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March 03, 2015 5:30 PM Day’s End and Night Watch

Tonight I plan to watch my Georgia Bulldogs men’s basketball team take on the mighty Kentucky Wildcats. They’ll likely lose like every other Cats opponent so far this year, but it’s at home, on Senior Night, with a Blackout called, and the Dawgs are finally semi-healthy, so weird stuff could happen.

Here are some remains of the day:

* House approves clean DHS funding bill by margin of 257/167. Republicans split 75 for, 167 against.

* Daily Kos Elections has nifty visual guide to people being “mentioned” as possibly running for Mikulski Senate seat.

* Not real surprising: US Justice Department finds pattern of racial bias among Ferguson, MO, police.

* At Ten Miles Square, Harold Pollack says Abercrombie & Fitch has richly earned a parental boycott.

* At College Guide, Andre Perry has amazing list of 101 things—that’s right, 101—black fathers can do to stay engaged with their kids, even if they don’t live with them.

And in non-political news:

* Media get first look at partially renovated Wrigley Field.

That’s it for Tuesday. Having abandoned any musical theme, let’s just end the day with a seasonal song I haven’t gotten around to posting this year: Simon and Garfunkel with “Hazy Shade of Winter.”

Selah.

March 03, 2015 4:24 PM Vote As I Say, Not As I Don’t

As we examine the compliance of presidential candidates with public records requirements, it’s interesting that there’s some significant doubt as to whether Jeb Bush might have committed his own startling oversight by failing to vote in 2008, as reported by Steve Eder and Kitty Bennett of the New York Times:

In the final stretch of the 2008 presidential campaign, Jeb Bush appeared in a television ad urging Floridians to support John McCain, the Republican nominee, at the polls.
“Join me and vote for John McCain,” Mr. Bush said in the 30-second spot.
But according to voting records from Miami-Dade County, where Mr. Bush and his wife, Columba, are longtime residents, the couple did not vote for Mr. McCain or anyone else in that presidential election.
Mr. Bush said through his spokeswoman, Kristy Campbell, that he and his wife cast absentee ballots for Mr. McCain, but election officials could not locate any record that either had voted. Digital and paper records from the 2008 cycle - which may have provided evidence about whether they requested absentee ballots - were destroyed under retention policies, they said….
The episode highlights either an odd oversight by the elections office in Florida’s most populous county, a case of mishandled mail or a strange lapse by Mr. Bush, who is now looking to begin a presidential campaign of his own.

Well, Jeb’s problem prompts me to come clean: I didn’t vote in the 2008 general election either; I was traveling to a wedding out of the country the week before Election Day and accidentally left my absentee ballot at home, unmailed. It was too late to procure another. I did vote in the primary, though. But it still upset me, as it broke a streak of nine presidential elections I’d voted in. I dunno, if Jeb was the stoner he was reputed to be in his younger years, he may have missed one or two at the front end.

We’ll probably never know for sure if Bush missed voting in 2008, but it can be an issue. Once when I was at the DLC I met a congressional candidate who was asking for advice on this or that and suddenly asked, “Do you think it’s a problem that I haven’t voted in twenty years or so? I was in the diplomatic service and was usually overseas. I understand Ike hadn’t voted in ages when he ran for president, so I plan on using that as a response.”

I told him he might not want to compare his situation to Ike’s unless he’d been off winning a world war. He lost pretty badly.

March 03, 2015 3:50 PM Will Republicans Be Estopped From Going Nuts About HRC’s Emails?

As you’ve probably heard by now, it seems Hillary Clinton never set up a government email account at the State Department, and instead used a personal account for official business. Depending on some timing issues, this could have been illegal, though hardly a felony, and was definitely unwise unless she took extraordinary steps to secure her personal account.

But as Melissa McEwan points out at Shakesville, evading scrutiny by doing official business on personal emails was SOP during the Bush administration:

In 2007, Joseph Hughes and I collaborated on a piece detailing a similar violation of the Federal Records Act by multiple members of the Bush administration. At the time, not only did very few people care about this violation, and precious few reporters covered it at all, but I found myself having to explain over and over why this was a violation that mattered; why we need to care that public officials use private email for official communications.
So it will certainly be interesting to watch how this story unfolds, in terms of the amount of coverage it gets and the level of criticism Clinton receives as a result, compared to the administration-wide practice by the Bush administration.
To be abundantly clear: I’m not arguing that Clinton should not face scrutiny as a result of this disclosure. To the contrary, I believe the Bush administration should have received a great deal more scrutiny than it did.
And because I so keenly remember the yawning indifference, of the media and of average USians, to the Bush administration email scandal, I will note that, if this turns into a massive story for Clinton, a potentially presidential-derailing story, it is not because people give a shit about compliance with the Federal Records Act, unless people have suddenly developed an inexplicable fondness for it in the intervening eight years.

