The Only Thing Hamas Likes Better Than Dead Israelis Is Dead Palestinians

It’s on. If there’s an over/under on how long it will be before Israel sends its mobilized ground troops into Gaza in its rekindled war with Hamas, put me down for five days. (Update: Oops.)

President Obama seems to be saying exactly the right things:

“Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory,” Obama said at the start of a three-nation tour in Asia.

“If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that’s preferable,” he said. “It’s not just preferable for the people of Gaza. It’s also preferable for Israelis, because if Israeli troops are in Gaza, they’re much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded.”

Yes, it would be nice if stopping the missiles could happen without “ramping up.” But does anyone seriously think that Hamas will quit firing missiles? (A tactical pause of a few days doesn’t count — I mean, Hamas needs to stop firing missiles.)

Israel and Hamas are both using social media to make their cases, as you can see from the graphics accompanying this post. (If you get this blog by RSS feed, thanks! But you’ll probably need to click through to the blog to see the graphics.)

This isn’t Israel vs. Palestine, it’s Israel vs. Hamas. Hamas may have won an election in the Gaza Strip, but they’re an occupying power, not a representative government. (Anybody expect Hamas to hold another election anytime soon?)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “I Stand With Israel.”

Hold Off On Ordering Those “Romney 2016″ T-Shirts

Gracious.

It’s amazing how quickly and how savagely a political party can turn on its standard-bearer.  I noted this phenomenon four years ago — before the election, but after the probable outcome was clear:

Losing the Presidential race has to be even worse than losing the World Series.

If you lose the World Series, you at least get to put up a banner proclaiming that you were the League Champion for the year. Your hometown throws you a consolation rally, and you start talking about the future (“hey, we’re tied for 1st place” in the coming season). There may be regrets about missed opportunities that could have produced World Series rings, but your own fans probably will not vilify you.

McCain, however, can already hear the long knives being sharpened on his own side of the aisle. (Oops, wrong metaphor.) McCain knows the throw is going to beat him to the bag, but he has to be seen running it out just as hard as he can. This is the big leagues.

This time the guy who came in second is making things considerably worse for himself with some remarkably tone-deaf comments:

Republicans don’t want Mitt Romney to go away mad but they do, it seems, want him to go away.

That sentiment was in full bloom following Romney’s first post-election comments — made on a phone call with donors earlier this week. On the call, Romney attributed his loss to the “gifts” President Obama’s campaign doled out to young people and minorities. For many, the comments had an eerie echo of the secretly taped “47 percent” remarks Romney made at a May fundraiser.

“There is no Romney wing in the party that he needs to address,” said Ed Rogers, a longtime Republican strategist. “He never developed an emotional foothold within the GOP so he can exit the stage anytime and no one will mourn.”

Added Chris LaCivita, a senior party operative: “The comment just reinforced a perception —  fairly or not – that Romney, and by default, the GOP are the party of the ‘exclusives’. It’s time for us to move on and focus on the future leaders within the GOP.”

Remind me not to go into politics.

Benghazi is the Silver Lining in the Tragedy of Petraeus

When a co-worker told me late Friday about General Petraeus’s resignation as CIA director, my immediate reaction was profound sadness.  Petraeus is one of the few public servants I’ve ever admired without reservation.  Now that’s been taken from me.  (Yes, it’s about me.)

Petraeus will still be remembered as one of the greatest generals in American history.  President Lincoln supposedly said of my friend’s great-great-grandfather, “I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.”  I have this fantasy of President Obama saying, “I wonder if we could find a hot biographer for some of my other generals?”

But back to me: I’ve followed Petraeus’s career off and on since he was a mere colonel walking around the Princeton campus with a briefcase in the mid-1980s.  That’s the detail I remember from the Princeton Alumni Weekly article about him — hey, there’s this guy who looks like he could be a well-dressed grad student, except he carries a briefcase.  Petraeus got two graduate degrees from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.  (I hope I’m remembering the details correctly — unfortunately, PAW articles from that far back are not available online.)

I’ve written about Petraeus a few times here, most notably in “Dog Bites Man: MoveOn.org Twists the Truth” and ““Barack Obama Better Be All In” on Afghanistan “. I know there are people who despise Petraeus, think he’s created a personality cult around himself, blah blah blah, I don’t care.  Petraeus won the war in Iraq, after taking over while it seemed to many — including a disgraceful Senate majority leader — that the war had been lost.

