — and perhaps revelatory of the administration he represents. He offers this:

Q) How do you intend to impose your strategy to develop relations with the Islamic world?

A) By implementing the recommendations made in the speech by US President Obama in Cairo, which represents a clear strategy to promote relations with the Islamic world, as this speech covered all political, social, and economic aspects. We have already begun work to implement what was said in the speech, whether through political action to solve the Palestinian-Israel conflict through the efforts exerted by the Obama administration’s Peace Envoy George Mitchell, and we will also promote health services such as combating polio in the Islamic world, and promoting educational programs and cultural exchange between the two sides.

And this:

Q) Many Muslims are critical of bias US policies towards Israel. How can we reconcile what Obama said in his Cairo speech and the US political approach in the Middle East?

A) The United States does not operate solely according to its own interests, and it seeks to safeguard the interests of both the Palestinians and the Israelis, which has made it a top priority for us to engage in genuine peace negotiations between both sides. As you know, the US is committed to its role as an effective mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. We have not waited until the last minute to become involved in this; rather we did everything we could to urge the concerned parties to enter negotiations. President Obama [also] appointed George Mitchell Middle East Peace Envoy, and he appointed me as an envoy to promote US relations with the Islamic world, and we are all working to implement Obama’s strategy in the Islamic world to achieve stability in this part of the world.

Q) Do you think the Israeli settlement building in Jerusalem complicates your mission to improve US relations with the Islamic world?

A) Of course, there are fears that any action or provocation will negatively affect feelings, and as a Muslim I know full well that the Al Aqsa Mosque was the first Qibla [direction in which Muslims pray] and is the third holiest site for Muslims and it is revered by Muslims. President Obama is committed to calming the situation in the city of Jerusalem, and finding solutions that are both acceptable to the Palestinians and the Israelis. There is also a clear position by the president to reject any settlement building in east Jerusalem, and there is a statement to this effect from the US administration, which has many ways to settle the conflict in the region that has lasted for 60 years. However, it is not easy for this to be settled overnight so we must bridge the differences between the conflicting parties. Over the last few days we have heard good news to the effect that indirect negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis have begun, so I think we are making progress in this regard, and we must not take a step backwards.

Now, he does mention polio programs and educational outreach, but plainly this man is convinced that the key to ending “hostility” against the U.S. is resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. What is missing? Ah, mention of the Iranian nuclear threat. Oh yes, the brutalization of women and the repression of Middle East despots. And how exactly has the arrival of Obama ended that hostility? Last time we checked, Syria was supplying Hezbollah with Scuds and Iran was moving toward acquisition of a nuclear weapon. Still seems pretty hostile. Maybe it wasn’t all Bush’s fault.

And as the crowning touch, we have this exchange:

Q) You studied law at Yale University, during which you criticized the prosecution of Sami Al-Arian, describing it as “politically motivated.” Do you think the American legal system unfairly links Islam and terrorism?

A) To be clear, I have no connection to such terror trials, and these cases are subject to the deliberations of the US courts. The US legal system is one of the best in the world and enjoys great confidence.

Where is the emphatic repudiation of his view that Al-Arian was the victim of a political show trial? Where is the simple declarative, “No, he was convicted, and we will continue to investigate and prosecute terrorists and those who facilitate terrorism”? Nowhere. This is shameful.

There is a reason that Obama appointed Hussain: he is the perfect embodiment of the mean-spirited (toward Bush, Israel, and those who doubt Obama’s sincerity), warped view of the Middle East that allows despots to go unchallenged, brutality to remain unremarked upon, and the region to inch ever closer to a deadly nuclear-arms race.

A friend of COMMENTARY calls my attention to this interview with the controversial Rashad Hussain, the U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. You will recall that his nomination raised concerns when his comments alleging a “political” motivation for prosecuting Sami Al-Arian and his attendance at CAIR events came to light. (He then attempted to cover up the comments.) As our friend notes, “This must be read to be believed … it cannot be parodied.”

We start from the context — a foreign, Arabic publication. It is to this audience that he skewers — without justification or basis in fact — the Bush administration:

Q) Do you think it will be easy to overcome the hostility in the Islamic world towards certain US policies, especially in light of the actions taken under the previous US administration?

A) We are concerned about this but we are determined to move forward, without looking to the past and the negative effects of this, in order to erase the hostile feelings caused by the administration of former President George W. Bush. There is now a suitable opportunity to overcome the past, and open a new page in relations between the US and the people in the Islamic region.

