What To Read
Lieberman and Ridge are pro-choice
If McCain is ready to pick a pro-choice running mate, it raises the chances of some candidates:
Of the four individuals most frequently mentioned as potential McCain runningmates--Joe Lieberman, Tom Ridge, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty--Lieberman and Ridge are pro-choice and Romney, by his own account, was pro-choice until at least November 2004. (During the primary, McCain's campaign challenged this claim by highlighting a May 2005 press conference in which Romney said he was committed to the "status quo" on "abortion and choice.")
An utter idiot like Condi Rice
Marty Peretz does not mince words as he looks at the new Syria and Lebanon relations:
Only an utter idiot like Condi Rice--and she is an utter idiot--would see good in this news of reunion between Beirut and Damascus. And, in a very material way, she is largely responsible for it. She was the great force behind Security Council Resolution 1701 which handed the victory in the Lebanon war of 2006 to Hezbollah, this cease-fire that was not a cease-fire, the restrictions on weapons transfers that was not restrictive, the UNIFIL detachments without numbers or orders or will, the fraud of a cobbled together agreement that had no mortar and no glue and, thus, no power. That Israel fell for it is to its shame and regret.
Clooney wants more "balanced" Israel policy
According to the Daily Mail, Israel now has a powerful opponent working to influence presidential nominees to change American policy. His name is George Clooney:
One said last night: 'They are extremely close. A number of members of the Hollywood community, including Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, offered to help raise funds for Barack but it was with George that he struck up this amazing affinity.
'George has been giving him advice on things such as presentation, public speaking and body language and he also emails him constantly about policy, especially the Middle East.
'George is pushing him to be more "balanced" on issues such as US relations with Israel.
'George is pro-Palestinian. And he is also urging Barack to withdraw unconditionally from Iraq if he wins.
Has Israel weakened Jewish Diaspora?
Jeffrey Goldberg is somewhat worried. If Israel attacks Iran Jewish Americans will be in danger. He says the Jewish community should be prepared:
The leaders of American Jewish organizations are generally hesitant to bring up the subject of Diaspora blowback when they talk to Israeli officials, and not without justifiable reason: Israel is a sovereign state, and makes decisions based on the needs of its national security. And Israeli officials bridle at the thought of Diaspora Jews telling them what to do. They also bridle at the idea that the existence of Israel actually endangers Jews in the Diaspora, rather than strengthens them. I would never argue that Israel hasn't strengthened, in particular, the American Jewish community, giving it both backbone and meaning. And I wouldn't argue that Israel should refrain from acting as a rescuer of persecuted Jews worldwide simply because it blurs the line between the interests of the Diaspora and the interests of the Jewish state.
But the existence of groups like Hezbollah means that Israel should weigh, among other factors, the potential impact of a strike on Iran on Diaspora Jewish institutions. Already, I've been told, Jewish institutions across South America are on alert for a "revenge" attack because of the assassination of Imad Mugniyeh. Jewish institutions in North America are another story. Outside of New York, in particular, most institutions are fairly oblivious to some very obvious threats, and most Jewish leaders don't realize that Iran, or Hezbollah, or for that matter, al Qaeda, think about their institutions as legitimate targets for terrorist attack. (In April, the number-two official in al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, issued an audio recording calling for operations "against Jewish interests," promising to "strive as much as we can to deal blows to the Jews inside Israel and outside it, with Allah's help and guidance."
The books every Jew must have
This might be too ambitious to be also serious, but Jewcy is trying to compile the list of books that "every Jew needs to own".
Here is Neal Karlan recommending The Plot Against America:
It is not incisive commentary to say Philip Roth, like David Mamet, has been a sexist pig dog in his past. He has been. It has also been suggested that Roth, in the sunset of his career, must be juicing himself on the literary equivalent of steroids. What but a performance-enhancing elixir could explain Roth's inspired twilight work such as American Pastoral and Everyman? Yet The Plot Against America will be the Roth novel most remembered and re-read, as he details what happens to a Newark Jewish neighborhood when Charles Lindbergh is elected President in 1940.
Keep peace making on the Bush track
When Fareed Zakaria argues that some Bush policies should not be reversed by the next president, he has some specific examples in mind, like the Israeli-Palestinian peace making:
Bush began his term in office vowing that he would not involve himself in Clinton-style efforts at peacemaking. His administration adopted a hands-off approach, allowing resentments to build and conditions to worsen. It gave free rein to irresponsible policies from all parties, encouraging, for example, a thoughtless and ill-planned Israeli attack on Lebanon that ended up weakening Israel, devastating Lebanon and empowering Hizbullah. This year Bush has plunged into the process, holding an international conference in Annapolis at which, for the first time, both Israel and the Palestinians accepted that the purpose of the exercise was to create a Palestinian state. Since that meeting, Rice has made a half dozen visits to the region. All this hasn't produced much yet, may be seven years too late, and perhaps is not the right approach (what is?). But few would argue that U.S. policy is currently on the wrong track.