The silver lining in the Petraeus episode is that the debacle in Benghazi will finally get the attention it deserves.  (Note to Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein: If it was appropriate for Gen. Petraeus to testify in your closed-door hearing when he was CIA director, it’s no less appropriate now that he’s a private citizen.)  Here’s VDH with a handy list of questions you should ask:

“We were beginning to sense that the crime of Benghazi (not listening to pre-attack requests for increased security; not sending help immediately from the annex to the besieged consulate; not rushing in additional military forces during the hours-long attack) and the cover-up (inventing the video narrative of a spontaneous demonstration gone wild to support a pre-election administration narrative of an impotent al-Qaeda, a successful Libya, a positive Arab Spring, and a cool, competent Commander in Chief, slayer of bin Laden, and architect of momentous Middle East change) were not the entire story of the 9/11/2012 attack: Why was there a consulate at all in Benghazi, given that most nations have shut down their main embassies in Tripoli? Why was there such a large CIA contingent nearby — what were they doing and why and for whom? Why did the ambassador think he needed more security when so many CIA operatives were stationed just minutes away? What was the exact security relationship between the annex and the consulate, and why the apparent quiet about it? Who exactly were the terrorist hit-teams, and did they have a particular agenda, and, if so, what and for whom? All these questions had not been answered and probably would have been raised during the scheduled Petraeus testimony — which is apparently now canceled, but why that is so, no one quite knows.”

Regardless of whether the Petraeus testimony gets uncanceled, now the media is in the hunt. The Obama-supporting mainstream media had no stomach for Benghazi when they thought it might hurt their guy’s election chances.  Even after the election, until the Petraeus revelation, the media could think it would be potentially embarrassing (to the media) to dig into Benghazi too much, let’s move along, maybe there’s nothing there anyway.

But now? The CIA director admits to banging his biographer just days before he’s supposed to testify (behind closed doors) to a Congressional committee? I can practically hear some top editor at the New York Times: “HOLY CRAP!  Flood the zone! I want a reporter on every aspect of this story, we can’t let the National Enquirer scoop us like they did on John Edward’s love child! What’s the Congressional hearing about? Ben-whozi? Whatever, get someone on that too.”

I’m having some fun with this topic, but let me be clear (to borrow a phrase from my favorite currently-serving American president): Adultery is wrong.  He shouldn’t have done it.  I don’t know whether he initiated it or she did, but it doesn’t matter.  Even if she instigated the affair as relentlessly as Monica Lewinsky did, Petraeus still had a duty to resist (as did Bill Clinton).

But while what Petraeus did may be inexcusable, it’s not unforgivable. I forgive him for the minor transgression of tarnishing one of my heroes.  I hope his wife will forgive him for his far-worse offense against her. My faith tells me God will forgive him.  And unless something far worse emerges out of the coming feeding frenzy, I have no doubt history will forgive him, too.

Congratulations, Mr. President: Chapter 2 of My Quadrennial Search for Silver Linings

Whether it's Bush or Obama, if he is not your president, then you are not my countryman

Congratulations, Mr. President.  I voted for the other guy, but I wish you well — and if you had to win, I’m deeply relieved that Florida doesn’t matter this time.

Once again, you’ve inherited a mess from your predecessor.  This time, you won’t be able to get as much mileage from blaming him.  One of the beauties of our two-party system is that eventually, both parties end up sharing the responsibility for every major issue.

Unlike some of your critics, I don’t think your re-election is a disaster.  Even though you’ll continue to be the most powerful person in the world, you are not powerful enough to inflict serious long-term damage on America.  We survived Nixon’s thuggery, Carter’s ineptitude and Clinton’s reckless sexual predation, and we’ll survive Obamacare and anything else you may throw at us.

To me, Obamacare was the most important reason to defeat you.  The day before the election, Christopher DeMuth described the stakes as he saw them:

On Tuesday, Americans will go to the polls to choose whether or not to nationalize their health-care system. …

If President Barack Obama is re-elected, ObamaCare’s controls over doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical firms and other providers of medical care will be tightened, and the operations of private insurance companies will be progressively restricted. Everyone involved will know where the process is going—to a single-payer system or one with a few chosen insurers subject to national public-utility controls—and will negotiate the best possible accommodations to it. Within a few years, a new political equilibrium will be in place, making the system irreversible and subject to only marginal adjustment.

The Heritage Foundation has a helpful Obamacare tax chart -- click for more details

Well, maybe.  I sure wish we had elected a Republican president and enough Republican senators to overturn Obamacare altogether, but we did not.  However, opposition to socialized healthcare is not going to go away. When the tax increases start kicking in a few weeks from now, you may find that your predecessor has bequeathed you a healthcare system so deeply unpopular that you may not be able to enforce party discipline to protect it.

