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During the past year, three English speaking heads of state have spoken in Israel. Nearly a year ago, President Barack Obama addressed the people of Israel in the Jerusalem's International Convention Center. In January, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed the Knesset. This week British Prime Minister David Cameron did too. The contrasts between the President Obama's speech and those of Harper and Cameron are striking. First of all, President Obama chose to forego addressing the Knesset on his first state visit to Israel. According to Jay Carney, “The president will speak to all of the Israeli people in front of an audience of young Israelis who … have it within their hands the power to shape Israel’s future." In other words, President Obama doesn't like the direction Israel is taking (Israel held election two months earlier) and will seek to engage Israelis who may be more receptive to his message that Israel's elected leaders. Although the president was addressing university students, he refused to allow students from Ariel University attend his speech. To be sure, President Obama said many of the right things in his speech. He even acknowledged that Israeli efforts at making peace resulted instead in being "... faced terror and rockets." But these professions of sympathy come across as perfunctory.

At the end of October the New York Times hailed President Obama's foreign policy as "pragmatic," while largely ignoring the consequences. The two month old article was written by the White House reporter, but a recent article written from Beirut, Power Vacuum in Middle East Lifts Militants paints a somewhat less flattering picture of the administration's foreign policy.
For the first time since the American troop withdrawal of 2011, fighters from a Qaeda affiliate have recaptured Iraqi territory. In the past few days they have seized parts of the two biggest cities in Anbar Province, where the government, which the fighters revile as a tool of Shiite Iran, struggles to maintain a semblance of authority. Lebanon has seen two deadly car bombs, including one that killed a senior political figure and American ally.

When I was almost fifty four, it was a very good year It was a very good year for kindly faced clerics Whose Justice Minister was an executioner And Defense Minister waged an anti-American war When I was almost fifty four.
Nearly two years ago Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed President Obama about how he would deal with the threat from Iran. Given Goldberg's support for Israel, the interview was part of an administration campaign to tell Israel and Israel's supporters in the United States that "we've got Israel's back." It's unsettling now, that Goldberg has declared that For Iran, 2013 Was a Very Good Year.
Remember that interim Iranian nuclear agreement forged in Geneva on Nov. 24, the one accompanied by blaring trumpets and soaring doves? Would it surprise you to know that the agreement -- a deal that doesn’t, by the way, neutralize the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, just freezes the program, more or less, in place -- has not yet been implemented? Would it surprise you to learn that this deal might not be implemented for another month, or more? Or that in this long period of non-implementation, Iran is free to do with its nuclear program whatever it wishes? And that one of the things it is doing is building and testing new generations of centrifuges? Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, recently said , “We have two types of second-generation centrifuges. We also have future generations which are going through their tests.” Happy New Year, everyone.

Have you noticed another skirmish brewing, not in the Middle East but among Republicans over support for Obama's Syrian debacle? David Axelrod must be twirling his mustache with delight over his latest manipulation of the leaderless Republican party as they provide cover for Obama's latest fail. Of course, Obama's Syrian problem isn't about Congress, it's about his own failures as a leader -- in this case the logical extension of his worldwide apology tour presidency. Enter Axelrod (if he ever was off stage). August 30 Axelrod puts New York Times, et al., on notice of what the talking point will be -- "this is up to Congress": https://twitter.com/davidaxelrod/status/373320824473673729 A gleeful tweet on August 31: https://twitter.com/davidaxelrod/status/373871738032910336 Sept. 2, a thank you to the New York Times for pitching in: https://twitter.com/davidaxelrod/status/374719590124630016 I imagine a phone call from Axelrod to Obama, perhaps sometime Friday night, with Obama pouting about his off-teleprompter "red line" comment. Axelrod has an idea. Foment a little diversion by foisting Obama's Syrian debacle onto hapless Republicans.

Not the indecision and delayed decision about the use of force in Syria. The Golf immediately after the Rose Garden statement. Right after shipping responsibility for authorizing an attack on Syria, President Barack Obama returned to his comfort zone: The golf course. Obama’s motorcade left the White House at...

The policy here has been that the children of politicians are off limits to criticism, even when they do stuff that otherwise might be newsworthy. That policy has been invoked as to the Obama children, consistent with our criticism of the left's despicable and vile attacks...

Apologies to Wikipedia: Whereas the reign of Marcus Aurelius George W. Bush had been marked by almost continuous warfare, that of Commodus Obama was comparatively peaceful in the military sense but was marked by political strife and the increasingly arbitrary and capricious behaviour of the emperor...

Via @DrMartyFox: Via Newsbusters: And the laughs continue: Obama Budget chief Jack Lew refuses under intense Chris Wallace grilling to admit Obamacare funding mechanism is a tax. Telling.— Brit Hume (@Kimsfirst) July 1, 2012 ...

There is very little chance I'll end up reading David Maraniss' biography of Obama, although by all accounts it is a very detailed work which punctures much of Obama's self-portryal (you remember the "composite" girlfriend revealed in a pre-release excerpt). Ben Smith has read the book,...

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