This is not, to say the least, what we expect our envoys to communicate to foreign audiences. And then there is the substance of his remarks. Hostile feelings caused by the Bush administration’s policies, he says? Which were those — the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which Obama has continued? The focus on human rights, which Obama has ignored? And notice the assignment of blame to the country he pretends to represent, not to the bad actors — Syria and Iran, for example — that continue to promote terror and brutalize their people. It appears that Hussain is telling the Muslims that the real source of trouble in the Middle East was George W. Bush.

But it is obsession with the peace process as the key to ending such “hostility” and the conviction that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the source of our woes that are the most jarring — and perhaps revelatory of the administration he represents. He offers this:

Q) How do you intend to impose your strategy to develop relations with the Islamic world?

A) By implementing the recommendations made in the speech by US President Obama in Cairo, which represents a clear strategy to promote relations with the Islamic world, as this speech covered all political, social, and economic aspects. We have already begun work to implement what was said in the speech, whether through political action to solve the Palestinian-Israel conflict through the efforts exerted by the Obama administration’s Peace Envoy George Mitchell, and we will also promote health services such as combating polio in the Islamic world, and promoting educational programs and cultural exchange between the two sides.

And this:

Q) Many Muslims are critical of bias US policies towards Israel. How can we reconcile what Obama said in his Cairo speech and the US political approach in the Middle East?

A) The United States does not operate solely according to its own interests, and it seeks to safeguard the interests of both the Palestinians and the Israelis, which has made it a top priority for us to engage in genuine peace negotiations between both sides. As you know, the US is committed to its role as an effective mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. We have not waited until the last minute to become involved in this; rather we did everything we could to urge the concerned parties to enter negotiations. President Obama [also] appointed George Mitchell Middle East Peace Envoy, and he appointed me as an envoy to promote US relations with the Islamic world, and we are all working to implement Obama’s strategy in the Islamic world to achieve stability in this part of the world.

Q) Do you think the Israeli settlement building in Jerusalem complicates your mission to improve US relations with the Islamic world?

A) Of course, there are fears that any action or provocation will negatively affect feelings, and as a Muslim I know full well that the Al Aqsa Mosque was the first Qibla [direction in which Muslims pray] and is the third holiest site for Muslims and it is revered by Muslims. President Obama is committed to calming the situation in the city of Jerusalem, and finding solutions that are both acceptable to the Palestinians and the Israelis. There is also a clear position by the president to reject any settlement building in east Jerusalem, and there is a statement to this effect from the US administration, which has many ways to settle the conflict in the region that has lasted for 60 years. However, it is not easy for this to be settled overnight so we must bridge the differences between the conflicting parties. Over the last few days we have heard good news to the effect that indirect negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis have begun, so I think we are making progress in this regard, and we must not take a step backwards.

Now, he does mention polio programs and educational outreach, but plainly this man is convinced that the key to ending “hostility” against the U.S. is resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. What is missing? Ah, mention of the Iranian nuclear threat. Oh yes, the brutalization of women and the repression of Middle East despots. And how exactly has the arrival of Obama ended that hostility? Last time we checked, Syria was supplying Hezbollah with Scuds and Iran was moving toward acquisition of a nuclear weapon. Still seems pretty hostile. Maybe it wasn’t all Bush’s fault.

And as the crowning touch, we have this exchange:

Q) You studied law at Yale University, during which you criticized the prosecution of Sami Al-Arian, describing it as “politically motivated.” Do you think the American legal system unfairly links Islam and terrorism?

A) To be clear, I have no connection to such terror trials, and these cases are subject to the deliberations of the US courts. The US legal system is one of the best in the world and enjoys great confidence.

Where is the emphatic repudiation of his view that Al-Arian was the victim of a political show trial? Where is the simple declarative, “No, he was convicted, and we will continue to investigate and prosecute terrorists and those who facilitate terrorism”? Nowhere. This is shameful.

There is a reason that Obama appointed Hussain: he is the perfect embodiment of the mean-spirited (toward Bush, Israel, and those who doubt Obama’s sincerity), warped view of the Middle East that allows despots to go unchallenged, brutality to remain unremarked upon, and the region to inch ever closer to a deadly nuclear-arms race.