As Brother Benen notes, Republican malfeasance towards and indifference about official email requirements didn’t stop with the Bush administration, either:

Three years ago we learned that Mitt Romney oversaw the purchase of 17 state-issued hard drives, and wiped clean computers and servers that contained electronic copies of emails from his gubernatorial office. Romney later admitted the move was intended to hide official correspondence from the public and keep potentially-embarrassing information under wraps in advance of his presidential campaign. During the 2012 race, Republicans said this didn’t matter, either.

So to use a legal term in a less technical way, Republicans are to some extent “estopped” (i.e., limited by their own previous behavior) from making too big a deal about Clinton’s behavior unless there’s more to it than currently appears. Perhaps we can actually get some bipartisan agreement now to prevent officials in either party from circumventing open records requirements.

March 03, 2015 2:18 PM The Other College Guide—a New Book From the Washington Monthly

As noted here a couple of weeks ago, a new book addressing a topic near and dear to the hearts of Washington Monthly editors and readers for many years is on the way.

Today we’re pleased to announce the formal release of a new college guidebook unlike any other on the market, featuring our unique “Best Bang for the Buck” ranking system applied to more than 1500 four-year schools and broken down by region.

Check out the rankings here to see how your alma mater measures up.

The book is The Other College Guide: A Roadmap to the Right School for You, by Jane Sweetland, Paul Glastris, and the editors of the Washington Monthly, published by The New Press. Our aim was to take the knowledge we’ve acquired from years of producing our magazine’s annual College Guide and Rankings, which is mostly meant for taxpayers and policymakers, and turn it into shrewd, news-you-can-use advice for high school students—and their parents, teachers, guidance counselors and others—on how to get into and succeed at college in an era when a degree has never been more important (or expensive).

The result is a guidebook that is quite different from others in several ways:

First, other books cater (though they don’t come right out and say so) mostly to students from well-to-do families trying to get into the most exclusive, priciest schools. The Other College Guide is for every student. Whether they’re rich, poor, or in the middle, or get straight As or mostly Cs, this book will help them find a challenging, high-quality school that’s right for them.

Second, other guidebooks, like the one from U.S. News & World Report, rank schools based on how many students they turn away, or how much money they raise and spend, or how other college presidents rate them.

But these metrics tell you next to nothing about how much actual learning goes on in the classroom. They are mostly measures of inputs, not outcomes. So The Other College Guide ignores such criteria and instead
ranks colleges based on the best available data about what really matters (or should matter) to typical students. Which schools will charge a fair price and not bury a student in debt? (Hint: look beyond the sticker price.) Which help students graduate? (Going to college but not getting a degree is an almost complete waste of a student’s time and money.) Which provide degrees that allow graduates to earn a decent income? (They should at least have enough to pay off student loans, and hopefully a whole lot more.)

Third, other guidebooks are full of happy talk about how wonderful America’s higher education system is and how every college has something to offer. Not true: There are a lot of terrible colleges out there. The Other College Guide names names and helps you avoid them. The system is confusing, complicated, full of trap doors, and often unfair. We guide students through it safely.

Fourth, other guidebooks profile the most prestigious colleges or the “Best Party Schools.” We offer detailed profiles of 50 great schools that will maximize a student’s chance of succeeding, academically and in life.

So if you’ve got a prospective college student in your family, or you’re a high school teacher, administrator or guidance counselor struggling to advise students—especially lower-income, first generation, and minority students—on how to pick a school where they won’t get ripped off but will succeed, this is the book for you.

March 03, 2015 1:43 PM Lunch Buffet

Busy day, eh? Aside from the DHS funding bill, wonder what other stuff is happening under cover of Bibimania?

While you’re pondering that question, here are some midday news/views treats:

* First real chink in HRC’s armor, I suspect: exclusive use of private email account during her tenure at State Department, which violates rules and good practice.

* Erick Erickson calls John Boehner a “coward” who’s decided to “fund President Obama’s amnesty.”