I’m also not overly worried about continuing to entrust you with our national security — although again, I would have preferred the other guy as commander-in-chief.  Despite the ridiculous Nobel Peace Prize, you’ve steered well clear of the moral bankruptcy of pacifism.  To your credit, you green-lighted the risky takedown of Osama bin Laden, rather than taking the safer route of a Predator missile — and you’ve used those Predators to take out thousands of enemy combatants.  You retained Bush’s defense secretary and his strategy for Iraq, and mimicked his surge in Afghanistan.

Heck, you even started a totally unnecessary war in Libya, where we had no national interests at stake.  I don’t want to encourage unnecessary wars, but at least this one got rid of a very bad man, and up until Benghazi it seemed to be turning out all right.  Your administration’s inattention to a deteriorating situation cost four brave men their lives in Benghazi.  But at the risk of sounding flip, all presidents make mistakes that get brave people killed.

If America never uses its military strength, then all that money spent on defense truly is wasted.  On balance I think your Libya adventure was probably unwise, but I like my presidents to have a bias toward action in the face of evil people.  When, not if, the war with Iran enters its kinetic phase, I’m confident now (as I was not in 2008) that you will not preemptively surrender.  And despite your occasionally shoddy treatment of our ally Israel, I have no doubt which side you’ll take.  Even during the crucible of the final weeks of the campaign, you’ve already started laying the ground work for war, through joint exercises with Israel and by condoning Israel’s attack on a weapons plant in Sudan.

You have a tough job ahead of you, Mr. President.  So did your predecessor.  However wrong-headed some of your policies may be, I believe you to be a good and decent family man, a person of substance, and a person dedicated to doing what you believe is right for America. I can’t find the link now, but to paraphrase another voice on the right: The fact that our political system has given us a choice of two such candidates is a testament to the enduring strength of America.

Good luck, Mr. President, and may God watch over you and those you serve.

Does Hurricane Sandy Help Obama or Romney?


To my East Coast peeps: In between charging your cell phones on the neighbor’s generator and driving around looking for gas lines, I know many of you have been wondering, “what’s Kirk’s take on how Sandy affects the election?”

In all seriousness, the election Tuesday will be far more consequential than any mere hurricane. Sandy gives Obama a chance to look presidential, which he has been taking advantage of, as he should.  It may take people’s minds off the economy in the closing days, which tends to help Obama.  It also takes attention off of the administration’s missteps regarding Benghazi, although the mainstream media is largely ignoring that story anyway. But in the end I think the storm will be a non-factor, or perhaps help Obama slightly.  I can’t see any way Sandy helps Romney, but would welcome any ideas to the contrary in the comments.

The hardest-hit states appear to be New York, Connecticut and my beloved New Jersey.  I’m quite confident in predicting that Romney will get precisely zero electoral votes from those states, which is part of why I don’t think Sandy helps Obama much.

I think it’s going to be a very close election — I just hope it’s not TOO close.  The Florida recount saga of 2000 was a national tragedy, and I would say that even if it had gone the other way. (In fact, I voted for Mr. Gore, before becoming a 9-11 Republican.)

The respected and vaguely left-leaning uber-pollster Nate Silver gives Obama an 84% chance of winning, but is careful to explain that it’s not a lopsided race, he’s going on the basis of consistent small margins in battleground-state polls. He says “For Romney to Win, State Polls Must Be Statistically Biased” — and then he also carefully explains how such bias could exist without malfeasance on anybody’s part.

Right-leaning commentator Kathleen Parker runs through a variety of factors and concludes,

Combining all the above in some sort of meta-analysis, facing East while balancing on one foot and slicing carrots on the diagonal, you have to figure Obama will be our president for another four years.  Then again, people are unpredictable.

I also like Parker’s closing words:

As for the two fine men vying for this impossible job, each should remember that no mandate comes with this victory. The winner of the pie-eating contest gets more pie.

The Web Goddess and I are without power at home, and I’m writing this in the dining room of a left-leaning friend, so I need to get it posted before my friend realizes what I’m doing.  (We are safe and dry, and our minor roof damage has already been repaired at a cost less than our deductible.)

If anybody is counting blog endorsements, count me as favoring Romney.  I think he has a better chance of prevailing than Silver’s analysis would suggest, but that’s just a gut feeling.  Ohio is key: if it gets called for either candidate early, that guy wins.  We’ll know in a few days — I hope.