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Ya’alon Unloads on Obami

The entire interview with Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon should be read in full here. But a few of the Q&As are certainly of particular note. On the American administration’s amnesia:

Does the US not see in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to accept Ehud Olmert’s generous offer in 2008 as a lack of willingness on the Palestinian side to come to an agreement?

Apparently not. From the dawn of Zionism there has not been a Palestinian leadership willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people. This is the source of the problem, and not what is called the occupied territories since ’67. The opposition to Zionism began before we liberated Judea, Samaria and Gaza; before we established a state.

On the issue of settlements:

Israel’s critics say enlarging settlements helps Palestinian extremists and ruins any efforts to get the Palestinians to recognize our right to be here.

The prime minister said before the elections he was willing to accept the commitments of the previous government, among them the understanding between [George] Bush and [Ariel] Sharon, that no new settlements would be built in Judea and Samaria, and that construction in the settlements would be allowed [to enable] normal life, not exactly natural growth. That was the understanding, and construction continued through the Olmert and Sharon governments.

More than that, [Netanyahu] said we accept our commitment regarding dismantling 23 outposts that were defined by the Sharon government as illegal. He accepted that, until it became clear that the US administration does not accept the commitments of the previous administration.

Secondly, we completely reject the argument that the settlements are the reason there is no peace. I think Arafat was willing to go to Oslo because of the settlements. When he saw the [massive Russian] aliya, and the settlements, he thought he was going to lose everything.

But if we are talking about coexistence and peace, why the insistence that the territory they receive be ethnically cleansed of Jews? Why do those areas have to be Judenrein? Don’t Arabs live here, in the Negev and Galilee? Why isn’t that part of our public discussion? Why doesn’t that scream to the heavens?

In order for there to a proper prognosis, you need a proper diagnosis. We are arguing, and not only with them, but with the Israeli Left, about what is the root of the problem. Part of the issue, which influences the US and European positions, is our internal confusion.

I also used to think the solution was land for peace, until I became the head of military intelligence, saw things from up close and my thinking underwent an evolution.

And on the American role in thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions:

Which leaders today are the most determined regarding Iran?

We see France today demonstrating the right policies, and Britain. They understand the enormity of the challenge.

Does Obama?

Something has happened here that we haven’t seen in the past. Previously the US led the aggressive line. Today, as I said, the president of France and prime minister of Britain are leading a more aggressive line than the president of the US. And then you have Germany and Italy, who join up with the American position.

I don’t think there is an actor in the world who wants to see a nuclear Iran.

There is much more of interest, including his take on the potential for an  imposed settlement. (“If someone really thinks they can impose peace just like that, then they are detached from reality.”) What is most noteworthy is the candor with which the disdain for the American administration comes through. It seems the Israelis have at least adopted one of Obama’s suggestions — be more “honest” in public and in private.

It’s incumbent on the American Jewish community now to do likewise. It is a time to make clear whether it intends to shuffle along, meekly accepting the administration’s inertness on Iran and its ferocity toward our democratic ally.

The entire interview with Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon should be read in full here. But a few of the Q&As are certainly of particular note. On the American administration’s amnesia:

Does the US not see in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to accept Ehud Olmert’s generous offer in 2008 as a lack of willingness on the Palestinian side to come to an agreement?

Apparently not. From the dawn of Zionism there has not been a Palestinian leadership willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people. This is the source of the problem, and not what is called the occupied territories since ’67. The opposition to Zionism began before we liberated Judea, Samaria and Gaza; before we established a state.

On the issue of settlements:

Israel’s critics say enlarging settlements helps Palestinian extremists and ruins any efforts to get the Palestinians to recognize our right to be here.

The prime minister said before the elections he was willing to accept the commitments of the previous government, among them the understanding between [George] Bush and [Ariel] Sharon, that no new settlements would be built in Judea and Samaria, and that construction in the settlements would be allowed [to enable] normal life, not exactly natural growth. That was the understanding, and construction continued through the Olmert and Sharon governments.

More than that, [Netanyahu] said we accept our commitment regarding dismantling 23 outposts that were defined by the Sharon government as illegal. He accepted that, until it became clear that the US administration does not accept the commitments of the previous administration.

Secondly, we completely reject the argument that the settlements are the reason there is no peace. I think Arafat was willing to go to Oslo because of the settlements. When he saw the [massive Russian] aliya, and the settlements, he thought he was going to lose everything.