* Ben Carson sets up presidential exploratory committee.

* Former Senator John Danforth calls out MO GOP chairman for anti-semitism at funeral of state auditor who committed suicide after apparent smear campaign.

* Titan of old-school conservative journalism and author of the Young Americans for Freedom’s “Sharon Statement,” M. Stanton Evans, dies at 80.

And in non-political news:

* Oops! Bunch o’ hair extensions fall from Britney Spears’ head in mid-performance.

As we break for lunch, I’m not really into a second Dr. Hook tune, so here’s a very different Brittany (different spelling, too), with Alabama Shakes, performing “Don’t Want To Fight” in London just a couple weeks ago.

March 03, 2015 1:01 PM Publicly Accusing Iran of Bluffing Not Best Way To Get To a Deal

I’ll let others cover all the atmospherics and nuances of Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress—including its impact back home in pre-election Israel. But the basic thrust of his remarks was to publicly accuse Iran of bluffing in its resistence to a nuclear deal far less stringent than the one he is insisting is possible, which is another way of saying he’s accusing the Obama administration of being suckers gambling with Israel’s future. I don’t know what else these words could mean:

Iran’s nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.
Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table — and this often happens in a Persian bazaar — call their bluff. They’ll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.

Now I’m not a game theory maven or a professional negotiator (though I did do well in collective bargaining class in law school), but publicly accusing someone of bluffing is not generally the best way to get them to back down, much less accept a deal (a completely, absolutely hypothetical deal that Netanyahu did nothing to explain) which would represent a humiliating back-track that only fear of immediate war could possibly justify. If the U.S. were actually to take Bibi’s advice, it would require a period of extended saber-rattling brinkmanship to convince Tehran that we’re not the ones bluffing.

This just isn’t how diplomacy is done. But I think we all know that’s not Bibi’s objective anyway.

One other thought offered on Twitter by Peter Beinart is worth passing along:

It’s pretty shocking that Netanyahu was able not only to dictate a speech to Congress and its timing, but the scope of issues he’d need to address. It’s less a reflection of his cleverness and audacity than of the peculiar needs of our country’s Republican Party.

March 03, 2015 11:51 AM Now We Have Palinism Without Palin

In Ed Kilgore’s piece in the new issue of the Washington Monthly, he comes out of the box making a couple of astute points.

In late January a once-dominant figure in Republican politics suddenly began hinting at a presidential run and got a lot of negative feedback. It had to make Mitt Romney feel better.
Yes, 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin pointedly refused to take herself out of the running for 2016. There were few cheers. And in a first, when Palin subsequently gave a scatterbrained and embarrassingly juvenile speech at Representative Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit, conservatives were as scornful as liberals.
In part that’s because the ratio between her brief career of statewide public office in Alaska and her subsequent self-promoting isn’t improving. But in part it’s also because she’s proved to be eminently replaceable in Republican politics.

In Palin’s case, I like using the idea of a ratio between what she has actually accomplished politically and the quantity of exposure to her the American public has endured. It’s true, the ratio gets worse every day, and that does help explain why she gets more ludicrous over time. Thinking about Palin this way is a little deeper than just seeing her as a carnival act whose novelty has worn off.

And that’s important because Ed’s second point is that what was novel about Palin hasn’t gone away. It’s gone mainstream in the Republican Party. And no one demonstrates this better than the formerly happy warrior, Mike Huckabee.

It’s easy to forget the old Mike Huckabee from 2008 whose message Frank Rich called, “simply more uplifting—and, in the ethical rather than theological sense, more Christian—than that of rivals, whose main calling cards of fear, torture and nativism have become more strident with every debate. The fresh-faced politics of joy may be trumping the five-o’clock-shadow of Nixonian gloom and paranoia.”

The author of God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy bears little resemblance to the man who scolded Mitt Romney seven years ago for wanting to punish the children of undocumented workers by denying them in-state tuition in the University of Arkansas system.

Here’s Ed:

While nobody has written a full-fledged manifesto for conservative cultural resentment, Mike Huckabee’s new pre-campaign book is a significant step in the direction of full-spectrum cry for the vindication of Real Americans. It is telling that the politician who was widely admired outside the conservative movement during his 2008 run for being genial, modest, quick-witted, and “a conservative who’s not mad about it” has now released a long litany of fury at supposed liberal-elite condescension toward and malevolent designs against the Christian middle class of the Heartland.