The ones who would are revealing. Disgruntled conservative hard-liners have been dismayed by the administration's policy in many areas, particularly North Korea, Iran and Israel. John Bolton, formerly Bush's U.N. ambassador and a superhawk, publicly makes the case for betrayal. When Burns joined the talks with Iran, Bolton fumed sarcastically on television that the State Department was obviously "doing its best to ensure a smooth transition to the Obama administration." (Obama has long advocated American negotiations with Tehran.) He described Bush's handling of North Korea as a capitulation, comparing him to Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. John Bolton is absolutely right that Bush has changed course fundamentally in many of these areas. Of course, I would celebrate that fact rather than condemn it.
Arabs reluctant to help Palestinian Authority
More about the financial crisis of the Palestinian Authority can be found here:
So far this year, the PA has reportedly received only $950 million of the pledged $1.9 billion of donor assistance for its 2008 budget assistance. The UAE gave the PA an additional $42 million to pay July's salaries, but similar problems will likely recur in the following months. If the remaining pledged funds do not arrive soon, Fayad's government will have difficulty remaining in office. Failure to pay salaries will shake the public's confidence in Fayad, who has a record of delivering financial stability and improving law and order in the West Bank. More significantly, a budget crisis will likely allow Hamas to further consolidate its control of Gaza, since the PA has remained relevant there only because it continues to pay 77,000 employees.
Increased Arab support for the PA could easily solve this budget crisis. Although such assistance is well within the financial means of the Gulf States, it remains unlikely to materialize, given their hesitancy to appear taking sides in the ongoing conflict between Fatah and Hamas. And even with U.S. and European diplomatic pressure, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are unlikely to alter their strategic tilt toward Hamas. Consequently, it will be up to the rest of the donor community to act creatively and reshuffle funds -- from developmental assistance to budgetary support -- as the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee recommended in May. If such moves are not taken, the PA government will collapse, creating political chaos and making it nearly impossible to complete long-term development projects.
Eric Fingerhut had his start with JTA by covering the Tenn. primaries in which Rep. Steve Cohen won handily as expected.
His 60 percentage point margin of victory was unexpected?and perhaps a sign why his African-American opponent, Nikki Tinker, was desperate enough to run an ad deemed anti-Semitic by many observers.
First of all, if you never saw the ad, which portrayed Cohen as an outsider because of his Judaism, you can check it out here.
And here's how Obama was also involved:
Barack Obama today condemned a television advertisement that portrayed Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) as an outsider because of his Judaism, but Cohen's campaign manager said he didn't think the statement by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee would make much of a difference as voters go to the polls today.
"These incendiary and personal attacks have no place in our politics," Obama said in a statement, "and will do nothing to help the good people of Tennessee. It's time to turn the page on a politics driven by negativity and division so that we can come together to lift up our communities and our country."
Connecticut voters believe in Obama
Joe Lieberman will not be delivering Connecticut to McCain, polls continue to show:
Obama leads McCain 51% to 36%. A month ago, in the first survey since Hillary Clinton dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama jumped to a 52% to 35% lead over McCain.
Obama is viewed favorably by 61% of Connecticut voters, virtually identical to last month's finding, and unfavorably by 38%. The latter is a five percentage point improvement from early July. McCain's numbers are 51% favorable, compared to 54% last month, and 47% unfavorable, up from 43% in July.
McCain has the support of 70% of the state's Republicans, with 23% of GOP voters backing Obama. Among Democrats, 80% support Obama and only 9% McCain. Unaffiliated voters are evenly divided, with 41% for McCain and 40% for Obama.
Next Jewish veep?
No, it is not Lieberman again, but rather Eric Cantor, reports the
Cantor's name has been mentioned lately but he seemed like a very long
shot. Now, with Obama's consideration of Tim Kaine, Virginia is
becoming more important to McCain, and Cantor becomes a less unlikely
Known on Capitol Hill as squeaky clean, Cantor has successfully
campaigned and raised money in key states like Missouri, New Jersey
and New York.
Mark Warner, the former Virginia governor and now Democratic candidate
for U.S. Senate in Virginia, has said that Cantor was his toughest
potential opponent. Cantor decided to stay in the House to continue
rising the leadership ladder.
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and one of the nation's most
influential evangelical leaders, recently praised Cantor as a
potential McCain running mate, calling him rock-solid on social
issues?a huge concern for Christian conservatives with the maverick
McCain at the top of the ticket.
Amid hothouse speculation throughout the party, Cantor joins a tiny
list of Republicans known to be under real consideration by McCain.
The Republican convention runs from Sept. 1-4.
