June 23, 2015

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Someone who is objective and qualified to know, has written about more of the devastating results of this president. Michael Oren’s book is reviewed by Matthew Continetti.

By the summer of 2013, President Obama had convinced several key Israelis that he wasn’t bluffing about using force against the Iranian nuclear program. Then he failed to enforce his red line against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad—and the Israelis realized they’d been snookered. Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, recalls the shock inside his government. “Everyone went quiet,” he said in a recent interview. “An eerie quiet. Everyone understood that that was not an option, that we’re on our own.”

Reading Oren’s new memoir Ally, it’s clear that Israel has been on her own since the day Obama took office. Oren provides an inside account of relations between the administration of Barack Obama and the government of Bibi Netanyahu, and his thesis is overwhelming, authoritative, and damning: For the last six and a half years the president of the United States has treated the home of the Jewish people more like a rogue nation standing in the way of peace than a longtime democratic ally. Now the alliance is “in tatters.”

Oren is not a conservative looking to make a political issue of support for Israel. Indeed, by Washington Free Beacon standards, he’s something of a squish. The author of a classic history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East and a sometime professor at Yale, Harvard, and Georgetown, Oren served for five years as a contributor to the New Republic, has contributed to the New York Review of Books, and supports what he calls a “two-state situation” focused on institution-building and economic aid to the West Bank. He’s a member of the Knesset, but not of Netanyahu’s Likud Party. He joined the comparatively dovish Kulanu Party last December.

Oren’s credentials and relationships make him hard to dismiss. …



Michael Rubin posts on the reception of Oren’s book by the administration. 

The Obama administration is reportedly furious with Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, for publishing a behind-the-scenes account of U.S.-Israeli relations during the early portion of President Obama’s administration. Suffice to say, the Oren memoir did not stick to Obama administration talking points.

The umbrage that Obama administration officials and the State Department take is just a bit hypocritical. After all, multiple Obama administration officials were veterans of earlier administrations and, during the Republican interlude, wrote books. For example, former George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administration diplomat Dennis Ross castigated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in The Missing Peace, his 2004 memoir of behind-the-scenes efforts to win Palestinian-Israeli peace. For example, he wrote for just one example, “What went wrong? To put it simply, Netanyahu was not willing to concede anything.” Never mind Yasser Arafat’s terrorism and two-faced behavior; it was Netanyahu’s fault. How awkward, then, it must have been to return to Obama’s National Security Council to work on Middle East issues after having badmouthed Netanyahu, who had also returned to office in the meantime. …



John Hinderaker says the president has disgraced himself again.

I haven’t written anything about the murders in Charleston, mostly because I haven’t had time. I expect to talk about the murders tomorrow on the Laura Ingraham show, where I will be guest hosting. I would encourage you to tune in for that. In the meantime, one obvious point can be made: Barack Obama has disgraced himself, once again, by trying to make political hay out of the murders:

“I have had to make statement like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times,” Obama said. “We don’t have all the facts. But we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”

Murder is a terrible thing, but thankfully, the homicide rate in the United States is dropping. It was lower in 2014 than in 2013, and lower in 2013 than in 2012. Today, it is only about half what it was during the Clinton administration. In the intervening years, private handgun ownership has exploded. Many argue, and statistics support the claim, that broader gun ownership has contributed to this stunning reduction in the homicide rate. …


The president is hostage to a fact free brain so David Harsanyi tries to help.

President Barack Obama responded to the horrific shooting at a historic black church in Charleston that left nine dead with an earnest statement—well, other than that contention that was completely untrue.

Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. … We as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.

Let’s set aside the assertion that it’s too easy to obtain guns in America and deal with the implication that we are somehow uniquely violent or that “mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” The president has made this claim in various ways and with various qualifiers.

Parlez vous Hebdo? Because surely the president recalls that in January of this year two gunmen entered the office of a satirical magazine in France with an assortment of guns and murdered 11 people (and injured 11 more). After leaving, they killed a police officer. And in a marketplace catering to Jews another five were murdered and 11 wounded. France is, allegedly, an advanced country, is it not? Perhaps if Obama had attended the anti-terror rally in Paris like every other leader of advanced countries did, his recollection would be sharper.

It only takes some quick research to discover that rampage killers, acts of terror (as the Charleston shooting most certainly is), school attacks, spree killers are not unique to the United States. …



Ilya Somin writes on the tenth anniversary of the infamous Supreme Court Kelo decision.

June 23 marks the 10th anniversary of Kelo v. City of New London, when the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 ruling that government could use eminent domain to take private property for “economic development.” At issue in the case were 15 homes, including a little pink house owned by Susette Kelo, in the city of New London, Conn., which wanted to transfer the properties to a private nonprofit with plans to revitalize the area. But after the court ruled and the houses were razed (with the exception of Ms. Kelo’s, which was moved at private expense), those plans fell through.

The condemned land remains empty, housing only a few feral cats. After Hurricane Irene in 2011, the city used it as a dumping ground for debris. Yet the first real development since the Supreme Court’s controversial decision might now be on its way: New London Mayor Daryl Finizio, who was elected in 2011 as a critic of the government taking, recently announced a plan to turn the former site of Ms. Kelo’s house into a park that will “serve as a memorial to all those adversely affected by the city’s use of eminent domain.”

It would be a fitting tribute. Although the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo was consistent with precedent, it was nonetheless a serious error. …