In other words, Huckabee has written a book that could just as easily have written (or, more likely, ghostwritten) by Sarah Palin. He’s in on the grift.

The clever conceit of God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy is that Huckabee is explaining to powerful and arrogant elites of “Bubble-ville”—New York, Washington, and Los Angeles—the sturdy folk virtues and beliefs of “Bubba-ville,” by which he means the rest of the country, though it often sounds like just the Deep South as viewed by its older and more conservative white residents. But the book is clearly meant for “Bubbas,” and it is meant to make them very angry.

The old Huckabee is gone, replaced by this bitter and resentful scam-artist. Now the question is, how much “Palinism-without-Palin” will the 2016 presidential field ultimately produce?

It’s a good question. Check out the piece to see Ed’s answer.

March 03, 2015 10:31 AM In Bibi’s Shadow

One good thing about the Netanyahu speech to Congress this morning is that it will apparently provide the kind of massively noisy distraction necessary for John Boehner to sneak through a vote on a “clean” DHS funding bill—you know, the controversy that gripped Washington like a vise a couple of days ago.

Presumably Boehner only needs 30 Republicans to vote with Democrats on this measure. But it will add to the uncomfortably long list of major votes on which he has had to abandon the “Hastert Rule” and rely on Democrats for a majority. By doing so, of course, he will be able to give virtually any Republican with a potential primary problem a “pass” to vote against the leadership, with or without histrionics. And the partisan atmosphere surrounding Netanyahu’s speech will help mute the GOP “surrender.”

March 03, 2015 10:22 AM Cheering in Tehran

As we await the Netanyahu speech to Congress, it’s worth noting that aside from violating old traditions of U.S.-Israel relations and politicizing sensitive diplomacy in the most abrasive way possible, Bibi is giving new hope to hard-liners in Iran, as the New York Times’ Thomas Erdbrink reports:

The tensions between the United States and Israel over how to address Iran’s nuclear program are playing to an eager audience in Tehran, where the news media has highlighted the division as evidence that Israel is being isolated by its otherwise steadfast ally and analysts are examining how the rift might affect the outcome of the nuclear negotiations.
“We are witnessing a division between the United States and Israel,” one of Iran’s most outspoken hard-line clerics, Mehdi Taeb, said on Monday, according to the news website Rasa. “This is unprecedented.”
The strains between the United States and Israel, known by some hard-liners here as the “great and little Satan,” have become increasingly public as Washington and Tehran seek to conclude an agreement that would limit Iran’s ability to continue developing its nuclear capacity. Many here have been eagerly awaiting the address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to the United States Congress on Tuesday, not because they believe he will be able to halt the nuclear talks, but because they say they hope the Israeli leader’s blunt approach will turn American public opinion against him.

Thanks a lot, Bibi.

March 03, 2015 9:58 AM Lower Oil Prices Here to Stay?

Those enjoying relatively low prices for petroleum products probably figure it cannot go on for very long (gasoline is back up over $3.00 a gallon here in California after a brief, giddy plunge to levels not seen in some time). I’d say the CW for non-experts is that the Saudis will engineer a global price spike once they are satisfied with their long-range market share (and/or when shadier geopolitical objectives are reached, given the economic wreckage occurring in places like Iran and Russia).

But Bradley Olson has a convincing piece up at Bloomberg Business that suggests relatively low oil prices are indeed here to stay, at least for a while, and maybe for a good while.

A growing consensus is emerging from the likes of BP Plc, the International Energy Agency, shale wildcatters and even the Saudis that a near-term recovery to $100-a-barrel crude isn’t in the cards. Instead, expect a range of $50 to $60 for at least the next few years.
When oil prices plunged sharply in 2008, they rebounded almost as quickly. Several months ago, industry and government touted the same U or V-shaped recovery this time out. On closer examination, a new factor in the marketplace — shale oil — has changed their minds.
“This is the new normal,” Dennis Cassidy, co-leader of the oil and natural gas practice for consulting company AlixPartners, said in an interview. His group sees an L-shaped chart that could extend for three to five years.
Unlike other petroleum formations, the nature of shale — with multiple inexpensive, short-lived wells — means producers can stop and start drilling on a dime. On the one hand, this allows them to quickly cut costs in a downturn; on the other, every time prices tick up, so will their output — renewing downward pressure on prices.

In other words, OPEC doesn’t really call the shots at the moment. Sure, the Saudis can open the spigots to depress prices, but they have a limited ability to push them back up given the impact of higher prices on shale production.