Next foreign policy crisis
Iran will ruin the honeymoon of the next American president, declares
In the vast gulf between campaign bumper stickers that shout
"Unconditional Talks" or "Bomb Iran," however, lie many difficult
choices and multiple forks in the road of policy development. Any
strategy that fails to anticipate them fully or appreciate the twists
and turns that brought the United States to this difficult pass risks
inadvertent war on the one hand, or a nuclear breakout by a dangerous
adversary on the other. The candidates and their national security
teams would do well to consider the lessons of recent years and think
through their strategies now, because history suggests that waiting
until the crisis is upon you invites the most dangerous type of
Next commander in chief
Middle East trip did not help much:
Clearly, Obama still has some work to do to convince Americans he
can handle some of the international responsibilities of the
presidency. While he already is viewed as being better than McCain at
handling "relations with other countries," McCain has wide advantages
over Obama in perceptions that he would be able to handle the job of
commander in chief and to do a good job of handling the terrorism
Should the US invade Darfur?
David Rivkin, my previous guest thinks it shouldn't. Joseph Cirincione says stopping genocide is just as important as toppling leaders such as Saddam Hussein. Here is the debate:
Rivkin: international humanitarian interventions, whatever their moral appeal, have to be judged by the same hardheaded standards as traditional national-interest-driven interventions. How compelling is the humanitarian problem in a particular place compared with other places? Are the equities clear-cut or are all the sides of a conflict equally unsavory? How does one define success? Is regime change the objective? What are the likely costs of a successful intervention? How many casualties and how much collateral damage should be anticipated? Are sufficient military resources available? The important thing is not to become entangled in a halfhearted, indecisive mission with unclear or excessively soft rules of engagement, as was the case with the Clinton administration's deployment of U.S. forces to Somalia. Such interventions produce no good results. War is too serious of a business to be play-acting, and there is no substitute for victory, something those -- in Europe and elsewhere -- who call the loudest for humanitarian interventions should keep in mind.
Cirincione: I would argue that we have as much of a strategic interest and moral duty to stop the genocide in Darfur as we did to stop the rule of Saddam Hussein. Morally, it is clear: Hundreds of thousands of people have been slaughtered in Darfur. We should stop this massacre if we can. Strategically, it is not as direct. That region of Africa does not impact our immediate national security interests -- which is why intervention there is not popular. Indeed, intervention in Africa is rarely considered in even the worst of situations.
Media bias in Obama's favor
Most Americans believe that news coverage of Obama's Mideast trip was unfairly positive:
The heavy coverage of the trip may have fueled speculation (or reinforced pre-existing attitudes) about news media bias in Obama's favor. A separate set of questions in the weekend poll asked Americans about their views of the news media's coverage of the two major-party candidates. Americans are more than twice as likely to say media coverage of Obama is unfairly positive as to say it is unfairly negative. For McCain, the opposite is true, with many more seeing coverage of him as unfairly negative than as unfairly positive.
The differences in views of the media are enormous between those who are voting for McCain and those voting for Obama. In general, McCain voters largely believe their candidate is being treated unfairly while Obama is getting overly friendly media coverage. In turn, Obama voters tend to view the media coverage of both candidates as even-handed.
Lieberman seen as good veep choice
The two possible Republican running mates with the highest favorable ratings among voters - Mike Huckabee and Joseph Lieberman - are not even on most of the short lists currently being discussed, a new Rasmussen poll found:
In the new survey, Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, rates highest, with nearly half of voters (47%) saying they view him at least somewhat favorably. Fifteen percent rate their opinion of him as Very Favorable. Huckabee is seen at least somewhat unfavorably by 39%. Huckabee, like Mitt Romney, ran against McCain in the spring GOP primaries.
Lieberman, a sitting "Independent" Democratic senator who was Al Gore's running mate in 2000, is seen at least somewhat favorably by 46%, with 10% rating their view of him Very Favorable. Again, 39% have at least a somewhat unfavorable view of Lieberman.
Obama courting Evangelicals
This interesting article is from the American Spectator:
Mesmerized by the kid from Honolulu, some evangelicals, particularly young "moderates," are tempted to break ranks and defect to the Obama bandwagon. At least, that's what media pundits would have us believe. Polls still show that conservative Christians favor McCain, but Obama is faring better than Kerry did in 2004.
And no wonder. Obama's campaign isn't afraid to target more rural areas awash with religious voters. Unlike past Democratic presidential nominees, he's not schizoid when it comes to talking about his own faith (which, admittedly, is a clash between the bizarre and the watered-down). He's even set up a website to lure young evangelicals into the fold.
Granted, Obama's attempted coup of the evangelical right is hardly a universal success. He continues to tick off conservative mainstays like James Dobson, who can see past the senator's rock star persona and occasional biblical references to his liberal core. But others are not so wise.