But if we are talking about coexistence and peace, why the insistence that the territory they receive be ethnically cleansed of Jews? Why do those areas have to be Judenrein? Don’t Arabs live here, in the Negev and Galilee? Why isn’t that part of our public discussion? Why doesn’t that scream to the heavens?

In order for there to a proper prognosis, you need a proper diagnosis. We are arguing, and not only with them, but with the Israeli Left, about what is the root of the problem. Part of the issue, which influences the US and European positions, is our internal confusion.

I also used to think the solution was land for peace, until I became the head of military intelligence, saw things from up close and my thinking underwent an evolution.

And on the American role in thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions:

Which leaders today are the most determined regarding Iran?

We see France today demonstrating the right policies, and Britain. They understand the enormity of the challenge.

Does Obama?

Something has happened here that we haven’t seen in the past. Previously the US led the aggressive line. Today, as I said, the president of France and prime minister of Britain are leading a more aggressive line than the president of the US. And then you have Germany and Italy, who join up with the American position.

I don’t think there is an actor in the world who wants to see a nuclear Iran.

There is much more of interest, including his take on the potential for an  imposed settlement. (“If someone really thinks they can impose peace just like that, then they are detached from reality.”) What is most noteworthy is the candor with which the disdain for the American administration comes through. It seems the Israelis have at least adopted one of Obama’s suggestions — be more “honest” in public and in private.

It’s incumbent on the American Jewish community now to do likewise. It is a time to make clear whether it intends to shuffle along, meekly accepting the administration’s inertness on Iran and its ferocity toward our democratic ally.

Read Less

Encouraging Palestinian Rejectionism

How’s Obama’s Jerusalem gambit working out? (By the way, note to White House: don’t assail Israel by concocting an international incident centered on Jerusalem, the most emotional symbol of the Jewish people, in the weeks before Pesach — it gets even liberal Jews very riled up.) Well, as anyone who has been following Palestinian rejectionism and victimology for the past few decades anticipated (no, this doesn’t include the Obami), the Palestinians now perceive an opportunity to extract even more concessions from Israel and to gin up the violence:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction on Wednesday called for escalating the “popular struggle” against the security barrier and the settlements in the West Bank. … Veteran members of the Fatah Central Committee, including Nabil Shaath, Mahmoud al-Aloul, Muhammad Dahlan, Hussein al-Sheikh and Jibril Rajoub, said that the decision to escalate popular protests against the security fence and settlements was part of the faction’s political platform

They said the Sixth General Assembly of Fatah, which met last year in Bethlehem for the first time in over 20 years, had endorsed “popular resistance” as a means of confronting Israel’s measures in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

By seizing upon and escalating an issue on which no Israeli government could relent, the Obami have made clear that the “game” here is not compromise or resolution but rather high-pressure tactics directed against the Israeli government. The Obami holler while the PA throws stones. The aim of  both is to squeeze the Netanyahu government to the breaking point and shift the focus away from the Palestinians’ inability to enter into any meaningful peace deal (or, for that matter, even to come face-to-face with their Israel counterparts). The Palestinians now are certain that they can have both violence and a “peace process” in which the administration can be counted on to browbeat the Israelis into providing more concessions:

Shaath, a former PA foreign minister, said that peaceful protests were now a popular demand to confront Israel’s policies in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

“We need to strengthen and back this option in the face of the Israeli occupation’s policies,” he said. “We can’t return to the negotiations unless Israel halts all settlement construction in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.”

Shaath urged the US administration to pressure Israel to stop its policy of settlement construction, which, he claimed, jeopardized US interests in the region.

The results of the Obami’s handiwork once again suggest that “realism” is not the animating rationale behind their Middle East policy. In their animosity toward Israel and obsession with aligning themselves with the Palestinian bargaining position, the Obami have reinforced the Palestinians’ worst tendencies and convinced Israel (not to mention other nervous allies) that this administration is not to be trusted. In their frenzy to separate the U.S. from Israel and impress their Palestinian clients (who could hardly expect a more sympathetic ear and more overtly sympathetic approach than what this administration is delivering), the Obami have succeeded only in encouraging violence and postponing the hard work Palestinians must do if they are ever to achieve statehood. Perhaps the Obami should stop worrying about the collapse of the proximity talks and start worrying about the intifada their actions are helping to promote.