If this is right, the political consequences are pretty clear for places that produce and consume petroleum products. It could be a long, cold winter for the former—not just nations, but U.S. states that depend on extraction taxes and other economic activity generated by the oil industry—and at the same time could help protect fragile economic recoveries in the U.S. and Europe.

March 03, 2015 9:25 AM Bibi’s Wedge In Action at AIPAC

There will be tons of insta-reaction to Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress today, even from the Democratic Members who have decided to find somewhere else to be. But the big-picture perspective on the event won’t change: an Israeli Prime Minister has chosen to embroil his government in U.S. partisan politics and Americans in Israeli partisan politics, and whether it “works” or not in inspiring congressional opposition to a future deal with Iran, there will be consequences.

The pressures Bibi is creating are threatening some really old conventions, as WaPo’s Dana Milbank notes in his take on yesterday’s session at AIPAC featuring Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power:

A slide projected onto the wall at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee gathering Monday contained a warning to delegates: “AIPAC is Bipartisan,” it said, next to an image of a Democratic donkey and Republican elephant in boxing gear. “Check your gloves at the door.”
They checked their gloves, all right — but less to practice bipartisanship than to pummel the Obama administration with bare knuckles. In the brawl between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran nuclear negotiations, AIPAC has joined congressional Republicans in siding wholeheartedly with the Israeli hard-liner….
The AIPAC delegates left no doubt where they stood as they listened to speeches at the Washington convention center Monday morning by Netanyahu and by an Obama administration representative, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power. The transcript will show that they applauded Netanyahu 59 times in his 22-minute speech, compared with 34 times during Power’s 30-minute address. But that doesn’t reflect the rapturous nature of the reception for Netanyahu (who got an 80-second standing ovation, with thousands of phones raised to take photos, on either end of his speech) and the polite but tepid response to Power (who received a perfunctory 18 seconds)….
AIPAC delegates had to be warned to be nice to Power. A slide flashed on the wall featured Casper the Friendly Ghost and the message: “Don’t boo! Be Friendly.” Just before Power took the stage, the announcer admonished attendees to “be sure to treat all of our speakers and fellow delegates as guests in our home.”

AIPAC has an awful lot invested in its reputation for bipartisanship, particularly when it comes to parting ways with the majority of American Jews who are Democrats, not to mention the roughly half of Israelis who aren’t fond of Netanyahu. The organization also likes to work quietly; there’s been absolutely nothing quiet about Bibi’s trip to Washington, and it’s unclear how quickly, if ever, U.S.-Israeli relations will get back to normal when he returns to Israel hoping to cash in on his American allies’ efforts with a brisk sprint to reelection.

March 03, 2015 8:33 AM Daylight Video

Jance Garfat, bass player for Dr. Hook, was born on this day in 1944. Here’s their anachronistic but evocative hit about having to pour change into a pay phone to talk your baby’s parents into letting you talk to your baby: “Sylvia’s Mother.”

March 02, 2015 6:07 PM Day’s End and Night Watch

Like a lot of white kids in that day, I first became aware of Bo Diddley via the Animals’ 1964 tune “The Story of Bo Diddley.” It was good to see one of those British Invasion bands actually make tribute to the blues musicians they were all ripping off.

Here are some remains of the day:

* Greg Sargent notes 2016 GOP presidential proto-candidates all over the place on the DHS/immigration issue.

* Obama job approval ratio suddenly bounces back to near-even.

* Likud MK Danny Danon offers preview of Netanyahu speech focusing on past examples where Israel disagreed with US—and was proved right. Trouble: one example involves Reagan being wrong!

* At Ten Miles Square, Seth Market argues that it’s the parties, not the media, who have set up Iowa and New Hampshire as crucial states in the presidential nominating process.

* At College Guide, Daniel Luzer suggests a revolt by students against loan obligations might actually succeed in the near future.

And in non-political news:

* Tomorrow’s National Pancake Day!

That’s it for Monday. We’ll close with a short but wonderful video of Bo Diddley—with, as in the Daylight Video post, “The Duchess”—Norma-Jean Wofford—on rhythm guitar, a rather unusual phenomenon in those days.

Selah.

March 02, 2015 5:17 PM Is America Heading For a Constitutional Breakdown?

