The Spine

The last time I looked the president was still trying to entice (or maybe the word I should say “entrance”) the Iranians into...Well, what? As with the North Koreans, Obama still has faith that Tehran -with all the evidence against this proposition notwithstanding- is a rational actor in its drive for nuclear weapons. In fact, given the assumption that atomic war is probably something that Iran would very much like to wage, Dr. A’jad and the ayatollahs are playing the game just right. They have gotten time and more time...and time is not really money.

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"Spineless spiral" is Maureen Dowd's quite apt characterization of Barack Obama and his initiatives. Even his most cherished initiatives like the one to get a New Start of the old Start nuclear weapons treaty agreed to by the Russians and then, of course, by the U.S. Senate. The Russians have done so. I agree with Ms. Dowd and Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and Senator Lugar and Robert Kagan, the hard-nosed sometime contributor to TNR, that the treaty should be ratified.

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Judith Miller is one of those reporters who sees the significant detail in almost every story. And the fact is that many Americans don't want to read about...or hear about it. But her latest blog, “Airport Screening Is Just for Us Common Folk,” insists on telling us who doesn't get screened and who does. OK, very top brass never is frisked.

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There are a few people who will go down in history as clear-sighted and even heroic founders of the human rights movement which began in the last decades of the twentieth century. Some of them lived in inner exile in the countries that kept them hostage. Some of them lived in external exile longing to go home.

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Maplecroft is an intellectually astute and politically unbiased global risk evaluator. Its business is to rank (with analysis) some of the world's major (and troublesome) realities from carbon accounting to human rights. Its roster includes assessing the dangers of terrorism in different countries on a monthly basis. Predictably, the list is pretty stable...with occasional surprises.

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Aside from offending the folk who get their views from "All Things Considered" and other hothouses of progressive conformity,  Judith Miller is a journalist's journalist, a reporter's reporter. Here is her devastating review of the president's trip to Asia.   Fareed Zakaria strikes an altogether different note in yesterday's Washington Post. But he would, wouldn't he? Another TNR staffer gone wobbly.

The U.N. is not a particularly honest source for data. But its annual Development Program Report does have a reputation for probity. According to a very distinguished Israeli intellectual--a former minister of education and now a professor of law at the interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya--Amnon Rubinstein, writing in today's Jerusalem Post, "Unexpected Expectancy," apprizes of the fact that "life expectancy in violence-ridden, tense Israel (is) the 10th highest in the world." This includes all denizens in the country: that is, Jews, Christian Arabs, Muslim Arabs, Druze.

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The Associated Press, a better and underrated news service than most people realize, has done an analysis of what the people’s votes ten days ago mean. Not about this candidate or that. But about Barack Obama himself. It is not good news, not good news, at all. Just one goody before I go to bed on the shore of the Mediterranean: Majorities disapprove of Obama in all states but California, Delaware, Hawaii and Vermont. Obama’s job performance ratings was lowest in West Virginia, where 76% disapprove.

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I wonder why a Yale professor of English, David Bromwich, would put his fastidious critique of our “fastidious” president in the oh, so chic London Review of Books. It certainly isn’t to convince voters. Still, the truth is that I agree with some of his 4500 word essay. And the rest? Well, it is instructive to read. And paradigmatic of the left’s new antagonism to Barack Obama. Which is an expression of its shock that, as candidate for president, he was reckless with his promises, cynical, and intoxicated by his own words. I don’t think that he lied exactly.

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