How’s Obama’s Jerusalem gambit working out? (By the way, note to White House: don’t assail Israel by concocting an international incident centered on Jerusalem, the most emotional symbol of the Jewish people, in the weeks before Pesach — it gets even liberal Jews very riled up.) Well, as anyone who has been following Palestinian rejectionism and victimology for the past few decades anticipated (no, this doesn’t include the Obami), the Palestinians now perceive an opportunity to extract even more concessions from Israel and to gin up the violence:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction on Wednesday called for escalating the “popular struggle” against the security barrier and the settlements in the West Bank. … Veteran members of the Fatah Central Committee, including Nabil Shaath, Mahmoud al-Aloul, Muhammad Dahlan, Hussein al-Sheikh and Jibril Rajoub, said that the decision to escalate popular protests against the security fence and settlements was part of the faction’s political platform

They said the Sixth General Assembly of Fatah, which met last year in Bethlehem for the first time in over 20 years, had endorsed “popular resistance” as a means of confronting Israel’s measures in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

By seizing upon and escalating an issue on which no Israeli government could relent, the Obami have made clear that the “game” here is not compromise or resolution but rather high-pressure tactics directed against the Israeli government. The Obami holler while the PA throws stones. The aim of  both is to squeeze the Netanyahu government to the breaking point and shift the focus away from the Palestinians’ inability to enter into any meaningful peace deal (or, for that matter, even to come face-to-face with their Israel counterparts). The Palestinians now are certain that they can have both violence and a “peace process” in which the administration can be counted on to browbeat the Israelis into providing more concessions:

Shaath, a former PA foreign minister, said that peaceful protests were now a popular demand to confront Israel’s policies in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

“We need to strengthen and back this option in the face of the Israeli occupation’s policies,” he said. “We can’t return to the negotiations unless Israel halts all settlement construction in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.”

Shaath urged the US administration to pressure Israel to stop its policy of settlement construction, which, he claimed, jeopardized US interests in the region.

The results of the Obami’s handiwork once again suggest that “realism” is not the animating rationale behind their Middle East policy. In their animosity toward Israel and obsession with aligning themselves with the Palestinian bargaining position, the Obami have reinforced the Palestinians’ worst tendencies and convinced Israel (not to mention other nervous allies) that this administration is not to be trusted. In their frenzy to separate the U.S. from Israel and impress their Palestinian clients (who could hardly expect a more sympathetic ear and more overtly sympathetic approach than what this administration is delivering), the Obami have succeeded only in encouraging violence and postponing the hard work Palestinians must do if they are ever to achieve statehood. Perhaps the Obami should stop worrying about the collapse of the proximity talks and start worrying about the intifada their actions are helping to promote.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

JTA makes a fine suggestion to the Beagle Blogger after yet another factual error in his Israel ranting: “Get an editor, dude.”

Congress is telling the Obami to knock off the Israel-bashing: “Two prominent US senators call on the US administration to resolve differences with Israel ‘amicably and in a manner that befits longstanding strategic allies’ in the preamble to a letter thousands of American Israel Public Affairs Committee activists will be urging lawmakers to sign this week. The letter, written by Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and addressed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with its House companion will be centerpieces of Israel advocates’ lobbying as part of the AIPAC annual conference.”

Ben Smith explains the AIPAC agenda: “The group is throwing its weight behind ‘crippling sanctions’ against Iran — with or without U.N. action — according to the talking points, and behind a letter from legislators to Secretary of State Clinton calling on the U.S. to climb down from public confrontation with Benjamin Netanyahu. … Those causes do seem to be gathering steam on the Hill.” Now what about the not-so-public strong-arming and bullying of Israel?

Obama says ObamaCare is just like the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As Bill Kristol points out, all that’s missing is the huge bipartisan majority (not to mention the civil rights part). “This is what allows historic legislation to become historic — it achieves broad support, is passed without parliamentary tricks, and becomes the broadly accepted law of the land.”

And speaking of civil rights, ObamaCare has some pernicious racial preferences in it.

ObamaCare takes its toll on the president’s approval, according to Rasmussen: “Overall, 43% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance. That also matches the lowest level yet recorded for this President. Fifty-six percent (56%) disapprove.”

Matthew Continetti: “One cannot judge the full consequences of health care reform. What can be judged is the manner by which Democrats have governed over the last year. They have been partisan and ideological, derisive and dismissive. They try to legislate massive changes to American society and the American economy by the tiniest of margins and the most arcane of methods. The process has taken on a substance all its own. And it’s repellent.”