Today’s must-read, especially if the chaos of contemporary political news isn’t scary enough for you, is Matt Yglesias’ piece at Vox predicting some sort of breakdown for the U.S. political system if current trends continue.

Despite the alarmist headline (“American democracy is doomed”) and a few questionable parallels, Matt is reasonably careful about what he fears: it’s not a civil war, or a coup, or a putsch, though he mentions all of those catastrophes departures from constitutional democracy as things that have happened elsewhere in non-parliamentary systems where gridlock thwarts attempts at governing. But he raises a very good question about how far we’ve lurched towards terminal partisan and ideological frustration in just the last fifteen years:

Looking back at Bush’s election in 2000, one of the most remarkable things is how little social disorder there was. The American public wanted Al Gore to be president, but a combination of the Electoral College rules, poor ballot design in Palm Beach County, and an adverse Supreme Court ruling, put Bush in office. The general presumption among elites at the time was that Democrats should accept this with good manners, and Bush would respond to the weak mandate with moderate, consensus-oriented governance. This was not in the cards. Not because of Bush’s personal qualities (if anything, the Bush family and its circle are standard-bearers for the cause of relative moderation in the GOP), but because the era of the “partisan presidency” demands that the president try to implement the party’s agenda, regardless of circumstances. That’s how we got drastic tax cuts in 2001.
If the Bush years shattered the illusion that there’s no difference between the parties, the Obama years underscore how much control of the White House matters in an era of gridlock. The broadly worded Clean Air Act, whose relevant provisions passed in 1970, has allowed Obama to be one of the most consequential environmental regulators of all time — even though he hasn’t been able to pass a major new environmental bill. He’s deployed executive discretion over immigration enforcement on an unprecedented scale. And he’s left a legacy that could be rapidly reversed. A future Republican administration could not only turn back these executive actions, but substantially erode the Affordable Care Act.
The lessons of the 2000 and 2008 elections make it unnerving to imagine a Bush-Gore style recount occurring in 2014’s political atmosphere. The stakes of presidential elections are sky-high. And the constitutional system provides no means for a compromise solution. There can be only one president. And once he’s in office he has little reason to show restraint in the ambitions of the legislative — or non-legislative — agenda he pursues. In the event of another disputed election, it would be natural for both sides to push for victory with every legal or extra-legal means at their disposal.

Yglesias clearly thinks we need a constitutional overhaul, not just tweaks. I’d say there are less drastic (and more feasible) measures that would help avert a crisis, including some in plain view, like abolishing the Senate filibuster (something Matt’s been outspoken about in the past) and neutering the Electoral College (via the National Popular Vote initiative). But let’s be clear: we aren’t going back to the days of non-ideological parties fighting over patronage rather than policies. I personally think the only answer is for one of the two parties to have the power to govern just long enough to create a new framework for partisan competition in which elections really are referenda producing mandates. Until then, yeah, we are dodging bullets.

March 02, 2015 4:36 PM Hail to the Chief

While we are on the subject of things conservatives say and do that would get liberals strung up from the nearest lamppost, check out this column by Quin Hillyer at National Review:

The leader of the free world will be addressing Congress on Tuesday. The American president is doing everything possible to undermine him.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a nation surrounded by enemies, a nation so small that it narrows at one point to just 9.3 miles. Yet, in a world where the Oval Office is manned by someone openly apologetic for most American exercises of power; and where Western Europe’s economy is enervated, its people largely faithless, and its leadership feckless; and where Freedom House has found “an overall drop in [global] freedom for the ninth consecutive year,” the safeguarding of our civilization might rely more on leaders who possess uncommon moral courage than on those who possess the most nukes or biggest armies.
Right now, nobody on the world stage speaks for civilization the way Netanyahu does.

It gets worse.

Benjamin Netanyahu of course speaks first for Israel, but he speaks also for you and for me, for decency and humaneness, and for vigilance and strength against truly evil adversaries. Congress, by inviting him, is wise. Obama, by opposing him, is horribly wrong. And the civilized world, if it ignores him, will be well-nigh suicidal.

Throughout the last presidential cycle as just about every Republican presidential candidate not named Ron Paul called for outsourcing U.S. Middle Eastern policy to Israel, I kept wondering how these super-patriots justified explicitly subordinating our national interest to any other country’s. Hillyer goes a step further in basically pledging allegiance to a foreign prime minister and encouraging others to do the same.

No, it’s not the actual America these birds love; it’s an America reshaped according to their ideology, in which the president has been deposed.

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