If you had any doubt, this was  Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., in the House Rules Committee on Saturday: “There ain’t no rules here, we’re trying to accomplish something. … All this talk about rules… when the deal goes down… We make ‘em up as we go along.” No legislative rules (or grammatical ones, for that matter). This is the talk of tyranny.

JTA makes a fine suggestion to the Beagle Blogger after yet another factual error in his Israel ranting: “Get an editor, dude.”

Congress is telling the Obami to knock off the Israel-bashing: “Two prominent US senators call on the US administration to resolve differences with Israel ‘amicably and in a manner that befits longstanding strategic allies’ in the preamble to a letter thousands of American Israel Public Affairs Committee activists will be urging lawmakers to sign this week. The letter, written by Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and addressed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with its House companion will be centerpieces of Israel advocates’ lobbying as part of the AIPAC annual conference.”

Ben Smith explains the AIPAC agenda: “The group is throwing its weight behind ‘crippling sanctions’ against Iran — with or without U.N. action — according to the talking points, and behind a letter from legislators to Secretary of State Clinton calling on the U.S. to climb down from public confrontation with Benjamin Netanyahu. … Those causes do seem to be gathering steam on the Hill.” Now what about the not-so-public strong-arming and bullying of Israel?

Obama says ObamaCare is just like the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As Bill Kristol points out, all that’s missing is the huge bipartisan majority (not to mention the civil rights part). “This is what allows historic legislation to become historic — it achieves broad support, is passed without parliamentary tricks, and becomes the broadly accepted law of the land.”

And speaking of civil rights, ObamaCare has some pernicious racial preferences in it.

ObamaCare takes its toll on the president’s approval, according to Rasmussen: “Overall, 43% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance. That also matches the lowest level yet recorded for this President. Fifty-six percent (56%) disapprove.”

Matthew Continetti: “One cannot judge the full consequences of health care reform. What can be judged is the manner by which Democrats have governed over the last year. They have been partisan and ideological, derisive and dismissive. They try to legislate massive changes to American society and the American economy by the tiniest of margins and the most arcane of methods. The process has taken on a substance all its own. And it’s repellent.”

If you had any doubt, this was  Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., in the House Rules Committee on Saturday: “There ain’t no rules here, we’re trying to accomplish something. … All this talk about rules… when the deal goes down… We make ‘em up as we go along.” No legislative rules (or grammatical ones, for that matter). This is the talk of tyranny.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Well, after having a “total freeze” dangled before their eyes, of course the PA is not satisfied, hollering about Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s “political maneuvering” and “deception” is announcing a halt to new West Bank settlements for 10 months (but no restrictions on ongoing projects or housing within Jerusalem). “The PA is also furious with the US administration for hailing the decision as a step forward toward resuming the peace process in the Middle East.” Well, that’s what comes from the Obami’s incompetent gambit. How is it that George Mitchell still has a job?

Copenhagen round two: “Obama has come home from Copenhagen empty-handed once before — when he flew in to lobby for Chicago’s pitch for the 2016 Olympics, only to watch the International Olympic Committee reject his hometown’s bid in the first round of its voting.”

A very unpopular decision: “By 59% to 36%, more Americans believe accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be tried in a military court, rather than in a civilian criminal court.” Among independents, 63 percent favor a military tribunal.

Karl Rove reminds us that “since taking office Mr. Obama pushed through a $787 billion stimulus, a $33 billion expansion of the child health program known as S-chip, a $410 billion omnibus appropriations spending bill, and an $80 billion car company bailout. He also pushed a $821 billion cap-and-trade bill through the House and is now urging Congress to pass a nearly $1 trillion health-care bill.” But no worries — Obama would like a commission to address our fiscal mess.

Charles Krauthammer writes on ObamaCare: “The bill is irredeemable. It should not only be defeated. It should be immolated, its ashes scattered over the Senate swimming pool. … The better choice is targeted measures that attack the inefficiencies of the current system one by one — tort reform, interstate purchasing and taxing employee benefits. It would take 20 pages to write such a bill, not 2,000 — and provide the funds to cover the uninsured without wrecking both U.S. health care and the U.S. Treasury.” And it might even be politically popular.

Iran has managed to do the impossible: draw the ire of the IAEA and make Mohamed ElBaradei sound realistically pessimistic: “We have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us.” The White House pipes up with a perfectly meaningless comment: “If Iran refuses to meet its obligations, then it will be responsible for its own growing isolation and the consequences.” Which are what exactly?

Marc Ambinder spins it as “circumspect”: “The upshot from the administration: now is the time to get serious. The world is united in favor of tougher, non-diplomatic means to pressure Iran. But no word on when or how — just yet.” But let’s get real – it’s more of the same irresoluteness and stalling we’ve heard all year from the Obami.

If you might lose something, you begin to appreciate what you have: “Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters nationwide now rate the U.S. health care system as good or excellent. That marks a steady increase from 44% at the beginning of October, 35% in May and 29% a year-and-a-half ago. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 27% now say the U.S. health care system is poor. It is interesting to note that confidence in the system has improved as the debate over health care reform has moved to center stage.”

Kim Strassel thinks the Copenhagen confab will be a bust in the wake of the scandal about the Climate Research Unit’s e-mails: “Instead of producing legally binding agreements, it will be dogged by queries about the legitimacy of the scientists who wrote the reports that form its basis.” And meanwhile “Republicans are launching investigations, and the pressure is building on Democrats to hold hearings, since climate scientists were funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars.”

Well, after having a “total freeze” dangled before their eyes, of course the PA is not satisfied, hollering about Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s “political maneuvering” and “deception” is announcing a halt to new West Bank settlements for 10 months (but no restrictions on ongoing projects or housing within Jerusalem). “The PA is also furious with the US administration for hailing the decision as a step forward toward resuming the peace process in the Middle East.” Well, that’s what comes from the Obami’s incompetent gambit. How is it that George Mitchell still has a job?

Copenhagen round two: “Obama has come home from Copenhagen empty-handed once before — when he flew in to lobby for Chicago’s pitch for the 2016 Olympics, only to watch the International Olympic Committee reject his hometown’s bid in the first round of its voting.”

A very unpopular decision: “By 59% to 36%, more Americans believe accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be tried in a military court, rather than in a civilian criminal court.” Among independents, 63 percent favor a military tribunal.

Karl Rove reminds us that “since taking office Mr. Obama pushed through a $787 billion stimulus, a $33 billion expansion of the child health program known as S-chip, a $410 billion omnibus appropriations spending bill, and an $80 billion car company bailout. He also pushed a $821 billion cap-and-trade bill through the House and is now urging Congress to pass a nearly $1 trillion health-care bill.” But no worries — Obama would like a commission to address our fiscal mess.

Charles Krauthammer writes on ObamaCare: “The bill is irredeemable. It should not only be defeated. It should be immolated, its ashes scattered over the Senate swimming pool. … The better choice is targeted measures that attack the inefficiencies of the current system one by one — tort reform, interstate purchasing and taxing employee benefits. It would take 20 pages to write such a bill, not 2,000 — and provide the funds to cover the uninsured without wrecking both U.S. health care and the U.S. Treasury.” And it might even be politically popular.

Iran has managed to do the impossible: draw the ire of the IAEA and make Mohamed ElBaradei sound realistically pessimistic: “We have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us.” The White House pipes up with a perfectly meaningless comment: “If Iran refuses to meet its obligations, then it will be responsible for its own growing isolation and the consequences.” Which are what exactly?

Marc Ambinder spins it as “circumspect”: “The upshot from the administration: now is the time to get serious. The world is united in favor of tougher, non-diplomatic means to pressure Iran. But no word on when or how — just yet.” But let’s get real – it’s more of the same irresoluteness and stalling we’ve heard all year from the Obami.

If you might lose something, you begin to appreciate what you have: “Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters nationwide now rate the U.S. health care system as good or excellent. That marks a steady increase from 44% at the beginning of October, 35% in May and 29% a year-and-a-half ago. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 27% now say the U.S. health care system is poor. It is interesting to note that confidence in the system has improved as the debate over health care reform has moved to center stage.”

Kim Strassel thinks the Copenhagen confab will be a bust in the wake of the scandal about the Climate Research Unit’s e-mails: “Instead of producing legally binding agreements, it will be dogged by queries about the legitimacy of the scientists who wrote the reports that form its basis.” And meanwhile “Republicans are launching investigations, and the pressure is building on Democrats to hold hearings, since climate scientists were funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars.”

Read Less




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